Senate Democrats’ attempt to start debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan was blocked by Republicans on a party-line vote Wednesday, as lawmakers hustle to wrap up negotiations over drafting that legislation. In the 49-51 test vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) switched his vote to “no,” a procedural move that allows him to bring the motion again later.

The U.S. House Wednesday passed bipartisan legislation that would regulate toxic chemicals found in drinking water, as well as designate two types of those toxic chemicals as hazardous substances that would spark federal cleanup standards. The bill, H.R. 2467, also known as the PFAS Action Act of 2021, passed 241-183, with 23 Republicans joining Democrats in voting for it.

Columnist Trish Zornio writes, “If we don’t act now, masks could become a long-term fashion accessory. In the past 14 days, the United States has seen tremendous growth in COVID-19 cases again. This has included a 36% increase in hospitalizations and a 26% increase in deaths. With the more transmissible delta variant, infection rates are likely to keep rising quickly. As expected, over 99% of deaths and 97% of hospitalizations were in unvaccinated people. If you’re vaccinated, it doesn’t affect you then, right? Wrong.”

Local water utilities worried about getting hit with lawsuits and high cleanup costs are stepping up their lobbying of Congress as lawmakers move to regulate toxic chemicals found in drinking water. The bill, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, has garnered bipartisan support and two Michigan lawmakers, U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), are expected to bring the measure to the House floor for passage later this week.

Rick Haglund writes, “[…] At a time when most new jobs paying a living wage require a certificate or degree beyond high school, Michigan is falling far short of needed support for higher education. The result is a state economy that lacks enough skilled and highly educated workers needed to attract technology and other knowledge-based employers.”

In 1973, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade granted Americans the constitutional right to access a safe and legal abortion. But in May, the Supreme Court, which is considered to have the most right-wing tilt in decades, agreed to hear arguments on a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That could result in the court overturning the Roe v. Wade decision. Here’s an explainer on where reproductive health rights stand in our state and what such a decision could mean for Michiganders.

WSV’s Charles Thomas writes, “Denial is considered an unhealthy defense mechanism while suppression is considered healthy. Sure, you could sit around all day and ponder the inevitability of death, but thanks to suppression, most of us are able to put that nasty little detail out of our minds and do the dishes, mow the lawn or write the column. But the denial of death, on the other hand, can lead to people making risky decisions or living what Plato called ‘an unexamined life.’ When it comes to defense mechanisms, it’s important to make the healthy choice.”

EPA Administrator Michael Regan, a former top environmental official in North Carolina, said the agency is currently in the process of regulating two of the most studied types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in drinking water. Two Michigan Democrats, U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn and Dan Kildee of Flint, added that House Democratic leaders will bring the PFAS Action Act of 2021, which aims to reduce Americans’ exposure to the toxic chemicals in air, water and consumer products, to a floor vote next week.