What to Know in Washington: Biden Calls For Police-Reform Bill

President Joe Biden said the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was “a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” and called on lawmakers to ensure the legacy of George Floyd wasn’t his murder, but lasting law-enforcement reform.

“No one should be above the law and today’s verdict sends that message, but it’s not enough,” Biden said last night at the White House. “This takes acknowledging and confronting head-on systemic racism and the racial disparities that exist in policing.”

Hours earlier, a jury convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder and lesser charges for cutting off Floyd’s air supply last May 25 as he lay handcuffed and begging for his life. The conviction, which stood out against decades of impunity for most police excessive-force cases, could mean decades in prison for the 45-year-old Chauvin, who will face sentencing in eight weeks. It also could lend momentum to congressional legislation named for Floyd that would set limits on aggression by police officers.

Since arriving in the White House, Biden has seen little progress toward the sweeping police reforms he promised. House Democrats passed legislation that would institute restrictions on federal authorities prohibiting racial profiling, chokeholds, and no-knock warrants. Yet the bill has languished in the Senate without a clear path to a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. Republicans have opposed provisions that would strip law officers of protection from lawsuits over their conduct. Read more from Josh Wingrove, Justin Sink and Stephen Joyce.

Photographer: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg
Biden spoke at the White House on Tuesday night.

Floyd Family Settlement Among Grounds for Appeal: From the beginning of the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, defense lawyer Eric Nelson laid out numerous paths to appeal the conviction—from the viral nature of the video of Floyd’s death to comments by a member of Congress as the case went to the jury. While some are the sorts of legal issues any defense lawyer might pursue in a high-profile case, the trial took some unusual turns from the start of jury selection. Here’s a look at some of the issues that could conceivably lead to trying Chauvin all over again.

Happening on the Hill

Today’s Agenda:

  • The House is scheduled to vote on legislation to limit future travel ban authority and provide legal support for immigrants.
  • Senators plan to vote on Biden’s nominees to the Justice and Defense departments.
  • Click here for a complete list of today’s hearings and markups.

Apple, Google Face Bipartisan Antitrust Grilling: Apple and Google will come under close antitrust scrutiny today from lawmakers concerned about the way both companies run the marketplaces that give consumers around the world access to millions of apps on handheld devices. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the chair and ranking member on the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, are leading the panel’s inquiry into potential anticompetitive practices in Apple’s App Store and in Google Play.

Klobuchar said apps represent a “humongous market” at the mercy of companies like Apple and Google. She added that she’ll be asking about fees — she called them a tax — that developers must pay to be included in app stores, as well as companies self-preferencing their own products and banning consumers from finding out about better deals. Read more from Anna Edgerton and Mark Gurman.

GOP Faction Wields Antitrust Threats: Some of Donald Trump’s most fervent congressional allies are turning to a favorite tool of the former president: threatening antitrust action against American companies that cross them politically on voting rights or other controversial issues. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) last week fired what he called an “opening salvo” to an ambitious trust-busting agenda when he introduced legislation to crack down on mergers by large corporations and give antitrust officials more authority to break up dominant companies. Read more from Anna Edgerton and David McLaughlin.

Collins Backs Democrats’ Push to Ax Trump Methane Rule: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will back Senate Democrats’ push to ax a Trump administration methane-emissions rule, easing the path to passage in the legislature’s upper chamber. The rule ends limits on methane emissions from new oil and gas wells while removing additional curbs on leaks of smog-causing volatile organic compounds from gas transmission and storage equipment. Read more from Courtney Rozen and Jennifer Dlouhy.

FTC Weighs Skirting Congress on Privacy Rules: Federal Trade Commission officials signaled they would move forward with new rules protecting consumer data as lawmakers in Congress continue to debate the issue. Christine Wilson, a Republican FTC commissioner, said yesterday at a hearing that she supports an agency effort to write rules “in the absence of congressional action” and “in the face of continuing harm” to consumers. Read more from Andrea Vittorio.

Politics & Influence

Lobbying Firms Prosper With Ambitious Washington Agenda: Lobbying firms in Washington posted revenue gains in the first quarter of the year as Biden moved to implement his ambitious agenda with congressional Democrats, who preside over narrow majorities in both chambers. Lobbying disclosures for the first quarter of 2021 were required to be filed with Congress by the end of yesterday, but 20 sent their revenue numbers to Bloomberg Government in advance. Most of them experienced growth over the last three months.

“The first year of a presidency is usually busy, but the first year of this presidency is busier than usual,” Karishma Shah Page, co-leader of K&L Gates’s policy practice, said in a telephone interview. “We’ve got a real robust outlook for policymaking the rest of this year, with a whole lot more legislation and administrative actions to come.” The firm, which in the first three months of this year earned nearly $4.8 million in lobbying revenue and signed 25 new clients, had a 2% increase in revenues over the same period in 2020. Read more from Megan R. Wilson.

States Prep for Reapportionment: Rhode Island is one of the states BGOV’s Greg Giroux will be paying attention to when the Census Bureau releases official congressional apportionment figures later this month. It’s had two seats in every reapportionment since 1790. This time around it’s in danger of falling back to just one statewide district. Read more on the states bracing for the Census report.

Around the Administration

Biden to Speak on Covid-19 Response, Vaccinations: Biden will speak at the White House at 1:15 p.m. today on the U.S.’s Covid-19 response and the state of vaccinations, according to the daily schedule.

Biden Vows Cutting Emissions in Half: White House officials have told supporters they will pledge to cut down U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by the end of the decade, according to people familiar with the plans, an almost doubling of the nation’s prior pledge. The administration has been notifying supporters this week that the president will declare a goal of halving U.S. emissions by 2030 as he seeks to transform vast sectors of the economy, people briefed by U.S. officials said. Ari Natter, Jennifer A. Dlouhy, and Will Wade have more.

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping accepted Biden’s invitation and will attend a climate summit via video tomorrow and make a speech, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Bloomberg News reports.
  • European Union lawmakers reached a late-night deal to make the bloc’s ambitious climate goals legally binding, paving the way for a torrent of new rules and standards to overhaul the entire economy. Read more from Ewa Krukowska.

Biden Pick Lisa Monaco Confirmed for No. 2 at DOJ: The Senate confirmed Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general, the first action toward filling out Merrick Garland’s new leadership team for the Justice Department as it races to confront threats from domestic terrorism to potentially crippling cyber attacks. Monaco, who was confirmed yesterday with strong bipartisan support on a vote of 98-2 brings a wealth of experience to the position, which oversees all of the department’s operations and its workforce of about 113,000, including 93 U.S. attorneys, as No. 2 to Attorney General Garland. Read more from Chris Strohm.

USDA Extends School Nutrition Flexibilities: The Agriculture Department will extend several school nutrition waivers that feed students for free through the end of June 2022. Schools can serve healthy food through a summer meal program that usually operates over the school break and during unexpected school closures. The agency move will also permit meal service outside of traditional times and in non-group settings, while letting parents and guardians pick up their children’s meals. “States and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for safe reopening in the fall,” Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, Megan Boyanton reports.

U.S. Warns SCOTUS Against ‘Windfall’ for Gun Owners: Justice Department attorneys told the Supreme Court yesterday not to give “windfalls” to people challenging their federal gun convictions following a 2019 high court ruling. In that case, Rehaif v. United States, the court said the government has to prove a defendant both knew that he possessed a gun, and that he wasn’t allowed to possess one. Read more from Jordan S. Rubin.

With assistance from Brandon Lee, Andrew Kreighbaum, and Megan U. Boyanton

To contact the reporter on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at zsherwood@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com; Michaela Ross at mross@bgov.com