What to Know in Washington: Biden Ramps Up Voting Rights Push

The White House is intensifying its effort this week to counteract Republican laws to restrict voting, as Democrats grow increasingly concerned that President Joe Biden has no answer to the GOP-led campaigns in dozens of states.

Vice President Kamala Harris is set today to discuss new, Republican-led bills to curb ballot access with local leaders in Detroit. Biden is scheduled tomorrow to deliver a speech on voting rights in Philadelphia. The new campaign comes as two pieces of national legislation that would maintain ballot access are stalled in Congress and as judges as high as the Supreme Court have upheld GOP efforts.

In the name of election security, Republican lawmakers passed dozens of new voting restrictions this year, adding hurdles to mail-in voting, reducing local control over elections and targeting innovations used by large urban counties during the coronavirus pandemic. The efforts have been inspired by President Donald Trump’s false claims that widespread fraud led to his 2020 defeat.

Biden has asked Harris to lead his administration’s response to the efforts, and she said in a speech at Howard University in Washington on Thursday that the Republican campaign “is all designed, I believe, to make it harder for you to vote so that you don’t vote.” Read more from Mario Parker.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Biden Holds Crime-Fighting Talks at White House: Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for New York City mayor, will attend a White House meeting with Biden today on cracking down on gun crime and firearms dealers, according to a person familiar with the plans. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, local law enforcement leaders and elected officials will also be at the meeting, according to the person. Biden will be discussing his call for channeling federal funding to help cities and states fight a nationwide spike in violent crime. Justin Sink has more.

Happening on the Hill

Today’s Agenda:

GOP Proposes Capitol Police Funding Plan: The Senate is turning its focus to a funding crisis caused by the Jan. 6 riot, with the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee on Friday calling for an emergency bill to fund the Capitol Police and National Guard. Police furloughs and training cutbacks for the Guard loom as soon as next month in the wake of unanticipated bills from the response to the Jan. 6 riot caused by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Republican lawmakers are proposing an immediate infusion of $521 million for the Guard, $97 million for the Capitol Police and $15 million for the office of the Architect of the Capitol, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News. Read more from Erik Wasson.

Yellen Sets Out Rough Timeline for Congress on Global Tax Deal: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen began to put a timeline on when the Biden administration hopes Congress can take up two key portions of a global tax agreement endorsed Saturday by Group of 20 finance ministers in Venice. Speaking to the press yesterday, Yellen declined, however, to signal whether she believes part of the plan will require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, an impossible hurdle unless Republicans come round to supporting the deal. Yellen reiterated that she hoped Congress would approve the portion of the deal that would impose a global minimum tax rate on corporations of at least 15%. Read more from Christopher Condon.

Democrats Make Bet on Monthly Child Tax Credit: Democratic lawmakers are betting that an expanded child tax credit, paid out monthly for the first time, will prove to be a successful campaign message in the 2022 midterm elections, but the policy also has political risks that could alienate some taxpayers. Starting July 15 and going through year-end, parents will begin receiving monthly direct deposits or checks for as much as $300 per child. The move was part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief bill from March. Read more from Laura Davison.

Politics & Influence

Trump Still the Overwhelming Choice Among Republicans at CPAC: Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the 2024 presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which showed the extent of the former president’s dominance over the Republican Party. Trump had an approval rating of 98% and was the choice of 70% of CPAC attendees in the straw poll among potential Republican candidates taken during the three-day gathering in Dallas. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was a distant second at 21%. Read more from Mark Niquette.

Progressive Prosecutors Navigate Minefields: Progressive district attorneys swept into office with Democrats in 2020 marked a break from law and order predecessors who campaigned on conviction numbers and the length of sentences won. Bolstered by widespread outcry over racial policing policies, the newly installed prosecutors vowed to shrink the criminal justice system. Six months in, the district and state attorneys must navigate a tightrope between supporters impatient to see changes they have demanded for years and police unions willing to point to any crime spike as proof that progressive approaches to violence are destined to fail. Read more from Ayanna Alexander.

Around the Administration

Biden Plans to Throttle Drilling Rights Sales: The Biden administration is preparing to release a blueprint for limiting sales of U.S. drilling rights that falls short of the outright ban sought by some environmentalists, as rising oil and gasoline prices highlight the risks of curtailing domestic crude production. A draft of the leasing report has already been shared with the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy and is set to be released within weeks by the Interior Department, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named before the formal announcement.

Recommendations are set to include key changes to the government’s sale of oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, including the boosting of royalty rates companies pay to extract fossil fuels and overhauling financial bonding requirements to ensure U.S. taxpayers don’t pay for any future cleanup. Read more from Jennifer A. Dlouhy.

Biden Order Risks Legal Disputes Over FTC Overreach: Federal limits on employee noncompete agreements could position the Federal Trade Commission for legal challenges, especially if it broadly bans the contracts that the Biden administration says hurt workers and stifles competition. Biden called on the FTC to ban or limit employee noncompetes as part of a broad executive order issued July 9 aimed at improving competition within the economy. The order stops short of specifying how to limit the pacts, which prohibit employees from working for a competitor as a way to protect company trade secrets and investment in employee training. A complete ban could raise questions about the FTC’s power to limit contracts, which are governed by state law. Read more from Erin Mulvaney and Chris Marr.

Fauci Criticizes Partisan Gap for Holding Back Vaccinations: Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist, said “ideological rigidity” is preventing people from getting Covid-19 shots and voiced frustration at the struggle to boost vaccination rates in parts of the country. “It’s not an easy solution,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday. “We’ve got to get away from this divisiveness that has really been a problem right from the very beginning with this outbreak.” With vaccination rates lagging mostly in southern and Midwestern states, Fauci made the rounds of talk shows to reinforce the Biden administration’s message that Covid shots are safe and offer strong protection against the delta variant that’s now dominant in the U.S. Read more from Yueqi Yang.

  • Missouri’s delta outbreak has raised alarms nationally as the U.S. races to contain the variant, which is more transmissible than the original strain that ground the world to a halt and killed millions. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last week singled out southwestern Missouri as one of several hot-spots for the variant. Read more from Josh Wingrove.

Biden Taps Garcetti, Bauer for Ambassador Posts: Biden has chosen Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as his nominee for ambassador to India, the White House said Friday, potentially giving the embattled politician a key role in a country overwhelmed by Covid-19. The White House statement praised Garcetti’s role overseeing “the busiest container port in the Western Hemisphere, the largest municipal utility in the country, and one of the busiest airports in the world,” as well as his role in Los Angeles’s winning bid for the 2028 Olympic Games. The White House also announced that Biden has selected Denise Campbell Bauer to be ambassador to France and the Principality of Monaco. Peter D. Haas is Biden’s pick for ambassador to Bangladesh, while Bernadette Meehan is his choice for envoy to Chile. Read more from Jennifer Epstein.

U.S. Sends Team to Haiti While Holding Off on Troop Request: The U.S. is reviewing Haiti’s request for American troops to help stabilize the country after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, a Pentagon spokesman said, even as the Biden administration signaled its wariness to provide forces. The U.S.’s priority is to help Haiti’s government investigate the circumstances of last week’s assassination, Defense Department John Kirby said on “Fox News Sunday.” A team including Department of Homeland Security and FBI officials headed to Haiti on Sunday for that purpose, he said. Read more from Alan Levin and Justin Sink.

Anti-Regime Protests Roil Cuba: Cuban state media acknowledged the outbreak of anti-government demonstrations yesterday and blamed the protests on its “neo-liberal” opponents. Images on social media showed crowds in Havana, the provincial town of San Antonio de los Banos and elsewhere. Large mobilizations against the regime are rare on the tightly-controlled island, which strictly curbs dissent. “In an historic day of protests, the world is bearing witness as thousands of Cubans take to the streets to call for an end to dictatorship in their country,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement. “Despite ongoing persecution on the island, Cubans are bravely joining to demand nothing more than the ability to live safely and speak their minds, freely, openly, and without fear.” Read more from Matthew Bristow.

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; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com