What to Know in Washington: Biden to Discuss Voting Rights

President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with civil rights groups at the White House today to discuss voting rights legislation that has stalled in Congress due to Republican opposition.

Biden is set to host leadership from groups including the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the National Action Network, to discuss how to advance the legislation, according to a person familiar with the plans, who asked not to be named discussing internal deliberations.

Also today, Vice President Kamala Harris — who is spearheading the administration’s efforts on voting rights — is scheduled to speak at Howard University, her alma mater, to launch an expansion of the Democratic National Committee’s “I Will Vote” campaign. That effort aims to fight voter suppression and flip Republican-held seats in the 2022 midterm elections, according to another person.

Republican-led state legislatures across the U.S. have passed bills making it tougher to vote in response to widely debunked claims by former President Donald Trump that widespread voter fraud — particularly in cities with large Black and Hispanic populations — led to his November loss to Biden.

Two pieces of legislation to expand access to the ballot have stalled in Congress. Read more from Mario Parker.

Photographer: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg
Biden exits the Oval Office of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, July 7.

Arizona Cites SCOTUS to Back Another Voting Law: Arizona urged a federal appeals court to reverse a 2020 ruling that forces the state to give voters who forget to sign envelopes for their mail-in ballots as long as five days after Election Day to sign them. At a hearing yesterday before judges of the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, a lawyer for the Republican National Committee cited the Supreme Court’s recent upholding of two other restrictive Arizona election laws to argue the state is on the right track in its effort to handle voting fairly. Read more from Erik Larson.

Happening on the Hill

Pelosi, Maloney to Talk Drug Price Report: House Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. today with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to release a report from the panel analyzing financial data of 14 of the largest drug companies to evaluate investor and executive compensation in relation to investment in research and development of new treatments, and how that data the can affect Medicare price negotiations, according to a statement.

Ecuador Talks Trade With Five Senators: Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso discussed trade matters with a delegation of five U.S. senators, his office said in a statement. The economic matters discussed between Lasso and Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and others included the “System of General Preferences” trade regime and negotiations directed at a free trade agreement between Ecuador and the U.S., Stephan Kueffner reports.

Lawmaker Says China Bill Could Be Used to Respond to Didi: Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said legislation aimed at boosting competition with China could be used to respond to the crackdown on ride-hailing app Didi after its U.S. IPO. “It’s certainly a vehicle that could be used if we can agree on appropriate legislative response,” Malinowski, a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said in an interview with Bloomberg, Brody Ford reports.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said China’s crackdown on Didi shows the grip China’s ruling party has over companies in the country, Ford reports. “China’s unpredictable regulatory environment makes it exceedingly difficult for U.S. investors to do business,” Blackburn wrote in a statement. “U.S. investors must be extremely cognizant of the CCP’s influence in all Chinese run corporations.”

Around the Administration

Biden Will Speak About U.S. Afghanistan Drawdown: Biden will speak today about the U.S. military’s drawdown in Afghanistan as the U.S speeds up its troop withdrawal after two decades of war. Biden and Harris will meet at 10:15 a.m. with their national security team to receive an update on progress of the drawdown. At 1:45 p.m., Biden will speak on the efforts as well as ongoing security and humanitarian assistance to the country. The U.S. estimates it has completed more than 90% of withdrawal from Afghanistan as of July 5, and plans full exit by Sept. 11.

Biden to Ask FTC for Rules on Non-Competes: Biden plans to issue an executive order that calls on the FTC to adopt new rules to curb non-compete agreements and licensing requirements that hinder labor market competition. The executive order, announced yesterday during a White House press briefing, is aimed at growing wages and making it easier for workers to change jobs across states. Non-compete agreements prohibit workers from accepting a job from competing businesses. Read more from Siri Bulusu.

Biden to Target Railroads, Ocean Shipping in Exec Order: Biden will call for regulators to address consolidation and possible anticompetitive pricing in ocean shipping and railroad industries, according to Dow Jones, citing a person familiar with the matter, Charles Capel reports. The administration said the small number of major companies in those industries has enabled companies to charge unreasonable fees. The order will also ask the FTC to ban unnecessary occupational licensing requirements, and encourage the Surface Transportation Board to take up a rule on reciprocal or competitive switching, allowing shippers served by a single railroad to ask for bids from a competing railroad if there is one available.

U.S. Raising Concerns on Mexico Energy Policy: Biden’s top trade negotiator said the U.S. has “real concerns” about Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s energy policy and will look for avenues to address them. The American and Canadian energy industries say the leader is discriminating against foreign companies with changes to electricity and hydrocarbons laws. “We are raising our concerns,” Biden’s trade chief, Katherine Tai, said at a meeting. Maya Averbuch and Eric Martin have more.

DHS Loosens Requirements for Yemeni Students: Yemeni students in the U.S. are getting relaxed visa requirements under new Department of Homeland Security guidance. Citizens of civil-war-ravaged Yemen who are studying in the U.S. on non-immigrant F-1 visas no longer need to take the full required course loads or class attendance hours generally required by the visa program, according to the DHS notice released yesterday. Read more from Lydia O’Neal.

GOP Lawyers Decry U.S. Bathroom Guidance: Recent guidance on workers’ bathroom rights “fundamentally misconstrues and improperly extends” a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that expanded anti-bias protections for LGBT employees, according to 21 predominantly GOP attorneys general. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month published guidance that said employers can’t block workers from accommodations corresponding to their gender identity. Paige Smith has more.

Assassination of President Plunges Haiti Into Chaos: The troubled Caribbean nation of Haiti was plunged into chaos after its president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated in a nighttime raid and acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph declared a state of emergency. The United Nations Security Council, in a statement last night, condemned the assassination and called “on all political stakeholders in Haiti to refrain from any acts of violence and any incitement to violence.” Biden has also condemned the assassination. Read more from Jim Wyss and Walter Brandimarte.

Politics & Influence

Google Sued by States Over Play Store: Alphabet’s Google was sued by three dozen states alleging that the company illegally abused its power over the sale and distribution of apps through the Google Play store on mobile devices. State attorneys general said in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in San Francisco that Google used anticompetitive tactics to thwart competition and ensure that developers have no choice but to go through the Google Play store to reach users. It then collects an “extravagant” commission of up to 30% on app purchases, the states said. Read more from Naomi Nix, David McLaughlin and Mark Bergen.

Pelosi’s Husband Locked In $5.3 Million From Alphabet Options: Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, won big on Alphabet stock and added bets on Amazon and Apple in the weeks leading up to the House Judiciary Committee’s vote on antitrust legislation that seeks to severely limit how these companies organize and offer their products. In a financial disclosure signed by Nancy Pelosi on July 2, her husband reported exercising call options to acquire 4,000 shares of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, at a strike price of $1,200. The trade netted him a $4.8 million gain, and it’s risen to $5.3 million since then as the shares have jumped. Read more from Billy House and Anna Edgerton.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at zsherwood@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

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