What to Know in Washington: Biden to Impose Firearm Restrictions

President Joe Biden today will announce that he’s taking executive actions to tighten gun restrictions, including stopping the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, according to administration officials.

Currently people can buy kits that contain the components and directions to put together firearms in as little as 30 minutes, one of the officials said, and use them to commit crimes. The weapons, known as ghost guns, can’t be traced by law enforcement because they don’t have serial numbers.

Biden has been under pressure to address gun violence since shootings last month at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, and at spas in Georgia. Biden has urged lawmakers to pass gun-control measures that are widely opposed by Republicans.

Biden’s action will tell the Justice Department, within 60 days, to issue a proposed rule making clear that when a stabilizing brace is used to effectively turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, it is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. The suspect in the Boulder shooting, in which 10 people were killed, used a pistol with an arm brace, according to the authorities, making the weapon more stable and accurate.

Biden also will announce that he’s allocating funds for community violence intervention and prevention programs. Such programs have been established in urban communities with the goal of heading off conflicts that can lead to violence and helping people at risk of committing offenses. Biden has proposed $5 billion over eight years for community intervention funding as part of his American Jobs Plan.

The administration will use money that it currently has to begin the intervention effort. Five federal agencies are making changes to 26 different programs to direct support to community violence programs. The Justice Department will publish within 60 days model red flag legislation for states. That would allow people to petition courts to remove firearms from people who present a danger to themselves or others, the official said. Read more from Mario Parker and Nancy Cook.

Related: Biden to Clear Agency Grant Funding for Gun Violence Prevention

Photographer: Leigh Vogel/UPI/Bloomberg
Biden speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Biden Taps Gun Control Backer for ATF: Biden has selected David Chipman, a gun control advocate, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a person familiar with the matter said. Chipman is a leading policy adviser at Giffords, an organization led by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was gravely wounded in a 2011 mass shooting that killed six other people, including a federal judge. The group focuses on tightening gun control measures. Read more from Mario Parker.

Also on Lawmakers’ Radars

Manchin Vows to Uphold Filibuster, Complicating Biden’s Agenda: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) dashed fellow Democrats’ hopes for changing Senate rules to allow them to pass Biden’s agenda without Republican support, declaring that he opposed scrapping the filibuster under any circumstance. Writing in a Washington Post Op-Ed, Manchin described the rule that requires 60 votes for most legislation as a “critical tool” to protect the interests of less populous states like West Virginia. Read more from Anna Edgerton.

EEOC Pressed for Vaccine Incentive Guidance: A pair of Republican lawmakers asked the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to offer insight on the murky legal area of vaccine incentives, perks offered by employers to encourage workers to receive a Covid-19 shot. Employers seeking to protect employees by increasing vaccinations through incentive programs need assurances it “does not violate important labor laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act,” they said. Read more from Paige Smith.

Trump Labor Officials Join Senate Panel: A Senate committee has hired Loren Sweatt and Matt Mimnaugh, two Trump-era Labor Department officials, as GOP oversight staffers with jurisdiction over their old agency, continuing the traditional pipeline between the DOL and Capitol Hill. Their arrivals to the minority office of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is the inverse of the situation at the panel’s Democratic side after two labor staffers left to join the Biden administration’s Labor Department. Ben Penn has more.

JetBlue Makes 1st PAC Giving to Election Objector: JetBlue Airways is the first company to end a pause in PAC contributions following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and disclose giving to one of the Republican lawmakers objecting to the Electoral College vote count. A $1,000 contribution from the airline’s corporate political action committee to Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) was listed in the report filed with the Federal Election Commission on April 5. Read more from Kenneth P. Doyle and Megan R. Wilson.

The Lawmakers Who Will Make or Break Biden’s Infrastructure Plan: Biden proposed a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package that aims to tackle some of the major goals he campaigned on: revamping transportation, creating jobs, and fighting climate change. “These are investments we have to make,” Biden said in a speech debuting his plan. “We can afford to make them — or, put another way, we can’t afford not to.”

Turning the plan into law, however, is not possible without Congress — particularly a handful of lawmakers with outsize influence on the process. Democratic leaders are moving quickly to draft infrastructure proposals to match the goals the president laid out, while Republicans are attempting to make their voices heard on a bill that may not need their votes. Lillianna Byington and Kaustuv Basu break down the key Democrats in Congress — and their Republican counterparts — who will determine what comes next. Read more.

  • Biden’s infrastructure plan seeks $571 billion in additional transportation spending over current federal levels, and $50 billion to make infrastructure more resilient to a changing climate, according to White House documents sent to Capitol Hill that were reviewed by Bloomberg News. The memos shared with congressional offices offer the first detailed breakdown of proposed spending since Biden unveiled his $2.25 trillion plan. Read more from Keith Laing.

Around the Administration

White House Sees GOP’s Corporate Tax-Cut Defense as a Big Loser: The White House views Republican attacks on Biden’s proposal to use corporate tax hikes to pay for a vast infrastructure program as a losing argument in the battle for public opinion, aides and allies of the administration say. The GOP — which successfully painted the Obama-Biden administration’s initial spending programs as economically ineffective and wasteful in the run-up to the 2010 congressional elections — has joined with the business lobby in the past week to assail Biden’s proposed tax increases. The plan, its opponents argue, will hobble American corporate competitiveness and hold back the recovery from Covid-19.

Biden and his team are confident, however, that they’re on the winning side of the debate. The president yesterday made his second public appeal in a week for his $2.25 trillion spending plan, funded by higher levies on both domestic and overseas corporate income. Read more from Jennifer Epstein and Laura Davison.

Related: Biden Tax Plan Targets Inversions to Keep Them From Coming Back

States Wanting Stimulus Aid Can Cut Taxes to Align With IRS Code: States that pass tax cuts to conform with recent federal tax changes won’t run afoul of a rule in Biden’s economic rescue bill that says states can’t use federal stimulus funding to pay for cuts, the U.S. Treasury Department says. “Regardless of the particular method of conformity and the effect on net tax revenue, Treasury views such changes as permissible under the offset provision,” according to a department statement released yesterday. Read more from Laura Davison.

White House Considering Nearly Doubling Obama’s Climate Pledge: The White House is considering a pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 50% or more by the end of the decade, people familiar with the deliberations said, a target that would nearly double the country’s previous commitment and require dramatic changes in the power, transportation and other sectors. Read more from Ari Natter, Jennifer A. Dlouhy, and Will Wade.

  • Biden’s plan to eliminate subsidies claimed by oil and gas companies and raise levies on corporate polluters would increase government receipts by $35 billion over the coming decade. The benefits of these subsidies are currently concentrated “within a handful of large firms,” the Treasury said in the Made In America Tax Plan released yesterday. The report expands on tax proposals in Biden’s $2.25 trillion economic package unveiled last week. Read more from Kevin Crowley.

Biden Confronts Border Surge With Key Immigration Jobs Unfilled: Biden is confronting an influx of migrants at the southern U.S. border without permanent leaders at key agencies that oversee immigration enforcement and shelters, threatening to hamper the administration’s response to a growing crisis. Biden has yet to nominate a commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, which apprehends migrants attempting to illegally cross the border and controls ports of entry. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the office that runs shelters for children and teens arriving without parents, also lacks a nominee.

The president also hasn’t named permanent leaders for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, two agencies that will implement new visa and enforcement measures that are core components of Biden’s pledge to create a more humane and welcoming immigration system. Read more from Jordan Fabian.

Biden’s School-Reopening Plans at Risk: The coronavirus pandemic is erupting anew in youth sports across the U.S., prompting fresh warnings from Biden’s health advisers and adding a headwind to his push to reopen classrooms. Several states have faced recent outbreaks linked to sporting events and to a variant of the virus from the U.K. called B.1.1.7. Michigan is an epicenter both of the latest surge and the U.K. variant, which is regarded as more transmissible than the original strain of the virus and may be deadlier.

Elementary, middle and high schools have driven the outbreak in Michigan more than any other setting, largely through sports such as basketball and wrestling, according to data compiled by the state. Read more from Josh Wingrove.

Biden Eyes Russia Retaliation After Meddling Review: Biden administration officials have completed an intelligence review of alleged Russian misdeeds such as election interference and the SolarWinds hack, setting the stage for the U.S to announce retaliatory actions soon, according to three people familiar with the matter. Possible moves could involve sanctions and the expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in the U.S. under diplomatic cover, said the people. Read more from Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs.

U.S. Fires Back at Facebook’s Move to Kill Suit: The Federal Trade Commission urged the judge handling the agency’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook to reject the social-media company’s request to dismiss it. The suit initiated last year under the Trump administration makes a valid claim that Facebook holds monopoly power over personal social networking in the U.S. and maintains it by “acquiring competitive threats and deterring or hindering the emergence of rivals,” the FTC said in a filing late yesterday in Washington federal court.

The FTC’s request is the latest exchange at the start of a high-stakes battle over Facebook’s future — its attempt to hold onto Instagram and WhatsApp and to defeat the government’s attempt to force a breakup. Read more from Joel Rosenblatt.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michaela Ross at mross@bgov.com; Heather Rothman at hrothman@bgov.com