What to Know in Washington: Biden’s Woes Loom Over Mideast Trip

  • President seeks bigger oil output amid high gas prices
  • House to take up defense authorization bill with big boost

President Joe Biden will seek to salvage relations with Saudi Arabia in a Mideast trip that risks political embarrassment unless near-record US gasoline prices swiftly come back to Earth.

The hope is that restoring relations with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, a leader he decried as a “pariah” after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, will secure a boost in oil production and help ease pump prices battering Biden’s approval ratings at home.

Biden will meet with with MBS and other Saudi officials on Friday night, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday.

A deal is far from a given.

Biden must avoid an embarrassing retrenchment on human rights that would further anger liberal Democrats. He finds himself hamstrung with approval ratings at a near record-low ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The trip’s secondary objective is hardly easier: aligning Israel, a country consumed by years-long domestic political turmoil, with the Arab world as a buttress against Iran. Read more from Justin Sink, Annmarie Hordern and Nick Wadhams.

Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Sipa/Bloomberg
Biden in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Also Happening on the Hill


  • The Senate meets at 10:30 a.m. to vote on Michael Barr’s nomination for the Federal Reserve.
  • House members convene at 10 a.m. to vote on bills to address active shooters, provide expanded health benefits to veterans, and begin considering the annual defense authorization bill.

Donald Trump’s mid-December tweet calling for a “wild” rally to protest the Jan. 6 electoral vote count rapidly reverberated in extremist circles, bringing calls within hours for violence from online influencers, according to testimony revealed Tuesday by the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.

Graphic video and messages the committee showed included one YouTube influencer calling for a Red Wedding, a pop-culture reference to mass killing. The committee portrayed Trump opening a path to violence with the tweet hours after an “unhinged” profanity-peppered Dec. 18 meeting in which his official staff fought off an effort by outside advisers to get Trump to order the military to seize voting machines to bolster baseless election-fraud claims, Mike Dorning, Billy House, and Chris Strohm report.

  • Trump attempted to call a witness in the panel’s probe of Jan. 6, and the person declined to answer, ranking Republican Liz Cheney (Wyo.) said at the conclusion of Tuesday’s hearing. The witness is someone the public has not seen in the hearings, and the Justice Department was alerted, she said. The committee takes any effort to influence a witness “very seriously,” said Cheney. Read more from Catherine Dodge.
  • The committee also showed new evidence indicating that the march to the Capitol was pre-planned, and that a former aide was concerned that Trump was inciting civil war. Bloomberg recaps key developments from the Tuesday hearing.

The House is scheduled to begin consideration of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act Wednesday with a $37 billion boost to the national defense budget compared with the Biden White House’s request. The measure (H.R. 7900; see BGOV Bill Summary) would authorize $839.3 billion for defense programs. BGOV’s Seemeen Hashem and Brittney Washington break it down in an OnPoint.

  • The House will consider whether to attach a measure to bolster the federal government’s use of cloud computing technology to the defense legislation, even as senators are trying to get a broader cybersecurity package signed into law. Read more from Maria Curi.

The Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs are working to draft bills to release to the public at the end of the July, according to Senate Appropriations Committee spokesman Jay Tilton, Airielle Lowe reports.

Senators in both parties want to create a position to oversee US tourism to help the travel sector recover after the pandemic. “Our tourism sector—given how important it is to the economy of the US—really doesn’t have a strong singular voice,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) at a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing Tuesday. Read more from Mia McCarthy.

House Republicans are ratcheting up pressure on several Senate colleagues to take action on bipartisan immigrant farmworker legislation the chamber passed last year. Republican Reps. Jim Baird (Ind.), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.), Dan Newhouse (Wash.), and Mike Simpson (Idaho) joined the American Business Immigration Coalition and others at the US Capitol on Tuesday to push the issue as a matter of economic security. Read more from Ellen M. Gilmer.

  • Meanwhile, US businesses face potentially devastating effects from delays securing US Labor Department approval for work visas, Senate lawmakers told Labor Secretary Marty Walsh in a letter released Tuesday. Read more from Andrew Kreighbaum.

Brendan Carr, the federal regulator pushing to get the popular social media service TikTok removed from mobile-phone app stores, will testify at a House hearing Wednesday on fraud risks for US soldiers. A Republican member of the FCC, Carr is to appear before the National Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, two people familiar with the matter said. Read more from Todd Shields.

The nominee for chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Doug McKalip, should support market access commitments for American farm exports, according to a letter from Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle complain that the post remains unfilled amid supply chain issues, the war in Ukraine and food inflation, Maeve Sheehey reports.

Around the Administration


  • Biden arrives in Tel Aviv, Israel in the afternoon and will deliver remarks. The president will then receive a briefing on the country’s Iron Dome. Later he’ll visit Yad Vashem for a wreath laying ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance.

The US has revealed a new strategy to prioritize Pacific nations in its foreign policy, seeking to temper concerns over climate change and development in a bid to counter China’s growing influence in the vast oceanic region. Vice President Kamala Harris announced the new commitment, including plans to open more US embassies, in a speech delivered virtually to the Pacific Island Forum leaders meeting in Fiji on Wednesday. Read more from Niluksi Koswanage and Ben Westcott.

Financial stewards of the biggest economies in the world descend on the tropical island of Bali this week at a time when rapid inflation threatens to further destabilize populations and turn fragile recoveries into recession. The Group of 20 meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors Friday and Saturday in Indonesia will focus on a bevy of issues around soaring prices and threats of more sovereign defaults. Read more from Michelle Jamrisko and Christopher Condon.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said a release circulating online purporting to show hotly-anticipated June inflation figures was a forgery. The Labor Department agency is scheduled to release June’s CPI report on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Read more from Olivia Rockeman.

The Transportation Department is planning to bring industry and states together later this year to develop a road map for advancing technology that allows cars to communicate wirelessly, an agency official said Tuesday. Transportation officials and industry are seeking to speed the deployment of technology to allow cars to communicate with other cars, infrastructure, and pedestrians, but challenges remain. Lillianna Byington has more.

Developers of battery metals projects can win support from the US government as it seeks to counter the dominance of China in clean-technology supply chains, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said. “Our concern is that critical minerals could be vulnerable to manipulation, as we’ve seen in other areas, or weaponization,” Granholm said Wednesday in a meeting in Sydney with companies. Read more from David Stringer.

A former union lawyer serving on the National Labor Relations Board dissented in a pair of rulings, splitting from the board’s Democratic chief and a Republican member in both cases. The break between Democratic board members reveals differences in how they view federal labor law. Read more from Robert Iafolla.

Venezuela has arrested Americans this year even as that country’s government has made gestures toward improving relations with the US to help ease a humanitarian and political crisis. A State Department spokesperson confirmed the arrests on Tuesday. Iain Marlow and John Harney have more.

American farmers in a loose affiliation across several states such as New Jersey and Illinois are growing Ukrainian food crops this summer, including its all-important strains of wheat, with plans to ultimately donate the resulting seeds back to Ukraine. It’s an insurance policy of sorts against the risk—however small—that Russia’s invasion poses to the long-term health of some of the most important plants in the global food supply. Read more from Maeve Sheehey.

With assistance from Maeve Sheehey

To contact the reporters on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@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