What to Know in Washington: Congress Achieves Bipartisan Wins

  • Lawmakers clear major bipartisan bills despite partisanship
  • Democrats seek intel damage review from Trump-held docs

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The House and Senate are concluding a surprisingly productive streak despite deep-rooted partisanship and bitter acrimony between Democrats and Republicans.

Bipartisan success in passing legislation on long-stalled issues such as gun control and infrastructure, along with an emerging consensus on protecting same-sex marriages, show there is still room for across-the-aisle deal-making in the Capitol despite Congress’s reputation for gridlock.

“I think most Congresses are not as dysfunctional as the headlines sometimes indicate,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who has served in Congress since 1995.

Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg
Wicker stands alongside a bipartisan group of senators during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 27.

Democrats, with only the slimmest margin of control, also managed to put aside a year and a half of haggling among themselves to overcome unified Republican opposition and give final passage to a slimmed-down version of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda on Friday.

Biden’s party hopes the spate of productivity energizes voters ahead of the midterm congressional elections, which will determine control of the House and Senate for the last half of the president’s first term. High inflation and a troubled economy has tanked Biden’s approval ratings, and Democrats see the legislative wins as a chance to create momentum ahead of November.

But Republicans can use the bipartisan accomplishments in their campaigns as well, to demonstrate to voters that they can get things done and deliver on priorities if they gain control of Congress after the midterm election. Diego Areas Munhoz lists some of the most significant bills passed by this Congress and what is still to come after the August recess.

Also on Lawmakers’ Radars

CONGRESS’ SCHEDULE

  • Both chambers are on recess.

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders made a bipartisan request to the US government for classified documents the FBI seized at Trump’s home. Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and ranking member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made the request to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, while “recognizing the need to protect an ongoing criminal investigation,” a spokesperson for Warner said Sunday. Read more from Laura Litvan and Katia Dmitrieva.

  • Earlier, two top House Democrats also asked the DNI to provide a “damage assessment” after the FBI’s seizure of highly classified documents at Trump’s estate. A classified briefing on the assessment’s progress is sought “as soon as possible,” said House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) and Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (Calif.) in a letter to DNI Avril Haines on Saturday. Billy House has the latest.
  • Schiff said he hasn’t seen any evidence the materials were properly declassified, casting doubt on the former president’s explanations. “And the idea that 18 months after the fact Donald Trump could simply announce, ‘Well, I’m retroactively declassifying, or whatever I took home had the effect of declassifying them,’ is absurd,” Schiff told CBS “Face the Nation” Sunday. Katia Dmitrieva covers his comments.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris condemned an attempted attack on an FBI office and criticized supporters of Trump for incendiary rhetoric that has fueled a backlash against law enforcement following the raid. “I will say, as a former prosecutor, but as a citizen of our nation, any attacks on law enforcement are completely unacceptable,” Harris told reporters aboard Air Force Two over the weekend. Iain Marlow covers her reaction.
  • The seizure is poised to shift the political ground ahead of midterm elections and a potential 2024 run by the former president. Although the fallout from a remarkable week is just beginning, the search is certain to seep into the November races that will determine party control of Congress, and it promises to keep a focus on Trump rather than inflation and other issues Republicans want to use against Democrats. Mark Niquette previews the impact.

A congressional delegation led by Sen. Ed Markey landed in Taiwan Sunday for a two-day visit, a trip that risks keeping tensions with China high after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went earlier this month. Markey (D-Mass.) and the delegation will meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu and local lawmakers, according to a foreign ministry statement. Debby Wu has the latest on the trip.

  • China’s military said it held fresh patrols around Taiwan to “fight back” against the congressional visit. The patrols and exercises conducted in the “sea and air space around Taiwan” on Monday provided a “resolute response and stern deterrence to US-Taiwan collusion,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian said in a statement. Read more.
  • The disparity between the Biden administration and lawmakers over how delicately to handle the Taiwan issue may raise the risk for miscalculation, and also threaten to roil the broader relationship between the world’s biggest economies. Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had been preparing for their first face-to-face meeting prior to Pelosi’s visit, which upended talks on tariffs, climate change, defense and several other topics. Read more from Sarah Zheng and Kari Lindberg.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is attempting to revive a debate over how the government should use its authority to suspend and debar companies from participating in federal contracts. Warren (D-Mass.) wants the Justice Department to step up its enforcement with this tool, even if a company’s violation—say, securities fraud—isn’t related to a contract. Attorneys in the field say that suspension and debarment should be left to the agencies who hire the companies. Patty Nieberg has more.

A man crashed his car into a barricade protecting the US Capitol early Sunday and fired a handgun in the air several times before fatally shooting himself. Nobody else was hurt, the US Capitol Police said in a statement. The man’s vehicle became engulfed in flames as he exited and started shooting, at which point officers attempted to approach the man when he shot himself, the police said, Victoria Cavaliere reports.

Elections & Politics

Pennsylvania Senate nominee John Fetterman (D) returned to the campaign trail, seeking to reassure voters that he is healthy enough to battle Republican Mehmet Oz in a November race that will determine control of the upper chamber. Fetterman walked on stage Friday to a rousing applause from about 1,350 supporters, jam-packed in an Erie exhibition center as “Back in Black” by rock group AC/DC blared through speakers. The lieutenant governor suffered a stroke in May. Gregory Korte has more.

The New York Times endorsed two incumbent lawmakers and the former lead counsel for the Democrats in Trump’s first impeachment trial in the crowded New York City Democratic primary races for Congress. The newspaper on Saturday backed Jerry Nadler, a long-time representative with strong liberal credentials; Sean Patrick Maloney, an incumbent running for a newly drawn district, and Dan Goldman, a former federal prosecutor and heir to the Levi Strauss & Co. fortune. Victoria Cavaliere lays out what’s at stake in the races.

Holland & Knight is a major law firm with roots in Florida and Texas, a small army of lobbyists, attorneys who have run for public office and a political action committee that spends nearly half-a-million dollars per election cycle. When it comes taking a stance on abortion rights and other social issues, the firm’s leader wants it to be apolitical. Read more from Justin Wise.

Around the Administration

PRESIDENT’S SCHEDULE

  • Biden has no public events scheduled.

Former members of Biden’s commission on the Supreme Court say their work had value even though the president hasn’t yet backed any changes in the eight months since they submitted the final report. A few of the 10 former commissioners interviewed by Bloomberg Law expressed disappointment that the president hasn’t embraced ways to overhaul how the court operates. Most said they didn’t expect the report would lead to immediate action from Biden. Madison Alder has more.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said gasoline prices should fall further after dropping to less than $4 a gallon for the first time since March. “We hope that that’s true but, again, it can be impacted by what’s happening globally,” Granholm said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. Michael Hirtzer and Victoria Cavaliere recap the interview.

Harris pushed for the government to update the rules regulating the space industry and to foster stronger public-private partnerships, at an event highlighting new technologies developed by firms like SpaceX. “Today, at laboratories, on launchpads and in orbit, often in partnership with our government, commercial space companies are making real the opportunity of space for millions of Americans,” Harris said at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland. Akayla Gardner covers the event.

Iran said it will inform the European Union of its official position on a draft text to revive the 2015 nuclear accord by Monday night, signaling it may be nearer an agreement with the US over a deal that could restore its oil exports to global markets. Read more from Arsalan Shahla.

Russia for the first time expressed guarded optimism about talks with the US on a prisoner exchange involving WNBA star Brittney Griner and another jailed American. “‘Quiet diplomacy’ is continuing, and it should bear fruit, if of course, Washington strictly follows it without slipping into propaganda,” Alexander Darchiyev, head of the North American department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with the state Tass news service published on Saturday. Read more.

WHAT ELSE TO KNOW TODAY

  • Coal leasing is temporarily banned once again on public lands after a federal judge on Friday reinstated an Obama-era moratorium. The ruling reinstates a 2016 order by then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell banning coal leasing on federal lands pending further environmental review because of coal’s contribution to climate change. Bobby Magill has more.
  • Contractors will take on the Defense Department’s research needs for a planned national accelerator facility for chip research and development. Read more from Caleb Harshberger.
  • Artificial intelligence-backed research, advanced computing, and cybersecurity are goals sprinkled throughout the new US competition law authorizing $280 billion to advance the country’s technological leadership globally. Read more from Josh Axelrod.
  • Stock market volatility and the rise of meme stocks are prompting the SEC to consider tightening oversight of potential conflicts of interest at securities clearing agencies. Clara Hudson explains.
  • Heavy monsoon rains have helped to relieve the Southwest’s historic drought, but water officials say the deluge isn’t enough to reverse a drying trend that has depleted the region’s primary water sources. Bobby Magill has more.

To contact the reporter on this story: 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

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