What to Know in Washington: Democrats Anticipate Absence Rebound

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Senate Democrats are hoping a 17-day spring break can help get them healthy again.

A plodding start to the Senate session slowed even more in recent weeks with absences by members facing health challenges and only allowed work on nominees and legislation with bipartisan support

But those ailing members will soon have more time to rest. The Senate is slated to leave town today for their break, and the pace could pick up when the chamber returns in mid-April.

Already Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), who has been out for several weeks battling depression, will return when the Senate comes back April 17.

Fetterman to Return to US Senate in April After Hospitalization

Photographer: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg
Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) plans to return when the Senate comes back April 17.

Democrats hope moving closer to full strength for their next five-week legislative session will give them room to move Biden administration picks, among them Labor secretary nominee Julie Su and the federal courts nominees that lack GOP buy-in.

Democrats “will be in a better position to confirm nominees that don’t have, you know, bipartisan support” after recess, said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), a member of Democratic leadership.

A restored majority could also give Democrats better odds of beating back measures the GOP can bring up unilaterally, such as those rolling back D.C. City Council changes to police practices or Biden administration regulations forgiving student loans, allowing the VA to provide abortion-related care to veterans, or implementing truck emission standards.

Zach Cohen previews the outlook for the Senate’s return to full strength.


  • The House meets at 9 a.m. and plans a final vote on a GOP energy package.
  • The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to consider a Defense nomination and a firefighter grant reauthorization measure.


  • Biden has no scheduled public events. At 2 p.m., White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre gives a briefing.

China, Ukraine Latest

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President Joe Biden wants to bring the world’s most sophisticated chipmakers to the US. Taiwan says he should offer them a better tax deal — one that could infuriate China.

Taiwan Leader Calls Island’s Future a Test for World on US Trip

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the security of the world hinges on the self-ruled island’s fate, her first remarks on a US trip that may further escalate tensions in the already fraught relationship between Washington and Beijing.

House Republicans Question US Spending on Ukraine Assistance

Congressional Republicans said billions of dollars in US assistance for Ukraine risks being misspent and could be better used for domestic priorities, a fresh sign of the party’s growing ambivalence regarding American support for the war.


  • Tuberville Holds: Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) sought to end Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) six-week hold on military confirmations, a step he took to protest Pentagon policy that allows troops seeking an abortion to take leave. Read more
  • Online Privacy: Attention on the national security risks of TikTok renewed discussion on passing a federal privacy bill, after more than two decades of bipartisan policymaking efforts and even with a rare consensus among tech firms and consumer advocates. Read more
  • Hypersonic Weapons: A top Air Force official told lawmakers the branch won’t pursue a hypersonic weapons program manufactured by Lockheed Martin as the Pentagon signals more support for a different initiative by rival Raytheon. Read more
  • World Bank: Ajay Banga, the US pick to head the World Bank, appears almost certain to become the anti-poverty lender’s next president after nominations closed Wednesday with no country proposing an alternative candidate. Read more
  • Reporter Detained: Russia’s Federal Security Service said it detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, a US citizen, in Yekaterinburg on spying allegations. Read more


  • Covid Emergency Rollback: Biden will sign a bill (H.J. Res 7) to terminate the Covid-19 national emergency early, even though he opposes the measure, a White House spokeswoman said. The Senate cleared the bill Wednesday on a 68-23 vote, Courtney Rozen and Alexander Ruoff report.
  • Manchin Complains: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) ramped up criticism of the Treasury Department over its upcoming interpretation of content rules for EV tax credits, which he suspects will be too broad and generous to foreign suppliers. Read more
  • Su’s Nomination: Prominent trade groups that have joined past lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill to oppose nominees they call anti-business are sitting out of a budding opposition campaign against Biden nominee Su to lead the Labor Department. Read more

Politics, Probes & Culture Wars

Trump Fights Order for Testimony of Former White House Officials

Former President Donald Trump is appealing an order rejecting his efforts to block grand jury testimony from several former White House advisers in an investigation into efforts to undermine the 2020 presidential election.

Trump Trade Adviser Navarro Must Turn Over Presidential Records

Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, failed to stay an order requiring that he turn over presidential records in his private email account while he appeals the ruling.

What Else We’re Reading

Biden Will Visit Mississippi on Friday to Survey Tornado Damage

Biden will travel to Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on Friday to tour storm damage and meet with those affected by the deadly tornadoes that killed more than two dozen people last week.

Biden to Travel to Minnesota on April 3 to Discuss Eco Agenda

Biden will travel to the Minneapolis, Minnesota area on April 3 as part of his Administration’s Investing in America tour, according to a statement from the White House.

OpenAI Target of Complaint to FTC Urging Halt of GPT Rollouts

A prominent tech ethics group plans to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission urging the regulator to halt further commercial deployment of new generations of artificial intelligence technology that powers the popular OpenAI Inc. tool ChatGPT.

Editor’s Note: The March 29 edition of Bloomberg Government’s Afternoon Briefing removed an incorrect reference to the Senate-passed bill overturning a US waters rule.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com

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