What to Know in Washington: Feinstein Complicates Biden’s Agenda

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) extended absence from the Senate has the potential to complicate more issues than President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees. It threatens other crucial parts of his agenda, including a Cabinet pick and a potential debt deal.

Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has been absent from the Senate because of illness.

Democrats currently hold at 51-49 majority, when independents who caucus or regularly vote with the party are counted.

“We’re constantly having to juggle” senators’ absences, said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), a member of Democratic leadership. “We’re day-by-day looking at who’s here.”

For now, no Senate Democrats are calling for Feinstein to resign from the Senate. But if her absence continues and begins to significantly impact their agenda, that could change quickly.

Democrats would likely need Feinstein back in order to advance their agenda—or stop Republican priorities— in several areas including the debt limit, cabinet confirmations, appropriations, and a possible Judiciary Committee subpoena of Justice Clarence Thomas over recent ethics concerns. Read more.

Biden’s Climate Moves


  • Biden at 2:15 p.m. announces new environmental justice initiatives at the White House. At 4:10 p.m., he departs to Camp David.
  • White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre gives a briefing at 1 p.m.

President Strengthens Environmental Justice Executive Order

Biden on Friday will strengthen an environmental justice executive order that was virtually untouched since the Clinton era by directing all federal agencies to make equity a core issue in their missions.

Biden to Create New Environmental Justice Office at White House

The president creates a new environmental justice office at the White House as part of a government-wide campaign to use federal programs to address disproportionate pollution and environmental risks faced by underprivileged communities.

Climate Fixes for Transportation Eyed for Infrastructure Grants

The Biden administration wants to make transportation more resilient to the effects of climate change with a competitive spending program, as recent flooding and drought underscore infrastructure challenges across the US.

More From Capitol Hill

Biden’s Likely NIH Pick to Face March-in, Covid Origin Questions

Biden’s potential nominee to lead the NIH will likely face questions about Covid-19’s origins and seizing patents to lower drug prices, but research advocates say it won’t stop her from securing the top medical research post.

Food Stamp Clash Starts Early With Debt Proposal: Farm Briefing

It looks like partisan fights on nutrition spending won’t be limited to the farm bill this year. At least, that’s what Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled with the debt limit plan he released yesterday. SNAP, the biggest source of food aid in the US, is one of the many targets for spending cuts in the 320-page bill.

IRS Head Grilled by Senators on Wealthy Audits, Agency Resources

Senate Finance Committee members sought to tease out more details from IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel on how the agency plans to spend $80 billion in 10-year funding in a briefing Thursday.

Sen. Lummis Weighs Changes to Crypto Bill Securities Treatment

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said Thursday that lawmakers were considering altering her bipartisan cryptocurrency legislation to align it more closely with a senior House Republican’s proposal for securities regulation.

Julie Su Hits the Senate: Key Points From DOL Nominee’s Hearing

Labor secretary nominee Julie Su faced tough questions at her confirmation hearing Thursday, ranging from protests she took part in more than three decades ago as a Stanford University student to her competence as California’s top labor official.

Big Law Firms Report Strong Lobbying Quarter in Divided Congress

Some major law firms continue to rake in cash for lobbying work on Capitol Hill, as divided-government slows legislation.

Politics & 2024

Biden Eyes a Reelection Announcement as Soon as Next Week

Biden is looking at formally launching his reelection campaign as early as next week, setting up a potential rematch with Donald Trump.

Trump Seeks to Bury Chief Rival Before 2024 Bid Gets Off Ground

The former president is girding to take a swing at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on the two things his chief rival is proudest of: his handling of Covid-19 and his state’s economy. In conversations with Trump campaign advisers and allies, the strategy they’ve developed is to bury DeSantis’s expected presidential campaign before it begins.

Second-Chance Campaigners Seek Vindication After 2022 Losses

Defeated congressional candidates trying again to punch their tickets to Capitol Hill are about to find out if voters see them as seasoned and well-known or rejected and bruised.

Republican Hopeful DeSantis to Visit Japan During Global Tour

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will visit Japan next week as he tests the international waters ahead of a possible decision to seek the Republican nomination for US president.

Talk Show Host Larry Elder Launches GOP Presidential Bid: AP

Conservative talk show host Larry Elder announced on Fox News that he is running for a Republican presidential nomination in 2024, AP reports.

Fox Stares Down $2.7 Billion Smartmatic Suit After Dominion Deal

Putting lawsuits behind you can get expensive.

What Else We’re Reading

Fed Officials Back Another Hike While Watching Banking Fallout

Federal Reserve officials backed another interest-rate increase as they monitor economic fallout from bank strains, while fresh emergency loan data showed financial stress continues to linger.

FTC Eyes Revisions to the Guidelines that Shape Green Marketing

The so-called Green Guides are poised for their first update in more than a decade. Beyond clarifying what should be advertised as “organic” or “recyclable,” they shape how states craft their own laws on marketing fraud, and even how plaintiffs hurl accusations of greenwashing at multinationals.

US Sees China Developing Anti-Satellite Cyber Weapons, FT Says

The US believes China is developing advanced cyber weapons that could take control of enemy satellites in the event of conflict, the Financial Times reported, citing a CIA document allegedly leaked by a US National Guard soldier arrested this month.

  • Spooked by the threat that China might invade Taiwan, the US wants to cut its dependence on the island’s world-beating microchips. Officials in Taipei believe the Biden administration is going too far. Read more.
  • China’s military plans to conduct at least five drills in various areas that include waters off its coast and in the South China Sea, amid simmering tensions with Taiwan and the US. Read more.
  • TikTok CEO Shou Chew said the steps the company is taking to wall off the social media app’s US data from its Beijing-based parent company will reduce the risk of potential influence by China to “as close to zero as possible.” Read more.

North Korea Tells G-7 That It Will Never Give Up Nuclear Weapons

North Korea’s foreign minister made her first formal statement directed at the US in about half a year to say Pyongyang will keep its nuclear weapons and punish G-7 members who try to change that.

Colombia Asks Biden for More Aid to Fight Cocaine Smuggling

Colombia’s leader asked Biden for more military aid to fight cocaine smuggling, as his government pledges a new approach in the fight against drugs.

White House Condemns Anti-LGBTQ+ Vitriol Amid Bud Light Boycott

The White House expressed support for transgender content creator Dylan Mulvaney amid the ongoing fallout from her collaboration with Bud Light beer.

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 editors responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com; Katrice Eborn at keborn@bgov.com

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