What to Know in Washington: Hurdles in Biden’s border crack down

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President Joe Biden faces legal and operational obstacles if he tries to mimic Donald Trump’s policies to restrict asylum access and crack down on migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border.

Presidential power has persisted as a key point of contention between the White House and the GOP after the administration sought more legal tools to curb migration through a bipartisan Senate border policy deal. Republicans tanked the agreement and insisted Biden use the authorities he already has.

Photographer: Mark Abramson/Bloomberg
US Border Patrol agents prepare to transport migrants for asylum claim processing at the US-Mexico border in Campo, Calif., on April 5.

Congressional Republicans have spent months pressuring the White House to take unilateral steps similar to those of former President Trump to reduce illegal crossings, and Biden last week said his team is still hashing out options.

The problem, according to administration officials and several lawmakers and advocates, is that a key tool Republicans are pushing would run headlong into litigation and resource constraints. And border policy specialists dispute whether it would succeed in slashing illegal crossings.

“There are some authorities there, it’s just not as broad as my colleagues think it is,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who helped negotiate a failed bipartisan border deal. “And it will be interesting to see what they can actually get through the courts.”

The White House hasn’t made any decisions yet, an administration official who spoke anonymously to address internal discussions said yesterday. Read more from Ellen M. Gilmer.


  • The president heads to Philadelphia, where he’ll participate in campaign events at 12:45 p.m. and 1:45 p.m, receiving endorsements from more than a dozen members of the Kennedy family. Read more
  • Biden will return to the White House around 5 p.m.


  • The House meets at 9 a.m. to vote on condemning Iran’s attack on Israel.
  • Senators convene at noon to resume consideration of a controversial spy bill.
  • For the full detailed agenda, read BGOV’s Congress Tracker.

Happening on the Hill

Photographer: Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg
Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

Rep. ADAM SMITH (D-Wash.) said Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is likely to receive help from Democrats if he faces a move by GOP hardliners to oust him.

  • “I for one will not vote to remove Speaker Johnson, and I know a number of other Democrats feel the same way,” Smith said on Bloomberg TV’s Balance of Power. Read more.

New sanctions on IRANIAN OIL will be included in the House foreign aid package Republican leadership plans to bring to the floor for a vote this week. Read more.

  • But LNG exports are out, as Johnson opted not to include language overturning Biden’s pause on new liquefied natural gas exports as part of a Ukraine aid package. Read more.

The TIKTOK DIVESTMENT BILL would “trample” Americans’ free speech rights, the company said. Read more.

REPUBLICAN-led efforts to oust DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met an anticlimactic but predictable fate yesterday as the Senate swiftly sidelined charges against him.

  • The Senate, after a few hours of deliberation, voted mostly on party lines to toss the two impeachment articles against Mayorkas, rejecting GOP pressure to conduct a full trial that would cast a harsh light on the Biden administration’s border policies ahead of the presidential election. Read more.

Stronger protections for CHILDREN should be included in the comprehensive privacy framework proposed as part of the American Privacy Rights Act, lawmakers and witnesses argued yesterday at a House committee hearing. Read more.

A “modest” budget increase would help the Labor Department boost its child labor law enforcement and workforce development programs, acting Labor Secretary Julie Su told skeptical House Republican appropriators. Read more

Biden’s nominee for a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the SIXTH CIRCUIT was prodded by Senate Republicans about allegations of ethical misconduct while prosecuting a drug case. Read more.

Pressure to crack down on the SAFETY OF AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES is coming from a group of Democratic senators to the the Biden administration, ramping up an effort to restrict these driving systems as concerns about crashes on US roads have escalated. Read more.

A measure to BLOCK THE SEC from implementing its March CLIMATE DISCLOSURE regulation has been teed up for a House vote after the Financial Services Committee approved the bill along party lines. Read more.

  • The committee also advanced legislation to repeal a rule capping credit card late fees at $8. Read more.

House DEMOCRATS are seeking a pause on facilities that PRODUCE PLASTIC or convert it into other products such as fuel and feedstock, under bicameral legislation slated for introduction today, according to draft legislation obtained by Bloomberg Government. Read more.

People, Power, and Politics

TRUMP’s presidential campaign wants other Republicans to pay up if they use the former president’s name, image, or likeness in any fundraising solicitations, according to a new campaign memo obtained by Bloomberg.

  • Signed by co-campaign managers, Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, the memo asks that all candidates and committees who use Trump in their fundraising appeals, give a minimum of 5% of the money they earn to the Trump’s political operation. The letter says giving more than 5% is “seen favorably” and reported to the “highest levels of leadership” at both the Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign. Read more.

TRUMP and POLISH President Andrzej Duda discussed the war in Ukraine and a conflict in the Middle East during a two-and-half hour meeting at Trump Tower in New York on Wednesday evening. The Polish president described the meeting as “friendly.” Read more.

ECONOMISTS advising Trump are pushing to keep a cap on the state and local tax deduction, limiting a valuable tax break for many residents of New York, New Jersey, and California. Read more.

BIDEN called China “xenophobic” while highlighting the Asian nation’s economic woes, as he sought to make the case for US economic strength during a campaign stop in the swing state of Pennsylvania. Read more.

Democrats are treating Republican Rep. SCOTT PERRY’s Pennsylvania district as winnable. The primary there is one to watch on April 23.

  • Six potential Perry challengers are on the Democrats’ ballot, including a couple who’ve already raised more than the party’s last nominee had to spend on both the primary and general election combined. Read more.

Local NEW JERSEY DEMOCRATIC PARTIES lost an attempt to preserve a primary ballot that allows the party to identify their preferences, in a federal appeals court ruling that primes a similar change for Republicans. Read more.

What Else We’re Watching

Photographer: Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg
Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on March 26.

A SUPREME COURT case pitting emergency health care against a state abortion ban is being closely watched for its potential to create a foundation for fetal rights.

  • The justices are being asked if Idaho can prevent abortions in emergency situations under a federal law that requires most hospitals to stabilize patients who arrive with serious and life threatening conditions regardless of their ability to pay for care. Read more.

WHITE HOUSE officials renewed discussions about declaring a national climate emergency, an unprecedented step that could unlock federal powers to stifle oil development.

  • The move could be used to curtail crude exports, suspend offshore drilling and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Read more.

To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Jeannie Baumann in Washington at jbaumann@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com

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