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In the 118th Congress, there are 14 former governors in the Senate — the most in a generation — who hope to leverage their state chief executive experience to forge bipartisan deals amid divided government in Washington, where compromise is often frustratingly elusive.
Their negotiating skills will likely be called on in the coming months as Congress tackles nettlesome issues including raising the debt limit and proposals for entitlement changes, renewing farm programs, and passing spending bills.
“You’ve made executive decisions, you take it more seriously and you’ve had to be bipartisan in the way that you approach things,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told Bloomberg Government on former governors’ impact on the legislative process. “I think that bodes well for our country.”
Former governors have played key roles in securing recent deals on infrastructure, same-sex marriage, and the national debt. Governors-turned-senators say their legislating is better informed by their time enacting federal mandates like Medicaid, managing a balanced state budget, or serving as commander-in-chief of their state’s National Guard.
“Governors tend to be pragmatic,” said Sen. Pete Ricketts (R), who was Nebraska governor from 2015 to 2023 before being sworn in to the Senate last month. “We have our principles, but we also know that we want to get things done.”
Ricketts’s appointment to the Senate after the resignation of Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) last month brought the total number of former governors to its highest level since the 104th Congress (1995-97), according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government.
Read more from Zach C. Cohen and Greg Giroux: Senate’s Ex-Governors Use Statehouse Experience to Broker Deals
Happening on the Hill
- The House is adjourned until Feb. 27.
- The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to consider judicial and defense nominations.
The White House is reaching out to Senate Republicans about US district court vacancies in their states, although lawmakers vary widely in how well they think the discussions are going.
IRS Commissioner nominee Danny Werfel is expected to tell the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday that enforcement efforts against high-income taxpayers and improving customer service will be top priorities for the agency if he is confirmed.
President Joe Biden’s embattled nominee for the Federal Communications Commission is defending her work to serve marginalized communities in the face of outside groups’ concerns about delays.
The House is poised to move first on a revamp of federal permitting rules for energy projects, with a bill that could come as soon as this spring, according to lawmakers involved in the effort.
Alaska’s senators sharply condemned any potential Biden administration move to authorize ConocoPhillips’ $8 billion Willow oil project with restrictions so onerous it wouldn’t be viable, warning that would be seen as a rejection — and an unacceptable blow to residents across the nation’s largest state.
The removal of Brett Blanton as the Architect of the Capitol is sparking fresh questions about overspending on Capitol construction projects, renewing security concerns tied to Jan. 6 and questions about the scope of the office.
A group of Democratic senators including Banking Committee chair Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden (Ore.) introduce a bill that would increase the tax on a publicly-traded company that buys its own stock to 4% from 1% currently.
Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) underwent scheduled surgery for prostate cancer and doctors do not expect further treatment, the Pennsylvania Democrat says in a tweet.
Elections, Politics & Probes
The only empty seat in Congress almost certainly will be filled next week by a veteran state legislator who’d be the first Black woman to represent Virginia.
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the oldest member of the US Senate at age 89, isn’t running for reelection in 2024, but there are many octogenarians who will still grace the halls of Congress after she leaves.
A New York appeals court reinstated defamation claims against Rudy Giuliani and Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro over false claims they made about voting fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants to ease restrictions on gun ownership, a stance that exploits a weakness of Donald Trump and shores up support from a key segment of the GOP primary base.
Around the Administration
- Biden at 2:30 p.m. gives a speech about the middle class, the economy, and the deficit in Lanham, Maryland. He returns to the White House at 3:40 p.m.
Biden named Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard as his top economic aide, plucking away one of the central bank’s more dovish voices and creating a vacancy as it works to quash inflation.
Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard’s pending departure to the White House has spurred speculation over who would replace the influential dove as policymakers weigh how much further to raise interest rates.
The Biden administration is working on a proposal to better protect the privacy of patients seeking reproductive health care, a move that follows concerns from providers struggling to offer services amid state abortion restrictions.
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack rebuffed a concession by Mexico in a simmering trade dispute over a planned ban on genetically modified US corn.
The Labor Department’s federal employee benefits regulator is rushing to create a plan for how to address nearly two dozen SECURE 2.0 Act provisions that will require agency guidance or rulemaking.
The Pentagon scrambled fighter jets to counter four Russian aircraft that approached but didn’t enter US or Canadian airspace, in what officials described as a routine encounter unrelated to the series of unidentified objects shot down in recent days.
Four Florida businessmen are facing charges that they helped plan, support and finance the 2021 murder of Haiti President Jovenel Moise in the hope of winning contracts from the coup leader who would take over from him.
China warned that it will retaliate against the US over violations of its sovereignty, potentially escalating a lingering dispute just as top diplomats from both nations plan to attend a security conference in Germany.
Few have done more than Al Gore to galvanize public opinion on climate change. Less known is his effort over the past two decades to prove the compatibility of capitalism and sustainability.
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