Joe Biden

News, Analysis and Opinion from POLITICO

  1. Playbook Deep Dive

    Moderate Dem says Title 42 was Biden’s border blunder

    Rep. Henry Cuellar warns of the “resentment” that Joe Biden’s immigration policy is causing in border communities, and the possible electoral backlash it may cause for Democrats.

    This week, after years of criticism from immigration rights activists and many progressive Democrats, President Joe Biden has ended the use of Title 42. That’s the public health law that Donald Trump first used during the pandemic to expel millions of asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Biden’s decision has drawn predictable outrage from Republicans. But perhaps more worrisome to the president is the growing list of critics from within the Democratic Party who are concerned that Biden’s border policies could trigger a humanitarian crisis and perhaps an electoral backlash.

    Rep. Henry Cuellar is one of those Democrats. And he’s this week’s guest on Playbook Deep Dive.

    Cuellar knows the issue of immigration better than most of his fellow Democrats. He was born to immigrant farm workers in Laredo, Texas, went to college and law school, and eventually jumped into Texas politics, and then the U.S. Congress, where he’s served since 2005 representing Texas’ 28th Congressional District, which stretches from San Antonio to Laredo and includes 200 miles of the southern border.

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  2. Defense

    Both Biden and Trump sent troops to the border. That’s where the similarities end.

    From law enforcement duties to building barriers, the tasks will be different.

    Hundreds of active-duty U.S. troops are descending on the Mexican border this week, but they’re not authorized to make arrests, use their weapons or do much more than administrative work.

    That’s making the military deployment — timed for the end of pandemic-era immigration restrictions — a classic no-win political situation for the Biden administration, which is getting hit from at least one prominent Democrat for perpetuating Trump-era militarization of the border, and from Republicans who say the mission will be utterly ineffectual.

    Within President Joe Biden’s party, Sen. Bob Menendez has been blasting Biden’s move as “trying to score political points or intimidate migrants by sending the military” and catering to the GOP’s “xenophobic attacks on our asylum system.”

    Most Democratic congressional leaders have been muted in their reaction to the deployment, even though they were quick to criticize border deployments when Trump did it.

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  3. Congress

    As the border heats up, Dems fracture over a migration solution

    There's a deep ideological split in the party as Title 42 expires, with some demanding a quick border solution and others glad to be rid of the Trump-era policy.

    Sherrod Brown is a stalwart progressive who doesn’t often partner with the likes of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

    On the hot-button issue of immigration, though, the Ohio Democrat is siding with his caucuses' two most famous centrists.

    As the Biden administration deals with the expiration of its pandemic-era power to expel migrants at the southern border, Brown is signing onto a moderate proposal to extend that authority for two more years. Though he wants to see comprehensive immigration reform enacted, Brown said that “I don’t think you can get something comprehensive now, under the pressure of what’s happening at the border.”

    “It’s clear to me presidents of both parties have failed on this. And we need to send more resources to the border,” Brown said in an interview. “We need two more years to get this right.”

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  4. Energy & Environment

    Challenge for Biden power rule: Keeping the lights on

    Power producers say squeezing fossil fuels will worsen the strains on the grid, though EPA's backers say those risks are manageable.

    The Biden administration’s new greenhouse gas rule is designed to drive drastic changes in how U.S. power companies produce electricity — but utilities say it could escalate the risk of outages as it squeezes fossil fuel plants into retirement.

    Power producers are already warning that the rule threatens to compromise the power network’s reliability by pushing their older, dirtier coal and gas plants into retirement at an even faster pace than they are closing now. They say it’s especially worrisome if the plants aren’t replaced as quickly as they shut down.

    Power outages reached an all-time high in 2020 and are on the rise because of major climate-fueled weather disasters, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The average person went seven hours without power in 2021 compared with less than four hours in 2013.

    Meanwhile, the shift to electric vehicles and a push to switch other types of energy demand to electricity is expected to boost U.S. power consumption by 12 percent to 22 percent between 2021 and 2030, requiring a significant increase in generation capacity.

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  5. Finance & Tax

    The eight-year gap splitting negotiators on a debt deal

    Staff-level talks between the White House and Congress are beginning to look promising. But big divides remain.

    Thursday’s postponement of debt-ceiling talks between congressional leaders and President Joe Biden in favor of ongoing staff-level meetings left Washington with promising, if faint, evidence that a deal might be possible to avoid the calamity of a federal government default.

    Still, the parties remain years apart, literally, on a potential deal as Speaker Kevin McCarthy continued to hit the White House for the delay.

    “I have not seen from [them] a seriousness of the White House that they want to deal… He ignored us now for 100 days. He thought this problem would go away,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said at a press conference Thursday. “The White House didn't cancel the meeting. All of the leaders decided it's probably the best of our interest to let the staff meet again before we get back.”

    Press conference jabs aside, the move to punt Thursday’s White House meeting to next week — framed by both sides as a sign of good progress — puts the onus back on staff-level talks, which will continue Friday. The multi-day flurry of meetings has thus far yielded negotiations that look more and more like they could end in a spending-caps deal, a bargain not unlike the one that ended the 2011 “fiscal cliff” standoff between Republicans and then-President Barack Obama.

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  6. Florida

    Florida federal judge temporarily blocks Biden’s migrant parole policy

    The ruling comes as the pandemic-era Title 42 public health restriction expires.

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida temporarily blocked the Biden administration from carrying out parts of its latest immigration plan in a Thursday night ruling that came as tens of thousands of migrants amassed at the southern border.

    Siding with Florida and the administration of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell ordered the federal government to stand down from its proposed move to “parole” migrants crossing the southern border through Texas. The Biden administration has been preparing for a substantial influx of arrivals ahead of the Covid-era Title 42 rules expiring at midnight and now is locked in a legal saga.

    Wetherell, in an order that came down around 9:30 p.m., determined that he “fails to see a material difference” between the Biden administration’s new parole policy and the one the judge determined was unconstitutional in March.

    The Thursday ruling builds on a previous lawsuit filed by Florida against the Biden administration that asserted authorities were ignoring a federal law requiring migrants entering the country illegally to be detained. That lawsuit criticized a parole and “alternatives to detention” policy created in November 2021 and since modified.

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  7. White House

    How environmental wonks may help Biden unlock the debt ceiling crisis

    Permitting reform has been viewed within the White House and on Capitol Hill as, potentially, a key piece of an eventual agreement on debt ceiling negotiations.

    When JOHN PODESTA delivered a speech Wednesday laying out the administration’s priorities for reforming the federal government’s permitting process, some Republicans in Congress saw it as a sign of the White House moving their way in the negotiations tying up the debt ceiling being lifted.

    Podesta is President JOE BIDEN’s senior adviser tasked with implementing his climate agenda. So his comments carry serious weight. But the White House noted that the remarks were scheduled long before the debt limit discussions had reached this phase. And Podesta did not deviate from the administration’s position that raising the debt limit is not negotiable.

    “The threat of default should never be used in policy fights,” he said during his speech at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “If you want to talk about permitting, we should talk about permitting.”

    Still, two sources familiar with the ongoing spending negotiations over the debt limit increase confirmed that permitting reform is on the table — and viewed within the White House and on Capitol Hill as, potentially, a key piece of an eventual agreement that could give House Speaker KEVIN MCCARTHY enough political cover to agree to a revised debt ceiling increase.

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  8. Elections

    Can Trump cure all of Biden's ills? Some Dems aren't so sure.

    Anxiety mounts that the 2020 playbook isn’t replicable and that Biden world may be too confident in it.

    Donald Trump’s CNN town hall on Wednesday night was viewed as a gift from the political gods inside Biden world.

    But within broader Democratic circles it fed a nagging and growing concern. Is the president’s team a touch too confident about a Trump-Biden rematch?

    For more than a year, White House aides and Joe Biden allies have beat the same drum about the coming election: The world doubted us before and we’ll prove them wrong again. That conviction has only been fortified by the last two years, in which major legislative strides and a better-than-expected midterm came in the face of routine skepticism.

    But as the campaign gears up, other Democrats are warning that the past cannot be considered prologue. Top officials privately have expressed anxiety about the state of the president’s reelection operation. There was internal debate among party luminaries about launching the campaign in April, with fears that the pieces were not yet in place and that the White House needed more time for the transition. Chief of staff Jeff Zients had wanted Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the incoming campaign manager, to stay for an additional month in her current role as director of the White House’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, but was talked out of it, a White House official confirmed.

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  9. Congress

    Biden and Hill leaders postpone debt meeting as deal talks continue

    The group has instead agreed to meet next week. And for several players in the Capitol, the delay wasn't necessarily a bad sign.

    President Joe Biden and top congressional leaders have delayed their planned Friday meeting to discuss the debt ceiling, according to a White House spokesperson.

    The group has instead agreed to meet next week. The postponement comes as the White House and GOP leaders have just weeks before a June 1 deadline to strike a deal that raises the nation’s borrowing limit. But several people familiar with the discussions characterized it as a positive development, and a sign that talks between White House and Hill staffers are gaining momentum.

    Congressional and White House staff plan to meet again on Friday, when both the House and Senate are scheduled to be out of session, according to another person close to the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    "There have been very good discussions over the last few days at the staff level. And I think the decision was collectively made, led by the White House, to allow those staff conversations to continue," House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said in a brief interview.

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  10. Energy & Environment

    The nerd’s guide to Biden’s new climate rule

    A handy key to understanding what the president wants power plants to do.

    President Joe Biden's administration on Thursday proposed powerful new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, the nation’s second-largest source of climate pollution.

    The rule, which covers existing fossil fuel plants as well as future ones, clocks in at 681 pages. Here's what to know about the proposal, which Environmental Protection Agency chief Michael Regan said will “protect people from harmful pollution and safeguard the planet for future generations.”

    Wait, didn’t EPA do this before?
    Yes — you have a great memory. The agency has tried twice before to regulate carbon dioxide from power plants. And both efforts ended up on the scrap heap.

    First was the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan in 2015. It set emissions reduction goals for each state based on how much EPA calculated they could achieve. It allowed the states to pursue several strategies to cut their carbon pollution, including shifting away from coal and toward cleaner-burning natural gas or greenhouse-gas-free renewables.

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  11. Defense

    Pentagon chiefs: Debt default is bad for troops, good for China

    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said a default would mean a "substantial risk to our reputation" that Beijing could exploit.

    The Pentagon's top civilian and military leaders have a warning for lawmakers fighting over the government's borrowing limit: a default would be a win for China, and would endanger troops' pay.

    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley on Thursday told the Senate Defense Appropriations panel that breaching the debt limit would significantly damage U.S. standing in the world and call into question the country's global leadership.

    "China right now describes us in their open speeches, etc., as a declining power," Milley said. "Defaulting on the debt would only reinforce that thought and embolden China and increase risk to the United States."

    Austin added that a default would mean a "substantial risk to our reputation" that China could exploit.

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  12. Energy & Environment

    EPA chief touts Biden's climate rule as opponents circle

    “It’s not about party affiliation. It’s not about politics,” said Administrator Michael Regan.

    President Joe Biden’s environmental chief pitched his agency’s new proposal Thursday to crack down on planet-heating gases from power plants as delivering on the president’s promise to combat climate change — even as Republicans and industry opponents disparaged it as a recipe for economic ruin.

    The rule would bring benefits to all Americans by reducing the effects of climate change, curbing pollution and providing better-paying jobs, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan told a crowd at the University of Maryland in College Park.

    “It’s not about party affiliation. It’s not about politics,” said Regan, speaking alongside Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a labor union member and a student activist. “It's about uniting as a society, as a nation, as a people, for the greater good of humanity. It's about recognizing and acknowledging that we may not exactly agree on the how, but we must agree on the what.”

    Regan sought to simultaneously minimize growing angst from young voters worried about some of Biden’s recent moves on the environment — such as approving a major oil project in Alaska — and deflect criticism from industry that the EPA was going too far with its proposal.

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  13. energy & environment

    Manchin attacked EPA’s new rules. They could cost him millions.

    The West Virginia senator accused the Biden administration of killing coal plants. One, in particular, has helped enrich him.

    When Sen. Joe Manchin upbraided EPA on Wednesday for requiring power plants to reduce their carbon emissions, he didn't mention that the agency's rules could threaten his personal income.

    The West Virginia Democrat vowed to oppose President Joe Biden's EPA nominees because the agency's rules being proposed Thursday could push coal- and gas-fired power plants "out of existence," he said.

    The risk to one plant, in particular, could jeopardize a lucrative source of money for Manchin. His family business Enersystems Inc. delivers waste coal to the Grant Town power plant, a financially struggling coal facility near Manchin's hometown that he has spent much of his political career protecting.

    The Grant Town plant has repeatedly threatened to shut down. Now, with the release of EPA rules that are expected to push many power plants into installing expensive technology to capture their carbon emissions before the pollution escapes into the sky, the plant faces an increasingly troubled future. Many coal plants might shut down rather than comply with the stringent new climate rules.

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  14. Finance & Tax

    Biden chief economist pick Bernstein moves toward Senate confirmation

    The longtime Biden aide has already been an important voice in the administration’s economic messaging.

    President Joe Biden’s pick for chief economist, Jared Bernstein, is one step closer to Senate confirmation to a post that will be key to White House efforts to steer the economy away from recession.

    Bernstein cleared the Senate Banking Committee in a 12-11 vote on Thursday, putting him on track to lead the White House Council of Economic Advisers at a time when Biden is running for reelection, growth is slowing and inflation remains persistently high.

    The longtime Biden aide has already been an important voice in the administration’s economic messaging, including on legislation passed last year that boosted spending on infrastructure, semiconductor manufacturing and climate initiatives.

    Republicans criticized Bernstein — who is currently a member of the CEA — for being part of the chorus, both in and outside of the administration, predicting in 2021 that inflation would be merely a transitory phenomenon. Though price spikes have steadily cooled since June 2022, inflation is still hovering just under 5 percent. They are also critical of the president’s energy policies.

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  15. Energy & Environment

    Biden rule tells power plants to cut climate pollution by 90 percent — or shut down

    The administration is launching Washington’s most ambitious effort in almost a decade to reduce the nation’s second-largest source of greenhouse gases — and hopes this one will survive in court.

    The Biden administration is announcing a climate rule that would require most fossil fuel power plants to slash their greenhouse gas pollution 90 percent between 2035 and 2040 — or shut down.

    The highly anticipated regulation being unveiled Thursday morning is just the latest step in President Joe Biden’s campaign to green the U.S. economy, an effort that has brought a counterattack from Republicans and coal-state Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. That’s on top of efforts by Biden’s agencies to promote the use of electric cars, subsidize green energy sources like solar and wind and tighten regulations on products including gas stoves and dishwashers.

    The draft power plant rule from the Environmental Protection Agency would break new ground by requiring steep pollution cuts from plants burning coal or natural gas, which together provide the lion’s share of the nation’s electricity. To justify the size of those cuts, the agency says fossil fuel plants could capture their greenhouse gas emissions before they hit the atmosphere — a long-debated technology that no power plant in the U.S. uses now.

    As an alternative, utilities could hasten their decisions to shut down their aging coal plants, a trend that has already gathered speed in the past two decades. The rule allows plants that agree to close in the first half of the 2030s to avoid most or all of the pollution-reduction mandates.

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  16. Florida

    Ron DeSantis can’t quit Covid

    The national pandemic health emergency is expiring. But the governor is still highlighting his Covid record.

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. America is moving on from Covid-19. Ron DeSantis can't stop talking about it.

    With the Covid-triggered national health emergency set to expire Thursday, DeSantis has been crisscrossing the country touting his handling of the virus. DeSantis criticized “lockdown politicians” during a visit to California and called Florida a “refuge of sanity” amid pandemic closures when he was in South Carolina last month. At Liberty University in Virginia two weeks ago, the governor said he bucked the political and medical establishment to keep Florida open.

    DeSantis, who is expected to announce a presidential bid in the coming weeks, has gone even further in his home state. The governor this year pressed Republicans in the Legislature to pass a series of Covid-19-related bills, including measures that permanently ban mask mandates in schools and prohibit businesses from firing employees who don’t get vaccinated.

    “It's purely political,” said state Sen. Tina Polsky, a Democrat from Boca Raton, of the legislation to ban pandemic-era mandates forever.

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  17. Congress

    Tommy Tuberville’s office clarifies his white nationalist comments

    "I call them Americans,” Tuberville said, when asked whether white nationalists should be barred from the military.

    Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s office on Wednesday clarified statements he made about white nationalists serving in the military.

    “Do you believe they should allow white nationalists in the military?” the Alabama senator was asked during an interview on WBHM that was posted online on Monday. “Well, they call them that. I call them Americans,” Tuberville said.

    On Wednesday, Tuberville’s office clarified those remarks to a publication in his home state, telling that Tuberville’s comment “shows that he was being skeptical of the notion that there are white nationalists in the military, not that he believes they should be in the military,” and that the senator believes members of the military are “patriots.”

    During the radio interview, Tuberville, a member of the Senate Arms Services Committee, also decried lagging recruitment in the military, blaming Biden-administration policies.

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  18. White House

    Biden starts to throw some punches in the debt ceiling fight

    The president took questions from the press and went to a GOP-held district Wednesday. His team is already eyeing more.

    VALHALLA, N. Y. — President Joe Biden took his debt ceiling appeal to the road on Wednesday, part of an effort to more aggressively utilize the bully pulpit as default inches closer.

    Speaking just one day after an Oval Office meeting with congressional leadership led to little progress in striking a deal to ward off default as the deadline rapidly approaches, the White House’s choice of venue was deliberately chosen: a suburban GOP-held New York state district within commuting distance of Wall Street. The area also is home to a Republican lawmaker who narrowly captured a district last year that broke for Biden in 2020.

    Biden made the case that Republicans were “holding the economy hostage” in their unwillingness to pass a clean debt ceiling raise. And the GOP’s budget proposal, the president argued, would also devastate the economy.

    “Republican threats are dangerous and they make no sense,” Biden said to a crowd of roughly 300 people at SUNY Westchester Community College.

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  19. New York

    Adams no longer Biden surrogate after blasting White House on migrants

    New York City Mayor Eric Adams had said the president “failed” the city by mishandling the asylum-seeker crisis.

    NEW YORK — President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign has dropped New York City Mayor Eric Adams as a national surrogate following his public criticism of the White House’s approach to the migrant crisis.

    Adams is among several lawmakers who were initially named to the president’s National Advisory Board in March but no longer appear on a roster of 50 prominent Democrats released by the campaign Wednesday.

    But his case stands out.

    The outspoken mayor of the nation’s largest city has in recent weeks pointedly criticized Biden over the White House’s response to the asylum-seeker crisis. New York City has projected billions of dollars in costs to provide shelter, food and other services to over 60,000 migrants. Adams has called for more funding from the federal government, an organized resettlement strategy at the border and expedited work permits to help him manage the influx. And as the expiration of a key border policy set for later this week grew closer, Adams amped up his rhetoric, most recently lumping the sitting Democratic president in the same boat with the congressional Republicans.

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  20. White House

    Former Biden adviser Tribe: Just use the 14th Amendment now

    The longtime constitutional scholar said Biden’s fear that it will be caught in the courts was misplaced.

    President Joe Biden made waves Tuesday when he acknowledged he was considering using the 14th Amendment to end the debt standoff — before saying he feared it would get caught up in courts.

    On Wednesday, the politically active constitutional scholar who warmed Biden to the idea called the president's concerns misplaced.

    “I don’t think there is any litigation to fear,” said Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, adding that he “hopes” Biden realizes a court challenge is not something to worry about.

    Tribe’s response to Biden represents his latest effort to try and persuade the president to utilize novel legal arguments as a way through the increasingly thorny debt ceiling standoff. Tribe’s push for the 14th Amendment first got on Biden’s radar vis-a-vis a May 7 New York Times op-ed, in which he said the debt ceiling must be ignored in order for the president to execute other laws enacted by Congress.

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