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What happened in Washington this week

The top policy developments in Washington this week.
What happened in Washington this week
A roundup of the latest actions from across the federal government this week. (Library of Congress)
Good morning! It’s Friday, June 2, 2023. Every Friday, I set aside space in the newsletter to round up the policy developments in Washington you might have missed from the past week. As always, if you learn things from this Friday review — or from my political coverage throughout the week — I hope you’ll consider contributing to WUTP here. Every bit helps to make sure I can continue writing this newsletter and keep it free for all. Thanks for your support!

Here’s what happened in Washington this week:

Legislative Branch

1. The Senate passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal, in a 63-36 vote last night. 46 Democrats and 17 Republicans voted for the measure, which suspends the debt ceiling until January 2025, caps federal spending for the next two years, imposes new work requirements (and eases others) for food stamps, claws back some of the IRS’ new funding, introduces changes to speed the energy permitting process, and approves a natural gas pipeline championed by Joe Manchin.

The House voted 314-117 earlier in the week to pass the package. It now goes to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

  • ICYMI: In Thursday’s newsletter, I wrote about some of my takeaways from the debt ceiling debacle — and how the agreement shows the two parties in Washington can still work together. Click here to read the piece.

2. The Senate also voted 59-31 to confirm its 130th judge of the Biden presidency and 51-46 to approve a resolution repealing Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for some federal borrowers. The resolution, which previously passed the House 218-203, received support from all present Senate Republicans as well as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), and Jon Tester (D-MT). Biden has promised to veto it.  

3. The House voted 367-8 to approve a bill requiring the SEC to update its definition of “small business” every five years, in order to protect these businesses from overly burdensome regulations, and 309-67 in favor of a bill directing the SEC to create educational resources for minority-owned and rural small businesses.

4. The House also voted unanimously for a resolution condemning the rise of antisemitism and “calling on elected officials to identify and educate others on the contributions of the Jewish American community.”

Executive Branch

1. Vice President Harris announced a set of new actions to address racial bias in home appraisals, including a proposed regulation that would establish quality control standards seeking to root out discrimination in home valuation algorithms. A 2022 study found that homes in white communities are appraised, on average, for $408,000 more than identical home in comparable communities of color. The new regulation will be subject to a 60-day public comment period before taking effect.

2. The FDA approved Pfizer’s RSV vaccine for adults age 60 and older, the second-ever shot approved to fight the common respiratory virus. According to FDA data, about 60,000 adults age 65 and older are hospitalized with RSV each year; about 6,000 to 10,000 in the age group die anually from the virus. The Pfizer vaccine, which was found to be 86% effective against severe illness, could be available as soon as this fall. (The CDC must still greenlight the shot as well.)

3. The State Department announced new sanctions against officials and companies on both sides of Sudan’s violent conflict between military factions. Ceasefire talks between the two sides collapsed this week; per the UN, more than 850 civilians have been killed in the conflict and nearly 1.4 million people have been displaced.

Judicial Branch

1. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of a Washington state cement company seeking to sue the International Brotherhood of Teamsters over alleged destruction of property by striking workers in 2017. Although the opinion, authored by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, was a loss for the union, NPR reported that labor leaders are relieved by the ruling, after expecting a broader decision chipping away at workers’ right to strike.

More news you should know

"We are hiring" banner
The U.S. added a surprising number of jobs in May. (Eric Prouzet / Unsplash)

JOBS REPORT: “Employers added 339,000 jobs in May, in the latest sign that a booming labor market is keeping the country from slipping into a recession. The unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent last month, up from 3.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.” — Washington Post

AT THE BORDER: “The number of migrants illegally crossing the southwest U.S. border is at its lowest point since the start of the Biden administration, with just over 3,000 migrants stopped by Border Patrol each day. The number has plummeted from more than 10,000 daily just three weeks ago, despite widespread predictions of a surge after the end of the Title 42 Covid ban on May 11.” — NBC News

THE FALL: “President Biden tripped and fell after delivering a speech and handing out diplomas to graduates of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on Thursday. Mr. Biden, who is 80 years old, was helped up and appeared to recover quickly.” — New York Times

IRONIC: “Could Hunter Biden be the next poster child for Second Amendment rights?” — Politico

Today’s political planner

Marines march in the Friday Evening Parade. (Marine Corps)

All times Eastern.

President Biden will deliver remarks at 7 p.m. on the nation averting a default, in the first Oval Office address of his presidency. Later in the day, Biden will attend the Friday Evening Parade, which the Marine Corps performs every Friday during the summers at Marine Barracks Washington.

Vice President Harris will mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day with a speech in Springfield, Virginia, on the Biden administration’s efforts to reduce gun violence.

The House and Senate will not meet today, nor will the Supreme Court.

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