6 min read

Four things the government did this week

From the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to offshore wind turbines, here’s what got done in Washington in the past week.
Four things the government did this week
Good morning! It’s Friday, October 21, 2022. The 2022 election is 18 days away. The 2024 election is 747 days away.

Happy Friday! Congrats on making it to the end of the week.

As always, I like to take Friday to make sure you’re aware of what your leaders here in Washington got done in the past week. Like last week, I’ve also included a feature that shows you some of the responses to each action. Plus, at the end, you’ll see a roundup of some updates to actions I’ve talked about previously in this space — to make sure that we’re following issues all the way through the policy process.

Congress was out of session this week, so these are only Executive Branch actions.

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I’ve loved getting all your feedback on the new format and website. Keep letting me know your likes and dislikes so I can make sure this newsletter serves you as best as possible! If you’ve emailed me in the past few days and I haven’t gotten back to you yet — I promise I will soon. Have a great weekend, and see you on Monday!

Week in review: What the government got done

🛢️ Selling oil reserves

President Biden signed 0ff on the sale of 15 million barrels of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the last of the 180 million barrels he authorized to be released in March. Biden said that the move would help bring down gas prices and give American families some “breathing room.”

➞ The conversation: Since the U.S. uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day, some experts doubted whether the move would have much of an impact on gas prices. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) called it “a short-sighted and dangerous choice,” noting that the SPR is at its lowest level since 1984. Other GOP lawmakers said it was a pre-election gimmick, but Biden insisted that it was “not politically motivated at all” as the midterms approach.

🤰 Abortions for troops

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the Pentagon would pay the travel costs for any service members (or their dependents) who are seeking an abortion but are stationed in states that have banned the procedure.

➞ The conversation: “There is no higher priority than taking care of our people, and ensuring their health and well-being,” Austin said, saying the move would also help ensure new abortion laws don’t impact military recruiting. Axios notes that federal law prevents government funds from being used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, and saving the mother’s life; the Pentagon says it is only paying for the travel.

An offshore wind farm on the U.S. east coast. (Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

🌬️ Floating wind turbines

The Interior Department announced the first-ever lease sale for offshore wind energy on America’s west coast. The sale, which will take place on December 6, will offer the rights for five areas off the coast of California, where the Biden administration hopes to set up floating wind turbines.

➞ The conversation: Per the agency, the new development could produce more than 4.5 gigawatts of wind energy, powering more than 1.5 million homes. However, experts have pointed out that the technology to tether the floating turbines to the sea floor has not yet been finished.

🇺🇦 More Ukraine aid

The Defense Department authorized an additional $725 million in military assistance for Ukraine, the 23rd such package since August 2021. This latest round of aid included High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs), ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and 5,000 anti-tank weapons.

➞ The conversation: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this week that the U.S. will continue to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” Meanwhile, Republican support for Ukraine aid is shifting, with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy saying that his party won’t support a “blank check” for the country if they win the House majority next month.

✅ More from this week

  • The application for student loan debt relief went live. It can be found here. Pell Grant recipients who took out federal student loans are eligible for up to $20,000 in relief; other borrowers are eligible for up to $10,000.
  • An FDA regulation making hearing aids available over the counter went into effect. The Biden administration estimates that the move could save as much as $3,000 per pair of hearing aids for the 30 million Americans who have hearing loss.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announced $15 million in new mental health funding, authorized by the bipartisan gun control law. The Energy Department awarded $2.8 billion in grants to expand domestic manufacturing for electric vehicle batteries, as authorized by the bipartisan infrastructure law.

🚨 More news you should know

➞ Across the pond: The race to succeed UK Prime Minister Liz Truss is on, after she resigned just 45 days into her tenure. According to Bloomberg, Rishi Sunak — the runner-up when Truss was selected — has the most support from Conservative Party lawmakers so far. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Truss’ predecessor, is also picking up support for a possible comeback bid.

Sunak would be the UK’s first non-white prime minister.

➞ Midterms: Republicans have overtaken Democrats in the generic ballot polling average for the first time since August, per FiveThirtyEight.

➞ Student loans: A Missouri federal judge rejected a legal challenge to President Biden’s student debt relief plan filed by six Republican-led states. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett shot down a separate request to block the plan from a group in Wisconsin.

➞ Trump investigations: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will have to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating GOP efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results, a federal appeals court ruled.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to hear a challenge to Biden’s student loans plan. (Trump White House)

🗓 What your leaders are doing today

All times Eastern. Click on an event’s time to watch or listen to it.

Executive Branch

President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 am) and deliver remarks on deficit reduction (11 am) before traveling to Delaware. Once there, he will deliver remarks on student debt relief at Delaware State University in Dover (3:15 pm) and then travel to his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, where he will spend the weekend.    

Vice President Harris has nothing on her public schedule.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a press gaggle aboard Air Force One during the flight to Delaware.

Legislative Branch

The Senate is on recess. The House will convene briefly for a pro forma session (11 am), but it won’t conduct any legislative business either. Neither chamber is scheduled to hold votes until November 14, after the midterms.

Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court has no oral arguments until October 31.

👋 Before I go...

Let’s end on a lighter note: You may have heard about the head of lettuce that outlasted Liz Truss and lit up the Internet.


Here’s an explainer on the viral lettuce in case that sentence made no sense to you.

And here’s a related tweet that made me laugh:

That’s all for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe