WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden called for bipartisan action on a pathway to citizenship for some migrants during a naturalization ceremony Friday at the White House in which he celebrated the contributions immigrants have made to the U.S.
“We need an immigration system that both reflects our values and upholds our laws. We can do both,” Biden said.
The president said there should be a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, for foreign-born people who have temporary protected status due to strife in their birth countries and for farm workers. Biden's comments, however, stopped short of the legislative proposal he's endorsed, which includes a much broader option for most immigrants to apply for legal status and then seek citizenship.
In February, Biden and congressional Democrats proposed a major immigration overhaul that included an eight-year pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million people living in the United States illegally. Republican lawmakers blocked the effort and have criticized the administration for the rise in people attempting to cross the southern border without visas.
The immigration debate involves fundamental issues of national security and economic growth. Republican lawmakers seeking to limit immigration say it will help keep the U.S. safe and protect jobs for native-born citizens. But economists — many associated with Democrats — say increased immigration would boost economic growth, currently weighed down by falling fertility rates.
But on Friday, Biden emphasized the contributions immigrants have made to the U.S., noting his own family came from Ireland generations ago.
“It’s dreams of immigrants like you that built America and continue to inject new energy, new vitality, new strength,” he said.
Biden said the coronavirus pandemic — where immigrants helped save lives as frontline workers, scientists and researchers — and the recent Mars rover landing, which was driven by a team full of immigrants, proved his point.
On Friday, the president also recognized Sandra Lindsay as an “Outstanding American by Choice,” a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services program that recognizes citizens who have been naturalized. Lindsay is believed to be the first American to be vaccinated against COVID-19 outside of a clinical trial. She works as director of nursing for critical care at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — President Joe Biden stayed mum on policy during a Saturday trip to Michigan, focusing instead on cherries — and cherry pie and cherry ice cream — and voters who were mask-free as coronavirus restrictions have eased. It had all the hallmarks of a campaign stop that he couldn’t make last year.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer greeted Biden when he arrived midday in Traverse City, which is hosting the National Cherry Festival, an event that attracted Presidents Herbert Hoover and Gerald Ford in the past.
They skipped the festival, however, in favor of a cherry farm in nearby Antrim County, where Biden pitched his immigration plans when chatting with two couples from Guatemala who were picking fruit. He then greeted a long line of enthusiastic supporters stretched out behind a rope.
His trip was billed as part of a broader campaign by the administration to drum up public support for his bipartisan infrastructure package and other polices geared toward families and education. But the president was out for direct contact with voters and refrained from delivering remarks about his policy proposals.
Whitmer told reporters she spoke to Biden about infrastructure, although not about any projects for Michigan specifically.
“I’m the fix-the-damn-roads governor, so I talk infrastructure with everybody, including the president," she said. In recent flooding, she said the state saw “under-invested infrastructure collide with climate change” and the freeways were under water.
“So this is an important moment. And that’s why this infrastructure package is so important. That’s also why I got the president rocky road fudge from Mackinac Island for his trip here," she said.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow also said she spoke with the president about the infrastructure package as they toured the cherry farm, noting that her phone signal dropped to one bar and that the proposed broadband buildout was needed.
Biden's host at King Orchards, Juliette King McAvoy, introduced him to the two Guatemalan couples, who she said had been working on the farm for 35 years. He told them he was proposing a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers. Biden then picked a cherry out of one of their baskets and ate it. He later bought pies at the farm's market, including three varieties of cherry.
Before leaving Michigan, he stopped in at Moomers Homemade Ice Cream in Traverse City, where he bought Cherries Moobilie cones for Stabenow and Gary Peters, Michigan's other Democratic senator. But for himself it was vanilla with chocolate chips in a waffle cone.
Told it was cherry country, Biden said, “Yeah, but I’m more of a chocolate chip guy.”
First lady Jill Biden also was on the road Saturday, traveling to Maine and New Hampshire, while Vice President Kamala Harris was visiting a union training center in Las Vegas.
The president has said the key to getting his $973 billion deal passed in Congress involves taking the case straight to voters. While Republicans and Democrats might squabble in Washington, Biden’s theory is that lawmakers of both parties want to deliver for their constituents.
White House officials negotiated a compromise with a bipartisan group of senators led by Republican Rob Portman of Ohio and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
The agreement, announced in June, features $109 billion on roads and highways, $15 billion on electric vehicle infrastructure and transit systems and $65 billion toward broadband, among other expenditures on airports, drinking water systems and resiliency efforts to tackle climate change.
It would be funded by COVID-19 relief that was approved in 2020 but unspent, repurposed money for enhanced unemployment benefits and increased enforcement by the IRS on wealthier Americans who avoid taxes. The financing also depends on leasing 5G telecommunications spectrum, the strategic petroleum reserve and the potential economic growth produced by the investments.
Biden intends to pass additional initiatives on education and families as well as tax increases on the wealthy and corporations through the budget reconciliation process. This would allow the passage of Biden’s priorities by a simple majority vote, avoiding the 60-vote hurdle in a Senate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden wants to give U.S. farmers more power in negotiating the sale of livestock to big processors and in deciding who repairs their tractors, the White House said on Tuesday.
The executive order, expected within days, will also address such competitive issues as delayed airline baggage, cellphone company practices and Pentagon contracts, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The order would encourage the Federal Trade Commission to limit the ability of farm equipment manufacturers to prevent tractor owners from using independent repair shops or repairing their own equipment.
Reuters first reported the action on repairs earlier on Tuesday and the planned executive order last week.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday the effort would help farmers “fight back against abuses of power by giant agribusiness corporations and give farmers the right to repair their own equipment how they like.”
The FTC wrote a report for Congress in May that discussed “Right to Repair,” addressing the limits that manufacturers put on who can repair items ranging from mobile phones to home appliances to cars. Such limits may also raise the price of those repairs.
The source said the scope of any “Right to Repair” rules would be set by the FTC.
Biden’s order could encourage the FTC to lift further limits consumers face for repairing products they buy.
Some tractor manufacturers like Deere & Co, AGCO Corp and CNHI use proprietary repair tools and software to prevent third parties from performing some repairs. Shares of the companies fell on news of Biden’s plans, first reported by Reuters on Tuesday.
John Deere said in a statement it “does not support the right to modify embedded software due to risks associated with the safe operation of the equipment, emissions compliance and engine performance.”
It added that “less than 2 percent of all repairs require a software update, so the majority of repairs farmers need to make, can be made easily.”
The FTC did not immediately comment.
The source said Biden and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “believe farmers should have the right to repair their own equipment how they like.”
Separately, Biden plans to direct the USDA to write rules to boost competition in agricultural industries, including one under the Packers and Stockyards Act making it easier for farmers to bring claims, the White House said. There will also be anti-retaliation protections for farmers who raise concerns about bad practices.
Biden will also direct USDA to issue new rules defining when meat can bear “Product of USA” labels, Psaki said.
Under current labeling rules, meat can be labeled “Product of USA” if it is processed in the United States, even if the livestock is raised overseas and then processed into cuts of meat at a U.S. facility.
Meatpacking has come under increased scrutiny after slaughterhouses closed temporarily during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, boosting prices for meat sold by processors like JBS USA and Tyson Foods Inc while lowering prices for farmers’ livestock.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has said he wants to make agricultural markets more fair and resilient after the pandemic highlighted how concentration in the sector can hurt farmers. Four companies slaughter about 85% of U.S. grain-fattened cattle that are made into steaks, beef roasts and other cuts of meat for consumers The USDA said in June it would start working on three rules to strengthen enforcement of the Packers & Stockyards Act, passed 100 years ago to protect farmers and ranchers from unfair trade practices.
Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; additional reporting by Tom Polansek and Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, David Gregorio and Howard Goller
Biden signed an executive order Friday taking aim at industries where
certain companies dominate the market, kicking off a major new battle
between the administration and corporate titans that could reshape
aspects of the U.S. economy.
executive order — which contains 72 initiatives — is striking in its
scope and ambition, challenging the business practices of America’s
enormous technology, health-care, agricultural and manufacturing firms
while also aiming to shake up smaller sectors dominated by only a
handful of companies, such as the hearing aid industry.
heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: open and fair
competition,” Biden said in remarks before signing the order,
accompanied by several members of his Cabinet. “…Competition keeps the
economy moving and keeps it growing. Fair competition is why capitalism
has been the world’s greatest force for prosperity and growth.”
effort reflects a major change in Democratic policymaking circles,
where a new generation of economists has produced research and advocacy
arguing that corporate consolidation has harmed workers and consumers.
It also tees up a major challenge for the administration, which is
likely to face sharp resistance from businesses that may seek relief
through courts that have shown skepticism about competition arguments in
Late last month, for instance, a federal court threw out antitrust cases brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.
more, many big companies have only grown in power in the past 18
months, as size became a major asset in navigating the financial and
economic turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic.
The executive order identifies a wide range of sectors that it says are in need of reform.
encourages federal regulators to craft new rules on tech companies’
data collection and user surveillance practices, targeting the path that
such giants as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon took to dominance.
(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
wants to reduce broadband providers’ market control by restoring net
neutrality rules that were dropped during the Trump administration and
limiting their ability to cut exclusive deals with landlords.
FAQ: What does Biden’s new order about businesses and competition mean for consumers?
order also tells the Food and Drug Administration to work toward
allowing the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada and calls for new
rules limiting “noncompete” agreements, which prevent employees from
recommendations include compelling airlines to disclose “add-on fees”
for seating and baggage and making it easier for consumers to get
refunds on flights, as well as requiring banks to let customers take
their financial transaction data when they switch to a competitor. The
order also aims to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, which
Biden said Friday would save consumers hundreds of dollars.
the most impactful part of the order relates to Silicon Valley. It
recommends greater scrutiny of acquisitions by major tech companies,
especially those of nascent rivals. That focus comes after the Federal
Trade Commission brought an antitrust complaint
against Facebook last year challenging its purchases of WhatsApp and
Instagram. A federal judge last month dismissed that suit, but the FTC
can refile it within 30 days.
FTC Chair Lina Khan,
who appeared beside Biden as he signed the order, and Richard A.
Powers, the acting chief of the Justice Department’s antitrust division,
said Friday that they would launch a joint review of merger guidelines,
with the goal of making them more rigorous.
“The current guidelines deserve a hard look to determine whether they are overly permissive,” they said in a joint statement.
order also calls on the FTC to set new rules to combat “unfair
competition” in online marketplaces. Critics have raised concerns about
the dual role that tech companies like Amazon and Apple play as
marketplace operators and participants within them, competing with
smaller retailers or app developers. Congressional investigators in a
report last year called out Amazon’s relationship with third-party sellers, accusing the company of exploiting its access to their data and information.
Biden administration also wants to see new guidelines on surveillance
and the accumulation of data in the wake of major privacy scandals
involving data held by Facebook and other tech titans. The order also
encourages the restoration of Obama-era net neutrality rules, which
require Internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally. And it
calls on the Federal Communications Commission to revive plans to
implement a “broadband nutrition label,” which would make clearer how
much people are paying for Internet service.
a prominent tech critic, took the helm of the FTC last month, which
suggests some directives are likely to be issued. However, key vacancies
in other top tech regulation roles may impede implementation of the
order. Biden has yet to name someone to run the Justice Department’s
antitrust division or install an FCC chair. The FCC currently is
deadlocked, with two Democratic commissioners and two Republicans.
order does not itself put these policies into effect, and none will be
enacted overnight. Instead, it directs federal agencies to begin work on
their own rules, a process that probably would lead to a comment
period, which experts say can take three or four months. The
administration also is issuing only recommendations to independent
agencies crucial to much of the antitrust push, such as the FTC, that
are not subject to directives from the White House.
FTC probably can limit noncompetes only “on the margins,” diminishing
its effectiveness, but Biden’s support bolsters bipartisan legislation
on the matter currently moving through Congress, said John Lettieri,
president of the Economic Innovation Group, a bipartisan public policy
organization. “This is just a first step,” Lettieri said.
issue once confined to the liberal fringe, antitrust policy has entered
the center of political life and played a major role in the 2020
Democratic presidential race amid increasing concerns about the
political and economic clout of a handful of private actors.
Biden calls for efforts to lower drug prices as part of executive order to foster competition
White House’s executive order states that 75 percent of U.S. industries
are more consolidated than they were 20 years ago. That, officials say,
has helped triple prices for many household necessities, while making
it harder for workers to bargain against competing employers for better
wages and benefits.
growing body of evidence has pointed to corporate consolidation as a
culprit in persistently stagnant wages and the decline of the American
middle class. A 2018 study in the Harvard Law Review found that median
compensation for workers would be as much as $10,000 higher if markets
were less concentrated. A University of Chicago paper in 2016 found that
the decline in workers’ share of corporate income is largely tied to
increasing corporate consolidation.
represents a massive change in how mainstream Democrats are thinking
about the economy. It identifies concentrated corporate power —
something both parties previously encouraged — as actually contributing
to a broad range of harms for workers, innovation, prosperity and a
resilient democracy overall,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of
the American Economic Liberties Project, which supports antitrust
is not a Warren or a Sanders administration, but they have fully
embraced the need to take on concentrated corporate power across the
are likely to blast the measure as ineffective and excessive government
intervention in private markets. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican
budget expert, said the executive order was “all over the place” —
pointing to the wide discrepancy in impact between incremental measures,
such as limiting excessive broadband fees, and massive changes, such as
unwinding prior corporate mergers.
a presumption of lack of competition but no evidence of it, and we’re
going to do something on the presumption — which is not a great way to
do business,” Holtz-Eakin said. “They provide no evidence this is going
to change quality of competition.”
Biden administration brought in experts with ties to the liberal wing
of the Democratic Party to help spearhead the order, including Bharat
Ramamurti, deputy director of the White House National Economic Council;
Tim Wu, an National Economic Council antitrust advocate; and Hannah
Garden-Monheit, a senior policy adviser for the council.
was a senior aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), while Wu is a
longtime critic of Big Tech at Columbia University. Council Director
Brian Deese also was closely involved in the process.
Conservative groups mount opposition to increase in IRS budget, threatening White House infrastructure plan
groups are likely to oppose sweeping regulations that emerge from this
order. But any new regulations will probably be ironed out within each
implementing agency, giving the affected industries time to provide
Bradley, chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accused
Biden of taking a “government-knows-best approach” with the order. He
noted that large and small businesses are both needed for the economy to
thrive, and he said the business lobby opposes “centralized government
dictates” to plan the economy.
Chamber always will applaud efforts to promote small business, and we
will vigorously oppose calls for government-set prices, onerous and
legally questionable rulemakings, efforts to treat innovative industries
as public utilities, and the politicization of antitrust enforcement,”
he said in a statement.
liberal economic experts are skeptical about the extent to which
antitrust and other pro-competition practices will genuinely boost
worker power and wages. While acknowledging the importance of antitrust
policy, some experts say there’s a need to reverse the decades-long
decline in union density among workers — and Biden’s labor agenda,
including the Pro Act, is largely stalled in Congress.
will do some things — it all seems fine to me — but will it increase
wage growth for the bottom fifth of workers? I doubt it,” said Matt
Bruenig, founder of the People’s Policy Project, a left-leaning think
tank. “The most important thing for workers’ wages is that they are able
to coordinate what they’ll be — to do that you need better union laws —
and the dynamics of competition within firms is a much less significant
‘Five-alarm fire’: Slow trickle of rental aid heightens concern about eviction crisis
Parts of the plan won some bipartisan praise Friday. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), a conservative, told KSN-TV
that farmers had been hurt by the consolidation of meatpacking plants,
adding, “I do think that this executive order is going to help Kansas
farmers and ranchers.”
Steinbaum, an economist at the University of Utah, said the executive
order reflects growing skepticism of big business. While prominent
left-leaning and union-affiliated Democrats have long made campaign
talking points out of curbing the abuses of big business, elements
within the Republican Party are now increasingly critical of business
White House is responding to the growing evidence of the overwhelming
corporate control of every aspect of the economy,” Steinbaum said.
“Since the 1970s, the bipartisan consensus has been that corporate power
is not a big problem and monopolies will take care of themselves. …
This really reflects an ideological transformation.”
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — When grieving with those who lost loved ones in a building collapse, President Joe Biden invoked the car crash that claimed members of his own family decades ago. When explaining his decision to pull troops from Afghanistan, he remembered his veteran son. When discussing the importance of education, he recalled the teachers who helped him overcome his childhood stutter.
And when he met with Queen Elizabeth and then Vladimir Putin on a recent trip abroad, he couldn't resist bringing up his mother with both of them.
The personal has always been the political for Biden. Far more than his recent predecessors, the president publicly draws on his own experiences when he makes connections with voters and considers his decisions. Many politicians make their background a central component of their political identity, but Biden is particularly prone to draw links between his own life story and the day-to-day workings of his presidency.
And the strongest connection is often the saddest one.
Few public figures speak as powerfully on grief as Biden, who lost his first wife and baby daughter in a car crash and later his adult son Beau to brain cancer. In the first months of his term, he has drawn on that empathy to console those who have lost loved ones, including the more than 600,000 who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic.
And it was on vivid display recently when he spent more than three hours in private with people mourning the loss of loved ones in the building collapse in Surfside, Florida, going from family to family to hear the stories of those still missing in the debris. Biden spoke of wanting to switch places with a lost or missing loved one and lamented that “the waiting, the waiting, is unbearable.”
“The people you may have lost — they’re going to be with you your whole life,” he told the families. “A part of your soul, a part of who you are.”
Biden carries with him an index card that lists the total number of Americans who have died from COVID-19 and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been known to quietly send notes to people, including lawmakers and journalists, affected by cancer, referring to his own family’s struggles with the affliction.
“Cynical people say, ‘OK, this is a calculator, these are crocodile tears, this is something he turns on and off for the cameras.’ ... That is total balderdash,” said Dick Harpootlian, a Democratic South Carolina state lawmaker who’s known and advised Biden for 40 years.
Harpootlian said that when his own mother died, Biden called with condolences. The lawmaker added: “Empathy is sort of the wrong word. I mean, it’s not strong enough. It was just, he felt my loss.
“I could tell it’s sincere, genuine caring for people that are hurt or have lost loved ones,” he continued.
Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015, looms large in the president’s life.
He said that his dying son made him promise to keep going and, the day before he was sworn in as president, he tearfully told a crowd in Delaware that his “only regret" was that Beau couldn't be there. Biden marked his first Memorial Day weekend as commander in chief by honoring the nation’s sacrifices in a deeply personal manner as he paid tribute to those lost while remembering his son.
“I know how much the loss hurts,” said Biden.
Though a tent was overhead, the cold wind whipped the rain onto guests as they watched a lone military trumpeter play taps at a memorial to Delaware’s fallen troops. Biden appeared to pay the chill no mind, remaining for the entirety of the 75-minute ceremony and mouthing the words to the closing rendition of “God Bless America.”
“For Joe Biden, this isn’t something that he does — this is who he is,” said Anita Dunn, senior White House adviser. “He makes sure that everyone who wants to talk to him got to talk to him, and not just a greeting but a conversation. He knows how important those conversations are because of the tragedy in his own life.”
Biden draws on more than just grief.
This past week, at an event in Illinois to promote the family portion of his massive infrastructure bill, he extolled its benefits for child care and in particular for single parents. He evoked his own challenges as a single father in the aftermath of the car accident that killed his first wife and daughter and injured his two young sons.
“If I hadn’t had the family I have, my younger sister, my best friend, and my brother, and my mom help out, I couldn’t have done it,” the president said. “But not everybody has that kind of support.”
West Wing staffers and journalists alike know that nearly every event has a chance to be enhanced — or sidetracked — by a stroll down memory lane. In Brussels, during his first overseas trip, Biden took a detour about his father changing jobs and neglected to deliver news of an Airbus-Boeing trade deal as planned.
At a recent education event in Washington, Biden evoked both his second wife, first lady Jill Biden, a teacher, and the educators who helped him manage a childhood stutter.
“They took a stuttering kid who couldn’t speak very well in school, was scared to death to be called on to read out loud,” Biden recalled.
“And they nurtured me: ‘Joey — you’re a very smart boy, Joey. Just take your time. Don’t let that get in your way, Joey,’” he told the gathering of teachers. “I’m serious. I think what you all underestimate, beyond the teaching of reading and writing, adding and subtracting: You give so many kids confidence.”
Many presidents draw from their own lives to guide their politics: George W. Bush fashioned a persona as a down-home Texas ranch owner; Bill Clinton frequently invoked his family’s poverty; even Donald Trump told stories of a friend named Jim who no longer felt safe going to Paris as a means to explain his own hard-line immigration policies.
But folksy remembrances often give Biden a more relatable identity than those of many of his predecessors, including Trump, who lived in a Manhattan skyscraper that bore his name in gold-plated letters, and Barack Obama, whose cool intellect and constitutional law background at times appeared to leave him detached.
There are potential downsides to Biden’s approach, as he risks suggesting to people that he can’t identify with people whose life experiences are different than his own. But many observers believe that those connections to his own life — which mirror how many voters relate to issues, through the prisms of their own family and experiences — can be both genuine and politically effective.
“Starting with the ‘Joe from Scranton’ moniker, to the horrific car crash, to the glory and tragedy of Beau to the foibles of Hunter, the President dons a soft tone and frames most of his worldview from his reminiscence,” said Tobe Berkovitz, political ad consultant and professor at Boston University’s College of Communication. “No president has ever worn his heart on his sleeve like Joe Biden.”
Jaffe reported from Washington.
What a great troll.