September 30, 2022

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3 things to watch in politics this week

Now that Labor Day has passed, Congress is eyeing its legislative agenda while Democrats and Republicans look to the midterm elections.

Here are three major political stories to watch this week:

The Senate returns from its August recess

Congress is in a race to pass a continuing resolution by the end of the month to keep the government open, though they’ll likely punt the legislation until mid-September. The continuing resolution provides an opportunity for Democrats to get out their message in the final nine-week sprint to the midterm elections.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speak as Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska (not pictured) meets with members of the United States Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 20, 2022. Jabin Botsford/Pool via REUTERS

Expect marriage equality to be included in the resolution as some Republican senators like like Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) may come out in support of the measure. President Biden’s request for more funding for Ukraine is also likely to be included as winter quickly approaches Europe. Senate lawmakers may also have an appetite to look into the FBI’s raid of former president Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

Biden in Ohio

President Biden heads to Ohio this week, where he will appear at an Intel plant to tout the CHIPS Act. The pro-business appearance should be a political lay-up for Biden, who will get to tout job creation in a Republican-leaning state. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has been a strong proponent of the CHIPS Act, which enables the U.S. to invest in and fund semiconductor manufacturing to boost competitiveness against China.

President Joe Biden greets people after speaking at a United Steelworkers of America Local Union 2227 event in West Mifflin, Pa., Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, to honor workers on Labor Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden greets people after speaking at a United Steelworkers of America Local Union 2227 event in West Mifflin, Pa., Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, to honor workers on Labor Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In a sign that Biden’s approval rating is improving, Ohio Democratic senate candidate Tim Ryan said he’ll be appearing with Biden. Ryan is battling Republican J.D. Vance for the state’s Senate seat this November.

The appearance follows Biden’s pitch in Philadelphia last week to moderate Republicans who may be uneasy with Trump’s effect on the GOP. Biden’s remarks prompted Trump to give a speech of his own over the weekend in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he referred to Biden as an “enemy of the state.” Notably, Trump also gave a warm welcome to the new CNN CEO Chris Licht in the speech and offered to help Licht in his efforts to make changes to the American news broadcasting brand.

Student loans

President Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans per borrower is likely to face legal challenges from GOP states.

Activists demonstrate outside an entrance to the White House calling for the cancellation of student debt in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Activists demonstrate outside an entrance to the White House calling for the cancellation of student debt in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Democrats say the plan will provide economic relief for around 40 million borrowers who have been pummeled by tuition increases. Meanwhile, conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have come out against the plan, which has also garnered criticism from former Obama economist Jason Furman.

“Pouring roughly half trillion dollars of gasoline on the inflationary fire that is already burning is reckless,” Furman tweeted on Aug. 24. “Doing it while going well beyond one campaign promise ($10K of student loan relief) and breaking another (all proposals paid for) is even worse.”

Kevin Cirilli is a visiting media fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub and the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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