Author

Ariana Figueroa

Ariana Figueroa

Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance.

Senate committee chaired by Sen. Amy Klobuchar deadlocks on major U.S. elections bill

By: - May 11, 2021

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Tuesday tackled a massive voting reforms bill in committee in a heated daylong debate. But the final vote on the bill by the Senate Rules Committee was a 9-9 tie, which means Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer likely will have to use a Senate procedure to bring the legislation to […]

Biden to order $15-an-hour minimum wage for federal contract workers

By: - April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order Tuesday to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15 an hour, according to senior administration officials. The order will go into effect Jan. 30 of next year, according to a fact sheet provided by the administration. Once in place through new […]

Federal background checks on ammunition sales pushed by Democrats

By: - April 20, 2021

WASHINGTON—Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require instant background checks to prevent individuals with a criminal record from illegally purchasing ammunition. The measure backed by the Democrats, known as Jaime’s Law, is named in honor of Jaime Guttenberg, a student who died in […]

Vilsack keys in on food insecurity and nutrition in USDA budget request

By: - April 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday laid out USDA’s goals to expand food insecurity and nutrition programs in the president’s budget request, as well as the agency’s focus on programs to address longtime racial discrimination.   “Normally I would talk to you all about numbers in the budget,” Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, […]

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New unit launched at Interior to investigate cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people

By: - April 5, 2021

The U.S. Department of the Interior is creating a new unit to lead and help coordinate investigations into the ongoing crisis of murdered and missing American Indian and Alaska Native people. Interior Secretary Debra Haaland, the first Indigenous person to lead the agency, announced Thursday the formation of the Missing & Murdered Unit within the […]

Voting rights advocates air worries about onslaught of new state election laws

By: - April 1, 2021

WASHINGTON—A U.S. House elections panel on Thursday heard from witnesses about the need to craft a new formula that identifies which states or jurisdictions have problematic histories of racial discrimination when it comes to access to the ballot box.   The hearing in the House Administration Committee’s elections subcommittee also served as a way for voting […]

Biden unveils $2T plan to rebuild infrastructure, create jobs, move to clean energy

By: - March 31, 2021

WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden on Wednesday in Pennsylvania will unveil a nearly $2 trillion infrastructure package to rebuild highways and bridges, along with funding programs for housing, broadband and schools and increasing U.S. manufacturing jobs over the next eight years, an administration official told reporters on Tuesday night. Alongside the expansive infrastructure plan, the president will […]

Special Report: Dozens of members of Congress are vaccinated against COVID-19, but some still hesitant

By: and - March 31, 2021

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress were among the first people in the U.S. to have access to the sought-after COVID-19 vaccine when the initial doses became available in December. Three months later, a States Newsroom survey across 22 states — making up a large swath of Congress — found at least 155 members of the […]

U.S. Senate confirms Merrick Garland as attorney general

By: - March 10, 2021

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate Wednesday confirmed Merrick Garland to serve as U.S. attorney general in a 70-30 vote.  Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced his nomination in a 15-7 vote. Garland served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. As attorney general, he’ll lead the Justice Department […]

Sweeping voting rights package passes U.S. House

By: - March 4, 2021

The House passed sweeping voting rights, redistricting, campaign finance and ethics reform late Wednesday night along party lines in a 220 to 210 vote, but the historic package will face an uphill battle in the Senate as no Republicans currently support the bill.  Even though Democrats control Congress and the White House, their slim majority […]

Senate confirms Cardona as education secretary

By: - March 2, 2021

The Senate on Monday confirmed Miguel Cardona to lead the U.S. Department of Education in a 64-33 vote. Cardona, a longtime educator from Connecticut, will be tasked with helping schools reopen during the pandemic and leading the $68 billion agency.  “There is no one better suited for this job in this moment than Miguel Cardona,” […]

Sprawling $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill passed by the U.S. House

By: - February 27, 2021

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House on a nearly party-line vote passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package early Saturday, in a rush to both boost COVID-19 vaccine funding and get legislation to the president’s desk before unemployment benefits expire in mid-March. The package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, passed 219-212. It includes a gradual increase […]