January 7, 2021

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Newsom wants $600 stimulus paychecks for low-wage workers
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday proposed sending $600 to low-income families and extending California’s eviction moratorium.
He pitched the plan as a stimulus package to supplement federal aid. The payments would go to residents with incomes low enough to receive tax credits, making many farmworkers potentially eligible to receive them.
Democratic leaders in the Legislature, who will soon begin budget negotiations with the administration, immediately applauded the proposal.

Protester in the Senate chamber (pool photo)
Extraordinary day sees Democrats flip Senate control
For all of the historic turmoil at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, President-elect Joe Biden is in a stronger position than ever as he prepares to take office. The Democratic sweep of the two Georgia runoffs gives Democrats control of an evenly divided Senate.
At the same time, the GOP leaders are faced with reuniting a party in wake of President Donald Trump’s unrelenting election challenge and the takeover of the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters.
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who will retake the gavel of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said she will work to set up an agricultural carbon market. She described it as a “top priority” for the committee. Stabenow chaired the committee from 2011 to 2015.
She may have to overcome some GOP opposition if she wants to do it on a bipartisan basis. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, who will be the committee’s top Republican, has expressed some concerns that ag carbon trading will primarily benefit middlemen.
“We’re going to do all we can to work with them on every (policy) area that there is,” Boozman told Agri-Pulse. “On the other hand, whatever we are going to do is going to be governed by common sense and good science.”
Read our story here for more on the impact of Democrats’ winning control of the Senate.
Ag-state GOP senators weigh in on Capitol takeover
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa: “Today’s violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was an attack on American democracy itself. This was not a demonstration of any of our protected, inalienable rights. These were un-American acts worthy only of condemnation.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.: The Capitol "was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his Vice President for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution
Biden’s choice for AG called ‘consensus builder
Almost lost in the Capitol Hill turmoil was news that appeals court judge Merrick Garland will be Joe Biden’s pick as attorney general. Democratic control of the Senate assures that Biden can replace Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. That powerful court is considered second only to the Supreme Court because of its jurisdiction over federal regulatory matters.
How Garland addresses specific issues such as enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws remains to be seen, however. One area he will have to address is DOJ’s position in litigation over the “waters of the U.S.” rule, where the department is currently defending the Trump administration’s new definition.
“It's a superb choice for the same reasons he would have made a great Supreme Court Justice,” says Vermont Law School professor Patrick Parenteau. “He's wicked smart, impartial and objective, open to persuasion on the facts and law, follows precedent, respects science, defers to agencies when they deserve it, and not when they don't, and has a modest temperament and demeanor on the bench. He's a consensus builder.”
On the other side, a lawyer for a Washington, D.C.-based trade group who asked not to be identified said as a judge, “Garland sided with agencies in the overwhelming majority of cases. He is viewed as a pro-government lawyer who will tend to defer to federal agencies, which is consistent with many lawyers that spend time at DOJ before joining the bench.”
By the way: One of Garland’s best-known environmental opinions came in 2003 when the D.C. Circuit upheld a Commerce Clause challenge to the Endangered Species Act over regulation of the arroyo southwestern toad, which is found only in California. Most of the environmental opinions he authored on the appeals court involved the Clean Air Act.

Neera Tanden
OMB pick: Rural broadband priority for Biden
Neera Tanden, Biden’s choice to head the Office of Management and Budget, said securing broadband for unserved areas and infrastructure development will be among the top priorities of the administration.
“I’m most optimistic we will retire Infrastructure Week because we will actually pass an infrastructure bill,” Tanden said on a webinar for small-business owners. “It’s one of the issues that really warms the heart of the President-elect.”
“Every corner of the country needs broadband,” Tanden added. “I think we can hopefully create a large scale coalition that unites rural and urban communities to really get behind the level of investment we need.”
By the way: Boozman tells Agri-Pulse there is likely to be a bipartisan push for rural broadband expansion with the Senate under Democratic control. “In order to do all kinds of things that are so good for our farmers and ranchers regarding their input costs or protecting the environment, broadband is critical,” he told Agri-Pulse.
He said it:
“It’s absolutely bat**** crazy. I never would have imagined I would be locked down in my Capitol office riding out a violent coup.” — Calif. Rep. Jared Huffman told the SacBee

Steve Davies, Bill Tomson and Ben Nuelle contributed to this report.

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