What We’re Tracking: Immigration

This is the latest installment in our series highlighting the policy areas we’re watching leading up to inauguration–and how we’re expecting President-elect Biden’s administration to approach them. Read our previous entries on Health Care, Food & Ag, Tech, Climate and Foreign Policy.

Delivering on his campaign promise to prioritize immigration issues his first day in office, President-elect Biden is on track to send Congress a comprehensive immigration reform bill tomorrow following his inauguration

But with tight Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Biden and his administration will need to lead intense negotiations if they hope to bridge the divide on this fraught issue. 

According to early reporting, the proposal includes:

  • An eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants lacking legal status in the U.S.
  • An expansion of the refugee program, and
  • Green cards for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, agricultural workers, and those in the U.S. under temporary protective status (TPS). 

The bill also proposes investing in Central American countries to address factors contributing to immigration.

As a starting point for a negotiation, the bill does not include enhanced border security or an expansion of the border wall, instead relying on deploying technology. Border security is traditionally considered a necessary element for support from Republicans and some Democrats in tough districts. 

It’s difficult to see a path forward in the Senate, where Republicans are already lining up against Biden’s proposal, criticizing him for putting “amnesty” ahead of addressing the pandemic or getting American back to work

Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, is beginning his confirmation process today and will be expected to provide more information on this immigration proposal.

Media in Motion

With the new year and new administration comes our favorite kind of media scoop – reporter shakeups and shuffles, especially on the White House beat. 

It’s a quadrennial tradition in DC media — following the rush of the presidential campaign and the ushering in of a new administration, beats shift across Washington newsrooms. From moves at CNN and WSJ to AP and CBS, each administration sees a new (and sometimes not so new) crop of reporters eager to pave inroads. 

So now is a critical time for companies to:

  • Make sure your DC media lists are up to date
  • Introduce yourself to new reporters on beats that impact your work 
  • Follow them on Twitter to make sure you’re tracking their latest commentary and coverage.

The incoming administration has also shuffled some of our favorite tipsheets. Politico finally announced its new Playbook team: Rachel Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, and Tara Palmeri. And DC’s newest tipsheet, Punchbowl News, led by Politico alums Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, and John Bresnahan, has made a splash with its Secret Service nickname.

Punchbowl is entering a crowded advertising market for DC newsletters, but these insidery publications can still be an excellent way to reach policymakers and elites. Tipsheets fly straight into inboxes every day, sometimes multiple times. By running your ads in a mix of places, you’ll expand your reach and ensure as many important eyes as possible.

And perhaps the most surprising newcomer, President Donald Trump’s first Press Secretary Sean Spicer and host of Newsmax’s “Spicer & Co” has applied to be a member of the White House Correspondents’ Association, the organization he once routinely clashed with…

When Past is Prologue

At this moment of deep crisis, inflection and reflection, historians are taking center stage

Studying the past helps us process complex current events. We often reach backward as we ponder what we want to do about the present day and who we want to be. 

We also – if we’re honest – sometimes look for history simply to provide comfort that we’ve persevered through similar— or at least similarly difficult— challenges. In this spirit, we here at Capital in Context call out a few recent, prominent offerings from historians:

  • There is the regular Letters from an American newsletter by a Boston College American history professor, so exploded in popularity that it attracted a New York Times profile (and we particularly recommend her Dec. 30 dispatch about the through-line role of race in Republican politics). 
  • There’s UNUM, a platform created by PBS and Academy and Emmy Award-winning historical documentarian Ken Burns to provide historical context for today via curated snippets of his films. 
  • More than 1,000 historians and writers signed an open letter for President Trump’s impeachment, citing the unprecedented nature of some of his actions. 
  • This piece detailed another little-remembered time, in 1861, when a hell-bent mob intended to block Congress’ tallying of electoral votes but was thwarted
  • And Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder, an expert on fascism, political atrocity and the Holocaust, wrote this remarkable essay on how we got here and where we might be going.

Introducing Finsbury Glover Hering

You may have noticed our newsletter looks a little different this week. 

That’s because the Glover Park Group has merged with two other global public affairs firms– Finsbury and Hering Schuppener–to create the pre-eminent global strategic communications and public affairs consultancy, operating from 18 offices with almost 700 consultants. 

The joining of the three firms–formalizing a longstanding partnershipcomes at a time when companies and organizations are navigating an increasingly complex operating environment and balancing challenging social, political and economic dynamics.

Finsbury Glover Hering will be a trusted partner to its clients, supporting their efforts to sail these cross-currents and achieve their business goals, just as GPG has always done. Our combined entity will offer clients new reach across stakeholder audiences and geographies in the areas of:

  • Business transformation
  • Corporate reputation & leadership strategies
  • Crisis & issues management
  • Government relations & policy and advocacy, and 
  • Transaction & financial communications

Research and insights, digital strategy, design and creative solutions will support these offerings. 

Rest assured that the DC outpost of FGH will continue to bring you policy trends and insights from the city closer than ever to becoming a stat.

Corporations Grapple With Giving Guidelines

Companies wondering how to address last week’s insurrection at the Capitol have a few gating questions to determine their response:

  • Can corporations ride out this storm silently or will they be forced to take a position
  • Is an across-the-board pause in giving appropriate when only Republicans supported challenges to the election?
  • Must Republicans who supported these efforts — especially leaders such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Republican Senate Campaign Chief Sen. Rick Scott — step down from their current positions or alter their behavior to continue to serve effectively?  
  • And for customers and voters, will a majority punish companies who fail to take a stand? Or will most quickly fall back to their party affiliations in determining how to respond?

While many companies recognize a need to do something, there’s no “goldilocks” consensus position at this point.

Instead, companies seem to be proceeding according to their own values and priorities, recognizing that any position is likely to anger one or both political parties and a middle ground will be difficult to find

Some major corporations have pledged to pause all political donations, with others opting to cut off donations to the 147 lawmakers who objected to certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory.  

Facebook, Microsoft and Google are all pausing political spending. Meanwhile, a UPS spokesperson tells Politico Influence that the shipping company is suspending its PAC giving “for now,” and some of the country’s largest financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Mastercard have all temporarily halted political contributions to members of both parties.  

On the other hand, Airbnb said its PAC will update its giving policies to “withhold support” from those who voted against election certification. And others like the Dow Chemical Company have gone so far as to request refunds from Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) and other leaders of what some have dubbed the “insurrection caucus.”  

While some brands may decide to avoid major, long lasting policy changes now in hopes the storm dissipates, questions about how to respond to the attack on the Capitol could continue to face political leaders, corporations and individual voters for many months down the road.

Do What I Say, Not What I Do

President Trump is poised to become the first president to be impeached twice—and a majority of Americans support it

House Democrats plan to vote tomorrow to impeach President Trump for “inciting insurrection” if tonight’s request of Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment stripping Trump of his powers is denied. 

Six in 10 Americans (59%) say they support the House of Representatives impeaching President Trump for a second time – of those, 48% say they strongly support impeachment. However, roughly a third of Americans (32%) say they oppose impeachment while nine percent say they don’t know. It’s no surprise these feelings fall strongly on partisan lines

  • 73% of Democrats say they strongly support the House of Representatives impeaching President Trump for the second time while
  • 65% of Republicans say they strongly oppose the second impeachment process.

Although we typically see issues like this also divided by age groups, in the case of a second impeachment, majorities of all age groups say they support the second impeachment process for President Trump.

What We’re Tracking: Education

This is the latest installment in our series highlighting the policy areas we’re watching leading up to inauguration–and how we’re expecting President-elect Biden’s administration to approach them. Read our previous entries on Health Care, Food & Ag, Tech, Climate and Foreign Policy.

More federal dollars are on the way for education. 

The bill President Trump signed in late December will deliver much-delayed annual funding for federal education programs and $82 billion in education-focused COVID relief

K-12 schools will receive $54 billion to spend on PPE, cleaning supplies, technology and more while higher education institutions will see $23 billion to support student tuition aid.

State governors will receive $4.1 billion for education, with $2.8 billion of that sum for private school COVID relief. Those dollars are already on the way— and more may still come.

In the short term, President-elect Biden’s Secretary of Education nominee Miguel Cardona will focus on reopening schools and measuring learning loss, with his long-term goal to close the achievement gap

While many education groups have praised Cardona’s classroom teaching background, others express concern that he hadn’t taught long enough and that he lacks sufficient management experience. But with the Senate in Democratic hands, his confirmation seems secure. (Deputy Secretary Mick Zais is currently in charge following Secretary Betsy DeVos’ early exit). 

Biden’s incoming staff are already discussing major changes in higher education, including a legislative push to erase $10,000 in student loan debt for every borrower and a possible extension of the existing pause on student loans and collections.

Responding to Mayhem

Corporate America is responding swiftly and decisively to reject the breach of the U.S. Capitol, speaking out on extraordinary political upheaval often in unequivocal terms. 

Today and in the next two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to be sworn into office, brands must face decisions about their posture in a time of unrest and uncertainty. Here is what some are saying: 

  • The National Association of Manufacturers went so far as to suggest Vice President Mike Pence should “seriously consider” invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from power. The association, speaking on behalf of its 14,000 member companies, accused Trump of inciting violence to retain power and to denounce any elected leader who defends him.
  • Comments were issued quickly, powerfully and unequivocally – often by the CEOs themselves on social media. That included heads of Johnson & Johnson, Salesforce, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Blackrock, General Motors, IBM, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Cisco and others. 
  • Many of those statements were from well-known consumer facing companies on the coasts, but not all. Cardinal Health, a Ohio-based healthcare services company based in the Midwest, decried the violence and declared, “Our democratic processes worked as designed to determine the election results, and the transition of power in our country must proceed peacefully.” 
  • Some leaders addressed comments internally in recognition that employees would be on edge by what they saw unfolding. Google’s Sundar Pichai sent an internal email condemning the violence and encouraging employees to prioritize their health and wellbeing and offering support resources. 
  • Of course, there were some prominent corporate leaders who chose not to speak out and in some cases are facing criticism for that today

Organizations should carefully consider their conduct and messaging today and as uncertainty looms ahead in the next couple of weeks. There’s no blanket rule – considerations to be made on a case-by-case basis include: 

  • Whether to suspend advertising until there is a return to normal, or at least closely review messages for tone appropriateness.
  • Assessing other planned appearances or announcements to determine if the timing is right or they should be delayed. Audiences may have a hard time concentrating on anything other than what is dominating the news right now.  
  • Whether a blanket suspension is appropriate or it’s better to demonstrate it’s time to get back to business.