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K Street navigates virtual inauguration week

K Street navigates virtual inauguration week
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Business groups and lobbyists missed out on yet another crucial time to meet clients and lawmakers in person with the largely virtual inauguration of President Biden. 

K Street veterans kicked off the arrival of the Biden era through online events that have become more commonplace in an industry that thrives on face-to-face meetings.

Democratic groups held events around Inauguration Day to show support for new members of Congress in their party and to hold onto some semblance of what inauguration typically brings to Washington, albeit without the glitzy galas and steady stream of receptions that usually take up the week.

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hosted its main event Tuesday evening with its newest members: Sens. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (Colo.), Mark KellyMark KellyDemocrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (Ariz.), and Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Jon OssoffJon OssoffDemocrats seek new ways to expand Medicaid in holdout states Stacey Abrams calls on young voters of color to support election reform bill MLB calls lawsuit over All-Star Game 'political theatrics' MORE (Ga.), Alex PadillaAlex PadillaSchumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' Democratic divisions threaten Biden's voting push Senate Latino Democrats warn about low Hispanic vaccination rates MORE (Calif.) and Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockDemocrats seek new ways to expand Medicaid in holdout states Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl MORE (Ga.).

The event was open to individuals who contributed at least $15,000 in the 2020 cycle and to political action committees (PAC) that contributed at least $30,000 during that period.

For House members, two events were held for the New Democrat Coalition, a group of moderate Democratic lawmakers: One was a virtual brunch, while the other was a “Trivia and Toast” that included Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall.

The challenges facing Democratic donors and lobbyists this week were reminiscent of the all online Democratic National Convention, a setting that prevented lobbying firms from offering clients first-class treatment and hindered efforts to make introductions to lawmakers.

Official inauguration galas were all canceled, a stark contrast from this time in 2017 when former President TrumpDonald TrumpWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Trump's former bodyguard investigated in NY prosectors' probe: report MORE and former first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpBiden plans to host Obama for portrait unveiling that Trump skipped: report Jill Biden, Kate Middleton visit school together in first meeting Jill Biden wears 'LOVE' jacket 'to bring unity' to meeting with Boris Johnson MORE stopped by three official balls.

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Instead, groups held their gatherings online this week.

The Texas State Society hosted its “Black Tie & Boots” event Tuesday with lobbyists, congressional staffers and other supporters, including Texas Reps. Jodey ArringtonJodey Cook ArringtonThe case for improving America's research and experimentation tax credit Republicans attack Biden agenda after disappointing jobs report To encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision MORE (R), Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessTexas Republicans condemn state Democrats for response to official calling Scott an 'Oreo' Americans have decided to give professionals a chance Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (R), Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyMcConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data On The Money: House Democrats line up .5T in spending without budget | GOP takes aim at IRS | House Democrat mulls wealth tax Republicans open new line of attack on IRS MORE (R) and Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaManchin meets with Texas lawmakers on voting rights Biden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip MORE (D).

A virtual event that evening included Sen. John CornynJohn CornynProgressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die MORE (R), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), and Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeRon Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration in Wisconsin Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory 40-year march: Only one state doesn't recognize Juneteenth MORE (D) and Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawChuck Todd reluctant to 'ban' election deniers from 'Meet the Press' Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military The hypocrisy of weeding out identity politics in the military MORE (R), with sponsors Aflac, Chevron, ExxonMobil, AT&T, ConocoPhillips and law firm Mayer Brown.

Typically, inauguration events provide an opportunity for the business community to host large events and invite new members, as well as new lawmakers and administration officials, to make connections early on in a new presidency or Congress.

It’s also a time when celebrities come to Washington, much like the annual White House correspondents' dinner, which was also canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, musicians like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend and the Foo Fighters participated in an inaugural TV special called “Celebrating America” on Wednesday evening, with Josh Groban and Patti LaBelle slated to perform at the Inaugural National Prayer Service on Thursday.

The Human Rights Campaign held its LGBTQ Inaugural event, “The Power of Equality,” on Wednesday to commemorate the historic election of President Biden and Vice President Harris. It featured singer Billy Porter and actor Matt Bomer, among other celebrities. 

The event also included Biden’s Transportation Secretary nominee Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE, Sens. Hickenlooper, Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 MORE (D-Wis.) and Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyThis week: Senate set for voting rights fight Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' MORE (D-Ore), as well as Reps. Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyBlack lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory Usher attends Juneteenth bill signing at White House Advocates warn against complacency after Chauvin verdict MORE (D-Ohio), David CicillineDavid CicillineGOP divided over bills targeting tech giants Hillicon Valley: House targets tech giants with antitrust bills | Oversight chair presses JBS over payment to hackers | Trump spokesman to join tech company | YouTube suspends GOP senator House unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants MORE (D-R.I.) and Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoHouse sends anti-Asian hate bill to Biden's desk US tensions with China risk fueling anti-Asian harassment at home Democrats rush to Biden's defense on border surge MORE (D-Calif.).

The event livestream was free to watch but tickets to the online reception started at $35 for members and went up to $400 for ambassadors.

Other fundraisers included one hosted by #WinWithBlackWomen, a group that supported Harris during the 2020 campaign. Their Jan. 13 fundraiser featured a performance by Porter and other celebrities like Star Jones and Kristin Chenoweth. The group’s virtual pre-inauguration fundraiser was attended by lobbyists, members of the media and Capitol Hill staffers.