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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 HickenlooperThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Third approved vaccine distributed to Americans Democrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's second impeachment trial begins MORE (Colo.), Mark KellyMark KellyGOP targets Manchin, Sinema, Kelly on Becerra Mellman: How the Senate decided impeachment House Freedom Caucus chair weighs Arizona Senate bid MORE (Ariz.), and Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Jon OssoffJon OssoffKlain on Harris breaking tie: 'Every time she votes, we win' Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee Wray hints at federal response to SolarWinds hack MORE (Ga.), Alex PadillaAlex PadillaThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls FBI director faces lawmaker frustration over Capitol breach Democrats push Biden to include recurring payments in recovery package MORE (Calif.) and Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockKlain on Harris breaking tie: 'Every time she votes, we win' Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks 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 TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE and former first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - FBI director testifies on Jan. 6 Capitol attack Overnight Health Care: Senate to vote on .9 trillion relief bill this week | J&J vaccine rollout begins | CDC warns against lifting restrictions Trump has been vaccinated for coronavirus 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 ArringtonNRCC finance chair: Republicans who voted for Trump impeachment will not be penalized House GOP campaign arm rolls out new leadership team K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (R), Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessAmericans have decided to give professionals a chance Six ways to visualize a divided America Capitol Police tribute turns political MORE (R), Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradySenate panel unanimously advances top Biden economic nominees Foreign perpetrators among fraudsters shamming state's unemployment systems Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda MORE (R) and Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaBiden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (D).

A virtual event that evening included Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal MORE (R), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), and Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeBiden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip Obama says reparations 'justified' MORE (D) and Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawCrenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' Six ways to visualize a divided America Texas lawmakers' tweets mocking California power outages resurface amid winter storm 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 ButtigiegThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Increased security on Capitol Hill amid QAnon's March 4 date Biden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill MORE, Sens. Hickenlooper, Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDemocrats push Biden to include recurring payments in recovery package Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line MORE (D-Wis.) and Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyHouse-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks Pentagon prevented immediate response to mob, says Guard chief MORE (D-Ore), as well as Reps. Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattySole GOP vote on House police reform bill says he 'accidentally pressed the wrong voting button' House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act CBC 'unequivocally' endorses Shalanda Young for White House budget chief MORE (D-Ohio), David CicillineDavid CicillineHouse passes sweeping protections for LGBTQ people The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J A-OK, Tanden in Trouble Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (D-R.I.) and Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoK Street navigates virtual inauguration week Hoyer calls on VA Secretary Wilkie to resign after watchdog report Pelosi calls on Wilkie to resign from VA after watchdog report findings 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.