NotedDC — Biden makes first presidential trip to Asia

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

President Biden will face a series of foreign policy challenges head-on when he lands in South Korea on Friday and then visits Japan in his first Asia trip as president.

What’s on the agenda? The Hill’s Laura Kelly and Morgan Chalfant report that Russia will likely be at the top of the list when Biden meets with leaders of India, Japan and Australia.

The fly on the wall: China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi told Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan in a phone call this week that if the U.S. outwardly supports Taiwan, which China claims as its own, it could put relations in “serious jeopardy.”

Another type of threat: Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that intelligence suggests North Korea may also conduct a missile or nuclear test while Biden is on the continent, further escalating tensions.

Why it matters: Biden has held video conferences with world leaders and hosted some at the White House (including Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis this week), though the pandemic limited the president’s foreign travel in his first year-plus in office.

Welcome to NotedDC: Your guide to politics, policy and people of consequence in D.C. Have some news, juicy gossip, insight or other insider info? Send us tips: Elizabeth Crisp and Kelsey Carolan

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🗽 Empire State drama 

New York released its new congressional lines Monday, prompting days of drama on the Hill among its House delegation. What could happen if the map is finalized?  

The Hill’s Mychael Schnell and Mike Lillis lay out what the primaries could look like: 

  • Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D), the chair of the party’s campaign finance arm, could run against Rep. Mondaire Jones (D), a rising star in the progressive caucus. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has offered her support to Maloney if he runs against Jones.
  • Jones could decide to run against Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D) in the 16th district, since the new map puts his residence there, but that would pit two progressives against each other — forcing one of them to lose their seat.  
  • Reps. Jerry Nadler (D) and Carolyn Maloney (D) — two of the most powerful House members who chair the Judiciary and Oversight panels, respectively – are poised to run against each other in New York’s redrawn 12th District.

Worth noting: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) released a campaign ad Wednesday ripping the new maps, saying it “takes a sledgehammer to Black districts” and that it would “make Jim Crow blush.” 

🍽  Aid for restaurants hit by pandemic blocked

Republicans knocked down a bill that would’ve given $40 billion to restaurants that didn’t receive funds from the pandemic-era Restaurant Revitalization Fund in 2021.  

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), the top Republican on the Senate Small Business Committee, said Thursday during a floor speech that the government shouldn’t be responsible to “bail out” businesses. 

“We could’ve not locked the economy down, that was an alternative,” Paul said before the vote. “There’s no money. We’re already a trillion dollars in the hole.” 

D.C. restaurant owner Jill Tyler has experienced both sides of the federal aid. Her restaurant Tail Up Goat in northwest D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood benefited from receiving the money, but her nearby bar Reveler’s Hour did not.  

“It’s a lot more stressful when it’s a week you expect to do this number and you do half of that,” Tyler told NotedDC about Reveler’s Hour. “What we have seen close won’t be even a fraction of what’s coming.”

Ruth Gresser, owner of D.C.’s Pizzeria Paradiso, was approved to receive the funds but then didn’t after an injunction halted some of the grants in June 2021, as reported by Reuters

Out of Gresser’s five locations, four of them are still producing less revenue than they did in 2019.

“I continue to be distraught, dejected, heartbroken that the community I have supported for 30 years, that community’s needs are considered insignificant,” Gresser said.

Of note: Five Republicans voted Thursday to proceed to a floor vote on the restaurant aid: Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), along with bill sponsor Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.).

📄 Senate food workers plead for union contract deal 

Senate cafeteria workers are pressing the Architect of the Capitol — the agency responsible for operations at Senate restaurant facilities — to make a deal that would put their first union contract at the finish line after they missed the May 18 deadline. 

Cafeteria workers are employed by the Restaurant Associates, an outside vendor, but NotedDC is told they need the Senate to alter its contract with the vendor for the union contract to be ratified. 

A source connected to the union told NotedDC as of Thursday afternoon they haven’t received a response from Brett Blanton, the Architect of the Capitol, after they left a letter at his office Wednesday. 

The letter says the tentative agreement the union reached with Restaurant Associates would allow them to enjoy “immediate, substantial raises, quality healthcare that is affordable and a pension for the first time.” 

The source said they will continue “escalation measures” like protests and reaching out for more explicit support from Democratic senators, like Rules Committee chair Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).  

“We are on an urgent timeline given that come summertime, the Senate isn’t exactly in session that much…and then it’s fall and those layoffs that were refunded, that funding runs out September 1,” the source said about the need for a union contract.

🍑  Peach State fight

Voters in Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama are next to make their picks in this year’s primary elections, while some Texas races remain undecided ahead of Tuesday.

Here are the races to watch heading into next week: 

GEORGIA: GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who notably rejected former President Trump‘s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election, faces Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue, a Republican who lost to Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff in a runoff election last year. Polls have shown Kemp with a comfortable lead over Perdue as the candidate to face Democrat Stacey Abrams in the November election. 

ARKANSAS: GOP gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former spokeswoman for then-President Trump, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her father, Arkansas’s former governor, Mike Huckabee. While there is an independent on the ballot (named “Elvis Presley“) Huckabee is a favorite for a chance to replace outgoing Gov. Asa Hutchinson and she’s expected to sail through Tuesday’s GOP primary. Among Democrats, Chris Jones has the highest polling in that primary race.

ALABAMA: GOP Sen. Richard Shelby’s retirement has created a free-for-all for his open seat. Trump initially backed Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Al.) but retracted his support. Shelby’s former chief of staff Katie Britt and businessman Michael Durant are among the other top candidates for the Republican nomination to the open seat. The winner will face whichever candidate wins the Democratic primary Tuesday. 

TEXAS: The Lone Star State held its initial primary in March, but some races were left unsettled. That has set up a head-to-head battle for the GOP nomination for attorney general between Land Commissioner George P. Bush — the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — and incumbent Ken Paxton.

David Wasserman, a senior editor at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, tells The Hill that “a handful” of these races will be particularly important next week, including the Alabama Senate race and a congressional seat in the state’s 5th District, as well as the Georgia gubernatorial election and 6th and 10th Districts.

“Trump’s sway will be tested in Georgia, for sure. and also to some extent in Arkansas,” Wasserman said. “There are voters in both cases who are going against his wishes.” 

“I think a lot of the drama has been taken out of these races with polls that show clear favorites, but we could see some of trump’s candidates fall short,” he added. 

💍 Engaged

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) is engaged to her longtime partner, Riley Roberts, as first reported by Insider. The New York congresswoman confirmed the news on Thursday: “It’s true! Thank you all for the well wishes.” (See the tweet)



The number of days House members will be out of Washington to work in their districts around the Memorial Day holiday.

🐲 And finally…Dragon Boat Festival

Grab your sunscreen and head to the Potomac River downtown: D.C.’s Dragon Boat Festival returns this Saturday after a two-year hiatus.

A few fun team names to look for: Newsbreakers, Blazing Paddles and Cat Warriors. 

Some cultural activities will also take place, including the traditional Lion Dance and eye-spotting ceremony, which “resuscitates the dragon boats with good spirits.” 

More details on how to watch the race on the festival’s here.

Stay with for the latest and recommend NotedDC to others: See you next week.


Tags Asia Biden biden foreign policy Jake Sullivan Joe Biden Mondaire Jones Nancy Pelosi Sean Patrick Maloney Yang Jiechi

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