Biden faces fresh tests of influence before 2023: The Note

As Democrats' control enters its final weeks, their wish list is broad.

November 29, 2022, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Between what has to get done and what the president would like to get done, the Biden White House is looking to squeeze all it can out of the waning days of united Democratic control of Congress.

And what happens before 2023 begins could have significant implications for 2024 -- all while the question of President Joe Biden's own reelection candidacy remains officially unanswered.

The lame-duck wish list is broad and impactful. There's government spending, defense authorization and perhaps dealing with the debt ceiling while Democrats can on their own; efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act and protect same-sex marriage; billions for COVID-19 relief and for Ukraine; a longshot effort to ban assault weapons that the president wants to pursue, plus a push to solidify legal status for the young immigrants known as "Dreamers"; and now a new congressional effort to avert a rail strike that could hit ahead of the holidays.

One upshot for Democrats from their stronger-than-expected midterms has been the quieting of chatter about the president having to worry about major primary opponents in two years. Main movements have been for the sidelines, with California Gov. Gavin Newsom telling Politico that he is pledging support for Biden's reelection, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker echoing that sentiment to The New York Times.

Still, some indications of Biden's intentions -- and how clear his path to the nomination might be -- could come out of the Democratic National Committee's deliberations this week on a primary calendar for 2024.

The final weeks of the year will bring an end to both a short era of full Democratic control in Washington and a longer era of House Democratic leadership under Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

The Biden era will continue for at least two years -- and possibly four beyond that. But what it looks like could be shaped by how this post-election stretch plays out.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks about administration plans to forgive federal student loan debt during remarks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Aug. 24, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks about administration plans to forgive federal student loan debt during remarks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Aug. 24, 2022.
Leah Millis/Reuters, FILE

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

The final and official tabulations of the 2022 midterms are nearing the finish line despite election certification questions lingering in counties in at least two battleground states. As of Monday, Arizona's Cochise County and Luzerne County in Pennsylvania had both failed to certify the results of this year's elections. 

In GOP-leaning Cochise County, election officials could face legal action from Arizona's secretary of state after voting on Monday to delay certification of the Nov. 8 election until Friday, Dec. 2. The 2-1 vote to prolong the process was made along party lines, with the Republican majority prevailing, and ignores the state's election certification deadline which required Cochise to certify the results by Monday.

According to Arizona state law, the secretary of state -- who in this case is Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs -- is required to certify statewide elections on Dec. 5, which sets up a potentially tense standoff between state and county leaders in the coming days. 

The board of elections in Pennsylvania's Luzerne County is also facing the possibility of legal action after failing to certify the county's election results. As reported by ABC affiliate WNEP, two Republican members voted against certifying, two Democrats voted to certify and one Democratic election board member abstained, though he later said he will vote to certify at the next opportunity.

According to a report from The Times Leader, those who voted against certification cited concerns over Election Day issues with paper ballots. In Arizona, meanwhile, those who objected had issues with machine certification -- though no evidence of voter disenfranchisement has emerged.

The Times Leader reported that the Luzerne County elections board is going to meet again on Wednesday for another certification vote.

PHOTO: Democratic Arizona Governor-elect Katie Hobbs speaks at a victory rally, Nov. 15, 2022, in Phoenix.
Democratic Arizona Governor-elect Katie Hobbs speaks at a victory rally, Nov. 15, 2022, in Phoenix.
Matt York/AP

The TIP with Oren Oppenheim

ABC News has reported projections in most of this year's midterm elections in the House, but there's still one outstanding race: the matchup in California's 13th District.

As of this writing, with 96% of the expected vote reporting, Republican John Duarte leads with 50.2% of the expected vote, while Democratic candidate Adam Gray follows with 49.8%. Only about 600 votes separate them. 

Duarte is a farmer and businessman, while Gray is a California State Assembly member.

While the winner won't determine control of the House, which will be led by Republicans come January, an additional seat in their slim majority could give them a bit more flexibility on votes.

What's the timeline for when this race could be projected? 

According to the California secretary of state's website, "it typically takes weeks for counties to process and count all of the ballots. Elections officials have approximately one month to complete their extensive tallying, auditing, and certification work (known as the official canvass)." Counties report results by Dec. 9 and the secretary of state certifies results by Dec. 16. 

A recount could happen, too -- if someone asks for one, as there are no automatic recounts in California. Any voter can request a recount "within five days beginning on the 31st day after a statewide election, or within five days following completion of any post canvass risk-limiting audit," per the California secretary of state's website. The requester pays for the recount and is refunded if the recount changes the result of the election to a victory for them. 

Gray registered a recount fund committee with the Federal Election Commission on Nov. 14. 

PHOTO: John Duarte arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 14, 2022.
John Duarte arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 14, 2022.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Tuesday morning with a look at Houston's boil water notice, impacting millions of residents. ABC's Mireya Villarreal leads us off. Then ABC's Matt Gutman reports on the eruption of Hawaii's Mauna Loa. And, ABC's Anne Flaherty discusses the current status of President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness plan amid a flurry of court challenges. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Biden travels to Michigan to visit an expanding semiconductor materials factory before delivering economic remarks at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Wednesday for the latest.

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