Ariana Figueroa

Ariana Figueroa

Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance.

Sweeping voting rights package passes U.S. House

By: - March 4, 2021

The House passed sweeping voting rights, redistricting, campaign finance and ethics reform, late Wednesday night along party lines in a 220 to 210 vote, but the historic package will face an uphill battle in the Senate as no Republicans currently support the bill. Even though Democrats control Congress and the White House, their slim majority in a 50-50 Senate […]

Teacher in her classroom

U.S. Senate confirms Cardona as education secretary

By: - March 2, 2021

The Senate on Monday confirmed Miguel Cardona to lead the U.S. Department of Education in a 64-33 vote. Cardona, a longtime educator from Connecticut, will be tasked with helping schools reopen during the pandemic and leading the $68 billion agency. Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio voted for Cardona’s confirmation; U.S. Sen. Rick Scott voted against […]

Sprawling $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill passed by the U.S. House

By: - February 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on a nearly party-line vote passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package early Saturday, in a rush to both boost COVID-19 vaccine funding and get legislation to the president’s desk before unemployment benefits expire in mid-March. The package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, passed 219-212. It includes a […]

U.S. Senate confirms Granholm as Secretary of Energy; FL Sens. Rubio, Scott voted against her nomination

By: - February 25, 2021

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate on Thursday in a 64-35 vote confirmed former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to run the Department of Energy. She’ll be the second woman to lead the $35 billion agency. Sen. Gary Peters, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, gave his support for Granholm on the Senate floor, […]

Vilsack is sworn in as USDA secretary—virtually

By: - February 25, 2021

WASHINGTON—Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday swore in former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a second time around for Vilsack in the post. “Congratulations Mr. Secretary and to the whole family,” Harris said. “The president is so excited. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ll do […]

U.S. Senate confirms Vilsack for a second stint as Agriculture Secretary; FL’s U.S. senators opposed

By: - February 23, 2021

WASHINGTON—The Senate on Tuesday in a 92-7 vote confirmed former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a second time. Vilsack, 70, also headed the $151 billion agency under the Obama administration, for eight years. But he has garnered criticism from Black and minority farmers for his treatment of them during his […]

Florida-Georgia water wars case heard by U.S. Supreme Court

By: - February 22, 2021

WASHINGTON—U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday heard oral arguments in a long-running fight between Florida oystermen and Georgia farmers over water rights. The case, Florida v. Georgia, stems from a 2013 lawsuit filed by the state of Florida that argued Georgia was using too much water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, which resulted in damage to oystermen […]

Biden backs reparations study, as House Dems push for commission

By: - February 18, 2021

WASHINGTON—The White House on Wednesday indicated that President Joe Biden would support studying reparations for slavery, the same day that House Democrats held a hearing on legislation that would set up a reparations commission. But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stopped short of saying Biden would sign the bill under consideration by the House […]

high school classroom, school, education

CDC issues detailed strategy for safely reopening K-12 schools

By: - February 12, 2021

WASHINGTON—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released updated guidance to provide educators a science-based plan for reopening K-12 schools. The agency said it cannot force schools to reopen but can only stress that steps such as wearing masks and physical distancing of at least 6 feet are key to mitigating the spread of coronavirus. […]

Proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage would boost paychecks in the South

By: - February 12, 2021

WASHINGTON—A gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would increase the pay of low-income workers across the U.S. but particularly in much of the South, researchers and experts predict. Florida recently voted to increase its state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, but the Sunshine State is an outlier. […]

North Carolina’s Regan approved by Senate environment panel as EPA chief

By: - February 9, 2021

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted Tuesday to move forward the nomination of Michael Regan to lead the EPA. Following that bipartisan 14-6 vote, the nomination of Regan, the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, now will head to the full Senate for confirmation. The chairman of the committee, Tom […]

A defiant Marjorie Taylor Greene says she’d be ‘wasting my time’ on committees

By: - February 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters here on Friday that, now that she’s lost her committee assignments, she has more time to push a pro-Trump agenda. The House voted late Thursday, 230-199, to remove the Georgia Republican from two committee seats she had been assigned by GOP leaders upon arriving in Washington […]