Author

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.

Former (and possibly future) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack moderates a panel of former Secretaries of Agriculture at the 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, “Moving Agriculture Forward” in Arlington, VA on Feb. 23, 2012.

Vilsack keys in on food insecurity and nutrition in USDA budget request

By: - April 15, 2021

WASHINGTON—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday laid out USDA’s goals to expand food insecurity and nutrition programs in the president’s budget request, as well as the agency’s focus on programs to address longtime racial discrimination.   “Normally I would talk to you all about numbers in the budget,” Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, told members […]

Up to 100 new immigration judges would be added under Biden budget request

By: - April 12, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Friday released a budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year that would increase the number of immigration judges and allocate millions in funding to clear backlogs of hearings and asylum requests. The administration is grappling with an influx of asylum seekers at the Southern border after inheriting a gutted […]

President Joe Biden elbow bumps with Gabby Giffords at a White House gun violence event announcing (Photo courtesy of the White House)

Biden administration to suggest model ‘red flag’ gun laws for states

By: - April 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice will distribute model “red flag” legislation to states so they can enact laws that would allow courts to temporarily remove a firearm from an individual who is distressed, according to senior Biden administration officials. “The president will not wait for Congress to act before the administration takes our own […]

American Indian red hand over mouth protest of murdered and missing Indigenous women

New unit launched at Interior to investigate cases of missing and murdered indigenous people

By: - April 3, 2021

The U.S. Department of the Interior is creating a new unit to lead and help coordinate investigations into the ongoing crisis of murdered and missing American Indian and Alaska Native people. Interior Secretary Debra Haaland, the first indigenous person to lead the agency, announced Thursday the formation of the Missing & Murdered Unit within the […]

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 02: Law enforcement investigate the scene after a vehicle charged a barricade at the U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Capitol was briefly locked down after a person reportedly rammed a vehicle into multiple Capitol Hill police officers. One officer was killed and one was wounded. The suspect who exited the vehicle with a knife was fatally shot. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Police officer dead after suspect rams car into barricade outside U.S. Capitol

By: - April 2, 2021

WASHINGTON—One U.S. Capitol Police officer was dead and another injured Friday after a driver slammed a car into a barricade outside the Capitol and struck the officers, according to law enforcement. The officer who died was identified as Officer William “Billy” Evans by police. “Officer Evans had been a member of the United States Capitol […]

"I voted" stickers in Primrose (Photo by Henry Redman)

Voting rights advocates air worries about onslaught of new state election laws

By: - April 2, 2021

WASHINGTON—A U.S. House elections panel on Thursday heard from witnesses about the need to craft a new formula that identifies which states or jurisdictions have problematic histories of racial discrimination when it comes to access to the ballot box.   The hearing in the House Administration Committee’s elections subcommittee also served as a way for […]

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. Capitol Building. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

Special Report: Dozens of members of Congress are vaccinated against COVID-19, but some still hesitate

By: and - March 31, 2021

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress were among the first people in the U.S. to have access to the sought-after COVID-19 vaccine when the initial doses became available in December. Three months later, a States Newsroom survey across 22 states—making up a large swath of Congress—found at least 155 members of the U.S. House and Senate […]

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - DECEMBER 11: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden (R) and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (L) look on as Tom Vilsack, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Agriculture, delivers remarks at the Queen Theater December 11, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. President-elect Joe Biden is continuing to round out his domestic team with the announcement of his choices for cabinet secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Agriculture, and the heads of his domestic policy council and the U.S. Trade Representative. Vilsack served for eight years as President Barack Obama’s secretary of Agriculture. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Agriculture panel probes ‘systemic’ USDA discrimination against Black farmers

By: - March 29, 2021

WASHINGTON  — The House Agriculture Committee on Thursday heard about how Black farmers have faced decades of racial discrimination in their dealings with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The committee’s chairman, Rep. David Scott, (D-Ga.), said the testimony at the virtual hearing would help the panel craft legislation that aims to increase the number of […]

Student loan debt graduating IOU college cost

This Racine voter asked Biden to cancel student debt. She’s not giving up.

By: - March 25, 2021

WASHINGTON — Joycelyn Fish drove through several feet of snow that blanketed Wisconsin one February night so she could get to a nationally televised town hall and question President Joe Biden about the crush of student debt. The blunt reply she got from Biden — that he wouldn’t take action to eliminate $50,000 in debt […]

Joe Biden smiling with Everytown for Gun Safety in background

Biden calls on Senate to act on background checks after mass shooting in Colorado

By: - March 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged the U.S. Senate to immediately pass legislation to close loopholes on background checks for guns and to ban assault weapons, following a mass shooting that killed 10 at a Colorado supermarket. “This should not be a partisan issue,” Biden said. “This is an American issue.” Biden’s remarks […]

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 22: U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) (L) speaks during U.S. Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland's confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on February 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Garland was previously the Chief Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and former President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court

U.S. Senate confirms Merrick Garland as attorney general

By: - March 10, 2021

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate Wednesday confirmed Merrick Garland to serve as U.S. attorney general in a 70-30 vote.  Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced his nomination in a 15-7 vote. Garland served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. As attorney general, he’ll lead the Justice Department […]

Senate confirms Rep. Marcia Fudge as HUD secretary

By: - March 10, 2021

The U.S. Senate Wednesday confirmed U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio in a 66-34 vote to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to swear in Fudge at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Fudge, a Democrat who represents the 11th Congressional District, will be the second Black woman to […]