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. Before joining States Newsroom, Ariana covered public health and chemical policy on Capitol Hill for E&E News. As a Florida native, she's worked for the Miami Herald and her hometown paper, the Tampa Bay Times. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and NPR. She is a graduate of the University of Florida.

Biden orders $15-an-hour minimum wage for federal contract workers

By: - April 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15 an hour. The order will go into effect Jan. 30 of next year, according to a fact sheet provided by the administration. Once in place through new and extended contracts, the wage will automatically adjust to […]

Federal background checks on ammunition sales pushed by Democrats

By: - April 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require instant background checks to prevent individuals with a criminal record from illegally purchasing ammunition. The measure backed by the Democrats, known as Jaime’s Law, is named in honor of Jaime Guttenberg, a student who […]

Georgia voting law pummeled at U.S. Senate hearing on ‘Jim Crow 2021’

By: - April 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — Georgia’s new voting law was at the center of Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where senators discussed restoration of a key section in the Voting Rights Act that would prevent states, mostly in the South, from changing their election laws without federal approval. During the more than four-hour hearing, witnesses opposed to the […]

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, […]

U.S. gun violence an ‘international embarrassment,’ Biden says in rolling out executive action

By: - April 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday reiterated his call on Congress to pass stalled gun legislation reform but also outlined executive action he’s taking on several gun control measures, following deadly mass shootings last month in Colorado and Georgia. “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it’s an international embarrassment,” Biden said […]

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 […]

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

By: - April 5, 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 Bureau of […]

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 […]

Biden unveils $2T plan to rebuild infrastructure, create jobs, move to clean energy

By: - April 1, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday in Pennsylvania unveiled a nearly $2 trillion infrastructure package to rebuild highways and bridges, along with funding programs for housing, broadband and schools and increasing U.S. manufacturing jobs over the next eight years. Alongside the expansive infrastructure plan, the president released a blueprint to increase corporate taxes that, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]