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Georgia runoff, defense bill, Biden visits chip plant: 3 things to watch in politics this week

As the Georgia Senate runoff election this week rounds out the midterms, Congress is looking at a packed legislative agenda in its lame-duck session to close out 2022.

Here are three stories to watch on the political front this week:

Georgia runoff

Georgians will head to the polls on Tuesday for a runoff election between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.

ABC News reported that early voting turnout shattered records, which has favored Democrats in the past. What remains unclear is how the broader midterm results could impact Georgians wanting to get out to the polls.

Oz Roberts, 64, casts his ballot at the start of early voting in the runoff U.S. Senate election between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker, at the City Services Center in Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia, U.S. November 26, 2022.  REUTERS/Cheney Orr
Oz Roberts, 64, casts his ballot at the start of early voting in the runoff U.S. Senate election between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker, in Columbus, Georgia, on November 26, 2022. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

A Warnock win would illustrate that Georgia continues the trend of leaning more Democratic. On the flip side, a Republican victory would be welcome good news for Trump's MAGA movement, which faced lackluster turnout in the broader 2022 midterms.

Congress moves to pass National Defense Authorization Act

Lawmakers are moving closer toward passing the roughly $847 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as Congress also barrels toward a Dec. 16 deadline to pass a government funding bill.

Republicans, led by would-be House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), are pushing to remove military vaccination mandates. Democrats are advocating for more diversity and inclusion initiatives.

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 29 House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is seen after a meeting about avoiding a railroad worker strike with President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also attended the meeting. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is seen after a meeting about avoiding a railroad worker strike with President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

There's another potential ornament on the legislative Christmas tree: banking for the cannabis industry. Axios scooped that a bipartisan group of legislators could finally provide regulatory clarity and a framework for the cannabis industry to access financial services in states where marijuana is legal as part of the NDAA.

Twenty-one states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, but the Department of Justice still lists it as a Schedule 1 drug. The disconnect between federal and state regulations has created significant regulatory uncertainty for the industry as a whole.

Tech diplomacy trade talks intensify as President Biden heads to Arizona

Biden will tour Taiwan Semiconductor's (TSM) Arizona chip plant with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo this week to tout the success of the bipartisan CHIPS Act, which includes $52 billion in funding for semiconductor research and development.

The visit to the plant, which is currently under construction, comes as tech diplomacy talks continue this week between the European Union and U.S. trade officials.

US President Joe Biden (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron walk down the Colonnade at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2022. (Photo by Doug Mills / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DOUG MILLS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron walk down the Colonnade at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2022. (Photo by DOUG MILLS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

EU officials are wary that a portion of the Inflation Reduction Act that provides subsidies for electric vehicles will not be applied to European companies, Reuters reported. It's a point that French President Emmanuel Macron raised with President Biden during his trip to Washington last week, Macron said in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes.

Kevin Cirilli is a visiting media at the Atlantic Council's Global China Hub and the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. Follow him on LinkedIn here.

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