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Congress's agenda, Biden's Middle East visit, Steve Bannon: 3 things to watch in D.C. this week

Yahoo Finance Contributor Kevin Cirilli breaks down three things to watch in politics this week, including Congress's packed agenda, President Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and Steve Bannon testifying in a Jan. 6 hearing.

Video Transcript


BRAD SMITH: Welcome back, everyone. Congress returns from recess with a packed to-do list as the midterm elections approach. One item on the agenda facing lawmakers is a bill targeted at boosting competitiveness with China. Here to break this all down with more on what else to watch in DC, we've got Yahoo Finance's contributor Kevin Cirilli. Kevin?

KEVIN CIRILLI: Look, I don't know if this is going to pass anymore. I mean, the odds of this getting across the finish line, just a couple of weeks ago, it looked like it was a done deal. But now it's locked, unfortunately, in partisan gridlock, and a procedural hurdle, really, and a tactical one between Republicans and Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch-- or could-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is saying that he is going to essentially not be able to bring this to a floor vote unless the Democrats stop their reconciliation process on a pharmaceutical bill. In contrast, Speaker Pelosi is saying that she doesn't want to do that. She wants to see whether or not this can get through with them pushing through this pharmaceutical bill.

So it's locked in gridlock. There could be some procedure that could get it across the finish line. But it's really uncertain right now.

JULIE HYMAN: In the meantime, Kevin, President Biden isn't in Washington while all of this back-and-forth is going on. He's on his way to the Middle East for a big trip there. And all the attention seems to have been on Saudi Arabia, but he's not just going to Saudi Arabia, to be clear.

KEVIN CIRILLI: No, he's also going to Israel. And it comes at a time in which the geopolitical alliances in the region, Julie, are really shifting, right? And we saw this in the previous administration with the passage of the Abraham Accords, something that President Biden could actually talk about on his trip.

When he is in Saudi Arabia, it comes at a time in which energy prices, of course, gas prices are skyrocketing here in the United States. It also comes as many Americans and policymakers have raised human rights concerns with the Saudis, particularly following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

So this is, without question, one of the highest-profile trips that President Biden has taken to the Middle East. It's a quick trip, it's four days, but one that I think he is hoping in part will underscore the re-shifting of alliances, again, that budding relationship and economic ties between Israel and Saudi at a time in which many in the region are continuing to be very wary of Iran.

And I'm going to be looking to see what Tehran does while President Biden is traveling overseas. Will they, perhaps, try to launch a satellite into space?

JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, very interesting indeed. And finally, Kevin, we've got more January 6 hearings this week. We had Pat Cipollone testify behind closed doors last week. And now Steve Bannon apparently has agreed to testify.

KEVIN CIRILLI: So he's saying that he wants to testify and that he wants to do it publicly. Remember, he had fought with the January 6 committee in legal documents in saying that he didn't want to do that. He was subpoenaed, of course. So whether or not he does, we don't know.

What I'm expecting this week, Julie, on the January 6 hearing is to really focus on what former President Trump was doing in the hours and days leading up to January 6. Remember, he tweeted to his supporters at the time, calling on them to come to Washington, DC. Who were the folks advising him behind the scenes? Who were the people that were planning for that January 6 moment?

And I think Steve Bannon's wanting to participate in these hearings, I'm going to be blunt here, it really cuts a wrench in the Trump supporters and Trump's inner circle, even right now, who are saying that no one's paying attention to the hearings. Well, clearly people are paying attention to the hearings if Steve Bannon wants to participate live and on Capitol Hill and testify before the committee.

BRIAN SOZZI: Yahoo Finance contributor Kevin Cirilli, always good to see you. We'll talk to you soon.

KEVIN CIRILLI: Great to see you too. Thank you.