Here at our CUSEF blog, we share news, updates and stories about China and the United States. We provide more than a cursory glimpse of what’s going on between the two powers - here, we offer an in-depth look into their current state of affairs.

U.S. News Roundup

U.S. News Roundup- March 7, 2023


Student loan

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed to cast doubt on the legality of President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive more than $400 billion in student debt.

Why it matters: The court’s caution puts the student debt relief program, a signature piece of Biden’s agenda, at risk.

What’s happening: Six Republican-led states, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina, argued whether the Biden administration can implement the student loan forgiveness plan without congressional authorization.

  • The six conservative justices in the nine-member Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., seemed to side with the GOP-led states. They cited the “major questions doctrine,” which requires Congress to clearly authorize executive branch actions with significant political and economic consequences.
  • In response, the three liberal justices argued that Congress had already passed a law in 2003, often called the HEROES Act, that gave the secretary of education the authority to “waive or modify” student loan provisions in case of national emergencies.
  • Meanwhile, the Biden administration focused on whether the states have suffered a specific injury that gave them legal standing to sue. The court also appeared skeptical of it.

Opinions: Observers said Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan did go too far, but it would be an overreach if the Supreme Court struck it down since it would violate a core judicial principle that courts can only hear cases where the parties have standing to sue.

Economy policy

The Biden administration announced plans to require chips companies accepting subsidies to share excess profits with the government.

Why it matters: The plans are part of the CHIPS and Science Act, designed to help bring the semiconductor industry back to the U.S. and compete with China.

  • Signed by President Biden last year, the law will provide chipmakers with $39 billion in subsidies and a 25% investment tax credit worth $24 billion.

What’s happening: In an announcement, the Commerce Department said it would begin accepting applications for the subsidy program in late June.

  • The department said that those who have gotten more than $150 million in direct funding “will be required to share with the U.S. government a portion of any cash flows or returns that exceed the applicant’s projections.”
  • The department also asked semiconductor firms who are applying for more than $150 million in federal aid to provide a plan for affordable child care for their employees and construction workers.
  • While Democrats praised the profit-sharing plan, Republicans criticized that the administration was trying to “impose their labor agenda on this critical industry.”

Opinions: Critics said that under this Biden administration’s industrial policy, chip companies will become “the indentured servants of progressive social policy.”


The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Rep. George Santos (R-NY) over allegations of illegal acts.

Why it matters: It is the latest investigation into the New York Republican after he admitted to lying about his education, work experience, and family background.

What’s happening: In a statement, the committee said it would investigate whether Santos engaged in illegal activity during his 2022 campaign. It will also probe into his information disclosure before becoming a House representative and his role at financial firms.

  • The panel will also examine an allegation of sexual misconduct by an individual seeking employment in his congressional office.

Opinions: Critics noted that the Ethics Committee usually moves slowly and has few ways to punish lawmakers for wrongdoing.

  • Others said that sitting lawmakers are reluctant to punish their colleagues, with the committee recommending the removal of a representative only on rare occasions. The committee usually issues fines or reprimands.

Hotspots in the field

  • Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation ending the self-governing status of Walt Disney’s special tax district. People saw the move as a punishment for the entertainment giant’s opposition to his political agenda.
  • Citigroup dismissed several hundred of employees. Although the cut represented less than 1% of its workforce, it includes those who are from the investment banking and mortgage division.
  • Amazon suspended construction of its second headquarters in Virginia. The company has been conducting massive layoffs and a reassessment of office needs as more and more people work remotely.

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