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Biden tours hurricane damage, SCOTUS returns, Taiwan tensions: 3 things to watch in politics this week

The legislative branch may be in recess, but the executive and judicial branches are in full focus this week in Washington D.C.

Here are three things to watch this week on the political front.

President Biden surveys hurricane damage

President Biden is heading to Puerto Rico and Florida this week to tour the damage from Hurricane Ian. The storm has left at least 88 people dead and left more than one million Americans without power.

Governor of Puerto Rico Pedro Pierluisi gives a briefing on Hurricane Fiona to U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, at Port of Ponce, Puerto Rico, October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
Governor of Puerto Rico Pedro Pierluisi gives a briefing on Hurricane Fiona to U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, at Port of Ponce, Puerto Rico, October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Biden has promised at least $60 million in disaster relief funding, and the visit provides an opportunity to coordinate federal, state, and local responses to the storm's destruction.

Biden and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have spoken several times in recent days in order to coordinate their efforts, according to reports. Biden told reporters that he was open to meeting in person with DeSantis, who is thought to be planning a 2024 presidential run on the GOP ticket.

SCOTUS returns

The Supreme Court of the United States returned from its summer break on Monday after a controversial previous term that ended in June.

Chief Justice John Roberts will oversee an upcoming schedule that puts Americans' voting rights, climate regulations, and other issues on the docket, Politico reported.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson stands outside the Supreme Court, at the top of the steps, with Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, following her formal investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson stands outside the Supreme Court, at the top of the steps, with Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, following her formal investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The court has faced intense political scrutiny in recent months, particularly following the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year. That decision became one of the top issues that Democrats brought to the campaign trail in state and congressional races.

U.S.-Taiwan relations

Last week, President Biden ushered in a new era of strategic cooperation with 14 Pacific island nations by signing the Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that aims to bolster economic and technological ties between the U.S. and the Indo-Pacific islands while also countering China's influence.

Concerns about China's power in the region have grown, particularly after Chinese Secretary General Xi Jinping ordered military exercises around Taiwan.

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting of the White House Competition Council in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, as Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin looks on. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting of the White House Competition Council in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, as Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin looks on. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Last month, Biden said on CBS News that the U.S. would defend Taiwan should Xi invade the democratic island. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stopped short of endorsing Biden's view in an interview with CNN but reiterated the U.S.'s support for Taiwan.

“In accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, we’re committed to helping Taiwan develop the capability to defend itself," Austin told CNN. "And that work has gone on over time and will continue into the future."

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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