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Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Doug Mills/New York Times/Pool/Getty Images

A House committee is trying to force the White House to disclose its virtual visitors, using the power of the purse to push the West Wing to retroactively reveal who's been Zooming-in since January.

Why it matters: President Biden's team has begun disclosing in-person visitors, resuming a practice abandoned by Donald Trump. But the pandemic has forced huge segments of its work into cyberspace, and transparency advocates say the continued refusal to disclose virtual visitors is keeping the public in the dark.

What's new: Language approved Tuesday by the Democrat-led House Appropriations Committee seeks to compel the White House to produce virtual visitor logs, as well.

  • A committee report accompanying a general government appropriations bill directs the White House to retroactively reveal all virtual visitors going back to Biden's Inauguration Day.
  • "[T]he Committee is concerned that social-distancing procedures and the resulting increase in virtual meetings will limit the amount of relevant disclosures and harm the public interest," it wrote.
  • The report directs the president's staff to brief the committee on its efforts to disclose that information by the fall.

What they're saying: Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who chairs the Appropriations panel on financial services and general government, added the language to the committee report.

  • In a statement emailed to Axios, Quigley called the lack of virtual visitor logs "a loophole" in the White House's transparency efforts.
  • "While I am very encouraged that the Biden Administration reinstated the policy of publicly disclosing their White House visitor logs in May, I look forward to working with them to establish virtual visitor logs to ensure and expand accountability in the executive branch," Quigley wrote.
  • The White House did not respond to inquiries about the language. Press secretary Jen Psaki previously said the administration had no plans to disclose virtual visitors.

Be smart: Quigley's language is not legally binding, since it's contained in a committee report rather than the appropriations bill itself. But his office expects the White House will play ball.

  • "Report language does not have statutory force, (so) departments and agencies are not legally bound by their declarations," according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • "These documents do, however, explain congressional intent, and executive branch agencies take them seriously because they must justify their budget requests annually to the Appropriations committees."

Go deeper

Senate panel releases most detailed report yet on Trump's DOJ pressure campaign

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

An interim Senate report reveals new details about former President Trump's efforts to exploit the Justice Department to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including how top DOJ officials threatened to resign en masse over Trump's push to install a loyalist as acting attorney general.

Why it matters: The 394-page report from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee marks the most extensive public investigation to date into Trump's pressure campaign in the wake of the 2020 election, drawing on interviews with three top former DOJ officials and hundreds of pages of emails, calendars and other documents.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

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