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“I always would prefer to do legislation in a bipartisan way, but we have to get big, bold things done,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Democrats might not have the votes to gut the filibuster, but they were just handed the procedural keys to a backdoor assault on the Senate’s famous obstruction tactic.
With a ruling on Monday that Democrats can reuse this year’s budget blueprint at least once to employ the fast-track reconciliation process, Democrats can now conceivably advance multiple spending and tax packages this year without a single Republican vote, as long they hold their 50 members together. It is a means of weakening the filibuster without having to take the politically charged vote to do so.
Democrats insist that they have made no decisions about how to use the tool.
“It is always good to have a series of insurance policies,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, about the possibility that Democrats could duplicate last month’s party-line passage of the $1.9 trillion virus relief legislation, should they not be able to work out deals with Republicans.
But whatever strategy they employ, it is clear that the decision by the Senate parliamentarian to agree with Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, that a 47-year-old budget provision could be used more than once in a fiscal year widens President Biden’s path to enacting his infrastructure plan by shielding it from a filibuster.
It also means other Democratic initiatives could become filibuster-proof moving forward, and is already spurring creative efforts among lawmakers and activists to imagine other priorities that could be stuffed into reconciliation packages.
“I always would prefer to do legislation in a bipartisan way, but we have to get big, bold things done,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview. “And so we need to have as many options as possible if Republicans continue to obstruct.”
The filibuster — which takes 60 votes to overcome — remains an obstacle for many of the policies Democrats would like to enact, such as a sweeping campaign finance and elections measure as well as new gun laws. Centrist Democrats including Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are opposed to eliminating it, arguing that the supermajority requirement forces the kind of broad compromise that lawmakers should be seeking.
But the ruling means that if stymied by Republicans on plans that they can protect under reconciliation — which applies to measures that directly affect federal spending and revenues — Democrats will have more opportunities to move ahead on their own if they choose.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who had been hoping for an adverse ruling, said Democrats were being driven to twist the process by their inability to win Republican support for their plans and the fear that they will lose the majority next year. Republicans can be expected to put up as many roadblocks as possible to what they see as an attempt to exploit a loophole.
“This is a party that is going hard left, and they are audacious, and they are ambitious, and they will bend the rules and break the rules and rewrite the rules and do everything they can to get what they want as fast as they can,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview.
Both parties have used reconciliation in the past to push a variety of tax cuts and social programs into law, often over the unified opposition of the minority party.
Progressives who want to overturn the filibuster cheered the decision by the parliamentarian because of the possibilities it opened up for enacting Mr. Biden’s agenda. But some of them expressed concern that the ruling could sap momentum for the broader fight to eliminate the filibuster altogether, or push the Senate into a series of reconciliation battles that would leave behind the voting rights bill, known as H.R. 1, and other liberal priorities.
“The Parliamentarian’s ruling on reconciliation is great but doesn’t change the fact that Democrats must either end or reform the filibuster, or HR1 and other voting rights bills will die,” Adam Jentleson, a former Senate Democratic aide backing a filibuster overhaul, wrote on Twitter. “The ruling allows for more vehicles but doesn’t expand the scope of what they contain.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas had vetoed the bill on Monday, calling it “overbroad” and “extreme.”Credit…Thomas Metthe/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, via Associated Press
The Arkansas State Legislature voted Tuesday afternoon to override a veto from Gov. Asa Hutchinson and enact a law prohibiting gender-affirming treatment for transgender minors, the first ban of its kind in the country.
Mr. Hutchinson, a Republican, had vetoed the bill on Monday, calling it “overbroad” and “extreme.” The legislature voted overwhelmingly, 71 to 24 in the House and 25 to 8 in the Senate, to override him.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced immediately that it would challenge the law, known as House Bill 1570, in court.
“Laws that single out transgender people for discrimination violate the Constitution and a range of federal civil rights statutes,” said Chase Strangio, a lawyer at the A.C.L.U. focused on transgender rights.
H.B. 1570 “bans health care only when it is being provided to transgender patients while permitting the care for others,” Mr. Strangio said, “which is a classic example of a violation of the equal protection rights of transgender people.”
The law is premised on the claim, as stated in its text, that “the risks of gender transition procedures far outweigh any benefit at this stage of clinical study on these procedures.” But research shows the opposite. The Arkansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics lobbied against the bill, and other medical organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, support gender-affirming treatment.
Sam Brinton, vice president for advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, an L.G.B.T. suicide prevention organization, said research showed that more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth had seriously considered suicide, and that many of them cited discrimination as a driving factor.
“These types of bills endanger young trans lives,” Mx. Brinton said after the governor’s veto on Monday. In a statement on Tuesday after legislators overrode the veto, they said: “Governor Hutchinson listened to trans youth and their doctors. The state legislature clearly did not.”
Federal case law on transgender rights is more limited than on gay rights, which means challenges to the Arkansas law could create new legal precedents if they reach higher courts. Carl W. Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said that the A.C.L.U. and other organizations could seek a temporary injunction to block the law from taking effect while the challenges proceed.
If a district court ruled against the law, Arkansas could appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which consists largely of Republican appointees.
Legislators in other states, including Alabama and Tennessee, are considering similar measures as part of a nationwide conservative effort to limit transgender people’s participation in various arenas, including school sports.
Biden Moves Up Vaccine Eligibility Goal for Adults
President Biden said on Tuesday he was speeding up his deadline for states to make all adults eligible for Covid-19 vaccination, to April 19, a goal that most states have already met or will beat.
I promised in the beginning I’d always give you the straight scoop, straight from the shoulder, the good and the bad. Well, here’s the truth. The good news is we’re on track to meet our goal of 200 million shots in the first 100 days. More than 75 percent of the people over the age of 65 have gotten shots, up from 8 percent when we took office. That’s a dramatic turnaround, and critical because seniors account for 80 percent of all Covid deaths. On March the 11th, I announced that I was opening up all vaccination sites to all adults by May 1. Many governors, Democrats and Republicans, responded and decided to beat that date, which was good. Thanks to their hard work and the hard work of the American people, and the hard work of my team, I’m announcing today that we’re moving that date up from May 1 to April 19 nationwide. That means by no later than April 19, in every part of this country, every adult over the age of — 18 or older will be eligible to be vaccinated. No more confusing rules, no more confusing restrictions. My message today is a simple one. Many states have already opened up to all adults. But beginning April 19, every adult in every state, every adult in this country is eligible to get in line to get a Covid vaccination.
President Biden said on Tuesday he was speeding up his deadline for states to make all adults eligible for Covid-19 vaccination, to April 19, a goal that most states have already met or will beat.CreditCredit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times
President Biden said Tuesday that he is speeding up the deadline for states to make all adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine — to April 19.
The announcement comes as nearly every state in the nation has already heeded earlier calls by the president to accelerate the timelines for when all adult residents will be eligible to be vaccinated — a vast majority now meeting or coming ahead of the April 19 target. On Tuesday, Oregon said those who are 16 or older will be eligible for vaccination on April 19.
“No more confusing rules. No more confusing restrictions,” Mr. Biden said in a speech from the White House
Mr. Biden’s most recent target comes almost a month after he set an original deadline of May 1 for every state, and a week after he said that by April 19, 90 percent of adults would be eligible for a shot and will be able to get one within five miles of their home.
A White House official said last week that Mr. Biden revised the timeline because states, encouraged by increases in shipments, were ramping up their vaccination programs more rapidly than expected.
Mr. Biden visited a vaccination site at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., earlier on Tuesday afternoon. While he was there, he said that if everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, “continues down the road we’re on now, it will be behind us, but it’s not over yet.”
During his remarks at the White House, he emphasized how serious the fight against the virus remained. “Let me be deadly earnest with you: We aren’t at the finish line. We still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re still in a life and death race against this virus.”
The U.S. vaccination campaign has steadily picked up pace: About three million doses are being given on average each day, as of Tuesday, compared with well under one million when Mr. Biden took office in January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Every state has now given at least one dose to a quarter or more of its population. About 63 million people have been fully vaccinated. And the White House on Tuesday told governors that over 28 million more doses of vaccines will go out to states, jurisdictions and other programs this week.
Mr. Biden has said he hopes for 200 million doses to be administered by his 100th day in office, a goal that the nation is on pace to meet. As of Tuesday, more than 152 million shots have been administered beginning on Jan. 20, according to data reported by the C.D.C. The federal government has delivered a total of about 219.2 million doses to states, territories and federal agencies since last year.
The recent burst in supply has prompted governors to move up eligibility timelines on their own weeks ahead of Mr. Biden’s original May 1 marker.
“Today, we are pleased to announce another acceleration of the vaccine eligibility phases to earlier than anticipated,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said on Monday, announcing that all Maryland residents age 16 or older would be eligible starting on Tuesday for a vaccine at the state’s mass vaccination sites, and from April 19 at any vaccine provider in the state.
Also on Monday, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said residents 16 or older in his state would be eligible on April 19. Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington said later on Monday that city residents 16 or older would also be eligible on April 19.
In Hawaii, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said on Monday that the state was hoping to open up vaccinations to people 16 years or older on the island of Oahu in two weeks, according to a local television news outlet. The rest of the state has already done so.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in people as young as 16 while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can be given to those 18 and older.
Public health experts have said that the vaccines are in a race against worrisome coronavirus variants that were first identified in Britain, South Africa and Brazil. New mutations have continued to pop up in the United States, from California to New York to Oregon.
The shots will eventually win, scientists say, but because each infection gives the coronavirus a chance to evolve further, vaccinations must proceed as fast as possible.
As that race continues, the optimism sown by the steady pace of vaccinations may be threatening to undermine the progress the nation has made. Scientists also fear Americans could let their guard down too soon as warmer weather draws them outside and case levels drop far below the devastating surge this winter.
Cases are now rising sharply in parts of the country, with some states offering a stark reminder that the pandemic is far from over: New cases in Michigan have increased by 112 percent and hospitalizations have increased by 108 percent over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
The United States is averaging more than 64,000 new cases each day, a 20 percent increase from two weeks earlier. That’s well below the peak of more than 250,000 new cases daily in January, but on par with last summer’s surge after reopenings in some states, like Arizona, where patrons packed into clubs as hospital beds filled up. The United States is averaging more than 800 Covid-19 deaths each day, the lowest level since November.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting.
Senator Mitch McConnell has lashed out at executives with Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta and other corporations for criticizing Republican-led efforts to impose restrictions on voting access.Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, has long argued that corporate campaign donations are a protected, nearly sacred, form of political communication. On Tuesday he made the case that business executives might be better off limiting their free speech to writing checks.
In recent days, Mr. McConnell, the minority leader, has lashed out at executives with Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta and other corporations for criticizing Republican-led efforts to impose restrictions on voting access in Georgia and other states, accusing them of “bullying” politicians.
Mr. McConnell went even further on Tuesday, speaking in his home state during an extended back-and-forth with reporters.
“My warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” said Mr. McConnell, after an appearance promoting vaccine distribution in Louisville. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of America’s greatest political debates.”
When asked to define the activities that executives should avoid, he responded, “I’m not talking about political contributions.”
Brian Fallon, a former top aide to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, said Mr. McConnell’s comments reflect the struggle of a once-powerful leader trying to find his way following his loss of the Senate majority and a break with former President Donald J. Trump over the Jan. 6 riot.
“The earth is shifting under his feet,” said Mr. Fallon, who now runs a group opposed to Mr. McConnell’s judicial nominations. “He’s criticizing corporations for wading into political debates after years of defending their right to spend unlimited sums on political campaigns. This is a guy used to calling the shots, but he is suddenly powerless and flailing.”
People close to Mr. McConnell say he is simply pointing out the political perils of business leaders jumping into partisan debates, even though he has often touted the support of corporate leaders for his efforts to cut taxes and regulation.
Mr. McConnell told reporters he was not implying business leaders did not have the right to express themselves, but suggested the best way to communicate was by contributing money to campaigns.
“Republicans,” he said, “drink Coca-Cola too, and we fly.”
Companies and sports leagues were “not very smart” to weigh in on the voting bills, he said.
And M.L.B.’s decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of the Georgia law, he added, was “irritating one whole hell of a lot of Republican fans.”
Mr. McConnell was one of the leading opponents of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that restricted spending by corporations and unions, challenging it in court nearly two decades ago.
And he celebrated the landmark Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court that struck it down in 2010, a decision that asserted corporations had similar free speech rights to individuals.
“For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process. With today’s monumental decision, the Supreme Court took an important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups,” he said in a statement at the time.
Representative Alcee Hastings, Democrat of Florida, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida, a former civil rights lawyer and federal judge who served in Congress for nearly three decades and became the vice chairman of the House Rules Committee, died Tuesday morning. He was 84.
Mr. Hastings, a Democrat, had announced in 2019 that he had pancreatic cancer. His death was confirmed by his chief of staff, Lale Morrison.
“He lived a full life with an indelible fighting spirit dedicated to equal justice,” Mr. Hastings’s family said in a statement released by his office. “He believed that progress and change can only be achieved through recognizing and respecting the humanity of all mankind. He was never afraid to speak his mind and truly loved serving his constituents and his family.”
His death will narrow Democrats’ already-slim House majority until a special election can be held to fill the seat. His district — Florida’s 20th, which includes Black communities around Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach as well as a huge area around Lake Okeechobee — is reliably Democratic.
Mr. Hastings was born September 5, 1936, in Altamonte Springs, Fla. He attended Fisk University and earned a law degree from Florida A&M University.
He began his career as a civil rights lawyer, including fighting to desegregate schools in Broward County, Fla. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, making him the state’s first Black federal judge, according to his congressional biography.
Congress impeached him and removed him from the bench in 1989 on charges of bribery and perjury, stemming from a criminal trial six years earlier in which he had been acquitted. In 1992, a federal court ruled that the Senate had improperly removed him, and he won election to the House shortly after.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia Williams, and four children.
With Mr. Hastings’s death, there are now 218 Democrats and 211 Republicans in the House, with six seats vacant. One of those seats is expected to be filled next week by Julia Letlow, a Republican who won a special election in Louisiana after her husband, Representative-elect Luke Letlow, died of Covid-19.
In statements on Monday, Mr. Hastings’s congressional colleagues described him as a compassionate colleague and friend, but one who never shied away from political fights.
“He wasn’t afraid to use a little shame to press for change,” said Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat whose district borders his.
Representative Charlie Crist, who was a Republican governor of Florida before becoming a Democrat, said he had “long admired Congressman Hastings’s advocacy for Florida’s Black communities during a time when such advocacy was ignored at best and actively suppressed or punished at worst.”
When Mr. Hastings announced his cancer diagnosis in January 2019, he wrote that he had considered whether the disease would affect his ability to do his job. But after speaking with doctors, he said, “I have been convinced that this is a battle worth fighting, and my life is defined by fighting battles worth fighting.”
The Congressional Black Caucus said in a statement on Monday that he “never forgot where he came from and continued to fight up until his last breath.”
“Rest well, our dear brother,” the caucus said. “We’ll take it from here.”
The home underwent extensive renovations, including the installation of a new heating and air system, refurbished wooden floors, and updated chimney liners, the vice president’s office said.Credit…Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Number One Observatory Circle is finally ready for its newest resident. After months spent living in temporary quarters at Blair House, Vice President Kamala Harris is moving into her 33-room official residence on Tuesday evening following the completion of renovations, an administration official said.
On Tuesday, Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman, visited Washington state, and Ms. Harris stopped in Chicago to tour a coronavirus vaccination site. The two were then expected to return to their new home, said the official who could not speak publicly because of security concerns.
Scheduled improvements delayed the vice president’s move to the Victorian home, which has housed vice presidents and their families since the Mondales in the 1970s. Over the past two months, the home underwent extensive renovations, including the installation of a new heating and air system, refurbished wooden floors, and updated chimney liners, the vice president’s office said.
The home, which features a large veranda, a pool and a sunroom, sits on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in northwest Washington.
The Navy provides funding for most structural refurbishments, like heating and air conditioning or refurbishment of floors, according to Philip Dufour, who served as the home’s manager and social secretary to Vice President Al Gore. According to government spending data, the Navy has awarded contracts worth at least $4.2 million in air conditioning, plumbing and heating upgrades since 2018.
Payment for preservation or aesthetic-related home improvements comes from the coffers of the Vice President’s Residence Foundation, which was started in 1991 after Vice President Dan Quayle began soliciting donations for a $130,000 pool, a gym and a putting green, among other improvements.
It has also become somewhat of a tradition for each new tenant to preside over improvements to the 127-year-old house. The Cheneys remodeled the kitchenette. The Pences added a beehive. (On Tuesday, an official with Ms. Harris’s office said the bees would “absolutely” be staying.) And the Bidens added a small garden that features the names of every past occupant, and their pets, etched in stones surrounding a fountain.
On Tuesday, an official in Ms. Harris’s office said that the vice president and Mr. Emhoff would be “discussing long-term projects” that would incorporate elements of California, where she served as attorney general and as a senator, and her cultural heritage as the first woman of color to hold the
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg touring a UPS facility in Landover, Md., last month.Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times
In promoting President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, administration officials have exaggerated a projection of its job creation impact.
“The American Jobs Plan is about a generational investment. It’s going to create 19 million jobs,” Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
And Brian Deese, Mr. Biden’s top economic aide, said on Fox News Sunday, “You look at just the analyses we’ve seen this week, Moody’s suggests it would create 19 million jobs. Goldman Sachs is projecting more than 7 percent growth this year if we passed the investment and the corporate tax plan.”
These claims were an inaccurate citation of a projection from Moody’s Analytics. The research firm estimated that the economy would add about 19 million jobs within 10 years if the infrastructure package became law, and 16.3 million within 10 years if it did not pass. In other words, the infrastructure package itself would create approximately 2.7 million jobs — about one-seventh of what Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Deese claimed.
Other White House officials have offered more accurate renditions of this claim. Mr. Biden himself said last week that the economy overall will create 19 million jobs if the plan passes while Jen Psaki, his press secretary, said Monday that the infrastructure proposal “helps” create 19 million jobs.
Mr. Buttigieg corrected his claim on Monday, telling CNN that he “should be precise about this” and that the infrastructure plan creates 2.7 million more jobs than the baseline scenario.
Journalists waited outside the Vienna hotel where closed-door talks over Iran’s nuclear program were taking place on Tuesday.Credit…Florian Schroetter/Associated Press
The United States and Iran agreed through intermediaries on Tuesday to establish two working groups to try to get both countries back into compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
In a meeting of the current members of the deal in Vienna, all parties agreed to establish one working group to focus on how to get the United States back to the deal by lifting harsh economic sanctions imposed or reimposed after President Donald J. Trump pulled out of the accord in May 2018.
The other working group will focus on how to get Iran back into compliance with the accord’s limitations on nuclear enrichment and stockpiles of enriched uranium.
The two groups have already begun their efforts, according to Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian representative who is ambassador to international organizations in Vienna. He called Tuesday’s meeting of the joint commission on the Iran deal an initial success.
President Biden has vowed to bring the United States back into the deal, which would mean removing sanctions imposed on Iran after Mr. Trump pulled out of an accord he regarded as too weak. After the American withdrawal, the European signatories failed to provide the economic benefits Iran was due as part of the deal. In 2019, Iran began to violate the enrichment limits of the accord.
United States officials now estimate that Iran’s “breakout time” — the time necessary to assemble enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon — is down to a few months.
Joe Biggs, right, in 2019. Mr. Biggs, who was indicted last month on charges that included conspiracy and destruction of government property, potentially faces decades in prison for his role in the Capitol riotCredit…John Rudoff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
On Jan. 6, Joe Biggs, a former Army staff sergeant turned Proud Boys lieutenant, led the far-right group to the Capitol from the Washington Monument, charged over the wreckage of police barricades, pulled down another barrier, faced off with the police and then filmed himself.
“We’ve just taken the Capitol!” Mr. Biggs shouted to the world.
All that was laid out in court documents, but it was also in plain view. Mr. Biggs, indicted last month on charges that included conspiracy and destruction of government property, potentially faces decades in prison for his role in the Capitol riot.
He has himself to blame. Like other Proud Boys, he helped document the prosecution’s case.
“Wanting to show how smart they are, they’ve basically outlined the charges against them,” said Grant Fredericks, a forensic video analyst in Seattle who examined the online evidence against Mr. Biggs and Proud Boys facing similar charges.
The Justice Department predicted last month that the Capitol attack investigation and prosecution would be one of the largest in American history. In Mr. Biggs’s case, prosecutors are relying heavily on private communications obtained through search warrants.
But the government is also reviewing records from 1,600 electronic devices and more than 210,000 tips, “of which a substantial portion include video, photo and social media,” the Justice Department said. Many of the tips came from independent and amateur investigators combing through gigabytes of material from social media.
By now, the footage from the Capitol has become familiar. Rioters filmed themselves and one another fighting with law enforcement, destroying property, looting offices and smashing news media equipment.
As the cases against the rioters inch forward, some judges propose banning them from social media. One defendant’s lawyer argued for it: “If it weren’t for social media, she wouldn’t even be a defendant,” Charles Peruto, a lawyer for Gina Bisignano, an aesthetician in Beverly Hills who was filmed at the Capitol riot, told The Los Angeles Times.
Miguel Cardona, the education secretary, is leading a review of the policies under Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools.Credit…Pool photo by Anna Moneymaker
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that the public’s input will be included in an expansive effort to review all existing policies on sex and gender discrimination and violence in schools.
The review, announced by executive order last month, is part of President Biden’s effort to dismantle Trump-era rules on sexual misconduct that afforded greater protections to students accused of assault. On Tuesday, Suzanne B. Goldberg, the acting assistant secretary for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, issued a letter outlining ways for members of the public to include themselves in the process.
According to the letter, the department will hold a public hearing for students, educators and other stakeholders to share “important insights” on “the issue of sexual harassment in school environments, including sexual violence, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Students and faculty will also be issued questionnaires meant to provide a fuller picture of how the Trump-era rules have impacted schools’ handling of sexual harassment.
Lastly, the department will publish a notice in the Federal Register of its intent to amend existing Title IX regulations, an act that will open up additional opportunities for public comment.
With his efforts to overhaul Title IX, Mr. Biden has waded into an area that is important to him but has been politically charged for more than a decade.
As vice president, Mr. Biden was integral to President Barack Obama’s efforts to overhaul Title IX, which critics in and out of academia said leaned too heavily toward accusers and offered scant protections or due process for students and faculty accused of sexual harassment, assault or other misconduct.
The Trump administration swept those rules aside and delivered the first-ever regulations on sexual misconduct, which many saw as swinging too far the other way, offering the accused too much power through guaranteed court-like tribunals and cross-examination of accusers. The changes have led to a flood of lawsuits from accused students who have successfully claimed sex-based discrimination, a sign that could complicate efforts to undo the Trump-era rules.
It is unclear whether Mr. Biden’s review of all policies under Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools, will return the rules to the Obama administration’s approach or find some middle ground that incorporates lessons from the last two administrations.
Anti-personnel land mines, small explosive weapons that are buried underground or laid on the surface and designed to kill or maim people, can remain deadly for many decades and are banned by 164 countries around the world.Credit…Reuters
The Defense Department announced Tuesday that it would retain the Trump administration’s policy and keep antipersonnel land mines in its arsenal, reserving the right to use them in war.
In a statement, Mike Howard, a Pentagon spokesman, called such weapons “a vital tool in conventional warfare” that the military “cannot responsibly forgo, particularly when faced with substantial and potentially overwhelming enemy forces in the early stages of combat.”
The announcement drew swift condemnation from human rights groups. The Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, subsequently addressed the issue with reporters, saying Mr. Howard’s words were “accurate and factual,” but he added that the land mine policy was under review.
The current policy dates to Jan. 31, 2020, when Mark T. Esper, the secretary of defense under President Donald J. Trump, announced a major change to the Pentagon’s policy on antipersonnel land mines, small explosive weapons that are buried underground or laid on the surface to kill or maim people. Their use was permitted so long as the weapons had self-destruct features or could self-deactivate.
Mr. Esper’s decision followed Mr. Trump’s cancellation of a presidential directive signed by President Barack Obama in 2014 that limited the use of so-called persistent mines, which stay deadly indefinitely, to the Korean Peninsula.
Older types of antipersonnel land mines can remain deadly for many decades and their use has been condemned because of the indiscriminate manner in which they operate: Most will explode when stepped upon, no matter whether by an enemy fighter or a noncombatant.
That President Biden might continue to support the use of antipersonnel land mines came as a disappointment to many human rights groups that expected him to join the 164 countries that have the banned the weapons, based on comments Mr. Biden made on the campaign trail.
The Defense Department’s reiteration of the Trump-era policy also seemed to come as a surprise at the United Nations, where the Mine Action Service plays an important role in clearing antipersonnel mines from former war zones.
Lynne Patton said she did not regret creating the video.Credit…Drew Angerer/Getty Images
A former top federal housing official in New York under President Donald J. Trump admitted on Tuesday that she violated federal rules by creating a pro-Trump re-election video featuring public housing tenants shown last summer at the Republican National Convention.
The official, Lynne Patton, will not serve in federal government for at least the next four years and will pay a $1,000 fine as part of an agreement with the federal agency that investigates violations of the Hatch Act.
The act bars most federal employees from using their government position to engage in political activities.
The video, which was broadcast on the final night of the Republican National Convention, featured four New Yorkers who lived in public housing and who appeared to support Mr. Trump.
But the day after it aired, three of the tenants told The New York Times that Ms. Patton had recruited them to appear in the video and tricked them into believing that it would focus on problems at the New York City Housing Authority, the city’s public housing agency.
“By using information and N.Y.C.H.A. connections available to her solely by virtue of her H.U.D. position, Patton improperly harnessed the authority of her federal position to assist the Trump campaign,’’ the Office of Special Counsel, the agency that enforces the Hatch Act, said in a statement.
Ms. Patton, who previously said the White House had given her permission to produce the video, said in an email on Tuesday that she did not regret creating it.
Claudia Perez, one of the four tenants who appeared in the video, said on Tuesday that Ms. Patton should have received a more severe punishment. “I don’t think it was stern enough,” she said.
The video was not the first time that Ms. Patton ran afoul of the Hatch Act. In 2019, the Office of Special Counsel found that she violated the law when she displayed a Trump campaign hat in her New York office and when she “liked” political tweets.
At the time of the video, Ms. Patton was the administrator for the New York region in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and had some oversight of the city’s public housing agency. Ms. Patton joined the federal agency after working as a personal assistant for Mr. Trump’s family and at the Trump Organization.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said he would no longer throw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game in protest of Major League Baseball’s disapproval of new voting laws.Credit…Joel Martinez/The Monitor, via Associated Press
A battle between state politicians and the large companies that generate jobs and tax revenue shows no signs of slowing after Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas announced a personal protest against Major League Baseball after its decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta.
Corporate America began flexing its muscle after Georgia recently passed election restrictions, with companies including Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, which are headquartered in the state, publicly criticizing the changes. And now politicians are fighting back, at least symbolically.
Mr. Abbott, who is pushing similar election legislation in Texas, said on Monday that he was declining an invitation to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for the Texas Rangers, that the state would no longer pursue the All-Star Game, and that he would cease participating in any M.L.B. events.
“It is shameful that America’s pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives,” the governor, a Republican, said in a letter he sent to the Rangers.
Lawmakers in more than 40 states are pursuing voting laws, with Republicans saying that limiting early voting, absentee balloting and poll watchers are necessary steps to ensure election integrity and Democrats warning that those changes would make it more difficult for people of color to vote.
It is a head-spinning new landscape for big companies, which are trying to appease Democrats focused on social justice, as well as populist Republicans who are suddenly unafraid to break ties with business. Individuals like Gregg Popovich, the Spurs coach who denounced the Texas bills before a game this weekend, are given some leeway to present their personal opinions. But companies are often caught in the middle, facing steep political consequences no matter what they do.
Georgia lawmakers have already voted for new taxes on Delta, and more than 100 other companies have spoken out in defense of voting rights.
“Business leaders are still facing challenges on how to navigate a range of issues, and the elections issue is among the most sensitive,” said Rich Lesser, the chief executive of Boston Consulting Group.
Hours after Mr. Abbott’s announcement, a broad swath of the political leadership throughout Harris County, Texas’ largest Democratic stronghold, criticized the state’s election proposals and called for broader engagement from the business world to help stop the efforts.
“These bills will go through unless we collectively stand up and say no,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, a former Democratic legislator.
The mayor applauded Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game and assailed Mr. Abbott for his public display of disapproval.
“There are a whole lot of people that can throw out that ball,” he said.
Source by www.nytimes.com