AmericaAsiaUnited Nations

The fencing built around the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot is coming down.

Advertisement

The fencing built around the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot is coming down. William J. Walker, the House Sergeant at Arms, said federal officials could “expeditiously reinstall the temporary fencing should conditions warrant.” Credit… Erin Scott for The New York Times Six months after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in a deadly riot, the security fence constructed to fortify the complex in its aftermath is coming down. William J. Walker, the House Sergeant at Arms, told members of Congress on Wednesday that the Capitol Police Board had endorsed police leaders’ recommendation to remove the fence, which became a potent symbol of the violence of the Jan. 6 assault, and workers would begin doing so as early as Friday. In an email, Mr. Walker said the step was possible because of improved security conditions on Capitol Hill, which were the result of “enhanced coordination” between the Capitol Police, District of Columbia authorities and “neighboring state and federal law enforcement partners.” The process is expected to take no more than three days, Mr. Walker wrote. It will do away with a structure that became a physical manifestation of the consequences of the Capitol riot, which sowed chaos and fear in Washington, a city that prides itself on providing open access to the buildings that house the country’s democratic institutions. In the immediate wake of the attack, Capitol Hill resembled a war zone, with a wide perimeter of razor wire-topped fencing patrolled by National Guard troops dressed in camouflage fatigues. In the weeks afterward, lawmakers in both parties began agitating to scale back the security measures, complaining about the financial costs, the lack of public access to the building and the optics of closing off the Capitol. The National Guard left the complex in May. The House approved a $1.9 billion emergency security spending bill in May that included $520 million to reimburse the National Guard, but that legislation has stalled in the Senate. Mr. Walker said Capitol Police would continue to monitor threats and added that the Architect of the Capitol, the agency in charge of maintaining the structure, would “expeditiously reinstall the temporary fencing should conditions warrant.” Other building restrictions, such as bans on tours for members of the public, will remain in place, Mr. Walker said. Read more

A federal judge declines, for now, to block parts of Georgia’s voting law. One of the challenged provisions of Georgia’s new elections law shifted the deadlines for people requesting absentee ballots. Credit… Audra Melton for The New York Times A federal judge let parts of Georgia’s sweeping voting law stand on Wednesday, declining to block them from taking effect a week before runoff elections for state legislative seats. In his order, Judge J. P. Boulee of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said he was basing his decision on the imminence of the July 13 elections and not the merits of the case. “The court certainly appreciates the gravity of the First and Fourteenth Amendment harms plaintiffs have alleged,” Judge Boulee wrote, but “concerns in this case with respect to the July 13, 2021 runoff elections, including the risk of disrupting the administration of an ongoing election, outweigh the alleged harm to plaintiffs at this time.” He continued, “The Court reserves judgment regarding the propriety of relief as to future elections and will issue a separate order on this question at a later date.” The Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, celebrated the decision, saying in a statement: “This is just another in the line of frivolous lawsuits against Georgia’s election law based on misinformation and lies. We will continue to meet them and beat them in court.” The lawsuit was filed by the Coalition for Good Governance, a nonprofit group whose stated mission is to protect election security and transparency. It challenges several provisions in the Georgia law, S.B. 202, including one that shortened the time frame for requesting absentee ballots and others that banned people from photographing ballots or intentionally observing a voter’s choices. The suit argues that the provisions create an unconstitutional burden for voters and violate the rights of citizens and journalists to share information about elections. “Of course we are disappointed that the unconstitutional measures in S.B. 202 will control” the July 13 runoffs, “with all the dangers they bring to the integrity and transparency of that election,” Marilyn R. Marks, the coalition’s executive director, said on Wednesday. “We are concerned about the voter confusion that will no doubt occur with these little-known rapid changes to the rules.” Ms. Marks said she hoped the court would block the provisions for subsequent elections. The Coalition for Good Governance lawsuit is separate from a Justice Department lawsuit filed last month, which argues that the Georgia law intentionally discriminates against Black voters. Read more

Continue reading the main story

U.S. promises not to imprison Julian Assange under harsh conditions if Britain extradites him. The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces possible extradition from Britain to the United States. Credit… Peter Nicholls/Reuters If a British court permits the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face criminal charges in the United States, the Biden administration has pledged that it will not hold him under the most austere conditions reserved for high-security prisoners and that, if he is convicted, it will let him serve his sentence in his native Australia. Those assurances were disclosed on Wednesday as part of a British High Court ruling in London. The court accepted the United States government’s appeal of a ruling that had denied its extradition request for Mr. Assange — who was indicted during the Trump administration — on the grounds that American prison conditions for the highest-security inmates were inhumane. The new ruling was not made public in its entirety. But in an email, the Crown Prosecution Service press office provided a summary showing that the High Court had accepted three of five grounds for appeal submitted by the United States and disclosing the promises the Biden administration had made. A lower-court judge, Vanessa Baraitser of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, had held in January that “the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States” given American prison conditions. The summary of the decision to accept the appeal said that the United States had “provided the United Kingdom with a package of assurances which are responsive to the district judge’s specific findings in this case.” Specifically, it said, Mr. Assange would not be subjected to measures that curtail a prisoner’s contact with the outside world and can amount to solitary confinement, and would not be imprisoned at the supermax prison in Florence, Colo., unless he later did something “that meets the test” for imposing such harsh steps. “The United States has also provided an assurance that the United States will consent to Mr. Assange being transferred to Australia to serve any custodial sentence imposed on him,” the summary said. No hearing date has been set. The Crown Prosecution Service and the United States Justice Department declined to comment. In a statement, Stella Moris, Mr. Assange’s fiancée, urged the Biden administration to instead drop the extradition request and abandon the charges, which she portrayed as a threat to First Amendment press freedoms. “I am appealing directly to the Biden government to do the right thing, even at this late stage,” she said. “This case should not be dragged out for a moment longer. End this prosecution, protect free speech and let Julian come home to his family.” The case against Mr. Assange is complex and developed over the course of three indictments secured by prosecutors during the Trump administration. It centers on his 2010 publication of diplomatic and military files leaked by Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst — not on his publication during the 2016 election of Democratic emails stolen by Russia. Prosecutors have made two sets of accusations. One is that Mr. Assange participated in a criminal hacking conspiracy, both by offering to help Ms. Manning mask her tracks on a secure computer network and by engaging in a broader effort to encourage hackers to obtain secret material and send it to WikiLeaks. The other is that his soliciting and publishing information the government had deemed secret violated the Espionage Act. While hacking is not a journalistic act, the second set of charges has alarmed press-freedom advocates because it could establish a precedent that such journalistic-style activities may be treated as a crime in the United States — a separate question from whether Mr. Assange himself counts as a journalist. In January, Judge Baraitser rejected the Trump administration’s extradition request on the grounds that Mr. Assange might be driven to suicide by American prison conditions. On Jan. 19, in one of its last acts, the Trump administration filed an appeal of that ruling. Soon after taking office, the Biden administration pressed forward. Elian Peltier contributed reporting from London. Read more

As world leaders condemn the assassination in Haiti, Biden says he’s ‘shocked and saddened.’ Video transcript Back bars 0:00 / 0:30 – 0:00 transcript Biden Responds to Assassination of Haiti’s President President Biden said he was concerned for Haiti after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in an attack at his home in Port-au-Prince. Reporter: “Mr. President.” Reporter: “What’s your reaction to the Haitian president’s assassination, Mr. President?” Reporter: “Mr. President —” Reporter: “What’s your reaction, Mr. President, to the Haitian president being assassinated?” “We need a lot more information, but it’s just, it’s very worrisome about the state of Haiti.” Reporter: “Does the U.S. have a role in —” [reporters talking] President Biden said he was concerned for Haiti after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in an attack at his home in Port-au-Prince. Credit Credit… Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times President Biden said Wednesday that he was “shocked and saddened” by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti and the shooting of the leader’s wife, Martine Moïse. The sentiment from the American leader, whose administration has vowed to put a renewed focus on Haiti, came even as it faces difficult questions about U.S. policy goals and actions. “We condemn this heinous act,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “I am sending my sincere wishes for First Lady Moïse’s recovery.” Representative Andy Levin, a co-chair of the House Haiti Caucus and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the assassination “a devastating, if not shocking, example of the extent to which the security situation in Haiti has unraveled.” “For months,” Mr. Levin, a Democrat, said in a statement, “violent actors have terrorized the Haitian people with impunity while the international community — the United States included, I fear — has failed to heed their cries to change course and support a Haitian-led democratic transition.” The committee’s lead Republican, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, likewise condemned the killing, saying in a statement that “there must be a full investigation and appropriate accountability for his murder.” While the United States and other nations have long supplied Haiti with much-needed aid and financial assistance, including helping the country recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake, Western powers have also exerted an overwhelming influence over the country’s political destiny. The United States occupied the country from 1915 to 1934, and a series of coups in the 20th and 21st centuries were backed by Western powers. France, in particular, has long had a difficult relationship with Haiti, a former slave colony that it ruled throughout the 18th century, turning it into an extremely lucrative territory. Anti-French sentiment is common in Haiti, where the first visit by a French president was not until 2010. France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said in a statement that he was “shocked” by Mr. Moïse’s killing. “All light must be shed on this crime, which comes amid a very deteriorated political and security climate,” Mr. Le Drian said. He urged “all of the actors of Haitian political life” to observe “calm and restraint.” The United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres, said through a spokesman that “the perpetrators of this crime must be brought to justice.” He called on Haitians to “preserve the constitutional order, remain united in the face of this abhorrent act and reject all violence” and vowed that the United Nations would continue to stand with the country’s government and the people of Haiti. Lara Jakes and Read more

Trump sues tech firms for blocking him, and fund-raises off it. Former President Donald J. Trump spoke at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Wednesday. Credit… Seth Wenig/Associated Press Former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday sued three tech giants — Facebook, Twitter and Google — and the firms’ chief executives after the platforms took various steps to ban him or block him from posting. Mr. Trump, speaking from his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, announced that he would serve as the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, arguing that he has been censored wrongfully by the tech companies. Speaking about “freedom of speech” and the First Amendment — which applies to the government, not to private-sector companies — Mr. Trump called his lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, a “very beautiful development.” His political operation immediately began fund-raising off it. At the event and in court documents, Mr. Trump’s legal team argued that the tech firms amounted to state actors and thus the First Amendment applied to them. Legal experts said similar arguments had repeatedly failed in the courts before. “Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t work for the government, Jack Dorsey doesn’t work for the government,” Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and a co-director of the High Tech Law Institute, said of the Facebook and Twitter chief executives. “The idea that somehow, magically, we can treat them as an extension of the government is illogical.” Social media companies are allowed, under current law, to moderate their platforms. They are protected by a provision, known as Section 230, that exempts internet firms from liability for what is posted on their networks. The lawsuit asks the court to declare Section 230, which Mr. Trump has railed against, “unconstitutional” and to restore the former president’s access to the sites, as well as that of other members of the lawsuit who have been blocked. The suit also asks to prevent the tech firms from “censorship” of Mr. Trump in the future. “Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, unconstitutional and completely un-American,” Mr. Trump said. “If they can do it to me, they can do it to anyone.” Twitter declined to comment. Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment. To some extent, the lawsuit appeared to be as much a publicity play — Mr. Trump used the opportunity to once again attack some of his favorite political targets that were unrelated to the lawsuit — as an actual legal gambit. Mr. Trump also said on Wednesday that he would pursue his anti-tech company agenda in Congress, state legislatures and “ultimately, the ballot box.” Before Mr. Trump was done speaking, both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee had sent text messages about the lawsuit and asked for contributions. Mr. Trump’s political action committee sent its own solicitation shortly after the event ended. “Donate NOW,” it said. Image Mr. Trump’s political action committee sent a fund-raising text shortly after his remarks on Wednesday. The former president made the announcement in concert with the America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit run by veterans of his administration, including Brooke Rollins, the former director of the Domestic Policy Council, and Linda McMahon, who served as administrator of the Small Business Administration. “There’s not much precedent for an American president taking major-media corporations to court — nor is there much precedent for an American president engaging the judiciary to shape the landscape of American freedoms after his presidency,” Ms. Rollins said in a statement. Blake Reid, a clinical professor at the University of Colorado Law School, who studies the intersection of law and technology, put it another way: “The lawsuit is a legally frivolous publicity stunt that has essentially no chance of succeeding in court but a high chance of drawing a lot of attention.” An earlier version of this article misstated what allows social media firms to remove postings that violate their standards. It is the First Amendment, not Section 230. Correction : July 9, 2021 An earlier version of this article misstated what allows social media firms to remove posts that violate their standards. It is the First Amendment, not Section 230. Read more

Continue reading the main story

In a reversal, Pentagon allows a Naval Academy graduate to delay service to play in the N.F.L. Cameron Kinley was a team captain and class president at Navy. Credit… Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire In an about-face, the Department of Defense approved the request of cornerback Cameron Kinley to delay his Navy commission so he could play in the N.F.L., concluding a weekslong saga in which Kinley had initially been denied the chance to pursue a pro football career. The defense secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III, announced that Kinley would be enlisted in the Inactive Ready Reserve and be expected to serve in the Navy after his time in the N.F.L. ended. “We know Cameron will take every opportunity on and off the field to ably represent the Navy and the military to the American people and to assist us in our recruiting efforts,” Austin said in a statement. “I applaud Navy leadership for finding this way to showcase both Cameron’s athletic prowess, as well as the quality and professionalism of our student athletes and our personnel.” Kinley, a team captain and class president at the U.S. Naval Academy, had applied to delay his five-year service commitment after graduating this spring. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the reigning Super Bowl champions, as an undrafted free agent and attended rookie minicamp in May. But the acting secretary of the Navy, Thomas W. Harker, in June declined the request without an explanation. The situation received national attention, and Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, wrote to President Biden, urging him to intervene. The official policy for graduates of service academies pursuing careers as professional athletes has changed repeatedly in the last few years, with athletes required to pay back the costs of attending their academy if they immediately play professionally without earning a waiver. During the Obama administration, graduates could continue their athletic career immediately if they were granted reserve status. But President Donald J. Trump in 2017 rescinded that policy, only to direct the Department of Defense to re-enact it again in 2019 after hosting the Army football team at the White House. Biden, in a statement on Tuesday, said he supported the Pentagon’s decision. “I am confident that Cameron will represent the Navy well in the N.F.L., just as he did as a standout athlete and class president at the Naval Academy. After his N.F.L. career is over, he will continue to make us proud as an officer in the United States Navy.” Read more

Biden visited a community college in Illinois to pitch his American Families Plan. Video President Biden traveled to Illinois on Wednesday, and spoke to a group of students and teachers at McHenry County College to rally support for his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. Credit Credit… Tom Brenner for The New York Times President Biden made his latest in a string of visits to the Midwest on Wednesday, traveling to Crystal Lake, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, in an effort to rally support for his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. It came on the heels of trips to Traverse City, Mich., and La Crosse, Wis., last week in which he promoted other top items on his agenda, including his administration’s ongoing vaccination campaign and the infrastructure plan the White House negotiated with a bipartisan group of senators last month. In his remarks on Wednesday, Mr. Biden brought together Democratic leaders in McHenry County, which he narrowly lost, and pitched a spending package aimed at reducing poverty by expanding access to child care, offering free community college and increasing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, among other measures. The proposal would be financed by new taxes on the wealthy. “We need to invest in our people,” Mr. Biden told a group of about 200 students and teachers at McHenry County College. He spoke after touring a manufacturing laboratory and a child-care center at the college. “I’m here to make the case for the second, critical part of my domestic agenda,” the president said, adding that “it’s about a country once again that inspires” the world. Like the infrastructure plan, the fate of the American Families Plan hinges on the administration’s ability to rally support on Capitol Hill. While White House officials are working to pass the infrastructure plan with bipartisan support, Mr. Biden has said he would be willing to push through his social spending plan with only Democratic votes by using the fast-track budget reconciliation process. Yet some moderate Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, have expressed reservations with the proposal. And progressives including Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, argue that it does not go far enough and are pushing to expand it to as much as $6 trillion. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the State Senate president, Don Harmon, joined Mr. Biden along with Representatives Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten of Illinois. The president spoke in Crystal Lake as violent crime surges in nearby Chicago, where more than 100 people were shot, 19 fatally, over the July 4 weekend, according to local reports. While Mr. Biden met with a host of Democratic officials, White House officials said the trip was merely part of the administration’s effort to inform the public about the president’s goals. “I would see this as less of a political trip, more of as an opportunity to speak to all Americans about why his Build Back Better agenda, and why his effort to extend the child tax credit, to make community college more affordable, to make universal pre-K a reality, is something that many people of all political stripes should be able to support,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday. Read more

Texas’ governor lays out G.O.P. priorities on voting and other issues as a special session looms. Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas at the Capitol in Austin last month. He is up for re-election next year, and faces a challenge from his right. Credit… Montinique Monroe/Getty Images Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Wednesday laid out a sprawling agenda for the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature, issuing a proclamation with a broad list of measures addressing culture-war flash points that are set to bring an already ultraconservative legislative session further to the right. The governor called on the state to try again to pass a bill overhauling its election systems that would be one of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. A previous attempt by Republicans to pass a major voting law was stymied at the last minute in May, when Democratic state lawmakers staged a dramatic late-night walkout that deprived the House of a quorum and temporarily killed the bill. While the voting measures will be perhaps the most closely watched legislative battle when the session convenes on Thursday, Mr. Abbott also called for the Legislature to take up measures combating perceived “censorship” on social media platforms; banning the teaching of “critical race theory” in public schools; further limiting abortions; putting in place new border security policies; and restricting transgender athletes from competing in school sports. Mr. Abbott is also seeking more dedicated funding for property tax relief and cybersecurity. The governor is up for re-election next year, when he will face a challenge from his right. He has also been seen in Texas as laying the groundwork for a potential presidential bid in 2024. “The 87th Legislative Session was a monumental success for the people of Texas, but we have unfinished business to ensure that Texas remains the most exceptional state in America,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement. “Two of my emergency items, along with other important legislation, did not make it to my desk during the regular session, and we have a responsibility to finish the job on behalf of all Texans.” The agenda is sure to inflame tensions with Democratic state lawmakers who have already been angered by the Legislature’s rightward turn this session, which has included a near-ban on abortion and a bill allowing the carrying of handguns without permits. The legislative acrimony came to a head in late May over the Republicans’ omnibus voting bill, which, after months of debate, was finished behind closed doors by G.O.P. legislators and lawyers in a conference committee while Democrats were kept in the dark. The final bill included a raft of restrictions on voting, including new limits on absentee voting, broad new autonomy and authority for partisan poll watchers, and stricter punishments for election officials who are found to have made mistakes or committed other offenses. The bill also would have banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, which were used for the first time during the 2020 election in Harris County, home to Houston and a growing number of the state’s Democratic voters. Two late additions to the bill — a shortening of voting hours on Sundays that seemed intended to limit the popular “Souls to the Polls” programs of Black churches, and a provision that would make overturning elections easier — particularly enraged Democrats. Both Democrats and Republicans expect the initial version of a voting bill in the special session to be similar to the one that failed in May, though they also expect the provision on overturning elections to be removed. (Even some Republican lawmakers had expressed concern that the provision was included in the earlier bill.) Read more

Continue reading the main story

Biden is preparing an executive order targeting noncompete clauses for workers. The executive order President Biden plans to issue will encourage regulators to consider how mergers might contribute to situations where workers lack leverage to negotiate higher wages or better benefits. Credit… Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images President Biden will push federal regulators to crack down on noncompete clauses, occupational licensing requirements and other measures that administration officials say hurt workers’ ability to pursue better jobs, as part of a broad executive order meant to bolster competition across the economy. The efforts to increase competition in the labor market, according to a person familiar with them, will be detailed in an order issued in the coming days. The order will encourage the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit noncompete agreements, which employers have increasingly used in recent years to try to inhibit their workers’ ability to quit for a better job. It encourages the commission to also ban “unnecessary” occupational licensing restrictions, which can restrict workers’ ability to find new work, especially across state lines. And it encourages both the commission and the Justice Department to further restrict the ability of employers to share information on worker pay in ways that might amount to collusion. More broadly, the executive order encourages antitrust regulators to consider the ways that mergers might contribute to monopsonies, or industries in which workers have few choices of where to work and therefore lack leverage to negotiate higher wages or better benefits. The effectiveness of the order will depend on whether regulators can devise and carry out the rules Mr. Biden seeks in ways that survive legal challenges. And many of the policies that labor economists see as problematic for workers, including licensing requirements, are set at the state level, leaving a limited federal role. Still, the planned order is the latest demonstration of Mr. Biden’s and his aides’ adherence to a growing school of economic thought that urges more aggressive government action to break up monopolies and inject increased competition into the economy. Populists in both parties — including some Republican senators — have in recent years called for a breakup of large tech companies and other companies they say are hurting workers and consumers with outsized market power. The order builds on research that White House economists published on these themes at the tail end of Barack Obama’s presidency. It is in part a break from Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump, whose economic team reported in 2020 that it saw no threat to the economy from monopolies. But Mr. Trump also issued an executive order, in the final weeks of his term, that like Mr. Biden’s, took aim at occupational licensing. “Occupational regulations can protect practitioners from competition rather than protect the public from malpractice,” Mr. Trump’s order, published Dec. 14, 2020, read. But that order did not include the prescriptions for federal regulators that Mr. Biden’s will. Jim Tankersley and Read more

Biden is weighing how to response to the latest ransomware attacks. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, left, and President Biden discussed cyber attacks last month during their first meeting in Geneva. Credit… Doug Mills/The New York Times President Biden emerged from a Situation Room meeting with his top cybersecurity advisers on Wednesday to declare that he “will deliver” a response to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for the wave of ransomware attacks hitting American companies, after hearing a series of options about how he could disrupt the extortion efforts. Mr. Biden’s vague statement, delivered as he was departing for a trip, left it unclear whether he was planning another verbal warning to Mr. Putin — similar to the one he issued three weeks ago during a one-on-one summit in Geneva — or would move ahead with more aggressive options to dismantle the infrastructure used by Russian-language criminal groups. Each option runs significant risk, because Russia is capable of escalating its own behavior. And as the ransomware deluge has shown, many companies in the private sector and federal and state government agencies remain rife with vulnerabilities that Russian actors can find and exploit. The meeting came as several recent attacks test the red lines set by President Biden during his high-stakes summit with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia last month. The most recent attack, over the July 4 holiday, was mounted by a Russian-language group that calls itself REvil, an abbreviation of “ransomware evil.” The immediate victim was a Florida company, Kaseya, that provides software to companies that manage technology for thousands of smaller firms, which largely do not have the technology or people to manage their own systems. By getting into Kaseya’s supply chain of software, REvil was able to hold up to 1,500 companies hostage, including grocery chains, pharmacies and even railways in Sweden. But Mr. Biden’s aides say that so far the damage to the United States has been quite limited. Mr. Biden said late Wednesday that he was awaiting a report from the F.B.I. about whether the Republican National Committee was deliberately targeted last week when one of its contractors was hit by a cyberattack that appeared to be the work of the S.V.R., the most skilled intelligence-gathering operation in Russia. “The F.B.I. is working with the R.N.C. to determine the facts,” Mr. Biden said. “I will know what I am going to do tomorrow.” Nicole Perlroth and Read more

Tammy Duckworth pushes to end the deportation of veterans. Senator Tammy Duckworth spoke with a soldier from the New York National Guard at the Capitol in March. Credit… Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois and an Army veteran who lost her legs in the Iraq war, has been pushing hard in Congress in recent weeks to try to end the federal government’s practice of deporting undocumented immigrants who served honorably in the military. Ms. Duckworth, who was among the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom and who served alongside undocumented immigrants, recently released a report scrutinizing the practice of deporting veterans. She wants her bill to curb the practice included in an immigration package being discussed among a bipartisan group of senators, which itself faces long odds. “I think most Americans assume that when somebody serves, they gain American citizenship,” Ms. Duckworth said in an interview with The Times. “They don’t realize that we are actually deporting people who served honorably.” The Biden administration on Friday announced plans to provide greater support for deported veterans, including efforts to return those eligible to the United States and provide others with greater access to medical care. Ms. Duckworth applauded the move, which she said would “help right some of these wrongs” but added that, “it is still critical Congress change the laws that allowed this to happen in the first place.” Read more

Continue reading the main story

Local leaders are racing to spend $350 billion of federal relief funds, but some Republicans say the money is being wasted. Austin, Texas, steered some federal relief money into a program to help the city’s homeless population. Credit… Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times When Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, heard the Biden administration planned to give billions of dollars to states and localities in the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his cut. The remarkable growth of the Texas capital, fueled by a technology boom, has long been shadowed by a rise in homelessness, so local officials had already cobbled together $200 million for a program to help Austin’s 3,200 homeless people. When the relief package passed this spring, the city government quickly steered 40 percent of its take, about $100 million, to fortify that effort. “The inclination is to spread money around like peanut butter, so that you help out a lot of people who need relief,” Mr. Adler, a Democrat, said in an interview. “But nobody really gets all that they need when you do that.” The stimulus package that President Biden signed into law in March was intended to stabilize state and city finances drained by the coronavirus crisis, providing $350 billion to alleviate the pandemic’s effect, with few restrictions on how the money could be used. The local decisions are taking on greater national urgency as the Biden administration negotiates with Republicans in Congress over a bipartisan infrastructure package. Some Republican lawmakers want money from previous relief packages to be repurposed to pay for infrastructure, arguing that many states are in far better financial shape than expected and the money should be put to better use. Not a single Republican in either house of Congress voted for the bill. Yet the vast majority of officials from conservative states have welcomed the aid without much fuss. Glenn Thrush and Read more