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Live Updates: Garland Seeks More Funding to Fight Extremism and Gender Violence

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Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland told lawmakers on Tuesday that the Justice Department needs more money for Biden administration priorities including combating domestic extremism, racial inequality, environmental degradation and gender violence.

In his first congressional hearing since his confirmation, Mr. Garland appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the Justice Department to discuss his $35.2 billion budget request for the fiscal year that begins in October, an 11 percent increase from the previous year.

The budget request reflects a commitment to ensure “the civil rights and the civil liberties” of Americans, Mr. Garland said in his opening remarks.

The request also showed that Mr. Garland prioritized efforts to fight domestic terrorism and protect civil rights over the department’s focus during the Trump administration on street crime and gangs.

The budget request includes an additional $101 million to address the rising threat of domestic terrorism, including $45 million for the F.B.I. and $40 million that federal prosecutors can use to manage their increasing domestic terrorism caseloads.

It also includes $209 million for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division and other civil rights programs, a nearly 16 percent increase from the previous year, to protect voting rights and prosecute hate crimes.

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The department’s civil rights work “is critical to protecting the American dream,” Mr. Garland said.

Republicans on the committee said that they were concerned about any decision to de-emphasize the federal fight against violent crime and drug addiction in favor of efforts to curb gun violence.

“I’m concerned that if implemented this budget would irresponsibly invest taxpayer dollars in initiatives that lack the proper grounding in evidence or insights, such as the highly questionable gun buyback schemes,” Robert B. Aderholt, Republican of Alabama and the ranking committee member, said in his opening statement.

Mr. Garland also said that the department sought $1 billion for Justice Department programs related to the Violence Against Women Act, nearly double the 2021 level.

The administration has said that the money would fund services for transgender survivors of domestic abuse, support women at historically Black colleges and in Hispanic and tribal institutions; and provide funding for domestic violence hotlines, cash assistance programs, medical services and emergency shelters. It would also help address the nation’s backlog of unprocessed rape kits and fund new training programs for law enforcement officers and prosecutors dedicated to investigating gender-based violence.

The Justice Department also wants $1.2 billion — $304 million more than the previous year — to support community-oriented policing and programs that address systemic inequities in policing.

It also requested an additional $232 million to combat gun violence, and will use it to fund federal law enforcement resources, grants for community violence intervention programs, improved background checks and more comprehensive red-flag laws.

And as the United States struggles to handle the rising number of migrants trying to enter the country along the southern border, Mr. Garland is seeking a 21 percent increase in funding to the nation’s immigration courts, which are overseen by the department. The money would support 100 new immigration judges and technology to reduce the case backlog at the courts.

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming at the Capitol last week.
Credit…Pool photo by Melina Mara

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said on Tuesday that House Republican lawmakers had expressed concerns to him over whether Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3, could continue in her position, feeding rising speculation that Ms. Cheney could be stripped of her leadership post.

“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” Mr. McCarthy said on Fox. “We all need to be working as one, if we’re able to win the majority.”

Mr. McCarthy’s remarks were a striking escalation of a growing feud pitting Ms. Cheney — who has been vocal in criticizing Donald J. Trump and repudiating his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen — against House Republicans, many of whom have parroted such assertions and embraced the former president.

Mr. McCarthy chose Mr. Trump’s favorite news program, “Fox and Friends,” as the venue for his latest airing of the party’s concerns about Ms. Cheney, whose fate has become a bellwether for the future of the party. His decision to do so reflected growing resentment among rank-and-file Republicans about Ms. Cheney’s determination to continue calling out Mr. Trump and members of their party.

When a group of pro-Trump Republicans in the House moved in February to remove Ms. Cheney from her leadership role, citing her decision to vote to impeach Mr. Trump, Mr. McCarthy defended her in a speech just ahead of the secret-ballot vote, which she won overwhelmingly. But in the weeks that followed, Mr. McCarthy appears to have soured on her as Ms. Cheney has continued to contradict him, chiefly on whether Mr. Trump should continue to play a leading role in the party.

The turning point came last week at a conference retreat in Orlando, where Ms. Cheney told reporters that any lawmaker who led the bid to invalidate President Biden’s electoral victory in Congress should be disqualified from running for president. She also broke with leading Republicans on the scope of a proposed independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, saying it should be narrowly focused on the assault on the Capitol, not on Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests, as Mr. McCarthy and others in the party have insisted.

Some lawmakers are so certain that the conference will call a vote to strip Ms. Cheney of her position that they have begun floating names of Republicans who could replace her in the third-ranking post. That endeavor is also fraught. Mindful of the optics of replacing the only woman in leadership with another man, Republicans are eyeing choosing a woman.

Several of them are bullish on the prospect of Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, an outspoken rising star within the party who has toiled to increase the number of women in the party, but it is not clear she would be interested in the job. Also cited as a possibility was Representative Jackie Walorski of Indiana, who as the top Republican on the Ethics Committee earlier this year successfully balanced the job of condemning Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s past conspiratorial statements while arguing she should not be kicked off her committees.

Representative Charlie Crist, Democrat of Florida, greeting supporters in St. Petersburg, Fla., in November.
Credit…Peter Foley/EPA, via Shutterstock

MIAMI — Representative Charlie Crist, Democrat of Florida, entered the race for governor on Tuesday, becoming the first challenger to Ron DeSantis, a Republican who raised his profile during the pandemic and is now one of the best-known governors in the country and a leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024.

“Every step of the way, this governor has been more focused on his personal political fortune than the struggle of everyday Floridians,” Mr. Crist said under the blazing sun in St. Petersburg. “That’s just not right. Just like our former president, he always takes credit but never takes responsibility.”

Earlier, in a video posted on Twitter, Mr. Crist said: “Today, Florida has a governor that’s only focused on his future, not yours.”

Mr. Crist has a long political history in Florida and is widely known throughout the state. He served as governor as a Republican from 2007 to 2011 before running unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent, losing to Marco Rubio. After switching parties, he later lost a Democratic bid for governor in 2014 against the incumbent, Rick Scott.

But Mr. Crist’s experience is unlikely to deter other Democratic candidates. His clout has been diminished by years of electoral failures and by a party that is increasingly open to a wider range of more diverse public figures to be its standard bearers. Two women, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Representative Val Demings of Orlando, are considering their own Democratic runs for the governor’s mansion.

Indeed, the field could soon get quite crowded. Ms. Fried scheduled a news conference in the State Capitol for the same time as Mr. Crist’s announcement. “As the only statewide elected Democrat, it makes absolute sense for me to be running for governor,’’ she said, but added that she would not make an announcement on Tuesday.

Ms. Demings released a video of her own on Tuesday that, while not declaring a candidacy, highlighted her career as Orlando police chief, impeachment manager in Congress and a shortlisted vice-presidential pick for President Biden.

Similar jockeying — though not quite as intense — is underway among Democrats looking to go up against Mr. Rubio, who also faces re-election next year.

When reporters in Tallahassee, the state capital, asked Mr. DeSantis about Mr. Crist’s announcement on Tuesday, the governor mocked Mr. Crist’s party-switching.

“Which party is he going to run under, do we know for sure?” he said.

“I implore them, from my political interest: Run on closing schools,” Mr. DeSantis said on Tuesday about Democrats. “Run on locking people down. Run on closing businesses.” He added: “I would love to have that debate.”

In advance of Mr. Crist’s announcement, Mr. DeSantis held an official event on Monday at Mr. Crist’s favorite seafood restaurant in St. Petersburg, touting the wins he racked up during the annual legislative session that concluded last week — a session that he and Republicans in control of the Legislature used to champion policies that will appeal to Florida’s increasingly conservative electorate.

Republican lawmakers approved restrictions on mail voting, penalties on social media companies that remove users for troubling posts, anti-protest policies, a ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports, and a ban on “vaccine passports” — all fodder for Mr. DeSantis to deploy in a re-election campaign.

On Monday, Mr. DeSantis signed a bill and an executive order doing away with most of Florida’s remaining pandemic restrictions, contrasting his administration’s aversion for mandates to the restrictions in states led by Democrats.

Mr. Crist was withering in his criticism of the governor on Tuesday.

“Gov. DeSantis’s vision of Florida is clear: If you want to vote, he won’t help you,” Mr. Crist said. “If you’re working, he won’t support you. If you’re a woman, he will not empower you. If you’re an immigrant, he won’t accept you. If you’re facing discrimination, he won’t respect you. If you’re sick, he won’t care for you.”

Protesters at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, demonstrated against Republicans’ proposed bills to restrict voting in the state.
Credit…Eric Gay/Associated Press

Two broad coalitions of companies and executives are releasing letters on Tuesday calling for expanded voting access in Texas, wading into the debate over Republican legislators’ proposed new restrictions on balloting after weeks of relative silence.

One letter comes from a group of large corporations, including Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Unilever, Salesforce, Patagonia and Sodexo, as well as local companies and chambers of commerce, and represents the first major coordinated effort among businesses in Texas to take action against the voting proposals.

The letter, under the banner of a new group called Fair Elections Texas, stops short of criticizing the two voting bills that are now advancing through the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, but opposes “any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot.”

A separate letter, also expected to be released on Tuesday and signed by more than 100 Houston executives, goes further. It directly criticizes the proposed legislation and equates the efforts with “voter suppression.”

That letter was organized by a breakaway faction of the Greater Houston Partnership, the equivalent of a citywide chamber of commerce in the country’s fourth-largest city, and came after a month of intense debate within the organization over how to respond to the voting proposals.

Together, the letters signify a sudden shift in how the business community approaches the voting bills in Texas. Until now, American Airlines and Dell Technologies were the only major corporations to publicly speak out about the Texas legislation, and after doing so they quickly found themselves threatened by Republicans in Austin, the state capital.

But with a varied coalition that numbers well into the dozens, companies are hoping a collective voice willing to apply pressure at the state level could break through and sway the thinking of some Republican legislators who may be wavering on the bills.

Corporations across the country find themselves at the center of a swirling partisan debate over voting rights. With Republicans in almost every state advancing legislation that would make it harder for some people to vote, companies are under pressure from both sides. Democratic activists, along with many mainstream business leaders, are calling on corporations to oppose the new laws. At the same time, a growing chorus of senior Republicans is telling corporate America to keep quiet.

Often, population growth is concentrated in red states like Texas where the Democrats don’t win nonwhite voters by the overwhelming margins necessary to overcome the state’s Republican advantage.
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

The Census Bureau released two important sets of data last week that have big implications for American politics — and that challenge some prevailing assumptions for both Democrats and Republicans.

The first set of data lays out long-term demographic trends widely thought to favor Democrats: Hispanics, Asian-Americans and multiracial voters grew as a share of the electorate over the last two presidential races, and white voters — who historically tend to back the G.O.P. — fell to 71 percent in 2020 from 73 percent in 2016.

The other data set tells a second story. Population growth continues to accelerate in the South and the West, so much so that some Republican-leaning states in those regions are gaining more Electoral College votes. The states won by President Biden will be worth 303 electoral votes, down from 306 electoral votes in 2020. The Democratic disadvantage in the Electoral College just got worse again.

These demographic and population shifts are powerfully clarifying about electoral politics in America: The increasing racial diversity among voters isn’t doing quite as much to help Democrats as liberals hope, or to hurt Republicans as much as conservatives fear.

The expanding Democratic disadvantage in the Electoral College underscores how the growing diversity of the nation may not aid Democrats enough to win in places they most need help. Just as often, population growth is concentrated in red states — like Texas and Florida — where the Democrats don’t win nonwhite voters by the overwhelming margins necessary to overcome the state’s Republican advantage.

As for the Republicans, the widely held assumption that the party will struggle as white voters decline as a percentage of the electorate may be more myth than reality. Contrary to what Tucker Carlson says repeatedly on Fox News about the rise of “white replacement theory” as a Democratic electoral strategy, the country’s growing racial diversity has not drastically upended the party’s chances. Instead, Republicans face a challenge they often take for granted: white voters.

Asylum-seeking migrants’ families climbed out of an inflatable raft used to cross the Rio Grande into the United States from Mexico last month, landing in Roma, Texas.
Credit…Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, is quietly considering trying to use a fast-track budget maneuver to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants should bipartisan talks on providing a pathway to citizenship fall apart.

Mr. Schumer has privately told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in recent weeks that he is “actively exploring” whether it would be possible to attach a broad revision of immigration laws to President Biden’s infrastructure plan and pass it through a process known as budget reconciliation, according to two people briefed on his comments.

The move would allow the measures to pass the evenly divided Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes, shielding them from a filibuster and the 60-vote threshold for moving past one, which would otherwise require at least 10 Republican votes.

The strategy is part of a backup plan Mr. Schumer has lined up in the event that talks among 15 senators in both parties fail to yield a compromise. As the negotiations drag on with little agreement in sight, proponents are growing increasingly worried that Democrats may squander a rare opportunity to legalize broad swaths of the undocumented population while their party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.

Mr. Biden’s immigration plan would provide a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and increase diversity visas and border-security funding. But, conceding the long odds of achieving such extensive changes, lawmakers are focusing on cobbling together a package of smaller bills that would legalize about eight million or fewer undocumented immigrants.

They include House-passed legislation to grant legal status to people brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers; immigrants who were granted Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons; and close to one million farmworkers.

Bee Nguyen, 39, a state representative who is the child of Vietnamese refugees, at a rally against anti-Asian violence in Atlanta in March. She is the first major Democratic candidate to challenge the incumbent secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.
Credit…Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock

A Georgia state representative, Bee Nguyen, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who has helped lead the fight against Republican-backed bills that restrict voting rights in the state, became the first major Democratic candidate to enter the race for Georgia’s secretary of state on Tuesday.

Next year’s election was already shaping up to be a tense and dramatic fight: the incumbent, Brad Raffensperger — who enraged former President Donald J. Trump for refusing to overturn the state’s election results — is facing a primary challenge from a Trump-endorsed fellow Republican, Representative Jody Hice.

In an interview this week, Ms. Nguyen, 39, said that Mr. Raffensperger deserved credit for standing up to Mr. Trump and rejecting his false claims of voter fraud after the November election. But she also noted that since then, Mr. Raffensperger had largely supported the voting rights law passed by the Legislature in March and continued to consider himself a Trump supporter after the former president promulgated his false claims of voter fraud in the Georgia election.

Mr. Trump lost Georgia by around 12,000 votes. After the election, he made personal entreaties to both Mr. Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, asking the two Republicans to intervene and help overturn the results. When they declined, Mr. Trump vowed revenge.

In late March, the former president endorsed Mr. Hice, a pastor and former radio talk-show host from Georgia’s 10th Congressional district. “Unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out front with integrity,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

Ms. Nguyen, a supporter of abortion rights and critic of what she has called Georgia’s “lax” gun laws, could struggle to connect with more conservative voters beyond her liberal district in metropolitan Atlanta. She first won the seat in December 2017 in a special election to replace another Democrat, Stacey Abrams, the former state House minority leader who left her position to make her ultimately unsuccessful challenge to Mr. Kemp in 2018.

Harka Gurung and her 8-year-old daughter, Eden, are part of a family from Bhutan who moved to Columbus, Ohio, from a refugee camp in Nepal.
Credit…Martha Irvine/Associated Press

President Biden reversed himself on Monday and said he would allow as many as 62,500 refugees to enter the United States in the next six months, eliminating the sharp limits that former President Donald J. Trump had imposed on those seeking refuge from war, violence or natural disasters.

“This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees,” Mr. Biden said in a statement issued by the White House.

The action came about two weeks after Mr. Biden said he would leave Mr. Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees in place. That announcement drew widespread condemnation from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill and from refugee advocates who accused the president of reneging on a campaign promise to welcome those in need.

White House officials had insisted that Mr. Biden’s intentions in mid-April were misunderstood. But his decision to increase the refugee limit to 62,500 indicates that he felt pressure to act.

In his statement, Mr. Biden acknowledged that the government was unlikely to resettle 62,500 refugees because of budget and staffing cuts that agencies sustained during Mr. Trump’s administration. Mr. Biden did not say whether the government had already managed to accept the 15,000 refugees allowed by his predecessor.

“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” he said. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”

Employees tested the procedures for making the Covid-19 vaccine at a BioNTech facility in Marburg, Germany in March.
Credit…Thomas Lohnes/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Biden, faced with surging Covid-19 crises in India and South America, is under intensifying pressure from the international community and his party’s left flank to commit to increasing the vaccine supply by loosening patent and intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines.

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies, also feeling pressure, sought on Monday to head off such a move, which could cut into future profits and jeopardize their business model. Pfizer and Moderna, two major vaccine makers, each announced steps to increase the supply of vaccine around the world.

The issue is coming to a head as the World Trade Organization’s General Council, one of its highest decision-making bodies, meets Wednesday and Thursday. India and South Africa are pressing for the body to waive an international intellectual property agreement that protects pharmaceutical trade secrets. The United States, Britain and the European Union so far have blocked the plan.

Inside the White House, health advisers to the president admit they are divided. Some say that Mr. Biden has a moral imperative to act, and that it is bad politics for the president to side with pharmaceutical executives. Others say spilling closely guarded but highly complex trade secrets into the open would do nothing to expand the global supply of vaccines.

Borrowing is not expected to abate any time soon as the Biden administration continues to dole out relief funds and as President Biden pushes trillions in infrastructure spending.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Treasury Department said on Monday that it expects to borrow more than $1 trillion during the rest of the fiscal year as the United States continues spending heavily to combat the coronavirus crisis.

From April to June, Treasury now expects to borrow $463 billion, up from a February estimate of $95 billion, leaving it with a balance of $800 billion. The large balance is the result of aggressive borrowing in the past year as Treasury built up a cash cushion while responding to the economic upheaval.

Borrowing is expected to pick up even more rapidly over the summer, when Treasury expects to borrow another $821 billion from July through September.

For the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the Treasury Department will have borrowed more than $2 trillion.

The Treasury Department said that the borrowing estimate this quarter will be larger than previously expected “primarily due to the government’s additional response to the Covid-19 pandemic.” In March, Congress passed a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill to help businesses and individuals stay afloat.

Last month, the Treasury Department said the United States budget deficit grew to a record $1.7 trillion in the six months since October.

The borrowing is not expected to abate any time soon as the Biden administration continues to dole out relief funds and as lawmakers consider the president’s plan for $4 trillion in spending on infrastructure.

Law enforcement officers near the entrance to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., after an F.B.I. involved shooting on Monday evening.
Credit…NBC New, via Reuters

An armed man was wounded in a shooting that involved an F.B.I. agent at C.I.A. headquarters outside Washington, early Monday evening, the F.B.I. said in a statement.

According to the F.B.I., the man emerged from his vehicle, was “engaged by law enforcement officers,” and was wounded around 6 p.m. After the episode, which was earlier reported by NBC News, the man was taken to a hospital. The hospital was not named.

“The F.B.I. takes all shooting incidents involving our agents or task force members seriously,” said Samantha Shero, a public affairs officer for the F.B.I.’s Washington Field Office, in an email. “The review process is thorough and objective, and is conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.”

A spokesperson for the C.I.A. said the agency’s headquarters remained secured and referred questions to the F.B.I., which released limited details. It was not immediately clear whether any agents or officers were injured.

The secure campus, in Langley, Va., has served the agency since 1961. Closed to the general public, the complex is accessible only to those with security clearances or by special arrangement. The C.I.A.’s website offers virtual tours of 32 sites at the complex, from the outdoor Kryptos sculpture with a coded message to a bust of former President George H.W. Bush, who served as the C.I.A. director from January 1976 to January 1977. The complex was named for him in 1999.

Just last month, a lone driver rammed into officers at the Capitol, as heavy security installed after the Jan. 6 riot had begun to wane around the grounds. One officer died and another was injured.

The episode on Monday at the C.I.A. headquarters echoed a 1993 shooting around the campus, when a Pakistani man killed two C.I.A. employees who were stopped in traffic outside the agency’s headquarters. The man, Mir Aimal Kasi, who also wounded three others, later said he was enraged by C.I.A. activity in Pakistan and other Islamic nations. He was executed by lethal injection in 2002 after evading prosecution for years in Pakistan. Virginia has since abolished the death penalty.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said higher interest rates might be needed to keep the economy from overheating given the large investments that the Biden administration is proposing to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and remake its labor force.

The comments, shown on Tuesday at an event sponsored by The Atlantic, come amid heightened concern from some economists and businesses that the United States is in for a period of higher inflation as stimulus money flows through the economy and consumers begin spending again. The Treasury secretary has no role in setting interest rate policies.

Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said last month that the central bank is unlikely to raise interest rates this year and wants to see further healing in the American economy before officials will consider pulling back their support by slowing government-backed bond purchases and lifting interest rates.

While the Fed is watching for signs of inflation, Mr. Powell and other Fed officials have said they believe any price spikes will be temporary and will not be sustained. On Monday, John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said that while the economy is recovering, “The data and conditions we are seeing now are not nearly enough” for the Fed’s policy-setting committee “to shift its monetary policy stance.”

Ms. Yellen, who preceded Mr. Powell as Fed chair, did not predict a huge spike in interest rates but said that some “modest” increases might be necessary as the economy recovers and the administration tries to push through infrastructure and other investments aimed at making the United States more competitive and productive.

“It may be that interest rates will have to rise somewhat to make sure that our economy doesn’t overheat, even though the additional spending is relatively small relative to the size of the economy,” Ms. Yellen said when asked if the economy could handle the kind of robust spending that the Biden administration is proposing.

“I think that our economy will grow faster because of them,” Ms. Yellen said of the proposed investments, such as research and development spending.

The Biden administration has proposed spending approximately $4 trillion over a decade and would pay for the investments with tax increases on companies and the rich.





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