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Texas Republicans order the arrest of Democrats who fled to block G.O.P. voting bill.

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Daily Political Briefing

Aug. 11, 2021, 12:54 p.m. ET

Aug. 11, 2021, 12:54 p.m. ET

Credit…Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday authorized state law enforcement to round up and potentially arrest absentee Democrats who fled the Republican-led chamber to block action on polarizing election legislation.

The 80-12 vote empowered the House sergeant-at-arms to dispatch law enforcement officers to compel the attendance of missing members “under warrant of arrest, if necessary.”

After the vote, Dade Phelan, the speaker of the Texas House, signed 52 civil arrest warrants which will be delivered to the House Sergeant-at-Arms Wednesday morning for service, Enrique Marquez, the speaker’s communications director, said in an email.

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The move by the Texas House, sitting in Austin, came hours after the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, acting on a petition by Gov. Greg Abbott and Mr. Phelan, overturned an earlier ruling. That ruling, from a district court in Austin’s home county of Travis, had determined that the two officials, both Republicans, did not have the authority to order the arrest of their fellow elected officials.

Tuesday’s vote was the second time in recent weeks that Texas House Republicans raised the threat of law enforcement action to compel the presence of the more than four dozen Democrats who bolted the chamber during the final hours of the 2021 legislative session in May to rob the House of a quorum and so block the passage of a restrictive election measure.

When that session of the state legislature ended, Governor Abbott called a 30-day special session that ended in failure on Friday after most of the 67 House Democrats stayed encamped in Washington, D.C., out of the reach of Texas law enforcement. In Washington, they pushed for Congress to pass federal legislation that would pre-empt efforts by Republicans in Texas and other states to advance laws that critics say would stifle voting rights.

Last week, Governor Abbott called for a second overtime session, which started on Saturday, the day after the first one ended, and he has vowed to call “special session after special session” to force passage of the voting measure as well as other conservative priorities.

Eleven Democrats were back in the chamber on Tuesday and united in casting the dissenting votes in support of their absentee colleagues. They were joined by one Republican, Lyle Larson of San Antonio, who is known to sometimes buck his party’s leadership.

The number of Democrats who returned was not enough to bring the House to a quorum, 100 representatives, needed to vote on the elections overhaul.

While a core of more than 20 Texas House Democrats remain in Washington, an undetermined number of their colleagues are believed to be back in Texas and could be vulnerable to arrest if officers begin combing the state to look for missing members.

One of the absentee Democrats, Celia Israel of Austin, said in a statement on Tuesday that she and her colleagues broke quorum as “our last resort” to block legislation “that will deliberately make it harder for Texans to cast their ballots freely, safely and equally.”

A Republican state representative, Matt Krause of Fort Worth, said that he hoped that the threat of an “intense” option like arrest would persuade missing members to return voluntarily.

“I hope this kind of wakes them up and allows them to say, ‘All right, it’s time to get back to work,’” he said.

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Senate Passes Sweeping $1 Trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

The Senate approved a $1 trillion package to improve and modernize the nation’s aging infrastructure through a bipartisan 69-to-30 vote. The legislation now must pass the House.

“It’s been a long and winding road, but we have persisted and now we have arrived. There were many logs in our path, detours along the way, but the American people will now see the most robust injection of funds into infrastructure in decades. In a few moments, the Senate will pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, dedicating over $1 trillion to strengthen every major category of our country’s physical infrastructure. Today, the Senate takes a decades overdue step to revitalize America’s infrastructure and give our workers, our businesses, our economy, the tools to succeed in the 21st century.” “There’s a joke around town that ‘infrastructure week’ has come and gone so many times that people are a little cynical when we talk about it. Well, today is ‘infrastructure day.’ We’re actually going to see what we’ve been talking about, which is the Senate on a bipartisan basis saying, you know what, it is time to fix our roads and bridges. We can do so in a responsible way, not by raising taxes on the American people, but by making important investments in long-term capital assets that will last for years. So it’s an investment in fixing up our roads, our bridges, our water systems, our railroads, our ports, our electrical grids, our broadband network — and expanding that— and more.” “On this vote, the yeas are 69, the nays are 30. The bill as amended is passed.”

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The Senate approved a $1 trillion package to improve and modernize the nation’s aging infrastructure through a bipartisan 69-to-30 vote. The legislation now must pass the House.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Senate on Tuesday passed a sweeping $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, capping weeks of intense negotiations and debate over the largest federal investment in the nation’s aging public works system in more than a decade.

The final tally was 69 to 30, and Vice President Kamala Harris gaveled the vote closed.

The legislation, which still must pass the House, would touch nearly every facet of the American economy and fortify the nation’s response to the warming of the planet.

It would greatly increase funding to modernize the nation’s power grid and finance projects to better manage climate risks, and it would devote hundreds of billions of dollars to repair and replace aging public works projects. The legislation was largely negotiated by a group of 10 Senate Republicans and Democrats and White House officials.

After the vote, President Biden celebrated the news in remarks at the White House, where he thanked Democrats and Republicans for pushing through the package.

“They said they’re willing to work in a bipartisan manner and I want to thank them for keeping their word, that’s just what they did,” Mr. Biden said. “After years and years of infrastructure week, we’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade.”

“America, this is how we truly build back better,” he added. “This bill is going to put people to work, modernizing our roads and our highways and our bridges.”

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Biden Thanks Senators for Passing Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

President Biden celebrated the Senate’s passage of a $1 trillion package to upgrade roads, bridges, rail and water systems as a win for bipartisanship in American government. The bill now goes to the House.

I want to thank a group of senators, Democrats and Republicans, for doing what they told me they would do. The death of this legislation was mildly premature, as reported. They said they’re willing to work in a bipartisan manner, and I want to thank them for keeping their word — that’s just what they did. After years and years of “infrastructure week,” we’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America. America has often had the greatest prosperity and made the most progress when we invest in America itself. And that’s what this infrastructure bill does with overwhelming support from the United States Senate — 69 votes in the Senate. A vote margin bigger than the Interstate highway system passed the Senate in 1956. Makes key investments that will, one, create millions of good union jobs all across the country, in cities, small towns, rural and tribal communities. America, America, this is how we truly build back better. This bill is going to put people to work, modernizing our roads and our highways and our bridges. I know compromise is hard for both sides, but it’s important. It’s important, it’s necessary for democracy to be able to function. Just want to thank everyone on both sides of the aisle for supporting this bill. Today, we proved that democracy can still work.

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President Biden celebrated the Senate’s passage of a $1 trillion package to upgrade roads, bridges, rail and water systems as a win for bipartisanship in American government. The bill now goes to the House.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Ahead of the final passage, at least three Republicans who had been tangentially involved with negotiations of the bill announced their opposition. One, Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, was absent for the vote, but he registered his concerns early Tuesday.

Yet despite criticism from former President Donald J. Trump, many Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, embraced federal aid for their states.

Mr. Trump, who blew up infrastructure talks during his administration, issued another missive early Tuesday, declaring Mr. McConnell “the most overrated man in politics,” in part for allowing the bill to advance.

Democrats immediately after took up a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that will unlock their ability to muscle through an expansive social policy package over unanimous Republican objections.

Under the fast-track budget reconciliation process, that blueprint, if passed with a simple majority, will dictate the parameters of a transformative package expected to provide funding for health care, climate change, education and child care, and to increase taxes on wealthy people and corporations.

The budget can pass, however, only after a marathon of rapid-fire votes, known as a vote-a-rama, that is expected to stretch at least through midnight Wednesday. Mr. McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, said hundreds of amendments had been prepared, centered on national security funding, federal funding for abortions, tax increases and immigration.

“Republicans do not currently have the votes to spare American families this nightmare,” Mr. McConnell said. “But we will debate. We will vote. We will stand up and be counted, and the people of this country will know exactly which senators fought for them.”

The House, which had been scheduled to remain out of Washington through mid-September, changed course Tuesday evening, with House Democratic leaders announcing the chamber would return the week of Aug. 23 to consider the budget blueprint after its expected passage in the Senate.

Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Pramila Jayapal of Washington at a news conference in June.
Credit…Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Progressive Democrats warned the House leadership that a majority of their members will withhold their support for a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate passes a second, far larger package containing their spending priorities.

The warning came in a letter to the speaker, obtained by The New York Times, in which left-leaning members drew a line in the sand, putting them at odds with moderate Democrats who have been pushing for an immediate, stand-alone vote on the infrastructure bill.

In the letter, leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said a poll of their 96 members had confirmed a majority would withhold their support for the infrastructure legislation until the Senate passes a $3.5 trillion package with funding for climate programs, health care, education and child care.

Senate Democrats have moved to advance a budget blueprint for the $3.5 trillion in spending, but the actual legislation is unlikely to materialize until the fall, and that is the vote that progressives want to see approved.

Together, the two measures encompass President Biden’s entire economic agenda. The speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, has repeatedly said she will not take up the bipartisan legislation until the Senate passes the larger spending package, causing some consternation among her moderate members.

“Whatever you can achieve in a bipartisan way — bravo, we salute it,” Ms. Pelosi said on Friday. “But at the same time, we’re not going forward with leaving people behind.”

The letter was signed by the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and two of her deputies, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Representative Katie Porter of California.

In their letter, the three leaders told Ms. Pelosi that a majority of their caucus would commit to withholding their votes until they get what they want in the larger spending package, which would be passed using a legislative maneuver known as “reconciliation” that circumvents the Senate’s filibuster rule. That is a significant tranche of members in a narrowly divided House, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority.

The letter encouraged Ms. Pelosi to work to ensure “the reconciliation framework reflects our shared and longstanding investment priorities, and that the Senate first adopts this reconciliation package before House consideration of any bipartisan infrastructure legislation.”

A half-dozen moderate House Democrats, in their own letter, urged Ms. Pelosi to give the bipartisan infrastructure package its own vote without linking it to the other package of measures.

The vote-a-rama process was expected to last through the night on Tuesday. 
Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Some senators have tried to ban the process. Others simply say it’s the worst part of their jobs.

Even former Senator Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat who created and fortified some of the chamber’s most complex rules before his death, warned the so-called vote-a-rama process could “send some old men to their deaths.”

Still on Tuesday, as the Senate turned to a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that begins the Democrats’ push to expand the social safety net, the tradition of considering hours upon hours of nonbinding budget amendments once again got underway — with senators forcing politically sensitive votes on their rivals as campaign operatives compile a record for possible attack ads.

Only one vote really matters: If all 50 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents give final approval to the blueprint, Senate committees can begin work this fall on the most significant expansion of the safety net since the 1960s, knowing that legislation cannot be filibustered under the Senate’s complicated budget rules.

But before that final vote, which could come at the crack of dawn Wednesday, senators will have to deal with a blizzard of advisory amendments, and like every vote-a-rama that preceded it, it will be painful.

“It’s a little bit like an extended visit to a dentist,” said Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. “The whole process is an exercise in ‘gotchas.’”

In practice, any senator can prolong the process by offering new amendments for votes until he or she runs out of steam. The result is a procedural food fight with a silly name that does little other than keep Capitol denizens up past their bedtimes and cause twinges of political pain. (Vote-a-RAHM-a? Vote-a-RAM-a? Depends on the senator.)

Both parties have historically lamented the vote-a-rama process, but neither wants to give it up. Typically, the party in the minority — in this case, the Republicans — revel in the uncomfortable votes it can force upon the majority party that typically controls the chamber, its floor time and what gets voted on.

Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi was among the Republicans who voted in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Every one of the Senate Democrats voted in favor of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which passed on Tuesday with support from Republicans. The passage came after weeks of negotiations between a group of 10 Republican and Democratic senators. In the end, 19 Republicans — including the minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — joined 50 Democrats and independents to vote in favor of the legislation.

Here are the Republicans who voted with Mr. McConnell to approve the bill:

  • Roy Blunt of Missouri

  • Richard Burr of North Carolina

  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia

  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana

  • Susan Collins of Maine

  • Kevin Cramer of North Dakota

  • Michael D. Crapo of Idaho

  • Deb Fischer of Nebraska

  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

  • Charles E. Grassley of Iowa

  • John Hoeven of North Dakota

  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

  • Rob Portman of Ohio

  • James Risch of Idaho

  • Mitt Romney of Utah

  • Dan Sullivan of Alaska

  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina

  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi

The legislation includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid, which would lay the groundwork for pivoting the nation off fossil fuels.
Credit…Joel Angel Juarez for The New York Times

The expansive $1 trillion infrastructure bill that the Senate passed on Tuesday — a 2,702-page bipartisan deal that is the product of months of negotiating and years of pent-up ambitions to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — would amount to the most substantial government expenditure on the aging public works system since 2009. The bill — which passed 69-30, and goes next to the House — is also stuffed with pet projects and priorities that touch on nearly every facet of American life. Here are some of the major provisions.

Much of the legislation is directed toward roads and bridges, devoting billions of dollars to address an expansive backlog of repairs across the country and shoring up the nation’s highways and other infrastructure to withstand the toll of climate change.

The bill also increases funding for programs intended to provide safe commutes for pedestrians, and creates a $350 million pilot program for projects that reduce collisions between vehicles and wildlife. And the legislation formally establishes a federal program intended to encourage children to walk or bike to school.

Transportation experts say the $110 billion is just a fraction of what is needed to address the nation’s unaddressed repair needs, with the latest estimate from the American Society of Civil Engineers estimating a $786 billion backlog for roads and bridges alone.

The measure also includes $66 billion in new funding for rail to address Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, along with upgrading the high-traffic Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. For President Biden, an Amtrak devotee who has taken an estimated 8,000 round trips on the line, it is a step toward fulfilling his promise to inject billions into rail.

The measure includes billions of dollars to better prepare the country for the effects of global warming and the single largest federal investment in power transmission in history.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would get an additional $11.6 billion in construction funds for projects like flood control and river dredging. The Forest Service would get billions of dollars to remove flammable vegetation from the lands it manages, in an effort to make wildfires less damaging.

The bill would also include money for “next-generation water modeling activities” and flood mapping at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which would also receive funds to predict wildfires.

The legislation also includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid to allow it to carry renewable energy, $7.5 billion for clean buses and ferries and $7.5 billion to develop electric vehicle charging stations across the country.

The bill would provide $15 billion for removing lead service lines across the nation, short of the $45 billion Mr. Biden had called for and the $60 billion that water sector leaders say is needed to get the job done.

The legislation also includes more than $300 million to develop technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and $6 billion to support struggling nuclear reactors. It directs the secretary of energy to conduct a study on job losses associated with Mr. Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The legislation creates a new $2 billion grant program to expand surface transportation projects in rural areas.

It would also increase support for tribal governments and Native American communities, creating an office within the Department of Transportation intended to respond to their needs. It would provide $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for climate resilience and adaptation for tribal nations, which have been disproportionately hurt by climate change. More than half of that money, $130 million, would go toward “community relocation” — helping some Native communities move away from vulnerable areas.

It would also help improve access to running water and other sanitation needs in tribal communities and Alaska Native villages.

Senators have also included $65 billion meant to connect hard-to-reach rural communities to high-speed internet and help sign up low-income city dwellers who cannot afford it. Other legal changes seek to stoke competition and transparency among service providers that could help drive down prices.

Mr. Biden had initially proposed $100 billion toward closing the digital divide, but he agreed to lower the price to strike a compromise with Republicans.

Nicholas Fandos, Lisa Friedman, Madeleine Ngo, Luke Broadwater and Stacy Cowley contributed reporting.

A news broadcast in Times Square on Tuesday as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced that he would resign, capping a remarkable political fall.
Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Tuesday he would resign from office, succumbing to a ballooning sexual harassment scandal that fueled an astonishing reversal of fortune for one of the nation’s best-known leaders.

Mr. Cuomo said his resignation would be effective in 14 days. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will be sworn in to replace him. She will become the first female governor of New York.

The governor framed his resignation as a necessary step given the firestorm of controversy surrounding his continued leadership, including an impeachment inquiry that he referred to as a “distraction” from pressing issues as the state recovers from the pandemic. “Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Mr. Cuomo said. “And therefore that’s what I’ll do.”

President Biden nominated Damian Williams as the U.S. attorney for Manhattan on Tuesday, naming the first Black man to lead one of the most powerful prosecutor’s offices in the country as part of a slate of picks for top law enforcement posts.

Mr. Williams would lead the Southern District of New York after working as a prosecutor in the renowned office for nearly a decade, most recently overseeing a unit that specializes in securities fraud. The office has handled some of the nation’s most politically sensitive cases, including several inquiries of people close to former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Biden also announced nominees to supervise two other offices that tend to investigate the Justice Department’s more prominent cases, including Breon S. Peace, a former federal prosecutor, as the U.S. attorney for Brooklyn and Jessica D. Aber as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where she has worked since 2009. All three nominations would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

The Biden administration said on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with a group of auto parts factories in Mexico to address accusations of labor violations. The case posed an early test of the labor protections in the new North American trade deal.

Three months ago, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and other groups filed a complaint with the administration alleging labor violations at the Tridonex auto parts factories in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. said workers had been harassed and fired for seeking to organize with an independent union in place of a company-controlled union.

Under the deal, Tridonex agreed to provide more than $600,000 in severance and back pay to workers who had been dismissed. It also agreed to a number of steps to help ensure workers’ collective-bargaining rights.

The complaint about the Tridonex factories was brought under a novel “rapid response” mechanism in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as the U.S.M.C.A., that allows for complaints to be brought against individual factories if workers are being denied their rights to free association and collective bargaining.

In June, the Biden administration asked Mexico to review whether labor violations were occurring at the Tridonex factories. Another case under the mechanism this year involved reported labor violations at a General Motors facility in Mexico.

“Workers at home and abroad deserve the right to collectively bargain for a fair wage and decent working conditions without the fear of retaliation,” the United States trade representative, Katherine Tai, said in a statement on Tuesday. She said the agreement with Tridonex showed “our determination to leverage the U.S.M.C.A.’s innovative enforcement tools to address longstanding labor issues.”

Mike Carr, the chief executive of Cardone Industries, Tridonex’s parent company, which is based in Philadelphia, said in a statement, “We are pleased to conclusively resolve this U.S.M.C.A. petition and to collaborate with the Mexican and U.S. governments on our voluntary action plan.”

Cardone did not admit being at fault and does not believe that workers’ rights were denied at the Tridonex factories, it said in a news release about the agreement.

Twitter said this was Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s fourth “strike.”
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Twitter on Tuesday suspended Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, from its service for seven days after she posted that the Food and Drug Administration should not give the coronavirus vaccines full approval and that the vaccines were “failing.”

The company said this was Ms. Greene’s fourth “strike,” which means that under its rules she can be permanently barred if she violates Twitter’s coronavirus misinformation policy again. The company issued her third strike less than a month ago.

On Monday evening, Ms. Greene said on Twitter, “The FDA should not approve the covid vaccines.” She said there were too many reports of infection and spread of the coronavirus among vaccinated people, and that the vaccines were “failing” and “do not reduce the spread of the virus & neither do masks.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current guidance states, “Covid-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick.”

In late July, the agency also revised its indoor mask policy, advising that people wear a mask in public indoor spaces in parts of the country where the virus is surging to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading the coronavirus. A recent report by two Duke University researchers who reviewed data from March to June in 100 school districts and 14 charter schools in North Carolina concluded that wearing masks was an effective measure for preventing the transmission of the virus, even without six feet of physical distancing.

Ms. Greene’s tweet was “labeled in line with our Covid-19 misleading information policy,” Trenton Kennedy, a Twitter spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “The account will be in read-only mode for a week due to repeated violations of the Twitter Rules.”

In a statement circulated online, Ms. Greene said: “I have vaccinated family who are sick with Covid. Studies and news reports show vaccinated people are still getting Covid and spreading Covid.”

Data from the C.D.C. shows that of the so-called breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated, serious cases are extremely rare. A New York Times analysis of data from 40 states and Washington, D.C., found that fully vaccinated people made up fewer than 5 percent of those hospitalized with the virus and fewer than 6 percent of those who had died.

Twitter has picked up enforcement against accounts posting coronavirus misinformation as cases have risen across the United States because of the highly contagious Delta variant. In Ms. Greene’s home state, new cases have increased 171 percent in the past two weeks, while 39 percent of Georgia’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus.

Ms. Greene’s Facebook account, which has more than 366,000 followers, remains active. Her posts on the social network are different from her posts on Twitter. She also has more than 412,000 followers on Instagram, which Facebook owns.

On Telegram, the encrypted chat app that millions flocked to after Facebook and Twitter removed thousands of far-right accounts, Ms. Greene has 160,600 subscribers.

Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser for the Covid Response Team, in May.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

In March, Andy Slavitt, then a top pandemic adviser for President Biden, called Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs, and delivered an ominous warning.

For many weeks, Mr. Slavitt and other White House officials had been meeting with Facebook to urge the company to stop the spread of misinformation about coronavirus vaccines.

Many Americans who declined to get vaccinated were citing false articles that they had read on Facebook, including theories that the shots could lead to infertility, stillborn babies and autism.

“In eight weeks’ time,” Mr. Slavitt told Mr. Clegg, “Facebook will be the No. 1 story of the pandemic.”

Mr. Slavitt’s prediction was not far off. Roughly three months later, with cases from the Delta variant surging, Mr. Biden said Facebook was “killing people.”

Mr. Biden’s comment, which he later walked back slightly, was the culmination of increasingly combative meetings with the company about the spread of misinformation.

The meetings have involved the top ranks on both sides. In March, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, called Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, and discussed health misinformation. The White House grew so frustrated by Facebook’s answers in the internal meetings that at one point it demanded to hear from the data scientists at the company instead of lobbyists.

Talks between the White House and Facebook continue. But the rift has complicated an already tumultuous relationship just as Mr. Biden faces a setback on tackling the virus. The White House missed its goal of having 70 percent of American adults with at least one vaccination shot by July 4, and the highly contagious Delta variant has fueled a rise in cases since then.

Facebook has pushed back strongly against the White House’s criticism, accusing the administration in public of scapegoating the company for the administration’s failure to reach its vaccination goals. Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook, said the White House hadn’t given the company enough credit for promoting the vaccines.

Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois has some advice for Democrats who want to win in swing districts.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Message discipline. Focus on local issues. Find ways to work with Republicans. And show up. Everywhere.

That is some of the advice offered to swing-district Democrats for winning in conservative areas in a new report written by Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, a former leader of the House Democrats’ campaign arm.

The report comes as Democrats in competitive districts are growing increasingly anxious about holding onto their seats. Many point to falling polling numbers and argue that the party must sharpen its economic and public health messaging around the pandemic.

Ms. Bustos interviewed 25 national and local Democratic lawmakers who won areas carried by former President Donald J. Trump in 2020. She had help from a longtime adviser — Robin Johnson, a political scientist at Monmouth College, which is in Ms. Bustos’s district.

Democrats who won districts where Mr. Trump got a majority of votes are a distinct minority in Congress: There are only seven in the House.

Most of the advice in the report revolves around an intense focus on local issues, as a way of aggressively differentiating the political profile of members representing redder areas from the Democrats’ national brand, which Ms. Bustos argues can be “toxic” among rural and working-class voters.

Representative Cindy Axne became the first Democrat to win her seat in southwestern Iowa in 2018, beating out David Young, and then she won a rematch last year.

“Even when every ounce of you wants to stray from the messaging, especially when you’re in a safe Democratic room, DON’T,” Ms. Axne advised. “Everything is on the record and can be used against you by the other side.”

Some of the advice is based on the Democrats’ experiences in 2020, an election that started with confident predictions of increasing their ranks but ended with the loss of 13 House seats and the slimmest majority in decades.

Ms. Bustos blames the losses on the constraints of the pandemic, which prompted most Democrats to abstain from door-to-door campaigning out of concern about public safety. That hampered the ability of swing-district Democrats to counter messaging from the progressive wing of the party — slogans like “defund the police” — that remain unpopular in conservative areas, Ms. Bustos argues.

“We were responsible from a health perspective but from a political perspective it hurt us,” she said. “Some of these attacks that were thrown up there, they took hold and we were not able to fight back.”

The defeats were an embarrassment for Ms. Bustos, who had been considered particularly skilled at devising strategies for Democrats running in conservative-leaning districts, and kicked off a round of recrimination between the moderates and progressives in the party.

“Take any of us away and the majority is shot,” said Ms. Bustos. “I do not want to pick an intraparty fight but it has to be a whole party approach to serving in the majority.”

Political veterans such as Representative Lucy McBath of Georgia will help to train advocates and volunteers. Ms. McBath became involved with Moms Demand Action after her son was fatally shot.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety plans to spend $3 million to recruit and train its volunteers to run for office, with a goal of having 200 enter races in the next election cycle.

The program is the latest step in a yearslong effort by groups that support stricter gun laws to become politically competitive with the National Rifle Association, which has kept a powerful hold on American politics as mass shootings have multiplied.

That dynamic has begun to shift, with the N.R.A. losing influence among moderate Democrats and more gun restrictions being passed by state legislatures. But even proposals with broad bipartisan support among voters, like universal background checks and red-flag laws, have languished in Congress.

Everytown’s new program, called Demand a Seat, will begin this fall and will involve training in the nuts and bolts of running a campaign, as well as instruction from advocates-turned-legislators such as Representative Lucy McBath, Democrat of Georgia. It is aimed at members of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, two arms of Everytown, which is backed by Michael R. Bloomberg.

“Our volunteers have fought for those people sitting at the table to listen to them, and some wouldn’t, so now our volunteers and gun violence survivors will fight to fill those seats,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action.

According to Everytown, more than 100 of its volunteers ran for office last year and 43 won.

The group said that more than 50 former volunteers have been elected to state legislatures, 18 to city or county councils, eight to school boards and two to Congress: Ms. McBath and Marie Newman, Democrat of Illinois.

Ms. McBath, who was first elected in 2018, said in an interview on Monday that as an advocate with Moms Demand Action she had learned about organizing people, giving speeches and talking about policy with different audiences. But, she said, “I had no idea how to run a campaign.”

“I’d never run for office before,” said Ms. McBath, who got involved with Moms Demand Action after her son, Jordan Davis, was fatally shot. “I got a little bit of help from people around me and went to a boot-camp training over a weekend, but I wish I had this kind of structure in place, an ongoing structure I could tie into the entire time.”

State Representative Jo Ella Hoye, a Democrat, was elected to the Kansas Legislature in November after leading Moms Demand Action’s Kansas chapter for about three years. She said she had staffed her campaign mostly with fellow volunteers, who made more than 10,000 phone calls for her.

“You have this light bulb moment: I used this database for our organizing, and that’s what I’m going to use for our campaign. We take training on messaging and social media,” Ms. Hoye said. “Formalizing it is just going to make that light bulb click a little sooner.”

She and Ms. McBath will advise the program’s participants, as will, among others, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, a Democrat; former Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, a Democrat; and former Representative David Jolly of Florida, who was a Republican while in office but has since left the party.

Michael Hinojosa, the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, said Monday that masks would be required at all of its schools.
Credit…Brandon Wade/The Dallas Morning News, via Associated Press

The summer began with the promise that vaccinated Americans could largely go maskless, and travel swelled over the Fourth of July weekend to prepandemic levels. But the celebrations have turned out to be short-lived as the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges across the United States and momentum gains for mandating Covid-19 vaccines and, once again, masks.

The United States is averaging more than 124,000 new virus cases each day, more than double the levels of two weeks ago and the highest rate since early February, according to a New York Times database. Hospitals in hot spots around the country are approaching capacity.

With all of this at play, President Biden has urged the private sector and state and local governments to ramp up pressure on the nearly one-third of eligible people in the country who remain unvaccinated. He has also ordered all civilian federal employees to be vaccinated or submit to regular testing and other restrictions.

And on Monday, the Pentagon said that it would require the country’s 1.3 million active-duty military troops to be vaccinated “no later” than next month. About 64 percent of active-duty service members are fully vaccinated — a rate that is low enough to have national security implications, because it could make it difficult to deploy troops to countries with strict requirements.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a memo that he would seek to speed up the mandate if the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to the Pfizer vaccine before mid-September, which the agency aims to do. More mandates in the private sector are also expected after the F.D.A. approval.

New requirements are also being brought in at the state and local level.

In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott said the state will mandate vaccines for state employees working in veterans’ homes, correctional facilities and psychiatric hospitals.

In Washington State, Gov. Jay Inslee said that most state employees and all health care workers must be fully vaccinated against the virus by Oct. 18 or risk losing their jobs.

More than two million health care workers in California also have to get vaccinated, largely without the option to submit to regular coronavirus testing. State employees who do not work in health care will still have the option to be tested if they are not vaccinated.

State and county employees in Hawaii will be required to provide their vaccination status by Aug. 16 or face regular testing, the governor said recently.

And even as several Republican-led states have barred businesses from requiring consumers to provide proof of vaccination, about a quarter of all U.S. hospitals are requiring staff members to be vaccinated, a spokesman for the American Hospital Association told CNN. Hospitalizations are soaring in areas with low vaccination rates.

Inoculations have picked up again in the country, but public health experts note that it takes weeks for the vaccines’ full effect to kick in. They say that more immediate measures, like mask mandates, are needed.

The surge in cases has led local leaders to defy Republican governors who have banned mask mandates in states like Florida and Texas, where the virus is surging.

Starting Tuesday, the Dallas public school district will require everyone on school property — including students, employees and visitors — to wear masks. The rule applies to the district’s nearly 154,000 students in 230 schools, and it comes as Gov. Greg Abbott remains one of the most strident opponents of mask mandates.

While Mr. Abbott has largely skirted the latest push for mask mandates — his office released a statement on Monday saying that he “has been clear that we must rely on personal responsibility, not government mandates” — his counterpart in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, is threatening to withhold the salaries of local superintendents and school board members who enact them.

Others are turning to the courts. On Monday evening, the top elected official in Dallas County sued Governor Abbott, arguing that his ban on mask mandates violates Texas law.

Ethan Hauser and





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