House Approves Major Labor Rights Expansion, but Senate Opposition Looms

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol on Tuesday. Democrats have embraced the bill as a centerpiece of their agenda.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The House on Tuesday approved the most significant expansion of labor rights since the New Deal, advancing a bill that would neutralize right-to-work laws in 27 states and bolster workers’ ability to unionize after years of eroding clout.

The bill, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, would amend a decades-old labor law to protect workers seeking to form a union from retribution or firing, strengthen the government’s power to punish employers who violate workers’ rights and outlaw mandatory meetings that employers often rely on to try to quash an organizing drive.

It would also make it harder for companies like Uber and Lyft to classify workers as independent contractors, paving the way for a potentially dramatic expansion in the pool of workers eligible to unionize.

The measure was all but certain to run into a brick wall of opposition in the Senate, where 60 votes would be needed to advance it past a filibuster and Republicans are broadly opposed. It passed the House 225 to 206, with five Republicans joining Democrats in favor.

Democrats, led by President Biden, have embraced the bill as a centerpiece of their agenda, seeking to elevate labor rights as an answer to economic and racial inequality and woo back white working-class voters who abandoned the party for former President Donald J. Trump. It comes as Mr. Biden, an outspoken defender of unions, has already taken an unusually active stance to wade into a battle over unionization at Amazon.

“As America works to recover from the devastating challenges of deadly pandemic, an economic crisis, and reckoning on race that reveals deep disparities, we need to summon a new wave of worker power to create an economy that works for everyone,” Mr. Biden said in a statement on Tuesday.

Business groups and most Republicans fiercely oppose the measure, arguing that it is a giveaway to union leaders by Democrats looking for campaign donations. They contend that it would hurt workers, trample on states’ rights and decimate businesses at a time when thousands of small companies have folded because of the economic turmoil surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill is “radical, backward-looking legislation, which will diminish the rights of workers and employers while harming the economy and providing a political gift to labor unions and their special interests,” Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, said during the House’s debate.

The vote on the labor bill is one of almost a dozen House Democrats are plotting this month to push forward a flurry of long-sought liberal priorities on gun safety, gay rights, immigration, voting rights and other issues that would reshape the economy and several aspects of American society. Each faces similarly long odds in the Senate, but Democrats are working to ratchet up pressure on Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterm elections while persuading conservative Democrats to agree to eliminate the filibuster to achieve lasting policy changes.

National Guardsmen outside the Capitol on March 6 as the Senate votes on amendments for a final vote on the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Pentagon announced Tuesday evening that more than 2,200 National Guard troops would remain in Washington for at least 10 more weeks to assist federal law enforcement agencies in protecting Congress, continuing a deployment that began during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said Guard troops would remain on Capitol Hill through May 23, approving a request from U.S. Capitol Police to extend a deployment that had been set to expire on Friday.

“This decision was made after a thorough review of the request and after close consideration of its potential impact on readiness,” John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. He noted that the number of soldiers that would remain in the Capitol under the new agreement was approximately half of the contingent currently serving there.

Mr. Kirby said that the Defense Department would work with the Capitol Police to further reduce the number of Guard personnel guarding Congress “as conditions allow.”

The acting chief of the Capitol Police, Yogananda D. Pittman, formally asked the Defense Department on Thursday to keep thousands of National Guard troops on Capitol Hill beyond their scheduled departure. She cited a 93 percent increase in threats against lawmakers during January and February compared to the same period last year as part of the reason for requesting the extension.

Last week, House leaders canceled a session on March 4 in response to warnings from federal officials that militia groups inspired by the pro-Trump conspiracy theory known as QAnon might try to attack the Capitol that day. No such assault materialized.

President Biden visited a hardware store in Washington on Tuesday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The next round of stimulus checks that Congress is expected to approve this week will not include President Biden’s name, a White House official said on Tuesday, a decision that breaks with the practice of his predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, who sought to take credit for the payments by personally branding them.

Millions of Americans are expected to receive direct payments of up to $1,400 in the coming weeks once Congress enacts a $1.9 trillion relief package. Most of those payments will be made electronically, by direct deposit, but some Americans will receive paper checks in the mail.

The last two rounds of checks included Mr. Trump’s name, along with a signed letter accompanying the funds, prompting criticism from Democrats and watchdog groups that he was politicizing the relief money, which passed on a bipartisan basis.

“He did not want his name to appear on the checks,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters, “and he didn’t think that was a priority.”

The announcement came as Mr. Biden visited a hardware store in Washington to promote the Paycheck Protection Program, a small-business lending program that was started under Mr. Trump but has been criticized for allowing money to go to big companies rather than mom-and-pop shops.

“A lot of money went to people who shouldn’t have gotten help,” Mr. Biden said to the employees of , W.S. Jenks & Son, which received a loan from the program along with Little Wild Things Farm, an adjoining business.

Mr. Biden, who announced changes to the program that were intended to get more funds to smaller businesses, said that Mr. Trump had not done enough to fairly distribute the loans.

“In the previous round of P.P.P., in the previous administration, there was documented problems from the inspector general of the Small Business Administration that tens of thousands of companies that were not eligible for P.P.P. ended up receiving it,” Bharat Ramamurti, a deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters when he was asked to explain what the president meant. “We’ve changed that.”

The Paycheck Protection Program has made some $687 billion in loans to more than 7 million borrowers since last spring, according to data from the Small Business Administration. But it has also been plagued with problems. The Trump administration initially put few safeguards on the application process, allowing large, often publicly-traded companies to qualify for loans. Recipients have complained that their applications were delayed by technology glitches. A single typo could tank an application.

The Biden administration announced a series of changes to the program late last month, including opening a two-week window to better prioritize businesses that employ fewer than 20 people. as well as those owned by noncitizens who are lawful residents of the United States.

Mr. Ramamurti said that the two-week period led to an increase in loans to minority and women borrowers, and the administration logged 200,000 loans to first-time borrowers.

“There’s still plenty of money available,” he said.

The White House is under pressure from banks to extend the deadline for loans past March 31, the date the program is set to expire, because of the influx of applications. Several lawmakers have signaled a willingness to extend the deadline, but the White House did not respond to a request for comment on a possible extension on Tuesday.

The program has historically been a rare opportunity for bipartisan negotiation — Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, has gone so far as to call it a “slam dunk” — but economists have said it has saved relatively few jobs at a high cost.

On Thursday, Mr. Biden will deliver a prime-time television address from the White House, marking the one-year anniversary of widespread shutdowns caused by the pandemic. Mr. Biden is expected to showcase his economic relief plan and outline the measures his administration is taking to help workers and businesses recover from the pandemic downturn.

The House is expected to pass President Biden’s stimulus bill and the Senate to confirm three cabinet nominees on Wednesday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The House plans to vote Wednesday to clear President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan and send it to the White House for his signature.

The bill, which passed the Senate on Saturday, is the first major legislative initiative of Mr. Biden’s presidency, and it appears headed for enactment right around the midpoint of his first 100 days in office. Final approval will clear the way for his administration to beat a March 14 deadline, when federal unemployment benefits are set to begin lapsing, for putting in place the next round of pandemic aid.

Democrats, who have rushed the measure through Congress, were already touting its sweeping components in a series of events and speeches around the country.

“This legislation represents the boldest action taken on behalf of the American people since the Great Depression,” said Representative Pete Aguilar of California, a leading Democrat.

The far-reaching legislation would send direct payments of up to $1,400 to hundreds of millions of Americans; extend a $300-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit until early September; and provide funding for states, local governments and schools, as well as for coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution. It also amounts to an ambitious effort to combat poverty, instituting a substantial one-year expansion of the child tax credit, among other provisions that would benefit low-income people.

With Republicans united in opposition, the package is on track to be the first round of pandemic relief not to pass on a bipartisan basis. Powerless to stop it, House Republicans on Tuesday tried to slow the process with a series of unsuccessful procedural requests to bring up legislation that would reopen schools.

While the version of the bill slated to go before the House on Wednesday has some notable changes from the measure that the chamber approved on Feb. 27, including top progressive priorities that were removed or pared back, its final passage did not seem in peril.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the No. 5 Democrat, declared on Tuesday he was “110 percent confident” that his party had the votes to push it through.

Unlike Mr. Biden’s original proposal and the one the House passed last month, the legislation omits an increase to the federal minimum wage. A plan to increase the supplemental unemployment payments to $400 from $300 was scrapped. And stimulus checks would go to fewer people after the Senate imposed more restrictive income limits.

“This is a critical step to get our economy back on track and help families that are struggling,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader. “This is a good bill that helps literally millions of people.”

Mr. Biden is set to take a victory lap on Thursday night when he delivers a prime-time televised address marking one year since the coronavirus brought much of the nation to a halt.

With the arduous process of approving the stimulus bill behind it, the Senate is expected to give Mr. Biden further good news this week, this time involving cabinet nominations. The chamber is likely to confirm three of his cabinet picks on Wednesday, including Judge Merrick B. Garland as attorney general.

On Tuesday evening, the Senate voted to limit debate on the nominations of both Judge Garland and Representative Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio, selected to be secretary of housing and urban development, and both nominees are expected to be confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate is also likely to confirm Michael Regan, the president’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, on Wednesday.

Former President Donald J. Trump speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando in February.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

It was a familiar play by Donald J. Trump: lashing out at his enemies and trying to raise money from it.

The former president this week escalated a standoff over the Republican Party’s financial future, blasting party leaders and urging his backers to send donations to his new political action committee — not to the institutional groups that traditionally control the G.O.P.’s coffers.

“No more money for RINOS,” he said in a statement released on Monday by his bare-bones post-presidential office, referring to Republicans In Name Only. He directed donors to his own website instead.

The aggressive move against his own party is the latest sign that Mr. Trump is trying to wrest control of the low-dollar online fund-raising juggernaut he helped create, diverting it from Republican fund-raising groups toward his own committee, which has virtually no restrictions on how the money can be spent.

Last week, Mr. Trump sent cease-and-desist letters — which appear to have little legal standing — to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, warning them not to appeal to donors using his name and image.

Mr. Trump’s actions could give him a stream of money at a time when his private company is struggling under the scrutiny of investigations.

Republican fund-raising groups have pushed back against the former president. In a letter on Monday responding to the cease-and-desist request by Mr. Trump’s committee, Justin Riemer, the chief counsel for the R.N.C., stated, “The R.N.C., of course, has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of those common goals.”

But in a sign of the delicate dance between Mr. Trump and a Republican Party fearful of alienating its most popular figure, Mr. Riemer also said that the R.N.C. had not and would not make fund-raising appeals using Mr. Trump’s name or likeness without his approval.

And on Tuesday night, Mr. Trump released a second statement walking back his earlier attacks on the Republican committees.

“I fully support the Republican Party and important GOP Committees, but I do not support RINOs and fools, and it is not their right to use my likeness or image to raise funds,” he said. But even as he tried to clarify that he supported his party, he gave another plug for his own group. “If you donate to our Save America PAC at, you are helping the America First movement and doing it right,” he said.

Some members of the party worried the rule would make challenges by candidates like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez more difficult.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The House Democratic campaign arm on Tuesday reversed a policy preventing consultants who have aided primary challenges against Democratic incumbents from receiving party money in the future, in a victory for the party’s insurgent progressive wing.

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, who took over this year as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, had previously said that he intended to overturn the policy, which was put in place after the 2018 campaign season that saw the successful challenges of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s and Ayanna Pressley’s to longtime Democratic incumbents.

Chris Taylor, a spokesman for Mr. Maloney, said in a statement on Tuesday that the committee was opening its doors to a diverse array of consultants. “This policy change means that the only criteria for a vendor to be listed in the directory are our standards for fair business practices related to use of organized labor, critical diversity and inclusion standards and other minimum qualifications,” he said.

Waleed Shahid — a spokesman for Justice Democrats, an insurgent group that grew out of Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign and supported Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Pressley in 2018 — celebrated the move. Mr. Shahid said that the ban on challenger consultants had served to keep out progressive consultants.

It is a long-held custom for parties to protect their incumbents, and the D.C.C.C. had for years wielded an unofficial policy of not doing business with consultants or political groups that had supported a challenger against an incumbent House Democrat. But in 2018, the party’s leaders made that policy official at a moment when the progressive wing was gaining clout — and growing more savvy.

Soon after Ms. Ocasio-Cortez upset Representative Joseph Crowley in a landslide that year, partly thanks to the work of a few nimble and innovative technology consultants, the committee codified its longstanding de facto policy.

That drew fire from many left-leaning Democrats, and some worried that it would put a chill on challenges by women and people of color like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Pressley.

Mr. Shahid argued that the party was harming itself by disallowing the work of certain consultants in any of its campaigns. “That happened to some of the best digital vendors in the country,” he said. “They work on a lot of progressive primary campaigns, and they can’t work for the party’s handpicked candidates.”

Mr. Shahid added that he was heartened by Mr. Maloney’s decision to reverse the ban, but that he was still waiting to see if the organization would return to its de facto policy of rejecting consultants who help challengers.

“I would hate to see the D.C.C.C. go back to an informal blacklist, which is what their policy used to be,” he said. “But it is a step forward to not have an explicit blacklist.”

Former President Bill Clinton’s portrait being unveiled in 2004.
Credit…Tim Sloan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The White House has restored the official portraits of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to a traditional display spot after they were moved to a less prominent location last year, a Biden administration official said.

In July, under President Donald J. Trump, the portraits were moved to the Old Family Dining Room, a smaller dining room off the State Dining Room that is less frequented by visitors, and replaced with portraits of Republican presidents, CNN reported.

The portraits of Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton were returned to their traditional locations in the Cross Hall on Inauguration Day by the Office of the Curator, according to a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the decision. The Cross Hall runs between the State Dining Room and the East Room.

The portrait of Mr. Clinton, painted by Simmie Knox, was unveiled in 2004, according to the White House Historical Association. The portrait of Mr. Bush, painted by John Howard Sanden, was unveiled in 2012. Mr. Bush is portrayed standing in the Oval Office with W.H.D. Koerner’s “A Charge to Keep,” one of his favorite paintings, in the background, the association said.

Incoming presidents traditionally redecorate and personalize the White House when they take office. When he arrived in January, President Biden removed the portrait of Andrew Jackson that had hung in the Oval Office during Mr. Trump’s tenure and installed portraits of former Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson, as well as Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, according to The Washington Post.

Portraits of former presidents are displayed throughout the White House, including in the East Room, the Blue Room, the Green Room and the State Dining Room.

Usually the portraits of the two most recent presidents hang on either side of the Grand Foyer, also known as the entrance hall, but that hasn’t always been the case. Mr. Clinton opted for John F. Kennedy’s portrait, rather than Ronald Reagan’s, to hang on the left side of the entrance hall, with the portrait of Mr. Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush, on the right.

The White House usually hosts an unveiling ceremony in the East Room for new portraits of former presidents, a tradition that has been in place since Jimmy Carter’s presidency — though Mr. Carter did not have a ceremony for his own portrait, according to the White House Historical Association. The most recent unveiling was in 2012, when President Barack Obama unveiled the portraits of George W. Bush and Laura Bush, former first lady.

Mr. Obama’s official portrait has not yet been revealed.

The portraits of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush, as with many others on display at the White House, were gifts of the White House Historical Association.

Representative Liz Cheney, who in January became the face of Republican opposition to former President Donald J. Trump when she released a scathing statement announcing her vote to impeach him, has faced a significant backlash in her home state.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Wyoming Republicans this week are considering a change to state election law that may make it harder for one of their own — Representative Liz Cheney — to win re-election next year.

The Wyoming Senate is set to hold a committee vote on Thursday on legislation that would require runoff contests after a primary election if no candidate wins a majority — a prospect that could doom Ms. Cheney by forcing her into a one-on-one contest with an opponent loyal to former President Donald J. Trump.

Ms. Cheney, who in January became the face of internal Republican opposition to Mr. Trump when she released a scathing statement announcing her vote to impeach him, has faced a significant backlash in her home state. Already, the Wyoming Republican Party has censured her, and there are multiple Republican candidates running against her, with Trump allies coming to the state to rally her opposition.

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s eldest son, has since Monday posted two messages on Twitter in support of the legislation, saying lawmakers who oppose it are “turning their back on my father and the entire America First movement.” One of his tweets included contact information for state senators on the committee considering the proposal, which he claimed allies of Ms. Cheney were vying to thwart.

But in Wyoming, the situation is more complex. Republicans dominate politics there. Twenty-eight of the 30 state senators are Republicans, along with 51 of 60 state representatives. Mr. Trump won 70 percent of the state’s vote in November.

Republican contests often draw crowded fields — the state’s G.O.P. governor, Mark Gordon, won a six-way primary in 2018 with just 33 percent of the vote, then won more than two-thirds of the vote in the general election.

“We’re a major one-party state so whoever wins the primary is going to win the general,” Bo Biteman, a state senator who wrote the legislation, said in an interview on Tuesday. “This is just a different tactic to make more people happy with our primary system. It has nothing to do personally with Liz Cheney and the Trump supporters.”

Indeed, the proposal, which would move the state’s primary from August to May, with an August runoff in races where no candidate wins 50 percent, has support from some prominent Cheney supporters. State Senator Brian Boner, a co-author of the bill, backs the congresswoman. Matt Micheli, a former Wyoming Republican Party chairman, also favors both Ms. Cheney and the runoff proposal.

Wyoming Republicans said some state lawmakers opposed it because they preferred to campaign in the state’s warm summer months rather than in the spring, when the legislature is in session.

“I’ve seen no indication of Liz Cheney or any of her people in any way being involved in this legislation,” Mr. Micheli said. “As a conservative, this is something I’ve supported and thought would be a good idea for a long time.”

An aide to Ms. Cheney declined to comment. A spokesman for Mr. Gordon did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Biteman, who sought to overturn President Biden’s victory and said it was “best to keep my personal preferences to myself” about Ms. Cheney’s primary, said the Trump involvement in pressuring his colleagues to vote for the legislation has not been helpful.

“My poor colleagues on the committee, their phones were blowing up and they had thousands of emails,” he said. “One of the senators said to me in the hallway, ‘If I get one more call, I’m voting against the bill.’ I don’t know if that was a joke or not.”

President Biden’s dogs, Champ and Major, on the South Lawn of the White House in January.
Credit…Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Biden’s two German shepherds were shipped back home to Delaware for a temporary vacation after Major, the youngest, showed aggressive behavior toward an “unfamiliar person” who surprised him, Mr. Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

“The dogs will return to the White House soon,” after spending time with a caretaker at the family house in Wilmington, Ms. Psaki told reporters at the White House.

Ms. Psaki did not provide many details. She did, however, say there had been some kind of an incident resulting in a minor injury that was handled by the White House medical unit, with no further treatment needed.

The dogs “are still getting acclimated to their new surroundings,” Ms. Psaki said.

The Delaware trip was already in the works before the episode, she added (At least one media reporter noted that language echoed the formulations used to explain the absence of misbehaving humans).

A report published by CNN on Monday evening said that the dogs, Champ and Major, had been moved after Major had what one person described as a “biting incident” with a member of the White House’s security staff.

A person familiar with the dogs’ whereabouts said it was typical for Champ, and Major, to be shuffled back to Delaware when Jill Biden, the first lady, is on the road; Dr. Biden is currently on the West Coast.

The dogs joined the Bidens at the White House shortly after the family relocated to Washington. Since then, they have been allowed to roam unleashed on the White House grounds. They are often part of the backdrop in Oval Office photos.

“They really don’t have any rules, they’re really good dogs,” Dr. Biden told People magazine during a joint interview with her husband published in February. In that interview, Mr. Biden said that Champ was 14 years old, and Major was about a year-and-a-half old, though the dog, adopted as a puppy in 2018, is likely closer to three.

Mr. Biden adopted Major from the Delaware Humane Association after his daughter sent him a Facebook post about a litter of puppies up for adoption. Major was part of a six-pup litter that had been exposed to toxins and was nursed back to health before the agency listed the animals for adoption.

Major underwent a “special training” to become acclimated to the Biden household, and was fostered for several months before the Bidens officially adopted him, Kerry Bruni, the association’s director of animal care, said at the time.

“I imagine he has to learn how to travel on planes and stuff that normal house dogs don’t have to worry about,” Ms. Bruni said.

Senator Chuck Schumer at the Capitol on Saturday shortly after the stimulus package passed in the Senate.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The moment Chuck Schumer achieved his longtime dream of becoming Senate majority leader, he was in a secure room hiding from a violent pro-Trump mob that was rampaging through the Capitol.

As rioters prowled the halls hunting for top lawmakers — Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, later heard that one had been looking for his desk, saying, “Where’s the big Jew?” — he was being evacuated with other leaders to a safe room at an undisclosed location.

It was then that news outlets confirmed that Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, had won the final Georgia Senate race that would give the party the majority, handing Mr. Schumer the top job. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, turned to the man who had engineered his defeat and offered a brief concession and congratulations.

With that, Charles Ellis Schumer, 70, the Brooklyn-raised son of an exterminator and a homemaker, became the first New Yorker ever to lead the United States Senate.

“Jan. 6 was the best of times,” Mr. Schumer said in a recent interview in his office, where he cracked open a Diet Coke. “And it was the worst of times.”

His dream job has come with huge challenges and a practically nonexistent margin for error. Mr. Schumer rose to power on the strength of his skills as a party messenger and relentless campaign strategist, not his talent as a legislative tactician.

Now it falls to him to maneuver President Biden’s ambitious agenda through a polarized, 50-50 Senate without one vote to spare, navigating between the progressive and moderate factions in his party in the face of a Republican opposition that is more determined than ever.

Mr. Schumer passed his first test over the weekend, squeezing Mr. Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus measure through the Senate along party lines — an effort that nearly fell apart as Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia and a crucial moderate, balked at the 11th hour. Mr. Schumer negotiated a concession, and the bill passed, paving the way for emergency aid and the most far-reaching antipoverty effort in a generation.

“I’ve never seen anyone work as skillfully, as ably, as patiently, with determination to deliver such a consequential piece of legislation,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Schumer.

The effort forced the Senate leader to straddle his party’s centrist and progressive wings, a trick he will have to master if he hopes to keep the president’s agenda on track and Democrats in control of the chamber, as well as fending off a possible 2024 primary challenge from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the high-profile progressive from the Bronx.

Asked what he would do about her, Mr. Schumer shrugged and said he talked to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez “all the time.”

“What I’ve done throughout my career,” he added. “I do my job well, and everything works out.”

“Our goal always should be to increase, not decrease, voter participation,” former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement on Tuesday.
Credit…Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

Former President Jimmy Carter — a one-term Georgia governor who first ran for office in the 1960s — said efforts by Republicans in the state to restrict ballot access represented an attempt to “turn back the clock” on hard-won progress in empowering disenfranchised voters.

“I am disheartened, saddened and angry,” Mr. Carter wrote in a statement released by his charitable foundation on Tuesday, a day after the Republican-controlled State Senate approved a bill repealing no-excuse absentee voting.

“American democracy means every eligible person has the right to vote in an election that is fair, open and secure,” Mr. Carter, 96, wrote.

“We must not lose the progress we have made. We must not promote confidence among one segment of the electorate by restricting the participation of others. Our goal always should be to increase, not decrease, voter participation.”

Mr. Carter said he was particularly upset that Republicans in the state repeatedly invoked a 2005 report he prepared with former Secretary of State James Baker, which recommended the use of identification checks to avert fraud.

Mr. Carter now says that “new technologies” have made the use of absentee ballots much safer.

“In the 16 years since the report’s release, vote-by-mail practices have progressed significantly,” he added. “In light of these advances, I believe that voting by mail can be conducted in a manner that ensures election integrity.”

The Georgia bill is part of a nationwide effort by Republicans in red or swing states to clamp down on the expansion of ballot access championed by Democrats and civil rights groups after the 2020 presidential election. (President Biden narrowly won Georgia, as did the two Democratic Senate candidates in January.)

At almost the same time that the Georgia Senate was passing its legislation on Monday, the governor of Iowa was signing new voting restrictions into law.

But the Georgia bill’s passage is by no means assured.

After hours of intense and occasionally emotional debate on Monday, multiple Republican senators abstained from voting. The Senate bill passed just one vote above the required 28-vote majority threshold.

The bill will now go to the State House of Representatives, which is also led by Republicans. Last week, the House passed its own omnibus bill of voting restrictions that included similar barriers to the ballot box, including limiting early voting times.

Though each chamber passed its own bill, some legislators in Georgia view the House legislation as the likely central vehicle for voting overhauls in the state.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has indicated that he generally supports “securing the vote,” but has not weighed in on many of the specific provisions in either bill.

Senator Bernie Sanders won the Nevada presidential caucus last year.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

They called it the Reid machine, the state Democratic Party apparatus that the former Senate majority leader Harry Reid built in Nevada. The machine not only helped him win re-election, but also helped to win Democratic presidential victories and sent a majority Democratic delegation to Washington.

But the machine lost last weekend.

A coalition of liberal candidates backed by the local Democratic Socialists of America chapter overtook the leadership of the state Democratic Party. And within hours of Judith Whitmer’s victory as the state chair, the party’s executive director sent an email informing her that she would be resigning, along with the rest of the staff.

The incumbents’ losses were not unexpected. Before the employees and consultants resigned, they transferred roughly $450,000 from the state party to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which will most likely use the money to campaign for Catherine Cortez Masto, who will be up for re-election in 2022.

The party leadership change comes just a year after Senator Bernie Sanders won the Nevada presidential caucus, demonstrating the ascendancy of the left wing of the party in the state.

A migrant boy walks amid tents at the Juventud 2000 migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico.
Credit…Guillermo Arias/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The number of unaccompanied migrant children detained along the southern border has tripled in the last two weeks to more than 3,250, filling facilities akin to jails as the Biden administration struggles to find room for them in shelters, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

More than 1,360 of the children have been detained beyond the 72 hours permitted by law before a child must be transferred to a shelter, according to one of the documents, dated March 8. The figures highlight the growing pressure on President Biden to address the increased number of people trying to cross the border in the belief that he will be more welcoming to them than former President Donald J. Trump was.

The children are being held in facilities, managed by the Customs and Border Protection agency, that were built for adults. The border agency has been the subject of widespread criticism for the horrific conditions in its federal detention facilities, in which children are exposed to disease, hunger and overcrowding.

Under the law, the federal government is required to move unaccompanied children within three days from the border facilities to shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, where they are held until they are placed with a sponsor. Homeland Security officials have often pointed to delays by Health and Human Services in picking up the children as a reason for the prolonged detention.

Until last Friday, when the government lifted the restrictions, the shelters managed by Health and Human Services were at reduced capacity because of the pandemic. The shelters for migrant children are 13 days away from “maximum capacity,” according to the documents. The data shows the stress on the system designed to hold the migrant children as Mr. Biden tries to make good on a campaign promise to be more compassionate to migrants during a global pandemic.

Border agents encountered a migrant at the border about 78,000 times in January, the highest number for that month in at least a decade. Most of those were adults or families who were rapidly turned away under a pandemic emergency rule. The administration is expected to announce an increase in those crossings this week, according to officials.

The rules are different for unaccompanied children, who, rather than being turned back, are taken into custody, forcing the administration to find space for them. More than 5,800 unaccompanied children were found at the border in January, an increase of more than 1,000 from October 2020.

The Biden administration recently reopened an emergency facility used during the Trump administration in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to create more space for the children. The shelters where migrant children are supposed to be held have been strained. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directed the shelters to return to full capacity last Friday.

Health and Human Services had more than 8,100 unaccompanied children in its shelters as of Sunday, with space readily available for only 838 more, according to the documents. More than 42 percent of the roughly 3,250 children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection were held longer than the maximum of three days, even though they were referred for placement in shelters by Homeland Security, according to the documents. Border agents had yet to refer more than 440 of the young migrants in its custody to the child migrant shelters.

The Border Patrol and Health and Human Services have long struggled to efficiently transfer migrant children to shelters.

“It’s a difficult coordination process,” said Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary under the Obama administration. She said the rise of unaccompanied children at the border presented an urgent challenge for the administration. “That’s why they need some facilities at the border,” she said, “and I think what they need to do is move as quickly as humanly possible to place those minors with a vetted adult.”

Former President Donald J. Trump has requested people donate directly to his political action committee to support Republican candidates for office.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Republican National Committee on Monday rebuffed a cease-and-desist letter from former President Donald J. Trump that warned it not to use his name or likeness to raise money from donors.

In a letter to the former president’s new political action committee, Save America, Justin Riemer, chief counsel for the Republican National Committee, stated, “the R.N.C., of course, has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of those common goals.”

But in a sign of the delicate dance between Mr. Trump and a Republican Party fearful of alienating him, Mr. Riemer also said that the R.N.C. had not and would not make fund-raising appeals using Mr. Trump’s name or likeness without his approval.

The letter followed a friendly conversation over the weekend between Mr. Trump and his longtime ally Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the R.N.C. During a phone call, according to someone familiar with the conversation, Mr. Trump played down any intent to directly target the R.N.C. or prevent it from reaching its donors directly. The takeaway from an overall pleasant conversation, people familiar with the call said, was that Mr. Trump was still supportive of Republican donors giving money to the R.N.C. and did not plan to stand in the way.

But Mr. Trump is also known to be less confrontational in person than in fiery statements or legal threats.

The letter to the R.N.C. was among a handful of similar threats made to Republican groups, warning them to stop relying on Mr. Trump in their fund-raising appeals. Politico earlier reported the cease and desist letters.

The R.N.C. is planning to hold part of its spring fund-raising gala at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and his post-presidential base.

“President Trump and Chairwoman McDaniel enjoy a close relationship and we understand that President Trump reaffirmed to her over the weekend that he approves of the R.N.C.’s current use of his name in fund-raising and other materials,” Mr. Riemer said in the letter.

On Monday night, Mr. Trump also sent out a statement that did not directly mention the R.N.C. or other groups. But it encouraged people to “send your donation to Save America PAC” and directed them to his personal website.

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