The House voted on Tuesday to remove statues honoring Confederate and other white supremacist leaders from public display at the United States Capitol, renewing an effort to rid the seat of American democracy of symbols of rebellion and racism.
The chamber voted 285 to 120 to approve the legislation, which aims to banish the likenesses of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, Jefferson Davis and roughly a dozen other figures associated with the Confederacy or white supremacist causes. Sixty-seven Republicans, including the party’s top leader, joined every Democrat in support of the changes, but a majority of the party stood against it.
“We can’t change history, but we can certainly make it clear that which we honor and that which we do not honor,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, who helped write the bill. “Symbols of hate and division have no place in the halls of Congress.”
The legislation will now go to the Senate, where Democrats have vowed to use their narrow majority to try to advance it.
The vote marked the latest round in a yearslong debate on Capitol Hill and across the country over the role of Confederate statues and symbols in public spaces, and the implications of removing them. Proponents of replacing the monuments with new ones commemorating the national struggle for equal rights have notched steady progress.
Among the likenesses targeted for removal is the bust of Chief Justice Taney, who as the leader of the Supreme Court in 1857 delivered the landmark Dred Scott v. Sandford decision denying the rights of citizenship to people of African descent. The legislation calls for Taney’s bust to be replaced with one of fellow Marylander Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.
The bill also specifically singles out for removal statues of Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, president of the Confederate States of America, and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, the former vice president and leader of the Senate’s pro-slavery faction.
The statues were selected and donated by states to the Capitol. Several states have already voluntarily taken steps to remove and replace some of them.
Conservatives decried the bill as an attempt to “whitewash” history or deprive states of their ability to choose what figures they want to see honored in the Capitol. Yet many of the Republican arguments against the measure on Tuesday focused on complaints about the removal process Democrats had proposed, not their goal.
“It would mean a whole lot more to this body, as well as the American people, if the states who originally put those statues in here were the ones who now ask that they would be removed,” said Representative Barry Loudermilk, Republican of Georgia.
Rushing to help Afghans who face retribution for working alongside American troops in their home country, the House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to speed up the process that would allow them to immigrate to the United States.
With the American military in the final phases of withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years of war, more than 18,000 Afghans who have worked for the United States as interpreters, drivers, engineers, security guards and embassy clerks are stuck in a bureaucratic morass after applying for Special Immigrant Visas, available to people who face threats because of work for the U.S. government.
“I can say with confidence that I might not be here today had it not been for these men and women,” said Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado and a former Army Ranger who is the lead sponsor of the bill.
The measure, passed 366 to 46, would waive a requirement for applicants to undergo medical examinations in Afghanistan before qualifying, instead allowing them to do so after entering the United States. The first in a series of bipartisan bills intended to smooth the visa process, it aims to shorten the long waiting period, which can be as long as six or seven years for some applicants.
Mr. Crow said waiving the medical examination requirement would save the average applicant about a month on processing the visa. The bill requires that applicants complete their examinations within 30 days of arriving in the United States.
“In combat and in a war zone, every hour matters,” Mr. Crow said. “A month will save many, many lives.”
Since 2014, the nonprofit No One Left Behind has tracked the killings of more than 300 translators or their family members, many of whom died while waiting for their visas to be processed, according to James Miervaldis, the group’s chairman and an Army Reserve noncommissioned officer.
“It is a life and death situation,” said Representative Brad Wenstrup, Republican of Ohio. “It’ll be a black eye on the United States if we don’t do everything in our power to protect these allies.”
President Biden returned to Washington on Tuesday evening after spending the day in La Crosse, Wis., where he opened a combination road show and apology tour centered on his bipartisan infrastructure deal.
His aims: to reassure Republicans that he was committed to the agreement he struck last week and to convince liberal and centrist Democrats that the compromise had not dimmed his economic ambitions.
In La Crosse, Mr. Biden praised the $579 billion bipartisan pact, promising it would bring faster internet, less traffic and safer drinking water to Americans in Wisconsin and across the country. Some of the benefits he promised were the same, or similar to, those he predicted when rolling out his more ambitious $4 trillion plan earlier this year.
The president portrayed the compromise as the largest federal infrastructure effort since President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation creating the interstate highway system 65 years ago. “This is a generational investment — generational investment — to modernize our infrastructure,” Mr. Biden said, “creating millions of good-paying jobs.”
But in the same speech, the president also said he would continue to press the case for trillions more dollars to reshape the economy, educate children and young adults, support workers and families, and fight climate change. And he reiterated his plans to pay for that spending by raising taxes on corporations and high earners. Such a plan would almost certainly need to be passed with only Democratic votes.
“There’s much more to do, and I’m going to continue to fight for you,” Mr. Biden said during a stop at a municipal transit facility. “I’m going to keep working with Congress to pass even more of my economic agenda so we can keep building an economy from the bottom up and middle out.”
The stop, which took place in a swing congressional district held by a moderate Democrat and where broadband internet access remains spotty for many residents, represented a reset of sorts for a president who nearly fumbled his delicate balancing act on infrastructure before it could begin in earnest.
The setting brought reminders of the tricky political landscape Mr. Biden is trying to navigate to pass that deal into law: His lectern was flanked by a digital sign, the kind usually used to warn motorists of upcoming road work, that showed the words “American Jobs Plan” — the name of the $2.3 trillion infrastructure initiative that Mr. Biden was forced to pare back significantly in the name of bipartisan consensus.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to lift a moratorium on evictions that had been imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Brett M. Kavanaugh in the majority.
The court gave no reasons for its ruling, which is typical when it acts on emergency applications. But Justice Kavanaugh issued a brief concurring opinion explaining that he had cast his vote reluctantly and had taken account of the impending expiration of the moratorium.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “Because the C.D.C. plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application” that had been filed by landlords, real estate companies and trade associations.
He added that the agency might not extend the moratorium on its own. “In my view,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote, “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the C.D.C. to extend the moratorium past July 31.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Congress declared a moratorium on evictions, which lapsed last July. The C.D.C. then issued a series of its own moratoriums.
“In doing so,” the challengers told the justices, “the C.D.C. shifted the pandemic’s financial burdens from the nation’s 30 to 40 million renters to its 10 to 11 million landlords — most of whom, like applicants, are individuals and small businesses — resulting in over $13 billion in unpaid rent per month.” The total cost to the nation’s landlords, they wrote, could approach $200 billion.
The moratorium defers but does not cancel the obligation to pay rent; the challengers wrote that this “massive wealth transfer” would “never be fully undone.” Many renters, they wrote, will be unable to pay what they owe. “In reality,” they wrote, “the eviction moratorium has become an instrument of economic policy rather than of disease control.”
In urging the Supreme Court to leave the moratorium in place, the government said that continued vigilance against the spread of the coronavirus was needed and noted that Congress has appropriated tens of billions of dollars to pay for rent arrears.
President Biden officially notified Congress on Tuesday about his justification for recent American airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq, declaring that he acted to “defend the safety of our personnel” and to “deter the Islamic Republic of Iran” and its proxies from further attacks.
The notification, in compliance with the War Powers Act, came as Mr. Biden drew criticism over the strikes from some in his own party — both progressives who generally oppose further military action in the Middle East and some Biden allies who questioned whether he needed a vote of Congress before getting into repeated conflict with the militias.
Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and one of Mr. Biden’s most enthusiastic supporters, called the actions against Iran in the region part of a “low-intensity war” and said that, at some point, Congress’ approval would be necessary.
The strikes occurred early Monday local time against locations in Syria and Iraq that White House officials said were used to launch unmanned aerial vehicles against U.S. troops in Iraq.
The White House has rejected the idea that Congress needs to authorize such action, saying Mr. Biden acted as many of his predecessors did, under his constitutional authority as commander in chief. Mr. Biden’s formal notification to Congress continued that argument, saying that he acted consistently “with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests.”
The notification concluded with a warning that the United States stood “ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks.” That language could confirm suspicions by many in Congress that this was not a single attack on a terror group, but part of a continuing, low-level conflict.
The formal notification itself was no surprise, but Mr. Biden submitted it quickly, an acknowledgment of the sensitivity of the issue for Democrats. The airstrikes underscored how many conflicting currents Mr. Biden faces as he attempts to fashion a coherent Iran policy. Those include pressures from Congress, from Israel and from Arab allies who worry about his determination to get back into the Iran nuclear accord, and now from a new leader in Tehran, Ebrahim Raisi, the incoming hard-liner who was elected president two weeks ago. He will be inaugurated in August.
Since Mr. Biden’s inauguration, there have been six meetings toward completing work on restoring the nuclear deal, which President Donald J. Trump exited three years ago. No additional meeting has been scheduled since Mr. Raisi won the election as the preferred candidate of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Nor has Iran indicated whether it will renew an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear inspection group, to maintain cameras and other sensors that monitor the status of Iran’s nuclear material. Those negotiations remain underway. The last agreement expired on Thursday.
A member of a civil liberties watchdog board that investigates the nation’s security programs has sharply criticized a major — but still secret — report by his organization about a National Security Agency surveillance-related system that first came to public light as part of the leaks by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The system, XKeyscore, enables N.S.A. analysts to query huge repositories of intercepted internet communications and metadata in search of information.
The official critical of the XKeyscore report is Travis LeBlanc, a Democratic appointee to the five-member agency that produced it, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. His critique emerged on Tuesday, in a newly declassified, 10-page statement that opened a window into infighting at the board and offered a few hints about the classified study, which was completed in December after more than six years of work.
“I am unable to support” the XKeyscore system, Mr. LeBlanc wrote. “I harbor serious reservations about the deficiencies in our oversight of the XKeyscore program as well as significant concerns about the program’s operations.”
Mr. LeBlanc portrayed the board’s approval of its report as rushed and pointed to gaps, including failure to scrutinize the use of artificial intelligence in connection with the system and not conducting an adequate assessment of oversight mechanisms.
The report, Mr. LeBlanc wrote, “unfortunately reads more like a book report of the XKeyscore program than an independent oversight analysis grappling with key concerns in this evolving technological and legal landscape.”
But other current and former officials pushed back on Mr. LeBlanc’s complaints and defended the oversight effort.
Adam Klein, a Republican who was the board’s chairman until he stepped down on June 20, said, “This is a detailed, comprehensive report and recommendations on a very complex program,” and added, “It’s highly factual, substantive and apolitical — the type of oversight the board was created to perform.”
Because the underlying report remains classified, it is difficult to assess the rival points of view.
President Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, will travel to Florida on Thursday to tour the site of collapsed Champlain Towers South condo complex and comfort the families of the 149 people listed as missing as the excruciating rescue and recovery effort drags on.
The Bidens will thank “search and rescue teams, and everyone who has been working tirelessly around the clock, and meet with the families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy, waiting in anguish and heartbreak for word of their loved ones to offer them comfort,” Jen Psaki, Mr. Biden’s press secretary, told reporters en route with the president to Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Ms. Psaki said the White House had planned the Florida trip in close coordination with officials in the Miami-Dade County area to ensure the trip would not divert “any critical local resources” from the recovery operation and to avoid “any negative operational impact.”
The families of the missing have endured a painstaking recovery process that has, so far, resulted in the retrieval of 12 bodies from tons of pulverized, unstable rubble. Earlier, the White House press office later issued a one-line statement confirming the trip a week after the 13-story building suddenly gave way under its sleeping residents in the middle of the night.
On Monday, Ms. Psaki said the president believed “there should be an investigation” into the collapse.
Mr. Biden, speaking briefly with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House en route to a trip to Wisconsin, also said that plans were in the works for the first lady to visit the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Mr. Biden spoke with Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida on Friday, pledging to provide federal help for the rescue, recovery and investigation of the collapse, which occurred after warnings about the structural integrity of the complex.
“We provided all the help they need,” Mr. Biden told reporters on Friday. “We sent the best people from FEMA down there. We’re going to stay with them with the disaster declaration we made, provide for everything from housing to, God forbid, whether there’s a need for a place for the bodies to be placed and everything in between.”
Word of Mr. Biden’s visit came as new details emerged about the cause of the collapse, and what appears to be a long pattern of missed warning signs about the building’s deteriorating condition.
Less than three months before the collapse, the president of the condominium association warned in a letter that the damage in the building had “gotten significantly worse” since it was highlighted in a 2018 inspection.
The letter was written to residents by Jean Wodnicki, president of the association’s board of directors, explaining why a list of extensive construction projects were worth a $15 million special assessment that residents were being asked to pay.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for a pipeline to transport natural gas from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, ruling that PennEast Pipeline Company, the project’s developer, may exercise the federal government’s power of eminent domain to condemn land owned by New Jersey.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision, said the government was entitled to delegate its power of eminent domain to private parties even where state property is at issue.
“We are asked to decide whether the federal government can constitutionally confer on pipeline companies the authority to condemn necessary rights of way in which a state has an interest,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “We hold that it can.”
Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Sonia Sotomayor and Brett M. Kavanaugh joined the chief justice’s majority opinion.
Under the Natural Gas Act, a federal law, the federal government can authorize private companies to use its eminent-domain power in at least some circumstances. PennEast obtained federal approval for its proposed 116-mile pipeline, to run from Luzerne County in Pennsylvania to Mercer County in New Jersey, and federal officials gave it the power to condemn property along the route.
New Jersey, which owns some of the parcels the company sought to condemn, objected, saying that the doctrine of sovereign immunity barred the company’s efforts.
Rejecting that argument, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that there is a long history of eminent domain actions against state property rooted in federal power.
“Over the course of the nation’s history, the federal government and its delegatees have exercised the eminent domain power to give effect to that vision, connecting our country through turnpikes, bridges and railroads — and more recently pipelines, telecommunications infrastructure and electric transmission facilities,” he wrote. “And we have repeatedly upheld these exercises of the federal eminent domain power — whether by the government or a private corporation, whether through an upfront taking or a direct condemnation proceeding, and whether against private property or state-owned land.”
In dissent, Justice Amy Coney Barrett responded that Congress was powerless to allow private suits against states under its constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce.
“Congress cannot enable a private party like PennEast to institute a condemnation action against a nonconsenting state like New Jersey,” she wrote.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan and Neil M. Gorsuch joined Justice Barrett’s dissent in the case, PennEast Pipeline Company v. New Jersey, No. 19-1039. (An earlier version omitted Justice Kagan and incorrectly included Justice Alito as among the dissenters.)
Justice Barrett said the federal government has other ways to achieve its goals. “In fact,” she wrote, “there is an obvious option that the court barely acknowledges: The United States can take state land itself.”
“The eminent domain power belongs to the United States, not to PennEast,” she wrote, “and the United States is free to take New Jersey’s property.”
Early last year, as Bernie Sanders was surging through the first Democratic presidential primary races, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, a kingmaker in his state, stepped in to endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr. before the primary there, helping vault the former vice president to the nomination.
On Tuesday, Mr. Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, took aim at one of Mr. Sanders’s most outspoken acolytes, Nina Turner, a hero to the left who is surging in her campaign in Ohio to claim the Cleveland-based congressional seat vacated by the housing secretary, Marcia L. Fudge.
In a rare intervention into a party primary, Mr. Clyburn, a veteran lawmaker and the highest-ranking Black member of Congress, endorsed Shontel Brown, Ms. Turner’s leading opponent.
The special election in Cleveland is highlighting the vast generational divide and ideological gulf that the Democratic Party faces as the entire House leadership heads toward the sunset. Mr. Clyburn, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House majority leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, are all octogenarians, and their caucus is increasingly youthful, diverse and restive. All three have promised to vacate their positions after this Congress, paving the way for an ideological battle next year over who will succeed them.
Ms. Brown has the backing of the Democratic establishment, including not only Mr. Clyburn but also Hillary Clinton; Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general; Representative Joyce Beatty of Ohio, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus; and moderate Democrats like Representatives Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and David Trone of Maryland.
Ms. Turner, who has the endorsements of much of the House Progressive Caucus, including the so-called squad — Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna S. Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — would be a strong new voice for the congressional left. And the left is increasingly focused on Black and Hispanic districts that they see as safe redoubts for ideological candidates.
“You can’t take any one race and paint it as some larger aggregate for the whole country,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, said on Tuesday. “But I do think that Nina is a beloved leader in the progressive movement, and the degree of excitement that she’s generated and grass-roots energy and organizing in her direction is a real testament to the asset that the base of our party can provide.”
The White House appears to be back in Vogue’s good graces.
Jill Biden, the first lady, will appear on the cover of the August issue of the magazine, continuing a tradition that Anna Wintour, the magazine’s editor, had paused during the Trump presidency.
In interviews with the writer Jonathan Van Meter, Dr. Biden, who is the first in her role to keep her day job, said the mood of the country had changed with President Biden’s election.
“During the campaign, I felt so much anxiety from people,” Dr. Biden said. “When I travel around the country now, I feel as though people can breathe again. I think that’s part of the reason Joe was elected.”
As first lady, Dr. Biden keeps a busy travel schedule that currently outpaces her husband’s, and she is viewed as something of a secret weapon by administration officials, who send her to parts of the country that are not typically Democratic territory. She has traveled to Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi and Tennessee to promote pandemic relief legislation and encourage young people to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Unlike her recent predecessors, who largely kept their appearances to events that would be in service of the East Wing, Dr. Biden’s staff has told the president’s advisers to use her in whatever way might be helpful to further the president’s agenda.
“Her nickname on the campaign trail was ‘The Closer,’” said Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to the president who helps plans much of the first lady’s domestic travel.
In a separate interview for the Vogue piece, Mr. Biden said that Dr. Biden came into the White House understanding how to use the platform after spending eight years as second lady.
“But it was clear to me that she knew exactly what she would do if she were first lady,” Mr. Biden said.
The president said that he missed “romantic” time with Dr. Biden now that the two are in the White House. He said that when one of them has some free time, the other person tends to be busy with their official duties.
“I miss her. I’m really proud of her,” Mr. Biden told the magazine. “But it’s not like we can just go off like we used to. When we were living in Delaware and married, once a month we’d just go up to a local bed-and-breakfast by ourselves, to make sure we had a romantic time to just get away and hang out with each other.”
For almost a century, the Vogue treatment has been a perk of the first ladyship. Michelle Obama was featured on the cover three times. Hillary Clinton was featured once as first lady and another time as a Democratic presidential candidate. Lou Henry Hoover, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush have all graced the magazine’s pages.
Which is why the omission of Melania Trump was so noteworthy.
Mrs. Trump, who had been featured on the cover as part of a feature on her marriage to Donald J. Trump, was informally barred from the magazine by Ms. Wintour, who, when asked about featuring Mrs. Trump in the magazine, said in 2019 “I don’t think it’s a moment not to take a stand.”
Mrs. Trump, who often hit back at critics through her official spokeswoman, quickly responded: “To be on the cover of Vogue doesn’t define Mrs. Trump. She’s been there, done that long before she was first lady. Her role as first lady of the United States and all that she does is much more important than some superficial photo shoot and cover.”
President Biden’s decision to strike Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria early on Monday illustrated the delicate balancing act of his approach to Tehran: He must demonstrate that he is willing to use force to defend American interests, while keeping open a fragile diplomatic line of communication as the two countries try to resuscitate the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program.
In public, administration officials insisted that the two issues are separate.
Mr. Biden, they said on Monday, acted under his constitutional authority to defend American troops by carrying out airstrikes on sites used to launch drone attacks on American forces in Iraq. They said that should not interfere with the final push to bring both countries back into compliance with the nuclear accord.
In fact, the issues are deeply intertwined.
To the Iranians, the march toward the capacity to build a nuclear weapon has been in part an effort to demonstrate that Tehran is a force to be reckoned with in the Middle East and beyond. Now, the country’s power has been augmented by a new arsenal of highly accurate drones, longer-range missiles and increasingly sophisticated cyberweapons, some of which involve technologies that seemed beyond Tehran’s skills when the nuclear deal was negotiated in 2015.
Part of Mr. Biden’s goal in trying to revive the nuclear deal is to use it as a first step toward pressing Iran into addressing other issues, including its support for terrorist groups in the region and its expanded arsenal. On that front, the strikes ordered Sunday and carried out early Monday by U.S. Air Force fighter-bombers are not expected to be any more than a temporary setback to Iran.
Even if the administration succeeds in putting the nuclear deal back together, Mr. Biden will still face the challenge of finding a way to further rein in the Iranians — a step the country’s new president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, said the day after his election that he would never agree to.
Liberal House Democrats, squeezed between President Biden’s personal lobbying for a bipartisan infrastructure deal and their own ambitions for a far more expansive domestic agenda, are warning that they will not hesitate to bring down the accord without action on their long-sought priorities.
The brewing fight, which pits progressives against moderates more aligned with the president’s tactics, is exposing cracks in the party’s fragile strategy for enacting its economic plans.
Democratic leaders have said the Senate centrists’ agreement, which would pump $1.2 trillion into roads, bridges, tunnels and broadband, will not get through Congress without a second, larger bill. That measure includes progressive wish-list items that Republicans have rejected, such as universal preschool and community college access, a health care expansion and a broad effort to combat climate change.
But progressive House members have begun questioning the depth of that commitment, particularly after Mr. Biden walked back a threat he made to condition the narrower bill on the more costly one, and as he and other administration officials begin a lobbying blitz around the country to build support for the infrastructure package.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden will promote the deal in La Crosse, Wis., the home district of a long-targeted House Democrat, Representative Ron Kind. And on Monday, Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, toured a crumbling tunnel to Manhattan with two New Jersey Democrats, both of whom said they came away convinced that Congress should move now on infrastructure.
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