Senate Democrats on Tuesday proposed a pared-down voting rights bill that has the backing of both progressives and centrists in an effort to present a united front against deep Republican resistance to new legislation setting nationwide election standards.
The measure is the result of weeks of intraparty negotiations overseen by Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and majority leader, and was built on principles put forward by Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the lone Democratic holdout against an earlier, much more sweeping piece of legislation called the For The People Act. Still, like that measure, it faces steep odds in the Senate, where it is unlikely to persuade Republicans to drop their opposition to legislation they have argued is an egregious overreach and an existential threat to their party.
The new bill, called the Freedom to Vote Act, drops some contentious elements of that initial bill such as restructuring the Federal Election Commission. It focuses heavily on guaranteeing access to the ballot following new voting restrictions being enacted around the country by Republican legislatures since the 2020 elections. And it would set a national voter identification standard — something that many Democrats have vehemently opposed — but one that would be far less onerous than some states have attempted to impose, allowing voters to meet the requirement with a variety of identification cards and documents in paper and digital form.
The revised measure would also require that states allow at minimum 15 consecutive days of early voting, including two weekends; ensure that all voters can request to vote by mail; establish new automatic voter registration programs, and make Election Day a national holiday. The legislation would mandate that states to follow specific criteria when drawing new congressional districting lines and would force disclosure of donors to so-called dark money groups.
“Following the 2020 elections in which more Americans voted than ever before, we have seen unprecedented attacks on our democracy in states across the country,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat who leads the Rules Committee, which is responsible for election oversight. “These attacks demand an immediate federal response.”
Mr. Manchin had balked at the original legislation and offered elements of a voting bill he would back, prompting the negotiations between him, Ms. Klobuchar and fellow Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, Alex Padilla of California and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, also participated.
While Democrats cheered the new version, they also recognized that they were very unlikely to attract sufficient Republican support to break a filibuster against any voting bill, meaning that they would have to unite to force a change to Senate rules governing the filibuster if the legislation was to have any chance of passage. Republicans have already blocked debate on a voting rights measure twice before.
“We must be honest about the facts,” Mr. Schumer said Monday as he said he would try to break the impasse again next week. “The Republican-led war on democracy has only worsened in the last few weeks.”
Despite his support for the legislation, Mr. Manchin has reiterated multiple times his refusal to abolish the filibuster, though he has also indicated a willingness to entertain some changes. Mr. Schumer noted Monday that Mr. Manchin had been reaching out to Republicans to persuade them to back the new version of the voting rights bill.
Democrats hope continuing Republican opposition to a measure Mr. Manchin is now invested in as one of the chief authors will soften his opposition to weakening the filibuster, allowing his party to advance a measure they see as crucial to countering new voting restrictions in Republican-led states.
The proposal prompted an immediate call from progressive activists for Democrats to move forward on voting rights and not let the filibuster or Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, stand in the way.
“President Biden and Senate Democrats must now move quickly to address the filibuster and prevent Senator McConnell from abusing Senate rules to prevent this bill from getting a fair up-or-down vote,” the anti-filibuster group Fix Our Senate said in a statement.
Mr. Manchin did not mention the filibuster in a statement strongly endorsing the new proposal.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and the Freedom to Vote Act is a step in the right direction towards protecting that right for every American,” Mr. Manchin said. “As elected officials, we also have an obligation to restore peoples’ faith in our democracy, and I believe that the common sense provisions in this bill — like flexible voter ID requirements — will do just that.”
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is testifying again on Capitol Hill, defending the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and insisting that the State Department did its best to plan for the chaotic evacuation as American troops prepared to depart last month.
A day after more than five hours of virtual testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday, Mr. Blinken appeared in person before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose members include Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the committee’s chairman, and Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Mitt Romney of Utah.
House Republicans hammered Mr. Blinken on Monday, calling for his resignation and accusing the Biden administration of incompetence and obfuscation. Mr. Blinken conceded little fault, saying the Trump administration had dealt the Biden team an impossible hand by striking a deal in 2020 with the Taliban that committed America to leaving the country. “We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan,” Mr. Blinken said.
Follow this page for live coverage of the hearing.
Al Qaeda could rebuild inside Afghanistan within one to two years, top intelligence officials said Tuesday, noting that some members of the terror group have already returned to the country.
Earlier in the year, top Pentagon officials said Al Qaeda could reconstitute within two years, then told lawmakers after the fall of the Afghanistan government they were revising that timeline.
The new timeline is not a radical shift, but reflects the reality that the Taliban has a limited ability to control the borders of Afghanistan. While the Taliban have long fought the Islamic State affiliate, they are established allies of Al Qaeda. Though the Taliban pledged in the February 2020 peace agreement with the United States not to let Afghanistan be used by terror groups, analysts have said such promises ring hollow.
“The current assessment probably conservatively is one to two years for Al Qaeda to build some capability to at least threaten the homeland,” Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Tuesday at the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit.
David S. Cohen, the deputy director of the C.I.A., said the difficult part of the timeline question was to know when Al Qaeda or the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan would “have the capability to go to strike the homeland” before they could be detected.
The C.I.A. is keeping a keen watch of “some potential movement of Al Qaeda to Afghanistan,” Mr. Cohen said.
Mr. Cohen did not identify specific Qaeda members who have traveled back to Afghanistan since the fall of the American-backed government. But Osama bin Laden’s former security chief, Amin al Haq, who served with bin Laden during the battle of Tora Bora, was seen on video returning to the Afghan province of Nangarhar last month.
On Monday, speaking at the same conference, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, said that Afghanistan was not the greatest terror threat facing the United States. Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq, she said, all posed more substantial threats.
The C.I.A. will have to increase its reliance on collecting intelligence from afar, in so-called “over the horizon” operations, Mr. Cohen said. He added the agency hoped to do its work — including rebuilding informant networks — closer to Afghanistan. “We will also look for ways to work from within the horizon, to the extent that is possible,” he said.
Ramping up that intelligence collection in Afghanistan will have to occur, General Berrier said, at the same time as agencies improve their ability to monitor China and Russia.
“We’re thinking about ways to gain access back into Afghanistan with all kinds of sources,” the general said. But he added, “We have to be careful to balance these very scarce resources with this pivot to China, and to Russia.”
House Democrats on Tuesday will begin considering their plan to pay for their expansive social policy and climate change package by raising taxes by more than $2 trillion, largely on wealthy individuals and profitable corporations.
But the proposal, while substantial in scope, stops well short of changes needed to dent the vast fortunes of tycoons like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, or to thoroughly close the most egregious loopholes exploited by high-flying captains of finance. It aims to go after the merely rich more than the fabulously rich.
Facing the delicate politics of a narrowly divided Congress, senior House Democrats opted to be more mindful of moderate concerns in their party than of its progressive ambitions. They focused on traditional ways of raising revenue: by raising tax rates on income rather than targeting wealth itself.
Representative Dan Kildee of Michigan, a Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, which crafted the plan, called it “the boldest common denominator.”
“Being for something doesn’t make it law; 218 votes in the House, 50 votes in the Senate and the president’s signature make it law,” he said, adding, “What I don’t want is another noble defeat.”
The proposal includes nearly $2.1 trillion in increased tax revenues, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated on Monday. Democrats say those increases will go a long way to funding President Biden’s ambitions to expand the federal government’s role in education, health care, climate change, paid leave and more.
But the bill dispenses of measures floated by the White House and Senate Democrats to tax wealth or to close off avenues that the superrich have exploited to pass on a lifetime of gains to their heirs, substantial amounts of it tax-free.
“It would be a monumental mistake for Congress to pass a bill that really exempts billionaires,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the Democratic chairman of the Finance Committee.
Key Democrats cautioned on Monday that the House proposal was likely to change — perhaps considerably — as Mr. Biden’s economic agenda wends its way through the House and Senate, where Democrats hold slim majorities and must hold nearly every member of their ideologically diverse caucus together.
But White House officials welcomed the Ways and Means plan and said it took important steps toward the president’s vision of a tax code that rewards ordinary workers at the expense of the very rich.
Republicans balked at the proposal. Business lobbying groups rejected the package, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce slamming it as “an existential threat to America’s fragile economic recovery and future prosperity.”
The coronavirus pandemic last year left millions of people out of work and set off the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression. Yet the share of people living in poverty in the United States fell to a record low because of the government’s enormous relief effort.
About 9.1 percent of Americans were poor last year, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, down from 11.8 percent in 2019. That figure — the lowest since records began in 1967, according to calculations from researchers at Columbia University — is based on a measure that accounts for the impact of government aid programs, which last year lifted millions of people out of poverty. The government’s official measure of poverty, which leaves out some major aid programs, rose to 11.4 percent, from a record low 10.5 percent in 2019.
The fact that poverty did not rise more during such an enormous economic disruption reflects the equally enormous government response. Congress expanded unemployment benefits and food aid, doled out hundreds of billions of dollars to small businesses and sent direct checks to most American households. The Census Bureau estimated that the direct checks alone lifted 11.7 million people out of poverty last year, and that unemployment benefits prevented 5.5 million people from falling into poverty.
Separate data released last week by the Agriculture Department showed that hunger also did not rise last year.
Poverty rose much more drastically after the last recession, peaking at 15.1 percent in 2010 and improving only slowly after that.
“It all points toward the historic income support that was delivered in response to the pandemic and how successful it was at blunting what could have been a historic rise in poverty,” said Christopher Wimer, a co-director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia University School of Social Work. “I imagine the momentum from 2020 will continue into 2021.”
Despite that progress, median household income last year fell 2.9 percent, adjusted for inflation, to about $68,000, a figure that includes unemployment benefits but not stimulus checks or noncash benefits such as food stamps. The decline reflects the huge job losses caused by the pandemic: Some three million fewer people worked at all in 2020 than in 2019, and 13.7 million fewer people worked full-time year-round. Among those who kept their jobs, however, 2020 was a good year financially: Median earnings for full-time year-round workers rose 6.9 percent, adjusted for inflation.
The government defines poverty as an income below about $13,000 for an individual, or about $26,000 for a family of four. The poverty measure that takes into account the impact of more government benefits sets different thresholds based not only on family size but also on homeownership status and regional housing costs.
Still, government aid programs excluded some groups, such as undocumented immigrants and their families, and failed to reach others. Poverty, with or without government aid taken into account, was significantly higher than the overall average for Black and Hispanic Americans, foreign-born residents and those without college educations. Millions of people endured delays of weeks or months before receiving benefits, forcing many to seek help from food banks or other charities.
“We measure poverty annually, when the reality of poverty is faced on a day-to-day-to-day basis,” said Hilary Hoynes, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied the government’s response to the pandemic.
By the government’s official definition, the number of people living in poverty jumped by 3.3 million in 2020, to 37.2 million, the biggest annual increase on record. But economists have long criticized that definition, which dates back to the 1960s, and said it did a particularly poor job of reflecting reality last year.
The official measure ignores the impact of many government programs, such as food and housing assistance and tax credits. This year it also ignored the direct checks sent to households, which were officially considered tax rebates. In recent years, the Census Bureau has produced an alternative poverty rate, known as the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which includes those programs and also factors in regional differences in housing costs, medical expenses and other costs not captured in the official measure. Normally, the supplemental measure is higher than the official measure; 2020 was the first year in which the supplemental measure was lower.
Many of the programs that helped people avert poverty last year have expired, even as the pandemic continues. An estimated 7.5 million people lost unemployment benefits this month after Congress allowed pandemic-era expansions of the program to lapse.
The new data could feed into efforts by President Biden and congressional leaders to enact a more lasting expansion of the safety net. Democrats’ $3.5 trillion plan, which is still taking shape, could include paid family and medical leave, government-supported child care and a permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit. Liberals said the success of relief programs last year showed that such policies ought to be continued and expanded.
“The key thing is that we see the extremely powerful anti-poverty and pro-middle class income impacts of the government response,” said Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He argued that the success should encourage lawmakers to enact Mr. Biden’s longer-term agenda for the economy.
“It’s one thing to temporarily lift people out of poverty — hugely important — but you can’t stop there,” Mr. Bernstein said. “We have to make sure that people don’t fall back into poverty after these temporary measures abate.”
But many conservatives contend that although some expansion of government aid was appropriate during the pandemic, those programs should be wound down as the economy recovers.
“Policymakers did a remarkable job last March enacting CARES and other legislation, lending to businesses, providing loan forbearance, expanding the safety net,” Scott Winship, a senior fellow and the director of poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative group, wrote in reaction to the data, referring to an early pandemic aid bill, which included around $2 trillion in spending. “But we should have pivoted to other priorities thereafter.”
Jason DeParle contributed reporting.
One of the most expensive ads in the California recall election has a pithy summation of the race: “It’s a matter of life and death.”
That is the message from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s anti-recall operation, the Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom Committee, which has been the largest spender in the recall race.
The committee’s money is largely drawn from the state Democratic Party, local labor unions and Reed Hastings, a founder of Netflix and a Democratic megadonor. More than half of the $58 million that has been spent on broadcast television advertising in the recall has come from that committee alone, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm.
The next closest political spender has been John Cox, a Republican candidate from Southern California who lost to Mr. Newsom in 2018 and is independently wealthy. Mr. Cox spent roughly $7 million on advertising, compared with $33 million by the Newsom-aligned group.
But to view the California recall election through the lens of the ad wars reveals not just two separate arguments over similar issues, but nearly two different races entirely.
From the Republican point of view, the ads cast Mr. Newsom as a failure at all levels. The pandemic barely warrants a mention in the ads, which focus instead on issues such as crime and taxes. For those supporting Mr. Newsom, the ads lean heavily into his stewardship of the country’s largest state during the coronavirus crisis and depict his leadership as crucial in keeping California residents safe.
“With Delta surging, Gavin Newsom is protecting California, requiring vaccination for health workers and school employees,” one ad says. As the ad pivots to Mr. Newsom’s opponents, a picture of former President Donald J. Trump and Larry Elder, the leading Republican candidate, appears on the screen. “The top Republican candidate? He peddled dangerous conspiracy theories, and would eliminate vaccine mandates on Day 1.”
Yet ads from Mr. Cox and Mr. Elder make the case that the state’s crisis extends well beyond the pandemic. Numerous ads tick through a laundry list of perceived shortcomings of Mr. Newsom’s leadership, including homelessness and crime, while also attacking his spending policies. One ad from Mr. Elder, in which the candidate speaks directly to the camera at a rapid clip, focuses on Mr. Newsom’s record aside from the pandemic.
“The reason to recall Newsom is more than his gas-tax hike — it’s his incompetence,” Mr. Elder says in just under four seconds. But in closing, he recasts a line from another successful candidate in California — President Biden. “I’m Larry Elder, and this is a fight for the soul of California,” he says in the ad.
Notably, one of the biggest spenders in the election is not a partisan entity at all. It is the California secretary of state’s office.
The office has spent more than $7 million on a host of ads that began running last month and explain the state’s vote-by-mail process. Every active and eligible voter in California was mailed a ballot as part of the relatively new policy.
The ads from the secretary of state’s office also seek to combat the growing disinformation about the recall election. Conservative outlets and leading Republican candidates like Mr. Elder have made false claims about widespread voter fraud. “Vote-by-mail ballots: simple, safe, secure, counted,” the ad says in closing.
While nearly every ad from both sides has closely followed national political trends, some have hewed local and, in at least one ad, quite personal.
In an ad from the Elder campaign, a middle-age man is shown speaking directly to the camera. “You remind me of the guy in high school who took my girlfriend, then went on to the next girl,” the man says, presumably about Mr. Newsom, clearly exasperated. “You still think you’re better than everyone else.”
A recent run-up in consumer prices cooled slightly in August, signaling that although inflation is higher than normal, the White House and Federal Reserve may be beginning to see the slowdown in price gains they have been hoping for.
Policymakers have consistently argued that a surprisingly strong burst of inflation this year has been tied to pandemic-related quirks and should prove temporary, and most economists agree that prices will climb more slowly as businesses adjust and supply chains return to normal. The major question hanging over the economy’s future has been how much and how quickly the jump will fade.
Tuesday’s data suggested that a surge in Delta-variant coronavirus cases is weighing on airfares and hotel rates, but it also showed that price increases for key products — like cars — are beginning to moderate, helping to cool off overall inflation. The Consumer Price Index rose 5.3 percent in August from the prior year, data released by the Labor Department on Tuesday showed. That’s a slightly slower annual pace than the 5.4 percent increase in July.
On a monthly basis, price gains moderated to a 0.3 percent increase between July and August, down from 0.5 percent the prior month and a bigger slowdown than economists in a Bloomberg survey had expected.
The news on core inflation, which strips out volatile food and fuel prices to try to get a cleaner read of underlying price trends, was even more encouraging for policymakers hoping to see signs that price increases are slowing. That index picked up by 0.1 percent on the month and 4 percent over the past year, down from 0.3 percent and 4.3 percent in the July report.
“We’re seeing the unwinding of a lot of factors that pushed inflation prints higher early in the summer,” said Guy Lebas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Capital Management. “We’ll see these rolling supply and demand imbalances gradually diminish into 2022.”
White House economists greeted the report as confirmation of their view that prices should stop climbing so quickly headed into 2022.
“We view the report as consistent with the story we, the Federal Reserve and the vast majority of forecasters have been talking about,” Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said after the report was released. “It’s one month, and we’re going to continue to vigilantly watch the data.”
Inflation has been running hot this year as the economy has reopened from the pandemic, causing airline fares and hotel room rates to bounce back from depressed levels. At the same time, supply chain snarls have pushed shipping costs higher, feeding into prices for all sorts of products, from lumber to toys. Labor costs have climbed for some companies, nudging inflation up around the edges, and rents are rising again as workers return to cities after fleeing during 2020.
But policymakers are betting that annual price gains will settle down toward the Fed’s 2 percent average target over time. Officials define their target using a different index than what was released on Tuesday, a measure known as the Personal Consumption Expenditures index. That gauge has also picked up this year, but by less, climbing by 4.2 percent in the year through July.
“The rapid reopening of the economy has brought a sharp run-up in inflation,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, acknowledged in a speech last month. But “the baseline outlook is for continued progress toward maximum employment, with inflation returning to levels consistent with our goal of inflation averaging 2 percent over time.”
Central bankers are hoping that quick inflation will dissipate before consumers learn to expect steadily higher prices, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as shoppers accept loftier price tags and workers demand higher pay. A closely watched tracker of household inflation outlooks released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Monday showed that expectations rocketed up to 5.2 percent in the short term and 4 percent in the medium term.
That data point is disquieting, but market-based inflation expectations have been relatively stable after moving up earlier this year, and real-world prices may begin to ease in important categories in the months ahead.
The price index for airline fares declined in August, the Labor Department report showed, which may have been partly because a virus surge affected travel and advance bookings.
But the price index for used cars also fell, a signal that inventories are returning to more normal levels, helping to restore some regularity to the pre-owned vehicle market. Cars have been in short supply this year amid a computer chip shortage tied to shipping snarls and factory shutdowns overseas, and a surge in prices for used vehicles has been a major contributor to overall inflation in the United States.
Prices are still picking up for new cars, and a measure of housing costs tied to local rental conditions — which makes up a big chunk of the overall price index — continued to climb at a steady pace.
Mr. Lebas said he thinks those housing costs will help to keep inflation slightly elevated into next year, perhaps in the mid-2 percent range.
That’s “higher than it’s been historically, but not scary high,” he said. “If that happens, it’s a win for the Fed.”
The central bank is closely watching inflation as it considers when and how to reduce the big bond purchases it has undertaken to help cushion the economy against the pandemic shock — a move that officials have repeatedly signaled could come later this year. The report likely confirmed expectations among key officials, keeping policy on its measured and heavily-communicated course.
“At the margin, the recent data will dampen some of the more excitable inflation forecasts in the markets and at the Fed,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note following the release.
Gary Gensler, the Securities and Exchange Commission chair, will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, after five months on the job. Based on his prepared remarks, he’ll make the case for additional resources to achieve a more expansive agenda than many of his predecessors at the commission.
Since his confirmation, Mr. Gensler’s public statements have generated much debate, many headlines and more than a few market movements, the DealBook newsletter reports. Here’s what to expect on Tuesday on some hot-button issues:
Mr. Gensler wants to “freshen up” the rules. To promote efficiency and competition, he’s considering structural issues, like whether there is too much concentration among market makers, and conflicts of interest, like those arising from payment for order flow. Speeding up transaction settlements, which now take about two business days, is also a goal he notes in his remarks, and one that Republican senators want him to pursue, a committee aide said.
When it comes to cryptocurrencies, buyers beware. Mr. Gensler will say that the new digital currency markets resemble a time before securities laws: He wants more investor protection in crypto finance, issuance, trading and lending.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has been outspoken about regulatory gaps in the crypto industry, will follow up on those concerns, an aide said. Senator Cynthia Lummis, Republican of Wyoming, will also press Mr. Gensler for regulation, but with an emphasis that reflects her support of the crypto industry. “We must have a balanced legal framework for digital assets that enables innovation and protects consumers,” she told DealBook in a statement.
More required disclosures on climate risk, human capital and cybersecurity are in the works. Perhaps sensing the resistance he’ll face on this issue, Mr. Gensler will note that “these proposals will be informed by economic analysis and will be put out to public comment, so that we can have robust public discussion,” according to his prepared remarks. Patrick Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania and the ranking committee member, has pushed back on added disclosures on environmental, social and governance issues before, and he’ll likely renew these criticisms at the hearing.
Other priorities include greater transparency on SPACs, China and insider info. The surge in special purpose acquisition companies that allow businesses to go public with fewer rules than traditional initial public offereings is cause for concern, Mr. Gensler will say, because of conflicts of interest that he believes are “inherent” in the structures.
He also wants the risks of Chinese companies that list on U.S. exchanges to be made more apparent. And he will discuss efforts to “modernize” a rule known as 10b5-1 on executive stock sales, which helps insulate insiders from accusations of trading on nonpublic information.
At the hearing, Mr. Gensler will get guidance from senators on what they think his priorities should be. How far he can advance his plans could depend, in part, on whether lawmakers give him more authority and resources.
Like Mr. Gensler, Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and the committee chairman, is keen on added transparency and stricter investor protections. According to his prepared remarks, Mr. Brown will open the hearing by saying that “the disconnect between the stock market and most Americans’ lives has never been more painfully clear,” and that, whatever the economic circumstances, “the hedge funds, the SPAC sponsors, the big banks, the brokers — the big guys seem to do just fine.”
House Democrats pushed forward on Monday with their plan to use their $3.5 trillion social policy bill to create a path to citizenship for an estimated 8 million undocumented immigrants, as the House Judiciary Committee prepared to approve a major immigration component for the package.
“The immigration provisions in this legislation serve as a vital investment in human infrastructure that reflects our commitment to a stronger U.S. economy and a vibrant future for all Americans,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the committee, as he urged adoption of the proposal over stiff Republican opposition.
Democrats are proposing to grant legal status to undocumented people brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers; immigrants who were granted Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons; close to one million farmworkers; and millions more whom are deemed “essential workers.”
Under the legislation, undocumented immigrants would be eligible to become U.S. citizens if they passed background and health checks and paid a $1,500 fee, among other requirements. The bill would also recapture at least 226,000 visas that went unused in previous years, because of “Covid-19 or bureaucratic delay,” Mr. Nadler said.
The House’s legislative push came as the Senate’s top rules enforcer weighed whether the immigration measures can be included in the Democrats’ sweeping legislation to expand the social safety net, which they plan to muscle through under a fast-track process known as reconciliation that shields it from a filibuster. That would test the bounds of the Senate’s rules, which require than any measure included in a reconciliation bill have a direct impact on federal spending and revenues.
On Friday, senior Democratic and Republican aides with expertise in immigration law and the budget met with Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, who serves as the chamber’s arbiter of its own rules. It was unclear how quickly Ms. MacDonough would make a ruling.
Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters Monday that the parliamentarian asked for additional information about the “legal theories” behind the Democrats’ argument and will hold another meeting this week to discuss them.
“We feel very strong about that position, and we hope it is persuasive,” Mr. Durbin said.
Ms. MacDonough’s decisions are merely advisory, but several Democratic senators have indicated they would be reluctant to overrule her. She did not respond to a request for comment.
The budgetary cost of the changes in immigration law — which affect health care benefits, Medicaid spending and tax credits — exceeds $139 billion over 10 years, according to preliminary figures from the Congressional Budget Office. Moreover, Democrats estimate the legalization push would add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next decade, creating more than 400,000 jobs.
Republicans, however, are resisting the proposals, arguing that they are tangential to the budget and that Congress should focus on securing the southern border before trying to overhaul immigration law.
“We’re told we need to legalize those who defied our nation’s immigration and employment laws and illegally took Americans’ jobs as essential workers,” Representative Tom McClintock, Republican of California, said. He blasted the immigration overhaul as “amnesty for millions of foreign nationals who illegally entered our country and are demanding to stay all while our borders are kept wide open.”
Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the Administration Committee, pointed to research showing immigrants are net contributors to the United States.
“The economic benefits of immigration to the United States are substantial and uncontroverted,” Lofgren said. “This investment is long overdue, and I cannot afford to miss this opportunity.”
Mr. Durbin said he only pushed for the immigration overhaul to be included in the budget package after talks he had organized with a bipartisan group of 15 senators fell apart.
Immigration advocates have readied some backup plans should the parliamentarian not rule in their favor, including updating the immigration registry.
Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.
Citing “concerning online chatter,” Capitol Police officials on Monday urged anyone considering violence to stay home instead of attending a Saturday rally in support of defendants arrested in connection with the deadly storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
The warning came as the Capitol Police Board voted Monday to reinstall a fence around the complex ahead of the “Justice for J6” rally scheduled for Sept. 18, because of concerns that hundreds might attend, including members of some extremist groups. The rally is organized by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign operative, and his organization, Look Ahead America, which has demanded that the Justice Department drop charges against what the group calls “nonviolent protesters” facing charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot.
The Capitol Police Board also issued an emergency declaration, which will allow the department to deputize outside law enforcement officers as United States Capitol Police special officers. Officials also plan to use recently installed camera technology for expanded coverage of the campus.
Mr. Braynard said in an interview that his group would be peaceful and that the rally would last a little longer than an hour.
“My first instruction to attendees is to be respectful and kind to law enforcement officers,” he said. “We’re not there to cause anybody any trouble.”
He added that on Tuesday he would be announcing the names of some “very significant speakers” who would appear at the Saturday event at the Capitol.
Of the decision to reinstall the fence, he said, “This is a political decision by the House leadership to intimidate people from attending.”
The steps taken to secure the Capitol mark a starkly different stance from the one security officials took before the Jan. 6 riot, when hundreds of Trump supporters overwhelmed an unprepared Capitol Police force.
As a mob stormed the Capitol that day, about 140 police officers were injured, including 15 who were hospitalized, and several people died in connection with the riot, including officers who took their own lives in the days and months after responding to the assault.
Mr. Braynard has argued that the brutal attacks on police officers during the assault were the work of a “few bad apples” and accused the Biden administration of targeting the “peaceful Trump supporters who entered the Capitol with selective prosecutions based on their political beliefs.”
“There were some folks who did engage in violence and they also deserve a fair trial,” he said, but he added that his “emphasis” was on supporting the “nonviolent” protesters arrested in connection with the riot.
Chief Manger briefed congressional leaders on Monday about the Capitol’s security precautions.
“They seemed very, very well prepared,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, told reporters afterward. “Much better prepared than before Jan. 6. I think they’re ready for whatever might happen.”
The precautions came as the Capitol Police announced Monday the arrest of a California man who had a bayonet and a machete in his truck near the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
The truck had a picture of an American flag where its license plate should have been, and a swastika and other white supremacist symbols were painted on the vehicle.
Capitol Police officials said it was not immediately clear if the man was planning to attend any upcoming demonstrations.
When Twitter decided briefly last fall to block users from posting links to an article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter, it prompted a conservative outcry that Big Tech was improperly aiding Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign.
“So terrible,” President Donald J. Trump said of the move to limit the visibility of a New York Post article. Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, said Twitter and Facebook were censoring “core political speech.” The Republican National Committee filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing Twitter of “using its corporate resources” to benefit the Biden campaign.
Now the commission, which oversees election laws, has dismissed those allegations, according to a document obtained by The New York Times, ruling in Twitter’s favor in a decision that is likely to set a precedent for future cases involving social media sites and federal campaigns.
The election commission determined that Twitter’s actions regarding the Hunter Biden article had been undertaken for a valid commercial reason, not a political purpose, and were thus allowable.
And in a second case involving a social media platform, the commission used the same reasoning to side with Snapchat and reject a complaint from the Trump campaign. The campaign had argued that the company provided an improper gift to Mr. Biden by rejecting Mr. Trump from its Discover platform in the summer of 2020, according to another commission document.
The election commission’s twin rulings, which were made last month behind closed doors and are set to become public soon, protect the flexibility of social media and tech giants like Twitter, Facebook, Google and Snapchat to control what is shared on their platforms regarding federal elections.
Republicans have increasingly been at odds with the nation’s biggest technology and social media companies, accusing them of giving Democrats an undue advantage on their platforms. Mr. Trump, who was ousted from Twitter and Facebook early this year, has been among the loudest critics of the two companies and even announced a lawsuit against them and Google.
The suppression of the article about Hunter Biden — at the height of the presidential race last year — was a particular flashpoint for Republicans and Big Tech. But there were other episodes, including Snapchat’s decision to stop featuring Mr. Trump on one of its platforms.
The Federal Election Commission said in both cases that the companies had acted in their own commercial interests, according to the “factual and legal analysis” provided to the parties involved. The commission also said that Twitter had followed existing policies related to hacked materials.
Twitter and Snapchat declined to comment.
Emma Vaughn, an R.N.C. spokeswoman, said the committee was “weighing its options for appealing this disappointing decision from the F.E.C.” A representative for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
President Biden embraced Gov. Gavin Newsom’s go-to political tactic in this week’s recall election during a trip to California on Monday — tying the leading Republican contender, the right-wing talk radio host Larry Elder, to Donald Trump.
“All of you know in the last year I got to run against the real Donald Trump,” said Mr. Biden at a rally in Long Beach, sweeping a hand over his blue blazer and tieless dress shirt to outline the sign of the cross. “Well, this year the leading Republican candidate for governor is the closest thing to a Trump clone that I’ve ever seen in your state.”
Earlier in Mr. Biden’s term, when his approval ratings were high, he took pains to avoid even muttering his predecessor’s name, referring to him, comically, as the “former guy.” But now, after a slide in public approval following the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan, the president has returned to the unvarnished anti-Trump message that helped get him elected in 2020.
It is a message Democratic congressional candidates are expected to hammer in the 2022 midterms — that they, for all their flaws, are the only ones standing between a return of Trump and his acolytes.
“He’s the clone of Donald Trump,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Elder. “Can you imagine him being governor of this state? You can’t let that happen.”
After the polls overestimated Democratic candidates in 2016 and 2020, it is reasonable to wonder whether Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lead in the California recall election might prove as illusory as Hillary Clinton’s lead in Wisconsin or Joe Biden’s in Florida.
It’s not impossible. But Mr. Newsom’s lead now dwarfs the typical polling error and is large enough to withstand nearly every statewide polling miss in recent memory.
Opposition to recalling Mr. Newsom leads by 16 points, 57.3 to 41.5 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight average. Polls in 2020 overestimated the Democrats by an average of about five percentage points.
There was no state in either the 2016 or 2020 presidential elections where the final polls missed by 16 percentage points. Perhaps the worst recent polling miss — Senator Susan Collins’s comfortable nine-point victory after trailing in the polls by three points — is in the ballpark, but would still fall five points short of erasing Mr. Newsom’s lead.
Many of the most embarrassing and high-profile misses for pollsters, such as the seven-point polling errors in Wisconsin in 2016 and 2020, might still leave Mr. Newsom with a double-digit victory.
It is hard to find many precedents for such a large polling error. According to Harry Enten, a writer at CNN, there are only four cases in the last 20 years where the polling average in a race for governor was off by at least 15 percentage points.
Mr. Newsom’s opponents can hope that the idiosyncrasies of a recall election might make it more challenging for pollsters than a typical general election. Special and primary elections often have larger polling errors.
But the polls were fairly accurate in the last California gubernatorial recall and dead-on in the high-profile effort to recall former Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin in 2012. The high turnout in early voting in California so far tends to reduce the risk that an unusual turnout would contribute to a particularly large polling error.
And California is not a state where the polls have missed badly in recent election cycles. The largest polling errors have been in Wisconsin, Maine and other states with large numbers of white working-class voters. That’s not California. Just 22 percent of California voters in 2020 were whites without a four-year college degree, the second lowest of any state, according to census data.
Perhaps as a result, statewide polling in California has generally been fairly accurate.
Joe Biden led the final California polls by 29.2 points, according to FiveThirtyEight.
He won by 29.2 points.