Census Bureau Will Release Population Figures After Long Delays

The new data will likely give fast-growing Sun Belt states more electoral votes and congressional districts. Here’s the latest from Washington.,

LiveUpdated April 26, 2021, 11:41 a.m. ETApril 26, 2021, 11:41 a.m. ET

The new data will likely give fast-growing Sun Belt states more electoral votes and congressional districts, while the Midwest is expected to lose out. For President Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, a small, invite-only crowd will attend.

A flashing sign advised people to fill out their census forms in Miami in October.
A flashing sign advised people to fill out their census forms in Miami in October.Credit…Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

After months of delay, the Census Bureau on Monday is scheduled to finally release the nation’s once-a-decade population totals, establishing the number of members of Congress and electoral votes each state will have for the next 10 years.

The new figures are expected to result in new congressional districts in the fast-growing Sun Belt states of Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Texas at the expense of states in the Midwest and Northeast — Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio are certain to lose congressional seats based on the bureau’s previous population projections.

The constitutionally mandated count of everyone living in the United States and congressional reapportionment were hampered and delayed by an array of Trump administration efforts to remove undocumented immigrants from the count, a shift that most likely would have increased the number of Republican-held districts in the next Congress.

Releasing the census figures months behind schedule will leave less time for individual states to draw and debate lines for congressional and state legislative districts. Republicans control the redistricting process in far more states than do Democrats, a result of both G.O.P. dominance in down-ballot elections and Democratic efforts to implement independent redistricting commissions in states where they have controlled state government, such as California, Colorado and Virginia.

Republicans have for months signaled they will press their advantage once the new figures are released, aiming to maximize the number of seats they hold in Congress by drawing districts beneficial to their candidates. The delay in releasing the census figures will limit the amount of time available for court challenges of newly drawn maps before the 2022 midterm campaigns begin.

The Census Bureau has scheduled a briefing at 3 p.m. to release its data.

The House Chamber was packed during President Donald J. Trump's final address to a joint session of Congress in February 2020.
The House Chamber was packed during President Donald J. Trump’s final address to a joint session of Congress in February 2020.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A president’s address to a joint session of Congress is typically a crowded affair, as lawmakers from both parties — and their guests — pack the House floor. But President Biden’s speech on Wednesday, his first before Congress since his inauguration, will look very different.

The event is invite only to comply with public health guidance during the coronavirus pandemic. A limited number of tickets were sent to members of Congress, and only about 200 people will be allowed into the chamber. Typically, all 535 members of Congress are invited to attend — and bring guests — in addition to other high-ranking Washington officials.

Lawmakers also will not be able to enter the Capitol after 5 p.m. if they are not invited to the speech, according to a memo sent by the House sergeant-at-arms.

Jill Biden, the first lady, is expected to attend the event in person, said the White House, which has also limited the number of guests invited. But most, if not all, of the staff will watch virtually, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Friday. Also missing: the traditional box for presidential guests, she said.

“It will not look like or feel like, in many ways, what past joint addresses have,” Ms. Psaki said.

Mr. Biden’s advisers expect him to spend the next two days preparing for the speech, which they say will focus heavily on his $4 trillion plan to reshape the nation’s economy. The proposal includes plans to restore aging roads and bridges, lift wages and improve high-speed internet service across the country.

He is also expected to present a more detailed argument for his plan to reduce poverty and child care costs for families. The $1.5 trillion proposal, called the American Family Plan, would be funded by increasing taxes paid by corporations and the rich.

Ms. Psaki said other issues on the president’s mind before the speech included “police reform, health and his commitment to expanding access to health care.”

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina will deliver Republicans’ response to Mr. Biden’s address. Mr. Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, is seen as both a rising star in the party and a rare figure able to unite competing factions on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Scott said in a statement that he would deliver an “optimistic vision” for the country focused on economic growth and “empowering working families.”

A case of firearms during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Indianapolis in 2019.
A case of firearms during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis in 2019.Credit…Lisa Marie Pane/Associated Press

The Supreme Court said on Monday that it would review a New York law that imposes strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, setting the stage for its first major Second Amendment case in more than a decade.

The move came in the wake of a recent spate of mass shootings, which were followed by calls from President Biden and other Democrats for stricter restrictions on firearms.

The Supreme Court has turned down countless Second Amendment appeals since it established an individual right to keep guns in the home for self-defense in 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Since then, lower court have generally sustained gun control laws. But they are divided on the fundamental and open question posed by the new case: whether states can stop law-abiding citizens from carrying guns outside their homes for self-defense unless citizens can show they have a good reason for doing so.

The Supreme Court now has a six-justice conservative majority, and its two newest members — Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — took a broad view of Second Amendment rights as appeals court judges.

The new case is a challenge to a New York law that requires people seeking a license to carry a gun outside their homes to show a “proper cause.” Two men denied licenses, along with the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, sued, saying “the state makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to obtain a license.”

California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have similar laws, according to gun rights groups.

The precise question the Supreme Court agreed to answer was: “Whether the state’s denial of petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.”

The Supreme Court’s most conservative members have long decried the court’s reluctance to explore the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment.

In June, however, the court turned down some 10 appeals in Second Amendment cases. Since it takes only four votes to grant review, there is good reason to think that the court’s conservative wing, which at the time had five members, was unsure it could secure Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s vote.

Justice Barrett’s arrival changes that calculus.

President Biden with Vice President Kamala Harris will promote unions through a White House task force.
President Biden with Vice President Kamala Harris will promote unions through a White House task force.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden will sign an executive order on Monday creating a task force to promote labor organizing, according to a White House fact sheet.

The task force, to be led by Vice President Kamala Harris and populated by cabinet officials and top White House advisers, will issue recommendations on how the federal government can use existing authority to help workers join labor unions and bargain collectively. It will also recommend new policies aimed at achieving these goals.

The White House document notes that the National Labor Relations Act, the 1935 law governing federal labor rights, explicitly sought to encourage collective bargaining, but that the law has never been fully carried out in this regard. “No previous administration has taken a comprehensive approach to determining how the executive branch can advance worker organizing and collective bargaining,” the document states.

The task force will focus, among other things, on helping the federal government encourage its own workers to join unions and bargain collectively, and on finding ways to make it easier for workers, especially women and people of color, to organize and bargain in parts of the country and in industries that are hostile to unions.

Even before the announcement of the task force, many labor leaders regarded Mr. Biden as the most pro-union president in generations. They cited his quick ouster of Trump appointees they regarded as anti-labor, the tens of billions of dollars for shoring up union pension plans enacted in his pandemic relief bill and a video message during a recent union campaign at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama warning employers not to coerce or threaten workers who are deciding whether to unionize.

The task force comes at a particularly frustrating moment for organized labor. Roughly two-thirds of Americans approve of unions, according to a 2020 Gallup poll, but just over 6 percent of private-sector workers belong to them.

Union leaders say the law, which allows employers to saturate workers with anti-union messages and does little to punish employers who threaten or fire workers seeking to join a union, makes it very difficult to unionize.

Mr. Biden’s task force will solicit the views of union leaders, academics and labor advocates and is to deliver its recommendations within 180 days.

Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh will serve as vice chair of the group, which will include Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the White House economic advisers Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese, and the White House climate adviser, Gina McCarthy.

Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio speaking at a hearing on Capitol Hill last year.
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio speaking at a hearing on Capitol Hill last year.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Representative Tim Ryan, a gruff-voiced, 10-term Democrat representing Ohio’s 13th district, jumped into the race for an open Senate seat on Monday, brandishing blue-collar talking points in what is expected to be one of the most closely watched, hard-fought contests of 2022.

Mr. Ryan, 47, supported tariffs on China before President Donald J. Trump came along, and after the election in 2016, he challenged then-Representative Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leadership in the House, arguing that she was out of touch with working class voters.

He will seek to capture the seat of the retiring senator, Rob Portman, a Republican, in a state that has moved sharply to the right in the Trump era.

The Republican primary is already off to a clamorous start with multiple candidates and possible contenders seeking to position themselves as the most aligned with Mr. Trump, including Josh Mandel, a former state treasurer; Jane Timken, a former state party chair; and J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Mr. Ryan, who ran a brief, little-noticed race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, represents a district in eastern Ohio stretching from Youngstown to Akron. It is a region where globalization closed factories, driving traditional white working-class Democrats into the arms of Mr. Trump. Mr. Ryan made it clear that he will seek to win back those voters.

“The success of America isn’t housed in the halls of Congress — it lies in the calloused hands and unrelenting grit of America’s workers,” he said in a three-minute video, wearing a T-shirt and a sweatshirt. “I’ll work with anyone to rebuild our economy, but I’ll never sell out our workers.”

The seat is rated “lean Republican” by the nonpartisan Cook Political report. In a state that Mr. Trump carried by eight points in 2020, the path to statewide victory for a Democrat is increasingly narrow.

Mr. Ryan will seek to duplicate the 2018 victory by the state’s Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown, who convinced enough blue-collar voters that while they might not like his overall progressivism, he stood with them on kitchen-table issues.

Mr. Ryan, who was in danger of being redistricted out of his safe House district ahead of the midterms, was a protege of Jim Traficant, the longtime Democratic congressman from Youngstown. Mr. Ryan defeated his mentor in 2002, after Mr. Traficant was convicted on criminal charges and sought re-election from a prison cell.

(An earlier version of this article misstated how many terms Mr. Ryan had spent in Congress. It is 10 terms, not five.)

Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, whose district includes Jackson, was the only Democrat to vote against the passage of the House voting rights bill last month.
Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, whose district includes Jackson, was the only Democrat to vote against the passage of the House voting rights bill last month.Credit…Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla

As Democrats in Congress consider a colossal elections system overhaul, Black leaders are facing some unexpected resistance from lawmakers who fear that it would endanger their own seats in predominantly Black districts.

Republicans have often used the redistricting method to pack Black Democrats into one House district. The practice has diluted Democrats’ influence regionally, but it also ensures that each Southern state has at least one predominantly Black district, offering a guarantee of Black representation amid a sea of mostly white and conservative House districts.

Most Black Democratic lawmakers in the South have so far remained relatively muted about these concerns of self-preservation, worried that it places their own interests above the party’s agenda or activists’ priorities. Still, the doubts flared up last month when Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, a Democrat whose district includes Jackson, surprisingly voted “no” on the House’s federal elections bill.

Recently, other Congressional Black Caucus members have urged Democratic leadership to focus more narrowly on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — which aims to restore key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, including the requirement that some states get federal approval before changing election laws — rather than pushing for the sweeping provisions of the For the People Act, officially known as H.R. 1.

Southern Democrats and civil rights activists are also frustrated by what they view as a belated sense of urgency about the challenges Black voters face in the region. In interviews, they described a Democratic Party that has been slow to combat Republican gerrymandering and voting limits, overconfident about the speed of progress, and too willing to accept that voter suppression was a thing of the Jim Crow past.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, at a hearing on the “For the People Act” with the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on Capitol Hill last month.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

After President Donald J. Trump lost the election and was impeached for his role in the Capitol riot, democracy preservation groups pointed with urgency to what they called a last, best chance to address the holes in the Constitution exposed by his presidency.

But a suite of legislative responses, like requiring the release of presidential tax returns and barring presidents from channeling government money to their private businesses, is now hostage in the Senate to a more public fight over voting rights. And competing priorities of President Biden’s may ensure that the moment to fortify constitutional guardrails that Mr. Trump plowed through may already have passed.

Most Democrats and a coalition of watchdog groups say the ethics and voting rights sections in a sprawling Senate bill known as the For the People Act, or S.1., should remain intact and entwined. But solid Republican opposition to the legislation’s voter access proposals threatens less debated elements in the measure, part of what was envisioned to be the most comprehensive ethics overhaul since Watergate.

Even Democratic support for the bill has begun to splinter, as the Congressional Black Caucus and some advocacy groups pivot from the full 800-page legislation to pushing for narrower proposals.

The measure will undergo changes in a formal drafting on May 11 by the Senate Rules Committee that aims to clarify confusing provisions, conflicting deadlines and redundancies. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, vowed last month to bring the full bill to a vote. “If our democracy doesn’t work, then we have no hope — no hope — of solving any of our other problems,” he said.

The act would expand voting access, curb partisan gerrymandering and curtail the influence of secret donors, special interests and foreign governments in American elections, all hot-button issues that Republican leaders strongly oppose.

“This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said last month in a hearing on the bill. “This legislation would forcibly rewrite the election laws in all 50 states.”

Antonette Worke is awaiting news on whether she will receive assistance for $5,000 in overdue rent in Charleston, S.C.
Antonette Worke is awaiting news on whether she will receive assistance for $5,000 in overdue rent in Charleston, S.C.Credit…Nora Williams for The New York Times

Four months after Congress approved tens of billions of dollars in emergency rental aid, only a small portion has reached landlords and tenants, and in many places, it is impossible even to file an application.

The program requires hundreds of state and local governments to devise and carry out their own plans, and some have been slow to begin. But the pace is hindered mostly by the sheer complexity of the task: starting a huge pop-up program that reaches millions of tenants, verifies their debts and wins over landlords who don’t always share the same interests as their renters.

Congress approved $25 billion in December and added more than $20 billion in March. The sum the federal government now has for emergency rental aid, $46.5 billion, rivals the annual budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Experts say careful preparation may improve results; it takes time to find the neediest tenants and ensure payment accuracy.

One in seven renters report that they are behind on payments. The longer it takes to distribute the money, the more landlords suffer destabilizing losses, and tenants risk eviction.

Estimates of unpaid rents vary greatly, from $8 billion to $53 billion.

While some pandemic aid has flowed through established programs, the rental help is both decentralized and new, making the variation especially pronounced.

In Charleston, S.C., housing became a subject of concern after a 2018 study found the area had the country’s highest eviction rate. Charleston County ran three rounds of rental relief with CARES Act money, and the state ran two.

The second state program, started with $25 million in February, drew so many applications that it closed in six days. South Carolina is still processing those requests as it decides how to distribute the new federal funds.

Antonette Worke is among the applicants awaiting an answer. She moved to Charleston from Denver last year, drawn by cheaper rents, warmer weather and a job offer. But the job fell through, and her landlord filed for eviction.

Ms. Worke, who has kidney and liver disease, is temporarily protected by the federal eviction moratorium. But it does not cover tenants whose leases expire, as hers will at the end of next month. Her landlord said he would force her to move, even if the state paid the $5,000 in overdue rent.

Covid-19 patients received oxygen while they waited Sunday for a hospital bed in New Delhi.
Covid-19 patients received oxygen while they waited Sunday for a hospital bed in New Delhi.Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

The Biden administration, under increasing pressure to address a devastating surge of the coronavirus in India, said on Sunday that it had partially lifted a ban on the export of raw materials for vaccines and would also supply India with therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective gear.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement on Sunday.

The announcement, an abrupt shift for the administration, came after Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, held a call earlier in the day with Ajit Doval, his counterpart in India, and as the Indian government reported more than 349,000 new infections, a world record for a single day. Ms. Horne said the United States had “identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine,” the Indian-produced version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The situation in India is dire. The country is witnessing perhaps the worst crisis any nation has suffered since the pandemic began, with hospitals overflowing and desperate people dying in line waiting to see doctors.

Yet even as horrifying images of orange flames from mass cremation sites circulated around the world last week, administration officials had pushed back as pressure mounted for the United States to broaden its effort to combat the surge in India. For Mr. Biden, the crisis in India amounts to a clash of competing forces. The president came into office vowing to restore America’s place as a leader in global health, and he has repeatedly said the pandemic does not stop at the nation’s borders.

But he is also grappling with the legacy of his predecessor’s “America First” approach, and he must weigh his instincts to help the world against the threat of a political backlash for giving vaccines away before every American has had a chance to get a shot. As of Monday, 29 percent of Americans were fully vaccinated, and 42 percent had at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of first, but we’re then going to try and help the rest of the world,” Mr. Biden said last month, after he committed to providing financial support to help Biological E, a major vaccine manufacturer in India, produce at least one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of 2022.

Representative Kevin McCarthy's current role has positioned him as perhaps the most consequential Republican in post-Trump Washington.
Representative Kevin McCarthy’s current role has positioned him as perhaps the most consequential Republican in post-Trump Washington.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, was in an uncharacteristically dark place after the Capitol siege of Jan. 6.

He was getting pounded from all sides. He was being accused, accurately, of promoting President Donald J. Trump’s stolen-election lies. But Mr. Trump was still enraged at him for not doing more, and his supporters had just ransacked Mr. McCarthy’s office.

“This is the first time I think I’ve ever been depressed in this job,” Mr. McCarthy confided to his friend, Representative Patrick T. McHenry, Republican of North Carolina. “Patrick, man, I’m down, I’m just really down.”

Mr. McHenry told him to gather himself. “You’re dazed,” Mr. McHenry said, recounting the exchange. “You have to try to think clearly.”

As the end of the Trump presidency devolved into turmoil and violence, Mr. McCarthy faced a dilemma, one that has bedeviled his party for nearly five years: Should he cut Mr. Trump loose, as many Republicans were urging?

Or should he keep trying to make it work with an ousted president who remains the most popular and motivating force inside the G.O.P.?

Mr. McCarthy chose the latter.

Nearly four months after Jan. 6, Mr. McCarthy continues to defend his support for Mr. Trump’s bogus assertions that the election was stolen from him. Friends say that he knows better and is as exasperated by Mr. Trump’s behavior as other top Republicans, but that he has made the calculation that the former president’s support is essential for his ambitions to become speaker after the 2022 elections, when Republicans have a decent chance to win back the House.

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