White House Plans Ambitious New Targets for Cutting Greenhouse Gases

The move is aimed at sending a global message after four years of climate denial under the previous administration. Here’s the latest from Washington.,

LiveUpdated April 20, 2021, 8:35 p.m. ETApril 20, 2021, 8:35 p.m. ET

The new target is aimed at sending a global message after four years of climate denial under Trump. Addressing the nation after Derek Chauvin’s conviction, President Biden said the verdict was a “giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.”

President Biden hopes the new targets convince other nations to do more to combat global warming.
President Biden hopes the new targets convince other nations to do more to combat global warming. Credit…Brian Snyder/Reuters

President Biden will announce Thursday that the United States intends to cut planet-warming emissions nearly in half by the end of the decade, a target that would require Americans to transform the way they drive, heat their homes and manufacture goods.

The target, confirmed by three people briefed on the plan, is timed to a closely watched global summit meeting that Mr. Biden is hosting Thursday and Friday, which is aimed at sending a message that the United States is rejoining international efforts to fight global warming after four years of climate denial from the Trump administration.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the U.S. target, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

The leaders of China, India and nearly 40 other countries are expected to join Mr. Biden virtually, and the United States hopes that the announcement of its new emissions goal will galvanize other nations to step up their own targets by the time nations gather again under United Nations auspices in November in Glasgow.

The new American goal nearly doubles the pledge that the Obama administration made to cut emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, although the country would have five more years to achieve it, according to the people familiar with the target who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. The 2030 target will be a range that will aim to cut emissions around 50 percent from 2005 levels. It will not include detailed modeling showing how the United States proposes to meet its pledge, one administration official said.

The goal is largely in line with what environmental groups and big businesses, including McDonalds, Target and Google, have wanted. They and others argued that cutting emissions at least 50 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade is the only way to put the United States on a path to eliminate fossil fuel pollution by the middle of the century.

On Tuesday, Gina McCarthy, Mr. Biden’s top climate change adviser, hinted that the United States would set that ambitious goal.

“I would argue that there’s opportunities for us to be able to be very aggressive, and we’re going to take that opportunity,” she said in an interview with N.P.R.

Meeting it, however, will be a steep challenge.

Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, and other energy experts described the 50 percent goal as attainable, but only with what Mr. Hultman described as “pretty significant action across all sectors of the American economy.”

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Voting Rights Hearing Features Georgia Leaders

Senate Democrats continued to push for a national expansion of voting rights in a hearing featuring leaders from the state of Georgia, a battleground in the voting rights campaign.

“Record numbers of Georgians used their voices and voted in the last election. And in response to this swell in democratic participation, politicians in our State Legislature responded not in celebration, but with retaliation.” “Today’s conversation regarding the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act does occur against the backdrop of a resurgence of Jim Crow-style voter suppression measures sweeping across state legislatures, grounded in the big lie about fraud and insecurity in the 2020 election. As a necessary reminder, post-Reconstruction laws known as Jim Crow, that targeted Black voters, never explicitly excluded eligible citizens by race. Throughout its history, Georgia has been among the worst actors, including malicious prosecution of lawful absentee ballot users in 2010 and intimidation of Black voters by deputy sheriffs in 2015.” “There’s an organized campaign started to make big business punish the people of Georgia for their political choices. When you make political comments and it hurts people’s pocketbooks, there ought to be something — everybody would be offended by.” “What is the problem that lawmakers in Georgia want to address with the new law? The problem is obvious: Too many voters are showing up. Georgia also had a historic voter turnout during the last election. It seems Republican lawmakers in Georgia have concluded that the solution to their election problems is to make it harder to vote.”

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Senate Democrats continued to push for a national expansion of voting rights in a hearing featuring leaders from the state of Georgia, a battleground in the voting rights campaign.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Bill Clark

Senate Democrats on Tuesday renewed their push for a national expansion of voting rights, summoning leaders from the battleground state of Georgia to help build a public case that Congress should intervene to lower state barriers to voting.

At a heated hearing on Capitol Hill, senators quizzed elected officials, academics and advocates on the state’s new election law and dozens of others like it introduced in Republican statehouses since the 2020 election that would restrict ballot access. Their lead witness was Stacey Abrams, the Georgia voting rights activist who has arguably done more than any other Democrat to frame her party’s views of voting issues.

Over four hours of testimony, Ms. Abrams argued that Republican-led states like hers across the country were witnessing “a resurgence of Jim Crow-style voter suppression measures” targeting voters of color. She accused Republicans of acting with “racial animus” to tilt the electorate in their favor after former President Donald J. Trump lost Georgia and baselessly claimed he had been the victim of election fraud.

She warned that decades of gains could be rolled back if Congress did not step in.

“When the fundamental right to vote is left to the political ambitions and prejudices of state actors, ones who rely on suppression to maintain power, federal intercession stands as the appropriate remedy,” Ms. Abrams said.

Though the hearing before the Judiciary Committee was not specifically tied to legislation, it was part of a push by Democrats to use their hold in Washington to advance a pair of major voting bills that could counter hundreds of restrictive proposals in the states.

Republicans oppose both bills, but have trained their ire most directly on a gigantic national elections overhaul, known as H.R. 1, which also includes a new public campaign financing system and a revamp of the Federal Election Commission. On Tuesday, they called it a gross federal overreach intended to help Democrats consolidate power, rejected accusations of racism and renewed vows to help defeat it in the evenly divided Senate.

“H.R. 1 is not about righting wrongs,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “It’s about power.”

Jan Jones, the Republican speaker pro tempore of the Georgia House, mounted an energetic defense of her state’s new election law, saying that Republicans were merely “making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

She said a provision barring third-party groups from providing food and water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots was not a draconian tactic to suppress turnout, but an attempt to stop activists and candidates from using food and other goodies to sway voters.

A New York Times analysis identified 16 provisions in the Georgia law that either hinder people’s ability to vote or shift power to the Republican-controlled legislature.

Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, pinned blame on Ms. Abrams for Major League Baseball’s decision to move this summer’s All-Star Game from Georgia, saying her public criticism of the voting bill had played a “central role” in a decision that could cost her state economically.

Ms. Abrams vehemently disagreed, saying she had opposed the league’s move, but would stand by anyone defending the right to vote.

“To me, one day of games is not worth losing our democracy,” she said.

President Biden commenting on the Derek Chauvin verdict at the White House on Tuesday.
President Biden commenting on the Derek Chauvin verdict at the White House on Tuesday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden praised a guilty verdict in the murder trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin, but called it a “too rare” step to deliver “basic accountability” for Black Americans who have been killed during interactions with the police.

“It was a murder in full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see,” Mr. Biden said of the death of George Floyd, who died after Mr. Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes, and whose death ignited nationwide protests. “For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver just basic accountability.”

Mr. Biden delivered his remarks to the nation hours after taking the unusual step of weighing in on the trial’s outcome before the jury had come back with a decision, and telling reporters that he had been “praying” for the “right verdict.”

“This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” Mr. Biden said during his address.

Mr. Biden assumed the presidency during a national reckoning over race and has staked his political legacy around a promise to make racial equality, which includes an overhaul on policing, a central focus of his presidency. He has been outspoken about Mr. Floyd’s death, calling it a “wake up call” for the nation.

In the wake of a series of recent police-involved shootings and other violent episodes that have taken place over the course of the trial, he has repeatedly called for Congress to pass an ambitious bill on policing reform, named for Mr. Floyd and co-authored by the vice president.

On Tuesday afternoon, the White House canceled an earlier speech Mr. Biden had planned to deliver on his infrastructure plan so that he could watch the verdict come in alongside Kamala Harris, the vice president, and a group of other aides in his private dining room just off the Oval Office.

The jury’s deliberations had been closely tracked throughout the day: In the minutes before the verdict was delivered, White House aides were sprinting through the West Wing, phones in hand, and setting up a podium for Mr. Biden to deliver his remarks alongside Ms. Harris in Cross Hall. Just after the verdict was delivered the president was on the phone with members of Mr. Floyd’s family.

“We’re all so relieved,” Mr. Biden said to a group of people who included Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s attorney. “I’m anxious to see you guys, I really am. We’re gonna do a lot and we’re gonna stand until we get it done.”

Ms. Harris, who spoke before Mr. Biden gave remarks, called for the passage of the bill that would overhaul how police officers engage people in minority communities.

“Here’s the truth about racial injustice,” Ms Harris said. “It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all, and it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential.”

Mr. Biden can trace his political success, in part, to how he responded to the nationwide protests that rose up in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death.

Last June, as his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, stoked tensions by tweet, calling the protests a result of the “radical left” and threatening to send in the National Guard, Mr. Biden traveled to Houston with his wife, Jill, to meet with Mr. Floyd’s relatives.

The hour he spent with the Floyd family effectively created a split-screen with Mr. Trump that boosted his war chest and added momentum to his campaign.

“I won’t fan the flames of hate,” Mr. Biden said at the time. “I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain.”

Lisa O. Monaco speaks last month at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination to be deputy attorney general.
Lisa O. Monaco speaks last month at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination to be deputy attorney general.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The Senate voted to confirm Lisa O. Monaco on Tuesday to serve as deputy attorney general, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, giving a career government servant and national security expert direct oversight of federal prosecutors, the F.B.I. and the day-to-day operations of the nation’s top law enforcement agency.

Ms. Monaco was confirmed 98 to 2, with only Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, withholding their support. She is expected to be sworn in at the Justice Department on Wednesday.

“Lisa Monaco may be the most qualified individual ever to be nominated deputy attorney general,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday before lawmakers voted on her nomination.

Ms. Monaco, 53, has coordinated the federal government’s response to pandemics, domestic and foreign terrorist threats, mass shootings and cyberattacks. She has extensive Justice Department credentials including work as a federal prosecutor, a leader on the task force that investigated the collapse of Enron, chief of staff to the former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III and head of the National Security Division. She also served as a chief counterterrorism adviser during the Obama administration.

Mr. Durbin said those qualifications made Ms. Monaco the right leader for the Justice Department as the nation faced the Covid-19 pandemic, a rash of gun violence, a surge in hate crimes, domestic violent extremism and national security challenges from Russia, China and other adversaries.

One of Ms. Monaco’s most important tasks will be to help Attorney General Merrick B. Garland restore public trust in the Justice Department after the turmoil of the Trump administration.

Ms. Monaco is known for her ability to broker consensus on politically charged issues and to work well with national security experts, military leaders and people across the political spectrum.

That reputation was reflected in the near unanimous support for her nomination. She received more Republican support than Mr. Garland, a former federal judge known as a bipartisan centrist who received only 20 Republican votes.

One of Ms. Monaco’s immediate challenges will be to help the Biden administration combat domestic extremism, including oversight of the federal government’s sprawling investigation into the deadly attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

As deputy attorney general, Ms. Monaco will also referee internal disputes that may arise in high-stakes prosecutions and weigh in on other politically charged decisions, like the ongoing investigations into President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and into the roots of the Russia investigation.

Representative Maxine Waters, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, is a frequent target of rage from the right.
Representative Maxine Waters, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, is a frequent target of rage from the right.Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

House Democrats on Tuesday killed a Republican-led effort to censure Representative Maxine Waters for suggesting that racial justice protesters should “get more confrontational.”

Democrats stayed united in a 216-to-210 vote to quash a resolution offered by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, to formally rebuke Ms. Waters, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee and a frequent target of rage from the right, for comments she made over the weekend at a demonstration in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Ms. Waters was at a rally to protest the killing of Daunte Wright, a Black man, by a white police officer.

Asked on Saturday what protesters should do if Derek Chauvin were acquitted in the killing of George Floyd, Ms. Waters said: “We’ve got to stay on the street, and we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational; we’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

Shortly after the House voted down Mr. McCarthy’s resolution, a jury convicted Mr. Chauvin of murder.

Ms. Waters, a 15-term Californian, later said she had been referring to civil rights-era demonstrations, which used tactics of civil disobedience, and Democratic leaders stood behind her.

But Mr. McCarthy — who this year declined to punish Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, who had previously endorsed killing Speaker Nancy Pelosi — saw an opening to try to put politically vulnerable Democrats on the spot. He portrayed Ms. Waters’s remarks as condoning violence and effectively dared her colleagues to back her by putting the matter to a vote, a perilous proposition given that Democrats’ razor-thin margin of control in the House left almost no room for defections.

Still, Democrats held together. Ms. Pelosi, also of California, told reporters on Monday that Ms. Waters had no reason to apologize for her remarks.

After the measure’s defeat, Republicans lost no time in mounting the political attacks that it had been intended to feed. Mr. McCarthy issued a news release saying that Democrats had “decided to stand on the side of violence instead of the law.”

Mr. McCarthy’s effort was particularly striking after he declined to take any action against Ms. Greene, who has referred to the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6 as a “1776 moment.” Democrats denounced his move as hypocritical because he has also not condemned inflammatory speech used by colleagues in his party around the time of the riot.

“Clean up your mess, Kevin,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the No. 4 House Democrat, said at a news conference before the vote on Tuesday. “Sit this one out. You’ve got no credibility.”

Emergent Biosolutions in Baltimore this month.
Emergent Biosolutions in Baltimore this month.Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

A congressional panel has opened an investigation into Emergent BioSolutions, the company whose Baltimore factory ruined millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, focusing on whether it was improperly awarded a $628 million federal contract to manufacture vaccines.

The inquiry will look into whether a Trump administration official steered the work to the company despite questions about its qualifications, according to a statement released late Monday. The investigation was announced by Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and James E. Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina who heads a subcommittee on the pandemic response.

Mr. Clyburn requested that Emergent’s two top executives testify at a May 19 hearing and provide a wide array of records.

“Specifically, we are investigating reports that Emergent received multimillion-dollar contracts to manufacture coronavirus vaccines despite a long, documented history of inadequately trained staff and quality control issues,” the statement said. It also said the company had “a track record of raising prices and failing to meet contract requirements.”

The committees said they were also looking into Emergent’s “actions to unduly influence anthrax vaccine assets” in the Strategic National Stockpile, the subject of a New York Times article last month.

The congressional inquiry is the latest in a series of problems for Emergent, a longtime federal contractor that has a reputation for aggressive lobbying tactics. This month, the Food and Drug Administration began an audit of its factory in southeastern Baltimore after workers contaminated a batch of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine with an ingredient for AstraZeneca’s vaccine, another product manufactured at the plant.

Emergent said on Monday that it had suspended operations at the plant and acknowledged that it needed to make improvements to “restore confidence” in its work. It also said it was quarantining the vaccine substance already produced at the plant until after the inspection ends and the company has had a chance to fix any problems highlighted in the review.

Biden administration officials have said that AstraZeneca’s vaccine will no longer be manufactured at the plant, and Johnson & Johnson has vowed to exert stronger control over Emergent, its subcontractor. The F.D.A. has not certified the facility to distribute any vaccine to the public; all Johnson & Johnson doses that have been administered were manufactured overseas. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not yet authorized in the United States.

The New York Times reported this month that confidential audits and internal documents showed that Emergent had failed to follow some basic industry standards and identified repeated shortcomings in efforts to prevent contamination. Those records were among the documents that congressional investigators are now seeking.

The inspections flagged a persistent problem with mold in areas required to be kept clean, poor disinfection of some plant equipment, repeated use of raw materials that were not fully tested and inadequate training of employees. In one month, they indicate, workers making AstraZeneca’s vaccine deviated from manufacturing standards an average of over three times a day.

The Emergent Baltimore facility is one of two federally designated “Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing,” created during the Obama administration, that were supposed to be at the ready in case of a pandemic. The company secured a $628 million contract to manufacture the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines in June.

The congressional lawmakers said that Dr. Robert Kadlec, who served as assistant health secretary for preparedness and response under President Donald J. Trump and previously worked as a consultant for Emergent, “appears to have pushed for this award despite indications that Emergent did not have the ability to reliably fulfill the contract.”

In an interview Tuesday, Dr. Kadlec said that his consulting work for Emergent in 2013 and 2014 involved educating leaders in South Korea and Saudi Arabia about the risks of bioterrorism, and that he did not promote the company’s products. He said that when he awarded the company the contract in June, he was exercising an option on an earlier contract awarded in 2012 by his predecessor.

Dr. Kadlec he said that he knew Emergent was a risky choice, but that federal officials had turned to Emergent because few companies based in the United States were able to make the type of vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, and because the government already had a contract with the company. He said he also sought to involve Merck, a more experienced manufacturer, but those negotiations did not work out.

“That was the path of fastest action, but we recognized that there were going to be inherent risks with that approach,” he said of working with Emergent, “and we would try to mitigate those risks throughout.”

Former President George W. Bush speaking in Atlanta in July.
Former President George W. Bush speaking in Atlanta in July.Credit…Pool photo by Alyssa Pointer

Former President George W. Bush, whose push for immigration reform and the invasion of Iraq spurred a backlash that helped lead to the rise of Donald J. Trump, is not happy with the current state of the Republican Party.

“I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist,” Mr. Bush said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show that aired on Tuesday, promoting his new book of paintings and essays honoring immigrants in America.

“But I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture — a simple painter,” added the 43rd president, who said he published the book to “elevate” the discourse around immigration.

Over the weekend, Mr. Bush called on congressional Republicans to tone down their “harsh rhetoric about immigration” and urged them to enact comprehensive changes, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“The problem with the immigration debate is that one can create a lot of fear,” he told CBS.

Mr. Bush has mostly steered clear of political fights after leaving office in 2009 with low approval ratings stemming from the bloody aftermath of his invasion of Iraq. He has been more willing to weigh in after the departure of Mr. Trump, who lashed out at him during the 2016 presidential campaign after suggesting Mr. Bush should have been impeached for invading Iraq. Mr. Trump also attacked Mr. Bush’s brother Jeb, who began the campaign as a top-tier contender for the party’s nomination.

Immigration is now the issue that divides them most.

Mr. Bush’s support of a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, later adopted in more limited form by 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, proved deeply unpopular with the party’s base — and Mr. Trump took advantage of that political opening by taking a much harder line, including pushing for construction of a border wall.

A Reuters poll in March found that 56 percent of Republicans do not favor a path to citizenship, up from 38 percent who held that position early in Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Bush recognized President Biden’s victory on Nov. 8, 2020, among the first high-profile Republicans to do so. And Mr. Biden consulted Mr. Bush and former President Obama before announcing the Sept. 11, 2021, deadline for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In the interview on Tuesday, Mr. Bush expressed his disgust at the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to overthrow the results of the election.

“It kind of made me sick — not kind of made me sick, it did make me sick,” he said. “I felt ill. I just couldn’t believe it.”

However, the vote to certify the election, which came hours after the riot, confirmed his faith “in the institutional stability of our country,” he added.

In his CBS interview, Mr. Bush — who ran hard-edged, highly partisan presidential campaigns — expressed bewilderment at the state of politics today, saying he was “shocked” that people were surprised when he embraced Michelle Obama during John McCain’s funeral in 2018.

“Americans are so polarized in their thinking that they can’t imagine a George W. Bush and a Michelle Obama being friends,” he said.

Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, speaks with U.S. troops while visiting Forward Operating Base Fenty in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, September 9, 2019.
Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, speaks with U.S. troops while visiting Forward Operating Base Fenty in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, September 9, 2019.Credit…Phil Stewart/Reuters

The top American commander in the Middle East said on Tuesday that it would be “extremely difficult” for the United States to watch and counter terrorist threats in Afghanistan like Al Qaeda after American troops leave the country by Sept. 11.

The head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., offered the first extensive comments by a top commander about the effect of President Biden’s decision to withdraw more than 2,500 American troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Biden rejected the advice of top Pentagon and military advisers to keep a small force in place.

Among the major challenges once troops have left will be how to track and potentially attack militant groups in Afghanistan, a landlocked nation far from any major American base. General McKenzie said the administration was discussing with other countries where it could reposition forces to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a terrorist base.

Possibilities in the region include Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but those countries are under the sway of Russia to one degree or another, and the sanctions the administration imposed on Moscow last week complicates any such discussions, diplomats and military officials said.

Attack planes aboard aircraft carriers and long-range bombers flying from land bases along the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and even in the United States could strike insurgent fighters spotted by armed surveillance drones. But the long distances are costly and riskier.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult to do, but it is not impossible,” General McKenzie said under questioning from both Democrats and Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee.

General McKenzie told lawmakers that he was working on a detailed set of alternatives that he would deliver to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III by month’s end. But he underscored what Mr. Biden’s top intelligence officials have already warned: Without boots on the ground or armed surveillance drones just minutes away, the United States will have far fewer human or electronic eyes and ears focused on extremist threats in Afghanistan.

“The intelligence will decline,” General McKenzie said, “but we’re going to be able to continue to look into Afghanistan.”

Voters waiting in line to vote in November in Largo, Fla. Republicans did well in the state last year, but have pressed ahead in the state's Legislature with new voting restrictions.
Voters waiting in line to vote in November in Largo, Fla. Republicans did well in the state last year, but have pressed ahead in the state’s Legislature with new voting restrictions.Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

A bill that would impose a host of new restrictions on voting in Florida passed a key committee in the State Senate on Tuesday after a fiery debate among senators and hours of citizen testimony opposing the measure. The vote set the stage for a possible full floor vote in the Republican-controlled chamber in the coming weeks.

The bill, known as S.B. 90, had significantly been revised last week by Dennis K. Baxley, the Republican state senator who introduced it, to roll back some of the more strident restrictions in the original bill, like banning drop boxes. It passed the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday along a mostly party-line vote, with one Republican member of the committee, Jeff Brandes, voting against it.

The measure also bars outside groups from giving water to voters within 150 feet of a voting location; adds more identification requirements for absentee ballots; requires voters to request an absentee ballot every election rather than be on an absentee voting list; limits who can collect and drop off ballots; and empowers partisan observers during the ballot tabulating process.

Florida, a major political battleground, is one of a number of Republican-controlled states, including Georgia, Texas and Arizona, that have marched forward with new bills seeking to limit access to voting.

A solar equipment factory in China's Jiangxi Province in January. China's hold over the global solar sector has its roots in the late 2000s, when Beijing began pumping vast amounts of money into solar technology.
A solar equipment factory in China’s Jiangxi Province in January. China’s hold over the global solar sector has its roots in the late 2000s, when Beijing began pumping vast amounts of money into solar technology.Credit…CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

The Biden administration faces a tough choice as it looks to expand the use of solar power to reduce the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions.

The dilemma stems from an uncomfortable reality: China dominates the global supply chain for solar power, producing the vast majority of the materials and parts for solar panels that the United States relies on for clean energy. And there is emerging evidence that some of China’s biggest solar companies have worked with the Chinese government to absorb minority workers in the far western region of Xinjiang, programs often seen as a red flag for potential forced labor and human rights abuses.

This week, Mr. Biden is inviting world leaders to a climate summit in Washington, where he is expected to unveil an ambitious plan for cutting America’s emissions over the next decade. The administration is already eyeing a goal of generating 100 percent of the nation’s electricity from carbon-free sources such as solar, wind or nuclear power by 2035, up from only 40 percent last year.

To meet that target, the United States may need to more than double its annual pace of solar installations. That is likely to be an economic boon to China, since the United States still relies almost entirely on Chinese manufacturers for low-cost solar modules.

China also supplies many of the key components in solar panels, including more than 80 percent of the world’s polysilicon, a raw material that most solar panels use to absorb energy from sunlight. Nearly half of the global supply comes from Xinjiang alone.

The administration is increasingly under pressure from influential supporters not to turn a blind eye to potential human rights abuses in order to achieve its climate goals.

“As the U.S. seeks to address climate change, we must not allow the Chinese Communist Party to use forced labor to meet our nation’s needs,” Richard L. Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., wrote in a letter on March 12 urging the Biden administration to block imports of solar products containing polysilicon from the Xinjiang region.

Journalists watch a screen showing China's president, Xi Jinping, delivering a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum on Tuesday.
Journalists watch a screen showing China’s president, Xi Jinping, delivering a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum on Tuesday.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, called for cooperation and openness to an audience of business and financial leaders on Tuesday. He also had some warnings, presumably for the United States.

Speaking electronically to a largely virtual audience at China’s annual Boao Forum, Mr. Xi warned that the world should not allow “unilateralism pursued by certain countries to set the pace for the whole world.”

The audience included American business leaders including Tim Cook of Apple and Elon Musk of Tesla, as well as two Wall Street financiers, Ray Dalio and Stephen Schwarzman. Long a platform for China to show off its economic prowess and leadership, the Boao Forum is held annually on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. (Last year’s was canceled amid the pandemic.)

In recent years, Mr. Xi has used the forum to portray himself as an advocate of free trade and globalization, calling for openness even as many in the global business community have become increasingly vocal about growing restrictions in China’s own domestic market.

On Tuesday, he also reiterated his earlier message opposing efforts by countries to weaken their economic interdependence with China.

“Attempts to ‘erect walls’ or ‘decouple'” would “hurt others’ interests without benefiting oneself,” Mr. Xi said, in what appeared to be a reference to the United States and the Biden administration’s plans to support domestic high-tech manufacturing in the United States.

The White House held a meeting with business executives last week to discuss a global chip shortage and plan for semiconductor “supply chain resilience.” Speaking to executives from Google, Intel and Samsung, Mr. Biden said “China and the rest of the world is not waiting, and there’s no reason why Americans should wait.”

China is pursuing its own program for self-sufficiency in chip manufacturing.

Mr. Xi also pledged to continue to open the Chinese economy for foreign businesses, a promise that big Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have clung to even as foreign executives complain that the broader business landscape has become more challenging.

Walter F. Mondale in 1983. “My whole life, I worked on the idea that government can be an instrument for social progress,” he said in 2010. “We need that progress. Fairness requires it.”Credit…George Tames/The New York Times

Walter F. Mondale, the former vice president and champion of liberal politics, activist government and civil rights who ran as the Democratic candidate for president in 1984, losing to President Ronald Reagan in a landslide, died on Monday at his home in Minneapolis. He was 93.

Kathy Tunheim, a spokeswoman for the family, announced the death. She did not specify a cause. But Mr. Mondale was prepared for the end. Over the weekend he spoke for the last time with former President Jimmy Carter, under whom he served; with President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden; and with Vice President Kamala Harris. And he sent a farewell email to his former staff members.

A son of a minister of modest means, Fritz Mondale, as he was widely known, led a rich public life that began in Minnesota under the tutelage of his state’s progressive pathfinder, Hubert H. Humphrey. He achieved his own historic firsts, especially with his selection of Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York as his running mate in 1984, the first woman to seek the vice presidency on a major national ticket.

Under President Carter, from 1977 to 1981, Mr. Mondale was the first vice president to serve as a genuine partner of a president, with full access to intelligence briefings, a weekly lunch with Mr. Carter, his own office near the president’s and his own staff integrated with Mr. Carter’s.

“Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driving force that had never been seen before,” Mr. Carter said in a statement on Monday night, expressing grief over the passing of “my dear friend.”

President Biden said in his own message of condolence that when then-Senator Barack Obama asked him to consider running for vice president alongside him in 2008, “Fritz was my first call and trusted guide.” He said that Mr. Mondale’s redefining the vice presidency “as a full partnership” had “helped provide a model for my service.”

And he noted that Mr. Mondale “was the first presidential nominee of either party to select a woman as his running mate, and I know how pleased he was to be able to see Kamala Harris become vice president.”

The single biggest spender on federal campaigns from 2009 to 2020 was Michael R. Bloomberg.
The single biggest spender on federal campaigns from 2009 to 2020 was Michael R. Bloomberg.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

A dozen megadonors and their spouses contributed a combined $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups since 2009, accounting for nearly one out of every 13 dollars raised, according to a new report.

The report, produced by Issue One, a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce the influence of money in politics, shows the top 12 donors split equally between six Democrats and six Republicans. The list includes multiple Wall Street billionaires and investors, a Facebook co-founder, a shipping magnate and the heir to a family fortune dating back to the Gilded Age.

The study quantifies the intensifying concentration and increasing role of the super rich in American politics following the loosening of restrictions on political spending by the U.S. Supreme Court more than a decade ago.

“This is a stark illustration of our broken campaign finance system,” said Nick Penniman, the founder and chief executive of Issue One. “Today, a handful of megadonors wield outsized influence in our politics.”

The single biggest spender on federal campaigns from 2009 to 2020 was Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, who spent $1.4 billion. Of that, $1 billion went toward his own failed campaign for president in 2020 and $314 million went to other federal candidates, super PACs and political groups.

He is the only donor to spent more than $1 billion. The No. 2 contributor is another Democrat, Tom Steyer, who, like Mr. Bloomberg, lost his bid for president in 2020. Mr. Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, have spent $653 million, with more than half going toward his own presidential campaign and $311 million to other federal candidates and committees.

The largest Republican contributor was Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, and his wife, Miriam Adelson, a physician. The Adelsons have contributed $523 million to Republican candidates and committees since 2009.

Mr. Adelson’s death in January 2021, at age 87, leaves a potential major shortfall for Republicans who have come to rely upon his largess.

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