Undocumented farmworkers push Congress for protections amid historic heat

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(NEW YORK) — Sebastian Francisco Perez, a 38-year-old undocumented farmworker from Guatemala, was working at a tree farm in Oregon on June 26 when he died during the record-breaking heat wave that swept across the region.

“He had dreams of starting a family with his wife, Maria, who is in Guatemala right now. … He was only here for two months without papers, trying to save up money to start fertility treatments,” said Reyna Lopez, the executive director of PCUN, a farmworker union based in Oregon.

As temperatures reached 115 degrees in the Pacific Northwest in late June, a spotlight has again shined on the brutal and, at times, life-threatening conditions some farmworkers in America face.

Perez’s death has added urgency to a push for undocumented farmworkers to gain legal immigration status, which advocates say is needed for them to fight for basic worker protections.

Agricultural workers were 35 times more likely to die of heat-related illnesses compared to workers of other industries from 2000 to 2010, according to research published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Oftentimes, farmworkers who do not have proper documentation suppress concerns about hazardous working conditions, including extreme heat, due to fears of deportation or job loss, said Roxana Chicas, an assistant professor at Emory University School of Nursing, who spoke with reporters on a call last week to highlight the concerning conditions faced by farmworkers.

Leticia, an undocumented farmworker in Washington and a mother of four whose last name was not disclosed for security reasons, told reporters on the call Thursday that even in 115 degrees, she was not not given shade or access to water.

“I fear not making it home to my husband and children,” she said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown directed Oregon Occupational Safety and Health to create emergency rules requiring employers to provide shade, breaks and cool water for workers during high temperatures. And in Washington, a new law passed in May allowed state farmworkers to receive overtime pay and make complaints against their employers without retaliation.

However, there are no federal emergency heat standards protecting farmworkers from extreme weather conditions.

“We need our federal government to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Lopez said of protecting workers while also giving them a path to legal status. “We need strong standards to protect the workers that feed America.”

According to a report published by political organization FWD.us, about 73% of agricultural workers are immigrants and about half of them are undocumented.

Farmworker advocates in the last few weeks have doubled down on their push for Congress to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021, which would give farmworkers a path to earn legal status if they continue to work in agriculture. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act states that most immigrant farmworkers hold an H-2A visa, which is temporary and dependent on an employer’s sponsorship.

The bill has passed the House with bipartisan support and is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee pending a hearing.

If passed and signed by the president, the law would provide stability and bargaining power to immigrant farmworkers who are vulnerable to abuse, said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who authored the bill.

“It’s not everything that everyone wanted, but it’s something we could all support,” she added, referring to nearly universal support from Democrats as well as from some Republicans, including Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

Even with some support from the other side of the aisle, Democrats are considering trying to include some immigration provisions in an expected budget reconciliation bill later this year. That route could allow them to try to pass such policies without needing any GOP votes.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would grant those who performed agricultural labor for at least 180 days within two years certified agricultural worker status. One way a farmworker can then apply for a green card is to prove they have worked a total of 10 years in agriculture, including four years in certified agricultural worker status.

“When you’re undocumented, it really limits your ability to speak up and I want everyone to know the truth to what happens and that’s we’re too afraid to speak up in the workplace,” said Leticia. “Giving farmworkers a path to citizenship will give them the ability to speak up about injustices they face.”

The act would require farms to maintain a heat-illness prevention plan that includes worker training, access to water, shade, regular breaks and protocols for emergency response.

President Joe Biden has supported the legislation and mentioned it on Friday during a naturalization ceremony for new citizens, saying he thought there needed to be “a pathway [toward citizenship] for farmworkers who are here putting food on our tables but are not citizens.”

ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks contributed to this report.

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Texas special session begins with 2nd attempt by Republicans to revise state’s election laws

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(AUSTIN, Texas) — The Texas legislature began an overtime special session this week to address a slate of priority issues outlined by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, including a renewed effort to address “election integrity.” On Saturday, both chambers will hold overlapping hearings with testimony regarding new bills from the House and Senate that seek to overhaul the state’s voting and election practices.

Previously, legislation addressing the Republican-backed issue failed to meet a critical deadline in May when House Democrats staged a walkout to break quorum and prevented a final vote on the sweeping election bill, Senate Bill 7. Going into the 30-day special session, Democrats did not rule out the possibility of another walkout to block new restrictions on voting.

During a press conference Thursday, Texas state Rep. Armando Walle said “every option is on the table” for Democrats to mobilize against the GOP-backed special session agenda, which includes a host of items that echo emerging national culture wars. Walle added that his fellow party members are “going to use every parliamentary means to stop these bills,” but did not follow up with examples of any potential actions.

Democrats are also decrying the Republican policy push of “election integrity” as a political maneuver that creates a solution when they say there is no existing problem.

Seventeen states had enacted 28 new laws that restrict access to the vote, as of June 21, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

During an interview with conservative radio host Rick Roberts following the beginning of the special session on Thursday, Abbott defended the agenda item as a crucial part of a functioning government.

“Without having integrity in our elections, none of the other stuff in the democratic process really matters,” Abbott said.

The language included in each of the new bills — House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 — is likely to change as the proposals advance through the legislative process, but the objectives laid out in both pieces of legislation largely echo the contentious restrictions first introduced in S.B. 7.

“H.B. 3 is just like S.B. 7 — it’s based on a lie. It’s based on a lie that there’s rampant fraud in our elections, and on the ‘big lie’ that Donald Trump actually won the last election. All across the country, you see Republicans clamoring to pass these anti-voter bills, so they can curry favor with Donald Trump and his supporters,” state Rep. Chris Turner, who also chairs the Texas House Democratic Caucus, said Thursday.

Like their predecessors, both H.B. 3 and S.B. 1 include several elements that voting rights activists oppose. Among them are provisions that appear to be aimed at practices utilized by Democrat-leaning Harris County during the 2020 election. Both bills ban 24-hour voting availability, which offered greater ballot access to Houston-area shift workers when implemented in the fall. Each of the proposals also aims to end drive-thru voting, another popular voting method in the diverse county.

According to S.B. 1, “a polling place may not be located in a tent or similar temporary moveable structure or in a facility primarily designed for motor vehicles.” Meanwhile, H.B. 3 states that polling places “shall be located inside a building. No voter may cast a vote from inside a motor vehicle,” unless the voter has physical disabilities that warrant special accommodations.

Another contentious carryover element from S.B. 7 included in the new legislative proposals is granting expanded access to partisan poll watchers. Voting rights advocates previously blasted the concept and said the provisions could allow poll watchers to intimidate voters, especially those who are people of color.

Although the current language in S.B. 1 and H.B. 3 continues to grant poll watchers the ability to move freely around polling places, there appears to be an attempt by the bills’ authors to provide some oversight to their behavior.

“Before accepting a watcher, the officer presented with a watcher’s certificate of appointment shall require the watcher to take the following oath, administered by the officer: ‘I swear (or affirm) that I will not disrupt the voting process or harass voters in the discharge of my duties,'” S.B. 1 says.

The bill goes on to outline a provision that allows watchers to file complaints if they believe they were “unlawfully prevented or obstructed from the performance of the watcher’s duties.”

Meanwhile, H.B. 3 includes language Democrats backed in May that allows election officials to “call a law enforcement officer to request that a poll watcher be removed if the poll watcher commits a breach of the peace or a violation of law.”

Notably, neither version of the new bills include restrictions on Sunday voting hours, which voting activists previously saw as an attack on “Souls to the Polls” events in Black communities. The bills also do not include language from S.B. 7 that lowered the threshold of proof required to challenge and potentially overturn election results.

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In hour-long call, Biden discusses ransomware with Putin after another massive attack

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(WASHINGTON) — In a nearly one-hour call, President Joe Biden discussed ransomware attacks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying afterward he was “optimistic” about communications between the two countries going forward.

The discussion, their first since meeting in Switzerland last month for a major summit, comes days after another massive ransomware attack affected as many as 1,500 businesses around the world, according to the software vendor that was impacted.

“I made it very clear to him that the United States expects when a ransomware operation is coming from his — even though it’s not, not sponsored by the state — we expect him to act if we give him enough information to act on who that is,” Biden told reporters afterward.

He added that there will still be U.S. consequences for such attacks, without providing details.

But weeks after their Geneva summit, the president expressed optimism that the two countries, whose relations have hit a low point in recent years over a mountain of different issues, at least now had clear lines of communication.

“We have set up a means of communication now on a regular basis to be able to communicate to one another when each of us thinks something is happening in the other country that affects the home country — and so, it went well,” Biden said of the call.

The Kremlin said in its own readout that the two presidents “stressed the need for substantive and constructive cooperation in the field of cybersecurity and the continuation of relevant contacts.”

The White House has said there’s no indication the Russian government is responsible for this latest ransomware attack, in which hackers from the cyber criminal group REvil infiltrated IT management companies and their corporate clients through the software vendor Kaseya. The firm said 50 of its customers were directly compromised, but as many as 1,500 businesses that rely on those 50 customers for IT security could be compromised.

REvil is believed to be based in Russia or Eastern Europe and was responsible for the hack of JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, that took facilities offline and affected meat supplies, including in the U.S. The group demanded a $70 million bitcoin payment from its victims of the Kaseya attack.

While the Russian government may not be involved, it has consistently denied responsibility for its own cyberattacks, from its interference in the 2016 U.S. elections to the massive SolarWinds hack that affected dozens of government ministries, private companies and other entities around the world, including nearly a dozen U.S. agencies.

“Despite the readiness of the Russian side to jointly suppress criminal manifestations in the information space, no appeals on these issues have been received by the competent US agencies over the past month,” the Kremlin said Friday.

That language indicated a continued lack of cooperation from the Russian government on the issue. The White House declined to say whether Biden received any new assurances from Putin, referring ABC News’s questions to the Kremlin.

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Biden signs executive order aimed at increasing competition in US economy

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden signed a wide-ranging executive order Friday afternoon aimed at minimizing the stranglehold of monopolies on certain industries and increasing competition among companies, which the White House believes will benefit consumers by driving down prices.

“For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating. In over 75% of U.S. industries, a smaller number of large companies now control more of the business than they did 20 years ago. This is true across health care, financial services, agriculture and more. That lack of competition drives up prices for consumers,” according to a White House fact sheet.

Targeting air travel, labor practices, meat processing and more, the executive order contains 72 initiatives overseen by a dozen different government agencies.

Here is some of what’s in the order:

  • It will allow owners of iPhones, appliances and other machinery to attempt to perform repairs on their devices themselves or seek out repairs at independent shops without voiding warranty protections.
  • It requires the FAA to mandate efficient airline refunds for lost bags and dysfunctional WiFi service.
  • It aims to lower the price of prescription drugs by urging state and local tribes to import cheaper drugs from Canada, a move long supported by Democrats, and former President Donald Trump.
  • Hearing aids, which can often run consumers thousands of dollars, would be able to be sold over the counter under the order.
  • The order will encourage the FTC to limit non-compete agreements that prevent workers from seeking out better-paying jobs and affect some 30 to 60 million Americans. It also encourages the FTC to ban unnecessary licensing requirements for jobs like accounting and hairdressing, which differ from state to state and prove burdensome, especially for military families who frequently move.

These items in particular, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday, are “fulfilling [Biden’s] campaign promise to promote competition in labor markets in order to raise wages and make it easier for workers to change jobs and to move between states.”

The changes won’t be immediately evident to Americans since the executive order merely kicks off longer rule-making and regulatory processes. Some of the executive actions are only recommendations, especially on those areas governed by the FTC and FCC, which are meant to be independent agencies not obligated to carry out White House directives.

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White House officials arrange confidential sales of Hunter Biden’s art

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(NEW YORK) — A New York gallery owner will facilitate sales of Hunter Biden’s original artwork, an arrangement meant to diffuse concerns over buyers paying top dollar to win influence with the president’s son, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The gallerist, Georges Berges, will independently set prices on the artwork of President Joe Biden’s son and keep the identities of buyers confidential, including from the president and administration officials. Berges will be the sole person authorized to collect, reject and agree on offers. Berges has agreed to reject any offer that seems unusual, including offers above asking price.

White House officials were involved in creating the arrangement, according to the source, as a way to avoid any suggestion of preferential treatment or conflict of interest.

According to the Washington Post, which first reported the story, Berges has said Hunter Biden’s artwork could be priced anywhere from $75,000 to $500,000.

But ethics experts are raising concerns about the agreement.

“This arrangement is problematic. The best disinfectant, in this case, would have been to have a publicly open process. The public could see who the purchasers are, and then it would be incumbent upon the Bidens to bear the burden of saying why it isn’t a conflict,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the influence of money in politics.

“The White House went the absolute opposite way they should have gone. The only people, in the end, who won’t know who the buyers are is the public. By going the shadow direction, this raises more questions than answers,” she said.

In a statement to ABC News, White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said “the president has established the highest ethical standards of any administration in American history, and his family’s commitment to rigorous processes like this is a prime example.”

But Richard Painter, who was President George W. Bush’s top ethics lawyer, told ABC News he would have counseled against a secrecy deal for the president’s son during his time in the White House.

“The best solution would be to paint now, sell later, after his father is out of office,” Painter said.

“The problem is they chose the secrecy route and that just never works. I don’t want to say it’s like Trump’s tax returns, because he’s not the president. But whenever you don’t disclose something, whenever there’s secrecy people will assume the worst,” he added.

Still, Painter acknowledged Hunter Biden is not a government employee and has the right to do what he wishes with his art.

Hunter Biden has long used art as a way to cope with addiction and life tragedies, including the death of his brother Beau in 2015.

Biden said in a New York Times interview that painting “put my energy towards something positive.”

“It keeps me away from people and places where I shouldn’t be,” he said in the interview.

Don Fox, former general counsel of the Office of Government Ethics under the Obama administration, noted that career opportunities for children of any president are always subject to intense scrutiny.

“With visual art, the name of the artist is a huge factor in a piece’s value. The screening mechanism that has been put in place for the sale of Hunter Biden’s art may not be perfect, but it’s the best that could be done where the value of the product is so highlight subjective. Hunter Biden is entitled to earn a living,” Fox told ABC News.

Chris Clark, attorney for Hunter Biden, did not respond to a request for comment. A representative at Berges’s gallery declined to comment on the record.

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Conservatives distort Biden’s pledge to ‘knock on doors’ to get people vaccinated

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden’s push to enlist volunteers, including local doctors and pastors, to go “literally knocking on doors” to encourage vaccinations in some states sparked an outcry this week among conservatives, who mischaracterized the effort as the deployment of government agents to strong-arm reluctant Americans.

The blowback — from right-wing media and Republican politicians on Twitter — prompted a sharp response Thursday from the White House, which says any door-knocking efforts will be locally led by community volunteers.

“I would say, for those individuals, organizations that are feeding misinformation and trying to mischaracterize this type of ‘trusted messenger’ work, I believe you are doing a disservice to the country and to the doctors, the faith leaders, community leaders and others who are working to get people vaccinated, save lives, and help end this pandemic,” Biden’s COVID coordinator, Jeff Zients, said.

Earlier this week, after missing his own goal to ensure 70% of U.S. adults received at least shot by the Fourth of July, Biden called for a stepped-up vaccination strategy that would rely on volunteers like faith leaders, local medical professionals and community organizations to canvas neighborhoods.

He also promised to assign White House-coordinated “surge teams” to any states requesting help, including personnel to help track outbreaks, boost testing or tailor pro-vaccine messages to the public.

“We need to go to community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood and, often times, door-to-door, literally knocking on doors to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,” Biden said.

The comment was swiftly picked up by conservative pundits and outlets suggesting that federal agents would soon be knocking on doors or mandating a vaccine.

“How about don’t knock on my door,” tweeted Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican. “You’re not my parents. You’re the government. Make the vaccine available, and let people be free to choose. Why is that concept so hard for the left?”

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted: “The Biden Administration wants to knock on your door to see if you’re vaccinated. What’s next? Knocking on your door to see if you own a gun?”

The Biden administration has said repeatedly that the federal government won’t mandate vaccines and will leave it up to businesses and schools to decide.

“It’s up to every individual to decide whether they’re going to get vaccinated,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki this week.

Still, that message was muddied Thursday when Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told CNN in an interview that “it is absolutely the government’s business” to know who isn’t vaccinated because of the money spent on the effort. He later added: “You don’t have to answer the door but I hope you do.”

Becerra later tweeted that his comments were being taken “wildly out of context.”

“To be clear: government has no database tracking who is vaccinated,” Becerra said. “We’re encouraging people to step up to protect themselves, others by getting vaccinated. It’s the best way to save lives and end this pandemic.”

In Missouri — one of the first states to receive help from the federal “surge” teams that Biden promised — the Republican governor there tweeted that government “agents” going door-to-door aren’t welcome.

“I have directed our health department to let the federal government know that sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR a welcome strategy in Missouri!”

But according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity, federal door knockers were never planned. At the request of the state’s health department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deployed an epidemiologist to Missouri on Monday to help with genetic sequencing and data analysis through Aug. 6.

Another CDC official – a “risk communication specialist” – was tasked to provide remote support for one month to the Missouri Chief Bureau of Immunizations to help address local vaccine hesitancy and drive up vaccination numbers.

In a statement, the Missouri health department said it hoped more support was on its way.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with them and learning more about how the Delta variant is impacting Missouri, specifically southwest Missouri initially,” the department said in a statement.

“More team members will be added in the coming weeks, both remotely and in person, to assist with data and research, vaccine uptake strategies and outreach,” the department added.

ABC producer Arielle Mitropoulos and Sasha Pezenik contributed to this report.

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McCarthy expected to appoint Republicans to Jan. 6 select committee

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(WASHINGTON) — After playing coy on the subject, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is planning to appoint Republicans to the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Republican sources familiar with his plans tell ABC News.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week that Democrats would move forward with creating the select committee after Senate Republicans blocked a proposal for an independent, bipartisan commission.

McCarthy — who will get five appointments to the committee — hadn’t initially decided whether he would appoint anyone at all and reportedly privately threatened Republicans who would accept an appointment by Pelosi.

When asked at a press conference last week about his intentions he said: “When I have news on that, I’ll give it to you.”

A senior GOP aide familiar with the process said there are ongoing efforts to decide which members to appoint, with some likely being allies of former President Donald Trump who have attempted to downplay the rioting and attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Some Republicans expect McCarthy to use the appointments to undermine what they see as the key aim of Pelosi in creating the commission — to politically damage Trump and other allies who objected to certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory.

However, McCarthy is also getting pressure from some in the party to appoint more moderate Republican lawmakers. The timing of an announcement is unclear, but is likely to happen within the next two weeks, sources say.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., one of the Democrats Pelosi has already tapped for the committee, told on CNN on Thursday that Republicans “have an obligation to put in a good-faith effort to get all the facts.”

“We’re going to start with having law enforcement officers testify to share their experiences that day,” she said when asked whether Trump would be called to testify.

Pressed whether McCarthy himself could be called to testify, as it’s known that he and Trump shared a phone call while rioters stormed the building, Murphy didn’t rule it out.

“I think that members of congress could be and will be probably called to testify under oath about their different perspectives on that day,” she said.

Pelosi last month introduced the measure to from the committee comprising 13 members after a bipartisan 9/11-style commission failed to pass the Senate. Eight committee members are to be selected by Pelosi and the other five chosen by McCarthy must be picked in consultation with the House speaker, the measure dictates.

Pelosi announced last week her selections for the committee, with much of the spotlight on Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, an outspoken critic of Trump who was stripped of her No. 3 GOP leadership role earlier this year.

Pelsoi also said House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., will chair the committee, which will include Murphy and Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Adam Schiff, Pete Aguilar, Jamie Raskin and Elaine Luria.

Following Pelosi’s press conference, McCarthy denied reports that he threatened GOP members with taking away committee assignments if they were to accept a select committee position but took the chance to question Cheney’s place in the Republican Party.

“I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi. It would seem to me, since I didn’t hear from her, maybe she’s closer to her than us,” McCarthy said.

The resolution to form the House committee to investigate the attack passed last month mostly along party lines — other than Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who broke from Republicans to vote for its passage.

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Kamala Harris to announce DNC investing additional $25 million in voting rights initiative

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(WASHINGTON) — The Democratic National Committee is investing an additional $25 million in its voting rights initiative, Vice President Kamala Harris is set to announce Wednesday, underscoring the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to a cause that has become a rallying cry for the party.

“This campaign is grounded in the firm belief that everyone’s vote matters. That your vote matters,” Harris plans to say, according to excerpts of her prepared remarks shared with ABC News. “I want to make clear that this is about all voters. It doesn’t matter to us if you are a Democrat or not. We want to help you vote, and we want to help make sure your vote is counted. Why? Well, because our democracy is strongest when everyone participates, and it is weaker when people are left out.”

DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison previously announced a $20 million initial commitment to the initiative, called “I Will Vote.” Priorities USA, one of the largest Democratic super PACs that litigated over 15 voting-centric cases, has also committed $20 million to fighting efforts to curtail access to the ballot box.

Harris will announce the investment when she gives remarks at Howard University in Washington at 1 p.m. President Joe Biden and Harris are also meeting with civil rights leaders at the White House at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and will discuss this issue and the effort to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Representatives from the NAACP, National Urban League and National Action Network, among others, will attend.

The $25 million will be used to fund voter education and protection efforts, targeted voter registration and technology to increase voting accessibility and combat “Republicans’ unprecedented voter suppression efforts,” according to the DNC.

“Republicans know that their policies are unpopular — and that the only way for them to hold on to power is to attack the constitutional right to vote, held by the people they swore to serve. That’s why the Republican Party has made unprecedented efforts to keep people from voting,” Harrison said in a statement. “I’ve said time and again that the ‘D’ in Democrat stands for deliver, and today we are delivering innovative and historic resources to protect this fundamental part of our democracy.”

The investment comes amid a nationwide Republican effort to pass what they call “election integrity” laws that often tighten voting restrictions and restrict access to the ballot box. Republicans endorsing these bills often point to the diminished trust among voters in U.S. elections but fail to address former President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to undermine the 2020 election by falsely claiming there was mass voter fraud and that he actually won in November.

In the 2021 legislative sessions alone, state lawmakers across the country introduced nearly 400 bills that include restrictive voting provisions, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice’s analysis. At least 17, mostly GOP-led states, have enacted 28 new laws this year that at least in part restrict voter access.

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Democrats seek swift timeline for Senate consideration of bipartisan infrastructure deal

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(WASHINGTON) — Congressional Democrats are eyeing a swift timeline for Senate approval of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan, aiming to have the legislation on the floor as early as the week of July 19, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter.

The details of the timeline, including a push to have legislative language ready for consideration by Friday, were discussed among Democratic congressional aides and Louisa Terrell, the head of White House Legislative Affairs, and her deputy, Shuwanza Goff on a call Wednesday, the sources said.

The next hurdle for the bipartisan group of more than 20 co-sponsors, led by Sens Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would be to obtain an official analysis of their bill by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office which crunches the numbers to see if proposed revenue would cover the desired new spending. That process takes time and usually far longer than most think or want.

The White House call and July 19 timeline were first reported by Politico.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he wants the bipartisan package considered before the August recess. He said a sweeping — potentially $5 trillion — budget bill containing a blueprint for the top priorities of the administration and congressional Democrats, like child and elder care, Medicare expansion and climate change policies, would eventually be considered just after the monthlong summer recess.

The latter bill — a budget resolution laying the groundwork for a so-called reconciliation bill that would be crafted under arcane chamber rules that require just a simple majority — would instruct multiple committees to draft pieces of a broader bill. The final product would require unanimous Democratic support in the Senate and nearly every Democrat in the House, given that no Republican is expected to vote for it.

The budget resolution and its directives to committees, which unlocks the reconciliation process, is being crafted by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and is expected to be unveiled early next week, according to two Democratic sources familiar with the matter.

Sanders has acknowledged the broad range of views among his Democratic panel members and caucus colleagues, conceding weeks ago that his ambitious price tag might need to shrink to win support.

The timeline for all of this is incredibly bold as Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempt to appease disparate factions of their caucuses. And Pelosi has insisted that she will hold onto any bipartisan infrastructure legislation that passes the Senate until that chamber also approves the reconciliation bill.

Moderates like Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have pushed for a far smaller package and urged against dramatically raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for the plan.

And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has made no secret of the fact that he plans to make it exceedingly difficult for his Democratic counterparts to maintain unity, urging centrist Democrats not to sign onto the sweeping, Democrats-only legislation.

“This is going to be a hell of a fight over what this country ought to look like in the future and that’s all going to unfold here in the next few weeks,” McConnell said Tuesday.”There is a process by which they could pass this bill without a single Republican, but we are going to make it hard for them,” McConnell said at an event Wednesday in his home state. “And there are a few Democrats left in rural America and some others who would like to be more in the political center who may find this offensive.”

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Biden taunts McConnell for ‘bragging’ about relief bill he voted against

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden taunted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday for having acknowledged his home state of Kentucky will receive money from the Biden administration-backed American Rescue Plan — despite McConnell not having voted for it.

Biden was in Illinois to promote his his “Build Back Better” agenda and sell the bipartisan infrastructure package and a second, larger package on “human infrastructure” that Democrats are hoping to pass through reconciliation — a process which allows them to bypass the usual 60-vote threshold necessary to pass bills in Congress.

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega asked the president about remarks McConnell made Tuesday on his infrastructure packages.

“Mitch McConnell says you’re in for a heck of a fight on this one,” Vega said to Biden.

“Mitch McConnell loves our programs,” the president said with a smile.

He added that the Republican leader had acknowledged, as recently as Tuesday, that although he did not support the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed in March, its funding will help McConnell’s constituents.

“Have you seen what Mitch McConnell said? He told me he wasn’t going to get a single vote in order to allow me to get, with the help of everybody here, that $1.9 trillion … program for economic growth,” he said. “Look it up, man. He’s bragging about it in Kentucky.”

“It’s a great thing for Kentucky, it’s getting $4 billion to help poor — it’s amazing,” Biden added, mimicking McConnell and gesturing widely.

In fact, McConnell at an event on Tuesday in his home state did talk about the American Rescue Plan.

“So you’re gonna get a lot more money. I didn’t vote for it. But you’re gonna get a lot more money,” he said.” My advice to members of the legislatures and other public officials is spend it wisely, because hopefully this windfall doesn’t come around again.”

He also vowed that Republicans would wage a “hell of a fight” if Democrats attempt to pass a sweeping multi-trillion dollar infrastructure plan along party lines.

“This is not going to be done on a bipartisan basis. This is going to be a hell of a fight over what this country ought to look like in the future and it’s going to unfold here in the next few weeks. I don’t think we’ve had a bigger difference of opinion between the two parties,” McConnell said.

Biden on Wednesday visited Crystal Lake, Illinois, a district former President Donald Trump won in 2020 but that is represented by Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood.

In remarks following a tour of McHenry County College, Biden expressed hope that the nation addressing infrastructure will not just drag on and become a running joke as it has been in the past.

“God willing, we’re not gonna have 40 — 40 weeks of, ‘this is infrastructure week.’ Do you remember those?” he said, referring to events during the Trump administration.

Biden focused his speech — which he concluded by describing as “boring” but “important” — on selling the “human infrastructure” aspects of the American Families Plan, calling it “essential” and the “second critical part” of his domestic agenda that he hopes to include in a reconciliation bill.

“To truly win the 21st Century and once again lead the world, to truly build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, to truly deal everybody in this time, we need to invest in our people,” he said.

When the Senate returns to Washington next week, lawmakers hoping to move on Biden’s infrastructure agenda will be in a race against the clock to navigate a precarious political landscape before the summer comes to a close.

ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky, Justin Gomez and Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.

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