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Texas Wants to Appoint a Special Prosecutor to Pursue People Who Get Abortions

Because not enough people are getting punished, apparently

Demonstrators carry pro-choice signs.
Abortion rights demonstrators march outside the Harris County Courthouse in Houston, in October.

A Republican lawmaker in Texas has introduced a bill to appoint a state special prosecutor to handle abortion law violations, among other issues, The Washington Post’s Caroline Kitchener reported Thursday.

The bill, introduced in the state House of Representatives Wednesday, would let the state Supreme Court appoint a special prosecutor to handle violations of Texas election laws, human trafficking cases, and violations of the state’s abortion laws.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Texas has banned abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest, and only a few to save the life of the pregnant person. Individuals are also allowed to sue anyone who provides abortion care or helps someone get an abortion, in what’s known as the state’s vigilante law.

But apparently not satisfied with that, Texas Republicans have begun to introduce bill after bill to curb access to abortion, despite the fact that six out of 10 Texas voters say they support abortion in all or most cases.

One lawmaker introduced a bill in February that would compel internet providers in Texas to block websites that sell or provide information on how to obtain abortion pills. Just last week, another official introduced a bill that would ban credit card companies from processing transactions for abortion pills. Both measures are aimed at cutting off a crucial resource in maintaining access to safe abortion.

Texas is not the only state to ignore what constituents actually want when it comes to abortion laws. Georgia Republicans have introduced a bill that would classify abortion as homicide, despite almost two-thirds of Georgia voters already objecting to current abortion restrictions. A Kentucky lawmaker also introduced a bill classifying abortion as homicide, even though the state voted to protect abortion access during the midterm elections.

The most egregious example is Kansas, where residents voted in August to keep abortion protections in the state constitution. Lawmakers responded by introducing legislation that would let individual cities and counties ban the procedure, a blatant attempt to override the will of the people.

Writer Jessica Valenti pointed out that the latest Texas legislation could be how anti-abortion lawmakers make sure their agenda gets carried out. She noted that many district attorneys are refusing to pursue cases that criminalize abortion, so a special prosecutor for abortion law violations would make sure people are punished for getting the procedure.

One such attorney to take a principled stand against abortion prosecutions was Andrew Warren, a state attorney in Florida who had signed a joint statement with other elected prosecutors the day Roe was overturned, stating “our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions,” such as abortion or transgender health care.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis fired Warren for signing the statement.

Biden Introduces Plan to Shrink the Deficit While Funding Childcare, Medicare, and Prekindergarten

The proposal: Tax the rich and eliminate subsidies for the fossil fuel industry

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
President Joe Biden takes questions from reporters after announcing his budget for fiscal year 2023.

President Joe Biden unveiled a $6.8 trillion budget on Thursday that would expand support for poor and middle-class Americans—and tax the rich to help pay for it.

“Folks, let me tell you what I value with the budget I’m releasing today,” he said at an event in Philadelphia. “I value everyone having an even shot. Not just labor, but small-business owners, farmers, so many of the people [who] hold the country together who have been basically invisible for a long time.”

The proposed budget includes hundreds of billions of dollars each for childcare assistance, health coverage assistance, home care for the elderly and disabled, paid leave for workers, free community college and prekindergarten, and homeowners’ and renters’ assistance. The plan is a blueprint of Biden’s priorities as he prepares—presumably—to run for reelection.

Biden said his plan would reduce the federal deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years, primarily by increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations. He would also increase payroll and income taxes on single filers who make more than $400,000 a year and raise the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28 percent (in 2017, Donald Trump reduced it from 35 percent).

Biden already previewed another part of the plan earlier this week: extending Medicare into the 2050s, a direct challenge to Republicans who want to slash funding for the program. His budget would let Medicare negotiate prices for a wider range of prescription drugs, an expansion of part of the Inflation Reduction Act. The money saved by negotiating drug prices would then be reinvested in the Medicare trust fund.

The budget would also quadruple a newly implemented tax on corporate stock buybacks and eliminate tax incentives for the oil and gas industry, forcing companies to invest their funds back into the economy, instead of keeping money within their own organizations.

With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, this budget doesn’t stand a chance of becoming reality. The GOP has made clear they are willing to hold the debt ceiling hostage in order to cut costs in the federal budget—though they have not said exactly how they propose to cut costs. Some Republicans have hinted at cutting Medicare and Social Security, then denied this intent following backlash.

Senator Rick Scott, who came under particular fire from Biden for a proposal to sunset Medicare every five years, immediately criticized the president’s budget.

Biden’s “budget should be a wake-up call for the American people,” the Florida Republican tweeted. “He isn’t concerned about reducing the debt or lowering inflation. He’s focused on throwing money at his woke agenda.”

Democrats, including Biden, have said they refuse to compromise on the debt ceiling, setting up a protracted battle. But if the debate drags out too long, the United States could be in economic peril. The government hit the debt ceiling in January and could default on its debt by the summer if the cap isn’t raised, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

More on GOP Obstruction of Good Things

Norfolk Southern CEO Says He’s Committed to Safety—While Another Train Derails

In the first hearing on the East Palestine train derailment, Bernie Sanders grilled the executive, who mostly avoided specific promises.

Alan Shaw pulls out his chair to sit down.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Alan Shaw, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern Corporation, arrives to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on March 9.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw told senators Thursday morning that his company is doing “what’s best” for the community of East Palestine in the wake of a disastrous train derailment. Shortly before he began speaking about the company’s renewed commitments to rail safety, another Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama.

The morning’s proceedings were the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s first hearing on the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train last month that has left people sick, animals dying, and residents wondering if it’s still safe to remain in the place they’ve lived in for generations.

Committee members spent much of their time grilling Shaw on questions ranging from how much support the company will pledge to the community to what it will do to lead the industry away from the kinds of practices that have resulted in disasters like those in East Palestine. Over and over, Shaw promised company support to those affected; over and over, he also demurred on the nitty-gritty questions about exactly how far companies will go to make railroads safer for both workers and the public.

The hearing began with opening remarks from Senators Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey Jr., and J.D. Vance. Casey challenged Shaw to support his bipartisan rail safety bill, which, among other things, calls for stronger safety standards for all trains carrying hazardous materials, expands those standards to trains not deemed “high-hazard,” and calls for a minimum of two-person crews on freight trains.

Brown echoed this suggestion and criticized Norfolk Southern’s adoption of the industry-wide, Wall Street–blessed, precision-scheduled railroading, or PSR, practices.

Precision-scheduled railroading is essentially a series of cost-saving measures, in the name of which rail companies have cut jobs and consolidated dispatch centers, making trains less safe, as fewer workers have less time to manage bigger trains.

Vance was a bit more idiosyncratic with his remarks. On one hand, the senator who likes to position himself as the sage of working-class America denounced some of his Republican colleagues “who seem to think that any public safety enhancements for the rail industry [are] somehow a violation of the free market.” Vance suggested the industry’s exclusive subsidies are already intervening in the free market. “Do we do the bidding of a massive industry that is embedded with big government, or do we do the bidding of the people who elected us to the Senate into the Congress in the first place?” Vance challenged.

On the other hand, Vance still maintained that it wasn’t simply deregulation bought by corporate greed that has led to these disasters. Vance claimed there was a slow response to the crisis in Ohio “because a certain segment of our leadership feels like the people of East Palestine are a little out of style. They have their own politics. They’re a little too rural, maybe a little too white.”

Shaw responded favorably to the idea of reforms but did not explicitly say he supports the entire bipartisan rail safety bill. Throughout the hearing, Shaw repeatedly claimed that Norfolk Southern has a “culture of safety”—one he commits to making better, by working with others to learn from the East Palestine derailment.

For her part, Senator Debbie Stabenow pointed out that at least 20 derailed Norfolk Southern trains had chemical releases; she questioned how Norfolk Southern would be “learning” from this instance if they hadn’t seemed to learn from the previous 20. “I don’t want number 21 in Michigan, or anywhere else for that matter,” she said.

On broader industry trends, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse described how much money the industry has pumped into lobbying for weaker regulation. Whitehouse focused specifically on the industry fighting against the implementation of updated electronic brakes, as opposed to the Civil War–era brakes generally used on freight trains now.

Senator Bernie Sanders asked Shaw point-blank whether the CEO would commit to leading an industry-wide charge to stop the practice of profit-chasing, job-cutting PSR. Shaw insisted the company was on a “hiring spree,” but Sanders pressed, countering that the company was just recouping from previous layoffs. Shaw declined to answer directly, instead saying that he “charted a new course in the industry,” by moving “away from a near-term focus solely on profits” and taking a “longer-term view,” with regard to its workers.

Sanders then brought up paid sick leave, which is still not guaranteed to all rail workers (though companies including Norfolk Southern have begun giving some workers paid sick days, ostensibly to stave off further regulation).

“Senator, I share your focus on our employees. I will commit to continuing to discuss with them important quality of life issues with our local craft colleagues,” Shaw said.

“With all due respect, you sound like a politician,” Sanders responded. “Paid sick days is not a radical concept in the year 2023. I am not hearing you make that commitment to guarantee that to all of your workers. Will you make that commitment, sir?”

Shaw repeated that he would speak to employees about “quality of life issues that are important to them.”

Iowa and Arkansas Hop on the Extremist GOP Bandwagon to Criminalize Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Kids

Republican legislators claim they’re protecting children. Meanwhile, they’re also passing bills to loosen child labor laws.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Iowa and Arkansas are the latest red states to pass bills cracking down on gender-affirming care for minors. Both bills are expected to become law.

The Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would prohibit doctors from giving puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or gender-affirming surgeries to people under age 18. Five Republican lawmakers broke ranks to vote against the bill with Democrats. The measure had passed the Senate along party lines the night before. It now moves to Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, who is expected to sign it into law.

In Arkansas, the House passed a medical malpractice bill that would make it easier for people to sue doctors who give gender-affirming care to minors. Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said she supports the measure.

The bills are part of a much larger wave of state-level legislation targeting LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people. Also in Iowa this week, the Senate passed a bill that would prohibit transgender kids from using the school bathroom that does not match their sex at birth; and the state House passed a bill Wednesday that bans teaching kids about gender identity or sexual orientation until sixth grade.

The most common argument from lawmakers who support such bills is that they are looking out for the best interests of children. “Children should not be pushed to receive experimental medical treatments that can leave them permanently sterile and physically marred for life,” Iowa Senator Jeff Edler said when debating the gender-affirming care bill, citing false information.

“The governor has said that she supports bills that protect our kids and will support legislation like this that does just that,” a spokeswoman for Sanders told the Associated Press. “Only in the far-left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children.”

Both states have also introduced legislation easing child labor protection laws. On Tuesday, Sanders signed a law rolling back her state’s only oversight mechanism for child labor. In Iowa, Republicans unveiled a bill in February that would allow teenagers to work in previously prohibited jobs, such as in slaughterhouses or meatpacking plants, or operating heavy machinery.

While that proposed law could endanger teenagers, gender-affirming care can be lifesaving for LGBTQ minors. A study published in January in the New England Journal of Medicine found that trans and nonbinary teens who receive gender-affirming care have significantly less depression and anxiety than before treatment.

The Human Rights Campaign and ACLU urged the states’ governors not to sign the bills. Iowa’s “heartless legislation puts craven politics ahead of the health and safety of young people, and should strike fear in the hearts of parents” throughout the state, said Cathryn Oakley, the HRC’s state legislative director.

The ACLU also slammed the Arkansas state legislature. “By choosing to ignore the voices of those who are most directly impacted by this legislation, Arkansas politicians are sending a clear message that they value political posturing over the health and wellbeing of their constituents,” the group said.

A List of Every Senate Democrat Who Voted With Republicans to Overrule D.C.’s Criminal Reforms

Thirty-one Democrats (and two independents who caucus with the Democrats) joined Republicans in subverting the will of the District’s voters.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Thanks for nothing, Jon Ossoff

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 81–14 to overturn the District of Columbia’s criminal codes, subverting many months of work that residents and officials invested to update laws that haven’t been dusted off in over 100 years.

It was all part of a right-wing charade against D.C.’s autonomy and fearmongering against even modest criminal justice reform. One D.C. resident described it as a “slap in the face.” Here’s every Senate Democrat and independent who joined Republicans in that slap:

  • Tammy Baldwin
  • Michael Bennet
  • Richard Blumenthal
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Maria Cantwell
  • Bob Casey Jr.
  • Chris Coons
  • Catherine Cortez Masto
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Maggie Hassan
  • Martin Heinrich
  • John Hickenlooper
  • Tim Kaine
  • Mark Kelly
  • Angus King
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Ben Ray Luján
  • Joe Manchin
  • Bob Menendez
  • Patty Murray
  • Jon Ossoff
  • Alex Padilla
  • Gary Peters
  • Jacky Rosen
  • Brian Schatz
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Jeanne Shaheen
  • Kyrsten Sinema
  • Tina Smith
  • Debbie Stabenow
  • Jon Tester
  • Mark Warner
  • Ron Wyden

Thirteen Democrats plus Bernie Sanders voted “nay.” Raphael Warnock voted “present,” while Senators Tom Carper, Dianne Feinstein, and John Fetterman did not vote.

Congrats to Joe Biden and the Democrats for Helping Republicans Kill D.C.’s Crime Law

The Senate voted to repeal the D.C. law, as Democrats caved to a dishonest fearmongering campaign led by conservatives.

Joe Biden
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 81–14 to overturn D.C.’s criminal code reforms, subverting months of work that residents and officials invested to update codes that haven’t been dusted off in over 100 years.

The vote signals the official death of D.C.’s proposed criminal code updates. Local officials will have to continue using archaic codes until the D.C. City Council can pass new ones that again have to be approved by the federal government.

The House voted last month to block both the updated criminal codes and another bill that would have extended voting rights to noncitizens in D.C. (An estimated 7 percent of D.C. residents are noncitizens of some form.) It did so with the help of 31 Democrats, including Elissa Slotkin, the party’s heir-apparent Senate candidate in Michigan, and lone anti-abortion Democrat Henry Cuellar.

Inspired by the moderate wing of his party, President Joe Biden announced last week his own support for joining the right-wing campaign against D.C.’s duly owed autonomy. Though Biden called “denial of self-governance” in Washington, D.C., “an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded,” in April 2021, he announced last week that “if the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did–I’ll sign it.”

He cited only one specific change, “lowering penalties for carjackings,” as a cause for concern. In reality, the bill updated an obsolete and unusual 40-year maximum sentence for carjacking to a more realistic 24-year maximum (still higher than most actual sentences).

With the Senate now joining the House in the rejection, and Biden presumably set to finish the task, the rule of a government overseeing 700,000 residents has been wholly subverted by the federal government. Not only is this a complete federal takeover of local government rule (one that seldom happens in any other community in America), but it also was one spurred forward by a dishonest fearmongering campaign propelled by conservatives.

The bill was approved unanimously by the D.C. City Council. It then voted 12–1 to override Mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto of it (she had said she approved 95 percent of the bill anyhow). And the reforms did not haphazardly reduce criminal sentences. The council tasked with updating the code (staffed by legal experts, including representatives from the D.C. attorney general’s and U.S. attorney’s offices) used data from a decade’s worth of cases to align the code with the kinds of penalties judges were already sentencing people to.

The bill also updated the court’s ability to stack offenses like building blocks. Though maximum sentences for various stand-alone offenses might’ve gone down (often because the existing ones were outdatedly high), the new codes defined many more offenses, and degrees of them, enabling courts to put together more proportional and logical sentences. For instance, in cases related to carjackings that also have a violent component, court sentences would more accurately reflect each characteristic of the crime.

The D.C. City Council was simply dusting off old codes and making them more efficient for courts. The updates didn’t even embody the larger shift of resources from overpolicing to community investment actually needed to start making the public safer. But moderate Democrats joined the right-wing charade anyway. Predictably, Democrats are getting no reward from Republicans for playing along; in her remarks today advocating to overturn D.C.’s reforms, Senator Joni Ernst displayed a sign that read “Life in Biden’s America,” depicting a crime scene with a chalk outline, yellow tape and all. Moderate Democrats, led by Biden, betrayed their supposed principles just to embarrassingly lose the politics of it all too.

Ohio Senate Passes Bill Loosening Child Labor Protections

The bill is likely to become law, as Republicans control the Ohio Senate, House, and governorship.

Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday loosening labor protections for minors, a measure that is likely to become law as Republicans also control the state House and governor’s office.

The bill, which passed 25-7 along party lines, would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work until 9:00 pm any time of the year if they have permission from their legal guardian. Current law prohibits kids under the age of 16 from working between those hours during the school year.

The bill would still limit kids under age 16 from working more than three hours a day on a school day and for more than 18 hours a week during the school year.

Republican backers of the bill argued that the measure would help tackle the workforce shortage seen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as teach teenagers work ethic.

But Democrats argued that letting kids work wouldn’t address the root of the problem. Senator Kent Smith noted that two million people retired due to the pandemic and have not rejoined the workforce.

Instead, he said, lawmakers should focus on addressing the shortage of child care workers. More than half of the country without access to child care after child care workers quit en masse during the pandemic, according to the Center for American Progress.

“Twenty percent of stay-at-home mothers would enter the workforce if they had child care assistance,” Smith said. “That’s where we need to be targeting our workforce shortage.”

Ohio’s bill comes at a time when U.S. labor protections for minors are at a high-stakes crossroads. On Tuesday night, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a measure that rolls back child labor protections. The new law eliminates one of the state’s only means of oversight for child labor.

Sanders’s easing of child work protections also comes shortly after states including Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Hampshire introduced bills that would roll back child labor protections.

But all of these measures have come alongside a shocking New York Times investigation into a “shadow work force” of migrant children “across industries in every state,” working dangerous jobs that violate existing child labor protections.

The report has outraged labor activists and lawmakers, but apparently that hasn’t stopped state-level politicians from making it easier for children to end up in those roles.

Republican Congressman Mike Collins Blames Diversity for Norfolk Southern Train Derailments

The representative from Georgia believes diversity, equity, and inclusion is the real reason for the train derailments.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Republican Representative Mike Collins of Georgia’s 10th congressional district found the real reason for the disastrous train derailments happening across the country. It’s not the massive railroad companies throwing hundreds of millions into lobbying politicians, presidents who deregulated the railroad industry, or politicians who imposed corporate friendly contracts on already overworked rail workers. No, Collins suspects the real culprit is diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“After seeing another Norfolk Southern train derailed this weekend, I was reminded of the fact that the company wrote to shareholders stating that it is focused on DEI,” Collins said on the House floor. “This administration’s focus on DEI is forcing private companies to rethink their goals and one has to wonder, was Norfolk Southern’s DEI policies directing resources away from the important things like greasing wheel bearings? Now this insanity must stop.”

Using his precious taxpayer-funded time on the floor of the nation’s Capitol to spew nonsense, Collins seemed, like most conservatives, completely unconcerned with how things actually go wrong in the railroad industry. This is not revelatory, particularly given this outcome is exactly what conservative governance aims for: corporate friendly deregulation that prioritizes profits over the actual welfare or material outcomes for impacted people (workers, residents suffering from derailments, all taxpayers whose money funds a government that allows it all to keep happening).

But it’s worth taking a closer look at Collins’s personal record.

A freshman Republican in Congress, Collins has studiously avoided any mention of the influence of corporations in politics when he talks about the rail industry. Perhaps because of his own history. About 72 percent of his 2022 campaign fundraising came from large individual contributions and 12 percent from PAC contributions. He also pulled $531,000 from his own wallet, after he had received a now-forgiven PPP loan of $920,000.

Collins also wrote a Fox op-ed last month blaming “wokeness” at the Department of Transportation for its response to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. While there are some legitimate concerns with the department’s response, wokeness isn’t one of them. In the op-ed, Collins lauded the “private sector” for its ability to “solve challenges,” ignoring that if there are over 1,000 train derailments every year, the private sector doesn’t really do this.

Collins leaned on his experience running a trucking company for over 30 years to preach about the private sector’s primacy anyhow. A review of Department of Transportation records showed that nearly 30 percent of Collins’s company trucks inspected in the last two years were deemed to be “out of service” and not authorized to operate. That’s higher than an already high national average of 22.1 percent.

In noninfrastructure news, Collins also recently hired veteran Republican operative and serial criminal Brandon Phillips to be his chief of staff.

Phillips was arrested in November 2022 for kicking a dog with his boot, cutting the animal’s stomach. He received one misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty and was held on a $1,200 bond, which he posted to get released.

In 2016, Phillips resigned from the Trump campaign after more parts of his history were revealed. In 2008, Phillips attacked a man, slashed his tires, and threw a woman’s laptop.

Phillips was said to have caused “visible bodily harm” and “cuts and bruises to the head and torso” of the male victim. He was arrested on charges of battery and felony criminal damage; before going to trial, Phillips pleaded guilty to lesser charges of criminal trespassing and battery. He was sentenced to three years of probation, 50 hours of community service, and a $1,567 fine, but Phillips got off with a year of probation after early release. That same year, Phillips allegedly pointed a gun at a woman. He was arrested on one charge of simple assault and battery, but the charges were dropped after Phillips completed pre-trial counseling.

Amid Tucker Carlson’s campaign to whitewash the violent January 6 riots, Collins, who seems to be a benefactor of lenience from the criminal justice system, has also demanded the release of January 6 attackers.

One could suggest Collins stay in his lane—whether it be trucking, or getting elected off of tons of corporate cash—but it seems like he ought not to be trusted in those ones either.

Eleanor Holmes Norton Has Some Words for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party on D.C.’s Crime Bill

The Washington, D.C., delegate to Congress has had enough.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for SEIU

Washington, D.C., Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton had some choice words for Joe Biden and her fellow Democrats Wednesday, hours before the Senate was set to vote on a motion to block changes to the city’s criminal code.

Republicans have led a successful fearmongering campaign against the overhaul of D.C.’s criminal code, which would provide badly needed updates to local legislation. Many Democrats have said they will vote alongside Republicans, and Biden said he won’t veto their efforts, denying the national capital the right to self-governance.

“Shame on him!” Norton said of Biden at a protest against the Republican disapproval resolution. “You either support D.C. home rule or you don’t. There are no exceptions, and there is no middle ground.”

About 200 people braved the cold to gather outside Union Station, just blocks away from the Capitol building. They beat bucket drums and danced to gogo music, both classic and historic D.C. sounds.

“What is happening in Congress is undemocratic,” Norton charged. “None of the 435 voting members of Congress were elected by D.C. residents; none of them are accountable to D.C. residents. Yet if they vote in favor of the disapproval resolution … they will choose to govern D.C. without its consent.”

She also warned that if the bill passes and Biden signs it, the win could “embolden Republicans to interfere in D.C.’s local affairs.”

“Just let ’em try!” she challenged.

Nearly 700,000 people live in the nation’s capital, most of them Black or brown. They do not have a voting member of Congress, and the federal government has the right to override policy decisions made by the D.C. City Council. If the disapproval measure passes, it will be the first time Congress has used that right in 30 years.

Tori Otten/The New Republic

Biden has come under particular fire because he has been a vocal supporter of D.C.’s right to self-governance in the past. His announcement last week that he would not veto the disapproval measure if it came to his desk was seen as a massive betrayal.

Other protesters were equally frustrated with Biden and Congress. “Our autonomy is under attack,” Fari Gahmina Tumpe, 58, a community organizer, told The New Republic. “Not only do we deserve the right to have a voting seat at the table, but we also deserve the right to make our own laws and govern ourselves.”

Kesh Ladduwahetty, 59, a graphic designer, told TNR she was “just so angry.”

“I’m angry because our country talks so big about democracy,” Ladduwahetty, who has worked with states advocating for D.C. statehood for a decade, said. “This was a reasonable … law that we passed. It was a thoughtfully done thing, and it was done democratically. And now it’s being stamped on for purely political reasons.”

“We thought we were making such progress, and this has been such a slap in the face.”

Fox News Admitted It Entered an “Existential Crisis” After Trump Lost the 2020 Election

New documents in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit shed further light on what Fox News hosts and executives were really thinking as they spread conspiracy theories.

A billboard truck with Tucker Carlson's head and a quote that reads "What [Trump's] good at is destroying things. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong." Nov. 5, 2020
Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty Images
A billboard truck seen outside Fox News HQ

Fox News hosts and executives never believed the conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that they were spreading, new documents released in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against the network revealed.

But as one Fox executive put it, the network entered an “existential crisis” after Donald Trump’s loss.

Dominion sued Fox News Networks and parent company Fox Corp in 2021 for $1.6 billion, accusing the television network of spreading lies that Dominion machines were used to rig the 2020 election against Trump.

Dominion released another batch of documents Tuesday night that gave further proof to the fact that Fox News hosts and owner Rupert Murdoch all knew the election wasn’t fraudulent, even as they continued to spread conspiracies on air.

Just two days before January 6, Fox host Tucker Carlson texted someone about Trump’s time in office. “We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest,” he said. “But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.”

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait,” Carlson texted, adding, “I hate him passionately.”

Carlson also could “easily destroy” Fox News if they weren’t careful. The host, who has previously boasted of his close relationship with Trump, also said that all of the former president’s business ventures fail and that Trump was only good at “destroying things.”

Murdoch knew the conspiracies Trump spread were lies, as shown by a previously released excerpt of his deposition. But the new documents include more parts of his January deposition, during which he was repeatedly asked about the voting conspiracies being pushed on Fox News.

Murdoch rejected all of the conspiracies, admitting he had “never seen” any effort by Dominion to rig the election against Trump. Still, he spent all of election night hoping Trump would win and allowed his star hosts to go on air and lie when the election didn’t turn out how they wanted.

Maria Bartiromo doubled down on the election conspiracies. Text messages she sent to former Trump advisor and white nationalist Steve Bannon revealed she refused to refer to Joe Biden as the president-elect.

“I want to see massive fraud exposed,” she said. “I told my team we are not allowed to say pres elect at [all]. Not in scripts or in banners on air.”

These latest documents were released the day after Carlson showed a sanitized, cherry-picked version of what happened at the Capitol during the January 6 riot, a move that even some Republican lawmakers condemned. Even after the filings came out, Carlson used his show on Tuesday night to spread his narrative that the January 6 attack wasn’t actually that serious.

Fox News has repeatedly argued that its post-2020 election coverage was newsworthy and thus protected by the First Amendment. After Dominion released the documents Tuesday night, Fox accused the company of “distortions and misinformation in their PR campaign to smear Fox News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press. We already know they will say and do anything to try to win this case, but to twist and even misattribute quotes to the highest levels of our company is truly beyond the pale.”

Someone has distorted facts and misinformed the public. But it’s not Dominion.