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Biden Vetoes Anti-ESG Bill, Accomplishing the Barest of Minimums for Climate Change

The president nixes GOP legislation that would have thrown a barrier between investors and their money managers.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

On Monday, Biden issued his first veto since taking office, shutting down a narrowly passed Republican bill that would have stopped the administration from simply encouraging money managers to consider climate change when making investment decisions for their clients.

Biden’s Department of Labor issued a rule toward money managers, stating they could weigh climate change and other environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, factors as they handled retirement investment portfolios. Biden’s rule overturned a rule made under Trump that limited the ability of managers to consider such factors; Biden’s rule, while encouraging managers to consider ESG, still mandates that managers operate in the best interest of clients. So the rule at its core was just a suggestion—a directive that the government welcomes even the appearance of capital being directed toward more ethical destinations so long as fiduciary obligations to investors are met.

Republicans, buttressed by their cause to include everything that remotely seems related to racial, social, or environmental justice in their broader war on “wokeness,” have since attached ESG to their broader onslaught on what they oxymoronically refer to as “woke capitalism.” The House voted 216–204 to roll back the rule, and Democrats Joe Manchin and Jon Tester subsequently joined Senate Republicans to pass the adjoined Senate resolution to overturn the rule.

Biden’s veto comes on the same day that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released its report issuing a warning about the world being on the final brink of a point of no return in locking in a too-high global temperature increase. One of the myriad solutions the IPCC noted was a redirection of capital from fossil fuels to climate mitigation and environmental protection.

At the same time, it’s worth noting that “sustainable investing” is not even close to what’s needed to address climate catastrophe. The practice, at best, redirects funds that would’ve gone to fossil fuel firms and the like, potentially paving the way for consequential innovation that might help green the economy. It is perhaps more realistic to refer to the practice as a marketing tool—a flimsy label companies can use to greenwash their practices. So while the Republican onslaught against ESG could be seen as conservatives not even wanting the bare minimum in taking on climate change, their actions can also be viewed as a means of hyperfixating on a relatively inconsequential solution to climate change in order to distract from the deeper debates over climate mitigation, as well as the tougher policy choices that need to be made.

Missouri Becomes Latest State to Attempt a Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

The state’s attorney general pulled the trigger on an emergency order despite the fact that the legislature is currently debating a bill.

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Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey

The Attorney General of Missouri issued an emergency regulation Monday banning gender-affirming care for minors, skipping over the legislative process in a massive power grab.

The Missouri state legislature is already considering a bill that would ban certain medical procedures, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, for transgender Missourians under the age of 18. Monday’s emergency regulation by Attorney General Andrew Bailey would effectively ban such care until the bill passes or fails.

The regulation claims that “because gender transition interventions are experimental, they are covered by existing Missouri law governing unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable business practices, including in administering healthcare services.”

The measure requires an 18-month waiting period before starting care, during which potential patients must be screened for “mental health comorbidities” and autism. The text also describes questions about gender identity as a “social contagion,” the idea being that young people are only questioning their identities because they see other people do it, not because they might have an authentic reason to do so.

“As Attorney General, I will protect children and enforce the laws as written,” Bailey said in a statement. “I am dedicated to using every legal tool at my disposal to stand in the gap and protect children from being subject to inhumane science experiments.”

The cruel irony, of course, is that providing gender-affirming care to trans and nonbinary teenagers decreases the amount of depression and anxiety they feel. It also makes them less likely to consider suicide. Moreover, targeting LGBTQ people through legislation, as many Republicans are doing across the country, only demonizes the community and puts them at an increased risk of violence.

Reporter and trans rights activist Erin Reed slammed Bailey’s measure as a “power grab,” and pointed out that many mental health issues could be solved simply by providing gender-affirming care.

Howard Schultz Will Step Down From Starbucks to Spend Less Time Getting Owned by Union Organizers

His decision to end his third stint running the coffee chain comes days before he is expected to testify before a Senate committee.

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz drinks an espresso.

Turns out the third time is not the charm for Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who announced Monday that he was stepping down two weeks early from the helm of the coffee chain.

Schultz began serving his third term as Starbucks chief last April and was due to finish on April 1, 2023. He had served as the company’s CEO twice before, from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 until 2017. He briefly flirted with the idea of running for president before returning to Starbucks for what he said would be his last time.

Schultz spent the majority of his most recent tenure trying to thwart Starbucks’s nascent union organizing drive and attempting to pivot to non-fungible tokens several months after everybody else. His announcement also comes a little more than a week before he was due to appear in front of a key Senate labor committee.

“As I turn Starbucks over to you now, know that you have my utmost confidence, trust and love. You are all the future of Starbucks,” Schultz said in an open letter to the company’s other leaders.

“The world needs Starbucks—and Starbucks needs all of you,” he added, which is an objectively weird thing to say about a coffee company.

Schultz had come under intense scrutiny during his third stint as CEO for alleged union-busting tactics. At least 420 Starbucks locations nationwide have launched unionization efforts, 285 of which were successful. Another 40 elections are ongoing.

Over the past year, Starbucks has shuttered multiple locations, some of which were either unionized or reportedly forming a union. The company fired more than 100 union leaders, some of whom were reinstated only after a federal judge ordered Starbucks to do so. And when Starbucks representatives finally met with union members in October, after months of delays, they walked out after just a few minutes because they disliked that some union members had called in over Zoom.

Senator Bernie Sanders called earlier this month for the chamber’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which he chairs, to vote to subpoena Schultz over the union-busting allegations.

“The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed over 75 complaints against Starbucks for violating federal labor law and there have been over 500 unfair labor practice charges lodged against his company,” Sanders said in a statement at the time.

“A multi-billion dollar corporation like Starbucks cannot continue to break federal labor law with impunity.”

Schultz agreed to testify less than a week later, before the vote was held. He will still have to appear in front of the committee, even though he is no longer Starbucks’s CEO.

Days After Biden Approves Willow, IPCC Says That Current Fossil Fuel Production Will Doom Us All

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

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On the two-decade mark since America’s invasion into Iraq, the fate of scores of people are yet again subject to whether liars, cheaters, and profiteers will win the day.

With regard to the future of our planet, we’re running out of time, but not options, to ameliorate the climate crisis, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, in their latest report released Monday.

The report is the result of over six years of work done by thousands of scientists and experts to holistically understand both the challenges posed by the climate emergency, as well as our remaining capacity to address that challenge—and maybe even leave the world a little better off.

In 2018, thousands of scientists worldwide worked with the IPCC to warn about the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. The effort was geared toward elucidating what kind of catastrophe threatened ourselves and future generations, and how we could accomplish limiting the damage, if not forestalling it completely. Now, five years later, the IPCC warns it is “likely” that warming will exceed that limit; projected emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure without any wind down will push us over the edge. If it often feels like we’re being constantly warned that “we need to change now before it’s too late,” or “it’s almost too late,” well, the IPCC is now officially telling us: “We are on the final brink of being too late.”

According to the report, multiple points of inquiry suggest that mitigation policies have led to observable reductions in “global emissions.” That is to say, the science is pretty straightforward: Take things seriously, and emissions will indeed go down. It’s the type of rudimentary beauty of science that Bill Nye would applaud.

Instead of heeding this basic guidance, or coming to terms with the fact that we literally cannot afford to build up any more fossil fuel–spewing operations, the United States—from which many other nations will get their example on how to pursue climate mitigation—just approved Willow, a massive Alaska oil-drilling project that will produce the equivalent of roughly two million cars’ worth of carbon pollution every year. President Joe Biden’s approval of the project breaks explicit promises he made for no more drilling and impresses no one except fossil fuel executives who will likely use their considerable wealth to flout the Biden administration.

What’s especially mind-boggling (in an appreciative of human ingenuity kind of way, but also a sort of maddening shock at how unseriously we’re taking climate change) is that we have all the technological and strategic tools at our disposal to accomplish the needed climate mitigation.

But so much of what rules everything around us—that is to say: cash—incentivizes the further extraction of fossil fuels in spite of the science that explicitly demonstrates that this is little more than a profit-motivated death drive. The IPCC found that public and private finance still flows much more into fossil fuels than into climate adaptation or mitigation; so we’re literally subsidizing fossil fuel executives making out like bandits while they destroy our planet.

Ultimately, the IPCC report tells us, citizens of this beautiful planet, that there are choices we collectively can make to take care of one another—so long as the worst interests above us don’t get to keep dictating our lives. The approval of Willow may feel discouraging, but there are also scores of people even now still fighting against it. As Mr. Rogers reminds us, when we see scary things in the news, we ought to look for the helpers. And helpers indeed are more abundant than the culprits of all the scary news: It’s high time—and perhaps the only time left—for us to know and embrace that fact.

Undercover Officers Were Sent to Investigate a Drag Show in Orlando, for Some Reason

Agents in attendance saw nothing lewd to report. The state is trying to punish the venue anyway, amid Gov. Ron DeSantis’s anti-LGBTQ crackdown.

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Undercover Florida state agents attended a Christmastime drag show in Orlando to prove that children were being exposed to obscene performances—only to report back that no such thing occurred.

The agents were part of the packed crowd who watched A Drag Queen Christmas at the Plaza Live theater in Orlando on December 28. They recorded the performance on state-issued phones and took pictures of the crowd. Only three minors were in attendance, all accompanied by adults. The agents subsequently reported that nothing indecent had happened during the show, The Miami Herald reported Monday.

“Besides some of the outfits being provocative (bikinis and short shorts), agents did not witness any lewd acts such as exposure of genital organs,” the agents’ report said.

But in February, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed a complaint against the nonprofit that runs Plaza Live, accusing the venue of exposing children to sexual content. The complaint seeks to strip the theater of its liquor license, a move that could put it out of business.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been pushing an anti-LGBTQ agenda as he positions himself for what’s anticipated to be a presidential run, had previously warned any venues that hosted the touring show A Drag Queen Christmas that his administration would seek legal action against them. He has also mentioned the possibility of having child protective services investigate parents who take their children to drag shows. A Drag Queen Christmas required individuals under the age of 18 to be accompanied by an adult in order to attend.

DeSantis has also moved to strip the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation and the Hyatt Regency in Miami of their liquor licenses for allegedly allowing children to attend the drag show. The complaint against the Hyatt Regency did not provide any evidence that minors had been in attendance other than one blurry photograph of a person’s face.

Former Florida Democratic legislator Carlos Guillermo Smith told the Herald the agents’ report proves the “moral panic” about drag shows is a “hoax.”

“What you see here is the governor sending in investigators and then dismissing what the investigators have to say because it doesn’t fit into his narrative,” Guillermo Smith said. He noted that the state doesn’t regulate what movies parents show their children.

“It’s more evidence that all of this … is contrived, it’s politically motivated,” he said. “And it’s not about protecting children. It’s part of an ongoing effort to marginalize LGBT people and their allies.”

DeSantis has declared war on anything he deems to be “woke,” particularly LGBTQ rights. He enacted the state’s famous “Don’t Say Gay” law, banned transgender women from playing women’s sports, and vowed to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses.

He is also part of a larger trend of Republicans demonizing drag queens and trans people. Many on the right say that attacking the LGBTQ community is a means to protect children, but their actions actually put people—including children—at an increased risk of violence.

Trump Is Handling His Potential Indictment With His Typical Sagacity and Grace

New York City officials brace for chaos this week as the former president tries to whip his supporters into a frenzy.

A close-up of President Donald Trump, pointing in the distance.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Gird your loins: Former President Donald Trump hasn’t even been indicted yet, but this week is already shaping up to be chaotic.

Trump predicted over the weekend that he will be indicted Tuesday by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying adult film star Stormy Daniels hush money during his 2016 presidential campaign. He urged his followers on Truth Social to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

New York Police Department officials and officers for the Criminal Courts Building in Manhattan began preparing as early as last week for a possible indictment and arraignment, The New York Times reported. On Sunday, police officials and two public safety aides from the mayor’s office met to discuss security plans in the event of protests.

It’s unclear how many Trump supporters will actually take to the streets on his behalf this time around—though there is an obvious precedent for concern: In 2021, when Trump urged his followers to attend a rally in Washington on January 6, the enormous mob ended up storming the U.S. Capitol.

This time, however, even his staunchest supporters have been more subdued. There have been some calls to action, with the New York Young Republican Club saying it will hold a “peaceful protest” Monday evening in Manhattan. Other groups have urged people to protest outside Mar-a-Lago, creating a protective barrier against any authorities who might arrive to arrest Trump. And there have been some calls online for violence against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is coordinating increased security for himself and one of his top aides.

But the nearly 1,000 arrests made since January 6 seem to have turned off many people from similar unruliness. Those arrested in connection with the January 6 riot have incurred heavy legal fees, and many say that they feel Trump abandoned them. Their experience has likely made more people wary of turning out en masse to face off against law enforcement at the former president’s behest.

Even Ali Alexander, an organizer of the “Stop the Steal” movement that propagated Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged, warned the former president’s supporters to stay away from New York City.

“You have no liberty or rights there,” he tweeted. “You will be jailed or worse.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a big-time Trump toady, has also discouraged protests. “I don’t think people should protest this, no,” McCarthy told reporters Sunday. “We want calmness out there.”

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, another die-hard Trump loyalist, seemed to imply that protests would do no good. “How many Feds/Fed assets are in place to turn protest against the political arrest of Pres Trump into violence?” she tweeted Sunday, spreading a conspiracy theory that the January 6 riot was fueled or set up by undercover law enforcement informants.

Other Trump supporters have cited this conspiracy as a reason to stay away from a potential New York demonstration.

But Greene and other Republicans are still backing Trump. House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and other GOP leaders are preparing to demand that members of Bragg’s office testify before Congress, Politico reported. Green also called for Bragg to testify, insisting the charges against Trump were “fake” and intended to be “used in Democrat ads.”

Trump will likely keep track of who supports him through the indictment—and wield that on the campaign trail, if he’s able to get there. Over the weekend, members of his inner circle attacked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered the favorite to take on Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, for not immediately denouncing the indictment.

Pro-Trump radio host John Fredericks tweeted at DeSantis: “You have to choose between your Wall Street gangster-bankster big donor hedge fund open border benefactors—or us.”

On Truth Social, Donald Trump Jr. told people to “pay attention to which Republicans spoke out against this corrupt BS immediately and who sat on their hands and waited to see which way the wind was blowing.”

DeSantis claimed Monday that Bragg was unfairly weaponizing his office against Trump. But the burgeoning purity test is a further sign of divisions in the Republican Party, as lawmakers struggle to choose between DeSantis and Trump.

Uvalde Cops Admit AR-15 Scared Them From Saving Children

Republicans have consistently downplayed the dangers of the weapon that police fear the most.

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“You knew that it was definitely an AR. There was no way of going in.… We had no choice but to wait and try to get something that had better coverage where we could actually stand up to him.” This is what Uvalde Police Department Sergeant Donald Page admitted in an interview with investigators after the elementary school shooting that upended the community of Uvalde, Texas.

Last May, an 18-year-old, after shooting his grandmother in the face, infiltrated Robb Elementary in Uvalde, killing 19 kids and two teachers, leaving another 17 injured.

The police response has been criticized as being substantially liable for many of those deaths. Now Texas Tribune reporting reveals that one reason that there was so much maddening footage of the police officers’ inaction, as well as accounts of officers standing around, twiddling their thumbs, and even stopping other parents from taking action in their stead was because the officers themselves were fearful of the shooter’s AR-15.

“We weren’t equipped to make entry into that room without several casualties,” Uvalde Police Department Detective Louis Landry admitted in another investigation interview. “Once we found out it was a rifle he was using, it was a different game plan we would have had to come up with. It wasn’t just going in guns blazing, the Old West style, and take him out.”

The alternative to “the Old West style,” as the world saw, was nearly 400 law enforcement officers responding to a scene that let the shooter roam through the school halls for over an hour and 10 minutes, leading to the third-deadliest school shooting in America.

The Tribune notes that such hesitation in the face of an AR-15 had led police in other shootings—including at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando—to respond less quickly.

Republicans, both in Texas and nationally, have opposed banning or further regulating weapons like the AR-15—even now as police officers themselves admit how dangerous the weapons are. Governor Greg Abbott derided even raising the minimum age to buy assault-style rifles from 18 to 21 years old as “unconstitutional.” Meanwhile, gun trade shows are blithely promoting guns like the “JR-15,” as on-ramp weapons for elementary-aged children.

Naturally, the debate over these weapons should not have progressed to the point where we’re learning something as obvious as: “Look, even the cops understand how petrifying these murder machines are.” If our governing structures were actually responsive to the concerns and fears of the people, one mass shooting would have been enough. The ruthless taking of innocent people—at a mall, the movies, school, the grocery store—should’ve been enough to bring some sort of change.

“(Police) knew the monster behind the door was not the kid. It’s the rifle the kid is holding,” said Jesse Rizo, who lost her 9-year-old niece Jackie Cazares in the shooting. “It’s the freaking AR that they’re afraid of.… Their training doesn’t say sit back and wait.”

If nothing else, the tapes revealed by the Tribune point to a matter of larger importance: Stronger gun regulation would protect police officers (and maybe also make them less reactionary-minded, not having to treat everyone as an existential threat), just as much it would help keep everyone else safer.

Capitol Police Had No Idea Republicans Were Giving January 6 Footage to Tucker Carlson

Repeated requests to review the footage were ignored.

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Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

The Capitol Police were blindsided by Republicans’ decision to give security footage of the January 6 attack to Tucker Carlson, the department’s lawyer said Friday. Moreover, Capitol Police’s repeated requests to review the footage before it was released were ignored.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has come under fire for giving Carlson exclusive access to 41,000 hours of security footage from the 24 hours surrounding the insurrection. The Fox News host has used cherry-picked videos to completely sanitize the events of January 6, despite knowing full well himself what actually happened.

The footage “was not previewed with the Capitol Police nor was the Capitol Police informed before that access was granted,” CPD general counsel Thomas DeBiaise said in a sworn affidavit filed Friday.

“Of the numerous clips shown during the Tucker Carlson show on March 6 and 7, 2023, I was shown only one clip before it aired,” DeBiaise said. “The other approximately 40 clips … were never shown to me nor anyone else from the Capitol Police.”

DeBiaise also noted that the police force learned Carlson had gained access to the footage through media reports, not from House Republicans directly.

Both Carlson and McCarthy insisted that the footage was cleared with Capitol Police before it was released. McCarthy also intends to make the January 6 footage available to the defense lawyers for people charged in connection with the riot.

The California Republican insisted the footage was already made available to defendants under former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But a Pelosi spokesperson said she never authorized access to the footage because she felt that wasn’t under her purview, but that of “security officials.”

Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said earlier this month that once footage is given to lawmakers, he has little control over what they do with it. But he also slammed Carlson’s use of the footage, saying it minimized the violence of January 6 and was “misleading” and “offensive” about the Capitol Police’s actions.

Carlson used the footage to do exactly what people feared: present an alternate version of January 6 that sought to prove the rioters had done nothing wrong. His coverage was so bad that even some Republican lawmakers condemned it.

Democrats Who Pushed for Financial Deregulation Seem to Have No Regrets After Silicon Valley Bank

The Democrats who joined Republicans in rolling back Dodd-Frank seem perfectly fine with their vote, even after SVB’s collapse.

Senator Michael Bennet
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Senator Michael Bennet

Silicon Valley Bank collapsed last week after a massive bank run, spurred in large part by billionaire investor and GOP donor Peter Thiel. Such a collapse could have perhaps been avoided had the massive bank been subject to higher regulation and scrutiny. But not according to the Democratic senators who helped deregulate the financial industry.

The Democratic lawmakers who voted alongside Republicans in 2018 to roll back key Dodd-Frank regulations, ones that would have subjected SVB to greater regulations, seem to have no regrets for having done so.

In total, 16 Democratic senators joined all 50 Republicans five years ago in rolling back the regulations. Thirteen of those Democrats are still serving in office today, and so far this week, none have expressed regret for their 2018 decision. Most have justified their vote as support for smaller banks, skipping over the fact that the bill treated big banks like SVB as smaller than they were.

Senator Michael Bennet criticized SVB but said that he stands by his vote, under the guise of his support for smaller and rural banks.

Senator Tom Carper said Tuesday that at “this moment,” he doesn’t regret the vote, and instead called for hearings to figure out what happened.

Senator Chris Coons avoided directly answering questions from The Intercept about whether he could defend his vote given what is known about SVB now. “And just what is that?” he retorted, before pausing, adding, “Exactly,” as the elevator doors closed on a senator who cinematically refused to answer a simple question.

Senator Tim Kaine justified his vote by saying his “community banks really needed it.”

Senator Angus King told The Intercept that he would’ve voted the same way to help smaller banks and that there were still some regulations in place on SVB.

Senator Joe Manchin said he’s open to “making adjustments” to regulations but emphasized it was not a mistake to vote for the 2018 bill.

Senator Jon Tester pins the blame on the Fed, rather than the 2018 vote, saying they could have “put the same regulation on them that they do JPMorgan Chase.”

In a statement earlier this week, Senator Mark Warner invoked Dodd-Frank as a North Star to “protect depositors and make sure that our financial system remains stable,” but had little to say specifically about SVB’s management—or his own vote to weaken regulation on them. The Lever found that Warner held a fundraiser at SVB CEO Greg Becker’s home in 2016, and he also received $10,000 in donations from SVB’s PAC.

The offices of Senators Gary Peters, Krysten Sinema, Jeanne Shaheen, Debbie Stabenow, and Maggie Hassan—the remaining Democratic senators who voted for the 2018 rollback—did not respond by publication.

At this point, of course, there is no going back. But if these Democrats want to square the circle of purporting to care about smaller institutions while also recognizing where their vote may have fallen short (they don’t even have to admit they were wrong!), they could begin by supporting Elizabeth Warren’s aptly named Secure Viable Banking, or SVB, Act, which would repeal the provisions of the 2018 bill that allowed for banks like SVB to get by without stronger regulation.

It’s just that easy. The layup is there, if these Democrats want to bank it.

Texas GOP Bill Would Ban Students From China and 3 Other Countries From All Public Universities

Texas Republicans are fanning the flames of xenophobia and racism.

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Texas State Capitol

Texas Republican lawmakers are under fire for a bill that would ban students from China and three other countries from all public colleges and universities in the state, with many calling the measure racist and xenophobic.

The bill, introduced last week, would prohibit higher education institutions from admitting international students from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, or any students who are undocumented. It also changes existing law to restrict the definition of a Texas resident. People who received a high school diploma or equivalent in Texas and lived in the state for three years prior to receiving that degree or for the year prior to enrolling in higher education no longer count.

The measure has “little chance of advancing” in the current legislative session, according to the San Antonio Express News, but it has still raised fears as it comes just two months after other Texas Republicans introduced a bill banning citizens from the same countries from purchasing land in the state.

That bill garnered months of backlash. Governor Greg Abbott endorsed the measure, even as local Asian American groups slammed it as racist.

Lawmakers amended the bill earlier this month to clarify that dual citizens and green card holders would still be allowed to buy property. But their attempt to cool the controversy was rightfully called out.

It’s still a fundamentally racist bill as it unfairly targets H1B visa holders, students, and refugees from exercising their full property rights,” the Texas-based Asian American group Rise AAPI said.

Both of these bills are painfully reminiscent of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was enacted in 1882 and restricted Chinese immigration to and rights in the United States until 1943. That measure was a direct result of “yellow peril,” or racist fearmongering about Asian people. The heightened political tensions around race helped set the stage for much broader political scapegoating, when people of color were specifically blamed for issues in American society.

More recently, citizens of Iran and North Korea were targeted for years under former President Donald Trump’s travel ban. (Levels of immigration from North Korea to the United States are, of course, quite low.)

The Texas bills are also coming at a time of increased racial scapegoating. The nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released a report in October that found Asian Americans are blamed for issues with the economy, public health, and national security.

Trump helped foment a lot of resentment towards China and Asian Americans through his rhetoric around Covid-19, calling it “Kung Flu” and the “China virus.” He and other Republicans blame China for deliberately spreading the coronavirus around the world. Their words helped spur a massive increase in anti-Asian hate in the past few years.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle accuse TikTok of spying on American users for the Chinese government, and the Biden administration has threatened to ban the app nationwide if it is not sold to a non-Chinese entity. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who owns TikTok: Bad actors get hold of private data all the time. China’s just a handy scapegoat.

And in February, Texas Representative Lance Gooden said he felt his Californian colleague Judy Chu needed “to be called out” and that her security clearance should be revoked.

“I question her either loyalty or competence,” he said.

Democrats rushed to Chu’s defense, with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries calling Gooden’s comments “dangers, unconscionable, and xenophobic.” But Chu herself summed it up best.

I very much doubt that [Gooden] would be spreading these lies were I not of Chinese American descent,” she said on MSNBC.