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Biden Prepares to Take on Gun Violence in Wake of Back-to-Back Shootings | #schoolshooting | #parenting | #parenting | #kids


Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

President Biden is expected to unveil a series of executive actions his administration will take to address gun violence on Thursday, weeks after back-to-back mass shootings left 18 people dead and pushed the issue of gun legislation to the forefront for an administration tackling multiple crises.

The actions come as Mr. Biden has been under pressure to address gun violence, but has made clear that pushing legislation through a blockade of Republican opposition is not currently feasible.

Officials on Wednesday reiterated that the actions the president planned to unveil with Merrick Garland, the attorney general, were only a starting point and that the president would continue to call on Congress to take action.

On Thursday, the Justice Department will announce three initiatives to fight gun violence.

One rule would help stop the proliferation of so-called ghost guns — kits that allow a gun to be assembled from pieces. White House officials would not say whether the administration would ultimately seek to classify ghost guns as firearms, only that the Justice Department was seeking to stop criminals from buying kits containing all of the components and directions to assemble one.

A second rule would make clear that when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace transforms a pistol into short barrel rifle, that firearm is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. The shooter in the tragedy in Boulder, Colo., last month used a pistol with an arm brace, making it more stable and accurate, officials said.

Finally, the Justice Department will also publish model red flag legislation for states. The legislation would allow police and family members to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who may present a danger to themselves or others. While Mr. Biden cannot pass national red flag legislation without Congress, officials said the goal of the guidance was to make it easier for states who want to adopt it.

The Justice Department also plans to release a comprehensive report on firearms trafficking, which it has not done since 2000.

The Biden administration also intends to invest in evidence-based community violence intervention, although officials did not provide any dollar figure for the investment. Mr. Biden’s infrastructure plan calls on Congress to invest $5 billion over eight years to support evidence-based community violence intervention programs.

With Congress unlikely to move on any gun legislation, the White House has been underscoring the importance of executive actions as a more realistic starting place to deliver on Mr. Biden’s campaign promises to end gun violence. Susan E. Rice, the director of the Domestic Policy Council, has been serving as the administration’s point person on the upcoming executive actions.

David Chipman testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on assault weapons at the Capitol in 2019.
Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

President Biden will nominate David Chipman, an adviser to the gun control organization founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or A.T.F., according to two people with knowledge of the move.

The appointment of Mr. Chipman, a former agent with the A.T.F. — the embattled agency tasked with enforcing firearms laws — comes after a wave of recent mass shootings and after weeks of pressure by the Giffords group and other organizations for Mr. Biden to pick a director.

While Mr. Chipman’s selection came as welcome news to gun control groups, few nominees put forward by Mr. Biden have faced steeper odds of confirmation in the Senate, although his allies think he may be able to win narrow approval given the anguish over recent massacres in Boulder, Colo., and Atlanta.

Mr. Chipman’s prior advocacy of an assault weapons ban and other restrictions could make it hard for him to muster the 51 votes needed for confirmation, and Senate Republicans have successfully blocked potential A.T.F. directors who were much more in line with their pro-gun base.

But Mr. Biden and his allies believe they have found an ideal candidate in Mr. Chipman, a gun owner who spent 25 years with the bureau, serving on its SWAT team and working on high-profile gun trafficking cases.

“You know, we’re fortunate that, you know, Gabby was shot with a handgun,” Mr. Chipman said on a podcast in 2019, discussing the 2011 attack on Ms. Giffords in which she was shot in the head and six people died. He added that she would not have survived if she had been shot by an assault rifle.

The nomination is expected to be officially announced on Thursday, along with several other executive actions Mr. Biden plans to take to address the proliferation of gun violence this year.

The pick “is exactly what A.T.F. needs after six years without a permanent director,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, and a proponent of tighter gun regulation.

The post has not been an easy one to fill.

One of the main problems in picking a director, according to two gun control activists in close touch with the administration, is that potential candidates are reluctant to sign on for a nomination that is likely to go down in defeat.

One high-profile figure under early consideration, Art Acevedo, the former Houston police chief, recently accepted an offer to run Miami’s police department.

Over the last two decades, Republicans, with the support of conservative Democrats, have embedded into spending bills riders intended to constrain the bureau, including limits on unannounced inspections of gun dealers, prohibitions on documenting the inventories of gun shops and an especially damaging provision that bars the agency from digitizing its records.

In 2006, N.R.A.-allied lawmakers enacted a provision making the position of A.T.F. director, which had previously been a political appointment, subject to Senate confirmation.

As a result, only one director, Obama nominee B. Todd Jones, has been confirmed over the last 15 years.

Former President Donald J. Trump withdrew the nomination of a former top police union official, Chuck Canterbury, after the nominee refused to entirely rule out expanding background checks and other safeguards.

The appointment was reported earlier by The Associated Press.

Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, with reporters at the Capitol last month.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a key moderate Democrat, on Wednesday reaffirmed his vow to protect the filibuster in the evenly divided Senate and suggested reluctance to his party repeatedly using a fast-track budget process to advance legislation without Republican votes.

Mr. Manchin has long been one of the most stalwart defenders of the 60-vote threshold needed to end debate in the upper chamber, even as it threatens to derail key elements of President Biden’s agenda. Despite previously toying with possible reforms to the procedural hurdle, he has repeatedly swatted away queries about what could drive him to vote to outright abolish the filibuster, even as Democrats have gamed out various scenarios in which he might relent.

In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, Mr. Manchin vowed that there was “no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” and he urged party leaders to compromise on legislation instead of trying to work around Republican opposition. Ten Republicans are currently needed to join all Democrats in a 50-50 Senate to pass major pieces of legislation through the regular process.

The comments took on added significance after a key Senate official on Monday issued guidance that could allow Democrats to pursue the fast-track budget reconciliation process at least one more time before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, after they used it to pass Mr. Biden’s nearly $1.9 trillion pandemic relief law without any Republican votes.

“We will not solve our nation’s problems in one Congress if we seek only partisan solutions,” Mr. Manchin wrote. “Instead of fixating on eliminating the filibuster or shortcutting the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it is time we do our jobs.”

Pressure has mounted for Democrats to further push the boundaries of what a majority party can do unilaterally when in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, in order to deliver on a series of campaign promises. While Democrats do not yet have the votes to abolish the filibuster, they have explored other avenues to ensure Mr. Biden’s agenda becomes law.

In recent days, that has included expanding the frequency of reconciliation, which allows certain budgetary legislation to clear both chambers on a simple majority vote. While Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, appears to have agreed with the Democratic argument that they can use the process multiple times in one fiscal year, it remains unclear how and when they might employ those possible opportunities, and for what.

While Mr. Manchin did not outright refuse to support another use of the fast-track reconciliation process, he challenged both parties to work together and compromise on critical pieces of legislation, including infrastructure and tax changes. Any use of reconciliation would require Mr. Manchin — and virtually every congressional Democrat — to remain united behind the legislation.

“Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues,” Mr. Manchin wrote. “Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats.”

While many questions remain about how Democrats could potentially use another chance at reconciliation, both Mr. Biden and congressional leaders insist they want to work with Republicans to reach compromises, particularly on the sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure proposal the White House just unveiled.

“There are things we’re working on together — some of which we’ve passed and some we will pass,” Mr. Biden said on Wednesday. He suggested a group of 10 Republican senators who sought to compromise on his pandemic relief plan did not do enough to jump start negotiations with their initial $618 billion plan. “If they come forward with a plan that did the bulk of it and it was a billion — three or four, two or three — that allowed me to have pieces of all that was in there, I would have been prepared to compromise, but they didn’t,” he added.

The group of 10 Republican senators later issued a joint statement Wednesday evening arguing that the proposal had been “a first offer to the White House designed to open bipartisan negotiations” that instead had been dismissed “as wholly inadequate in order to justify its go-it-alone strategy.”

A Palestinian worker looks on as he prepares bags of food supplies at an aid distribution center run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency at a refugee camp in Gaza City.
Credit…Mohammed Salem/Reuters

The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it would restore hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid to Palestinians, its strongest move yet to reverse President Donald J. Trump’s policy on the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The package, which gives $235 million in assistance to Palestinians, will go to humanitarian, economic and development efforts in the region. It is part of President Biden’s attempt to restore U.S. relations with Palestinians that were effectively stopped as the Trump administration increasingly reshaped American policy heavily in favor of Israel.

“U.S. foreign assistance for the Palestinian people serves important U.S. interests and values,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday. “It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development, and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability.”

A senior Palestinian official welcomed the move to resume aid, but said the Palestinian leadership still hopes Mr. Biden will reverse several other measures carried out by the Trump administration.

“This is a positive, important and constructive step in the direction of rectifying Palestinian-American relations, which the Trump administration destroyed,” said Ahmad Majdalani, the social development minister of the Palestinian Authority.

Much of the initial reaction from Israeli officials revolved around Mr. Biden’s decision to resume funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA, which provides assistance to about 5.7 million people of Palestinian descent in those territories and in neighboring countries. Mr. Blinken said the package would include $150 million in humanitarian aid, funneled through UNRWA.

Gilad Erdan, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, denounced the Biden administration’s decision to restore funding to UNRWA, saying its activities were “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic” in nature.

Under the package, another $75 million would be allocated for economic development programs in the West Bank and Gaza, and $10 million would be for what Mr. Blinken described as peace-building operations carried out by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In a joint statement, Senator Jim Risch of Idaho and Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, both Republicans, criticized that the restoration of aid came “without concessions from the Palestinian Authority.”

Khaled Elgindy, director of the Middle East Institute’s program on Palestine, said that though the move was “a very positive development” focused on reversing a Trump policy in the region, it did not yet appear to be part of a larger effort to advance the most difficult issues, such as discussions about a two-state solution.

“Their goal is to undo as much of the Trump legacy as possible,” he said, “and hope that that’s enough to sort of allow the issue to stabilize and not deteriorate.”

Former President Donald J. Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., in February.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The political arm of House Republicans is deploying a prechecked box to enroll donors into repeating monthly donations — and using ominous language to warn them of the consequences if they opt out: “If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.”

The language appears to be an effort by the National Republican Congressional Committee to increase its volume of recurring donations, which are highly lucrative, while invoking former President Donald J. Trump’s popularity with the conservative base. Those donors who do not proactively uncheck the box will have their credit cards billed or bank accounts deducted for donations every month.

The prechecked box is the same tactic and tool that resulted in a surge of refunds and credit card complaints when used by Mr. Trump’s campaign last year, according to an investigation published by The New York Times over the weekend. The Trump operation made the language inside its prechecked boxes increasingly opaque as the election neared. Consumer advocates and user-interface designers said the prechecked boxes were a “dark pattern” intended to deceive Mr. Trump’s supporters.

The Trump operation issued more than $122 million in refunds in the 2020 cycle, which was 10.7 percent of what Mr. Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts raised. Refunds increased as the campaign began prechecking the boxes, which at one point withdrew donations every week as well as introduced a “money bomb” that doubled a contribution.

The prechecked box is a tool provided by WinRed, the for-profit Republican donation platform founded in 2019. The Democratic platform, ActBlue, also allows some groups to precheck recurring donation boxes, including the political arm of House Democrats, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Bulwark, an anti-Trump conservative news site, first reported a different version of a prechecked box that the N.R.C.C. was using on Wednesday, which said: “Check this box if you want Trump to run again. Uncheck this box if you do NOT stand with Trump.”

Political parties and campaigns typically test multiple language options to see which net the most donors. The “DEFECTOR” warning appears on the donation page linked from the N.R.C.C.’s home page.

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President Biden said he’s willing to compromise on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, but pushed back at critics who have argued that parts of the plan are not necessary infrastructure, including broadband internet expansion.CreditCredit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

President Biden on Wednesday signaled his openness to “good faith negotiations” on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal — but bluntly warned Republican opponents of the plan that he would “not be open to doing nothing.”

Mr. Biden pushed back against critics who have argued that his sprawling plan contains elements — such as the renovation of veterans’ hospitals, expansion of broadband internet and anti-poverty programs — that do not fit the traditional definition of infrastructure.

“To automatically say that the only thing that’s infrastructure is a highway, bridge, or whatever, that’s just not rational,” said Mr. Biden, who urged Republicans to ask working-class Americans “what infrastructure they need to build a better life, to be able to breathe a little bit,” rather than rejecting his proposal on sight.

“I don’t know why we don’t get this,” added Mr. Biden, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris as he delivered remarks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, veering off script repeatedly to deliver an impassioned, at times exasperated plea of support.

Mr. Biden’s speech was overtly aimed at Congressional Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, who have expressed nearly unanimous opposition to the plan.

But he was also targeting red and swing state voters, who support projects in their communities, and speaking to moderate Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who have suggested they might agree to a corporate tax increase, but one not quite as big as the 28 percent Mr. Biden has proposed. The current rate is 21 percent.

Asked if he was willing to compromise on the corporate rate in his plan — perhaps to 25 percent — Mr. Biden replied, “I’m willing to negotiate,” adding that he was “wide open” to new proposals that would pay for his plan.

“Debate is welcome, compromise is inevitable, changes are certain,” he said. “In the next few weeks the vice president and I will be meeting with Republicans and Democrats to hear from everyone. And we’ll be listening, we’ll be open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations. But here’s what we won’t be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill were buoyed on Monday by a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian, saying that Democrats could use the fast-track budget reconciliation process for a second time this fiscal year. The ruling means Democrats can essentially reopen the budget plan they passed in February and add directives to enact the infrastructure package or other initiatives. If they opt to use the move, it would shield them from a filibuster that requires 60 votes to overcome.

Treasury Department officials said Wednesday that Mr. Biden’s complete tax plan, which also eliminates tax subsidies for fossil fuel companies, would raise $2.5 trillion in new revenues over the next 15 years.

The nonpartisan Penn Wharton Budget Model, at the University of Pennsylvania, estimated on Wednesday that Mr. Biden’s tax plans would raise $2.1 trillion over the course of a decade. Analysts at the group estimate that the plan would spend $2.7 trillion over the decade, and that the programs it invests in would help the economy function more productively.

But they calculate the combination of tax increases and additional government debt incurred by the plan would slow economic growth slightly, leaving the economy 0.8 percent smaller in 2050 than it otherwise would have been.

Treasury Department officials said Wednesday that they were still reviewing the analysis but disagreed with its conclusion, insisting that Mr. Biden’s plans will boost growth.

“Our tax revenues are already at their lowest level in generations,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said. “If they continue to drop lower, we will have less money to invest in roads, bridges, broadband and R&D.”
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

The Biden administration unveiled its plan to overhaul the corporate tax code on Wednesday, offering an array of proposals that would require large companies to pay higher taxes to help fund the White House’s economic agenda.

The plan, if enacted, would raise $2.5 trillion in revenue over 15 years. It would do so by ushering in major changes for American companies, which have long embraced quirks in the tax code that allowed them to lower or eliminate their tax liability, often by shifting profits overseas. The plan also includes efforts to help combat climate change, proposing to replace fossil fuel subsidies with tax incentives that promote clean energy production.

Some corporations have expressed a willingness to pay more in taxes, but the overall scope of the proposal is likely to draw backlash from the business community, which has benefited for years from loopholes in the tax code and a relaxed approach to enforcement.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said during a briefing with reporters on Wednesday that the plan would end a global “race to the bottom” of corporate taxation.

“Our tax revenues are already at their lowest level in generations,” Ms. Yellen said. “If they continue to drop lower, we will have less money to invest in roads, bridges, broadband and R&D.”

The plan, announced by the Treasury Department, would raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent. The administration said the increase would bring America’s corporate tax rate more closely in line with other advanced economies and reduce inequality. It would also remain lower than it was before the 2017 Trump tax cuts, when the rate stood at 35 percent.

The White House also proposed significant changes to several international tax provisions included in the Trump tax cuts, which the Biden administration described in the report as policies that put “America last” by benefiting foreigners. Among the biggest change would be a doubling of the de facto global minimum tax to 21 percent and toughening it, to force companies to pay the tax on a wider span of income across countries.

That, in particular, has raised concerns in the business community, with Joshua Bolten, the chief executive of the Business Roundtable, saying in a statement this week that it “threatens to subject the U.S. to a major competitive disadvantage.”

Some companies, however, expressed openness to the new proposals on Wednesday.

John Zimmer, the president and co-founder of Lyft, told CNN that he supports Mr. Biden’s proposed 28 percent corporate tax rate.

“I think it’s important to make investments again in the country and the economy,” Mr. Zimmer said.

The Biden administration also made clear that the proposal was something of an opening bid and that there will be room to negotiate.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urged lawmakers on Wednesday not to reject the plan out of hand, inviting them to have a “discussion” — even as she suggested the basic parameters of the proposal would remain in place.

“We want to compromise, she said during a briefing at the White House. “What we cannot do, and what I’m imploring the business community not to do, is to say, ‘We don’t like 28. We’re walking away. We’re not discussing.’ That’s unacceptable.”

The plan would also repeal provisions put in place during the Trump administration that the Biden administration says have failed to curb profit shifting and corporate inversions, which involve an American company merging with a foreign firm and becoming its subsidiary, effectively moving its headquarters abroad for tax purposes. It would replace them with tougher anti-inversion rules and stronger penalties for so-called profit stripping.

The plan is not entirely focused on the international side of the corporate tax code. It tries to crack down on large, profitable companies that pay little or no income taxes yet signal large profits with their “book value.” To cut down on that disparity, companies would have to pay a minimum tax of 15 percent on book income, which businesses report to investors and which are often used to judge shareholder and executive payouts.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said it was a mistake to view the Supreme Court as a political institution.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Justice Stephen G. Breyer warned on Tuesday that expanding the size of the Supreme Court could erode public trust in it by sending the message that it is at its core a political institution.

Justice Breyer, 82, is the oldest member of the court and the senior member of its three-member liberal wing. He made his comments in a long speech streamed to members of the Harvard Law School community. He did not address the possibility that he might retire, giving President Biden a chance to name a new justice while the Senate is controlled by Democrats. But his talk had a valedictory quality.

He explored the nature of the court’s authority, saying it was undermined by labeling justices as conservative or liberal. Drawing a distinction between law and politics, he said not all splits on the court are predictable and that those that are can generally be explained by differences in judicial philosophy or interpretive methods.

Progressive groups and many Democrats were furious over Senate Republicans’ failure to give a hearing in 2016 to Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s third Supreme Court nominee. That anger was compounded by the rushed confirmation last fall of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald J. Trump’s third nominee.

Liberals have pressed Mr. Biden to respond with what they say is corresponding hardball: expanding the number of seats on the court to overcome what is now a 6-to-3 conservative majority. Mr. Biden has been noncommittal, but has created a commission to study possible changes to the structure of the court, including enlarging it and imposing term limits on the justices.

Justice Breyer said it was a mistake to view the court as a political institution. He noted with seeming satisfaction that “the court did not hear or decide cases that affected the political disagreements arising out of the 2020 election.” And he listed four decisions — on the Affordable Care Act, abortion, the census and young immigrants — in which the court had disappointed conservatives.

Those rulings were all decided by 5-to-4 votes. In all of them, the majority included Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and what was then the court’s four-member liberal wing to form majorities.

“I hope and expect that the court will retain its authority,” Justice Breyer said. “But that authority, like the rule of law, depends on trust, a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics. Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust.”

“I don’t want to permanently close that door,” Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat of Texas, said of her relationship with Republican colleagues. “But I can’t walk through it right now.”
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

In the immediate aftermath of the assault on the Capitol that left five dead, irate Democrats vowed to punish Republicans for their roles in perpetuating or indulging former President Donald J. Trump’s fiction of a stolen election, which motivated the mob that attacked the building.

There was talk of cutting off certain Republicans entirely from the legislative process, denying them the basic courtesies and customs that allow the House to function even in polarized times.

Democrats introduced a series of measures to censure, investigate and potentially expel members who, in the words of one resolution, “attempted to overturn the results of the election and incited a white supremacist attempted coup.” But the legislation went nowhere and to date no punishment has been levied against any members of Congress for their actions related to Jan. 6.

What has unfolded instead has been something of an uneasy détente on Capitol Hill, as Democrats reckon with what they experienced that day and struggle to determine whether they can salvage their relationships with Republicans — some of whom continue to cast doubt on the legitimacy of President Biden’s victory.

Republicans have felt the breach as well. Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, who did not vote to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory but joined a lawsuit challenging the election results, said feelings ran raw after the mob violence at the Capitol.

“I had some candid conversations with members that I have a good relationship with. There was a lot of heated emotion,” Mr. Waltz said. Still, he said, “I didn’t experience a freeze.”

He recently teamed up with Representative Anthony G. Brown, Democrat of Maryland, to round up 70 Republicans and 70 Democrats for a letter to the Biden administration laying out parameters for an Iran nuclear deal.

The dilemma of whether to join such bipartisan efforts is particularly charged for centrist Democrats from conservative-leaning districts, who won office on the promise of working with Republicans but say they find it difficult to accept that some of those same colleagues spread lies that fueled the first invasion of the Capitol since the War of 1812.

Adding to the tensions, most Republicans insist that they did nothing wrong, arguing that their push to invalidate the election results was merely an effort to raise concerns about the integrity of the vote. Some have reacted angrily to Democrats’ moves to punish them.

A temporary shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in Homestead, Fla., in 2019.
Credit…Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The parents of 61 migrant children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration have been located since February, but lawyers still cannot find the parents of 445 children, according to a court filing on Wednesday.

In the filing, the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union indicated slow progress in the ongoing effort to reunite families that were affected by a policy to prosecute all undocumented immigrants in the United States, even if it meant separating children from their parents.

The update in the reunification efforts comes as the Biden administration struggles to address a growing number of migrants seeking entry into the United States at the border with Mexico, including many children being held in jail-like facilities for longer than the law permits because of overcrowding.

Of the 445 remaining children, a majority are believed to have parents who were deported, while more than 100 children are believed to have parents currently in the United States, according to the court filing. The government has yet to provide contact information that would help locate the families of more than a dozen children.

Though the court filing says that U.S. agencies and the A.C.L.U. continue to work together to reunite the families, the effort has proved to be more difficult as time passes. The initial searches began years ago, under the Trump administration, after the policy of family separation was rescinded in the summer of 2018.

Only a fraction of the roughly 2,700 children who were initially separated under the policy still remain, and President Biden has indicated that reuniting those remaining children with their families is a priority. During his first week in office, Mr. Biden signed an executive order creating a task force led by Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, to focus on reuniting families.

Advocates for families separated at the border during the Trump administration continue to pressure the president to move faster to reunite them. Lee Gelernt, an A.C.L.U. lawyer who has waged a lengthy legal battle against Mr. Trump’s separation policy, said some progress had been made but much more needed to be done.

“We and the Biden administration have enormous work yet to do if we are going to fix the terrible abuses of the Trump administration’s family separation practice,” he said.

Senator Ted Cruz’s book was intended to highlight his conservative legal philosophy.
Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times

A nonpartisan government watchdog group on Wednesday filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee accusing Senator Ted Cruz of using campaign funds to generate profits from a book he wrote in 2020.

The Campaign Legal Center claims that Mr. Cruz, a Republican of Texas, improperly used donations to his campaign committee to spend $18,000 on Facebook ads promoting “One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History.”

The book, put out by Regnery Publishing, a conservative publishing house, was intended to highlight Mr. Cruz’s conservative legal philosophy — but it also provided him with a hefty $400,000 advance and 15 percent of the royalties on sales, according to his 2019 Senate financial disclosure forms.

“When elected officials use campaign contributions to advance their personal bottom lines, they compromise the integrity of the political process,” the group wrote in a letter to the ethics committee.

Such cases seldom result in serious penalties. The Federal Election Commission has often negotiated with candidates to repay their campaigns for questionable expenses, while the ethics committee has been reluctant to take action on all but the gravest violations.

The fact that Mr. Cruz profited from each sale of the book, and the fact that his campaign paid for promotion of it, triggered the complaints, said Brendan Fischer, the Campaign Legal Center’s director of federal reform.

“This is a clear-cut case — there is a lot of precedent,” he said in an interview. “Federal campaign law is clear that campaigns are not for the personal use of a candidate and can’t be used to promote the sale of a candidate’s book for which they receive a royalty.”

Chris Gober, a lawyer representing the committee that paid for the ad, Ted Cruz for Senate, said Mr. Cruz denied the claims.

“Senator Cruz’s campaign has closely followed Federal Election Commission laws and guidelines when promoting his book, and he has not received any royalties whatsoever for these book sales,” Mr. Gober said in a statement forwarded by a Cruz spokeswoman.

The book’s Amazon page suggests it sold well, promoting “One Vote Away” as having been on best-seller lists from The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, The New York Times and Amazon.

Mr. Fischer said that the claim that Mr. Cruz received no royalties is contradicted by Mr. Cruz’s own Senate disclosures, which provide a detailed royalty structure that gave him “15 percent of net sales” and a lesser amount for each book sold at a discount.

The Facebook ad cited in the complaints directed buyers to purchase the books through links to three online retailers. It is not clear how those sales would not have generated royalties, unless Mr. Cruz had devised a complex system to divert them to a special pool, he added.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Cruz did not respond to a request to clarify Mr. Gober’s statement or answer any of the questions raised by Mr. Fischer.

A pharmacist preparing to administer a dose of the Moderna vaccine at a Walmart in West Haven, Conn. Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, is offering electronic verification apps to patients vaccinated in its stores.
Credit…Mike Segar/Reuters

Around the country, businesses, schools and politicians are considering “vaccine passports” — digital proof of vaccination against the coronavirus — as a path to reviving the economy and getting Americans back to work and play.

But the idea is raising charged legal and ethical questions: Can businesses and schools require employees, customers and students to provide proof that they have been vaccinated? And can governments mandate vaccinations — or stand in the way of institutions that demand proof?

Legal experts say the answer to all of these questions is generally yes, though in a society so divided, politicians are already girding for a fight. Government entities like school boards and the Army can require vaccinations for entry, service and travel — practices that flow from a 1905 Supreme Court ruling that said states could require residents to be vaccinated against smallpox or pay a fine.

Private companies, moreover, are free to refuse to employ or do business with whomever they want, subject to only a few exceptions, ones that do not include vaccination status. (States could probably override that by enacting a law barring discrimination based on vaccination status.)

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, is offering electronic verification apps to patients vaccinated in its stores. Universities like Rutgers, Brown and Cornell have already said they will require proof of vaccination for students this fall. The Miami Heat this week became the first team in the N.B.A. to open special “vaccinated only” sections. Airlines including JetBlue and United are testing the CommonPass app, which lets users display testing and vaccination records.

New York has rolled out “Excelsior Pass,” billed by the state as “a free, fast and secure way to present digital proof of Covid-19 vaccination” in case reopening sports and entertainment venues require proof of attendees’ status.

But some states are moving in the opposite direction. On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas became the latest Republican governor to issue an executive order barring state agencies and private entities that receive funds from the state from requiring proof of vaccination.

The Biden administration has said it will not impose a federal vaccine-credential system. Still, officials are facing pressure to at least set standards for privacy and accuracy.

“The government is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday. “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

She promised that the administration would provide guidance about privacy, discrimination and other concerns.

Supporters of President Donald J. Trump rioted inside the Capitol in January.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A group of 10 Democratic members of Congress on Wednesday joined a federal lawsuit against former President Donald J. Trump and his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, claiming that they violated a 19th-century statute when they tried to prevent the certification of the presidential election on Jan. 6.

Representatives Karen Bass of California, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Veronica Escobar of Texas, Hank Johnson, Jr. of Georgia, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Barbara Lee of California, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Maxine Waters of California on Wednesday all joined the lawsuit that originally also named the Proud Boys, the far-right nationalist group, and the Oath Keepers militia group.

But since the official dissolution of the Proud Boys organization in February, the suit now names as defendants the Van Dyke Organization L.L.C., Warboys L.L.C. and Jazu Transport L.L.C., which it describes as successors to the Proud Boys.

The legal action accuses Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani and the other groups of conspiring to incite a violent riot at the Capitol, with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying the election. It contends that Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that includes protections against violent conspiracies that interfered with Congress’s constitutional duties.

The N.A.A.C.P. originally brought the suit on behalf of Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi in February, adding to a host of legal problems that Mr. Trump is facing since leaving office. A spokesman for Mr. Trump, Jason Miller, said at the time that Mr. Trump did not “plan, produce or organize the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse.”

Mr. Thompson and the other plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the lawsuit that was filed in Federal District Court in Washington, as well as injunctive relief. The dollar amounts would be determined by a jury at a trial, an N.A.A.C.P. spokesman said.

All 10 of the lawmakers joining the suit were in the House gallery when pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6. Many of the lawmakers who were in the building that day continue to suffer from the trauma of hearing gunshots and seeing broken windows and the faces of rioters on the other side of the doors, the N.A.A.C.P. said. That includes nightmares and difficulty sleeping.

“As I sat in my office on Jan. 6 with rioters roaming the hallways, I feared for my life and thought that I was going to die,” Mr. Cohen said in a statement, even contemplating whether he would want to be buried with his family in Memphis or at the Congressional Cemetery.

“This violence was anything but spontaneous,” Mr. Nadler, who sought refuge in the Judiciary Committee’s office for hours, said in a statement. “It was the direct result of a conspiracy to incite a riot, instigated by President Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.”

Vice President Mike Pence spoke on Jan. 4 at a church in Milner, Ga.
Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

Former Vice President Mike Pence is making a string of public moves for the first time since the Trump administration ended, with a planned speech in South Carolina and a new advocacy group that could help him burnish his image among Republicans ahead of a possible presidential campaign of his own in 2024.

Aides to Mr. Pence on Wednesday announced the formation of Advancing American Freedom, a group with a series of allies of Mr. Pence and former President Donald J. Trump either running it or on the board. In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Mr. Trump gave the group his blessing.

Mr. Pence, a former governor of Indiana, was aligned with the traditional conservative wing of the Republican Party until Mr. Trump became the presidential nominee in 2016 and asked him to be his running mate. Mr. Pence became Mr. Trump’s most loyal advocate and adviser over four years.

But in the final weeks of the administration, Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Pence to refuse to certify President Biden’s Electoral College win in Congress on Jan. 6 and send the votes back to states, something the former vice president told Mr. Trump he did not have the authority to do.

When Mr. Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 during the certification, some chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” The vice president was whisked to safety from rioters who, video has shown, were closer than previously realized.

Also on Wednesday, Simon & Schuster announced that it would publish Mr. Pence’s autobiography as part of a two-book deal. The memoir, which does not yet have a title, will cover his Christian faith and political career beginning in Indiana through Mr. Biden’s inauguration. The book is expected to be published in 2023.

Simon & Schuster profited significantly from political books during the Trump administration, including best selling memoirs by John Bolton, the former national security adviser, and Mary L. Trump, Mr. Trump’s niece. The day after the Capitol riot, the publisher canceled plans to release a book by Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, saying it “cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.”

Mr. Pence appears to be trying to craft a separate identity from Mr. Trump while also focusing on the policies of the administration, including related to immigration laws, as he weighs a run for president.

Mr. Pence is also giving a speech to the Palmetto Family Council in South Carolina later this month, his first major event since leaving office. While Mr. Trump has been giving multiple interviews to conservative outlets, Mr. Pence has been abiding by the tradition of past officeholders in lying low.

Elsewhere, another close adviser to Mr. Trump, Stephen Miller, is creating a group that will file lawsuits challenging the Biden administration’s policies in court. Mr. Miller worked informally with Republican attorneys general while Mr. Trump was in office on suits that would challenge policies enacted by Mr. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama.

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