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DeSantis super PAC hits back at Nikki Haley following veiled Disney jab: ‘Mickey Haley!’

The super PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president in 2024 hit back at former U.N. Secretary Nikki Haley Wednesday following what appeared to be a veiled jab over his aggressive approach to Disney’s “woke” antics in the state. In a video posted on social media, Never Back Down responded to Haley’s appearance on Fox News’ “America Reports” earlier in the day, in which she invited Disney to move its operations to South Carolina, the state where she was once governor, from Florida. She said even though her state is “anti-woke,” she would welcome the six-figure number of jobs the company would bring with it. The video included what it said were clips of Disney “officials” touting the company’s use of “LGBTQIA characters,” a “not at all secret gay agenda,” and trans, asexual and bisexual characters, and attempted to tie Haley to that highly scrutinized side of the company. RON DESANTIS TO LAUNCH 2024 PRESIDENTIAL EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE NEXT MONTH: REPORT “I was just, wherever I could, just basically adding queerness,” one individual in the video said, while another appeared to tout giving “information about gender affirmation procedures.” Some of the individuals in the video said they were trying to put things they believe into Disney’s shows, as well as target Gen Z and Millennials. It also included a clip of a drag queen discussing Disney-inspired books. The video then ended with a clip from Haley’s Fox interview saying she would “welcome” Disney to South Carolina. DESANTIS’ TEAM MOCKS BIDEN’S ‘FINISH THE JOB’ 2024 ANNOUNCEMENT: ‘WE’D RATHER YOU NOT’ Haley’s comments came on the heel of a lawsuit filed by Disney against DeSantis on Wedensday, claiming “government retaliation” as he has clashed with the company over its alleged “woke” politicking and response to the state’s Parental Rights in Education law critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.” The lawsuit came about a week after DeSantis said Florida’s Republican legislature would act to stop Disney’s current apparent effort to work around its oversight of its Lake Buena Vista, Fla. property. Haley was ripped by conservatives on social media over her comments about welcoming Disney to South Carolina, with once calling it “bad optics,” and another claiming the remark to be the “only way” voters “know she exists.” According to a Wednesday NBC News report, DeSantis is expected to launch a 2024 presidential exploratory committee next month with an official campaign launch to come later. Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this report.
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Judge sides with magazine, throws out Nunes’ defamation suit

A federal judge in Iowa has ruled against former U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, who filed lawsuits claiming he was defamed by articles published by Esquire magazine about his family’s Iowa dairy farm. U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams ruled Tuesday in favor of reporter Ryan Lizza and Esquire publisher Hearst Magazines in a lawsuit Nunes filed, according to the Des Moines Register. Nunes served for 19 years representing California in the U.S. House before leaving Congress to run the social media platform Truth Social, which is largely owned by former President Donald Trump. RUSSIAGATE RECKONING WOULDN’T BE NECESSARY IF MEDIA DIDN’T ‘LIE’ IN FIRST PLACE, NUNES MEMO AUTHOR SAYS Nunes filed the lawsuits in 2019 after Lizza’s story on the Nunes family’s dairy farm in northwest Iowa published in 2018. The article claimed the family kept their move from California to Iowa a secret and delved into questions about immigrants living illegally in Iowa who work at the state’s dairy farms. In his ruling, Williams said a reasonable jury couldn’t find the article’s statements defamatory. NUNES DENIES TRUMP, MUSK DISCUSSED TWITTER PURCHASE: ‘FAKE NEWS FRIDAY’ It marks the second time the court has ruled against Nunes. Williams in 2020 also rejected Nunes’ claims, but he appealed, and in 2021 the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals found Lizza may have committed a new defamatory act when in November 2019 he tweeted a link to the original article. Williams noted in his second ruling that evidence supported the article’s reporting about the Nunes family’s immigrant workers. The judge said the family didn’t offer material evidence that the story’s claims were false. An email sent to Nunes at his website wasn’t immediately returned. Lizza now works for the news organization Politico, and an email left with Lizza at Politico wasn’t immediately returned. An email left with Esquire magazine also wasn’t immediately returned.
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Minnesota lawmakers eye pre-registering 16, 17-year-olds to vote

Minnesota — a state where it is already easy to vote — is moving make it even easier, countering the national trend of states imposing further restrictions on balloting. The Minnesota Senate was set Wednesday to debate an elections bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they can vote as soon as they are old enough, and establish automatic registration when residents apply for or renew driver’s licenses or sign up for Medicaid and other public programs. At a news conference ahead of the debate, Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon called it a “once in a generation opportunity” to strengthen democracy. KANSAS TO GIVE VOTERS 3 DAYS AFTER POLLS CLOSE TO RETURN MAIL-IN BALLOTS Minnesota is increasing voter access even as red states impose more restrictions, often in the name of election integrity. Several Republican-led states have tightened rules on voting by mail since the 2020 presidential election, in part because of the false narrative of widespread fraud in that race. Mississippi last month set tighter restrictions on who can gather other people’s absentee ballots. Three Republican-led states last month pulled out of a bipartisan effort among states to ensure accurate voter lists, undermining a system with a demonstrated record of combating voter fraud. Simon pointed out that Minnesota 50 years ago became one of the first states to pass Election Day voter registration at the polls. He said he still views that as the “jewel in the crown” of a system that consistently makes Minnesota a national leader in voter turnout. Minnesota adopted another major set of changes 10 years ago, he said, listing online voter registration and allowing everyone to vote by absentee ballot without needing to provide an excuse. “But this bill really is up there,” Simon said. “If there was a Mount Rushmore for election reform bills in the history of Minnesota going back beyond 1973, this would be on it.” The experience of other states shows that pre-registration makes young people more likely to vote the first time they become eligible and raises the chance that voting will become a lifelong habit, Simon said. And he said automatic registration will build on legislation enacted earlier this year, to restore the voting rights of felons when they leave prison, by making them more likely to exercise that right. “We are setting an example,” said Democratic Sen. Liz Boldon, of Rochester, the lead Senate author. “We are leading the way.” The bill, dubbed the “Democracy for the People Act,” passed the House on a party-line vote two weeks ago. The lead Republican on the House Elections Committee, Rep. Paul Torkelson, of Hanska, said at the time that it struck him more as a bill for ensuring Democratic Party victories. He said it violated a longstanding tradition in the Minnesota Legislature that election bills should be bipartisan to advance. “We know that many of our citizens are questioning the validity and the authenticity of our elections,” Torkelson said at a news conference. “The work we do here should increase their confidence that our elections are being run fairly. And we don’t believe that anything in this bill increases that public confidence.” INDIANA MAIL-IN VOTING CRACKDOWN HEADED TO GOVERNOR’S DESK The bill was last on the Senate’s agenda for the day, and sponsors said they expected the debate to go late into the night. While Senate Democrats hold just a one-vote majority, they expressed confidence that it would pass. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign it once it reaches his desk. Democratic Senate Elections Committee Chair Jim Carlson, of Eagan, said bill also seeks to shed more light on money and politics with increased disclosure requirements. It also includes criminal penalties for intimidation of voters and interference with voting. “What we’ve seen over the past couple of years, and what we have seen over the last couple of months, it’s really that states across the country are making a choice,” said Democratic Rep. Emma Greenman, of Minneapolis, the lead author in the House. “They’re choosing between a thriving multiracial, multigenerational, multiregional democracy, or they’re choosing something else.” Greenman listed gerrymandering, restrictions on ballot access and expulsions of duly elected legislators as examples of what red states are doing. “In Minnesota we are choosing something different,” she said.
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Swalwell, Nehls clash at child migrant hearing over alleged Chinese spy ties: ‘You don’t get to say that s—‘

Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Troy Nehls, R-Texas clashed at a fiery hearing on the child migrant crisis at the southern border on Wednesday, with Nehls making comments about Swalwell’s “checkered past” after the Democratic congressman quizzed a GOP witness about her activities on Jan 6. 2021. The hearing, “The Biden Border Crisis: Exploitation of Unaccompanied Alien Children,” was held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement. It comes after a series of reports of how many of the hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied migrant children were exploited and forced into the labor market. But Swalwell diverted from the topic to quiz one of the witnesses about her activities on Jan 6., and whether she was on Capitol grounds during the riot. After an intensive series of questions, Swalwell’s time expired and Nehls apologized to the witness for his Democratic counterpart’s questioning. WHISTLEBLOWER TELLS CONGRESS THAT GOVT IS DELIVERING MIGRANT CHILDREN TO HUMAN TRAFFICKERS “You’re here for a hearing on the border, and they don’t want to talk about the border. Mr. Swalwell is down there, obviously, everybody knows he’s made some comments, he’s got a checkered past,” he said. Swalwell shot back: “I’m sorry? A checkered past?” “It’s my time,” Nehls said. “Alleged affairs, relationships with Yum Yum.” “No, no, no. You don’t get to say that s—,” Swalwell replied. “That’s not true.” Nehls appeared to be referring to Christine Fang, or Fang Fang, a suspected Chinese spy. In 2020, it was reported that Fang had allegedly targeted a number of Bay Area Democrats — including Swalwell — and interacted with him, including helping place an intern in his office, before he was alerted by the FBI of Fang’s behavior in 2015. At that point he immediately cut off contact with her and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to Axios. Swalwell said on The View” in January that he handled the situation properly. “First and foremost, and you don’t have to take my word for it, take the FBI’s word for it… when they told me who she… I did everything that I hoped everyone would do, which was to cooperate and help the FBI, and she was removed,” Swalwell said of Fang. DEMS ASK FOR GREENE’S WORDS TO BE STRICKEN FROM RECORD AFTER SHE BRINGS UP SWALWELL’S CHINESE SPY SCANDAL “And Donald Trump, who would later find out about this when he was president, with the greatest access to classified information of anyone who walks the earth, if he could’ve embarrassed me by showing any wrongdoing, after all the names he’s called me, he would’ve,” he added. However, Republicans have continued to make insinuations about his ties to Fang. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., had words stricken from the record during a Homeland Security Committee hearing last week after she described Swalwell as “someone that had a sexual relationship with a Chinese spy.” Democrats made a similar move to strike Nehls’ comments from the record on Wednesday, with Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, asking that his words be taken down for expressing a slur on another member. “You don’t get to say that, pal,” Swalwell added. After a short recess, Nehls was asked if would withdraw his remarks. “Yes. I would like to rephrase. This is the same member that was removed from the Intelligence Committee,” he said, referring to the move by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to deny Swalwell a seat on the committee in January. Swalwell had called that move an act of “political vengeance” by Republicans. Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report. 
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Ron DeSantis to launch 2024 presidential exploratory committee next month: Report

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to take further steps towards launching a 2024 campaign for the White House next month, according to a Wednesday report by NBC News. The report cites four unnamed Republican operatives it said are familiar with the conversations about plans for DeSantis to launch a presidential exploratory committee, with an official launch of his campaign to come at a later time. DESANTIS’ TEAM MOCKS BIDEN’S ‘FINISH THE JOB’ 2024 ANNOUNCEMENT: ‘WE’D RATHER YOU NOT’ Each of the operatives told NBC that a mid-May launch of the committee was the target, but that a number of his supporters wanted him to declare his candidacy by May 11 in order to counter former President Donald Trump’s front-runner status for the Republican nomination. Others close to the governor, the report said, have argued such an early date would be too soon. Fox News Digital reached out to the DeSantis campaign to confirm the report, but did not immediately receive a response.
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Consultants recommend new location for New Hampshire youth detention center

Consultants hired to evaluate three potential sites for New Hampshire’s new youth detention center are recommending property next to the state’s existing youth psychiatric hospital in Hampstead. SMRT Architects and Engineers assessed the 94-acre property that includes Hampstead Hospital, the current Sununu Youth Services Center and its 50 surrounding acres in Manchester, and a vacant building in a state office park in Concord. In a report released Wednesday, officials said the Hampstead site was the most advantageous for development of the new facility. Debate over building a new facility began years ago, but it has come to a boil amid horrific sexual abuse allegations stretching back decades. Frustrated with spending $13 million per year to operate a 144-bed facility for about a dozen teens, lawmakers in 2021 mandated that it close by March 2023. They missed that deadline. But they recently passed legislation allocating roughly $22 million for the design and construction of a 12-bed facility, with room for up to 18. NEW HAMPSHIRE HOUSE PASSES BILL TO REPLACE EMBATTLED YOUTH DETENTION CENTER The consultants hired as part of that process evaluated the three sites based on a variety of factors, including the style and feel of the surrounding environment, the ability to share meal and laundry services with other facilities, and the proximity to medical facilities, law enforcement, skilled labor and residents’ families. While the current location scored high for being close to external support services such as medical facilities and courts and for being located in a major population center, it received low marks for being incompatible with whatever ends up being developed around it. Consultants also said the new facility should be built somewhere “free of negative historical context,” which would not fit with the “tumultuous history” of the current property. NEW HAMPSHIRE REACHES FIRST SETTLEMENT WITH PHYSICAL, SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM FROM YOUTH DETENTION CENTER In contrast, the report said the Hampstead site is “complementary in aesthetics to a calm, healing environment.” The new facility could be sufficiently separate from the existing hospital while sharing food and laundry services, and its location in the southern part of the state could boost employee recruitment potential. The Concord location received low scores on multiple measures, particularly because choosing that site would involve not constructing a new building but rather renovating one that is ill-suited for a secure facility. The building is part of a densely developed state office park that includes various state agencies and non-profit organizations. “This area of the campus is busy, hectic and full of pedestrians and vehicles,” the report states. “Londergan Hall projects a feeling of authority with its traditional historic design. This building does not represent a vision focused on treatment, rehabilitation, and hope for the future.” The report will be submitted to a commission created to work with communities and the state during the design process.
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Whistleblower tells Congress that govt is delivering migrant children to human traffickers

A whistleblower who viewed first-hand what she testifies is a “sophisticated network” of child migrant smuggling into forced labor and other forms of slavery is calling on Congress to act to crack down on the U.S. role in that network. The hearing, “The Biden Border Crisis: Exploitation of Unaccompanied Alien Children,” was held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement and included HHS whistleblower Tara Lee Rodas as a witness. Rodas, who was detailed with Health and Human Services at an Emergency Intake Site in Pomona, California, told lawmakers about what she experienced on the ground.  “I thought I was going to help place children in loving homes. Instead, I discovered that children are being trafficked through a sophisticated network that begins with recruiting in their home country, smuggled to the U.S. border, and ends when [Office of Refugee Resettlement] delivers a child to a sponsor – some sponsors are criminals and traffickers and members of Transnational Criminal Organizations. Some sponsors view children as commodities and assets to be used for earning income – this is why we are witnessing an explosion of labor trafficking,” Rodas said. HHS CHIEF ‘UNFAMILIAR’ WITH REPORTS THAT AGENCY CAN’T CONTACT 85,000 UNACCOMPANIED MIGRANT KIDS According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics, the number of UACs who arrive at the border has swelled from 33,239 in fiscal year 2020 to more than 146,000 in fiscal year 2021 and 152,000 in fiscal year 2022. So far in fiscal year 2023, there have been more than 70,000 encounters of unaccompanied children. When child migrants are encountered at the border, they are transferred into the custody of Health and Human Services (HHS) and then united with a sponsor – typically a parent or family member already in the U.S. But the administration has been hit by a number of New York Times reports detailing a rise in child exploitation, where children are forced into the labor force — sometimes to pay back their smuggling costs. It has led to concerns that, by transporting children to sponsors, the U.S. is involved in child trafficking. The Times reported how officials reportedly ignored signs of “explosive” growth in the child labor force. “Whether intentional or not, it could be argued that the U.S. Government has become the middleman in a large scale, multi-billion-dollar, child trafficking operation that is run by bad actors seeking to profit off of the lives of children,” Rodas said. Rodas said how she saw children becoming captive to their “sponsors” as they couldn’t seek help in English or Spanish and sponsors using multiple addresses to obtain sponsorships of children. She said she does not see it as a political issue, but as a humanitarian issue, noting that it has been a crisis going on for nearly 10 years. DHS REMOVED JUST 409 OF 345,000 UNACCOMPANIED CHILD MIGRANTS SINCE FISCAL YEAR 2021 “Realizing that we were not offering children the American dream, but instead putting them in modern-day slavery with wicked overlords was a terrible revelation,” she said, adding that her life “will never be the same” after what she saw. Republicans have blamed the ongoing crisis on the Biden administration’s policies, which they say have encouraged illegal migration and for parents to put their children into the hands of smugglers. Democrats have noted that the issue predated the Biden administration, and have pointed to efforts being undertaken to increase oversight of sponsors — along with new taskforces, greater information sharing and calls for greater funding. Rodas told lawmakers that “it is my hope you’ll take action to end this crisis, to safeguard the lives of these vulnerable children.” She called for greater oversight and transparency from HHS including from the Office of Inspector General, the stopping of “retaliation” against whistleblowers,” an end to a “culture of speed over safety” and a requirement that sponsors report to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. “As it is written: A wise man listens to advice, while a fool continues in his folly. HHS needs to be wise to care for these children,” she said. Last month, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra pushed back on the agency being unable to contact 85,000 minors, and he also said HHS authorities are limited by Congress. “Congress has given us certain authorities. Our authorities end when we have found a suitable sponsor to place that child with. We try and do some follow-up, but neither the child or the sponsor is actually obligated to follow up with us,” he said. Meanwhile, domestic policy adviser Susan Rice – who left her role this week – responded to the Times report that her team was shown evidence of a growing migrant child labor crisis. “We were never informed of any kind of systematic problem with child labor or migrant child labor,” she said.
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House passes McCarthy’s debt ceiling bill by two votes, four Republicans vote against

House Republicans delivered Speaker Kevin McCarthy the biggest win of his tenure leading the chamber so far on Wednesday by passing his bill to raise the debt limit and slash spending, a bill that serves as the GOP’s position on how to avoid a debt crisis in the coming weeks. The bill passed in a narrow 217-215 vote. Every Democrat voted against it, as expected, along with four Republicans – Andy Biggs of Arizona, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Ken Buck of Colorado and Matt Gaetz of Florida. Republicans cast the vote as a win that puts them in the driver’s seat in negotiations they hope can happen with President Biden in the coming weeks. Biden has refused to entertain anything other than a clean increase in the debt ceiling, while Republicans insist he should agree to some trimming in the federal budget as a condition of raising the government’s borrowing limit. “If President Biden’s got a better idea, it’s long past time he puts those ideas on the table,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., said Wednesday on the House floor. “This is not a problem you run and hide from. In fact, when you asked to be president of the United States, you’re the commander in chief. You’re the leader of the free world… This is not a job where you run and hide from the tough things. These are the moments where you step up.” BIDEN THREATENS TO VETO HOUSE GOP PLAN TO ADDRESS DEBT LIMIT Without some agreement to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government is at risk of not being able to pay its bills sometime around early June. The House vote came after several dissenting GOP lawmakers gradually fell in line behind McCarthy on Wednesday after spending hours in the Speaker’s office the day before. Rep. Nancy Mace, for example, who told reporters she was unhappy with the legislation and how leaders went about cobbling it together on Wednesday morning, emerged from McCarthy’s office later that afternoon singing a different tune. “We had a very productive meeting, it was very good. I feel like our voice has been heard, and that we’re going to work on this together going forward,” said Mace, R-N.C. All four members of the Iowa House delegation, all Republicans, released a joint statement hours before the vote announcing their intent to support the bill. They were part of a group of about seven or eight lawmakers from the “corn belt” who were concerned about the initial bill’s repeal of tax credits that would impede ethanol production in their state. HOUSE LEADERS ‘CONFIDENT’ DEBT CEILING BILL WILL PASS DESPITE SOME GOP HESITANCE “Having successfully amended the bill to protect funding for these tax credits, our delegation will vote for this legislation, which is a starting point to avoid a default and cut wasteful spending,” the statement read. GOP leaders tweaked the bill overnight to assuage concerns from key Republican factions who appeared ready to oppose it on Tuesday. The changes soften their repeal of the biofuel tax credits and move the legislation’s planned activation of work requirements for federal benefits up from 2025 to 2024. It was also enough to win over Reps. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., and George Santos, R-N.Y., who both announced they were solid “yes” votes on the bill. JEAN-PIERRE GETS DEFENSIVE ON BIDEN DEBT CEILING STRATEGY, SHIFTS BLAME TO MCCARTHY The Limit, Save, Grow Act aims to raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or through the end of March 2024, whichever benchmark is hit first. It also caps spending increases to 1% for the next decade. Meanwhile, in addition to the aforementioned cost-saving measures, it also caps discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels. The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate, however, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has criticized House Republicans for trying to pair spending cuts with raising the debt limit. Similarly, Biden threatened to veto the bill if it comes to his desk, and on Wednesday refused again to negotiate spending cuts in conjunction with a debt limit increase. That position was backed up by House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who accused Republicans on the House floor of presiding over “exploding deficits” and going down “a dangerous path” with their legislation.
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Senate Dem blocks bill to ‘save women’s sports’ after GOP’s Tuberville calls for quick passage

A lone Democrat on Wednesday blocked the Senate from passing legislation that would prevent biological males from competing as transgender athletes on girls’ and women’s sports teams at schools and universities. The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act passed the House last week with no support from Democrats, and on Wednesday, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., stood on the Senate floor and asked for unanimous consent to quickly pass the bill in the Senate. Tuberville, who was head football coach at the University of Mississippi and Auburn University, said he started out as a girls’ basketball coach and saw firsthand how important Title IX was in giving girls and women opportunities to play sports. “Title IX was just starting to be implemented when I took the job,” he said on the floor of the 1972 federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding, which is credited for broadly expanding female sports programs. “I was there to see its incredible impact it had on young girls all over this country. For the first time, the young women I coached had equal access to facilities, resources and competition.” “I saw those hardworking athletes go on to earn college scholarships, start careers and become leaders in their own communities,” he said. ‘SAVE WOMEN’S SPORTS’ BILL PASSES HOUSE WITH ZERO VOTES FROM DEMS, WHO CALL IT TRANSGENDER ‘BULLYING’ He warned the Biden administration’s support for allowing transgender girls and women to play alongside biological women is “taking a sledgehammer… to Title IX.” “A few weeks ago, on Good Friday of all days, Joe Biden’s Department of Education issued a new rule completely reinterpreting Title IX,” Tuberville said. “Biden’s rule says schools cannot ban boys from participating in women’s sports or else they’ll lose their funding.” “That means teachers and coaches will have to begin opening their girls’ and women’s teams, fields and locker rooms to biological males,” he said. “It’s unfair, it’s unsafe and it’s downright wrong. To be honest, it’s moronic.” Under the House bill that passed last week, educational institutions that receive Title IX funding would not be allowed to permit biological male athletes to “participate in an athletic program or activity that is designed for women or girls.” It holds that the sex of an athlete is defined only by their “reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” But when Tuberville called on the Senate to pass the House bill by unanimous consent, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, objected on behalf of her party and said the bill would block people from participating in sports “consistent with their gender.” RILEY GAINES ‘AMBUSHED AND PHYSICALLY HIT’ AFTER SAVING WOMEN’S SPORTS SPEECH AT SAN FRANCISCO STATE “They continue to hurl insulting lies about transgender girls dominating sports,” Hirono said. “But what is true is that these bans are deeply hurtful to transgender girls, particularly transgender girls of color, girls who are gender-nonconforming, and cisgender girls as well.” “This isn’t about supporting women and girls,” she added. “This is about power and control. My Republican colleagues are obsessed with controlling women’s bodies and our lives, as we are seeing today.” “We shouldn’t be banning anyone from playing sports, we should be fighting the discrimination that all women and girls – trans, cis or otherwise – continue to face athletics, in the classroom and in the workplace,” Hirono said. “For these reasons, I object.” That objection is a sign Senate Democrats will never consider the bill and will not schedule it at all for debate in the upper chamber. Hirono’s argument mirrored comments heard in the House debate, when Democrats accused Republicans of “bullying” transgender students by looking to ban their participation in school sports. But Republicans say Democrats are destroying women’s sports by allowing males to compete on their teams. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., said Democrats are ignoring the obvious differences between men and women “in worship to their trans idols” and has said Congress needs to act to “save women’s sports” – arguments that Tuberville echoed in the Senate. ESPN PERSONALITIES SLAM BIDEN’S TITLE IX PROPOSAL AMID UPROAR OVER TRANSGENDER ATHLETES IN WOMEN’S SPORTS “Males have 40 to 50 percent greater upper body strength and 20 to 40 percent [greater] lower body strength. It’s dangerous to put them on the same field with women,” Tuberville said of transgender women athletes. “This is basic biology. But what did we see from the party of science last week? Exactly zero Democrats in the House voted for this bill in the House,” he said. “Zero. The party of science seems to have skipped biology class.” Tuberville added that by his count, 28 championships have been “taken away from girls and women at the hands of biological males.” While Senate Democrats are unlikely to consider the bill again, Tuberville said the call for unanimous approval of the House legislation will help Americans “find out where the Senate Democrats stand.” “Americans do not want the federal government footing the bill for a policy that is a slap in the face to women who have worked so hard in the field of athletics,” he said. “It’s time to act before the situation gets worse.”
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Indiana budget plan to include school voucher expansion, expedited tax cuts

Indiana’s new state budget will expand eligibility for its private school voucher program to higher earners and speed up planned income tax rate cuts under a deal announced Wednesday by Republican legislative leaders. Senate Republicans had resisted both House-backed moves but they were included in the budget agreement after an updated tax revenue report released last week showed the state is projected to collect about $1.5 billion, or 2.5% more than previously expected through July 2025. INDIANA SENATE LIKELY TO PASS BILL STRIPPING TEACHERS UNIONS OF SOME LEVERAGE Republican leaders said the budget deal increases K-12 school funding by nearly $1.2 billion, or 8%, over the budget’s two years. The voucher expansion, however, could take up more than $500 million of that amount by raising the family income limit and lifting other restrictions on qualifying for state money toward private school tuition. Supporters of the voucher expansion argue it empowers parents to decide which school is best for their children. The plan raises the voucher income limit for a family of four from the current $154,000 to $220,000. NEW INDIANA STATE BUDGET PLAN WOULD KILL PROPOSED PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM EXPANSION Democratic Rep. Greg Porter criticized the voucher expansion as a “despicable” step that will leave traditional school districts with funding increases below the inflation rate while benefiting well-off families. The budget deal also includes speeding up individual income tax rate cuts approved a year ago. Under the plan, the tax rate would decline in small steps from the current 3.15% to 2.9% in 2027 — two years earlier than currently scheduled. The budget agreement comes as the Republican-dominated Legislature faces a deadline to conclude this year’s session by the end of this week.
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