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In his fiscal 2022 budget request, President Biden made official his opposition to the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old ban on federal funding for abortions that he long supported before reversing his stance during the presidential campaign.

Biden’s decision to omit the Hyde language from his spending proposal makes good on his campaign promise to get rid of it and signals his support for abortion rights at a time when several conservative states are trying to limit them.

In June 2019, candidate Biden declared he could no longer support limits on funding for abortions in an environment where the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion is under attack in Republican-majority states, saying “circumstances have changed.”

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“We’ve seen state after state including Georgia passing extreme laws,” Biden said then. “It’s clear that these folks are going to stop at nothing to get rid of Roe.”

Washington Post

President decries antisemitic attacks

President Biden on Friday called a recent spate of antisemitic attacks “despicable,” “unconscionable,” and “un-American” and said they must stop.

“I will not allow our fellow Americans to be intimidated or attacked because of who they are or the faith they practice,” Biden said in a statement on the last Friday of Jewish American Heritage Month. “We cannot allow the toxic combination of hatred, dangerous lies, and conspiracy theories to put our fellow Americans at risk.”

Biden referred to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s announcement Thursday that the Justice Department would be deploying all of the tools at its disposal to combat hate crimes. On May 20, Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which assigns a Justice Department official to expedite reviews of all hate crimes related to the coronavirus. Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, introduced the bill in March after a spike in violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic.

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“In recent days, we have seen that no community is immune,” Biden added Friday. “We must all stand together to silence these terrible and terrifying echoes of the worst chapters in world history, and pledge to give hate no safe harbor. ... Let us all take up that work and create a nation that stands for, and stands up for, the dignity and safety of all of our people.”

Washington Post

Harris highlights challenges at Annapolis commencement

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Vice President Kamala Harris focused on the challenges of the pandemic, climate change, and cybersecurity threats during her keynote speech to graduates at the US Naval Academy on Friday, the first by a woman at the 175-year-old institution.

Harris, the nation’s first female vice president and the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent to hold the office, said the pandemic “has accelerated our world into a new era.”

“It has forever impacted our world,’' she said. ’'It has forever influenced our perspective, and if we weren’t clear before, we know now: Our world is interconnected. Our world is interdependent, and our world is fragile.”

A pandemic can spread throughout the world in a matter of months, a gang of hackers can disrupt the fuel supply, and one country’s carbon emissions can threaten the sustainability of the Earth, the vice president said.

“This, midshipmen, is the era we are in, and it is unlike any era that came before,” Harris said. “So, the challenge now, the challenge before us now is how to mount a modern defense to these modern threats.”

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Harris described the cyberattack earlier this month that shut down the nation’s largest fuel pipeline as “a warning shot” in what the new Navy and Marine Corps officers will be facing.

“In fact, there have been many warning shots, so we must defend our nation against these threats, and at the same time we must make advances in things that you’ve been learning — things like quantum computing and artificial intelligence and robotics and things that will put our nation at a strategic advantage,” Harris said.

In her speech to more than 1,000 graduates, including ones who majored in mechanical, electrical, and ocean engineering, Harris described climate change as “a very real threat to our national security.”

“I look at you, and I know you are among the experts who will navigate and mitigate the threat,” Harris said.

Most of the 1,084 graduates were commissioned as officers in the Navy and Marine Corps, including 784 Navy ensigns and 274 Marines as 2nd lieutenants. About 28 percent of the graduating class are women.

Associated Press

‘Special master’ to be appointed in Giuliani review

NEW YORK — A judge said Friday that he will appoint a “special master” to protect attorney-client privilege during a review of materials seized from Rudolph Giuliani and another lawyer who have represented former president Donald Trump.

US District Judge J. Paul Oetken directed Manhattan prosecutors and attorneys for Giuliani and Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing to submit possible candidates next week for the position.

The judge rejected efforts by Giuliani and Toensing to force prosecutors to divulge more about why they seized electronic devices on April 28. Prosecutors made the unusual request for the appointment of a lawyer or “special master” to protect attorney-client privilege the day after the raids, citing the need to make it clear that materials were reviewed appropriately.

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Prosecutors are examining Giuliani’s interactions with Ukrainian figures and whether he violated a law governing lobbying on behalf of foreign countries or entities made the request for a “special master” almost immediately after the raids.

Prosecutors later revealed that the FBI has successfully downloaded 11 devices belonging to Giuliani and returned them to him. They said seven more devices belonging to Giuliani and his business cannot be fully accessed without a passcode and will require more time to unlock.

Giuliani, a Republican and former mayor of New York City, has not been charged with a crime. He has said all of his activities in Ukraine were conducted on behalf of Trump. At the time, Giuliani was leading a campaign to press Ukraine for an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, before Biden was elected president.

Associated Press

Institute for justice says access to vote is in ‘peril’

The scope of the Republican-led effort to overhaul voting regulations in states across the country now makes it one of the most significant restrictions of access to the ballot in a generation, according to a report released on Friday by the Brennan Center for Justice, a research institute.

As of May 14, lawmakers had passed 22 new laws in 14 states to make the process of voting more difficult, according to the group. The laws vary, including both minor alterations to procedures and major election overhaul bills that have passed in Georgia, Florida, Iowa and other states.

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“Americans’ access to the vote is in unprecedented peril,” the report said.

The provisions making it harder to vote include new limits to absentee voting, limiting early voting hours, expanding purges of voter rolls and reducing polling location availability. The report also highlights legislative trends such as expanding access and autonomy for partisan poll watchers, granting more authority over election administration to state legislatures, and new and harsher punishments for election officials.

Though many of the largest, most significant battleground states controlled by Republicans have already passed their most ambitious voting measures, more new laws are still likely to come.

According to the Brennan Center, bills with restrictions on voting have advanced in at least 18 state legislatures that are still in session.

New York Times