A 47-acre park on the banks of the Rio Grande River is the scene of a tense standoff between Texas state officials and the federal government, a growing crisis that escalated this week when Gov. Greg Abbott (R) defied a U.S. Supreme Court order to allow Border Patrol agents to cut down razor wire strung through the river.
The record number of migrants coming across America’s southern border has spawned two political crises: The first pits Abbott, and the 25 Republican governors who signed a letter backing him up this week, against the Biden administration. The second pits House Republicans, urged on by former President Donald Trump, against Biden and the Senate, who want to reach a border deal tied to funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.
The former raises the prospect that Biden could become the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to federalize a state’s National Guard against a governor’s wishes. The White House has dodged questions about whether Biden would take that step, and smart observers point out there are plenty of legal channels left at the president’s disposal before such a step would be taken.
The latter crisis — in which House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) appears poised to hold up a broader deal on border security and foreign aid in order to deny Biden an election-year win — threatens to become a political minefield ahead of November’s presidential election.
Trump has made clear he wants to use immigration as a cudgel against Biden in November. But Republican senators — including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — are appalled at the obstructionism, and their comments will play on repeat in the coming months.
The nation has weathered many destabilizing storms in recent years. This one has the potential to escalate into a hurricane.
Here are nine things you missed in the states this week:
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Lawmakers in Vermont and Virginia have introduced bills to require AI developers to ensure their systems do not discriminate. The bills would mandate that developers conduct impact assessments to identify potential risks of harm from high-risk and generative AI systems. (Pluribus News)
SOCIAL MEDIA: The Florida House advanced legislation barring those under 16 from having a social media account in a bipartisan vote that one lawmaker described as a “shot across the bow” of tech companies. Social media companies could be fined up to $10,000 for each violation. (Pluribus News)
TECHNOLOGY: Iowa legislators have advanced legislation requiring social media companies to use age verification technology to restrict access to obscene material. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said she would introduce legislation to require age verification for pornographic websites, similar to laws in Utah and Texas. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
Maryland lawmakers introduced an Online Data Privacy Act on Wednesday that would require large tech companies to limit the consumer data they collect to those data points necessary for legitimate business needs. The bill would establish a list of consumer rights to view, correct, delete or opt out of data collection. (Washington Post)
ABORTION: The Wisconsin Assembly approved a bill Thursday that would set a statewide referendum to ban abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy. Current state law allows the procedure up to 20 weeks. The measure was passed over the opposition of Democrats and 10 Republicans. (Associated Press)
LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Ohio Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of legislation barring gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The measure also bars mental health professionals from diagnosing or treating gender disorders without parental consent, and it bans transgender girls from women’s sports. (Pluribus News)
A Missouri House committee approved a bill barring medical providers from prescribing hormone and puberty blockers for minors, and a measure allowing health care professionals to refuse to provide gender identity transition care if it contradicts personal beliefs. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
HEALTH CARE: The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced legislation limiting pain-and-suffering damages in medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. The bill would cap “non-economic damages” at $500,000 from doctors and practitioners, and $750,000 from hospitals. (WUSF)
ANTISEMITISM: Georgia’s Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously passed legislation defining antisemitism in state law. The measure was already passed by the state House, making its final passage in the Senate likely in the coming weeks. Arkansas passed a measure defining antisemitism last year. (Associated Press)
COLLEGE SPORTS: Ten states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice are suing the NCAA over transfer and eligibility rules they allege illegally restrain an athlete’s ability to make money. The lawsuit seeks to force the NCAA to allow college athletes to play sports immediately after transferring schools. (Minnesota Reformer)
POLITICS: The Republican State Leadership Committee will target Democratic majorities in Michigan, Minnesota and the Pennsylvania House this November, while aiming to protect slim majorities in Arizona and New Hampshire, the group said. The RSLC touted its absentee ballot and early voting program, which it first field-tested in Virginia in 2023. (Pluribus News)
Sometimes we feel like we’ve written that Democrats and Republicans will target Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania about every 18 months for the past decade.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) will not seek a third term in office this year. Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller (R) is considering a run, and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R) jumped in the race right away. Attorney General Drew Wrigley (R) said he would seek re-election. (Fargo Forum)
More than 300,000 voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, setting a new turnout record. The previous record stood at about 296,000 voters who showed up to pick a Democratic nominee in 2020. (New York Times)
Don’t expect California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to endorse a successor anytime soon. Asked whether he would weigh in on the increasingly crowded field lined up to replace him when he faces term limits in 2026, Newsom “grumbled about having only served ‘five goddamn years.’” (Los Angeles Times)
Arizona Republican Party chairman Jeff DeWit resigned abruptly Wednesday after audio showed him apparently offering U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake (R) a lucrative job if she ended her bid to challenge Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I). DeWit said he resigned after Lake’s team threatened him with the release of a “new, more damaging recording.” (Arizona Republic)