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At the Races: Anti-woke appropriating

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Attacks on transgender rights have become a staple of Republican politics. State lawmakers have enacted 70 anti-LGBTQ bills so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and on the campaign trail, conservative candidates have grown increasingly vocal about their intention to repeal gay and transgender protections.

Republicans in the House have opened a new front in their escalating effort to target LGBTQ Americans by infusing must-pass spending bills with their “war on woke” agenda.

Many of those provisions are aimed at transgender youth, such as one in the education appropriations bill prohibiting the use of funds to implement Title IX rules regarding the participation of transgender athletes on high school and college athletic teams.

This week saw Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee striking earmarks for three LGBTQ community centers. The move, which came during Tuesday’s markup of the fiscal 2024 Transportation-HUD Appropriations bill, enraged Democrats on the committee. As CQ Roll Call’s Aidan Quigley reported, money for the three projects in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts was removed as part of a Republican en bloc amendment that advanced other GOP culture priorities, including a provision that would ban flying pride flags over government buildings.

Will Rollins, a Democrat who is vying to challenge California GOP Rep. Ken Calvert, a member of the Appropriations panel, called the committee’s action “unfathomable” because the district is “home to one of our nation’s most vibrant LGBTQ communities, including my partner Paolo and me.” He called the earmarks’ removal a “bigoted, misguided vote” that may “help rile up the far-right fundraising base, but it sure as hell doesn’t make the 91 freeway any less congested.”

Conservatives embedded anti-LBGTQ riders in other bills that Congress traditionally passes each year. The House-approved version of the National Defense Authorization Act, for example, includes amendments that would limit gender-affirming medical care for servicemembers and their families and end diversity initiatives within the military.

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a bill by Texas Republican Rep. Daniel Crenshaw that would ban federal funding for pediatric residency training slots at children’s hospitals that offer gender-affirming care to underage patients.

The Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to place the same restrictions on spending that the House has embraced. But the GOP’s zeal for curtailing gay and transgender rights shows no signs of abating and will likely play an outsize role in the 2024 campaigns. 

Starting gate

Stay tuned: West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III offered no insight about his future plans when he headlined a New Hampshire town hall with former Utah Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman sponsored by No Labels, the group working to get a third-party presidential ticket on the ballot in all 50 states. Check out The Count below for new polling data about the impact such a ticket would have.

Censure dollars: Democrats’ outrage over Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s censure helped him tap a cash spigot for his Senate run in California, while the average House Republican facing a tough reelection in 2024 raised more and had more cash on hand than a similarly situated Democrat, the latest Federal Election Commission disclosures show

Santos, Santos, Santos: One exception was indicted New York Rep. George Santos. Not only did he raise the least of any battleground Republican, but there are three Democrats and one Republican seeking the seat who outraised him. The week also saw several Democrats introduce a measure to censure Santos, while a Freedom of Information Act request filed by CQ Roll Call’s Jim Saksa found he may not be doing as much constituent casework as his colleagues. On the upside, he can now go to the mall at Pentagon City or Tysons Corner without first telling federal authorities.

Judgment: With the Senate Judiciary Committee advancing a bill along party lines to impose a code of ethics on the Supreme Court, a poll by two liberal groups found support for such a code would make voters more likely to support a Senate candidate.

ICYMI

Senate map: Montana Sen. Steve Daines, the chair of the NRSC, shed more light on where the committee plans to pick sides in Republican primaries next year, saying in an interview with CBS that he wouldn’t endorse in Ohio’s three-way primary as he has in West Virginia and his home state. He said there would be updates to come about recruitment efforts in Wisconsin and he was “noncommittal” about what would happen in Arizona. 

GOP split: Conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein has maxed out on donations to Rep. Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia, who is running for Senate, and Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, who is moving toward a Senate run. Mooney and Rosendale aren’t the preferred candidates of the NRSC, which is backing Gov. Jim Justice in West Virginia and Tim Sheehy in Montana, and the Uihlein contributions suggest the messy intraparty rifts that defined the 2022 cycle and contributed to the GOP’s loss of control in the chamber remain in play in two key states.

Trump factor: In a bit of good news for the NRSC, CNN reports that former President Donald Trump won’t endorse Rosendale or Mooney. National Republicans have been maneuvering for months to prevent the volatile former president “from undermining their efforts to prop up their preferred candidates in the nation’s most pivotal Senate races,” CNN said.

Survey says: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose made it official that he’s running for the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, and a Suffolk University poll of registered voters found LaRose and Brown in a 45 percent to 45 percent dead heat. Brown was doing better against the other two GOP contenders, leading Cleveland business owner Bernie Moreno 48 percent to 41 percent and state Sen. Matt Dolan 46 percent to 43 percent.

Counterpoint: After Republicans last week introduced what a sponsor called the “most conservative election integrity bill to be seriously considered in the House in over 20 years,” Democrats countered by reintroducing one they passed when they controlled the chamber in the last Congress, CQ Roll Call’s Justin Papp writes.

AL map: The Alabama Senate passed a new congressional map that has just one majority-Black district, similar to a map passed by the state House, during a special session this week called in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling that its map likely violated the Voting Rights Act. Committees in both chambers met Thursday and lawmakers reportedly expected a conference committee on Friday to choose a map. 

New role: Former Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who served President Joe Biden as a senior adviser in the White House, will co-chair Biden’s reelection campaign. 

They’re running: Phil Ehr, a Navy veteran, launched a campaign against Florida Sen. Rick Scott. Ehr lost a 2020 House race to GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz. Democratic former Assemblymember Rudy Salas announced he will try again to oust GOP Rep. David Valadao in California after losing by 3 points in 2022. 

#VASen: Hung Cao, a retired Navy captain, entered the race to challenge Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, next year. Cao lost a House race to Rep. Jennifer Wexton in the 10th District by 6.5 points last year. In a video announcing his campaign, Cao compared the Biden administration to communist leaders in Vietnam, where he is from. 

A race upended: The special election to fill an open House seat in Rhode Island was turned upside down Monday, when election officials in Jamestown asked police to investigate potentially fraudulent nomination signatures submitted by Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, a Democrat. By late Wednesday, Matos’ campaign was facing another criminal investigation. The Newport canvassing board voted to refer multiple forgery allegations to police after WPRI-TV interviewed voters who said their names appeared on petitions submitted by Matos that they never signed. Matos, who had racked up numerous endorsements and enjoys widespread name recognition, was viewed as a front-runner by many Ocean State political observers. She is one of a dozen Democrats vying in the September special primary for the 1st District seat, which has been empty since Democratic Rep. David Cicilline stepped down in June.

Endorsement watch: VIEW PAC, which supports Republican women running for Congress, endorsed State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder for Michigan’s open Senate seat. 

What we’re reading

Walker donors want cash back: Former Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker still has a campaign war chest totaling nearly $4.5 million, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that some of his donors want refunds.

‘The Humiliation of Ron DeSantis’: That’s the title of The Atlantic’s scathing look at the state of the Florida governor’s presidential campaign. “He promised to run as Trump plus an attention span, and instead he is running as Trump minus jokes,” the piece states.

Voices from Iowa: PBS NewsHour recently held a focus group with two-time Trump voters from Iowa to hear about their hopes and concerns for the nation. Many believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. “It almost feels a little bit like a civil war,” one participant said. 

Fetterman feature: TIME caught up with Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., and his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, who granted the magazine extensive access for a cover story. “My message is, I don’t care if you’re a Trumper, MAGA, or hard leftist, or anyone in between. Depression comes across the spectrum, and get help with it,” the senator said.

The count: 16 percent

That’s the share of U.S. adults, despite widespread dissatisfaction with Biden and Trump being the only potential options for the White House, who said they would definitely or probably vote for a Manchin-Huntsman third-party ticket for president next year, according to a new Monmouth University poll. While pollster Patrick Murray said the findings were “still very much in the realm of hypotheticals,” the survey found slightly more Republican voters backed the ticket than Democrats. But support for a generic third-party ticket was higher than one with specific names, especially when the potential spoiler effect such a vote could have on either Trump or Biden was mentioned.

Nathan’s notes

Winning the governor’s office in Washington state is still an uphill climb for Republicans, but former Rep. Dave Reichert’s decision to run puts the race on the 2024 battlefield, Nathan writes.

Shop talk: Niccara Campbell-Wallace

Campbell-Wallace is the executive director of the Rolling Sea Action Fund, a new hybrid PAC that launched this week with plans to engage with Black voters through paid ads, organizing and community engagement events in competitive congressional districts and swing states. “There’s always an ‘always on’ engagement strategy that is sharing the mission and the values of the Congressional Black Caucus,” she said. “But you know right now we currently have no Black women in the Senate, and we need to make sure we’re playing in places that are important, that have good populations of Black people, and making sure we win back the House.” The PAC’s name comes from a line in the Black national anthem, she added. 

Starting out: Campbell-Wallace said she got involved in politics “by accident.” While a student at the University of Maryland, she needed to complete an internship as part of her African American studies major. She figured an internship in a Hill office would work and was excited by the work with Black youth that Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay was doing. “Honestly, I’ve been hooked ever since,” she said.

Most unforgettable campaign moment: “Picture it: Election Day 2018. We won back the House,” she said, noting that she worked for the DCCC at the time. “That was the most crazy moment of my life, and I think about it all the time.”

Biggest campaign regret: “Not trusting my gut when I know I should have,” she said, adding that it’s something she thinks many women can relate to. “If I can tell any young person: Know that you’re supposed to be there and that your voice is valuable and just really, really trust in that. There’s a couple times I should have just trusted my gut.”

Unconventional wisdom: “It’s something that my Dad imparted on me when I was pretty young is that from the janitor to the CEO, you treat everyone the same because you never know in life where you might end up, and [there is] no truer phrase than that in politics,” she said. “You might think, I’m never going to see that person again. I don’t have to worry about them. It’s like, nope. You’re probably going to see them in the next job or two jobs from now or three jobs from now, and honestly that has happened to me ever since I got my start. I’ve seen the same people time and time again.”

Coming up

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte teased “some big news in the coming days” after New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Wednesday he wouldn’t run for a fifth term next year. Ayotte is considered a potential candidate to replace Sununu, but if she gets into the race she won’t have the Republican primary to herself. Chuck Morse, a former state senator who lost a Republican Senate primary last year, launched a gubernatorial campaign not long after Sununu made his announcement. 

Photo finish

While they have not said whether they’re running, Sens. Joe Manchin III, left, and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., had the biggest bankrolls of all the senators whose terms are up next year, with $10.8 million each, new FEC filings show. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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Photos of the week ending June 14, 2024