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Over five decades in Washington, Joe Biden knew that the way to influence was to be in the room where it happens. But in the second year of his presidency, some of Biden’s most striking, legacy-defining legislative victories have come about by staying out of it. It's a counterintuitive turn for Biden, who's long promoted his decades of Capitol Hill experience. Biden’s aides chalk up his victories to the fact that he's playing the role of cheerleader rather than legislative quarterback. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana says that in Biden's heart, he's a U.S. senator. And because of that, Tester says Biden "understands allowing this to work is how you get it done.”

Democratic hopefuls in Wisconsin see abortion as the issue that will carry them to election wins in November, but efforts to reach Black voters on the topic are sparse. Several organizing groups said it's a complicated issue in the Black community, with a legacy of views long handed down from the more prominent and conservative denominations in the Black church. Polling data shows that abortion is a slightly more potent issue for white voters in the Democratic coalition than for Black voters. Most of the groups organizing in the Milwaukee area, a critical area for Democrats to win statewide races, are steering away from messaging solely on the issue.

Republicans who are running to be secretary of state in Wisconsin and Minnesota in primaries Tuesday are repeating Donald Trump’s false claims about the last presidential election and they've suggested they want more authority over how elections are run, especially in Democratic-leaning counties. Wisconsin’s office of secretary of state has no role in elections, but that could change if Republicans are able to win the post this year and pass a law that would empower the office with far more responsibilities. In Minnesota, the leading GOP secretary of state candidate has called the 2020 election a “train wreck.” Connecticut and Vermont also are holding primaries for secretary of state on Tuesday.

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The Senate is working through the night and into the morning as Democrats push their election-year economic package toward passage. The legislation is less ambitious than President Joe Biden’s original domestic goals. But it does embody deep-rooted party dreams of slowing global warming, moderating pharmaceutical costs and taxing big corporations. Debate began Saturday and by sunrise on Sunday, Democrats had swatted down a dozen Republican efforts to torpedo the legislation, with no clear end in sight. Despite unanimous GOP opposition, Democratic unity in the 50-50 chamber, along with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, suggested the party was on track for a morale-boosting victory three months from elections when congressional control is at stake.

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A divided Senate has voted to start debating Democrats’ election-year economic bill. The sprawling measure contains many of President Joe Biden’s climate, energy, health and tax goals. United Democrats pushed the 755-page measure toward Senate approval early Sunday. Before reaching final passage, senators plodded through a nonstop pile of amendments that seemed certain to last hours. The package is a dwindled version of earlier multitrillion-dollar bills from Biden that Democrats failed to advance. The measure has become a partisan battleground over inflation, gasoline prices and other issues that polls show are driving voters. The House, where Democrats have a slender majority, could give the legislation final approval next Friday.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's wife says her husband wants to subpoena the records of the country’s top infectious disease expert. Paul’s wife, Kelley, made the comments during the political speaking at the Fancy Farm picnic Saturday in western Kentucky. She waded into the dispute between her husband and Dr. Anthony Fauci while promoting her husband's bid for a third term. Sen. Paul is being challenged by Democrat Charles Booker, a former state lawmaker. He told the crowd that Paul votes against the interests of Kentuckians. Booker denounced Paul as a “terrible senator” and an “embarrassment” to the state.

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While Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear was consoling families displaced by historic flooding in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, Republicans at the state’s premier political event on the other side of the state were campaigning to oust him from office in 2023. They bashed Beshear’s pandemic restrictions but offered support for recovery efforts that the Democratic governor is leading in the wake of historic flooding and tornadoes. While his challengers aimed zingers at him, Beshear spent Saturday consoling families displaced by the flash flooding that swamped the Appalachian region more than a week ago. He visited two state parks where some of the suddenly homeless took refuge.

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Eli Lilly and Co. and the administration of President Joe Biden have condemned Indiana’s new ban on abortions. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement Saturday said Indiana's Republican legislators have “put personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians rather than women and their doctors.” Lilly says it's concerned the law will hinder the company's and Indiana’s “ability to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world.” The law lifts the ban in cases of rape or incest and to protect the life and physical health of the mother. It takes effect Sept. 15.

Some North Carolina principals are worried they could get a pay cut in the upcoming school year instead of the raises they’re supposed to be receiving in the new state budget. State lawmakers approved a budget in July that includes a 4% raise in the salary schedule for principals. But it also changes how school test scores will be used to determine pay. Instead of using multiple years of test data, this year’s budget bases principal compensation on just the 2021-22 school year, when schools were still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The News & Observer reports that principals across the state are talking about how the change could lead to them seeing pay cuts.

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Some South Carolina lawmakers who oppose abortion are being cautious when it comes to tightening the state's already restrictive laws even further. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, paving the way for states to enact total bans if they choose to do so. South Carolina currently has a law banning abortion after cardiac activity is detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy. Lawmakers called a special session after the high court's decision in June to discuss the issue. But some are hesitating after seeing voters in conservative Kansas overwhelmingly reject a measure that would allow the legislature to tighten restrictions or enact a total ban.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats have made changes in their giant economic bill that include paring part of their proposed minimum tax on huge corporations. Schumer described some of the revisions Friday as Democrats lined up the votes needed to deliver a campaign-season victory to President Joe Biden on his domestic agenda. Schumer also said bargainers dropped a proposed tax boost on hedge fund executives after pivotal centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said she would otherwise vote “no.” Schumer said the package would instead levy new taxes on companies that buy back their own stock.

Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint are the leading candidates in a Democratic U.S. House primary that could make either of them the first female member of the state's congressional delegation. Gray has the backing of the centrist lane of the party, with endorsements from two former governors and a campaign donation from retiring U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy. Balint has been endorsed by an all-star list of progressive leaders, including the state’s other U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders, and the founders of Vermont’s famously progressive ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s. The winner of Tuesday’s primary is expected to cruise to victory in November in deep-blue Vermont.

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Indiana’s governor signed a relief bill Friday night that will provide $200 rebate payments from the state’s surging budget surplus. Though below his initially proposed $225 refunds, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said the measure “fulfills what I set out to accomplish when calling the General Assembly into special session” and establishes “long overdue increased funding” for families and young children. The bill, which passed earlier that day 37-9, represented a concession from GOP senators who were initially wary that the rebates would further fuel inflation.

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China has cut off climate talks with the U.S. — imperiling future global climate negotiations, but not necessarily blunting the impacts of significant climate actions at home in both countries. The move from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs came Friday in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, along with cancellations in strategic and military talks. The move came less than three months before the next key international climate summit in November. Meanwhile, the U.S. is poised to pass its most ambitious ever clean-energy legislation later this year. Experts say that could influence China's future climate actions more than any negotiations.

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Indiana has become the first state in the nation to pass new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade. Indiana lawmakers on Friday approved the near-total abortion ban with some exceptions, including in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life and physical health of the mother. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb immediately signed the bill. Indiana was among the first Republican-run state legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruling that removed constitutional protections for the procedure.

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The campaign committee of a former Hawaii lawmaker who pleaded guilty after taking bribes has donated to two candidates for the state House of Representatives. State Campaign Spending Commission data says Friends of Ty Cullen donated $2,000 to Jamaica Cullen. She's running in the Democratic primary for parts of Waipahu and Hoopili, the area Ty Cullen used to represent. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Jamaica Cullen is Ty Cullen’s sister-in-law and worked in his office during the past four legislative sessions. Friends of Ty Cullen also donated $2,000 to Rachele Lamosao, who is running in the Democratic primary to represent central Waipahu.

A federal judge has ordered elections officials to place the North Carolina Green Party’s U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot despite Democrats’ repeated attempts to block the progressive party from spoiling one of their best shots at flipping a seat in the narrowly divided chamber. U.S. District Judge James Dever III on Friday prohibited the elections board from enforcing a July 1 candidate filing deadline to keep the Green Party’s Senate nominee, Matthew Hoh, off the ballot in North Carolina. Democrats have warned Hoh’s appearance on the ballot could divide progressive voters and lead to a GOP victory in the tight Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Rep. Tedd Budd.

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Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse, who voted to impeach Donald Trump, advanced to the general election following days of vote counts in Washington state’s primary. But fellow Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler saw her advantage against an opponent endorsed by Trump rapidly shrink to within recount territory. Both drew interparty challenges due to their vote to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Newhouse, the four-term incumbent in the 4th Congressional District in central Washington and Democrat Doug White were essentially tied, with each capturing about 25% of the vote on a crowded ballot. White also advanced to the fall ballot.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he plans to hold an oversight hearing on the crisis-plagued federal Bureau of Prisons after The Associated Press reported that the agency is keeping its embattled ex-director on the payroll as an adviser to his successor. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who demanded Michael Carvajal be fired last November amid myriad failings, told the AP in a statement Friday that he was dismayed by continuing misconduct within the agency and by its unwillingness to completely cut ties with the former director. Carvajal submitted his resignation in January but remained in charge of the Bureau of Prisons until the new director, Colette Peters, was sworn in Tuesday.

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The developer of a major pipeline system has pleaded no contest to criminal charges that it systematically polluted waterways and residential water wells across hundreds of miles in Pennsylvania. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Operating agreed Friday to independent testing of homeowners’ water and promised to remediate contamination. The settlement involves two separate criminal cases brought by the Pennsylvania attorney general. Under a plea deal, the company will pay $10 million to restore watersheds and streams along the Mariner East pipeline network. Mariner East has been one of the most penalized projects in Pennsylvania history. Energy Transfer had no immediate comment.

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The estimated $740 billion economic package from Democrats is nowhere near what President Joe Biden first envisioned with his effort to rebuild America’s public infrastructure and family support systems. It had a price tag of $4 trillion and it stalled in Congress. The slimmer but still substantial compromise package is now on track toward Senate voting this weekend. It's made up of health care, climate change and deficit reduction strategies, in hopes of tackling inflation and bringing down deficits. A major component is capping out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors in the Medicare program at $2,000 a year.

The funeral for Indiana Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski will be held next week in her home state of Indiana, where she and three other people were killed in a head-on highway collision. Palmer Funeral Homes says on its website that the funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Granger Community Church. A visitation will be held at the church on Wednesday from noon until 7 p.m. Authorities say Walorski, who was 58, was in an SUV with two staff members Wednesday when it crossed the median of a northern Indiana highway for unknown reasons and collided with an oncoming vehicle near the town of Wakarusa. She, her staffers and the woman driving the other vehicle were killed.

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China says it is cutting off dialogue with the U.S. on a range of vital issues from climate change to military relations and anti-narcotics efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The measures announced Friday are the latest steps intended to punish Washington for allowing the visit to the island claimed by Beijing as its own territory — to be annexed by force if necessary. China also is firing missiles in military exercises off the coast of the island. U.S.-China expert Bonnie Glaser warns China may be heading toward changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, with results that are negative for both Taiwan and the U.S.

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