Live Updates: D.H.S. Will Review How It Handles Extremism in Its Ranks

Credit…Jim Urquhart/Reuters

The Department of Homeland Security will undergo an internal review to root out white supremacy and extremism in its ranks as part of a larger effort to combat extremist ideology in the federal government, officials said on Monday.

The task of identifying extremists throughout the United States, and specifically in government agencies, has come to the top of President Biden’s agenda since the deadly assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob, which included members of some extremist groups, raided the building and forced lawmakers into a lockdown.

“We recognize that domestic violent extremism and the ideology, the extremist ideologies that spew it, are prevalent,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary. “We have a responsibility given what we do to ensure that that pernicious influence does not exist in our department.”

The internal review of the Department of Homeland Security comes just weeks after the Department of Defense completed a 60-day “stand down” to address extremism after a number of veterans were found to have taken part in the Capitol riot.

The review means that the department tasked with preventing domestic terrorism threats will now turn inward to assess if such ideology is coursing through its various agencies, including the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service and the Coast Guard.

As part of the review, senior officials will establish an internal process for agents who are found to be associated with extremist groups or who espouse those beliefs online or while on duty, Mr. Mayorkas said.

He said he was “mindful of the constitutional right to free speech.”

“There is a marked difference between that right and violence in furtherance of extremist ideologies,” Mr. Mayorkas said.

He added that the team would develop training and resources for employees, as well as hold listening sessions for officers and agents, similar to methods used by the Defense Department this year.

The announcement on Monday highlights the administration’s decision to prioritize combating domestic extremism after decades in which the government at times dismissed it as a minor threat or hesitated to invest additional resources to fight it.

Shortly after coming into office, Mr. Biden ordered the director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, to work with the F.B.I. and the Homeland Security Department on a comprehensive assessment of how the government combats extremism. The administration followed up with an intelligence report delivered to Congress last month that identified white supremacists and militia groups within the United States as top national security threats.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry spoke to reporters at the White House last week.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

John Kerry, a former secretary of state, said on Monday that he had never discussed covert Israeli airstrikes in Syria with Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, contrary to Mr. Zarif’s claim in a leaked conversation.

Mr. Zarif and Mr. Kerry spoke constantly when the two were negotiating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Iranian foreign minister said in the recording, reported by The New York Times on Sunday, that Mr. Kerry had informed him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times.

The claim sparked a furor on Monday among conservatives who accused Mr. Kerry, who was secretary of state in the Obama administration and now serves as President Biden’s climate envoy, of betraying Israeli secrets.

But in a tweet on Monday evening, Mr. Kerry denied the assertion and pointed to reports long in the public domain about Israeli strikes on Iranian assets in Syria.

“I can tell you that this story and these allegations are unequivocally false. This never happened — either when I was Secretary of State or since,” Mr. Kerry wrote.

Mr. Kerry’s denial came after multiple attacks from prominent Republicans. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said that, if real, the remarks would amount to “catastrophic and disqualifying recklessness.”

Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska and a former State Department official under President George W. Bush, called in a speech on the Senate floor for Mr. Kerry to resign, saying he was “astonished” that Mr. Kerry “would reveal the secrets of one of our most important and enduring allies in the region to an avowed enemy, the largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

And Nikki Haley, who served as United Nations ambassador in the Trump administration, wrote on Twitter that the claim was “disgusting” and accused Mr. Kerry of “tipping off Iran.”

But it was not clear that the alleged disclosure would have revealed any secrets.

Israel has made little effort to deny years of strikes attributed to it by Syria’s government, news outlets and nongovernmental organizations tracking the Syrian conflict, whose chaos Iran has sought to use to establish a foothold that could threaten Israeli security.

A New York Times article from 2019 included similar information on the number of Israeli strikes. And Mr. Kerry’s tweet cited a Washington Post reporter’s tweet of a 2018 Reuters article, sourced to a senior Israeli official, reporting that Israel had mounted 200 attacks on Iranian assets in Syria.

The recording in question captures Mr. Zarif speaking for hours to an interviewer producing an oral history of the current Iranian administration.

“Kerry has to tell me that Israel has attacked you 200 times in Syria?” says Mr. Zarif, who complains in the recording that Iran’s military has long kept him in the dark on crucial matters. “You did not know?” the interviewer asks twice. Both times, Mr. Zarif replies, “No, no.”

In the recording, Mr. Zarif does not specify when Mr. Kerry was supposed to have made the comment.

A State Department official noted on Monday that Mr. Kerry had a record of supporting Israel’s security and that many of the Republicans outraged by Mr. Zarif’s remarks had said previously that his words could not be trusted.

Earlier in the day, the State Department spokesman, Ned Price, told reporters at a daily briefing that he would not comment on “purportedly leaked material” and could not “vouch for the authenticity of it or the accuracy of it,” or what motives might be behind its emergence.

Mr. Price did not specifically address whether Mr. Kerry had made such comments to Mr. Zarif, but implied that they would not have constituted an improper disclosure.

“I would just make the broad point that if you go back and look at press reporting from the time, this certainly was not secret,” Mr. Price said. “And governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly, on the record.”

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Merrick Garland Opens Investigation Into Louisville Police

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a Justice Department investigation into the police in Louisville, Ky., and the county government on Monday. The inquiries show the Biden administration seeking stricter oversight of local departments amid a national outcry over police abuse.

Today, the Justice Department is opening a civil investigation into the Louisville, Jefferson County Metro government, and the Louisville Metro Police Department to determine whether L.M.P.D. engages in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law. Today’s announcement is based on an extensive review of publicly available information about L.M.P.D. conducted by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The investigation will assess whether L.M.P.D. engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful, expressive activities. As in every Justice Department investigation, we will follow the facts and the law wherever they lead. If there is reasonable cause to believe that there is a pattern or practice of constitutional or statutory violations, we will issue a public report of our conclusions. If violations are found, the Justice Department will aim to work with the city and police department to arrive at a set of mutually agreeable steps that they can take to correct, and prevent unlawful patterns or practices.

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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a Justice Department investigation into the police in Louisville, Ky., and the county government on Monday. The inquiries show the Biden administration seeking stricter oversight of local departments amid a national outcry over police abuse.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a sweeping Justice Department investigation on Monday into the Louisville, Ky., metro police and the county government there, the second time in a week that the department has opened a civil investigation into a police force that prompted national furor for the killing of an unarmed Black person.

The Louisville police came under fire after officers raided the home of a Black medical worker named Breonna Taylor last March and shot her to death. Her killing helped fuel nationwide racial justice protests last year.

The city has already enacted some law enforcement reforms in the 13 months since Ms. Taylor’s death, including a ban on “no-knock warrants,” as well as the creation of a civilian review board for police disciplinary matters. But the attorney general’s investigation is poised to be the broadest review yet, and officials said it would be especially credible coming from an independent federal agency.

During a news conference on Monday, officials in Louisville praised the investigation, saying it could help foster change and rebuild the city’s strained relationship with its police department.

“I can’t say that I was entirely surprised by the D.O.J.’s announcement,” said Erika Shields, chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department. “As someone who truly believes in police reform and doing things differently, which will only help us as a profession in the long run, I think it’s a good thing.”

Critics have decried the pace of the investigation into Ms. Taylor’s death. A grand jury indicted Brett Hankison, a former Louisville detective involved in the raid, for wanton endangerment of Ms. Taylor’s neighbors, whose apartment was hit when he fired his gun. No one was charged for her death. (An earlier version of this item misspelled Mr. Hankison’s name.)

Credit…Xavier Burrell for The New York Times

“Today’s announcement is based on an extensive overview of publicly available information,” Mr. Garland said in brief remarks at the Justice Department. He said that the inquiry into both the police and the Jefferson County government would be conducted by the department’s Civil Rights Division, and that it will assess whether the police department “engages in a pattern or practice of using unregulated or unreasonable force.”

Mr. Garland said last week that the Justice Department had opened an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, a day after the former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd.

The inquiries show that the Biden administration is seeking to apply stricter oversight of local departments amid a national outcry over police abuse.

Derrick Johnson, national president of the N.A.A.C.P., applauded Monday’s announcement, saying “true justice comes with accountability and action.”

“The relationship between law enforcement and our community has been deeply fractured and shattered by the lack of trust and the little-to-no accountability enforced when police commit a crime,” he said. “For far too long, killings at the hands of police have only led to one hashtag after another.”

Investigations into whether a department’s policing practices are unconstitutional are often precursors to court-approved agreements between the Justice Department and local governments that create and enforce a road map for operational changes at police departments.

The investigation into the Louisville Police Department that Mr. Garland announced on Monday is separate from the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation, announced last May, into the death of Ms. Taylor.

A flashing sign in Miami advised people to fill out their census forms in October.
Credit…Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Over the past decade, the United States population grew at the slowest rate since the 1930s, the Census Bureau reported on Monday, a remarkable slackening that was driven by a leveling off of immigration and a declining national birthrate.

The bureau also reported changes to the nation’s political map. The long-running trend of the South and the West gaining population, and congressional representation, at the expense of the Northeast and the Midwest continued, with Colorado and Florida each gaining one seat and Texas gaining two. California, long a leader in population growth, lost a seat for the first time in history. New York lost a seat, coming up just 89 people short in the census data.

The census counted 331,449,281 Americans as of April 1, 2020. That was up by just 7.4 percent over the previous decade.

The data will be used to reapportion seats in Congress and, in turn, the Electoral College. The count is critical for billions of dollars in federal funding, as well as state and local planning around everything from schools to housing to hospitals.

The constitutionally mandated count of everyone living in the United States and the congressional reapportionment were hampered and delayed by Trump administration efforts to remove undocumented immigrants from the count, a shift that most likely would have increased the number of Republican-held districts in the next Congress.

Questions about the count’s accuracy are likely to surface when the Census Bureau releases detailed demographic files for each state later this year. Those files are the basis for redrawing electoral districts, a messy political process that is fought in statehouses across the country.

Releasing the census figures months behind schedule will leave less time for individual states to draw and debate lines for congressional and state legislative districts. Republicans control the redistricting process in far more states than do Democrats, a result of both G.O.P. dominance in down-ballot elections and Democratic efforts to establish independent redistricting commissions in states where they have controlled the government, including California, Colorado and Virginia.

Republicans have signaled for months that they will press their advantage once the new figures are released, aiming to maximize the number of seats they hold in Congress by drawing districts beneficial to their candidates. The delay in releasing the census figures will limit the amount of time available for court challenges of newly drawn maps before the 2022 midterm campaigns begin.

People getting vaccinated at a government hospital in Mumbai, India, this month.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

President Biden, under intense pressure to do more to address the surging pandemic abroad, including a humanitarian crisis in India, intends to make up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to other countries, so long as federal regulators deem the doses safe, officials said Monday.

The announcement came after Mr. Biden spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and the two pledged to “work closely together in the fight against Covid-19.” It is a significant, albeit limited, shift for the White House, which has until now been reluctant to make excess doses of coronavirus vaccine available in large amounts.

But the commitment is a tricky one to make: The AstraZeneca doses are manufactured at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent BioSolutions, where production has been halted amid fears of contamination. The New York Times has reported extensively on problems at the plant, which had to throw out millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine between October and January, and later discarded up to 15 million doses of the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, also because of concern about possible contamination.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine, unlike those of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, has also not been granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. And the administration would not specify which countries will receive the vaccine.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, cautioned at a news conference that the donations of doses would not happen right away. She said about 10 million doses could be released “in the coming weeks” if the F.D.A. determines that the vaccine meets “our own bar and our own guidelines,” and that another 50 million doses are in various stages of production.

“Right now we have zero doses available of AstraZeneca,” Ms. Psaki said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca said that the company would not comment on specifics but that “the doses are part of AstraZeneca’s supply commitments to the U.S. government. Decisions to send U.S. supply to other countries are made by the U.S. government.”

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to a safety review that the Food and Drug Administration is required to conduct before AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine doses are shared with other nations. The doses themselves must clear an F.D.A. safety review, not the plant where the doses are manufactured.

A case of firearms at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis in 2019. With a newly expanded conservative majority, the Supreme Court’s calculus on Second Amendment appeals may have changed.
Credit…Lisa Marie Pane/Associated Press

The Supreme Court took action on Monday on several cases that could have wide-reaching effects on American life, including the use of “dark money” from unidentified political donors, the carrying of guns in public, and whether the C.IA.’s black sites — secret detention facilities on foreign territory — are state secrets.

Regarding dark money, the justices seemed skeptical in a hearing on a demand from California that charities soliciting contributions in the state report the identities of their major donors.

A majority of the justices appeared to agree at least that the two groups challenging the requirement — Americans for Prosperity, a foundation affiliated with the Koch family, and the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian public-interest law firm — should prevail.

It was less clear whether the court would strike down the requirement for all charities as a violation of the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of association. The justices gave few hints about whether their ruling, expected by June, would alter the constitutional calculus in the related area of disclosure requirements for campaign spending, though Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “This case is really a stalking horse for campaign finance disclosure laws.”

Earlier on Monday, the court said it would review a New York law that imposes strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, setting the stage for its first major Second Amendment case in more than a decade.

The move came in the wake of a recent spate of mass shootings, and calls from President Biden and other Democrats for stricter restrictions on firearms.

The Supreme Court has turned down countless Second Amendment appeals since it established an individual right to keep guns in the home for self-defense in 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Since then, lower courts have generally sustained gun control laws. But they are divided on the question posed by the new case: whether states can stop law-abiding citizens from carrying guns outside their homes for self-defense unless those citizens can show they have a good reason for doing so.

Additionally, the court agreed on Monday to decide whether the government can block a detainee at Guantánamo Bay from obtaining information from two former C.I.A. contractors involved in torturing him at a black site.

The U.S. government, in briefs filed by both the Trump and Biden administrations, argued that releasing the information would expose state secrets.

The detainee, known as Abu Zubaydah, sought to subpoena the contractors, James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, in connection with a Polish criminal investigation. The inquiry was prompted by a determination by the European Court of Human Rights that Mr. Zubaydah had been tortured in 2002 and 2003 at black sites operated by the C.I.A., including one in Poland.

Mr. Zubaydah was the first prisoner held by the C.I.A. after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to undergo so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which were based on suggestions from Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen, both psychologists.

The F.B.I.’s headquarters in Washington. An internal audit showed that the bureau repeatedly violated rules intended to protect Americans’ privacy.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

For a second year, the nation’s surveillance court has pointed with concern to “widespread violations” by the F.B.I. of rules intended to protect Americans’ privacy when analysts search emails gathered without a warrant — but still signed off on another year of the program, a newly declassified ruling shows.

In a 67-page ruling issued in November and made public on Monday, James E. Boasberg, the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, recounted several episodes uncovered by an F.B.I. audit where the bureau’s analysts improperly searched for Americans’ information in emails that the National Security Agency collected without warrants.

Those instances appeared largely to be additional examples of an issue that was already brought to light in a December 2019 ruling by Judge Boasberg. The government made it public in September.

The F.B.I. has already sought to address the problem by rolling out new system safeguards and additional training, although the coronavirus pandemic has hindered the bureau’s ability to assess how well they are working. Still, Judge Boasberg said he was willing to issue a legally required certification for the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program to operate for another year.

“While the court is concerned about the apparent widespread violations of the querying standard,” Judge Boasberg wrote, “it lacks sufficient information at this time to assess the adequacy of the F.B.I. system changes and training, post-implementation.”

Because of that, he added, the court concluded that “the F.B.I.’s querying and minimization procedures meet statutory and Fourth Amendment requirements.”

Vice President Kamala Harris last Thursday, during a roundtable at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

President Biden will go to Philadelphia on Friday and Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Ohio to reiterate the themes Mr. Biden is expected to lay out in his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, including pushing for swift approval of his $4 trillion economic agenda.

The stops will be part of what White House officials are calling the “Getting America Back on Track Tour,” which will start on Thursday, with Mr. Biden in Georgia and Ms. Harris in Baltimore, and continue next week.

A White House official said Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris — along with their spouses and, next week, cabinet members — would use the public events to promote the administration’s early record on the economy and the pandemic. They will emphasize that the nation hit 200 million coronavirus vaccine shots in Mr. Biden’s first 100 days.

They will also stress the deployment of $1,400 direct checks to individuals, expanded tax credits for parents and support for small businesses, among other provisions in the $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan the president signed into law earlier this year.

The official said Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris and others would also push Congress to pass Mr. Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which he announced in Pittsburgh last month, and his American Families Plan, which he is set to describe before his speech this week.

Those plans are the two halves of Mr. Biden’s longer-run economic agenda, which totals $4 trillion in new spending and tax breaks, offset by higher taxes on corporations and the rich. They focus on physical infrastructure, like ports and bridges, along with what the administration calls human infrastructure: support for workers, students and families.

Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio speaking at a hearing on Capitol Hill last year.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Representative Tim Ryan, a gruff-voiced, 10-term Democrat representing Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, jumped into the race for an open Senate seat on Monday, brandishing blue-collar talking points in what is expected to be one of the most closely watched, hard-fought contests of 2022.

Mr. Ryan, 47, supported tariffs on China before President Donald J. Trump came along, and after the election in 2016, he challenged then-Representative Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leadership in the House, arguing that she was out of touch with working class voters.

He will seek to capture the seat of the retiring senator, Rob Portman, a Republican, in a state that has moved sharply to the right in the Trump era.

The Republican primary is already off to a clamorous start with multiple candidates and possible contenders seeking to position themselves as the most aligned with Mr. Trump, including Josh Mandel, a former state treasurer; Jane Timken, a former state party chair; and J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Mr. Ryan, who ran a brief, little-noticed race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, represents a district in eastern Ohio stretching from Youngstown to Akron. It is a region where globalization closed factories, driving traditional white working-class Democrats into the arms of Mr. Trump. Mr. Ryan made it clear that he will seek to win back those voters.

“The success of America isn’t housed in the halls of Congress — it lies in the calloused hands and unrelenting grit of America’s workers,” he said in a three-minute video, wearing a T-shirt and a sweatshirt. “I’ll work with anyone to rebuild our economy, but I’ll never sell out our workers.”

The seat is rated “lean Republican” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. In a state that Mr. Trump carried by eight points in 2020, the path to statewide victory for a Democrat is increasingly narrow.

Mr. Ryan will seek to duplicate the 2018 victory by the state’s Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown, who convinced enough blue-collar voters that while they might not like his overall progressivism, he stood with them on kitchen-table issues.

Mr. Ryan, who was in danger of being redistricted out of his safe House district ahead of the midterms, was a protégé of Jim Traficant, the longtime Democratic congressman from Youngstown. Mr. Ryan defeated his mentor in 2002, after Mr. Traficant was convicted on criminal charges and sought re-election from a prison cell.

(An earlier version of this article misstated how many terms Mr. Ryan had spent in Congress. It is 10 terms, not five.)

Former President Donald J. Trump had hinted at the idea of backing former Representative Doug Collins for statewide office next year.<br>
Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Doug Collins, a former U.S. congressman and ardent defender of former President Donald J. Trump, announced on Monday that he would not seek any statewide office in 2022, at once narrowing the field of Republican candidates for Senate in Georgia and removing a potential intraparty challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp.

Mr. Collins’s decision is a setback for Mr. Trump’s hopes of fielding a strong, experienced Republican candidate for Senate or governor next year. Mr. Collins was widely seen as more likely to run for Senate; his announcement now deprives the Trump-supporting wing of the Georgia Republican Party of an experienced challenger to Senator Raphael Warnock, a freshman Democrat who won a special election in January and will be up for re-election to a full term next year.

Herschel Walker, the former N.F.L. and University of Georgia football star, has been rumored to be considering a run, and Mr. Trump has urged him to jump into the race. Kelvin King, a contractor and Trump supporter, announced his candidacy earlier this month, and Latham Saddler, a former Navy SEAL and former White House fellow in the Trump administration, has filed paperwork stating his intention to run.

Other ambitious Georgia Republicans seeking higher office may also end up trying their luck in the primary. Mr. Warnock is a political newcomer, and Republicans are hoping that his election this winter, as well as that of Senator Jon Ossoff, a fellow Democrat, were anomalies explained in part by the false claims of election fraud pushed by Mr. Trump and his allies, which may have depressed turnout in those Senate races.

Mr. Collins was also seen as a potential primary challenger to Mr. Kemp, the Republican incumbent who drew the ire of Mr. Trump for refusing to acquiesce to the former president’s demands to try to subvert the election results.

Mr. Trump has vowed to campaign against Mr. Kemp and may get behind other pro-Trump statewide candidates in advance of the November 2022 election. Vernon Jones, a former Democrat turned Trump ally, announced his candidacy for governor earlier this month.

Mr. Trump had hinted at the idea of backing Mr. Collins for statewide office, although he mentioned him as a potential candidate for governor, rather than senator, at a rally in Georgia in December.

Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, whose district includes Jackson, was the only Democrat to vote against the passage of the House voting rights bill last month.
Credit…Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla

As Democrats in Congress consider a colossal elections system overhaul, Black leaders are facing some unexpected resistance from lawmakers who fear that it would endanger their own seats in predominantly Black districts.

Republicans have often used the redistricting method to pack Black Democrats into one House district. The practice has diluted Democrats’ influence regionally, but it also ensures that each Southern state has at least one predominantly Black district, offering a guarantee of Black representation amid a sea of mostly white and conservative House districts.

Most Black Democratic lawmakers in the South have so far remained relatively muted about these concerns of self-preservation, worried that it places their own interests above the party’s agenda or activists’ priorities. Still, the doubts flared up last month when Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, a Democrat whose district includes Jackson, surprisingly voted “no” on the House’s federal elections bill.

Recently, other Congressional Black Caucus members have urged Democratic leadership to focus more narrowly on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — which aims to restore key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, including the requirement that some states get federal approval before changing election laws — rather than pushing for the sweeping provisions of the For the People Act, officially known as H.R. 1.

Southern Democrats and civil rights activists are also frustrated by what they view as a belated sense of urgency about the challenges Black voters face in the region. In interviews, they described a Democratic Party that has been slow to combat Republican gerrymandering and voting limits, overconfident about the speed of progress, and too willing to accept that voter suppression was a thing of the Jim Crow past.

Antonette Worke is awaiting news on whether she will receive assistance for $5,000 in overdue rent in Charleston, S.C.
Credit…Nora Williams for The New York Times

Four months after Congress approved tens of billions of dollars in emergency rental aid, only a small portion has reached landlords and tenants, and in many places, it is impossible even to file an application.

The program requires hundreds of state and local governments to devise and carry out their own plans, and some have been slow to begin. But the pace is hindered mostly by the sheer complexity of the task: starting a huge pop-up program that reaches millions of tenants, verifies their debts and wins over landlords who don’t always share the same interests as their renters.

Congress approved $25 billion in December and added more than $20 billion in March. The sum the federal government now has for emergency rental aid, $46.5 billion, rivals the annual budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Experts say careful preparation may improve results; it takes time to find the neediest tenants and ensure payment accuracy.

One in seven renters report that they are behind on payments. The longer it takes to distribute the money, the more landlords suffer destabilizing losses, and tenants risk eviction.

Estimates of unpaid rents vary greatly, from $8 billion to $53 billion.

While some pandemic aid has flowed through established programs, the rental help is both decentralized and new, making the variation especially pronounced.

In Charleston, S.C., housing became a subject of concern after a 2018 study found the area had the country’s highest eviction rate. Charleston County ran three rounds of rental relief with CARES Act money, and the state ran two.

The second state program, started with $25 million in February, drew so many applications that it closed in six days. South Carolina is still processing those requests as it decides how to distribute the new federal funds.

Antonette Worke is among the applicants awaiting an answer. She moved to Charleston from Denver last year, drawn by cheaper rents, warmer weather and a job offer. But the job fell through, and her landlord filed for eviction.

Ms. Worke, who has kidney and liver disease, is temporarily protected by the federal eviction moratorium. But it does not cover tenants whose leases expire, as hers will at the end of next month. Her landlord said he would force her to move, even if the state paid the $5,000 in overdue rent.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, at a hearing on the “For the People Act” with the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on Capitol Hill last month.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

After President Donald J. Trump lost the election and was impeached for his role in the Capitol riot, democracy preservation groups pointed with urgency to what they called a last, best chance to address the holes in the Constitution exposed by his presidency.

But a suite of legislative responses, like requiring the release of presidential tax returns and barring presidents from channeling government money to their private businesses, is now hostage in the Senate to a more public fight over voting rights. And competing priorities of President Biden’s may ensure that the moment to fortify constitutional guardrails that Mr. Trump plowed through may already have passed.

Most Democrats and a coalition of watchdog groups say the ethics and voting rights sections in a sprawling Senate bill known as the For the People Act, or S.1., should remain intact and entwined. But solid Republican opposition to the legislation’s voter access proposals threatens less debated elements in the measure, part of what was envisioned to be the most comprehensive ethics overhaul since Watergate.

Even Democratic support for the bill has begun to splinter, as the Congressional Black Caucus and some advocacy groups pivot from the full 800-page legislation to pushing for narrower proposals.

The measure will undergo changes in a formal drafting on May 11 by the Senate Rules Committee that aims to clarify confusing provisions, conflicting deadlines and redundancies. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, vowed last month to bring the full bill to a vote. “If our democracy doesn’t work, then we have no hope — no hope — of solving any of our other problems,” he said.

The act would expand voting access, curb partisan gerrymandering and curtail the influence of secret donors, special interests and foreign governments in American elections, all hot-button issues that Republican leaders strongly oppose.

“This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said last month in a hearing on the bill. “This legislation would forcibly rewrite the election laws in all 50 states.”

A campaign event for Latino supporters of President Biden in Phoenix last November.
Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

A group of Latino consultants and organizations are starting a new initiative to increase support among Latinos for President Biden’s agenda by explaining the economic impact of the administration’s American Rescue Plan. The effort will initially focus on digital advertising in states like Arizona, Nevada and Florida.

Democrats are trying to shore up support among Latinos after the 2020 election, in which roughly a third of Latino voters favored a second Trump term. The better-than-expected performance for Republicans has left many Democrats anxious about waning support among Latinos in future elections.

Many of the groups involved in the new initiative have urged the party to do more to reach out to Latino voters. Mayra Macías, the former executive director of the Latino Victory Fund, will lead the effort.

“It’s clear that we can and must do more to earn the support of Latinos community,” said Matt Barreto, a senior adviser to Building Back Together, the outside advocacy group pushing the Biden administration’s policies. “The Latino community is the fastest-growing community in the country, and we see an important opportunity.”

The group said it would also start an initiative focusing on immigration.





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