President Joe Biden put Texas officials “on notice” in a strongly worded statement Wednesday, calling recent investigations into the families of transgender youth “discriminatory actions” that “put children’s lives at risk.”
The statement, which was released alongside a list of actions that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it would take to protect trans youth and their families in Texas, was the first time Biden directly addressed a recent directive from Gov. Greg Abbott that calls on the general public and “licensed professionals” to report the parents of trans minors if it appears the children are receiving gender-affirming medical care.
The directive also ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the state’s child protective services agency, to investigate such claims.
Civil rights groups intervened, filing a lawsuit Tuesday after the department opened an investigation last week into one of its own employees who has a transgender child. On Wednesday evening, hours before Biden’s statement, a judge temporarily blocked the state’s investigation into that family, but other similar investigations were unaffected.
Abbott has not returned a request for comment regarding the lawsuit or Biden’s statement, and the Department of Family and Protective Services declined to comment.
In his statement, Biden called Abbott’s directive “government overreach at its worst.” He said that his administration is putting “the state of Texas on notice that their discriminatory actions” risk children’s lives.
“These announcements make clear that rather than weaponizing child protective services against loving families, child welfare agencies should instead expand access to gender-affirming care for transgender children,” he said.
He added that children, their parents and their doctors should “have the freedom to make the medical decisions that are best for each young person — without politicians getting the way.”
“Transgender children bring fulfillment to their parents, joy to their friends, and are made in the image of God,” he said. “Affirming a transgender child’s identity is one of the best things a parent, teacher, or doctor can do to help keep children from harm, and parents who love and affirm their children should be applauded and supported, not threatened, investigated, or stigmatized.”
In a separate statement Wednesday, U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra called the Texas government’s actions “discriminatory and unconscionable.” He urged any individual or family who is targeted by a child welfare investigation due to the governor’s directive to contact the Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, which enforces civil rights laws that protect people from health care discrimination.
“HHS will take immediate action if needed,” he said. “I know that many youth and their supportive families are feeling scared and isolated because of these attacks. HHS is closely monitoring the situation in Texas, and will use every tool at our disposal to keep Texans safe.”
Becerra’s announcement revealed that the department released guidance to state child welfare agencies that “makes it clear that states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth, which importantly can include access to gender affirming care” and guidance on patient privacy, which states that, despite the governor’s order, “health care providers are not required to disclose private patient information related to gender affirming care.” His announcement also outlined that denying health care based on gender identity and restricting medical professionals from providing such care due to gender identity are both illegal.
The Biden administration’s announcement has brought welcome relief for the parents of transgender children in Texas, who said the governor’s directive caused fear and anxiety for their families.
Thursday, March 3, 2022
President Joe Biden is absolutely on the right side of history when it comes to defending trans kids from Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbot's blood hunt.
If you want to know why Republicans and the Roberts Court are doing everything they can to destroy federal protections for civil rights, voting rights, and human rights by "returning powers to the states" this is exactly why. Neutering federal protections means your rights are solely defined by the state you live in, and if you're one of those people, you become a target for the coercive and carceral power of that state.
The reason why it's called eliminationist rhetoric is simply because given this type of power, Republicans show time and again the fervent desire to use it to eliminate entire groups of people as Americans with rights, to criminalize the "other" and to throw them in jail or worse.
Abbott directed Texas child services to investigate the parents of trans kids for felony child abuse. It will not stop there if Republican get more power, and Democratic administrations are increasingly hamstrung.
The entire point is to make rights dependent on where you live in the country, and to force those who do not qualify into a life of criminal servitude. It's fascism 101, folks.
Republicans want this power and will never give it up without force, and they've been itching for that fight for decades.
Joshua James, one of the 11 Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy alongside the group’s founder Stewart Rhodes, appears poised to plead guilty Wednesday afternoon, a major development in the most serious criminal case to emerge from the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
James was a member of the Oath Keeper’s leadership who repeatedly messaged with other Oath Keepers about planning for Jan. 6. Prosecutors say he breached the Capitol’s rotunda doors along with other Oath Keepers in the early part of the mob assault on the building.
The indictment against Rhodes and the others indicated that James described a massive arsenal of weaponry that the group had “on standby” in case violence escalated. Prosecutors have accused the Oath Keepers of stockpiling weapons at a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Va., though they never ultimately deployed it.
James was one of the Oath Keepers who was seen riding in golf carts from the group’s D.C. hotel to the Capitol, breaching the building about 30 minutes after a first wave of Oath Keepers also charged in the attack.
“While entering the Capitol building, JAMES and [Oath Keepr Roberto] MINUTA pushed past Capitol Police officers who placed their hands on JAMES and MINUTA in unsuccessful attempts to stop them from advancing toward the Rotunda,” prosecutors alleged in the indictment.
It’s unclear what the broader impact of James’ plea agreement will be, but other plea agreements from Jan. 6 defendants have typically included agreements to cooperate with federal prosecutors. Cooperation by James could provide prosecutors with valuable insight about the planning and mindset of those organizing the attack.
In addition to the 11 charged with seditious conspiracy, another nine Oath Keepers are facing obstruction charges for breaching the building along with their associates. The charges facing the group are the most serious to emerge from the attack on the Capitol.
Repeat after me:
Donald Trump orchestrated a terrorist attack as cover for a palace coup, and he would have gotten away with it if his minions had executed their plan more effectively.
It was an armed attempt to overthrow the government, and more importantly, as the January 6th committee filed in federal court yesterday, Donald Trump was materially involved.
The Jan. 6 select committee says its evidence has shown that then-President Donald Trump and his campaign tried to illegally obstruct Congress’ counting of electoral votes and “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
In a major release of its findings, filed in federal court late Wednesday, the committee suggested its evidence supported findings that Trump himself violated multiple laws by attempting to prevent Congress from certifying his defeat.
“The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the committee wrote in a filing submitted in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.
In a major release of the panel’s findings, including excerpts of nearly a dozen depositions from top aides to Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, the committee described a president who had been informed repeatedly that he lost the election and that his claims of fraud were unfounded — only to reject them and continue to mislead the American public.
He then pushed top advisers to continue strategizing ways to overturn the election results.
They tried to steal the election, folks.
The most important detail from his statement of offense, as I heard it, is they had a plan to surround the White House, with arms, to ensure no one got to Trump.— emptywheel (@emptywheel) March 2, 2022
At this point, the damage to the country from not charging Trump with federal crimes will exceed the backlash from his cultists.
Up to you, Merrick Garland.
President Manchin lays out the Build Back Better bill that he "wants", and that he won't actually accept because he's been operating in bad faith for nearly a year now, and surprise, it's a much, much smaller bill than what Biden proposed in December.
Hours after President Joe Biden laid out what he hopes to salvage from Democrats’ defunct “Build Back Better” social spending plan, Joe Manchin is quickly assembling his counteroffer.
In a Wednesday afternoon interview, the West Virginia centrist laid out a basic party-line package that could win his vote, lower the deficit and enact some new programs, provided they are permanently funded. It may be Democrats’ best and last chance to get at least some of their biggest domestic priorities done before the midterm elections, but would require everyone in the party — particularly liberals — to concede that what’s possible doesn’t come close to the $1.7 trillion package Manchin spurned in December.
Manchin said that if Democrats want to cut a deal on a party-line bill using the budget process to circumvent a Republican filibuster, they need to start with prescription drug savings and tax reform. He envisions whatever revenue they can wring out of that as split evenly between reducing the federal deficit and inflation, on the one hand, and enacting new climate and social programs, on the other — “to the point where it’s sustainable.”
“If you do that, the revenue producing [measures] would be taxes and drugs. The spending is going to be climate,” Manchin said.
“And the social issues, we basically have to deal with those” afterward, he added.
Though he prefers everything in Congress to be bipartisan, Manchin said he has “come to that conclusion” that changing the tax code to make the rich and corporations pay their fair sure can only be done with Democratic votes. As far as whether he thinks his party finally understands his parameters for joining the talks, he said that Democrats “know where I am. They just basically think that I’m going to change.”
Biden’s State of the Union address called for congressional action on some of the individual portions of the wide-ranging social spending measure that the House passed last year, including drug pricing, child care, tax hikes on the wealthy and climate change. The momentum that Democrats had mustered for their trillion-dollar-plus proposal has mostly evaporated, and some lawmakers are increasingly open to slimmed-down legislation or even standalone bills to address their policy priorities.
And while Manchin said no “formal” talks are happening with the White House, there’s “informal back-and-forth.” He declined to say if he’s spoken to Biden recently about it: “Different White House people reach out, and we talk from time to time.”
What Manchin means by "dealing with social issues afterward" is "not at all in this bill, take what I allow you to have and be grateful because you won't get a single Republican vote for it." Then when progressives point out Manchin is being an asshole, he'll leave the table.
As I've been saying for months now, Manchin doesn't hold every single card, but he's willing to play every card that he does have, and he remains 100% in control of the process as a direct result. He wins because he lays out what he'll "accept", then refuses to actually do so because he knows he can get away with bad faith negotiations, then shuts down negotiations for a period, then moves the goalposts to a new, much smaller bill.
We'll see what that means, as if the legislation doesn't pass by Labor Day, it's almost certainly done for another decade or two.