President Biden on Friday criticized a Georgia law imposing restrictions on voting and urged Congress to act on sweeping voting rights legislation. “This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to act,” the president said in a statement. The newly signed law, among other restrictions, imposes identification requirements for mail ballots and makes it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line.

Here’s what to know:
  • Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing that the cable news outlet “recklessly disregarded the truth” in a bid to boost ratings by promoting claims that the voting company rigged the 2020 election.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tapped the commander of the D.C. National Guard to become the next House sergeant-at-arms, selecting the first African American for the post that is responsible for the chamber’s safety, as Congress overhauls its security arrangements in the wake of the Capitol riot.
  • In a show of bipartisan solidarity, 26 governors and dozens of Asian Americans who have served in top roles across six presidential administrations issued a pair of statements that forcefully condemned the spike in anti-Asian harassment over the past year.
12:34 a.m.
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Biden calls Georgia voting law ‘Jim Crow in the 21st Century’

Biden told reporters that the White House and the Justice Department are looking into anything the federal government can do about Georgia’s new voting law, which he called “Jim Crow of the 21st Century.”

Republicans’ response to the dual Democratic wins in the state in November and January was to rush “through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote,” Biden said in a statement released earlier.

“Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over,” Biden said. “It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters. And it makes it a crime to provide water to voters while they wait in line — lines Republican officials themselves have created by reducing the number of polling sites across the state, disproportionately in Black neighborhoods.”

Calling it “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” Biden said, “It must end.”

He said he will advocate directly to the American people that Democratic policies “make it easier for all eligible Americans to access the ballot box and prevent attacks on the sacred right to vote.”

“If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide,” he said. “Let the people vote.”

Before departing Washington for Delaware, he spoke directly to reporters about the new Georgia law.

“It’s an atrocity. If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they passed a law saying you can’t provide water to people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote?” Biden said. “You don’t need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. You can’t provide water for people about to vote? Give me a break.”

He spoke to reporters again when he landed in Delaware about whether there was anything the federal government could do about the Georgia law.

“Well, we’re working on that right now,” the president said. “We don’t know quite exactly what we can do at this point. The Justice Department’s taking a look as well.”

A White House official said after Biden’s remarks that the president “was just assuming that this was an issue the Department of Justice would look at, nothing more.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the agency was “aware of the law, but have no further comment.”

Vice President Harris also condemned Georgia’s new law in a gaggle with reporters, calling it “abusive practices” designed to block “whole populations from voting.”

Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

9:16 p.m.
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Biden considering executive orders on imported and 3-D-printed guns

President Biden said Friday that he was considering executive orders on imported weapons and 3-D-printed guns.

“We’re looking at that right now,” Biden said, when asked by a reporter whether any executive orders on gun control could be expected soon.

“We’re looking at what kind of authority I have relative to imported weapons as well as whether or not I have the authority to — these new weapons that are being made by 3-D equipment that aren’t registered as guns at all,” he added. “There may be some latitude there as well.”

Two recent mass shootings — one targeting Asian-owned spas in Georgia and another in a grocery store in Boulder, Colo. — have prompted Biden to call for tighter gun rules.

“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said Tuesday.

Biden called on Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but gun-control advocates have been urging him to use his executive powers. The White House has also been privately exploring various executive orders related to firearms, such as strengthening background checks and community anti-violence funding, The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan, Paul Kane and Seung Min Kim reported.

8:30 p.m.
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After Trump tried to intervene in the 2020 vote, state Republicans are moving to take more control of elections

State Republicans have taken steps this year that could give them more power to sway the certification of election results, efforts that voting advocates decried as a blatant attempt to circumvent the popular vote, as President Donald Trump tried to do after his defeat in November.

Amid an avalanche of voting legislation proposed in dozens of states, the moves go beyond highly scrutinized proposals to tighten rules around how ballots are cast in the name of election security. Critics say some of the initiatives attempt to clear the way for partisan actors to take control of election administration, as Trump unsuccessfully urged Republicans to do in the fall.

On Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia signed the most far-reaching effort yet into law — a sweeping voting measure that undercuts the power of the secretary of state and local election boards. The new law removes the secretary of state from serving as chair of the State Board of Elections, giving the legislature the authority to appoint a majority of the members, and authorizes the state board to suspend local election officials.

8:22 p.m.
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Biden invites 40 world leaders, including Putin and Xi, to climate summit

Biden has invited 40 world leaders to a virtual climate summit to take place April 22 and 23, to “underscore the urgency — and the economic benefits — of stronger climate action,” the White House said Friday.

Among the invitees are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, two leaders at whom the Biden administration has aimed strong rhetoric. Others invited to attend include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Topics to be discussed at the summit will include pushing “the world’s major economics” to reduce emissions; how to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts; and pushing for the development of technologies that can help adapt to climate change.

The summit will be live-streamed to the public.

8:14 p.m.
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NRA faces internal woes as it girds for new gun control fight

In 2017, the National Rifle Association celebrated its ascendant political power with a newly elected U.S. president, Donald Trump, who stood at the organization’s national convention lectern promising to deliver for the gun rights group that had helped secure his election.

But four years later, the NRA is confronting challenges that have undercut the power of the long-feared lobby organization, even as new gun control measures are proposed after two mass shootings in a week in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo.

The group has been plagued by infighting and allegations of self-dealing and is defending itself against a sweeping lawsuit filed in August by the New York attorney general that alleges that the organization violated its nonprofit status as its top leaders allegedly raided the organization’s coffers for personal gain.

The NRA disclosed last year that it was cutting salaries and preparing to lay off employees as donations dried up during the coronavirus pandemic.

7:11 p.m.
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Michigan GOP chairman refers to three top female Democratic elected officials as ‘witches’

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser called the three top state officials, all Democratic women, “witches” at an event where attendees were focused on unseating GOP Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump.

He told the North Oakland Republican Club members the state party’s priority was beating “the three witches” in 2022, meaning Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — the three statewide Democratic leaders who are up for reelection next year, according to video obtained and published by the Detroit News.

But the attendees, some raising their voices, were focused on getting rid of Upton and Meijer, referring to them as the “witches in our own party.”

“We happen to live in a democracy,” Weiser said. “The only way to change it is to get out and vote.”

But when one woman wouldn’t relent, Weiser told her, “Ma’am, other than assassination, I have no other way … other than voting out. Okay?”

“You people have to go out there and support their opponents. You have to do what you need to get out the vote in those areas. That’s how you beat people.”

The state party spokesman, Ted Goodman, downplayed the chairman’s reference to “assassination,” but didn’t mention the “witches” comment.

“Chairman Weiser and our executive director, Jason Roe, both made very clear that it is up to the voters to determine the nominees of the Republican Party, and to suggest anything else is dishonest and irresponsible,” Goodman said. “The chairman has also personally donated to all Republican congressmen in Michigan.”

5:54 p.m.
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Democrats introduce ‘DeJoy Act’ in opening salvo against USPS leader’s mail-slowing plan

Democrats are swarming to block a key piece of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year restructuring plan for the U.S. Postal Service, casting doubt on the feasibility of his proposals for achieving financial stability for the agency.

A group of House Democrats introduced legislation Friday to prohibit the Postal Service from lengthening mail-delivery windows and require it to adhere to present service expectations. They named the bill the Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act, or DEJOY Act.

One House aide involved in postal reform legislation introduced in February said some members of the caucus are leery of proceeding with efforts to address the Postal Service’s financial obligations given that DeJoy’s 10-year plan includes sharp reductions in service, including slower timetables for mail delivery and reduced post office hours.

5:28 p.m.
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U.S. offers help to Egypt to get ship out of Suez Canal

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States has offered assistance to Egypt to help remove the massive container ship stuck in the Suez Canal.

The blockage threatens to delay international cargo shipments for weeks. Every nation has a vested interest in dislodging the ship so trade can continue.

“We are tracking the situation very closely. We understand that Egyptian officials are working to remove the tanker as soon as possible and continue traffic as part of our active, I should say, diplomatic dialogue with Egypt,” Psaki said. “We’ve offered U.S. assistance to Egyptian authorities to help reopen the canal. We are consulting with our Egyptian partners about how we can best support their efforts.”

Psaki said the conversations are ongoing and she hoped to have more information soon.

5:20 p.m.
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Pelosi taps commander of D.C. Guard to become House sergeant-at-arms

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tapped the commander of the D.C. National Guard to become the next House sergeant-at-arms, selecting the first African American for the post that is responsible for the chamber’s safety, as Congress overhauls its security arrangements in the wake of the Capitol riot.

Pelosi asked Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the commander of the D.C. Guard, to take the job in recent days, according to people familiar with the discussions. The previous occupant resigned in the wake of the insurrection on Jan. 6, which saw pro-Trump rioters storm the Capitol complex and threaten lawmakers in one of the nation’s biggest security failures since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Walker, a former special agent and top career official at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as a longtime Guardsman, was leading the D.C. Guard during those events, and has criticized the Pentagon’s leadership in the days since for restricting his powers ahead of the event and taking too long to allow him to send available Guardsmen to the Capitol.

5:20 p.m.
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Psaki voices concern about arrest of Georgia state legislator trying to watch voting bill signing

White House press secretary Jen Psaki voiced concern Friday about the arrest of Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon (D), whose efforts to watch Gov. Brian Kemp (R) sign a controversial new voting bill into law was caught on a now-widely circulating video.

“I think anyone who saw that video would have been deeply concerned by the actions that were taken by law enforcement to arrest her when she simply, by the video that was provided, seemed to be knocking on the door to see if she could watch a bill being signed into law,” Psaki said.

Facebook Live video showed Cannon knocking on the door to Kemp’s office as he was holding a news conference inside about SB 202, a sweeping set of restrictions on how ballots are cast and counted in Georgia.

In a statement to The Post, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Safety confirmed that Cannon was arrested for obstructing law enforcement and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings of members.

5:10 p.m.
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Psaki says Biden is engaging with groups contemplating legal action against Georgia voting law

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Biden would continue to “encourage and engage” with voting-rights activists contemplating legal action against the sweeping measure enacted in Georgia that they say will lead to longer lines at the polls, partisan control of elections and more difficult procedures for voters trying to cast their ballots by mail.

“Obviously, there’s a range of groups and organizations that may take legal action,” Psaki said a White House briefing for reporters. “Some of that is going to be more appropriate from outside of the White House.”

Psaki also signaled that Biden would make a statement on the law signed Thursday by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), saying he was concerned about multiple provisions, including one that makes it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line.

“Like the late Congressman John Lewis said, there’s nothing more precious than the right to vote and speak up,” Psaki said, referring to the civil rights icon from Georgia who died last year.

During his news conference Thursday, Biden called Republican-drive initiatives that would disenfranchise voters “un-American” and “sick.”

4:38 p.m.
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Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus members to retrace route of Atlanta-area shooter in commemoration

A delegation of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus announced plans for Sunday to retrace the route of the shooter who killed eight people at three Atlanta-area spas, including six Asian women, to commemorate victims of hate crimes directed at Asians.

The delegation, led by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the caucus, said it plans to lay flowers at each of the murder sites and hold a media availability at one of them.

The group also plans to hold a roundtable discussion with Asian leaders from the area after its tour.

4:30 p.m.
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In show of bipartisan solidarity, 26 governors and more than 60 former officials condemn anti-Asian attacks

In a show of bipartisan solidarity, 26 governors and dozens of Asian Americans who have served in top roles across six presidential administrations issued a pair of statements Friday forcefully condemned the spike in anti-Asian harassment over the past year.

Among the governors were two Republicans, Larry Hogan of Maryland and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, who signed on with all 23 of their Democratic counterparts, as well as the governor of Guam, to a letter that cited a recent university study that found an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2020, despite such crimes dropping overall.

“What is happening to Asian Americans is simply un-American. We condemn racism, violence, and hatred against our AAPI communities, and we must do more to protect, lift up, and support” them, the governors wrote, using an acronym that stands for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) helped lead the effort, organizers said.

3:59 p.m.
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Analysis: Biden just set rules for how he’ll work with Republicans

Biden laid out informal rules for working with Republicans, saying Thursday he won’t go cap-in-hand for their support, predicting some of those publicly criticizing him now just need to “get it out of their system,” and saving his sharpest show of anger for GOP statehouses trying to make it harder to vote.

The president’s working relationship with Republicans matters because Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the Congress, and White House aides know they cannot advance some of his major priorities absent GOP support.

Biden’s remarks, delivered at his first solo news conference, came as the Georgia state House passed legislation that would, among other things, make it illegal for third-party groups to give food and water to people in line to vote and imposes new conditions on voting by mail, which proved decisive in 2020.