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The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

House GOP seizes on school culture wars with ‘Parents Bill of Rights’

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

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In today’s edition … What we’re watching: Trump lawyer appears before grand jury … Cleve R. Wootson Jr. on the different week that Biden and Trump had … More TikTok polling … Inside Biden’s trip to Canada … The ‘five families’ of the House GOP, visualized … but first …

On the Hill

House GOP seizes on school culture wars with ‘Parents Bill of Rights’

Parents’ rights have become a rallying cry for Republicans in a post-covid era in which pandemic-related school closures and masking policies animated parents across the country.

As the pandemic subsided, the concerns over covid-era pandemic practices among conservatives morphed into outrage over school lessons on race, gender and sexual orientation.

Those concerns have turned into legislation that the House is poised to pass today, dubbed the “Parents Bill of Rights.” 

Supporters say it will put education decisions back in the hands of parents.

Here’s what the bill would do, according to our colleagues Marianna Sotomayor, Hannah Natanson and Jacqueline Alemany.

  • Update the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act to enforce that public schools make available online class curriculums, readings lists, library books and the school’s budget for parents to inspect.
  • School districts would also have to notify parents of any violent acts that happen on school grounds and collaborate with them on how to best protect their child’s online data, among other measures.
  • Give parents the right to protest at school board meetings and require teachers meet with parents at least twice a year to discuss concerns.
  • Mandate school administrators inform parents if a teacher addresses a child by different pronouns or complies with changing “the child’s sex-based accommodations, including locker rooms or bathrooms.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has also introduced amendments that, if adopted, would go further by mandating that schools alert parents if their child’s school allows a trans person to use a women’s restroom or participate in girls' sports.

Democrats’ pushback

Last week, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona published an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times lambasting “politicians trying to prevent students from learning about the history, arts and culture, contributions and experiences of African Americans,” and said in a subsequent interview that restrictions of educational topics are a “national trend.”

Some Democrats have said the changes are motivated by bigotry toward the LGBTQ community.

“This Republican bill is asking the government to force the outing of LGBT people before they are ready,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said during floor debate Thursday.

Federalism concerns

Not all Republicans are on board with Washington dictating local school district rules, as Marianna and Hannah report:

  • “… the argument that the government is intervening more frequently in Americans’ lives is why some Republicans privately have concerns over the bill. According to numerous House GOP aides, who were granted anonymity to discuss private concerns ruminating within the conference, several lawmakers have concerns tied to their belief in federalism.”

“It is inconsistent to want the Department of Education to have less power and for Washington to have less of a role in curriculum — it’s contrary to that perspective to support this legislation,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said, who will vote against the bill.

Pressed on whether the bill is anathema to conservatism, Republican Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said: “It depends.”

“There’s case law that shows that parenting is a constitutional right. So I don’t think it is,” he said. “All you’re doing is saying to these local school districts is, you got to give parents the right to parent.”

The education culture war

The partisan debate over education was once dominated by vouchers and school choice.

Then a faction of the GOP wanted to address education by eliminating the Education Department and federal mandates and transferring all decisions to local school boards.

But during covid, conservative backlash led to “the promotion of parental rights [becoming] a politically potent call to arms for Republicans over the past three years, helping fuel high-profile political victories for Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis,” Marianna, Hannah and Jacqueline write.

And House Republicans started to use education as a campaign issue, adding a “parents bill of rights” to their “Commitment to America” list of policy priorities during last year’s campaign.

  • Conservative politicians have capitalized on the swelling parental discontent, in total passing at least 64 laws across 25 states that restrict what children can learn and do at school, per the 2022 Post analysis.
  • The legislative push is continuing into this year — for example, in Florida, the legislature’s GOP majority is poised to pass a raft of laws that would ban gender studies at the college level, limit the use of transgender pronouns in K-12 schools and extend a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality from third up to eighth grade.

What we're watching

At Mar-a-Lago: Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran will appear before a grand jury investigating the former president’s handling of classified documents found at his Florida residence. Corcoran isn’t the first Trump lawyer to appear before the panel: Timothy Parlatore testified before the grand jury on Dec. 22, 2022, about the search for classified documents. A federal judge ordered Parlatore to answer questions about how he decided which locations would be searched, the people involved in the search and how the search was carried out.

In the Texas courts: We’re still waiting for U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to rule on a lawsuit that seeks to restrict access to mifepristone — one of the two drugs used in medication abortions — nationwide. Alliance Defending Freedom brought the challenge on behalf of several antiabortion groups and doctors against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. No matter how Kacsmaryk rules, the case will likely be appealed to the conservative-leaning U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and eventually reach the Supreme Court.

On the Hill: Today, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is leading a group of lawmakers to the D.C. jail holding defendants from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Defending those who have been accused and charged with crimes from that day has been a priority of Greene’s.

White House Notebook

Biden and Trump have had … different weeks

White House reporter Cleve R. Wootson Jr. files this White House Notebook:

This week has been a tale of two presidents.

On Tuesday, President Biden stood in the East Room yukking it up with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mindy Kaling and Bruce Springsteen as he handed out awards to nearly two dozen artists.

On Thursday, he celebrated the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

And he’s ending the week with what may be the least contentious foreign policy trip of his tenure: a visit to Canada.

All pretty tame presidential fare during a quiet week at the White House.

Meanwhile in Florida …

Former president Donald Trump set the tone for his week ahead with a Saturday post on Truth Social asserting that he would be arrested on Tuesday and calling on supporters to protest.

That turned out to be wrong, but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg may soon indict Trump over allegations he paid hush money to a porn star during the 2016 campaign.

  • Either way, the week was dominated by coverage of when or whether Trump would be indicted while the former president unleashed a wave of attacks against Bragg as he tried to rile up his supporters in what some worried could lead to a repeat of the violence seen at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The differences are the point

It would be difficult to find a starker split-screen week between the 45th and 46th presidents.

And their vastly different calendars and behavior in recent days are emblematic of the different messages both men want to send voters ahead of the 2024 presidential campaign.

  • Biden wants his presidency to look like a return to normalcy after the chaotic Trump years, something he has tried to achieve by having civil relationships with allies, more predictable governance and family-friendly jokes at White House celebrations.

Trump has no use for this PG-rated approach.

He’s said his potential prosecution — in several jurisdictions — is just a thinly veiled persecution of his followers and he has injected his campaign with themes of payback.

  • “I am your warrior. I am your justice,” he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference this month. “And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution.”

Indictment or not, their week will end as differently as it began.

Trump plans to hold one of his raucous rallies in Waco, Tex., on Saturday.

Biden is heading to Delaware for a quiet weekend at home.

The campaign

More TikTok polling

A new poll sheds additional light on how upset millennial and Gen Z voters would be if Washington banned TikTok, the enormously popular Chinese-owned social media app whose chief executive, Shou Zi Chew, was grilled by lawmakers in a tense hearing Thursday.

The poll, conducted by John Della Volpe, the director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, through his polling firm, SocialSphere, told voters that “TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a company that was founded in China and reported to have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party” and asked them if this information concerned them:

  • Among Gen Z: 51 percent were concerned while 41 percent were not
  • Among millennials: 64 percent were concerned while 29 percent were not

Just 34 percent of Gen Z voters support banning TikTok, though, while 53 percent were opposed.

Support was higher among millennials: 49 percent supported a ban, while 34 percent were opposed.

A Washington Post poll recently found that “a small majority of people who did not use TikTok in the past month support banning the app, while an identical majority of daily TikTok users oppose it,” our colleagues wrote.

At the White House

O Canada!

On the agenda: Biden is in Ottawa today for a meeting with his Canadian counterpart. He is expected to address Parliament, attend a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and hold a joint news conference.

Biden’s trip to Canada — his first as president — comes on the heels of an agreement between the two allies “to let each country turn away asylum seekers who reach their border at unofficial crossings,” per our colleagues Matt Viser and Amanda Coletta.

  • The new arrangement, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, will be announced today. It helps Canada “stem the rising number of asylum seekers who have crossed the border from the United States in Upstate New York,” Matt and Amanda write.
  • “In exchange, Canada has agreed to create a pathway for 15,000 refugees to legally enter the country, an effort to help mitigate the growing influx of migrants entering the United States from Mexico.”

Biden and Trudeau are also expected to discuss security, trade, climate change, China, Russia and Ukraine during their meeting.

  • Haiti: Biden is expected to press Trudeau to lead a military intervention into Haiti, “as the Caribbean nation struggles with gang violence, civil and political unrest, and a resurgence of cholera,” our colleagues Amanda and Widlore Mérancourt write. “Canadian officials have said any outside intervention must be backed by a political consensus in Haiti … They have also cast doubt on whether the Canadian armed forces have the capacity for the type of mission the United States has proposed.”
  • NORAD: The Biden administration has also pressed the Canadian government to increase its defense spending following the discovery of a Chinese surveillance balloon over parts of North America. Biden and Trudeau will discuss bolstering the North American air detection and defense system during the meeting.

Counterprogramming?: The trip follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s own state visit to Russia and meeting with President Vladimir Putin. “Biden’s speech Friday before the Canadian Parliament and his face-to-face meetings with Trudeau will serve as visual counterpoints to the Xi-Putin summit, showing two Western leaders working cooperatively to uphold democratic norms,” analysts told NBC News’s Peter Nicholas.

The Data

The ‘five families’ of the House GOP, visualized: Since the 2022 midterm elections, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has met with “representatives from each of the Republicans’ five ideological caucuses, reminiscent of how ‘the five families’ in ‘The Godfather’ met to strategize in an effort to keep the peace,” our colleagues Adrian Blanco, Marianna Sotomayor and Hannah Dormido report.

  • “The ‘five families’ represent a range of views, from the most moderate who are willing to work with Democrats to the ultraconservative who often push leadership to accept their demands in return for their votes.”

The Media

Weekend (must) reads

From The Post:

From across the web:


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