June 30, 2021

Yesterday, by a vote of 285 to 120, the House of Representatives voted to remove the statues of Confederates from the U.S. Capitol. While 67 Republicans voted in favor of the measure, 120 did not. Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL), who told the insurrectionists on January 6 before they stormed the Capitol “"Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass," issued a statement titled: “CONGRESSMAN MO BROOKS DEFENDS STATES' RIGHTS, RIPS INTOLERANT SOCIALISTS WHO SEEK TO TAKE DOWN CAPITOL STATUES THEY DON'T LIKE.”

"I support federalism and a state's right to decide for itself who it should honor. As such, I will proudly vote 'No' on H.R. 3005. Alabama, not New Yorkers, Californians, or anyone else, should decide who we wish to honor in Alabama's contribution to the National Statuary Collection," the statement read. “Socialist Democrat states should butt out!”

When voters elected President Joe Biden and gave the Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, Republicans turned to the states they control to enforce their vision of the country.

They began by challenging the elections in those states, challenges that continue in Arizona with an “audit” of the ballots cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 election performed by a company called Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO has recently appeared in a video advancing conspiracies about the election. They have passed laws limiting reproductive rights and the rights of transgender children, and lately they have attacked what they claim is Critical Race Theory being taught in public schools in an attempt to enforce their own version of history.

Now, as Republican governors appear to have settled on using migrants at the border as an issue to undermine President Biden, they have begun to use state power over the National Guard to enforce that attempt.

On June 10, Texas governor Greg Abbott and Arizona governor Doug Ducey invoked the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, an agreement that lets states send aid to each other after a governor has declared a disaster or an emergency. Abbott has declared a disaster and Ducey an emergency over the influx of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that the Biden administration is “unwilling or unable” to secure the border.

In fact, since last October, more than a million migrants trying to cross the border have been arrested. Right now, the number of migrants approaching the border is at a two-decade high, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountering 180,000 migrants last month. But a high percentage of those apprehended have tried to come multiple times—38% of those apprehended in May—and, operating under a coronavirus protocol established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Border Protection in May expelled more than 112,000 of those 180,000 migrants. The number of unaccompanied children coming across the border dropped from almost 14,000 in April to about 10,700 in May. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas insists that, having inherited a system gutted by the previous administration, Biden’s team has rebuilt the necessary structures to manage migrants at the border.

Nonetheless, Abbott and Ducey have called for governors of other states to send “additional law enforcement personnel and equipment” to “arrest migrants who illegally cross the border into our territory.” The letter concludes: “Texas and Arizona have stepped up to secure the border in the federal government’s absence, and now the Emergency Management Assistance Compact gives your State a chance to stand strong with us.”

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis have all pledged to send law enforcement to Texas and Arizona. Yesterday, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem one-upped them by announcing that she is sending 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, and that billionaires Willis and Reba Johnson from Franklin, Tennessee, are paying for the troops. Johnson told Josh Kovensky at Talking Points Memo that he was making the donation because “this President would rather help other countries than help America.”

At least some of the Republican focus on taking command of states appears to be backfiring. Voters in Arizona, for example, appear to be turning against those who supported the “audit.” They oppose it by 49-46 percent, and Independents, on whose votes carrying the state depends, oppose the audit by 18 points.

“As bloody red meat for the MAGA Republican base, the audit is manna from heaven, but the problem is that Arizona is not a red state any more. It’s a swing state,” Fernand Amandi, who conducted the survey for Bendixen & Amandi International, told Politico’s Marc Caputo.

But, of course, the other piece of Republican focus on the states has been the dramatic reworking of state election laws to help the Republicans retain control of their state governments no matter what the voters choose.

Still, the federal government is not giving the Trump Republicans a free pass. This afternoon, by a vote of 222 to 190, the House of Representatives voted to create a select committee to investigate the events of January 6. Republicans Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were the only two Republicans who voted in favor.

"Our bipartisan, good-faith proposal was met with a filibuster. Now that Senate Republicans have chosen to block the formation of an independent commission, it falls to the House to stay the course and get the answers they deserve," said House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

The need for an official investigation was illustrated this evening by the release of a 40-minute investigative video by the New York Times. Using video shot by the rioters themselves, the Times’s Visual Investigations team concluded that there was “a clear feedback loop between President Trump and his supporters.” It showed how close the rioters came to doing far more damage than they did.