1/ Republicans – who have for months insisted on changes to border and migration policy as a condition of approving any additional aid to Ukraine – declared that the bipartisan Senate-proposed border deal would be “dead on arrival” in the House. The bipartisan deal, which represents the Republican’s best chance in decades to make substantial changes to immigration and border security, would require the U.S. to close the border if about 5,000 migrants cross illegally on any given day. It would also speed up the asylum process. Speaker Mike Johnson, who still hasn’t seen the legislative text, said House Republicans won’t accept any proposal that allows “even one illegal crossing,” calling it “surrender” and that “the number must be ZERO.” Asked whether the House Republican opposition to the legislation is due to Trump’s campaign against it, Johnson responded: “That’s absurd.” Immigration has been Trump’s defining issue, dating back to his first presidential campaign news conference on June 16, 2015 when he accused Mexico of sending “rapists” to the U.S. (The Hill / Politico / HuffPost / Politico)

2/ The Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously to dismiss an effort seeking to disqualify Trump from the state’s primary ballot, saying it didn’t have the authority to decide whether Trump had engaged in insurrection. The board’s unanimous ruling comes after its hearing officer found that a “preponderance of the evidence” shows Trump engaged in insurrection and is ineligible to run for president. The hearing officer, however, said “the Election Code is simply not suited for issues involving constitutional analysis,” and recommended that the board let the courts make the decision. While the decision is expected to be appealed in state courts, the issue will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which hears arguments on whether Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol disqualifies him from the presidency. (Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / ABC News)

3/ A federal appeals court rejected a request to review a ruling that threatens to make it harder to enforce the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial discrimination in the election process. The full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal law doesn’t allow private groups or individuals to pursue cases enforcing Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because the law doesn’t explicitly name them. Only the U.S. attorney general can file lawsuits to enforce the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial discrimination. The vast majority of Voting Rights Act lawsuits for decades, however, have been filed by private parties – not the Justice Department. The ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Reuters / NPR)

  • 🔎 What’s at Stake? The integrity of the democratic process in the U.S. hinges on the fair and equal access to voting. By limiting the ability of private groups and individuals to file lawsuits under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the ruling could lead to a reduction in the oversight and enforcement of voting rights. Given the historical significance of the Voting Rights Act in combatting racial discrimination in voting, this ruling can be seen as a step backwards as it disproportionately affects minority voters, who are more likely to be impacted by discriminatory voting practices.

  • 📌 Day 1035: A federal appeals court ruled that only the federal government — not private citizens or civil rights groups — can sue to enforce the Voting Rights Act. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that private entities cannot bring lawsuits under Section 2, a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that prohibits discriminatory voting practices. The ruling runs counter to decades of legal practice and the vast majority of Voting Rights Act claims are brought by private entities. The decision will almost certainly be appealed and is likely headed to the Supreme Court. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NPR / Politico / NBC News)

4/ Trump called the United Auto Workers president a “dope” and called for his removal after the union endorsed Biden. Trump accused the union’s leader, Shawn Fain, of “selling the Automobile Industry right into the big, powerful, hands of China.” Fain, however, said Biden had “earned” the endorsement, saying Biden had “a history of serving others and serving the working class,” while Trump had “a history of serving himself and standing for the billionaire class.” Meanwhile, Biden, who joined the picket line with UAW members during their six-week strike against Detroit automakers last year, will travel to Michigan ahead of the state’s Feb. 27 presidential primary election. (Politico / New York Times / Politico)