A federal judge blocked more portions of New Jersey's new gun control law on Monday, just three weeks after she blocked other parts of the law that she determined contain "considerable constitutional problems."
The new temporary restraining order from U.S. District Court Judge Renee Marie Bumb, a George W. Bush appointee, lifts the restriction on permitted gun owners from carrying concealed weapons in public parks, on beaches and in casinos. In a previous order, Bumb blocked parts of the law that prohibit guns from being carried in "sensitive locations," including public libraries, museums, entertainment venues like stadiums, arenas and amusement parks, bars, restaurants where alcohol is served, public parks, beaches, playgrounds, and airports and public transportation hubs.
Bumb had also blocked the state from enforcing its ban on carrying firearms on private property without the "express consent" of the owner or signage indicating that firearms are allowed, as well as restrictions on carrying guns in a vehicle.
The previous order remains in effect.
New Jersey's gun control law is one of several efforts by Democratic governors to tighten restrictions on concealed-carry permit holders after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a longstanding New York law that required applicants to show "proper cause" to obtain a concealed-carry license last summer. The court's decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen dramatically expanded gun rights, effectively forcing states with so-called "may issue" concealed-carry permit regimes to switch to "shall issue."
The response from Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey, as in other states like New York, was to pass legislation barring concealed-carry permit holders from carrying their weapons in "sensitive locations." Gun rights groups have argued in court that these lists of "sensitive locations" where guns are banned is so exhaustive that it "essentially renders the entire State of New Jersey a ‘sensitive place’ where firearms are prohibited."
The New York law is also the subject of ongoing litigation.
"This marks the beginning of the end for Governor Murphy’s blatantly unconstitutional new carry law, which is going down in flames," Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, wrote in a statement. "Murphy has clearly demonstrated that constitutional issues are indeed above his pay grade."
In a 46-page opinion, Bumb cited Bruen and said that New Jersey had failed to supply sufficient evidence that some of the "sensitive places" where firearms are banned are rooted in "a historical tradition of firearm regulation," which is the legal standard established by the Supreme Court.
However, the judge did side with the state on the matter of playgrounds, which she said "fall within the sphere of schools" as a historically recognized gun-free zone that is "simply obvious, undisputed, and uncontroversial."
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has called the restrictions "common sense" and is working alongside New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin to have the law reinstated in full.
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee continue to be frustrated by the lack of transparency afforded them when it comes to classified documents recovered from President Biden's home, and the displeasure is being expressed by both parties.
The Justice Department told committee leaders Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that they were "working" on getting them "information that will satisfy the Committee’s responsibilities," but the senators do not appear to be satisfied with this.
"I appreciate the communication. But the subject of the communication doesn’t give me clarity on how and when we’re going to be able to fulfill our obligation," Warner told Punchbowl News.
Fellow Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., described the Justice Department's position as a "stonewall," telling Punchbowl that it is "a complete non-starter."
"Just from a counter-intelligence standpoint — one of the most important aspects of national security — you’ve got to be able to see the documents," Wyden said. "This is not a close call."
Republican committee members have also been vocal about how the Biden administration is handling the matter. Rubio called the DOJ's letter "ridiculous." On Sunday, he told CBS's "Face the Nation" that the documents in question "are probably materials we already have access to, we just don't know which ones they are."
Senators have threatened to take action that would compel the administration to cooperate with the Intelligence Committee. Possibilities include withholding funding, issuing subpoenas, or blocking nominees.
"[I]f we don’t get it and they’re keeping us from doing our jobs, then we’ll have to take appropriate measures," Rubio told Punchbowl News. "As of now, we’re hoping to find a resolution that doesn’t lead to that. But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and you gotta do stuff. I don’t want to do stuff. But we will do stuff."
EXCLUSIVE: The chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness is warning that it's only a matter of time before China tries to invade Taiwan and that the Department of Defense needs to shift its focus from enacting "woke" policies to ensuring troops are prepared to address this threat and other threats to U.S. national security.
"You can debate if 2025 is the right year, but it is a matter of when, not if, anymore," Chairman Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., told Fox News Digital. "And we have to do more with our military readiness to convince China not to make that move."
Waltz said he largely agrees with a memo from four-star Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan – the head of Air Mobility Command – which predicted that the U.S. will be at war with China by 2025.
Minihan's memo to all air wing commanders and other Air Force operational commanders said that he believes war with China is imminent in the next two years, and he said that "a fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain" needs to be established to prepare for the fight.
Minihan directed his Air Force commanders to report back by Feb. 28 on steps they will take to prepare for the war against China.
Waltz said China's military buildup could peak between 2025 and 2028, and he welcomed Minihan's sober assessment of China's rising power.
"It is refreshing to hear a general officer leading, telling his troops to train harder, that we have to deter war, but if we can’t, that we have to win, and here’s how we’re going to get to victory," Waltz told Fox News Digital. "He is focused on standards and victory – not on diversity, equity and inclusion and climate."
"I think this memo is spot on," Waltz added. "This is the type of mentality that we need our soldiers to see and that we need the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to see."
Waltz, who also sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, said the 2024 U.S. presidential election and the Taiwanese election might have influence on the timing of China’s aggression toward Taiwan. Minihan suggested in his memo that the elections would "distract" the countries, leaving a window for China to make a move.
"Taiwan won’t go so far as to say ‘independence’ because they know that is a trigger for the CCP," Waltz said. "But they are having a more and more aggressive stance toward their own national defense and a closer and closer relationship with the United States."
Meanwhile, Waltz said the Department of Defense’s focus on climate, COVID vaccine mandates and social policies has deterred young adults from joining the military and could hurt United States’ readiness.
Waltz said military personnel are "disturbed" that some senior leaders think "climate is the greatest existential threat," and he said they are concerned about the emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.
"I think it has affected our readiness, and we’ve had the worst recruiting year in the last year since Vietnam," Waltz said. He said the vaccine mandates have been "deterring young men and women from signing up. People have been leaving the service because of it."
Waltz noted that some officials in the Biden administration have said climate change is an "existential threat" to the United States. That's a reference to comments made by the secretary of the Army, who said the United States should "take all of our tanks and fighting vehicles electric within the next couple of decades."
"Their obsession is having the least carbon-emitting Army," Waltz said. "And I want the most lethal Army."
"The administration’s China policy is just all over the place, and it’s dangerous," Waltz added.
That mirrors an assessment from House China Select Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., who told Fox News Digital that the Biden administration is "divided" on the China threat.
Officials like FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director William Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines have repeatedly warned that China poses the greatest threat to the national security of the U.S. Other officials, like climate czar John Kerry, are more focused on the threat of climate change.
But a senior administration official told Fox News that the Biden team is focusing on climate change as "a way to compete with China."
The official pointed to the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which they say positions the U.S. to "outspend China" for the first time. The official also pointed to the Inflation Reduction Act, saying the administration is focusing on making "huge investments" to create U.S.-based manufacturing jobs and strengthening supply chains.
Fox News reported last summer that China could invade Taiwan within 18 months, according to current and former officials familiar with U.S. and allied intelligence – specifically through amphibious assault and military invasion.
When asked for comment about the Minihan memo, a defense official told Fox News Digital that those comments "are not representative of the department’s view on China."
Still, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told Fox News Digital that the Biden administration’s National Defense Strategy "makes clear that China is the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense, and our focus remains on working alongside allies and partners to preserve a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific."
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently said that there has been "increased surface vessel activity around Taiwan" but said "whether or not that means an invasion is imminent … I seriously doubt that."
EXCLUSIVE: The rival group to Stacey Abrams' successful get-out-the-vote (GOTV) organization is touting what it says is the "playbook" to countering Democrat advances in swing states across the country in preparation for the 2024 elections.
The group – Greater Georgia – was founded in 2021 by former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., with the aim of registering more conservatives to vote, engaging a more diverse slate of voters, and turning out the vote with the necessary ground game infrastructure, all in an effort to prevent similar defeats to what Republicans in the state experienced in the 2020 elections.
Speaking with Fox News Digital, Loeffler detailed the success Greater Georgia saw during the 2022 midterm elections in each of those areas – all things she says can be emulated in other swing states – as well as what improvements she said Republicans needed to make in order to overcome Democrats' financial and organizational advantages.
"We've been a solidly red state for well over a decade. And what we saw in 2022 was wider margins of victory across our state for our statewide elected officials and really– held the majority in the [state] House and the [state] Senate and won more counties in this cycle than in 2020," Loeffler said.
She also pointed to Republican victories in all but one state-wide race in which GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker was narrowly defeated by incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff election by less than 35,000 votes, despite the latter spending more than $100 million more on the race.
She attributed this success, in part, to Greater Georgia's recruiting nearly 1,000 grassroots volunteers, registering more than 36,000 new voters, and holding 26 community roundtables to recruit more diverse conservative voters, all of which she detailed in the organization's annual report following the midterms.
When asked about Abrams' GOTV organization, "Fair Fight," and how it saw success in helping elect Democratic Sens. Warnock and Jon Ossoff, as well as deliver the state to Biden over former President Donald Trump in 2020, Loeffler said it came down to its ability to effectively organize and fund a massive ground mobilization of voters.
"When we looked at the landscape after the 2020 cycle, what I saw was a lack of organization and activism on the ground. Now, there were tremendous numbers of people involved and in mobilizing," she said.
"But what we need is organization. And that's what we saw. Being represented on the left was not just massive funding, but a massive ground game, voter contact mobilization. And so I set out to replicate that after I left the Senate in 2021 to make sure what happened to us in 2020 never happens in this state again," she added.
Loeffler explained that she didn't just mean mobilizing on Election Day, but instead building that same infrastructure outside an election year as well – in this case during 2023 with 2024 in mind.
She emphasized that although Georgia was still a red state in terms of values and electoral success in the midterms, it was also "vital" to recognize it as "a canary in a coal mine" for the rest of the country because of its changing electorate, as well as the need to reach those new groups of voters.
"We have seen the trends that are playing out, whether it's younger voters, more diverse voters or independent voters. And we have to have the infrastructure and outreach to conduct that persuasion, mobilization, registration, and then getting them to the polls in 2024," she said.
Loeffler said that one of the biggest takeaways from Georgia Republicans' overall success in 2022 was that Greater Georgia proved a ground game could overcome Democrats' "wall of money" pouring in from blue states, a problem Republicans in other battleground states have also faced.
She later added that Republicans everywhere could benefit from being data-driven in order to maximize outreach to potential voters.
"We have to understand where those margins are for pickup, where the persuadable voters are, and if we're reaching them. Are they registered? Are they engaged? Are they voting? And then what can we do to persuade them?" Loeffler said.
"That's a very data driven exercise. It's not just relying on polling or modeling, but it's doing the work on the ground, being at the doors and making sure that through Election Day, we're conducting the ballot chase all the way to the finish," she said.
Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced the state's first-ever border czar to address the influx of migrants coming through the U.S.-Mexico border.
Abbott tapped veteran Border Patrol agent Mike Banks to serve as "special adviser on border matters to the governor," in response to the Biden administration's handling of the border crisis.
"For nearly two years, the state of Texas has taken unprecedented, historic action under Operation Lone Star in response to the Biden administration's refusal to secure the border," Abbott said at a news conference on a border wall construction site in San Benito, Texas. "To continue doing what no other state in the history of our country has done to secure the border, I hired Mike Banks as the state of Texas' first-ever border czar."
"As an award-winning Border Patrol agent, with decades of federal law enforcement and border security experience, Mike is the perfect choice to oversee Texas' fight against the surge of illegal immigration, lethal drugs, and deadly weapons flowing into our state and nation," the governor continued. "I have no doubt that Mike's strong record of leadership and wealth of experience will provide Texans — and Americans — the level of border security expertise they deserve from a proper border czar."
Banks, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw and Texas Military Department (TMD) Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer were present for Abbott's announcement.
"I am humbled to be selected by Governor Abbott for this opportunity," Banks said. "Protecting our nation’s border is something I have dedicated the last 23 years of my life to, and I am very passionate about it. I look forward to strengthening our relationships with law enforcement partners and the community, leveraging all that we can to further protect our great state of Texas and the United States."
The new Texas border czar is expected to collaborate daily with DPS, TMD and other state agencies, local officials and Texas landowners to deter and prevent migrants from entering Texas illegally through the Mexico border. He also is expected to advise Abbott on situations and strategies at the border, including plans to address migrant surges. He will be based out of Weslaco and travel along the border when necessary.
Banks has more than 30 years of federal law enforcement leadership experience, including 23 years in border security operations and administration along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Abbott has been highly critical of the Biden administration for its handling of the border, which has seen record numbers of illegal crossings since the president took office in January 2021.
In response to what he's described as the federal government's inaction on border security, the governor has launched several initiatives aimed at addressing the border crisis, including sending buses of migrants to sanctuary cities like Washington, D.C., and New York City, allocating $4 billion in funding for Texas' border security efforts and deploying thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.
"No governor has dedicated more time, energy, and effort in terms of public safety, homeland security, and border security than Governor Abbott," McCraw said at Monday's news conference.
President Biden posed a challenge to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday amid rising tensions surrounding the debate over raising the federal debt ceiling: "Show me your budget and I'll show you mine."
Biden made the remarks while responding to a question from CNN about what his message to McCarthy would be during the upcoming meeting between the two, expected to be held Wednesday at the White House.
McCarthy said the discussions would revolve around increasing the debt ceiling, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said had been reached on Thursday.
"President Biden: I accept your invitation to sit down and discuss a responsible debt ceiling increase to address irresponsible government spending," McCarthy tweeted Friday afternoon. "I look forward to our meeting."
On the same day, Biden confirmed to Politico that the discussion would be about the debt, however a White House official later insisted the meeting would be a "general" one and not debt ceiling-specific.
The official repeated the administration's previously stated position that the debt ceiling was "not a negotiation."
Last week, Republican senators insisted Biden "will negotiate" on the debt ceiling, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, calling the president's anti-negotiating stance "unreasonable and ridiculous."
The growing U.S. national debt stands at $31.4 trillion while the federal government's annual budget is currently operating at $6.3 trillion, nearly $2 trillion more than what it spent annually prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked earlier this month about debt ceiling negotiations and whether Biden is willing to "cut any spending" or would be willing to negotiate with Republicans who "want to cut spending as part of a debt limit deal."
"Look, as you’ve heard us say before, we will not be doing any negotiation over the debt ceiling," Jean-Pierre said.
Fox Businesses' Brie Stimson and Peter Kasperowicz contributed to this report.
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey unveiled a $282 million supplemental spending plan Monday that includes $85 million to help pay for the state's emergency assistance program and other services for eligible families in need of shelter.
The state's shelter system is at capacity and facing significantly elevated levels of demand by families facing homelessness, administration officials said.
In November, former Republican Gov. Charlie Baker opened a temporary shelter in Devens to ease the state’s migrant crisis.
The proposed supplemental budget — which now heads to state lawmakers — will also extend two food security programs that will soon run out of funding, according to Healey.
"Our administration is committed to ensuring that families in Massachusetts have access to the shelter, health care, education, food assistance and other services they need," the Democrat said.
The proposed spending is intended to help expand the number of units available to provide temporary shelter to families facing homelessness and includes investments in housing infrastructure and the shelter provider workforce.
Massachusetts must provide emergency shelter to homeless families under its existing "right-to-shelter" law.
"The supp budget presented us with realistic options today," Democratic House Speaker Ronald Mariano told reporters.
The bill also proposes nearly $22 million in school-based aid to help communities experiencing a large influx of families with school-aged children due to state shelter placements.
It also includes $65 million to extend the universal school meals pilot program through the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
To help the more than 630,000 Massachusetts families facing the end of extra federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in March, the proposed state spending plan includes $130 million to recipients equal to 40% of the previous federal benefit for three months.