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Week in politics: Trump responds to new abortion laws; Biden's plan for student loans

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The House on Friday voted to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allows for warrantless surveillance of foreign nationals inside the United States. The vote happened just two days after a group of Republicans revolted against their own party's leadership. They want to curtail the amount of surveillance allowed. NPR's Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Of course, this law has been around since the 1970s, been amended and renewed several times. Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates often criticize the law. Why this disagreement among House Republicans?

ELVING: We've seen this scenario before. More than a dozen holdouts among Speaker Johnson's Republicans wanted more changes to the bill, and they stalled it on a procedural vote. Then former President Trump, who has also been hostile to this law because he blamed it for the Russia investigation back when he was president - he got in touch with Mike Johnson. They had a talk. They worked some things out. And yesterday, Johnson and his leadership were able to get the bill out on the floor, where it won easily with a majority of both parties. Now it's on to the Senate where more adventures await.

SIMON: Let me ask you about some recent polls showing Donald Trump picking up some support among younger voters, two points ahead of President Biden among Gen Z and millennial voters in the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 18 points ahead in March's Fox News poll. We are - take a wry view of all poll results, but should President Biden be worried?

ELVING: Yes, and he is. And that's why he was in Madison, Wis., this past week pitching a new plan to cancel student debt and why he was coming out for more gun control at the end of the week. But as for those polls, maybe a couple of grains of salt in this case. It does seem clear that Trump is making gains among, at least, some younger voters. Biden, after all, is 81. He's disappointed a lot of activists on issues. Plus, these younger voters are just now getting their first taste of serious inflation.

But, you know, not all younger voters have student debt, or not all like seeing it canceled for those who do. But with all that said, you mentioned those polls that had Trump ahead among young voters. Yet there's the Quinnipiac poll out earlier this month that had Biden up 20 points among voters under 35. And by the way, several other polls are showing Biden leading among voters over 65. Now, that would be a shock to the system at the other end.

SIMON: Arizona justices this week brought back an 1864 law that bars all abortions, except in cases where the mother's life is in danger. Trump said he felt abortion should be left to the states, but then said Arizona's law goes too far, quote, "definitely had to change." I'm not clear where he stands.

ELVING: Well, he's trying to have it both ways. And that's having the effect that such tactics usually have, which is to say he's offending some of his anti-abortion supporters while not making all that many new friends on the abortion rights side of the ledger. And there are people who say they are somewhere in the middle on this issue. And Trump may well be hoping to make himself more acceptable to that group.

But, you know, it's a narrow needle to thread, especially when the state Supreme Court of Arizona steps in. And that court has just taken Arizona back to a law passed during the Civil War, when Arizona was still a territory. And at the same time, that court decided to let the voters weigh in on abortion in November. And a lot of Democrats welcomed that, hoping it'll bring out a lot of voters who might be persuaded to also vote for Biden and other Democrats. And so Vice President Kamala Harris was in Tucson this week highlighting the White House interest in this issue.

SIMON: Trump and House Speaker Johnson held a press conference yesterday about election security. They want to make it - they don't want noncitizens to be able to vote. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, did an analysis and found that almost never happens.

ELVING: You know, not in reality. And by the way, thank you to The Heritage Foundation for that research. This is one of the rarest forms of attempted vote fraud. Nonetheless, as Speaker Johnson said, it's an important issue to some voters, so why not make a show of banning it?

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving. Thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.
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