Hi there, OnPolitics readers!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrapped up her Taiwan trip Wednesday, offering strong support for the self-governed island.

“Our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as a strong statement that America stands with Taiwan,” Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday. “We came to Taiwan to listen to, learn from and show our support for the people of Taiwan, who have built a thriving democracy that stands as one of the freest and most open in the world.”

Meanwhile, China announced it would conduct live-fire military drills in response to Pelosi’s controversial trip. Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that “China will do everything necessary to firmly defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Taiwan denounced China’s planned drills, saying they violate its sovereignty and equating the moves to the “sealing off” of the island “by air and sea.”

Pelosi, addressing the threats from Beijing, said she hopes it’s clear that while China has prevented Taiwan from attending certain international meetings, “that they understand they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan as a show of friendship and of support.”

It’s Ella & Amy with today’s top stories out of Washington.

Primary takeaways: Kansas’ abortion vote, Trump’s success and stolen pens

The August primaries kicked off Tuesday in some of the most consequential battleground states in the country and included the first referendum on abortion since the Supreme Court dismantled Roe v. Wade this summer.

Kansas voters were the first to express how their state constitution should address abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s monumental ruling. By roughly 20 percentage points, the Sunflower State rejected an amendment that would have allowed the Republican-controlled state legislature to put new restrictions on the procedure or prohibit it entirely.

Several Trump-backed candidates took home big wins Tuesday in a continuation of the former president’s proxy wars with GOP officials who have bucked him. In Arizona, Trump’s picks snagged the GOP nominations in contests for the U.S. Senate, secretary of state and the seat currently held by Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers. Bowers testified before the Jan. 6 committee about Trump’s efforts in the state to overturn the 2020 election.

The former president’s preferred candidate for Michigan’s governor won her primary, and at least one of three members of Congress running last night who voted to impeach the president on charges of inciting a riot lost their re-election bid.

Real quick: stories you’ll want to read

  • Who was against the PACT Act? Eleven Republicans voted Tuesday against a bill that funds research and benefits for as many as 3.5 million veterans who were impacted by toxic substances while they served. The measure passed by an 86-11 vote.
  • Pat Cipollone subpoenaed by federal grand jury: Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating the Capitol attack and the campaign to overturn the 2020 election, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
  • How microchips and migration relate: As President Joe Biden prepares to sign a bipartisan bill that would boost domestic manufacturing of computer chips, some advocates said the bill is incomplete without immigration provisions.
  • Restrictive voting laws more prevalent in red states: At the legislative level, an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice found “representatives from the whitest districts in the most racially diverse states” were most likely to sponsor restrictive voting bills.
  • Indiana congresswoman killed in car crash: Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., was killed Wednesday in a car crash in her home state of Indiana. She was 58 years old and first elected to Congress in 2012.

Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for OnPolitics newsletter here.

Why CVS and Walgreens allow pharmacists to deny birth control

The nation’s largest drugstore chains have come under scrutiny in recent weeks for policies that allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control if doing so conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs.

For the most part, experts say, the law is on their side.

What is the law? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires companies to accommodate workers’ religious beliefs as long as the request doesn’t create an “undue hardship” on an employer. Just how far employers must go is open to debate – but the Supreme Court has repeatedly signaled an interest in expanding religious rights, not limiting them.

Many Americans are concerned about access to contraception following the Supreme Court’s decision in the abortion case this year. That’s because the court’s reasoning in Roe v. Wade rested on the same reading of the Constitution as its 1965 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which invalidated a law that forbid contraception.

CVS Pharmacy told USA TODAY last week that it has a policy similar to one adopted by competitor Walgreens, allowing pharmacists to refuse prescriptions for birth control or decline to sell condoms. Those policies have sparked outrage on the left and a flurry of viral social media posts. But the companies, experts say, appear to be doing what the law requires.

“Can the individual pharmacist decline? The answer is yes. Under Title VII and under the caselaw as developed by the Supreme Court and the lower courts, there is an obligation by the employer to provide a reasonable accommodation” for bona fide religious belief, said Merrick Rossein, a professor at City University of New York School of Law.

“Real men put country over party,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., tweeted on Monday with a photo of actor Kevin Costner in a T-shirt that read “I’M FOR LIZ CHENEY.” — Amy and Ella

[Read More…]