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The Seattle Storm's Sue Bird wears a shirt in support of Loeffler's opponent. Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

WNBA players wore T-shirts on Tuesday endorsing the Democratic opponent of Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream who has criticized the league for dedicating its season to the Black Lives Matter movement.

What's happening: The shirts had "Vote Warnock" printed on them, a reference to Atlanta pastor Raphael Warnock, one of the top Democrats running against Loeffler in a special election in November.

  • The players' union called for Loeffler's ouster last month, but WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told CNN that the Georgia Republican, who owns 49% of the Dream, would not be forced to sell the team.

What they're saying: The idea to publicly support Warnock came from Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird, who said players quickly realized calling for Loeffler's removal was just playing into her hands, and that supporting her political opponent would be more impactful in the grand scheme of things.

  • "[V]oting is important. ... So, what a great way for us to get the word out about this man, and hopefully put him in the Senate. And, if he's in the Senate, you know who's not." Bird told ESPN.
  • "Honestly, I think that [Loeffler] wants the league to push her out. She wants that to be part of this statement that she's making that, 'Oh, Black Lives Matter is divisive. They pushed me out because they feel differently,'" added Elizabeth Williams, who plays for the Dream.

The other side: "This is just more proof that the out-of-control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them," Loeffler said in a statement. "It's clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball."

Go deeper

GOP Sens. Perdue, Loeffler call on Georgia's secretary of state to resign

Photo: Paras Griffin via Getty

Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler (R) on Monday called on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, to resign over what they said was his failure to deliver "honest and transparent elections."

Why it matters: Raffensperger, who dismissed the senators' demand, and Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) have said there is no credible evidence of systemic voter fraud in the state. President Trump has made baseless and unfounded claims that Democrats stole this year's election from him through widespread voter fraud and mail-in ballots.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

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