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Biden says doctors and preachers would have more impact promoting Covid vaccines than Trump – live

biden-says-doctors-and-preachers-would-have-more-impact-promoting-covid-vaccines-than-trump-–-live

Cuomo’s office released a new statement seemingly in response to This Washington Post story reporting that the governor’s “vaccine czar” was calling around to local officials to gauge their support.

The Post story is here.

Daniel Strauss
(@DanielStrauss4)

Cuomo’s office released a new statement saying his vaccine czar didn’t “link political support to public health decisions.”

Comes after this Post story saying Schwartz “phoned county officials in the past two weeks in attempts to gauge their loyalty” (https://t.co/UsGzAM5Lt4) pic.twitter.com/ycFySRCEQq

March 15, 2021

The Post story over the weekend reported that Larry Schwartz’s “calls to county officials could fuel questions about an intermingling of politics with the state’s public health operation. The conversations came in advance of a March 8 announcement by the governor’s office that the state plans to open 10 new mass vaccination sites around New York — distribution hubs that have been keenly sought by local officials.”

The lawyer for one of the women who are accusing Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York of sexual harassment released a new statement detailing her interview with investigators:

Maggie Haberman
(@maggieNYT)

Statement from lawyer Debra Katz, representing Charlotte Bennett, who has accused Gov. Cuomo of harassment: pic.twitter.com/vWGMYeStjF

March 15, 2021

The Alaska Republican party is going a step further than other Republican state parties looking to punish their lawmakers who voted to impeach Donald Trump – they’re actively looking to prop up a primary challenge to Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Here’s the Alaska Daily News’ writeup:


The Alaska Republican Party has voted to censure U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and will recruit a challenger to run against her in next year’s election.

The Republican State Central Committee voted in favor of the censure during a meeting Saturday in Anchorage after district-level officials passed a series of similar resolutions.

Under party rules, a resolution of censure is just “an official rebuke and disapproval,” but a picture of Saturday’s resolution, posted online, explicitly states that the party “will hereby recruit a Republican Party challenger to oppose and prohibit Senator Murkowski from being a candidate in any Republican primary to the extent legally permissible.”

“We’re looking for somebody else to be our U.S. Senator in 2022, and somebody who will be more in line with the Republican philosophy,” said Kris Warren, who wrote Saturday’s resolution and serves as the chairman of the Republican Party in an Anchorage House district.

As it happens, Murkowski is no stranger to both being at odds with her party and running against a primary challenger. In 2010 after losing the Republican primary contest to a Tea Party-backed primary challenge she ended up winning reelection as a write-in candidate.

Updated

Governor Gavin Newsom of California is taking a publicly defiant tone to efforts to recall him from office:


California’s governor on Monday launched a political committee to raise money to defend his seat in a potential recall election, the strongest acknowledgment to date that he expects to be on the ballot this year.

“I won’t be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall – but I will fight it,” Gavin Newsom said in a tweet. “There is too much at stake,” he added.

Organizers of the recall face a deadline on Wednesday to submit the 1.5m petition signatures necessary to place the election on the ballot. They say they have collected over 2m signatures far, though hundreds of thousands must still be validated by election officials.

But Newsom’s new fundraising arm could soon send a powerful message to his possible rivals: under state rules, the governor alone is allowed to raise money in unlimited amounts, while other candidates must adhere to contribution limits.

It’s likely Newsom will soon receive a flood of cash from his familiar Democratic constituency, including powerful public worker unions that spent millions of dollars helping install him in office in 2018.

The perimeter around the Capitol is being scaled back, according to a new report in The Washington Post:


U.S. Capitol Police will reduce the security perimeter erected after the breach of the Capitol, having determined that “there does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress,” according to a security memo sent to U.S. lawmakers on Monday.

Over the course of this week, Acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett said, security officials will begin “repositioning” inner-perimeter fencing closer to the Capitol to allow some pedestrian access to the grounds. The complex has been surrounded by the 7-foot black metal fences topped with razor wire since just after the Jan. 6 riot, in which hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump violently stormed the Capitol to try to disrupt the certification of the electoral college vote.

Blodgett’s memo said that while the Capitol Police and National Guard will maintain their “increased security posture,” he expects the National Guard to ease its presence at the complex “in the coming weeks.”

Charles Booker, the former state representative from Kentucky who ran a longshot campaign to face Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, is mulling another bid for Senate. This time it would be against Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, also a Republican.

Charles Booker
(@Booker4KY)

I am strongly considering a run for United States Senate in 2022.

Good morning.

March 15, 2021

Booker’s campaign gained some traction as a liberal alternative to frontrunner Democrat Amy McGrath’s but Booker still lost in the primary. In the end McConnell easily won reelection.

Biden: local doctors and preachers would have more impact promoting vaccines than Trump

Joe Biden does not think it would help more if Donald Trump publicly urged his supporters to take a Covid vaccine. Rather, the president said, it would be more helpful for local doctors and community figures to encourage taking the vaccine.

Biden made the remarks at an event this afternoon.

Geoff Bennett
(@GeoffRBennett)

Biden to @edokeefe Q about Trump and vaccine hesitancy within GOP: “I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, the local preacher, the local people in the community would say.”

March 15, 2021

Kayla Tausche
(@kaylatausche)

NEW: Pres. Biden says he’s discussed politically motivated vaccine reluctance with his team and says opinions of local doctors and priests would have “more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks.”

March 15, 2021

Updated

An enduring question of the Biden administration so far is what will Kamala Harris’s portfolio be? Bloomberg’s Jordan Fabian reports that questioning hangs over the vice-president’s first official trip to promote the Biden administration’s $1.9tn stimulus package:


Kamala Harris embarked Monday on her first official trip as vice-president to promote the just-signed $1.9tn stimulus law, a two-day swing that doubles as a chance to boost her own profile.

She’s traveling to Nevada and Colorado, both important presidential election states where Democratic senators are defending seats in next year’s midterms. The trip is part of a cross-country blitz planned by President Joe Biden and top administration officials to sell the relief package and ensure Democrats get credit for it from voters.

Since taking office in January, Harris has been under scrutiny as she carves out a role for herself as vice-president – an office with few specific responsibilities that a former occupant, John Nance Garner, once called “a spare tire on the automobile of government”. Gaining important duties will be crucial for Harris, 56, should she choose to run for president again in the future.

With this week’s trip, Harris is developing a role as a key promoter for the stimulus, the first major legislation Biden signed into law. The White House views the plan as central to defeating the pandemic and engineering a strong economic recovery. Much of Harris’s focus has been on how the rescue package could help small businesses and women in the workforce.

A White House official downplayed the notion that the trip is intended to build Harris’s profile. The vice-president sees it as a chance to encourage Americans to get a Covid-19 vaccine, the official said, especially people of color who are more likely to be hesitant.

Updated

Back in Ohio, as the primary fields form major donors are lining up as well. Peter Thiel, the libertarian conservative venture capitalist, pumped money into a super Pac supporting JD Vance.

Separately, the Republican megadonor Mercer family is also putting money behind Vance as well.

Jessie Balmert
(@jbalmert)

Update: The Mercers also made a “significant contribution.”

Big boost for Mr. Vance in what’s expected to be a crowded GOP field in Ohio to replace Sen. Rob Portman. https://t.co/ba6ATlJIRm

March 15, 2021

Again, not every candidate who will run has formally jumped into the race so support from a few big name donors could end up deciding who the nominee is.

Henry J. Gomez
(@HenryJGomez)

New #OHSen development: Mike Gibbons, an investment banker from the Cleveland area who ran relatively strong for an unknown despite losing the 2018 primary, launches a listening tour as a prelude to likely GOP bid in 2022. https://t.co/BhWuhlwmYA

March 15, 2021

Updated

Speaking of Andrew Cuomo, a new Siena College poll released on Monday, found that half of New York voters do not think he should resign (Cuomo himself has vowed to stay in office).

Here’s the key line:


The poll found voters by a margin of 50% to 35% believe Cuomo should not resign immediately. A similar margin, 48% to 34%, believe the governor can effectively continue his job as governor.

Cuomo also continues to draw support from his base: 61% of Democratic voters, 69% of Black voters and 47% of voters in union households do not think he should step down.

The results come as Cuomo is facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior as well as claims of bullying behavior.

Updated

Psaki is now getting a series of questions about Andrew Cuomo’s role as the chairman of the National Governors Association, which involves leading phone calls among governors. That questioning comes in light of reports that Cuomo allies and staff have been calling around to gauge loyalty to the New York governor.

Psaki said it’s “up to the NGA” to decide whether to keep Cuomo as the lead on those calls or the chairmanship.

During the Trump administration the then vice-president, Mike Pence, usually lead those calls.

Updated

Psaki was asked if the president has spoken to Cuomo. She responded with an emphatic “no”. She was also said no one in the White House has spoken to the governor on Biden’s behalf. To that she said “no” as well.

Updated

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is at the podium for the daily press briefing. She reiterated Joe Biden’s position that he wants to see a thorough investigation of Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York with an added line.

Jeff Mason
(@jeffmason1)

The president finds the developments with regard to @NYGovCuomo “troubling,” @PressSec says, adding the investigation into the allegations needs to be quick and thorough.

March 15, 2021

That’s in light of more allegations against Cuomo emerging. Nevertheless, Cuomo has said he will not resign, despite growing pressure from even some prominent Democrats in the state.

Updated

Adam Gabbatt

Carl Hiaasen, the venerated Miami Herald writer, has filed his last column for the Florida paper, a stark warning about the state of local journalism in America.

Across 35 years of opinion writing, Hiaasen has covered everything from corruption among Miami power brokers to scandal in the Florida state capital, Tallahassee, to the wanton environmental destruction of the Everglades and other natural areas, an issue close to his heart.

In his final column for the Herald, Hiaasen addressed the impact of the long-running crisis in local journalism, as US newspapers close in droves and journalists are laid off with depressing regularity.

“Retail corruption is now a breeze, since newspapers and other media can no longer afford enough reporters to cover all the key government meetings,” Hiaasen wrote.

“You wake up one day, and they’re bulldozing 20 acres of pines at the end of your block to put up a Costco. Your kids ask what’s going on, and you can’t tell them because you don’t have a clue.”

Note from a British editor always glad to see Americans enjoying pun-based newspaper headlines or columns – you need to read the following story about Carl Hiaasen’s column, all the way to the bottom…

Mark Berman
(@markberman)

this @DVNJr anecdote about Carl Hiaasen is part of why I do miss newsrooms right now pic.twitter.com/17M97PaBw9

March 14, 2021

Martin Pengelly

More from the Associated Press, this time on this morning’s report from the FBI about the dramatic Christmas Day explosion in Nashville, Tennessee


The man who blew himself up inside his recreational vehicle on Christmas Day in Nashville, Tennessee was grappling with paranoia and conspiracy theories but there are no indications he was motivated by social or political ideology, the FBI said on Monday.

An FBI statement set out to resolve some of the lingering mysteries of an explosion that perplexed investigators and the public because it appeared to lack an obvious motive. Though the blast damaged dozens of buildings, it took place early on a holiday well before streets would be busy and was preceded by a recorded announcement warning a bomb would detonate.

The FBI concluded that the bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner, chose the location and timing so that it would be impactful while minimizing the likelihood of “undue injury”.


Nashville explosion: police release footage of blast – video

The report found Warner acted alone and set off the bomb to kill himself, driven in part by conspiracy theories and paranoia. The report also found that stressors included “deteriorating interpersonal relationships”.

“The FBI’s analysis did not reveal indications of a broader ideological motive to use violence to bring about social or political change, nor does it reveal indications of a specific personal grievance focused on individuals or entities in and around the location of the explosion,” the statement said.

Investigators quickly settled on Warner, identifying him through DNA recovered from the blast site. They concluded early on that he acted alone.

Despite online speculation that Warner may have been motivated by conspiracy theories about 5G technology, given the proximity of the explosion to an AT&T building and the resulting havoc to cellphone service in the area, the FBI statement gives no indication that that is the case.

Law enforcement actions received scrutiny in the days after the bombing when it was revealed that in 2019 Nashville police visited Warner’s home after his girlfriend reported that he was building bombs. The police did not make contact with him or see inside his RV.

Warner took steps in the weeks leading up to the bombing that suggested he didn’t expect to survive. For instance, he gave away his car, telling the recipient he had cancer, and signed a document that transferred his home to a California woman for nothing in return. He told an employer he was retiring.

A neighbor who made small talk with Warner recalled that he said something to the effect of, “Oh, yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me.”

Martin Pengelly

The Associated Press has more on the new arrests connected to the death of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who died as a result of the attack by Trump supporters on 6 January:


Investigators initially believed that Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher … [but] investigators now believe Sicknick may have ingested a chemical substance, possibly bear spray, that may have contributed to his death, officials have said.

Julian Khater is the man in a video obtained by the FBI that showed him spraying Sicknick and others with bear spray, according to court papers. The act hasn’t been directly tied to Sicknick’s death.

“Give me that bear [expletive],” Khater said to George Tanios on the video, according to court papers. Sicknick and other officers were standing guard near metal bike racks, the papers say.

Khater then says “they just [expletive] sprayed me” as he’s seen holding a white can with a black top that prosecutors said “appears to be a can of chemical spray”.

…Sicknick collapsed later on and died at a hospital on 7 January. The justice department opened a federal murder investigation into his death, but prosecutors are still evaluating what specific charges could be brought in the case, the people said.

The medical examiner’s report on Sicknick’s death is incomplete. Capitol police have said they are awaiting toxicology results.

Two men charged in Sicknick death

Martin Pengelly

Two men have been charged in the death of Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on 6 January, in support of the former president’s attempt to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden.

A portrait of Brian Sicknick.

A portrait of Brian Sicknick. Photograph: Carol Guzy/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

The Washington Post and other outlets report that Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania and George Pierre Tanios, 39 and from West Virginia, were arrested by the FBI on Sunday and expected to appear in federal court on Monday.

They are charged with assaulting Sicknick with bear spray, which Kater is reportedly alleged to be seen discharging into the officer’s face on footage of the riot.

Sicknick, 42 and one of five people to die as a direct result of the assault, died in hospital on 7 January. A police statement then said he “was injured while physically engaging with protesters” and “returned to his division office and collapsed”.

His body subsequently lay in state at the Capitol. The cause of his death has not been released – initial statements that he suffered blunt force trauma after being hit with a fire extinguisher were walked back.

According to the Be Bear Aware Campaign, humans exposed to the pepper-based spray, meant to be used against dangerous and charging bears, can experience “chest pain, cold sweat, or shallow breathing” while “asthma sufferers may experience acute stress”.

Cory Booker, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, paid tribute to Sicknick in remarks on the Senate floor, calling his death a “crime” that “demands the full attention of federal law enforcement.”.

“When white supremacists attacked our nation’s capital,” Booker said, “they took the life of one of our officers. They spilled his blood, they took a son away from his parents. They took a sibling away from their brothers.”

More than 300 people have been arrested for their part in the Capitol riot. Donald Trump was impeached for a second time for inciting the insurrection – and acquitted when only seven Republican senators decided he was guilty.

Updated

Afternoon summary

Here’s what happened today so far.

  • Former governor Eric Greitens of Missouri is eying a political comeback by running for the US Senate. Republicans aren’t happy about it.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is flexing his political muscle through his chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee.
  • The race for US Senate in Ohio is a perfect sample of some of the dynamics at play in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.
  • Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas both have op-eds out on boycotting the Olympics in Beijing.

Updated

Fauci is stressing not to be fixated on the “elusive number of herd immunity” because it’s still a somewhat anomalous number. Rather, he said in closing out the conference that the country should be focused on getting as many people vaccinated as possible.

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Politics

‘We’ve struck a deal’: Biden says agreement reached on infrastructure plan – live

‘we’ve-struck-a-deal’:-biden-says-agreement-reached-on-infrastructure-plan-–-live

US justice department has made 500 arrests in Capitol attack

US attorney general Merrick Garland announced this afternoon that the government has arrested a total of 500 people in the 6 January insurrection at the Capitol.

That includes the 100th arrest of a defendant on charges of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer. Earlier today, the US arrested its first defendant on charges that include assaulting members of the news media. The AG said in a statement:


Our efforts to bring criminal charges are not possible without the continued assistance of the American public. To date, we have received their more than 200,000 digital tips.

I assure the American people that the Department of Justice will continue to follow the facts in this case and charge what the evidence supports to hold all January 6th perpetrators accountable.”

On Wednesday, a federal judge sentenced a Capitol rioter to probation, not prison time, after she made an emotional apology to “the American people” for participating in “a savage display of violence”.

The majority of people charged in the attack are not in jail.

More from my colleague Lois Beckett:

Antitrust legislation advances in Congress

Hi all – Sam Levin here taking over our live coverage for the rest of the day.

The House judiciary committee has approved six antitrust bills that are targeting the large tech companies in an effort to restrict their power.

The bills, which have bipartisan support, could curb the market power of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, requiring them to separate their platforms from their other businesses. The AP summarizes:


The advance of the legislation comes as the tech giants already are smarting under federal investigations, epic antitrust lawsuits, near-constant condemnation from politicians of both parties, and a newly installed head of the powerful FTC who is a fierce critic of the industry.

The legislative package, led by industry critic Rep David Cicilline, targets the companies’ structure and could point toward breaking them up, a dramatic step for Congress to take against a powerful industry whose products are woven into everyday life. If such steps were mandated, they could bring the biggest changes to the industry since the federal government’s landmark case against Microsoft some 20 years ago.

Discussion on the bill dragged on late into the evening.

One bill would give states greater powers over companies in determining the courts in which to prosecute tech antitrust cases. Another would increase the budget of the Federal Trade Commission.

Summary

Joe Biden said a deal had been struck on a bi-partisan proposal to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. A group of Democratic and Republican senators previously said they had reached agreement on a $953 billion infrastructure plan.

The deal falls short of Biden’s original $2.25 trillion plan, but the president said it must be passed concurrently with a much more partisan plan to increase spending on social programs. “If they don’t [both] come, I’m not signing it. Real simple,” Biden said.

Rudy Giuliani’s New York law license has been suspended over his false claims of election fraud. A court said Giuliani’s “misconduct directly inflamed tensions that bubbled over into the events of January 6 2021 in this nation’s Capitol”.

Nanci Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, said she will create a committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. “A temple of our democracy was attacked by insurrectionists,” Pelosi said. “It is imperative that we seek the truth as to what happened.”

Americans’ life expectancy fell by more than a year in 2020, according to a new report, with the reduction markedly more pronounced among Latino people and Black people.

Life expectancy across the US in 2020 fell from 78.74 years to 77.43 years, Axios reported, citing research by JAMA Network Open.

Researchers found that life expectancy dropped by 3.05 years for Latino people, and 2.10 years for Black people. The decline was 0.68 years for white people.

Noting the decline among Latino people, researchers Theresa Andrasfay and Noreen Goldman wrote:

“This unprecedented change likely stems from social and economic inequities that are associated with both higher exposure to infection and higher fatality among those infected.

“Compared with Black and White individuals, Latino individuals in the US have lower rates of health insurance (affecting access to testing, treatment, and quality health care), are more apt to live in multigenerational and crowded households, and are more likely to hold frontline jobs involving risks of viral transmission without adequate protection.”

Joe Biden said Federal Emergency Management Agency is “ready to go” should federal assistance be requested at the site of an apartment building collapse in Miami.

The president said resources would be deployed should Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, declare a state of emergency.

“We are on top of it, we are ready to move from the federal resources immediately,” Biden said.

“If in fact we’re asked for it. But we can’t go in and do it, but FEMA is down there taking a look at what’s needed.”

Joe Biden said his chief of staff Ron Klain has been across the potential response.

“My chief of staff has been deeply involved in this from the very beginning. We got the cabinet involved in it now in terms of dealing with FEMA. We’re working on it. I made it clear, I say to the people of Florida: ‘Whatever help you want that the federal government can provide, we’re waiting, just ask us, we’ll be there,’” Biden said.



Search and rescue personnel work after the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida.

Search and rescue personnel work after the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Here’s some more on Rudy Giuliani losing (potentially temporarily) his law licence in New York today, from my colleague Sarah Betancourt:

Giuliani, 77, helped lead Trump’s legal challenge of his election loss as his personal attorney. He argued without evidence that voter fraud was rampant in Georgia, and that voting machines in the state and others were rigged. He urged Georgia’s Republican electors to vote for Trump, despite the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, and secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, countering there was no evidence of fraud.

The five-justice appellate division said Giuliani’s conduct threatened the public interest and warranted an interim suspension. The seriousness of the misconduct, the court said in a 33-page decision, “can not be overstated”.

Giuliani was admitted to New York’s state bar in 1969, and worked for the justice department under President Ronald Reagan. He was mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001.



Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani. Photograph: Peter Foley/EPA

Giuliani’s license will be revoked while disciplinary action over his practices are considered.

Two of his attorneys, John M Leventhal and Barry Kamins provided this statement to the Guardian:

“We are disappointed with the Appellate Division, First Department’s decision suspending Mayor Giuliani prior to being afforded a hearing on the issues that are alleged.

“This is unprecedented as we believe that our client does not pose a present danger to the public interest. We believe that once the issues are fully explored at a hearing Mr Giuliani will be reinstated as a valued member of the legal profession that he has served so well in his many capacities for so many years.”

Updated

Biden has pumped the brakes just a little on the infrastructure bill, saying it must be paired with a larger spending bill, which will likely only be supported by Democrats, if he is to sign it.

“If they don’t [both] come, I’m not signing it. Real simple,” Biden said.

“So, what I expect – I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution.”

Biden added: “But if only one comes to me – if this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem.”

The larger package would include more spending on the environment and social programs, along with tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. The plan is to pass it through the reconciliation process, which theoretically could be done with just Democratic votes.

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker had earlier said she would not introduce the infrastructure bill until the second bill was prepared.

“There ain’t no infrastructure bill without the reconciliation bill,” Pelosi said.

Benjy Sarlin
(@BenjySarlin)

Biden says bipartisan infrastructure deal has to be paired with D-only reconciliation bill.

“If this is the only thing that comes to me I’m not signing. It’s in tandem.”

Asked about Pelosi plan to hold first bill in House until second bill arrives, says he supports it.

June 24, 2021

Some more from Joe Biden, who is very pleased about the infrastructure plan he announced earlier.

“I think it’s really important we’ve all agreed that none of us got all that we wanted,” Biden said, in a statement that is unlikely to impress those Democrats who pushed for more far-reaching legislation.

Biden continued:

“I might add that the largest investment of rail since the creation of Amtrak, you all know I have nothing but affection for Amtrak, having traveled over a million miles on it, commuting every day. But it’s a big deal.”



Joe Biden speaks about the infrastructure deal from the White House today.

Joe Biden speaks about the infrastructure deal from the White House today. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The president famously commuted to Washington from Delaware during his time in the Senate. He added:

“This agreement is going to create new financing authority that is going to leverage capital on infrastructure and clean energy projects. It will provide folks with good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. The kind of jobs that provide a middle class life, with a little bit of breathing room.”

Summary

Joe Biden said “we’ve struck a deal” on a proposal to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, after meeting with a bi-partisan group of senators. A group of Democratic and Republican senators previously said they had reached agreement on a $953 billion infrastructure plan, although that falls short of Biden’s original $2.25 trillion plan.

Nanci Pelosi, the House speaker, welcomed the bipartisan package, but warned that it must be paired with the president’s bigger goals now being prepared by Congress under the budget reconciliation process – under which legislation requires just 51 votes to pass.

Rudy Giuliani’s New York law license has been suspended over his false claims of election fraud. A court said Giuliani’s “misconduct directly inflamed tensions that bubbled over into the events of January 6 2021 in this nation’s Capitol”.

Biden warned that the Delta variant Covid-19 strain is “more contagious, it’s deadlier, and it’s spreading quickly around the world” as he urged unvaccinated people to get the vaccine. The Delta variant could become the dominant strain in the US within two to three weeks.

The infrastructure plan agreement comes with a complex legislative push. Pelosi on Thursday welcomed the bipartisan package, but she warned that it must be paired with the president’s bigger goals now being prepared by Congress under a separate so-called the budget reconciliation process, Associated Press reports:

“This is important,” Pelosi said. “There ain’t going to be a bipartisan bill without a reconciliation bill.”

The Democratic leader vowed the House would not vote on it until the Senate had dealt with both packages.

The major hurdle for a bipartisan agreement has been financing. Biden demanded no new taxes on anyone making less than $400,000, while Republican lawmakers were unwilling to raise taxes beyond such steps as indexing the gasoline tax to inflation. But senators departed for the White House Thursday with a sense of confidence that funding issues had been addressed.

“We’re still refining the details, but from my perspective, it is paid for,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican and one of 10 lawmakers who met with Biden for roughly 30 minutes.

CNN noted that “this proposal is significantly less than what Biden had initially proposed”.


The President initially put forward a $2.25 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and shift to greener energy over the next eight years. But after their late-night meeting on Wednesday with White House officials, Democratic leaders said they planned to move forward with a much larger Democratic-only approach to dramatically expand the social safety plan in addition to the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

Biden: ‘We’ve struck a deal’ on infrastructure plan

Joe Biden said a deal has been reached on a plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure, following a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators today.

In a tweet Biden said:

“We’ve struck a deal. A group of senators – five Democrats and five Republicans – has come together and forged an infrastructure agreement that will create millions of American jobs.”

On Wednesday a group of Democratic and Republican senators said they had reached agreement on a $953bn infrastructure plan, raising hopes for a breakthrough agreement after arduous negotiations on Biden’s legislative priority.

The pared-down plan, with $559bn in new spending, has rare bipartisan backing and could open the door to the president’s more sweeping infrastructure proposals.

President Biden
(@POTUS)

We’ve struck a deal. A group of senators – five Democrats and five Republicans – has come together and forged an infrastructure agreement that will create millions of American jobs.

June 24, 2021

Updated

The Biden administration has extended the nationwide ban on evictions for a month, but said this is expected to be the last time it will do so.

As of the end of March, 6.4m American households were behind on their rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nearly 1m said eviction was very likely in two months, and 1.83m said it was somewhat likely in the same period.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extended the evictions moratorium from June 30 until July 31. The CDC said that “this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium”.

The AP reported:


A Biden administration official said the last month would be used for an “all hands on deck” multi-agency campaign to prevent a massive wave of evictions. One of the reasons the moratorium was put in place was to try to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by people put out on the streets and in shelters.

[…]

The extension announcement Thursday was accompanied by a flurry of eviction-related administration activity, including by the Treasury Department and the Justice Department. New Treasury guidance was issued, encouraging states and local governments to streamline distribution of the nearly $47 billion in available emergency rental assistance funding.

And Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta released an open letter to state courts around the country encouraging them to pursue a number of alternatives that would protect both tenants and landlords.

Pelosi announces House select committee to investigate Capitol riot

Nanci Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, said she will create a committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

“A temple of our democracy was attacked by insurrectionists,” Pelosi said during her weekly news conference. “It is imperative that we seek the truth as to what happened.”

The move comes after senate Republicans blocked the creation of a bi-partisan special commission to study the deadly attack.

The new committee will include Republican members but will be led by Democrats.



Nancy Pelosi speaks on Thursday.

Nancy Pelosi speaks on Thursday. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

“January 6 was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” Pelosi said.

“It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day, and ensure that an attack of that kind cannot happen and that we root out the causes of it all.

“The select committee will investigate and report on the facts and the causes of the attack and it will make report recommendations for the prevention of any future attack.”

Rudy Giuliani’s New York law license suspended ‘effectively immediately’

A New York court has suspended Rudy Giuliani’s law license over his false claims of election fraud.

In a 33-page decision the court said Giuliani, while acting as a lawyer for Donald Trump, had violated a number of rules of conduct and should be suspended from practising law in the New York state.

Giuliani helped lead Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, engaging in baseless conspiracy theories along the way.

The court said Giuliani’s “misconduct directly inflamed tensions that bubbled over into the events of January 6 2021 in this nation’s Capitol”.

The ruling added:


We conclude that there is uncontroverted evidence that [Giuliani] communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.

These false statements were made to improperly bolster respondent’s narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client. We conclude that respondent’s conduct immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law.



Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Updated

Trump book: former president was ‘gravely ill’ with coronavirus

At least two people briefed on Trump’s condition after the then-president contracted coronavirus in October 2020 “feared that he wouldn’t make it out” of hospital, according to a new book extract published by the Washington Post.

Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, the forthcoming book by Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta, recounts the dizzying few days when Trump was hospitalized after contracting the virus.

From the Post extract:

[On Thursday October 1, two days after he debated Joe Biden], Trump became terribly ill. Hours after his tweet announcing he and first lady Melania Trump had coronavirus infections, the president began a rapid spiral downward. His fever spiked, and his blood oxygen level fell below 94 percent, at one point dipping into the 80s. Sean Conley, the White House physician, attended the president at his bedside. Trump was given oxygen in an effort to stabilize him.

The doctors gave Trump an eight-gram dose of two monoclonal antibodies through an intravenous tube. That experimental treatment was what had required the FDA’s sign-off. He was also given a first dose of the antiviral drug remdesivir, also by IV. That drug was authorized for use but still hard to get for many patients because it was in short supply.

Typically, doctors space out treatments to measure a patient’s response. Some drugs, such as monoclonal antibodies, are most effective if they’re administered early in the course of an infection. Others, such as remdesivir, are most effective when they’re given later, after a patient has become critically ill. But Trump’s doctors threw everything they could at the virus all at once. His condition appeared to stabilize somewhat as the day wore on, but his doctors, still fearing he might need to go on a ventilator, decided to move him to the hospital. It was too risky at that point to stay at the White House.



Donald Trump poses on the Truman Balcony of the White House after being released from hospital following coronavirus treatment on October 5 2020.

Donald Trump poses on the Truman Balcony of the White House after being released from hospital following coronavirus treatment on October 5 2020. Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

[…]

Trump’s condition worsened early Saturday. His blood oxygen level dropped to 93 percent, and he was given the powerful steroid dexamethasone, which is usually administered if someone is extremely ill (the normal blood oxygen level is between 95 and 100 percent). The drug was believed to improve survival in coronavirus patients receiving supplemental oxygen. The president was on a dizzying array of emergency medicines by now — all at once.

At least two of those who were briefed on Trump’s medical condition that weekend said he was gravely ill and feared that he wouldn’t make it out of Walter Reed. People close to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said he was consumed with fear that Trump might die.

It was unclear if one of the medications, or their combination, helped, but by Saturday afternoon Trump’s condition began improving. One of the people familiar with Trump’s medical information was convinced the monoclonal antibodies were responsible for the president’s quick recovery.

A bipartisan group of senators is seeking Joe Biden’s support for a $953 billion infrastructure plan, raising hopes for a breakthrough agreement after arduous negotiations on his top legislative priority, Associated Press reports.

Biden is set to meet with some of the 21-strong group of Republican and Democrat senators at the White House this morning.

The pared-down plan, with $559 billion in new spending, has rare bipartisan backing and could open the door to the president’s more sweeping infrastructure proposals.

The senators have struggled over how to pay for the new spending. Biden has sought $1.7 trillion in his American Jobs Plan, part of nearly $4 trillion in broad infrastructure spending on roads, bridges and broadband internet but also the so-called care economy of child care centers, hospitals and elder care.

With Republicans opposed to Biden’s proposed corporate tax rate increase, from 21% to 28%, the group has looked at other ways to raise revenue. Biden rejected their idea to allow gas taxes paid at the pump to rise with inflation, viewing it as a financial burden on American drivers.

A federal judge blasted the “utter nonsense” issued by some Republican politicians as he delivered the first sentence to one of the Capitol rioters.

Judge Royce C Lamberth sentenced Anna Morgan-Lloyd, a 49-year-old Donald Trump supporter from Indiana, to three years of probation in connection with the January 6 attack.

At the hearing in Washington DC Lamberth warned that other defendants who had not been as cooperative or contrite as Morgan-Lloyd should not expect the same punishment.

He said the January insurrection was “a disgrace” before he criticized, without mentioning any names, Republican lawmakers who had defended the violent attack.

“I don’t know what planet they were on,” Lamberth said, according to CNN. The judge said recent releases of videos from January 6 “will show the attempt of some congressman to rewrite history that these were tourists walking through the capitol is utter nonsense”.

Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog.

Joe Biden has warned that the Delta variant Covid-19 strain is “more contagious, it’s deadlier, and it’s spreading quickly around the world” as he urged unvaccinated people to get the vaccine. In a tweet Biden said the Delta variant, which could become the dominant strain in the US within two to three weeks, leaves “young, unvaccinated people more vulnerable than ever”.

“Please, get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Let’s head off this strain before it’s too late,” the president said.

The Delta strain, which is believed to transmit more easily than previous Covid-19 incarnations, has already caused a spike in Covid-19 in the UK, where it accounts for 99% of all Covid-19 cases. It is predicted to account for 90% of Covid cases in the European Union by September.

In a video accompanying Biden’s tweet Anthony Fauci said “anyone who is not vaccinated is most at risk”.

“The vaccines are over 90% effective as much as 93, 94, 95% effective,” against the Delta variant, Fauci said.

“There’s no doubt about it that the way you stop this Delta variant is to get vaccinated.”

In other news we’ll be following today:

Both Democratic and Republican senators said they have reached agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure deal. “The development amounted to a significant breakthrough that could pave the way for passage of a chunk of Biden’s domestic agenda,” CNN reported. “But there are many hurdles and many landmines ahead.”

Biden is traveling to North Carolina this afternoon to “mobilize grassroots vaccine education”. The president will then visit a mobile vaccination unit.

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Miami building collapse: one dead as rescue crews say 99 unaccounted for

miami-building-collapse:-one-dead-as-rescue-crews-say-99-unaccounted-for

A large-scale rescue operation was continuing Thursday evening at the site of a collapsed condominium block in Miami, where authorities said at least one person was killed, 10 injured and dozens more unaccounted for.

Crews reported hearing noises from inside the rubble as they searched for survivors at the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, a 12-storey apartment block that came crashing down at about 1.30am. Authorities said they expected the number of deaths to rise, but would not be drawn on the number.

On Thursday afternoon the Miami-Dade police chief, Alfredo Ramirez, said that 99 people remained missing, and that 53 condo residents were rescued or otherwise accounted for. The cause of the collapse was not known, he said, but an estimated 55 of the 130 apartments were affected.

Police have launched a homicide inquiry, according to Sally Heyman, a county commissioner who represents Surfside.

“It’s the unimaginable,” Daniella Levine Cava, the Miami-Dade mayor, said. “A massive search and rescue mission is under way. We are going to do everything we can possibly [do] to identify and rescue those who have been trapped in the rubble.”

Fire rescue personnel conduct a search and rescue with dogs through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condo.
Fire rescue personnel conduct a search and rescue with dogs through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condo. Photograph: David Santiago/AP

More than 80 fire-rescue crews attended the scene in Surfside, a small, oceanfront city just north of Miami Beach. Early video of the aftermath of the collapse showed a boy being pulled from the wreckage, one of 35 people rescued alive, the Miami-Dade commission said.

“They brought dogs who can sniff for survivors in the rubble,” Eliana Salzhauer, a Surfside commissioner, told the Miami Herald. “They aren’t turning up very much. No one is celebrating anyone being pulled out.”

Salzhauer confirmed earlier reports that recent construction work on the roof had taken place and said residents told her a building inspector had visited the property on Wednesday. But she said it was too soon to speculate on the likely cause.

Jimmy Patronis, a Florida cabinet member and the state’s fire marshal, told reporters that crews had heard noises as they sifted through the wreckage. “The rescuers are hearing sounds from the rubble. It’s kind of hit or miss. You get into the zone where you are so passionate and so focused and so determined to make sure you are doing everything possible to save a life in an event like this,” he said.

An aerial view showing the partially collapsed building in Surfside.
An aerial view showing the partially collapsed building in Surfside. Photograph: Marco Bello/Reuters

Earlier, Frank Rollason, the director of the county’s emergency management department, said workers believed that they had rescued all reachable survivors. “Everybody who is alive is out of the building,” he told the Herald.

In one of the first rescues, he said, workers saved a trapped mother and child, although the mother’s leg had to be amputated to free her. Other terrified residents were plucked from their shattered balconies by rescue workers with cherry pickers, after finding escape routes blocked.

The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, visited the scene and spoke with survivors and rescue teams after cutting short an event in Tampa.

“It’s a tragic day,” he said at an afternoon press briefing. “The TV doesn’t do it justice. It is really, really traumatic to see the collapse of a massive structure like that.”

The governor said state emergency management officials were present and that engineers would investigate the cause of the collapse when it was safe to enter the site. “You’re not going to have those answers immediately,” he said.

Levine Cava, the Miami-Dade mayor, said in a tweet that Joe Biden had called to lend support. The US president, she said, “offered the full support of the federal gov[ernment] to help our community during this difficult time”.

Soriya Cohen shows a picture of her husband, Brad Cohen, who she said is missing after the collapse.
Soriya Cohen shows a picture of her husband, Brad Cohen, who she said is missing after the collapse. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Biden said he was waiting for DeSantis to issue a state of emergency before federal assistance could be given. “We are ready to move from the federal resources immediately, if in fact we’re asked,” he said. “But we can’t go in and do it. Whatever help you want that the federal government can provide, we’re waiting, just ask us, we’ll be there.”

The Surfside mayor, Charles Burkett, said he understood from the building manager that the condo block was “substantially full” of residents mostly sleeping at the time of the collapse.

“The building is literally pancaked,” Burkett said at the press conference. “That’s heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive.”

Meanwhile, concerned friends of those unaccounted for went on social media to plead for information.

Witnesses gave harrowing accounts of the moments following the collapse. “I could hear somebody yelling, screaming. I could hear by the voice it was a little boy, I saw an arm sticking out of the debris,” Nicholas Balboa, who lives nearby, told CNN.

People console each other near the site of the collapse.
People console each other near the site of the collapse. Photograph: Wilfredo Lee/AP

He said the boy and a person with him were trying to climb out but could not lift the heavy rubble. The boy was screaming, “Don’t leave me, don’t leave me,” Balboa said.

Families with children in pajamas were seen arriving at a Red Cross reunification facility set up for survivors at a nearby community center. The group was arranging hotels for displaced condo residents.

The building that collapsed was a southern tower of the condominium development, said Rollason, the director of the county’s emergency management department.

Residents of the other towers were evacuated and engineers were inspecting the buildings for safety.

The collapse sent up a cloud of debris, coating cars up to two blocks away with a light layer of dust. Photos and video from the scene show the collapse affected half the tower. Piles of rubble and debris surrounded the area just outside the building.

A portion of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo.
A portion of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Unconfirmed reports said that maintenance work had been taking place on the roof of the building that collapsed.

The building’s address is 8777 Collins Avenue, according to Surfside police. The sea-view condo development was built in 1981 in the south-east corner of Surfside, on the beach and includes more than 100 units. It had a few two-bedroom units on the market, with asking prices of $600,000 (£429,500) to $700,000, an internet search shows.

The area is a mix of new and old apartments, houses, condominiums and hotels, with restaurants and stores serving an international combination of residents and tourists.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Manchin backs debate on voting rights bill but Republicans set to block Democrats’ effort – live

manchin-backs-debate-on-voting-rights-bill-but-republicans-set-to-block-democrats’-effort-–-live

Democrats on the Senate floor are using today as an opportunity to make their broader case for voting rights reform.

Senator Jeff Merkley
(@SenJeffMerkley)

I’m speaking on the floor right now about the critical importance of protecting our freedom to vote. The fight is just beginning. https://t.co/2Qtu9t3Ujm

June 22, 2021

Senator Amy Klobuchar
(@SenAmyKlobuchar)

I’m heading to the Senate floor to speak about why we need the critical democracy reforms in the #ForThePeopleAct.

This is a moment for bold action. The fight has just begun.

Watch here: https://t.co/X6WxnlJUc3

June 22, 2021

Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock
(@SenatorWarnock)

In March, I made an urgent call upon this body to protect the right to vote. 

 

Today, I rose again to make a similar request of my colleagues. The Senate must open debate to preserve the foundation of our democracy & the sacred notion of one person, one vote. pic.twitter.com/8UxmsnWrIY

June 22, 2021

In a circular argument, Republicans have accused Democrats of using the procedural vote today to show that Republicans are unwilling to work with them, and to make a case for eliminating the filibuster – and thus justifying their votes to kill debate on the For the People Act

“Today’s show vote is about Democrats building their case to blow up the filibuster and destroy this institution if they don’t get their way—which is exactly why we must preserve the filibuster,” Republican senator Mitt Romney said, calling the bill “divisive”.

Updated

Texas governor vetoes bill protecting dogs from abuse

The governor of Texas has pulled a surprise move, vetoing a bipartisan bill that would have provided greater protections for dogs against human abuse.

The Republican governor, Greg Abbott, vetoed a bill on Friday that would have made unlawful restraint of a dog a criminal offense, sending animal rights activists and legislators on both sides of the aisle into a fray and spurring the hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs.

State senate bill 474, dubbed the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, aimed to ban the use of heavy chains to keep dogs tethered. The bill had bipartisan support in the legislature, passing the house 83-32 and the senate 28-3.

In his veto, Abbott said state statutes already existed to protect dogs from animal cruelty, and the penalties proposed in the bill of $500 to $2,000, and jail time of up to 180 days, were excessive. The bill said that dog owners could have dogs outside but could not restrain them with short lines and chains or anything that could cause injury and pain to the dog.

Dog owners would have faced a $500 penalty for a first offense and class C misdemeanor, and the next penalty would have been a class B misdemeanor, for a fine of up to $2,000 and up to three months in jail.

“Texans love their dogs, so it is no surprise that our statutes already protect them by outlawing true animal cruelty,” he wrote. He said the bill would compel every dog owner, on pain of criminal penalties, to monitor how much time a dog spends in the bed of a truck, leash length and other things.

Abbott said Texas was not a place for that kind of “micro-managing and over-criminalization”.

Read more:

Today so far

It’s been a lively day so far and there is plenty more action coming up, especially as the US Senate prepares in about half an hour to hold the procedural vote on the For the People Act, the sweeping legislation designed to counter voter suppression efforts sweeping many Republican-controlled states of late.

My colleague Maanvi Singh on the US west coast will take over from here and bring you all the developments.

Here are some of the main news items in US politics up to this point.

  • Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin issued a statement that he will vote this afternoon in favor of advancing the For the People Act voting rights legislation. It’s symbolic, as the Republicans will filibuster it and block the bill, but the prospect of Democratic unanimity on this after weeks of strife is a step forward for that party.
  • Pressure is building on Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris (who has taken control of border policies) to end the Title 42 rule adopted by the Trump administration in the coronavirus pandemic that allows the authorities to expel summarily migrants crossing the US-Mexico border seeking sanctuary.
  • Vice president Kamala Harris will preside over the vote today in the Senate over the voting rights legislation. This is an unusual move which Senator Richard Blumenthal called a “powerful” symbol of the importance given this issue by the White House.
  • Joe Biden is “absolutely revolted” by voter suppression legislation being passed in many Republican controlled states, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at today’s media briefing.

Updated

Interior secretary Deb Haaland announced today in remarks to the National Congress of American Indians 2021 mid year conference, a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies.

Aliyah Chavez
(@AliyahJChavez)

JUST IN: The Department of Interior is launching the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, an investigation that will aim to identify past boarding school sites, burial sites and locations, Secretary Haaland announced at the NCAI conference Tuesday.

June 22, 2021

Today’s announcement is accompanied by a secretarial memo in which Haaland directs the department, under the supervision of the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, to prepare a report detailing available historical records, with an emphasis on cemeteries or potential burial sites, relating to the federal boarding school programs, NBC in Oklahoma reports.

Haaland recently reflected on the inter-generational trauma created by these policies in an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “My grandparents were stolen from their families as children. We must learn about this history.”

She said: “The interior department will address the inter-generational impact of Indian boarding schools to shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past, no matter how hard it will be. I know that this process will be long and difficult. I know that this process will be painful. It won’t undo the heartbreak and loss we feel. But only by acknowledging the past can we work toward a future that we’re all proud to embrace.”

NBC continued:


Beginning with the Indian Civilization Act of 1819, the United States enacted laws and implemented policies establishing and supporting Indian boarding schools across the nation. The purpose of Indian boarding schools was to culturally assimilate Indigenous children by forcibly relocating them from their families and communities to distant residential facilities where their American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian identities, languages, and beliefs were to be forcibly suppressed. For over 150 years, hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their communities.

The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative will serve as an investigation about the loss of human life and the lasting consequences of residential Indian boarding schools.

Interior Department officials say the work will proceed in several phases and include the identification and collection of records and information related to the Department of Interior’s own oversight and implementation of the Indian boarding school program, as well as formal consultations with Tribal Nations, Alaska Native corporations, and Native Hawaiian organizations to clarify the processes and procedures for protecting identified burial sites and associated information.

Secretary Haaland will receive the final written report on the investigation by April 1, 2022.



Interior secretary Deb Haaland speaks to reporters during a visit to Acadia national park in Winter Harbor, Maine on 18 June.

Interior secretary Deb Haaland speaks to reporters during a visit to Acadia national park in Winter Harbor, Maine on 18 June. Photograph: Robert F Bukaty/AP

Updated

Vice-president Kamala Harris will preside over the US Senate for this evening’s procedural vote on the For the People Act.

Andrew Solender
(@AndrewSolender)

NEW: Vice President Kamala Harris will preside over the Senate during the cloture vote on the For The People Act, @SymoneDSanders tells us.

June 22, 2021

Democratic hold-out Joe Manchin has now said he will vote with the rest of the Democrats in the chamber to advance the legislation to the debate stage.

This won’t happen, because the Republicans are expected to filibuster the bill and prevent Democrats getting the 60 votes needed to move the bill on.

But the prospect of unanimity from the Democrats in the vote, expected at 5.30pm, has brightened the skies for them and Harris gracing the chamber, in a slightly unusual move, to preside over the vote is a striking one.



Kamala Harris rides an elevator on Capitol Hill today ahead of a key vote on voting rights legislation.

Kamala Harris rides an elevator on Capitol Hill today ahead of a key vote on voting rights legislation. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, just popped up on CNN, telling Jake Tapper:

“It’s symbolic but it’s a powerful symbol and a sign of the White House’s engagement,” Blumenthal said.

“It’s only an opening round, it’s a vote to move forward to talk about the bill.”

Republicans will be unanimous in opposition, Blumenthal predicted, and the bill will be blocked.

“Make no mistake, we are by no means done after today, it’s just the beginning,” he said, prior to future versions of the legislation coming to the floor – including if that means persuading Manchin and other moderate Democrats to support reforming the filibuster rule.

“I’m in favor of abolishing it,” he said.



Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Senator Richard Blumenthal. Photograph: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

Pressure on Biden to end pandemic-related exclusions, expulsions at US-Mexico border

Joe Biden denounced, while he was campaigning for the White House, a program put in place under Donald Trump that returned tens of thousands of Central American asylum seekers to violent Mexican border cities to wait as their cases wound through US courts.

It was known as the Remain in Mexico policy and on his first day in office Biden halted the program, allowing some who had been waiting in danger for a long time to enter the US to go through their legal applications.

Yet, Reuters reports, he kept in place a Trump-era health order, known as Title 42, that allows US officials to rapidly expel migrants at US borders during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, five months into Biden’s presidency, the scenes at the Mexican border are little changed.


Many of the families living in tents in Reynosa – just across from McAllen, Texas – arrived after they were expelled by U.S. officials to Mexico without a chance to present their asylum claims.

Since Biden took office, U.S. border authorities have recorded more than 400,000 expulsions under Title 42, according to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. The vast majority of those expelled are Mexicans and Central Americans. Repeat crossings are common.

A White House spokesperson said Title 42 was a public health directive, not an immigration enforcement tool, and was necessary on health grounds. The Biden administration says it is working to strengthen the asylum system along the border.

But advocate groups, U.N. officials and even some fellow Democrats here say the continuation of Title 42 is subjecting migrants to the same dangers – kidnapping, extortion, and sexual violence – as the policies of the Trump administration.

Nearly 3,300 migrants and asylum seekers stranded in Mexico since Biden took office have been kidnapped, raped, trafficked or assaulted, according to a report here by the New York-based group Human Rights First released Tuesday.

“We believe that it is time to end Title 42,” Kelly Clements, the deputy high commissioner for the United Nations refugee agency, told Reuters. “We think now it is having the effect of sending more people, and children in this case, into harm’s way.”

The Reuters report has some more detail on this and also features the harrowing account of Salvadoran asylum seeker Liset Ortiz, who was kidnapped in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, on her way to the United States. You can read the full story here.



Donald Trump at the US-Mexico border in Texas in January, on the eve of leaving office.

Donald Trump at the US-Mexico border in Texas in January, on the eve of leaving office. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The vote in the US Senate is just under two hours away. Here’s Joe Biden.

President Biden
(@POTUS)

We can’t sit idly by while democracy is in peril – here, in America. We need to protect the sacred right to vote and ensure “We the People” choose our leaders, the very foundation on which our democracy rests. We urgently need the For The People Act.

Send it to my desk.

June 22, 2021

Here’s Senate majority leader and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer welcoming Joe Manchin’s agreement to vote this afternoon in favor of advancing the voting rights For the People Act to the debate stage.

Republicans will block this, but if things now go as expected, Schumer will at least be able to display party unity on the Senate side of the Hill.

He’s flanked here by Senators Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

CSPAN
(@cspan)

.@SenSchumer: “I’m pleased to report that Senator Manchin and I have come to an agreement…Sen. Manchin has informed me that he will vote Yes on the motion to proceed to debate the legislation.”

Full video here: https://t.co/vFtFZFkj2u pic.twitter.com/GwL51rnUOM

June 22, 2021

And here’s more of Manchin.

Jan Wolfe
(@JanNWolfe)

Manchin criticizes his Republican colleagues for refusing to allow debate on his compromise voting rights proposal, but nonetheless says he “remains committed to finding a bipartisan pathway forward.” pic.twitter.com/phwj72F64N

June 22, 2021

Updated

Manchin will vote with fellow Dems to advance voting rights bill

Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has put an end to a smidge of suspense on Capitol Hill, by issuing a statement that he will vote this afternoon in favor of advancing the For the People Act voting rights legislation to the next stage of congressional consideration.



Joe Manchin after a meeting on Capitol Hill earlier today.

Joe Manchin after a meeting on Capitol Hill earlier today. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

This is entirely symbolic, unfortunately, as all Republicans in the Senate are expected to support filibustering the legislation – so the bill will not garner the necessary 60 votes to advance to the debate stage (US Senate is split 50-50 Dem-GOP) and will be blocked.

But the fact that the Democrats in the Senate will now be expected to demonstrate unanimity in advancing the bill is something/

Manchin has proposed a compromise version of the bill, which has won support from Barack Obama, Stacey Abrams, a tentative nod from the White House and zero Republican support. He does not support passing the bill as currently written (SR1).

But it appears that after much discussion and thought, Manchin will support his colleagues in voting to advance this bill to the debate stage.

The procedural vote is due at 5.30pm ET today.

In a statement moments ago, Manchin said: “Over the past month, I have worked to eliminate the far reaching provisions of S.1, the For the People Act – which I do not support. I’ve found common ground with my Democratic colleagues on a new version of the bill that ensures our elections are fair, accessible and secure.”

He added: “Today I will vote ‘YES’ to move to debate this updated voting legislation as a substitute amendment to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy.”

Democrats believe this is an important step to bring Manchin on board with the party on the bill, later perhaps persuading him and Arizona moderate Senator Kyrsten Sinema to agree to reform the filibuster so the Republican minority can’t crush Biden legislation and bills like SR1 can be passed with a simple majority (Kamala Harris has a tie-break vote in the Senate).

Daniel Strauss
(@DanielStrauss4)

That’s 50 votes. Dems need 60 to overcome the expected filibuster https://t.co/Qm1Vu5GJRU

June 22, 2021

The Biden administration warns: Democracy is in peril.

Daniel Strauss
(@DanielStrauss4)

The OMB statement of administration policy on S1 is pretty dire:

“Democracy is in peril, here, in America.  The right to vote – a sacred right in this country – is under assault with an intensity and an aggressiveness we have not seen in a long time.” pic.twitter.com/WJNDzpBZ4p

June 22, 2021

Updated

Interim summary

As we await the procedural vote in the US Senate on the For the People Act and various lawmakers and factions set out their stalls on Capitol Hill, here’s a quick recap on the main events of the morning so far in US political news.

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Joe Biden is “absolutely revolted” by attempts to restrict voting access going on in many Republican-led states across the country, hence the priority to pass voting rights protections at the federal level.
  • Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging those who are still voluntarily avoiding getting vaccinated against Covid-19 to get the vaccine, saying that nearly every US coronavirus death at this point is “entirely preventable”.
  • With just a few hours left before the vote is due in the US Senate on whether to advance the For the People Act voting rights legislation to the next stage, allowing debate on the bill, pivotal Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says he’s not made up his mind yet.
  • Key vote due today on the Biden administration’s voting rights legislation. The US Senate has been underway since 10am ET and the vote is expected on whether to invoke cloture (allow debate to start on the bill) at 5.30pm ET.

Bleach peddler: Trump consumed ‘miracle cure’

Ed Pilkington

The leader of a spurious church which peddled industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for Covid-19 is claiming he provided Donald Trump with the product in the White House shortly before the former president made his notorious remarks about using “disinfectant” to treat the disease.

Mark Grenon, the self-styled “archbishop” of the Genesis II “church”, has given an interview from his prison cell in Colombia as he awaits extradition to the US to face criminal charges that he fraudulently sold bleach as a Covid cure.

In the 90-minute interview he effectively presents himself as the source of Trump’s fixation with the healing powers of disinfectant.

“We were able to give through a contact with Trump’s family – a family member – the bottles in my book,” Grenon says. “And he mentioned it on TV: ‘I found this disinfectant’.”

Full story:

Ahead of an important procedural vote on Democrats’ expansive voting rights bill, the feeling among Senate Democrats is a mixture of gloom and defiance.

Daniel Strauss
(@DanielStrauss4)

Asked today if he thought Sen. MANCHIN in the end votes for S1, Sen. Kaine said:

“Yes…I’m not giving you intel but I think so. I think so.”

June 22, 2021

The Senate is scheduled to vote on advancing Democrats’ voting rights package, the For the People Act, Tuesday afternoon and the wide expectation among Democrats and Republicans is the bill will be blocked through the filibuster, a legislative maneuver that lets a minority of senators stall or block movement on a bill.

For Democrats, in a perfect world the failure of the voting rights bill would trigger an effort in Congress to defang the filibuster.

But there is no support among the Republican caucus for gutting the filibuster, and not quite enough unity in their own caucus to get rid of the rule.

That leaves them with an unclear path forward on passing the Biden administration’s agenda or key protections for voting as Republican state lawmakers across the country push new laws that critics say are meant to hinder voting by voters of color.

“My hope is that if what we see is a unified effort to filibuster voting rights it will stiffen the spine of my Democratic colleagues to protect our democracy,” Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, a Democrat, said.

“No Senate rule is more important than the constitutional right to vote,” Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia said in referencing to protecting the filibuster.

Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock
(@SenatorWarnock)

The right to vote is sacred—it is the foundation of our democracy. Congress cannot stand idly by as attacks on the ballot box ramp up nationwide. This body has a solemn duty to protect the people’s voice.

We must pass voting rights. No matter what. https://t.co/HpqeBzfDs3

June 22, 2021

Yesterday, former president Barack Obama, in a rare move, weighed in on the expected filibuster of the voting rights package saying “that’s not acceptable.”

Other Democratic standard bearers have offered similar denunciations and warnings. Democratic outside groups have announced plans to pour millions into voting rights initiatives in the aftermath of the voting rights bill vote.

That spending reflects the sense of defiance among Democratic lawmakers as well.

“If Republicans say that they are willing to veto even a discussion about protecting our democracy then that puts it directly to Democrats. Are we going to stand up and be counted?” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said.

“Or are we going to let the Republican veto hold? I think that it’s an important step today to get every senator on record about willingness to talk about protecting our democracy. And if that fails then the Democrats are going to have to talk about what the next path forward is.”

Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said it was important for Democrats to keep a sense of hope.

“That doesn’t mean that if we fail today there won’t be disappointment but there will never be despondency. We will regroup and plan anew and charge right back up the mountain,” he said.

Fissures within the Democratic party persist though. Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, one of the most conservative members of the Senate Democratic caucus penned an op-ed published Monday night explaining her ongoing opposition to changing the filibuster, a position at odds with her colleagues.

“If [Senator ] Mitch McConnell believes that he will get even the tiniest advantage from removing the filibuster in the future, he will do it, regardless of what Democrats have done in the past,” Warren said in reference to McConnell, the Senate minority leader.

The op-ed argued there is a longterm risk for Democrats if they gut the filibuster now.

“Certainly there is risk to get rid of the filibuster but there is risk if we let the status quo where nothing happens continue,” Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado, another moderate Democrat, said.

Elizabeth Warren
(@SenWarren)

The #ForThePeople Act is about protecting the right to vote, stopping billionaires from buying elections, and starting to #EndCorruptionNow. This isn’t about politics – it’s about protecting our democracy and restoring Americans’ faith in government.

June 22, 2021

Biden “absolutely revolted” by voting restrictions being enacted in GOP-led states – White House

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is holding her media briefing, hot on the heels of the coronavirus team briefing.

As the For the People Act legislation heads for a likely doomed vote in the US Senate at 5.30pm ET today, Psaki emphasized one of the reasons why passing legislation on this topic is a huge priority for Joe Biden and the efforts are “not over” even if they go nowhere on Capitol Hill this afternoon.

Psaki told reporters that Biden is “absolutely revolted” by attempts to restrict voting access going on in many Republican-led states across the country.

The Post Millennial
(@TPostMillennial)

Psaki says President Biden is “absolutely revolted by the wave of anti-voter laws based on the same repeatedly disproven lies that led to an assault on our nation’s capital.” pic.twitter.com/ubILrqJ0LT

June 22, 2021

Here’s our Sam Levine (we recommend you sign up for his Fight to Vote news letter):

Updated

Anthony Fauci, the US’s top public health official, who leads the White House coronavirus team and is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, used the briefing just now to outline how the US has been following the UK in terms of infections recently.



Jill Biden and Anthony Fauci in Harlem, New York City, earlier this month.

Jill Biden and Anthony Fauci in Harlem, New York City, earlier this month. Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/Reuters

Just as the UK came to be dominated by the UK variant and now the Delta variant that originated in India, so the same thing is happening in the US, leading health officials to speak of the joy of celebrating the summer while being on guard against a resurgence of the disease in the coming months – especially if people continue to shun the vaccine.

The Delta variant now accounts for 95% of new cases in the UK and youth are driving new infections, Fauci said, citing a study by Imperial College, London.

Fauci pointed out that the available vaccines are up to 93% effective against serious illness caused by the variants currently still spreading.

The Delta variant “is currently the greatest threat to the US in our attempt to eliminate Covid-19…we have the tools so let’s use them to crush the outbreak,” Fauci added.

The US expects to have 70% of adults over the age of 30 vaccinated by July 4th and to reach that goal with all adults “a few weeks” later, which is behind schedule.

Fauci was asked during press Q & A whether, if 20% to 30% of US adults continue to avoid being vaccinated, whether we’ll see the kind of surge and deaths that we saw in previous surges at the height of the pandemic, when 1,000 people were dying a day.

He said he would expect local or regional surges but “I do not foresee a surge like we saw over the last 18 months…even if we do we will not see 1,000 deaths a day.”

Fauci appeals to the “recalcitrant” not to persist in avoiding being vaccinated.

Nearly every US coronavirus death at this point “entirely preventable” – CDC

Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging those who are still voluntarily avoiding getting vaccinated against Covid-19 to get the vaccine.



Rochelle Walensky threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Miami Marlins at the end of May, as the US began to return to something close to post-pandemic normality.

Rochelle Walensky threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Miami Marlins at the end of May, as the US began to return to something close to post-pandemic normality. Photograph: Michael Dwyer/AP

“Every death is tragic. Nearly every death is, at this point, entirely preventable,” she said at the White House coronavirus team briefing today, which is still underway.

“We know our vaccines work,” Walensky added.

She warned that US health experts are very wary of a situation where variants currently dominating new infections – until recently the variant that originated in the UK and now the variant that originated in India – “could lead to further mutations that evade our vaccines” and if more people don’t get vaccinated it could produce “a chain that could lead to a more dangerous strain”.

Walensky also warned that 20% of people who’ve had Covid-19 are reporting various symptoms associated with “long Covid” – symptoms that persist more than four weeks after initial infection.

She listed “brain fog”, headaches, heart palpitations, coughing, joint pain, insomnia and prolonged loss of the sense of taste and/or smell.

The White House coronavirus briefing has begun. Jeff Zients, response coordinator since 2021, succeeding Deborah Birx, is leading up to letting everyone know that Joe Biden’s goal to have 70% of US adults vaccinated with at least one shot by the July Fourth holiday is a bit behind.



Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and Jeff Zients earlier this year.

Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and Jeff Zients earlier this year. Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Meanwhile, he’s talking about the fact that new cases of Covid-19 in the US are down 90% since Biden took office in January, when the pandemic was at its peak a year after the first infections on the west coast.

More than 1,000 people will gather on the White House lawn on July 4, Zients said. That’s a much bigger gathering that the kind of neighborhood backyard cookouts that the president predicted would be possibly by July 4 as the US declared “independence from the virus”.

Zients says that 16 states and the District of Columbia have achieved the goal of 70% of adults having had at least one shot. The US expects to reach 70% of adults over the age of 27 having had at least one shot by the end of the July 4 holiday weekend..

He predicts the 70% of all adults goal will be achieved “a few weeks after”. Just to note, the struggle to make the numbers in the US is less about vaccine supply now and more about people declining the vaccine.

Zients said the aim is for “America to look like America again….the virus is in retreat, we are entering a summer of joy.”

He added: “But we are not done. Individuals who are still unvaccinated are still at risk.” Zients noted that the Delta variant, which originated in India, is still spreading across the US and younger people appear to be more vulnerable to it.

The current vaccines are highly effective against the Delta variant.

Updated

Martin Pengelly

Donald Trump has “zero desire” to be speaker of the House of Representatives, his spokesman has said, though the former president continues to entertain discussion of the outlandish idea.

Under congressional rules, the House speaker does not have to be a sitting member of Congress, though all of them so far have been.

The notion of a Trump speakership was raised by his former adviser Steve Bannon. Trump himself called it “so interesting” last week, while current House minority leader and aspiring speaker Kevin McCarthy perhaps ironically misspoke when he seemed to encourage speculation.

McCarthy told Fox News: “You know, I’ve talked to President Trump many times, he tells me he wants to be speaker, and I think he should be president.”

A spokesperson later said the California representative had meant to say Trump thought McCarthy should be speaker.

On Monday, Trump was asked about the idea in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. Characteristically, he failed to fully disown it.

“Well,” Trump said, “I’ve heard the talk and it’s getting more and more. But it’s not something that I would have considered but … certainly there’s a lot of talk about it.

“I have a good relationship with Kevin, and hopefully we will do everything traditionally … so I have seen talk about that but it’s nothing that I’ve ever considered.”

Punchbowl News asked Jason Miller, Trump’s outgoing spokesman, for comment.

Trump, Miller said, “has zero desire to be speaker”.

Oregon progressive Senator Jeff Merkley and Minnesota’s Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate, Amy Klobuchar, introduced the For the People Act, along with majority leader Chuck Schumer, in the Senate in March.

Jeff Merkley
(@JeffMerkley)

.@AmyKlobuchar is absolutely right.

This bill is critical for our country. We must fight with everything we’ve got to pass the For the People Act and save our democracy. https://t.co/eDaJi5Z53G

June 22, 2021

Today they probably know it is going to be parked in a cul-de-sac and the Republicans, aided by Democrat Joe Manchin, are going to throw away the keys.

Here’s what Merkley tweeted yesterday.

Jeff Merkley
(@JeffMerkley)

Make no mistake: Our democracy is in crisis. Republican lawmakers are trying to restrict Americans’ right to vote all across the country.

Tomorrow we have a chance to right these wrongs by passing the For the People Act. We must get it done!

June 21, 2021

And here’s Klobuchar earlier today reminding everyone that Barack Obama has spoken out to support a compromise version of the bill put forward by Manchin (which has garnered, to this moment, no Republican support and, therefore, is going nowhere without changes).

Amy Klobuchar
(@amyklobuchar)

President Obama agrees: we must pass the For the People Act. https://t.co/vPMvLCzrm5

June 22, 2021

The vote due at 5.30pm ET today is not on the whether to pass the bill or make changes to the bill, it is merely on whether to invoke cloture and begin debating the bill.

Updated

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