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Biden announces US has administered 150m Covid vaccine doses – as it happened

biden-announces-us-has-administered-150m-covid-vaccine-doses-–-as-it-happened

Summary

  • Joe Biden announced the US has administered 150m vaccine doses since he took office in January. The president also announced all American adults will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by 19 April, pushing up his earlier deadline of 1 May by about two weeks.
  • A shooting occurred at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, this morning. The US navy confirmed the shooter, who is now dead, was a naval hospital corpsman. The two victims of the shooting are in critical condition and were airlifted to a Baltimore hospital, Frederick police told reporters.

  • Derek Chauvin’s trial resumed in Minneapolis, where the former police officer is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd. A police trainer who instructed Chauvin in the use of force told the jury that placing a knee on a suspect’s neck when they are already subdued, as Chauvin did with Floyd, “is not authorized”.
  • The Democratic congressman Alcee Hastings died at 84. Hastings, who had pancreatic cancer for more than two years, was the longest-serving member of Florida’s House delegation.
  • US Capitol police officer William “Billy” Evans will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda next week, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer. announced. Evans was killed in the car attack at the Capitol last week. In a statement released by USCP today, Evans’ family described him as “the best father, son, brother, and friend anyone could ever hope for”.

  • Arkansas lawmakers overrode their governor’s veto to enact the country’s first ban on gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth.The law, which has been opposed by medical groups and child welfare groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, would punish healthcare providers who offer treatments like hormone therapy and puberty blockers to trans children.
  • Caitlyn Jenner, the former reality star, is reportedly considering a run for California governor. According to an Axios report, Jenner is working with GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren, to explore running against California governor Gavin Newsom in an impending recall election.

  • Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an order to “mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed” by Georgia’s restrictive new voting laws. Civil rights groups and businesses have spoken out against Georgia Republicans’ sweeping voter restrictions, which will disproportionately affect Black voters’ ability to cast their ballots.

– Joan E Greve and Maanvi Singh

Updated

Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican congressman who is being investigated over child sex trafficking charges, and who reportedly shared nude pictures of women with colleagues, is speaking at former president Donald Trump’s resort in Doral, at a rally for a pro-Trump women’s group.

Politico reports:


Women for America First announced late Tuesday that Gaetz would be a speaker at the three-day “Save America Summit.” This is the same group that helped organize the “March for Trump” rally in Washington that took place just hours before the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead.

The organization praised Gaetz as one of the “few members of Congress” willing to “stand up & fight on behalf of President Trump & his America First agenda.” Women For America First says on its website that “We won’t be pushed around by bullies who tell us who we are ‘supposed’ to like. And we’re not going to keep quiet just because the Washington, D.C. power elites and mainstream media want us to!”

Gaetz on Twitter thanked the group for “the invitation to share my vision for our great nation.”

Read more:

Updated

Kamala Harris issued a statement on the death of Alcee Hastings:


Congressman Alcee Hastings welcomed me to the Congressional Black Caucus when I was still new to the Senate. He exuded the kind of warmth and good humor that not only put me at ease, but encouraged me to speak my mind. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with the Congressman on a number of issues, and learning from his collaborative and candid style of leadership.

Born in the Jim Crow South, Congressman Hastings understood our obligation to speak truth better than most. He began his career as a civil rights lawyer in the 1960s, channeling his passion for justice into the work of desegregating the public spaces of south Florida. As we mourn his death, I am comforted that his commitment to public service will serve as an example for generations to come.

The Democratic congressman of Florida was 84.

Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an order to “mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed” by Georgia’s restrictive new voting laws.

Civil rights groups and businesses have spoken out against Georgia Republicans’ sweeping voter restrictions, which will disproportionately affect Black voters’ ability to cast their ballots.

“The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta residents – particularly in communities of color and other minority groups,” Bottoms said in a statement. “This Administrative Order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not – expand access to our right to vote.”

My colleague Sam Levine wrote about the new voting law in Georgia:


It requires voters to submit ID information with both an absentee ballot request and the ballot itself. It limits the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, allows for unlimited challenges to a voter’s qualifications, cuts the runoff election period from nine to four weeks, and significantly shortens the amount of time voters have to request an absentee ballot.

The legislation also empowers the state legislature, currently dominated by Republicans, to appoint a majority of members on the five-person state election board. That provision would strip Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who stood up to Trump after the election, from his current role as chairman of the board. The bill creates a mechanism for the board to strip local election boards of their power.

Major League Baseball announced today it was moving its 2021 All-Star Game to Colorado over Georgia’s passage of the law.

Updated

How the far-right group ‘Oath Enforcers’ plans to harass political enemies

Jason Wilson

Revealed: online chats indicate some members are threatening to unleash harassment tactics on officials and government workers

A national online network of thousands of rightwing, self-described “Oath Enforcers” is threatening to unleash harassment tactics on elected officials and government workers around the country, the Guardian can reveal.

While the network’s founder insists that the group is neither violent nor a militia, internal chats indicate that some members are planning for confrontations with law enforcement and their perceived political enemies.

The chats also indicate that white supremacists and others connected with the militia movement are aiming to leverage the group’s success in recruiting disillusioned supporters of Donald Trump and the “QAnon” conspiracy movement, who are being exposed to a wide range of conspiracy theories, white nationalist material and rightwing legal theories inside the groups.

The group’s founder, who makes videos and organizes under the name Vince Edwards, lives off-grid in a remote corner of Costilla county, in Colorado’s high desert region. Arrest records from 2016 indicate that he has also used the name Christian Picolo, and other public records associate him with the name Vincent Edward Deluca.

Experts say that Edwards’ personal history reflects the potential danger in the spread of “sovereign citizen” ideology – along with voluminous online propaganda, that history includes an armed standoff with Costilla county sheriff’s deputies in 2016

Read more:

Arkansas lawmakers overrode their governor’s veto to enact the country’s first ban on gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth.

The law, which has been opposed by medical groups and child welfare groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, would punish healthcare providers who offer treatments like hormone therapy and puberty blockers to trans children. The treatments are part of a gradual process that can vastly improve mental health in young people, and can be life-saving, experts say.

Arkansas’ Republican-controlled legislature overrode Republican governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the measure. Hutchinson held that the law went too far in interfering with parents’ decisions, and would cut off care for young people already receiving treatment.

Earlier, my colleague Sam Levin spoke to healthcare providers, families, and trans children affected by legislation banning affirming healthcare. Efforts to end gender-affirming care have cropped up not just in Arkansas, but across the country.


Corey Hyman, a 15-year-old boy from St Charles, Missouri, waited years to access the medical treatments that he said saved his life.

Corey said he had long known that he was a boy and came out to his mother as trans at age 12. She researched clinics that supported children like him, and after dozens of sessions with therapists and doctors over two years, Corey was approved to start taking testosterone hormones.

“I was being my true self and actually presenting as a male, and it just made me feel so much better,” said Corey, who previously struggled with severe psychological distress, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts. “Everyone told me that they could see me getting happier.”

The number of kids receiving gender-affirming care in the US is limited. Jules Gill-Peterson, professor of gender, sexuality and women’s studies at the University of Pittsburgh, said that access to the treatment is extremely restricted, given that there are few clinics that do this work and that families often need significant time and money to advocate for and get treatment.

“We’re facing the proposition of banning forms of healthcare that almost no trans kids even have access to,” she said. She noted that at a clinic in Pittsburgh, some families drive from five hours away to get care. “We’re talking about healthcare that at the moment is generally accessible only to upper-middle-class families.”

Read more:

Updated

Caitlyn Jenner, the former reality star, is reportedly considering a run for California governor.

According to an Axios report, Jenner is working with GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren, to explore running against California governor Gavin Newsom in an impending recall election.

The recall campaign against Newsom, a Democrat, is spearheaded by Republicans who opposed the governor’s pandemic-era business shutdowns, as well as his immigration and tax policies. Amid the previous coronavirus surge, and with the aid of funds from big business donors and a few Silicon Valley venture capitalists, the recall campaign amassed more than 2m signatures, its leaders say. If election officials are able to validate at least 1.5m signatures by the end of this month, the state will hold a recall election this year. Voters will choose first whether they want to recall Newsom and then who they would like to replace him.

The Republicans currently running against Newsom include San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer; conservative activist Mike Cernovich; and John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018 by 23 points. Strategists say that none of these candidates have an easy path to victory in a state that leans heavily Democratic. However, a big-name Republican like Jenner could change the dynamics of the race. In the 2003 recall of former California governor Gray Davis, it was actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to run against Davis that helped energize the effort. Schwarzenegger ultimately replaced Davis.

Jenner, a former Olympic medalist who starred in Keeping Up with the Kardashians, has been critical of Donald Trump’s views on trans rights, but she has ultimately aligned with the Republican party on many major issues. Wren, who worked for Trump’s 2020 campaign fundraising committee and helped organize the rally that preceded the 6 January Capitol attack, connected with Jenner through a GOP nonprofit focused on LGBT issues, according to Axios.

Democrats in California and in DC have aligned themselves with Newsom. Progressive Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has thrown his support behind Newsom, and Kamala Harris – a longtime friend of the California governor – appeared alongside him Monday during her visit to the state and praised him as “a real champion in California and outside of California”.

The governor’s approval rating dropped from an early-pandemic peak, but it remains relatively strong in recent polls. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found 56% of likely voters would oppose a recall.

Updated

California to lift most coronavirus-related restrictions June 15

Joan E Greve

California will lift most of its coronavirus-related restrictions starting June 15, Governor Gavin Newsom announced today.

The Democratic governor emphasized the statewide mask mandate will remain in effect, and restrictions will only be lifted if vaccinations continue to steadily increase and coronavirus hospitalizations stay low over the coming weeks.

Gavin Newsom
(@GavinNewsom)

BREAKING: CA has administered 20+ million vaccinations. We have the lowest positivity rate in the US. Stable hospitalizations.

Now, we’re looking forward.

We’re setting our eyes on fully reopening by June 15th — with commonsense measures like masking.

Mask up & get vaxed, CA.

April 6, 2021

“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” Newsom said in a statement.

The announcement is hugely consequential, considering California was the first state to approve a statewide stay-at-home order last spring and Newsom has been generally hesitant to relax restrictions on businesses, due to concerns about a potential surge in cases.

But the governor is now moving forward with easing restrictions, as more than a third of Californians have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose.

“We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic, Newsom said. “We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”

Updated

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague Maanvi Singh will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden announced the US has administered 150 million vaccine doses since he took office in January. The president also announced all American adults will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, pushing up his earlier deadline of May 1 by about two weeks.
  • A shooting occurred at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, this morning. The US navy confirmed the shooter, who is now dead, was a naval hospital corpsman. The two victims of the shooting are in critical condition and were airlifted to a Baltimore hospital, Frederick police told reporters.

  • Derek Chauvin’s trial resumed in Minneapolis, where the former police officer is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd. A police trainer who instructed Chauvin in the use of force told the jury that placing a knee on a suspect’s neck when they are already subdued, as Chauvin did with Floyd, “is not authorized”.
  • Democratic congressman Alcee Hastings died at 84. Hastings, who had had pancreatic cancer for more than two years, was the longest-serving member of Florida’s House delegation.
  • US Capitol police officer William “Billy” Evans will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda next week, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announced. Evans was killed in the car attack at the Capitol last week. In a statement released by USCP today, Evans’ family described him as “the best father, son, brother, and friend anyone could ever hope for”.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

Joe Biden took a few questions from reporters after concluding his prepared remarks on his administration’s efforts to distribute coronavirus vaccines across the country.

One journalist asked whether the president believed the PGA should move the Masters golf tournament from Georgia due to the outcry over the state’s new law restricting voting access.

This Week
(@ThisWeekABC)

Pres. Biden says it’s “reassuring” to see corporations opposing Georgia’s sweeping voting law, but cautions businesses leaving the state could hurt workers.

“The best way to deal with this is for Georgia and other states to smarten up. Stop it. Stop it.” https://t.co/04o558mesk pic.twitter.com/lLh2pydIbX

April 6, 2021

“I think that’s up the Masters,” Biden said. “It’s reassuring to see that for-profit operations and businesses are speaking up about how these new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are.”

But the president acknowledged such decisions can be incredibly challenging because the ramifications of them often hurt “the people who need the help the most, people who are making hourly wages”.

“I think it’s a very tough decision for a corporation to make,” Biden said. “The best way to deal with it is for Georgia and other states to smarten up. Stop it. Stop it. It’s about getting people to vote.”

Biden’s comments come days after the Major League Baseball All-Star game was moved from Atlanta because of the Georgia voting law.

Updated

Joe Biden concluded his prepared remarks by once again encouraging Americans to continue taking precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“This progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve can be reversed,” Biden said. “Now’s not the time to let down. Now’s not the time to celebrate.”

The president reiterated his hope that the country will be able to return to a sense of normality by July 4, when America celebrates Independence Day.

Biden said, “I want to have an Independence Day, an independence from the Covid.”

Biden urges seniors: ‘Get vaccinated now,’ before all adults become eligible on April 19

Joe Biden announced all American adults will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, pushing up his earlier deadline of May 1 by about two weeks.

Every US state except for Hawaii had already announced it would make the vaccine available to all adult residents by that date, so Biden’s announcement is not necessarily shocking.

The president also made a point to urge older Americans to get their shots before vaccine eligibility expands and lines get longer.

“Seniors, it’s time for you to get vaccinated now,” Biden said.

The president noted his administration is ramping up transportation assistance to vaccination sites in order to help older Americans get their shots.

Updated

Biden celebrates 150 million shots administered but tells Americans to stay vigilant

Joe Biden is now speaking at the White House to deliver an update on his administration’s efforts to distribute coronavirus vaccines across the country.

The president noted he visited a vaccination site in Alexandria, Virginia, earlier today, and he described it as an “example of America at its finest”.

As expected, Biden announced the US has administered more than 150 million vaccine doses since he took office in January.

“Yesterday, we crossed 150 million shots in 75 days, the first 75 days of my administration,” Biden said.

President Biden
(@POTUS)

I’m proud to share that yesterday, we crossed 150 million shots in just 75 days of my Administration — on our way to hitting our goal of 200 million shots by my 100th day in office.

April 6, 2021

The president noted more than 4 million shots were administered on Saturday alone, and more than 75% of people over 65 have been vaccinated, an important milestone given that seniors account for 80% of all coronavirus deaths.

But Biden warned that, even as vaccinations increase, coronavirus variants are also spreading quickly. The president urged Americans to remain vigilant about wearing masks and practicing social-distancing to limit the spread of the virus.

“Let me be perfectly earnest with you: we aren’t at the finish line,” Biden said.

Updated

Joe Biden mourned the passing of Democratic congressman Alcee Hastings, who has died at the age of 84 after struggling with pancreatic cancer for over two years.

“I had the privilege of getting to know Alcee Hastings during the years when he served in the House of Representatives and I served in the United States Senate and later as Vice President. I greatly admired him for his singular sense of humor, and for always speaking the truth bluntly and without reservation,” the president said in a new statement.

Hastings was elected to Congress 15 times, and he was the longest-serving member of Florida’s House delegation when he died.

“Across his long career of public service, Alcee always stood up to fight for equality, and always showed up for the working people he represented. And even in his final battle with cancer, he simply never gave up,” Biden said.

“Jill and I are saddened to learn of his passing. May God bless Alcee Hastings and his family.”

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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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