The number of unaccompanied migrant children detained along the southern border has tripled in the last two weeks to more than 3,250, filling facilities akin to jails as the Biden administration struggles to find room for them in shelters, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
More than 1,360 of the children have been detained beyond the 72 hours permitted by law before a child must be transferred to a shelter, according to one of the documents, dated March 8. The figures highlight the growing pressure on President Biden to address the increased number of people trying to cross the border in the belief that he will be more welcoming to them than former President Donald J. Trump was.
The children are being held in facilities, managed by the Customs and Border Protection agency, that were built for adults. The border agency has been the subject of widespread criticism for the horrific conditions in its federal detention facilities, in which children are exposed to disease, hunger and overcrowding.
Under the law, the federal government is required to move unaccompanied children within three days from the border facilities to shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, where they are held until they are placed with a sponsor. Homeland Security officials have often pointed to delays by Health and Human Services in picking up the children as a reason for the prolonged detention.
Until last Friday, when the government lifted the restrictions, the shelters managed by Health and Human Services were at reduced capacity because of the pandemic. The shelters for migrant children are 13 days away from “maximum capacity,” according to the documents. The data shows the stress on the system designed to hold the migrant children as Mr. Biden tries to make good on a campaign promise to be more compassionate to migrants during a global pandemic.
Border agents encountered a migrant at the border about 78,000 times in January, the highest number for that month in at least a decade. Most of those were adults or families who were rapidly turned away under a pandemic emergency rule. The administration is expected to announce an increase in those crossings this week, according to officials.
The rules are different for unaccompanied children, who, rather than being turned back, are taken into custody, forcing the administration to find space for them. More than 5,800 unaccompanied children were found at the border in January, an increase of more than 1,000 from October 2020.
The Biden administration recently reopened an emergency facility used during the Trump administration in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to create more space for the children. The shelters where migrant children are supposed to be held have been strained. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directed the shelters to return to full capacity last Friday.
Health and Human Services had more than 8,100 unaccompanied children in its shelters as of Sunday, with space readily available for only 838 more, according to the documents. More than 42 percent of the roughly 3,250 children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection were held longer than the maximum of three days, even though they were referred for placement in shelters by Homeland Security, according to the documents. Border agents had yet to refer more than 440 of the young migrants in its custody to the child migrant shelters.
The Border Patrol and Health and Human Services have long struggled to efficiently transfer migrant children to shelters.
“It’s a difficult coordination process,” said Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary under the Obama administration. She said the rise of unaccompanied children at the border presented an urgent challenge for the administration. “That’s why they need some facilities at the border,” she said, “and I think what they need to do is move as quickly as humanly possible to place those minors with a vetted adult.”
President Biden on Monday directed the Education Department to conduct an expansive review of all policies on sex and gender discrimination and violence in schools, effectively beginning his promised effort to dismantle Trump-era rules on sexual misconduct that afforded greater protections to students accused of assault.
With two executive orders — one ordering the new education secretary to review those policies, and the other establishing a gender-focused White House policy council — Mr. Biden, an author of the Violence Against Women Act, waded into an area that has been important to him but has been politically charged for more than a decade.
The Obama administration issued guidance to schools, colleges and universities that critics in and out of academia said leaned too heavily toward accusers and offered scant protections or due process for students and faculty accused of sexual harassment, assault or other misconduct. The Trump administration swept those aside and delivered the first-ever regulations on sexual misconduct, which many saw as swinging too far the other way, offering the accused too much power through guaranteed courtlike tribunals and cross-examination of accusers.
It is unclear whether Mr. Biden’s review of all policies under Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools, will return the rules to the Obama administration’s approach or find some middle ground that incorporates lessons from the last two administrations. When asked what direction Mr. Biden might take, a White House official said on Monday that the executive order “speaks for itself.”
“We’re looking for a process that does not turn us into courts, that allows us to treat both sides fairly and equally, and does not attempt to micromanage campus proceedings,” said Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president of the American Council on Education, which represents 1,700 college and university presidents and executives in higher education.
However the process proceeds, it is sure to illustrate just how much Title IX has become a political cudgel in the culture wars over sex, gender and education.
After hours of intense and occasionally emotional debate, the Republican-controlled State Senate in Georgia voted 29-20 on Monday to approve a bill that would impose new voting restrictions in the state, including a repeal of no-excuse absentee voting.
Multiple Republican senators abstained from voting, signaling some unease with the strident nature of the voting restrictions and indicating that they could face an uphill battle in the weeks ahead. The Senate bill passed just one vote above the required 28-vote majority threshold.
The bill will now go to the State House of Representatives, which is also led by Republicans. Last week, the House passed its own omnibus bill of voting restrictions that included similar barriers to the ballot box, including limiting early voting times.
Though each chamber passed its own bill, some legislators in Georgia view the House legislation as the likely central vehicle for voting overhauls in the state. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has indicated that he generally supports “securing the vote,” repeating the Republican euphemism for imposing new voting laws in response to false claims of voter fraud following the 2020 election. Mr. Kemp, however, has not weighed in on many of the specific provisions in either bill.
Georgia has become one of the focal points of a national movement among Republicans to erect new barriers to voting in the wake of former President Donald J. Trump’s loss to President Biden in November. Mr. Biden narrowly won Georgia, as did the two Democratic Senate candidates in January.
At almost the same time that the Georgia Senate was passing its legislation on Monday, the governor of Iowa was signing new voting restrictions into law. The Iowa bill — passed on a party-line vote, with only Republicans voting in favor and only Democrats voting against — shortens both the early-voting period and Election Day voting hours.
During the hourslong debate in Georgia on Monday, Democrats rose repeatedly to denounce the Senate legislation, known as S.B. 241, as seeking to deny the right to vote to numerous groups, especially Black voters and other Georgians of color, and to erect new barriers to the ballot box simply in response to an election that Republicans in the state lost.
“We don’t have to continue this legacy of blocking access to the ballot,” said Nan Orrock, a state senator from Atlanta. “This is such a cloud over Georgia that these bills abound in our midst.”
Harold Jones II, the Democratic whip in the State Senate, noted the state’s history of laws aimed at suppressing Black voters, imploring his colleagues to listen to the protests and pleas from communities of color about the impact the new voting restrictions would have.
“As many of my colleagues come up, you would hear many of them, I’m sure, become emotional, and possibly their voice will crack, because that most basic right was denied to us,” Mr. Jones, who is Black, said. “It’s not 1800, it’s not 1850s. It is right here in this room. Many of the senators that sit here lived through that process. I see that every day with my parents. We live that. We understand how that most basic right was denied.”
Matt Brass, a Republican state senator who was removed as chairman of the redistricting committee by the Republican lieutenant governor after he backed efforts to overturn the election, rose in support of the bill, saying he was representing the Georgia voters who had lost confidence in elections.
“We still need the people of Georgia to believe in the process, and right now they are unconvinced,” Mr. Brass said.
But Senate Democrats pointed to the timing of the bill — following Republican losses in 2020 — as evidence that Republicans were not simply trying to address confidence in elections.
“The motivations are really suspect because it’s introduced immediately after voters of color dramatically increased their use of absentee voting this past year,” said Jen Jordan, a Democratic state senator from outside Atlanta.
As many as 320,000 Venezuelans living in the United States were given an 18-month reprieve on Monday from the threat of being deported, as the Biden administration sought to highlight how dangerous Venezuela has become under President Nicolás Maduro.
The immigrants will be allowed to work legally in the United States as part of the temporary protective status the administration issued.
“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement. “It is in times of extraordinary and temporary circumstances like these that the United States steps forward to support eligible Venezuelan nationals already present here, while their home country seeks to right itself out of the current crises.”
Venezuela is mired in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises under Mr. Maduro, who, through a mix of corruption and neglect, oversaw the decay of the oil infrastructure that had propped up the country’s economy. The United Nations has estimated that up to 94 percent of Venezuela’s population lives in poverty, with millions of people lacking regular access to water, food and medicine.
Two senior Biden administration officials said the new protections would be offered to those who could prove they were living in the United States as of Monday. The cutoff date is intended to discourage smugglers from enticing other Venezuelans to make the arduous journey to the United States when the Biden administration is already struggling with how to accommodate thousands of Central American migrants headed to the southern border.
It had been expected that President Biden would give temporary protective status to Venezuelan immigrants, as Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had endorsed it during his Senate confirmation hearing in January.
Though the Trump administration resisted issuing the same protections — despite intense lobbying from Mr. Maduro’s opponents — President Donald J. Trump delayed deportations for many Venezuelans in the United States on his last day in office.
WASHINGTON — President Biden’s two German shepherds have been moved to the family home in Delaware after one of the animals showed ongoing aggressive behavior to White House staff, according to a news report.
A report published by CNN on Monday evening said that the dogs Champ and Major, had been moved after Major had what one person described as a “biting incident” with a member of the White House’s security staff.
White House officials in the East and West Wings did not respond to requests for comment on Monday evening. A person familiar with the dogs’ whereabouts said that Champ and Major had been moved to the family home in Delaware, but added that it was typical for them to stay there when Dr. Jill Biden, the first lady, was traveling. Dr. Biden is currently on the West Coast visiting with military families as part of her Joining Forces initiative.
The dogs joined the Bidens at the White House shortly after the Bidens relocated to Washington. Since then, they have been allowed to roam unleashed on the White House grounds and have been given carte blanche to explore the complex. They are often part of the backdrop in Oval Office photos.
“They really don’t have any rules, they’re really good dogs,” Dr. Biden told People magazine during a joint interview with her husband published in February. In that interview, Mr. Biden said that Champ was 14 years old, and Major was about a year-and-a-half old.
Mr. Biden adopted Major in 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association after his daughter sent him a Facebook post about a litter of puppies up for adoption. Major was part of a six-pup litter that had been exposed to toxins and were nursed back to health before the agency listed them for adoption.
Major underwent a “special training” to become acclimated to the Biden household, and was fostered for several months before the Bidens officially adopted him, Kerry Bruni, the association’s director of animal care, said at the time.
“I imagine he has to learn how to travel on planes and stuff that normal house dogs don’t have to worry about,” Ms. Bruni said.
The Biden administration moved on Monday to reimpose financial sanctions on an Israeli billionaire mining executive who had turned to a team of lobbyists to get the measures eased during the final days of President Donald J. Trump’s tenure.
The reversal came after a chorus of complaints from human rights advocates, members of Congress and activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Israeli businessman, Dan Gertler, for decades has secured access to mining rights through what the Treasury Department during the Trump administration had called a series of corrupt deals that had shortchanged Congo of more than $1.3 billion in revenues from the sale of minerals.
In mid-January, shortly before Mr. Trump left office, Mr. Gertler secretly secured a Treasury Department license that unfroze money he had deposited in financial institutions in the United States. The license also effectively ended a prohibition on Mr. Gertler doing business through the international banking system. Those sanctions had been imposed on Mr. Gertler by the Trump administration in 2017.
The Biden administration is now moving to reimpose those conditions, although it is likely Mr. Gertler has already moved the previously frozen money out of the United States.
The State Department on Monday said that Mr. Gertler had “engaged in extensive public corruption” and that it had consulted with the Treasury Department, which was reversing its action under the Trump-era.
“The license previously granted to Mr. Gertler is inconsistent with America’s strong foreign policy interests in combating corruption around the world, specifically including U.S. efforts to counter corruption and promote stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” a State Department statement issued Monday said. “The United States will continue to promote accountability for corrupt actors with all the tools at our disposal, in order to advance democracy, uphold international norms, and impose tangible costs on those who seek to upend them.”
Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer and lobbyist who helped represent Mr. Gertler in the push for the rollback of the sanctions, said that he is disappointed with the action by the Biden administration.
“This decision was done unilaterally without an opportunity for Mr. Gertler to present evidence that he has been complying with all the requirements and conducting himself properly,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “We are now in the process of considering all of our options.
Mr. Gertler has been doing business in Congo for more than two decades, securing a series of contracts to export diamonds, gold, oil, cobalt and other minerals. The Treasury Department said in 2018 that he had “amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining.”
Mr. Gertler had promised American officials to follow global anti-corruption rules in exchange for the license Treasury granted him in January. But officials in Congo said freeing him from the sanctions would undermine efforts to fight corruption in Congo and to help the new democratically elected president limit the continued influence of the country’s former leader, Joseph Kabila, an ally of Mr. Gertler.
“Restoring the sanctions enables Congolese and U.S. anti-corruption efforts to get back on track,” said John Prendergast, co-founder of The Sentry, a non-profit human rights group that was among more than a dozen that had called on the Biden administration to revoke the license. “Dan Gertler’s corrupt partnership with former President Joseph Kabila cost the D.R.C. dearly in terms of lost resources, lost services and, ultimately, lost lives.”
After the issuance of the license became public, associates of Mr. Gertler said that part of the reason he had been granted this special treatment was that he had played some undisclosed role in helping national security interests of the United States. Officials at the Treasury Department and representatives for Mr. Gertler would not describe the specific nature of this assistance he had supposedly provided.
President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill will fulfill one of his central campaign promises: to fill the holes in the Affordable Care Act and make health insurance accessible for more than a million middle-class Americans who could not afford it under the original law.
The bill, which will most likely go to the House for a final vote on Wednesday, includes a significant, albeit temporary, expansion of subsidies for health insurance purchased under the act. With the changes, the signature domestic achievement of the Obama administration will reach middle-income families who have been discouraged from buying health plans on the federal marketplace because they come with high premiums and little or no help from the government.
The changes will last only two years. But for some, they will be considerable: The Congressional Budget Office estimated that a 64-year-old earning $58,000 would see monthly payments decline from $1,075 under current law to $412 because the federal government would take up much of the cost. The rescue plan also includes new incentives to entice the few holdout states — including Texas, Georgia and Florida — to finally expand Medicaid to those with too much money to qualify for the federal health program for the poor, but too little to afford private coverage.
“For people that are eligible but not buying insurance, it’s a financial issue, and so upping the subsidies is going to make the price point come down,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania who advised Mr. Biden during his transition. The bill, he said, would “make a big dent in the number of the uninsured.”
But because those provisions last only two years, the relief bill almost guarantees that health care will be front and center in the 2022 midterm elections, when Republicans will attack the measure as a wasteful expansion of a law they have long hated. At the same time, some liberal Democrats may say the changes only prove that a patchwork approach to health care coverage will never work.
Mr. Biden made clear when he was running for the White House that he did not favor “Medicare for all,” but instead wanted to strengthen and expand the Affordable Care Act. The relief bill, which is expected to reach his desk in time for a prime-time Oval Office address on Thursday night, would do that. The changes to the health law would cover 1.3 million more Americans and cost about $34 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
WASHINGTON — President Biden on Monday announced the nominations of two female generals whose appointments to elite, four-star commands had been delayed over concerns that Mr. Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald J. Trump, might have vetoed them because they were women.
In an event marking International Women’s Day, the president announced that the nominations of Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson of the Army had been forwarded to the Senate for approval.
“We need the young women just beginning their careers in military to service to see and know that no door will be closed to them,” Mr. Biden said. “This is what generals in the United States Armed Forces look like.”
It was the likely conclusion to a most unusual plan devised by Pentagon officials under Mr. Trump, who has a history of disparaging women and making sexist comments. Last fall, Mark T. Esper, the former defense secretary, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the extraordinary decision to stall the nominations, betting that Mr. Biden would forward their nominations to the Senate upon taking office.
The bet paid off.
General Van Ovost and General Richardson would become the second and third women to lead a Combatant Command. If approved, General Van Ovost will head the Transportation Command, which oversees the military’s sprawling global transportation network. She is the only four-star female general currently serving in the military, Mr. Biden said. General Richardson will head the Southern Command, which oversees military activities in Latin America. The nominations will now advance to the Senate, where they are expected to be approved.
“You know that leadership doesn’t come conveniently packaged,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, said to the president during the event. “Your nominations ensure that all Americans, women and men alike, will see these two special people continue to lead at the highest levels, and they will see them continue to defend the nation.”
The Republican dissidents who founded the Lincoln Project in late 2019 quickly built a reputation as a creative yet ruthless band of political operatives. Their scathing videos brought adulation from the left and an aura of mischievous idealism for what they claimed was their mission: nothing less than to save democracy.
They also hit upon a geyser of cash, discovering that biting attacks on a uniquely polarizing president could be as profitable in the loosely regulated world of political fund-raising as President Donald J. Trump’s populist bravado was for his own campaign.
Then it all began to unravel.
Here are some key takeaways from a New York Times investigation:
The four main founders of the Lincoln Project — Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson — had private financial agreements, a sign that whatever their political aims, they were also taking steps to make money from the earliest stages and wanted to limit the number of people who would share in the spoils.
Nearly a third of the Lincoln Project’s fund-raising went to Mr. Galen’s consulting firm, from which the four men were paid, according to people familiar with the arrangement. This shielded the size of the payments they were receiving even from other officials within the organization.
Some leaders were warned as early as January 2020 that Mr. Weaver had repeatedly sent inappropriate messages to young men. The allegations were described in greater detail in June in an email from a man who worked for one of the group’s contractors. The email called Mr. Weaver’s behavior “potentially fatal to our public image.” But the ensuing investigation was very limited, and Mr. Weaver remained involved with the organization.
An internal power struggle came to a head after the election, with Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Galen and Mr. Wilson on one side and two board members — Mike Madrid and Ron Steslow, who ran two of the organization’s biggest contractors — on the other. Mr. Schmidt’s faction created a new entity called Lincoln Project 2024 and started moving millions of dollars from the Lincoln Project into companies they controlled, which would have left the group as a hollowed-out shell.
Ultimately, the transferred money was returned, Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Wilson got seats on the board, and Mr. Madrid and Mr. Steslow reached a settlement and left the organization under nondisclosure agreements.
The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package moving through Congress advances an idea that Democrats have been nurturing for decades: establishing a guaranteed income for families with children.
Though framed in technocratic terms as an expansion of an existing tax credit, the child benefit is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children, akin to children’s allowances, providing most parents a monthly check of up to $300 per child.
The relief package establishes the benefit for a single year. But if it becomes permanent, as Democrats intend, it will greatly enlarge the safety net for the poor and the middle class at a time when the volatile modern economy often leaves families moving between those groups. More than 93 percent of children — 69 million — would receive benefits under the provision, at a one-year cost of more than $100 billion.
The bill raises the maximum benefit most families will receive by up to 80 percent per child and extends it to millions of families whose earnings are too low to fully qualify under existing law. Currently, a quarter of children get a partial benefit, and the poorest 10 percent get nothing.
By the standards of previous aid debates, opposition has been surprisingly muted. While the bill has not won any Republican votes, critics have largely focused on other elements of the rescue package. Some conservatives have called the child benefit “welfare” and warned that it would bust budgets and weaken incentives to work or marry. But Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, has proposed a child benefit that is even larger, though it would be financed through other safety net cuts.
Here’s a guide to other key elements of the stimulus plan, which cleared the Senate on Saturday and could go before the House for final approval as soon as Tuesday. Then it would head to President Biden for his signature.
The bill would give out $1,400 stimulus checks.
Individuals making under $75,000 and married couples making under $150,000 would receive direct payments of $1,400 per person. The bill would also provide $1,400 per dependent.
The payments would gradually decrease above those income levels and disappear entirely above an income cap: $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for married couples.
Those caps were lowered from the thresholds in the House’s version of the stimulus plan, which set the cutoffs at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for married couples.
The current $300-per-week boost to unemployment benefits would continue.
The bill extends unemployment programs through early September, including the $300-per-week federal supplement provided in the last stimulus plan passed in December.
Mr. Biden had proposed bumping up that supplemental benefit to $400 per week, which the House agreed to, but the Senate kept it at $300 weekly.
Money would go to fight the pandemic and to help states, local governments and schools.
The bill would provide funding for vaccine distribution as well as coronavirus testing, contact tracing and genomic sequencing. It would give money to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well.
It would provide $350 billion for states, local governments, territories and tribal governments, and it contains about $130 billion for schools. It also includes funding for colleges and universities, transit agencies, housing aid, child care providers and food assistance.
In addition, the bill contains funding to help businesses, including restaurants and live venues, and it includes a bailout for multi-employer pension plans that are financially troubled.
The Affordable Care Act would get a boost.
The bill would temporarily increase subsidies for people purchasing health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. It includes billions of dollars for public health programs and veterans’ health care.
It also seeks to help those who have lost jobs keep the health insurance coverage they had through their employer, covering the full cost of premiums through a federal program called COBRA through September.
President Biden has abruptly canceled a visit to the biotech firm Emergent BioSolutions a day after The New York Times published a lengthy investigation into how the Maryland company, which is making coronavirus vaccines under contract with the federal government, used a web of Washington connections to gain outsized influence over the nation’s emergency medical reserve.
The White House announced on Monday that instead of visiting Emergent’s Baltimore facility on Wednesday, as Mr. Biden had planned, the president will convene a meeting at the White House with executives of the pharmaceutical giants Merck and Johnson & Johnson, who were also to attend the session in Baltimore. Merck and Emergent are each partnering separately with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture that company’s coronavirus vaccine.
“We just felt it was a more appropriate place to have the meeting,” Mr. Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters in explaining the decision.
Emergent has more than $600 million in contracts with the federal government to manufacture coronavirus vaccines and to expand its fill-and-finish capacity for making vaccines and therapeutics. A senior administration official said Monday that only executives from Merck and Johnson & Johnson would attend Wednesday’s White House session.
An Emergent spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions about the cancellation on Monday. The spokeswoman, Nina DeLorenzo, previously defended the company’s business with the government in written responses to questions, saying, “When almost no one else would invest in preparing to protect the American public from grave threats, Emergent did, and the country is better prepared today because of it.”
The Times investigation focused on the emergency reserve, the Strategic National Stockpile, which became infamous during the coronavirus pandemic for its lack of critical supplies such as N95 masks.
Throughout most of the last decade, the government has spent nearly half of the stockpile’s half-billion-dollar annual budget on Emergent’s anthrax vaccines, The Times found.
Meanwhile, products for pandemic preparedness, including N95s, repeatedly lost out in the competition for funding. When the virus emerged last year, the stockpile quickly ran short of masks and other personal protective equipment, leaving some health care workers to resort to wearing trash bags for protection — an enduring image of the government’s failed response. Yet during 2020, the government paid Emergent $626 million for products that included vaccines to protect against a terrorist attack using anthrax.
The company is now manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines for AstraZeneca as well as for Johnson & Johnson.
Emergent is a lobbying powerhouse in Washington. The company, whose board is stocked with former federal officials, has deployed a lobbying budget more typical of some big pharmaceutical companies, The Times found, and has sometimes resorted to tactics considered underhanded even in Washington. Competing efforts to develop a better and cheaper anthrax vaccine, for example, collapsed after Emergent outmaneuvered its rivals, documents and interviews show.
Ms. DeLorenzo characterized the company’s lobbying as “education-focused” and “appropriate and necessary.”
Last week, the Biden administration announced it had brokered a deal in which Merck, a company with deep experience in making vaccines, would also partner with Johnson & Johnson to ramp up manufacturing of the company’s coronavirus vaccine.
On Friday, Ms. Psaki announced that the president would travel to Emergent’s Baltimore manufacturing facility, for an event with the chief executive officers of all three companies: Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Emergent. The change in schedule was announced Monday.
President Biden will deliver the first prime time address of his presidency on Thursday, marking one year since the adoption of sweeping measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, which subsequently killed nearly 525,000 Americans and battered the economy.
The president will deliver a direct-to-camera address to “discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Monday.
Mr. Biden’s address comes a year to the day since the World Health Organization declared the spread of the coronavirus a pandemic and a year to the night since former President Donald J. Trump delivered an address on the virus from the Oval Office, after initially dismissing it as a minor problem that would go away on its own.
A national emergency declaration, which gave the White House flexibility to direct federal resources to efforts to fight the pandemic, was issued on March 13, 2020.
Mr. Biden’s speech will be forward-looking, Ms. Psaki said, and the president plans to highlight “the role that Americans will play” in getting the country “back to normal.”
Her comments came shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a slight easing of restrictions on people who have received vaccinations.
On Monday afternoon, Mr. Biden visited the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which has the capacity to administer hundreds of vaccinations a day, to discuss efforts to vaccinate veterans. On a brief tour, the president spoke with assembled Veterans Affairs officials, who explained how they prepared and administered vaccines.
“We’re really warping the speed now,” Mr. Biden told the group. “We’re doing pretty good across the country. We’re going to hit 100 million soon.”
The address is also timed to capitalize on a major political victory for the young presidency. Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, which passed the Senate over the weekend, is likely to be adopted by the House on Tuesday. At the veterans center, Mr. Biden told the crowd that he’d sign the bill into law “as soon as I can get it.”
While Mr. Biden’s team has been cautious not to take a victory lap while so many Americans are suffering, he needs to take credit for its fast passage to gain the leverage needed for looming fights over other items on his agenda.
An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday found that 68 percent of Americans approved of the way Mr. Biden is handling the crisis.
Deep in the Sahara, the C.I.A. is continuing to conduct secret drone flights from a small but steadily expanding air base, even as the Biden administration has temporarily limited drone strikes against suspected terrorists outside conventional war zones, such as Afghanistan, while it weighs whether to tighten Trump-era rules for such operations.
Soon after it set up the base in northern Niger three years ago, the C.I.A. was poised to launch drone strikes from the site.
But there is no public evidence that the agency has carried out anything but surveillance missions so far. The base was added to a small commercial airport largely to pay closer attention to southwestern Libya, a notorious haven for Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other extremist groups that operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad and Mali.
The expanding capabilities at the base indicate that the C.I.A. would be ready to carry out armed drone strikes if the high-level review permits them.
In the meantime, the agency’s surveillance and reconnaissance missions appear to proceed, within the temporary constraints on strikes.
New satellite imagery shows that the air base in Dirkou, Niger, has grown significantly since The New York Times first reported the C.I.A. operations there in 2018, to include a much longer runway and increased security. The new imagery also shows for the first time what appears to be an MQ-9 Reaper drone taxiing to or from a clamshell hangar. The Times previously observed what was most likely a U-28A, an aircraft often used to support Special Operations Forces.
Under a directive that Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, quietly imposed on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, the military and the C.I.A. must now obtain White House permission to attack terrorism suspects in poorly governed places where there are scant or no American ground troops, such as Somalia, Yemen and Libya.
Under the Trump administration, they had been allowed to decide for themselves whether circumstances on the ground met certain conditions and an attack was justified.
The Biden administration’s review comes at a time when waves of terrorism and violence have seized Africa’s Sahel region, a vast sub-Saharan scrubland that stretches from Senegal to Sudan, and threaten to spread. The Islamic State in Libya has actively sought fresh recruits traveling north from West African nations, including Senegal and Chad.
The Pentagon’s Africa Command operates MQ-9 Reaper drones from Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou; and from a $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou. The military has carried out drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya, but none since September 2019.
Some security analysts question why the United States needs both military and C.I.A. drone operations in the same general vicinity to combat insurgents in Libya and the Sahel. In addition, France, which has about 5,100 troops in the Sahel region, began conducting its own Reaper drone strikes from Niamey against insurgents in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a fixture of the Republican establishment in Congress, announced Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2022, delivering a major blow to party leaders and opening the way for another conservative candidate more closely aligned with former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Blunt, the fourth-ranking Senate Republican, told reporters in January that he was planning to run for a third term, and many Republicans had assumed he was positioning himself to do so, as he worked to avoid alienating Mr. Trump.
But on Monday, Mr. Blunt said after nearly 12,000 votes in Congress, including a stint as House Republican whip, he had decided to call it quits.
“After 14 general election victories — three to county office, seven to the United States House of Representatives, and four statewide elections — I won’t be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate next year,” Mr. Blunt said in a video posted on social media on Monday morning. Speaking outside of his family’s dairy barn, Mr. Blunt said he had always been interested in the “practical sense of getting the job done” but did not expound on his decision.
The departure of Mr. Blunt, 71, will accelerate a brain drain already underway among Senate Republicans and will likely shift the character of the body. A bipartisan deal-maker and fixture of Washington social circles, he was the rare member of Congress to serve in high-ranking posts in both House and Senate leadership. He was also in charge of planning President Biden’s inauguration in January, a delicate task that required him to navigate explosive political crosscurrents and the threat of violence after the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol.
His decision not to seek another term follows similar ones by Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, one of Republicans’ leading policy minds and a key moderate; Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, a deal-making former chairman of the Appropriations Committee; and Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, a top party voice on free-market economic matters.
In their place has emerged a crop of Trump acolytes who have mirrored the former president’s combative style and shunned bipartisan compromise.
Missouri, a one-time swing state, has shifted rightward in recent decades, meaning the seat will most likely stay in Republican hands. Mr. Blunt had not formally drawn a primary challenger, but his close alliance with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, and his status as a consummate Washington insider put him at risk for a bitter intraparty fight to hold his seat.
Eric Greitens, the state’s former Republican governor who resigned in a cloud of scandal in 2018, said last week that he was “evaluating” whether to challenge Mr. Blunt in a primary, telling a St. Louis radio station that he was “certainly going to keep the door open” to a campaign. Mr. Greitens, a decorated Navy SEAL, has sought to position himself as a true heir to Mr. Trump’s political style and accused Mr. Blunt of inadequately backing him.
“It’s not enough to have an ‘R’ behind their name, we have to have people who are willing to take on the establishment to actually fight against the swamp,” Mr. Greitens said. He attacked Mr. Blunt for “siding with Mitch McConnell,” for criticizing Mr. Trump’s conduct around the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, and for attending Mr. Biden’s inauguration.
Mr. Greitens would not go unchallenged, particularly by Missouri’s donor class still fuming over his run as governor. Among the other possible Republican candidates are Jay Ashcroft, the Missouri secretary of state; Eric Schmitt, the attorney general; Jean Evans, a former state party leader; Mike Kehoe, the lieutenant governor; Representatives Jason Smith and Ann Wagner; and Carl Edwards, a former NASCAR driver.
Democrats, who have lost nearly every race for statewide office over the last decade, have no clear front-runner. Scott Sifton, a veteran of the Missouri statehouse, had already jumped into the race. Democrats in the state have suggested Chris Koster, a moderate Democrat who lost to Mr. Greitens in the 2016 race for governor, could run.
Jason Kander, who narrowly lost to Mr. Blunt in 2016, and former Senator Claire McCaskill, who lost her re-election bid in 2018, both said on Monday that they would not run.
A suspected member of the Oath Keepers militia who provided security for Roger J. Stone Jr. on the day the Capitol was attacked has been arrested in connection with the riot, the federal authorities said.
The man, Roberto Minuta, was taken into custody on Saturday in Newburgh, N.Y., and was accused of breaching the Capitol after “aggressively” taunting and berating law enforcement officers, according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Monday. Prosecutors said that when federal agents arrested Mr. Minuta, 36, he asked why he was being targeted for the riot and why they were not investigating Black Lives Matter and the far-left activists known as Antifa.
Last month, The New York Times and other media outlets identified Mr. Minuta, who lives in Texas and owns a tattoo parlor in Newburgh, as one of six people with ties to the Oath Keepers who guarded Mr. Stone, a close ally and adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, on the morning of Jan. 6 or the day before.
Mr. Stone, who was pardoned on seven felony convictions by Mr. Trump, was in Washington on the day the then-president spoke to a crowd ahead of the assault on the Capitol. Mr. Stone has denied any involvement in the attack, posting a message online decrying the riot as “the lawless acts at the Capitol.”
At a hearing in Federal District Court in White Plains, N.Y., on Monday afternoon, prosecutors cited the Times account and confirmed that Mr. Minuta had provided security to celebrity clients in Washington before the attack, but did not mention Mr. Stone by name. According to court papers, Mr. Minuta traveled to Washington from New Jersey on Jan. 5 and stormed the Capitol wearing military-style tactical gear and carrying a canister of bear spray.
In May, Mr. Minuta reopened his tattoo parlor, Casa di Dolore, in defiant violation of New York State’s coronavirus restrictions. In a video he posted online, Mr. Minuta said he was disobeying the virus laws “in complete defiance of the tyrannical authority that our governor here thinks he has over the millions of people in this state.”
After the reopening, Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, did an online interview with Mr. Minuta in which he said the tattoo parlor owner was being designated as “a lifetime Oath Keeper.” Prosecutors cited the interview in Mr. Minuta’s complaint.
The Oath Keepers, a paramilitary group mostly composed of former law enforcement officers and military veterans, was one of the far-right extremist organizations with the largest presence at the Capitol attack. So far, nine other accused members of the group have been charged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to overturn President Biden’s electoral victory in a plot that prosecutors say began not long after Election Day.
At the hearing on Monday, Mr. Minuta was released on bond pending trial.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a former Trump opponent turned loyalist, is portraying himself as a protector of sorts for the Republican Party, hoping to “harness the magic” of former President Donald J. Trump — while blunting his rage — to shield the party from ruin.
Mr. Graham, speaking in a far-ranging interview with Axios aired on HBO over the weekend, defended his decision to again mend fences with Mr. Trump, after initially blasting his role in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“What I’m trying to do is just harness the magic,” said Mr. Graham, who recently won re-election thanks to a tidal wave of fund-raising support from Trump backers. “To me, Donald Trump is sort of a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan and P.T. Barnum.”
Mr. Graham went on to say that Mr. Trump had proven to be a more potent political partner than even his longtime ally and friend John McCain, a frequent target of Mr. Trump’s abuse.
“Mitt Romney didn’t do it. John McCain didn’t do it,” he said of the 2012 and 2008 Republican presidential candidates. “There’s something about Trump. There’s a dark side and there’s some magic there.”
Other prominent Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have said that the party needs to move quickly past Mr. Trump to stem the erosion of support among women, suburbanites and educated white voters.
But Mr. Graham rejected that argument, siding with Mr. Trump, who emerged from a period of post-presidential quiescence to speak at the CPAC convention in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month, and this week released a batch of endorsements to maintain his leverage.
“He could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know can make it. He can make it bigger. He can make it stronger. He can make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it,” Mr. Graham said.
Mr. Graham has executed a series of abrupt 180-degree turns toward the former president, starting with his early 2017 announcement that he had befriended Mr. Trump, which came after months of savaging him during the campaign as a “race-baiting, xenophobic” bigot who would ultimately wreck the party.
His statements after the Capitol attack followed that pattern.
“Count me out,” Mr. Graham said in a fiery rebuke of Mr. Trump after the riot.
A few weeks later, he traveled to Mar-a-Lago to play golf and made nice with Mr. Trump.
“Donald Trump was my friend before the riot. And I’m trying to keep a relationship with him after the riot,” Mr. Graham told Axios. “I still consider him a friend. What happened was a dark day in American history, and we’re going to move forward.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence is planning to make his first public remarks since leaving office in January, an appearance that is certain to be heavily scrutinized for any hints of his political ambitions in the future and clues about the status of his relationship with former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Pence’s choice of a venue for the appearance — a dinner next month in South Carolina that is being hosted by a social conservative organization — suggests that he is happy to keep stoking speculation that he may run for president in 2024. And the trip, which was reported earlier by The Associated Press, will not be his first to the crucial early primary state. Mr. Pence spoke to a private gathering of another conservative group in Charleston last month.
But it is Mr. Trump’s next move that will also help determine how much of a future Mr. Pence has in the Republican Party. The two departed Washington on a sour note, with the former president furious that Mr. Pence did not attempt to halt the certification of the electoral vote on Jan. 6.
Though Mr. Pence lacked the authority under the Constitution to keep President Biden from being certified as the winner, Mr. Trump and his supporters believed otherwise. And when a mob of hundreds of extremists smashed their way into the Capitol as Congress was voting to formalize the results of the election, some were filmed calling Mr. Pence a traitor and demanding his execution.
Mr. Trump displayed little contrition over the episode or for attacking Mr. Pence as the mob grew more violent that day, writing on Twitter that the former vice president “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.”
Mr. Pence’s speech in South Carolina, set for April 29 in Columbia, will be for the Palmetto Family Council, a group that has recently supported the efforts by conservative lawmakers to ban most abortions in the state. But like many other conservative groups, it has also questioned the accuracy of the presidential election and urged Congress to “investigate and address issues of voting irregularity.”
Mr. Pence has also joined the effort to mislead the public into believing that the last election was tainted. Last week he published an opinion piece on a Heritage Foundation website declaring that he shared “the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election.”
For years, the Supreme Court has been hostile to lawsuits from victims of police violence, prisoners subjected to appalling cruelty and others who sought to sue government officials for violations of their constitutional rights.
That might be starting to change.
In recent rulings, one terse and the other cryptic, the justices ordered an appeals court to reconsider the cases of two prisoners in Texas, prompting debate about whether the Supreme Court is ready to trim a doctrine called “qualified immunity” often used to shield law enforcement officials.
The doctrine has been the subject of scathing criticism across the ideological spectrum, and it became a flash point in the nationwide uproar last summer over police brutality, with activists and lawmakers calling for its reconsideration.
The doctrine requires plaintiffs to overcome a daunting hurdle. They must not only show that the official violated a constitutional right — but are required to clear a second barrier proving that the right had been established in a prior ruling.
“My take is that the court has heard the criticism and — perhaps this is too optimistic — seen that this standard they’ve created and been pounding on doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” said Joanna C. Schwartz, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
A new study on qualified immunity by Alexander A. Reinert, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, which surveyed 4,000 appeals court decisions, found regional variations and a disproportionate tendency of judges appointed by Republican presidents to vote to grant qualified immunity.
The two recent cases came from three-judge panels of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, both dominated by Republican appointees.
In the first one, Trent Taylor, a Texas prisoner, sought to sue corrections officers for holding him for six days in what he called “shockingly unsanitary cells.”
Judge Jerry E. Smith, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, wrote that the conditions Mr. Taylor described violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. But that was not enough to overcome qualified immunity.
When the Supreme Court considered Mr. Taylor’s case, there was every reason to believe the justices would deny review. Instead, in an unsigned three-page opinion in November, the Supreme Court said that it was possible to take qualified immunity too far.
Last month, the Supreme Court again instructed the Fifth Circuit to reconsider a decision granting qualified immunity. The case concerned another decision by Judge Smith to reject the claims of a prisoner in Texas, Prince McCoy, who, in this case, said a prison guard sprayed him in the face with a chemical “for no reason at all.”
In a two-sentence order that gave no reasons, the Supreme Court told the Fifth Circuit last month to reconsider Mr. McCoy’s case in light of its ruling in Mr. Taylor’s case.