Summary

  • The House will hold its final vote on the $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, majority leader Steny Hoyer’s office said. The House will convene at 9am ET tomorrow, and Democrats are expected to quickly pass the bill in a party-line vote. Joe Biden has already said he will sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk.
  • The White House said Biden’s name would not appear on the $1,400 stimulus checks, which will be distributed as part of the relief package. Donald Trump’s name appeared on the first round of stimulus checks last year, an unprecedented move that sparked intense criticism among Democrats.
  • The FBI has released a video of the suspect who planted pipe bombs in Washington on 5 January, the day before the Capitol insurrection. The bureau is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who placed the pipe bombs near the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee.
  • A coalition of American environmental groups has urged the US to cut 50% of emissions by 2030, in order to address the climate crisis and inspire similar action from US allies.
  • Biden’s promise of a more humane US immigration system is facing its first big test. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, was grilled today on the recent surge in unaccompanied migrant children trying to enter the country. “We are still digging our way out of a dismantled and immoral and ineffective immigration policy that was being implemented by the last administration,” Psaki told reporters. “It’s going to take us some time.”

Updated

Senate minimum wage battle could play out in midterm elections

By Jessica Goodheart for Capital and Main:

Sara Fearrington, a North Carolina waitress, joined the Fight for $15 campaign two years ago. A server at a Durham Waffle House, her take-home pay fluctuates between $350 and $450 a week, leaving her struggling to pay bills every month. She voted for Joe Biden, who had pledged to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. It was the first time Fearrington, who is 44, had ever voted in a presidential election.

“It would mean everything. It would create stability for my household,” she said of the impact that a higher wage could have on her and her family of five, which includes her husband, who suffers from a rare lung condition, and a granddaughter who has asthma.

The Democrats will need her support for their US Senate nominee next year if they are to maintain and strengthen their tenuous hold on the upper chamber. Some of 2022’s hotly contested Senate races are expected to play out in low-wage regions like Fearrington’s home state.

The purple states of North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have rock-bottom minimum wages of just $7.25 per hour – the current federal minimum. Georgia, where the Democrat Raphael Warnock will fight to hold on to the Senate seat he wrested from the Republican senator Kelly Loeffler in November, abides by the federal minimum wage, even though the one it has on the books is $5.15. Recent polling suggests Republicans could gain a seat in New Hampshire, another low-minimum-wage state, where the Democratic senator Maggie Hassan is facing a potential challenge from the state’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu.

The federal minimum wage has not increased from $7.25 since 2009, and for 21 states in the country the minimum wage law that governs employers is no higher than the federal minimum. Fearrington earns an hourly wage of just $3.10 an hour as a tipped worker, making her income unpredictable.

Biden had hoped to include a $15-an-hour minimum wage increase in his $1.9tn economic stimulus package, which is expected to pass this week, and would also gradually phase out the sub-minimum wages for tipped workers like Fearrington. But prospects for the minimum wage provision evaporated after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the wage hike could not remain in the budget reconciliation bill where Democrats had placed it in order to avoid a Republican-led filibuster they lacked the votes to override.

“Then, at least, it’s a public conversation, where people are fighting for what they said they were going to fight for, for the poor and low-income people who turned out in record numbers in this past election,” said the Rev Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the National Poor People’s Campaign.

Whether such a conversation ever takes place is a growing concern to progressives and a source of discord within the coalition that brought Biden to the White House – at a moment when the battered US economy stands at a crossroads. On Friday, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders made an 11th-hour effort to reinsert the provision into the stimulus package. Eight Democrats crossed over to vote it down, including two senators from his neighboring state, New Hampshire.

Read more:

The House is currently considering the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a bill that would expand labor rights and give new protections to workers.

Representatives approved a version of the bill last year, and it’s poised to pass again. But it’s unlikely to pass through the Senate, where Republicans have unanimously expressed opposition. Although Democrats have a slight majority in the Senate, they don’t have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

The law would allow contractors to be given employee status for union organization purposes, which would mean that gig workers could more easily unionize. Democrats have made it a priority to boost labor rights have tied the issue to the pandemic’s economic toll, and promoted the reforms as a way to help hard-hit workers out of the current crisis

“As America works to recover from the devastating challenges of a deadly pandemic, an economic crisis, and reckoning on race that reveals deep disparities, we need to summon a new wave of worker power to create an economy that works for everyone,” said Joe Biden in a statement.

In an impassioned speech, democratic Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio implored Republican colleagues to get on board: “Heaven forbid we pass something that’s going to help the damn workers in the United States of America! Heaven forbid!”

.@RepTimRyan: "Heaven forbid we pass something that's going to help the damn workers in the United States of America! Heaven forbid!" He concludes, "Now, stop talking about Dr. Seuss and start working with us on behalf of the American workers." pic.twitter.com/aMR5hPssYI

— CSPAN (@cspan) March 9, 2021

Updated

One in six jobs lost: the effect of the pandemic on childcare providers

Carolyn Todd and her two sisters didn’t enter the childcare business for the money – when they opened in 1995 their hope was to give low-income parents in Senatobia, Mississippi, a place to get high-quality, affordable care.

It’s never been easy – but 2020 brought new challenges as attendance numbers dropped, strict new safety requirements were introduced and the families they served bore the brunt of the economic recession

“You have to rethink and reorganize everything to make it work,” said Todd, who added that Enchanted Days Learning Center has only survived because of a temporary change in state funding.

Others have been hit even harder. Since the pandemic struck, thousands of childcare providers across the country have collapsed under the strain. One in six childcare jobs has been lost since the start of the pandemic, according to a January report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The impact has been felt across the country as parents have missed, or left, work for childcare demands or are unable to return to work after being laid off because of childcare responsibilities. In the past year, nearly 700,000 parents of children under five – over half of them women – have dropped out of the workforce, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress.

Melissa Boteach, vice-president of income security and childcare at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), said: “When the economy reopens, we’re going to have lost a big chunk of our childcare supply. People are going to be trying to go back to work and there will be nowhere to put their children.”

Read more:

A sixth woman has come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo.

The Times-Union reports:

An official close to the matter on Tuesday confirmed to the Times Union that the new allegation had been made. The governor’s office learned of the matter on Monday, an aide said.

In response to questions about the handling of the revelation of the woman’s allegations, Beth Garvey, acting counsel to the governor, said: “All allegations that we learn of directly or indirectly are going promptly to the investigators appointed by the attorney general.”

Cuomo, in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, claimed he was unaware of the woman’s allegations. He also has not denied touching women, but has said if he did it was not “inappropriate”.

“First, I’m not aware of any other claim,” he said. “As I said last week, this is very simple, I never touched anyone inappropriately … I never made any inappropriate advances ... [and] no one ever told me at the time that I made them feel uncomfortable. Obviously, there are people who said after the fact they felt uncomfortable.”

The woman has not filed a formal complaint with the office of the governor.

Her allegations were reported to the governor’s counsel by other employees in the executive chamber. The information also was relayed by the governor’s office to the attorney general’s office, which is coordinating an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual harassment that have been made against the governor.

Updated

70% of Americans say they they favor the $1.9tn economic relief package

A hefty majority – 70% – say they are in favor of the coronavirus relief package that the House is poised to approve. Only a third of Americans said the legislation is too costly, according to a poll from Pew research.

Some key figures:

  • About 40% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support the package.
  • A whopping 94% of Democrats and Democratic leaners favor it.
  • A majority of those polled (57%) said the Biden administration made a good-faith effort to work with Republicans, whereas only 42% said Republicans did the same.

See the full poll here.

Updated

A day after Joe Biden announced the nomination of two female military officers, Gen Jacqueline Van Ovost and Lt Gen Laura Richardson, to become four-star commanders, on International Women’s Day, the US president tweeted out a cool Oval Office pic and caption.

I want every child to know that this is what vice presidents and generals in the United States Armed Forces look like. pic.twitter.com/y2OFL1z29r

— President Biden (@POTUS) March 9, 2021

On the left is air force officer Van Ovost, then army officer Richardson, no compulsory skirts or silly little hats, and finally of course the US vice-president, Kamala Harris.

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:

  • The House will hold its final vote on the $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, majority leader Steny Hoyer’s office said. The House will convene at 9am ET tomorrow, and Democrats are expected to quickly pass the bill in a party-line vote. Joe Biden has already said he will sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk.
  • The White House said Biden’s name would not appear on the $1,400 stimulus checks, which will be distributed as part of the relief package. Donald Trump’s name appeared on the first round of stimulus checks last year, an unprecedented move that sparked intense criticism among Democrats.
  • The FBI has released a video of the suspect who planted pipe bombs in Washington on 5 January, the day before the Capitol insurrection. The bureau is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who placed the pipe bombs near the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee.
  • A coalition of American environmental groups has urged the US to cut 50% of emissions by 2030, in order to address the climate crisis and inspire similar action from America’s allies.
  • Biden’s promise of a more humane US immigration system is facing its first big test. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, was grilled today on the recent surge in unaccompanied migrant children trying to enter the country. “We are still digging our way out of a dismantled and immoral and ineffective immigration policy that was being implemented by the last administration,” Psaki told reporters. “It’s going to take us some time.”

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

The Queen has expressed her “concern” over race allegations made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as well as her sadness on learning exactly how challenging the couple had found life as working royals.

Buckingham Palace finally broke its silence on Tuesday evening over Harry and Meghan’s explosive claims, made in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, saying the issues raised would be taken “seriously” and dealt with “privately” by the royal family.

A short statement issued on behalf of the Queen read: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”

The statement followed two days of crisis talks among senior royals and palace aides over how best to handle the very public fallout from the damaging interview. Buckingham Palace had been given no advance warning before broadcast of what the couple had said.

FBI releases video of suspect planting pipe bombs in DC on 5 January

The FBI has released a video of the suspect who planted pipe bombs near the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee on 5 January, the day before the Capitol insurrection.

The FBI’s Washington field office is asking anyone with potential information about the suspect to immediately contact the bureau.

Two pipe bombs were placed near the DNC and RNC between 7:30 and 8:30 on the evening of Jan. 5th. The devices found were viable devices. pic.twitter.com/mimYfgymGb

— FBI Washington Field (@FBIWFO) March 9, 2021

“These pipe bombs were viable devices that could have been detonated, resulting in serious injury or death. We need the public’s help to identify the individual responsible for placing these pipe bombs to ensure they will not harm themselves or anyone else,” the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the Washington field office, Steven D’Antuono, said in a statement.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the location, arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the pipe bombs.

“We still believe there is someone out there who has information they may not have realized was significant until now,” D’Antuono said. “We know it can be a difficult decision to report information about family or friends – but this is about protecting human life.”

Updated

The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said he will “immediately” file cloture on Deb Haaland’s nomination to lead the interior department.

Procedural votes on Haaland’s nomination will then occur later this week.

Schumer’s announcement comes hours after two Republican senators, Steve Daines and Cynthia Lummis, put a hold on Haaland’s nomination because of her views on fossil fuel development.

The hold can delay Haaland’s confirmation, but she is still expected to be confirmed, given that Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have already signaled they will support her nomination.

If confirmed, Haaland will be the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary.

Updated

Congressman Jim Clyburn, the Democratic majority whip, recalled that only two Democrats voted against the earlier version of the coronavirus relief bill. “I think we’ll cut that at least in half,” he added jokingly at Democrats’ press conference.

Though many of the provisions in the bill are temporary, the ways and means committee chairman, Richard Neal, a Democrat of Massachusetts, said there were plans underway to make the child tax credit permanent. “What we did is unlikely to go away,” he said.

The Democrats warned that Republicans would try to take credit for the bill in their districts, even if not a single one ultimately votes for the measure.

The House budget committee chairman John Yarmuth, a Democrat of Kentucky, said it was “comical” to listen to Republican attacks on the plan. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, argued that many Republicans were eager to vote for similar stimulus measures when Donald Trump was president and said they were only opposed now because it was Joe Biden in office.

Congress has already spent $3tn in coronavirus aid, and many Republican lawmakers are wary the economy needs another nearly $2tn infusion as more Americans are vaccinated and businesses and schools begin to cautiously reopen.

Yet Pelosi did not rule out the possibility of another Covid relief bill, telling reporters that future relief legislation would be determined by the course of the virus.

Updated

Pelosi hails 'historic' relief package on eve of House vote

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, hailed Joe Biden’s $1.9tn stimulus plan as a “remarkable, historic, transformative piece of legislation” on the eve of a House vote on the measure.

“I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it,” Pelosi said during a press conference with senior Democrats on Tuesday afternoon, who took turns extolling what they said was the “historic” nature of the legislation and its impact on reducing poverty in America.

Several Democratic leaders compared it to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, saying the plan would not only “crush” the virus and the economic fallout, but would look forward to tackle long-standing racial and gender inequalities in the economy.

Smiling under her mask, she expressed full confidence that Democrats had the votes to pass the bill.

Asked about possible defections from progressive members disappointed that the Senate narrowed a version of the bill, initially proposed by Biden and passed by the House, Pelosi shook her head and said “no” repeatedly. The bill would head to Biden’s desk after the vote on Wednesday, she said.

Updated

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

Former president Jimmy Carter criticized a raft of new restrictions in his home state of Georgia that would make it harder to cast a ballot.

The proposals, which include eliminating no-excuse absentee voting and requiring voters to provide identification information when they vote by mail, are advancing through the GOP-controlled state legislature.

They come after Georgia saw record turnout, including surges among Black and other minority voters. Many of the measures under consideration would harm Black voters the most, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.

"...As our state legislators seek to turn back the clock through legislation that will restrict access to voting for many Georgians, I am disheartened, saddened, and angry. Many of the proposed changes are reactions to allegations of fraud for which no evidence was produced..." https://t.co/1DyecHFl2z

— The Carter Center (@CarterCenter) March 9, 2021

“As our state legislators seek to turn back the clock through legislation that will restrict access to voting for many Georgians, I am disheartened, saddened, and angry,” Carter, a former Georgia governor, said in a statement.

“Many of the proposed changes are reactions to allegations of fraud for which no evidence was produced – allegations that were, in fact, refuted through various audits, recounts and other measures. The proposed changes appear to be rooted in partisan interests, not in the interests of all Georgia voters.”

Carter also addressed a 2005 bipartisan report drafted by a commission he co-chaired that says “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud”. Republicans have seized on that line as a key talking point in advancing restrictions on mail-in ballots.

“In the 16 years since the report’s release, vote-by-mail practices have progressed significantly as new technologies have been developed,” he said. “In light of these advances, I believe that voting by mail can be conducted in a manner that ensures election integrity. This is just one of several ways to expand access to the voting process for voters across the state, regardless of political affiliation.

“American democracy means every eligible person has the right to vote in an election that is fair, open and secure. It should be flexible enough to meet the electorate’s changing needs. As Georgians, we must protect these values,” he added. “We must not lose the progress we have made. We must not promote confidence among one segment of the electorate by restricting the participation of others. Our goal always should be to increase, not decrease, voter participation.”

Updated

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, was asked about the lack of Republican support for the coronavirus relief bill in the Senate.

Psaki said Joe Biden would “continue to leave the door open to working with Republicans” as he attempts to advance his legislative agenda.

But so far, Republicans have generally shown little interest in working in a bipartisan fashion to tackle America’s problems.

The White House press briefing has now concluded.

Updated

Facing more questions about Joe Biden’s immigration policies, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, reiterated that now is not the time to come to the United States.

“We are still digging our way out of a dismantled and immoral and ineffective immigration policy that was being implemented by the last administration,” Psaki said. “It’s going to take us some time.”

According to multiple reports, more than 3,000 migrant children are currently being detained by the US along the southern border, as the number of unaccompanied minors trying to enter the country has surged.

Updated

Yikes: press secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether Joe Biden’s dog, Major, would be euthanized after he caused a minor injury for someone in the White House.

Psaki indicated he would not be. “Major Biden is a member of the family,” Psaki said.

The press secretary also would not confirm whether it was a Secret Service agent who was injured by Major, as CNN reported.

Updated

Attention all dog lovers: Jen Psaki has provided an update on the whereabouts of Joe Biden’s two German Shepherds, Champ and Major.

The White House press secretary confirmed details of the CNN report that Major was involved in an incident when he was surprised by an “unfamiliar person” at the White House.

Major’s reaction to the person resulted in a “minor injury”, Psaki said. The injury was treated by the White House medical unit, and it required no further medical attention.

Champ and Major Biden are seen on the South Lawn of the White House on 25 January.
Champ and Major Biden are seen on the South Lawn of the White House on 25 January. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Psaki said the dogs were already scheduled to return to Delaware for a few days, while Jill Biden completes her west coast trip to military bases.

“The dogs will return to the White House soon,” Psaki said.

That will be a relief for the many Americans who were thrilled that dogs had returned to the White House, given that the Trump family had no pets.

Updated

Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says

Joe Biden’s name will not appear on the stimulus checks distributed as part of the $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill, said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary.

“He didn’t think that was a priority or a necessary step,” Psaki said. “His focus was on getting them out as quickly as possible.”

Donald Trump’s name appeared on the first round of stimulus checks last year, an unprecedented move that sparked intense criticism among Democrats.

Updated

Psaki grilled on surge of unaccompanied migrant children at the border

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, was grilled on the situation at the US-Mexican border, as the number of unaccompanied migrant children trying to enter the country has surged.

Psaki refused to confirm reports that more than 3,000 migrant children are being detained along the southern border.

The press secretary also would not say whether the situation at the border qualified as a “crisis”, insisting she did not want to put “labels” on the issue.

The secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, previously said that he does not consider the border situation to be a crisis, sparking criticism among Republicans.

Updated

Joe Biden will meet virtually with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed at her briefing.

This will mark the first such meeting between leaders of the nations that make up “the Quad”.

Biden has already held virtual meetings with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Updated

Bharat Ramamurti, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, was asked about inflation concerns in connection to the likely passage of the $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill.

Ramamurti reiterated that the Biden administration was more concerned about the possibility of doing too little rather than too much to address the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The senior adviser added that the White House will “always be carefully monitoring inflation” to make the best decisions for the US economy.

Updated

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is now holding her daily briefing, and she is joined by Bharat Ramamurti, the deputy director of the National Economic Council.

Ramamurti highlighted Joe Biden’s visit to a local Washington business earlier today, noting that the business received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established by the first coronavirus relief bill.

Ramamurti said the Biden administration has worked diligently to ensure that PPP loans go to the small businesses that need them most.

According to Ramamurti, the administration has already approved more than 300,000 loans for businesses with fewer than five employees.

Jury selection got under way this morning in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of murdering George Floyd last May.

The process was delayed yesterday for legal machinations over the ruling by the court of appeals last Friday that the judge in the case, Peter Cahill, must reinstate an earlier charge from the case of third-degree murder, alongside second degree murder and second degree manslaughter.

Protesters march in Minneapolis to demand justice for George Floyd on the first day of Derek Chauvin’s trial yesterday.
Protesters march in Minneapolis to demand justice for George Floyd on the first day of Derek Chauvin’s trial yesterday. Photograph: Tim Evans/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

The start of proceedings this morning in downtown Minneapolis illustrates why the unusually long time of three weeks has been provided to sit a jury.

The Associated Press reports:

Jury selection began with the first potential juror excused after she revealed during questioning that she thought the way the officer acted was “not fair”.

The woman, a mother of three from Mexico, said she saw bystander video showing Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, but she didn’t understand why the officer didn’t get up when Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.

“That’s not fair because we are humans, you know?” she said.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson noted that the woman said on her questionnaire that she wanted to be on the jury “to give my opinion of the unjust death of George Floyd”.

Potential jurors must show they can set aside their opinions on the case and view the evidence fairly.

The woman said she would be willing to change her mind if she saw evidence from a different perspective, but Nelson used one of his 15 peremptory challenges to dismiss her without providing a reason.

Cahill ruled on several pretrial motions, setting parameters for trial testimony. Jurors will hear when Chauvin stopped working for the police department, but they will not be told that he was fired or that the city made a “substantial offer” to settle a lawsuit from Floyd’s family. Those details will not be allowed because they could imply guilt, Cahill said.

The city had no immediate comment when asked about the settlement offer. A message left with an attorney for the Floyd family was not immediately returned.

Here’s our weekend dispatch from Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis:

Updated

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The House will hold its final vote on the $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, House majority leader Steny Hoyer’s office said. The Democratic-controlled House is expected to pass the bill, and Joe Biden has said he will sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk.
  • A coalition of American environmental groups has urged the US to cut 50% of emissions by 2030, in order to address the climate crisis and inspire similar action from America’s allies.
  • Biden’s promise of a more humane US immigration system is facing its first big test. Congressional Republicans have criticized the Democratic president as the number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the US-Mexican border has surged.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

Joe Biden paid a visit to WS Jenks and Sons hardware store in Washington, DC, to highlight the work of the Paycheck Protection Program.

The PPP is a small business loan program that was approved by the first coronavirus relief bill, and the Biden administration has been working to ensure the money from the program goes to actual small businesses rather than larger companies.

President Biden visits W.S. Jenks & Son hardware store in NE DC, which received a PPP loan pic.twitter.com/zL1LJvvuax

— Jordan Fabian (@Jordanfabian) March 9, 2021

WS Jenks and Son, which opened in 1866 and is the oldest hardware store in Washington, received a PPP loan.

During the visit, reporters tried to ask the president about the situation at the US-Mexican border, but Biden did not respond.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer’s office has confirmed to the Guardian that the chamber has received the coronavirus relief bill from the Senate.

The House rules committee is now holding a meeting on the legislation, paving the way for a final vote tomorrow morning.

Hoyer’s office said the House will convene tomorrow at 9 am ET to take up the bill, which is expected to pass and then go to Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Senator Tom Cotton has repeatedly attacked Democrats who voted for the Covid-19 relief bill for giving money to “murderers and rapists” in prison, citing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted in the Boston Marathon bombing.

The Arkansas Republican has neglected to mention, however, that during Donald Trump’s presidency he twice voted for Covid bills that provided payments for prisoners.

Prisoners’ advocates say payments are warranted, as many will be released into a situation where the pandemic has ravaged the US economy, leading to high unemployment and many families struggling to pay for basic necessities.

Payments also decrease the burden on prisoners’ families, who often have to provide for them after they are released.

“Providing stimulus funds to incarcerated people helps protect the health and wellbeing of those behind bars and provides relief to their loved ones at home,” the Prison Policy Initiative said last year.

Progressive congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman said she will vote for the coronavirus relief bill, despite serious concerns about the changes made by the Senate.

“While I will continue to pressure my party to live up to its banner as the party of the people, I cannot ignore the immediate need for relief,” Watson Coleman said in a statement.

pic.twitter.com/VODEIHERDU

— Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) March 9, 2021

On Friday, Watson Coleman raised the possibility of opposing the bill because of the “outrageous” changes made by the Senate, including limiting eligibility for the $1,400 direct payments and scrapping the minimum wage increase.

“What are we doing here? I’m frankly disgusted with some of my colleagues and question whether I can support this bill,” Watson Coleman said on Friday.

The House is scheduled to hold its final vote on the bill tomorrow morning.

This trend is outrageous:

Eliminating $15/hr
Reducing thresholds for payments (cutting off ~400k New Jerseyans)
Cuts to weekly payments

What are we doing here? I'm frankly disgusted with some of my colleagues and question whether I can support this bill.

1/ https://t.co/r9dqZpuCbU

— Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) March 5, 2021

House will vote tomorrow morning on coronavirus relief bill

Okay, now it’s official: the House will hold its final vote on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package tomorrow, not today.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer said moments ago that the House will take up the bill at 9 am ET tomorrow morning, per C-SPAN.

Hoyer this morning in his weekly pen and pad announced the potential timing of House vote on final $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill: “Our expectation is, maybe late this afternoon we would adopt the rule...We will then tomorrow at 9am consider the American Rescue Plan and pass that.”

— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 9, 2021

The Senate, which passed the relief package on Saturday, sent the bill to the House this morning, and the House rules committee will soon hold a meeting on the legislation.

The Democratic-controlled House is expected to pass the bill, and Joe Biden has said he will sign it as soon as it gets to his desk.

Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver his first primetime address as president on Thursday, the White House announced yesterday.

The speech is meant to mark one year since the start of the country’s shutdowns linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

“He will 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,” press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday.

Biden is also expected to tout the passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which he is expected to sign this week.

House Democratic caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries said he is “110% confident” that Democrats have the votes to pass the coronavirus relief bill.

When the House originally voted on its version of the relief bill, the final vote was 219 to 212, with two Democrats joining all Republicans in opposing the measure.

The final vote on the relief package is also expected to fall along party lines, as it did in the Senate.

Three days after the coronavirus relief package was passed by the Senate, the bill has now arrived in the House, according to the Washington Post.

Per 2 sources the American Rescue Act has completed its roughly 70 hour trip across the Capitol. Timing of Rules meeting/floor vote still TBD.

— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) March 9, 2021

The bill will now go to the House rules committee, and the panel will then send the legislation to the floor for a final vote.

It’s unclear whether that final vote will occur this evening or tomorrow morning. Democratic leaders have indicated they do not want the vote to occur late at night.

Joe Biden has said he will sign the relief bill into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

Joe Biden is expected to sign the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill as soon as it passes the House.

Asked yesterday about when he would sign the legislation, the president told reporters, “As soon as I can get it.”

The package, which passed the Senate on Saturday, includes expanded unemployment benefits through early September and $1,400 direct payments for most Americans.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday that the Biden administration expects most of the checks to be distributed by the end of the month.

House may vote on coronavirus relief bill today, Hoyer confirms

House majority leader Steny Hoyer has confirmed that the chamber may vote on the coronavirus relief bill today, depending on when the Senate sends the bill.

“Members are advised that the House may consider the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1319 – American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 today. Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available,” the Democratic leader said in a floor update to members.

House leadership signaled yesterday that the vote would be postponed until tomorrow, and that may still be the case depending on how quickly the House receives the bill.

Updated

The First Dogs will soon return to the White House, according to NBC News.

The Bidens’ two dogs, Champ and Major, are not at the White House right now, but a spokesperson told NBC News they will return once the first lady returns from her trip to military bases on the west coast this week.

A WH official tells NBC News, “Yes, they will be back” referring to the First Couple’s dogs Champ and Major on living at the White House. 
“With the First Lady traveling for three days, Champ and Major went to Delaware to stay with family friends.”(📸WH) pic.twitter.com/eLLhR8ipEZ

— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) March 9, 2021

CNN reported last night that the dogs had been sent back to Delaware after one of the dogs, Major, was involved in a “biting incident” at the White House.

The dogs’ arrival at the White House in January was met with much excitement in the US, given that the Trumps did not have any pets.

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

The House may still vote on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill today, after Democratic leaders indicated yesterday that the vote would probably be postponed until Wednesday.

According to Politico, the House rules committee may have time to meet today and send the bill to the floor for a vote, assuming the Senate sends it over in time.

If House receives coronavirus relief bill in time for Rules to meet this afternoon and prep it, they’ll vote this evening.

If not, vote tomorrow.

— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) March 9, 2021

If the Senate does not send it over soon, then the full House vote will likely will be pushed until tomorrow.

The Senate passed the relief bill on Saturday, and Joe Biden said yesterday that he would sign the bill “as soon as I can get it”. The president is scheduled to deliver a primetime address on Thursday, and he will likely use the speech to tout the passage of the relief bill.

Roughly 4 in 10 Americans say they’re still feeling the financial impact of the loss of a job or income within their household as the economic recovery remains uneven one year into the coronavirus pandemic.

A new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research provides further evidence that the pandemic has been devastating for some Americans, while leaving others virtually unscathed or even in better shape, at least when it comes to their finances. The outcome often depended on the type of job a person had and their income level before the pandemic.

Ken Sweet and Emily Swanson wrute that the pandemic has particularly hurt Black and Latino households, as well as younger Americans, some of whom are now going through the second major economic crisis of their adult lives.

“I just felt like we were already in a harder position, so (the pandemic) kind of threw us even more under the dirt,” said Kennard Taylor, a 20-year-old Black college student at Jackson College. Taylor lost his job as a server in the campus cafeteria in the first weeks of the pandemic and struggled to make rent and car payments while continuing his studies. He had to move back in with his family.

The poll shows that about half of Americans say they have experienced at least one form of household income loss during the pandemic, including 25% who have experienced a household layoff and 31% who say someone in the household was scheduled for fewer hours. Overall, 44% said their household experienced income loss from the pandemic that is still having an impact on their finances.

The poll results are consistent with recent economic data. Roughly 745,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits the week of 22 February, according to the Labor Department, and roughly 18 million Americans remain on the unemployment rolls.

Thirty percent of Americans say their current household income is lower than it was when the pandemic began, while 16% say it is higher and 53% say there’s been no change. About half of those who experienced any form of household income loss during the pandemic say their current household income is lower than it was.

The poll’s findings reflect what some economists have called a “K-shaped recovery,” where there have been divergent fortunes among Americans. Those with office jobs were able to transition to working from home while those who worked in hard-hit industries such as entertainment, dining, travel and other industries have continued to struggle. The poor have struggled to recover financially compared to the wealthy and Black and Latino households have not bounced back as well as their white counterparts.

About 1 in 10 Americans say they couldn’t make a housing payment in the last month because of the pandemic, and roughly as many say that of a credit card bill. Overall, about a quarter of Americans say they’ve been unable to pay one or more bills in the last month.

Martin Pengelly here with one of those stories that gives this live blogger sleepless nights…

Wall Street Journal editors working from home in Connecticut fell under suspicion on Monday, when the paper published an unusual correction.

“The stray word ‘Yay!’ was inadvertently inserted,” it said, “during editing of an article on Friday about Connecticut’s Covid-19 restrictions.”

The piece in question was printed in Friday’s paper. It reported a state decision to lift all capacity limits on offices, shops and restaurants from 19 March, though a mask mandate will stay in place.

“This is not Texas,” the paper quoted Democratic governor Ned Lamont telling reporters. “This is not Mississippi. We are maintaining the masks. We know what works, and masks work.”

It was not clear from the online correction if the mystery man or woman who inserted the stray “Yay!” was delighted by news of restrictions lifting, or by Lamont’s expression of faith in face masks, or by the simple fact of Connecticut not being Mississippi or Texas.

Online images of the Journal’s print edition, however, revealed the “Yay!” to have been inserted after Lamont’s statement that “masks work”.

There’s plenty of opposition to that coronavirus relief plan. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has argued the package is missing the moment — too big at a time when the virus is showing signs of easing and the economy is poised to come “roaring” back. The Senate spent months under McConnell’s own majority leadership without advancing any further Covid rescue plan.

McConnell, who indulged former president Trump’s fanciful attempts to overturn November’s election result, says that instead of working across the aisle toward unity, as Biden has promised, Democrats are “ramming through what they call ‘the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation,’” quoting the White House chief of staff.

“They explained their intent very clearly: to exploit this crisis as ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision,’” McConnell says. This is the first Covid-19 bill that had zero support from Republicans in the House or Senate, Boak and Mascaro of the AP remind us.

Republicans are poised to portray the spending as bloated and inefficient, much the way they attacked the Obama-era recovery act during the 2009 financial crisis.

At the same time, much of the aid is temporary, set to expire in a year or so, leaving Congress to assess Biden’s approach ahead of the next election season.

The phrase “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” became a well-worn punchline in the Reagan era. Joe Biden is attempting to turn that image around four decades later, and stake his presidency on the idea that the government can use his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan not only to stop a pandemic and jobs crisis but also to catapult the country forward to tackle deep issues of poverty, inequality and more.

Josh Boak and Lisa Mascaro write for the Associated Press that the provisions in the 628-page bill add up to one of the largest enhancements to the social safety net in decades, pushing the US into uncharted territory, although many of the measures would be familiar and indeed seem commonplace to European governments.

Besides stopping the pandemic and jumpstarting hiring, money in the rescue package — now awaiting final approval in the House — is supposed to start fixing income inequality, halve child poverty, feed the hungry, save pensions, sustain public transit, let schools reopen with confidence and help repair state and local government finances. And Biden is betting that the government can do all of this with the speed of a nation mobilizing for war without touching a tripwire of inflation.

“People have lost faith government can do good for them,” says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who spoke daily with Biden while ushering the bill through the Senate last weekend. Now, as vaccines become more available and other changes take place, “people are going to see that government actually is making their lives better — which is how Americans used to think of it, and we’ve gotten away from it.”

Sweeping in scope, Biden’s plan largely relies on existing health care and tax credits, rather than new programs, but it expands that standard fare in ambitious new ways that are designed to reach more people who are suffering in an unprecedented time.

“We haven’t done this before,” said Syracuse University economics professor Len Burman, a co-founder of the Tax Policy Center. “If it actually does work the way it does in theory and the economy is back at full employment in a year, that would be amazing. It would save a lot of hardship and suffering.”

Final passage of the bill is expected this week — before expanded unemployment benefits are set to expire mid-March. But Biden’s signing celebration will just be the start. His administration will have to show that the funds can be spent effectively and efficiently, helping those in need while giving the broader public enough confidence to awaken growth through hiring and spending.

Melanie Zanona at Politico this morning is running the rule over some of the eager young Trumpist Republicans in the House who might be eyeing up the Senate seats that are about to become vacant in the next election cycle. She writes:

At least half a dozen of Donald Trump’s staunchest allies in the House are exploring bids for higher office, eager to carry the Trump mantle into the Senate — as well as into governors’ mansions. A wave of retirements by veteran Senate Republicans has created fresh opportunities for the House’s hard-liners in deep red states such as Alabama, Ohio and Missouri. But even in states won by President Joe Biden, such as Arizona and Georgia, some of the former president’s most loyal devotees are willing to test their political fortunes, hoping to seize on a deep but baseless belief on the right that the election was stolen.

“It’s pretty clear that our more liberal, establishment brethren in the Senate have not been faring well,” said Rep Mo Brooks, who is considering a bid for the upper-chamber seat of retiring Republican Richard Shelby. “Those were the only ones that lost in 2020. And our conservatives won. So that’s a pretty good sign as to what the American electorate prefers.

Among the Republicans considering a Senate run are Brooks, who spearheaded the effort to challenge the election results while Shelby voted to certify Biden’s win; Rep Andy Biggs of Arizona, who chairs the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus and hails from a state where the legislature amplified Trump’s false voter fraud claims; and Rep Warren Davidson of Ohio, a hardliner who replaced former Speaker John Boehner in Congress.

“The Trump policy and platform is the direction of the party,” Biggs said. “So I think people that have embraced the America First policy. They really have a good shot at winning their constituencies.”

Read more here: Politico – Trump’s House GOP fans don his mantle as they seek higher office

US urged to cut 50% of emissions by 2030 to spur other countries to action

The US needs to commit to slashing its planet-heating emissions by at least half by the end of the decade to address the climate crisis and spur other countries to greater action, a coalition of American environmental groups has urged.

Joe Biden’s administration is set to unveil a new national emissions reduction target at a climate meeting it has convened with other major economic powers on Earth Day, 22 April, which it hopes will galvanize countries that are currently dangerously lagging in efforts to stave off disastrous climate change.

A motley selection of environmental groups and leaders have said the US goal must be no lower than a 50% cut in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels. This will, the groups argue, put America on track to meet Biden’s aspiration of net zero emissions by 2050, as well as provide a major push to countries and businesses that were bereft of American climate leadership during Donald Trump’s presidency.

“The target has to be ambitious enough to show US leadership, but also credible, it can’t just be plucked from thin air,” said Nat Keohane, vice-president for international climate at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). “This is ambitious but also feasible. We need to show the US is bringing everything it can to this fight.”

A new EDF report calls for a “whole of government effort” to combat the climate crisis, with all cars sold in the US to be zero emissions from 2035, a clean electricity standard to shift the grid to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, and new regulations to restrict methane emissions from oil and gas drilling.

Other environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute and National Resources Defense Council, have also rallied to the idea of a 50% cut, along with figures such as Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, and Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, as crucial to curb ever-worsening wildfires, floods and heatwaves that are suffered disproportionately by underserved Americans of color.

“We see this important opportunity to bolster equity and fairness,” said Starla Yeh, a clean energy policy specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The goal is not only achievable but cost effective. The more progress we make this decade, the better off we will be.”

Read more of Oliver Milman’s report here: US urged to cut 50% of emissions by 2030 to spur other countries to action

The publisher of American Crisis, Andrew Cuomo’s book about the coronavirus pandemic, will cease promotional efforts as the governor struggles under a New York crisis of his own making.

Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, of workplace bullying by multiple former aides, and of conspiring to cover-up Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes as the pandemic hit his state last year.

The New York Times reported Crown’s decision regarding Cuomo’s book, a spokesperson telling the paper there were “no plans” for a reprint, citing “the ongoing investigation into [New York state] reporting of Covid-related fatalities in nursing homes”.

Cuomo did not immediately comment. He has defended his handling of the nursing homes issue and apologised for behaviour described by women who claim harassment. But he has refused to resign, despite calls from top state Democrats. On Monday, Republicans in the state assembly began an attempt to impeach him.

American Crisis was published in October. In its review, the Guardian pointed to how it came to be written.

“Early in the pandemic,” Lloyd Green wrote, “Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings emerged as must-see television, counter-programming to the campaign commercials that masqueraded as presidential press conferences [by Donald Trump]. The New York governor was forthright and reassuring, even as the body count mounted.”

But Green also wrote that Cuomo “confronts criticism of his order directing that older Covid patients be sent to nursing homes rather than hospitals, which may have contributed to New York’s high death toll. Although he pushes back, such claims are not going away.”

It has emerged that in summer 2020, when Cuomo signed to write his book, the state under-reported deaths in nursing homes by as much as half, 9,250 deaths of residents being written out of the record. Federal prosecutors are reportedly looking into the matter.

You’ll find plenty of commentary about a post-Covid “new normal” and the latest output from the Axios-Ipsos coronavirus index poll, which has been running since 13 March last year, has a clue as to how that might look in the US – and it still involves face masks. David Nather writes:

The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.

The vast majority now know someone who has gotten the virus — and one in three knows someone who has died from it.

Just 7% of respondents said they plan to stop wearing face masks in public after they’ve been vaccinated, and only 13% said they plan to stop social distancing.

By contrast, 81% said they’ll keep wearing face masks, and 66% said they’ll keep social distancing, until the pandemic ends — even after they’ve gotten the shot.

Read more here: Axios – America looks for the exits after a year of Covid

Gov Newsom set to address California in State of the State speech while facing recall battle

Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo is under pressure to resign in New York over allegations of sexual harassment and a scandal involving Covid deaths in nursing homes. At the other end of the country, another Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom, is also potentially looking at an exit from power.

Newsom is set to give perhaps the most important speech of his political life today – an upbeat address aimed at nearly 40 million people exhausted by a year of coronavirus restrictions in California’s State of the State.

Kathleen Ronayne reports from Sacramento for the Associated Press that Newsom’s popularity has fallen significantly after reaching record highs at the start of the pandemic and he’s likely to face a recall election later this year driven by critics of his stewardship during the crisis.

Gavin Newsom last week visiting a California vaccination center.
Gavin Newsom last week visiting a California vaccination center. Photograph: David Middlecamp/AP

Dr. Mindy Romero, founder and director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy at the University of Southern California, said the speech is an opportunity and a test. Newsom needs to assert his focus on vaccination equity, reassure the general population that California is on the right track and back up his claims that his pandemic restrictions were the right choice.

And the often wonky-sounding governor must speak plainly, Romero said.
“He has to really make the case that he has positively changed the tide in California, that he really has protected Californians,” she said.

The speech traditionally is delivered in the Capitol to a joint session of the Legislature. This time, Newsom will speak from Dodger Stadium, which has served as a mass testing and vaccination center. It comes a year after Newsom enacted the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order.

The anti-Newsom effort is driven by Republicans hoping to regain a political foothold in California by tapping into widespread frustration over Covid-driven business restrictions and school closures. Organizers say they have more than the 1.5 million signatures needed to force an election, likely late in the year.

Newsom is coming off a strong week that saw him outline a speedier reopening plan tied to vaccinating 2 million of California’s most vulnerable residents, sign a law aimed at getting the youngest kids back in classrooms by 1 April, and announce that outdoor sports stadiums, theme parks and concert venues can reopen with limited attendance next month.

Lisa Monaco and Vanita Gupta to face Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Department jobs

President Joe Biden’s nominees for the No. 2 and No. 3 Justice Department jobs face the Senate Judiciary Committee today, and will likely be questioned on topics from civil rights to protecting the United States from domestic extremist attacks.

Lisa Monaco, a former prosecutor who also served as homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to former President Barack Obama, is Biden’s pick for deputy attorney general - a sweeping role that entails overseeing the department’s criminal and national security matters as well as its 93 US attorneys.

Lisa Monaco was introduced as a Biden pick in Delaware in January.
Lisa Monaco was introduced as a Biden pick in Delaware in January. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Vanita Gupta is nominated as associate attorney general, a job that oversees the department’s civil and civil rights divisions, as well as antitrust, environmental, grant-making and community policing matters.

Vanita Gupta speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last year.
Vanita Gupta speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last year. Photograph: Reuters

Sarah Lynch reports for Reuters that both women have garnered bipartisan support for their nominations, though Gupta has drawn some opposition from conservative groups over her progressive views on criminal justice reform and is expected to face a tougher confirmation battle than Monaco. That will follow a pattern where nominees of color have faced a tougher path to confirmation this year than their white colleagues.

The committee previously approved Biden’s attorney general nominee, Merrick Garland, in a bipartisan 15-7 vote, and the Senate is expected to confirm him to the post as soon as tomorrow.

If confirmed as deputy attorney general, Monaco would help oversee the department’s sprawling investigation into the deadly attack on the US Capitol by a mob of former president Donald Trump’s supporters.

In her prepared opening statement released by the Judiciary Committee, Monaco said the Justice Department was at an “inflection point ... as we battle violent extremism - foreign and domestic - and mounting cyber threats from nation states and criminals alike.”

Gupta previously served as acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, where she oversaw high-profile investigations into systemic abuses by police departments in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri.

“If confirmed, I will aggressively ensure that the Justice Department is independent from partisan influence,” Gupta said in her prepared opening remarks.

Emily Holden and Cooper McKim have this for us this morning, asking: Republicans’ new favorite study trashes Biden’s climate plans – but who’s behind it?

Wyoming’s US representative, Liz Cheney, envisions a dark future for her home state under Joe Biden.

If the new administration extends its pause on new oil and gas drilling on public land, it would endanger Wyoming’s economy, kill 18,000 jobs and cause the energy state to lose out on critical education, infrastructure and healthcare funding. Biden would be “cutting off a major lifeline that Americans have relied on to survive during this time”, she has said.

But there is a problem with Cheney’s forecast. The numbers she is relying on came from an analysis that is the brainchild of the oil and gas industry.

The Western Energy Alliance – which represents 200 western oil and gas companies – proposed the $114,000 publicly funded analysis to state officials, tried to provide matching dollars for it and stayed involved throughout its development, according to public records obtained by Documented and shared with Floodlight and Wyoming Public Media.

In February 2020, a Wyoming state senator, who is also the president of an oil company, proposed the spending. The Western Energy Alliance sought to help fund the study but was unable because the industry was in serious decline. It did, however, spend $8,000 publicizing the report, as was first reported by Politico.

Records show Governor Mark Gordon’s office was aware of and never disclosed the group’s deep involvement in the study.

Now, the Western Energy Alliance is spending thousands more to amplify the warnings in an ad campaign against Biden’s climate policies. The numbers have been cited dozens of times in local and national newspapers, including in the New York Times in a reference to Wyoming officials’ projections.

While industry-funded research is not uncommon, transparency advocates say it is increasingly being used to produce conclusions favorable to oil and gas companies in order to shape public opinion.

Read more of here Emily Holden and Cooper McKim’s report here: Republicans’ new favorite study trashes Biden’s climate plans – but who’s behind it?

Joe Biden yesterday pledged to combat sexual assault in the US military as he announced the nomination of two female officers, Gen Jacqueline Van Ovost and Lt Gen Laura Richardson, to become four-star commanders.

The president, who spoke on International Women’s Day, said: “Sexual assault is abhorrent and wrong at any time. And in our military, so much of unit cohesion is built on trusting your fellow service members to have your back – there’s nothing less than a threat to our national security.”

The funding war within the Republican party intensified last night, with a statement from twice-impeached former president Donald Trump asking supporters to fund him directly rather than the party. Justine Coleman reports for the Hill:

“No more money for RINOS,” Trump said in a statement, referring to “Republicans in name only.” “They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base—they will never lead us to Greatness.”

“Send your donation to Save America PAC at DonaldJTrump.com,” the statement continued. “We will bring it all back stronger than ever before!”

The statement came days after Trump’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Republican National Committee (RNC), the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee to stop using his name and likeness for fundraising and merchandise sales.

RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer wrote in a letter that the party “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.”

Read more here: The Hill – Trump vows ‘No more money for RINOS,’ instead encouraging donations to his PAC

NBC News have carried some extra detail about the conditions in which the children are being kept, and it is not a ringing endorsement of a new dawn for immigration under Joe Biden’s administration:

Nearly half of the children — 1,400 — have been held beyond the three-day legal limit. The CBP holding cells, sometimes known as “hieleras,” or iceboxes, are not designed for children. They are typically small concrete rooms with concrete or metal benches and no beds. In addition, nearly 170 of the detained unaccompanied children are younger than 13, a source said.

The arrival of the childen in the US is in part because of the undoing of Trump-era immigration policies:

Many of the children arriving at the border initially immigrated during the Trump administration but were expelled under an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meant to protect immigrants and U.S. residents from Covid-19. The Biden administration reversed the policy for unaccompanied children.

Read more here: NBC News – Record number of unaccompanied migrant children held in facilities meant for adults

There’s a lot of focus in the US media this morning on the challenge the Biden administration is facing on the country’s southern border, with numbers of migrants increasing as the new president sets out on his stated aim of building a more humane immigration system. Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael Shear report for the New York Times in particular on a surge of unaccompanied children:

The number of migrant children in custody along the border has tripled in the past two weeks to more than 3,250, according to federal immigration agency documents obtained by The New York Times, and many of them are being held in jail-like facilities for longer than the three days allowed by law.

The problem for the administration is both the number of children crossing the border and what to do with them once they are in custody. Under the law, the children are supposed to be moved to shelters run by the Health and Human Services Department, but because of the pandemic the shelters until last week were limiting how many children they could accommodate.

The growing number of unaccompanied children is just one element of an escalating problem at the border. Border agents encountered a migrant at the border about 78,000 times in January — more than double the rate at the same time a year ago and higher than in any January in a decade.

Immigration authorities are expected to announce this week that there were close to 100,000 apprehensions, including encounters at port entries, in February, according to people familiar with the agency’s latest data. An additional 19,000 migrants, including adults and children, have been caught by border agents since March 1.

Read more here: New York Times – Biden faces challenge from surge of migrants at the border

Welcome to Tuesday’s live coverage of US politics. Here’s a catch-up on what happened yesterday, and what we might expect to see today…

  • President Joe Biden’s promise of a more humane US immigration system is facing its first big test. More than 3,250 children are now detained at the border – some in facilities only intended for adults. The number has tripled in just two weeks
  • Biden will deliver a primetime address on Thursday to mark one year since the start of coronavirus lockdowns, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, announced. The speech will be Biden’s first primetime address since becoming president.
  • There were 50,237 new Covid cases yesterday, taking the total US caseload to over 29 million since the pandemic began. There were 719 further deaths, bring the total death toll to 525,381.
  • The CDC issued new guidance that fully vaccinated Americans can gather indoors without masks. So far more than 31.3 million people have had both shots.
  • Biden said he would sign the $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill “as soon as I can get it”. The relief bill passed the Senate on Saturday, and the House is now expected to take up the legislation tomorrow. There’s a deadline of 14 March, when some existing benefits stop unless they are renewed.
  • The president pledged to tackle what he called the “scourge” of sexual assault in the US military while also ordering a review of rules from Donald Trump’s administration dealing with such crimes on college campuses.
  • The judge overseeing the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd delayed the start of jury selection for at least a day while an appeal proceeds over the possible reinstatement of an additional charge.
  • Georgia Democrats sharply criticized the state’s Republicans for advancing restrictions on voting rights, which activists have said will disproportionately impact Black voters. The state senate narrowly approved a bill yesterday that would roll back a policy that made absentee voting easier.
  • Joe Biden is offering us a slight mystery tour today, as the location of his planned visit to a small business that has benefited from a Paycheck Protection Program loan is down as “To be determined” in his schedule – though it is anticipated that he is staying in Washington DC for the trip. That’s at 11.45am.
  • Jen Psaki hosts her regular press briefing at 1.30pm today, and she’s accompanied by deputy director of the National Economic Council, Bharat Ramamurti

Contributors

Maanvi Singh (now), Joan E Greve and Martin Belam (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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