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Biden accuses Republicans of 'Neanderthal thinking' for lifting mask mandates – live Biden accuses Republicans of 'Neanderthal thinking' for lifting mask mandates – live
(32 minutes later)
President sharply criticizes Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi, saying it’s ‘a big mistake’ to rescind measuresPresident sharply criticizes Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi, saying it’s ‘a big mistake’ to rescind measures
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
Joe Biden sharply criticized the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi for rescinding their mask mandates, despite public health experts’ concerns about another potential surge in coronavirus cases. “I think it’s a big mistake,” the president said of the governors’ decisions. Noting that the US will have enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of May, Biden said, “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine.”
Andrew Cuomo said he would not resign after three women accused him of sexual harassment. Speaking at a press conference today, the New York governor offered qualified apologies for his behavior and said he would “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s investigation of the allegations.
House leaders changed their voting schedule for the week, amid threats of violence against the Capitol tomorrow. The House will now vote on Democrats’ police reform bill tonight, rather than tomorrow. The schedule change came hours after the US Capitol Police released a statement saying it had “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4”.
The commanding general of the DC national guard said the Pentagon curtailed his ability to rapidly deploy guard troops the day before the January 6 insurrection. The national guard leader, William J Walker, said at a Senate hearing today that it took three hours to receive Pentagon approval to deploy guard troops to the Capitol after the building was breached by insurrectionists.
Biden has agreed to phase out the direct payments in the coronavirus relief bill at a more rapid rate, according to multiple reports. Moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin have proposed completely phasing out the checks for individuals who make $80,000 a year, rather than $100,000 a year, which was the threshold for the first two rounds of stimulus payments.
Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
House majority leader Steny Hoyer confirmed the chamber will vote on Democrats’ police reform bill tonight, instead of tomorrow, after the US Capitol Police warned of a militia’s potential plot to storm the Capitol tomorrow.House majority leader Steny Hoyer confirmed the chamber will vote on Democrats’ police reform bill tonight, instead of tomorrow, after the US Capitol Police warned of a militia’s potential plot to storm the Capitol tomorrow.
According to Hoyer’s office, the House will reconvene at 6:15 pm ET for one hour of debate on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.According to Hoyer’s office, the House will reconvene at 6:15 pm ET for one hour of debate on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
The chamber will then vote on that proposal, as well as Democrats’ election reform bill, the For the People Act.The chamber will then vote on that proposal, as well as Democrats’ election reform bill, the For the People Act.
The schedule change comes hours after the USCP released a statement saying it had “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4”.The schedule change comes hours after the USCP released a statement saying it had “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4”.
“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers,” the USCP said.“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers,” the USCP said.
“Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously.”“Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously.”
House leaders are reportedly discussing the possibility of wrapping up their voting for the week tonight, so members do not have to return to Capitol Hill tomorrow.House leaders are reportedly discussing the possibility of wrapping up their voting for the week tonight, so members do not have to return to Capitol Hill tomorrow.
If House leadership chose to move forward with that schedule, members would have to vote on Democrats’ police reform bill tonight.If House leadership chose to move forward with that schedule, members would have to vote on Democrats’ police reform bill tonight.
The discussions come hours after the US Capitol Police released a statement saying it is aware of a militia’s potential attempts to storm the Capitol tomorrow.The discussions come hours after the US Capitol Police released a statement saying it is aware of a militia’s potential attempts to storm the Capitol tomorrow.
“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4,” the USCP said in a statement this morning.“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4,” the USCP said in a statement this morning.
“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers.”“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers.”
Far-right conspiracy theorists have said March 4 is the true inauguration date, when Donald Trump will be sworn in as the rightful president.Far-right conspiracy theorists have said March 4 is the true inauguration date, when Donald Trump will be sworn in as the rightful president.
That is of course not at all true. Joe Biden fairly won the presidential election and was sworn in on January 20.That is of course not at all true. Joe Biden fairly won the presidential election and was sworn in on January 20.
The BBC has issued a correction and apology on its website for airing an interview with a man who claimed to be the US senator Cory Booker but was actually someone impersonating the Democratic politician from New Jersey.The BBC has issued a correction and apology on its website for airing an interview with a man who claimed to be the US senator Cory Booker but was actually someone impersonating the Democratic politician from New Jersey.
The UK’s public broadcasting service said that the interview appeared “to be a deliberate hoax” and that it had reached out with an apology to Booker and “are looking into what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again”.The UK’s public broadcasting service said that the interview appeared “to be a deliberate hoax” and that it had reached out with an apology to Booker and “are looking into what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again”.
The interview was aired on 26 February on the BBC’s Newshour radio program. The BBC said that the interview “has not appeared elsewhere”, and no audio clips or videos are circulating online, though one Twitter user heard the interview on New York’s WNYC public radio station and could tell something was amiss.The interview was aired on 26 February on the BBC’s Newshour radio program. The BBC said that the interview “has not appeared elsewhere”, and no audio clips or videos are circulating online, though one Twitter user heard the interview on New York’s WNYC public radio station and could tell something was amiss.
“Listening to the @bbcworldservice Newshour on @wnyc and trying to figure out how they did an entire interview with someone they introduced as Senator Cory Booker, who I’m pretty sure was definitely not Senator Booker, and didn’t realize it,” wrote Twitter user Amy Eason.“Listening to the @bbcworldservice Newshour on @wnyc and trying to figure out how they did an entire interview with someone they introduced as Senator Cory Booker, who I’m pretty sure was definitely not Senator Booker, and didn’t realize it,” wrote Twitter user Amy Eason.
Republican senators intend to force Senate clerks to read the full text of the coronavirus relief bill aloud, according to CNN.Republican senators intend to force Senate clerks to read the full text of the coronavirus relief bill aloud, according to CNN.
That move alone could delay the beginning of the Senate’s vote-a-rama on the relief bill by up to ten hours.That move alone could delay the beginning of the Senate’s vote-a-rama on the relief bill by up to ten hours.
Once the Senate moves on to the vote-a-rama, Republicans intend to introduce many amendments in order to delay the final vote on the legislation.Once the Senate moves on to the vote-a-rama, Republicans intend to introduce many amendments in order to delay the final vote on the legislation.
Republicans have said they will use the amendments to highlight what they view as the most controversial aspects of the relief bill, which they have attacked as a progressive wish list.Republicans have said they will use the amendments to highlight what they view as the most controversial aspects of the relief bill, which they have attacked as a progressive wish list.
Despite Republicans’ delay tactics, the bill is expected to eventually pass the Senate in a mostly (if not entirely) party-line vote.Despite Republicans’ delay tactics, the bill is expected to eventually pass the Senate in a mostly (if not entirely) party-line vote.
The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:
Neera Tanden’s decision to withdraw from consideration to serve as Joe Biden’s budget director marks the first major loss for the still young Biden administration, and sets off a scramble between various political factions to push through a new nominee.Neera Tanden’s decision to withdraw from consideration to serve as Joe Biden’s budget director marks the first major loss for the still young Biden administration, and sets off a scramble between various political factions to push through a new nominee.
Tanden was the first of Biden’s cabinet nominees to fail to make it through the confirmation process. New presidents don’t usually see all of their cabinet picks confirmed.Tanden was the first of Biden’s cabinet nominees to fail to make it through the confirmation process. New presidents don’t usually see all of their cabinet picks confirmed.
But Tanden’s path was always more precarious than the rest. She is well known throughout the Democratic party as a combative figure who often engaged in Twitter fights and criticized both Republicans and Democrats.But Tanden’s path was always more precarious than the rest. She is well known throughout the Democratic party as a combative figure who often engaged in Twitter fights and criticized both Republicans and Democrats.
Republicans at moments seemed to revel in highlighting Tanden’s past tweets. But those senators also expressed eagerness to support one of the potential replacements – Shalanda Young, a veteran Hill staffer who is Black.Republicans at moments seemed to revel in highlighting Tanden’s past tweets. But those senators also expressed eagerness to support one of the potential replacements – Shalanda Young, a veteran Hill staffer who is Black.
“You know I’m going to vote for you,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the ranking Republican on the Senate budget committee, said on Tuesday during Young’s hearing to serve as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. “You’re highly qualified and I’m going to support you,” Graham added before pressing her on immigration policy.“You know I’m going to vote for you,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the ranking Republican on the Senate budget committee, said on Tuesday during Young’s hearing to serve as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. “You’re highly qualified and I’m going to support you,” Graham added before pressing her on immigration policy.
Other names have been floated as possible OMB nominees and the Senate budget committee is now waiting for the White House to pick someone else. The names floated include Sarah Bianchi, a former director of policy for Biden; Gene Sperling, a former director of the council of economic advisers; Ann O’Leary, the former chief of staff to Governor Gavin Newsom of California.Other names have been floated as possible OMB nominees and the Senate budget committee is now waiting for the White House to pick someone else. The names floated include Sarah Bianchi, a former director of policy for Biden; Gene Sperling, a former director of the council of economic advisers; Ann O’Leary, the former chief of staff to Governor Gavin Newsom of California.
Whoever the White House nominates is poised to have an easier confirmation process than Tanden.Whoever the White House nominates is poised to have an easier confirmation process than Tanden.
Joe Biden sharply criticized the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi, who announced yesterday that they are rescinding their mask mandates, despite public health experts’ concerns about another surge in coronavirus cases.Joe Biden sharply criticized the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi, who announced yesterday that they are rescinding their mask mandates, despite public health experts’ concerns about another surge in coronavirus cases.
“I think it’s a big mistake,” the president said of the governors’ announcements.“I think it’s a big mistake,” the president said of the governors’ announcements.
Biden emphasized that scientific evidence shows masks make a crucial difference in limiting the spread of coronavirus.Biden emphasized that scientific evidence shows masks make a crucial difference in limiting the spread of coronavirus.
“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” Biden said.“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” Biden said.
The president reiterated his announcement yesterday that the US will have enough coronavirus vaccines for all American adults by the end of May.The president reiterated his announcement yesterday that the US will have enough coronavirus vaccines for all American adults by the end of May.
“The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine,” Biden said. “It still matters.”“The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine,” Biden said. “It still matters.”
Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, similarly voiced concern about the governors’ decision during the White House coronavirus response team’s briefing today.Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, similarly voiced concern about the governors’ decision during the White House coronavirus response team’s briefing today.
“We at the CDC have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions,” Walensky said. “The next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes.”“We at the CDC have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions,” Walensky said. “The next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes.”
It’s been a very lively day so far in US political news and there will be a lot more action in the coming hours, so stay tuned. Here are the main events so far today:It’s been a very lively day so far in US political news and there will be a lot more action in the coming hours, so stay tuned. Here are the main events so far today:
New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who became very well known beyond the state for his daily, plain-spoken briefings during the first coronavirus surge, a short while ago faced the press again and gave qualified apologies for behavior that some women have complained amounted to sexual harassment, but said he would not resign.New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who became very well known beyond the state for his daily, plain-spoken briefings during the first coronavirus surge, a short while ago faced the press again and gave qualified apologies for behavior that some women have complained amounted to sexual harassment, but said he would not resign.
Cuomo said he will fully cooperate with the investigation that has been started into his conduct by the New York state attorney general, Letitia James.Cuomo said he will fully cooperate with the investigation that has been started into his conduct by the New York state attorney general, Letitia James.
The leader of the Washington, DC, National Guard, William Walker, told a Senate panel that the Pentagon restricted his ability to call out troops to back up the police at the US Capitol during the insurrection on January 6.The leader of the Washington, DC, National Guard, William Walker, told a Senate panel that the Pentagon restricted his ability to call out troops to back up the police at the US Capitol during the insurrection on January 6.
Joe Biden has reportedly agreed to phase out the $1,400 direct payments in the coronavirus relief package at a more rapid rate then expected.Joe Biden has reportedly agreed to phase out the $1,400 direct payments in the coronavirus relief package at a more rapid rate then expected.
The US Capitol Police says it has obtained intelligence about a militia group potentially attempting to attack the US Capitol tomorrow. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a similar warning around midnight last night, though the House acting sergeant at arms said online extremist chatter around this has quietened down of late.The US Capitol Police says it has obtained intelligence about a militia group potentially attempting to attack the US Capitol tomorrow. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a similar warning around midnight last night, though the House acting sergeant at arms said online extremist chatter around this has quietened down of late.
Cuomo said there were no buts about his qualified apology, but there were plenty of “ifs”.Cuomo said there were no buts about his qualified apology, but there were plenty of “ifs”.
The governor got off on a terrible foot by saying he was sorry “if anyone was offended” – it’s very clear from the public accounts so far from three women who accuse Cuomo of sliming around them that they were offended.The governor got off on a terrible foot by saying he was sorry “if anyone was offended” – it’s very clear from the public accounts so far from three women who accuse Cuomo of sliming around them that they were offended.
He also said he had never touched anyone inappropriately. Which is his take on that word, when it’s very clear from the most recent photographs, at least, that he has touched someone a fraction of his age, with little of his power, inappropriately.He also said he had never touched anyone inappropriately. Which is his take on that word, when it’s very clear from the most recent photographs, at least, that he has touched someone a fraction of his age, with little of his power, inappropriately.
When asked if he had been given the standard anti-sexual harassment training that his public employee colleagues receive, he said, in a word, “yes”.When asked if he had been given the standard anti-sexual harassment training that his public employee colleagues receive, he said, in a word, “yes”.
And Cuomo said: “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone uncomfortable.” Which, in a no-win situation, sounds better than I knew/had a pretty good idea, but I just behaved like a power oaf and bullied onwards.And Cuomo said: “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone uncomfortable.” Which, in a no-win situation, sounds better than I knew/had a pretty good idea, but I just behaved like a power oaf and bullied onwards.
And it’s interesting that the second woman publicly to accuse Cuomo, Charlotte Bennett, submitted detailed complaints to senior staff at the New York seat of government in Albany, upstate, about the governor’s conduct.And it’s interesting that the second woman publicly to accuse Cuomo, Charlotte Bennett, submitted detailed complaints to senior staff at the New York seat of government in Albany, upstate, about the governor’s conduct.
The New York attorney general, Letitia James, is investigating the allegations against Cuomo.The New York attorney general, Letitia James, is investigating the allegations against Cuomo.
Asked what his message is to New Yorkers, Andrew Cuomo said he was “embarrassed” that his behavior had such a negative impact on one of his aides. He did not appear to address the allegations from two other women.Asked what his message is to New Yorkers, Andrew Cuomo said he was “embarrassed” that his behavior had such a negative impact on one of his aides. He did not appear to address the allegations from two other women.
The governor said he was not caveating his apology in any way. “There’s no ‘buts.’ I’m sorry,” Cuomo said.The governor said he was not caveating his apology in any way. “There’s no ‘buts.’ I’m sorry,” Cuomo said.
But the governor did attempt to qualify his apology multiple times by emphasizing he did not intend to hurt or offend anyone through his actions.But the governor did attempt to qualify his apology multiple times by emphasizing he did not intend to hurt or offend anyone through his actions.
Andrew Cuomo made clear that he would not resign in the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him.Andrew Cuomo made clear that he would not resign in the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him.
“I’m not going to resign,” the New York governor said at his press conference. “I’m going to do the job the people of the state elected me to do.”“I’m not going to resign,” the New York governor said at his press conference. “I’m going to do the job the people of the state elected me to do.”
A number of lawmakers of both parties have called on the Democratic governor to resign as the state attorney general investigates the allegations against him.A number of lawmakers of both parties have called on the Democratic governor to resign as the state attorney general investigates the allegations against him.
“I do not believe I have ever done anything in my public career that I am ashamed of,” Cuomo said.“I do not believe I have ever done anything in my public career that I am ashamed of,” Cuomo said.