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Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times
Judge Merrick B. Garland said on Monday that the United States faces “a more dangerous period” from domestic extremists than it faced at the time of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and praised the early stages of the investigation into the “white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol” on Jan. 6 as appropriately aggressive.
“I can assure you that this would be my first priority and my first briefing when I return to the department if I am confirmed,” Judge Garland told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing to be attorney general.
Judge Garland, 68, who led the Justice Department’s investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing, also vowed to uphold the independence of a Justice Department that had suffered deep politicization under the Trump administration.
“I do not plan to be interfered with by anyone,” Judge Garland said. Should he be confirmed, he said he would uphold the principle that “the attorney general represents the public interest.”
Former President Donald J. Trump spent his term treating federal prosecutors as either enemies to be crushed or players to be used to attack his political opponents, and Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in his opening remarks that Judge Garland would need to “restore the faith of the American people and the rule of law and equal justice.”
Garland Vows to Prioritize Capitol Riot Investigation
At his confirmation hearing on Monday, Judge Merrick B. Garland promised to focus on prosecuting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot attack with the same motivation as the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.
A 150 years after the department’s founding, battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions also remains central to the department’s mission. From 1995 to 1997, I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government. If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government. We must do everything in the power of the Justice Department to prevent this kind of interference with the policies of American democratic institutions. And I plan, if you confirm me for attorney general, to do everything in my power to ensure that we are protected.
At his confirmation hearing on Monday, Judge Merrick B. Garland promised to focus on prosecuting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot attack with the same motivation as the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times
Here is where Judge Garland stood on some other key issues in the hearing:
Hunter Biden, John Durham and Trump-era investigations
The ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, pressed Judge Garland on two politically charged investigations from the Trump era.
Mr. Grassley asked whether Judge Garland had discussed with Mr. Biden what he would do with a federal tax investigation into Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and whether he would let John Durham, a special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia inquiry, finish his work and then make any Durham report public.
Judge Garland said that he had not discussed the Hunter Biden case with the president and that he expected that “decisions about investigations and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department.” He demurred on the Durham investigation, saying that while he was committed to transparency, he had not yet been briefed about its status and findings.
“I don’t have any reason — from what I know now, which is really very little — to make any determination on that ground. I don’t have any reason to think that he should not remain in place,” he said of Mr. Durham. Regarding the disclosure of a report, he added, “I would have to talk with Mr. Durham and understand the nature of what he has been doing and the nature of the report.”
When pressed further about the Hunter Biden case, Judge Garland said that he knew only what he had read about it in the news media, but that he had no reason to think the Biden administration had erred in letting the Trump-appointed United States attorney in Delaware, David C. Weiss, continue overseeing the investigation.
Judge Garland said he also was not aware of the details of a preliminary Justice Department investigation into how Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration handled New York nursing homes during the pandemic.
Immigration and family separation
Judge Garland also pledged that he would cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the actions of the Trump-era Justice Department on immigration and its “zero tolerance policy,” which led to large numbers of parents being separated from their children.
“I think the policy was shameful,” Judge Garland said. “I can’t imagine anything worse than separating parents from their children. And we will provide all of the cooperation that we possibly can.”
Judge Garland said he would reinvigorate the department’s civil rights division, which atrophied as the Trump administration curbed protections for transgender people and minorities and barred policies intended to combat systemic discrimination.
“Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system,” he said.
Progressives have pushed local governments to “defund” their police departments after killings and assaults on Black people by officers. Judge Garland said that, like President Biden, he does not “support defunding the police.”
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Democrats pushed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill through a key House committee on Monday on a nearly party-line vote, bringing the pandemic aid plan closer to passage later this week.
After days of committee hearings hammering out the details of the relief package, the House Budget Committee formally approved legislation that would provide billions of dollars to unemployed Americans, schools and businesses. As drafted, it would also codify a series of liberal priorities, including a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage. The committee advanced it on a 19 to 16 margin, with every Republican opposed.
Democrats are advancing the measure under special budgetary rules that protect it from being filibustered in the Senate, meaning it can be enacted on a simple majority vote even if no Republican supports it. On Monday, they said the public health and economic toll of the pandemic demanded quick action.
“This is not a wait-and-see moment — and this is no longer a wait-and-see Congress or White House,” Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the chairman of the Budget Committee, said at the hearing on Monday. “Without additional resources, we will never get to where we need to be.”
The legislation is slated for a final House vote by the end of the week, as Democrats race to get it to Mr. Biden’s desk before unemployment benefits begin to lapse in mid-March. Once it passes the House, the full package still needs to be vetted by the Senate’s top rules official to ensure that all of its elements comply with the strict budgetary parameters that allow it to be considered under the special process known as reconciliation, which would shield it from a filibuster.
Republicans remain largely united against the package, arguing that it is too costly and contains a litany of proposals unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.
One Democrat, Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, joined Republicans on Monday in voting against advancing it. But a spokeswoman later said that Mr. Doggett, who joined the session remotely right after his plane landed in Washington, misunderstood the vote and supports the legislation.
Biden and Harris Honor 500,000 Americans Lost During Pandemic
As the nation passed a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone” on Monday, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris observed a moment of silence during a ceremony at the White House.
Today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone: 500,071 dead. That’s more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth. We often hear people described as “ordinary Americans.” There’s no such thing. There’s nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary. They spanned generations. Born in America, immigrated to America. But just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America. As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate. While we’ve been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or on the news. We must do so to honor the dead, but equally important, care for the living those they left behind.
As the nation passed a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone” on Monday, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris observed a moment of silence during a ceremony at the White House.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, surrounded by candles going up to a balcony on the White House South Lawn, bowed their heads in a moment of silence, as the U.S. Covid-19 death toll topped 500,000 Monday evening,
In the ceremony to remember those who died of the coronavirus — the second memorial service Mr. Biden has held — he urged Americans to remember everyone who died and he instilled hope toward healing.
“We often hear people described as ordinary Americans,” Mr. Biden said in a televised address before the ceremony. “There’s nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary, they span generations, born in America and immigrated to America. But just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America.”
Mr. Biden also called for lowering federal flags to half-staff for the next five days, to mark the somber milestone, which he compared with the number of Americans who died in both world wars and the Vietnam War combined.
Mr. Biden often talks about his grief and has been known to bond with people over the losses he has endured. His son Beau died in May 2015 at the age of 46, and his first wife and baby daughter died in a car accident in 1972.
On the eve of Mr. Biden’s inauguration, he held a national mourning ceremony at the Reflecting Pool by the Lincoln Memorial for the 400,000 people who had then died from the virus. The pool was surrounded by a symbolic 400 lights.
Even as the number of deaths each day remains high, there are signs of improvement across the country. Since mid-January, the number of U.S. hospitalizations has steadily and swiftly declined. And the number of new cases has decreased more than 40 percent over the past two weeks and is down 70 percent since its high point on Jan. 8, according to a New York Times database.
Experts credit the declines, in part, to widespread mask wearing, social distancing and vaccinations. About 12 percent of people in the country have received at least one vaccine dose, and about 5 percent are fully vaccinated.
At a news briefing before the memorial ceremony, Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, said the grim milestone makes the administration “more determined to turn the tide on Covid-19 so the losses can subside and the healing can begin.”
“As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate,” Mr. Biden said in his speech before the moment of silence among the candles.
“This nation will smile again,” he added. “This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we’ll remember each person we lost, the lives they lived and the loved ones they’ve left behind. We will get through this. I promise you.”
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
The Biden administration announced on Monday that it would not allow broad cancellation of standardized tests this year, but would offer flexibility from some high-stakes federal mandates.
In a letter sent to state education chiefs on Monday, Ian Rosenblum, acting assistant education secretary, wrote that the Education Department was “not inviting blanket waivers of assessments,” which the Trump administration had issued at the outset of the pandemic. However, the department said in a statement that it was encouraging states to make wide-ranging modifications, such as extending the testing window to summer and fall, giving assessments remotely and shortening their length.
The department also said it would consider applications from states looking to waive certain federal requirements, such as an accountability provision in the federal K-12 law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, that requires a 95 percent test participation rate. The department will also allow waivers from rules that would require states to identify and overhaul their lowest-performing schools based on data from the current school year.
“The intent of these flexibilities, and the accountability waivers, is to focus on assessments to provide information to parents, educators and the public about student performance and to help target resources and supports,” Mr. Rosenblum wrote.
The highly anticipated decision was met with mixed reactions from key stakeholders.
The issue of standardized testing has divided the education community. Some education groups, including teachers’ unions, believed that testing students would be cumbersome and impractical in a year that has completely upended the education system. Other groups, like organizations that promote educational equity, believed that assessments would provide crucial data points for grasping the toll that the pandemic has taken on student achievement.
Mr. Rosenblum also wrote in his letter that “it is urgent to understand the impact of Covid-19 on learning,” and that “state assessment and accountability systems play an important role in advancing educational equity.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a powerful ally of the Biden administration, said that while the administration had done “admirable work” in managing the pandemic, “it is a frustrating turn to see the administration ask states to continue requiring assessments during this tumultuous school year.”
Ms. Weingarten said that the union supported the use of “locally developed, authentic assessments that could be used by educators and parents as a baseline for work this summer and next year.”
A national survey released by the National PTA on Monday found that 60 percent of parents were worried that their child was behind and wanted more information on their academic progress, and 52 percent of parents favored end-of-year testing this spring. A majority of parents also wanted to see modifications, and believed that the results should not be used against students or their schools.
“Statewide assessments are one of multiple measures that, when combined, help give a clearer picture of where children are academically and help equip parents to effectively advocate on behalf of their child’s learning,” the organization’s president, Leslie Boggs, said in a statement.
A new advertising campaign from Everytown for Gun Safety is targeted at an unusual demographic for an organization that promotes stricter gun laws: card-carrying, dues-paying members of the National Rifle Association.
The six-figure campaign includes television ads on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, as well as digital ads directed at N.R.A. members and gun owners. Ads will also be shown to viewers in Virginia, where the N.R.A. has its headquarters, and Orlando, Fla., where the group’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, is expected to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference later this week.
“When you pay to join the N.R.A., you get a sticker — and that’s about it,” the television ad says. Over images of a shooting range and a hunter, it continues: “Today, just 10 percent of what they spend protects things like this. The rest pays for N.R.A. executives to enjoy this: designer suits from Beverly Hills, luxury trips to Italy, Hungary and the Bahamas, private jets, golden parachutes and lots of lawyers. No wonder the N.R.A. is bankrupt.”
“Ditch their sticker,” it concludes. “The N.R.A. has lost its way.”
The expenditures highlighted in the ad were largely made by Mr. LaPierre, who was sued last year, along with three other current and former N.R.A. executives, by Attorney General Letitia James of New York — a lawsuit that drove the group’s decision last month to declare bankruptcy and try to reincorporate in Texas. Ms. James accused the leaders of using the organization “as a personal piggy bank,” a phrase some of the group’s opponents have adopted.
“N.R.A. members pay dues for a whole variety of reasons,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown. “But none of them do it so Wayne LaPierre can use their money for expensive suits and flights on private jets.”
Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the N.R.A., dismissed the ad campaign, saying, “N.R.A. members will recognize this for what it is: another transparent and failing attempt by avowed anti-Second Amendment and anti-N.R.A. billionaire Michael Bloomberg to advance President Biden’s anti-gun agenda.”
Officials at Everytown, which is backed financially by Mr. Bloomberg, said the campaign was based on research indicating that many N.R.A. members were unaware of the allegations of financial misconduct against the group, and that they were less likely to support it after hearing about those allegations.
A poll by Schoen Cooperman Research, commissioned by Everytown last summer, found that the N.R.A.’s approval rating among its members dropped about 30 percentage points on average after members were shown a series of negative messages about the group: for example, that only 10 percent of the N.R.A.’s budget goes to gun safety, education, training and hunting programs.
“The message here is that N.R.A. members have been fleeced,” Everytown’s president, John Feinblatt, said in an interview. “When you do message testing with this kind of messaging, their approval ratings sink like a rock.”
Credit…Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The New York Times
The Biden administration is overturning sweeping changes that the Trump administration made to the civics test required for naturalization. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin using a 2008 version of the test, according to a policy announcement made on Monday. The shift comes just two months after the Trump administration made the test more difficult by increasing the total number of questions and requiring applicants to study more than 100 possible test questions.
Thousands of people had submitted feedback on the Trump administration’s changes to the exam, criticizing the revisions as another attempt to limit immigration.
Immigration advocates warned that the Trump administration’s changes were implemented hastily and would limit more people from becoming citizens as well as slow down the citizenship process.
The Biden administration will now only require immigrants to answer six out of 10 questions correctly as opposed to the 12 out of 20 required to pass the Trump-era test. Under the Trump administration, the test became more complex: Simple geography questions were eliminated and dozens of potential questions were added. Immigration advocates also said that the wording of some answers had changed to make them more complicated and to better reflect the political views of the Trump administration. The answer to “Who does a U.S. Senator represent?” for example, was changed from “all the people” to “citizens of their state.” Test takers have two chances to pass the exam in order to obtain citizenship.
Applicants will be permitted to take either version of the test until mid-April, when the 2008 version will be fully reinstated.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a last-ditch attempt by former President Donald J. Trump to shield his financial records, issuing a brief, unsigned order requiring Mr. Trump’s accountants to turn over his tax and other records to prosecutors in New York.
The court’s order was a decisive defeat for Mr. Trump, who had gone to extraordinary lengths to keep his tax returns and related documents secret.
The case concerned a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, by the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. The firm has said it will comply with the final ruling of the courts, meaning that the grand jury should receive the documents in short order.
Mr. Vance issued a three-word statement: “The work continues.”
Under grand jury secrecy rules, it would ordinarily be unclear when, if ever, the public would see the information. But The New York Times has obtained more than two decades of tax return data of Mr. Trump and his companies, and it recently published a series of articles about them.
Mr. Trump, the articles said, has sustained significant losses, owes enormous debts that he is personally obligated to repay, has avoided paying federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years The Times examined and paid just $750 in both 2016 and 2017.
The scope of Mr. Vance’s inquiry remains unclear. It arose partly from an investigation by his office into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, relationships the president has denied. But court filings by prosecutors suggested that they are also investigating potential crimes like tax and insurance fraud.
The subpoena sought tax records and financial statements since 2011, engagement agreements with the accountants who prepared them, the underlying raw financial data and information about how the data were analyzed.
Biden Changes Paycheck Protection Rules for Small Businesses
President Biden announced on Monday several changes to the Paycheck Protection Program loan rules, including a 14-day freeze on loans to companies with 20 or more employees.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, 400,000 small businesses have closed — 400,000 — and millions more are hanging by a thread. It’s hurting Black, Latino and Asian-American communities the hardest. But when the Paycheck Protection Program was passed, a lot of these mom-and-pop businesses got muscled out of the way by bigger companies who jumped in front of the line. On Wednesday, the Small Business Administration is going to establish a 14-day exclusive P.P.P. loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees. Small Business Administration will also remove barriers that have stopped many businesses from being able to apply for these loans. For example, we’re making it so that a student loan default or a non-fraud related criminal record does not prohibit someone from applying for the program. We’re also making it easier for those one-person businesses like the home repair contractors, beauticians, small independent retailers, to secure forgiveable P.P.P. loans. Getting our economy back means bringing our small businesses back. And that’s what we’re going to do.
President Biden announced on Monday several changes to the Paycheck Protection Program loan rules, including a 14-day freeze on loans to companies with 20 or more employees.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Aiming to steer more federal aid to the smallest and most vulnerable businesses, the Biden administration is altering the Paycheck Protection Program’s rules, increasing the amount sole proprietors are eligible to receive.
But that change — along with a 14-day freeze on loans to companies with 20 or more employees — is yet another rework that poses logistical hurdles for lenders.
The change involves a program rule that could make a P.P.P. loan far more attractive to solo ventures that employ just the owner, like sole proprietorships and independent contractors. Previously, the aid program based the size of the loan on the annual profit these kinds of companies reported on their taxes. That made unprofitable businesses ineligible for aid and left thousands of other applicants with tiny loans — some as small as $1.
The new formula, which Small Business Administration officials said would be released soon, will focus instead on gross income. That calculation, which is made before many expenses are deducted, will make many more businesses eligible for loans and increase the size of the loans available to others.
In brief remarks on Monday afternoon, President Biden cast the shifts in the program as a salve for hard-hit business owners who have struggled to benefit from the government’s aid efforts thus far.
“Getting our economy back means bringing our small businesses back,” Mr. Biden said. He also called on Congress to pass his American Rescue Plan, which is on track to pass the House this week and includes $50 billion for hard-hit small businesses — though no additional money for P.P.P.
Mr. Biden said the program would still expire at the end of March, even with the two-week pause on applications for all but the smallest businesses, which will take effect on Wednesday.
Mr. Biden said the freeze would allow more government resources to be devoted to helping the kinds of small businesses that don’t have employees dedicated to navigating the loan process.
The current edition of the P.P.P. program was approved as part of December’s economic relief package, in which Congress allocated $284 billion to restart the aid program. Banks and other financiers, which make the government-backed loans, have disbursed $134 billion to 1.8 million businesses since lending resumed last month. The money is intended to be forgiven if recipients comply with the program’s rules.
Companies with up to 500 workers are generally eligible for the loans, although second-draw loans — available to those whose sales dropped 25 percent or more in at least one quarter since the coronavirus pandemic began — are limited to companies with 300 or fewer employees.
The agency is also changing several other program rules to expand eligibility. Those with recent felony convictions not tied to fraud will now be able to apply, as will those who are delinquent or in default on federal student loan debt. The agency also updated its guidance to clarify that business owners who are not United States citizens but lawful residents are eligible for loans.
The changes, Mr. Biden said, “will bring much-needed long overdue help to small businesses who really need help staying open, maintaining jobs and making ends meet, and this is a starting point, not the ending point.”
Senator Grassley Admits Garland Is Qualified to Lead Justice Dept.
On Monday, Senator Charles Grassley said that he believed Judge Merrick B. Garland was a qualified candidate to lead the Justice Department, despite having previously blocked his nomination to the Supreme Court.
This is, of course, Judge Garland’s first time appearing before this committee since ascending to the federal bench. I had something to do with that. After the death of Justice Scalia, my Republican colleagues and I decided not to hold a hearing on his nomination — in other words, meaning Judge Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, having been nominated by President Obama. I admire Judge Garland’s public service. Just because I disagreed with anyone being nominated didn’t mean that I had to be disagreeable to that nominee.
On Monday, Senator Charles Grassley said that he believed Judge Merrick B. Garland was a qualified candidate to lead the Justice Department, despite having previously blocked his nomination to the Supreme Court.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Al Drago
Five years ago, when President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, effectively killed Judge Garland’s chances by refusing to even schedule a confirmation hearing to consider the nomination.
On Monday, Judge Garland came before that committee for a hearing on whether to confirm him as President Biden’s attorney general. Mr. Grassley — now the ranking Republican on the panel — gave him a much more welcoming reception, saying that “no one doubts that Judge Garland is qualified for the job.”
“I like you, I respect you, and I think you are a good pick for this job,” Mr. Grassley said.
The warm greeting underscored why Judge Garland is widely expected to be confirmed as attorney general, in stark contrast to the Republican blockade he ran into in 2016. Republicans have lost control of the Senate, and the dynamics for a temporary confirmation to an executive-branch position are very different than for a life-tenured Supreme Court seat.
Mr. Grassley acknowledged that “my Republican colleagues and I decided not to hold a hearing on his nomination” to the Supreme Court, noting that the vacancy arose in an election year and Republicans controlled the Senate. But Mr. Grassley also noted that he did not attack Judge Garland, referring to the brutal confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
“Yes, it is true that I did not give Judge Garland a hearing,” Mr. Grassley said. “I also didn’t mischaracterize his record. I didn’t attack his character. I did not go through his high school yearbook. I didn’t make his wife leave the hearing in tears. I took a position on hearings and I stuck to it and that’s it. I admire Judge Garland’s public service.”
As the hearing unfolded, senators from both parties continued to treat Judge Garland with warmth. The atmosphere became emotional when Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, asked Judge Garland to publicly explain something they two had discussed privately about his motivation and family history in confronting hate and discrimination.
“I come from a family where my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution. The country took us in — and protected us,” said Judge Garland, whose family emigrated to the Midwest from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s.
Speaking haltingly, Judge Garland continued: “And I feel an obligation to the country to pay back; this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back. And so I want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you are saying I could become. I will do my best to try to be that kind of attorney general.”
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Two moderate Republicans announced Monday that they would not support the nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, jeopardizing the prospects for confirmation in an evenly divided Senate.
In statements released early Monday morning and first obtained by Politico, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah said they would oppose Ms. Tanden’s opposition, citing hundreds of inflammatory, critical posts she had made on social media.
The margins for confirmation now appear all but insurmountable for Ms. Tanden, given that three senators in four days have announced their opposition. With Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, having already announced his intention to vote against the former Hillary Clinton adviser, President Biden needs the remainder of the Democratic caucus to support her nomination and at least two Republicans to endorse her.
One of many Republicans frequently targeted by Ms. Tanden on social media, Ms. Collins noted that “her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.” And Ms. Tanden’s decision to delete more than a thousand tweets ahead of her confirmation hearings, she said, “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.”
In a statement issued shortly after Ms. Collins, a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney said that the senator “believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets.”
After Mr. Manchin on Friday announced his intent to vote against her confirmation, Mr. Biden said he planned to move forward with the nomination. Following the statement from Ms. Collins, the White House indicated it planned to move forward with the confirmation process.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Monday that Mr. Biden continued to support Ms. Tanden’s nomination.
“Neera Tanden is an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent budget director and we look forward to the committee votes this week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties,” Ms. Psaki said in a statement.
But it was unclear once Mr. Romney’s office issued his rebuke of Ms. Tanden whether the administration would continue to push for her confirmation.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times
At 1:09 p.m. on Jan. 6, minutes after protesters had burst through the barricades around the U.S. Capitol and began using the steel debris to assault the officers standing guard, the chief of the Capitol Police made a desperate call for backup. It took nearly two hours for officials to approve the deployment of the National Guard.
New details about what transpired over those 115 minutes on that dark, violent day — revealed in interviews and documents — tell a story of how chaotic decision-making among political and military leaders burned precious time as the rioting at the Capitol spiraled out of control.
Communication breakdowns, inaction and confusion over who had authority to call for the National Guard delayed a deployment of hundreds of troops who might have helped quell the violence that raged for hours.
This period is expected to be a focus of a congressional hearing on Tuesday, when lawmakers will publicly question Steven A. Sund, the Capitol Police chief at the time, and other current and former officials for the first time about the security failures that contributed to the violence on that day.
“Capitol security leaders must address the decision not to approve the National Guard request, failures in interagency coordination and information sharing, and how the threat intelligence they had ahead of Jan. 6 informed their security decisions leading up to that day,” said Senator Maggie Hassan, Democrat of New Hampshire.
Some American officials have said that by the time the urgent request came to the Pentagon on the afternoon of Jan. 6, it was long past the time National Guard troops could have deployed quickly enough to prevent the storming of the Capitol. But law enforcement officials pointed out that during a melee that lasted hours, every lost minute was critical.
Chief Sund did not hear back for 61 minutes after he called for help from the National Guard. And even then, there was a catch: Though Capitol security officials had approved his request, the Pentagon had the final say. During a tense phone call that began 18 minutes later, a top general said that he did not like the “visual” of the military guarding the Capitol and that he would recommend the Army secretary deny the request.
Pentagon approval finally came at 3:04 p.m. The first deployment of National Guard troops arrived at the Capitol two and a half hours later.
Credit…Cliff Owen/Associated Press
Three months ago, federal lawmakers grilled Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief, about the misinformation that had appeared on their platforms. Now, a congressional committee has scheduled a hearing to focus on the role of companies that provide cable television service in the spread of falsehoods concerning the 2020 election.
In advance of the Wednesday hearing, called “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media,” members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter on Monday to Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum, Dish, Verizon, Cox and Altice, asking about their role in “the spread of dangerous misinformation.”
The committee members also sent the letter to Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hulu, digital companies that distribute cable programming.
The scrutiny of cable providers took on new urgency after supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, who repeatedly promoted the debunked claim that the election was rigged, stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“To our knowledge, the cable, satellite and over-the-top companies that disseminate these media outlets to American viewers have done nothing in response to the misinformation aired by these outlets,” two Democratic representatives from California, Anna G. Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, wrote in the letter, which was reviewed by The New York Times.
None of the companies to which the letter was sent immediately replied to requests for comment.
Newsmax, a right-wing cable channel carried by AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Dish and Verizon, had a surge in ratings in November because of programs that embraced the former president’s claims of voter fraud. One America News Network, a right-wing outlet carried by AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon, also promoted the false theory.
Fox News, the most-watched cable news network, which is available from all major carriers, was one of five defendants in a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed this month by the election technology company Smartmatic. In the suit, the company accused Fox News, its parent company Fox Corporation, three Fox anchors and two frequent Fox guests of promoting false claims about the election and Smartmatic’s role in it. (Fox has denied the claims and filed a motion to dismiss the suit.)
Congress can raise the issue of whether cable providers bear responsibility for the programs they deliver to millions of Americans, but it may have no way to force them to drop networks that have spread misinformation. And unlike broadcast stations, cable channels do not have licenses that are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.
The lawmakers’ letter asks the companies, “What steps did you take prior to, on, and following the November 3, 2020 elections and the January 6, 2021 attacks to monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation, including encouragement or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminates to millions of Americans?”
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times
President Biden did not do anything alarming this weekend.
There were exactly eight tweets, each rooted in what can best be described as reality. There was a visit to spend time with an ailing friend, Bob Dole, the former Republican senator. And there was a stop at church with the grandchildren.
Since Mr. Biden assumed office, the weekends have been portraits of domesticity rather a what-happens next 48 hours of tension from which his predecessor (when not on the greens) would launch attacks, fire officials or lord over basic weekend cable.
Mr. Biden’s weekend agenda, thus far, has included MarioKart with the kids at Camp David, bagels in Georgetown and football in Delaware. A Peloton devotee, he hasn’t even played golf. Mr. Biden’s demonstrable disinterest in generating audacious headlines only emphasizes how much the Trump-size hole in Washington has created a sense of free time in all realms of the capital. Psychically, if not literally.
The only interruption, and he tried to avoid it, was an impeachment trial.
Though the workload remains (this is still Washington, after all) people are grabbing a few more hours of sleep in the span of time formerly known as the weekend.
“It was going from working 24/7 to sort of not working at all in a snap,” Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California. “And it did take awhile sort of for my body and mind to calm down.”
But first, binge-watching: The Sunday after the trial ended, Mr. Lieu spent his first Trump-free hours watching episodes of “Snowpiercer.”
Mr. Biden, who is focusing on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, has said that he, too, wants to move on from discussing Mr. Trump. “I don’t want to talk about him anymore,” the president said during a CNN town hall in Wisconsin last week. The reality is a bit different. Mr. Biden has repeatedly brought up what he said are failings of the Trump administration as he sought to win patience from the public during the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.
There is a parallel in the news industry, where reporters covering this new-old version of Washington say they are ready to get back to the type of journalism that does not involve deciphering a human mood ring. CNN and MSNBC, whose journalists and personalities have spent years challenging Mr. Trump’s policies, have quietly reduced the number of Trump-focused journalists working on contract in recent months.
Mr. Trump has, of course, predicted that the political news complex will crumble without him. Members of that complex say they have some room to breathe and, crucially, to plan.
“As the host of a weekly show, the glaring absence of presidential Twitter scandals means I can plan ahead with the expectation that our plan will actually be implemented,” said Brian Stelter, who hosts “Reliable Sources” on CNN. “Informally, we used to leave a five-minute-size hole in my Sunday show, expecting some sort of big news to break on Saturday night. Now we don’t assume that’s going to happen anymore.”