Biden announces US will donate another 500m vaccine doses at Covid summit – as it happened

a month ago

Biden announces US will donate another 500m vaccine doses at Covid summit – as it happened

The Guardian

Politics recap

  • Joe Biden announced the US will donate an additional 500m Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses to other countries. The announcement means the Biden administration has now committed to sending more than 1.1bn vaccine doses abroad. “Put another way, for every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world,” Biden said at a virtual Covid summit today.
  • Emmanuel Macron is sending the French ambassador to the US back to Washington, after he and Biden had a conversation today about France’s outrage over the Aukus defense deal. The French president also plans to meet with Biden in Europe next month.
  • Bipartisan talks over a police reform bill have officially collapsed, after months of back-and-back between the negotiators. Democratic congresswoman Karen Bass blamed the failure on Republicans involved in the negotiations, saying in a statement, “Every time, more was demanded to the point that there would be no progress made in the bill that we were left discussing.” Biden said he would consider “potential further executive actions” to address police reform after the talks collapsed.
  • House Democrats passed their spending bill to keep the government funded and suspend the debt ceiling until December. However, the legislation faces bleak prospects in the evenly divided Senate, where Republican leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to oppose any effort to raise the debt ceiling.
  • The select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is considering issuing a number of subpoenas to former Trump administration officials. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale are among those who are likely to get subpoenaed by the committee.
  • The Federal Reserve suggested it may start cutting pandemic stimulus programs next month and could raise interest rates next year. US stock markets reacted favorably to the news, which suggests the economy is still recovering from the pandemic.
  • Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) met to discuss who should get booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. After the Food and Drug Administration last week concluded that those over 65 and those with severe risk should get boosters, the CDC will make further recommendations as to which specific groups should qualify for a third shot.

Updated

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) met to discuss who should get booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

After the Food and Drug Administration last week concluded that those over 65 and those with severe risk should get boosters, the CDC will make further recommendations as to which specific groups shuold qualify for a third shot.

The Biden administration had suggested it would begin offering boosters this week to all American adults – something that is now very unlikely to happen. It is unclear how much extra protection a third shoot would offer, and whether it would provide any further protection against severe illness or hospitalization for most Americans.

Global leaders have criticized the Biden administration for endorsing booster shots for Americans while much of the world has yet to receive any vaccine.

The Biden administration is seeking a contractor to operate a migrant detention facility at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, NBC reports based on records the news organization acquired.

From NBC’s Jacob Soboroff and Ken Dilanian:

A little-known immigrant holding facility on the base has a capacity of 120 people, the records say, and it “will have an estimated daily population of 20 people,” according to a solicitation for bids issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.

“The service provider shall be responsible to maintain on site the necessary equipment to erect temporary housing facilities for populations that exceed 120 and up to 400 migrants in a surge event,” the contract solicitation says.

The records provided no indication that the Biden administration is planning to transfer migrants from the southern border to Guantánamo Bay. In the recent past, migrants picked up at sea have been housed there for short periods.

The White House, DHS and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The records reportedly stipulate that some of the guards at the facility must speak Spanish and Haitian Creole. Thousands of Haitian migrants have been arriving at the southern border seeking refuge in the US, and the Biden administration has been somewhat unsucessfully trying to distance itself from the cruel treatment of migrants by US border patrol agents.

Updated

Crowded camps, garbage piles, extreme heat: migrants in Texas face unlivable conditions

Thousands of migrants and asylum seekers are facing desperate conditions as they continue to be held in makeshift camps under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas, including high temperatures, squalid living conditions, probable deportation and shocking mistreatment by border patrol agents.

An estimated 14,000 migrants, including pregnant women and children, have crossed the Rio Grande over the last two weeks, coming by bus and foot to seek refuge or a new life in the US. The majority are Haitian, with many fleeing the recent mass destruction of an earthquake and political turmoil following President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination.

“A friend of mine told me to cross here. I heard it was easier,” said Mackenson, a 25-year-old Haitian migrant who spoke to the New York Times and didn’t want his last name published. Mackenson made the journey with his pregnant wife, traveling from Tapachula, Mexico, over 1,100 miles from the Texas border, after spending the past three years sheltering in Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Panama. “It took us two months to get here on foot and by bus.”

Like Mackenson, the journey to the US for many Haitian migrants has been a treacherous one that is sometimes months or years in the makingthrough Latin American countries. Arriving in waves with their families in tow, asylum seekers bring few provisions – food, mattresses, diapers – to survive while they wait to see if they will be admitted to the US.

Read more:

The latest Fed statement also showed that more members of the Fed committee now believe that interest rates should rise in the near future. Nine of the 18 officials expect to raise interest rates by the end of 2022, up from seven officials in June when a majority said they thought rates would rise in 2023.

US stock markets reacted favorably to the news, which suggests the economy is still recovering from the pandemic, albeit with uncertainties remaining. Investors have been spooked in recent days by news that troubled Chinese property developer Evergrande could default on its $300bn debts. The company’s woes could drag in investors worldwide, but on Tuesday the company said it would be able to meet some of its obligations.

Powell said the situation “seems particular to China which has very high debt for an emerging market economy.

“In terms of the implications for us, there is not a lot of direct United States exposure,” he said.

Federal Reserve hints it will end pandemic stimulus programs

The Federal Reserve signaled on Wednesday that it may start cutting its enormous pandemic stimulus programs as soon as November and could raise interest rates next year.

The US central bank left interest rates unchanged at near zero after its latest meeting. Rates were cut in March 2020 as the US economy reeled from the impact of the pandemic. But the Fed also indicated it may soon start pulling back on the $120bn in monthly asset purchases program that it started when the coronavirus hit the US.

“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted,” the Fed’s post-meeting statement said.

At a press conference Fed chair Jerome Powell said the jobs market was “very strong” and that while the central bank was trimming its forecasts for economic growth it still foresees “rapid growth” in the economy.

Powell said the pandemic was still having an impact and that bottlenecks and shortages were driving price inflation but he expected that situation to ease as long as the coronavirus pandemic is contained. “The path of the economy still continues to depend on the course of the virus,” he said.

Read more:

Florida’s surgeon general Joseph Ladapo has issued a new emergency rule that parents can decide whether or not their children should quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Lapado, who has been skeptical of research-backed public health measures like mask-wearing, lockdowns and vaccines to curb the spread of coronavirus, would be the state’s new surgeon general on Tuesday. The Republican governor has tried to ban schools from enforcing mask mandates.

The new rule states that parents rather than school administrations, must be the ones to decide asymptomatic kids who have been exposed to the virus should quarantine.

It was “important to respect the rights of parents”, Ladapo said.

The new emergency rule will replace a previous rule requiring students to quarantine for four days after being exposed.

Updated

Today so far

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

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden announced the US will donate another 500 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses to other countries. The announcement means the Biden administration has now committed to sending more than 1.1 billion vaccine doses abroad. “Put another way, for every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world,” Biden said at a virtual Covid summit today.
  • Emmanuel Macron is sending the French ambassador to the US back to Washington, after he and Biden had a conversation today about France’s outrage over the Aukus defense deal. The French president also plans to meet with Biden in Europe next month.
  • Bipartisan talks over a police reform bill have officially collapsed, after months of back-and-back between the negotiators. Democratic congresswoman Karen Bass blamed the failure on Republicans involved in the negotiations, saying in a statement, “Every time, more was demanded to the point that there would be no progress made in the bill that we were left discussing.” Biden said he would consider “potential further executive actions” to address police reform after the talks collapsed.
  • House Democrats passed their spending bill to keep the government funded and suspend the debt ceiling until December. However, the legislation faces bleak prospects in the evenly divided Senate, where Republican leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to oppose any effort to raise the debt ceiling.
  • The select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is considering issuing a number of subpoenas to former Trump administration officials. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale are among those who are likely to get subpoenaed by the committee.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi said the chamber is “on schedule” to hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday.

Asked whether the House will also be ready to vote on the reconciliation package by Monday, as progressive lawmakers have demanded, Pelosi did not give a concrete answer.

“We’re calm, and everybody’s good, and our work’s almost done,” Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The Democratic speaker met with Joe Biden at the White House this afternoon, as progressives threaten to block the infrastructure bill over their concerns about the reconciliation package.

Biden to consider 'potential further executive actions' after police reform talks fail

Joe Biden said he will consider “potential further executive actions” to address police reform after the bipartisan team of congressional negotiators failed to reach a deal on a bill.

“The murder of George Floyd is a stain on the soul of America,” the president said in a new statement addressing the collapse of the negotiations. “It spurred the nation to collectively demand justice, and we will be remembered for how we responded to the call.”

Biden said he was “deeply grateful” to congresswoman Karen Bass and Senator Cory Booker for working to reach an agreement over the past several months.

“Regrettably, Senate Republicans rejected enacting modest reforms, which even the previous president had supported, while refusing to take action on key issues that many in law enforcement were willing to address,” Biden said.

The president noted he still hoped to sign police reform legislation, but he said he would soon explore additional steps to determine what executive action he may be able to take on the issue.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue to work with Senator Booker, Congresswoman Bass, and other members of Congress who are serious about meaningful police reform,” Biden said.

“The White House will continue to consult with the civil rights and law enforcement and civil rights communities, as well as victims’ families to define a path forward, including through potential further executive actions I can take to advance our efforts to live up to the American ideal of equal justice under law.”

The White House shared a photo from Joe Biden’s phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier today.

“Today I spoke with President Emmanuel Macron of France, and reaffirmed the importance of French and European engagement in the Indo-Pacific region,” Biden said in a tweet that included the photo.

“I look forward to a process of in-depth consultations and to meeting with him in October.”

Asked about the two leaders’ conversation during the White House press briefing, Jen Psaki said the call was “friendly” and lasted around 30 minutes.

“It was one where we’re hopeful and the president is hopeful this is a step in returning to normal,” Psaki said of the phone call.

Psaki did not explicitly say whether Biden apologized to Macron for failing to give him advance notice about the Aukus defense deal, instead telling reporters, “He acknowledged that there could have been greater consultation.”

Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, who have represented the family of George Floyd, expressed “extreme disappointment” over the collapse of police reform talks in Congress.

“In the last year and a half, we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of Americans urging lawmakers to bring desperately needed change to policing in this country so there can be greater accountability, transparency, and ultimately trust in policing,” the lawyers said in a statement.

“We can not let this be a tragic, lost opportunity to regain trust between citizens and police.”

Crump and Romanucci urged Senate Democrats to bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House in March, to the floor “so Americans can see who is looking out for their communities’ best interests”.

In his own statement on the collapse of the police reform negotiations, Democratic Senator Cory Booker said the talks failed because there was “too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners”.

“We made it clear from the beginning of our negotiations that a bill must ensure true accountability, transparency, and the policing standards necessary to bring an end to horrific incidents of violence Americans are routinely seeing -- like the murder of George Floyd,” Booker said.

“After months of exhausting every possible pathway to a bipartisan deal, it remains out of reach right now, even after working collaboratively with and securing the support of policing groups like the Fraternal Order of Police and International Association of Chiefs of Police for our proposals.”

Echoing fellow Democratic negotiator Karen Bass, Booker said the time had come to “explore all other options to achieve meaningful and common sense policing reform”.

“I will not stop fighting until we achieve change that keeps our communities and police officers safe,” Booker concluded.

Jen Psaki said Joe Biden was “disappointed” that the bipartisan negotiations over the police reform bill collapsed without a deal today.

“Unfortunately, Republicans rejected reforms that even the previous president had supported and refused to engage on key issues that many in law enforcement were willing to address,” Psaki said.

The press secretary noted Biden was “greatly appreciative” for congresswoman Karen Bass and senator Cory Booker’s efforts in the negotiations.

Psaki said Biden would be meeting with members of Congress, law enforcement groups and civil rights advocates in the weeks to come to discuss a path forward, “including potential executive actions” that he can take on police reform.

Jen Psaki said the White House is “certainly” concerned about the possibility of the government shutting down next week if a funding bill is not approved.

“Until a [continuing resolution] has passed that funds the government, we’ll certainly have a concern,” the White House press secretary said. “But our goal and our focus is on preventing that from happening.”

Noting that the House has already passed a bill to fund the government and suspend the debt ceiling until December, the press secretary expressed hope of the situation being resolved soon.

However, the House-passed bill faces dim prospects in the evenly divided Senate, where Republican leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block any effort to raise the debt ceiling.

Jen Psaki was asked about Joe Biden’s meetings today with members of Congress to discuss the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5tn reconciliation package.

One reporter pressed Psaki on whether this marks a “make or break” moment for the two bills, which encompass much of the president’s economic agenda.

The press secretary declined to characterize the meetings in that way, instead saying, “This is an important moment. We are in a pivotal period in our negotiations and discussions.”

One reporter asked Jen Psaki whether Joe Biden apologized to Emmanuel Macron for how the Aukus deal was announced.

“He acknowledged that there could have been greater consultation,” the White House press secretary said. “There was agreement that we wanted to move forward in our relationship.”

Asked if Biden held national security adviser Jake Sullivan responsible for the dust-up with France, Psaki replied, “He holds himself responsible.”

Updated

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing, and she was asked for additional details about Joe Biden’s call with French President Emmanuel Macron today.

Psaki noted that the phone call between the two leaders lasted about 30 minutes, and she said it was a “friendly” conversation.

Biden is hopeful that the call marks “a step in returning to normal” for the US-French relationship after the dust-up over the Aukus deal, Psaki added.

Following the phone call, Macron announced that he would send the French ambassador to the US back to Washington, and he plans to meet with Biden in Europe next month.

Republican senator Tim Scott had repeatedly insisted in recent months that there was still hope for a deal on the police reform bill.

However, Scott and the Democratic negotiators, congresswoman Karen Bass and senator Cory Booker, could not reach an agreement on a handful of crucial aspects of the legislation.

Most notably, the bipartisan negotiating team remained very much at odds over the Democratic proposal to reform qualified immunity, which shields police officers from civil liability for misconduct.

Democratic congresswoman Karen Bass said the negotiations with Republican senator Tim Scott had negatively impacted the police reform bill to the point that the legislation would not have made a meaningful impact.

“We accepted significant compromises, knowing that they would be a tough sell to our community, but still believing that we would be moving the needle forward on this issue,” Bass said in a formal statement about the end of the negotiations.

“But every time, more was demanded to the point that there would be no progress made in the bill that we were left discussing.”

Now that the negotiations have collapsed, Bass called on Joe Biden and his administration to “use the full extent of their constitutionally-mandated power to bring about meaningful police reform”.

“Our sense of urgency remains, but this issue requires a re-engagement of the legislative process,” Bass said.

“With our counterparts unwilling to come to a compromise, we have no other option than to explore further avenues to stop police brutality in this country. I will not ask our community to wait another 200 days.”

Police reform negotiations come to a formal close, Bass says

Democratic congresswoman Karen Bass told reporters that the bipartisan negotiations over a police reform bill have now formally ended.

“We did the best we could,” Bass said, per NBC News.

The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act back in March, and Bass and Democratic senator Cory Booker have since been working with Republican senator Tim Scott to reach a bipartisan agreement on a bill that could pass the Senate.

But the talks dragged on for months with negotiators still remaining at odds over a few crucial issues in the bill, and the lawmakers now appear to have thrown in the towel.

A majority of Europeans believe a new cold war is under way between the US and its chief geopolitical rivals, China and Russia, according to a report – but few view their own country as a direct participant.

Based on polling in 12 member states, the study by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) found, however, that more Europeans believed the EU leadership in Brussels was a party to the new international conflict.

As fallout from the Aukus alliance continues and amid talk of rifts in the western alliance, the report’s authors said the polling data suggested there was a clear danger of a widening gulf between European public opinion and that in the US.

The responses also pointed to a “disconnect” between the policy ambitions of Brussels and EU member states, they said, adding that this could undermine an effective European response in the event of escalating tensions with China or Russia.

“The European public thinks there is a new cold war but they don’t want to have anything to do with it,” said Mark Leonard, a co-author of the study and ECFR director. “Our polling reveals that a ‘cold war’ framing risks alienating European voters.”

In its readout of the conversation between Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, the White House noted the US president had requested the call after France expressed outrage over the Aukus deal.

“The two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partner,” the White House said. “President Biden conveyed his ongoing commitment in that regard.”

According to the White House, Biden and Macron agreed to “open a process of in-depth consultations” to ensure more robust communication between their two nations.

“They will meet in Europe at the end of October in order to reach shared understandings and maintain momentum in this process,” the White House said.

“President Emmanuel Macron has decided that the French Ambassador will return to Washington next week. He will then start intensive work with senior US officials.”

France to send ambassador back to US after Macron-Biden call

France is to return its ambassador to the US who was recalled in the aftermath of the surprise announcement of the Australia-US-UK defence pact that saw France lose a multi-billion euro submarine contract.

The news followed the first call between the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and Joe Biden after relations between the western allies hit a low last week.

The two leaders are also to meet next month after their phone call in which Biden agreed that consulting France before announcing the Aukus security pact could have prevented a diplomatic row.

The central part of the Aukus pact is the requirement for Australia to cancel its contract to buy 12 French barracuda submarines with diesel-electric propulsion. America will instead partner with Australia and the UK to build nuclear-powered submarines.

Updated

At the virtual Covid summit today, Joe Biden urged other countries to step up after announcing the US will donate another 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

“The United States is buying another half billion doses of Pfizer to donate to low and middle income countries around the world,” the president said. “This is another half billion doses that will all be shipped by this time next year.

The meeting on the margins of the UN general assembly offered Biden a chance to exercise soft power and gain an edge on rivals such as China in “vaccine diplomacy”. The summit also came as the president faced scrutiny over why he is promoting a third vaccine dose for US citizens at a moment when less than 2% of people in developing countries have had their first shot.

In June Biden announced that the US would buy and donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines to 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union through Covax, the global vaccine initiative. These have begun to ship, though the logistical challenges of distribution and storage are considerable.

“And it brings our total commitment of donated vaccines to over 1.1 billion vaccines. Put another way, for every one shot we’ve administered to date in America we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world,” Biden said Wednesday.

Biden reiterated his pledge that “America will become the arsenal of vaccines, as we were the arsenal for democracy during world war two”.

But he added pointedly: “We need other high income countries to deliver on their own ambitious vaccine donations and pledges.”

Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis has named a medical professor who is opposed to mask and vaccine mandates as the state’s new surgeon general.

The Guardian’s Oliver Milman reports:

Dr Joseph Ladapo, a Harvard-trained doctor, has attacked concern over the pandemic as “Covid mania” and likened the eating of fruit and vegetables to the benefits of vaccination. He has railed against restrictions placed upon day-to-day life to curtail the pandemic and has sought to block funding for schools in the state that have attempted to make students wear masks to stop the spread of the virus that has killed more than 675,000 people in the US since the pandemic began.

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden announced the US will donate another 500 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses to other countries. The announcement means the Biden administration has now committed to sending more than 1.1 billion vaccine doses abroad. “Put another way, for every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world,” Biden said at a virtual Covid summit today.
  • House Democrats passed their spending bill to keep the government funded and suspend the debt ceiling until December. However, the legislation faces bleak prospects in the evenly divided Senate, where Republican leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to oppose any effort to raise the debt ceiling.
  • The select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is considering issuing a number of subpoenas to former Trump administration officials. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale are among those who are likely to get subpoenaed by the committee.

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

Joe Biden reiterated his pledge that the US would become “the arsenal of vaccines, as we were the arsenal for democracy during World War II”.

With the administration’s new commitment to donate another 500 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses, the total US vaccine contribution to other countries is now expected to be more than 1.1 billion doses.

“Put another way, for every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world,” Biden said.

After concluding his prepared remarks, Biden handed things over to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations.

Joe Biden said the US would also spend $370 million to support administering coronavirus vaccine shots around the world.

The president pledged that the US would “continue to lead” to ensure the world can defeat Covid-19 and better prepare for the next pandemic.

“We can do this,” Biden said. “We know what needs to be done. We just have to make the choice to do it.”

Joe Biden is now holding a virtual Covid summit on the margins of the UN general assembly to deliver an update on global vaccination efforts.

The president confirmed that the US will donate another 500 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses to other countries, in addition to the more than 600 million doses that the White House had already committed to sending abroad.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck crisis,” Biden said.

Biden to announce US will donate another 500m vaccine doses to other countries

Joe Biden will soon convene a virtual Covid summit on the margins of the UN general assembly to discuss his administration’s plans to donate more vaccine doses to other countries around the world.

Administration officials told reporters last night that the US plans to donate another 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to low- and lower-middle income countries.

Those 500m doses are in addition to the more than 600m vaccine doses that the White House had already committed to sending abroad.

“The United States is donating 1.1bn doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the world, free of charge, no strings attached,” a senior administration official said yesterday.

“This is a huge commitment by the US. In fact, for every one shot we have administered in this country to date, we are now donating three shots to other countries.”

The announcement comes as the Biden administration has faced international criticism for starting to offer vaccine booster shots to Americans when the majority of the global population remains unvaccinated.

“We’re proving that you can take care of your own while helping others as well,” the administration official said of the new commitment. “We can and we must do both.”

Updated

Boris Johnson mocked France’s outrage over the US nuclear submarine deal with Australia, a day after the British prime minister met with Joe Biden at the White House.

“I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about all this and donnez-moi un break,” Johnson told reporters outside the Capitol today. “Because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security.”

France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia over the Aukus deal, which contradicted Australia’s earlier promise to buy a French-built fleet of submarines.

Johnson acknowledged that he and Biden had discussed France’s reaction to the deal during their meeting yesterday, although that was not specifically mentioned in the White House readout of the two leaders’ conversation.

“President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson reviewed our cooperation on shared global challenges, including building consensus for action to address the climate crisis, promoting global health security, supporting democracy and human rights, and developing a more inclusive economic future for all countries,” the White House said.

“The leaders also discussed our ongoing work on Afghanistan, as well as developments in the Indo-Pacific and the critical role of European allies and partners, including NATO and the EU, in the region.”

Updated

Joe Biden will be meeting with members of Congress today to discuss the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5tn reconciliation package.

According to the New York Times, progressive senator Bernie Sanders and moderate senator Joe Manchin will be among those meeting with the president today.

The meetings come as intraparty tensions are threatening both pieces of legislation, which encompass much of Biden’s economic agenda.

House progressives are threatening to torpedo the infrastructure bill unless they feel confident about the passage of the reconciliation package, but moderate Democrats like Manchin have argued the reconciliation bill is too costly and must be scaled down.

Capitol attack panel said to be considering subpoenas to Trump White House aides

The House select committee investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol is considering issuing a blitz of subpoenas for top Trump White House aides including the former chief and deputy chief of staff, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The subpoenas – which are expected to be authorized as early as this week – would place House select committee investigators inside the White House and Trump campaign war rooms at the time of the insurrection as the panel prepares to ramp up the pace of its inquiry.

House select committee investigators are considering subpoenas for call detail records or testimony of key aides including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, the source said.

The scope and subjects of the subpoenas are not yet finalized and discussions about who to include in the first tranche are still ongoing, the source said, although the three Trump officials are presently considered likely targets.

Taken together, the developing move from the select committee marks perhaps the most aggressive investigative actions since the panel made an array of records demands and records preservation requests for Trump officials last month.

According to the Washington Post, two former treasury secretaries who served under Republican presidents have spoken to Mitch McConnell and warned the White House that the Republican leader is not bluffing on the debt ceiling.

The Post reports:

The previously unreported talks involving the GOP economic grandees — Henry Paulson, who served as treasury secretary under President Bush; and Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary under President Trump — did not resolve the matter and the U.S. is now racing toward a massive fiscal cliff with no clear resolution at hand.

Paulson and Mnuchin have in recent weeks spoken with both McConnell and [treasury secretary Janet] Yellen as the Biden administration tries to ensure the U.S. does not default on its debt obligations and spark a global financial crisis. ...

Paulson met with McConnell in his office in the U.S. Capitol last week and discussed the debt limit standoff, two people familiar with the exchange said. Paulson primarily listened to McConnell’s views on the matter as the Senate GOP leader made clear he was not bluffing about Democrats having to raise the debt limit without Republican support. ...

After the discussion, Paulson told the Biden administration that McConnell is serious that Democrats must approve the debt ceiling hike on their own through the budget reconciliation process, given their control of Congress and the White House and their pursuit of a partisan spending package, [four] people said.

Democrats have insisted that Republicans should help them raise the debt ceiling, noting that Democrats assisted them in doing so during Trump’s presidency.

The White House has already indicated that Joe Biden will sign the government spending bill if it can (somehow) make it to his desk.

“H.R. 5305 would keep the federal government open, provide disaster relief, and avoid a catastrophic default so that the government can continue serving the American people without interruption as we continue to confront a pandemic, recover from and respond to disasters, and power an economic recovery,” the White House said in a statement of administration policy released yesterday.

“The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to pass full-year appropriations bills in December that make bold, forward-looking investments in our future.”

House passes spending bill that faces steep hurdles in Senate

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

House Democrats passed their government spending bill last night, in a party-line vote of 220 to 211.

If enacted, the bill would fund the government through 3 December, thus avoiding a shutdown at the end of the month, and suspend the debt ceiling until December.

However, the legislation faces bleak prospects in the evenly divided Senate, where minority leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to oppose any effort to raise the debt ceiling.

“The debt ceiling will be raised, as it always should be,” McConnell said yesterday. “But it will be raised by the Democrats.”

Unless Senate Democrats can convince 10 of their Republican colleagues to support the legislation, the US economy could be headed for disaster.

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

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