Biden’s $2tn infrastructure plan ‘needs to be changed’, says key Democrat Manchin – live

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘Stay out of politics’: Mitch McConnell tells CEOs who have criticized voting restrictions – as it happened” was written by Lois Beckett (now) and Joan E Greve (earlier), for theguardian.com on Tuesday 6th April 2021 00.19 UTC

1.10am BST

Evening summary

We’re wrapping up today’s live US politics coverage. Here’s an updated summary of key events today.

  • As big corporations have begun to speak out against Republican-backed measures to make it harder to vote in Georgia, Mitch McConnell issued them a warning: “stay out of politics”, he told private companies. He threatened “serious consequences” if companies “keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government”.
  • In related news, the same state legislators pushing voting restrictions across the country had previously received more than m from big corporations in the past, a new report found.
  • Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is facing criticism from Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote will be crucial for the bill’s Senate passage, said today he does not support the president’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% to help pay for the infrastructure plan. “As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” Manchin said.
  • The Minneapolis police chief testified in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Police chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin’s neck restraint on George Floyd “absolutely” violated department policies on use of force. Chauvin kept his knee of Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, causing the Black man to lose consciousness and then die.
  • More than 4m coronavirus vaccination doses were administered in a single day over the weekend, setting a new US record. The White House also announced it was establishing three more federally funded mass vaccination sites in Columbia, South Carolina; Pueblo, Colorado; and St Paul, Minnesota.
  • The Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, vetoed a controversial anti-trans bill passed by the state legislature last week. The bill, which had been widely criticized by pediatricians and parents of transgender youth, would have prevented anyone under age 18 from getting treatment involving gender reassignment surgery or medication.
  • Treasury secretary Janet Yellen called for a global minimum corporate tax rate. Speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs today, Yellen said US competitiveness must include “making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government”.

Updated at 1.19am BST

12.31am BST

Local photographer captures Kamala Harris’ hometown visit to Oakland, California

San Francisco Chronicle photographer Jessica Christian posted a series of photographs today capturing the vice president’s visit to Oakland, where she was born and worked for years as a young prosecutor.

Updated at 12.41am BST

12.26am BST

Kamala Harris visits Oakland, pledges that big vaccination site will remain open

In her visit to Oakland today to tout the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan, the vice president said the federal government will keep a large vaccination site at the city’s biggest stadium open past it scheduled closure on Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“There was no immediate clarity on how it would run, given that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has said it will stop providing vaccine doses after this week,” the Chronicle reports.

12.12am BST

On voting rights, Mitch McConnell tells corporate America to ‘stay out of politics’

Republicans’ standing as the party of corporate America appears to be under threat after Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate, told chief executives critical of new voting restrictions in Georgia to “stay out of politics”.

Last week Coca-Cola, Delta and dozens of other companies condemned a new election law in Georgia while Major League Baseball announced it would move the All-Star Game from the state in protest.

“I found it completely discouraging to find a bunch of corporate CEOs getting in the middle of politics,” McConnell told a press conference in his home state of Kentucky on Monday. “My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don’t pick sides in these big fights.”

He warned companies against giving into advocacy campaigns. “It’s jaw-dropping to see powerful American institutions not just permit themselves to be bullied, but join in the bullying themselves,” he said.

In a separate written statement, McConnell warned of “serious consequences” if companies “keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government.”

“From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the second amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government. Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.

Read the full story:

12.04am BST

A ‘big win’ for Democrats on congressional budgeting procedure

The Hill’s Alex Bolton breaks down a new technical ruling from the Senate parliamentarian that will have big implications for Democrats’ ability to be effective in 2021.

My colleague Lauren Gambino has the first reaction from Schumer’s spokesperson: the decision “allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstruction continues”.

Updated at 12.18am BST

11.51pm BST

What Donald Trump’s office looks like now

Stephen Miller, the senior Trump adviser who promoted white nationalist ideas and was a driving force behind the administration’s much-condemned Muslim ban, family separation policy, and other anti-immigrant policies, shared a photo of him meeting with the former president.

It’s the first image of what Trump’s post-Oval Office office looks like, one New York Times reporter noted.

Miller did not say what he and Trump discussed, but Republicans, including the former president and Miller himself, have been actively decrying what they call a “border crisis” at the US-Mexico border, framed as an attack on President Joe Biden and an attempt to gain votes for Republicans.

Trump told Fox News last week that he might personally visit the border in the next few weeks.

Updated at 12.00am BST

11.34pm BST

Corporations gave over M to politicians currently pushing voting restrictions

New from the Associated Press:

When executives from Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines spoke out against Georgia’s new voting law as unduly restrictive last week, it seemed to signal a new activism springing from corporate America.

But if leaders of the nation’s most prominent companies are going to reject lawmakers who support restrictive voting measures, they will have to abruptly reverse course.

State legislators across the country who have pushed for new voting restrictions, and also seized on former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, have reaped more than million in corporate donations in recent years, according to a new report by Public Citizen, a Washington-based government watchdog group.

Telecom giant AT&T was the most prolific, donating over 0,000 since 2015 to authors of proposed restrictions, cosponsors of such measures, or those who voted in favor of the bills, the report found. Other top donors during the same period include Comcast, Philip Morris USA, UnitedHealth Group, Walmart, Verizon, General Motors and Pfizer.


Updated at 11.36pm BST

11.22pm BST

Former Congresswoman Katie Hill Speaks Out About Matt Gaetz allegations

Katie Hill, a California congresswoman and rising Democratic star, resigned in 2019 after nude photographs of her were leaked online and her affair with a campaign staffer was made public.

Now, she’s facing questions about the likely consequences for Matt Gaetz, a young pro-Trump congressman reportedly under investigation for possible sex trafficking of a minor. CNN also reported that Gaetz showed nude photos of women he had slept with to other lawmakers, including on the floor of the House of Representatives, citing interviews with two unnamed people who said they personally had been shown the material.

Hill had what she describes as an unlikely friendship with Gaetz, who publicly defended her after her nude photos were leaked, she writes in an extensive essay on the situation in Vanity Fair.

“If there is even a fraction of truth to these reports, he should resign immediately,” Hill writes.

She also describes as her mother’s reaction to the Gaetz allegations:

When the news about Matt Gaetz broke, my mom once again called to ask if I was okay. She knew about our friendship and didn’t like it. From the very beginning she’d told me to be careful and not to trust him. When he defended me, she raised her eyebrows and told me I’d better not sleep with him (I did not, for the record).

“Yeah, I’m okay,” I replied. “I just don’t really know what to say. I really hope it’s not true.”

“I’m sure it’s true.”

“Jeez, Mom, why??”

“Because it’s always true. Hopefully this time a man actually takes the fall.”

10.30pm BST

United Airlines tweets opposition to voting restriction laws

United Airlines has joined other major companies in speaking out against new restrictions making it more difficult to vote, which Republican politicians successfully passed in Georgia and are pursuing elsewhere.

After Georgia Republicans passed a law that makes it significantly harder to vote, Major League Baseball announced it will not hold its annual All-Star Game in Atlanta this year. Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, among others, have also made public statements about voting rights in Georgia.

Delta Airlines issued a somewhat blunter and more specific statement that United last week, as my colleague Sam Levine reported, calling Georgia’s new voting law “unacceptable”.

“It’s evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong,” Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, wrote in a company memo on Wednesday.

Updated at 10.40pm BST

9.51pm BST

‘Thank you for choosing us,’ Biden tells new citizens, praising ‘nation of immigrants’

This is Lois Beckett, picking up our live US politics coverage from the Guardian’s California bureau.

In a newly recorded video for America’s newest citizens, President Joe Biden is thanking naturalized Americans for “choosing us”, the Associated Press reports.

In the brief remarks, Biden references the “courage” of immigrants coming to the US and his own heritage as a descendant of Irish immigrants. He also praises the contribution they will make to American society.

“First and foremost, I want to thank you for choosing us and believing that America is worthy of your aspirations,” Biden says in the video.

“You all have one thing in common: courage,” Biden says in the video, released on Monday. “The courage it takes to sacrifice and make this journey. The courage to leave your homes, your lives, your loved ones, and come to a nation that is more than just a place but rather an idea. An idea that where everyone is created equal and deserves to be treated equally.”

It’s a tonal shift from former President Donald Trump, who released a video later in his first year in office that echoed his campaign rhetoric on teaching American values and heritage.

Updated at 10.03pm BST

9.30pm BST

Today so far

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

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is facing criticism from Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote will be crucial for the bill’s Senate passage, said today he does not support the president’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% to help pay for the infrastructure plan. “As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” Manchin said.
  • The Minneapolis police chief testified in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Police chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin’s neck restraint on George Floyd “absolutely” violated department policies on use of force. Chauvin kept his knee of Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, causing the Black man to lose consciousness and then die.
  • More than 4m coronavirus vaccination doses were administered in a single day over the weekend, setting a new US record. The White House also announced it was establishing three more federally funded mass vaccination sites in Columbia, South Carolina; Pueblo, Colorado; and St Paul, Minnesota.
  • The Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, vetoed a controversial anti-trans bill passed by the state legislature last week. The bill, which had been widely criticized by pediatricians and parents of transgender youth, would have prevented anyone under 18 from getting treatment involving gender reassignment surgery or medication.
  • Treasury secretary Janet Yellen called for a global minimum corporate tax rate. Speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs today, Yellen said US competitiveness must include “making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government”.

Lois will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated at 9.38pm BST

9.15pm BST

The Guardian’s Abené Clayton reports:

The bankruptcy trial for the National Rife Association (NRA) kicked off this morning, and for the first time embattled CEO Wayne LaPierre and other NRA executives will be testifying about the organization’s finances in open court.

The gun rights advocacy group filed for bankruptcy in January 2021, six months after New York’s attorney general filed a lawsuit to dissolve the group following allegations of financial fraud and mismanagement.

The six-day trial will decide whether the bankruptcy petition will be dismissed for being filed in bad faith.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a violence prevention organization, described the bankruptcy filing as “an attempt by an organization already losing power and hemorrhaging money to escape legal responsibility from the New York Attorney General’s lawsuit, for alleged fraud and lining the pockets of its top executives,” in a press release.

The NRA has been embroiled in internal conflict for the past two years as the extravagant spending habits of CEO LaPierre lead to increasing claims of financial mismanagement. Watch the trial here.

9.01pm BST

Police chief: Chauvin’s neck restraint ‘absolutely’ violates department policy

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said Derek Chauvin’s neck restraint on George Floyd “absolutely” violated department policies on use of force.

“I absolutely agree it violates our policy,” Arradondo said. “Force has to be reasonable … for an entire encounter.”

Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, continuing to do so even after Floyd lost consciousness. The former police officer now faces murder charges in connection to Floyd’s death.

The Guardian’s Joanna Walters is watching the trial, so read her updates on the other live blog:

8.50pm BST

Janet Yellen calls for global minimum corporate tax rate

The treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, made the case for a global minimum corporate tax rate on Monday as the Biden administration faces opposition to its plans to raise rates on US businesses.

Yellen’s comments come as Republicans and some Democrats have pushed back on Joe Biden’s proposed tn infrastructure investment bill. The bill would be funded in part by raising rates on US business and closing loopholes that allow domestic and foreign corporations to take advantage of lower taxes overseas.

“Competitiveness is about more than how US-headquartered companies fare against other companies in global merger and acquisition bids,” Yellen said in remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“It is about making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government.”

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been working on a new set of cross-border tax rules that would include a global minimum tax rate for multinational corporations.

Updated at 8.53pm BST

8.30pm BST

Joe Biden addressed the Republican opposition to his tn infrastructure plan earlier today, as he arrived back at the White House after his weekend at Camp David.

The president was asked about Republican complaints that his plan covers many issues besides infrastructure, such as clean water access and broadband expansion.

“It’s kind of interesting. When the Republicans put forward an infrastructure plan, they thought everything from broadband to other things were worth paying for infrastructure,” Biden said.

“When you’re in a situation where you can’t turn on a water fountain in school because the water affects your health, that’s infrastructure,” he added. “I’m talking about making sure we are in a situation where we can redo federal buildings that are absolutely leaking energy every single day, that’s infrastructure, in addition to roads and bridges and broadband.”

Biden pledged to “push as hard as I can” to get his infrastructure plan through Congress. “Everybody else in the rest of the world is investing billions and billions of dollars in infrastructure, and we’re going to do it here,” the president said.

8.12pm BST

A former aide to Matt Gaetz told reporters earlier he was questioned by FBI agents over the Republican congressman’s alleged involvement in sex trafficking.

Matt Gaetz.
Matt Gaetz. Photograph: Octavio Jones/Reuters

“Neither I nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz’s staff had any knowledge of illegal activities,” said Nathan Nelson, formerly director of military affairs for the Florida representative.

Axios reports that Nelson said the “‘baseless claim’ that led to his questioning left him ‘further convinced’ that the allegations against Gaetz were fabricated to ‘discredit a vocal conservative’.”

Here’s our latest on l’affaire de Gaetz, or maybe Gaetzgate, which includes a rather amazing quote harvested by the Daily Beast:

7.55pm BST

Arkansas governor vetoes anti-trans bill

The Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, has vetoed a controversial bill which would have stopped anyone under the age of 18 getting treatment involving gender reassignment surgery or medication in the southern state.

Arkansas would have been the first state to take such a move. Its Republican-controlled legislature could still enact the measure, however, since it only takes a simple majority to override an Arkansas governor’s veto.

The bill, known to supporters as the SAFE Act, would prohibit doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.

Hutchinson’s veto followed pleas from pediatricians, social workers and parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.

A number of measures targeting transgender people have advanced in states controlled by Republicans this year. The governors of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee have signed laws banning transgender girls and women from competing on school sports teams consistent with the gender identity.

Hutchinson recently signed a measure allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral or religious objections, a law opponents have said could be used to turn away LGBTQ patients.

Last month, the Guardian interviewed a number of young transgender Americans about such threats to their rights and what they can do to fight them.

Corey Hyman, 15 and from Missouri, said: “It’s going to take a lot of us to stop these bills. It’s going to take a lot out of us, out of our parents, out of our supporters. [This fight will] probably go on for many years.

“I’m worried and I’m scared that even more bills are going to be put through. Sometimes we don’t get notice about the bills until 24 hours before. It’s like, ‘By the way, tomorrow’s a Senate hearing that could quite literally end your life.’

“They just don’t care.”

7.33pm BST

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is facing criticism from Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote will be crucial for the bill’s Senate passage, said today he does not support the president’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% to help pay for the infrastructure plan. “As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” Manchin said.
  • The Minneapolis police chief testified in Derek Chauvin’s trial. Police chief Medaria Arradondo was called as a witness for the prosecution as Chauvin faces murder charges in connection to the killing of George Floyd.
  • More than 4 million coronavirus vaccination doses were administered in a single day over the weekend, setting a new US record. The White House also announced it was establishing three more federally funded mass vaccination sites in Columbia, South Carolina; Pueblo, Colorado; and St Paul, Minnesota.

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

7.31pm BST

The Easter Bunny arrived in the White House briefing room as press secretary Jen Psaki concluded the daily briefing.

Psaki expressed disappointment that the White House was not able to hold the annual Easter Egg Roll this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, so the Easter Bunny handed out commemorative eggs and chocolates to reporters to make up for it.

Updated at 7.33pm BST

7.12pm BST

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether Joe Biden would consider supporting Republican Senator Roy Blunt’s 0 billion infrastructure plan.

Blunt’s proposal is much more narrow than Biden’s trillion proposal, and it is focused on what has traditionally been considered infrastructure, meaning the nation’s transportation networks.

Psaki defended the Biden administration’s broader definition of infrastructure, which includes things like access to clean water and reliable broadband internet.

The press secretary emphasized the importance of strengthening the US workforce to guarantee a more promising economic future for American families.

“Infrastructure is not just the roads we get a horse and buggy across,” Psaki said.

Updated at 7.15pm BST

6.59pm BST

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell also reiterated his criticism of Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan at a press conference in Kentucky earlier today.

The Republican leader once again argued that the bill is not truly an infrastructure bill because it includes a wide range of proposals, many of which are not directly related to the nation’s infrastructure.

McConnell also specifically criticized Biden’s proposal to roll back some Trump-era tax cuts to help pay for the tn plan.

“If that’s the package, a bunch of more borrowed money plus undoing the tax relief that drove our economy to a 50-year high — I can’t imagine that’s going to be very appealing to many Republicans,” McConnell said.

6.45pm BST

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters.

A journalist asked Psaki about criticism from members of both parties over Joe Biden’s tn infrastructure plan. The reporter specifically cited comments from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin that he would not support the plan as it currently exists.

Psaki said the president “looks forward to having conversations with members of both parties” as he works to advance an infrastructure bill.

When pressed on Manchin’s specific comments, Psaki deflected the question, saying, “We’re open to hearing ideas and proposals from members, and we encourage them to put them forward.”

6.39pm BST

Manchin criticizes Biden’s infrastructure plan: ‘It needs to be changed’

Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote will likely determine whether Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan can pass the Senate, has expressed criticism of the proposal.

In a radio interview with a local West Virginia station today, Machin said he had serious concerns about Biden’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% to help pay for the legislation.

“As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” the Democratic senator said.

Manchin said he was open to the idea of raising the corporate tax rate to 25%, but he expressed concern that raising it to 28% would make the US less competitive.

Manchin added, “If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere.”

Biden said last week that he hoped Congress would negotiate over his proposal, but he stressed the need to pass an infrastructure bill.

“Congress should debate my plan, change it, and offer alternatives if they think that’s what they have to do,” the president said on Friday. “But Congress should act.

6.16pm BST

Bidens celebrate Easter with a masked-up Easter bunny

Joe and Jill Biden just appeared on the Truman Balcony at the White House to wish Americans a happy Easter.

The president and the first lady were joined by a special guest: the Easter Bunny, who was played by Lt Col Brandon Westling of the US Air Force this year. Westling’s costume included a mask covering the bunny’s mouth.

Biden acknowledged many Americans were not able to celebrate Easter with their families as they usually would this year because of the ongoing pandemic, but he expressed optimism about the country’s trajectory as vaccinations ramp up.

“As we celebrate the renewal of this season, we know that longed-for dawn is almost here,” Biden said. “We will rebuild our nation. We will reengage and reimagine what we can be. We’ll remember that with faith, hope and love, anything is possible.”

The president said he was looking forward to next year, adding, “And there will be an Easter Egg Roll, God willing.”

6.09pm BST

The White House noted Joe and Jill Biden still managed to find a way to celebrate Easter with Americans this year, despite the ongoing pandemic.

The White House said in a statement to the press pool, “To spread Easter cheer safely this year, The President and the First Lady distributed wooden souvenir Easter Eggs to vaccination sites across the nation and local hospitals.”

The annual White House Easter Egg Roll is expected to resume next year, after more Americans receive their coronavirus vaccinations.

5.53pm BST

Joe Biden will soon deliver remarks to commemorate Easter, and the White House has been decorated to celebrate the occasion.

In past years, the White House has hosted an annual Easter Egg Roll, but that wasn’t possible this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the White House noted there will still be an Easter Bunny joining Biden for his speech. This year, the bunny will be played by Lt Col Brandon Westling, a US Air Force military aide to the president.

5.38pm BST

The House chaplain opened today’s pro-forma session by offering a prayer for William “Billy” Evans, the US Capitol Police officer who was killed in Friday’s attack.

“Gracious God, we grieve yet again for the loss of one of our own, another brave member of the Capitol Police, William ‘Billy’ Evans,” Chaplain Margaret Grun Kibben said.

“We pray for his family and friends, for those who served alongside him and all those who so deeply feel his passing.”

Kibben noted Evans’ death came on Good Friday, the day that Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus.

“How profound it is that, on that same day, Officer Evans sacrificed his own life for the love of his country and the defense of democracy,” Kibben said. “There is no greater love.”

Kibben questioned whether they should also pray for Noah Green, the suspect in the Capitol attack who died after officers opened fired on him as he wielded a knife at them.

“Lord, even in our anger may we find a way to pray for those who would turn their wrath on us,” Kibben said.

5.21pm BST

Minneapolis police chief testifies at Chauvin trial

The Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arradondo, is now testifying as a witness for the prosecution at Derek Chauvin’s trial.

Experts have said Arradondo’s decision to testify against Chauvin in connection to the killing of George Floyd is a remarkable and potentially unprecedented move for a police chief.

Arradondo fired Chauvin and the other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest shortly after the Black man was killed last May.

The Guardian’s Joanna Walters is providing updates on the trial in a separate live blog. Follow along here:

5.02pm BST

Fewer than half of Americans belong to a house of worship, a new study shows, but religion – and Christianity in particular – continues to have an outsize influence in US politics, especially because it is declining faster among Democrats than Republicans.

Just 47% of the US population are members of a church, mosque or synagogue, according to a survey by Gallup, down from 70% two decades ago – in part a result of millennials turning away from religion but also, experts say, a reaction to the swirling mix of rightwing politics and Christianity pursued by the Republican party.

Among other groups Gallup reported, the decline in church membership stands out among self-identified Democrats and independents. The number of Democratic church members dropped by 25% over the 20 year period, with independents decreasing by 18%. Republican church members declined too, but only by 12%.

David Campbell, professor and chair of the University of Notre Dame’s political science department and co-author of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, said a reason for the decline among those groups is political – an “allergic reaction to the religious right”.

“Many Americans – especially young people – see religion as bound up with political conservatism, and the Republican party specifically,” Campbell said.

“Since that is not their party, or their politics, they do not want to identify as being religious. Young people are especially allergic to the perception that many – but by no means all – American religions are hostile to LGBTQ rights.”

4.40pm BST

Risk of surface transmission of coronavirus is low, CDC director says

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Rochelle Walesnky, noted the agency has updated its guidance on cleaning surfaces to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“People can be infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. However, evidence has demonstrated that the risk by this route of transmission is actually low,” Walensky said.

The CDC director noted “regular cleaning of surfaces with soap and detergents” is enough to severely limit the risk of surface transmission of the virus.

Disinfecting surfaces is only recommended for indoors settings that have recently documented a confirmed case of coronavirus, Walensky said.

She also once again urged Americans to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing, which can further limit the risk of surface transmission of coronavirus.

The White House coronavirus response team’s briefing has now ended.

4.26pm BST

A reporter asked members of the White House coronavirus response team whether they anticipated coronavirus cases to fall as the weather warms up.

Dr Rochelle Walesnky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledged the spread of other viruses usually decreases during warmer months. However, she expressed skepticism about a natural decrease in coronavirus cases in the coming months because of the surge in cases during last summer in the US.

Senior White House adviser Andy Slavitt emphasized vaccinations are the much stronger strategy for lowering the number of coronavirus cases.

4.14pm BST

Despite the encouraging news about the increase in vaccinations, coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in the US, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Dr Rochelle Walensky noted the country’s seven-day average of new daily cases is approximately 64,000, representing a 7% increase from a week earlier.

“Please continue to hang in there,” Walensky said during the coronavirus response team’s briefing.

4.11pm BST

More than 4 million shots in a single day this weekend, White House says

The White House coronavirus response team is now holding a briefing to provide an update on vaccine distribution and case numbers.

Senior White House adviser Andy Slavitt announced the Biden administration is establishing three more federally funded mass vaccination sites.

The three sites will be located in Columbia, South Carolina; Pueblo, Colorado; and St Paul, Minnesota.

“These three new sites bring us closer to the president’s goal,” Slavitt said, noting the existing sites have already helped the administration “reach communities that have been hurt the most by the pandemic”.

Vaccinations continue to ramp up, Slavitt said, and more than 4 million vaccinations were administered in a single day this weekend, setting a new record.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans and over 40% of US adults now have at least one shot, and nearly 1 in 4 adults are now fully vaccinated. But Slavitt emphasized the country must remain vigilant about limiting the spread of the virus, echoing Joe Biden’s comments on Friday.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” Slavitt said. “The worst thing we could do right now is to mistake progress for victory.”

Updated at 4.27pm BST

4.00pm BST

Supreme court dismisses case over Trump blocking Twitter critics

The supreme court has dismissed a case involving Donald Trump’s efforts to block some of his critics on Twitter, arguing the case is no longer relevant now that Twitter has permanently blocked the former president and he has left office.

The AP has more details:

The court also formally threw out an appeals court ruling that found Trump violated the First Amendment whenever he blocked a critic to silence a viewpoint.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate opinion arguing that the bigger issue raised by the case, and especially Twitter’s decision to boot Trump, is ‘the dominant digital platforms themselves. As Twitter made clear, the right to cut off speech lies most powerfully in the hands of private digital platforms.’

Thomas agreed with his colleagues about the outcome of the case, but said the situation raises ‘interesting and important questions.’

Twitter banned Trump from its platform two days after the Capitol insurrection, which resulted in five deaths. Trump had used his Twitter account to encourage people to attend the Washington rally that culminated in the insurrection.

3.39pm BST

It’s looking increasingly likely that we will get Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo on the stand for the prosecution today.

Arradondo (often known informally in the Twin Cities as “Rondo”) became chief in 2017. He very quickly condemned the killing of George Floyd, calling it murder last summer. He had swiftly fired Derek Chauvin and the three officers who helped him in the arrest of Floyd.

We expect that Arradondo will work hard to keep the focus on Chauvin and make efforts to show that the former officer stepped outside his training and police principles when he pinned down Floyd and knelt on his neck, even after the man was unconscious. (Floyd subsequently died on May 25, 2020. Chauvin denies murder.)

However, it will be difficult for the chief to divorce the department from the officer. Chauvin had been a police officer in Minneapolis for 19 years and had multiple complaints against him. There has also been evidence that he had used his knee to hold people down before, including by the neck.

3.25pm BST

Chauvin trial resumes, with police chief’s testimony expected

Derek Chauvin’s trial has resumed in Minneapolis, where the former police officer is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd last May.

The sixth day of the trial may include testimony from Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo, who is expected to be called as a witness for the prosecution as early as today.

Last week, the court heard gut-wrenching testimony about the final moments of Floyd’s life as Chauvin kept his knee on the man’s neck for more than nine minutes.

Several witnesses became emotional and started crying as they testified, expressing guilt over not having prevented Floyd’s death.

Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded a video of Floyd’s death, told the jury last week: “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad. I look at my brother. I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all Black.”

She added: “It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing, and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”

The Guardian’s Joanna Walters will be providing updates and analysis of the trial as the day unfolds. Follow along:

3.08pm BST

Anthony Fauci has described attacks on him from Republicans as “bizarre”, after a barrage of criticism from senior GOP figures.

The infectious disease expert who has led the US effort against Covid-19 was forced to defend himself after a former Trump official called him “the father of the actual virus” and the senator Lindsay Graham followed other Republicans in urging Fauci – Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to travel to the US-Mexico border.

Speaking to Fox News, Fauci said he had become a scapegoat for rightwing figures.

“I’ve been a symbol to them of what they don’t like about anything that has to do with things that are contrary to them, anything outside of their own realm,” he said.

In a flurry of tweets on Friday, Graham, from South Carolina, told Fauci: “You need to go to the southern border and witness in person the biggest super-spreader event in the nation.”

“It’s a little bit bizarre, I would say,” Fauci said. “I mean … Lindsey Graham, who I like, he’s … you know, he’s a good person, I’ve dealt with him very, very well over the years, you know, equating me with things that have to do at the border? I mean, I have nothing to do with the border.”

2.49pm BST

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell released a statement this morning criticizing the outrage over Georgia’s law restricting voting access.

“We are witnessing a coordinated campaign by powerful and wealthy people to mislead and bully the American people,” the Republican leader said.

McConnell added, “The President has claimed repeatedly that state-level debates over voting procedures are worse than Jim Crow or ‘Jim Crow on steroids.’ Nobody actually believes this. Nobody really thinks this current dispute comes anywhere near the horrific racist brutality of segregation. And a host of powerful people and institutions apparently think they stand to benefit from parroting this big lie.”

In reality, a number of voting rights activists, including Stacey Abrams, have compared the Georgia law to Jim Crow-era tactics.

It’s also worth noting McConnell’s use of the phrase “big lie,” which has come to refer to Donald Trump and his allies’ false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

McConnell went on to say, “Our private sector must stop taking cues from the Outrage-Industrial Complex. Americans do not need or want big business to amplify disinformation or react to every manufactured controversy with frantic left-wing signaling.”

The Republican leader’s statement comes three days after Major League Baseball announced it was moving its All-Star Game from Atlanta due to criticism over the voting law.

2.27pm BST

Joe Biden has said his tn plan to rebuild America’s “crumbling” roads, bridges, railways and other infrastructure would rival the space race in its ambition and deliver economic and social change on a scale as grand as the New Deal. The president has also vowed his “once-in-a-generation” investment will reverse long-standing racial disparities exacerbated by past national mobilizations.

Embedded in his sprawling infrastructure agenda, the first part of which Biden unveiled this week, are hundreds of billions of dollars dedicated to projects and investments the administration says will advance racial equity in employment, housing, transportation, healthcare and education, while improving economic outcomes for communities of color.

“This plan is important, not only for what and how it builds but it’s also important to where we build,” Biden said at a union carpenters’ training facility outside Pittsburgh last week. “It includes everyone, regardless of your race or your zip code.”

His proposal would replace lead pipes and service lines that have disproportionately harmed Black children; reduce air pollution that has long harmed Black and Latino neighborhoods near ports and power plants; “reconnect” neighborhoods cut off by previous transportation projects; expand affordable housing options to allow more families of color to buy homes, build wealth and eliminate exclusionary zoning laws; rebuild the public housing system; and prioritize investments in “frontline” communities whose residents are predominantly people of color often first- and worst-affected by climate change and environmental disaster.

The plan also allocates 0m in workforce development programs targeting historically underserved communities and m for upgrading historically Black college and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and quadruples funding for the Manufacturing Extensions Partnership to boost investment in “minority owned and rurally located” businesses.

Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party (WFP), said it was clear Biden had been listening to activists and understood the interlocking challenges of racial injustice, climate change and economic inequality.

“This is not race-neutral – it’s actually pretty aggressive and specific,” he said, noting the coalition of Black voters and women who helped Biden clinch the Democratic nomination and win the White House.

2.08pm BST

Biden faces hurdles as Democrats and Republicans raise concerns with infrastructure plan

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Joe Biden and his administration are frantically trying to build momentum in Congress to pass the president’s tn infrastructure plan.

However, members of both parties are already raising concerns about the proposal, which Biden officially introduced last week.

Republicans have signaled they do not intend to support the plan because of Biden’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to help pay for the legislation.

And now Democrats are making similar complaints. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he didn’t think paying for the full cost of the plan through tax increases was necessary. Mr. DeFazio said he would support an increase in the gas and diesel tax to pay for the new investments over time, as well as more borrowing to cover part of the cost. …

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.) said he wanted to see the Biden administration consider alternatives to the corporate tax increases to try to court Republican support. ‘I think on the corporate piece, if it’s a nonstarter for the Republicans and it means we can’t get bipartisanship, I’m eager to hear their other ideas,’ he said, listing user fees as one possibility.

Mr. Gottheimer and other lawmakers from the New York area have also insisted that Congress restore the deduction for state and local taxes, which was capped at ,000 in the 2017 tax law. [House speaker Nancy Pelosi] said she was sympathetic to that idea, while the White House has said lawmakers should propose a way for paying for the deduction.

Given his party’s narrow majorities in Congress, Biden needs to convince nearly every Democratic member of the House and the Senate to support his plan in order to get it passed.

As of now, it’s still unclear whether Biden will be able to get his own party on board.

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

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