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Senate committees abruptly postpone votes on Neera Tanden, signaling pessimism about Biden’s candidate.

Two Senate committees abruptly postponed their planned votes Wednesday to advance the nomination of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s choice to lead the Office of Management and Budget, signaling pessimism that she might gain support sufficient to be confirmed by an equally divided Senate.

The Budget Committee and the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee have both postponed scheduled votes, according to three people familiar with the situation who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decisions.

Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, chairman of the Homeland Security committee, told reporters on Wednesday that “people need a little more time to assess it.”

He declined to give details, adding that “we are still having discussions with people.”

Ms Tanden’s nomination has been in jeopardy since Friday, when West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III announced he would not support her, citing concerns over public criticism she leveled at lawmakers in both left in Twitter messages before his selection.

White House officials remained adamant that Mr Biden planned to back Ms Tanden, even as moderate Republican senators whom Democrats had hoped would provide the votes necessary to confirm that she had announced her intention to step down. oppose it. With Manchin in the “no” column, at least one Republican would be needed to join all of the supporting Democrats.

The voting delays came as a surprise Wednesday morning, after Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who heads the budget committee, told reporters on Tuesday his committee was moving forward.

Bipartisan support is building for Shalanda Young, currently chosen by Mr Biden as deputy director of the agency, to take Ms Tanden’s place as the agency’s head candidate. She was the House Democrats’ personnel director on the appropriations committee, the first black woman to hold that position.

Ms Young, who enjoys strong support from House Democrats, helped resolve the compromise that ended the country’s longest government shutdown in 2019. She has also served as a senior negotiator for relief programs staff. coronaviruses approved by Congress in 2020, work that has earned him bipartisan respect. – and preemptive approval from Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama on Wednesday.

“She’s smart, she knows the process inside and out, and she’s an honest broker who has demonstrated her ability to work with both sides and get things done,” said Mr. Shelby, the top Republican on the Credit Committee. of the Senate, in a press release. . “She would have my support.”

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, reiterated Mr Biden’s support for Ms Tanden on Wednesday, rejecting any discussion of an alternative candidate.

“It’s a numbers game,” Ms. Psaki said during a White House briefing. “It’s about convincing a Republican to support his nomination.”

When asked if Ms Tanden had offered to withdraw from the exam, Ms Psaki replied, “This is not the stage we are in.”

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How Democrats are already maneuvering to shape Biden’s top Supreme Court choice

WASHINGTON – After a meeting at the Oval Office earlier this month with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and fellow House Democrats, Rep. James E. Clyburn from South Carolina visited the office of Ms Harris in the West Wing to privately raise a topic that was not addressed in their panel discussion: the Supreme Court.

Mr Clyburn, the highest ranking African American in Congress, wanted to offer Ms Harris the name of potential future justice, according to a Democrat briefed on their conversation. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs would honor Mr Biden’s pledge to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court – and, Mr Clyburn noted, she was also from state South Carolina having political significance for the president.

There may not be a vacant High Court post at the moment, but Mr Clyburn and other lawmakers are already maneuvering to defend candidates and a new approach for an appointment that could come as early as this summer, so that some Democrats are hoping Judge Stephen Breyer, who is 82, will retire. With Democrats holding the tiniest majority of Senate majorities and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg still painfully fresh on their minds, these party leaders want to shape Mr Biden’s nomination, including pushing the party away from the usual Ivy CVs. League.

The precocious jockey illustrates how eager Democratic officials are to leave their mark on Mr. Biden’s efforts to elevate historically under-represented candidates to historic Supreme Court appointments. But it also highlights baffling class and credibility issues within the Democratic Party that have been just below the surface since the days of the Obama administration.

Some Democrats like Mr. Clyburn, who have nervously watched Republicans try to repackage themselves as a working class party, believe Mr. Biden could send a message about his determination to keep Democrats loyal to their blue collar roots in choosing a candidate like Ms. Childs, who attended public universities.

“One of the things we have to be very, very careful about as Democrats is being painted with this elitist brush,” Clyburn said, adding, “When people talk about diversity, they always look at race. and ethnicity – I look beyond that to the diversity of experiences.

North Carolina Representative GK Butterfield, like Mr. Clyburn, a veteran member of the Congressional Black Caucus, made a similar point in an email to White House attorney Dana Remus last month listing the criteria caucus favorites for Federal Court appointments. Near the top of the list, Mr Butterfield said, was: “The judge should have diverse experience in several contexts and in several areas, including experiences outside of the law.

Mr Biden’s pledge to nominate the first black woman to court was sort of an unusual campaign pledge: Mr Clyburn pushed him to do so during a debate in Charleston ahead of South Carolina’s pivotal primary Last year. It was a wish even some of the president’s aides resisted, fearing it might sound like complacency.

Mr Biden has spoken little in public since his election about his preferences for the court, but as the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has a sort of split personality when it comes to personnel policy. While he’s happy to point out his Scranton, Pennsylvania roots, his roots, his public school graduation and his nickname “Middle-Class Joe,” he has long surrounded himself with gender-wielding aides and advisers. of pedigree that he lacks.

And some White House officials are already bracing for what they believe to be unfair right-wing attacks on the black woman they choose, believing that the prospective candidate must have a crisp resume. “It’s going to have to be someone with clear credentials, so it doesn’t appear to be an unqualified person,” said a senior Biden official, who spoke of possible court candidates under cover. of anonymity to share his thoughts from inside the West Wing.

Among the potential candidates proposed for a seat on the Supreme Court, Ms Childs has a background that differs from more recent candidates. Unlike eight of the nine current Supreme Court justices, Ms Childs, 54, did not attend an Ivy League college. Her mother worked for Southern Bell in Columbia, SC and Ms. Childs won a scholarship to the University of South Florida. She then graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School and became the first black woman to become a partner in one of the state’s leading law firms. Like a previous generation of jurists, she rose through the ranks in state politics before being appointed to the bench. Ms Childs was a senior official in the South Carolina Department of Labor before being appointed to the state’s workers’ compensation board.

“She’s the kind of person who has the kind of experiences that would make her a good addition to the Supreme Court,” Clyburn said.

Mr Clyburn, whose coveted support helped revive Mr Biden’s enrollment drive ahead of the South Carolina primary last year, has been particularly active on his behalf in what his advisers say are his most important request of the administration. The 80-year-old House Whip defended Ms Childs with Ms Harris; Mrs. Remus; and Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the judicial committee.

Bakari Sellers, a Democratic political commentator close to Ms Harris, also introduced members of the Vice President’s inner circle to Ms Childs, who was appointed to the federal bench by Mr Obama in 2010.

“Not just for our party, but also for justice, it is important to have someone who has had experiences,” Sellers said.

What prompted some of these officials to go public with a more aggressive form of advocacy are two developments.

First, they saw items on a shortlist in a column by Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post earlier this month, naming two potential successors to Breyer, who, like Ms Childs, are young enough to sit in court for a few decades. The two people named – U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington, DC, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger – both have Ivy League law degrees and important connections. Ms Jackson, 50, was a clerk for Mr Breyer himself and Ms Kruger, 44, was deputy solicitor general to Mr Obama.

There are a handful of other black women in their forties with elite titles who have caught the attention of lawmakers, including some members of the Judiciary Committee. There is Danielle Holley-Walker, Dean of Howard University Law School, and Leslie Abrams Gardner, Federal District Court Judge in Georgia, younger sister of Stacey Abrams.

The question of the moment is more important.

There are relatively few black women in federal appeals courts, where presidents often attract their Supreme Court candidates. Very soon, however, there will be another vacancy in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – which can be a stepping stone to the High Court – when Judge Merrick B. Garland resigns to become a prosecutor. general. Ms Childs might be in a better position to advance to the Supreme Court if she were to sit on that appeals court, some of her admirers say.

“There is an immediate vacancy there, so I would argue for its consideration for the DC Circuit,” Mr. Butterfield, himself a former state Supreme Court justice, said of Ms. Childs. “And when and if there is a vacancy in the Supreme Court, it should also be considered for that.

Cheri Beasley, who lost her re-election as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court by 412 votes in November, is another possible candidate for a seat on the court. She also went to a public university and rose through the judiciary through lower state courts. Still, Ms Beasley has told people she is considering running for the open North Carolina Senate seat next year, according to a Democrat who spoke to her.

When a court post occurs, several Democrats say they are preparing to bring out the tensions of the Obama era, which were covered up by former President Donald Trump.

Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as a number of white Democrats, say they believe the party is too closely tied to the elites and that this perception only gives Republicans political fodder during election season.

“It’s not criticizing the Harvards or the Yales, but I think there are some great lawyers who are really, really smart who come from other places on this earth,” said Senator Jon Tester of Montana, where the Democrats all lost three landmark races last year. “And I think we should consider them.”

Vi Lyles, the mayor of Charlotte, said: “Having the broadest perspective of what’s going on in the country makes you a better decision maker and a better leader.”

Persistent frustrations among black leaders, many of whom have attended public schools or historically black institutions, are even more delicate regarding Mr. Obama’s independent treatment of the Congressional Black Caucus and his administration’s apparent preference for people. nominated with elite titles.

“He was predisposed to Ivy League nominees, I think we can all agree on that,” Mr Butterfield said.

Mr. Sellers was even more brutal. “I love Barack Obama, but there was an Ivy League culture emanating from the White House, and we had to move away from it,” he said.

Frustration with Mr. Obama peaked with his selection of Mr. Garland to the Supreme Court after the death of Judge Antonin Scalia in 2016. Some Congressional Democrats thought the former president could have pressured Republicans and energized Democrats had he chosen a black woman and were furious when he said he was not looking for “a black lesbian from Skokie” .

What Mr. Clyburn will only say indirectly is that Mr. Biden owes not only black voters for his nomination, he is indebted to the African Americans who resurrected his candidacy in South Carolina and those in South which practically cemented his appointment three days later. as it swept the region on Super Tuesday.

Some African-American Democrats believe black Americans will rally behind the black woman Mr. Biden names and suspect Mr. Clyburn is looking for a rationale to elevate his home state and polish his legacy.

Yet few politicians preach more than Mr. Biden about the importance of “dancing with whoever brought you,” as the President often says. And so far Mr Clyburn has been able to install two of his closest allies into the administration, with former Rep. Marcia Fudge being appointed housing secretary and Jaime Harrison hired to lead the Democratic National Committee.

When asked if he could support Ms Childs in the High Court, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, a Republican and the first black South Senator elected since Reconstruction, said he was not ready to to commit. But he congratulated her on having “a very good reputation” and said her appointment “would reflect the positive and powerful progress we have made in the great state of South Carolina.”

Mr. Scott was more blunt, however, when asked if Mr. Biden owed it to black voters in South Carolina, given the role they played in his path to the presidency.

“Jim Clyburn would say so,” he said with a smile.

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The Democrats’ big tent helped them win. Now that threatens Biden’s agenda.

Mr Sanders has targeted recent news that a moderate think tank, Third Way, is working on a project to push Democrats to the center for the midterm elections. He said issues such as canceling student debt, raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour and tackling climate change were “political winners.”

Today’s American working class – white, black, Latino – is suffering. They want us to react vigorously, ”he said. “If we do, I think they’ll reward us in 2022. If we fail them, Republicans will be able to say, ‘Hey, you gave these people the House, the Senate, and the White House and they got nothing. done for you, “we won’t do well in 2022.”

Yet entrenchment by moderate senators – and the president’s current deference to it – presents a challenge for activists hoping to sway the administration. And while progressive elected officials are confident that Mr. Biden will eventually join them, a growing chorus of activists are looking to him for more immediate action.

K Trainor, a student activist who has worked with progressive groups to train Democratic students, said Mr Biden’s response to mayor was deeply disappointing. She said if the administration ignored young voters, it would be more difficult to persuade them to participate in future elections.

“I think a lot of people in my generation ask, ‘Where’s the courage? ”Ms. Trainor said. “It feels like they’re going backwards and we don’t even have 100 days.”

The Reverend William J. Barber II, a co-chair of the Campaign of the Poor who organized the meeting of West Virginia workers with Mr Manchin, said the debate reflected an ugly belly of Democratic politics. While the working poor and low-income, especially those who are racial minorities or young people, form the core of the Democratic base, he said, the policies that interest them most have often been sacrificed because of the political calculations.

They represent the human cost of the big tent, he said.

“The Democrats ran on it, they put it in their platform and they said that’s what has to happen,” Dr. Barber said. “It would be the ultimate surrender and betrayal to then get here and have the power to do it and then step back.”

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Where is Biden’s virus plan?

But Democrats are increasingly convinced that if they can make a bold contribution to coronavirus relief and take credit for a relatively quick and efficient vaccine distribution, they will be rewarded in the midterm elections in November 2022, when the GOP struggles to regain a foothold. More than two-thirds of Americans, including 68% of independents, said in a Quinnipiac University poll released this month that they support passage of the $ 1.9 trillion relief bill proposed by Biden.

House Democrats today unveiled a nearly 600-page proposal for the bill, and in his remarks this afternoon the president practically dared Republicans in Congress to oppose the bill. “Critics say my plan is too big, costing $ 1.9 trillion,” Biden said. “Let me ask them: what would they have me cut? What would they make me forget? Shouldn’t we invest 20 billion dollars to vaccinate the nation? Should we not be investing $ 290 million to extend unemployment insurance to the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get by?

But there is one big campaign promise that continues to be particularly thorny: the dilemma of how quickly schools reopen. As he’s been careful to note this afternoon, those decisions will ultimately be made at the national and local levels, but Biden has kept his promise to safely reopen most schools across the country within the first 100 days of his presidency – that is to say at the end of April.

The administration has struggled to decide where to place its own targets on this issue. At a CNN town hall event this week in Wisconsin, Biden claimed the goal was to open schools five days a week, contradicting a statement by his publicist Jen Psaki, who said that schools held in person classes at least one day a week in the spring would count as meeting the president’s goal.

But some experts remain skeptical about the feasibility of fully reopening classrooms by April without more concerted federal action to introduce vaccines to schools. Many states have included teachers in the highest priority category for immunization, allowing them to receive immunizations immediately. Yet as many states have failed to do so.

“I can’t define at the national level who is in line when, and first – it’s a decision states make,” Biden said today in response to a reporter’s question, adding: ” I think it’s extremely important to get our kids back to school. “

Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of public health at George Washington University, said that when she considered the goal of reopening schools by mid-spring, she was baffled the CDC had not included teachers in its list of people with the highest priority to receive the vaccine. .

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Biden’s plan to tie arms to Europe against Russia and China is not that simple

WASHINGTON – Two weeks after President Biden’s inauguration, French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken publicly about the importance of dialogue with Moscow, saying Russia is part of Europe that cannot simply be avoided and that l ‘Europe must be strong enough to defend its own interests.

On December 30, just weeks before the inauguration, the European Union concluded a major investment agreement with China, days after a tweet by Mr Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, calling for “early consultations” with Europe on China and appearing to warn of a quick deal.

So even as the United States resets under the new White House leadership, Europe is charting its own course on Russia and China in a way that doesn’t necessarily align with Mr. Biden’s goals, this which poses a challenge as the new US president sets out to rebuild a post. -Trump alliance with the continent.

On Friday, Biden will address the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of leaders and diplomats from Europe and the United States he has attended for decades and which has helped solidify his reputation as a champion of transatlantic solidarity.

Speaking at the conference two years ago, Biden lamented the damage the Trump administration had inflicted on the once strong post-war relationship between Washington and major European capitals. “That too will pass,” Biden said. “We will be back.” He pledged that the United States would “take up our leadership responsibility again.”

The president’s remarks on Friday are sure to repeat that promise and highlight his now familiar call for a more unified Western front against undemocratic threats posed by Russia and China. In many ways, such a speech will surely be received as a warm massage by European leaders tense and shocked by four years of mercurial and often contemptuous diplomacy from President Donald J. Trump.

But if by ‘leadership’ Mr Biden means a return to the traditional American hypothesis – we decide and you follow – many Europeans feel that this world is gone and that Europe should not behave like the young American winger in the fights defined by Washington.

Demonstrated by the European Union’s trade deal with China and by the conciliatory talks on Moscow of leaders like Mr. Macron and the next German Chancellor Armin Laschet, Europe has its own interests and ideas on how to handle the two main rivals of the United States. , those that will complicate Mr. Biden’s diplomacy.

“Biden signals an incredibly hawkish approach by Russia, joining it with China and defining a new global cold war against authoritarianism,” said Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

This makes many European leaders nervous, he said. And other regional experts said they saw fewer signs of overt enthusiasm from the continent than officials in the Biden administration might have hoped for.

“There was always a clear recognition that we weren’t going to just be able to show up and say, ‘Hey guys, we’re back!’” Said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who was in line to become the National Security Council director for Russia but who did not accept the post for personal reasons.

“But even with all of this, I think there was optimism that it would be easier than it looks,” said Ms. Kendall-Taylor, director of the transatlantic security program at the Center. for a New American Security. .

Ulrich Speck, senior researcher at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, added: “After the freeze in relations under Trump, I expected more warming. I don’t see it yet.

Mr. Biden quickly took many of the easiest steps towards reconciliation and unity with Europe, including the return of the Paris climate agreement, the renewed emphasis on multilateralism and human rights and the pledge to join the disintegrating 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

But lining up against Russia and China will be much more difficult.

China may be a rival to the United States, but it has long been a vital trading partner for Europe. And while European leaders see Beijing as a rival and a systemic competitor, they also see it as a partner and hardly see it as an enemy.

And Russia remains a nuclear-weapon neighbor, as earthy as it is, and has its own financial and emotional resources.

Since Mr. Biden was last in the White House, as Vice President under the Obama administration, Britain, historically the most trusted diplomatic partner of the United States, has left the European Union and now coordinates foreign policy less effectively with its continental allies.

“This sophisticated British view of the world is missing,” said Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State and Ambassador to NATO in the George W. Bush administration. “I don’t think the United States is still linked to Europe, diplomatically and strategically,” he added.

This week’s security conference is not led by the German government, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be speaking at it, along with Mr Biden, Mr Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And Germany itself illustrates some of the problems the Biden administration will face in its efforts to lock the guns against Moscow.

Ms Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Party has chosen Mr Laschet as their leader, and he is their likely candidate to succeed him in the fall elections. But Mr. Laschet is more sympathetic than Mr. Biden to both Russia and China. He cast doubt on the scale of Russia’s political disinformation and hacking operations and publicly criticized “marketable anti-Putin populism.” He has also been a strong supporter of Germany’s export-oriented economy, which relies heavily on China.

Germany still intends to commission the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a 746 mile natural gas artery that runs under the Baltic Sea from northern Russia to Germany. The paired pipelines belong to Gazprom, which is owned by Russia. Work on the project was halted last year – with 94% of the pipes laid – after the US Congress imposed new sanctions on the project on the grounds that it had helped fund the Kremlin, damaged Ukraine and donated to Russia the potential to manipulate Europe’s energy supply.

Last year, German politicians responded to threats of economic punishment from Republican US senators by citing “blackmail”, “economic war” and “neo-imperialism”. Many want to complete the pipeline project, but on Tuesday White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Mr Biden opposed it as a “bad deal” that divided Europe and made it more vulnerable to Russian betrayal.

Despite the sanctions, the Russian ships have renewed the laying of the pipes and Merkel defends the project as a commercial enterprise and not as a geopolitical declaration. The Germans argue that European Union energy regulations and new pipeline configurations reduce Russia’s ability to manipulate supplies and that Russia is more dependent on revenue than Europe is on gas.

There are signs that, as with the China deal, the Biden administration wants to move forward and negotiate a solution with Germany, to remove a major irritant with a crucial ally. This could include, some suggest, take-back sanctions if Moscow diverts supplies or interrupts transit charges to Ukraine.

In France, Mr. Macron has long sought to develop a more positive dialogue with Mr. Putin, but his “reset” efforts have come to naught. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles attempted something similar this month with embarrassing results when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov humiliated him during a press conference and called the European Union an “unreliable partner”.

With the attempted assassination and then imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, Mr Borrell’s treatment means Brussels is likely to impose further sanctions on Russia, but not before month’s end of March, and will be more open. to Mr. Biden’s suggestions for a tougher line.

Biden administration officials say coordinating with a shattered Europe has never been easy, and its leaders welcome the reestablishment of US leadership – especially over a more apparent Chinese threat to Europe than five years ago. years.

On China and the investment deal, after seven years of difficult talks, European officials have championed it as an effort to gain the same access to the Chinese market for their companies that US companies had obtained in the part of Mr. Trump’s deal with China last year.

“There is no reason for us to suffer from an uneven playing field, including vis-à-vis the United States,” Sabine Weyand, EU trade director general, said in a forum virtual in early February. “Why should we stay seated?”

Ms. Weyand said the deal sets high standards for Chinese business practices, which would ultimately put the United States and Europe “in a stronger position to have a more assertive policy together on China.”

The deal, however, needs to be ratified by the European Parliament, which has criticized its failure to guarantee more workers’ rights, and is unlikely to end up in a vote much later this year. And, again, officials in the Biden administration seem keen to move forward, given the importance of cooperation with Europe on China.

“The deal could potentially complicate transatlantic cooperation on China,” said Wendy Cutler, former US trade negotiator and vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, “but I don’t think that’s going to prevent it.”

Michael crowley reported from Washington, and Steven erlanger from Brussels. Ana Swanson contributed to the Washington report.

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Biden’s pick for Iranian envoy resuscitates bitter debate over nuclear deal

But Mr Malley, the son of an Arab Jewish left, is a well-known advocate for engaging with groups and governments – including, over the years, Hamas, Hezbollah and President Bashar al-Assad. of Syria – widely regarded as enemies of the United States. States and Israel and, by some, morally prohibited from contact. For his detractors, he is too suspicious of American power and too compassionate of foreign actors, especially Iran and the Palestinians who have deep differences with the West.

As Mr Biden’s spokesman for Iran, responsible for containing its expanding nuclear program, fear the criticism, Mr Malley will push for a new deal with Tehran that will concede too much to its clerical leaders in the name of of reconciliation. When news of his appointment first hit the media, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, condemned “radicals like Malley” who, he said, has “a long experience of sympathy for the Iranian regime” and “of animosity towards Israel”.

Other opponents of negotiations with Iran expressed their concern in more moderate terms. “The appointment of Rob Malley may be a clear indication that the Biden administration is prioritizing a return to the JCPOA rather than a policy of deploying American power to secure a more compressive and permanent deal,” said Mark Dubowitz , director general of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which he has long opposed. “Malley does not believe in American power,” he added.

Defenders for Mr Malley, whose position does not require Senate confirmation, say he has become a convenient target for an opening salvo from the US and Israeli right to warn the Biden administration not to try too hard to work with Tehran on another nuclear deal. like the 2015 accord which became one of the bitterest foreign policy battles of the Obama years.

“Most of Rob’s judgments come from people who don’t know him and who choose to believe that he has no conception of American national interests, and that it’s about trying at all costs to find a way to be reconciled with our enemies ”. said Aaron David Miller, a Middle East peace negotiator under several presidents who has worked with and is close to Mr Malley.

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TSA workers were given authority to enforce Biden’s mask mandate

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today authorized Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers to enforce President Joe Biden’s mask mandate “at TSA checkpoints and throughout the public and commercial transportation system, “according to CNN,

Acting Secretary David Pekoske today signed a National Emergency Determination, empowering the TSA to “take action consistent with authorities” within its federal jurisdiction to enforce the mask mandate of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC). The CDC order, issued last week and effective February 1, makes the refusal to wear face masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation (buses, trains, ferries, subways, taxis, travel vehicles shared, etc.) is a violation. of federal law.

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“This includes supporting the CDC in meeting any orders or other requirements necessary to protect the transportation system, including passengers and employees, from Covid-19 and to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 through the transportation system. , to the appropriate extent and in accordance with applicable law, “Pekoske wrote.

The CDC’s mandate is based on an executive order that Biden signed on opening day, requiring people to wear masks that cover both the nose and mouth while using public transportation and while waiting at airports, terminals. , stations, etc. The CDC dictates that masks must include two or more layers of breathable fabric and be secured around the person’s head with ties, loops, or elastic bands.

People must also wear their masks properly to be effective, which is why the CDC requires that the masks fit snugly around the face and must not have piercings or exhalation valves. Leggings are also allowed, but must consist of at least two layers of fabric or be folded to provide two layers. Scarves and bandanas do not meet the requirements.

The CDC order specifies that face shields and goggles can be used in addition to the mask, but not instead of it. It also provides exemptions for children under the age of two and people with disabilities that would prevent them from wearing a mask.

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CDC builds on Biden’s facial mask mandate

The Centers for Disease Control on Friday relied on President Joe Biden’s executive order last week ordering face masks on airplanes, making a refusal to use the cover a violation of federal law.

Commuters on airplanes and public transportation like buses and subways will need to wear face masks starting next week to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

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The rule “will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can safely travel again even during this pandemic,” said Dr. Marty Cetron, director of the CDC’s quarantine and migration division, who signed the order.

The rule takes effect on Monday, February 1, and applies to passengers on planes, trains, subways, buses, taxis and carpooling. It says that travelers should wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while traveling and while on and off. The order extends to waiting areas such as airports, train platforms and metro stations.

Airlines already require masks and have banned more than 2,500 passengers for refusing to wear one. Flight attendant unions have said a federal rule will make it easier for crews to enforce the requirement.

The order exempts children under the age of two and people with a disability that makes it unsafe to wear a mask. Travelers will be able to remove their masks while eating or drinking.

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Biden’s economic plan about to clear Senate hurdle

“This is not the last bill we will pass,” said Pelosi. “This is the rescue package.”

During the vote, Ms Collins, who led a group of 10 senators who met with Mr Biden this week in hopes of persuading him to adopt a smaller $ 618 billion stimulus package, issued a letter in the White House claiming Mr. Biden overestimated the money needed to reopen schools and help state and local governments.

In an interview, she urged the president to take advantage of the money already approved in previous stimulus packages.

“There are hundreds of billions of dollars in unspent funds,” Ms. Collins said.

Democrats were due to introduce a bill and begin committee debate in the House next week, with the aim of pushing the plan through the budget reconciliation process. They could then bypass a filibuster, who can only be overcome with 60 votes, and instead move on with a simple majority, allowing the package to be enacted without Republican votes.

While details remain to be seen, those familiar with the plan have said it will largely mirror Mr Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion proposal. The biggest gap, they said, was probably to reduce the cost of direct payments to Americans.

At Mr. Biden’s insistence, the maximum amount of these payments would remain at $ 1,400. But Democrats and the administration are discussing phasing them out for high-income Americans at a faster rate than the $ 600 payments Congress approved in December, meaning those who earn more would receive smaller checks.

Democrats could further reduce the cost of the plan by lowering the income threshold at which payments start to disappear. Mr. Biden proposed to begin phase-out for people earning $ 75,000 per year and couples earning $ 150,000 per year. Lawmakers are considering lowering those thresholds to $ 50,000 for individuals and $ 100,000 for couples, although they have not made a final decision on whether to do so.

Among the Republican ideas that appeared to be gaining traction with the White House was a proposal from Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who unveiled a plan to send payments of up to $ 1,250 per month to families with children, in the aim to encourage Americans to have more children while reducing child poverty rates.

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Biden’s policies are popular. What does this mean for Republicans?

The American public has given President Biden favorable reviews since taking office last month, and the policies he is rushing to put in place appear widely popular, polls show.

And notably, as he signs a wave of executive action and pushes a major $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, Mr Biden faces muted opposition from Republicans until ‘now – a reflection of the party’s weakened position as it juggles two increasingly divided factions.

“I think the Republicans found Biden to be a lot more progressive than they thought he was, but I think we’re too busy trying to kill ourselves to really focus on it,” said Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of centrist Republicans that includes more than 60 members of the House and Senate.

This week, the House GOP caucus met to discuss the fate of two lawmakers representing opposite ends of the party’s identity: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Republican No.3 from the room. Ms Greene is one of the chamber’s most ardent loyalists to former President Donald J. Trump, while Ms Cheney lobbies to dissociate the party from her brand of populism.

The result of Wednesday’s meeting was something of a deadlock, with Republican leaders allowing Ms Greene to retain her powers on the committee despite a history of offensive and conspiratorial statements, and Ms Cheney comfortably retaining her leading position against a mutiny by Trump’s allies. Thursday was to bring another moment of truth for Republicans in the House, with the entire body voting on whether to remove Ms. Greene from her committee positions.

This intra-party divide gives Mr. Biden “the upper hand” as he pushes his legislative agenda forward, said Doug Schwartz, director of polls at the University of Quinnipiac, who released a nationwide poll on Wednesday. “He advocates policies that have strong public support so that Republicans are more in a defensive posture because they oppose popular policies,” Schwartz said.

Public dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the United States remains high: about seven in ten say they are unhappy with the way things are going, according to the Quinnipiac poll. But optimism is on the rise and many are pinning their hopes on the new president. When asked about the next four years under Mr. Biden’s leadership, 61% of Americans described themselves as optimistic.

In a Monmouth University poll released last week, 42% of Americans said the country was heading in the right direction – far less than half, but still more than in any Monmouth poll dating back to 2013 .

The Quinnipiac Inquiry found that more than two-thirds of Americans support Mr Biden’s coronavirus relief program, with a large majority also supporting certain key elements – including a permanent increase in a minimum wage of $ 15 and a series of $ 1,400 stimulus checks to individuals. On the issue of stimulus payments, even 64% of Republicans backed them.

On a series of other Biden policies, the poll found broad support: joining the Paris climate accord, paving the way for citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and ending Mr. Trump’s ban. to travel from certain predominantly Muslim countries.

It should be mentioned that pollsters across the country underestimated support for Mr. Trump in November for the second time in a row; Until the survey’s researchers complete a full post-mortem analysis of the 2020 poll, it will be impossible to rule out the possibility that some polls are still missing some of its supporters.

Yet “generally smart Republicans try to choose their battles,” said Robert Cahaly, a Republican pollster in Georgia who has worked with candidates both in the populist wing of the party and in its establishment.

Mr. Biden, for his part, will seek to capitalize on the Republicans’ compromised position. “Ultimately America wanted a more empathetic president, but people don’t want a president who seems weak,” Mr. Cahaly said.

But he and other Republican strategists have warned that if Mr Biden moves too hastily on legislation seen as left-wing, he could face a backlash from some of the disgruntled Republicans who backed him in November. Ms Chamberlain said if Mr Biden’s environmental policies were seen to hurt the economy, he could find himself in a hole. “I think you let them pass laws left and right and then you expose them for what they are,” Ms. Chamberlain said of her suggested strategy for Republicans.

Americans are not holding their breath for a new dawn of bipartisanship. Only 21% of Monmouth poll respondents said they were very confident Mr Biden would be able to persuade Washington lawmakers to work more together. Another 39 percent were somewhat confident.

Although Mr Biden receives favorable job evaluations overall, 16% of Americans in the Monmouth and Quinnipiac polls said they had not made a decision. Many of those people are one-time GOP voters who have lost faith in the party led by Mr. Trump and are waiting to see how Mr. Biden governs, longtime Republican pollster Whit Ayres said.

“Basically the approval numbers on Biden are Trump’s disapproval,” Ayres said. “But the disapproval numbers on Biden are lower than the approval numbers on Trump – suggesting some people are waiting to see what he’s doing.”

And those who stay behind are proven to give him the benefit of the doubt. In an Associated Press / NORC poll released Thursday, in which respondents were pressured to give an answer, his approval rose to 61%. Thirty-eight percent disagreed.

The opinions of the Republican Party, on the other hand, are much darker.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 64% of Americans said the GOP was going in the wrong direction, including an overwhelming 70% independent and 30% Republican supporters, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

The party’s base is now heavily focused on Trump supporters. “The Trump base is so important as a part of the party because a lot of my types of Republicans have left the party,” said Ms. Chamberlain, the leader of the centrist group. “But they want to come back to the party.”

These staunch pro-Trump Republicans express deep frustration with their representation in Washington. Most GOP voters continue to believe the November vote was rigged, echoing Mr. Trump’s false claims, and many are angered that lawmakers in Washington were not able to keep him in power.

Partly as a result, only 50% of Republicans said they were satisfied with GOP lawmakers in Washington, according to the Quinnipiac poll. That’s down from 83% among Republican voters nationwide in a Quinnipiac survey a year ago.

“Two people can both look at the same house and not like it, but for different reasons,” Mr. Cahaly said. “There is just one element of Republicans who want their old party back and hate the new populism. Then there are Republicans who like the idea of ​​it being a workers’ party and want old Republicans to become Democrats. This fight will take place in the primaries, in the town halls. This party is in a small civil war. “