Live Updates: In Reversal, Biden Raises the Refugee Admission Cap to 62,500

Harka Gurung and her 8-year-old daughter, Eden, are part of a family from Bhutan who moved to Columbus, Ohio, from a refugee camp in Nepal.
Credit…Martha Irvine/Associated Press

President Biden reversed himself on Monday and said he would allow as many as 62,500 refugees to enter the United States in the next six months, eliminating the sharp limits that former President Donald J. Trump had imposed on those seeking refuge from war, violence or natural disasters.

“This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees,” Mr. Biden said in a statement issued by the White House.

The action came about two weeks after Mr. Biden said he would leave Mr. Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees in place. That announcement drew widespread condemnation from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill and from refugee advocates who accused the president of reneging on a campaign promise to welcome those in need.

White House officials had insisted that Mr. Biden’s intentions in mid-April were misunderstood. But his decision to increase the refugee limit to 62,500 indicates that he felt pressure to act.

In his statement, Mr. Biden acknowledged that the government was unlikely to resettle 62,500 refugees because of budget and staffing cuts that agencies sustained during Mr. Trump’s administration. Mr. Biden did not say whether the government had already managed to accept the 15,000 refugees allowed by his predecessor.

“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” he said. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”

Asylum-seeking migrants’ families climbed out of an inflatable raft used to cross the Rio Grande River into the United States from Mexico last month, landing in Roma, Texas.
Credit…Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, is quietly considering trying to use a fast-track budget maneuver to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants should bipartisan talks on providing a pathway to citizenship fall apart.

Mr. Schumer has privately told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in recent weeks that he is “actively exploring” whether it would be possible to attach a broad revision of immigration laws to President Biden’s infrastructure plan and pass it through a process known as budget reconciliation, according to two people briefed on his comments.

The move would allow the measures to pass the evenly divided Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes, shielding them from a filibuster and the 60-vote threshold for moving past one, which would otherwise require at least 10 Republican votes.

The strategy is part of a backup plan Mr. Schumer has lined up in the event that talks among 15 senators in both parties fail to yield a compromise. As the negotiations drag on with little agreement in sight, proponents are growing increasingly worried that Democrats may squander a rare opportunity to legalize broad swaths of the undocumented population while their party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.

Mr. Biden’s immigration plan would provide a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and increase diversity visas and border-security funding. But, conceding the long odds of achieving such extensive changes, lawmakers are focusing on cobbling together a package of smaller bills that would legalize about eight million or fewer undocumented immigrants.

They include House-passed legislation to grant legal status to people brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers; immigrants who were granted Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons; and close to one million farmworkers.

Migrants being deported from the United States along a bridge that connects El Paso and Mexico, in March.
Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Four parents from Mexico and Central America who were among thousands of migrants deported without their children under the Trump administration’s family separation policy will be allowed to join their children in the United States this week, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

The parents, who are from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, will be the first families to reunite in the United States since the Biden administration began taking steps to unravel the 2018 policy that attempted to deter families from trying to enter the country by separating children and parents.

Another 30 migrants are expected to be allowed into the country in 30 to 60 days to reunite with their children, who like most others have been living with relatives in the United States, according to two sources familiar with the administration’s plans.

The announcement of such an incremental move reflects the high political stakes for Mr. Biden, who is under pressure to swiftly fulfill his campaign promise to make reuniting migrant families a top priority.

Within weeks of taking office, Mr. Biden created an interagency task force, led by Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, to identify and reunite all migrant families separated at the border by the previous administration.

“They are children who were 3 years old at the time of separation. They are teenagers who have had to live without their parent during their most formative years,” Mr. Mayorkas said in announcing the impending arrivals on Sunday.

The four women scheduled to cross the border in Texas and California this week are among parents of some 5,500 children known to have been separated under the zero-tolerance policy officially introduced by former President Donald J. Trump in spring 2018. While most families have been reunited in recent years, more than 1,000 remain apart, mainly because a parent was removed from the United States.

Mr. Mayorkas said that he could not provide details about the families, saying only that two of the mothers had been separated from their sons in late 2017, before the Trump administration had extended the policy across the entire southwestern border.

“We are pleased the Biden administration has now taken its first steps to address the harm caused by the Trump administration’s barbaric family separation practice,” said Lee Gelernt, lead counsel in an ongoing class-action lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union brought against the policy in 2018.

“But we certainly do not intend to take a victory lap at this point. It is not enough for these families to be reunited,” he said.

Briana Justice, 16, received her first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in New Hyde Park, N.Y., last month.
Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15 years old by early next week, according to federal officials familiar with the agency’s plans, opening up the U.S. vaccination campaign to millions more people.

Some parents have been counting down the weeks since Pfizer announced results from its trial in adolescents showing that the vaccine is at least as effective in that age group as it is in adults. Vaccinating children is key to raising the level of immunity in the population and bringing down the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.

The clearance, in the form of an amendment to the existing emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine, could come as early as late this week. If it is granted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel is likely to meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and make recommendations for the vaccine’s use in adolescents.

The expansion would be a major development in the country’s vaccination campaign and welcome news to some parents who are anxious to protect their children during summer activities and before the start of the next school year. It also poses another challenge to policymakers who are struggling to vaccinate a large percentage of adults hesitant to get the shot. Many more could refuse to inoculate their children.

Pfizer reported several weeks ago that none of the adolescents in the clinical trial who received the vaccine developed symptomatic infections, a sign of significant protection. The company said that volunteers produced strong antibody responses and experienced about the same side effects seen in people ages 16 to 25.

Stephanie Caccomo, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration, said she could not comment on the timing of the agency’s decision.

“We can assure the public that we are working to review this request as quickly and transparently as possible,” she said.

Over 100 million adults in the United States have been fully vaccinated. But the authorization would arrive in the middle of a delicate and complex push to reach the 44 percent of adults who have not yet received even one shot.

With much of the world clamoring for the surplus of vaccines made in the United States, the Pfizer-BioNTech shot’s use in adolescents will also raise questions about whether the supply should be targeted to an age group that so far appears to be mostly spared from severe Covid-19.

The Food and Drug Administration’s authorization is likely to substantially ease concern among middle school and high school administrators planning for the fall. If students are able to be vaccinated by then, that could allow more normal gatherings and let administrators plan further ahead in the academic year.

With much of the world clamoring for excess supply of vaccines made in the U.S., the Pfizer-BioNTech shot’s use in adolescents could also raise questions about whether supply should be targeted to an age group that so far appears to be mostly spared from a severe bout of Covid-19.

The current vaccine supply in the United States is substantial. As of Monday, about 65 million doses had been delivered but not administered, including 31 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, nearly 25 million doses of Moderna’s and 10 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s, according to figures collected by the C.D.C.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses. Pfizer is authorized for ages 16 and up, while Moderna is authorized for ages 18 and up.

Tens of millions more Pfizer-BioNTech doses — about three weeks’ worth, according to one federal official — have been manufactured and are in various stages of readiness, awaiting final tests before being shipped.

Moderna expects results soon from its own clinical trial involving adolescents ages 12 to 17, followed by results for children 6 months to 12 years old later this year.

The chemicals used in air-conditioning systems are far more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet.
Credit…Al Bello/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency moved on Monday to sharply reduce the use and production of powerful greenhouse gases central to refrigeration and air-conditioning, part of the Biden administration’s larger strategy of trying to slow the pace of global warming.

The agency proposed to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a class of man-made chemicals that are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. The proposal is the first significant step the E.P.A. has taken under President Biden to curb climate change. It aims to reduce the production and importation of hydrofluorocarbons in the United States by 85 percent over the next 15 years, a goal shared by environmental groups and the business community, which jointly championed bipartisan legislation passed by Congress in December.

The move is important because it is the first time the federal government has set national limits on HFCs, which were used to replace ozone hole-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in the 1980s but have turned out to be a significant driver of global warming. More than a dozen states have either banned HFCs or are formulating some restrictions.

The speed with which the E.P.A. is proposing the regulation underscores the level of attention the Biden administration is giving to climate change, said Francis Dietz, vice president for public affairs at the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, a trade group.

“They’re really moving swiftly,” he said. “It says they’re very serious about this.”

There will be a 45-day comment period before the E.P.A. moves to finalize the regulation.

The effort is part of President Biden’s ambitious strategy to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions roughly in half by 2030. It also puts the United States in line with an international goal to reduce HFCs, which the Biden administration has said it will honor.




Biden Outlines His Tax Plan During Community College Visit

During a visit to a community college in Norfolk, Va., President Biden outlined his tax plan, which emphasizes child care benefits as well as an increase in taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations in order to benefit community colleges.

The American Families Plan is going to provide access to quality, affordable child care, keeping parents — helping parents go back to work, providing a lifeline of benefits for children as they do better in school throughout their lives. I was a single father when I first got elected to the Senate. I had two young boys raised after their mom and sister were killed. And I had I not had the family I had, I’d never been able to do it. And I’m not joking about that. And I was a senator. I was making a decent salary. The choice is about who the economy serves. And so I plan on giving tax breaks to the working-class folks, and making everybody pay their fair share. Here’s an example of that choice. If you ask the top 1 percent to pay the same tax rate they paid in 2001 when George Bush was president, that would generate $13 billion a year. Now, that’s enough for us to take around 11 of that $13 billion and provide for two years of community college free for every student in America. So for folks at home, I like to ask the question: Do we want to give the wealthiest people in America another tax cut, or do you want to give every high school graduate the ability to earn a community college degree on their way to good-paying jobs or on the way to four years of school and the industries of the future —health care, I.T., cybersecurity, you name it?

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During a visit to a community college in Norfolk, Va., President Biden outlined his tax plan, which emphasizes child care benefits as well as an increase in taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations in order to benefit community colleges.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden will engage Senate Republicans in further discussions this week as both sides seek a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure, but he appears unlikely to scale back his $4 trillion economic ambitions in the talks.

Mr. Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, visited an elementary school and a community college in Virginia on Monday to promote the administration’s plans, which include two years of free community college and universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

In his remarks, Mr. Biden promoted his plans to tax wealthy Americans to pay for the education measures.

“Is it more important to shield millionaires from paying their fair share?” he said. “Do we want to give the wealthiest people in America another tax cut? Or do you want to give every high school graduate the ability to earn a community college degree on their way to good-paying jobs?”

He also personalized the need for child care, saying how important it was to be able to stay in the work force.

“I was a single father when I first got elected to the Senate, two young boys raised after their mom and sister were killed,” he said. “I would never have been able to do it. I’m not joking about that. I was a senator. I was making a decent salary.”

Over the weekend, Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the president would host a group of Republican senators, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

But Mr. Klain cautioned that the scale of spending that Mr. Biden had proposed — including a $2.3 trillion package centered on physical infrastructure like roads and water pipes and a $1.8 trillion plan to invest in “human infrastructure” like education and child care — was popular among American voters and that the president would be looking for Republicans to match that enthusiasm.

“I think what we have to see is whether or not Republicans in Washington join the rest of America in broadly supporting these common-sense ideas to grow our economy and to make our families better,” Mr. Klain said.

Several Republican senators said on Sunday that there was an opportunity for compromise if Mr. Biden scaled back his spending plans and dropped his proposals to pay for them with tax increases on high earners and corporations.

“Democrats and Republicans alike are meeting,” Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ve got some phone calls scheduled this week. I met with the White House late last week. There’s a way forward here if the White House is willing to work with us.”

Republicans offered a more narrowly focused plan last month to pay for infrastructure, including roads and bridges, with funding from user fees and repurposed money from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Mr. Biden signed in March. They are now calling on the president to make a counteroffer.

Mr. Biden, though, appears unlikely to do so. White House aides say privately that they do not see the Republican plan as commensurate to Mr. Biden’s. Much of the spending in the Republicans’ $568 billion proposal would simply continue existing infrastructure spending, like on highways, at expected levels. The “new” spending could be as low as about $200 billion, or less than one-tenth of what Mr. Biden is proposing.

Still, administration officials see a path to compromise, potentially by breaking off some smaller parts of Mr. Biden’s plans as stand-alone bills. Mr. Klain on Sunday noted one such effort, a bipartisan bill to increase spending on water infrastructure that passed the Senate on an 89-to-2 vote last week.

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming at a news conference on Capitol Hill last month.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, repudiated former President Donald J. Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, accusing him on Monday of “poisoning our democratic system.”

Ms. Cheney’s comments on Twitter escalated her feud with the former president — and, by extension, dozens of her fellow House Republicans who have repeated his baseless assertions that the election was fraudulently decided, or spread falsehoods about the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

The clash is threatening to reach a breaking point in the House, where a number of rank-and-file Republicans are growing increasingly frustrated with Ms. Cheney’s determination to continue calling out Mr. Trump and members of their party. Some have begun openly predicting that the Wyoming Republican, who overwhelmingly defeated a challenge to her leadership position in February after she had sided with Democrats in voting to impeach the former president, will soon face another such challenge and lose.

Apparently undaunted by such threats, Ms. Cheney issued a scathing rebuttal on Monday to a statement put out by Mr. Trump in which he called his 2020 loss “THE BIG LIE,” the term that Democrats have used to describe the former president’s lies about a stolen election.

“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” Ms. Cheney wrote about an hour after Mr. Trump released his one-line statement. “Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”

Her comments are likely to stoke rising resentment of her within the House Republican Conference, whose leaders have publicly signaled irritation in recent weeks with Ms. Cheney’s insistence on taking every possible opportunity to denounce the Jan. 6 riot as an attack manufactured by Mr. Trump and his claims of a stolen election.

At a Republican retreat in Orlando last week, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, declined to say whether she was a good fit to lead the conference, signaling a change of heart from February, when he vouched for Ms. Cheney as she was facing a vote to strip her of her leadership position. In remarks to Axios, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican, went slightly further, suggesting that Ms. Cheney was out of step with the conference.

“This idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where we are — and frankly, he has a lot to offer still,” Mr. Scalise said.

The tensions came to a head last week, after Ms. Cheney told reporters that any lawmaker who led the bid to invalidate President Biden’s electoral victory in Congress should be disqualified from running for president. She also broke with Mr. McCarthy on the scope of a proposed independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, telling reporters in response to a question that she believed it should be narrowly focused on the assault on the Capitol.

Mr. McCarthy and other Republican leaders have instead argued that the inquiry should be broadened to include “political violence across this country,” including by Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren with Richard Cordray after he testified about Wall Street reform before a Senate Banking Committee in 2014.
Credit…Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Richard Cordray, a close ally of Senator Elizabeth Warren who served as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has been selected as the new head of federal student aid in the Biden administration, a post that will put him at the center of the debate over student debt forgiveness.

Though President Biden has endorsed canceling up to $10,000 per borrower through legislation, he has also been pressured by some Democrats to sign an executive order making it happen if Congress fails to act. Mr. Cordray — whose position is within the Department of Education, the primary lender for higher education — might be able to relieve the president of that burden by canceling student debt administratively.

In a statement after his appointment was announced on Monday, Mr. Cordray said he looked forward to working with leaders in the department, the Biden administration and Congress to “create more pathways for students to graduate and get ahead, not be burdened by insurmountable debt.” He did not indicate his position on whether some debt should be canceled.

Republican critics tried to block Mr. Cordray’s appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Barack Obama. But his new appointment as chief operating officer of federal student aid, made by the education secretary, Miguel Cardona, is effective Tuesday and needs no other approvals.

The stock market remains near record highs after tech giants reported first-quarter profits.
Credit…Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Investors have largely shrugged off President Biden’s proposal to raise taxes on investment income for wealthy Americans, as the stock market hovers near record highs after news of a strong economic rebound and blockbuster earnings reports from technology giants such as Apple and Amazon.

The indifference is well founded, analysts say.

Mr. Biden wants to raise taxes on the income that the country’s richest households make from investments — called capital gains — to fund his plans for economic-recovery and infrastructure projects. The increase would apply to people with annual income of a million dollars or more.

In theory, higher taxes on investments like stocks should make them less appealing. But the outlook for economic growth and corporate profits is often a much bigger factor in the decision to buy, sell or hold on to a stock. And in a resilient market — when politicians typically propose them — higher taxes are even less of a deterrent.

“Markets can grow, and grow above trend, even if you’re taking the capital gains tax rate up,” said Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets in New York. “That’s not the silver bullet that will kill the bull market.”

Ms. Calvasina’s team looked at what happens to the stock market when the capital gains tax rises. When the rate increased in past years, the team found, the S&P 500 index rose roughly 11 percent.

Proposed increases to the capital gains tax can cause momentary wobbles as investors try to lock in the appreciation on current investments, but the market usually regains its footing and shares climb higher.

“Any potential equity selling will be short lived and reversed in subsequent quarters,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote late last year about the prospect of a capital-gains tax increase under Democratic control in Washington.

That seems to be how the market is behaving. The news on April 22 that the Biden administration was considering lifting the tax sent stocks into the red, but the selling was limited. Stocks dropped just 0.9 percent for the day and bounced back a day later.

Even after Friday’s 0.7 percent decline, the market sat on a comfortable gain of more than 11 percent this year. The S&P 500 was up 5.2 percent in April, its best month in 2021.

Investor stoicism may also reflect the fact that Mr. Biden’s plan requires congressional approval, a tall order given the slim Democratic control of both chambers. That reduces the likelihood that the proposed increase — which would tax ordinary income and capital gains income in the richest households at the same 39.6 percent rate — is enacted in its entirety.

The National Firearms Collection, a library of guns maintained by the A.T.F.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The long-suffering Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — the federal agency tasked with enforcing the country’s gun laws — is at the center of President Biden’s plans to combat gun violence in America, as hope of quick Congressional action fades.

First, though, the bureau will have to overcome its past. In the 48 years since its mission shifted primarily to firearms enforcement, it has been weakened by relentless assaults from the National Rifle Association that have, in the view of many, made the A.T.F. look like an agency engineered to fail.

The gun lobby, led by the N.R.A., has for years systematically blocked funding and plans to modernize the bureau’s operations — such as the paper-based weapons-tracing system, which is barred by law from using a searchable electronic database.

In a good year, the agency inspects only about 15 percent of the country’s 75,000 gun shops, pawn brokers, manufacturers and importers that sell weapons. In 2020, it dramatically reduced its annual inspections by more than 50 percent, as a result of the pandemic and related issues, from 13,000 in the 2019 fiscal year to about 5,800, according to new A.T.F. data.

“We knew it was going to be bad, but it was far worse than we could have imagined,” said Joshua Scharff, legal counsel for Brady, a gun safety group that has tracked inspections.

At the N.R.A.’s instigation, Congress has imposed crippling restrictions on the collection and use of gun-ownership data, including a ban on the creation of a searchable national database of firearms.

As a result, records of gun sales going back decades are stored in boxes stacked seven high, waiting to be processed, against every wall of the agency’s gun-tracing facility in Martinsburg, W.Va. The floor buckled under the weight a couple of years ago.

“We had a lady pushing a cart, and the floor just gave way,” recalled Tyson J. Arnold, who runs the tracing center, tapping the new, steel-braced deck with his shoe.

Mr. Biden has ordered a ban on the homemade firearm kits known as “ghost guns,” and he has charged the A.T.F. with undertaking the first comprehensive federal survey of weapons trafficking patterns since 2000. To lead the bureau into the future, Mr. Biden has nominated a fiery former A.T.F. agent and gun-control activist, David Chipman.

Mr. Chipman’s confirmation — the Senate hearing is expected to take place in late May — is anything but certain, with one West Wing official saying his “absolute ceiling” in the Senate was 51 or 52 yes votes.

“A.T.F. has all this potential, and they do a lot of good things, but it’s time somebody asked, ‘What is it going to take for us to succeed rather than just treading water?’” said Thomas Brandon, who served as the bureau’s interim director from 2015 to 2019.

Brian D. Miller, the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, at his confirmation hearing last May.
Credit…Pool photo by Salwan Georges

A breakdown in the oversight of trillions of dollars of economic relief money spilled into public view on Friday night when the Treasury Department’s special inspector general for pandemic recovery said in a report that his powers to scrutinize funds had been curtailed this week after a decision by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

The inspector general, Brian D. Miller, said in his quarterly report to Congress that he had been engaged in a monthslong dispute with another inspector general in the Treasury Department over who had access to information about and oversight of the Payroll Support Program and the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The programs were created in the $2.2 trillion stimulus legislation that passed in 2020 and provided money to airline employees and states and cities.

The clash comes as the Biden administration is overseeing another $1.9 trillion in relief money and calling for $4 trillion in new spending on jobs and infrastructure programs. The vast array of government outlays is currently being tracked by a patchwork of oversight bodies and committees.

Mr. Miller’s office has been tracking fraud and “double dipping” in the relief programs, but his access to certain databases started to be curtailed last year in the final months of the Trump administration as the turf war between the inspectors general ensued. Mr. Miller, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump, referred the matter to the Justice Department in early January, before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. took office, to get a final ruling on the scope of his powers.

In the report, Mr. Miller suggested that the “temperature has cooled on oversight” and said flatly that “things are not working well.” He warned that there would be negative consequences as a result and called on Congress to give his office greater authority.

The Treasury Department said that aside from the special inspector general, the department’s programs under the 2020 stimulus law were tracked by multiple, overlapping oversight bodies, including the Treasury inspector general, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Oversight Commission, as well as through traditional congressional oversight.

Some of the other bodies defended their oversight efforts following Mr. Miller’s report.

“The public can rest assured that the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and the Treasury Inspector General will continue to conduct robust, aggressive, and independent oversight over all pandemic-related spending, including the two programs covered by the D.O.J. Office of Legal Counsel opinion,” Michael E. Horowitz, chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, said in a statement on Saturday.

Richard Delmar, the acting inspector general at the Treasury Department who was part of the internal power struggle that Mr. Miller detailed in his report, said on Sunday that his work would continue unimpeded.

“Treasury O.I.G. continues its oversight and enforcement of the Payroll Support Program and Coronavirus Relief Fund program, as it has done since these programs’ inception in 2020, without interruption or reduction of the scope of our work,” Mr. Delmar said.

Justice Clarence Thomas has been an active participant in the arguments for every case this term.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Justice Clarence Thomas, who once went a decade without asking a question from the Supreme Court bench, is about to complete a term in which he was an active participant in every single argument.

Justice Thomas’s switch from monkish silence to gregarious engagement is a byproduct of the pandemic, during which the court has heard arguments by telephone. The justices now ask questions one at a time, in order of seniority.

Justice Thomas, who joined the court in 1991, goes second, right after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., asking probing questions in his distinctive baritone.

“It’s been a lemonade out of lemons situation,” said Helgi C. Walker, a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who served as a law clerk to the justice. “I’m just thrilled that more people get to hear the Justice Thomas that we all know.”

“He can be one of the most loquacious people you’ve ever met,” she said. “He is extremely chatty.”

In the telephone arguments, he asked tough questions of both sides and almost always used his allotted few minutes. The idiosyncratic legal views that characterize his frequent concurring and dissenting opinions were largely absent from his questioning, which was measured and straightforward.

If Justice Thomas’s questions differed from those of his colleagues, it was in their courtesy. He almost never interrupted lawyers, though he asked pointed follow-up questions if there was time left.

Some of his most memorable comments were colorful asides.

Over the course of the last term, Justice Thomas mused about the ballooning salaries of college football coaches, said a police officer’s supposed “hot pursuit” struck him as a “meandering pursuit,” commented on the “sordid roots” of a Louisiana law enacted to advance white supremacy and wondered how public schools should address students’ comments “about current controversies, like protests or Black Lives Matter, antifa or Proud Boys.”

When a lawyer mistakenly called him “Mr. Chief Justice,” he responded, in a light, joking tone, “Thank you for the promotion.”

Former President Donald J. Trump has continued to deny the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Facebook’s Oversight Board, an independent and international panel that was created and funded by the social network, plans to announce on Wednesday whether former President Donald J. Trump will be able to return to the platform that has been a critical megaphone for him and his tens of millions of followers.

The decision will be closely watched as a template for how private companies that run social networks handle political speech, including the misinformation spread by political leaders.

Mr. Trump was indefinitely locked out of Facebook on Jan. 7 after he used his social media accounts to incite a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol a day earlier. Mr. Trump had declined to accept his election defeat, saying the election had been stolen from him.

At the time that Facebook barred Mr. Trump, the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote in a post: “We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”

Two weeks later, the company referred the case of Mr. Trump to Facebook’s Oversight Board for a final decision on whether the ban should be permanent. Facebook and the board’s members have said the panel’s decisions are binding, but critics are skeptical of the board’s independence. The panel, critics said, is a first-of-its-kind Supreme Court-like entity on online speech, funded by a private company with a poor track record of enforcing its own rules.

Facebook’s approach to political speech has been inconsistent. In October 2019, Mr. Zuckerberg declared the company would not fact check political speech and said that even lies by politicians deserved a place on the social network because it was in the public’s interest to hear all ideas by political leaders. But Mr. Trump’s comments on Jan. 6 were different, the company has said, because they incited violence and threatened the peaceful transition of power in elections.

On Monday, Mr. Trump continued to deny the election results.

“The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” he said in an emailed statement.

Hansjörg Wyss, who was born in Switzerland, first visited the United States as an exchange student in 1958, and became enchanted with America’s national parks and public lands. After becoming wealthy, he began donating his fortune primarily to conservation and environmental causes.
Credit…Pete Muller

The Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has quietly become one of the most important donors to left-leaning advocacy groups and an increasingly influential force among Democrats.

Newly obtained tax filings show that Mr. Wyss’s foundations donated $208 million from 2016 through early last year to three nonprofit funds that doled out money to a wide array of groups that backed progressive causes and helped Democrats in their efforts to win the White House and control of Congress last year.

Mr. Wyss’s representatives say his foundations’ money is not being spent on political campaigning. But documents and interviews show that his foundations have come to play a prominent role in financing the political infrastructure that supports Democrats and their issues.

Mr. Wyss’s foundations also directly donated tens of millions of dollars since 2016 to groups that opposed former President Donald J. Trump and promoted Democrats and their causes.

Beneficiaries of his direct giving included prominent groups such as the Center for American Progress and Priorities USA, as well as organizations that ran voter registration and mobilization campaigns to increase Democratic turnout, built media outlets accused of slanting the news to favor Democrats and sought to block Mr. Trump’s nominees, prove he colluded with Russia and push for his impeachment.

Mr. Wyss’s growing political influence attracted attention after he emerged last month as a leading bidder for the Tribune Publishing newspaper chain. Mr. Wyss later dropped out of the bidding for the papers.

Born in Switzerland and living in Wyoming, he has not disclosed publicly whether he holds citizenship or permanent residency in the United States. Foreign nationals without permanent residency are barred from donating directly to federal political candidates or political action committees, but not from giving to groups that seek to influence public policy — a legal distinction often lost on voters targeted by such groups.

Mr. Wyss’s role as a donor is coming to light even as congressional Democrats, with support from Mr. Biden, are pushing legislation intended to rein in so-called dark money spending that could restrict some of the groups financed by Mr. Wyss’s organizations.

Over a thousand people gathered to watch the Stockyards Championship Rodeo in Fort Worth, Tex., last month.
Credit…Shelby Tauber for The New York Times

Early in the pandemic, when vaccines were still just a glimmer on the horizon, the term “herd immunity” came to signify the endgame: the point when enough Americans would be protected from the virus that we could be rid of it.

Now, more than half of adults in the United States have been vaccinated with at least one dose. But rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among public health experts that herd immunity is not attainable — not in the foreseeable future, perhaps not ever.

Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.

How much smaller depends in part on how much of the nation, and the world, becomes vaccinated and how the coronavirus evolves.

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