Biden to meet US governors as he pushes $2.3tn infrastructure plan – live
May 11, 2021world
Dr Anthony Fauci has arrived on Capitol Hill to testify at a hearing before the Senate health, education, labor and pensions committee.
The president’s chief medical adviser will be testifying alongside Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fauci has previously clashed with one member of the committee, Republican Rand Paul, and Paul seemed to indicate yesterday that he was planning for another confrontation at the hearing.
The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:
Joe Biden has picked former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to be his ambassador to Japan.
The selection ends months of speculation over whether Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, a former congressman and longtime Democratic operative, would be nominated to an administration role.
In the first days of the Biden presidency Emanuel, 61, was mentioned as a possible secretary of transportation. Biden ended up picking Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who ran strongly in the Democratic presidential primary.
Some progressives view Emanuel as a major antagonist within the party. He is often criticized among liberals, for example, for his handling of a shooting of an African American teenager during his time in Chicago.
Emanuel served two terms as mayor but opted not to run a third time, in the face of a potentially brutal campaign.
His selection as ambassador was first reported by the Financial Times. The Guardian confirmed it on Tuesday.
More than 1 million Americans have signed up for health insurance since Joe Biden opened a special enrollment period through the Affordable Care Act on February 15.
“That’s one million more Americans who now have the peace of mind that comes from having health insurance,” the president said in a statement released this morning. “One million more Americans who don’t have to lie awake at night worrying about what happens if they or one of their family members gets sick. Through this opportunity for special enrollment, we have made enormous progress in expanding access to health insurance.”
Biden encouraged Americans who still do not have health insurance coverage to sign up before the special enrollment period ends on August 15.
The president also argued that the interest in the special enrollment period demonstrated the need to make the premium reductions included in his coronavirus relief package permanent by passing his American Families Plan.
“Today’s milestone demonstrates that there is a need and a demand for high quality, affordable health insurance across this country,” Biden said. “It is up to Congress to hear them, and act quickly to pass the American Families Plan.”
The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports on the extensive Republican efforts to save the Senate filibuster:
While congressional Democrats hope to make dramatic changes to a controversial legislative tool that has stalled bills in the Senate and could be used to frustrate Joe Biden’s ambitious agenda, Republicans are mounting an all-out defense to protect it.
Conservative outside groups have been organizing overtly and covertly to counter Democratic pressure to gut the filibuster – a Senate device that in effect allows the minority party to halt proposed legislation.
While Democrats have been struggling to unite members of their Senate caucus, especially the more centrist holdouts, to get rid of the filibuster, their Republican counterparts have been lockstep in opposing changes.
Meanwhile, Republican outside groups have churned out polling, aired ads, organized gatherings and released statements warning of the long-term consequences of changing the rule. It is a concerted program that Republicans see as vital to preserving their power in the Biden era, while Democrats see it as a potential threat to their attempts to bring in meaningful legislation.
The cause has reunited Republicans after the divisiveness of the Trump era – bringing together business interests, Trumpist politicians and their anti-Trump opponents in the party, as well traditional big donors to conservative causes.
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
Joe Biden will hold a virtual meeting with a bipartisan group of governors today, as the president pushes Congress to pass his infrastructure plan.
The meeting comes as Democrats and Republicans continue to clash over the specifics of Biden’s proposal, particularly how to pay for the $2.3 trillion package.
Over the weekend, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell seemed to indicate he was willing to go slightly higher on the overall cost of the package, but he remains adamantly opposed to rolling back Trump-era tax cuts to help pay for it. And McConnell’s top-line price of $800 billion is still probably not enough for Democrats.
“The president’s red lines are inaction and are anything that would raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said yesterday.
She added, “There is agreement about the need to modernize our infrastructure, about the need to do more to create jobs in the economy. And he’s looking forward to hearing what additional ideas they may have.”
Biden may hear some of those ideas from Republican governors this afternoon. Stay tuned.