President Biden sought Wednesday to focus on climate change, signing an array of executive actions, including one that directs federal agencies to invest in low-income and minority communities that have traditionally borne the brunt of pollution. He also imposed a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing and announced he would host an international climate summit on Earth Day in April.

A week into Biden’s presidency, the Senate is also moving forward with hearings and votes on several of his Cabinet nominees and preparing for an impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump.

Here’s what to know:
12:51 a.m.
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Democrats want to prohibit naming any federal property for Trump

A group of House Democrats has introduced legislation barring any federal land, monuments or projects from being named for former president Donald Trump, arguing that federal funds should not go to memorializing a twice-impeached president.

The four-page bill does not single out Trump but stipulates that any former president impeached twice by the House not be given that honor.

The bill also seeks to take away benefits from former presidents who have twice been impeached, including a pension, travel expenses and burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Even though Trump is no longer in office, he should still be held accountable for his actions and the taxpayers should not foot the bill for his future actions,” said Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.), in a statement introducing the bill. “I can’t imagine sending students in Southern California — or anywhere in America — to a school named in honor of a traitorous president.”

While the bill isn’t likely to pass, it may not be necessary. Hardly anything is named after disgraced former president Richard M. Nixon, who resigned amid the Watergate scandal before he could be impeached.

12:22 a.m.
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Sen. Whitehouse made more than 275 weekly floor speeches on climate change. Wednesday he gave his last.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has given floor speeches imploring his colleagues to take seriously the threat of climate change every week the Senate has been in session since 2012.

On Wednesday night, Whitehouse delivered his 279th speech and said it would be his last.

He began with a recent history of Congress’s lack of action, including a skewering of President Barack Obama’s decision to “pull the plug” on taking up the issue in the Senate, even when there was a filibuster-proof Democratic majority, because they’d expended too much political capital on passing health care.

“The White House was tired of conflict, didn’t want another big battle, wasn’t going to take on any fights it wasn’t sure it could win,” Whitehouse said. “Think about that. Think of history’s great battles and contests, legislative or otherwise and consider in how many of those battles either side was sure it would win. If you limit yourself to battles you’re sure you can win, you’re pretty much sure to miss the most important battles.”

“And we lost this one for the most lamentable of reasons, failure to try,” he went on.

He described Obama as abandoning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after the chamber had passed an ambitious climate bill, and said, “The great presidential megaphone in the hands of one of our most articulate presidents stood mute.”

Whitehouse described that time as “dark, desolate days” and said he committed himself then to speak about climate change every week the Senate was in session.

He’s stopping the speeches now though because he feels optimistic that the Biden administration will act on climate change, he said. Again, the Democrats control both chambers — albeit with slimmer majorities than they had in 2009 and 2010. “This time I hope we’ll be serious,” Whitehouse said.

For the six years of floor speeches, he stood with a green poster with the words: “Time to Wake Up” next to a picture of the Earth.

“So instead of urging that it’s time to wake up, I close this long run by saying now, it’s time to get to work,” Whitehouse said before taking the small microphone off the lectern and literally dropping it.

10:58 p.m.
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McCarthy will meet with Trump in Florida on Thursday

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will meet with Trump in Florida on Thursday, according to a Trump official with knowledge of the plans.

News of the expected meeting was first reported by Punchbowl News.

McCarthy has been among Trump’s most vocal supporters on Capitol Hill, backing false claims of widespread election fraud and supporting the former president’s efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in the 2020 White House race. For weeks, McCarthy declined to acknowledge Biden as the winner — even as then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top Republicans congratulated Biden.

One week after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, McCarthy said Trump should “accept his share of responsibility” for the attack. But since then, the California Republican appears to have walked back his remarks.

In an interview with Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren that aired Sunday, McCarthy said that all Americans bear some responsibility.

“I thought the president had some responsibility when it came to the response,” McCarthy said in the interview. “If you listen to what the president said at the rally, he said, ‘Demonstrate peacefully.’ And then I got a question later about whether did he incite them. I also think everybody across this country has some responsibility.”

A spokesman for McCarthy declined to comment on the meeting.

JM Rieger contributed to this report.

10:57 p.m.
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At confirmation hearing, McDonough calls himself a ‘fighter’ who understands the sacrifices of veterans

McDonough told senators that although he is not a veteran like many others who have led the Department of Veterans Affairs, he is a “fighter” and “relentless,” and promised to succeed as head of the agency.

“I’m not telling you that I’m a vet, but I’m telling you that I’ve come to understand the massive sacrifices they’ve made and the skill with which they’ve done it,” the 51-year-old nominee said at his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

A Minnesota native who served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff and in senior roles on the National Security Council and on Capitol Hill, McDonough said his long career in public service has prepared him to lead a sprawling agency beset by challenges, including health care, benefits and communication with Congress.

“I can unstick problems inside agencies and across agencies, especially at an agency as large as VA,” McDonough told the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

His roughly 90-minute hearing was notable for its bipartisan tone, and an easy confirmation by the full Senate is expected.

10:42 p.m.
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Toll of injuries from Capitol attack stands at about 140 police officers, union official says

The physical toll on officers who defended the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob is becoming clearer, with reports by police officials and federal prosecutors indicating that about 140 officers were injured, the head of Capitol Police officers’ union said Wednesday.

“I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained head injuries,” Gus Papathanasiou, union chairman, said in a statement Wednesday. “One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake, to name some of the injuries.”

Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick died after trying to defend the Capitol from rioters. One Capitol Police officer and one D.C. police officer have died by suicide since the attack.

And since Jan. 6, 38 Capitol Police employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, almost entirely officers and supervisors who responded to the riot, Papathanasiou said.

At least 81 Capitol Police officers were assaulted during the siege of the Capitol, according to filings by federal prosecutors. The filings did not detail injuries sustained by officers and a Capitol Police spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on officer injuries.

About 65 officers from the D.C. police also suffered injuries on Jan. 6, including several concussions from head blows from various objects, including metal poles ripped from inauguration-related scaffolding and even a pole with an American flag attached, D.C. police officials have said. Other injuries included swollen ankles and wrists, bruised arms and legs, and irritated lungs from bear and pepper spray.

Reports say officers were pushed downstairs, trampled by rioters, punched and run over in a stampede. One D.C. police officer who was at the riot took his own life in the aftermath of Jan. 6. “I’ve talked to officers who have done two tours in Iraq, who said this was scarier to them than their time in combat,” acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III said at a news conference earlier this month.

Papathanasiou said the admission from acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman that the department had advance warning of the “strong potential for violence” Jan. 6, including the possible use of firearms, was “unconscionable. The fact they did not relay this information to the officers on duty prior to the insurrection is inexcusable.”

The union head also contested Pittman’s claim that she ordered a lockdown of the Capitol. “To be clear, it was actually Inspector [Thomas] Lloyd who initially ordered the Capitol lockdown approximately one hour prior to Chief Pittman’s order,” said Papathanasiou. “That was the only time that day I heard Pittman on the radio.”

“The officers are angry, and I don’t blame them. The entire executive team failed us, and they must be held accountable,” he said. “Their inaction cost one officer his life, and we have almost 140 responding officers injured. They have a lot to atone for.”

A spokeswoman for the Capitol Police also did not respond to requests for information on officer coronavirus diagnoses.

10:33 p.m.
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Analysis: The GOP’s Marjorie Taylor Greene problem is spinning out of control

Republicans knew they had a Marjorie Taylor Greene problem back in the summer of 2020 when she was running for Congress. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called the QAnon supporter’s comments about Black people and Muslims “disgusting,” while a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called them “appalling.” Scalise backed her primary opponent.

Then she won, and Republicans tried to put a good face on it — even falsely claiming that she had disavowed QAnon and suggesting that the country should move on.

That posture is looking increasingly untenable.

9:55 p.m.
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Federal Reserve’s Powell says vaccinations are best way to help economy

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said Wednesday that getting Americans vaccinated is the most important thing that can be done to help the economy, comments that could boost President Biden’s push to pass a massive new relief package that includes big spending on vaccines.

“There’s nothing more important to the economy right now than people getting vaccinated,” Powell said at a news conference after the Fed’s regular policy meeting.

Powell’s comments came on the same day Biden’s coronavirus response team held its first public briefing, with senior adviser Andy Slavitt emphasizing that the administration cannot reach its goal of vaccinating all Americans unless Congress acts to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package.

9:38 p.m.
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Virginia senator who called U.S. Capitol rioters ‘patriots’ is censured

The Virginia Senate voted Wednesday to censure state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield) over a long pattern of behavior that includes referring to the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as “patriots” and making insulting comments toward the Virginia Capitol Police and the clerk of the Senate.

The rare censure resolution was entered by Sen. John J. Bell (D-Loudoun) but also received support from Republicans. It passed 24 to 9 after lengthy debate.

“The need to protect the honor of this body compelled me to proceed,” Bell said Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) said the issue was one of “hypocrisy” on Chase’s part and a lack of integrity.

9:14 p.m.
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Biden administration asks Trump’s envoy to Afghanistan to remain on job

The Biden administration has asked Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan, to stay on the job, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on his first full day in office.

Khalilzad was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2018 to negotiate a U.S. peace agreement with the Taliban, signed last February. The accord called for an end to attacks on U.S. forces and a general reduction in violence, as well as a Taliban promise to end all support for terrorism and to begin negotiations for a political settlement with the Afghan government. In return, Trump promised to withdraw all U.S. troops by this spring.

Amid several rounds of withdrawals, U.S. troop numbers have dropped precipitously in recent months, reaching 2,500 as Trump left office.

President Biden has said he wants to withdraw the remaining combat forces but hopes to leave a counterterrorism force to fight al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Blinken said the new administration wants to review the U.S.-Taliban agreement. “One of the things that we need to understand is exactly what is in the agreements that were reached by the United States and the Taliban, to make sure we fully understand the commitments made,” he said.

Although Taliban attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan have largely ceased, violence against Afghan forces has increased since the agreement was signed. Khalilzad has traveled through the region in recent weeks to add some impetus to Taliban-Afghan government talks, which have made little progress.

8:29 p.m.
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Democrats consider impeachment alternatives after GOP signals likely acquittal of Trump

The prospect of likely acquittal for Trump at his Senate trial has some Democrats contemplating an off-ramp that would condemn the former president but stop short of impeachment and a ban from future office.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said Wednesday that he has been exploring drafting a bipartisan censure of Trump that would short-circuit a potentially lengthy trial that could impede progress on other Democratic priorities.

“It could be an alternative,” he told reporters, saying he wanted the Senate to focus on responding to the coronavirus pandemic and confirming Biden’s Cabinet. “To do a trial knowing you’ll get 55 votes at the max seems to me to be not the right prioritization of our time.”

8:18 p.m.
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VA secretary nominee Denis McDonough vows to help vets get through pandemic

The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee met on Jan. 27 to consider President Biden's nominee for veterans affairs secretary, Denis McDonough. (The Washington Post)

Denis McDonough, Biden’s nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, will highlight how he’ll help veterans through the pandemic at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

He’ll also speak about the need to eliminate homelessness and confront a chronic challenge of suicide among former service members.

McDonough, who was chief of staff for President Barack Obama, will address head-on the criticism that he is unqualified because he never served in uniform, according to his prepared testimony.

He will acknowledge that his background differs from most recent VA chiefs but will tell the committee, “I understand how to untangle and solve large, complex challenges — both across and within large agencies. “

”This won’t be easy,” McDonough will say. “The Department of Veterans Affairs faces great challenges — challenges made even more daunting by the coronavirus pandemic. Its capabilities have not always risen to the needs of our veterans.”

McDonough will also assure lawmakers that women — the fastest-growing veteran population — people of color and LGBTQ veterans will be welcome at VA if he is confirmed.

8:08 p.m.
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Biden says his environmental order will help communities near industrial sites, including ‘poor Whites’

In remarks at the White House, Biden included “poor Whites” among the groups that he said will be positively affected by an executive order he signed Wednesday establishing a White House interagency council on environmental justice.

Biden made the remark as he was discussing the impact he hopes his actions will have on “fence

communities,” poor neighborhoods and communities of color that tend to be located near industrial sites.

“With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do, addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color, the so-called fence-line communities, especially those communities — brown, Black, Native American, poor Whites,” Biden said.

The president’s specific mention of Whites comes as some on the right have taken aim at him over his support for policies aimed at promoting racial and gender equity and combating systemic discrimination.

During an event he held in Wilmington, Del., as president-elect earlier this month, Biden spoke about his goal of assisting business owners from marginalized communities amid the coronavirus pandemic. He did not mention impoverished Whites in those remarks, but instead emphasized the challenges facing women, racial and ethnic minorities, and those in low-income communities who have confronted “systemic barriers” in the past.

“Our priority will be Black, Latino, Asian and Native American-owned small businesses, women-owned businesses, and finally having equal access to resources needed to reopen and rebuild,” Biden said at the time. “But we’re going to make a concerted effort to help businesses in low-income communities — in big cities, small towns, rural communities — that have faced systemic barriers to relief.”

Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.

7:22 p.m.
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Biden emphasizes that he has no plans to ban fracking

Biden emphasized during his remarks on climate change Wednesday that he has no plans to ban fracking — an issue that dogged him during the campaign because of a verbal slip and repeated misrepresentations of his plans by Trump.

“Let me be clear, and I know it always comes up, we’re not going to ban fracking,” Biden said during remarks from the White House. “We’ll protect jobs and grow jobs, including through stronger standards like controls from methane leaks and union workers willing to install the changes.”

Tensions flared over the issue during the final presidential debate, with Biden asserting that he never said he opposed fracking and angrily rebuking a claim by Trump that there was video evidence that he had. Conservatives earlier have seized on Biden’s comment that he would “transition from the oil industry,” which he later sought to underscore would happen gradually.

Biden has been warmer toward fracking, a controversial natural gas extraction technique that many in his party oppose, taking a stance his team hoped would neutralize attacks from the right. His position helped him secure endorsements from a roster of influential labor unions.

Environmentalists have voiced worries about greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution associated with fracking. Advocates cite the jobs it has created in the gas, electricity and construction business.

Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

7:13 p.m.
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DHS bulletin warns Americans about violence by grievance-fueled domestic extremists

The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning Wednesday to alert the public about a growing risk of attacks by “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” agitated about Biden’s inauguration and “perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.”

DHS periodically issues such advisories through its National Terrorism Advisory System, but the warnings have typically been generated by elevated concerns about attacks by foreign governments or radical groups, not domestic extremists.

In a statement, the department said the purpose of the new bulletin was to warn the public about a “heightened threat environment” across the United States “that is likely to persist over the coming weeks.”