President Biden held his first bilateral meeting with a world leader, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Tuesday. In the virtual session, the two discussed the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and refugees. “Our nations share close geography and history that will forever bind us together. But our values are even more consequential,” Biden said in remarks after the session.

Trudeau welcomed the change in Washington with a tacit swipe at former president Donald Trump. “U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years,” Trudeau said during the meeting.

Earlier in the day, the Senate held its first hearing examining breakdowns in intelligence gathering and security preparations surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of Trump. An FBI warning of potential violence reached the U.S. Capitol Police on the eve of the assault, but top leaders testified during a Senate hearing that they did not see it.

Here’s what to know:
  • Biden plans to travel to Houston on Friday in the wake of a winter storm last week that left dozens of people dead, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced Tuesday.
  • Senate committees held confirmation hearings on Biden’s nominations of Xavier Becerra for health and human services secretary and Deb Haaland for interior secretary. The full Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
  • The Biden administration is preparing sanctions and other measures to punish Moscow for actions that go beyond the sprawling SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign, said U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
  • Former senator David Perdue (R-Ga.), who narrowly lost his seat in a January runoff election, announced that he will not run in 2022, clearing the GOP field in the race against Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D).
2:05 a.m.
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Lawmakers hold moment of silence outside Capitol for more than 500,000 lives lost to covid-19 in U.S.

Members of Congress gathered outside the Capitol on Tuesday night to observe a moment of silence for the more than 500,000 lives lost to covid-19 in the United States.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined lawmakers of both parties as they stood in front of the East Front of the Capitol.

Each member of Congress held an electric candle. After the moment of silence, some lawmakers joined in as Sgt. 1st Class Andre McRae of the U.S. Army Band sang “God Bless America.”

Biden and first lady Jill Biden held a candlelight ceremony at the White House on Monday night to mark the passage of what the president called “a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone.”

1:36 a.m.
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Trudeau conveys relief in meeting with Biden, but sticking points remain

Even through a video screen, you could feel the warm fuzzies between Biden and Trudeau as the two met Tuesday for a symbolic rebooting of neighborly relations grown testy over the past four years.

Biden recalled visiting Canada in 2016 when he was vice president and joked about his poor French. Trudeau said he welcomed partnership with the United States “to keep making sure we are pulling our weight around the world and making the world a better and safer place for everyone.”

The relief on Trudeau’s masked face was obvious as he and Biden held the pandemic version of an Oval Office sit-down. Trudeau was in Ottawa and Biden in Washington, but the White House clearly intended the session to be intimate and celebratory, a sort of hug meant to salve Canada’s wounded pride after the slights inflicted by former president Donald Trump.

12:38 a.m.
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In virtual session with Canada’s Trudeau, Biden says U.S. will continue working for release of two Canadians detained in China

In a statement after his virtual meeting with Trudeau on Tuesday, Biden pledged that the United States will continue working for the release of two Canadians detained in China, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor.

Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in December 2018 in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of U.S. officials seeking her extradition on fraud charges. Trudeau has raised their cases with Biden and Vice President Harris.

Biden said at the White House that the topics he and Trudeau discussed Tuesday include “coordinating our approaches to better compete with China and to counter threats to our interests and values.”

“Let me reiterate our support for the release of the detained Chinese — excuse me, detained in China, two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig,” Biden said. "Human beings are not bartering chips. You know, we’re going to work together until we get their safe return. Canada and the United States will stand together against abuse of universal rights and democratic freedoms.”

In his statement after the bilateral meeting, Trudeau emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Canada relationship.

“We’re facing tough times. There’s no doubt. But we’re not facing them alone. Canada and the United States are each other’s closest allies, most important trading partners and oldest friends. And we stand united to beat this pandemic and build a better tomorrow, and I know our bond will grow even stronger,” Trudeau said.

During their virtual session, Biden and Trudeau also discussed the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and refugees.

“Our nations share close geography and history that will forever bind us together. But our values are even more consequential,” Biden said.

He said an “immediate priority” for both countries is to get the pandemic “under control at home and around the world" and said that the United States and Canada have “committed to work together to help prevent future biological threats by strengthening the World Health Organization."

Amanda Coletta contributed to this report.

11:59 p.m.
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Sen. Cornyn, who backed Trump, says Biden should pick OMB nominee who has ‘not promoted wild conspiracy theories and openly bashed’ opponents

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said Tuesday that President Biden should withdraw his nomination of Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget, arguing that the president should instead choose someone who has “not promoted wild conspiracy theories and openly bashed people on both sides of the aisle” with whom they disagree.

Cornyn’s remarks, made in a Senate floor speech Tuesday afternoon, prompted some Democrats to note that Cornyn was a vocal supporter of former president Donald Trump, who has promoted wild conspiracy theories and openly bashed those with whom he disagrees.

“Self awareness training was skipped by [the] GOP,” Joe Lockhart, President Bill Clinton’s press secretary, said in a tweet.

In his floor speech, Cornyn said Tanden has “referred to Republicans as evil and monsters” and “peddled a completely false conspiracy theory that Russian hackers changed votes in 2016 to help President Trump.”

He noted that Tanden “faces long odds, to say the least.”

“My friendly advice to President Biden is to withdraw Neera Tanden’s nomination and select someone, who at the very least, has not promoted wild conspiracy theories and openly bashed people on both sides of the aisle that she happens to disagree with,” Cornyn said.

In the past, Cornyn, like many other Senate Republicans, frequently declined to comment or said he was unfamiliar when asked about Trump’s inflammatory tweets. On one of the few occasions when he did weigh in — after Trump urged four congresswomen of color to “go back” to their countries — Cornyn called Trump’s tweet “a mistake” but added: “I don’t think you are going to change somebody at this point in his life but hopefully he will, like all of us when we make a mistake, he’ll learn from it.”

Asked about Democratic criticism of Cornyn’s Tuesday night floor speech, a spokesman for the senator responded by pointing the finger back at Democrats. He declined to weigh in on how Cornyn squares his opposition to Tanden with his support for Trump.

11:11 p.m.
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FBI alert about possible ‘war’ against Congress reached D.C. and Capitol Police on eve of attack, deepening security questions

Around 7 p.m. on Jan. 5, less than 24 hours before an angry mob overran the U.S. Capitol, an FBI bulletin warning that extremists were calling for violent attacks on Congress landed in an email inbox used by the D.C. police. That same evening, a member of the Capitol Police received the same memo.

But the alert was not flagged for top officials at either agency, according to congressional testimony Tuesday — deepening questions about the breakdowns that contributed to massive security failures on Jan. 6.

Both acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III and former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund said the intelligence community at large failed to detect key information about the intentions of the attackers and adequately communicate what was known in the run-up to the Capitol riot.

“I would certainly think that something as violent as an insurrection at the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something,” Contee told lawmakers.

11:03 p.m.
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Analysis: A stark reminder of the power imbalance in the Senate

We’ll just go ahead and light the giant spotlight on top of The Washington Post’s headquarters now, the one that casts the shadow of a nerd against the clouds and lets all the “Actually, America is a republic!!!!” guys know that they’ll want to come here to weigh in on things. Because, friends, we are here today to once again articulate how undemocratic our United States Senate actually is.

You know this! Everyone knows this. Everyone knows that the Senate was constructed to equally represent states and not state populations. Everyone is aware that this disproportionately advantages less-populous states and has for decades. That each senator in California represents 68 times as many people as the senators from Wyoming is the sort of thing at which we’re supposed to shrug or for which we’re asked to defer to the wisdom of a 37-year-old guy from the 18th century. Fine. All of that is stipulated.

It is nonetheless important to recognize the political result of this construction. Americans keep voting more heavily for Democrats to go to the Senate, and Democratic senators keep representing a majority of the country, and the Senate keeps being run by Republicans.

10:12 p.m.
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Biden shifts his political operation to the Democratic National Committee ahead of 2022 midterm election

Biden has shifted the remnants of his campaign operation, including the donor and volunteer network that got him elected and several key staff members, to the Democratic National Committee as part of a broader effort to build up the party in advance of the 2022 midterm election and a potential 2024 reelection campaign.

The decision to house his operation at the national party, and to continue fundraising and organizing efforts there, is intended to signal his commitment to Democratic candidates at all levels, including members of the House and Senate who are supporting his legislative efforts, according to senior White House officials.

Top advisers say Biden is not expected to create a committee for his own reelection until after the midterms next year. That means the money he raises between now and then will go to broader party-building efforts and other candidates, a departure from the precedent-breaking approach taken by Trump, who filed paperwork to begin fundraising for his reelection bid on the day he took office in 2017.

9:58 p.m.
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Trudeau swipes at Trump: ‘U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeted Biden like an old friend, took a tacit swipe at former president Donald Trump and said he was glad to have a partner on climate change again during the leaders’ first virtual bilateral meeting.

“U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years,” Trudeau said, referring to his strained relationship with Trump.

This was Biden’s first bilateral meeting with a foreign leader, signaling the importance of America’s relationship with its neighbor to the north.

“I look forward to seeing you in person in the future,” Biden told Trudeau. “The United States has no closer friend than Canada.”

9:37 p.m.
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Latino civil rights group calls on Rep. Debbie Lesko to resign over remarks implying that Hispanics are not Americans

A leading Latino civil rights organization is calling on Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) to resign over remarks this month in which she said that Hispanics are “good workers” but implied that they are not Americans.

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement Tuesday that Lesko’s recent remarks “reflect an astounding, acquired ignorance of the people in her district; they also demonstrate a willingness to engage in false bias and stereotype in order to demonize people who have been on the frontlines nationally in confronting the devastating impacts of covid-19.”

Lesko made the comment during a virtual hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on coronavirus relief. She was speaking in favor of a Republican amendment that would have prioritized American citizens over undocumented immigrants in receiving the coronavirus vaccine, according to the Arizona Republic.

“What I’m saying is, this is just amazing to me,” Lesko said during the hearing. “I don’t understand it, quite frankly. Arizona is a border state. We’re compassionate people, too. We have a lot of different varieties of people that live here. It’s very diverse. I worked with people that are Hispanic. I mean, they’re very good workers. You know, we’re compassionate people, but for goodness’ sakes, we have to take care of American citizens or people that are here legally first.”

She added: “I’m just not going to be able to explain to my senior citizens that we’re giving away the vaccines to people that aren’t here [legally]. I just think that’s totally wrong.”

The Biden administration and public health experts say anything that discourages the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States from seeking vaccination — such as tightly enforced demands for proof of residency or legal status — would be self-defeating as the nation tries to reach herd immunity.

“It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement this month. “DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.”

A Lesko spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. In a statement to the Arizona Republic last week, Lesko defended her remarks and declined to retract them, although she acknowledged that they “could be misinterpreted.”

“Taken in context, my remarks clearly were aimed at ensuring that seniors receive taxpayer-funded vaccines before illegal immigrants,” she said in the statement. “During debate on the amendment, after being interrupted several times, I said something that could be misinterpreted, but it certainly was not my intent.”

Saenz, the president of MALDEF, noted Tuesday that more than 20 percent of Lesko’s constituents are Latino, according to census estimates, and that more than 90 percent of those Latino constituents are U.S. citizens.

“Yet, she felt it appropriate to conflate ‘Hispanic’ with ‘undocumented’ in an appalling display of the worst impulses of reductionist racial stereotyping,” Saenz said.

He called Lesko’s “good workers” remark “a coded acceptance of the exploitation of Latino and immigrant workers,” including the “dehumanizing and cruel” denial of lifesaving vaccines.

“After four years of Donald Trump and his transparent white nationalism, the nation should recognize that ‘citizen first’ policies are simply thinly-veiled pleas for perpetuating white privilege grounded in racism,” Saenz said, adding that Lesko “should resign in favor of someone who will speak for all Arizonans.”

9:09 p.m.
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Senate confirms Biden’s nominee for U.N. ambassador

The Senate confirmed Biden’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, elevating an African American woman and career diplomat to one of the most high-profile jobs in diplomacy.

The upper chamber took an initial step, voting 78 to 20 to elevate Linda Thomas-Greenfield to ambassador status, with Democrats and moderate Republicans praising her decades of experience serving under presidents of both parties. A second vote to make her “representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations” was 78 to 21.

The votes come as the United States prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council for the month of March. Thomas-Greenfield has promised to work with foreign countries to achieve common goals and defend human rights around the world.

8:58 p.m.
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Chart: Biden nominees are slowly making their way through the Senate confirmation process

With confirmation hearings in full swing this week, the Senate is slowly confirming more of President Biden’s Cabinet. Just nine members of the Cabinet who require Senate approval — and only 10 of the president’s 57 total nominees so far — have been confirmed, a slower rate than for his four predecessors, according to The Post’s tracker with the Partnership for Public Service.

The Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack for a second stint as agriculture secretary and Linda Thomas-Greenfield for ambassador to the United Nations, on Tuesday.

The confirmation process has been delayed this year, first by Georgia’s dual U.S. Senate runoffs, which left uncertain which party would control the chamber, and then by setbacks in organizing the committees that oversee confirmations in an evenly divided Senate.

A hearing for Merrick Garland, Biden’s nominee for attorney general, began Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee and continued today. Hearings for Biden’s nominees for health and human services secretary and secretary of the interior were held today.

8:45 p.m.
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Tom Vilsack confirmed as agriculture secretary with strong Republican support

The Senate voted 92 to 7 Tuesday to approve Biden’s nomination of Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary — his second go at the job.

Vilsack had been expected to have a smooth path to confirmation after the Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously this month to advance his nomination, and many Republicans voted in favor of his confirmation Tuesday, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) broke with Democrats to vote against his nomination.

Vilsack had faced intense criticism from civil rights activists, who said that he did not go far enough to eradicate racial discrimination at the agency or support farmers of color during his first stint in the role in the Obama administration.

After the vote, Sanders said that he liked Vilsack, “but I think we need somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture.”

8:09 p.m.
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Sen. Blunt says Capitol Hill police leadership structure is ‘totally unworkable’ during a crisis like Jan. 6

On Feb. 23, senators probed security officials on their experiences during the Jan. 6 insurrection of the Capitol. (Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

In remarks after the first day of hearings on Capitol security, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Tuesday that the leadership structure of police on Capitol Hill is “totally unworkable” during a crisis like the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob.

Blunt was speaking during a Senate Republican news conference at the Capitol.

“I think the biggest takeaway from today, for me at least, was that the structure — the police board structure, which I’ve questioned for some time now — that structure of the two sergeants-at-arms, the architect of the Capitol, the chief of police as an ex officio, nonvoting member, is almost totally unworkable in times of crisis,” Blunt said.

He argued that the structure is “adequate” for day-to-day happenings, but the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol showed that the sergeants-at-arms are each focused on protecting members of the House and Senate, and “nobody is particularly focused on what it takes to protect everybody else that works here, people who are visiting here. I think we’re going to have to look at that.”

Blunt also pointed to the “missing hour,” referring to the timing of a conversation that the House sergeant-at-arms held with the Capitol police chief on Jan. 6. The two men, both of whom have since resigned, disagree about when a conversation took place about requesting help from the National Guard.

“Well, an hour on January the 6th at one o’clock in the afternoon made a big difference,” Blunt said.

The Missouri Republican said the next hearing will look at the Defense Department and why it took so long for the National Guard to arrive at the Capitol during last month’s attack.

“But I think today we saw a lot of problems with the structure itself at a crisis moment, where the structure actually got in the way of getting things done that needed to be done and needed to be done quickly,” he said.

8:04 p.m.
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Biden, Schumer still pushing for Tanden to lead OMB

Biden told reporters that he still thinks Neera Tanden could be confirmed as his director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“We’re going to push. We still think there’s a shot, a good shot,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed the president’s optimism, telling reporters on the Hill that he was continuing to look for avenues to get Tanden the job.

Well, I’m not going to get into specifics and names, but we’re continuing to look,” Schumer said during a Capitol Hill news conference. “I think Neera Tanden would be an outstanding OMB nominee. And for Republicans who look the other way with the nastiest of tweets by their president, their leader, for now to say, Neera Tanden couldn’t get in because of her tweets is a little bit of a contradiction.”

With Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) withholding his support because of her tweets, and some centrist Republicans doing the same, the path to 50 is very narrow for Tanden and will probably come down to how GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) votes.

But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Republicans during their weekly caucus lunch that he hoped they would stick together in opposition to Tanden, according to a person familiar with the meeting.