President Biden made a public pitch for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Friday, as the Senate stalled on the sprawling legislation over unemployment insurance. At the White House, Biden said Friday’s report showing that the economy added 379,000 jobs in February was likely due to December’s relief measure but that without his proposed aid package “these gains are going to slow.”

On Capitol Hill, Senate proceedings ground to a halt around noon as Democrats were trying to lock down support for keeping unemployment benefits at $300 per week but extending them through September. Nearly nine hours later, they reached a new compromise, with moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) agreeing to extend the existing $300 weekly unemployment benefit through Sept. 6, as well as provide tax relief on benefits for households making under $150,000.

Here’s what to know:

  • The U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February, a level that surpassed analysts’ estimates but remains below the rate needed to regain the more than 9 million jobs lost since last year. The report, which covers the first full month of the Biden presidency, is a reflection of an economy that is still very much bogged down by the pandemic.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) filed a federal lawsuit against former president Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), claiming they should be held liable for injuries and destruction caused by their incitement of the Jan. 6 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol.
  • Capitol Police have requested a 60-day extension of some of the 5,200 National Guard members activated in the District in response to security threats and the Jan. 6 assault on Congress, opening the door to a military presence in the nation’s capital into spring.
  • The Biden administration has imposed temporary limits on drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists outside the battlefields of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, tightening a Trump-era policy.
2:51 a.m.
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Cuomo accuser tells CBS she reported governor’s behavior, was told there was no need for an investigation

Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) who has accused him of sexual harassment, said she reported the governor’s behavior to his chief of staff and was later told by his general counsel that there was no need for an investigation, according to an exclusive interview with Norah O’Donnell of CBS Evening News.

In the interview, portions of which aired Thursday and Friday, Bennett said she told Cuomo’s chief of staff that she no longer wanted to work directly for him after he had “crossed a line,” and that she was transferred to a new job two days later.

Bennett told O’Donnell she asked for there not to be an investigation because she was terrified — but that she also texted her mother afterward that she was “happy and relieved and sad” and that Cuomo “shouldn’t have robbed this experience or this path from me.”

Bennett said she later had “a long and thorough conversation” with Cuomo’s chief of staff and general counsel.

“They said it was inappropriate,” Bennett said. “When I asked them if they could let it go ... [Cuomo’s general counsel] said, ‘You came to us before anything serious happened.’ It was just grooming and it was not yet considered sexual harassment, so for that, we do not need to investigate.”

Bennett’s lawyer told O’Donnell that they should have told Bennett they had “a legal duty to investigate.”

In portions of the interview that aired previously, Bennett said the governor asked whether she had slept with older men and told her that he would be interested in relationships with women in their 20s. She has said she thought the governor was propositioning her for sex and that she felt “deeply uncomfortable” in her encounters with Cuomo.

Bennett said she had confidence in the investigation into Cuomo being led by the New York state attorney general’s office and that Cuomo should resign “if this investigation finds that he has conducted himself this way.”

2:24 a.m.
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Senate Democrats announce deal on unemployment insurance, allowing Biden bill to move forward after 9-hour standoff

Senate Democratic leaders reached an agreement over unemployment benefits with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) late Friday, ending a nine-hour standoff that threatened to derail action on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

The agreement would extend the existing $300 weekly unemployment benefit through Sept. 6, as well as provide tax relief on benefits for households making under $150,000.

“The President has made it clear we will have enough vaccines for every American by the end of May and I am confident the economic recovery will follow. We have reached a compromise that enables the economy to rebound quickly while also protecting those receiving unemployment benefits from being hit with [an] unexpected tax bill next year,” Manchin said in a statement.

Late Friday, the White House released a statement saying Biden supported the compromise agreement.

“Most importantly, this agreement allows us to move forward on the urgently needed American Rescue Plan, with $1,400 relief checks, funding we need to finish the vaccine rollout, open our schools, help those suffering from the pandemic, and more,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The deal came after action on Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill screeched to a halt Friday as an earlier 11th-hour compromise on unemployment insurance benefits appeared to unravel, leaving the entire effort in limbo and raising questions about Democrats’ ability to govern with a 50-50 Senate.

12:47 a.m.
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‘Be prepared for an all-nighter,’ Sen. Stabenow says as covid relief bill negotiations continue

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told reporters to “be prepared for an all-nighter" as senators continued to negotiate behind the scenes on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

“We’re hammering on a couple of things. And we’ll get there,” Stabenow said Friday evening, according to a pool report.

Senate action on the bill, which was expected to be passed Friday, stopped earlier after Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) appeared to side with Republicans on an amendment that would end emergency federal unemployment benefits in July.

Stabenow acknowledged Friday evening that the main holdup was still the issue of unemployment benefits.

“There’s some differences there, yeah,” she said, though she added that the plan was still to “move forward in just a little bit” on the bill Friday night and to pass the bill this weekend.

“There’s just different perspectives depending on different states,” Stabenow said, without naming Manchin.

10:50 p.m.
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Sen. Ron Johnson undecided on 2022 run, despite pledge to limit himself to two terms

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who had promised he would only serve two terms in the Senate, told reporters Friday that he has not decided yet whether he will in fact run for a third term.

Johnson said keeping his pledge to limit himself to two terms was “probably my preference now,” but left open the possibility of running again, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

“I think that pledge was based on the assumption we wouldn’t have Democrats in total control of government and we’re seeing what I would consider the devastating and harmful effects of Democrats total control just ramming things through,” Johnson said.

Johnson, a Trump loyalist who has downplayed the Capitol riot, on Thursday delayed debate on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill in the Senate by forcing clerks to read the 628-page bill in its entirety, which took nearly 11 hours.

10:47 p.m.
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GOP Sen. Sullivan leaves D.C. ahead of remaining covid-relief votes due to death in family

A Republican senator left town for a funeral and will miss the remaining votes on the covid-relief bill as the Senate still works over how to proceed with unemployment insurance benefits in the bill.

Sen. Dan Sullivan left Washington on Friday afternoon to fly back to Alaska for his father-in-law’s funeral on Saturday.

Hugh “Bud” Fate, a state legislator in Alaska, died last week. At that point, the Senate expected to have wrapped up the covid-relief bill by now.

Sullivan’s office said in a statement that he would have voted against final passage.

Sullivan’s exit does not affect the current impasse that has Republicans and Democrats jockeying for West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III’s support on their plans for how long to extend unemployment benefits and how much should be given.

However, if votes on the rest of the amendments and final passage of the bill break strictly along party lines, Sullivan’s exit means the tally on those votes would be 50 to 49, and Vice President Harris would not be needed to break ties.

10:09 p.m.
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Congress to consider bill requiring police to report their misconduct settlements

Last year, officials in Prince George’s County paid $20 million to the family of a handcuffed man who was killed by a police officer. In Washington, city officials paid out $40 million to victims of police abuse between 2016 and 2020. Chicago paid more than $709 million to police victims in a recent eight-year period.

Taxpayers absorb the costs of those payouts annually. But the settlements and judgments are reported sporadically, hiding the impact to cities and counties on other services, which are often raided to pay the costs of police misconduct, or the long-term debt it creates. So two Congress members from Virginia, Sen. Tim Kaine (D) and Rep. Don Beyer (D), have introduced a bill which would require law enforcement agencies to report all police-related judgments and settlements, including financial costs and court fees, to a central database maintained by the Justice Department.

Some policing experts have long felt that exposing the financial cost of police misconduct could reduce such misconduct, by causing municipalities and their insurers to crack down on actions which hurt them financially. And “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Beyer said in an interview. “So let’s measure it and make it transparent and see how the taxpayer reacts to it.”

9:05 p.m.
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Biden warns ‘gains are going too slow,’ reiterates need for economic relief bill

President Biden again stressed the need for an economic relief bill, saying that without the stimulus “the gains are going too slow.”

The president made the brief remarks Friday during an economic briefing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Employment numbers released Friday showed an uptick in February. But Biden warned that at the current rate of growth, it would take two years to “get back on track.”

“We can’t afford one step forward and two steps backward,” Biden said. “We need to beat the virus, provide a sense of relief and build an inclusive recovery. People need the help now.”

As Biden held his meeting with economic advisers, the Senate was at an impasse over the size and length of unemployment insurance benefits in the coronavirus relief package as Democrats worked to persuade Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) to support their plan.

There was still no resolution in the Senate shortly after the briefing, when Biden held a roundtable with three Americans who said they would benefit from receiving relief checks. They shared with Biden the ways they had struggled since the pandemic hit the United States, and the president vowed to talk to them in more detail without reporters around.

The benefits of passing the covid relief plan wasn’t “some academic discussion,” Biden told them.

“It’s about you. It’s about people like you and families that grew up with all over America,” Biden said. “You’ve all lived lives of service. You not only have taken care of yourself and your families, but you’ve lived lives of service to help other people as well. … You deserve our thanks and our support.”

8:53 p.m.
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Seeking to flex new political muscle, centrist Senate Democrats push early changes to $1.9 trillion stimulus

A bloc of moderate Senate Democrats successfully secured significant, last-minute changes to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday, marking an early attempt to flex their new political muscle and shape Biden’s economic agenda on Capitol Hill.

With the Senate equally divided, the party’s moderates sought to portray themselves in the midst of the stimulus debate as a fiscally restrained counterpoint to liberals — even as they stood with Biden on the need for new emergency aid. But their tactics still threatened to open new political rifts in the party and leave perhaps millions of Americans from obtaining checks and other support they might have otherwise received.

In recent days, the moderates have narrowed federal stimulus payments, brokered a tentative deal to revamp future unemployment benefits and halted a renewed effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The changes mark a break from the bill approved in the House, where lawmakers fought vigorously for their version of the stimulus out of a belief that the 2020 election had given them a mandate to deliver economic reforms that had flagged under President Donald Trump.

8:41 p.m.
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Analysis: Biden tells agencies to ignore Trump’s orders thumping federal workers

The Biden administration took a critical step Friday in reversing the Trump administration’s repeated attacks on the federal workforce by giving agencies specific directions on rejecting directives from the former president.

In a memorandum to government agencies, Kathleen M. McGettigan, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, told officials how to implement President Biden’s Jan. 22 order revoking Trump actions that undermined federal unions, facilitated firing federal employees faster and disrupted the workforce.

Her memo repeatedly tells agency officials that they “shall immediately cease,” or words to that effect, implementation of Trump’s executive orders. That includes rescinding collective bargaining provisions and regulations meant to implement his policies.

Furthermore, McGettigan told agency officials to “take a hard look” at how a particular Trump order might have “influenced bargaining-table strategy and decision making.”

7:09 p.m.
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Former House speaker Paul Ryan to host fundraiser for Liz Cheney

Former House speaker Paul D. Ryan plans to host a fundraiser for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), signaling where he stands in the intraparty battle over whether Cheney should keep her leadership position in the wake of her vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

The virtual event is scheduled for March 25 in Alexandria, Va., according to an invitation first reported by Politico. The suggested contribution is $2,900 a person.

The backing of Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, comes as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has tried to straddle the line between pro-Cheney and anti-Cheney camps and after he recently visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump.

Cheney serves as the House GOP conference chair, the third-ranking position among House Republicans. She survived a vote forced last month by pro-Trump Republicans to remove her from her leadership post.

7:07 p.m.
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Psaki defends Biden’s lack of news briefings, promises one by end of the month

Reporters pressed White House press secretary Jen Psaki to explain why Biden has yet to have a formal news conference or schedule a State of the Union-style address to Congress.

Psaki said Biden would hold a full news conference by the end of the month but noted that he takes reporters’ questions at events throughout the week.

She then defended the president for focusing his energy on vaccines and economic relief efforts.

“This president came in during a historic crisis, two historic crises, a pandemic like the country had not seen in decades and decades, and an economic downturn that left 10 million people out of work,” she said.

Reporters pushed back, saying that getting to ask one or two questions as they were shuttled out of the room was not the same as a dedicated news conference.

On why Biden had yet to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress, which in a president’s first year is not a State of the Union address, Psaki said it was still being worked out with leaders in Congress.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic and, of course, any joint session speech would look different than the past,” she said. “We certainly intend on the president delivering a joint session. … But we don’t have a date for that or a timeline at this point in time.”

6:39 p.m.
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McCarthy seeks meeting with Biden on ‘crisis’ at border

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Friday requested a meeting with President Biden, expressing alarm in his letter at the growing number of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border from Mexico, a situation McCarthy dubbed a “crisis.”

“In the face of all of this, I feel compelled to express great concern with the manner in which your administration is approaching this crisis, but with hope that we can work together to solve it,” McCarthy said in a letter to Biden that McCarthy’s office shared with reporters.

In addition to a fourfold increase in the number of migrant teens and children since last fall, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began receiving more parents with children in late January, when Mexican authorities stopped accepting the return of some family groups, citing their shelter capacity limits.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters Monday the situation did not amount to a crisis but rather a “stressful challenge” that he blamed on Trump administration policies aimed at deterring migrants and asylum seekers that had undercut U.S. capacity.

In his letter, McCarthy took issue with remarks from Mayorkas at the same White House briefing in which he advised migrants: “We are not saying, ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying, ‘Don’t come now.’ ”

“To be clear — there is never a ‘right time’ to enter the country illegally and violate the laws of the United States,” McCarthy wrote. “Signaling otherwise is reckless and will make the situation worse.”

Asked about McCarthy’s request at a briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not directly answer whether Biden would take a meeting with the House Republican leader but said he is open to meeting with members of either party to discuss immigration issues.

“Well, first, the president and this administration’s focus is on digging out of the dismantled and inhumane immigration approach of the last administration,” Psaki said, adding that Biden has crafted a comprehensive immigration bill.

She said the White House would welcome the “desire to engage on that from the leader or any Democrat or Republican who wants to have a conversation about a constructive path forward.”

Psaki also said a team of officials being sent to the border will advise Biden on the situation.

6:33 p.m.
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Biden, head of European Union agree to suspend tariffs on some products for four months

President Biden and the head of the European Union agreed to suspend tariffs on a variety of products for four months as they seek a negotiated solution to one of the longest-running trade disputes on record.

At issue is a fight over government subsidies for large aircraft that has ground on for more than 16 years. The United States complained for years that the E.U. had violated global trade rules by funneling prohibited subsidies to Airbus. In late 2019, the World Trade Organization ruled that the United States could impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European goods in response. The United States levied tariffs on Scotch whisky, French wine, Italian cheeses, cashmere sweaters and other items. One year later, the WTO authorized the E.U. to hit $4 billion in U.S. products with tariffs, citing improper subsidies for Boeing.

The suspension, which Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to Friday, “will cover all tariffs both on aircraft as well as on non-aircraft products, and will become effective as soon as the internal procedures on both sides are completed,” according to a joint U.S.-E.U. statement.

“This will allow the EU and the US to ease the burden on their industries and workers and focus efforts towards resolving these long-running disputes at the WTO,” the statement continued. The two sides “are committed to reach a comprehensive and durable negotiated solution.”

It said any such settlement would include rules on future government support for aircraft makers, enforcement procedures and consideration of the market impact of new entrants to the airplane market, notably including China.

6:33 p.m.
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Women’s groups propose rules for sexual harassment investigation of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

A coalition of women’s rights and sexual abuse survivor advocates will ask the New York attorney general on Friday to adopt rules to protect accusers and avoid political interference in the investigation into whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) sexually harassed his subordinates, while demanding his resignation if the claims against him are upheld.

The letter, set to be delivered Friday afternoon, is intended both as a message to the state’s chief legal officer, Letitia James, who is leading the investigation, and the broader public about how a fair and transparent investigation of workplace misconduct should be handled.

The groups ask for James to adopt a civil law standard for determining Cuomo’s potential wrongdoing, as opposed to the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” They ask for “the full collection of relevant evidence” from contemporaneous sources and witnesses, and for the accusers not to be discounted because of questions of their sexual history, mental health struggles or record of championing “women’s causes.”