The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Pentagon chief approves extension of National Guard deployment at the Capitol; Biden continues selling relief package to public

President Biden speaks with Mary Anna Ackley, owner of Little Wild Things Farm, and Michael Siegel, co-owner of W.S. Jenks & Son, during a visit to the D.C. hardware store Tuesday. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday approved a request from the Capitol Police to extend the deployment of National Guard members to protect Congress into May, defense officials said, keeping a military presence around one of the nation’s major landmarks for two more months.

Meanwhile, the Senate voted Tuesday to move forward on confirming two of President Biden’s Cabinet picks, Merrick Garland for attorney general and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, setting up final confirmation for both on Wednesday afternoon.

Biden and senior administration officials plan to continue trying to sell the public on the benefits of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan after it passes, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday, adding that the effort will include some travel by the president. A planned final House vote slated for Wednesday would send the measure to Biden’s desk.

Here’s what to know:

  • Biden’s signature will not appear on coronavirus relief checks that will be distributed to millions of Americans, the White House said. “This is not about him,” Psaki said. “This is about the American people getting relief.”
  • Biden took a jab at the Trump administration’s handling of a pandemic-era business loan program, saying a lot of money went to larger companies that “weren’t supposed to qualify.” His comments came during a visit to W.S. Jenks & Son, a D.C. hardware store.
  • A review of security at the U.S. Capitol commissioned after the Jan. 6 riot found that Capitol Police are too “understaffed, insufficiently equipped, and inadequately trained” — and woefully lacking in intelligence capabilities — to protect Congress from a future attack.
  • The Republican National Committee is moving part of its spring donor retreat next month to former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club from a nearby hotel. A dinner event at the Florida property will be headlined by the former president, according to Republicans involved in the planning.