President Biden traveled to Pennsylvania on Tuesday to visit a small business in Chester that the White House says will be helped by the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week. The trip is part of a “Help is Here” tour being orchestrated to sell Americans on the new law.

Meanwhile, a surge of migrants trying to enter the United States, including unaccompanied minors, continues to pose a daunting challenge to the fledging administration, whose handling of the situation is drawing criticism from across the political spectrum.

Here’s what to know:

  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the situation at the southern border is “difficult” but contended that the Biden administration is “making progress” in managing it.
  • Biden’s tour will take him, Vice President Harris and their spouses to seven states that Biden won in 2020, including two he flipped and four that have competitive Senate races next year.
  • Congressional efforts to swiftly investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol are losing momentum, threatened by logistical delays and deepening partisan disagreement about the scope of an independent inquiry advocated by Democrats.
  • Federal authorities have arrested and charged two men with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick with an unknown chemical spray during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot but have not determined whether the exposure caused his death.
12:16 a.m.
Link copied
link

Biden says Gov. Cuomo should resign if investigation confirms sexual harassment allegations

Biden said Tuesday that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) should resign if an investigation by the state attorney general confirms the allegations of sexual harassment leveled by several women.

“If the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should he resign?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Biden in an interview. “Yes,” the president answered. “I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too.”

The governor has been accused of workplace harassment, improper touching or both by five women, including four who worked for him. An allegation by a sixth woman — also an employee — was referred by the governor’s office to local police for investigation last Wednesday. Many others, male and female, have described a hostile and abusive workplace in which young women were frequently treated differently.

Cuomo has denied the allegations. Letitia James, the New York state attorney general, is investigating, an inquiry that Biden supports.

“There should be an investigation to determine whether what she says is true,” Biden said. "That’s what’s going on now.”

He added: "There could be a criminal prosecution that is attached to it. I just don't know."

Last Friday, more than a dozen members of the New York congressional delegation joined state officials in calling on Cuomo to resign. Most notably, two of the most powerful members of the delegation, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand issued a joint statement urging Cuomo to step down.

Stephanopoulos asked about the call from the delegation. “Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, the majority of the congressional delegation don’t think he can be an effective governor right now,” Stephanopoulos said. “Can he serve effectively?”

“Well, that’s a judgment for them to make,” Biden said.

11:43 p.m.
Link copied
link

Trump: People should get the ‘great,’ ‘safe’ coronavirus vaccine

Former president Donald Trump said Tuesday he does “recommend” that Americans get vaccinated, touting the “great vaccine” as “something that works.”

Trump made the comment during a wide-ranging interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News when she noted that he had been vaccinated and asked whether he would recommend others do the same.

“I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it — and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly,” Trump said. “It’s a great vaccine, it’s a safe vaccine, and it’s something that works.”

Trump received a vaccination before leaving the White House but did not do so publicly, which leading infectious-disease doctor Anthony S. Fauci has said would have gone a long way in convincing vaccine-hesitant Trump supporters.

Fauci has also said that Trump advocating for vaccinations would be a “game changer,” but Biden pushed back on that this week, saying his administration doesn’t need Trump and would work with local doctors and other community leaders to reach vaccine skeptics.

In the interview, Trump also continued to be coy about whether he’ll run for president in 2024, saying that polls indicate he should, but that he was first focused on helping Republicans win back the House. He credited himself with the gains Republicans made in 2020 that narrowed the chamber’s Democratic majority.

11:10 p.m.
Link copied
link

Biden’s message to migrants: ‘Don’t come over’

Biden delivered a simple message to the increasing number of migrants trying to enter the United States at the border: "I can say quite clearly: Don’t come over.”

In an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Biden was pressed about the surge of migrants since he took office, taxing an increasingly overwhelmed system and triggering political attacks on the new president.

In February, detentions topped 100,000, a 28 percent increase from the previous month. March is on pace for an even larger surge, with more than 4,000 border apprehensions each day, according to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures.

“Don’t leave your town or city or community,” Biden said to would-be asylum seekers. ABC aired an excerpt of an interview that will be shown Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”

10:16 p.m.
Link copied
link

Republican attorneys general threaten key element of the $1.9 trillion stimulus

Twenty-one Republican state attorneys general on Tuesday threatened to take action against the Biden administration over its $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus law, decrying it for imposing “unprecedented and unconstitutional” limits on their states’ ability to lower taxes.

The letter marks one of the first major political and legal salvos against the relief package since Biden signed it last week — evincing the sustained Republican opposition that the White House faces as it implements the signature element of the president’s economic policy agenda.

The attorneys general take issue with a $350 billion pot of money set aside under the stimulus, known as the American Rescue Plan, to help cash-strapped cities, counties and states pay for the costs of the pandemic. Congressional lawmakers opted to restrict states from tapping these federal dollars to finance local tax cuts.

9:16 p.m.
Link copied
link

Democratic senator condemns GOP Sen. Ron Johnson for ‘racist’ remarks

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) accused Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) of racism and bigotry over comments the Republican made last week that he would have been more worried about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol if the rioters had been Black Lives Matters protesters.

Menendez acknowledged he was dispelling with the niceties typically extended to a fellow senator on the Senate floor, even when in disagreement, but said he had to call out Johnson’s comments for what they were.

“What one of our colleagues said last week about the events of January 6th was felt by many to be racist and hurtful, a stain on the office he is so fortunate to hold,” Menendez said. “Look, I get no one likes to be called racist, but sometimes there’s just no other way to describe the use of bigoted tropes that for generations have threatened Black lives by stoking fear of Black men in particular.

Menendez paraphrased the comments Johnson had made on a radio show, in which he said that the Jan. 6 mob “were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned.”

Then, Johnson, stating that his comments “could get me in trouble,” said “had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Menendez read into the record an email he received from an African American staffer, Keith Roachford, who wrote that Johnson’s words were “the most painful thing I have ever heard said by a U.S. senator.”

“These comments are worse than the image of the insurrectionists walking through the Capitol building with a confederate flag,” Roachford wrote. “This type of hate speech is not new. The hardest part of what he said is that in 2021 a United States senator would so freely express this type of hate out loud.”

Menendez assailed Johnson for describing the violent protesters at the Capitol as “harmless patriots while stoking the fear of Black Americans.”

“Everybody in this body should know that when you perpetuate such racist tropes, you contribute to a culture that gives people permission to treat Black Americans as suspicious and their lives as expendable,” he said. “We in the United States Senate are supposed to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

On Monday, Johnson rejected the allegations of racism.

“I completely did not anticipate that anybody could interpret what I said as racist,” Johnson said. “It’s not. This is about rioters.” Johnson also referred to the “innocuous statement that I made, never anticipated [my opponents] would turn it into what they always turn the debate into: racism.”

9:12 p.m.
Link copied
link

Russia targeted people close to Trump in bid to influence 2020 election, U.S. intelligence says

Russia sought to influence the 2020 election by laundering misleading information about Joe Biden through prominent individuals, some of whom were close to former president Donald Trump, the U.S. intelligence community said in a report Tuesday.

The new report does not identify those individuals by name but appears to reference Trump’s one-time personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose repeated meetings with a suspected Russian agent came under scrutiny by U.S. officials.

Both Russia and Iran sought to influence the election, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in its report. But a third major adversary, China, did not even try, it says, contradicting the Trump administration’s assertions about Beijing’s activity last year.

8:40 p.m.
Link copied
link

Biden to hold first news conference as president next week

Biden will hold his first formal news conference as president next week. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the news conference will take place on the afternoon of March 25.

As The Post’s Paul Farhi has reported, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton held their first news conferences after just nine days as president. Barack Obama waited 20 days. And Donald Trump had been president a week before giving his first news conference, during which he fielded questions alongside then-British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Biden’s nearly two-month stretch — he was inaugurated Jan. 20 — is the longest in 100 years that a new president has gone without meeting the media, dating to Calvin Coolidge, according to research by the American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

8:24 p.m.
Link copied
link

Biden visits Pennsylvania small business to promote benefits of coronavirus relief bill

During a visit to a small flooring company in Pennsylvania, Biden swiped at his predecessor for allowing loans intended to help small businesses maintain their workforce go to big businesses.

Biden said that under his plan, an inspector general will provide oversight to ensure the financial assistance is helping those it is meant to. After the first coronavirus relief package was approved last year, President Donald Trump fired the inspector general who was to perform that role.

Biden’s visit to Chester kicked off the White House’s “Help is Here” tour, in which he, Vice President Harris and their spouses will travel the country to raise awareness of the benefits of the $1.9 trillion relief package.

8:20 p.m.
Link copied
link

VA secretary promotes relief package with visit to D.C. restaurant owned by a Marine veteran

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough visited a Filipino restaurant in the District’s diverse Mt. Pleasant neighborhood on Tuesday to showcase the significant funding for veterans in the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Purple Patch, whose owner and chef Patrice Cleary served in the Marine Corps for eight years, is a community fixture on Mt. Pleasant Street that has survived the pandemic — albeit with a 45 percent loss in revenue, she told McDonough. The restaurant’s pre-pandemic staff of 72 is down to 26. The first-floor dining room has been repurposed as a sari-sari or convenience store, where the sizable local Filipino community buys favorites to go, like pork rinds, empanadas, calamansi juice, papaya salad and a wide variety of rums.

“Right now it’s about survival,” said Cleary, 47, whose Filipino mother helps with the business. The American Rescue Plan gives priority to veteran-owned businesses like Purple Patch, which can apply for a slice of $28.6 billion in restaurant revitalization grants that will be administered by the Small Business Administration.

“Your story is the story of women veterans throughout this country,” McDonough told Cleary as she gave him a tour of the restaurant’s newly opened butcher shop in the basement of a converted rowhouse. Cleary has made breakfast, lunch and snacks to go during the pandemic for area children who need them, seven days a week.

The stimulus contains plenty of other benefits for veterans, including $14.5 billion for coronavirus-connected health care, $1 billion in debt forgiveness for costs veterans have borne for their health care, $386 million in retraining assistance in high-demand job fields and $262 million to help reduce a backlog of compensation and pension claims.

Women are VA’s fastest-growing corps of veterans. “The thing is to very simply acknowledge the reality that women are increasingly running our armed forces,” McDonough said, “and female vets are a manifestation of that reality.”

6:36 p.m.
Link copied
link

Michigan man charged with making death threats against Biden, Pelosi and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

A 21-year-old Michigan man is possibly facing 40 years in prison if convicted for threatening to kill President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), authorities said.

Joshua Docter was charged “with one count of threat of terrorism and one count of using a computer to commit a crime, both 20-year felonies,” according to a statement from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Docter posted comments on the social media platform iFunny in January threatening to kill Biden, Pelosi and Whitmer, saying it would “be the catalyst” for an American revolution, according to the statement. Authorities said they also found bombmaking instructions in his phone.

“Threatening elected officials is against the law and my office will prosecute those who attempt to intimidate or terrorize our state and federal leaders,” Nessel said in the statement. “I appreciate the thorough investigative work by the FBI and Michigan State Police on this case, and I consider it another excellent example of showcasing the dedication that those working in law enforcement have to protecting the public.”

6:16 p.m.
Link copied
link

Momentum of Capitol riot inquiries stalls amid partisan flare-ups

Momentum is stalling amid congressional efforts to swiftly investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, threatened by logistical delays and deepening partisan disagreement about the scope of an independent inquiry advocated by Democrats.

After initial House and Senate hearings that scrutinized law enforcement and intelligence failures leading up to the insurrection, the pace of such public sessions has slowed to a halt, as lawmakers struggle to determine their next investigative steps. Meanwhile, a fight between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her Republican counterparts over the scope of a Sept. 11-style commission has intensified this week after she announced her plan for how it should be structured.

Now, a looming congressional recess is expected to delay resolution on both fronts until mid-April at the soonest — a pause that threatens to undermine the momentum and spirit of cooperation Democrats and Republicans had exhibited immediately after the riot.

6:12 p.m.
Link copied
link

Equality Act is creating a historic faceoff between religious exemptions and LGBTQ rights

In some ways, full LGBTQ rights have never seemed more within reach. First came the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Then its decision last year banning LGBTQ discrimination in employment. And now, for the first time since those rulings, a Democratic-led Congress and a president who vows to pass sweeping legal protections by April.

But the Trump era has empowered religious conservatives, who see more than 200 conservative federal judges, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and a razor-thin majority in Congress that both sides know could flip in two or four years.

The tensions created by this new, more equal balance of power between supporters of LGBTQ equality and religious freedom rights are erupting this week, when a comprehensive LGBTQ rights measure called the Equality Act comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

5:17 p.m.
Link copied
link

After saying he has replacements for Sen. Feinstein in mind, Gov. Newsom insists he was just answering a hypothetical question ‘forthrightly’

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) fueled speculation that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) could retire before she faces reelection in 2024. On Tuesday, Newsom said he has no reason to believe the 87-year-old senator would do so.

Newsom, appearing on MSNBC on Monday, was asked if he would appoint a Black woman to succeed Feinstein if she retires, given that Kamala D. Harris is now vice president and no longer representing California in the Senate.

“We have multiple names in mind, and the answer is yes,” Newsom said.

His remarks were interpreted by some analysts as a not-so-gentle nudge for Feinstein to vacate her seat.

On Tuesday, Feinstein reiterated that she plans to serve out her term, and Newsom, in another television appearance, said he has “no expectation” that Feinstein will retire early.

“Are you implying that she should step down before her term is over, because some folks thought that meant that you were sort of pushing her out,” Sunny Hostin, co-co-host of “The View,” asked Newsom during an appearance on the program.

“Quite the contrary,” Newsom replied. “She’s one of my oldest, closest friends and allies, and I say that literally and not figuratively.”

Newsom insisted he was merely answering a hypothetical question “honestly and forthrightly.”

“I have no expectation that she’ll be stepping aside,” he said. “I talk to her quite often. She is as lucid and focused and committed to the cause of fighting not only for our state as … senior senator in California, but this nation, in her senior status, as someone who has been in the Senate, with great respect across the aisle as long or longer than most.”

Feinstein also sought to tamp down the controversy Tuesday.

“Please, we’re very good friends,” she said. “I don’t think he meant that the way some people thought.

Feinstein said she “absolutely” plans to serve out her term.

4:05 p.m.
Link copied
link

Analysis: Biden blueprint for getting Republicans vaccinated — faith, friends and Francis

Biden has launched an ambitious campaign to overcome some Americans’ hesitance to get the coronavirus vaccine, including among Republicans who appear to be the most committed holdouts. The efforts center on outreach from faith leaders and local officials.

They feature National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, a Christian known to get up before 4 a.m. to make time for prayer and Bible study, and the author of “Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.” He’s an apt ambassador to bring Biden’s health message to communities of faith.

Collins and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci — joined by 25 interfaith clergy, who will be vaccinated on camera — will lead a live-streamed event at Washington National Cathedral in D.C. on Tuesday night. The event aims to “encourage Americans to get the shot when it is their turn, especially for communities of color who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease, and those who remain vaccine-hesitant.”