President Biden marked the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday with the announcement that he is extending to Aug. 15 the deadline for Americans to sign up for coverage. Speaking at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, he said the law not only must be protected but improved, and “our government can fulfill its most essential purpose to care for and protect the American people.”

Before he left the White House, Biden lamented the mass shooting at a Boulder, Colo., grocery store that left 10 people dead, saying that “another American city has been scarred by gun violence and the resulting trauma.” He called on the Senate to pass two gun sale background-check bills already approved by the House and for Congress to reenact an assault-weapons ban.

Here’s what to know:
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on reducing gun violence that was scheduled before the latest deadly attack. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats will meet this week on next steps in gun-control legislation.
  • The Senate confirmed Shalanda Young to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and Vivek H. Murthy as United States surgeon general, ensuring that a top ally of Biden will play a visible role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Biden administration is searching for new ways to stem the surge of migrants at the southern border, dispatching officials to Mexico and Guatemala, sending sterner warnings not to come, and devising alternative pathways to apply for legal entry.
  • White House officials are exploring tax increases on businesses, investors and rich Americans to fund the president’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure and jobs package.
1:26 a.m.
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Shootings spur Biden to call for tighter gun rules

Biden on Tuesday called for tightening the nation’s gun laws, plunging him into an impassioned debate that he largely tiptoed around until it erupted anew after two mass shootings.

But Biden and Democratic leaders tempered their push for swift action with some doubt about their ability to enact new restrictions, even with party control of the White House and Congress, underlining the political volatility that has long surrounded efforts to overhaul gun laws.

In hastily arranged remarks less than 24 hours after a shooting rampage in Boulder, Colo., that left 10 people dead, Biden proposed a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as an expansion of background checks during gun sales. Gun-control advocates have tried to push through all these initiatives over the past decade, but strong cultural and political divisions have stymied their efforts.

12:40 a.m.
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Analysis: Sen. Cruz’s pushback on gun restrictions epitomizes high hurdles

Virtually every time there is a mass shooting in the United States, the debate quickly turns to whether this might be the one — or, in the case of the last week, the two — that will ultimately force major action on gun restrictions.

In many ways, it seems lawmakers have given up even pretending that might be the case.

On Tuesday Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) angrily hit back at those pushing new restrictions and those who criticized the restrictions’ opponents, accusing them of “ridiculous theater.” Democrats have increasingly criticized the “thoughts and prayers” response to such tragedies, arguing that’s insufficient and a cop-out, but Cruz took exception when Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) made that point.

“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said.

11:25 p.m.
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Biden lengthens Affordable Care Act insurance sign-ups until mid-August

Biden announced Tuesday that the federal insurance marketplace will remain open for consumers to buy Affordable Care Act health plans through mid-August, doubling the length of an unprecedented extra enrollment period that launched last month.

Speaking at a cancer hospital and research institute at Ohio State University, Biden made the announcement as part of a recognition of the ACA’s 11th anniversary. The sprawling health-care law has helped more than 20 million Americans gain coverage through marketplace health plans and Medicaid, and it has altered many other aspects of the U.S. health-care system, even as it has remained a target of vehement Republican opposition.

“We have a duty not just to protect it but to make it better,” the president said before an audience that included oncologists and cancer researchers.

11:22 p.m.
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Duckworth says it’s unacceptable that there are no Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders among Biden’s Cabinet secretaries

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) sharply criticized President Biden on Tuesday over the lack of any Asian American or Pacific Islander members in his Cabinet, telling reporters that she plans to oppose many of Biden’s future nominees until the White House addresses the issue.

Duckworth said that over the past six months she has repeatedly offered the White House the names of “many well-qualified AAPIs” for Cabinet positions, but those individuals “never even got a phone call,” she said.

“At this point … they can call me and tell me what the proposal is,” Duckworth said of the White House. “But until then, I am a no vote on the floor on all non-diversity nominees. You know, I will vote for racial minorities and I will vote for LGBTQ. But anybody else, I’m not voting for.”

All 15 of Biden’s Cabinet secretary slots have now been filled, and there are no Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders among them.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told reporters that she spoke with the White House on Monday night and is joining Duckworth in her push for AAPI representation in Biden’s Cabinet.

“I talked with Tammy about her clarified position, and I’m joining her in there, which means that we would like to have a commitment from the White House that there’ll be more diversity representation in the Cabinet, and in senior White House positions,” Hirono told reporters Tuesday. “And until that happens, we will be able to join her in voting no on non-diversity nominees. I think that is a reasonable position.”

Biden was asked about Duckworth and Hirono’s comments in a brief exchange with reporters before he left Ohio to return to Washington on Tuesday night.

“We have the most diverse Cabinet in history,” Biden said. “We have a lot of Asian Americans that are in the Cabinet and in sub-Cabinet levels.”

In December, weeks before Biden was sworn in as president, more than 100 members of Congress sent a letter to Biden’s transition team pressing for the nomination of an Asian American or Pacific Islander Cabinet secretary, saying that not doing so would be an unacceptable omission after each of the past four administrations included at least one.

“Although you promised to build the most diverse Cabinet in history, AAPIs have so far been excluded from the 15 Cabinet Secretary slots that oversee executive departments and are responsible for shaping and implementing your Administration’s policies,” the lawmakers stated in the joint letter. Duckworth was among the signatories.

In her remarks to reporters Tuesday, Duckworth said that when she has raised the issue with the White House, she has been told multiple times that Biden’s selection of Kamala D. Harris as vice president is sufficient.

“To be told that, ‘Well, you have Kamala D. Harris. We’re very proud of her. You don’t need anybody else,’ is insulting,” Duckworth said. “Last night that was the trigger for me. But multiple times I’ve heard that.”

“And that is not something you would say to the Black Caucus: ‘Well, you have Kamala. We’re not going to put any more African Americans in the Cabinet, because you have Kamala,’” Duckworth added. “Why would you say it to AAPI?”

Amy B Wang and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

10:48 p.m.
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Biden administration calls North Korean missile tests predictable pattern by Pyongyang

The Biden administration on Tuesday played down recent missile tests conducted by North Korea, calling them part of a predictable pattern from Pyongyang. U.S. officials who briefed reporters Tuesday evening did not provide details of the launches, including whether U.S. intelligence agencies have pinpointed the type of weapon used.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan next week, the U.S. officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview that meeting, which coincides with the planned conclusion of a U.S. policy review on North Korea. They gave no indication that the United States plans a specific response, although the tests violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The tests over the weekend were most likely a provocation to the new U.S. administration, and the understated response appears calculated to deny North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the satisfaction of U.S. outrage.

“We are also aware of military activity last weekend by the DPRK that is not sanctioned under U.N. Security Council resolutions restricting the ballistic missile program,” one official said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“While we take all of the military activity seriously and will continue to consult closely with partners and allies, we see this action in the category of normal activity,” the official said.

“North Korea has a familiar menu of provocations when it wants to send a message to a U.S. administration,” the official said, adding that the tests were “on the low end of that spectrum.”

Kim agreed to suspend missile tests during negotiations with the Trump administration over its nuclear program, which did not produce any reduction in the North Korean arsenal.

10:19 p.m.
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Former top prosecutor in Capitol riot case faces internal review after ‘60 Minutes’ interview

Justice Department prosecutors have initiated an internal review of the former interim U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., over comments he made recently on “60 Minutes” about possible future charges in the ongoing Capitol riot investigation ­— remarks a federal judge warned Tuesday threaten the fair trial rights of some of the accused rioters.

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta called a surprise hearing Tuesday on a six-hour notice to discuss his concerns that comments by Michael Sherwin aired Sunday and a separate article published Monday by the New York Times indicated the Justice Department was not following the court’s rules or the agency’s internal procedures.

The internal review and the judge’s anger are an ominous development for Justice Department officials trying to oversee one of the largest criminal investigations in U.S. history, in which more than 300 defendants have already been charged and 100 more are expected to be.

9:13 p.m.
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Biden tours Ohio cancer hospital ahead of remarks on Affordable Care Act anniversary

President Biden reflected on the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act on March 23, adding that Congress has a duty to "protect" and improve Obamacare. (The Washington Post)

President Biden on Tuesday toured the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio, where he discussed his experience with his son Beau’s battle with glioblastoma and viewed radiation equipment that was funded by grants through the Affordable Care Act.

“This is a war on cancer, and you’re our commander in chief,” Arnab Chakravarti, the chair of the hospital’s radiology and oncology department, told Biden during the tour. Biden, wearing a black mask, listened with his arms crossed.

Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46, and the president has frequently spoken of his son on the campaign trail and in remarks at the White House.

Biden’s tour of the cancer hospital Tuesday came shortly before he was to deliver an address marking the 11th anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.

At one point during the tour, Chakravarti talked about the “bell of hope” that honors cancer patients.

“Unfortunately, I’m pretty familiar with the bell,” Biden responded.

He told Chakravarti that his “only regret” when he declined to run for president in 2016 was that “I wasn’t going to be the president that was going to preside … over the end of cancer as we know it.” Biden also later said that one of his regrets when he ran for the presidency in 2020 was that he had to give up work on the Biden Cancer Initiative and could no longer raise money for it.

Asked by a reporter whether seeing the technological advances in cancer treatment made him hopeful, Biden replied, “It’s mostly hopeful, because I don’t want to see anybody go through what my son did.”

Biden also briefly mentioned former president Jimmy Carter, who announced in late 2015 that he was cancer-free after battling melanoma.

“It is something. … These guys are on the edge of so many things,” Biden said, referring to cancer researchers. “Think about it. Jimmy Carter was declared basically gone like, five times.”

A moment later, he stopped himself and said, “Anyway, I’m talking too much.”

8:36 p.m.
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McConnell incorrectly says filibuster has ‘no racial history at all’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has repeatedly defended the filibuster, said Tuesday that the obstructionist practice has no racial history.

In fact, Sen. Strom Thurmond (S.C.), then a Democrat but a Republican from 1964 onward, spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in his filibuster to stop passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was to protect the right of Black Americans to vote. In the 1920s and 1930s, Southern Democratic senators filibustered anti-lynching bills.

“It has no racial history at all,” McConnell told reporters. “None. There’s no dispute among historians about that.”

His office later sought to clarify, saying McConnell was referring to the origins of the filibuster.

McConnell has warned Democrats against eliminating the filibuster, the parliamentary procedure to prevent action on legislation unless it has 60 votes. In the evenly divided Senate, a number of Democrats have pushed for changing the rules or scrapping the filibuster to move ahead on House-passed bills on voting rights, gun control, immigration and other measures.

Biden suggested last week that the Senate return to the “talking filibuster.” McConnell has warned that t it would result in a “scorched-earth” chamber devoid of comity or compromise.

7:38 p.m.
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Republicans sound early note of opposition against $3 trillion White House infrastructure plan

Congressional Republicans on Tuesday sounded off in early opposition to Biden’s still-forming plans to push a roughly $3 trillion infrastructure and social welfare reform package, signaling a tough political slog on the horizon for Democrats hoping to deliver the White House another legislative win.

Even before Biden had formally debuted his proposal, GOP lawmakers took issue with the scope of the president’s blueprint — and the tax increases the administration is eyeing to pay for it — injecting new uncertainty into a debate that some on both sides initially hoped might be bipartisan.

The backlash on Capitol Hill came as White House officials prepared to present Biden with a plan to proceed on infrastructure spending in potentially two parts. The first would be focused on traditional investments in roads, bridges and broadband Internet access, as well as spending for green-energy initiatives. The second would focus on Democrats’ longtime domestic priorities, including free community college, universal pre-K and new programs to help low-income families and children.

7:34 p.m.
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Schumer says Senate Democrats will meet this week to discuss gun control legislation

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that Democrats in the chamber will meet this week to discuss their next steps on gun control legislation in the wake of this month’s mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder.

At an afternoon news conference, Schumer also said that flags at the Capitol are being lowered to half-staff in honor of the Colorado victims.

“We will put these bills on the floor. I have said that, and it will happen,” Schumer said, referring to gun control legislation. He noted that he will meet with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a leading voice on gun violence, and other Senate Democrats this week to determine “the best path forward.”

Schumer has said there will be votes on background check legislation that has already passed the House. But he declined to answer several questions on what other legislation Democrats are likely to put forward.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), meanwhile, took aim at Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) comments earlier Tuesday that Democrats are playing “ridiculous theater” in the wake of the mass shootings.

“Theater? Theater is a departure from reality,” Durbin said, arguing that Democrats are grappling with reality and that his committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, has the authority to progress legislation that will make Americans safer.

“Enough thoughts and prayers,” Durbin said. “Now let’s do something.”

7:01 p.m.
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Senate confirms Shalanda Young as deputy budget director

The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm Shalanda Young as deputy director of the White House Office of Management Budget. The vote was 63-to-37.

Senators of both parties have pushed Biden to elevate Young, a longtime congressional appropriations staffer, to the position of director of the White House budget office.

Biden has not yet announced his pick to lead OMB. The White House was forced to abandon its first choice for OMB director, Neera Tanden, following bipartisan criticism of her record and personal attacks against lawmakers on Twitter.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday that Young will serve as acting director.

Strong initial GOP support for Young eroded as several Republicans were concerned about her written answers to questions about her position on removing the Hyde amendment from federal law. The decades-old Hyde amendment prohibits federal dollars for abortions with some limited exceptions such as rape and incest.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who served as OMB director in the George W. Bush administration, said he had planned to support Young, but "in reviewing her answers to the committee’s questions … I was really troubled by her responses, particularly her strong advocacy for eliminating the Hyde amendment.”

Among those voting against her nomination were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Young, who served as staff director for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, did receive a much more positive reception than Tanden. But the administration faces competing pressures about the slot. Black lawmakers, Democratic leadership, and numerous congressional Republicans have pushed Young as a qualified candidate with a track record of working across the aisle.

However, Asian American groups have expressed frustration about the lack of representation in senior positions in the Biden administration. They have pushed for Nani Coloretti, former deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration.

6:38 p.m.
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White House press secretary says Biden weighing executive actions on gun control

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Biden is considering taking executive action on gun control in the wake of the Colorado shootings as well as seeking to work with Congress to strengthen background checks and reenact an assault weapons ban.

Speaking to reporter on Air Force One as Biden traveled to Ohio, Psaki also said that Biden has spoken to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) to offer condolences for the 10 lives lost.

“Putting in place common-sense gun safety measures has been a passion of the president’s since he was in the Senate,” Psaki said. “This will continue to be an issue that he is focused on day in and day out in this administration.”

While stressing that Biden wants to work with Congress, Psaki also did not rule out the president taking action on his own, though she did not specify what those might be.

“We are considering a range of levers, including working through legislation, including executive action … that has been under discussion and will continue to be under discussion,” she said. “The way that [Biden] sees it is that there a number of levers that any president of the United States can use.”

Psaki said she had nothing to share yet about whether Biden plans to visit Boulder, Colo.

It’s unclear how much support Biden can obtain from Senate Republicans on passing background-check legislation.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated that he doesn’t support legislation previously passed by the House, and noted that one key Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), is opposed, as well.

5:31 p.m.
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Nearly 200 businesses urge Congress to pass paid family leave

Nearly 200 businesses are pressing Congress for paid and more expansive family leave, a sign of the shifting political momentum over U.S. labor policy after the overlapping crises of the coronavirus pandemic exposed workers’ vulnerabilities.

In a letter sent Tuesday, executives for such brands as Patagonia, Etsy, Levi Strauss and Danone urged congressional leaders to extend comprehensive paid family and medical leave to all working people.

Annie Sartor, a senior director at the advocacy group PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States), said the pandemic may have helped turn the tide of public opinion — and shift political will — to address the need for additional protections for workers.

5:19 p.m.
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Biden calls for assault weapons ban, other gun safety laws in wake of Boulder shooting

Biden, on yet one more occasion in his long career, offered his condolences to the victims’ families and the survivors of a mass shooting and called for Congress to pass not only universal background check laws but a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Less than a week after the horrific murders of eight people and the assault on the AAPI community in Georgia, while the flag was still flying at half-staff for the tragedy, another American city has been scarred by gun violence and the resulting trauma,” Biden said. AAPI refers to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The president spoke of Officer Eric Talley, the police officer who died responding to the shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo., saying that when he left home yesterday morning, he “thought he’d be coming home to his family and his seven children.”

Biden said he didn’t need to wait to learn about what weapons were used or what the gunman’s motives were to call for Congress to pass new gun control laws, including a renewal of an assault weapons ban that passed in 1994 and expired in 2004.

“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps or save the lives in the future and urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said. “We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country.”

“This is not, it should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives. And we have to act,” he said.