💉: "British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca may have only used partial data when it announced the results from a U.S. trial of its coronavirus vaccine, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Tuesday," per Erin Cunningham.
- "The agency, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement that it was concerned AstraZeneca used outdated information from the large-scale trial when it reported the results Monday, 'which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.'"
🚨: "Ten people were killed at a King Soopers grocery store on Monday, including a Boulder police officer, after a shooter opened fire on customers and responding officers," our colleagues report. "Law enforcement officials said the suspect, who carried out the attack with a rifle, was in custody, but they offered scarce details about the deadly shooting, including any information about a possible motive."
PRESSURE IS MOUNTING: Democrats who excoriated the Trump administration's hard line immigration policy and family separation policy have so far been more muted in their criticisms of the new Biden administration's scramble to house and care for the 15,000 unaccompanied migrant children in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and Customs and Border Protection.
But any grace period is unlikely to last for long — as more Democrats visit the U.S.-Mexico border to witness the impact of a surge of illegal crossings that has accelerated since Biden took office. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and a dozen GOP House members beat the drum about a “Biden border crisis” during a visit last week to a migrant processing center in El Paso.
- Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) will be leading a congressional delegation on Friday to scope out conditions at the Carrizo Springs Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facility.
- Another GOP trip this week: Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) are leading a Senate delegation.
“We are anxious and want to see a timeline for how [the Biden administration] intends to meet this challenge and humanely move these unaccompanied minors out of CBP processing centers and HHS emergency shelters and into the homes of sponsors,” a Democratic lawmaker told Power Up, adding that Democrats' patience on the issue will soon wear thin.
- Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Texas Democrat, has started publicly criticizing the Biden administration for what he called “crowded and terrible conditions” for children at the border, releasing photos of some huddled under foil blankets on modest bedding inside a CBP temporary overflow facility in Donna, Tex.
- As Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim note, “the photos echoed criticism faced by former president Donald Trump for his handling of children at the border, though administration officials said the current conditions are far more humane. ”
More: “Biden is navigating sometimes competing demands: pleas from border lawmakers to more aggressively dissuade would-be migrants, and exhortations from human rights advocates to treat them humanely,” Sean and Seung Min write. “The sharpest challenge is how to deal with thousands of children taken into custody under a policy of not turning away unaccompanied minors.”
- The majority of children in federal immigration custody do have family members in the U.S. that they could be released to — and that's a “big part of the government's legal obligation to these children to make continuous efforts at trying to identify a sponsor for a children, to reach out to them, to walk them through the application process to vet that sponsor and then to approve the release of the child to that person,” Melissa Adamson, an attorney with the National Center for Youth Law, told WBUR.
- And: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas toured an overcrowded CBP facility with a bipartisan Senate delegation last week where unaccompanied migrant children had been held for longer than the legally mandated 72 hours — and senators received “no clear answer on why it was taking so long to transfer the children out of CBP custody when HHS facilities were readily available,” per Sean and Seung Min.
Biden himself was pressed on the issue during a closed-door virtual retreat with Democratic senators on Monday evening and is likely to face questions from the press on Thursday on the issue during the first news conference of his presidency.
- “Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) asked the president what the administration’s timeline was for additional resources and facilities to manage the increase in the number of migrants at the border, as well as coronavirus testing protocols there,” per Sean and Seung Min.
- “Kelly, a border-state freshman who is likely to face a tough reelection challenge in 2022, told Biden he was concerned that the state’s resources could become strained under the migration challenges. In response, Biden did not delve into specifics but stressed to the senators that his administration was building additional capacity to care for the migrants, and that the current challenges began under his predecessor.”
The White House teased new policies to stem the surge on Monday: “White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the U.S. officials will explicitly ask Mexico and Guatemala to help reduce the number of migrants arriving at the border,” per Sean and Seung Min. “She listed other steps the administration has taken, including airing thousands of radio and social media commercials in multiple languages in Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras urging people not to come to the border.”
- “The administration is also preparing to roll out additional legal pathways that would not require asylum seekers to physically present themselves at the border, according to an aide with knowledge of the plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an initiative that had not been formally announced.”
- “Overall, Monday’s moves were aimed at complementing other recent actions, such as reopening a program to reunite certain children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with parents living legally in the United States.”
- Biden's border czar, Roberta Jacobson, visited Mexico on Monday to meet with officials to “develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration,” a National Security Council spokeswoman told Sean and Seung Min.
The administration is also facing pressure to lift media restrictions on visits to detention centers. Cruz sent a letter to the Biden administration requesting that media be allowed to join the Senate delegation visit, and Castro's office noted in its release that their oversight visit will be closed press, per ORR guidance. No press was allowed to accompany the Senate delegation with Mayorkas.
- Shot: Psaki told reporters Monday that the White House was working with HHS and the Department of Homeland Security “to ensure privacy and ensure we're following covid protocols.” “We remain committed to transparency, and, of course, as I noted last week, we certainly want to make sure that the media has access to these sites,” she said.
- Chaser: “The Biden administration is restricting the information Border Patrol agents and sector chiefs can share with the media as a surge of migrants tests the agency's capacity at the southern border, according to four current and two former Customs and Border Protection officials,” NBC's Julia Ainsley reported last week.
At the White House
WHITE HOUSE PREPS NEW $3 TRILLION BILL: “Biden’s economic advisers are pulling together a sweeping $3 trillion package to boost the economy, reduce carbon emissions and narrow economic inequality, beginning with a giant infrastructure plan that may be financed in part through tax increases on corporations and the rich,” the New York Times’s Jim Tankersley reports. “Biden’s advisers are expected to present the spending proposal to the president and congressional leaders this week.”
- Advisers have proposed splitting the effort into two packages: Infrastructure “[which] includes nearly $1 trillion in spending on the construction of roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, electric vehicle charging stations, and improvements to the electric grid and other parts of the power sector.”
- And other domestic priorities “[which] includes universal prekindergarten and free community college tuition. The package also would expand spending on child-care, and extend for several years the expansion of the child tax credit recently signed into law … The new legislation would also extend subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, as well as free and reduced tuition at historically Black colleges and universities,” our colleagues Jeff Stein and Tyler Pager report.
- “Biden’s broader economic agenda will face a more difficult road in Congress than his relief bill. Biden could again try to use that same budget reconciliation process to pass a bill on party lines. But moderate Democrats in the Senate have insisted that the president engage Republicans on the next wave of economic legislation, and that the new spending be offset by tax increases,” Tankersley reports.
GOVERNMENT WATCHDOGS FACED ROADBLOCKS, DELAYS IN TRUMP ERA: “Across the government, at least nine key oversight investigations were impeded by clashes with the [Trump] White House or political appointees,” our colleagues Lisa Rein, Tom Hamburger, Michael Laris and John Hudson report.
- “Tensions between federal watchdogs and the administration they monitor are not uncommon. But 11 inspectors general or their senior aides who served under Trump said hostility to oversight reached unprecedented levels during his time in office.”
- 👀: “The result, they said, was that government hid wrongdoing from the public and important reforms to improve government efficiency were ignored. With Trump now out of office, advocates for government accountability predict other damaging revelations may only now begin to emerge.”
- Trump has “chafed under the oversight system, particularly after several of his Cabinet secretaries and top aides came under investigation. Last year he replaced five career watchdogs over two months with political appointees, starting with the intelligence community watchdog who had informed Congress of a whistleblower's complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine.”
- While a spokeswoman for Trump declined a request for comment, per our colleagues, "former Trump administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal procedures said that the administration’s approach to inspector general investigations was to be cooperative, to resolve disputes whenever possible and was consistent with precedent and practice across previous administrations. They said the approach included consultation with the Justice Department."
In the agencies
HAPPENING TODAY: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will unveil the largest rollback of consumer mail services in a generation as part of his 10-year plan for the U.S. Postal Service, including longer first-class delivery windows, reduced post office hours and higher postage prices,” our colleague Jacob Bogage scooped.
- “DeJoy is expected to emphasize the need for austerity to ensure more consistent delivery and rein in billions of dollars in financial losses. The agency is weighed down by $188.4 billion in liabilities, and DeJoy told a House panel last month that he expects the USPS to lose $160 billion over the next 10 years.”
- “Democrats have renewed calls for [DeJoy’s] ouster and the removal of the agency’s governing board, which backs him and the proposals. More than 50 House Democrats last week asked Biden to fire the board’s six sitting members — citing ‘gross mismanagement,’ ‘self-inflicted’ nationwide mail delays and ‘rampant conflicts of interest’ — and to allow a new slate of Biden nominees to consider DeJoy’s fitness for office.”
BIDEN’S CLIMATE PROMISE: “By April 22, when Biden convenes world leaders for an Earth Day summit, he is expected to unveil a new, aggressive plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030,” our colleagues Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report. But “as he crafts the much-anticipated pledge, Biden is facing conflicting political pressures at home and abroad.”
- Democrats, climate activists and scientists “want the United States to take bold action to slash emissions at least in half by the end of this decade, compared with 2005 levels.”
- “Republicans warn that societal changes needed to cut emissions so quickly could harm an already battered economy, particularly in communities closely tied to the fossil fuel industry.”
- And “leaders around the world have been clear that they expect the United States to step up after four years of the Trump administration disparaging global efforts to fight climate change.”
Outside the Beltway
EYES ON EVANSTON: “The nation’s first government reparations program for African Americans was approved Monday night in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, action that advocates say represents a critical step in rectifying wrongs caused by slavery, segregation and housing discrimination,” our colleague Mark Guarino reports.
- “The 8-to-1 vote will make $400,000 available in $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants, as well as in mortgage assistance for Black residents, primarily those who can show they are direct descendants of individuals who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969 and suffered from such discrimination.”
On the Hill
DEMOCRATS MAKE A CASE FOR D.C. STATEHOOD: “Advocates and Democratic lawmakers painted D.C. statehood as a matter of moral urgency and racial justice in a House hearing Monday, pushing back against Republican arguments that the cause is purely partisan and unconstitutional,” our colleague Meagan Flynn reports.
- The bill, sponsored by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), “would shrink the federal district to a two-square-mile enclave of federal buildings, such as the Capitol and the White House, while making the rest of the city the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth — honoring abolitionist Frederick Douglass.”
- “The hearing set in motion Democrats’s plans to put a statehood bill up for a vote on the House floor before the summer … [but] it faces significant hurdles in the Senate, where the filibuster process means passage would require the all-but-impossible support of at least 10 Republicans.”