President Biden on Monday defended his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal against Republican attacks that it goes beyond traditional infrastructure projects. Speaking to reporters at the White House as he returned from Camp David, he said that items related to clean water, school conditions and high-speed rail, among others, should all be considered infrastructure.

Here’s what to know:
  • In a video posted to Biden’s Twitter account Sunday, he and the first lady delivered an Easter message that included a plea to get vaccinated.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for speeding up the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine in poorer nations, saying that the U.S. and global economies are threatened by the impact of covid-19 on the developing world.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he does not support Biden’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent to help pay for his jobs and infrastructure plan, and reiterated that he would support an increase to only 25 percent.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that corporations responding to the new voting law in Georgia and similar legislation in other states are not only being bullied but have decided to “join in the bullying themselves.”
  • Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, pushed back on criticism from several high-profile Republicans.
1:24 a.m.
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Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte tests positive for the coronavirus

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said on Monday.

The first-term Republican was tested after showing “mild symptoms” on Sunday, just three days after he received his first coronavirus vaccine dose. Montana’s first lady, Susan Gianforte, has exhibited no symptoms, was tested and is awaiting her results, the governor’s office said in a news release. Gianforte will quarantine for 10 days.

“All of the governor’s in-person events have been canceled until further notice, and the governor will continue to conduct his duties and manage the state’s business from his home in Bozeman,” the release said.

Gianforte and his aides have been tested for the virus regularly since he took office, the release said. The positive test comes nearly one month after the governor lifted Montana’s mask mandate. The state now joins a list of at least five others that have seen their governors contract covid-19, including Colorado, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.

Montana is reporting an average of 13 new virus cases per 100,000 residents each day, according to Washington Post tracking, a figure that puts the state slightly below the national average.

12:59 a.m.
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Senate parliamentarian opens door for Democrats to pass more bills with 51 votes

Senate Democrats on Monday appeared to secure a new opening to more easily adopt trillions of dollars in infrastructure spending, sweeping changes to the immigration system or other potential policy priorities with only 51 votes.

The early victory came in the form of a ruling from the Senate’s parliamentarian, who said Democrats essentially may have at least three additional chances to adopt major legislation under a process known as reconciliation between now and the 2022 midterm elections.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked the chamber’s rule-keeper to study the issue last week as President Biden prepared to unveil his $3 trillion proposal to improve the nation’s roads, bridges and pipes. Democrats previously used reconciliation to bypass Republicans and adopt the $1.9 trillion stimulus last month and probably would have had two more opportunities in the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years.

The parliamentarian days later advised Schumer that lawmakers can essentially revise budget resolutions after they have been passed, a spokesman for the Democratic leader said Monday, potentially giving them more opportunities to invoke the reconciliation process than they previously anticipated.

For now, Schumer’s office said Democrats have not identified how, exactly, the party might use this additional pathways to pass major legislation with only 51 votes, adding in a statement there are still “parameters” that need to be worked out. But the move further opens the door for Democrats to forge ahead on their own if they cannot achieve bipartisan compromise on Biden’s broader economic agenda — provided that party lawmakers themselves can stay in lockstep.

“The American people want bold action to address our country’s many challenges, and Democrats now have more options to overcome Republican obstruction and get things done,” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Monday heralding the announcement.

12:49 a.m.
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Republicans ramp up attacks on corporations over Georgia voting law, threaten ‘consequences’

Republicans are attacking corporations over their decision to condemn the controversial Georgia voting law, part of the party’s embrace of the populism espoused by former president Donald Trump even as it creates tensions with traditional allies in the business community.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday accused corporations of siding with Democrats’ portrayal of the law as the new Jim Crow, which he called an attempt to “mislead and bully the American people.” He argued that it would expand, not restrict, voter access to the polls, and his statement included a threat of unspecified “serious consequences” if companies continued to take sides opposite Republicans on a variety of issues.

“From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government,” McConnell said in his statement. “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made similar remarks in questioning why Republicans should listen to companies on policy issues after they embrace positions at odds with the party.

“Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & antitrust?” he tweeted Friday.

9:01 p.m.
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McConnell says corporations have decided to ‘join in the bullying themselves’ over voting measures

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that corporations responding to the new voting law in Georgia and similar legislation in other states are not only being bullied but have decided to “join in the bullying themselves.”

In a statement, McConnell took aim at Biden for his claim that state-level measures on voting procedures “are worse than Jim Crow.”

“Nobody actually believes this,” McConnell said. “Nobody really thinks this current dispute comes anywhere near the horrific racist brutality of segregation. But there’s an old cynical saying that ‘history is just the set of lies agreed upon.’ And a host of powerful people and institutions apparently think they stand to benefit from parroting this big lie.”

Georgia has faced a raft of criticism from corporations after enactment of its Election Integrity Act, which critics say includes restrictions that disproportionately affect voting access for people of color. Among other actions, Major League Baseball announced that it is moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to the law — a decision blessed by Biden.

“It’s jaw-dropping to see powerful American institutions not just permit themselves to be bullied, but join in the bullying themselves,” McConnell said.

He argued that much of the criticism of Georgia’s new law has been based on misleading information about what it does, which he said has created “a fake narrative gaining speed by its own momentum.”

“Our private sector must stop taking cues from the Outrage-Industrial Complex,” McConnell said. “Americans do not need or want big business to amplify disinformation or react to every manufactured controversy with frantic left-wing signaling.”

McConnell warned of “serious consequences” for corporations “if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”

8:39 p.m.
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Retired Marine colonel seeks nomination to challenge Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.)

A Marine veteran and retired pharmaceutical businessman is seeking the 2022 Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Rob Wittman (R) in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District — historically unfriendly terrain for a Democrat.

If successful, former U.S. Marine Col. Stewart Navarre would face a challenging general election against Wittman, a popular incumbent who has been in office since 2007.

Wittman defeated Democratic challenger Qasim Rashid by more than 16 points in November, significantly outperforming President Donald Trump and Republican U.S. Senate nominee Daniel Gade.

But in announcing his bid Monday, Navarre pointed to other Democratic gains in the district in recent years — including capturing several General Assembly seats and narrowing the margins in state-level races — as indications that a Democratic candidate with just the right message may be able to stake out a viable path.

8:10 p.m.
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Rep. Gaetz defends himself in op-ed: ‘I am absolutely not resigning’

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wrote an op-ed article in the Washington Examiner denying allegations against him as the Justice Department investigates whether he paid for sex with a number of women in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws.

Gaetz has not been charged with a crime.

Gaetz defended himself in the op-ed, writing: "[L]et me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old.”

He also said he does not plan to resign, and added he will not be “intimidated or extorted.”

He suggested the allegations against him follow his decision to “take on the most powerful institutions in the Beltway,” including Justice Departments under the Biden and Trump administrations.

The investigation into Gaetz, a close political ally of former president Donald Trump, began sometime last year. The probe has been complicated by the congressman’s assertion that his family is being extorted.

Gaetz, who was an outspoken defender of former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) after intimate photos of her were published online, referred to his defense of the former congresswoman in his op-ed.

In a piece published in Vanity Fair on Monday, Hill responded to allegations against Gaetz, including reports that he showed fellow lawmakers photos and videos of nude women. Hill writes the scandal involving Gaetz “involves accusations of the same crime of which I was a victim: the nonconsensual sharing of intimate images. And in a twist of irony, the accused person, Matt Gaetz, is one of the few colleagues who came to my defense when it happened to me.”

Hill added: “If there is even a fraction of truth to these reports, he should resign immediately.”

8:07 p.m.
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In Oakland homecoming, Vice President Harris touts infrastructure plan, importance of equitable water policy

Vice President Harris returned to her hometown of Oakland, Calif., on Monday to help sell the Biden administration’s jobs plan, touting the proposal’s investments in water infrastructure and apprenticeship programs.

In her first visit since taking office, Harris toured a water treatment facility and said that Biden and his American Jobs Plan are focused on equitable water policy that ensures all Americans have access to clean, lead-free drinking water.

“We must understand the equities and inequities of distribution and access to clean water, especially clean drinking water,” Harris told reporters after walking through the plant.

Biden’s plan earmarks $111 billion for water infrastructure, including replacing all of the country’s lead pipes and service lines and overhauling drinking water and wastewater systems in rural America. Harris said the improvements would equally benefit Midwestern farmers and residents of Flint, Mich., where thousands of residents were exposed to contaminated water.

“This is a public health issue,” Harris said.

The work would also create jobs — union jobs, Harris added — for the people replacing the aging infrastructure.

The vice president appeared with California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who is facing a possible recall election. The two have known each other for years, having both come up in San Francisco Bay area politics in the early 2000s, and Harris praised Newsom as a longtime supporter of the environment.

“Gavin has always been a champion about what we need to do around our environment,” Harris said.

Newsom said Harris’s connection to California and deep knowledge of its struggles with water and drought would benefit the state’s residents.

“You don’t need to educate the vice president on water policy, and what a gift that is for us particularly out here in the state of California,” Newsom said.

8:05 p.m.
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Sen. Raphael Warnock’s deleted Easter tweet reflects religious and political chasms about Christianity

U.S. Sen. Raphael G. Warnock, as pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, gave a sermon Sunday for Easter. But it was a tweet from the Georgia Democrat’s account that day that has triggered far more discussion about theology and politics and what it means to be Christian.

The now-deleted tweet from Warnock’s account came early Sunday, and said: “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”

To the many thousands who saw the tweet, it meant very different things.

For many conservative Christians, the tweet challenged the core belief of their faith: Jesus’ literal resurrection is the way to salvation. To many progressive and moderate Christians, Warnock seemed to be suggesting closeness to God is more about their actions, what they do to relieve suffering and create justice. The seeking of social justice is emphasized in particular in the Black church.

6:11 p.m.
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Psaki says Biden supports MLB moving All-Star Game from Atlanta

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president supports Major League Baseball’s decision to move its All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of Georgia’s new voting laws, but said the president hadn’t advocated for it.

During an interview with ESPN last week, Biden was asked about the possibility of the MLB moving the game, and the president said he “would strongly support them doing that.”

“So he was not dictating that Major League Baseball should do that … dictating they should move the All-Star Game. That was their decision. They made that decision. And as stated earlier, he certainly supports that,” Psaki said when the topic came up during the White House briefing Monday.

A reporter followed up by asking Psaki whether Biden believed the PGA Tour, which begins its Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club this week, should also relocate over Georgia’s laws that voting rights advocates say are intended to limit voting, especially in minority communities.

I’m not here to call for anyone on behalf of the president or the vice president or anyone to take steps in reaction to the laws in Georgia,” Psaki said.

“Our focus is on doing what we can to advocate for making voting easier and more accessible around the country,” she added. “And that’s where our efforts are going to be from the White House.”

5:59 p.m.
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Manchin says he will not support raising corporate tax rate to 28 percent to pay for infrastructure plan

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he does not support Biden’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent to help pay for his jobs and infrastructure plan, and reiterated that he would support an increase to only 25 percent.

The views of Manchin, one of the evenly divided chamber’s most conservative Democrats, will be key, particularly if Biden tries to use the budget reconciliation process to enact his infrastructure package. If so, Biden will probably need the support of every Democrat to advance legislation that Republicans are resisting.

Manchin made his comments Monday in a radio interview with West Virginia Metro News.

“As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” Manchin told host Hoppy Kercheval.

At a briefing for reporters, White House press secretary Jen Psaki signaled that Biden is open to negotiating over how to pay for his package.

“The president felt it was responsible to propose a way to pay for his proposal,” she said. “That’s exactly what he did. He knows some members think it’s too big. Some think it’s too small. … So we fully expect … the question of how to pay for the package, if we should pay for the package, to be part of the discussion moving forward.”

5:43 p.m.
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Biden says ‘God willing’ there will be an Easter Egg Roll next year

Biden said Monday that “God willing” the tradition of holding an Easter Egg Roll will return to the White House next year, as he spoke briefly from the Blue Room balcony, where he was accompanied by Jill Biden and an aide in a bunny costume.

“We look forward to next year when the White House will ring with the joy of the season and there will be an Easter Egg Roll, God willing,” Biden said.

Traditionally, thousands of children gather on the White House lawn the day after Easter for the event, one of the oldest annual events in White House history. The event has not been held in person for the past two years because of the pandemic.

In a video posted to his Twitter account on Sunday, Biden and his wife delivered an Easter message that included a call to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

While the White House did not host the Easter Egg Roll due to covid-19, White House press secretary Jen Psaki invited the Easter Bunny to the April 5 briefing. (The Washington Post)

“We share the sentiments of Pope Francis who said that getting vaccinated is a moral obligation, one that can save your life and the lives of others,” Biden said. “By getting vaccinated and encouraging your congregations and your communities to get vaccinated, we not only can beat this virus, we can also hasten the day when we can celebrate the holidays together.”

Biden will focus on vaccinations this week. On Tuesday, he plans to visit a vaccination site in Alexandria, Va., and speak about “the state of vaccinations,” according to the White House.

4:41 p.m.
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Former staffer to Rep. Gaetz says he talked with FBI agents, insisted he had no knowledge of congressman being engaged in any illegal activities

On April 5, retired Air Force Capt. Nathan Nelson, a former Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) staffer, spoke amid allegations regarding Gaetz's involvement with a minor. (Reuters)

A former staffer to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Monday that he talked with FBI agents who came to his home for about two hours last week, insisting to them he had no knowledge of the congressman being involved in any illegal activities.

Retired Air Force Capt. Nathan Nelson served as Gaetz’s director of military affairs until last year. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said the FBI agents told him they had information from the “national media” that he had “knowledge of the congressman’s involvement in illegal activities” and, because of that knowledge, had chosen to leave his job in the office.

Nelson said he had no such knowledge of Gaetz’s alleged involvement and left his job to pursue other opportunities in Florida.

“He’s always been very, very professional in his public life,” Nelson said of Gaetz.

Nelson said the agents came to his house Wednesday, the day after the New York Times disclosed a Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old and paid for her travel expenses, possibly violating federal sex-trafficking laws. Nelson said the agents did not disclose what particular illegal activity he was alleged to have known about.

At a news conference Monday at his home in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., Nelson said he has not directly spoken to Gaetz in “several months.” He said he remains “loosely affiliated” with the congressman’s office as an unpaid adviser and reached out to the office after the FBI came to his home to relay what he told the bureau and ask if there was anything he should know. The conference was promoted to reporters by Gaetz’s congressional office.

Nelson said he believes that allegations of Gaetz “being involved in illegal activity are baseless” but said he had no evidence to provide to disprove them.

A spokeswoman for the FBI field office in Jacksonville declined to comment.

Nelson said he feared that it might be reported in the media that he knew about the allegation, and he wanted to preempt what he viewed as a false disclosure.

“My primary concern is that somebody in the media, if they’re making those allegations, they’re going to run with it,” Nelson said.

Nelson said he had not been contacted by any media outlet alleging he knew about illegal activities in which Gaetz was said to be involved before the FBI reached out. He said in his two-hour conversation with agents, “I went into detail about the extent of my relationship with Congressman Gaetz, from the time he was a state rep, and when we first met, to my tenure as director of military affairs, and the things that we developed, why we developed them.” He said he believed the bureau had also been reaching out to other former staffers.

Nelson said agents did not seem focused on any particular program or bill.

4:14 p.m.
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Biden defends infrastructure proposal against GOP attack that it contains much unrelated to infrastructure

Biden pushed back Monday against Republican attacks that his infrastructure plan contains many provisions not related to infrastructure.

Speaking to reporters at the White House as he returned from Camp David, he argued that items related to clean water, school conditions and high-speed rail, among others, should all be considered infrastructure.

“When you’re in a situation where you can’t turn on a water fountain in school because the water affects your health, that’s infrastructure,” Biden said. “I’m talking about making sure we take asbestos out of schools, that’s infrastructure. I’m talking about building high-speed rail, that’s infrastructure. I’m talking about making sure we are in a situation where we can redo federal buildings that are absolutely leaking energy every single day. That’s infrastructure, in addition to roads and bridges and broadband.”

Biden pledged to “push as hard as I can” to enact legislation “to compete with the rest of the world.”

“Everybody else in the rest of the world is investing in infrastructure, and we’re going to do it here,” he said.

Biden also defended his plan to raise the corporate tax rate to help pay for his infrastructure package, saying he is confident that doing so will not prompt companies to leave the United States.

3:50 p.m.
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Analysis: Four questions about John Boehner’s new book

John A. Boehner had a lot of people inside the Beltway giggling last week, and it wasn’t because the former House speaker has been successfully pitching pot legalization. Instead, the chuckling stemmed from the Ohio Republican’s obscenity-laced score-settling with members of his own party.

In a long essay based on his new memoir “On the House,” published in Politico, Boehner ripped into “moron” lawmakers swept into office on the tea party wave of 2010, pilloried major right-wing media figures such as Sean Hannity, and generally vented about the forces that drove him from office in 2015.

Then there was Boehner’s never-especially-well-hidden loathing for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).