President Biden said Wednesday that he is open to compromise on his $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan but that “inaction simply is not an option” as he delivered remarks from the White House complex on his sweeping proposal.

Facing criticism from Republicans, Biden also defended his expansive definition of infrastructure, saying, “The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of an American people and their needs.” He encouraged Republicans to come forward if they have alternatives to his proposal to pay for the plan, which includes a corporate tax increase.

Here’s what to know:
11:28 p.m.
Link copied

McConnell backpedals on rebuke of corporations over Georgia voting law

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is reversing his harsh tone against corporations that have rebuked the Georgia voting access law, walking back his previous call for them to “stay out of politics.”

During an event in Paducah, Ky., on Wednesday, McConnell said his comment at a news conference the previous day was not conveyed “very artfully.”

Corporations, he said, “are certainly entitled to be in politics. They are.”

McConnell’s reversal comes after he spent two days sharply criticizing businesses that have criticized or pulled events out of Georgia after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a more restrictive voter access bill into law. On Monday, the top Republican in the Senate said corporations “will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”

But critics were swift to point out that it was McConnell’s name in a lawsuit that helped pave the way for the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court that said corporations are considered people and, as such, can spend an unlimited amount on elections as long as those expenditures are separate from a candidate’s campaign.

On Tuesday, McConnell again called on corporate America “to stay out of politics,” calling them “stupid” for doing so. But he clarified that he has no problem with them continuing to contribute to campaigns and political action committees.

McConnell’s reversal shows the delicate balance Republicans must manage between wanting to criticize corporations for voicing opposition to a GOP cause, but not wanting to dissuade businesses from helping fund their elections. It also puts them in a tough spot between populist demands to boycott businesses and calls from businesses to shield companies from the increased corporate taxes that Democrats are aiming to include in their infrastructure bill.

9:09 p.m.
Link copied

Harris speaks to Mexican president about migration at the border

Vice President Harris, tapped to lead the Biden administration’s effort to stem the influx of migrants at the southern border, spoke to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday about the reasons for the record numbers trying to enter the United States.

Harris thanked López Obrador for his cooperation, and “they agreed to continue to work together to address the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — including poverty, violence, and lack of economic opportunity,” according to a White House readout of the call. “They also discussed deepening the U.S.-Mexico relationship to target human smuggling and human trafficking.”

The growing number of asylum seekers has posed a political challenge to Biden in the first months of his administration. Recent data showed that nearly 1,000 people per day are sneaking into the United States without being identified or taken into custody because U.S. border agents are busy attending to migrant families and unaccompanied children, according to three U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials familiar with the numbers.

9:06 p.m.
Link copied

Biden to nominate official from gun-control group to head ATF

Biden will announce a top official from a leading gun-control group as his nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — a key agency in combating gun violence that has gone without a permanent director for years.

Two people familiar with the matter said Biden plans to nominate David Chipman, a veteran ATF special agent who serves as senior policy adviser at Giffords, as his ATF director nominee. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose a personnel decision before it is made public.

Before his current role at Giffords, the advocacy group led by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), Chipman was a special agent at ATF for more than two decades with a focus on firearms programs, according to the biography on his website.

8:13 p.m.
Link copied

House Democrats have little room for differences when it comes to passing Biden’s infrastructure proposal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is heading into what could be one of the most challenging stretches of her long career with little room for error as her party attempts to put in place what President Biden is touting as a transformative agenda for the country.

House Democrats will return from a three-week recess Tuesday to a slimmer majority than when they left last month following the death of Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.) on Tuesday and two Democrats resigning to work in Biden’s Cabinet after they helped pass the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill.

Previously, Democrats could afford to lose only five votes, but as of next week, they can only lose two and still get any legislation passed without Republican support. While that number is expected to tick up as empty seats are filled throughout the summer, the Democratic House majority will remain razor thin.

8:10 p.m.
Link copied

Biden administration resumes funding to U.N. agency for Palestinians, in reversal of Trump policy

The Biden administration said Wednesday it will provide $235 million in U.S. economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, reversing a decision by former president Donald Trump to cut almost all such funding.

The State Department had previously said it would provide $15 million in coronavirus relief aid to the Palestinians but had avoided questions about whether it would resume funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the aid includes $150 million for UNRWA, $10 million for peace building initiatives and $75 million for development programs in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Trump administration touted its suspension of aid to UNRWA and accused the organization of exacerbating a cycle of poverty for the Palestinians while raising doubts about whether millions of Palestinians deserve to be called refugees. Blinken said the decision was in line with U.S. interests in the region.

“U.S. foreign assistance for the Palestinian people serves important U.S. interests and values,” he said. “It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development, and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability. It also aligns with the values and interests of our allies and partners.”

8:04 p.m.
Link copied

Rep. Fitzpatrick replaces Rep. Reed as co-chair of Problem Solvers Caucus

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) was elected Wednesday as the co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, replacing Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) who announced plans to retire and also apologized after The Washington Post reported that a former lobbyist has accused him of sexual misconduct.

The lobbyist accused Reed of rubbing her back and unhooking her bra without her consent in 2017. Days after report in The Post, Reed issued a statement saying, “Simply put, my behavior caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional. I was wrong, I am sorry, and I take full responsibility,” and announced that he would not seek elective office in 2022.

Reed had been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate next year.

The Problem Solvers Caucus announced the change Wednesday on Twitter: “Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) was elected the new Co-Chair of the bipartisan, 58-member-strong Problem Solvers Caucus. Tom Reed (R-NY) will remain an active member of PSC & be part of a multi-month transition, helping ensure the Caucus continues its mission of bipartisan governing.”

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) is the other co-chair of the caucus.

6:51 p.m.
Link copied

Candace Owens compares Capitol insurrection to Reichstag fire. Here’s why that’s absurd.

Right-wing provocateur Candace Owens appeared on Tucker Carlson’s prime-time Fox News show Tuesday night, comparing wearing matching hats and holding a sit-in in an office to the insurrection at the Capitol that left five dead and forced hundreds of lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to evacuate the House and Senate floor.

Owens concluded thusly: “What happened on January 6 was, to me, the Reichstag fire happening all over again in America. Democrats use it to consolidate power and to trample over the civil rights of half of the country because they want to make sure that they have no political adversaries going forward.”

“Amazing,” Carlson replied.

6:48 p.m.
Link copied

Biden says he’s willing to compromise on how to pay for infrastructure plan but won’t raise taxes on the middle class

Biden said Wednesday that he is open to compromise on his $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan — including paying for it with an increase in the corporate tax rate — but that “inaction simply is not an option.”

Facing criticism from Republicans, Biden also defended his expansive definition of infrastructure in remarks at the White House about his sweeping proposal, saying, “The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of an American people and their needs.”

Biden said his plan includes improvements to traditional infrastructure — such as roads, bridges, ports, airports and rail — but that today’s needs also include high-speed Internet, a reliable electric grid and clean drinking water.

“I take my view, we are America,” Biden said. “We don’t just fix today. We build for tomorrow.”

Biden has proposed paying for his plan in part by raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, partly reversing a cut from 35 percent pushed through by President Donald Trump and Republicans in 2017.

He said he is open to ideas from Republicans and others on how to pay for the plan but grew passionate as he insisted that the middle class should not shoulder the burden.

I’m not trying to punish anybody, but damn it, maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.”

Biden said that he and Harris would be meeting with Democrats and Republicans in coming weeks.

“Any Republican who wants to get this done, I invite them,” he said.

6:48 p.m.
Link copied

Biden speaks to King Abdullah II of Jordan following an alleged plot to oust him

Biden spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Wednesday following an alleged plot to unseat the king that threatened to destabilize one of the United States’ closest allies in the Middle East.

At the conclusion of remarks at the White House on infrastructure, Biden told reporters that his message to the king was “he has a friend in America and to stay strong.”

A White House readout of their call said Biden expressed “strong U.S. support for Jordan” and “the importance of King Abdullah II’s leadership to the United States and the region.”

“Together they discussed the strong bilateral ties between Jordan and the United States, Jordan’s important role in the region, and strengthening bilateral cooperation on multiple political, economic, and security issues,” the White House said. “The president also affirmed that the United States supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Jordan has arrested people believed to be involved in the attempted overthrow of the government. Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the king’s half brother, is at the center of the investigation but has denied any involvement.

6:01 p.m.
Link copied

Psaki says no discussion with allies of boycotting 2022 Winter Olympics in China

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on April 7 that the United States was not considering a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (The Washington Post)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the United States is not discussing with allies a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics, set to be hosted by China.

We, of course, consult closely with allies and partners at all levels to define our common concerns and establish a shared approach,” Psaki said at a news briefing. “But there’s no discussion underway of a change in our plans regarding the Beijing Olympics from the United States’ point of view. … We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners.”

Her comments echoed those of the State Department on Tuesday night after some confusion about the U.S. posture.

During a news briefing earlier Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price had left open the possibility of a boycott of the Olympic Games in response to China’s human rights abuses.

At Wednesday’s briefing, Psaki said the United States has been working with allies, as it typically does, to discuss concerns about “China’s behavior and their actions,” including the “genocide” of Uyghur Muslims.

5:18 p.m.
Link copied

Yellen details $2.5 trillion in corporate tax hikes to fund Biden jobs plan

The Department of Treasury on Wednesday outlined an aggressive set of tax increases on businesses to raise $2.5 trillion over 15 years, measures aimed at paying for President Biden’s jobs and infrastructure package.

In a 19-page report, Treasury officials called for more than a half-dozen tax measures affecting U.S. firms, including an increase in the corporate tax rate and subjecting the overseas earnings of businesses to higher tax rates. These tax proposals are likely to prove the most controversial element of Biden’s infrastructure legislation, and have already drawn criticism from both congressional Republicans and some Democrats.

5:16 p.m.
Link copied

Psaki says Biden expected to speak Thursday on curbing gun violence, offers no details

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden will speak publicly on Thursday about curbing gun violence, though she declined to say what he might propose.

Her comments, at a briefing, came in response to a Politico report that Biden is planning to unveil several executive actions, including one that would begin the process of requiring buyers of “ghost guns” to undergo background checks. Such guns include those that are homemade or that lack serial numbers.

“I expect the president will have more to say tomorrow,” Psaki said, adding that a briefing for reporters on Biden’s plans could be held as soon as late Wednesday.

In the wake of recent mass shootings in Colorado, Georgia and California, Biden has come under increasing pressure from gun-control advocates to take action on his own, given the difficulty Congress has had in passing legislation on the issue.

4:50 p.m.
Link copied

Biden’s commerce secretary signals willingness to compromise on corporate tax increase to pay for infrastructure

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on April 7 said the administration is willing to negotiate how much to raise corporate tax rates under American Jobs Plan. (The Washington Post)

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo signaled Wednesday that the White House is willing to consider a lower corporate tax rate than the 28 percent proposed by Biden to pay for his massive jobs and infrastructure package.

“There is room for compromise. That is clear,” Raimondo said during an appearance at a White House briefing at which she sought to make the case for the president’s $2 trillion plan. “Is the rate not quite 28? Is it something, you know, lower?”

Biden has proposed raising the corporate rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, partially reversing a cut from 35 percent pushed through by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans in 2017. GOP lawmakers have balked at that proposal, and even some Democrats have expressed unease.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.V.), who holds significant sway in the evenly divided Senate, has said that he would support an increase in the rate to only 25 percent.

Raimondo made clear that the administration stands behind the idea generally of raising the rate, dismissing concerns by Republicans that doing so could cost jobs.

There is not a shred of evidence to show that the cuts in 2017 increased growth or productivity,” she said. “Actually very little of it went into additional R&D.”

She encouraged Republicans to negotiate with the Biden administration.

“We’re serious about this,” she said. “We want to get it done.”

4:12 p.m.
Link copied

Jill Biden lays out priorities of revived initiative to help military families

First lady Jill Biden on Wednesday called military families “the rudder that steers our military” as she held an event laying out the priorities of a revived White House initiative focused on their needs.

Later Wednesday, the first lady plans to visit a call center that provides support to service members.

“You are the rudder that steers our military,” she said in an address from the White House complex that was attended virtually by more than 100 military family members and advocates. “And supporting your physical, social, and emotional health is a national security imperative.”

Jill Biden said “service members cannot be focused on their mission if their families don’t have what they need to thrive at home.”

She said the revived “Joining Forces” initiative will focus on the employment of military spouses, child care and education for families of service members, as well as health care.

The first lady has made the next phase of “Joining Forces” a priority during her early days in the White House. She and then-first lady Michelle Obama launched the nationwide initiative in 2011. While the Trump White House also focused on issues affecting military families, it did not do so under the banner of the Obama-era program.

In the afternoon, Jill Biden plans to visit the Military OneSource call center, a Defense Department initiative serving military families round-the-clock.