President Biden called the family of George Floyd on Tuesday after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death last year. Biden, Vice President Harris and first lady Jill Biden spoke with Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, from the Oval Office, the White House said.

Here’s what to know:
  • The House rejected a Republican attempt to censure Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) for calling on protesters to “get more active” and “get more confrontational” if a jury votes to acquit former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd.
  • White House officials are closing in on a large spending plan centered on child care, paid family leave and other domestic priorities.
  • Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for federal legalization of marijuana as his home state recently joined 16 others and D.C. in making recreational use of marijuana legal.
  • Biden this week will pledge to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by the end of the decade as part of an aggressive push to combat climate change.
1:22 a.m.
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Pelosi’s new Jan. 6 commission proposal offers equal split between Democratic, Republican appointees

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s latest proposal for an independent commission to investigate the right-wing riot that unfolded at the Capitol on Jan. 6 envisions a panel made up of equal numbers of Democratic and Republican appointees, according to a person familiar with its contents.

The equal split represents a change from Pelosi’s original proposal, which laid out an 11-person commission in which each of the four congressional leaders would be able to appoint two members, while the president would appoint three — resulting in a panel heavily weighted toward Democratic appointees. Pelosi (D-Calif.) briefed her leadership team about the amended ratio on a Monday night call, though it was not immediately clear what the amended distribution would be.

The new detail of the latest proposal was first reported by CNN.

Pelosi has long indicated a willingness to negotiate the distribution of appointees to the proposed commission. But initial negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders hit an impasse over the scope of the commission, as GOP leaders demanded that far-left extremist groups be scrutinized in equal measure to the far-right groups that promoted and participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection, in a vain attempt to overturn former president Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.

Pelosi announced on Friday that she had shared a second proposal for the commission with some Republicans — but not the GOP’s top leaders who had rejected her original proposal.

12:20 a.m.
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Biden urges Americans not to ‘look away, thinking our work is done’

President Biden urged Americans not to “look away, thinking our work is done,” after Chauvin’s murder conviction, saying the country must confront systemic racism.

The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years, a tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart,” he said.

We have to look as we did for those nine minutes and 29 seconds,” the president said, referencing the amount of time that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck. “We have to listen.” He called for more work to “deliver real change and reform.”

This takes acknowledging and confronting — head on — systemic racism and the racial disparities that exist in policing and our criminal justice system more broadly,” Biden said.

State and local governments and law enforcement have to “step up,” he said, “but so does the federal government.” He said his attorney general, Merrick Garland, and other Justice Department picks are “committed to restoring trust between law enforcement and the community,” appealing to the Senate to confirm Vanita Gupta for associate attorney general and Kristen Clarke as head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

The Senate is expected to vote on Gupta’s nomination Wednesday.

Biden also urged “peaceful expression,” denouncing “agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice.”

He ended his speech by heralding a turning point.

“This can be a moment of significant change,” he said.

12:15 a.m.
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‘This work is long overdue,’ Harris says while urging passage of police reform bill

Speaking with President Biden after Chauvin’s conviction on Tuesday, Vice President Harris urged senators to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, saying “this work is long overdue” and that racial injustice is “a problem for every American.”

Harris introduced the police reform measure with colleagues last year as a senator. It’s not “a panacea for every problem,” she acknowledged, but “a start.”

“Black Americans and Black men in particular have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human,” said Harris, the first Black and Asian American woman to serve as vice president. “Black men are fathers and brothers and sons and uncles and grandfathers and friends and neighbors.”

“Their lives must be valued in our education system, in our health-care system, in our housing system, in our economic system, in our criminal justice system, in our nation,” she continued. “Full stop.”

Floyd’s murder, documented in viral video, has brought new light to these issues, Harris said: “Because of smartphones, so many Americans have now seen the racial injustice that Black Americans have known for generations.”

11:52 p.m.
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In nationwide address, Biden speaks about Floyd killing: ‘It was a murder in the full light of day’

Hours after a Minneapolis jury found Chauvin guilty on all charges, Biden praised the verdict that he called “a giant step forward” while acknowledging that “basic accountability” for Black Americans killed by police is “too rare.”

In the nationwide address, Biden called systemic racism “a stain on the nation’s soul” and urged lawmakers to move forward with policing reform and accountability. He called on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, which Harris helped write last year and which passed the House last month.

“This can be a moment of significant change,” Biden said.

The president acknowledged the trauma that Americans, especially Black Americans, had endured watching the video of Floyd’s murder and the trial of Chauvin.

“It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see,” Biden said of the widely shared video of Floyd’s killing.

Saying he had spoken with Floyd’s family and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) earlier in the day, Biden said that while the verdict “does not bring back George,” his family was working to ensure his legacy was more than “just about his death.”

Biden’s remarks Tuesday evening mark one of the few instances in which he’s publicly weighed in about the case. Although Biden had reserved comment during the weeks-long trial, he said after the jury started deliberating that he prayed for “the right verdict.”

10:31 p.m.
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Senate confirms Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general

Three months into Biden’s presidency, the Senate on Tuesday confirmed Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general, the No. 2 position at the Justice Department.

The vote was 98 to 2, with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voting against Biden’s choice.

The nomination of Monaco, who served in the Justice Department during the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations, has generated little controversy. On Monday, the Senate advanced consideration of her nomination on a 94-to-3 procedural vote.

Monaco will be second-in-command to Merrick Garland, who was sworn in as attorney general last month.

Monaco’s ties to Biden go back to the 1990s, when she was a junior staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee he led. From there, she went to law school and became a federal prosecutor, rising quickly in the Justice Department and eventually joining the team that prosecuted Enron executives over that firm’s self-destructive financial fraud.

Historically, deputy attorney general is a critical but low-profile position — a kind of bureaucratic traffic cop overseeing the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Marshals Service, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Often, the deputy attorney general tackles the problems and disagreements that cannot be solved by lower-level officials.

In recent years, however, the job was anything but low profile. The Trump administration’s first deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, oversaw special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign, and he frequently faced the fury of President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers for developments in that case.

10:24 p.m.
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Biden calls Floyd family after verdict: ‘We’re all so relieved’

President Biden and Vice President Harris called the Floyd family shortly after the guilty verdict was announced in the trial of Derek Chauvin on April 20. (@AttorneyCrump| Twitter)

Shortly after Chauvin’s guilty verdict was announced, Biden, Harris and the first lady spoke to the Floyd family in an emotional phone call.

Biden called Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother who delivered tearful testimony during the murder trial, from the Oval Office, according to the White House. In a video posted by family attorney Ben Crump, the president can be heard over the phone telling Floyd family members that he and the vice president had watched the verdict announcement and felt “relieved.”

“Nothing is going to make it all better but at least now there’s some justice,” he said.

Biden said he was reminded of what Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, told him: “My daddy’s going to change the world.”

“He’s going to start to change it now,” Biden told them.

When Crump said he hoped this would help push forward the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, an expansive policing overhaul measure passed by the House last month, Biden responded “that and a lot more,” saying that more needed to be done to address systemic racism.

Harris told the family she was grateful for them and their “courage” and “leadership,” and she promised “something good” would come from Floyd’s death.

“In George’s name and memory, we’re going to make sure his legacy is intact, and that history will look back at this moment and know that it was an inflection moment,” Harris said.

10:03 p.m.
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Congressional Black Caucus members see Chauvin’s guilty verdict as bittersweet

Black lawmakers reacted to the three-count guilty verdict for Chauvin with relief and sadness, expressing a widely held sentiment that for many African Americans, this moment was bittersweet.

“Today’s verdict — guilty on all three counts — is an important first acknowledgment of illegal police conduct,” Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) said in a statement. “It holds one unlawful policeman accountable for murder. However, police accountability is not synonymous with justice.”

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) tweeted: “This verdict is not justice — it’s accountability.”

Shortly after the verdict was read, members of the Congressional Black Caucus stood with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to give their immediate reactions.

“We saw it happen and thank God the jury validated what we saw,” Pelosi said. Then, looking up to the sky, she said, “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice, for being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that — call out for your mom, I can’t breathe. Because of you, and because of thousands, millions of people who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice.”

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) cautioned that the judicial system can still disappoint when it comes time to sentence Chauvin.

“So step one is the verdict. Step two is the sentencing,” she said at the event. “And we have been through this too many times to know you can get a verdict, but the sentencing must match the crime that he was convicted of.”

Former president Barack Obama shared feelings similar to those of the Black lawmakers that this doesn’t mean the work on racial justice is done.

“While today’s verdict may have been a necessary step on the road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one,” Obama said. “We cannot rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is Black, said “there is no question in my mind that the jury reached the right verdict.” But as he agreed there was more work to do, he also said that “to deny the progress we’ve made is just as damaging as not making progress at all.”

But Black Democrats were less inclined to celebrate progress. Instead, they sought to put the verdict in context as one “correct” decision in a broken system.

“These verdicts are correct — but the system is still racist and wrong,” tweeted Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.).

“Today, the jury has ensured Derek Chauvin is held accountable for his heinous, unconscionable crime,” Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter. “But let me be clear, this verdict is not full justice, for in a just world, George Floyd would still be alive.”

8:36 p.m.
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House rejects GOP attempt to censure Rep. Maxine Waters over remarks about Chauvin trial

The House on Tuesday rejected a Republican attempt to censure Rep. Maxine Waters for calling on protesters to “get more active” and “get more confrontational” if a jury votes to acquit former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd.

House Democratic leaders quickly came to Waters’s defense and denounced the resolution as a cynical political ploy to draw attention away from inflammatory and extremist remarks Republicans have made in the past, including President Donald Trump. They argued Waters (D-Calif.) was calling for peaceful protests, not violence.

“I think it’s a totally phony effort to distract from what the Republicans know has been the rhetoric of so many of their members, which has, in effect, aided and abetted and condoned violent activity,” Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday.

7:28 p.m.
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Third House Republican fined for allegedly evading Capitol security

A third Republican lawmaker, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), has been penalized for allegedly dodging the U.S. Capitol Police’s security screening process, the House Ethics Committee announced Tuesday.

Fines against members who evaded security measures were instituted in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in a House rule proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Rogers faces a $5,000 fine imposed for a first offense after he walked onto the House floor last Wednesday without going through the required metal detector screening, according to a memo by the acting sergeant-at-arms shared by the committee.

As he passed a guard trying to check him with a hand wand, Rogers said, “Maybe later, I have to go vote,” according to police. He returned later, and officers explained that screenings must happen before entering the chamber.

Rogers’s office said he appealed the $5,000 fine for an “opportunity to explain the facts,” claiming the incident stemmed from “a simple misunderstanding.”

Two GOP lawmakers previously penalized, Reps. Louie Gohmert (Tex.) and Andrew S. Clyde (Ga.), lost their appeals.

In February, Gohmert wrote that he took issue with being charged for leaving and returning without going through the mandated screening.

“Unlike in the movie ‘The Godfather,’ there are no toilets with tanks where one could hide a gun, so my reentry onto the House floor should have been a non-issue,” he said.

7:22 p.m.
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Biden orders flags at half-staff in honor of Mondale

Biden on Tuesday ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of Walter F. Mondale, the former Democratic senator and vice president who died April 19.

“Today, our nation mourns the loss of one of our nation’s most dedicated patriots and public servants,” Biden said in a proclamation that sketched out Mondale’s decades-long career as Minnesota attorney general, senator, vice president and U.S. ambassador to Japan.

“As a Senator, he was instrumental in the passage of The Fair Housing Act to combat racial discrimination in housing, Title IX to provide more opportunities for women, and numerous laws to protect our environment,” the proclamation says. “Walter Mondale defined the modern vice presidency, elevating the position into a true partnership with the President. As Vice President, he helped lay the groundwork for the 1978 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, the Panama Canal Treaty, and nuclear arms negotiations with the Soviet Union.”

Mondale, who made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1984, was the first presidential nominee to choose a woman as his running mate — a point noted by Biden, who selected Kamala D. Harris to join him on the winning Democratic presidential ticket last year.

7:05 p.m.
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Stacey Abrams says intent of new voting laws in GOP-led states is ‘racist'

Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams said on April 20 she believes there are components of the Georgia election laws that are racist during a Senate hearing. (The Washington Post)

Stacey Abrams testified at a four-hour-long Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights in which the high-profile Democrat was grilled by several Republicans on her opposition to her home state of Georgia’s new voting law.

“Is it a racist piece of legislation?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) asked.

“I think there are components of it that are indeed racist because they use racial animus as a means of targeting the behaviors of certain voters to eliminate their parties or limit their participation in elections,” Abrams, a voting rights activist, answered.

So you believe that the Georgia legislature made deliberate attempts to suppress the minority vote?” Cornyn asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

Cornyn and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) alluded to discrepancies in Abrams’s position on voter ID laws. She said she generally supports voters having identification, but said some of the laws in GOP-led states are too strict.

“So voter ID is sometimes racist, sometimes not racist?” Cornyn asked.

“The intent always matters, sir, and that is the point of this conversation,” Abrams said.

Later, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) rehashed the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election that Abrams narrowly lost and refused to concede over claims of voter suppression efforts.

“Do you still maintain that the 2018 Georgia election was stolen?” Cruz asked.

“As I have always said, I acknowledged at the very beginning that [GOP governor] Brian Kemp won under the rules that were in place,” Abrams answered. “But I object to rules that permitted thousands of Georgia voters to be denied their participation in that election.”

Republican Sens. John Hawley (Mo.) and John Kennedy (La.) also went several rounds with Abrams.

6:49 p.m.
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Biden says he’s praying for ‘the right’ verdict in Chauvin trial

On April 20, as jury deliberations continue in the trial of Derek Chauvin, President Biden said that he spoke with the family of George Floyd. (The Washington Post)

Biden on Tuesday suggested the evidence in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is “overwhelming” and said he is praying that the jury, now in the midst of deliberations, reaches “the right verdict.”

Biden made his comments at the outset of an Oval Office meeting with Hispanic lawmakers in response to a television interview earlier Tuesday in which Philonise Floyd, a brother of George Floyd, disclosed that Biden had called him and other family members Monday.

“I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is, I think — it’s overwhelming in my view,” Biden said. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”

The president, who has spoken to Floyd’s family previously, said he called to check on how they are doing personally.

“I’ve come to know George’s family,” Biden said. “I waited until the jury was sequestered, and then I called. I wasn’t going to say anything about it.”

Biden also said that Floyd’s family does not want to see any violence in the wake of a verdict.

“They’re a good family, and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” he said.

Later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized Biden and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) for their comments about the trial.

“One of the hallmarks of our system is that people are entitled to a fair trial,” McConnell said. “It’s not helpful for a member of Congress and even the president of the United States to appear to be weighing in in public.”

5:32 p.m.
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Psaki defends Biden for comments ahead of verdict in Chauvin trial

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden on Tuesday for speaking out about “the right verdict” in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin while the jury is still deliberating on the case.

During a briefing for reporters, Psaki stressed that Biden had waited until the jury was sequestered to call the family of George Floyd on Monday and to relay during an Oval Office event on Tuesday that he is praying about the verdict. At that event, Biden also suggested the evidence against Chauvin is “overwhelming” in his opinion.

“I don’t think he would see it as weighing in on the verdict,” Psaki said. “He was conveying what many people are feeling across the country, which is compassion for the family, what a difficult time this is, what a difficult time this is for many Americans across the country who have been watching this trial very closely.”

“The jury is sequestered,” she added. “That is different from where things stood just yesterday. And he noted that in his comments as well.”

She said Biden would have more to say once a verdict is rendered.

Biden’s comments about the verdict drew immediate criticism from lawyers, including some usually sympathetic to him.

“No sitting President should be publicly weighing in on how a jury should rule in a pending criminal matter,” tweeted Bradley P. Moss, a lawyer who specializes on national security. “No president, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican.”

4:59 p.m.
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Biden administration says it ‘strongly supports’ making D.C. the 51st state

The Biden administration issued a policy position Tuesday in support of D.C. statehood, forcefully backing legislation to make the District the 51st state ahead of a House vote scheduled for Thursday.

Noting that Washington has “a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life,” the administration said the proposed State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, would “make our Union stronger and more just.”

“For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress,” the administration wrote. “This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded.”

During a GOP news conference Tuesday, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) said that not enough people are living in the city to qualify it as a single congressional district. In fact, D.C. has more residents than Wyoming and Vermont, each of which has two senators and one House member.