President Biden said Friday that a report showing slower-than-expected job growth in April underscores that “our efforts are starting to work, but the climb is steep, and we still have a long way to go” to recover from the pandemic.

Despite the disappointing numbers, Biden contended the economic recovery is proceeding more rapidly than he thought it would. He also pitched additional spending plans focused on jobs and infrastructure and expanding access to health care and family safety-net programs.

Here’s what to know:

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), an early Biden supporter who was touted as a potential running mate, said she will not seek reelection this year because she no longer had the fight in her heart to continue in the job for another four years.
  • Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), two staunch allies of former president Donald Trump, plan to kick off an “America First” rally tour at a well-known retirement community in central Florida.
  • Vice President Harris said that the U.S. and Mexican governments can work together to improve the quality of life in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to decrease emigration from those countries.
10:05 p.m.
Link copied
link

Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Post reporters’ phone records

The Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Washington Post journalists’ phone records and tried to obtain their email records over reporting they did in the early months of the Trump administration on Russia’s role in the 2016 election, according to government letters and officials.

In three separate letters dated May 3 and addressed to Post reporters Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller and former Post reporter Adam Entous, the Justice Department wrote they were “hereby notified that pursuant to legal process the United States Department of Justice received toll records associated with the following telephone numbers for the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017.” The letters listed work, home or cellphone numbers tied to calls over that 3½-month period.

Cameron Barr, The Post’s acting executive editor, said: “We are deeply troubled by this use of government power to seek access to the communications of journalists. The Department of Justice should immediately make clear its reasons for this intrusion into the activities of reporters doing their jobs, an activity protected under the First Amendment.”

8:51 p.m.
Link copied
link

White House reinstates visitor logs, releases January records

White House officials on Friday said the Biden-Harris administration was reinstating the policy of disclosing White House visitor logs, reversing a policy of the Trump administration, which stopped making public the names of people who had visited the former president and members of his administration during Donald Trump’s time in office.

“These logs give the public a look into the visitors entering and exiting the White House campus for appointments, tours, and official business — making good on President Biden’s commitment to restore integrity, transparency, and trust in government,” the White House said in statement.

Along with the announcement, White House officials also released searchable visitor logs from Jan. 20 to 31, which included 400 records. Subsequent records will be released on a monthly basis.

The White House said there would be some exceptions to its voluntary disclosure policy, including staff members, those records “whose release would threaten national security interests,” records of meetings deemed “particularly sensitive,” and visits by “personal guests” of Biden’s and Harris’s families that do not involve official or political business.

The records released did not include any of Biden’s or Harris’s virtual meetings. Advocates of open government have urged the new administration to also commit to releasing logs of their virtual meetings, since those have replaced in-person visits for much of the pandemic, but the White House has so far declined.

8:25 p.m.
Link copied
link

Harris says jobs report shows ‘long climb ahead’ for women, pushes for action on child care

Vice President Harris said the disappointing jobs report released Friday showed that there was “still a long climb ahead when it comes to ensuring good-paying jobs for all Americans — especially women” and pushed for more action on child care to address the “mass exodus” of women from the U.S. workforce.

In a statement, Harris noted there are still 2 million fewer women in the workforce than there were before the pandemic, and touted the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief package, which had included provisions “designed to help women workers” such as child-care assistance and relief checks for families.

“We are beginning to see the impact of that relief — as well as our vaccination effort — as more Americans go back to work,” Harris said. “But more action is needed.”

As she has repeatedly in recent weeks, Harris pushed for the passage of the “American Families Plan,” which includes provisions that aim to make child care more affordable and accessible.

“Roughly 5 million women still can’t work due to child-care issues,” Harris said. “This reflects not just the ongoing acute child-care crisis but long-standing structural barriers to families having access to affordable child-care options. … When we lift up women, we lift up families and communities, and our economy is stronger.”

7:23 p.m.
Link copied
link

Analysis: Ted Cruz said his election objections weren’t about blocking Biden. Then someone asked about it.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was not about to let an upstart like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) outmaneuver him in pandering to Donald Trump’s base of support. So when Hawley announced a few days before Congress met to affirm the 2020 electoral college votes that he would object to the vote totals from Pennsylvania, Cruz put together a contingent of senators to make the same promise.

The group, Cruz’s office explained in a statement, was “acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it.” That assurance, buried at the bottom of the lengthy missive, was meant to address the obvious concern that blocking the counting of electoral votes ran the (infinitesimal) risk of derailing the inauguration of Joe Biden, who, by all objective accounts, had clearly won the race. But Cruz and the gang insisted that because the election “featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities,” they had no choice but to throw up the stop sign.

It’s important now as it was then to point out that utterly unfounded allegations of fraud and irregularities — like those raised in the months after the 2020 election — are better addressed by confronting the false claims directly and confronting those spreading them. But when the person propagating the falsehoods has an energetic base of millions of supporters, it’s much easier politically to simply treat them as valid, to try to figure out a way to both treat those unserious claims as serious and also maintain a sober distance from the nonsense. Cruz’s “we must lamentably and futilely object” approach was the narrow path he chose to walk.

6:51 p.m.
Link copied
link

Capitol Police report 107 percent increase in threats against members of Congress

The U.S. Capitol Police reported a 107 percent increase in threats against members of Congress this year compared to 2020 and expects the number to rise.

“This year alone, there has been a 107 percent increase in threats against Members compared to 2020. Provided the unique threat environment we currently live in, the Department is confident the number of cases will continue to increase,” the Capitol Police said in a news release Friday.

The Capitol Police cited the significant increase in response to security recommendations from their inspector general after the Jan. 6 attack. Of those recommendations, the Capitol Police said the most impactful would be “increasing threat assessment manpower and restructuring the Department to establish a stand-alone counter-surveillance entity,” noting that would require additional resources and approval from Congress.

The inspector general recommended that the Capitol Police model their threat assessment team after the Secret Service, which in 2020 had more than 100 agents and analysts with around 8,000 cases.

“During the same time period, the USCP, which has just over 30 agents and analysts, had approximately 9,000 cases,” the news release said.

The watchdog report has not been made public, and Michael Bolton, the U.S. Capitol Police inspector general, is expected to testify on its findings next week.

6:34 p.m.
Link copied
link

Biden administration investigating more than a dozen cases of ‘Havana syndrome’

The Biden administration is investigating more than a dozen cases of “Havana syndrome,” in which CIA officers who recently returned to the United States from multiple international locations reported instances of a mysterious illness.

The latest incidents of the debilitating illness that first surfaced among diplomats in 2017 working in the U.S. Embassy in Havana happened in the early months of this year, with the most recent case being in March. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the administration is gathering intelligence about the cases to determine any patterns.

“The health and well-being of American public servants is a paramount priority to the administration. And we take extremely seriously reports by our personnel of anomalous health incidents,” she said. “Our national security staff is working closely with agencies and departments across the federal government to address unexplained health incidents that some government employees have suffered and to ensure the safety and security of Americans serving around the world.”

Some of the personnel reported experiencing nausea, head or neck pain and sudden vertigo, as well as sensory phenomena such as sound pressure. Psaki said that the administration still does not know the cause of the incidents but that the national security team is taking every report seriously and working with other agencies to determine if patterns exist.

6:06 p.m.
Link copied
link

Trump’s out-of-power agenda: Retribution against foes, command of the spotlight and total domination of GOP

Former president Donald Trump is moving to handpick members of the House GOP leadership team — relentlessly attacking Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, and endorsing Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace her.

He is plotting to take down Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach him for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, while continuing to stoke the false claims of a stolen election that have become a dangerous rallying cry for the party.

And he is playing host to a burbling stream of Republican well-wishers — from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif). to Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) — who travel to his private Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida to pay their respects, seek his support and post a photo of their ring-kissing on social media.

Six months removed from his Election Day loss, Trump has emerged from his West Palm Beach hibernation — refashioning himself as the president of the Republican States of America and reshaping the party in ways both micro and macro.

5:57 p.m.
Link copied
link

Psaki downplays McConnell’s comment about ‘stopping this new administration’

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday sought to downplay the significance of a statement earlier this week from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that “100 percent of my focus is stopping this new administration.”

Addressing reporters at a White House briefing, Psaki said that Biden would “continue to seek a bipartisan path forward” regardless of “the language or the rhetoric of folks on the other side of the aisle.”

“What the American people elected him to do was to bring the country together, to bring leaders together to discuss how we can move together and put people back to work,” Psaki said.

McConnell’s comments, at an event Wednesday in Kentucky, were not well received by congressional Democrats, with some arguing that what sounded like a vow to obstruct by the GOP leader was reason to get rid of the filibuster or pursue legislation where possible without Republican votes.

McConnell softened his tone Thursday. “I want to do business with the president, but he needs to be a moderate,” he said. “I know him very well. We did deals together when he was vice president.”

McConnell also noted he was “able to get a lot done” with President Barack Obama.

5:05 p.m.
Link copied
link

Yellen says road back will be ‘bumpy’ but economic recovery is continuing

On May 7, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she expects the nation to reach “full employment” next year. (The Washington Post)

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged Friday that she expected a higher number of jobs to have been created in April but offered a generally upbeat assessment of the economic recovery, saying she expects the nation to reach “full employment” next year.

“You know, we’ve had a very unusual hit to our economy, and the road back is going to be somewhat bumpy,” Yellen said to reporters in remarks from the White House briefing room shortly after Biden addressed the nation about a report that showed only 266,000 jobs had been added in April — far shy of the 1 million that many economists had projected.

After all, one year ago, we learned we had lost over 20 million jobs in one single month,” Yellen said. “I believe we will reach full employment next year. But today’s numbers also show that we’re not yet finished as our economy continues to heal. It’s important to consider ways in which we can build back better.”

Yellen, like Biden did in his remarks, downplayed suggestions by Republicans that enhanced unemployment benefits were serving as a deterrent for some people to return to work.

She cited another factor: Irregular school schedules making it harder for parents to return to work.

“You know, it’s clear that there are people who are not ready and able to go back into the labor force,” she said. “Many children are back in school, but not on a regular schedule.”

5:03 p.m.
Link copied
link

Biden defends his coronavirus relief package after disappointing jobs report

In response to the April jobs report, President Biden on May 6 defended his coronavirus relief package and said economic recovery would be a marathon. (The Washington Post)

After a disappointing jobs report, Biden on Friday defended his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that provided $1,400 stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits as critical to an economic recovery.

“When we passed the American Rescue Plan, I want to remind everybody, it was designed to help us over the course of a year, not 60 days. A year,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “We never thought that after the first 50 or 60 days, everything would be fine.”

The U.S. economy added just 266,000 jobs in April, falling well below economists’ estimates. Millions of Americans have yet to return to the workforce after being laid off during the economic downturn that accompanied the coronavirus pandemic.

“We knew this wouldn’t be a sprint, it’d be a marathon,” Biden said. “Quite frankly, we’re moving more rapidly than I thought we would.”

He said the report was a “rebuttal” to the idea that some Americans don’t want to work, “despite what you may have heard this morning.”

Soon after the report’s release, several Republicans called for ending the enhanced unemployment benefits, arguing that the generosity of the plan was the reason some people are not seeking work.

The number of jobs added was a significant decline from the 916,000 jobs originally thought to have been added in March. Economists revised that number to 770,000 in Friday’s report.

Not all the jobs news was disappointing, and Biden noted that progress was being made. The fact that last month’s gains were largely in the leisure and hospitality industry is viewed as proof that restaurants and bars are beginning to recover despite being among some of the hardest-hit businesses throughout the pandemic. And the unemployment rate — 6 percent — remains low, although some economists believe it is misleading given the number of people who are no longer working and have stopped looking for employment.

The president also used Friday’s event to champion his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which he says will create about 1 million jobs across the country, including in areas that have watched jobs leave for years. And he also noted that Friday’s report shows the necessity of his popular American Rescue Plan.

“Today’s report just underscores, in my view, how vital the actions we’re taking are: checks to people who are hurting, support for small businesses, for child care and school, reopening support to help families put food on the table,” Biden said. “Our efforts are starting to work, but the climb is steep, and we still have a long way to go.”

5:00 p.m.
Link copied
link

Ohio GOP votes to censure Rep. Anthony Gonzalez over Trump impeachment vote

The Ohio Republican Party voted Friday to censure two-term congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who voted with nine other House Republicans to impeach former president Donald Trump for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot by a pro-Trump mob.

The state party also wants Gonzalez to step down.

Ohio GOP chairman Bob Paduchik said it is not the vote itself that led to Gonzalez’s public reprimand, but that the congressman backed what he called “an unconstitutional, politically motivated process that served no purpose.”

“Republicans and Democratic members alike have the right to vote in any way they so choose,” Paduchik said in an emailed statement. “This committee also has a right to stand on principle and conviction.”

Gonzalez’s spokesman did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Gonzalez is not the first to be rebuked by Republicans back home over the Trump impeachment vote. Almost all of the 10 House Republicans have been admonished by either their state or local parties. And state Republican committees in North Carolina and Louisiana censured their Republican senators, Richard Burr and Bill Cassidy respectively, for voting to convict Trump after the Senate trial.

The Ohio GOP vote comes amid high-tension within the House Republican caucus as GOP lawmakers prepare to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her leadership post over her continued criticism of Trump’s falsehoods regarding the 2020 election.

Trump’s first primary endorsement against an incumbent Republican came in late February for a former Trump White House aide Max Miller, who is among the candidates now challenging Gonzalez for his seat.

4:35 p.m.
Link copied
link

Biden sees ‘nothing measurable’ to suggest enhanced unemployment benefits are a disincentive to work

President Biden on May 7 said there was “nothing measurable” to indicate enhanced unemployment benefits are a disincentive to work. (The Washington Post)

Biden on Friday pushed back on Republican arguments that the enhanced unemployment benefits that are part of his $1.9 coronavirus relief package have deterred some people from returning to work.

“No, nothing measurable,” Biden said in response to a reporter who asked if the enhanced benefits are having an impact on the number of people returning to the workforce.

His comments came after remarks from the White House following the release of an April jobs report showing far less growth than economists had predicted.

Several Republican governors have said they have either decided to no longer distribute the enhanced benefits in their states or are contemplating such a move, citing labor shortages in their states.

The $300-a-week federal payments are slated to continue until Sept. 6 in states that do not opt out of the federal program.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued Thursday that direct stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment insurance are creating a disincentive to work.

“We have flooded the zone with checks that I’m sure everybody loves to get, and also enhanced unemployment,” McConnell said. “And what I hear from business people, hospitals, educators, everybody across the state all week is, regretfully, it’s actually more lucrative for many Kentuckians and Americans to not work than work.”

3:45 p.m.
Link copied
link

GOP says Cheney focuses too much on the past ... as Trump continues to focus on the past

Some Republicans have argued that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is losing her leadership post not because of her criticisms of former president Donald Trump, but because she is too focused on what happened in the past.

Meanwhile, Trump has spent nearly all of his post-presidency rehashing the November 2020 election and spreading the falsehood that it was stolen from him.

On Friday morning, Trump was out with a new statement accusing Michigan and Wisconsin — two states he won in 2016 but lost in 2020 — of “miraculously” finding votes for Biden. He’s urged audits of ballots, insisting still that massive corruption will be uncovered, when there is no evidence of any malfeasance that would have turned the election in his favor.

Cheney’s outspoken opposition to Trump’s rhetoric is not solely focused on what he said to spur his supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, but also comes in response to the comments Trump continues to make.

3:37 p.m.
Link copied
link

Biden tries to turn Trump’s tax law against Republicans who love it

It falls short of the old riddle about the outcome of an irresistible force striking an immovable object, but Biden has turned the 2017 GOP tax law into a weapon against Republicans balking at his trillions in new government spending.

Biden and his proposals are broadly popular. The GOP’s “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA) isn’t (as of 2019). That’s the “force.” Republicans say they’re dead set against the president’s tax hikes. Time will tell whether any can be moved.

There’s a political symmetry to the president’s attacks on what was President Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement: Republicans spent a decade raising money and courting voters with attacks on President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.