President Biden on Monday urged employers to help get more of their workers vaccinated, saying it would provide a boost to the economy, and touted a coming infusion of $350 billion in federal aid to state and local governments, saying that will help more parents get child care and return to work.

Ahead of his wide-ranging remarks on the economy, Biden called the ransomware attack that led to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline “a criminal act” and vowed that “my administration takes this very seriously.”

Here’s what to know:

  • The Biden administration said it would provide protections against discrimination in health care based on gender identity and sexual orientation, reversing a policy of its predecessor.
  • The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack — believed to be the biggest on American oil infrastructure — prompted the White House to pull together a task force.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of the earliest congressional Republican critics of President Donald Trump’s election conspiracy theories, said he warned Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) a few days before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that adopting Trump’s rhetoric would lead to violence.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would still like to see an infrastructure bill on his desk by summer.

West Virginia’s Capito emerges as central figure as Democrats, Republicans seek infrastructure deal

11:34 p.m.
Link copied

Six years after a landslide at Yeager Airport sent dirt and debris tumbling into the valley below, the runways at this hilltop transportation hub in Charleston, W.Va., still could use some upgrades.

The need for the new investment was obvious to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who donned a hard hat and toured the airport to see some of its other ongoing construction projects in March. “A lot of our infrastructure is falling apart,” she told local reporters at the time.

Now, the fate of those improvements in West Virginia and across the country may well rest on her shoulders. As she returns to Washington, Capito, 67, has emerged as the GOP’s front-line voice in the high-stakes congressional debate over infrastructure.

Analysis: Can we stop pretending that Elise Stefanik’s ascent is somehow mysterious?

10:08 p.m.
Link copied

The last time the Republican Party lost a presidential election before 2020, the party embarked on a period of self-reflection trying to figure out how to avoid the same fate in the future. Then Donald Trump emerged in 2016 — running directly against what that period of GOP reflection suggested the party should embrace — and eked his way into the White House.

When he lost last year, the response wasn’t another introversion centered on Trump’s failure but, instead, a Seymour-Skinneresque assumption that it must be everyone else that’s the problem.

House Republicans to vote Wednesday on whether to oust Rep. Liz Cheney from leadership

Link copied

House Republicans will hold a vote Wednesday on whether to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her position as the third-ranking member of leadership, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced.

Cheney has vocally criticized former president Donald Trump over his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, and she has denounced the role he played in the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol. Her fellow Republicans have largely responded by demanding her removal from party leadership or remaining silent.

“If we are to succeed in stopping the radical Democrat agenda from destroying our country, these internal conflicts need to be resolved so as to not detract from the efforts of our collective team,” McCarthy said Monday in a letter to fellow Republicans. “Having heard from so many of you in recent days, it’s clear that we need to make a change. As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair this Wednesday.”

The letter was first reported by Punchbowl News.

House Republicans have said they wanted Cheney to move on from her differences with Trump, arguing that they served as a distraction for the party and that the sole focus should be on winning the House majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

But Cheney has made clear that will not happen and she is ready to lose her leadership position rather than condone or stay quiet about Trump’s actions, warning they are a threat to democracy.

In his letter Monday, McCarthy argued that “unlike the left,” Republicans “embrace free thought and debate,” but that the House GOP leadership team “cannot afford to be distracted from the important work we were elected to do and the shared goals we hope to achieve.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of the few Republicans who have defended Cheney, predicted that the move would wind up hurting his party.

“Expelling Liz Cheney from leadership won’t gain the GOP one additional voter, but it will cost us quite a few,” Romney said in a tweet.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) also defended Cheney. “Cancel culture is cancel culture no matter how you look at it, and unfortunately I think there are those that are trying to silence others in the party," she told reporters.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), meanwhile, described the decision as “an internal House matter” and said he wasn’t sure it “says much of anything” about the Republican Party as a whole.

Capitol Police inspector general testifies about intelligence, staffing failures ahead of Jan. 6 riot

8:13 p.m.
Link copied

Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton told House lawmakers Monday that the force needs a stand-alone countersurveillance unit, after his ongoing investigation determined that vague guidance and lax protocols likely caused officials to miss their own warnings of impending violence ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Bolton faulted outdated guidance, poor communication procedures, inadequate record-keeping and a habit of relying on overworked, undertrained staff among the reasons the Capitol Police were unprepared when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol grounds and broke into the building.

“A stand-alone entity, with a defined mission dedicated to counter-surveillance activities in support of protecting the Congressional Community, would improve the Department’s ability to identify and disrupt individuals or groups intent on engaging in illegal activity directed at the Congressional Community and its legislative process,” Bolton said in his opening statement.

Wall Street roots. NBA owner’s son. Wisconsin’s next Democratic senator?

7:36 p.m.
Link copied

Alex Lasry, a 33-year-old Democrat who worked in the Obama White House, is running for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Ron Johnson. But as the son of a billionaire and a former Goldman Sachs banker, he has drawn criticism from both sides. During a recent interview with The Washington Post, Lasry talked about his decision to seek office in the battleground state, why pro teams should not stick to sports and how the Bucks have navigated matters of racial equality in what has been called “the most segregated city in America.” The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

California Gov. Newsom proposes new wave of stimulus checks as he faces possible recall election

7:28 p.m.
Link copied

LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) proposed a new wave of stimulus checks on Monday, drawing from a tax revenue surplus to distribute money to around two-thirds of Californians.

“California is not just back,” Newsom said at a news conference in Sacramento. “California is roaring back.”

Republicans criticized Newsom’s “California comeback plan,” which comes during a brief window when people who signed petitions to recall the governor can ask for their names to be struck.

“Pretty boy Gavin Newsom is making one-time payments to Californians to avoid being recalled,” said 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee John Cox, one of the better-known Republicans challenging Newsom in the expected recall election. “But Californians can’t be bought.”

But Cox, who like Newsom had begun his recall campaign in earnest last week, had noted during his speeches that the state was pulling in more revenue, in part because of the California-based businesses that went public last year and paid taxes to the state.

For the first time since 2003, voters in California have the chance to recall a governor. Democratic leaders see it as a Republican coup. (James Cornsilk/The Washington Post)

Newsom, joined by members of the state’s Democratic legislative supermajority, said he had asked for nearly a third of the $38 billion surplus to be spent on one-time $600 payments to residents making less than $75,000, and an additional $500 to families without children. The state has billions more in unspent coronavirus aid, pushing the total surplus closer to $80 billion.

“This is one more reason why borrowing and sending tens of billions to California was a crying shame — and why every Republican in Congress opposed it,” tweeted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who with colleagues had opposed redistributing money to blue states that had harsher coronavirus lockdown measures than states like Texas or Florida.

If the recall petitions survive the review period, Californians could go to the polls in November to decide on whether to keep Newsom. Polling has found most voters opposed to the recall, a contrast from 18 years ago, when a wave of voter anger amid an economic slowdown helped oust a Democratic governor, Gray Davis, and install Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Biden says he will meet with Putin, suggests Russia bears some responsibility for cyberattack on pipeline

6:53 p.m.
Link copied

Biden said Monday that he does not think Russia was involved in a recent ransomware attack on one of the nation’s biggest fuel pipeline operators but that does not completely absolve the country.

“So far, there is no evidence based on from our intelligence people that Russia is involved,” the president said in response to questions after his remarks on the economy. “Although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia, they have some responsibility to deal with this.”

Biden said he will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The timing and details on that session are still being worked out, but the two leaders are expected to meet next month when Biden travels to Brussels for a NATO meeting.

The Biden administration said earlier Monday that it believes a criminal gang based in Eastern Europe was behind the ransomware attack. The intelligence community is still investigating if any governments were involved.

Ransomware attacks occur when hackers lock up computer systems, most often by encrypting data before demanding payment to free up the systems. A security firm reported that nearly 2,400 organizations in the United States, including banks, hospitals and universities, were victimized in 2020.

‘Americans want to work:’ Biden counters critics of his administration’s economic response

6:37 p.m.
Link copied
President Biden on May 10 said out-of-work Americans who are collecting unemployment benefits will lose those benefits if they turn down a suitable job offer. (The Washington Post)

Biden on Monday pushed back against critics of his administration’s handling of the economy, noting that out-of-work Americans who are collecting unemployment benefits will lose those benefits if they turn down a suitable job opportunity.

“We’re going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment,” Biden said at the White House.

“There are a few covid-19-related exceptions, so that people aren’t forced to choose between their basic safety and a paycheck,” he added. “But otherwise, that’s the law.”

Biden noted that there’s been “a lot of discussion” since last week’s jobs report, with some critics claiming “that people are being paid to stay home rather than go to work.”

“Well, we don’t see much evidence of that,” Biden said.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) alleged that the Biden administration’s stimulus law had created a massive labor shortage that threatens to hold back the country’s economic recovery.

“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.”

Employers across a range of industries have complained that it is difficult to find workers, even though millions of Americans remain unemployed. Democrats argue that any disruption in the labor market is probably the result of employers that have tried to lure people back with low wages, on top of troubles facing families that continue to struggle to find adequate child care.

“Americans want to work,” Biden said Monday, adding: “I think the people who claim Americans won’t work, even if they find a good and fair opportunity, underestimate the American people.”

“So we’ll insist that the law is followed with respect to benefits, but we’re not going to turn our backs on our fellow Americans,” he said.

Intelligence community investigating whether pipeline cyberattack is tied to any nation states

5:58 p.m.
Link copied

The Biden administration said Monday that it believes a criminal gang based in Eastern Europe was behind the ransomware attack on one of the nation’s biggest fuel pipeline operators.

“Currently we assessed DarkSide as a criminal actor,” Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, said at the daily White House briefing. “But of course, our intelligence community is looking for any ties to any nation-state actors. And if we find that further information, we’ll look into it.”

Ransomware attacks occur when hackers lock up computer systems, most often by encrypting data before demanding payment to free up the systems. A security firm reported that nearly 2,400 organizations in the United States, including banks, hospitals and universities, were victimized in 2020.

“The FBI has recently worked with international partners to take down and disrupt ransomware infrastructure,” Neuberger added. “We expect that that will be a continued focus area to make it far more difficult for these actors to prey on their victims.”

Colonial Pipeline, which carries nearly half of the gasoline, diesel and other fuels used on the East Coast, shut down its entire network Friday after the attack, demonstrating the growing threat that ransomware strikes pose to industrial sectors.

Neuberger punted when asked whether Colonial Pipeline had paid a ransom after the attack.

“Colonial is a private company, and we’ll defer information regarding their decision on paying a ransom to them,” she said.

Psaki says Biden is ‘watching closely’ escalating violent clashes in Israel

Link copied

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration has “serious concerns” about escalating violence in Israel and that the president and his national security team are monitoring the situation there. Psaki said Biden is being “kept abreast and is watching closely.”

She noted that Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, had spoken to his counterpart in Israel over the weekend and shared the administration’s concerns about possible evictions of some Palestinian families from their homes, but also shared Israel’s belief that “the launching of rocket attacks and incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel is unacceptable and must be condemned.”

The violent clashes began last week after an Israeli settler organization advanced a petition through the Israeli Supreme Court to evict six Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a mostly Palestinian neighborhood. Solidarity protests erupted across the city and quickly degenerated into bloody confrontations with the police.

The militant group Hamas fired seven rockets at Jerusalem and dozens more at southern Israel on Monday after violent clashes near the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem between Israeli police and Arab protesters left more than 300 Palestinians injured.

Biden still wants an infrastructure bill on his desk by summer, Psaki says

5:26 p.m.
Link copied

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden’s timeline on passage of a jobs and infrastructure bill has not changed as he prepares for a busy week of meetings about the size and scope of the package with lawmakers from both parties.

“The president would still like to see progress by Memorial Day and would like to sign the bill into law this summer, that hasn’t changed,” Psaki said at a White House briefing for reporters.

Biden’s planned meetings on the issue this week include one with the top leaders from both parties in the House and Senate.

In response to a question, Psaki said that the “family excitement” within the House Republican caucus would not affect Biden’s negotiations. She was referencing efforts to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as the House GOP conference chairwoman, the caucus’s No. 3 position, due to continued criticism over former president Donald Trump’s false contention that last year’s election was stolen from him.

The president knows that there is some introspection going on in the Republican Party right now and a determination about who they’re going to be, who they want to lead them and what they want to represent moving forward,” she said.

Biden supports enhancing NATO’s ‘defense posture’ during virtual meeting with easternmost members of the alliance

5:14 p.m.
Link copied

Biden expressed support for “enhancing NATO’s deterrence and defense posture” during a virtual meeting Monday with a group of the easternmost members of the Western military alliance, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing.

Members of the group, known as the Bucharest Nine, share a concern about Russia’s attempt to assert influence over the region. Psaki said Biden appeared at the invitation of the group.

During his virtual address, Biden conveyed his desire for “closer cooperation” with the NATO allies on issues including “global health, security, climate change, energy security and global economic recovery,” Psaki said.

She said Biden also welcomed discussion of how “to meet future threats,” noting that the issue will be discussed at a broader NATO meeting in June.

White House adviser says no supply shortage yet from Colonial pipeline shutdown

5:03 p.m.
Link copied
White House Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall on May 10 said that the Colonial pipeline ransomware attack did not cause a supply shortage. (The Washington Post)

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, the White House homeland security adviser, said Monday that there have been no supply disruptions resulting from the ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial pipeline but that the federal government is taking “proactive steps” to understand potential impacts of the shutdown on gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel in multiple states.

“Right now, there is not a supply shortage,” Sherwood-Randall told reporters during a briefing at the White House. “We are preparing for multiple possible contingencies because that’s our job, especially on the homeland security team.”

The private company that runs the pipeline from Houston to New Jersey said Monday it could be “substantially” restore to service by the end of the week.

The closure of the country’s largest fuel pipeline Friday afternoon threatened gasoline and jet fuel supplies for much of the Eastern Seaboard. A full week offline could put pressure temporarily on prices, as storage supplies dwindle, but would be unlikely to cause a major disruption.

“This weekend’s events put the spotlight on the fact that our nation’s critical infrastructure is largely owned and operated by private-sector companies,” Sherwood-Randall said. The Biden administration has already launched a high priority initiative to collaborate with our private-sector partners, to harden our defenses and to build our nation’s resilience.”

Michelle Obama said it was important that she and Barack Obama speak out after Derek Chauvin verdict

4:02 p.m.
Link copied

Former first lady Michelle Obama said she and President Barack Obama spoke out after the Derek Chauvin trial because it was important to make sure conversations about systemic racism continue to move forward.

“We know that while we’re all breathing a sigh of relief over the verdict, there’s still work to be done. And so we can’t sort of say, ‘Great. That’s happened. Let’s move on,' ” she said in a CBS interview that aired Monday. “I know that people in the Black community don’t feel that way because many of us still live in fear as we go to the grocery store, or walking our dogs, or allowing our children to get a license.”

“The innocent act of getting a license puts fear in our hearts,” Obama added.

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of murdering George Floyd, a Black man, last month nearly a year after thousands of Americans protested police violence against Black people after a recording of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes went viral.

After the ruling, the Obamas released a statement affirming the decision.

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

Obama shared the anxiety she sometimes feels about her daughters possibly being targeted for their race whenever they leave the house. She said it’s necessary for young people to continue to be vocal about the real-life effects of systemic racism.

“Every time they get in a car by themselves, I worry about what assumption is being made by somebody who doesn’t know everything about them,” Obama said interview. “The fact that they are good students and polite girls. But maybe they’re playing their music a little loud. Maybe somebody sees the back of their head and makes an assumption.”

The Obamas’ older daughter, Malia, is graduating from Harvard this year.