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Post Politics Now Trump-backed candidate booted from Tenn. ballot; Biden hosts military leaders

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and President Biden during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on March 3. (Sarah Silbiger/For The Washington Post)
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Today, fallout continues from a decision by the Tennessee Republican Party to boot Morgan Ortagus, a congressional candidate backed by former president Donald Trump, from the primary ballot. The move underscores broader tensions this election cycle in the GOP between those beholden to Trump and more traditional Republicans. After the decision was announced late Tuesday, Ortagus, a former State Department spokeswoman, questioned the commitment of “party insiders” to Trump’s policies.

Meanwhile in Washington, President Biden convened with top military leaders, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in an annual White House gathering that has taken on added significance this year because of the war in Ukraine. The White House also announced Wednesday that Biden will be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner later this month. His attendance had been in doubt amid the pandemic.

Adhering to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention request this evening, the Justice Department announced it had appealed a federal judge’s ruling that voided the mask mandate on public transportation. The Justice Department had said Tuesday it would appeal the ruling only if the CDC recommended it, seeking to protect the health agency’s authority during public health crises.

Welcome to Post Politics Now, a new live experience from The Washington Post that puts the day’s political headlines into context. Each weekday, we’ll guide you through the news with assists from some of the best political reporters in the business providing insights and analysis.

Your daily dashboard

  • 3 p.m. Eastern: White House press secretary Jen Psaki briefed reporters. Watch coverage here.
  • 4 p.m. Eastern: Biden met with top military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House.
  • 5:30 p.m. Eastern: Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted a dinner for top military leaders in the Blue Room of the White House.

Have a question about politics? Submit it here. At 3 p.m. weekdays, return to this space and we’ll address what’s on readers’ minds.

2:11 p.m.
Headshot of Seung Min Kim
White House reporter
For Biden, another opportunity to project normalcy — For an administration that has touted its returns to traditions and normalcy, the announcement Wednesday that the Bidens will attend the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner at the end of the month was no surprise.Though he didn’t attend the smaller, more exclusive Gridiron Club dinner earlier this month — which ended up turning into a coronavirus superspreader event — Biden will resume the long-standing custom of the president attending the annual WHCA gathering.In his four years as president, Donald Trump never appeared at the dinner, choosing instead to hold one of his signature campaign rallies during which he would lambaste the media and tell his supporters that he would much rather be with them, outside of Washington.
10:26 a.m.
Headshot of Matt Viser
White House reporter
Climate activists, unhappy with Biden, want action from Congress, too — There has been some frustration among climate activists that Biden’s focus on lowering gas prices is clouding some of the work they are doing — and need to do — to combat climate change.Some are hoping to channel some of their energy in the coming days into pressing for the Senate to advance a House-passed bill that includes $555 billion in clean energy investments. Protesters are expected to rally in front of the White House on Saturday, demanding that Congress pass new legislation.“That is the ballgame — the rest of this is small potatoes compared to that,” said Jamal Raad, executive director of Evergreen Action, a climate advocacy group. “I think that is where most of the frustration should lie, rather than some of these short-term announcements.”They view the window for action as closing in the coming months, particularly as lawmakers turn toward the midterm elections. While the House has passed the legislation, it has stalled in the Senate largely because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.)“We are at a make-or-break moment in both ecological scale and political scale in getting this over the finish line,” Raad said. “This will be a legacy-defining issue for leader Schumer and President Biden.”