Biden Says Colonial Pipeline Is Nearing Full Capacity After Hack

Here’s what you need to know: Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:20 -0:00 transcript Biden Warns Against Panic Following Pipeline Cyberattack President Biden delivered remarks following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and urged Americans not to panic over gas availability. The president also warned gas stations against taking advantage of the current gas shortage. As part of an effort to use every possible means to accelerate fuel deliveries, last night I granted a waiver of the Jones Act to fuel suppliers. This allows non-U.S. flagged vessels to transport refined fuel products from the Gulf of Mexico to affected areas. And we’ll grant additional waivers if necessary. These steps are temporary, but they remain in place until full service is fully restored. This is as a whole of government response to get more fuel, more quickly to where it’s needed and to limit the pain being felt by American customers. I know seeing lines at the pumps or gas stations with no gas can be extremely stressful. But this is a temporary situation. Do not get more gas than you need in the next few days. As I said, we expect the situation to begin to improve by the weekend and into early next week. And gasoline supplies coming back online, and panic buying will only slow the process. And I also want to say something to the gas stations: Do not, I repeat, do not try to take advantage of consumers during this time. I’m going to work with governors of the affected states to put a stop to price gouging wherever it arises. President Biden delivered remarks following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and urged Americans not to panic over gas availability. The president also warned gas stations against taking advantage of the current gas shortage.CreditCredit...Travis Dove for The New York TimesPresident Biden on Thursday welcomed news that gas has begun flowing through a critical pipeline that was shut down by the company over the weekend after a ransomware attack by hackers, but he said that it will take time to resolve gas shortages along the East Coast and he warned stations not to engage in price gouging. “They should be reaching full operational capacity as we speak, as I speak to you right now,” Mr. Biden said in remarks from the Roosevelt Room. “That is good news. But we want to be clear, we will not feel the effects at the pump immediately. This is not like flicking on a light switch.” The president said he had “no comment” on reports that Colonial Pipeline had paid a $5 million ransom to a group of hackers based in Russia to restore operations on the 5,500-mile pipeline. But he said the United States will pursue “a measure to disrupt their ability to operate” against Darkside, the group behind the Colonial hack. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, later said that it is the “position of the federal government” that it is not in the interests of “companies to pay ransom, because it incentivizes these actions.” But she refused to criticize Colonial by name, adding it was “not constructive” to single out any particular company. The United States has the ability to turn its offensive cyberweapons against ransomware operators. Cyber Command, the military’s still-new force of cyberwarriors, went after TrickBot last fall, another ransomware group, to keep it from selling its services to groups seeking to disrupt the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Biden noted that Darkside is based in Russia, but he said American intelligence agencies do not believe that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia or the Russian government were involved in the attack on the pipeline. “I am confident that I read the report of the F.B.I. accurately. And they say, they were not, he was not. The government was not,” the president said. Ms. Psaki, however, said that Russia bears “some responsibility” for hosting the group and allowing it to launch attacks against the U.S. For the Biden White House, the attack on the Colonial Pipeline has many elements of peril: Political peril as Americans along the East Coast line up to get gas; economic peril as the administration worries about the temporary effects on air travel and chemical production; and technological peril as experts try to figure out how a ransomware attack turned into a national security event. Mr. Biden sought to address all three issues Thursday. He said his administration had eased regulations to allow companies to deliver gas more easily in the affected regions and eased environmental rules temporarily to provide flexibility for gas companies. He also urged American in the affected regions to avoid panicked buying of gasoline. “This is a temporary situation. Do not get more gas than you need in the next few days,” he said, adding that “We expect the situation to begin to improve by the weekend and into early next week, and gasoline supply is coming back online, and panic buying will only slow the process.” The president also mentioned the administratio

Biden Says Colonial Pipeline Is Nearing Full Capacity After Hack
Here’s what you need to know: Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:20 -0:00 transcript Biden Warns Against Panic Following Pipeline Cyberattack President Biden delivered remarks following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and urged Americans not to panic over gas availability. The president also warned gas stations against taking advantage of the current gas shortage. As part of an effort to use every possible means to accelerate fuel deliveries, last night I granted a waiver of the Jones Act to fuel suppliers. This allows non-U.S. flagged vessels to transport refined fuel products from the Gulf of Mexico to affected areas. And we’ll grant additional waivers if necessary. These steps are temporary, but they remain in place until full service is fully restored. This is as a whole of government response to get more fuel, more quickly to where it’s needed and to limit the pain being felt by American customers. I know seeing lines at the pumps or gas stations with no gas can be extremely stressful. But this is a temporary situation. Do not get more gas than you need in the next few days. As I said, we expect the situation to begin to improve by the weekend and into early next week. And gasoline supplies coming back online, and panic buying will only slow the process. And I also want to say something to the gas stations: Do not, I repeat, do not try to take advantage of consumers during this time. I’m going to work with governors of the affected states to put a stop to price gouging wherever it arises. President Biden delivered remarks following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and urged Americans not to panic over gas availability. The president also warned gas stations against taking advantage of the current gas shortage.CreditCredit...Travis Dove for The New York TimesPresident Biden on Thursday welcomed news that gas has begun flowing through a critical pipeline that was shut down by the company over the weekend after a ransomware attack by hackers, but he said that it will take time to resolve gas shortages along the East Coast and he warned stations not to engage in price gouging. “They should be reaching full operational capacity as we speak, as I speak to you right now,” Mr. Biden said in remarks from the Roosevelt Room. “That is good news. But we want to be clear, we will not feel the effects at the pump immediately. This is not like flicking on a light switch.” The president said he had “no comment” on reports that Colonial Pipeline had paid a $5 million ransom to a group of hackers based in Russia to restore operations on the 5,500-mile pipeline. But he said the United States will pursue “a measure to disrupt their ability to operate” against Darkside, the group behind the Colonial hack. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, later said that it is the “position of the federal government” that it is not in the interests of “companies to pay ransom, because it incentivizes these actions.” But she refused to criticize Colonial by name, adding it was “not constructive” to single out any particular company. The United States has the ability to turn its offensive cyberweapons against ransomware operators. Cyber Command, the military’s still-new force of cyberwarriors, went after TrickBot last fall, another ransomware group, to keep it from selling its services to groups seeking to disrupt the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Biden noted that Darkside is based in Russia, but he said American intelligence agencies do not believe that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia or the Russian government were involved in the attack on the pipeline. “I am confident that I read the report of the F.B.I. accurately. And they say, they were not, he was not. The government was not,” the president said. Ms. Psaki, however, said that Russia bears “some responsibility” for hosting the group and allowing it to launch attacks against the U.S. For the Biden White House, the attack on the Colonial Pipeline has many elements of peril: Political peril as Americans along the East Coast line up to get gas; economic peril as the administration worries about the temporary effects on air travel and chemical production; and technological peril as experts try to figure out how a ransomware attack turned into a national security event. Mr. Biden sought to address all three issues Thursday. He said his administration had eased regulations to allow companies to deliver gas more easily in the affected regions and eased environmental rules temporarily to provide flexibility for gas companies. He also urged American in the affected regions to avoid panicked buying of gasoline. “This is a temporary situation. Do not get more gas than you need in the next few days,” he said, adding that “We expect the situation to begin to improve by the weekend and into early next week, and gasoline supply is coming back online, and panic buying will only slow the process.” The president also mentioned the administration’s executive order on cybersecurity that was published on Wednesday night, which sets security standards for any company that is looking to sell software to the federal government. “I cannot dictate that the private companies do certain things relative to cybersecurity,” Mr. Biden told reporters. But he said that “I think it’s becoming clear to everyone that we have to do more than being done now and the federal government can be significant value added.” Mr. Biden said the attack on the pipeline should underscore the need for the United States to improve its critical infrastructure, and urged lawmakers to back his $2.3 trillion proposal to rebuild roads, bridges, pipelines and other projects. “This is a lifeblood kind of infrastructure for these communities,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito said of the New River Gorge Bridge in Victor, W.Va., while standing on its catwalk, hundreds of feet above a river.Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times A week after the top Senate Republican described himself as “100 percent focused” on stopping President Biden’s agenda, Senator Shelley Moore Capito will meet with the president on Thursday with a different strategy in mind. “Maybe by working together, and accomplishing something together, we get a mutual win here — particularly a win for the country,” said Ms. Capito, a West Virginia Republican who is scheduled to lead a group of a half-dozen Republicans in an afternoon meeting with Mr. Biden at the White House to discuss the possibilities for an infrastructure compromise. The comment from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, delivered in his home state, was a harsh reminder of the tricky politics Ms. Capito is navigating as the Republican responsible for figuring out if there is a bipartisan compromise to be had with Mr. Biden on a major infrastructure and public works plan. But if such a deal is to be struck on a substantial infrastructure package this year, Ms. Capito, 67, a close ally of Mr. McConnell’s, will most likely be leading it. Mr. Biden has proposed a $4 trillion plan, including $2.3 trillion (not $2.3 billion, as an earlier post said) for projects like roads, bridges, pipelines and other initiatives that have traditionally dominated infrastructure packages and a huge expansion of safety net programs. He has labeled those programs critical “human infrastructure” initiatives and would pay for them with tax increases on corporations and high earners. Ms. Capito has drafted a blueprint for a counteroffer that would devote a small fraction of that amount — $568 billion — with little detail about how it would be financed. Ms. Capito has spoken with Mr. Biden in recent days and dispatched her staff to talk to White House aides about reconciling her framework with the president’s. “The first indication that Lucy is going to pull the football is if she quits talking to you, and we’re still talking daily,” Ms. Capito said. In a series of interviews across her state last week, Ms. Capito acknowledged steep challenges in reaching a deal with Mr. Biden to deliver such legislation. Mr. McConnell has repeatedly raised $600 billion as an acceptable price tag, and Republicans have refused to consider tax increases that would reverse the deep cuts they pushed through as part of the 2017 tax law. Several Democrats, for their part, have dismissed Ms. Capito’s plan as paltry given the nation’s infrastructure needs. Moderates including Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, are pushing to find a compromise and have applauded, if not fully endorsed, Ms. Capito’s efforts. She readily concedes that her efforts could fall flat without a compromise that Democrats would be willing to accept — or if Republicans refuse to coalesce behind one, leaving Democrats to conclude it would be futile to winnow down the size of their plan in search of a bipartisan deal. Privately, Ms. Capito said, Mr. McConnell is “telling me to move forward, he’s telling me to negotiate in good faith.” But his public remark “did sound a little…,” she trailed off with a chuckle. “I thought, now I’m going to go into the president and go, ‘Well, here we are to negotiate!’” President Joe Biden addresses the Nation from the White House about the COVID-19 relief bill, in March.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times Lawmakers have unleashed more than $5 trillion in relief aid over the past year to help businesses and individuals through the pandemic downturn. But the scale of that effort is placing serious strain on a patchwork oversight network created to ferret out waste and fraud. The Biden administration has taken steps to improve accountability and oversight safeguards spurned by the Trump administration, including more detailed and frequent reporting requirements for those receiving funds. But policing the money has been complicated by long-running turf battles; the lack of a centralized, fully functional system to track how funds are being spent; and the speed with which the government has tried to disburse aid. The scope of oversight is vast, with the Biden administration policing the tail end of the relief money disbursed by the Trump administration last year in addition to the $1.9 trillion rescue package that Democrats approved in March. Much of that money is beginning to flow out the door, including $21.6 billion in rental assistance funds, $350 billion to state and local governments, $29 billion for restaurants and a $16 billion grant fund for live-event businesses like theaters and music clubs. The funds are supposed to be tracked by a hodgepodge of overseers, including congressional panels, inspectors general and the White House budget office. But the system has been plagued by disagreements and disarray. President Biden has tapped a longtime economic adviser, Gene Sperling, as his pandemic relief czar. Mr. Sperling has been racing to stand up the oversight architecture and is relying heavily on the investigative powers of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a panel of inspectors general, in addition to the Government Accountability Office and the administration’s Office of Management and Budget. “When you have a rescue plan, there is going to be a certain amount of tension between aspiring for perfection and meeting the law’s fundamental aims to move funds out in time to cut child poverty, keep people in their homes, save small businesses, restaurants and child care centers,” Mr. Sperling said in an interview. “You just have to do everything in your power to strike a rigorous and right balance.” So far, major instances of fraud and waste represent a relatively small percentage of the 2020 initiatives and have been largely confined to small business lending efforts, like the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. But federal oversight experts and watchdog groups say the exact scale of problems in the $2 trillion bipartisan stimulus relief bill in March 2020 is virtually impossible to determine because of insufficient oversight and accountability reporting. President Biden is pushing a rebuilding of public investment, like infrastructure, research and education, as the best way to fuel economic growth and improve families’ lives.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times President Biden and his economic team are pushing their most detailed case yet for trillions of dollars in new federal spending to rebuild public investment in workers, research and physical infrastructure, focusing on long-term ingredients of economic growth and equality even as the current recovery from recession shows signs of distress. In a new document from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Biden’s team casts his $4 trillion economic agenda as a way to correct decades of tax-cutting policies that have failed to boost the middle class. Instead, the administration is pushing a rebuilding of public investment, like infrastructure, research and education, as the best way to fuel economic growth and improve families’ lives. The document provides a deeper economic backbone for arguments that Mr. Biden has made publicly and privately to sell his plans to lawmakers, including his expected comments to a group of Republican senators he has invited to the White House on Thursday to negotiate over an infrastructure package. It also reflects the administration’s longer-term thinking on economic policy at a time when conservatives have ramped up criticism of the president over slowing job growth and accelerating inflation. Republicans continue to insist that tax cuts, particularly for business, are the key to economic competitiveness and middle-class prosperity. They have refused to negotiate any changes to their party’s signature 2017 tax law as part of an infrastructure agreement, even as they concede some need for a limited version of the new public investments Mr. Biden is calling for. Administration officials express confidence that recent price surges in used cars, airfare and other sectors of the economy will prove temporary, and that job growth will speed up again as more working-aged Americans are vaccinated against Covid-19 and regain access to child care during work hours. They say Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic aid package, the “American Rescue Plan,” which he signed in March, will lift job growth in the months to come — and that it is appropriate for the president to look past the current crisis and push efforts to strengthen the economy long-term. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming following a Republican vote to remove her from her leadership position on Wednesday.Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times As she arrived at the Capitol on Wednesday morning to meet her fate, the soon-to-be deposed No. 3 Republican in the House hinted that she was already eyeing her next role. “The party is going to come back stronger, and I’m going to lead the effort to do it,” Representative Liz Cheney said as she stepped into an elevator and down to her demise. Less than an hour later, accompanied by the acclaimed photographer David Hume Kennerly, a family friend, Ms. Cheney returned to her office for an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. A sit-down with Bret Baier of Fox News was to follow. The message was unmistakable: Her colleagues may have stripped Ms. Cheney of her post as chair of the House Republican Conference, but they have effectively handed her a new platform and a new role as the leader of the small band of anti-Trump Republicans. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader, was trying to address a short-term challenge, and in a narrow sense he was successful. He will no longer have to contend with a member of his leadership team who, much to the consternation of him and his colleagues, continues to condemn former President Donald J. Trump’s attempt to overturn the election. By excommunicating Ms. Cheney from her position, however, Republican lawmakers have created a host of new problems for their party. They have underscored the grip that the increasingly unpopular Mr. Trump retains on their ranks; demoralized Republicans and independents who want to move on from his tenure; and, perhaps most significantly, emboldened a household-name conservative to take her case against Trumpism far beyond a Capitol conference room. House Republicans knew what they had done as soon as they emerged from their meeting. “That’s what it looks like when somebody is running for president,” Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama muttered to colleagues as they quickly walked past Ms. Cheney during her remarks in front of the cameras. Other long-serving members, though, were more sobered by the divisions Mr. Trump is still sowing among Republicans and by the megaphone they had just handed Ms. Cheney. “I don’t think it’s a healthy moment for the party,” said Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, himself a former member of Republican leadership. “I do think it enhanced Liz’s stature and position in a way that furthers her message but to the disadvantage of the broader party.” As Ms. Cheney discovered, Republican leaders will continue to bow to Mr. Trump as long as they’re worried that their rank-and-file voters will punish them for disloyalty. This could prove ominous for Republicans in the most competitive districts and states: They may not be able to survive a primary without him, but they may prove unelectable if they’re linked too closely to him. “There’s not a lot of good options,” said Brendan Buck, a former House Republican leadership aide. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. One active-duty service member and about 40 former members of the military have been charged in connection with the attack.Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times A major in the Marine Corps was arrested on Thursday and accused of assaulting police officers during the riot at the Capitol, the first known active-duty service member to be charged in connection with the attack. Prosecutors said that Maj. Christopher Warnagiris, who is stationed at a Marine base in Quantico, Va., violently entered the Capitol after pushing through a line of officers guarding the East Rotunda doors. Once inside, court papers say, Major Warnagiris, 40, used his body to prop the doors open and helped pull other rioters inside. When the Capitol Police attempted to close the doors, the papers said, Major Warnagiris shoved them in “an effort to maintain his position.” Major Warnagiris has been stationed at Quantico since last summer, prosecutors said, and was brought to the attention of authorities after someone he had worked with in 2019 called the F.B.I. Investigators subsequently went to Quantico where another colleague identified him in wanted photos and from video footage taken during the riot, prosecutors said. About 40 former members of the military, including at least one Special Forces operator, have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack. Last month, Pentagon officials announced a new initiative to weed out extremism among service members. Prosecutors said they were not seeking to detain Major Warnagiris before trial, and he was released after a hearing in federal court in Virginia. Handing out masks to commuters in Brooklyn last fall.Credit...Mary Altaffer/Associated Press In a sharp turnabout, federal health officials on Thursday advised that Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus may stop wearing masks or maintaining social distance in most indoor and outdoor settings, regardless of size. The advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes as welcome news to Americans who have tired of restrictions and marks a watershed moment in the pandemic. Masks ignited controversy in communities across the United States, symbolizing a bitter partisan divide over approaches to the pandemic and a badge of political affiliation. Permission to stop using them now offers an incentive to the many millions who are still holding out on vaccination. As of Wednesday, about 154 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but only about one-third of the nation, some 117.6 million people, have been fully vaccinated. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot or the second dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine series. But the pace has slowed: Providers are administering about 2.16 million doses per day on average, about a 36 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported in mid April. “We have all longed for this moment,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said at a White House news conference Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.” The new advice comes with caveats. Even vaccinated individuals must cover their faces and physically distance when going to doctors, hospitals or long-term care facilities like nursing homes; when traveling by bus, plane, train or other modes of public transportation, or while in transportation hubs like airports and bus stations; and when in prisons, jails or homeless shelters. Dr. Walensky warned that unexpected twists in the pandemic could require the C.D.C. to once again amend the guidance. Fully vaccinated people who develop symptoms should still use masks and get tested, she said. Asked how the new guidance might apply to businesses and schools, she said that the agency was working to issue new recommendations soon for specific settings, including for summer camps and travel, which would be published soon. In deference to local authorities, the C.D.C. said vaccinated Americans must continue to abide by existing state, local, or tribal laws and regulations, and follow local rules for businesses and workplaces. Still, the changes are likely to galvanize Americans who have become unaccustomed to appearing in public unmasked — or to seeing others do so. “We’ve got to liberalize the restrictions so people can feel like they’re getting back to some normalcy,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s senior adviser on the pandemic, said in an interview. “Pulling back restrictions on indoor masks is an important step in the right direction.” “You can’t inhibit people from doing the things they want to do, which is one of the reasons they wanted to get vaccinated in the first place, because other people are not getting vaccinated,” he added. The move could raise alarms among more cautious Americans, who may be more reluctant to engage in public activities when more people are unmasked. There is no way to know who is vaccinated and who is not, and the majority of the population is not yet fully vaccinated. Dr. Walensky added that immunocompromised people who have been fully vaccinated should consult their physicians before relinquishing a face mask. “For those who are more risk averse, you have a choice of continuing to wear it if you want to,” Dr. Fauci said. At the White House news conference, Dr. Fauci encouraged Americans, some who may still be gradually adjusting to a new normal after more than a year of living through the pandemic, not to be self-conscious if they do not immediately forego masks. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an individual who has a certain level for risk aversion,” he said. “They shouldn’t be criticized.” Dr. Walensky defended the timing of the new mask guidance, pointing to a steep drop in coronavirus cases, which have dropped by about a third in the last two weeks, and a sustained increase in supply of vaccines. The new recommendations arrived just two days after Senate Republicans tore into the C.D.C. for what they labeled outdated and overly conservative guidance on mask-wearing, accusing the agency at a hearing on the government’s pandemic response of losing the trust of Americans looking to return to normal life. Agency officials pointed to several recent studies showing that vaccines are more than 90 percent effective at preventing mild and severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 in real world settings. Among them was a study of 6,710 health care workers in Israel, including 5,517 fully vaccinated workers, that found the Pfizer vaccine was 97 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infections among the fully vaccinated, and 86 percent effective at preventing asymptomatic infections among them. (Vaccination rates in Israel are far higher than in the United States, however.) The C.D.C also emphasized that vaccines in use have also proven effective against variants of the coronavirus that are circulating in the United States. The C.D.C. has been under fire recently for moving too gingerly to lift restrictions on public activities for those who are vaccinated. Some critics have said the agency’s caution may suggest to Americans that officials lack of confidence in the vaccines. Allowing immunized people to go mask-free indoors may help persuade more people to opt for the vaccine, said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Organization in Saskatchewan, Canada. Removing mask requirements “is another incentive that is extremely low cost and is very much supported by evidence.” Though the C.D.C. historically has been one of the most trusted public health agencies in the world, public confidence in its recommendations lagged during the Trump administration, which sought to muzzle government experts and to alter the agency’s advice, and has not fully rebounded. Only half of Americans said that they had a “great deal” of trust in the C.D.C., according to a new survey conducted in February and March by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Advocates for making the District of Columbia into the nation’s 51st state at a rally near the Capitol in March.Credit...J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press The Biden administration has quietly approached congressional Democrats about a potential change to their high-profile but long-shot effort to transform most of the District of Columbia into the nation’s 51st state, according to executive and legislative branch officials. The bill, which passed the House last month but faces steep odds in the Senate, would admit the residential and commercial areas of the District of Columbia as a new state and leave behind a rump federal enclave encompassing the seat of government, including the Capitol, White House, Supreme Court, other federal buildings and monuments. The deliberations center on the Constitution’s 23rd Amendment, which gives three Electoral College votes in presidential elections to the seat of government. If the bill passes, it is not clear how many, if any, potential voters would be left there. The only residence in the rump federal enclave would be the White House; presidential families traditionally choose to vote in their home states, but nothing forces them to do so. In theory, homeless people might also claim residency in the envisioned enclave. If the amendment is not repealed after any statehood, the bill would try to block the appointment of the three presidential electors. But the administration is said to have proposed instead giving them to the winner of the popular vote. Officials familiar with the discussion spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the political delicacy of the matter as Republicans continue to raise legal and policy objections to granting statehood to the District of Columbia’s 700,000 residents. Such a step would create two additional Senate seats that Democrats would most likely win, as well as grant a vote to the lone representative in the House. If political conditions ever shift enough that the Senate someday approves granting statehood to the District of Columbia, Republican-controlled states are widely expected to sue to challenge its constitutionality. Though the White House endorsed the statehood bill in late April, officials said that how best to navigate the 23rd Amendment if it is not repealed has given the administration’s legal team greatest pause. A White House lawyer acknowledged the interbranch dialogue among Democrats, saying: “Admitting D.C. as a state is comfortably within Congress’ power — arguments to the contrary are unfounded. But we also think there are ways to allay the concerns that have been raised, and that’s why we’re working with Congress to make the bill as strong as possible.” A Medicaid expansion rally at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City in April. Missouri’s Senate voted against paying for voter-approved Medicaid expansion. Credit...Liv Paggiarino/The Jefferson City News-Tribune, via Associated Press Missouri will not move forward on a voter-approved Medicaid expansion after the state’s Legislature decided not to fund the program. The expansion was expected to cover more than 200,000 low-income residents. The rejection comes as the Biden administration is encouraging more states to join the program, with generous incentive payments included in the most recent stimulus package. Missouri voters approved a ballot initiative last summer that would have the state join the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Voters passed the measure by almost seven percentage points, and July 2021 was to be the program’s start date. But the state still needed to secure funding. States that expand Medicaid pay 10 percent of the costs, and the federal government picks up the rest. Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri, a Republican, opposed the measure. But he still included money to fund the program in his January budget proposal. The Republican majorities in both the General Assembly and State Senate voted against that spending. “Without a revenue source or funding authority from the General Assembly, we are unable to proceed with the expansion at this time,” Governor Parson said in a statement Thursday. The decision is likely to face litigation from Medicaid expansion supporters, who contend that the state constitution requires the program to go forward this summer. Six states have expanded Medicaid with ballot initiatives, a strategy by progressive groups to expand coverage in places where state governments are opposed. Signature-gathering efforts are now underway in South Dakota and Mississippi to get similar ballot initiatives in front of voters next year. The ballot initiatives have a strong track record with voters, passing in all but one state (Montana) where they’ve been tried. But the method has drawbacks. After initiatives pass, governors often delay or alter the programs, or simply refuse to implement them. After seeing Medicaid ballots succeed elsewhere, some states have sought to change the ballot initiative process, with tougher requirements to get on the ballot. Gov. Paul LePage of Maine said he “would go to jail” before expanding Medicaid. The program did not start enrolling members until the state elected a new governor, Janet Mills, a Democrat, in 2018.