In a 50-50 Senate, One Democrat’s Power Swells

Here’s what you need to know: Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, announced on Wednesday that he would support President Biden’s nominee for interior secretary, a move widely regarded as sealing her nomination. Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times There is another Joe in town, with the power to give big Joe the jitters. Senator Joe Manchin III, a genial but calculating West Virginia Democrat who has managed to survive in a deep-red state, is emerging as the legislative keystone of his party’s fragile 50-seat majority. Being the chamber’s most conservative Democrat endows him with the same power held by Vice President Kamala Harris — the ability to cast tiebreaking votes in the chamber. Without Mr. Manchin’s support, Democrats will often fall short of the 51 total votes, including Ms. Harris, needed to pass anything. Mr. Manchin — who crossed the aisle last year to endorse Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine who shares his centrism and who once threatened to retire unless Democrats compromised on a budget — has never been shy about using his leverage. And he has never had nearly so much. Take Wednesday. His thumbs-up for a Biden cabinet appointee, Deb Haaland for interior secretary, was regarded as sealing her nomination. On the flip side, his announcement last week that he would oppose Neera Tanden, the president’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, has rendered that confirmation increasingly unlikely. These were mere warm-ups for a bigger test. Party leaders are confident that Mr. Manchin will support the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that President Biden has made his top priority — but increasingly, they are asking what he might demand in return. Mr. Manchin has already said he plans to oppose Mr. Biden’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a stance also taken by Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a centrist who has shown less inclination to challenge party leaders. With such positions, Mr. Manchin, a former governor, embodies the polyglot political personality of a state that delivered huge majorities for former President Donald J. Trump but has a deeply ingrained history of trade unionism and support of federal aid programs. The state’s current governor, Jim Justice, a Democrat who flipped to the Republican Party to back Mr. Trump, has a similar independent streak: He supports Mr. Biden’s plan and urged his adopted party to “go big.” Senator Charles Schumer, the majority leader, has long believed Mr. Manchin’s loyalty on big votes entitled him to buck party orthodoxies. But Mr. Biden’s margin of error is small and Mr. Schumer on Tuesday made a broad pitch for party unity when asked about Mr. Manchin. Mr. Biden and Mr. Schumer are not the only ones with small margins. Mr. Manchin is up for re-election in 2024. He last won his state by just three points, and cannot afford to lose even a small percentage of Black voters and progressives in population centers like Morgantown and Charleston. White House officials know this, and Ms. Harris made a conspicuous appearance on one of the state’s biggest television stations to push the stimulus last month, much to Mr. Manchin’s annoyance. Mr. Biden can also take consolation in the fact that there is only one Mr. Manchin. While President Obama entered office in 2009 with a bigger Senate majority, he also had to appease a half-dozen conservative Democrats, like the powerful chairman of the Finance Committee at the time, Max Baucus, who viewed themselves as legislative barons to be courted, not corralled. Supporters of Jamal Khashoggi demonstrated outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he was killed in 2018.Credit...Osman Orsal/Reuters President Biden plans to hold his first conversation with the ailing Saudi monarch, King Salman this week. And while the call will be full of diplomatic pleasantries, officials say, the real purpose is for Mr. Biden to warn that the United States will soon declassify and publish an intelligence report about the killing of the dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The report will make public the American intelligence conclusions about the role of Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince and the de facto leader of the country, in Mr. Khashoggi’s death. The White House would say little about the carefully sequenced set of events, other than that no conversation between the two men had yet been scheduled — though clearly one was in the works. “The president’s intention, as is the intention of this government, is to recalibrate our engagement with Saudi Arabia,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday. While the Trump administration dealt at length with the crown prince — who was frequently in contact with Jared Kushner, former President Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser — Mr. Biden is taking the position that King Salman is still the country’s leader, and the only one he will talk with direc

In a 50-50 Senate, One Democrat’s Power Swells
Here’s what you need to know: Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, announced on Wednesday that he would support President Biden’s nominee for interior secretary, a move widely regarded as sealing her nomination. Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times There is another Joe in town, with the power to give big Joe the jitters. Senator Joe Manchin III, a genial but calculating West Virginia Democrat who has managed to survive in a deep-red state, is emerging as the legislative keystone of his party’s fragile 50-seat majority. Being the chamber’s most conservative Democrat endows him with the same power held by Vice President Kamala Harris — the ability to cast tiebreaking votes in the chamber. Without Mr. Manchin’s support, Democrats will often fall short of the 51 total votes, including Ms. Harris, needed to pass anything. Mr. Manchin — who crossed the aisle last year to endorse Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine who shares his centrism and who once threatened to retire unless Democrats compromised on a budget — has never been shy about using his leverage. And he has never had nearly so much. Take Wednesday. His thumbs-up for a Biden cabinet appointee, Deb Haaland for interior secretary, was regarded as sealing her nomination. On the flip side, his announcement last week that he would oppose Neera Tanden, the president’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, has rendered that confirmation increasingly unlikely. These were mere warm-ups for a bigger test. Party leaders are confident that Mr. Manchin will support the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that President Biden has made his top priority — but increasingly, they are asking what he might demand in return. Mr. Manchin has already said he plans to oppose Mr. Biden’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a stance also taken by Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a centrist who has shown less inclination to challenge party leaders. With such positions, Mr. Manchin, a former governor, embodies the polyglot political personality of a state that delivered huge majorities for former President Donald J. Trump but has a deeply ingrained history of trade unionism and support of federal aid programs. The state’s current governor, Jim Justice, a Democrat who flipped to the Republican Party to back Mr. Trump, has a similar independent streak: He supports Mr. Biden’s plan and urged his adopted party to “go big.” Senator Charles Schumer, the majority leader, has long believed Mr. Manchin’s loyalty on big votes entitled him to buck party orthodoxies. But Mr. Biden’s margin of error is small and Mr. Schumer on Tuesday made a broad pitch for party unity when asked about Mr. Manchin. Mr. Biden and Mr. Schumer are not the only ones with small margins. Mr. Manchin is up for re-election in 2024. He last won his state by just three points, and cannot afford to lose even a small percentage of Black voters and progressives in population centers like Morgantown and Charleston. White House officials know this, and Ms. Harris made a conspicuous appearance on one of the state’s biggest television stations to push the stimulus last month, much to Mr. Manchin’s annoyance. Mr. Biden can also take consolation in the fact that there is only one Mr. Manchin. While President Obama entered office in 2009 with a bigger Senate majority, he also had to appease a half-dozen conservative Democrats, like the powerful chairman of the Finance Committee at the time, Max Baucus, who viewed themselves as legislative barons to be courted, not corralled. Supporters of Jamal Khashoggi demonstrated outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he was killed in 2018.Credit...Osman Orsal/Reuters President Biden plans to hold his first conversation with the ailing Saudi monarch, King Salman this week. And while the call will be full of diplomatic pleasantries, officials say, the real purpose is for Mr. Biden to warn that the United States will soon declassify and publish an intelligence report about the killing of the dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The report will make public the American intelligence conclusions about the role of Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince and the de facto leader of the country, in Mr. Khashoggi’s death. The White House would say little about the carefully sequenced set of events, other than that no conversation between the two men had yet been scheduled — though clearly one was in the works. “The president’s intention, as is the intention of this government, is to recalibrate our engagement with Saudi Arabia,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday. While the Trump administration dealt at length with the crown prince — who was frequently in contact with Jared Kushner, former President Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser — Mr. Biden is taking the position that King Salman is still the country’s leader, and the only one he will talk with directly. Since the crown prince serves as the defense minister, he has been told to communicate with Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III. But the issue of protocol is less important than the sharp shift in the way the Saudis are being treated. The content of the assessment, chiefly written by the C.I.A., is no mystery: In November 2018, The New York Times reported that intelligence officials had concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, who was drugged and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The agency buttressed the conclusion with two sets of communications: intercepts of the crown prince’s calls in the days before the killing and calls by the kill team to a senior aide to the crown prince. The Trump administration issued sanctions against 17 Saudis involved in the killing. But the administration never declassified the findings — even stripped of the sources and methods — and avoided questions about Prince Mohammed. Senior Trump officials often got angry when asked about their commitment to follow the evidence. They often asked in return whether the United States should abandon a major alliance because of the death of a single dissident and journalist. Mr. Biden’s view was the opposite. Now Saudi officials are trying to figure out whether the new president seeks to isolate the future Saudi ruler — and will try to prevent him from becoming the nation’s leader — by imposing sanctions on him and leaving him open to criminal prosecution. It took hours for the rioters who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 to be forced from the building.Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times The acting chief of the Capitol Police plans to tell a House panel on Thursday that officers on the force were uncertain about whether and when they should use lethal force during the deadly attack on the Capitol last month by a mob of Trump supporters. “Officers were unsure of when to use lethal force on Jan. 6,” Acting Chief Yogananda D. Pittman planned to tell a House Appropriations subcommittee, according to a copy of her written testimony provided in advance. “The department will also implement significant training to refresh our officers as to the use of lethal force.” Chief Pittman also said the force would begin training officers on scenarios for how to respond if the Capitol is breached again. Chief Pittman and Timothy P. Blodgett, the acting House sergeant-at-arms, were both set to testify before the subcommittee about the failures that contributed to the Capitol riot and the steps they are taking to ensure such an event does not happen again. Both took their posts after their predecessors resigned under pressure in the wake of the assault, in which Capitol Police were overrun by a throng of rioters who invaded the Capitol while the vice president and the entire Congress were assembled inside. Chief Pittman plans to detail some operational failures that she says she has begun to address since taking over the agency, including training officers on lockdown procedures that were not properly executed during the rampage and on the appropriate use of force. Video On Thursday, a Senate committee will conduct a confirmation hearing to consider Katherine Tai to be U.S. trade representative, with the rank of ambassador.CreditCredit...Hilary Swift for The New York TimesThe Biden administration is hoping that its nominee for U. S. trade representative, Katherine Tai, who is scheduled to appear for her confirmation hearing on Thursday morning before the Senate Finance Committee, can serve as a consensus builder and help bridge the Democratic Party’s varying views on trade, Ana Swanson reports for The New York Times. Ms. Tai, the chief trade counsel to the House’s powerful Ways and Means Committee, has strong connections in Congress, and supporters expect her nomination to proceed smoothly. But if confirmed, she will face bigger challenges, including filling in the details of what the Biden administration has called its “worker-focused” trade approach. As trade representative, Ms. Tai will be a key player in restoring alliances strained under former President Donald J. Trump, as well as formulating the administration’s China policy, where she is expected to draw on prior experience bringing cases against China at the World Trade Organization during her time working in the office of the United States Trade Representative, from 2007 to 2014. She will also take charge on matters that divide the Democratic Party, like whether to keep or scrap the tariffs Mr. Trump imposed on foreign products, and whether new foreign trade deals will help the United States compete globally or end up selling American workers short. Immigrants received assistance with their U.S. citizenship applications in New York in 2018. Preseident Biden ended a ban on legal immigration that President Donald J. Trump imposed last spring.Credit...John Moore/Getty Images President Biden reopened the country on Wednesday to people seeking green cards, ending a ban on legal immigration that President Donald J. Trump imposed last spring, citing what he said was the need to protect American jobs during the pandemic. In a proclamation, Mr. Biden said that the ban did “not advance the interests of the United States,” challenging Mr. Trump’s claim that the way to protect the American economy during the health crisis was to shut the country off from the rest of the world. “To the contrary,” Mr. Biden said of his predecessor’s immigration ban, “it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world.” The president’s action was the latest example of his efforts to roll back Mr. Trump’s assault on the nation’s immigration system. In April, as the coronavirus crisis worsened, Mr. Trump ordered a “pause” in the issuance of green cards, one of the primary ways that foreigners can receive permission to live and work in the United States. At the time, Mr. Trump described his action as a way to protect Americans, millions of whom lost their jobs as the threat of the coronavirus shut down the economy. Critics of Mr. Trump accused him of using the pandemic as an excuse to further advance his agenda of severely restricting immigration. And many scholars noted that studies had repeatedly cast doubt on the idea that immigration was a direct threat to American jobs because many immigrants take jobs that Americans do not want. Mr. Biden echoed that sentiment. In his proclamation, he wrote that he found “that the unrestricted entry into the United States” of people seeking green cards was “not detrimental to the interests of the United States.”