Narrower Income Limits for Stimulus Checks Get Biden’s Sign-Off

Here’s what you need to know: If Republican senators are united in opposition to President Biden’s stimulus bill, the chamber’s Democrats will need to be united in order to pass it.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times President Biden agreed on Wednesday to place stricter income limits on the next round of stimulus payments, making the latest in a series of crucial concessions to moderates as Democrats worked to hold their fragile coalition together to push his $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package through a divided Senate. The decision to scale back the direct checks — a popular centerpiece of Mr. Biden’s economic relief initiative — was the second time in a week that Democrats had moved to curtail the sweeping stimulus plan by limiting or removing progressive priorities. The moves have underscored the narrow path Mr. Biden must navigate as he seeks to steer his first major legislative initiative through the 50-50 Senate, where he cannot afford to lose a single Democrat in the face of what is likely to be united Republican opposition. The legislation, which Democrats hope to push through the Senate by the weekend, remains among the largest federal relief packages in modern American history. It would deliver hundreds of billions of dollars for vaccine distribution, hospitals, state and local governments and families struggling to recover from the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic. “We cannot go through the situation we did back in 2009, where the stimulus wasn’t strong enough and we stayed in recession for years,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on Wednesday. The legislation, he added, “will be the single largest anti-poverty bill in recent history.” But in recent days, it has narrowed to accommodate the moderates’ concerns as well as the arcane rules of the Senate. Under the new proposal blessed by Mr. Biden, individuals earning more than $80,000 and households with incomes exceeding $160,000 would be disqualified from receiving stimulus checks. The caps are $20,000 lower than they were in the last round, wiping out payments for millions of Americans. The plan would send $1,400 checks to individuals earning up to $75,000, single parents with children earning $112,500 and couples making $150,000, with the amount gradually falling for people with larger incomes. The payment would disappear altogether for those over the cap of $80,0000 for individuals, $120,000 for single parents and $160,000 for couples. Mr. Biden’s original proposal, which passed the House over the weekend, would have set the cap at $100,000 for individuals, $150,000 for single parents and $200,000 for couples. The reduction was another blow to liberal Democrats, who are already angry over a decision last week to remove a minimum-wage increase from the stimulus plan. A top Senate official ruled that measure out of bounds under the rules governing the legislation, but it also lacked support from crucial moderates whose votes would have been needed to pass it. Democratic leaders had hoped to begin debate on the legislation as early as Wednesday, but their timeline was slipping, and Republicans promised to further slow the process. Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said he planned to force a full reading of the legislation on the Senate floor — an hourslong process undertaken by journal clerks, not senators — and offer a slew of amendments to prolong what was already expected to be a marathon voting session, known as a vote-a-rama, of rapid-fire attempts to modify the bill. “We need to keep this process going so we can highlight the abuse — obviously not Covid relief, obviously a boondoggle for Democrats,” Mr. Johnson told a Wisconsin radio station. Listen to ‘The Daily’: The $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on President Biden’s first major piece of legislation, we look at the partisan debate that has erupted around it. transcript Back to The Daily bars 0:00/24:52 -24:52 transcript Listen to ‘The Daily’: The $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan Hosted by Michael Barbaro; produced by Stella Tan and Daniel Guillemette; edited by M.J. Davis Lin and Lisa Chow; and engineered by Corey Schreppel. As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on President Biden’s first major piece of legislation, we look at the partisan debate that has erupted around it. michael barbaro From “The New York Times,” I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.” [music] Over the weekend, the House of Representatives passed President Biden’s first major piece of legislation, a massive stimulus package designed to end the pandemic and rescue the economy. Today: As the package moves to the Senate, I spoke with my colleague, Jim Tankersley, about what’s actually in it and the partisan debate that has erupted over its size and ambition. It’s Tuesday, March 2. Hey, Jim. jim tankersley Sir. How are you? michael barbaro I’m well. Congratulations on your new assignment to the White

Narrower Income Limits for Stimulus Checks Get Biden’s Sign-Off
Here’s what you need to know: If Republican senators are united in opposition to President Biden’s stimulus bill, the chamber’s Democrats will need to be united in order to pass it.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times President Biden agreed on Wednesday to place stricter income limits on the next round of stimulus payments, making the latest in a series of crucial concessions to moderates as Democrats worked to hold their fragile coalition together to push his $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package through a divided Senate. The decision to scale back the direct checks — a popular centerpiece of Mr. Biden’s economic relief initiative — was the second time in a week that Democrats had moved to curtail the sweeping stimulus plan by limiting or removing progressive priorities. The moves have underscored the narrow path Mr. Biden must navigate as he seeks to steer his first major legislative initiative through the 50-50 Senate, where he cannot afford to lose a single Democrat in the face of what is likely to be united Republican opposition. The legislation, which Democrats hope to push through the Senate by the weekend, remains among the largest federal relief packages in modern American history. It would deliver hundreds of billions of dollars for vaccine distribution, hospitals, state and local governments and families struggling to recover from the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic. “We cannot go through the situation we did back in 2009, where the stimulus wasn’t strong enough and we stayed in recession for years,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on Wednesday. The legislation, he added, “will be the single largest anti-poverty bill in recent history.” But in recent days, it has narrowed to accommodate the moderates’ concerns as well as the arcane rules of the Senate. Under the new proposal blessed by Mr. Biden, individuals earning more than $80,000 and households with incomes exceeding $160,000 would be disqualified from receiving stimulus checks. The caps are $20,000 lower than they were in the last round, wiping out payments for millions of Americans. The plan would send $1,400 checks to individuals earning up to $75,000, single parents with children earning $112,500 and couples making $150,000, with the amount gradually falling for people with larger incomes. The payment would disappear altogether for those over the cap of $80,0000 for individuals, $120,000 for single parents and $160,000 for couples. Mr. Biden’s original proposal, which passed the House over the weekend, would have set the cap at $100,000 for individuals, $150,000 for single parents and $200,000 for couples. The reduction was another blow to liberal Democrats, who are already angry over a decision last week to remove a minimum-wage increase from the stimulus plan. A top Senate official ruled that measure out of bounds under the rules governing the legislation, but it also lacked support from crucial moderates whose votes would have been needed to pass it. Democratic leaders had hoped to begin debate on the legislation as early as Wednesday, but their timeline was slipping, and Republicans promised to further slow the process. Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said he planned to force a full reading of the legislation on the Senate floor — an hourslong process undertaken by journal clerks, not senators — and offer a slew of amendments to prolong what was already expected to be a marathon voting session, known as a vote-a-rama, of rapid-fire attempts to modify the bill. “We need to keep this process going so we can highlight the abuse — obviously not Covid relief, obviously a boondoggle for Democrats,” Mr. Johnson told a Wisconsin radio station. Listen to ‘The Daily’: The $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on President Biden’s first major piece of legislation, we look at the partisan debate that has erupted around it. transcript Back to The Daily bars 0:00/24:52 -24:52 transcript Listen to ‘The Daily’: The $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan Hosted by Michael Barbaro; produced by Stella Tan and Daniel Guillemette; edited by M.J. Davis Lin and Lisa Chow; and engineered by Corey Schreppel. As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on President Biden’s first major piece of legislation, we look at the partisan debate that has erupted around it. michael barbaro From “The New York Times,” I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.” [music] Over the weekend, the House of Representatives passed President Biden’s first major piece of legislation, a massive stimulus package designed to end the pandemic and rescue the economy. Today: As the package moves to the Senate, I spoke with my colleague, Jim Tankersley, about what’s actually in it and the partisan debate that has erupted over its size and ambition. It’s Tuesday, March 2. Hey, Jim. jim tankersley Sir. How are you? michael barbaro I’m well. Congratulations on your new assignment to the White House beat. jim tankersley Thank you. It’s exciting. It’s a little crazy. michael barbaro It’s interesting, you’re now a White House reporter who happens to be an economic specialist. jim tankersley Yes. michael barbaro So are you kind of like the economic White House reporter? Or that’s an oversimplification? jim tankersley I think it’s— yeah, I think that that is very much true. I am basically doing my old job, but in the White House, but then, also some new things in the White House. michael barbaro That sounds like Joe Biden saying, I’m doing a new job— jim tankersley Right. michael barbaro —but in the White House. jim tankersley I’ve never been in the personal residence before, Michael. But I will be now. michael barbaro Right, same Jim, new title. Very exciting. jim tankersley Right. michael barbaro Well, keep us posted on that. jim tankersley I will. michael barbaro So, Jim, we are here to talk about a major new stimulus package crafted by the Biden administration, passed by the House of Representatives that is about to be voted on by the Senate. But I think we should start by situating ourselves in the history of stimulus packages passed by Congress since the beginning of the pandemic. And I believe that this would be major stimulus package number three, correct? jim tankersley Yes. So the first plan was a fairly quick reaction by the end of March last year in 2020 as the pandemic was spreading. And that provided more than $2 trillion worth of assistance. It was a huge Band-Aid to the economy. The second one didn’t come for quite some time after that. Didn’t come till December, when Democrats, who were ascendant, knowing Joe Biden had won the White House, and Republicans came together on a $900 billion packages to extend some additional aid to the unemployed, try to help people continue through the pandemic. And then here, the third package— the Biden administration comes along asking for what the administration hopes will be one last dose of help. michael barbaro OK, and in terms of size and scale, how does this package number three stack up against the first two? You said that the first package was $2 trillion and the second was nearly a trillion. jim tankersley Well, the first package was the largest economic stimulus legislation in American history. And this is almost as big. This would be $1.9 trillion. michael barbaro So it’s a lot of money. jim tankersley It’s a lot of money. michael barbaro And that raises the question, what exactly is inside of it? What do you get for $1.9 trillion? jim tankersley You get several things. First, you get a bunch of things that you might consider classic stimulus things we’ve seen in stimulus bills before, ways the government is sending money to people to try to help them buy things. That is headlined by direct checks to Americans. $1,400 per person and per child for people who earn up to $75,000 a year. michael barbaro So if you’re a family of four, that’s $1,400 for four individual people? jim tankersley Yeah. If you’re a family of four, and your family earns less than $150,000 a year total, you’re looking at $5,600 in checks. michael barbaro Right. jim tankersley You get aid to state and local governments, who have had to lay off a lot of workers. And now, with federal money, could rehire those workers and avoid future layoffs. You also get more money for the unemployed, longer unemployment benefits, and more money for food stamps and rental assistance, sort of classic stimulus. michael barbaro Right, it literally stimulates the economy. jim tankersley It stimulates demand to stimulate the economy. You also have money meant to unlock parts of the economy that currently aren’t working the way they should be. So there’s money for vaccines and testing, which is meant to fight the virus so that you can give people confidence to return to work and to go back out and shop again. You have money to reopen schools. And there’s money for child care too, so that parents who have been forced to stay home with their children and not be able to work can go back to work and earn money and get the economy going that way. michael barbaro So this is non-traditional stimulus, but stimulus uniquely suited to a pandemic recession? jim tankersley Yeah, absolutely. This is sort of the money that you spend to get this particular economy in this pandemic moment moving again. And then, a last group of provisions in the bill are things that Democrats have wanted and been working for, for a long time that they think would be particularly helpful in this moment in the recovery. So that includes a major expansion of some tax credits meant to fight child poverty for a year, to help kids not go hungry or go homeless. It also includes an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour federally by 2025, which is something progressives have been pushing for years and Democrats say would help to give workers a raise right now when so many workers are struggling with lost hours and other problems in this recession and recovery that have disproportionately hurt low-wage workers. michael barbaro Got it. So these would be long-term structural changes to the American economy in the mold of Democrats and progressives? jim tankersley Yes, that’s what they’re looking for here. michael barbaro So given the amount of ground that this package covers and its scale, what is the Biden administration’s case for it? What is their argument and best-case scenario for passing this? jim tankersley Their argument, from the president, from the Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, all the way on down to White House economic aides is that it’s much better to go really big right now in this moment, than to go too small. archived recording (joe biden) We’ve been here before, when this nation hit the Great Recession that Barack and I inherited in 2009, I was asked— jim tankersley When he was Vice President, Joe Biden shepherded a stimulus bill in 2009. archived recording (joe biden) It was a big recovery package, roughly $800 billion. I did everything I could to get it passed, including getting three Republicans to change their votes and vote for it. But it wasn’t enough. jim tankersley It was too small. It didn’t meet all the needs of the economy. They do not want to make that mistake again. They’d rather have too much than too little, because the lesson they learned from 2009 is it’s hard to come back one more time once you’ve gotten your first big bill as a new president. michael barbaro So they’re being quite explicit about this. They are OK with the idea that this might be too big? That is fine with them? jim tankersley Yes, what they say over and over and over is the risk of going too small is much larger than the risk of going too big. And they would much rather take that risk that this ends up being too much money than it’s not enough. michael barbaro So, Jim, taken together, what would these provisions mean for a low-income family in the United States with children? jim tankersley It would mean a lot. It would be thousands of dollars per family. So you would get money from the direct checks. If you are out of work, you’d get more money for unemployment insurance. And you would get this expanded child tax credit, which is up to $3,600 for the year for kids under 6, and $3,000 per year for kids under 18. Columbia University estimates that if all of this was passed, it would cut child poverty in half in the United States. michael barbaro And that would be a very meaningful accomplishment? jim tankersley Yeah. michael barbaro And, Jim, from the start when this package was announced, it’s been pretty clear that congressional Democrats have welcomed it more or less. Is that right? jim tankersley Democrats have remained really unified over sort of the overall scope of the bill. They’ve had some disagreements here or there over individual provisions. Most notably, they changed who exactly was eligible to get those direct payments. And they’ve had a big debate between the progressives and the moderates in the party over the minimum wage and whether it should be raised to $15 an hour as part of the bill. But for the most part, they’ve just hung tough. They’ve hung together, and they said Joe Biden wants a big bill. We should give him a big bill. And we should be pretty deferential to how he wants to spend the money within that bill. michael barbaro Now, Republicans, not so much. jim tankersley No, Republicans do not think that the economy needs $1.9 trillion in stimulus right now. And they in fact, went to negotiate with Joe Biden— a group of Republican senators, 10 of them— went to negotiate with him shortly after he became president. And they brought their own proposal. And it was $600 billion. michael barbaro Hmm, let’s talk about that number, because $600 billion is not just smaller. It is a third as big. I mean, it’s much, much smaller. jim tankersley Yeah, the Republicans had a real idea that Biden would negotiate with them. He made an opening bid. They were going to make an opening bid. michael barbaro You meet in the middle. jim tankersley It was just— a start. Maybe they meet in the middle. Maybe not. But that was their expectation. Joe Biden’s called for unity. We’re going to make a bid and go negotiate this dollar figure down significantly. michael barbaro And? jim tankersley That didn’t happen. The Biden administration basically said, we are willing to negotiate in the realm of what we think is necessary, which is basically pretty close to $1.9 trillion. And so that left them very far apart. michael barbaro Right. And my sense is that Democrats and the president have basically said, thank you very much for your $600 billion proposal. We really like our $1.9 trillion proposal. And we are going to go it on our own? jim tankersley Yeah. And usually, that would be kind of fatal for a bill. You need 60 votes in the Senate to pass almost anything, because of the filibuster. But in this case, Democrats are employing kind of a special workaround called Budget Reconciliation. It’s the same process used to pass the Tax Cuts under President Trump in 2017. And essentially, what it does is it allows certain bills that deal with taxes and spending to pass with just 51 votes. In this case for the Democrats, all 50 Democrats in the chamber plus the Vice President, Kamala Harris breaking the tie. michael barbaro Got it. And they think they can pull that off. But of course, that would mean not having any Republican support for this giant stimulus package? jim tankersley Right, they could do it without any Republicans, if every single Democrat hangs together. michael barbaro Jim, this is a pretty historic thing to pass on a party line vote, $1.9 trillion in economic stimulus. But that’s the plan. jim tankersley That appears to be the plan. I mean, there is still some hope the Democrats have that a few Republicans might join. But this is really a Democrats are going to do it their way. They’re going to do it with their votes. And they are inviting Republicans to get on board. [music] michael barbaro We’ll be right back. So, Jim, Republicans are not really influencing the course of this giant stimulus package. But it feels worth examining their critiques, which are many and are vocal. So where should we start with the Republican objections? archived recording It’s hard to cover all the ground of how bad this bill is. jim tankersley I think we should start with the sort of political and policy critiques that they have. archived recording A lot within this bill is a waste or a wish list from the progressives. jim tankersley The idea that this is a liberal wish list with way too much money in it that the economy doesn’t need and that is not targeted to the needs of the recovery right now, but instead, to just other priorities that Democrats have been wanting to push for a long time. archived recording Just the other day, President Biden challenged Republicans to show him the waste. What would you cut, President Biden said. How much time do you have, Mr. President? jim tankersley For example, they say you know, Democrats have been wanting to raise the minimum wage for a long time. And here they are, doing it at a time when Republicans warn it’ll cost jobs. They also say the Democrats are just trying to bail out blue states, who have higher tax rates by giving them state and local aid. And they say things like, even these expanded child tax credits are just a thing Democrats have been pushing for a long time to fight poverty. But some Republicans call it welfare and say that it doesn’t belong in this sort of a bill. michael barbaro So to summarize, the Republican critique of these provisions is that they’re not required in an emergency and that really, they’re just Democratic priorities that could be debated and passed outside of an emergency stimulus package and should be passed outside of an emergency stimulus package? jim tankersley I think they would say that they shouldn’t be passed at all. But yes, they are saying the Democrats should not put a bunch of these provisions into an emergency stimulus package. michael barbaro And, Jim, from your reporting, is that a fair critique? jim tankersley There are certainly some areas where you can make a very fair argument that Democrats are targeting things to longstanding priorities. Again, the minimum wage is a great example. But even in some of the education spending, the Congressional Budget Office assesses the bill. It’s like the scorekeeper in Congress for where money is going to go. And for example, they say a lot of the money for schools is not going to be spent likely over the next year to get schools reopened. It might be used for teacher salaries for years to come, which Republicans are calling a payout to teachers unions. And the next critique is the economic one. The Republicans saying the economics of this bill are way off. michael barbaro And what do they mean by that? jim tankersley Well, they mean, first off that it spends more money than the economy needs right now to get back on its feet, or to get back to where it was before the pandemic hit. But also, there’s a risk to spending too much money. And that risk is, you could cause inflation to go kind of wild across the economy. And that’s going to cause prices to rise across the economy very quickly, which is bad. michael barbaro OK, and economics 101, Jim how does putting too much money into the economy affect prices and make them go up? jim tankersley If you have a set number of things being sold in the economy, goods and services, and suddenly a lot more money to buy those goods and services, then there’s only so many things to go around. And so people start bidding against each other. And the price of them goes up. There’s only three hamburgers and there are 10 of us. And we all get a million dollar and we’re hungry. Suddenly, the price of a hamburger goes way up, because we each want to eat. michael barbaro This will heretofore be known as the Jim Tankersley hamburger inflation lesson. jim tankersley I love it. Yes. michael barbaro Is that, Jim, a legitimate concern that this bill would cause inflation based on the financial and economic sources you talk to? jim tankersley Well, people have been warning about runaway inflation from government spending in recessions since the 1970s, when we really did have runaway inflation, and it was horrible for the country. But it just hasn’t shown up in any of the time since then, including in the last crisis, 2009. There were lots of warnings from economists that inflation was right around the corner. And it just hasn’t shown up. Inflation has been quite low historically over the last 10 years or so. So it’s almost a boy crying wolf situation. The burden of proof is on the people who are saying inflation is going to come really fast right now. Because those people have been wrong a lot in recent history when they’ve made similar warnings. michael barbaro So, Jim, the inflation threat may be overstated. But I don’t think we’re overstating the depth of the opposition from Republicans to the stimulus bill. So that would make you think that their voters share these concerns about the stimulus bill. Do they? jim tankersley Actually, no. Polls showed that this bill is widely popular. Recently, we did polling with Survey Monkey. And they found that 70 percent of Americans support the Biden plan, including more than two in five Republicans, which is a lot for a bill pushed by a Democratic president. The support grows when you look at individual core components like the direct checks. The checks get 80 percent overall approval. And a majority of Republicans say that they’re important to the bill. michael barbaro I really can’t think of many things in American life that garner 70 percent approval in polls, other than puppies and pizza. So doesn’t that leave Republicans fighting something that their own constituents clearly want? And how do those Republicans answer for that with those constituents? jim tankersley The way the answer it is to say, hey, we know people want help. But we don’t think they want this bill. We think once we tell them more about what’s in this bill, they’ll see that it has too much extraneous stuff that doesn’t actually help the economy get better faster the way that people would want. Now, Republicans are betting that over time, they can drive down the support for this bill by making a bunch of political arguments against it, because they believe the public wants something more targeted. That’s their favorite word to use. They think people want smaller amounts of spending, people don’t want as much debt added to an already growing national debt. But the flip side of that bad is that they could be very much the victims of Democrats saying, hey, we were there for the economy when it needed us toward the end of the pandemic. And Republicans were not. They refused to help. And we’re the ones who got your checks. We’re the ones who got you a bunch of very popular things. And that’s the other part of this is that the individual components of this bill, many of the things Republicans don’t like are very popular. So there is some bipartisan appeal to sending people money. And Republicans are fighting that now. michael barbaro OK, so I want to ask a question that may be on the minds of listeners about this moment in the pandemic and in the pandemic recession, which is that we’ve started to turn a corner, right? Vaccinations are well underway. It feels like we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So is there an argument to be made that a bill this big is not necessary at this moment? jim tankersley Yes, and actually the case is that if the parts of the bill work that are meant to speed up the end of the pandemic, the vaccinations and the testing and everything, that might actually make it less necessary to have the parts that are there to expand the safety net and extend it for a bunch of months. If the first part of the bill works, we might not actually even need to spend all of the money for the second part, because hopefully, more people will be going back to work and won’t need unemployment benefits, more people are putting food on the table and don’t need SNAP benefits, et cetera. But on the other hand, if that recovery doesn’t accelerate for whatever reason, if we have new strains that spread more infections, or for whatever reason it’s still hard to vaccinate people, there’s an insurance policy, which is that expansion of the safety net, that we have several more months now of knowing that there will be help for vulnerable Americans who have lost jobs and are struggling to make rent and everything else that the bill is meant to address. So if it works, then we may not need all that money. And if it doesn’t, there’s an insurance policy here. michael barbaro Got it. So this is a $2 trillion insurance plan against the possibility that the recovery is not as fast or as thorough as everyone would like for it to be in the coming months. And some of that money won’t get spent, as in all insurance policies, if it’s not needed? jim tankersley Right, absolutely. And it’s especially an insurance policy for people on the low-income end of the spectrum— people who have lost their jobs, who have lost hours, who are struggling to make rent and put food on the table. They are the ones still really hurting right now. And the tragic possibility would be that if aid gets cut off too soon, we could come very, very close to the end of the pandemic and see people start to fall through the cracks, lose their homes, go hungry, suffer just immense economic distress, when true relief and recovery is just right around the corner as the economy hopefully brightens up again. michael barbaro Thank you, Jim, we appreciate it. jim tankersley Thank you. archived recording (chuck schumer) The Senate will take up the American Rescue Plan this week. michael barbaro On Monday afternoon, Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, said that the Senate would begin debating the stimulus package in the coming days. archived recording (chuck schumer) I expect a hearty debate and some late nights. But the American people sent us here with a job to do, to help the country through this moment of extraordinary challenge, to end, through action, the greatest health crisis our country has faced in a century. And that’s just what we are going to do. michael barbaro We’ll be right back. Here’s what else you need to know today. A new study has found that the high rate of staff turnover at US nursing homes likely contributed to the staggering number of coronavirus deaths inside the facilities over the past year. The study found that the average annual turnover at the country’s more than 15,000 nursing homes was 128 percent and as high as 300 percent at some facilities, meaning that a huge number of workers left and were replaced throughout the pandemic. Researchers found that turnover that high made it difficult to enforce health protocols at nursing homes and helped lead to rampant spread of the virus inside of them. Today’s episode was produced by Stella Tan and Daniel Guillemette. It was edited by M.J. Davis Lin and Lisa Chow and engineered by Corey Schreppel. That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow. [music] National Guard troops at the Capitol in Washington last week.Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times The Capitol Police force is preparing for another assault on the Capitol building on Thursday after obtaining intelligence of a potential plot by a militia group, just two months after a mob of Trump loyalists and extremists attacked the building, leaving five dead and hundreds injured. Leaving nothing to chance, House leaders on Wednesday abruptly moved a vote on policing legislation from Thursday to Wednesday night, so lawmakers could leave town, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the planning. The “possible” plot, as described by the Capitol Police, appeared to be inspired by the pro-Trump conspiracy theory known as QAnon, according to a senior administration official who reviewed the intelligence warning. Intelligence analysts had spent weeks tracking online chatter by some QAnon adherents who have latched on to March 4 — the original inauguration date set in the Constitution — as the day Donald J. Trump would be restored to the presidency and renew his crusade against America’s enemies. Some federal officials described the threats as more “aspirational” than operational. The militia group was not named, and even many influential QAnon followers, who believe the United States is dominated by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, have cast March 4 as a “deep state” plot to incite the movement’s adherents and provoke a nationwide crackdown. But after being caught flat-footed by rioters on Jan. 6, the Capitol Police and members of Congress appeared to be taking no chances. “We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4,” the force said in a statement. “We are taking the intelligence seriously.” Skittish lawmakers, many still rattled by the January attack that sent them fleeing, were given plenty of warning this time. Yogananda D. Pittman, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, told lawmakers on Wednesday that the agency had received “concerning” intelligence about possible threats against the Capitol on March 4, adding that threats against lawmakers were “through the roof.” The Capitol Police later sent an alert to lawmakers warning that the force was “monitoring various reports referencing potential First Amendment activities from March 4 to March 6.” Melissa Smislova, the acting under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence branch, told senators on Wednesday that the department and the F.B.I. had the night before issued an intelligence bulletin about “extremists discussing March 4 and March 6.” While the warning did not definitively say militia groups planned to come to Washington, the analysts said that continued false statements of election fraud and narratives elevated by QAnon “may contribute” to extremists turning to violence. Those extremists were inspired to target March 4 by QAnon conspiracists who said Mr. Trump would be inaugurated on that date and eventually “return to power,” according to an official who requested anonymity to discuss the warning. Two federal law enforcement officials said broad concerns about potential violence were warranted, given the online chatter around the QAnon conspiracy and talk of an attack. But they said they had not seen or been briefed on any specific, credible threat of an attack on politicians, the Capitol or other symbols of government. While they felt it was unlikely that an organized militia group would be able to execute the kind of attack on the Capitol described in the Capitol Police bulletin, particularly given the fortifications around Washington, they did not rule out the possibility that “lone wolf” attackers could try to wreak havoc. QAnon’s central tenet is that Mr. Trump was elected to take on a cabal of Democrats, international financiers and deep-state bureaucrats who worship Satan, abuse children and seek to dominate the world. When that did not come to pass while Mr. Trump was in office, some QAnon adherents began spinning elaborate conspiracy theories around March 4. The theory, like much associated with QAnon, is convoluted and takes on various forms. A number of the movement’s most influential voices have cast the March 4 theory as a conspiracy within a conspiracy, insisting it was trap set by the movement’s enemies. “March 4 is the media’s baby. Nothing will happen,” one QAnon influencer wrote Tuesday on the messaging app Telegram. But in a sign that at least some people believe there is a reason to be in Washington on Thursday, rates at the Trump International Hotel for March 3 and 4 have spiked to three or four times their usual prices, much as they did before Jan. 6. Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:11 -0:00 transcript House Democrats Prepare to Pass Sweeping Voting Rights Bill House Democrats are set to pass the largest federal expansion of voting rights in decades as Republicans try to limit ballot access in states across the country following the 2020 election. “This is called the For the People bill, and in doing so we combat big, dark, special-interest money in politics and amplify the voice of the American people. We fight foreign interference in our elections. We expand voting rights, we fight political gerrymandering and we crack down on corruption.” “H.R. 1, the For the People Act, will put a stop to the voter suppression that we’re seeing being debated right now in Georgia by taking an aim at the institutional barriers to voting. H.R. 1 would also create a national standard for voter registration, because your ZIP code should not determine your access to the ballot box.” “After that enormous turnout, we saw Republican legislatures all over the country try and stop that voting, to stop the absentee voting, to impose barriers, to make it harder for Americans to vote. H.R. 1 would put a stop to that. And it’s absolutely essential because nothing else happens unless the people’s voices are heard.” House Democrats are set to pass the largest federal expansion of voting rights in decades as Republicans try to limit ballot access in states across the country following the 2020 election.CreditCredit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesHouse Democrats were poised on Wednesday to push through a sweeping expansion of federal voting rights over solid Republican opposition, opening a new front in a raging national debate about elections aimed at countering G.O.P. attempts to clamp down on ballot access. The bill, which was headed for adoption along party lines, would constitute the most significant enhancement of federal voting protections since the 1960s. It would impose new national requirements neutering restrictive state voter ID laws, mandate automatic voter registration, expand early and mail-in voting, make it harder to purge voter rolls and restore voting rights to former felons — changes that studies suggest would increase voter participation, especially by racial minorities. But the measure, which is supported by President Biden, appears to be doomed for now in the Senate, where Republican opposition would make it all but impossible to draw the 60 votes needed to advance. Democratic leaders have vowed to put it up for a vote anyway, and progressives were already plotting to use Republican obstruction of the bill to build their case for jettisoning the legislative filibuster in the months ahead. “Everything is at stake. We must win this race, this fight,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said as Democrats rallied on the Capitol steps before the vote. It was the latest bid by Democrats to beat back Republican efforts in statehouses across the country to enact new barriers to voting that would consolidate power for the G.O.P. amid false claims of rampant election fraud trumpeted by former President Donald J. Trump and many of his allies in Congress. The 791-page bill, designated H.R. 1 by Democrats to reflect its importance to their agenda, would also eliminate partisan gerrymandering, impose new transparency on dark money used to finance campaigns, tighten government ethics standards and create a public financing option for congressional campaigns. H.R. 1’s voting provisions were originally drafted by Representative John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon who died last year. If the bill were to become law, states would be required to automatically register eligible voters, hold at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections and provide drop boxes for absentee ballots like the ones Mr. Trump falsely claimed led to fraud. It would make it far easier to vote by mail and far harder to purge voters from the rolls. The legislation also targets partisan gerrymandering of House seats, requiring states to use independent commissions to draw districts based on apolitical metrics rather than ones that would maximize the influence of one party over another. Both parties gerrymander, but the practice has benefited Republicans more over the last decade. With new districts set to be drawn this fall, Republicans are expected to make even greater gains. President Biden at the White House on Tuesday.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times President Biden lashed out on Wednesday at the governor of Texas and others who have relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, describing their actions as “Neanderthal thinking” and insisting that it was a “big mistake” for people to stop wearing masks. The president, who has urged Americans to remain vigilant in the fight against the coronavirus, said it was critical for public officials to follow the guidance of medical doctors and public health leaders as the U.S. vaccination campaign progresses. “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask and forget it,” Mr. Biden told reporters at the White House. “It’s critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science. Wash your hands, hot water. Do it frequently, wear a mask and stay socially distanced. And I know you all know that. I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it.” Earlier in the day, the White House press secretary, Jennifer Psaki, called on Texans and others to follow the guidance of the country’s top medical officials, who have warned mayors and governors not to recklessly abandon restrictions. “This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic,” Ms. Psaki said. Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:32 -0:00 transcript C.D.C. Warns Against Loosening Coronavirus Restrictions Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned against loosening coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday. This comes after Texas announced on Tuesday that it would lift its mask mandate. We are at a critical nexus in the pandemic. So much can turn in the next few weeks. On the one hand, cases in the country are leveling off at rates, at rates just on the cusp of potential to resurge. And the B.1.1.7. hyper-transmissible variant looms ready to hijack our successes to date. And on the other hand, stamina has worn thin. Fatigue is winning, and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored. All the while, we are just on the verge of capitalizing on the culmination of a historic scientific success, the ability to vaccinate the country in just a matter of three or four more months. How this plays out is up to us. The next three months are pivotal. I think we at the C.D.C. have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions. I do think that, as I said in my remarks, the next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes. As we scale up vaccination, we really do need to decrease the amount of virus that is circulating as we’re trying to vaccinate all of the public. I will also note that every individual has — is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what the states decide for personal health, for public health, for their health, of their loved ones and communities. I would still encourage individuals to wear masks, to socially distance and to do the right thing to protect their own health. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned against loosening coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday. This comes after Texas announced on Tuesday that it would lift its mask mandate.CreditCredit...Kevin Lamarque/ReutersDr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned governors and mayors again on Wednesday not to lift Covid-19 restrictions prematurely. Her latest warning, the third in less than a week, came after officials in several states, including Texas and Mississippi, announced on Tuesday that they are easing rules like mask mandates and capacity limits in businesses. “Now is not the time to release all restrictions,” Dr. Walensky said at the White House briefing. She said the United States is at a pivotal moment when it could either quell the spread of the coronavirus through precautions and vaccinations, or stoke a new surge of infections. “So much can turn on the next few weeks,” she said. Andy Slavitt, a senior White House adviser, said health officials in every state agree that “now is the wrong time to lift the mask mandate.” New cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been decreasing over the past week, according to a New York Times database. Compared with two weeks ago, cases were down 19 percent, and hospitalizations were down 29 percent. Deaths were down 9 percent. As of Tuesday, the C.D.C. estimated that 15 percent of the population had received at least one dose of a virus vaccine, while nearly 8 percent had received both. Mr. Biden said Tuesday that the nation was expected to have enough doses of vaccine available by the end of May to inoculate the whole adult population. He acknowledged it would take longer to get everyone vaccinated. With new virus variants spreading, Dr. Walensky urged people to wear masks, to avoid crowds and travel, and to “do the right thing to protect their own health,” regardless of what their state officials dictate. “Fatigue is winning, and the exact measures we’ve taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored,” she said. The World Health Organization issued its own warning on Monday against easing virus restrictions too soon, particularly with the circulation of new variants. The C.D.C. has issued detailed guidance about reopening schools and workplaces. Dr. Walensky is most concerned about lifting mask mandates and fully reopening businesses without regard to the need for social distancing, according to one federal official familiar with her thinking. While many states have eased some restrictions in recent weeks, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, made the most expansive move. Not all Texas businesses are on board. Even as it filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, a Texas-based movie theater chain, Alamo Drafthouse, pushed back against the relaxation, saying in a message to patrons that masks and social distancing would still be required at its theaters across the state. Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, another Republican, lifted his state’s mask order on Tuesday, though he said he still recommended that people wear them and practice social distancing. Democrats are slowly easing restrictions now as well. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said her state would relax limits on nursing homes and allow restaurants, shops and other businesses to accept more customers, starting on Friday. Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said that bars in his state could reopen and live music could resume indoors, though the state’s mask mandate would continue. And in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed said indoor dining, museums and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday at limited capacity. Elaine Chao announced her resignation as transportation secretary on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol riot.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times The Transportation Department’s inspector general asked the Justice Department in December to consider a criminal investigation into what it said was Elaine Chao’s misuse of her office as transportation secretary in the Trump administration to help promote her family’s shipbuilding business, which is run by her sister and has extensive business ties with China. In a report made public on Wednesday, the inspector general said the Justice Department’s criminal and public integrity divisions both declined to take up the matter, even after the inspector general found repeated examples of Ms. Chao using her staff and her office to help benefit her family and their business operations and revealed that staff members at the agency had raised ethics concerns. “A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” Mitch Behm, the department’s deputy inspector general, said on Tuesday in a letter to House lawmakers, accompanying a 44-page report detailing the investigation and the findings of wrongdoing. Ms. Chao, the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced her resignation on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol riot. At the time of her departure, an aide to Ms. Chao said her resignation was unrelated to the coming release of the investigation. The investigation began after a 2019 report in The New York Times detailed Ms. Chao’s interactions with her family while she was transportation secretary, including a trip she had planned to take to China in 2017 with her father and sister. The inspector general’s report confirmed that planning for the trip, which was canceled, raised ethics concerns among other government officials. Ms. Chao declined to respond to questions from the inspector general and instead provided a memo from September 2020 that described the importance of promoting her family as part of her official duties. “Asian audiences welcome and respond positively to actions by the secretary that include her father in activities when appropriate,” the memo said. The inspector general’s investigation detailed a series of instances where Ms. Chao directed her staff to spend federal government time and resources to help with matters related to the shipbuilding company and her father. It found that Ms. Chao had used her staff to make extensive arrangements in 2017 for the planned trip to China, which had been scheduled to include stops at locations that had received financial support from her family’s company. The investigators also found that she had repeatedly asked staff members to do tasks like editing her father’s Wikipedia page and promoting his biography. Representative Ronny Jackson, Republican of Texas and the former top White House physician, was accused of creating a hostile work environment and other inappropriate behavior.Credit...Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor who rhapsodized about Donald J. Trump’s “incredible genes” and went on to win a Texas congressional seat with Mr. Trump’s help, cursed and belittled his subordinates, drank and took sleeping pills on the job, and sexually harassed a woman, according to a detailed report released Wednesday by the Pentagon’s inspector general. Dr. Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy when he served as White House physician, became infamous for his rosy assessment of Mr. Trump’s “excellent health” in early 2018, when he said that had the commander in chief, 71 at the time, simply adhered to a better diet over the previous two decades, he could have lived to be 200. His effusive praise of Mr. Trump helped win him a nomination to become the secretary of veterans affairs. But Mr. Trump abandoned the nomination several weeks later after numerous news accounts reported that Dr. Jackson was a bully to his staff, kept sloppy medical records, drank too much, and loosely dispensed strong drugs on Air Force One and in the White House to curry favor with top officials. With the endorsement of Mr. Trump, who tweeted that “Ronny is strong on Crime and Borders, GREAT for our Military and Vets,” Dr. Jackson went on to win a Republican primary in Texas and was elected to Congress in 2020. On Wednesday, Dr. Jackson vehemently disputed the findings of the report. In a statement released by his congressional office, he accused the Pentagon’s investigators, who are nonpartisan, of seeking to punish him for his support of Mr. Trump. The 37-page report, which came after a nearly three-year investigation started by Glenn A. Fine, the acting inspector general for the Defense Department at the time, went further than previous news reports. It concluded that “Jackson’s overall course of conduct toward subordinates disparaged, belittled, bullied and humiliated them,” and documented instances in which Dr. Jackson was drunk or under the influence of a powerful sleeping drug while he was responsible for the president’s health and safety. Investigators also found that Dr. Jackson had engaged in inappropriate behavior on trips abroad with Mr. Trump and former President Barack Obama, whom he also served. In 2014, before a trip to Manila, witnesses said Dr. Jackson told a male subordinate that he thought a female medical professional they were working with had a nice figure, using colorful language, and that he would “like to see more of her tattoos.” While in Manila, witnesses said that Dr. Jackson went out on the town for a night of drinking, came back to the hotel where the medical team was staying and began yelling and pounding on the female subordinate’s hotel room door between 1 and 2 a.m. while “visibly intoxicated.” Witnesses said he created so much noise they worried it would wake Mr. Obama. “He had kind of bloodshot eyes,” the woman recalled to investigators. “You could smell the alcohol on his breath, and he leaned into my room and he said, ‘I need you.’ I felt really uncomfortable.” On a separate trip to Argentina with Mr. Trump, a witness recalled that Dr. Jackson “smelled of alcohol” as he assumed his duties as the primary physician on the trip, and that the doctor had a beer a few hours before going on duty, in defiance of a policy prohibiting White House medical personnel from drinking on presidential trips. Dr. Jackson had previously recounted to witnesses that he found that rule to be “ridiculous,” investigators found. Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:49 -0:00 transcript Blinken Highlights Domestic Impacts of American Foreign Policy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken sought to connect the Biden administration’s diplomatic actions abroad with issues directly impacting Americans at home in his first major foreign policy address on Wednesday. I know that foreign policy can sometimes feel disconnected from our daily lives. It’s either all about major threats like pandemics, terrorism, or it fades from view. As a result, for some time now, Americans have been asking tough, but fair questions about what we’re doing, how we’re leading, indeed, whether we should be leading at all. With this in mind, we’ve set the foreign policy priorities for the Biden administration by asking a few simple questions. What will our foreign policy mean for American workers and their families? What do we need to do around the world to make us stronger here at home? And what do we need to do at home to make us stronger in the world? American leadership and engagement matter. We’re hearing this now from our friends, they’re glad we’re back. Whether we like it or not, the world does not organize itself. When the U.S. pulls back, one of two things is likely to happen: either another country tries to take our place, but not in a way that advances our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one steps up, and then we get chaos and all the dangers it creates. Either way, that’s not good for America. Another enduring principle is that we need countries to cooperate now more than ever. Not a single global challenge that affects your lives can be met by any one nation acting alone, not even one as powerful as the United States. And there is no wall high enough or strong enough to hold back the changes transforming our world. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken sought to connect the Biden administration’s diplomatic actions abroad with issues directly impacting Americans at home in his first major foreign policy address on Wednesday.CreditCredit...Pool photo by Andrew Caballero-ReynoldsSecretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivered his first major address on Wednesday, rallying a domestic constituency for President Biden’s foreign policy at a time when Americans are focused on the pandemic, the economy and other problems at home. The 28-minute speech, delivered to a mostly empty reception room at the State Department, sought to show that the most urgent issues of diplomacy had a direct impact on Americans. From defending democracy to protecting the environment to navigating relations with China, which he called “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” Mr. Blinken outlined eight top priorities of the Biden administration’s foreign policy. He said those issues must be confronted both at home and abroad, “or we fall short.” “I know that foreign policy can sometimes feel disconnected from our daily lives,” Mr. Blinken said. “It’s either all about major threats like pandemics, terrorism, or it fades from view.” As a result, he said, “Americans have been asking tough but fair questions about what we’re doing, how we’re leading — indeed, whether we should be leading at all.” There were no new policy announcements in the address, which, before the pandemic, might have been delivered to an audience far beyond the Beltway. (Mr. Blinken’s immediate predecessor, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, frequently traveled across the United States to talk to college students, factory workers and religious organizations about foreign policy, although critics were quick to note that his comments also seemed directed at potential voters as he weighed his political future.) Mr. Blinken acknowledged that past administrations — including the Obama White House, in which he served — had made substantial errors in foreign policy that had affected ordinary Americans in negative ways. The White House is expected later today to give departments and agencies “interim strategic guidance” on foreign policy and national security, providing what Mr. Blinken called “initial direction” as the administration devises more detailed plans. Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:31 -0:00 transcript D.C. National Guard Commander Testifies Before Congress Following Capitol Riot D.C. National Guard Commander, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, testified on Wednesday that he was not given the approval to mobilize troops during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol until hours after his initial request. At 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, we watched as the Metropolitan Police Department began to employ officers to support the Capitol Police. In doing so, the officers began to withdraw from the traffic control points that were jointly manned with District of Columbia Guardsmen. At 1:49 p.m., I received a frantic call from then-Chief of United States Capitol Police, Steven Sund, where he informed me that the security perimeter of the United States Capitol had been breached by hostile rioters. Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency at the Capitol, and he requested the immediate assistance of as many available National Guardsmen that I could muster. Immediately after that, 1:49 call, I alerted the U.S. Army senior leadership of the request. The approval for his Chief Sund’s request would eventually come from the acting secretary of defense and be relayed to me by Army senior leaders at 5:08 p.m., about three hours and 19 minutes later. I had already had Guardsmen on buses at the armory ready to move to the Capitol. Consequently, at 5:20 p.m., less than 20 minutes, the District of Columbia National Guard arrived at the Capitol and were being sworn in by the United States Capitol Police. We hoped to establish the security perimeter at the east side of the Capitol to facilitate the resumption of the joint session of Congress. D.C. National Guard Commander, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, testified on Wednesday that he was not given the approval to mobilize troops during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol until hours after his initial request.CreditCredit...Pool photo by Greg NashPentagon officials placed “unusual” restrictions on the D.C. National Guard before the Capitol riot, its commander told senators on Wednesday, saying the military leaders’ fears of a repeat of aggressive tactics used during racial justice protests last year slowed decision-making and squandered time as the violence by a pro-Trump mob escalated. Military and federal security officials detailed in a joint Senate committee hearing the additional security breakdowns that led to the failure to quell the mob attack on Jan. 6. Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the D.C. National Guard commander, said he did not receive approval to mobilize troops until more than three hours after he had requested it. The delay he outlined was longer than previously known and came to light in the latest hearing by lawmakers investigating the attack. Days before the riot, the Pentagon had removed General Walker’s authority to quickly deploy his troops, he testified. He said he was unable to move troops even from one traffic stop to another without permission from Ryan D. McCarthy, the Army secretary. Once General Walker had approval for deployment, the Guard arrived at the Capitol only minutes later, at 5:20 p.m., and helped re-establish the security perimeter on the east side of the building. General Walker said he could have had 150 troops to the complex hours earlier. The violent rampage that unfolded over nearly five hours caused injuries to nearly 140 police officers and left five people dead. “That number could have made a difference,” General Walker said of the possibility of deploying his troops earlier. “Seconds mattered,” he added. “Minutes mattered.” In response to questions from senators, General Walker said he believed that a double standard existed in the military decision-making, pointing out differences between the quick and aggressive tactics he was authorized to use during protests last spring and summer of police killings of Black men and the slower response to the violence of Trump supporters. He said military officials had expressed concerns about the optics of sending troops into the Capitol to subdue Americans. “The word I kept hearing was the ‘optics’ of it,” General Walker said. The testimony came at the latest bipartisan investigative hearing of the Homeland Security and Rules Committees. At a hearing last week, Chief Robert J. Contee III of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington testified that he was “stunned” at the slow deployment of the National Guard on Jan. 6, noting that even as the violence escalated, the Army had expressed reluctance to send troops. Jennifer Hemingway, as acting Senate sergeant-at-arms, escorts the Democratic House impeachment managers after the final vote of the Senate trial last month.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times For the first time in U.S. history, the office of the Senate sergeant-at-arms will be led entirely by women. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, announced the new leadership team on Wednesday, about two months after the previous sergeant-at-arms, Michael C. Stenger, resigned in the wake of the Capitol riot. The House and Senate sergeant-at-arms are responsible for security in the chambers and related office buildings. Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson will be the new sergeant-at-arms, Kelly Fado will be deputy sergeant-at-arms, and Jennifer A. Hemingway — who had been the acting sergeant-at-arms for the past two months — will be the office’s chief of staff. General Gibson retired last year after 33 years in the Army. Her most recent position was deputy director of national intelligence for national security partnerships in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She is also a former director of intelligence for U.S. Central Command. Since the riot on Jan. 6, she has been working “to identify actions or decisions that could be taken immediately to improve the near-term security of the Capitol and its members,” Mr. Schumer’s statement said. Ms. Fado is a longtime Senate staffer working for Democrats, and Ms. Hemingway is a former House staffer working for Republicans. The new team is the latest in a series of firsts for women since President Biden took office and Democrats took full control of Congress. Janet Yellen is the first woman to be treasury secretary and, of course, Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman to hold that role. LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, center, in a game against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.Credit...Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports, via Reuters The N.B.A. is partnering with a group founded by LeBron James to promote voting rights during the All-Star Game this weekend in Atlanta, just as the U.S. House prepares to vote on a sweeping voting rights bill. More Than a Vote, which was founded by the Los Angeles Lakers star last year, will join with the N.B.A.’s National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, the National Basketball Players Association and the Georgia chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. to protest efforts by the Republican-controlled State Legislature to end automatic voter registration, ban drop boxes and eliminate the broad availability of absentee voting. Democrats say the changes would have an outsize impact on Black voters. “We all need to continue to use our platform,” Mr. James wrote to his 49 million followers on Twitter on Tuesday, sharing a link to a report about the campaign in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This last election won’t change anything if we don’t keep working.” The group’s plans include a social media campaign and interviews with league stars promoting expanded voting rights, according to a statement. The All-Star Game campaign comes as House Democrats in Washington prepared on Wednesday to pass omnibus federal voting legislation that would blunt attempts by Republican-led states to impose new restrictions to the ballot box. In addition to Georgia, new voting restrictions have passed in Iowa, and many other states are lining up similar efforts. Among the provisions in the House bill, designated H.R. 1 by Democrats to reflect its importance to their agenda, are strict national requirements that would disallow restrictive voter identification laws enacted by states, mandate automatic voter registration, vastly expand early and mail-in voting, and restore voting rights to former felons. Proponents expect the changes to increase voting in Black and Latino communities. The bill would also eliminate partisan gerrymandering, impose new transparency on dark money in the campaign finance system and tighten government ethics standards. Democrats expected to pass the bill through the House in the face of unified Republican opposition. Its fate in the Senate, where Democrats have only narrow control, appeared uncertain; unless Democrats agree to significantly alter the bill or eliminate the legislative filibuster that requires them to win at least 10 Republican votes, it has little chance of becoming law. House Democrats intend to hold a separate vote in the coming months on legislation to restore key enforcement provisions to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. But that effort also faces an exceedingly narrow path in the Senate. Shalanda Young testifying during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times The top trio of House Democratic leaders on Wednesday recommended Shalanda Young to be President Biden’s budget office director after the White House withdrew its nomination for Neera Tanden to serve in the role in the face of bipartisan opposition. The formal endorsement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Representatives Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, and James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, is a significant boost to Ms. Young, who is currently the nominee to serve as the deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget. The three leaders worked closely with Ms. Young, who was the first Black woman to serve as the staff director for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee. “Her legislative prowess, extensive knowledge of federal agencies, incisive strategic mind and proven track record will be a tremendous asset to the Biden-Harris administration,” the three leaders said in a statement. “Her leadership at the O.M.B. would be historic and would send a strong message that this administration is eager to work in close coordination with members of Congress to craft budgets that meet the challenges of our time and can secure broad, bipartisan support.” Fallback nominees for the position also include Gene Sperling, a former National Economic Council director, and Ann O’Leary, the former chief of staff to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. But the statement Wednesday morning underscored how Ms. Young has earned the support of lawmakers across Capitol Hill, ranging from Democratic leaders in both chambers to the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Long before Ms. Tanden’s decision to withdraw her nomination on Tuesday, Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, went so far as to issue a statement preemptively announcing that Ms. Young “would have my support, and I suspect many of my Republican colleagues would support her as well.” At her confirmation hearing for the No. 2 spot at the budget agency, multiple Republicans also signaled their support for Ms. Young, who helped negotiate in 2019 the end to the nation’s longest government shutdown in her role on the House Appropriations Committee and the series of pandemic relief bills in 2020. “Everybody that deals with you on our side has nothing but good things to say,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the top Republican on the budget panel. “You might talk me out of voting for you, but I doubt it.” “You’ll get my support, maybe for both jobs,” he noted. The Ayn Al Asad air base in Anbar Province, Iraq, in 2019. It is one of the last remaining bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed.Credit...Nasser Nasser/Associated Press A barrage of rockets was fired on Wednesday at the Ayn al Asad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar Province — one of the last remaining Iraqi bases where U.S. forces are stationed. An Iraqi security statement and one released by the Pentagon said that 10 missiles were launched at the sprawling base. A senior Defense Department official said that a U.S. contractor had died of an apparent heart attack during the rocket barrage. Officials in Washington did not identify the group responsible for the attack. The Pentagon said in a statement that the missile defense system at Ayn Al Asad “engaged in defense of our forces” and added, “We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the individual who died.” The Sabareen news outlet, which is affiliated with Iran-backed militias, said three U.S. soldiers had been killed in the attack — a report completely at odds with the official Defense Department account. The assault came just under a week after the United States attacked Iran-backed militia targets at the Syria-Iraq border. Those airstrikes, ordered by the Biden administration, hit a collection of buildings on the Syrian side of a border crossing. President Biden had originally approved two targets inside Syria, administration officials said. The Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah said one of its fighters had been killed in those airstrikes. It identified him as a member of the Popular Mobilization Forces that are officially part of Iraqi security forces helping prevent infiltration by the Islamic State. The second strike that Mr. Biden approved was aborted at the last minute after American forces learned that there were women and children at that site, also in Syria, administration officials said. At the first site, at Abu Kamal, two F-15E Strike Eagles dropped seven 500-pound satellite-guided bombs on nine buildings, the officials said. Mr. Biden chose targets in Syria to avoid political blowback on the Iraqi government, officials said. The assault on the base on Wednesday came just days before a visit by Pope Francis to Iraq beginning on Friday — the first ever papal visit to the war-ravaged country. The attackers who targeted the base on Wednesday used BM-21 “Grad” missiles, fired from about five miles from the base, officials said. A local paramilitary leader near the base said he had heard the impact of the rockets and then gone to investigate. The leader, Sheikh Qutri Kahlan al-Obeidi, said he had found “a burned vehicle — a Mitsubishi pickup,” rigged with missile launchers.