Politics updates: House Democrats will make the case that Washington, D.C., should be granted statehood.

Here’s what you need to know: The statehood bill faces an uphill climb in Congress.Credit...Al Drago for The New York Times Democrats on a key House panel will make the case on Monday that Washington, D.C., should be granted statehood, the latest sign that the long-suffering movement has shifted from the political fringe to the mainstream liberal agenda. The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on legislation that the House passed last summer to establish a 51st state — Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named in honor of Frederick Douglass — and grant it two senators and a voting representative in the House. The bill, which passed nearly along party lines, stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. President Biden breathed new life into hopes for the bill last week. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, confirmed on Thursday that Mr. Biden supported statehood, in a stark culmination of a decades-long campaign to bolster support for the measure among the lawmakers in Washington. The bill faces an uphill climb in Congress. Republicans are uniformly opposed to the idea, questioning its constitutional merits and accusing Democrats of backing the measure in an attempt to bolster their majorities in the House and the Senate. Should the House approve the legislation again this session, it would join other marquee Democratic measures — including bills on voting rights, police bias and misconduct, and gay and transgender rights — passed in part to drive home the idea that the party cannot move forward on the major issues of the moment with the legislative filibuster in place. Proponents of statehood argue that the more than 700,000 taxpaying residents of the District of Columbia deserve federal representation, and have noted that the disenfranchisement of Washington’s residents disproportionately affects minorities. They also argue that events of the past year have demonstrated the urgency of adopting statehood. Over the summer, the Trump administration deployed federal officers in the city and approved the violent removal of peaceful protesters near the White House. During the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, congressional leaders were left to beg neighboring states’ governors to send in their National Guard troops because Mayor Muriel E. Bowser does not have the authority to summon the D.C. Guard. “Statehood for the District of Columbia will give real meaning to the nation’s oldest slogan: ‘No taxation without representation,’” said Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting House delegate. “Statehood is about giving the people of the District of Columbia a voice and a say in their own government.” The stimulus package signed by President Biden includes billions to ramp up coronavirus vaccinations.Credit...Al Drago for The New York Times The Biden administration, with hundreds of billions of dollars to spend to end the Covid-19 crisis, has set aggressive benchmarks to determine whether the economy has fully recovered, including returning to historically low unemployment and helping more than one million Black and Hispanic women return to work within a year. But restoring economic activity, which was central to President Biden’s pitch for his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, faces logistical and epidemiological challenges unlike any previous recovery. New variants of the virus are spreading. Strained supply chains are holding up the distribution of rapid coronavirus tests, which could be critical to safely reopen schools, workplaces, restaurants, theaters and concert venues. Then there are questions of whether the money can reach schools and child care providers quickly enough to make a difference for parents who were forced to quit their jobs to care for their children. Economic optimism is rising as the pace of vaccinations steadily increases. Unemployment has already fallen from its pandemic peak of 14.8 percent last April to 6.2 percent in February. Federal Reserve officials now expect the unemployment rate to slip below 4 percent by next year and for the economy to grow faster this year than in any year since the Reagan administration. But risks remain. For the economy to fully bounce back, Americans need to feel confident in returning to shopping, traveling, entertainment and work. No matter how much cash the administration pumps into the economy, recovery could be stalled by the emergence of new variants, the reluctance of some Americans to get vaccinated and, in the coming weeks, spotty compliance with social distancing guidelines and other public health measures. Former President Donald J. Trump is endorsing Jody Hice, a Republican running against the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger. Mr. Trump has been critical of Mr. Raffensperger since he refused to overturn the state’s presidential election results. Credit...Pool photo by Jim Watson Jody Hice, a Republican congressman, announced Monday a run against the Georgia secretary of

Politics updates: House Democrats will make the case that Washington, D.C., should be granted statehood.
Here’s what you need to know: The statehood bill faces an uphill climb in Congress.Credit...Al Drago for The New York Times Democrats on a key House panel will make the case on Monday that Washington, D.C., should be granted statehood, the latest sign that the long-suffering movement has shifted from the political fringe to the mainstream liberal agenda. The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on legislation that the House passed last summer to establish a 51st state — Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named in honor of Frederick Douglass — and grant it two senators and a voting representative in the House. The bill, which passed nearly along party lines, stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. President Biden breathed new life into hopes for the bill last week. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, confirmed on Thursday that Mr. Biden supported statehood, in a stark culmination of a decades-long campaign to bolster support for the measure among the lawmakers in Washington. The bill faces an uphill climb in Congress. Republicans are uniformly opposed to the idea, questioning its constitutional merits and accusing Democrats of backing the measure in an attempt to bolster their majorities in the House and the Senate. Should the House approve the legislation again this session, it would join other marquee Democratic measures — including bills on voting rights, police bias and misconduct, and gay and transgender rights — passed in part to drive home the idea that the party cannot move forward on the major issues of the moment with the legislative filibuster in place. Proponents of statehood argue that the more than 700,000 taxpaying residents of the District of Columbia deserve federal representation, and have noted that the disenfranchisement of Washington’s residents disproportionately affects minorities. They also argue that events of the past year have demonstrated the urgency of adopting statehood. Over the summer, the Trump administration deployed federal officers in the city and approved the violent removal of peaceful protesters near the White House. During the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, congressional leaders were left to beg neighboring states’ governors to send in their National Guard troops because Mayor Muriel E. Bowser does not have the authority to summon the D.C. Guard. “Statehood for the District of Columbia will give real meaning to the nation’s oldest slogan: ‘No taxation without representation,’” said Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting House delegate. “Statehood is about giving the people of the District of Columbia a voice and a say in their own government.” The stimulus package signed by President Biden includes billions to ramp up coronavirus vaccinations.Credit...Al Drago for The New York Times The Biden administration, with hundreds of billions of dollars to spend to end the Covid-19 crisis, has set aggressive benchmarks to determine whether the economy has fully recovered, including returning to historically low unemployment and helping more than one million Black and Hispanic women return to work within a year. But restoring economic activity, which was central to President Biden’s pitch for his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, faces logistical and epidemiological challenges unlike any previous recovery. New variants of the virus are spreading. Strained supply chains are holding up the distribution of rapid coronavirus tests, which could be critical to safely reopen schools, workplaces, restaurants, theaters and concert venues. Then there are questions of whether the money can reach schools and child care providers quickly enough to make a difference for parents who were forced to quit their jobs to care for their children. Economic optimism is rising as the pace of vaccinations steadily increases. Unemployment has already fallen from its pandemic peak of 14.8 percent last April to 6.2 percent in February. Federal Reserve officials now expect the unemployment rate to slip below 4 percent by next year and for the economy to grow faster this year than in any year since the Reagan administration. But risks remain. For the economy to fully bounce back, Americans need to feel confident in returning to shopping, traveling, entertainment and work. No matter how much cash the administration pumps into the economy, recovery could be stalled by the emergence of new variants, the reluctance of some Americans to get vaccinated and, in the coming weeks, spotty compliance with social distancing guidelines and other public health measures. Former President Donald J. Trump is endorsing Jody Hice, a Republican running against the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger. Mr. Trump has been critical of Mr. Raffensperger since he refused to overturn the state’s presidential election results. Credit...Pool photo by Jim Watson Jody Hice, a Republican congressman, announced Monday a run against the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who refused to overturn the state’s Nov. 3 election results, and former President Donald J. Trump immediately endorsed the new candidate. Mr. Trump’s endorsement of Mr. Hice is the most prominent effort the former president and his aides have made to try to punish elected officials who they believe crossed Mr. Trump. Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, is among the top targets for Mr. Trump, along with the state’s governor, Brian Kemp. In a statement issued shortly after Mr. Hice announced his candidacy, Mr. Trump praised him as “one of our most outstanding congressmen,” and alluded to his own baseless claims of voter fraud, which he has said deprived him of victory in the state. “Unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out front with integrity,’’ Mr. Trump said, adding “Jody will stop the Fraud and get honesty into our Elections!’’ Mr. Raffensperger and other Georgia election officials certified President Biden’s victory after conducting several recounts, and have said the results are fair and accurate. Mr. Hice, who represents Georgia’s 10th congressional district, stretching south and east from Atlanta, is a Trump loyalist who in January condemned the second House impeachment of the former president as “misguided” and aimed at “scoring cheap political points.” In the weeks after the November election, he supported Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud, including a challenge before the Supreme Court that sought to overturn the results in states Mr. Trump lost. Mr. Hice also served in the House Freedom Caucus with former Rep. Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s fourth and last chief of staff. As he seeks to retain control of the Republican Party, Mr. Trump is determined to remain a kingmaker for down-ballot elections, while seeking retribution against those he perceives as having betrayed him. So far, he has endorsed only one other candidate running against someone he feels personally aggrieved by: Max Miller, a former White House aide, who is currently challenging Representative Anthony Gonzalez, a Republican representing Ohio’s 6th congressional district. Mr. Gonzalez was one of 10 House members who voted for Mr. Trump’s impeachment. Mr. Hice’s challenge — against a Trump nemesis in a critical swing state — will be a more high-profile test of Mr. Trump’s political clout among Republicans. The move to back Mr. Hice against the sitting secretary of state is also extraordinary given that Mr. Raffensperger has confirmed his office is investigating Mr. Trump’s attempts to influence the election, including the phone call the former president made to him. Mr. Trump is also under investigation by Fulton County prosecutors into whether he and others tried to improperly influence the election. Mr. Raffensperger was on the receiving end of a now-infamous call in early January, in which Mr. Trump pushed baseless claims of widespread irregularities and asked the secretary of state to “find’’ enough votes to reverse the win for President Biden. “All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state,” Mr. Trump said during the call. Mr. Raffensperger repeatedly told him his data was wrong. “We have to stand by our numbers,” Mr. Raffensperger said. “We believe our numbers are right.” Mr. Trump, when he had a Twitter feed, repeatedly attacked Mr. Raffensperger for not acceding to his demands. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was sentenced to death for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, which left three people dead and 260 injured. The Supreme Court will review an appeals court decision overturning his death sentence.Credit...F.B.I., via Associated Press The Supreme Court on Monday said it would review an appeals court’s decision that threw out the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of helping carry out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Last year, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Boston, upheld Mr. Tsarnaev’s convictions on 27 counts. But the appeals court ruled that his death sentence should be overturned because the trial judge had not questioned jurors closely enough about their exposure to pretrial publicity and had excluded evidence concerning Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar’s older brother and accomplice. “A core promise of our criminal justice system is that even the very worst among us deserves to be fairly tried and lawfully punished,” Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote for the panel. “Just to be crystal clear,” Judge Thompson wrote, “Dzhokhar will remain confined to prison for the rest of his life, with the only question remaining being whether the government will end his life by executing him.” The bombings, near the finish line of the marathon, killed three people and injured 260, many of them grievously. Seventeen people lost limbs. A law enforcement officer was killed as the brothers fled a few days later. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with the police. Judge Thompson wrote that the trial judge should not have excluded evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been involved in a triple murder in 2011, which could have bolstered an argument from defense lawyers that he had dominated and intimidated his younger brother. Lawyers for the federal government urged the Supreme Court to hear the case even though it did not satisfy some of the usual criteria for review. “Although the court of appeals’ errors are largely case-specific, the context of this case makes them exceptionally significant,” the government’s brief said. “To reinstate the sentences that the jury and the district court found appropriate for respondent’s heinous acts, the government will have to retry the penalty phase of the case; the court will have to conduct (and prospective jurors will have to undergo)” questioning “that will presumably be much longer and more onerous than the original 21-day proceeding; and the victims will have to once again take the stand to describe the horrors that respondent inflicted on them.” Nancy Gertner, a retired federal judge who now teaches at Harvard Law School, said the Biden administration should consider whether it wants to pursue the appeal, noting that the Trump administration had sought Supreme Court review. “Given that Mr. Tsarnaev will never leave prison,” she said in a statement, “the government should consider whether continuing to pursue a death sentence for him is unnecessarily traumatizing for the victims’ families and the City of Boston.” Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, has become the party’s foremost amplifier of conspiracy theories and disinformation.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, incited widespread outrage when he said recently that he would have been more afraid of the rioters who rampaged the Capitol on Jan. 6 had they been members of Black Lives Matter and antifa. But his revealing and incendiary comment, which quickly prompted accusations of racism, came as no surprise to those who have followed Mr. Johnson’s career in Washington or back home in Wisconsin. He has become the Republican Party’s foremost amplifier of conspiracy theories and disinformation now that Donald Trump himself is banned from social media and largely avoiding appearances on cable television. Mr. Johnson — who earned his fortune through a family business that manufactures synthetic materials — is an all-access purveyor of misinformation on serious issues such as the pandemic and the legitimacy of American democracy, as well as invoking the etymology of Greenland as a way to downplay the effects of climate change. In recent months, Mr. Johnson has sown doubts about President Biden’s victory, argued that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was not an armed insurrection, promoted discredited Covid-19 treatments, and said he saw no need to get the coronavirus vaccine himself. On Saturday, he told a conference of conservative political organizers in Wisconsin that “there was no violence on the Senate side, in terms of the chamber,” during the riot. In fact, Trump supporters stormed the chamber shortly after senators were evacuated. On Sunday, Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, denounced Mr. Johnson’s distortion of the events of Jan. 6. “We don’t need to try and explain away or come up with alternative versions,” he said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.” “We all saw what happened.” For Democrats, regaining his Senate seat in 2022, in a state Mr. Biden won, is a top priority. Though he has yet to announce whether he would be seeking a third term, Mr. Johnson recently said that fury Democrats directed his way made him want to fight. In an interview with The Times, Mr. Johnson rejected comparisons made by his critics to Joseph McCarthy, the disgraced far-right senator from Wisconsin. And he insisted he had no racist intent in making his argument about the Capitol attack. “It’s a true statement,” he said. “And then people said, ‘Well, why?’ Well, because I’ve been to a lot of Trump rallies. I spend three hours with thousands of Trump supporters. And I think I know them pretty well. I don’t know any Trump supporter who would have done what the rioters did.” During his first campaign, in 2010, Mr. Johnson’s declared that climate change was not man-made but instead caused by “sun spots” — and offered a false history of Greenland to make his case. “You know, there’s a reason Greenland was called Greenland,” Mr. Johnson told WKOW-TV in Madison back then. “It was actually green at one point in time. And it’s been, you know, since, it’s a whole lot whiter now so we’ve experienced climate change throughout geologic time.” In the interview on Thursday, Mr. Johnson was still misinformed about the etymology of Greenland, which got its name from the explorer Erik the Red’s attempt to lure settlers to the ice-covered island. “I could be wrong there, but that’s always been my assumption that, at some point in time, those early explorers saw green,” Mr. Johnson said. “I have no idea.” Representative Tom Reed said the episode “occurred at a time in my life in which I was struggling” with an alcohol addiction.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times Representative Tom Reed, Republican of New York, apologized on Sunday to a woman who accused him of touching her inappropriately and said that he would not run for any political office in 2022, including governor. In a lengthy statement, Mr. Reed apologized to a former lobbyist, Nicolette Davis, whose allegation that the congressman groped her during a 2017 political trip was reported on Friday by The Washington Post. Mr. Reed said that he took “full responsibility” for the episode and that it “occurred at a time in my life in which I was struggling” with an alcohol addiction. “Even though I am only hearing of this matter as stated by Ms. Davis in the article now, I hear her voice and will not dismiss her,” Mr. Reed, 49, said. “In reflection, my personal depiction of this event is irrelevant. Simply put, I caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional. I was wrong, I am sorry and I take full responsibility.” Before Ms. Davis’s allegation, Mr. Reed was publicly mulling a run for governor in 2022, as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, was besieged by a wave of accusations of sexual harassment and other misconduct. Mr. Reed also said on Sunday that he would not run for re-election, citing a pledge to serve only six terms that he made to voters when he was first elected in 2010. Ms. Davis told The Post that when she was a 25-year-old lobbyist for the insurance company Aflac, Mr. Reed groped her at an Irish pub in Minneapolis after a day of ice fishing with donors, politicians and lobbyists. While intoxicated, Mr. Reed placed his hand on her back, she said, unclasped her bra through her blouse and moved his hand up her thigh before Ms. Davis asked the man sitting next to her to intervene. After her accusation was made public on Friday, Mr. Reed said in a statement that the “account of my actions is not accurate,” but did not elaborate or deny the encounter outright. Mr. Reed had been on a short list for New York Republicans thinking of challenging Mr. Cuomo, who has been significantly weakened politically by the sexual harassment scandal as well as by controversy over his administration’s handling of the state’s nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Abraham Sanchez, a Sacramento musician, put $1,200 of his stimulus money last week into his Robinhood trading account.Credit...Salgu Wissmath for The New York Times For a decade before the pandemic, small investors accounted for roughly a tenth of trading activity in the stock market. But in the last year, they have become responsible for close to a quarter, according to Goldman Sachs analysts. The speculative appetite of small investors may seem at odds with an economy still reeling from a pandemic that has killed more than half a million Americans, decimated jobs and snuffed out businesses and livelihoods. But one of the biggest tools deployed by the U.S. government to cushion the economic blow — stimulus payments — is also driving a huge surge in investing by small traders, Matt Phillips reports for The New York Times. Analysts at Deutsche Bank recently estimated that as much $170 billion from the latest round of stimulus payments could flow into the stock market. They conducted a survey of retail traders in which respondents said they planned to put roughly 40 percent of any payment they received — or $2 of every $5 — into the stock market. Traders between the ages of 25 and 34 said they expected to put half of their stimulus check into stocks. “That could lead to a bit more mania, speculation in the market,” said Patrick Fruzzetti, managing director and partner at Hightower Advisors, an investment firm. The “stimmies,” he said — using a popular online term for stimulus checks — will go into people’s trading accounts, and “they will trade.” The Supreme Court has been asked to consider whether one of the last sex-based distinctions in federal law — that only men must register for the draft — should survive.Credit...John Moore/Getty Images Since 2016, women have been allowed to serve in every role in the military, including ground combat. Unlike men, though, they are not required to register with the Selective Service System, the government agency that maintains a database of Americans who would be eligible for the draft were it reinstated. Almost all other sex-based distinctions in federal law have been eliminated, in no small part because of the pioneering work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who litigated women’s rights cases in the Supreme Court before she joined it. But the requirement that only men must register for the draft remains. The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear a challenge to the requirement, in language that could have been drafted by Justice Ginsburg when she ran the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “It imposes selective burdens on men, reinforces the notion that women are not full and equal citizens, and perpetuates stereotypes about men’s and women’s capabilities,” lawyers with the A.C.L.U. wrote in a petition on behalf of two men who were required to register and the National Coalition for Men. Justice Ginsburg, who died in September, argued six cases in the Supreme Court. In the first, Frontiero v. Richardson in 1973, she persuaded the court that the Air Force’s unequal treatment of the husbands of female officers, who were denied housing and medical benefits, violated equal protection principles. But the challengers in the new case must reckon with another precedent. In 1981, in Rostker v. Goldberg, the Supreme Court rejected a sex-discrimination challenge to the registration requirement, reasoning that it was justified because women could not at that time serve in combat. In 2019, Judge Gray H. Miller, of the Federal District Court in Houston, ruled that since women can now serve in combat, the men-only registration requirement was no longer justified. A unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, agreed — but it said that only the Supreme Court could overrule its own precedent. The Trump administration defended differing registration requirements in the appeals court. The Biden administration has twice sought extra time, and its brief is now due on April 14. The government has not drafted anyone since the Vietnam War, and there is no reason to think that will change. The challengers say that is a reason for the court to act now, before a crisis arises. “Should the court declare the men-only registration requirement unconstitutional,” their brief said, “Congress has considerable latitude to decide how to respond. It could require everyone between the ages of 18 and 26, regardless of sex, to register; it could rescind the registration requirement entirely; or it could adopt a new approach altogether, such as replacing” the registration requirement “with a more expansive national service requirement.” At its nadir under the holiday crush, the Postal Service delivered as little as 62 percent of first-class mail on time, the lowest level in years.Credit...Jacob Biba for The New York Times Months after an election that thrust problems at the United States Postal Service into the national glare, the beleaguered agency has failed to restore its target delivery times and has proposed changes that are only in the preliminary stages. The on-time rate rebounded to 84 percent by the week of March 6, but it remained below the agency’s target of about 96 percent. It had fallen to 62 percent of first-class mail delivered on time over the holidays, the lowest level in years, according to Postal Service data. “It hasn’t really gotten better as much as we would have hoped at this point,” said Dave Lewis, the president of SnailWorks, a company that tracks commercial mail that has found that delivery now takes four to five days, after years of averaging 3.5. Plans to fix the system are in the works. But they have been muddled by the fight over the service’s postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who was appointed by former President Donald J. Trump and who is completing a plan to stabilize the agency’s finances over 10 years that is expected to prioritize reliability and cost effectiveness over speed. Mr. DeJoy’s report is expected to propose eliminating the use of planes for the first-class mail service to transport letters and other flat mail in the contiguous United States, according to someone familiar with the planning. It is also expected to propose lengthening the agency’s standard delivery time for first-class mail, which includes many envelopes and lightweight packages, from within three days to within five days. Among other ideas under consideration: closing processing facilities and reducing some post office hours, part of an effort by the agency to shift resources to shipping packages, which have become a growing share of its business, according to the plan, which was reported earlier by The Washington Post. The proposal is almost certain to prompt resistance from the Democrats who control Congress and the White House, but it is also unclear what they will do about it. In the past 14 fiscal years, the Postal Service has lost $87 billion, including $9.2 billion in the 2020 fiscal year alone, and it expects to lose $9.7 billion in 2021. In July, the service reached an agreement with the Treasury Department on a $10 billion loan as part of a coronavirus relief bill.