Senators to Question Attorney General Nominee Merrick Garland

Here’s what you need to know: Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Biden’s attorney general nominee, is expected to garner broad bipartisan support.Credit...Kevin Lamarque/Reuters Judge Merrick B. Garland will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday to begin his confirmation process to become the attorney general. While Judge Garland is expected to garner broad bipartisan support to run the Justice Department, he will face tough questions from Democrats and Republicans about how he will handle myriad politically charged matters that the department now faces: a federal tax fraud investigation into President Biden’s son, a special counsel’s inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation, and the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that has begun to edge closer to former President Donald J. Trump’s inner circle. He will also need to reinvigorate the department’s civil rights division as America undergoes a painful and destabilizing reckoning with systemic racism, the likes of which the nation has not seen in more than half a century. The Trump administration worked to curb civil rights protections for transgender people and minorities. It also barred policies intended to combat systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and other implicit biases, which Mr. Trump said did not exist. In the opening statement that Judge Garland, 68, intends to deliver before the committee, he vowed both to combat the resurgent domestic terrorist threat that was stunningly evident on Jan. 6 and to tackle systemic inequality. “That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice,” Judge Garland is expected to say. He is also expected to assert that he will not let politics influence the department’s criminal inquiry into Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, or its look into whether Obama-era officials erred in their decision to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign in 2016. But Judge Garland will be asked whether his Justice Department will open new investigations into Mr. Trump, his former administration officials and his inner circle. Some of those officials have been accused by government watchdogs of improper behavior and lying to investigators. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump or his associates will face scrutiny for any connections to the Capitol attack. Mr. Trump was acquitted of inciting insurrection by the Senate in his impeachment trial. Republicans may try to push Judge Garland to commit to politically charged investigations into Democrats, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, who misrepresented the number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes, or to appoint a special counsel to investigate Mr. Biden’s son. The Justice Department has asked David C. Weiss, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware, to continue to oversee the investigation into Hunter Biden. Last month Judge Garland said he would ensure “that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends, the other for foes.” Civil rights advocates, police unions, Democrats and Republicans have voiced support for Judge Garland’s nomination. A bipartisan group of more than 150 former Justice Department officials, including Democrats such as Eric H. Holder Jr. and Loretta Lynch, and Republicans like Alberto Gonzales, Michael B. Mukasey and Ken Starr, the independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, signed a letter supporting him as well. Downtown Nashville last week. Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program would attempt to steer more pandemic loans to the smallest businesses.Credit...Brett Carlsen/Getty Images Aiming to steer more federal aid to the smallest and most vulnerable businesses, the Biden administration is altering the Paycheck Protection Program’s rules, increasing the amount sole proprietors are eligible to receive and imposing a 14-day freeze on loans to companies with 20 or more employees. The freeze will take effect on Wednesday, the Small Business Administration planned to announce on Monday. Also, President Biden is expected to speak shortly after noon on Monday to make an announcement about small businesses. In December’s economic relief package, Congress allocated $284 billion to restart the aid program. Banks and other financiers, which make the government-backed loans, have disbursed $134 billion to 1.8 million businesses since lending resumed last month. The money is intended to be forgiven if recipients comply with the program’s rules. Companies with up to 500 workers are generally eligible for the loans, although second-draw loans — available to those whose sales dropped 25 percent or more in at least one quarter since the coronavirus pandemic began — are limited to companies with 300 or fewer employees. The 14-day moratorium is intended to focus lenders’ attention on the tiniest businesses, according to administration officials, who spoke to reporters at a news briefing on Sunday on the condition that they not be named. Most small bu

Senators to Question Attorney General Nominee Merrick Garland
Here’s what you need to know: Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Biden’s attorney general nominee, is expected to garner broad bipartisan support.Credit...Kevin Lamarque/Reuters Judge Merrick B. Garland will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday to begin his confirmation process to become the attorney general. While Judge Garland is expected to garner broad bipartisan support to run the Justice Department, he will face tough questions from Democrats and Republicans about how he will handle myriad politically charged matters that the department now faces: a federal tax fraud investigation into President Biden’s son, a special counsel’s inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation, and the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that has begun to edge closer to former President Donald J. Trump’s inner circle. He will also need to reinvigorate the department’s civil rights division as America undergoes a painful and destabilizing reckoning with systemic racism, the likes of which the nation has not seen in more than half a century. The Trump administration worked to curb civil rights protections for transgender people and minorities. It also barred policies intended to combat systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and other implicit biases, which Mr. Trump said did not exist. In the opening statement that Judge Garland, 68, intends to deliver before the committee, he vowed both to combat the resurgent domestic terrorist threat that was stunningly evident on Jan. 6 and to tackle systemic inequality. “That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice,” Judge Garland is expected to say. He is also expected to assert that he will not let politics influence the department’s criminal inquiry into Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, or its look into whether Obama-era officials erred in their decision to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign in 2016. But Judge Garland will be asked whether his Justice Department will open new investigations into Mr. Trump, his former administration officials and his inner circle. Some of those officials have been accused by government watchdogs of improper behavior and lying to investigators. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump or his associates will face scrutiny for any connections to the Capitol attack. Mr. Trump was acquitted of inciting insurrection by the Senate in his impeachment trial. Republicans may try to push Judge Garland to commit to politically charged investigations into Democrats, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, who misrepresented the number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes, or to appoint a special counsel to investigate Mr. Biden’s son. The Justice Department has asked David C. Weiss, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware, to continue to oversee the investigation into Hunter Biden. Last month Judge Garland said he would ensure “that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends, the other for foes.” Civil rights advocates, police unions, Democrats and Republicans have voiced support for Judge Garland’s nomination. A bipartisan group of more than 150 former Justice Department officials, including Democrats such as Eric H. Holder Jr. and Loretta Lynch, and Republicans like Alberto Gonzales, Michael B. Mukasey and Ken Starr, the independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, signed a letter supporting him as well. Downtown Nashville last week. Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program would attempt to steer more pandemic loans to the smallest businesses.Credit...Brett Carlsen/Getty Images Aiming to steer more federal aid to the smallest and most vulnerable businesses, the Biden administration is altering the Paycheck Protection Program’s rules, increasing the amount sole proprietors are eligible to receive and imposing a 14-day freeze on loans to companies with 20 or more employees. The freeze will take effect on Wednesday, the Small Business Administration planned to announce on Monday. Also, President Biden is expected to speak shortly after noon on Monday to make an announcement about small businesses. In December’s economic relief package, Congress allocated $284 billion to restart the aid program. Banks and other financiers, which make the government-backed loans, have disbursed $134 billion to 1.8 million businesses since lending resumed last month. The money is intended to be forgiven if recipients comply with the program’s rules. Companies with up to 500 workers are generally eligible for the loans, although second-draw loans — available to those whose sales dropped 25 percent or more in at least one quarter since the coronavirus pandemic began — are limited to companies with 300 or fewer employees. The 14-day moratorium is intended to focus lenders’ attention on the tiniest businesses, according to administration officials, who spoke to reporters at a news briefing on Sunday on the condition that they not be named. Most small businesses are solo ventures, employing just the owner. For such companies, including sole proprietorships and independent contractors, one major impediment to getting relief money was a program rule that based their loan size on the annual profit they reported on their taxes. That made unprofitable businesses ineligible for aid, and left thousands of applicants with tiny loans — some as small as $1. The new formula, which Small Business Administration officials said would be released soon, will focus instead on gross income. That calculation, which is done before many expenses are deducted, will let unprofitable businesses qualify for loans. The agency is also changing several other program rules to expand eligibility. Those with recent felony convictions not tied to fraud will now be able to apply, as will those who are delinquent or in default on federal student loan debt. The agency also updated its guidance to clarify that business owners who are not United States citizens but lawful residents are eligible for loans. Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, may not be able to win confirmation in the Senate.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, announced Monday that she would not support the nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, jeopardizing the prospects for confirmation in an evenly divided Senate. The margins for confirmation now appear all but insurmountable for Ms. Tanden, given that Ms. Collins is the second senator in four days to announce her opposition. With Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, having already announced his intention to vote against the former Hillary Clinton adviser, President Biden needs the remainder of the Democratic caucus to support her nomination and at least one Republican to endorse her. In a statement released early Monday morning and first obtained by Politico, Ms. Collins said she believed that Ms. Tanden “has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency.” One of many Republicans frequently targeted by Ms. Tanden on social media, Ms. Collins noted that “her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.” And Ms. Tanden’s decision to delete more than a thousand tweets ahead of her confirmation hearings, she said, “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.” After Mr. Manchin on Friday announced his intent to vote against her confirmation, Mr. Biden said he planned to move forward with the nomination. Following the statement from Ms. Collins, the White House indicated it planned to move forward with the confirmation process. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Monday that Mr. Biden continued to support Ms. Tanden’s nomination. “Neera Tanden is an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent budget director and we look forward to the committee votes this week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties,” Ms. Psaki said in a statement. Neera Tanden=accomplished policy expert, would be 1st Asian American woman to lead OMB, has lived experience having benefitted from a number of federal programs as a kid, looking ahead to the committee votes this week and continuing to work toward her confirmation — Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 22, 2021 National Guard troops at the Capitol after it was overtaken by a mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6. Their deployment was not approved for hours after the riot began.Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times At 1:09 p.m. on Jan. 6, minutes after protesters had burst through the barricades around the U.S. Capitol and began using the steel debris to assault the officers standing guard, the chief of the Capitol Police made a desperate call for backup. It took nearly two hours for officials to approve the deployment of the National Guard. New details about what transpired over those 115 minutes on that dark, violent day — revealed in interviews and documents — tell a story of how chaotic decision-making among political and military leaders burned precious time as the rioting at the Capitol spiraled out of control. Communication breakdowns, inaction and confusion over who had authority to call for the National Guard delayed a deployment of hundreds of troops who might have helped quell the violence that raged for hours. This period is expected to be a focus of a congressional hearing on Tuesday, when lawmakers will publicly question Steven A. Sund, the Capitol Police chief at the time, and other current and former officials for the first time about the security failures that contributed to the violence on that day. “Capitol security leaders must address the decision not to approve the National Guard request, failures in interagency coordination and information sharing, and how the threat intelligence they had ahead of Jan. 6 informed their security decisions leading up to that day,” said Senator Maggie Hassan, Democrat of New Hampshire. Some American officials have said that by the time the urgent request came to the Pentagon on the afternoon of Jan. 6, it was long past the time National Guard troops could have deployed quickly enough to prevent the storming of the Capitol. But law enforcement officials pointed out that during a melee that lasted hours, every lost minute was critical. Chief Sund did not hear back for 61 minutes after he called for help from the National Guard. And even then, there was a catch: Though Capitol security officials had approved his request, the Pentagon had the final say. During a tense phone call that began 18 minutes later, a top general said that he did not like the “visual” of the military guarding the Capitol and that he would recommend the Army secretary deny the request. Pentagon approval finally came at 3:04 p.m. The first deployment of National Guard troops arrived at the Capitol two and a half hours later.