Biden’s Next Orders Aim to Speed and Expand Federal Aid

David Legates, a climate denialist who joined the Trump administration last year as head of the United States Global Change Research Program, at a Senate hearing in 2014.
Credit…C-SPAN.org

The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General said it will investigate an incident earlier this month in which two former Trump appointees posted debunked scientific reports denying the existence and significance of man-made climate change, purportedly on behalf of the United States government.

Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, along with four other Senate Democrats, had requested the inquiry into potential wrongdoing around the postings and improper use of government logos. In a letter Friday to the senator, the compliance and ethics staff of the inspector general’s office wrote, “After careful consideration, we decided to review this matter further.”

Days before the end of the Trump administration, David Legates, who served as the head of the United States Global Change Research Program, and Ryan Maue, a senior official at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (O.S.T.P.), were reassigned after they posted reports on a climate denialism website. The Commerce Department is conducting the review because the two were on detail from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is part of the Commerce Department.

The reports were largely discredited theories, including one claiming the sun and not human-caused pollution is responsible for recent warming, and bore the logo of the executive office of the president. It also purported to be the copyrighted work of the O.S.T.P., representing “the current state-of-the-science” on climate change. The head of that agency under Mr. Trump, Kelvin Droegemeier, said in a statement at the time that the postings had been done without his knowledge or consent.

In requesting the investigation, Sen. Hirono — along with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — said they worried that the departure of the two appointees “presents an opportunity for this issue to fall through the cracks.”

Beyond “disseminating dangerous information,” the senators wrote, the use of O.S.T.P.’s logo and copyright without permission is illegal under federal law. “Not holding those involved accountable sets a bad precedent for future instances along those lines,” they said. Mr. Legates did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Mr. Maue declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Biden administration did not respond to a request for comment. But President Biden has been outspoken about “bringing science back” to the federal government, and on Wednesday the White House is expected to issue a sweeping agencywide memorandum on scientific integrity, according to an internal planning document obtained by The New York Times.

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Senate Will Receive Impeachment Article Monday, Schumer Says

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said the House will deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, charging former President Donald J. Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”

“The Senate will also conduct a second impeachment trial for Donald Trump. I’ve been speaking to the Republican leader about the timing and duration of the trial. But make no mistake, a trial will be held in the United States Senate, and there will be a vote on whether to convict the president. I’ve spoken to Speaker Pelosi, who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday. Now, I’ve heard some of my Republican colleagues argue that this trial would be unconstitutional because Donald Trump is no longer in office, an argument that has been roundly repudiated, debunked by hundreds of constitutional scholars left, right and center, and defies basic common sense. It makes no sense whatsoever that a president or any official could commit a heinous crime against our country, and then be permitted to resign so as to avoid accountability and a vote to disbar them from future office.” “By Senate rules, if the article arrives, we’ll start a trial right then. This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House, the sequel cannot be an insufficient Senate process that denies former President Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself. Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense, and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions.”

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Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said the House will deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, charging former President Donald J. Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Senate leaders struck a deal on Friday to delay former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial for two weeks, giving President Biden time to install his cabinet and begin moving a legislative agenda before they begin a historic proceeding to try his predecessor for “incitement of insurrection.”

The House still plans to deliver its impeachment charge at 7 p.m. Monday evening and senators will be sworn in for the trial the following day. But Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said the chamber would then pause until the week of Feb. 8 to give the prosecution and defense time to draft and exchange written legal briefs.

“During that period, the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as cabinet nominations and the Covid relief bill, which would provide relief for millions of Americans who are suffering during this pandemic,” Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.

The delay represented a compromise between the two party leaders in the Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, had initially proposed delaying another week, until Feb. 15, to get the trial underway in person. He had cited the need for Mr. Trump’s legal team, hired only on Thursday, to prepare to give a full defense.

Democrats were weighing competing interests, including Mr. Biden’s agenda, a desire to dispatch with the trial of his predecessor quickly and to force Republican senators to go on the record with regard to Mr. Trump’s actions as soon as possible after the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol, carried out by a mob of his supporters whom he had exhorted to fight back against his election defeat.

Mr. Biden, who has tried to steer clear of the trial, said earlier on Friday that he was in favor of a delay as the Senate worked to confirm members of his administration and start considering another coronavirus relief bill, his top priority.

“The more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s trial, the second in a little over a year, presents a number of novel questions for senators. No president has ever been impeached twice and no former president has ever been put on trial.

Doug Andres, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell, said the leader was “glad” Democrats had agreed to a slower timeline.

“Especially given the fast and minimal process in the House, Republicans set out to ensure the Senate’s next steps will respect former President Trump’s rights and due process, the institution of the Senate, and the office of the presidency,” he said. “That goal has been achieved. This is a win for due process and fairness.”

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and the personal lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump, speaking during a news conference about the results of the 2020 presidential election at the RNC in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 19, 2020.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Rudolph W. Giuliani, former President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, conceded on Friday night that an associate had sent an email to campaign officials asking that Mr. Giuliani be paid $20,000 a day for his work after the Nov. 3 election, but he insisted he was unaware of it at the time.

Mr. Giuliani acknowledged in a brief phone interview that his associate, Maria Ryan, had sent the email shortly after Election Day. But he maintained that she consulted with another associate, Larry Levy, about what Mr. Giuliani should ask for from the campaign while Mr. Giuliani was out of town.

A copy of the email, reviewed by The New York Times, showed that she sent it from a Giuliani Partners email account.

“Mr. Giuliani began working the case in the wee hours of the morning on November 4,” Ms. Ryan wrote. “He has a team in Washington working out of rented hotel rooms.”

She wrote that the company was working on an engagement letter, and that instead of $2,000 an hour, “we will contract for $20,000 a day which will include all of the expenses for Mr. Giuliani and his staff.” The request was sent to at least three campaign officials, at a time when the campaign was raising expansive amounts of money for a legal fund to fight the election results.

When The Times asked about the fee request in November, Mr. Giuliani denied it. He has continued to maintain it was a “lie” that he requested such a fee from the president, saying it as recently as Friday afternoon on his radio show. “I did not do that,” he said.

In the phone interview on Friday night, after The Times asked his spokeswoman about Ms. Ryan’s email, Mr. Giuliani said that he told both the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Mr. Trump, “It’s ridiculous, I don’t want to be paid.”

Mr. Giuliani said he did not recall precisely when he had that conversation. And it was unclear whether he was aware that Ms. Ryan had sent the email when The Times first asked him about the fee request.

“I never had a single expectation of being paid a penny,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that he’s had a few expenses reimbursed but nothing more. He faulted Mr. Trump’s other advisers and blasted them as “incompetent” in the lead-up to the election.

“I feel extremely bad that I’m portrayed as some kind of money-grubbing ambulance chaser,” Mr. Giuliani said.

“I represented him out of my sense of commitment,” he continued. “I didn’t see anything about this that was going to lead to great wealth. I did see a lot about this that was going to lead to great torture.”

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Biden Calls Coronavirus Aid an ‘Economic Imperative’

President Biden signed two executive orders Friday, directing more federal aid to Americans struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic and laying the groundwork to institute a $15 minimum wage for federal employees.

We remain in a once-in-a-century public health crisis that’s led to the most unequal job and economic crisis in modern history. And the crisis is only deepening, it’s not getting better. It’s deepening. We can not, will not let people go hungry. We can not let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves, and can not watch people lose their jobs. And we have to act. We have to act now. It’s not just to meet the moral obligation to treat our fellow Americans with the dignity, respect they deserve. This is an economic imperative. I’m signing an executive order that directs the whole of government, a whole of government effort, to help millions of Americans who are badly hurting — requires all federal agencies to do what they can do to provide relief to families, small businesses and communities. And in the days ahead, I expect agencies to act. Let me touch on two ways these actions can help change Americans’ lives. The Department of Agriculture will consider taking immediate steps to make it easier for the hardest-hit families to enroll and claim more generous benefits in the critical food and nutrition assistance area. I expect the Department of Labor to guarantee the right to refuse employment that will jeopardize your health, and if do so, you’ll still be able to qualify for the insurance. That’s a judgment. the Labor Department will make. We’re in a national emergency. We need to act like we’re in a national emergency. So we’ve got to move with everything we’ve got. We’ve got to do it together. The first one is the economic relief related to Covid-19 pandemic. Second one is protecting the federal workforce.

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President Biden signed two executive orders Friday, directing more federal aid to Americans struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic and laying the groundwork to institute a $15 minimum wage for federal employees.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

After issuing a series of executive orders on his first full day in office and pledging a “full-scale wartime effort” to combat the coronavirus pandemic, President Biden on Friday continued apace with two more executive orders aimed at steering additional federal aid to families struggling to afford food amid the pandemic and helping workers stay safe on the job.

Mr. Biden, who has vowed to use the power of the presidency to help mitigate economic fallout from the pandemic, directed the Treasury Department to find ways to deliver stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans who have not yet received the funds.

Mr. Biden also signed a second executive order that will lay the groundwork for the federal government to institute a $15 an hour minimum wage for its employees and contract workers, while making it easier for federal workers to bargain collectively for better pay and benefits.

“The crisis is only deepening,” Mr. Biden said during remarks at the White House, calling the need to help those out of work and unable to afford enough food “an economic imperative.”

“We have the tools to help people. So let’s use the tools. All of them. Now,” he said.

The executive actions are part of an attempt by Mr. Biden to override his predecessor, former President Donald J. Trump, on issues pertaining to workers, the economy and the federal safety net. The orders Mr. Biden signed on Friday are a break from the Trump administration’s attempts to limit the scope of many federal benefits that Trump officials said created a disincentive for Americans to work.

The orders follow an ambitious raft of measures Mr. Biden took on his first full day in office, on Thursday. He signed a string of executive orders and presidential directives aimed at combating the worst public health crisis in a century, including new requirements for masks on interstate planes, trains and buses and for international travelers to quarantine after arriving in the United States.

The Daily Poster

Listen to ‘The Daily’: Biden’s Executive Orders

On his first day, President Biden reversed some of his predecessor’s most divisive policies. But governing by decree can be fraught.

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Listen to ‘The Daily’: Biden’s Executive Orders

Hosted by Michael Barbaro; produced by Sydney Harper and Eric Krupke; edited by Lisa Chow; and engineered by Chris Wood.

On his first day, President Biden reversed some of his predecessor’s most divisive policies. But governing by decree can be fraught.

michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily.

[music]

Today: In his first hours as president, Joe Biden signed a flurry of executive orders, reversing the legacy of President Trump. White House reporter Mike Shear on what’s in the orders and the upside and downside of governing by executive action.

It’s Friday, January 22.

archived recording (president biden)

Well, this is going to be the first of many engagements we’re going to have in here. And I thought —

michael barbaro

Mike, I wonder if you can set the scene for us — a man, a plan, a pen.

michael d. shear

Right. So the scene is the Oval Office. This is late afternoon on the 20th. So Joe Biden has been inaugurated under high security, under threat of a pandemic.

archived recording (president biden)

And I thought with the state of the nation today, there’s no time to waste — get to work immediately.

michael d. shear

Now, he’s sitting at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, looks very different already than President Trump. They’ve already redecorated a little bit. They’ve hung different curtains, got a different carpet. They’ve put up photos of Joe Biden’s family, bust of Cesar Chavez behind him. So the visuals already look a little bit different than we’ve come to be used to for the last four years.

archived recording (president biden)

We’re going to be signing a number of executive orders over the next several days of a week. And I’m going to start today on the compounding crisis of Covid, Covid-19, along with the economic crisis following that.

michael d. shear

Sitting next to him is a huge stack of folders with the seal of the presidency on it, each one containing a different executive order, executive action, some kind of memo that he’s going to sign. And cameras are rolling. He takes one and begins to sign them.

archived recording

Mr. President?

archived recording (president biden)

Thank you.

archived recording

Mr. President?

michael barbaro

And just as a civics reminder here, executive orders are actions that require nothing but a presidential signature. They’re kind of unique in how we govern.

michael d. shear

That’s right. And there’s a lot that presidents have to do with others in our form of government. The Constitution was very clear. Congress controls the purse. Congress controls spending. So there are limits on what a president can do in terms of spending money. But executive orders are actions that the president can direct the government to take on his authority alone.

michael barbaro

And my sense is that the last president, Donald Trump, made very liberal use of executive orders in a way that was quite unpopular with Democrats.

michael d. shear

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, look, presidents turn to executive orders, they turn to the power of their office, when they get stymied in other ways, when they can’t work with Congress. Donald Trump obviously had a very volatile and difficult relationship with Congress. And so you saw him in all sorts of ways. He issued executive orders directing the Census not to count certain individuals — undocumented immigrants. You saw him issuing executive orders about what federal architecture should look like in Washington, D.C., because he didn’t like certain buildings. You saw him shut down the border with Mexico at various times to asylum-seekers. It was a kind of never-ending barrage of executive orders, big and small. Some of them had huge impact, some of them less so. But that was essentially the way he governed.

michael barbaro

Right. And among the critics of those Trump executive orders was Joe Biden, not yet president. And the critique of the executive orders, and I remember it very vividly, was that they represent the imperial presidency — government by executive fiat. No effort to work with Congress or create consensus, but just one leader’s view suddenly turning into the full force of the American government.

michael d. shear

Right. And I think for Biden, that was an especially powerful critique, because that argument played into exactly the caricature of Donald Trump that we all saw over these last four years — somebody who thinks he knows best and isn’t interested in finding some sort of common ground. Rather, he wants to impose his view, and that’s what he did through the use of these executive orders.

michael barbaro

OK, so with that in mind, how much thought did President-elect, now President, Joe Biden and those around him put into the question of how aggressively they would or should use executive orders?

michael d. shear

So I think they are mindful of the critique, especially of the hypocrisy that they will be accused of, given the path that they’re taking. But I think they draw a distinction — or at least they give themselves a pass — because their thinking, in the conversations that I’ve had with them, is that Donald Trump gave them an opening by putting in place so much of his agenda through executive orders. By not making the changes that Donald Trump wanted to make permanent through legislation, they gave the incoming administration an opportunity to move much more quickly to reverse things than would have been the case if all of these changes had been done through legislation. If Donald Trump, for example, had made some big, sweeping changes to immigration policy by law, and had gotten a bipartisan consensus, in order to roll that back, the Biden Administration would have had to do the same. Instead, they can act in the same way as the Trump Administration did, only reverse.

michael barbaro

Right. So their internal argument and rationale is, he did it, so we get to do it. It’s a little bit of a playground-level version of government, but there is some logic to it.

michael d. shear

Well, and let’s not forget, I mean, while Donald Trump was probably the most aggressive user of executive action that we’ve seen in the last number of presidents, he’s not the first. Barack Obama used executive action pretty aggressively as well, especially towards the end of his eight years, when the Senate and the House were not in his camp. And so it’s been a ping pong ball for a while.

michael barbaro

OK, so given all that, Mike, let’s talk about these executive orders that President Biden signs in the Oval Office in his opening hours of his presidency.

michael d. shear

Right. So the executive orders and various different actions that he took all fell into a series of buckets. You had executive actions that the president took on Covid and the pandemic. You had another set that were largely around climate change and the environment and rolling back some of President Trump’s policies there. And then you had a third really big bucket on immigration and pushing back against President Trump’s policies at the border and with enforcement inside the country.

michael barbaro

Got it. So let’s start with the pandemic. What were those executive orders?

michael d. shear

So the first one is he issued an executive order that mandated the wearing of masks. Now, it wasn’t a federal mandate across the country. The president does not have the power to order everybody in the country to wear masks all the time. But he does have the power to make people on federal property, federal employees, wear a mask when they’re on the job. So for example, you think about the Post Office, right?

michael barbaro

Right.

michael d. shear

Whenever anybody goes in there, it will now be law you have to wear a mask.

michael barbaro

So there’s both a practical impact of that — if you don’t wear a mask you’re in trouble with the federal government, your boss. But there’s also the symbolism of saying to the country that the government and its employees are going to lead by example when it comes to wearing masks.

michael d. shear

Absolutely. And the executive order — I think they understood the limited practical impact of this order. But I think President Biden definitely understood the dramatic contrast that he was drawing with President Trump, who had so resisted — to the last day, frankly — ever pressuring people or modeling for the American public the idea that a mask is an important thing to do. And so I think the Biden Administration and President Biden were thinking, look, let’s do what we can to send that message. They also tried to do some steps to address the economic fallout from the pandemic. Obviously, there’s going to be a big fight in Congress over some of the biggest economic ways that they can help people. But one thing they did do through executive order was to extend a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, which is aimed at helping people who might have lost their job because of the pandemic, can’t pay the rent. This was a bipartisan effort that had been put in place before and needed to be extended. And so the president was able to extend it with an executive order. They also won one more. They rejoined the World Health Organization, which you’ll remember President Trump had pulled the United States out of the World Health Organization after concluding that he thought the World Health Organization was too friendly to China. That was seen as a mistake, I think. frankly all over the world by health officials. And the Biden folks made sure that was reversed on day one.

michael barbaro

Got it. OK, let’s now turn to the Biden executive orders on climate. What did he do there?

michael d. shear

So probably the best-known executive order that he did was rejoining the Paris Climate Accords. Remember, this was this global agreement that the United States had been a leader in during President Obama’s time to corral the nations of the world to fight climate change and to reduce emissions as a globe, as a world of nations. President Trump very famously took the United States out of the Accord — basically said we’re not part of this anymore early in 2017. President Biden had long said that was a mistake. And with the stroke of a pen, we’re back in.

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michael barbaro

And finally, that brings us to immigration.

michael d. shear

Look, immigration was at the heart of what the Trump presidency was all about. He campaigned on building the wall across the southern border. He used really harsh immigration rhetoric. And so if I had to pick one area, this was where President Biden’s actions on the 20th really took aim at unraveling and pushing back against Donald Trump’s legacy in a really big way.

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michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

So Mike, describe these executive orders by Biden that started to dismantle Donald Trump’s legacy on immigration. What were they?

michael d. shear

So I think the most dramatic was probably Joe Biden’s revocation of Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban. President Trump, when he was a candidate, had literally campaigned on keeping Muslims out of the country. And so when Donald Trump got into office, the first week, the travel ban he put in place limited entry into the United States from a bunch of countries — Muslim countries — Somalia, Yemen, some other countries as well. So I think in some ways Joe Biden’s revocation of that travel ban had both practical implications for the people in those countries who, going forward, will now be able to come into the United States. But it also had a really symbolic feature, which is a rejection of that kind of rhetoric — that Donald Trump had sent the message that we don’t want those people coming in. And I think it was important for Joe Biden to deliver the reverse message — that no, we’re not a country that bans people on the basis of their ethnicity or their race or because they’re from a country that we don’t like.

michael barbaro

OK. What else did Biden do via executive order on immigration?

michael d. shear

Let me tick through a couple of these. He stopped construction of Trump’s border wall. Remember, that was something that President Trump had advocated since from day one of his presidency and had fought with Congress for the money to do it, and ultimately managed to get various pots of money to construct about 200 or 300 miles worth of border wall along the southern border. President Biden said, you know what? We’re going to stop construction. We want to look at whether or not the money that President Trump used for construction was legal and appropriate, and whether or not they want to look into the contracts that were signed with companies to build the wall. And so that’s paused. He also repealed — one of the most controversial executive orders that President Trump had issued was one on what they call “interior enforcement,” which is essentially directing the immigration agents throughout the country, not necessarily on the border, but in the rest of the country, to be more aggressive — to find and deport any immigrant that is undocumented, that doesn’t have the valid papers to be in the United States, even if those people aren’t violent, even if they’ve only committed a misdemeanor. Essentially, that had been a kind of effort by the Trump administration to really get aggressive on deporting and kicking people out of the country. And the Biden executive order on Wednesday will reverse that — will essentially go back to a policy in which immigration agents have more of a sense of prioritization. You know, we’re going to go after the real bad guys, but we’re not going to spend a lot of time going after people who aren’t hardened criminals.

michael barbaro

Mike, the unmistakable theme here, and you’ve talked about it throughout this conversation, is that these executive orders — most of them — they either reverse President Trump’s actions, or they rebuke his policy approach. So given that, how did these executive orders from Biden on day one — how do they fit with his message from that inaugural stage of unity? And we talked to our colleague yesterday, Astead Herndon, about how deeply Joe Biden believes in bipartisanship, in working with Republicans. And that was the absolute core of his message. And so is signing these executive orders in conflict with that? And I ask that because several Republicans certainly see it that way.

michael d. shear

Yeah, so, look, I think you can look at that question through two different lenses, one philosophical and one pragmatic. So I think from a philosophical standpoint, President Biden would say this doesn’t conflict with that message because so much of the substance of what his executive orders are trying to achieve is a rejection of the divisiveness of Donald Trump. So if you look at the immigration executive orders, he’s trying to get the country back to a place where we’re not pitting us against them, the insider against the outsider, us versus the other, right? Through that lens, it is not in conflict. But I think from the pragmatic side, a lot of the last four years a lot of Republicans liked. They might not have liked everything, but in terms of the president’s economic policies, in terms of his border security policies, there was a lot that Republicans liked. And I think that one of the things that President Biden is going to have to confront over the next 100 days, let’s say, is how much does the quick pace of these executive actions and the extent to which he’s trying to quickly erase the Trump legacy — how much does that leave a bad taste in the mouth of Republicans, especially in the Senate, where he’s got a 50-50 split? He’s going to need Republicans to pass any kind of big, broad agenda. And a lot of them, as I think you hinted a minute ago, a lot of them won’t see this as unity. They won’t see this as unifying. They will see this as unilateral and acting without the kind of consultation and cooperation and compromise that is part of his shtick. And so my sense is that as he pursues this goal of repairing the soul of the nation, purging the last four years of divisiveness and anger, that he will accept some cost to that, and that some cost of that might be a political cost. And we’ll just have to see.

michael barbaro

So I want to zoom out for just a moment to this question we started with, which is this history of presidents using executive orders over and over again, and where it’s left us as a government. Because we now have a President Biden having reversed many of the actions of a President Trump in 24 hours, and so we’ve now entered a pretty clear cycle of one president using executive orders to theatrically wipe away the legacy of a last president. And is that any way to govern?

michael d. shear

I covered Obama for eight years and Trump for four years. And for most of that time, we’ve been locked in this cycle of impermanence, where everything is temporary. Everything is a sort of quick reaction to what can I do quickly because I can’t accomplish anything that’s really substantive and that’s really permanent? And look, the only thing that is permanent in our way of governance is if you can get a big piece of legislation passed through the House, through the Senate, with bipartisan majorities, where there’s an actual consensus among the people who are our representatives, and then signed by the President of the United States. And if you can get that, that can be a permanent, lasting legacy which lasts generations. If you don’t, then we’re locked into what we’ve had now, where businesses have trouble knowing what the road map is. The countries around the world don’t know who to believe in terms of which way the United States is going because it could go one way one day and the other way a different day. And I think that’s where we are right now.

michael barbaro

Right. Just to highlight the point you made, I think of the Affordable Care Act, for example — passed into law by the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, signed into law by President Obama. There have been dozens of efforts to repeal it, to chip away at it, to sue it out of existence. But because it’s a law, it has pretty much remained with modification in place since it was passed 10 years ago. And that is probably going to be true for several of the pieces of legislation that Donald Trump passed — his tax cuts, for example, or his criminal justice reform.

michael d. shear

Absolutely. I was there at the White House the night that the Affordable Care Act passed. I remember it feeling like a historic moment, a permanent moment. And I think the question for Joe Biden, and the thing that he sold to voters is that he’ll get us back there. He’ll get his back to a place where, for example, he submitted an immigration overhaul bill to Congress on his first day, saying not only do I want to do these executive orders, but I want the Congress to come together and say, let’s design a new immigration system for the country. And we’ll see. I mean, that’s been tried for decades, and the country hasn’t been able to get there.

michael barbaro

But he sent it to Congress, so we know that he wants a legislative solution, not just an executive order.

michael d. shear

Right. And the question is, can he deliver it?

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Can he help get us past this place in American politics that we’ve been for these last number of years, where those kinds of big things get jammed up and don’t go anywhere? And if he can, then that legacy will be a whole lot longer lasting and will be much harder for the next president to unravel, because it’ll not just be another executive order that can be wiped away with a pen.

michael barbaro

Right. It will be law.

michael d. shear

Yeah, exactly.

[music]
michael barbaro

Thank you, Mike. Appreciate it.

michael d. shear

Sure, happy to do it.

michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

Here’s what else you need to know today.

archived recording (president biden)

Let me be very clear. Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.

michael barbaro

On Thursday, President Biden warned Americans that the death toll from the coronavirus would likely reach 500,000 by next month. The prediction came after the United States reported 4,367 deaths on the day of Biden’s inauguration, one of the highest daily death tolls since the start of the pandemic. And The Times reports that Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, plans to ask Democrats to delay the start of President Trump’s impeachment trial until February to give Trump’s lawyers time to prepare a defense.

archived recording (nancy pelosi)

I don’t think it’s very unifying to say, oh, let’s just forget it and move on. That’s not how you unify.

michael barbaro

During a news conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the plan to pursue a trial in the Senate and rejected claims from Republicans that it would detract from Biden’s calls for unity.

archived recording (nancy pelosi)

And just because he’s now gone — thank God — you don’t say to a president, do whatever you want in the last months of your administration, you’re going to get a get-out-of-jail card free because people think we should make nice-nice and forget that people died here on January 6. I think that would be harmful to unity.

michael barbaro

Today’s episode was produced by Sydney Harper and Eric Krupke. It was edited by Lisa Chow and engineered by Chris Wood.

That’s it for The Daily. I’m Michael Barbaro. See you on Monday.

During the presidential campaign, he had called for using the Korean War-era law to increase the nation’s supply of essential items like coronavirus tests and personal protective equipment. On Thursday, he signed an executive order directing federal agencies to make use of it to increase production of materials needed for vaccines.

With thousands of Americans dying every day from Covid-19, a national death toll that exceeds 400,000 and a new, more infectious variant of the virus spreading quickly, the pandemic poses the most pressing challenge of Mr. Biden’s early days in office. How he handles it will set the tone for how Americans view his administration going forward, as Mr. Biden himself acknowledged.

In a 200-page document released earlier Thursday called “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” the new administration outlined the kind of centralized federal response that Democrats have long demanded and that Mr. Trump had refused.

But the Biden plan is in some respects overly optimistic and in others not ambitious enough, some experts say. It is not clear how he would enforce the quarantine requirement. And his promise to inject 100 million vaccines in his first hundred days is aiming low, since those 100 days should see twice that number of doses available.

Efforts to untangle and speed up the distribution of vaccines — perhaps the most pressing challenge for the Biden administration that is also the most promising path forward — will be a desperate race against time, as states across the country have warned that they could run out of doses as early as this weekend.

Maggie Astor and Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.

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General Austin Becomes First Black Defense Secretary in U.S. History

The Senate confirmed Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III as defense secretary in a 93-2 vote, filling a critical national security role in President Biden’s cabinet and making him the first Black Pentagon chief.

“This morning, the Senate will vote to confirm President Biden’s nominee for secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin. Mr. Austin will be the first African-American to ever helm the Defense Department in its history, a powerful symbol of the diversity and history of America’s armed forces. Mr. Austin has a storied career in the Army, but those days are behind him. As secretary of defense, he promised to empower and lift up his civilian staff. And I believe he will be an outstanding secretary of defense for everyone at the Pentagon, service members and civilian employees alike.” “General Austin is an exceptionally qualified leader with a long and distinguished career in the United States military. He’s served at the highest echelons of the Army and capped his service as the commander of U.S. Central Command. His character and integrity are unquestioned, and he possesses the knowledge and skill to effectively lead the Pentagon.” “We have China and Russia out there with capabilities that we didn’t really believe we would find ourselves with. So that’s going to be the primary concern of this new administration. And I can’t think of a better person to take the helm than General Austin.” “The yeas are 93, the nays are two, and the nomination is confirmed. Under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the president will be immediately notified of the Senate’s actions.” “Hello everybody.” Reporter: “Mr. Secretary, how does it feel to be back in this building?” “Good to see you guys, and thanks for being here. I look forward to working with you. See you around campus.” Reporter: “What are your priorities, Mr. Secretary, at the start?”

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The Senate confirmed Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III as defense secretary in a 93-2 vote, filling a critical national security role in President Biden’s cabinet and making him the first Black Pentagon chief.CreditCredit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Senate on Friday confirmed Lloyd J. Austin III as defense secretary, filling a critical national security position in President Biden’s cabinet and elevating him as the first Black Pentagon chief.

The 93-2 vote came a day after Congress granted Mr. Austin, a retired four-star Army general, a special waiver to hold the post, which is required for any defense secretary who has been out of active-duty military service for less than seven years. It reflected a bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that it was urgent for Mr. Biden to have his defense pick rapidly installed, a step normally taken on a new president’s first day.

“It’s an extraordinary, historic moment,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “A significant portion of our armed forces today are African-Americans or Latinos, and now they can see themselves at the very top of the Department of Defense, which makes real the notion of opportunity.”

Mr. Austin, 67, is the only African-American to have led U.S. Central Command, the military’s marquee combat command, with responsibility for Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. He retired in 2016 after 41 years in the military, and is widely respected across the Army.

Lawmakers in both parties initially had been uneasy at the prospect of granting Mr. Austin an exception to the statutory bar against recently retired military personnel serving as Pentagon chiefs, a law intended to maintain civilian control of the military. They had already done so four years ago for President Donald J. Trump’s first defense secretary, Jim Mattis, a retired four-star Marine officer, and many had vowed not to do so again.

But facing intense pressure from officials from Mr. Biden’s transition team and top Democrats, and after receiving assurances from Mr. Austin that he was committed to the principle of civilian control, lawmakers rallied behind a barrier-shattering nominee. Two Republicans, Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Lee of Utah, voted against the confirmation.

Even though 43 percent of the 1.3 million men and women on active duty in the United States are people of color, the leaders at the top of the military’s chain of command have remained remarkably white and male. When President Barack Obama selected Mr. Austin to lead the United States Central Command, he became one of the highest-ranked Black men in the military, second only to Colin L. Powell, who had been chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mr. Austin will be the first Black Pentagon chief since the position was created in 1947 — just nine months before President Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces, Representative Anthony Brown, Democrat of Maryland and a Black retired colonel in the Army Reserve, noted.

“Secretary Austin’s confirmation is a historic first and symbolizes the culmination of the nearly 75-year march toward genuine integration of the department,” Mr. Brown said. “He is well positioned to draw upon his experiences as a seasoned military commander, respected leader and as a Black man who grew up amid segregation to drive progress forward as our next Secretary of Defense.”

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White House Discusses ‘Rising Threat’ of Domestic Extremism

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, discussed the Biden administration’s plans to combat domestic violent extremism and other threats to the country.

The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat. The Biden administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve. We are committed to developing policies and strategies based on facts, on objective and rigorous analysis, and on our respect for constitutionally protected free speech and political activities. Our initial work on D.V.E. will broadly fall into three areas. The first is a tasking from President Biden sent to the O.D.N.I. today, requesting a comprehensive threat assessment coordinated with the F.B.I. and D.H.S. on domestic violent extremism. The key point here is that we want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy. So this is really the first step in the process. And we will rely on our appropriate law enforcement and intelligence officials to provide that analysis. The second will be the building of an N.S.C. capability to focus on countering domestic violent extremism. As a part of this, the N.S.C. will undertake a policy review effort to determine how the government can share information better about this threat, support efforts to prevent radicalization, disrupt violent extremist networks and more. There’s important work already underway across the interagency in countering D.V.E., and we need to understand better its current extent and where there may be gaps to address so we can determine the best path toward.

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The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, discussed the Biden administration’s plans to combat domestic violent extremism and other threats to the country.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The White House has ordered the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to work with the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the threat from domestic violent extremism.

The new task for the intelligence community comes only days after Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, pledged to members of Congress during her confirmation hearing that she would do just such an assessment.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, announced the assessment at her regular briefing. It is the second request to Ms. Haines in as many days. On Thursday, the White House ordered a new intelligence look at Russia and the broad hack of government computers.

This intelligence assessment, looking at domestic extremism, is less of an area of expertise for the intelligence agencies but shows the Biden administration’s focus on homegrown threats.

“This assessment will draw on the analysis from across the government and, as appropriate, nongovernmental organizations,” Ms. Psaki said. “The key point here is that we want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy.”

The request will be tricky for the intelligence agencies, which by law cannot collect information on Americans, and must work with the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security.

But senior intelligence officials have said privately that just as the F.B.I. and C.I.A. began to work more closely on the threat of global terrorism after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, there is more the intelligence agencies can do to improve cooperation and information sharing with domestic law enforcement agencies.

With domestic violent groups, the main focus of the intelligence agencies is to monitor the efforts of foreign powers, including Russia and others, to push the groups to more extremist positions.

While traditional intelligence teams focused on Russia have tracked Moscow’s work in recent years, the C.I.A. also has officers in its counterterrorism mission center who specialize in tracking racially-motivated violent extremists overseas.

President Donald J. Trump boarded Air Force One for the last time on Wednesday.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

As President Donald J. Trump boarded the plane home to Florida on Wednesday, he cast his administration’s policy achievements as sweeping, ambitious and, above all, enduring — but the undoing of his legacy was just about to begin.

“We’ve accomplished so much together,” he said to a crowd of his supporters. “We were not a regular administration.”

Many of Mr. Trump’s proudest accomplishments were not written in law but instead rammed through via executive fiat, making them vulnerable to reversal the moment he left office.

And that is just what happened. In his first 72 hours in office, President Biden cranked out about two dozen executive orders, using the process not to build a legacy, as Mr. Trump had attempted, but to demolish.

Mr. Trump did not master the levers of power and congressional negotiation, nor did he have much interest in the history of his office, which offered lessons on the pitfalls of relying on go-it-alone presidential power.

In a remarkable interview 10 days before his death in 1973, former President Lyndon B. Johnson explained why he had resisted the temptation to ram through landmark civil rights reforms by using executive orders. Instead, he pursued the more difficult legislative path, seeking to armor his efforts with the force of law.

Black civil rights leaders “wanted to me to issue an executive order, and proclaim this by presidential edict,” said Mr. Johnson, speaking of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

But Mr. Johnson, a skilled legislative strategist, said he did not think the reform “would be very effective if the Congress had not legislated.”

Mr. Trump did not always heed that guidance — with the exception, perhaps, of his criminal justice reform bill — and is paying the price now.

The list of Biden clawbacks is growing but so far includes: Restoring the country’s commitment to the World Health Organization, rejoining the Paris climate accords, reversing Mr. Trump’s ban on immigration from some predominantly Muslim nations, stopping construction of the border wall, reviving protections for L.G.B.T.Q. workers, killing the Keystone XL pipeline permit and re-banning drilling in the Arctic Wildlife refuge, imposing new ethics rules and tossing out Mr. Trump’s “1776” commission report.

But not all of Mr. Trump’s doings can be quickly reversed. Repealing his signature tax cuts will be a heavy legislative lift, though Mr. Biden and his aides have committed only to a partial rollback.

The packing of the federal courts with conservative judges — more a joint project between the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader — might be Mr. Trump’s most enduring legacy. And Mr. McConnell’s use of congressional riders to repeal some regulations gave the rollbacks some force of law that may make them harder to undo.

Whether Mr. Biden will himself be overly reliant on executive action remains an open question. In fact, many of the environmental regulations put into place at the end of President Barack Obama’s term were quickly scrapped by Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Biden, a former senator who is intent on passing a massive new coronavirus relief bill quickly, seems to know the path to completing his agenda leads to legislation, including a bipartisan infrastructure package that Mr. Trump had also longed for but never championed. (For Mr. Biden, there are hopeful harbingers: a group of 17 newly-elected House Republicans signed a letter signaling their intentions to negotiate such a package.)

If Mr. Trump needed a more contemporary lesson in presidential power than Mr. Johnson’s, he had to look back no further than to his predecessor, Mr. Obama, who endured a protracted and messy process to pass his signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act.

That law has endured despite Mr. Trump’s repeated efforts to destroy it.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is up for re-election in 2022, has long upheld an independent streak in the Republican conference.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said on Friday that she was committed to remaining a Republican, calling liberal aspirations that she might switch parties and hand Democrats an edge in the evenly divided Senate “a dream by some that will not materialize.”

Ms. Murkowski, a vocal critic of former President Donald J. Trump who has indicated she is open to convicting him at his impeachment trial for his role in egging on the violent mob that stormed the Capitol, had raised questions about whether she might defect from the G.O.P. when she told a home state newspaper that she had doubts about her place in the party.

Days after the Jan. 6 assault, she told The Anchorage Daily News that, “if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.”

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol on Friday, Ms. Murkowski expressed the same sentiment, but added that she had “absolutely no desire to move over to the Democratic side of the aisle — I can’t be somebody that I’m not.”

“As kind of disjointed as things may be on the Republican side, there is no way you could talk to me into going over to the other side,” she added. “That’s not who I am, that’s not who I will ever be.”

Ms. Murkowski, who is up for re-election in 2022, has long held an independent streak. She voted against the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, helped shut down the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and was one of the first in her party to recognize President Biden’s victory when a majority of her colleagues refused to do so.

On Friday, she confirmed that she had not voted for Mr. Trump, though she would not divulge the name of the person whose name she wrote in instead. Even as she vowed to remain a Republican, Ms. Murkowski conceded that her party was having difficulty coalescing around an identity in the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

“I think in many ways we are a party that is struggling to identify,” Ms. Murkowski said. “We have some that have solidly identified with Trump, and probably will continue to identify for years going forward. But you have a lot of other people that were not really sold, but they absolutely embraced the policies.”

Asked what role she planned to play as the party struggles to recalibrate after losing control of both the White House and the Senate, she said she would remain a senator “that is not afraid to be in the middle, even if there’s not a lot of people there that are with me.”

National Guard members toured the Rotunda of the Capitol on Friday.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Biden on Friday called the chief of the National Guard Bureau to apologize after troops who had been brought in to protect his inauguration were ordered to sleep in an unheated parking garage after they were booted from the Capitol on Thursday, administration officials said.

The issue has generated controversy in the first days of Mr. Biden’s term. Several governors and members of Congress have criticized the move, even as the reasons for the troops’ relocation remain murky.

In the telephone call with Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the head of the National Guard Bureau, Mr. Biden apologized and asked what he could do, the officials said. Jill Biden, the first lady, visited some of the troops stationed outside of the Capitol on Friday afternoon, thanking them for their work and handing out chocolate chip cookies.

“The National Guard will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the Bidens,” she said, noting that their son Beau, who died in 2015, was a member of the Delaware Army National Guard.

Photographs of the troops sleeping on the floor of the parking garage on Thursday night at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, where they had scant toilet facilities and were breathing in exhaust fumes, have sparked an uproar.

The governors of Texas, Florida, New Hampshire and Montana said they had ordered their National Guard troops to return home from Washington, D.C., with some directly criticizing their move to the garage.

“They’re soldiers, they’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants,” Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, said on “Fox and Friends” on Friday morning. “This is a half-cocked mission at this point, and I think the appropriate thing is to bring them home.”

Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, also a Republican, wrote on Twitter that the troops “should be graciously praised, not subject to substandard conditions.”

Only some state’s troops were left to sleep in the parking garage. Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat who attended Mr. Biden’s inauguration, said on Friday afternoon that he had been angered by the photographs he saw, but that New Jersey officials had ensured that all of his state’s troops had hotel rooms to sleep in.

“This is no way for our heroes to be treated,” Mr. Murphy said.

The troops were eventually moved back into the Capitol, Capt. Edwin Nieves Jr., a spokesman for the Washington, D.C., branch of the National Guard, said early on Friday morning.

He said the troops had been moved out of the Capitol on Thursday afternoon at the request of the Capitol Police because of “increased foot traffic” as Congress came back into session, but a statement from the acting chief of the Capitol Police on Friday sought to distance the beleaguered agency from the decision.

Chief Yogananda Pittman said that the Capitol Police had not told the troops to leave the Capitol except for certain times on Inauguration Day, and that even then, the troops were encouraged to return to the building by 2 p.m. that day. She said the managers of the office building whose parking lot the troops were using had reached out “directly to the National Guard to offer use of its facilities.”

Following the back-and-forth, the National Guard Bureau and the Capitol Police issued a joint statement on Friday afternoon saying they were “united in the common goal to protect the U.S. Capitol and the Congress” but shedding no more light on how or why some of the troops had ended up in the garage.

Many troops were already leaving the city, their mission concluded after Mr. Biden was successfully sworn in on Wednesday.

The Pentagon said Friday that 19,000 of the nearly 26,000 National Guard troops who had helped secure the event were beginning to return to their home states, a process that will take about five to 10 days and include coronavirus screenings. On Friday evening, a defense official said nearly 200 of the Guard troops in Washington had tested positive for Covid-19.

About 7,000 troops are expected to stay in Washington through January.

The Education Department on Friday recommended terminating federal recognition of a group that oversaw the collapse of two for-profit university chains.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Biden administration’s Education Department is moving to cut ties with an organization that was thrown a life raft under the Trump administration even though it was at the center of an enormous fraud scandal related to for-profit colleges.

The department said late Friday that it recommended terminating federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, or Acics. The organization is infamous for having overseen the collapse of two for-profit university chains, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, whose bankruptcies left tens of thousands of students with worthless degrees and mountains of debt.

The decision to end the group’s federal recognition would be based on a review by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, an independent panel that advises the secretary of education. The group is scheduled to meet next month to deliberate the accrediting body’s future. A senior department official will ultimately decide its fate.

The Obama administration stripped Acics of its accrediting powers in December 2016, saying it had allowed the chains to employ predatory recruitment practices and encourage students to take on debt based on false promises — including the claim that they would be guaranteed jobs after graduation.

President Donald J. Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, reinstated the accrediting body in 2018, citing a federal court’s opinion that found the Obama administration had not allowed it to properly defend itself. Ms. DeVos did so over the objections of her own staff, who issued a 244-page report detailing how the body had failed to meet dozens of federal standards.

The reinstatement allowed Acics to keep operating as a watchdog for the Education Department and a gatekeeper of billions in federal financial aid dollars. At the time, the group said that it had made drastic improvements to its operations.

Career staff members at the department who have monitored the group’s compliance since then disagree.

The department’s announcement on Friday said that the accrediting body had “failed to demonstrate that it has competent and knowledgeable individuals” who were trained in the agency’s own “standards, policies and procedures.”

A Covid-19 testing site at Beltzville State Park in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday revealed a slate of new executive orders and presidential directives intended to speed up production of Covid-19 supplies, increase testing capacity and require mask wearing during interstate travel — part of a sprawling 200-page national pandemic strategy he announced at a White House event. He is expected to sign more orders on Friday.

Taken together, the orders signal Mr. Biden’s earliest priorities in mounting a more centralized federal response to the spread of the coronavirus. Some of them mirror actions taken during the Trump administration, while most look to alter course.

Here’s what the orders aim to do.

Ramp up the pace of manufacturing and testing.

One order calls on agency leaders to check for shortages in areas like personal protective gear and vaccine supplies, and identify where the administration could invoke the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing.

Another order establishes a Pandemic Testing Board, an idea drawn from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s War Production Board, to ramp up testing. The new administration is promising to expand the nation’s supply of rapid tests, double test supplies and increase lab space for tests and surveillance for coronavirus hot spots.

Require mask wearing during interstate travel.

Mr. Biden has vowed to use his powers as president to influence mask wearing wherever he is legally allowed to, including on federal property and in travel that crosses state lines. An order issued Thursday requires mask wearing in airports and on many airplanes, intercity buses and trains.

The same order also requires international travelers to prove they have a recent negative Covid-19 test before heading to the United States and to comply with quarantining guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention once they land.

Publish guidance for schools and workers.

Mr. Biden issued an order meant to protect the health of workers during the pandemic, telling the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release new guidance for employers. The order also asks the agency to step up enforcement of existing rules to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.

The president also directed the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to issue new guidance on how to safely reopen schools — a major source of controversy over the summer when White House and health department officials pressured the C.D.C. to play down the risk of sending students back.

Find more treatments for Covid-19 and future pandemics.

The Biden administration is calling on the health and human services secretary and the director of the National Institutes of Health to draft a plan to support the study of new drugs for Covid-19 and future public health crises through large, randomized trials.

President Biden could end up cementing as many of former President Donald J. Trump’s tax cuts as he rolls back.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Democrats have spent years promising to repeal the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Republicans passed without a single Democratic vote and was estimated to cost nearly $2 trillion over a decade. But President Biden appears more likely to tinker with it, despite saying during a presidential debate that he was “going to eliminate the Trump tax cuts.”

Mr. Biden and his aides are committing to only a partial rollback of the law, with their focus on provisions that help corporations and the very rich. It’s a position that Mr. Biden held throughout the campaign, and in the September debate he promised to only partly repeal a corporate rate cut.

In some cases, including tax cuts that help lower- and middle-class Americans, the Biden administration is looking to make former President Donald J. Trump’s temporary tax cuts permanent.

Mr. Biden still wants to raise taxes on some businesses and wealthy individuals, and he remains intent on raising trillions of dollars in new tax revenue to offset the federal spending programs that he plans to propose, including for infrastructure, clean energy production and education. Much of the new revenue, however, could come from efforts to tax investment and labor income for people earning more than $400,000, in ways that are not related to the 2017 law.

Mr. Biden did not include any tax increases in the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan he proposed last week, which was meant to curb the pandemic and help people and companies endure the economic pain it has caused.

His nominee for Treasury secretary, Janet L. Yellen, told a Senate committee this week that the president would hold off on reversing any parts of the tax law until later in the recovery, which most likely means as part of a large infrastructure package that he is set to unveil next month.

The pro-Trump mob outside the Capitol this month.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Two days after the riot at the Capitol, a man was making such a ruckus aboard a plane on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport that the crew turned the flight around in order to escort him off.

It was a U-turn that quickly brought him to the attention of the authorities.

The man, John Lolos, had been shouting “Trump 2020!” and disturbing his fellow passengers, according to a court filing. An airport police officer was alerted to his arrival back at the gate, where he would await another flight.

About 45 minutes later, that same officer was scrolling through his personal Instagram feed and spied a video that appeared to show Mr. Lolos exiting the Capitol on the day of the attack, according to an affidavit from a Capitol Police special agent. Mr. Lolos was wearing the same shirt he had on at the airport and was waving a red “Trump 2020 Keep America Great” flag that was hooked to an America flag, according to the affidavit.

“We stopped the vote!” an individual on the video says. According to the special agent’s account, Mr. Lolos replies, “We did it, yeah!”

With that, Mr. Lolos joined the scores of people who have been identified through social media videos as participants in the Jan. 6 riot. As law enforcement officials scour the internet, Instagram and other social media sites have become a key tool to identify those who stormed the Capitol and to charge them with federal crimes.

When the airport officer realized that the unruly passenger appeared to be a participant in the riot, he alerted other officials. Law enforcement officials detained Mr. Lolos, brought him to a holding room at the airport and placed him under arrest.

Amid an inventory of his property during the arrest, a Capitol Police special agent found the flags that appeared in the video, still connected.

The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, last month filed a lawsuit challenging President Biden’s election victory.
Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Days into President Biden’s term, Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas sued the new administration for what he called an unconstitutional breach of immigration policy, ushering in a return to the days of legal warfare between the state and Washington under the last Democratic president, Barack Obama.

Mr. Paxton, who is under federal investigation for bribery and abuse of power allegations raised by former aides, filed the suit in a U.S. district court in Texas on Friday after threatening the legal action a day earlier. The suit challenges the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to pause the deportation of undocumented immigrants, saying it is an abdication of the department’s obligation to enforce federal immigration law.

The halting of deportations, which took effect on Friday and will last 100 days, is meant to help the agency focus its resources on “the most pressing challenges that the United States faces,” the agency said in a statement.

Mr. Paxton called the plan a “complete abdication of the Department of Homeland Security’s obligation to enforce federal immigration law” that would “seriously and irreparably harm the State of Texas and its citizens.” He earlier gained national attention by suing to overturn the 2020 election results, but the Supreme Court said Texas had no standing to bring the case.

His latest legal threat harkened back to the days when Mr. Biden served as vice president under Mr. Obama. During that time, Texas leaders sued the Democratic administration over a variety of fronts, from clean air to immigration.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who served as attorney general before Mr. Paxton, campaigned for office by boasting of the number of lawsuits he had filed against the Obama administration. Under the two attorneys general, Texas lodged nearly four dozen suits during Mr. Obama’s eight years in office.

Mr. Paxton had hinted at a revival of that strategy on Wednesday, the day of Mr. Biden’s inauguration. In a tweet, he congratulated the new president but declared that he was prepared to “challenge federal overreach” that threatened Texas and would “serve as a major check against the administration’s lawlessness.”

“Texas First! Law & Order always!” he declared.

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Biden’s Top Economic Adviser Lays Out Immediate Relief Strategies

At a news conference on Friday, President Biden’s top economic adviser, Brian Deese, laid out a strategy for how the administration would deliver aid to individuals and small businesses in order to avoid economic failure.

So the president will ask the Department of Agriculture to consider taking immediate steps to provide nutrition assistance to hard-hit families. First, by increasing pandemic E.B.T. benefits by about 15 percent. This is the program that is aimed at supporting families who traditionally rely on the school lunch program. He will direct his administration to initiate a process, starting today, that would allow him within 100 days to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay at least a $15 minimum wage, and provide emergency paid leave to workers. In previous rounds of relief, too much of the support that has been dedicated to small businesses has left out the smallest businesses, mom-and-pop businesses that don’t have existing connections with a financial institution, and in particular, Black, Latino, Asian and Native American-owned businesses were shut out completely. And a lot of that is because the outreach and communication from the federal government was either unclear or just nonexistent.

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At a news conference on Friday, President Biden’s top economic adviser, Brian Deese, laid out a strategy for how the administration would deliver aid to individuals and small businesses in order to avoid economic failure.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Biden’s top economic adviser warned on Friday that the United States economy is in a “precarious” position and that the country would face a far more painful and protracted recovery if Congress did not agree to provide more aid.

The comments from Brian Deese, the director of Mr. Biden’s National Economic Council, came as the White House unveiled a series of executive actions intended to help workers and families struggling during the pandemic. The orders are the Biden administration’s latest attempt to use the power of the presidency to take immediate action to help the economy ahead of what is expected to be a long debate with Congress over another stimulus package.

“We’re at a precarious moment for the virus and the economy,” Mr. Deese said during a White House press briefing. “Without decisive action, we risk falling into a very serious economic hole, even more serous than the crisis we are in.”

Mr. Deese noted that 10 million jobs that were lost during the pandemic still have yet to be recovered and that families need immediate help.

The measures announced on Friday are focused on those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. They direct the Treasury Department to find ways to ensure that people who did not get their stimulus payments receive the money. The orders also seek to increase the weekly value of food stamps and boost the emergency benefits that families get to replace the free meals that students would otherwise receive at school.

A separate action would also begin the process of ensuring that federal employees and those who work for government contractors receive a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Mr. Deese said the executive actions are not a replacement for legislation. He will hold a call with a group of Republican and Democratic senators on Sunday to discuss relief legislation, and he said Mr. Biden has instructed his advisers to continue bipartisan discussions.

Mr. Biden has called for a $1.9 trillion relief package that would provide $1,400 direct payments and allocate billions of dollars to help states reopen schools and deploy vaccines. The proposal has already met swift resistance from Republicans in Congress.

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