President Biden on Tuesday cut off his infrastructure negotiations with leading Senate Republicans after their talks failed to bridge wide divides over the size, scope and financing of the package, turning to a group of centrist senators to try to salvage the chance for a bipartisan deal.
The collapse of the effort came after Mr. Biden concluded that Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and other Republicans were unwilling to significantly increase the amount of new money to be invested in the nation’s roads, bridges and other public projects as part of the plan, or offer specifics on how to pay for it.
“He informed Senator Capito today that the latest offer from her group did not, in his view, meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.
She said Mr. Biden was disappointed that Republicans had been unwilling to embrace a larger plan, offering to increase their proposal by just $150 billion when he had agreed to shave more than $1 trillion off his initial $2.3 trillion blueprint.
In her own statement, Ms. Capito said it had been Mr. Biden who had been unwilling to compromise.
“While I appreciate President Biden’s willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept the very robust and targeted infrastructure package, and instead, end our discussions,” Ms. Capito said in a statement.
Their parting of ways came as Mr. Biden began making overtures to a separate bipartisan group of centrist senators who have been working on a potential infrastructure deal. The president on Tuesday spoke with Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, and Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both Democrats, and “urged them to continue their work” on a compromise plan, Ms. Psaki said.
Mr. Biden planned to continue talking with members of the group while traveling to Europe this week for the Group of 7 summit, Ms. Psaki said, and assigned top White House officials to meet with them in person to hammer out a potential deal.
“Any infrastructure package should and must be bipartisan,” Mr. Cassidy said on Twitter, adding that he had raised “flood resiliency and energy provisions” with Mr. Biden during their conversation.
.@POTUS just called to discuss infrastructure. I brought up flood resiliency and energy provisions that would benefit Louisiana as well as the rest of our nation. Strongly support @SenCapito‘s efforts. Any infrastructure package should and must be bipartisan.
— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) June 8, 2021
Mr. Cassidy and the other members of the bipartisan group were to huddle Tuesday evening on Capitol Hill to discuss their ideas for an infrastructure plan. Some House lawmakers, including members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, also spoke to top White House officials about a bipartisan path forward.
“I don’t know that it’s something we’ve signed off on, but we do have a tentative figure at this point,” said Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah. He would not disclose that figure, but said he had spoken to administration officials about it.
Democrats could also move infrastructure legislation on their own through the fast-track budget process known as reconciliation, which would allow them to avoid a filibuster, though that would require all 50 Democrats in the Senate and near unanimity among House Democrats.
“We all know as a caucus we will not be able to do all the things that the country needs in a totally bipartisan — a bipartisan way,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader.
He said Democrats were pursuing a “two-path” approach, allowing the bipartisan talks to continue while also pursuing reconciliation in case it became their only option for pushing through all or some provisions in the infrastructure plan.
Faced with an urgent competitive threat from China, the Senate is poised to pass the most expansive industrial policy legislation in U.S. history, blowing past partisan divisions over government support for private industry to embrace a nearly quarter-trillion-dollar investment in building up America’s manufacturing and technological edge.
The legislation, which is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday afternoon, is expected to pass by a large margin. That alone is a testament to how commercial and military competition with Beijing has become one of the few issues that can unite both political parties.
It is an especially striking shift for Republicans, who are following the lead of former President Donald J. Trump and casting aside what was once their party’s staunch opposition to government intervention in the economy. Now, both parties are embracing an enormous investment in semiconductor manufacturing, artificial intelligence research, robotics, quantum computing and a range of other technologies.
And while the bill’s sponsors are selling it in part as a jobs plan, the debate over its passage has been laced with Cold War references and warnings that a failure to act would leave the United States perilously dependent on its biggest geopolitical adversary.
“Around the globe, authoritarian governments smell blood in the water,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, warned in a recent speech on the Senate floor. “They believe that squabbling democracies like ours can’t come together and invest in national priorities the way a top-down, centralized and authoritarian government can.”
MEXICO CITY — Vice President Kamala Harris met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday, capping her first foreign trip with a discussion on economic cooperation, as well as joint efforts to combat human trafficking and manage migration to their shared border.
Mr. López Obrador “and I spent a significant amount of time together one on one,” and had “very directed candid conversations as well as a very productive bilateral meeting,” Ms. Harris said afterward, noting that they discussed the pandemic, vaccines, migration and border security.
According to a statement from Symone Sanders, a top adviser and spokeswoman for Ms. Harris, the Biden administration would issue loans for affordable housing, efforts to grow cacao and coffee and infrastructure project development.
The U.S. will also invest $130 million over three years to support labor protections for Mexican workers and will also provide forensic training to Mexican officials seeking to find tens of thousands of missing people.
“The two leaders also agreed to increase cooperation to further secure our borders and ensure orderly immigration,” Ms. Sanders said.
Ms. Harris and Mr. López Obrador signed an agreement in Mexico’s national palace reiterating their governments’ commitment to deter migration north by addressing its root causes: poverty, persecution and corruption in Central America.
The meeting concludes a high-stakes visit for Ms. Harris to Mexico and Guatemala, where she was on Monday. She has been tapped by President Biden to be the administration’s emissary for one of its more complex and politically volatile issues: improving conditions in Central America and deterring migration to the U.S.-Mexico border.
For weeks, Ms. Harris has faced criticism from Republicans for not visiting the United States’ southwest border, where an increasing number of lone migrant children and teenagers are arriving, and she has also tried to manage the expectations of Democrats for Mr. Biden to fulfill his campaign promise of taking a compassionate approach to asylum-seekers at the border.
The trip has shown that her approach in the short-term prioritizes a moderate approach to migration and projecting a perception that the border is under control, even if it means turning away the very asylum-seekers she has said the United States is committed to helping in the long term.
On Monday, Ms. Harris sparked criticism from immigration advocates and Democrats when she delivered a blunt message to potential migrants.
“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come,” Ms. Harris said in Guatemala City, standing feet away from the Guatemalan president, Alejandro Giammattei.
“This is disappointing to see,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said on Twitter. “First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival.”
The Biden administration has continued to embrace an emergency rule put in place under the presidency of Donald J. Trump after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The rule empowered border agents to rapidly turn away migrants without providing them a chance to apply for asylum, justifying the expulsions as necessary to stop the virus from spreading.
Under U.S. immigration law, migrants are entitled to ask for protection once they step on American soil. The continued use of the rule, known as Title 42, has prompted criticism from immigration lawyers, former officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the administration’s own medical consultants.
The Senate confirmed President Biden’s first two judicial nominees on Tuesday with modest Republican support, the start of what Democrats intend to be a sprint to fill scores of federal vacancies and rebalance the ideological makeup of the courts after the Trump era.
In a lopsided 66-to-33 vote, the chamber approved Julien Xavier Neals to serve as a district court judge in New Jersey, where a spate of vacancies have contributed to a significant backlog of cases.
A few hours later, Democrats mustered even more Republican support, voting 72 to 28 to confirm Regina M. Rodriguez as the first Asian American judge to serve on the Federal District Court bench in Colorado.
“This is the first, certainly not the last — not even close,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, boasted between the votes. “We’re going to be able to restore a lot of balance to the courts because there are a lot of vacancies we are going to fill.”
Democrats plan to move as soon as this week to confirm Mr. Biden’s first appeals court pick, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to serve on the powerful D.C. Circuit. They have roughly a dozen other nominees winding their way through the approval process, and more than 100 seats on the federal bench are expected to become vacant in the coming months.
But they are starting from a deep hole. When they controlled the Senate under the presidency of Donald J. Trump, Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, used their majority to confirm more than 220 federal judges over four years, including more than 50 to influential appeals court posts and three to the Supreme Court.
The Biden White House moved swiftly to begin naming nominees for many of the most important posts this spring, far earlier than the historic norm, and Mr. Biden’s liberal allies on Capitol Hill have made the approval of those nominees a top priority.
The Biden administration on Tuesday announced several actions aimed at addressing supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and reducing reliance on foreign countries for crucial goods by increasing domestic production capacity.
Strengthening supply chains — the interconnected global manufacturing and transportation systems needed to distribute essential goods — was a growing concern even before the spread of the coronavirus, as policymakers grappled with interruptions caused by economic crises, natural disasters and malevolent international actors.
But the pandemic bared major flaws, leading to shortages and price increases that cascaded from factories to ports to retail stores to consumers, and President Biden identified the issue as a major focus shortly after taking office.
On Tuesday, White House officials announced the creation of an effort to “tackle near-term bottlenecks” in construction, transportation, semiconductor production and agriculture.
“At this time last year we had bare grocery shelves,” Sameera Fazili, a National Economic Council official who is working on the plan, said at the White House. “We have people finally able to be out there moving again, visiting families this summer, and going out to eat.”
Ms. Fazili said that cabinet departments had embarked on a governmentwide effort “to really diagnose the problems, understand what’s going on out there in these markets, and see what actions can be taken to close those vulnerabilities.”
As part of the initiative, the Department of Agriculture has allocated more than $4 billion to bolster “a resilient food supply chain” that would prevent or lessen shortages, she added.
The initiative was bundled with the creation of “trade strike force” targeting China and other countries to push back “on unfair foreign competition, unfair foreign subsidies and other trade practices that have adversely impacted U.S. manufacturing.”
In February, Mr. Biden signed an executive order that required a review of critical supply chains in product areas where the United States relies on imports: semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, pharmaceuticals and their active ingredients, and critical minerals and strategic materials, like rare earths.
“This is about making sure the United States can meet every challenge we face in the new era,” Mr. Biden said in February, when he signed the order.
The Department of Health and Human Services, for instance, will use $60 million from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill to develop technologies to increase domestic production of active ingredients in key pharmaceuticals. The Interior Department will work to identify sites where critical minerals could be produced in the United States. And several agencies will work on creating supply chains for new technologies that will reduce reliance on imports of key materials.
Top federal intelligence agencies failed to adequately warn law enforcement officials before the Jan. 6 riot that pro-Trump extremists were threatening violence, including plans to “storm the Capitol,” infiltrate its tunnel system and “bring guns,” according to a new report by two Senate committees that outlines large-scale failures that contributed to the deadly assault.
An F.B.I. memo on Jan. 5 warning of people traveling to Washington for “war” at the Capitol never made its way to top law enforcement officials. The Capitol Police failed to widely circulate information its own intelligence unit had collected as early as mid-December about the threat of violence on Jan. 6, including a report that said right-wing extremist groups and supporters of President Donald J. Trump had been posting online and in far-right chat groups about gathering at the Capitol, armed with weapons, to pressure lawmakers to overturn his election loss.
“If they don’t show up, we enter the Capitol as the Third Continental Congress and certify the Trump Electors,” one post said.
“Bring guns. It’s now or never,” said another.
The first congressional report on the Capitol riot is the most comprehensive and detailed account to date of the dozens of intelligence failures, miscommunications and security lapses that led to what the bipartisan team of senators that assembled it concluded was an “unprecedented attack” on American democracy and the most significant assault on the Capitol in more than 200 years.
“The failure to adequately assess the threat of violence on that day contributed significantly to the breach of the Capitol,” said Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan and the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “The attack was quite frankly planned in plain sight.”
The 127-page joint report, a product of more than three months of hearings and interviews and reviews of thousands of pages of documents, presents a damning portrait of the preparations and response at multiple levels. Law enforcement officials did not take seriously threats of violence, it found, and a dysfunctional police force at the Capitol lacked the capacity to respond effectively when those threats materialized.
“The failures are obvious,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairwoman of the Rules and Administration Committee. “To me, it was all summed up by one of the officers who was heard on the radio that day asking a tragically simple question: ‘Does anybody have a plan?’ Sadly, no one did.”
There was much information the panel was unable to learn. The senators secured only limited cooperation from key agencies, including the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the House sergeant-at-arms. Other agencies failed to meet deadlines to hand over documents.
The findings — and their limitations — are likely to fuel renewed calls for an independent commission like the one created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, populated by experts and armed with subpoena power to investigate what happened that day and why. Senate Republicans blocked the creation of such a body late last month, arguing in part that it would duplicate the work already underway by the Senate committees and prosecutors at the Justice Department.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, praised the committees’ work on Tuesday, but said he reserved the right to bring up the commission for another vote in the future.
Prominent civil rights leaders implored Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia on Tuesday to help find a path forward in Congress for legislation to protect voting rights, making a case to the measure’s most vocal Democratic opponent that enacting it was an existential imperative.
The virtual meeting between Mr. Manchin and the leaders of the N.A.A.C.P., the National Urban League and the National Action Network had been scheduled for weeks, and it yielded no breakthroughs. But it was particularly timely, coming two days after the West Virginian made his most unequivocal statement yet in opposition to the Democrats’ landmark elections bill, the For the People Act, and to gutting the legislative filibuster.
The statements appeared to close off the only viable pathway for broad legislation that would counter a wave of Republican state laws restricting access to the ballot.
Attendees said their goal had been to begin building a relationship with Mr. Manchin, a centrist from a deep red state, and appealing to him for action — not to stoke a confrontation. The conversation was scant on policy details, though Mr. Manchin told the leaders that he planned to continue a long-shot attempt to build Republican support for a narrower voting bill that would beef up the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“At the N.A.A.C.P., we understand the sausage-making of public policy and because of that, we appreciate Senator Manchin and the pivotal role he plays,” said Derrick Johnson, the group’s president and chief executive. “So this was an opportunity to work toward a solution, not complain about a problem.”
But Mr. Johnson did suggest that Mr. Manchin’s stated position that he could not support “partisan” voting legislation — meaning any bill that lacked the support of at least some Republicans — was untenable. Others were blunter.
“Let me be clear here. We opened by asking him to reconsider his position,” said Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive of the National Urban League. “He did not say he is going to reconsider his position. But we’re not giving up.”
Speaking with reporters afterward, Mr. Manchin praised the civil rights leaders as “the most powerful, informative and respectful group I’ve spoken to in a long time.” He said he intended to talk with the group again, though the discussion had not prompted him to reconsider his views.
“I don’t think anybody changed positions on that; we’re just learning where everyone’s coming from,” Mr. Manchin said.
Mr. Manchin had previously said he was opposed to changing the filibuster rule, and did not support the For the People Act, also known as Senate Bill 1. But on Sunday, he made those hypothetical positions more concrete, in an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette Mail that stated plainly that he planned to would vote ‘no’ later this month when Democratic leaders hold a vote on Senate Bill 1. He also said he would never support changing the rules which require proponents of legislation to muster 60 votes to move past a filibuster, dashing the hopes of many of his colleagues that he could eventually be persuaded to do so.
Party leaders were unbowed on Tuesday. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said he would plow ahead with a vote on the bill later this month and was engaged in private talks with Mr. Manchin about changing the bill to win his vote to advance debate.
“Is it possible we might change a few things here and there? Mr. Schumer said. “We’re going to do it.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, the president and founder of the National Action Network, said that he and other civil rights leaders could not get a clear answer from Mr. Manchin on substantive concerns he had with the voting measure, other than to say he wanted to find Republicans who would support such a bill.
“I think we made it clear that it was unlikely,” Rev. Sharpton said in an interview. “I’m a minister, but there’s a difference between faith and fantasy.”
The Senate passed a bill Monday evening designed to provide financial support for government employees injured in a series of mysterious health incidents.
The bill, drafted by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, would give the C.I.A. director and Secretary of State additional powers to provide assistance to government officials who have suffered brain injuries as a part of an unexplained series of health incidents that many officials believe are attacks.
The bill broadens the requirement to report incidents to Congress and also allows the officials to extend the benefits to people who have been injured in the United States. While the majority of the more than 130 cases being investigated by the government happened abroad, there are at least two in the United States that are being examined as possible examples of domestic incidents.
Senator Collins said that many of the victims had undergone brain imaging and had their damage verified. Initially, however, several victims of the incidents “were treated with great skepticism,” she said.
“They should be treated the same way we treat a soldier who has suffered a traumatic brain injury on the battlefield,” Ms. Collins said in a recent interview. “It is unacceptable and appalling that these individuals — in some cases — were denied medical care that they needed.”
Ms. Collins praised William J. Burns, the director of the C.I.A., for believing the victims and speeding up the process to get agency officers affected by a health incident into the military’s Walter Reed National Medical Facility.
But some victims continue to be frustrated with how the State Department has handled the incidents. A group of injured government employees have demanded more support and financial compensation for themselves and injured family members — something the Senate bill would give them. State Department officials have said they have made the health and safety of their diplomats and other workers the top priority.
While some former officials believe the attacks could go back several decades, the most recent series of incidents began in 2016, when diplomats and C.I.A. officers working in Havana reported feeling dizzy and nauseous. Many developed chronic headaches. For some the health effects have lasted years and could be permanent disabilities.
After the Havana incidents, Americans serving in China reported similar episodes. There have also been Pentagon and C.I.A. officers affected in a variety of places in Europe and Asia.
A National Academy of Sciences report concluded a microwave weapon was the most likely cause of the injuries, but the U.S. government has not yet made any final conclusions.
Some officials believe that Russia is responsible for at least some of the attacks, a charge the Russian government has dismissed.
The intelligence community has not concluded if all or some of the health incidents were the result of a deliberate attack and what country might be responsible. Ms. Collins said she has concluded that the incidents are deliberate attacks but that she does not know what country might be responsible.
The bill will now need to go to the House, for that chamber’s approval. The bill is expected to get a vote in the coming weeks, according to a congressional official.
While the House is often divided over intelligence issues, Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who leads the House Intelligence Committee, and Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who is the ranking member, together introduced a bill similar to Ms. Collins’s in the House.