Democrats want to strip the Republican lawmaker of her two committee assignments over her remarks embracing violence and conspiracy theories. The Republican leader had tried to shield his members from taking such a vote. President Biden will speak at the State Department.
The House approves a budget blueprint, a key step to pass a stimulus package without G.O.P. support.
House Republicans will be forced to go on record on Thursday over the conduct of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, with Democrats scheduling a vote over whether to strip the freshman lawmaker of her committee assignments.
The vote presents the latest fork in the road for Republicans as they try to navigate the aftermath of former President Donald J. Trump’s re-election defeat and grapple with the future of their party.
It will take place at a particularly fraught moment for Republicans in the House, coming one day after their leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, released a statement that condemned Ms. Greene’s past comments endorsing violent behavior and conspiracy theories — but made clear the party did not intend to punish her.
Another sign of the party’s post-Trump turbulence came on Wednesday night, when House Republicans voted in a secret ballot on whether to strip Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, of her leadership post after she voted to impeach Mr. Trump. Ms. Cheney survived by a wide margin, but the vote nonetheless put a spotlight on the party’s divisions.
On Thursday, the Democrat-led House will vote on a resolution removing Ms. Greene from her two committees — the Budget Committee, and the Education and Labor Committee — citing the “conduct she has exhibited.” While expelling a lawmaker from the chamber requires a two-thirds vote, censuring or stripping one of committee assignments requires a simple majority.
Mr. McCarthy had tried to shield his members from taking such a vote, and spoke with Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, by phone on Wednesday to try to strike a compromise. Mr. McCarthy later told reporters that he had offered to remove Ms. Greene from the committees and put her on a panel overseeing small businesses instead. Mr. Hoyer declined the offer, he said, insisting that Ms. Greene should not sit on any committees.
Some Republicans are now arguing that voting in favor of the resolution would set a dangerous precedent because it would in effect allow the majority party to dictate which lawmakers in the minority party are fit to serve on committees, a crucial pipeline for members to advance legislation. Committee assignments have traditionally been the prerogative of the party leaders.
Others argue that members of Congress should not face punishment for remarks they made before they were elected. But Democrats said they were comfortable establishing a new set of rules whereby statements like those Ms. Greene had made would prompt banishment from committees.
“A member of this House is calling for assassinations — that’s the new precedent,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Rules Committee. “If that’s the standard that we remove people from committees, I’m fine with that.”
Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, did not try to excuse Ms. Greene’s comments, calling them “deeply offensive,” “repugnant” and “unbecoming of any member of Congress.” But he argued that the matter should be punted to the Ethics Committee for a bipartisan group of lawmakers to review.
“I do worry a lot about the precedent of another party choosing” to strip committee assignments, Mr. Cole said.
The House voted on Wednesday to approve a budget blueprint that lays the groundwork for passing President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package without needing any Republican votes, a key procedural step as Democrats push for speedy action to address the health and economic toll of the pandemic.
The 218-to-212 vote on the blueprint, known as a budget resolution, helps pave the way for Democrats to pass the relief package through a process called budget reconciliation. With that approach, the bill would be shielded from a filibuster in the Senate and could pass the chamber with only Democratic votes.
It is the same process that Republicans employed in 2017 in their unsuccessful effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and in their successful effort to overhaul the tax code.
Laying the groundwork to bypass a filibuster does not preclude passing a relief package with some Republican support. But instead of waiting to see if Republicans can be won over, Democrats are putting themselves in a position to pass the package with only a simple majority in the Senate, meaning no Republican votes would be needed if Democrats were united in support.
“We cannot afford to slow down our response to these urgent crises while Republicans decide if they want to help or not,” Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said Wednesday.
Representative Jason Smith, Republican of Missouri and the Budget Committee’s ranking member, criticized what he called a “partisan process” at odds with the message of Mr. Biden’s Inaugural Address.
“The power of our example — isn’t that what we were told?” Mr. Smith said. “Well, what’s the example here? That the unification, the bipartisanship, work-together attitude that the president called for was just empty words for the House majority.”
The House vote on Wednesday was mostly along party lines, with two Democrats voting against the measure and no Republicans voting in favor. The Senate voted on Tuesday to begin debate on its budget blueprint.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III convened the military chiefs and civilian secretaries of the armed forces on Wednesday to begin intensifying the Pentagon’s efforts to combat white supremacy and right-wing extremism in the ranks.
Mr. Austin also ordered that all military commands “stand down” at some point in the next 60 days to reinforce existing regulations barring extremist activity in the military, and to ask troops for their views on the scope and severity of the issue, the Pentagon press secretary, John F. Kirby, told reporters. He said many details of the “stand down” — a pause in operations that the military often uses to address safety issues — need to be worked out.
“This is very much a leadership issue, down to the lowest level,” Mr. Kirby said, citing what Mr. Austin, a former four-star Army general, had told the Pentagon leaders on a video call.
In the days since a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, senior leaders of the 2.1 million active-duty and reserve troops have been grappling with the reality that several current or former military personnel joined the rioters.
The Defense Department inspector general last month announced an investigation into the effectiveness of existing Pentagon policies and procedures that prohibit service members from advocacy of, or participation in, supremacist or extremist groups. That regulation was last updated in 2012, and Pentagon officials acknowledge that they are struggling with such basic issues as how to define what level of extremist activity is prohibited, as well as shortcomings in how the military identifies and quantifies violators.
Last year, the F.B.I. notified the Defense Department that it had opened criminal investigations involving 143 current or former service members. Of those, 68 were related to domestic extremism cases, according to a senior Pentagon official. The “vast majority” involved retired military personnel, many with unfavorable discharge records, the official said.
The Justice Department has charged two more men with conspiracy and the leader of the far-right group, the Proud Boys, with leading a mob of 100 people who stormed the building on Jan. 6 in an effort to block certification of President Biden’s victory in the election.
Ethan Nordean, the self-described “sergeant of arms” of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, was arrested on Wednesday morning, federal prosecutors said. He had been under investigation for more than a week after prosecutors named him in court papers as a chief organizer of a mob of about 100 other members of the group.
Separately, Nicholas DeCarlo, a 30-year-old Texas man, and Nicholas Ochs, a founder of Hawaii’s chapter of the Proud Boys, were charged with conspiring with one another and unnamed co-conspirators to stop the certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win as part of last month’s riot at the Capitol, according to the indictment. The two men had earlier been charged with unlawful entry and obstructing an official proceeding.
In a criminal complaint against Mr. Nordean, prosecutors said he and other Proud Boys “were planning in advance to organize a group that would attempt to overwhelm police barricades and enter” the Capitol.
Before the attack on the Capitol, Mr. Nordean gave hints of an “intent to organize a group that intended to engage in conflict,” according to a news release issued on Wednesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.
In late December, for example, he posted a message asking for donations of “protective gear” and “communications equipment,” prosecutors said. About a week later, prosecutors added, Mr. Nordean posted a video online, discussing what he described as “blatant rampant voter fraud” and saying that the Proud Boys were going to “bring back that original spirit of 1776 of what really established the character of what America is.”
A recent Mexican law prohibiting the detention of immigrant children and families is forcing American border agents to resume releasing migrant families into the United States, according to three Biden administration officials, presenting an immediate challenge to the Biden administration.
The Trump administration began turning back migrants entering the country in March, citing the threat of the coronavirus, and the emergency rule effectively sealed the border from asylum seekers. But because of a law Mexico passed in November that prohibits the detention of immigrant children and families, the country has stopped accepting such families from South Texas, an area typically susceptible to illegal crossings, officials said.
The recent shift has alarmed officials at the Department of Homeland Security who have said that the emergency rule was necessary to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in detention facilities along the border, even as it prevented vulnerable families from having their asylum claims heard.
This has led to an increasing number of families being held in recent weeks in such facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as in Del Rio, Texas, officials said.
Stephanie Malin, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, said because of pandemic precautions and social distancing guidelines, some facilities had reached full “safe holding capacity.”
President Biden campaigned on restoring asylum at the southwestern border and signed an executive order this week directing the administration to review rolling back President Donald J. Trump’s restrictionist policies.
But the new administration has not detailed publicly when the pandemic emergency rule would be lifted. A federal judge in the District of Columbia lifted a block on the rule, which prevented the United States from turning away unaccompanied migrant children. The White House said it would use its discretion in deciding when to apply the policy.
The American job market continues to struggle, held back by the coronavirus, the slow rollout of vaccines and the loss of overall economic momentum.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week for the third straight week but remained at extraordinarily high levels by historical standards.
Last week brought 816,000 new claims for state benefits, compared with 840,000 the previous week. Adjusted for seasonal variations, last week’s figure was 779,000, an decrease of 33,000.
There were 349,000 new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for part-time workers, the self-employed and others ordinarily ineligible for jobless benefits. That total, which was not seasonally adjusted, was down 55,000 from the week before.
“It’s been a rough winter, especially for folks in the leisure and hospitality sector and the food sector,” said David Deull, an economist at the research and analysis firm IHS Markit. “They were also the ones to suffer during the initial wave of shutdowns in the spring.”
The latest data strengthens the argument for more stimulus, economists say, a key policy position of the Biden White House. The $900 billion aid package passed in December helps many unemployed workers only through mid-March.
“I do think there is a need for more stimulus,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “It’s a crucial part of this rebound.”
President Biden and congressional Democrats are pushing ahead with a $1.9 trillion aid package that includes $1,400 in direct payments to many Americans as well as help for states and cities, which are major employers.
On Friday, the Labor Department will release figures for hiring and unemployment in January. Economists expect the report to show that employers added 100,000 jobs last month, though estimates vary widely.
Last week, the government reported that the economy grew by only 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, a subdued finish to a volatile year. Although stronger growth is expected for 2021, most forecasters say the economy won’t really move into full recovery mode until mass inoculations cover the bulk of the population.
“We expect the labor market recovery to be tepid in the first quarter,” Mr. Deull said. “The key is to crush the virus.”
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