President Biden: Live Updates on Stimulus, Vaccine, Cuomo and Mitch McConnell

President Biden: Live Updates on Stimulus, Vaccine, Cuomo and Mitch McConnell

Credit…Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia authorized extensive efforts to interfere in the American presidential election to denigrate the candidacy of Joseph R. Biden Jr., including intelligence operations to influence people close to former President Donald J. Trump, according to a declassified intelligence report released Tuesday.

The report did not name those people but seemed to be a reference to the work of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who relentlessly pushed allegations of corruption about Mr. Biden and his family involving Ukraine.

“Russian state and proxy actors who all serve the Kremlin’s interests worked to affect U.S. public perceptions in a consistent manner,” the report said.

The declassified report represented the most comprehensive intelligence assessment of foreign efforts to influence the 2020 vote. Besides Russia, Iran and other countries sought to influence the election, the report said. China considered efforts to influence the presidential vote, but ultimately concluded that any such operation would fail and most likely backfire, intelligence officials concluded.

A companion report by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security also rejected false allegations promoted by Mr. Trump’s allies in the weeks after the election that Venezuela or other foreign countries defrauded the election.

The reports, compiled by career officials, amounted to a repudiation of Mr. Trump, his allies and some of his top administration officials. They categorically dismissed allegations of foreign-fed voter fraud, cast doubt on Republican accusations of Chinese intervention on behalf of Democrats and undermined the allegations that Mr. Trump and his allies spread about the Biden family’s work in Ukraine.

The report also found that there were no efforts by Russia or other countries to change ballots themselves, unlike in 2016. Efforts by Russian hackers to probe state and local networks were unrelated to efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential vote.

Some of the information in the intelligence report was released in the months leading up to the election, reflecting an effort by the intelligence community to release more information about foreign operations during the campaign season after its reluctance to do so in 2016 helped misinformation spread.

Asylum-seekers from Central America awaited transportation in Penitas, Texas, on Friday after crossing the Rio Grande into the United States on a raft from Mexico.
Credit…Adrees Latif/Reuters

Border officials are expecting to encounter more migrants at the southwest border and its port entries this year than in the last two decades, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, said Tuesday.

“Poverty, high levels of violence and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries have propelled migration to our southwest border for years,” Mr. Mayorkas said, referring to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. He also cited two hurricanes that damaged the region last year. “The adverse conditions have continued to deteriorate.”

President Biden has faced intensifying criticism over his handling of migration to the U.S. border with Mexico, particularly the treatment of thousands of Central American children and teenagers stuck in border detention facilities. Lawyers who interviewed some of the young migrants in Texas have reported that they had been left to sleep on gym mats with foil sheets and had been confined to an overcrowded tent.

More than 9,400 minors — ranging from young children to teenagers — arrived along the border without parents in February, a nearly threefold increase over that month last year.

The encounters specified by Mr. Mayorkas include migrants who will be detained in U.S. border facilities as well as those rapidly turned away under a pandemic emergency rule. It does not include those who manage to avoid border agents when crossing the border. Many of those who crossed the border in the early 2000s were single adults seeking economic opportunity.

The administration has scrambled to find shelter space to move the children out of the detention facilities designed for adults. It will soon open a temporary center at a former camp for oil field workers in Midland, Texas, and move teenage boys to a convention center in Dallas. Mr. Mayorkas said the administration was working to set up an additional shelter in Arizona.

The backlog in shelters managed by Health and Human Services, which until recently were strained by coronavirus occupancy limits, has caused a logjam in Border Patrol processing facilities and resulted in the detention of many children for several days longer than the maximum 72 hours allowed under federal law. Roughly 4,000 children and teenagers were in border facilities as of Sunday.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation more complicated,” Mr. Mayorkas said in the written statement. “There are restrictions and protocols that need to be followed.”

Mr. Mayorkas said in the statement that the administration was working to open “joint processing centers” so the children could be moved to the custody of Health and Human Services shortly after they were stopped by border agents. The Homeland Security Department did not immediately respond to questions seeking additional details.

Mr. Mayorkas’s statement also came a day after Republican members of Congress traveled to the border to accuse Mr. Biden of opening the doors to illegal migration.

But a majority of the border crossings involved single adults, who under a public health emergency rule are often quickly expelled back to Mexico or their home countries, Mr. Mayorkas said.The administration has also used the rule against families, except in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Mexican officials in neighboring Tamaulipas, Mexico, have refused to accept the families the United States has tried to rapidly turn away after the passing of a Mexican law that prohibited detaining young immigrant children. As a result, border agents have dropped the families off at bus stations in South Texas communities.

The Biden administration has broken from the Trump administration in declining to restore a process of rapidly turning away unaccompanied minors. More than 29,700 have been detained this fiscal year — about 400 a day so far in March — compared with 17,100 during the same period last fiscal year.

The administration has announced multiple long-term strategies to deter migration, including investing foreign aid in Central America and restarting a program allowing some migrant children to apply for refugee status in the United States from their home countries and avoid making the dangerous journey north to join parents already in the United States.

But Mr. Biden faces an immediate humanitarian crisis at the border. He has placed Health and Human Services officials inside border detention centers to try to quickly identify sponsors for the children. Mr. Biden also deployed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help identify shelter space to move the children and teenagers out of the border jails.

When asked at the White House on Tuesday if he plans to visit the southern border, Mr. Biden replied, “not at the moment.”




McConnell: ‘Scorched Earth’ If Democrats Alter Filibuster

On Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell warned Democrats that if they modified or eliminated the filibuster Republicans would bring the Senate to a standstill, and derail President Biden’s agenda in retaliation.

So let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like. None of us have served one minute in a Senate that was completely drained of comity and consent. Even the most basic aspects of our colleagues’ agenda, the most mundane tasks of the Biden presidency, would actually be hard — harder, not easier. Perhaps the majority would come after the other rules next. Perhaps Rule 22 would just be the first domino of many until the Senate ceased to be distinct from the House in any respect. This chaos would not open up an express lane to liberal change. It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books. The Senate would be more like a 100-car pileup — nothing moving.

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On Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell warned Democrats that if they modified or eliminated the filibuster Republicans would bring the Senate to a standstill, and derail President Biden’s agenda in retaliation.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell on Tuesday bluntly warned Democrats who are considering weakening or eliminating the filibuster to push through progressive legislation that Republicans would bring the Senate to a complete standstill and derail President Biden’s agenda if Democrats took that step.

“Everything that Democratic Senates did to Presidents Bush and Trump, everything the Republican Senate did to President Obama, would be child’s play compared to the disaster that Democrats would create for their own priorities if — if — they break the Senate,” said Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader. “The most mundane task of the Biden presidency would actually be harder — harder, not easier — for Democrats in a post-nuclear Senate.”

Mr. McConnell was referring to the prospect that Democrats might resort to a move known as the “nuclear option,” to force a change in the Senate rules that allow senators to block action on any bill unless proponents can muster 60 votes to move forward. That would effectively destroy the filibuster, allowing the majority party — currently the Democrats — to muscle through any measure on a simple majority vote.

Progressives have been agitating for such a change to allow Mr. Biden to steer his agenda around Republican obstruction, and a growing number of Democrats are openly considering it.

Mr. McConnell issued his warning after Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat and a respected veteran of the institution, on Monday said it was time to stop allowing the minority party to routinely block legislation by requiring a three-fifths majority to advance most bills. It was the most explicit call yet by a leading Democrat leadership to take action.

“Today’s filibusters have turned the world’s most deliberative body into one of the world’s most ineffectual bodies,” said Mr. Durbin, who said the burden should be on opponents of legislation to maintain a filibuster rather than on supporters to produce 60 votes to advance it. “If a senator insists on blocking the will of the Senate, he or she should have to pay some minimal price of being present. No more phoning it in. If your principles are that important, stand up for them, speak your mind, hold the floor, and show your resolve.”

The Senate operates under arcane rules that are often bypassed by the use of what is known as unanimous consent agreement where no senator objects. Mr. McConnell threatened that if Democrats made significant changes to the filibuster rules, Republicans would deny consent even on the most mundane of matters and require senators to be present and voting to do virtually anything, effectively bogging down the Senate.

“Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues,” Mr. McConnell said. “Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin — can even begin — to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like. None of us have served one minute in a Senate that was completely drained of comity, and this is an institution that requires unanimous consent to turn the lights on before noon.”

Some Senate Democrats and progressive activists have called on Democrats to weaken the filibuster to push ahead with a voting rights bill and other liberal legislative priorities over Republican objections while Democrats control both Congress and the White House.

A view of the unfinished U.S./ Mexico border wall at the Coronado National Monument in Arizona last month.
Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

The incomplete wall at the southern border of the United States, one of the costliest megaprojects in the country’s history, is once again igniting tensions as critics urge President Biden to tear down parts of the wall and Republican leaders call on him to finish it.

Former President Donald J. Trump made the wall a symbol of his administration’s efforts to slash immigration. While many stretches of the 1,954-mile border already had some low-level barriers built by previous administrations, the project was mired in controversy from the start.

Only a few miles were built in South Texas, the area most prone to illegal crossings. Instead, much of the construction, especially in the Trump administration’s closing days, has taken place in remote parts of Arizona where crossings in recent years have been relatively uncommon.

The Biden administration suspended construction of the border wall on Jan. 20, the president’s first day in office, announcing a 60-day period during which officials are determining how to proceed.

Alejandro Mayorkas, Mr. Biden’s homeland security secretary, has been directed to decide whether to “resume, modify, or terminate” projects when the 60-day suspension ends this month.

Some stretches of the border now have long, continuous segments of 30-foot high steel barriers that could endure in the desert for decades to come. But in other areas, border-crossers can easily tiptoe around far-flung islands of wall, some of which look more like conceptual art pieces than imposing barriers to entry.

There are half-dynamited mountaintops where work crews put down their tools in January, leaving a heightened risk of rapid erosion and even dangerous landslides. In some areas, colossal piles of unused steel bollards linger at deserted work sites.

After temporarily suspending building activities in February, Mr. Biden rescinded the national emergency that Mr. Trump used to justify advancing construction. But parts of the federal bureaucracy are continuing with the land acquisition process, alarming landowners.




Biden Touts Rescue Plan During Pennsylvania Visit

President Biden visited small businesses in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to promote the benefits of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, stressing the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color.

I said yesterday, we’re going to get 100 million shots in people’s arms within the first 60 days of my administration, and 100 million checks out — 100 million people are going to be getting, not a joke, a check for $1,400 to change their life. You know, one of the things that we haven’t, and we’re trying like the devil to make sure its correct, is people are hardest hit by, and Congress would know this better than I do, the hardest hit are people in the minority communities. The rate at which they get Covid is significantly higher. Sometimes the Latino community, Black community, is up to four times greater, and the death rate is significantly higher. And that’s why we’re working so hard, they’re working so hard to make sure you get the vaccine in places that are not ordinarily the focus. That’s why we put vaccines in community health centers. That’s why we have drugstores now. That’s we have mobile units. But I’m not just saying this because they’re here. They have been loud and strong voices, again, this time.

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President Biden visited small businesses in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to promote the benefits of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, stressing the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden visited a small business in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to promote the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which contains an assortment of measures aimed at helping small employers and their workers endure the pandemic’s economic shocks.

Mr. Biden arrived Tuesday afternoon in Chester, a Philadelphia suburb, to visit Smith Flooring, a Black-owned business that supplies and installs flooring. White House officials said the shop cut payroll over the last year, from 22 union employees to 12, after it saw revenues decline by 20 percent amid the pandemic. It has survived, the officials said, thanks in part to two rounds of loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress established last year to help small businesses and has replenished on multiple occasions.

“This is a great outfit. This is a union shop,” Mr. Biden said in brief remarks. Its employees, he said, “work like the devil, and they can make a decent wage, a living wage.”

Mr. Biden’s aid bill, signed last week, added $7 billion to the program. But it created a $29 billion grant fund for restaurants and set aside additional money for several relief programs run by the Small Business Administration, including a long-delayed grant program for music clubs and other live-event businesses that the agency said would start accepting applications early next month.

Mr. Biden’s visit on Tuesday came as the Senate confirmed his nominee to run the Small Business Administration, Isabel Guzman, by an 81-17 vote.

The Biden administration’s most sweeping small-business initiative has been hindered by problems. Last month, the administration announced changes to the Paycheck Protection Program — which is currently dispensing funds appropriated by Congress in December — that were intended to get more money to freelancers, gig workers and other self-employed people.

The owners of Smith Flooring, Kristin and James Smith, secured their second loan from the program as part of one of the Biden administration’s changes, which created a two-week exclusive period for certain very small businesses to receive loans.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, were in Denver on Tuesday, also highlighting the administration’s small-business spending during a trip that will include meetings with small business owners.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Women and minority owners are much more likely to run tiny businesses than larger ones, and they were disproportionately shut out of the Paycheck Protection Program under earlier rules that calculated such companies’ forgivable relief loans based on the size of their annual profit. The Biden administration’s more forgiving formula lets those businesses instead use their gross income, a switch that significantly increased the money available to many applicants.

But the change was not retroactive, which has set off a backlash from the hundreds of thousands of borrowers who got much smaller loans than they would now qualify for. Many have used social media or written to government officials to vent their anger.

JagMohan Dilawri, a self-employed chauffeur in Queens, got a loan in February for $1,900. Under the new rules, he calculates that he would have been eligible for around $15,000. That wide gulf frustrated Mr. Dilawri, who has struggled to keep up on his mortgage, car loan and auto insurance payments since the pandemic took hold.

“When the Biden administration came, they said, ‘We will be fair with everyone,’” he said. “But this is unfair.”

Small Business Administration officials have said that only Congress can fix that disparity. Some key Democratic lawmakers say they are willing.

“I am aware of the situation facing these sole proprietors and am working to ensure they get the funds they are entitled to under the Biden administration’s rule changes retroactively,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a New York Democrat who leads the House Small Business Committee. “My staff and I are working with the S.B.A. and congressional Republicans to find a path forward.”

“Letting these folks vote or exercise other civil rights isn’t a threat to public safety,” Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia said.
Credit…Carlos Bernate for The New York Times

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia on Tuesday restored voting rights to more than 69,000 people who have served time in the state’s prisons — bucking a nationwide push in Georgia and other Republican-run states to restrict ballot access.

Mr. Northam, a Democrat, used his executive authority to reverse restrictions that deprive anyone convicted of a felony of their right to vote, run for office, become a notary or serve on juries.

The state “would automatically restore voting rights to individuals upon completion of their sentence of incarceration,” Mr. Northam said in a statement announcing the change — technically a rewrite of the state’s “eligibility criteria” for certain rights.

“Too many of our laws were written during a time of open racism and discrimination, and they still bear the traces of inequity,” Mr. Northam said.

He added: “We are a Commonwealth that believes in moving forward, not being tied down by the mistakes of our past. If we want people to return to our communities and participate in society, we must welcome them back fully — and this policy does just that.”

The move comes about two weeks after the state legislature passed a sweeping voting rights bill that prevents any action that restricts ballot access to an individual or group on the basis of their race, color or for speaking languages other than English.

Virginia is one of only three states to disenfranchise people with felony convictions unless a governor steps in to restore their rights on a case-by-case basis.

In 2016, Terry McAuliffe, the former governor and a Democrat, tried to issue a similar executive order restoring the rights of 200,000 formerly incarcerated Virginians. He was blocked by the courts, but eventually restored the rights of about 173,000 people, one by one, the biggest mass voting rights restoration of any governor in history.

It is not clear whether opponents of Mr. Northam’s policy will try to keep the order from being implemented, or whether it will pass judicial muster before courts.

But Mr. Northam and legislative leaders hope it never gets to that point — they want to enshrine the changes in the state’s Constitution.

That will take time.

Earlier this year, the state’s General Assembly approved a constitutional amendment that would restore the civil rights to people upon completion of their sentence of incarceration, but it must be passed again, in the 2022 session, before being presented to the public as a voter referendum.

Mr. Northam, who is restricted by the state’s constitution from serving consecutive terms, basked in the praise of civil rights groups and his fellow Democrats for his order.

It was a remarkable turnaround from two years earlier, when many in his party called for his resignation in the wake of a report that he had appeared in blackface at a party when he was in medical school.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, from left, meeting with Japanese officials in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Credit…Pool photo by Eugene Hoshiko

Just days before the Biden administration’s first face-to-face encounter with Beijing, two senior American envoys used a visit to Tokyo on Tuesday to set a confrontational tone for the talks, rebuking what they called “coercion” and “destabilizing actions” by China in its increasingly aggressive military forays in the region.

Following a flurry of meetings, U.S. and Japanese officials issued a two-page statement that left little doubt that President Biden would defy China in territorial disputes, challenges to democracy and other regional crises. Its robust censure of Beijing represented the kind of vigorous approach that Japan has been seeking from the United States after four years of skepticism worldwide about whether America would remain a reliable ally.

Accusing Beijing of violating the “international order” with maritime claims and activities, the statement defended Japan’s right to control the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China. It also called for stability in the Taiwan Strait, as some U.S. military officials see a growing chance that China will move to assert sovereignty over self-governing Taiwan in the coming years.

After the Japanese defense minister, Nobuo Kishi, referred to an “increasingly tense security environment” at the start of a meeting on Tuesday, the two U.S. officials, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, offered reassurance.

“We will push back when necessary when China uses coercion or aggression to try to get its way,” Mr. Blinken said.

Mr. Austin noted Beijing’s “destabilizing actions” in the South and East China Seas, saying, “Our goal is to make sure that we maintain a competitive edge over China or anyone else that would want to threaten us or our alliance.”

Taken together, the Americans’ statements amounted to the most explicit admonishment in recent years by U.S. diplomats of Chinese provocations toward Japan and the rest of the region. They offered a taste of what is likely to come on Thursday, when Mr. Blinken is to meet in Alaska with two top Chinese officials in the Biden administration’s opening bid to define the limits of its relationship with Beijing.

For Japan, the meetings — the highest-level foreign travel so far by the new administration — offered comfort for those who had worried that Mr. Biden might back down from the Trump administration’s tough stance against Beijing.

“I think the message is directed to the Japanese people,” said Toshiyuki Ito, a retired vice admiral who is now a professor of crisis management and international relations at Kanazawa Institute of Technology. He added that the visit by Mr. Blinken and Mr. Austin signaled that “America has changed from ‘America First’ to putting importance on the alliance.”

J.D. Vance speaking with lawmakers and members of a venture capital bus tour in Youngstown, Ohio in 2018.
Credit…Andrew Spear for The New York Times

Peter Thiel, one of former President Donald J. Trump’s few big tech industry donors, has pumped $10 million into a super PAC bankrolling a possible campaign for one of Ohio’s Senate seats in 2022 by J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Mr. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal who once employed Mr. Vance at his hedge fund, was the first donor to Protect Ohio Values PAC, a committee founded in Virginia last month, allowing Mr. Vance to explore a possible run for the seat being vacated in by Senator Rob Portman.

The Mercer family, also contributors to Mr. Trump, are expected to write a big check to the PAC shortly, said Bryan Lanza, a veteran Republican strategist working with the group.

“Trump, J.D. and Peter see these communities in a much different light than the Republican establishment,” said Mr. Lanza in an interview. “J.D. and Peter share the same vision.”

The donation, made last Friday, was first reported by the Cincinnati Inquirer.

Mr. Vance, whose 2016 memoir chronicled his rise from a hardscrabble Appalachian childhood to Yale Law School, has positioned himself as the voice of a frustrated white underclass energized by Mr. Trump’s defiance and disruptions. His book was turned into a 2020 movie starring Glenn Close and Amy Adams.

Mr. Vance, 36, briefly considered a challenge to Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Democrat, in 2018 after the Republican favorite, Josh Mandel, dropped out. Mr. Brown defeated his Republican opponent, former Representative Jim Renacci, by seven points that year, in a state Mr. Trump won handily in 2016 and 2020.

The field in 2022 is expected to be crowded, well-financed and highly competitive.

Mr. Mandel, the former state treasurer, is expected to run, as is former Ohio Republican Party chairwoman Jane Timken, another big Trump donor.

Potential Democratic candidates include Representative Tim Ryan — a fiery orator whose pitch, like that of Mr. Vance, is rooted in a populist appeal to the working class; Amy Acton, the state’s former health director; and Emilia Sykes, the state House minority leader.

The German-born Mr. Thiel and Mr. Vance have been friends for years, and talk often about politics and their views on the country’s problems, a person close to Mr. Vance said.

Shortly after graduating from Yale, Mr. Vance began working for Mr. Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management. When he began his own Cincinnati-based firm focused on projects in the Midwest, Narya Capital, he raised about $93 million from Mr. Thiel, tech entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, Eric Schmidt of Google and ExactTarget co-founder Scott Dorsey.

Volunteers canvassing for union votes in front of an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala.
Credit…Bob Miller for The New York Times

Amazon is facing the largest and most viable U.S. labor challenge in its history: a union vote at a warehouse in Bessemer, Ala.

Nearly 6,000 workers have until March 29 to decide whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. A labor victory could energize workers in other U.S. communities, where Amazon has more than 800 warehouses employing more than 500,000 people.

“This is happening in the toughest state, with the toughest company, at the toughest moment,” said Janice Fine, a professor of labor studies at Rutgers University. “If the union can prevail given those three facts, it will send a message that Amazon is organizable everywhere.”

Over the last two decades, as the internet retailer mushroomed from a virtual bookstore into a $1.5 trillion behemoth, it has forcefully — and successfully — resisted employee efforts to organize. Some workers in recent years agitated for change in Staten Island, Chicago, Sacramento and Minnesota, but the impact was negligible.

But the most recent campaign is gaining momentum, and received a shot in the arm last month, when President Biden weighed in.

“There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda,” he said in a video posted on Twitter that never mentioned Amazon but referred to “workers in Alabama” deciding whether to organize a union. “You know, every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. The law guarantees that choice.”

Leading up to the Bessemer vote, The Times did a reporting deep dive on a similar effort at an Amazon warehouse in Chester, Va., in 2014 and 2015, where a union tried to organize about 30 facilities technicians.

The reporting offers one of the fullest pictures of what encourages Amazon workers to open the door to a union — and what techniques the company uses to slam the door and nail it shut. Some of those tactics have been used in Alabama, too.

“Where will your dues go?” Amazon asked in a notice posted in a bathroom stall, which circulated on social media. Another proclaimed: “Unions can’t. We can.” Amazon also set up a website to tell workers that they would have to skip dinner and school supplies to pay their union dues.

Bill Hough Jr., a machinist at the Chester warehouse, was one of the leaders of the union drive. Amazon fired him in 2016. In an interview, he suggested that Amazon’s customers just don’t know how miserable a job there can be.

“I guarantee you, if their child had to work there, they’d think twice before purchasing things,” he said.

But his own son, a 20-year-old appliance technician, admitted he does use Amazon when it’s cheaper.

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, delivering a speech in Pyongyang this month.
Credit…Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service, via Associated Press

North Korea issued a stern first warning to the Biden administration on Tuesday, denouncing Washington for going forward with military exercises with South Korea and raising “a stink” on the Korean Peninsula.

The statement, the first official comment on the Biden administration from North Korea, is part of a series of early maneuvers by both sides to recalibrate the relationship between the countries following former President Donald J. Trump’s fruitless attempt at personal diplomacy with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

On Monday, White House officials acknowledged that the administration had attempted to reach North Korea through multiple channels in recent weeks, but that Pyongyang had been unresponsive. Analysts said the silence was part of the North’s pressure tactic.

“We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off a powder smell in our land,” Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the country’s leader, said in a statement carried by state-run North Korean media, referring to the odor emitted by exploding ammunition.

“If it wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” she added.

Tuesday’s statement from Pyongyang came hours before Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III began meetings in Japan. Later in the week, they head to South Korea, a trip that will coincide with annual joint military exercises, which often draws over-the-top reactions from North Korea.

The meetings this week are meant to strengthen alliances in the region, where the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons and China’s growing influence have been cast as major foreign policy challenges.

While bellicose, Ms. Kim’s comments were relatively tame in comparisons to the taunts thrown at Mr. Biden during the 2020 election campaign, after he suggested Mr. Trump had been too accommodating.

At the time, North Korean officials called Mr. Biden a “rabid dog” who should be “beaten to death.”

Her statement was the first indication that North Korea may try to influence the new administration’s policies by raising the prospect of renewed tension on the peninsula, analysts said.

Ms. Kim, who serves as her brother’s spokeswoman in North Korea’s relations with Seoul and Washington, dedicated most of her statement to criticizing Seoul for pushing ahead with its annual military drills with the United States this month, despite warnings from her brother.

Under Mr. Trump, Washington and Seoul suspended or scaled down the joint military drills to support diplomacy with Mr. Kim. After three meetings, Mr. Trump’s talks with Mr. Kim collapsed without a deal on how to end North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities.

Mr. Biden is overseeing a comprehensive review of U.S. policy on North Korea. This year’s exercises remain relatively scaled back in comparison to those conducted in the pre-Trump years.

Thousands of migrants, many of them unaccompanied children, are showing up at the border daily.
Credit…Adrees Latif/Reuters

Democrats are preparing to push legislation through the House this week that would create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, posing the first tests to President Biden’s immigration agenda just as an influx of migrants is creating a new challenge at the border.

Facing internal divisions and mounting Republican pressure, Democrats plan to take a notably narrow approach for now. Instead of bringing up Mr. Biden’s immigration overhaul, which would legalize most of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, the House will start with two measures covering groups regarded as the most sympathetic: people brought to the country as children, known as Dreamers; others granted Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons; and farm workers.

But with thousands more migrants, many of them unaccompanied children, showing up at the border daily, even those more modest steps face an increasingly uphill climb. Democrats concede they do not have sufficient Republican support to pass them in the Senate, and G.O.P. leaders, eager to turn Democrats’ difficulties on the issue into a political liability, are using the mounting problems to stoke fear and opposition to any but the most punitive of changes.

“Why would you legalize anybody, sending another incentive to keep coming, until you stop the flow?” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a leader of past bipartisan immigration efforts. “I just don’t see the politics of it — it’s just too out of control.”

Top immigration aides to Mr. Biden argue that the bills the House is taking up this week are a starting point for his broader plan, part of a pragmatic “multiple trains” strategy to avoid the pitfalls that have befallen prior administrations.

Mr. Biden’s broader legislation would also seek to tighten border security and address the root causes of the migration surge, by allocating funding for scanning technology at the southwestern border and providing aid to bolster the economies of the countries that are the main sources of the influx. But those long-term solutions are bumping up against the urgent need to move thousands of migrant children and teenagers out of border detention facilities.

Pressure is building among the most progressive Democrats in Congress, for the administration to move more decisively, as they regard the situation at the border with increasing alarm. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said in a recent interview that it took “so much work to get President Biden to a place that immigration advocates felt comfortable calling a positive step.”

“To see folks in our caucus try to undo some of that progress,” she said, “I think is really concerning.”

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, left, walking with his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, after testifying in 2019 before the House Intelligence Committee.
Credit…Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The Army is promoting Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who was dismissed from the Trump White House last year as part of its reprisal campaign against his twin brother, Alexander S. Vindman, who had testified in President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment.

The promotion is the latest twist in the saga of the Vindman twins, who together raised concerns about a July 2019 call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine, which was at the core of the first impeachment proceeding against Mr. Trump. In the end, Mr. Trump was acquitted in 2020 of the charges against him, as he was during his second impeachment in 2021.

While not playing as prominent a role as his brother, who accused Mr. Trump of pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on President Biden when he was a presidential candidate, Yevgeny Vindman, then a top ethics lawyer detailed to the National Security Council from the Pentagon, did raise ethical and legal concerns about Mr. Trump’s aides.

Alexander Vindman, who was also a lieutenant colonel with the Army, chose to retire last summer after repeated White House efforts to punish him for his impeachment testimony, but Yevgeny Vindman remained in the military. His name was on a list of promotions to colonel that is expected to be submitted to the Senate this week.

Last August, Yevgeny Vindman filed a whistle-blower complaint in which he said he was improperly fired in retaliation for both his role in the impeachment of Mr. Trump and lodging previously undisclosed allegations of ethical and legal wrongdoing against Robert C. O’Brien, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser.

The complaint outlined a half-dozen times that Yevgeny Vindman reported various legal and ethical concerns to superiors at the National Security Council and Defense Department between July 2019 and February 2020, communications that his lawyers argued met the criteria for protection from reprisal. It also disclosed that Yevgeny Vindman repeatedly raised concerns about Mr. O’Brien and Alex Gray, the National Security Council chief of staff, to top White House lawyers.

Yevgeny Vindman never testified before impeachment investigators in the House, but he appeared in person to support his brother. The brothers also privately raised concerns with top White House lawyers about Mr. Trump’s conduct on the call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Zelensky to conduct investigations that would benefit him politically.

The Army’s decision to promote Yevgeny Vindman comes as Mr. Biden’s Defense Department moves swiftly to undo Trump-era policies affecting the military, including reversing Mr. Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and promoting female generals whose nominations were stalled because of fears over how Mr. Trump would react.

In a statement Tuesday, Yevgeny Vindman said the Army and Pentagon investigators “stood their ground despite intense pressure during the last administration.”

President Biden will hold his first news conference next week.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

President Biden will hold the first formal news conference of his term on March 25, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, announced Tuesday.

The event will take place more than two months into Mr. Biden’s presidency, and it comes after the White House had faced scrutiny because Mr. Biden had yet to take questions from the news media in a formal setting.

Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump, held his first news conference as president a week after taking office in 2017, appearing with Theresa May, the former prime minister of Britain. Mr. Trump held his first solo news conference in mid-February of 2017.


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