The House will vote on Thursday to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, a top Democrat announced, forcing congressional Republicans to take a public stand on the Georgia freshman who endorsed conspiracy theories and calls to execute Democratic politicians before she was elected.
Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, said on Wednesday that he had spoken with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, and that “it is clear there is no alternative to holding a floor vote on the resolution to remove Representative Greene from her committee assignments.”
House Democrats, incensed by a series of social media posts made by Ms. Greene before she won her seat in November, threatened earlier this week that they would take the unusual step of moving unilaterally to remove Ms. Greene from the education and budget committees if Republicans themselves did not take action. Party leaders generally have authority over who represents them on committees.
The vote will make Republicans go on the record for the first time on whether Ms. Greene should be rebuked for her past comments.
While most Republican lawmakers have privately been horrified by her rhetoric, some have argued that members of Congress should not face punishment for remarks they made before they were elected, and that allowing one party (in this case, Democrats) to take unilateral action against a lawmaker in another party would set a dangerous precedent. Others are wary of taking a such a vote after former President Donald J. Trump has rallied to Ms. Greene’s side.
Mr. McCarthy met with Ms. Greene on Tuesday night in his office to discuss her past rhetoric and the calls from members of both parties to take her off committees. Mr. McCarthy then met with a group of Republicans who control the conference’s committee assignments, but no decision was ultimately made about whether or how to rebuke Ms. Greene, according to people familiar with the discussions.
A spokesman for Mr. McCarthy declined to respond to Mr. Hoyer’s announcement, and said that the Republican leader would “address this with members later today.”
Mr. Hoyer’s announcement comes hours before House Republicans will meet Wednesday at 4 p.m. to discuss the future of Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber. They are also expected to discuss the turmoil around Ms. Greene.
Supporters of Mr. Trump want to strip Ms. Cheney of her leadership post as payback for her vote to impeach the former president. And an array of House and Senate Republicans and Trump critics want to strip Ms. Greene of her committee assignments for endorsing false claims and using bigoted and violent language.
Ms. Greene’s behavior poses the more serious test for Republicans because her behavior is so outside the mainstream of American politics. The House Republican meeting will be a turning point for the party as members grapple with how to deal with two lawmakers who have incensed different wings of the party for very different reasons.
Ms. Greene seized on the announcement on Wednesday, sending out an email fund-raising blast minutes after Mr. Hoyer released his statement, asking her supporters to “rush an emergency donation” to help defend her. The Georgia Republican began fund-raising on Tuesday off the claim that Democrats were unfairly targeting her for her beliefs, and said the effort netted her over $160,000 in one day.
President Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday that he would not agree to scale back the $1,400 direct payments to many Americans that are a centerpiece of his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, but would consider restricting them to lower-income individuals as Republicans have proposed.
“We can’t walk away from an additional $1,400 in direct checks, because people need it,” Mr. Biden told the lawmakers on a private conference call, according to two people who participated. “I’m not going to start my administration by breaking a promise to people.”
But he added: “We can better target the number — I’m OK with that.”
Mr. Biden’s comments came as Democrats pressed forward with their budget resolution in Congress, laying the groundwork to use a procedural maneuver that could eventually allow them to push through the president’s sweeping pandemic aid plan without Republican support. It was part of a two-track strategy that Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders were employing to speed through the relief package: show Republicans that they have the votes to pass an ambitious package with only Democratic backing, but offer to negotiate some details in hopes of gaining Republican support.
“We need to act fast,” Mr. Biden told the Democratic lawmakers, according to the people, who detailed the private conversation on condition of anonymity. “It’s about who the hell we are as a country.”
Some Republicans have argued that the next round of stimulus checks should go to Americans most in need. Under Mr. Biden’s plan, the full $1,400 payment would be limited to individuals earning no more than $75,000 a year, but those with higher incomes would receive smaller checks.
The president’s signal that he was open to compromise on the matter came a couple of days after he met at the White House with 10 Republican senators who are seeking a $618 billion package they said could win bipartisan backing. Their proposal calls for checks of up to $1,000 that would go only to individuals earning less than $50,000 a year, with the full payment limited to those whose annual income was $40,000 or below.
Later, Mr. Biden met separately at the White House with Senate Democrats and again discussed narrowing eligibility for the checks.
“We did have a conversation about the direct payments and how those might be modified in a way to ensure they’re targeted,” said Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who attended the hourlong session.
On the call with House Democrats, Mr. Biden said he was “not married to a particular, absolute number” on the overall stimulus package.
“We can make compromises on several of the programs,” he told them, adding, “we have to take care of the people who are hurting.”
As for slashing the size of the package by more than two thirds, as the Republicans have proposed, Mr. Biden said on the call that that was “not in the cards.”
Senate Democrats will take control of the chamber’s committees under a new power-sharing agreement with Republicans after weeks of negotiations over how to manage the Senate that is divided 50-50.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the new majority leader, said he and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the new minority leader, had reached an agreement that would allow Democrats to assume the chairmanships of Senate committees that had remained under Republican leadership despite Democratic election victories.
The lack of an agreement, during the first month of the new Congress, created a bizarre situation that had slowed consideration of some of President Biden’s nominees, including a hearing for Judge Merrick B. Garland, the nominee for attorney general.
“I’m confident our members are ready to hit the ground running on the most important issues that face our country,” Mr. Schumer said on Wednesday.
The Senate’s so-called organizing resolution was initially slowed by Mr. McConnell’s demand that Senate Democrats pledge to preserve the filibuster for the next two years. Mr. Schumer did not accede to the demand but Mr. McConnell dropped his insistence after two Senate Democrats said they would not back eliminating the filibuster, meaning the votes did not exist to overturn it under the current alignment.
The new Senate arrangement is based on an agreement reached during 2001, when the Senate was last equally divided. It will allow equal party representation on committees but in the cases of tie votes, legislation or nominees will still advance to the floor for consideration.
Though the Senate is split 50-50, Democrats are in control by virtue of the power of Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote. The formal organizing resolution is expected to be considered later Wednesday.
In the same room that rioters stormed last month, lawmakers gathered in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday for a memorial service to honor Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained during the Jan. 6 attack.
Mr. Sicknick is the fifth person to lie in honor in the Capitol, a distinction reserved for private citizens, while government officials, like former presidents, lie in state.
“Blessed are the peacekeepers like Brian,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said during the ceremony. “Let us be the peacekeepers now in his memory.”
Mr. Sicknick’s family, lawmakers and other top officials attended the ceremony, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who also spoke; the Republican leaders, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California; Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III; and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington. Before the service, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, also paid their respects.
Mr. Sicknick’s remains were delivered to the Capitol on Tuesday evening, passing through a set of doors still shattered from the events of Jan. 6. Officers from his unit, some on mountain bikes, lined up near the steps outside.
Minutes later, President Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, departed the White House to pay their respects.
“We must be vigilant, as what President Lincoln referred to as the harsh artillery of time, we will never forget,” Ms. Pelosi said Wednesday during the ceremony near a table where Mr. Sicknick’s remains and an American flag were placed. “Each day when members enter the Capitol, this temple of democracy, we will remember his sacrifice and then others that day who fought so hard to protect the Capitol and the Congress.”
Walking out of the rotunda after the service, Representatives Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, and Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, paid their final respects side by side.
At least 14 other Capitol Police officers were injured in the attack, according to a memo issued by the F.B.I. Two police officers who responded to the siege have since died by suicide.
“Knowing our personal tragedy and loss is shared by our nation brings hope for healing,” Mr. Sicknick’s partner, Sandra Garza, and his family said in a statement.
As he left the Capitol for the final time, Mr. Sicknick was met by rows of officers, saluting the hearse that drove his remains to Arlington National Cemetery.
The Justice Department on Wednesday withdrew a lawsuit against Yale that charged the university with discriminating against Asian-American and white applicants for admission, another reversal by the new administration of a Trump-era policy.
The Trump administration had made race-based college admissions a target, and today’s action suggests the Biden administration may be prepared to retreat from that policy.
Supporters of the Trump administration’s lawsuit assert that Asian-Americans and whites are being held to higher admissions standards at a number of elite colleges. In 2019, a federal judge rejected claims that Harvard had intentionally discriminated against Asian-American applicants, but the plaintiffs are expected to file a petition to the Supreme Court.
“Yale is gratified that the U.S. Justice Department has dropped its lawsuit challenging Yale College’s admissions practices,” Karen N. Peart, a spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Our admissions process has allowed Yale College to assemble an unparalleled student body, which is distinguished by its academic excellence and diversity.”
The “notice of voluntary dismissal” of the Yale lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Connecticut on Wednesday, does not give any reason for the Justice Department’s decision. It noted that Yale had not filed any answering papers in the action.
In a statement, the Justice Department said it had dismissed the lawsuit “in light of all available facts, circumstances and legal developments,” including an federal appeals court decision upholding Harvard’s admissions practices.
But the department said that it would continue an “underlying investigation” to ensure compliance with the federal funding provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ms. Peart said Yale was continuing to cooperate with that review.
The Justice Department decision does not mean that the lawsuit against Yale is dead. Students for Fair Admission, the organization that sued Harvard, plans to pick it up and refile it under their name.
“It is important that this lawsuit continues to be vigorously litigated through the courts during the coming months and years if necessary,” said Edward Blum, the president of the organization. “Using race and ethnicity in college admissions decisions is unfair, unconstitutional and is fraying the social fabric that holds our nation together.”
The lawsuit, filed last October, asserted that Yale discriminated against both Asian-American and white applicants. The government said that race was the “determinative factor” in hundreds of admissions decisions each year, and that “for the great majority of applicants,” Asian-Americans and whites have only one-eighth to one-fourth the likelihood of admission as Black applicants with comparable academic credentials.
Violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the government said, could cost Yale millions of dollars in taxpayer money. The complaint said Yale receives more than $600 million annually in federal funds.
Yale said its admissions process did not discriminate and complied with Supreme Court precedent. During the Trump administration, the Justice Department also supported the lawsuit against Harvard. But given the Biden administration’s withdrawal from the Yale case it seems likely to withdraw its support for the Harvard case as well.
Representative Liz Cheney, the No. 3-ranking Republican in the House, has become the most visible and imperiled target of the pro-Trump majority in the G.O.P., and she faces possible punishment from them on Wednesday over her vote to impeach former President Donald J. Trump last month.
She and other House Republicans will gather Wednesday afternoon for a private meeting where lawmakers will have the opportunity to confront her in person. Members of Mr. Trump’s family and some of his allies in Congress want to force her out of her leadership position. House Republican leaders have been mum in recent weeks as they have mulled how to deal with Ms. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
If Republicans do punish Ms. Cheney, they will be creating an unofficial litmus test for any party member seeking office: Do you support Mr. Trump and his actions, including his comments at the Jan. 6 rally in Washington just before a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol? Ms. Cheney and nine other House Republicans voted in favor of an article of impeachment against Mr. Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”
At home in Wyoming, the sense of betrayal among Republicans is burning hot at the moment. It’s especially acute among the conservative grass roots and local party activists whose strong presence in the state helped deliver Mr. Trump his largest margin of victory anywhere — beating Joseph R. Biden Jr. with 70 percent of the vote.
At least one conservative state lawmaker — who described the impeachment vote as “an ice pick in the back” by Republicans who supported it — has printed “Impeach Liz Cheney!” yard signs and is vowing to challenge her in 2022. Ten county-level Republican Party organizations have voted to censure Ms. Cheney in recent days, and more are expected to follow suit.
People close to Ms. Cheney, who insisted on anonymity so they could discuss her private views, said that her break with the pro-Trump faction reflected her belief that many more Republicans share her disgust with how seriously Mr. Trump undermined confidence in the country’s electoral system.
As she watched Mr. Trump and his supporters peddle conspiracy theories and promote what she called “the big lie,” Ms. Cheney became deeply unsettled by how many of her colleagues seemed so cavalier about Mr. Trump’s actions, friends and associates said. In conversations with colleagues, Ms. Cheney has said she hopes her example makes more Republicans in and out of public office comfortable acknowledging that they should have pushed back earlier.
Her allies said that attempts to punish her were counterproductive at a time when the party should be united in opposition to Democratic control of Washington.
“The beneficiaries of Republican fratricide are Democrats,” said Karl Rove, the former Bush strategist, who is close to the Cheney family. “So the more we have purity tests and everyone has to think and act alike, particularly when it comes to former President Trump, it’s only helping Democrats.”
After a Texas judge last week temporarily blocked President Biden’s order to pause deportations for 100 days, immigration agents did not hesitate to use the brief window to defy the incoming president’s new tone.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents moved a 40-year-old Cameroonian asylum seeker to a facility in Louisiana and prepared to deport him, despite his claims of torture in his home country.
“This is not what the Biden administration stands for,” Henry Hollithron, the man’s lawyer, said in an interview. “That is definitely a holdover from the Trump era.”
President Donald J. Trump often complained about what he called a “deep state” inside the government working to thwart his agenda. But Mr. Biden and his secretary of homeland security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, are already encountering their own pockets of internal resistance, especially at the agencies charged with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.
Mr. Mayorkas, who was confirmed on Tuesday, will find a Department of Homeland Security transformed since he was its deputy secretary in the Obama administration.
Videos celebrating Mr. Trump’s “big, beautiful” border wall are still featured on the Customs and Border Protection website. A fictionalized video by the agency that shows Mr. Trump’s depiction of migrants as feared criminals is still on the Border Patrol’s official social media channels. And the union representing ICE agents — whose top leaders were enthusiastic supporters of Mr. Trump — has signaled that it does not intend to accept all of the new administration’s reversals of his policies.
Those agents may have gotten a lift in the waning days of Mr. Trump’s administration, when Trump loyalists tried to codify the influence of those unions. The day before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, union leaders signed a labor agreement with Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, an immigration hard-liner and the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, that requires ICE’s political leadership to consult with the union on policy decisions.
If the agreement stands, it could undercut Mr. Biden’s directives to the enforcement agency, including guidance that took effect on Monday requiring ICE officers to focus arrests on violent offenders.
WASHINGTON — More than 370 Democratic congressional aides issued an unusual public appeal on Wednesday, imploring senators — in some cases their own bosses — to convict former President Donald J. Trump for inciting a violent “attack on our workplace” that threatened the peaceful transition of power.
In a starkly personal letter, the staff members describe ducking under office desks, barricading themselves in offices or watching as they witnessed marauding bands of rioters who “smashed” their way through the Capitol on Jan. 6. Responsibility, they argue, lies squarely with Mr. Trump and his “baseless, monthslong effort to reject votes lawfully cast by the American people.”
“As congressional employees, we don’t have a vote on whether to convict Donald J. Trump for his role in inciting the violent attack at the Capitol, but our senators do,” they wrote. “And for our sake, and the sake of the country, we ask that they vote to convict the former president and bar him from ever holding office again.”
A copy of the letter, including the names of the signatories, was shared with The New York Times before its release on Wednesday, four weeks after the attack and days before the Senate’s impeachment trial.
The letter, while in no way binding, underscored the remarkable dynamic surrounding Mr. Trump’s trial, in which many of the witnesses to and victims of the “incitement of insurrection” he is charged with are among the closest advisers to lawmakers who will decide his political fate. Congressional aides often provide counsel behind closed doors to the elected officials they serve, and many are authorized to speak on those officials’ behalf. But exceedingly rarely do they publicly express their own views — much less push for so stark a political and constitutional remedy as conviction in an impeachment trial.
The House voted on Tuesday night to begin fining lawmakers who refused to pass through metal detectors before walking onto the House floor, the latest move in a series of security measures taken after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
The provision, tucked in a procedural package of rules, will fine lawmakers who bypass the metal detectors installed outside the House floor $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 for a second offense, with the amounts deducted directly from their salaries. The vote came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to her fellow Democratic lawmakers that House leaders were reviewing additional measures intended to protect lawmakers and their aides.
“Given the serious and ongoing security threats facing members and the Congress, it is clear that there is a need for an emergency supplemental funding bill to meet institutional security needs,” Ms. Pelosi said. “It is also clear that we will need to establish a 9/11-type Commission to examine and report upon the facts, causes and security relating to the terrorist mob attack on January 6.”
The vote infuriated many Republicans, who have argued that the measure is overly onerous and infantilizing for members of Congress to endure. But in the weeks since the Capitol riot, concerns over keeping firearms off the House floor have not been theoretical. HuffPost reported last month that Representative Andy Harris, Republican of Maryland, tried to bring his gun onto the House floor, and Representative Madison Cawthorne, a Republican of North Carolina who spoke at the Stop the Steal rally in Washington on Jan. 6 that preceded the attack, later claimed he had been armed that day when he evacuated the House floor as rioters stormed the building.
During a speech on the House floor on Tuesday evening, Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the House Rules Committee, did not explicitly name the Republican members of Congress who had elevated concerns about firearms on the House floor, but gestured to Mr. Cawthorne and other Republicans, including Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who endorsed executing Ms. Pelosi before she was elected, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who campaigned on bringing her Glock with her to the halls of Congress.
“These words and actions raise serious safety concerns,” Mr. McGovern said, calling the metal detectors “a basic safety measure.”
Ms. Boebert evidently disagreed, and her chief of staff circulated an email on Tuesday night urging other Republican aides to vote against the measure, calling the fines “unconstitutional.”
Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.