Biden welcomes families to White House for return of Easter Egg roll – live | Joe Biden

09.31

A second global Covid-19 summit will take place virtually on 12 May, the White House has announced, seeking to increase the take-up rate of vaccinations internationally.

The news comes as the BA.2 subvariant begins to take hold in several areas of the US. The White House statement said the US would co-host the summit with Belize, chair of the Caribbean Community (Caricom); Germany, which holds the G7 presidency; Indonesia and Senegal:

The emergence and spread of new variants, like Omicron, have reinforced the need for a strategy aimed at controlling Covid-19 worldwide. Together, we can mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and protect those at the highest risk with vaccinations, testing, and treatments.

We know we must prepare now to build, sustain, and finance the global capacity we need, not only for emerging Covid-19 variants, but also future health crises.

Joe Biden convened the first global Covid-19 summit last September, calling for international cooperation in finding strategies to end the pandemic. But the Delta and Omicron variants sent infection rates soaring, while less than 60% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated.

There are renewed concerns over a resurgence of the pandemic, with Omicron forcing new lockdowns and deaths in China, and the spread of BA.2 worrying world leaders, including in the US, where an indoor mask mandate took effect Monday in Philadelphia, the first major American city to do so.

The 12 May summit, the White House says, will focus on several areas and “place an emphasis on supporting locally-led solutions to both immediate and long-term challenges.”

They include “getting shots into arms; deploying tests and treatments, especially for the highest-risk populations; expanding and protecting the health workforce and minimizing disruptions to routine and essential health services; and generating sustainable financing for pandemic preparedness, health security, and health systems.”

Read the White House statement here.

12.15

Elizabeth Warren says it’s no foregone conclusion that Democrats will lose control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, but says the party could be “headed toward big losses” if it fails to counter raging inflation and Joe Biden’s plunging popularity ratings.

In an foreboding op-ed published in the New York Times on Monday, the Massachusetts senator said she believes Democrats can win by working relentlessly to try to fix the country’s economic woes, and not simply by highlighting successes such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill and confirmation to the US supreme court of Biden’s pick Ketanji Brown Jackson:

Republicans are betting that a stalled Biden agenda won’t give Democrats enough to run on in the midterm elections – and they might be right. Despite pandemic relief, infrastructure investments and the historic confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, we promised more – and voters remember those promises.

Republicans want to frame the upcoming elections to be about wokeness, cancel culture and the militant left wing. Standing up for the inherent dignity of everyone is a core American value, and Democrats are proud to do that every day. While Republican politicians peddle lies, fear and division, we should use every single one of the next 200 days or so before the election to deliver meaningful improvements for working people.

Democrats win elections when we show we understand the painful economic realities facing American families and convince voters we will deliver meaningful change. To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms.

Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Senator Elizabeth Warren. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Warren, a former candidate for the Democratic nomination, is among the party’s progressive wing, frustrated that Biden’s ambitious plans for social spending and reform, such as the Build Back Better act, were sunk as much from within as anything the Republicans did. Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia said he could not support the bill, killing its chances of passing in the split 50-50 chamber.

Warren believes Biden “can do more”:

Decisive action on everything from lowering prescription drug prices to ensuring that more workers are eligible for overtime pay can be executed by the president alone, using the authority already given to him by existing laws, without rounding up 50 Senate votes.

Like many Americans, I’m frustrated by our failure to get big things done — things that are both badly needed and very popular with all Americans. While Republican politicians obstruct many efforts to improve people’s lives and many swear loyalty to the Big Lie, the urgency of the next election bears down on us.

Democrats cannot bow to the wisdom of out-of-touch consultants who recommend we simply tout our accomplishments. Instead, Democrats need to deliver more of the president’s agenda — or else we will not be in the majority much longer.

Read Warren’s op-ed here.

In Opinion

“To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms,” writes Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in a guest essay. https://t.co/8qlBq99WUx

— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 18, 2022

11.37

Biden welcomes families to White House for return of Easter Egg roll

The traditional White House Easter Egg roll returned to the south lawn after a Covid-enforced two-year absence on Monday, the celebratory mood of Joe Biden’s first time hosting it a marked contrast to the politics-infused events of the Donald Trump era.

“My job is to keep it from raining,” the president said as he joined the first lady Jill Biden, vice-president Kamala Harris and thousands of children and their families for the day-long event.

Ultimately, the weather didn’t cooperate, and delivered an Easter Monday soaking reminiscent of the 2019 egg roll hosted by Trump that was the most recent before the pandemic intervened.

First lady Jill Biden and her husband President Joe Biden read to families during the White House Easter Egg Roll.
First lady Jill Biden and her husband President Joe Biden read to families during the White House Easter Egg Roll. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

But the rain was one of few similarities. Instead of talk of the border wall and other campaign rhetoric, Trump throwing signed hats into the crowd and Donald Trump Jr declaring his own daughter the “winner” of the egg racing, this year’s event was themed around education, and had a much lighter feel, billed as the “egg-ucation roll.”

Jill Biden, a college professor, gave the introduction from the south lawn balcony, flanked by her husband and two outsized Easter bunnies:

As your first lady and as a teacher, I’ve seen again and again that learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom. There are so many fun opportunities to learn around us every day. And that’s especially true here at the White House.

For generations, presidents, and first ladies, and kids just like you celebrated the Easter Egg roll together, racing and making crafts, reading books and of course, meeting the Easter Bunny.

Education never stops. The determined spirit of education is what we wanted to honor in this Easter Egg Roll. So we turned the south lawn into a school community.

About 30,000 children and their families were invited to attend the celebration. Besides the egg roll and an egg hunt, events included a schoolhouse activity area, a reading nook, a talent show, a place to teach about farming, a photo-taking station, a physical “egg-ucation” zone with an obstacle course, and a “cafetorium” where children will learn to make treats according to Reuters.

Costumed characters included several from Sesame Street and Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat.

Since its first appearance on Easter Monday in 1878, The White House egg roll has, traditionally, been hosted as a politics-free event. Biden said: “It’s so special. It means so much to see the children and all the families show up, the joy, the laughter.”

11.13

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Kamala Harris plays Wordle as a “brain cleanser” between official duties and has never failed to guess the five-letter word of the day, but cannot share successes with friends because her official phone does not let her send text messages.

Kamala Harris.
Kamala Harris. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

The vice-president discussed her love for the online game designed by Welsh-born Josh Wardle in an interview with the Ringer.

“I have 100%,” she said, “and I intend to keep it that way.”

She also said her winning streak was just 48, because “it got messed up when it got moved over to the New York Times”.

Wardle designed Wordle for his partner. The Times bought it in January for a price “in the low seven figures”.

Players of Wordle are given six chances to guess one five-letter word a day, coloured squares indicating letters in the right slot or contained in the word elsewhere.

Harris said she averaged four guesses and started with the same word every day: “Notes. N-O-T-E-S.”

She added: “I think that you have to have a healthy mix of consonants and vowels, and a lot of words come with an S. For example, today there was an S and an E, I believe.”

Harris was speaking on Friday, when the word of the day was “shame”.

The vice-president said she sometimes played while traveling, and “must have played it when I was in Poland”.

Harris visited Poland in March, to bolster US allies amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“But we won’t talk about that, right?” she said.

Full story:

10.31

The race to challenge Florida’s Trumpist Republican governor Ron DeSantis in November’s midterms is heating up. On Monday, one of the leading candidates – the former governor and current congressman Charlie Crist – won a key endorsement from House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi’s backing is hardly a surprise, given the two have worked side by side in the Capitol for six years.

But it does give Crist, who switched to the Democratic party after serving as Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican, a name-brand lift over his main rivals for the Democratic nomination, Florida’s agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried and state senator Annette Taddeo.

Crist says he has raised $8.2m in his campaign to unseat DeSantis, tipped as a 2024 presidential candidate and who has garnered headlines in recent weeks for picking a fights with Disney over his anti-LBGTQ+ “don’t say gay bill” and signing into law draconian new abortion restrictions.

But DeSantis leads in the polls, and has amassed his own sizeable election war chest of almost $110m, according to Ballotpedia.

10.04

Republicans have a plan to gain revenge over Democrats for booting controversial lawmakers Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from House committees, the Punchbowl newsletter is reporting, so long as they win back control of the chamber in November’s midterms.

Kevin McCarthy.
Kevin McCarthy. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

They are considering imposing term limits on committee chairs and ranking members when the 118th Congress convenes in January 2023.

There’s been simmering anger among senior Republicans, including the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, since extremists Greene and Gosar were removed from their committee assignments by the Democratic-controlled House.

Greene, a Georgia congresswoman, lost her committee assignments in February 2021 for “racist and incendiary” comments.

The Arizona representative Gosar, who has extensive links to white nationalists and 6 January Capitol rioters, was censured and lost his in November for posting an animated video that depicted him killing Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and attacking Joe Biden.

The Republicans’ plan to limit chairs and ranking members to three terms, according to Punchbowl, would forcibly remove long-serving Democratic veterans under a Republican majority.

They include Maxine Waters of California (top Democrat on the financial services committee since 2013); Bennie Thompson of Mississippi (homeland security, 2005); Frank Pallone of New Jersey (energy and commerce, 2015); Adam Smith of Washington state (armed services, 2011) and Nydia Velázquez of New York (small business, 1998).

Punchbowl reports:

This potential move by Republicans would have a seismic impact on the House and would be a huge breach of tradition.

For decades, the two parties have set their own internal rules to decide who sits on committees and for how long. Republicans have had term limits in place since 1994, Democrats currently don’t have any such regulations.

Read the Punchbowl newsletter here.

09.48

Peter Stone

An influential conservative group that includes two Donald Trump allies who helped push lies about voter fraud in 2020 is spearheading “election integrity” summits in battleground states, advocating for expanded poll watching, “clean” voter rolls and other measures watchdogs say could curb voting rights to help Republican candidates.

Cleta Mitchell.
Cleta Mitchell. Photograph: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/AP

The Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) “election integrity network” is run by the veteran GOP lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who helped to spread misinformation about supposed election fraud in 2020.

Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s last White House chief of staff, is a senior partner of the CPI and reportedly had a lead role in at least one of its summits.

Mitchell, CPI’s senior legal fellow, has hosted multi-day summits, seeking to mobilize hundreds of conservative activists for elections this year in Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania, all states that Trump lost to Joe Biden, and Florida, which he won.

CPI is slated to hold summits this spring in Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin, as it seeks to build “election integrity” infrastructure in swing states.

Powerful groups on the right such as Heritage Action and Tea Party Patriots Action have participated in previous summits.

Ties between CPI and Trump were underscored last July, when the former president’s Save America leadership Pac donated $1m to the group weeks after the House voted to create a committee to investigate the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 by Trump loyalists seeking to disrupt certification of Biden’s election victory.

Read more here:

09.31

A second global Covid-19 summit will take place virtually on 12 May, the White House has announced, seeking to increase the take-up rate of vaccinations internationally.

The news comes as the BA.2 subvariant begins to take hold in several areas of the US. The White House statement said the US would co-host the summit with Belize, chair of the Caribbean Community (Caricom); Germany, which holds the G7 presidency; Indonesia and Senegal:

The emergence and spread of new variants, like Omicron, have reinforced the need for a strategy aimed at controlling Covid-19 worldwide. Together, we can mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and protect those at the highest risk with vaccinations, testing, and treatments.

We know we must prepare now to build, sustain, and finance the global capacity we need, not only for emerging Covid-19 variants, but also future health crises.

Joe Biden convened the first global Covid-19 summit last September, calling for international cooperation in finding strategies to end the pandemic. But the Delta and Omicron variants sent infection rates soaring, while less than 60% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated.

There are renewed concerns over a resurgence of the pandemic, with Omicron forcing new lockdowns and deaths in China, and the spread of BA.2 worrying world leaders, including in the US, where an indoor mask mandate took effect Monday in Philadelphia, the first major American city to do so.

The 12 May summit, the White House says, will focus on several areas and “place an emphasis on supporting locally-led solutions to both immediate and long-term challenges.”

They include “getting shots into arms; deploying tests and treatments, especially for the highest-risk populations; expanding and protecting the health workforce and minimizing disruptions to routine and essential health services; and generating sustainable financing for pandemic preparedness, health security, and health systems.”

Read the White House statement here.

09.14

Good morning, welcome to the US politics blog, and a new week in Washington DC (although lawmakers are mostly elsewhere, with Congress on Easter recess for another week).

Joe Biden begins his week with the coronavirus pandemic on his mind. The White House has announced the US will co-host the second global Covid-19 summit on 12 May, the virtual event seeking primarily to increase the take-up rate of vaccinations internationally.

Russia appears to be making territorial gains and expanding its missile attacks in Ukraine. You can follow developments in the conflict on our 24-hour live blog here.

Here’s what else we’re following today:

  • Joe Biden will host the annual Easter Egg roll at the White House later this morning, joined by the first lady Jill Biden and the vice-president Kamala Harris. The year’s event, the first for two years, is billed as an EGGucation egg roll.
  • It’s Tax Day in the US, and soaring inflation remains a concern for American families and Democratic politicians, who fear it could cost them dearly in November’s midterm elections.
  • If Republicans do win back control of Congress, they have a plan to term-limit ranking Democrats on House committees.

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