The House voted mostly along party lines on Wednesday to create a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, pushing ahead over Republican opposition with an inquiry into security failures and the origins of the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries.
Under a plan devised by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the 13-member panel will be dominated by Democrats, with eight members to be named by the majority party and five with input from Republicans. The select committee, which will have subpoena power, will investigate “the facts, circumstances and causes relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack” by a pro-Trump mob, according to its organizing resolution.
The measure passed 222 to 190, with only two Republicans joining the Democrats to support it.
“We have the duty, to the Constitution and the country, to find the truth of the Jan. 6 insurrection and to ensure that such an assault on our democracy cannot happen again,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to all House members on Wednesday. “It is clear that Jan. 6 was not simply an attack on a building, but an attack on our very democracy.”
In her letter, Ms. Pelosi said the committee was necessary because Senate Republicans, at the urging of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, had blocked the formation of an independent, bipartisan inquiry into the assault, leaving Congress with “no prospect for a commission at this time.”
Several officers who were injured in the attack were on hand to watch the vote from Ms. Pelosi’s box in the House gallery. They included Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police and two District of Columbia police officers: Michael Fanone, who has lobbied Republicans to support an investigation, and Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a door during the rampage. Relatives of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died after clashing with the rioters, joined them.
While the measure says that five members of the panel are to be named “after consultation with the minority leader,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, Mr. McCarthy has not said whether he will recommend anyone. Last week, he told police officers injured in the riot that he would take the appointment process seriously.
One of Ms. Pelosi’s aides said she was considering picking a Republican who has acknowledged the gravity of the attack for one of her eight slots. Many have speculated that she might select Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a former member of House Republican leadership who was removed from her post after she pushed the party to hold itself and former President Donald J. Trump responsible for fomenting the riot with false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen.
Ms. Cheney, one of only 35 House Republicans who voted to create an independent commission, also broke with her party on Wednesday to vote in favor of forming the select committee.
“I believe this select committee is our only remaining option,” she said in a statement. “The committee should issue and enforce subpoenas promptly, hire skilled counsel, and do its job thoroughly and expeditiously.”
Only one other Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, supported the investigation.
The rest of the party lined up in opposition to the panel, which their leaders insisted would be a partisan forum for attacking Mr. Trump and kneecapping Republicans in the 2022 elections.
Representative Michelle Fischbach, Republican of Minnesota, argued that the committee would duplicate existing investigations and engage in “partisan, divisive politics.”
“We gave you bipartisan,” Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, responded, referring to the proposed independent inquiry, which would have had an equal number of Democrat- and Republican-appointed members. “Give me a break. This is clear: They don’t want to get to the truth.”
With a record-shattering heat wave suffocating much of the Pacific Northwest and a drought-fueled wildfire season already well underway in New Mexico, Arizona and California, President Biden attended a virtual meeting with leaders of Western states on Wednesday to discuss strategies to minimize weather-related disasters this summer.
“The truth is, we’re playing catch-up,” Mr. Biden said, adding that he was surprised at the absence of federal attention to the details of firefighting when he came to office. “Right now we have to act, and act fast.”
He said he was extending the season for firefighters, so that “seasonal firefighters can stay on the job as long as they are needed.” And he said he was announcing an immediate grant of “fire mitigation funding” to Sonoma County, Calif., which was devastated by fires last year. Sonoma was among the first to apply for the new funding.
Mr. Biden, one of his senior aides said on Tuesday night, had asked for the briefing on federal and state preparedness for the fire season, similar to what he and his predecessors often receive at the opening of hurricane season.
But many of the proposals Mr. Biden discussed at the governors’ meeting — including a permanent raise for federal firefighters to roughly $15 an hour, early satellite detection of fires and better firefighting equipment — are unlikely to be ready for the wildfire season that has already begun in parts of the West, an aide told reporters during a White House conference call on Tuesday. The aide, a senior administration official, spoke on condition they not be identified.
The exception, Mr. Biden said Wednesday, would be some immediate bonuses for firefighters.
The governors of California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming were all expected to attend. With temperatures in Seattle climbing into triple digits over the past three days, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington said Tuesday that he would join as well, according to news reports.
The eye-popping temperatures across the West this week have added to the alarm over the punishing drought conditions already gripping the region.
The fires last year caused rolling blackouts and forced evacuations across the region, leaving many people displaced and without power. The current heat wave has left tens of thousands without power across Idaho, Oregon, California and Nevada on Monday.
Last week, Mr. Biden met with Deanne Criswell, the administrator of FEMA, to weigh the federal government’s readiness for extreme weather. It was at that meeting that he promised to increase wages for federal firefighters.
“I didn’t realize this, I have to admit — that federal firefighters get paid $13 an hour,” he said at the meeting. “That’s going to end in my administration — that’s a ridiculously low salary to pay federal firefighters.”
In the call with reporters, the aide noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was increasing the amount of money it provided to help communities prepare for wildfires. But the official acknowledged that those projects were unlikely to take form quickly enough to make a difference this season.
The federal government can also increase efforts to thin vegetation in forests, which the Biden administration proposed in May. Yet doing so would require Congress to approve more funding.
The most significant ways to reduce the threat of wildfire to people and property are to tighten building standards, pay to retrofit existing homes and push new development away from areas most exposed to fires, according to experts.
But those approaches tend to be controversial, and also require cooperation from state and local officials. And even then, they take years to yield results.
Americans will be allowed to declare their self-identified gender on their U.S. passports without providing medical documents under a new State Department rule announced on Wednesday, the final day of Pride Month.
The shift was the first step toward creating a gender marker on U.S. passports and citizenship certificates for people who identify as nonbinary or intersex, or otherwise do not conform to gender roles. That process is complex and will take time to complete, according to a statement by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.
In the meantime, officials said, Americans applying for passports and proof of citizenship when born abroad will no longer need to show medical certification if their stated gender does not match their other identification documents.
“With this action, I express our enduring commitment to the L.G.B.T.Q.I.+ community today and moving forward,” Mr. Blinken said in the statement.
The move fulfills a campaign promise by President Biden, who has raised concerns that without documented proof of their self-identified gender, transgender and nonbinary people risk being denied employment, housing and other benefits, including the right to vote.
Mr. Blinken said the new policy follows other countries that have taken similar steps — including Canada, Australia, Argentina, Nepal and New Zealand — to in part align with foreign allies and partners.
Until Wednesday, the State Department had required a doctor’s certificate stating that a passport applicant had either transitioned, or was in the process, to change their gender on official consular documents. A spokesman said that rule was no longer in effect.
Last month, the State Department reversed another policy that had disproportionally impacted L.G.B.T.Q. families, and granted U.S. citizenship to babies born abroad to married couples with at least one American parent — no matter which parent was biologically related to the child.
That policy, a victory for same-sex couples, effectively guaranteed that American and binational couples who use assisted reproductive technology to give birth overseas — such as surrogates or sperm donations — can pass along citizenship to their children.
Donald H. Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense for Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George W. Bush, who presided over America’s Cold War strategies in the 1970s and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq decades later, died on Tuesday at his home in Taos, N.M. He was 88.
The cause was multiple myeloma, said Keith Urbahn, a spokesman for the family.
Encores are hardly rare in the Washington merry-go-round, but Mr. Rumsfeld had the distinction of being the only defense chief to serve two nonconsecutive terms: 1975 to 1977 under Mr. Ford, and 2001 to 2006 under Mr. Bush. He was also the youngest, at 43, and the oldest, at 74, to hold the post — first in an era of Soviet-American nuclear perils, then in an age of subtler menace by terrorists and rogue states.
A staunch ally of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who had been his protégé and friend for years, Mr. Rumsfeld was a combative infighter who seemed to relish conflicts as he challenged cabinet rivals, members of Congress and military orthodoxies. And he was widely regarded in his second tour as the most powerful defense secretary since Robert S. McNamara during the Vietnam War.
Like his counterpart of long ago, Mr. Rumsfeld in Iraq waged a costly and divisive war that ultimately destroyed his political life and outlived his tenure by many years. But unlike Mr. McNamara, who offered mea culpas in a 2003 documentary, “The Fog of War,” Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged no serious failings and warned in a farewell address at the Pentagon that leaving Iraq would be a terrible mistake.
“A conclusion by our enemies that the United States lacks the will or the resolve to carry out our missions that demand sacrifice and demand patience is every bit as dangerous as an imbalance of conventional military power,” he said. “It may well be comforting to some to consider graceful exits from the agonies and, indeed, the ugliness of combat. But the enemy thinks differently.”
In his 2011 memoir, “Known and Unknown,” Mr. Rumsfeld still expressed no regrets over the decision to invade Iraq, which had cost the United States $700 billion and 4,400 American lives, insisting that the removal of President Saddam Hussein had justified the effort. “Ridding the region of Saddam’s brutal regime has created a more stable and secure world,” he wrote.
The Transportation Department announced on Wednesday that it would award $905 million in grants to two dozen state projects, including major repairs to a cracking bridge in Seattle and improvements to an 11-mile loop in Washington State that is meant to be a transportation hub, in an effort to strengthen the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
Reflecting the Biden administration’s campaign pledges, the department considered how each initiative addressed racial equity, climate change and environmental justice. Other determining factors included how the projects would aid local economies and create jobs.
“Historically, infrastructure didn’t always serve all people equally,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during a news conference on Wednesday. He added that the department wanted to “be very clear upfront about how things like equity and things like climate mattered.”
Mr. Buttigieg also lauded the $579 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal, which was thrown into turmoil when President Biden indicated last week that he would not sign it unless it was accompanied by a partisan bill containing much of the rest of his $4 trillion economic agenda. Mr. Biden has since walked back his comments, reassuring Republicans that he is committed to the bipartisan pact.
Mr. Buttigieg said the grants showed what the nation could “replicate at a greater scale” if Congress passed the agreement.
“This is a framework that will make our infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather, which is something especially on our minds as we see what’s happening in the Northwest,” he said, referring to the heat wave that has blanketed the Pacific Northwest.
Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, Iowa and Washington are among the 18 states slated to receive the grants. Congress has 60 days to review the department’s proposals.
Under the proposals, Pennsylvania would receive about $21 million to improve a segment of Route 61 that is at risk of closing because of deterioration and flooding. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation would be awarded $18 million to improve the safety of its streets.
The Times’s Visual Investigations team has spent six months reviewing thousands of videos, many filmed by rioters and since deleted from social media, to reconstruct the most complete picture to date of what happened at the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
They filed motions to unseal police body-camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications, reviewed internal police investigations, identified key players, and synchronized and mapped the visual evidence to create this 40-minute video.
When the nation’s antitrust laws were created more than a century ago, they were aimed at taking on industries such as Big Oil.
But technology giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple have risen in ways unforeseen by the laws. In recent decades, the courts have also interpreted the rules more narrowly.
On Monday, a pair of rulings dismissing federal and state antitrust lawsuits against Facebook renewed questions about whether the laws were suited to taking on tech power. A federal judge threw out the federal suit because, he said, the Federal Trade Commission had not supported its claims that Facebook holds a dominant market share, and he said the states had waited too long to make their case.
This week’s rulings have now put the pressure on lawmakers to push through a recently proposed package of legislation that would rewrite key aspects of monopoly laws to make some of the tech giants’ business practices illegal.
“This is going to strengthen the case for legislation,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, an antitrust expert at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “It seems to be proof that the antitrust laws are not up to the challenge.”
The legislation, which is made up of six bills, was introduced this month and passed the House Judiciary Committee last week. The bills would make it harder for the major tech companies to buy nascent competitors and to give preference to their own services on their platforms, and ban them from using their dominance in one business to gain the upper hand in another.
The White House is also expected to issue an executive order targeting corporate consolidation in tech and other areas of the economy. The order is still being drafted, and officials said Mr. Biden had not yet reviewed it. White House officials have declined to discuss it in detail until he signs it, most likely next week.
Amazon demanded on Wednesday that Lina Khan, the new chair of the Federal Trade Commission and an avowed critic of the company, recuse herself from any antitrust investigation into the e-commerce giant.
The company argued in a 25-page petition to the F.T.C. that Ms. Kahn could not be impartial in antitrust matters involving the company because she had been intensely critical of Amazon as a scholar and writer and because she had worked on the staff of a congressional investigation of the company.
“At a minimum, this record creates the appearance that the F.T.C., under Chair Khan’s leadership, would not be a neutral and impartial evaluator of the evidence developed in any antitrust investigation against Amazon or in deciding whether to bring enforcement actions against the company,” the company said in the filing.
Amazon said Ms. Khan should be recused from “at least all of the current antitrust investigations of Amazon of which the commission has notified Amazon.” The company is the subject of an F.T.C. inquiry, as well as investigations by state attorneys general.
A spokeswoman for the F.T.C., Lindsay Kryzak, declined to comment on the petition.
The petition shows how the major tech companies are trying to defang and discredit efforts by the Biden administration and lawmakers to regulate the industry. They have lobbied against bills that would ban some of their business practices, supported outside advocacy groups that defend their position and hired scores of lawyers to fend off investigations.
She told lawmakers at her April confirmation hearing that she saw a “whole range of potential risks” around the companies and signaled that she intended to try to address those risks while at the agency.
Amazon said that if Ms. Khan played a role in antitrust investigations of Amazon, it would violate federal ethics rules and the firm’s right to due process.
The company attached a statement from Thomas D. Morgan, a George Washington University law professor emeritus, supporting its position. Mr. Morgan said Amazon had paid him to provide his opinion.
Until the pandemic shuttered all of its productions, “Hamilton” was making a lot of money: It has played to full houses since it opened in 2015, and on Broadway it has been seen by 2.6 million people and grossed $650 million.
So why is the show getting $30 million in relief from the federal government, with the possibility of another $20 million coming down the road?
The answer is that, before the pandemic, “Hamilton” had five separately incorporated productions running in the United States — one on Broadway and four on tour — and, under the rules set up for the government’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which provides pandemic relief for the culture sector and live-event businesses, each was eligible for $10 million to help make up for lost revenue.
“Remember when Chrysler and GM were about to go bankrupt? In the same way that the federal government came in to bail out auto companies, it’s doing the same thing for all of show business with this legislation,” said the show’s lead producer, Jeffrey Seller. “It’s returning us to health and it’s protecting the well-being of our employees.”
Seller said that none of the money would go to the show’s producers (including him) or its investors, and none would be used as royalties for artists (including the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda).
Instead, he said, the money will be used to remount the shuttered productions, and to reimburse the productions for pandemic-related expenses.
The rollout of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant initiative, a $16 billion federal aid program designed to help get cultural organizations back on their feet after the pandemic forced many to close, has been plagued by delays and confusion. But the Small Business Administration, which is administering the program, has begun announcing grant recipients, and there are indications that Broadway and its affiliated businesses could fare well.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to lift a moratorium on evictions that had been imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Brett M. Kavanaugh in the majority.
The court gave no reasons for its ruling, which is typical when it acts on emergency applications. But Justice Kavanaugh issued a brief concurring opinion explaining that he had cast his vote reluctantly and had taken account of the impending expiration of the moratorium.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “Because the C.D.C. plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application” that had been filed by landlords, real estate companies and trade associations.
He added that the agency might not extend the moratorium on its own. “In my view,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote, “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the C.D.C. to extend the moratorium past July 31.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Congress declared a moratorium on evictions, which lapsed last July. The C.D.C. then issued a series of its own moratoriums.
“In doing so,” the challengers told the justices, “the C.D.C. shifted the pandemic’s financial burdens from the nation’s 30 to 40 million renters to its 10 to 11 million landlords — most of whom, like applicants, are individuals and small businesses — resulting in over $13 billion in unpaid rent per month.” The total cost to the nation’s landlords, they wrote, could approach $200 billion.
The moratorium defers but does not cancel the obligation to pay rent; the challengers wrote that this “massive wealth transfer” would “never be fully undone.” Many renters, they wrote, will be unable to pay what they owe. “In reality,” they wrote, “the eviction moratorium has become an instrument of economic policy rather than of disease control.”
In urging the Supreme Court to leave the moratorium in place, the government said that continued vigilance against the spread of the coronavirus was needed and noted that Congress had appropriated tens of billions of dollars to pay for rent arrears.
Rushing to help Afghans who face retribution for working alongside American troops in their home country, the House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to speed up the process that would allow them to immigrate to the United States.
With the American military in the final phases of withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years of war, more than 18,000 Afghans who have worked for the United States as interpreters, drivers, engineers, security guards and embassy clerks are stuck in a bureaucratic morass after applying for Special Immigrant Visas, available to people who face threats because of work for the U.S. government.
“I can say with confidence that I might not be here today had it not been for these men and women,” said Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado and a former Army Ranger who is the lead sponsor of the bill.
The measure, passed 366 to 46, would waive a requirement for applicants to undergo medical examinations in Afghanistan before qualifying, instead allowing them to do so after entering the United States. The first in a series of bipartisan bills intended to smooth the visa process, it aims to shorten the long waiting period, which can be as long as six or seven years for some applicants.
Mr. Crow said waiving the medical examination requirement would save the average applicant about a month on processing the visa. The bill requires that applicants complete their examinations within 30 days of arriving in the United States.
“In combat and in a war zone, every hour matters,” Mr. Crow said. “A month will save many, many lives.”
Since 2014, the nonprofit No One Left Behind has tracked the killings of more than 300 translators or their family members, many of whom died while waiting for their visas to be processed, according to James Miervaldis, the group’s chairman and an Army Reserve noncommissioned officer.
“It is a life and death situation,” said Representative Brad Wenstrup, Republican of Ohio. “It’ll be a black eye on the United States if we don’t do everything in our power to protect these allies.”
The House voted on Tuesday to remove statues honoring Confederate and other white supremacist leaders from public display at the United States Capitol, renewing an effort to rid the seat of American democracy of symbols of rebellion and racism.
The chamber voted 285 to 120 to approve the legislation, which aims to banish the likenesses of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, Jefferson Davis and roughly a dozen other figures associated with the Confederacy or white supremacist causes. Sixty-seven Republicans, including the party’s top leader, joined every Democrat in support of the changes, but a majority of the party stood against it.
“We can’t change history, but we can certainly make it clear that which we honor and that which we do not honor,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, who helped write the bill. “Symbols of hate and division have no place in the halls of Congress.”
The legislation will now go to the Senate, where Democrats have vowed to use their narrow majority to try to advance it.
The vote marked the latest round in a yearslong debate on Capitol Hill and across the country over the role of Confederate statues and symbols in public spaces, and the implications of removing them. Proponents of replacing the monuments with new ones commemorating the national struggle for equal rights have notched steady progress.
Among the likenesses targeted for removal is the bust of Chief Justice Taney, who as the leader of the Supreme Court in 1857 delivered the landmark Dred Scott v. Sandford decision denying the rights of citizenship to people of African descent. The legislation calls for Taney’s bust to be replaced with one of fellow Marylander Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.
The bill also specifically singles out for removal statues of Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, president of the Confederate States of America, and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, the former vice president and leader of the Senate’s pro-slavery faction.
The statues were selected and donated by states to the Capitol. Several states have already voluntarily taken steps to remove and replace some of them.
Conservatives decried the bill as an attempt to “whitewash” history or deprive states of their ability to choose what figures they want to see honored in the Capitol. Yet many of the Republican arguments against the measure on Tuesday focused on complaints about the removal process Democrats had proposed, not their goal.
“It would mean a whole lot more to this body, as well as the American people, if the states who originally put those statues in here were the ones who now ask that they would be removed,” said Representative Barry Loudermilk, Republican of Georgia.