Biden news – live: Trump tries to take credit for vaccines as Congress passes huge $1.9trn Covid relief bill

Related video: Joe Biden joins roundtable on American Rescue Plan

Ex-US president Donald Trump has issued a statement seeking to take credit for the success of the “China Virus” vaccines, despite almost half a million Americans dying on his watch and his bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic attracting widespread criticism.

The US House of Representatives has meanwhile passed the final version of Joe Biden’s signature Covid relief legislation, sending the $1.9trn package to the president’s desk and meaning American citizens will begin receiving monthly $1,400 stimulus cheques as part of the administration’s efforts to kickstart the economy.

Mr Biden’s so-called American Rescue Plan Act is estimated to be the second most expensive in US history, behind last March’s initial pandemic response bill, and is more than twice as expensive as the stimulus package passed by the Obama administration in 2009 in response to the Great Recession.

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Lauren Boebert backs gun rights with debunked anecdote about man beaten to death

Another Republican eccentric drawing attention to herself yesterday was the Colorado congresswoman, who argued against stricter background checks for prospective gun buyers on the House floor by telling a story about a man she claimed had been beaten to death behind her restaurant – but who actually died of a drug overdose.

Boebert has repeatedly told the same false story about the incident near her Shooter’s Grill eaterie in the town of Rifle (no, really) on the campaign trail and in interviews.

Graeme Massie has this on her latest telling.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 11:20

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Marjorie Taylor Greene claims Covid bill ‘enslaves’ US and favours black Americans

The QAnon-backing Republican delivered one of the more absurd and inflammatory responses to the American Rescue Plan via social media yesterday, complaining that the $1.9trn package pays “reparations” to black farmers to the detriment of “the other races” and keeps the US “enslaved” to China and Japan by creating more national debt.

Ay yai yai…

Griffin Connolly was watching.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 11:00

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Biden facing growing pressure to back ‘vaccine passports’ for travel

Also on the subject of inoculation, the White House is facing increasing pressure from the airline and travel industries to throw its support behind vaccination passports, a proposal with the goal of eventually allowing Americans who have received their coronavirus jabs to fly freely for work and leisure.

Biden signed an executive order shortly after taking office earlier this year that instructed federal agencies to explore how Covid-19 vaccine records could be digitised and potentially used on international immunisation cards.

But the administration has not yet fully backed the concept, amid concerns over how the immunisation cards might impact privacy and human rights.

Chris Riotta has the latest.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 10:40

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Biden says he’ll share surplus US vaccines with rest of the world

While Trump was ludicrously attempting to take credit for vaccines developed by top research universities and pharmaceutical giants as he touted unproven hydroxychloroquine and glugging bleach, the new president was pledging to share the US’s eventual vaccine surplus with other nations.

“The surplus will – if we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world,” Biden said on Tuesday, shortly after announcing his government had secured a deal for the purchase of another 100m doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Griffin Connolly has more.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 10:20

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Senate approves Merrick Garland as new US attorney general

Back in DC, the Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Merrick Garland as Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general, almost five years to the day after president Barack Obama unsuccessfully nominated the former appeals judge to be a Supreme Court justice.

Obama nominated Garland to replace the late conservative Antonin Scalia on the high court in March of 2016, but Republicans refused to hold any hearings on his candidacy before that year’s presidential election in the fall, effectively handing the next Supreme Court pick to Donald Trump, before exposing themselves as brazen two-faced opportunists by hustling through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg last September.

“America can breathe a sigh of relief that we’re finally going to have someone like Merrick Garland leading the Justice Department. Someone with integrity, independence, respect for the rule of law and credibility on both sides of the aisle,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor.

“He understands that the job of the attorney general is one to protect rule of law, unlike the previous attorneys general under President Trump.”

Other confirmations yesterday including ex-Ohio congresswoman Marcia Fudge as Biden’s new housing and urban development secretary and Michael Regan as the first African American head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here’s Josh Marcus’s report on Garland.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 10:00

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New audio emerges of ex-president pressuring Georgia investigator

A little more from Trump before we let him get back to muttering incoherently under his breath in front of the embers of a log fire at Mar-a-Lago.

The Wall Street Journal has got hold of fresh audio of the ex-president harassing Georgia officials to “find” him enough votes to overturn his election defeat in the key state, following on from the leaking of January’s damning call with local secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, which this time finds him assuring chief investigator Frances Watson that he really did win the Peach State but that “something bad happened.”

“When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” he is heard to tell Watson.

“I can assure you that our team and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are only interested in the truth and finding the information that is based on the facts,” she replies, greatly to her credit.

Namita Singh has the full story.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 09:40

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Trump attempts to take credit for ‘China Virus’ vaccines

While genuine progress was finally being made towards helping out the beleaguered American public, Biden’s predecessor, a certain Donald Trump (whom you may dimly recall), was busy issuing a statement seeking to take credit for the success of the “China Virus” vaccine rollout, despite almost half a million Americans dying on his watch and his bungled response to the pandemic attracting widespread criticism.

Utterly tragic, entirely wrong, irrelevant and arguably even further divorced from reality than usual.

Graeme Massie braves the crazy.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 09:20

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What’s in the new stimulus package?

There was plenty of bickering in the House yesterday as not a single Republican voted to approve the bailout package, many complaining instead the bill amounted to “an expensive partisan wish list” as Democrats threw up their hands in exasperation.

But it passed comfortably nonetheless thanks to the latter’s majority.

Here’s how that $1.9trn will be spent to get the country back on its feet again.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 09:00

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Congress passes massive $1.9trn Covid relief bill in win for Biden

The US House of Representatives has passed the final version of Joe Biden’s signature Covid relief legislation, sending the $1.9trn package to the president’s desk and meaning American citizens will begin receiving monthly $1,400 stimulus cheques as part of the administration’s efforts to kickstart the economy.

Biden’s so-called American Rescue Plan Act is estimated to be the second most expensive in US history, behind last March’s initial coronavirus response bill, and is more than twice as expensive as the stimulus package passed by the Obama administration in 2009 in response to the Great Recession.

Here’s a breakdown of the voting:

The reaction from the Biden administration was naturally jubilant, with the president expected to sign the bill into law on Friday afternoon, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Griffin Connolly has a full report.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 08:40

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the Joe Biden administration.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2021 08:26

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