Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday named Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and a harsh critic of former President Donald J. Trump, to a newly created special committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, taking the unusual step giving one of her seats to a member of the opposing party.
Ms. Cheney was ousted from her Republican leadership post for speaking out about the role of Mr. Trump and her own party in spreading lies about the election that led to the riot.
Her appointment to the committee appeared to be an attempt by Democrats to bring a degree of bipartisanship to an investigation that G.O.P. leaders have fought mightily to block and have already dismissed as an unfair and one-sided inquiry.
“I’m honored to serve on the Jan. 6 select committee,” Ms. Cheney said in a statement. “Our oath to the Constitution must be above partisan politics.”
Ms. Pelosi selected Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, as its chairman and chose a number of her closest allies to serve on the panel, as well as some centrists who represent conservative-leaning districts.
“We have to get to the bottom of finding out all the things that went wrong on Jan. 6,” Mr. Thompson said.
Under the measure that created the panel, adopted on Wednesday over the opposition of nearly every Republican, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, has the right to consult with Ms. Pelosi on five members from his party. He has yet to announce his choices.
Ms. Pelosi’s appointments to the committee are:
Mr. Thompson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee
Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the House Administration Committee
Representative Adam Schiff of California, who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee
Representative Pete Aguilar of California
Representative Stephanie Murphy, Democrat of Florida
Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland
Representative Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia
Mr. McCarthy told freshmen Republicans on Wednesday night that he could strip Republicans of their committee assignments if they accepted an appointment to the panel from Ms. Pelosi, according to a person familiar with his comments, who confirmed an earlier report in Punchbowl News.
Mr. McCarthy has already ousted Ms. Cheney from her post as the No. 3 House Republican over her insistence that Mr. Trump be held accountable for his role in influencing the violence and mayhem of the deadly Jan. 6 attack, in which a mob tried to stop the certification of President Biden’s victory.
Only Ms. Cheney and one other Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, supported the creation of the panel, which was established at Ms. Pelosi’s behest after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan independent commission to scrutinize the assault. It will investigate what its organizing resolution calls “the facts, circumstances and causes relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack.”
The Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack is also charged with reporting its findings, conclusions and recommendations for preventing future attacks.
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld voting restrictions in Arizona and signaled that challenges to new state laws making it harder to vote would face a hostile reception from a majority of the justices.
The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent.
The decision was the court’s first consideration of how a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 applies to voting restrictions that have a disproportionate impact on members of minority groups, and it was issued as disputes over voting rights have taken center stage in American politics.
As Republican-controlled state legislatures increasingly seek to impose restrictive new voting rules, Democrats and civil rights groups have turned to the courts to argue that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote, thwart the will of the majority and deny equal access to minority voters. The decision suggested that Supreme Court would not be inclined to strike down many of the measures.
After the ruling, President Biden said in a statement that “the court has now done severe damage” to two important provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
“After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this Nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them,” he said. “Yet this decision comes just over a week after Senate Republicans blocked even a debate — even consideration — of the For the People Act that would have protected the right to vote from action by Republican legislators in states across the country.”
“While this broad assault against voting rights is sadly not unprecedented, it is taking on new forms,” Mr. Biden said. “It is no longer just about a fight over who gets to vote and making it easier for eligible voters to vote. It is about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all.”
President Biden pledged ongoing help from the federal government as he arrived in Florida Thursday to resume his role as consoler in chief following the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building which has left at least 18 people dead and as many as 145 unaccounted for.
At a briefing where he sat next to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican and frequent critic of the president, Mr. Biden hailed the cooperation between state, local and federal agencies in the wake of the tragedy.
“I mean just the simple act of everybody doing whatever needs to be done really makes a difference,” he said.
Mr. DeSantis returned the compliment, saying that Mr. Biden’s administration had been quick to recognize the severity of the incident.
“You guys have not only been supportive at the federal level but we’ve had no bureaucracy,” Mr. DeSantis told the president.
“I promise there will be none,” Mr. Biden responded.
Following the briefing in Surfside, Fla., the president met briefly with a group of emergency workers, including firefighters and search-and-rescue teams who had been working for the past week at the site of the disaster.
“I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Mr. Biden told them. “No one fully appreciates what you do. But I promise you we know. We know. What you are dealing with here is incredible, having to deal with the uncertainty.”
The president is scheduled to meet later in the afternoon with family members of those killed or missing in the still unexplained destruction of the residential structure.
For Mr. Biden, who has faced his own personal tragedy — including the deaths of his wife and daughter, and later his grown son — it is a role that is all too familiar. His successful campaign for the presidency was built in part on his ability to display an empathy for those suffering that often eluded former President Donald J. Trump, especially in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed 600,000 American lives.
When space shuttles explode or mines collapse, presidents have often expressed grief, horror and sadness with the cameras running, hoping to help the public grapple with the difficult emotions that flow from tragedy. But Mr. Biden’s task on Thursday may be among the trickier ones in recent memory.
Because rescuers have not publicly given up the possibility that survivors may be found under the rubble, the president cannot simply eulogize the dead. Families are clinging to hope, no matter how slim. And yet, Mr. Biden’s visit is an indication that the efforts at the collapse site are moving to a new, less hopeful phase.
No survivors have been found since shortly after the collapse, and on Thursday rescue work was paused while engineers evaluated concerns that the rest of the tower could also fall.
The visit comes just three months after the president traveled to Georgia to express grief for the victims of a mass shooting that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent, amid a spasm of racial violence across the country.
“I know they feel like there’s a black hole in their chest they’re being sucked into, and things will never get better,” Mr. Biden said after a meeting with leaders of Atlanta’s Asian American community. “But our prayers are with you. And I assure you, the one you lost will always be with you, always be with you.”
White House officials declined to say much on Wednesday night about what the president will say in Florida. After his closed-door sessions with family members, the president is expected to deliver remarks to the nation from the hotel before leaving to return to Washington.
The White House did not say whether Mr. Biden would visit the actual site of the building’s collapse. Earlier in the week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the president was determined not to let his presence get in the way of the search-and-rescue teams.
For most of the families, the visit will be a high-profile interruption of their desperate vigil as they wait for word from the pile of crushed concrete and bent steel that used to be the homes of their loved ones. For a handful of them, Mr. Biden’s appearance will serve as a kind of grim exclamation point.
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that California may not require charities soliciting contributions in the state to report the identities of their major donors.
The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent.
The requirement was challenged by Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a group affiliated with the Koch family, and the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian public-interest law firm. They argued that the requirement violated the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of association by subjecting donors to possible harassment.
The disputed measure requires charities to file with the state a copy of a federal tax form that identifies major donors. Under federal law, the Internal Revenue Service must keep the form confidential. California also promised to keep the forms secret, but it has not always done so.
According to court papers, the challengers discovered in 2015 that the state had displayed about 1,800 forms on its website. State officials said that the disclosures were inadvertent and promptly corrected and that the state had imposed new security measures.
The House on Thursday narrowly approved a five-year, $715 billion transportation and drinking water bill that would do more to combat climate change than the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure agreement embraced by President Biden, laying down its marker for negotiations on the package.
Democratic leaders see the bill as a baseline for high-stakes talks with the Senate aimed at producing the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight D. Eisenhower began the interstate highway system. The House measure, which would authorize a 50-percent increase over current spending levels, passed by a vote of 221-201, largely along party lines.
The bill would devote $343 billion to roads, bridges and safety measures. It contains $109 billion for transit, which would increase federal spending by 140 percent. It envisions spending $168 billion for wastewater and drinking water, and it includes a new program to forgive unpaid water bills and then to help pay bills in the future, much as the government helps pay home heating and air conditioning costs.
With heat records rising from Arizona to Seattle, House Democrats emphasized the billions that would go toward measures aimed at climate change. It would spend money on electric car and truck charging stations, zero-emission transit vehicles and shoring up roads, bridges, tunnels and rail lines to withstand severe weather and rising seas. Funding for Amtrak would be tripled, to $32 billion, and planning for high-speed rail projects would be underwritten.
“We have to rebuild in ways that we never even thought about before,” said Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, adding, “This is the moment. We have to be bold.”
Just how the House Democratic vision of infrastructure will be melded with the deal struck by five Republicans and five Democrats in the Senate is anything but clear. The House bill and the Senate deal are not far apart in spending on traditional infrastructure. Both efforts take up Mr. Biden’s call to replace all of the country’s lead drinking water pipes.
But the Senate framework only lays down broad categories of spending, while the House bill would extend surface transportation policies and revenues from user fees that are set to expire Oct. 1. It would also establish new policies like Buy-American requirements and a pilot program to give low-income people better access to transit.
Another wrinkle: It is the first bill in a decade to include funds for projects in lawmakers’s home districts, known as earmarks. There are 1,473 of them totaling nearly $5.7 billion. House members in both parties will be reluctant to lose them.
One major thing missing in the House bill, however, is Republican support — even from those who won coveted projects for their districts. Only two G.O.P. lawmakers crossed party lines to support it.
House Republicans criticized the legislation as overly political, too expensive and slanted toward social engineering measures that would outstrip the funds available from gas and diesel taxes and other user fees long dedicated to infrastructure spending. Republican leaders called the bill the “Green New Deal and Inflation Transportation Act.”
With many House Republicans denying the established science of climate change and rural lawmakers feeling shortchanged by the shift toward mass transit and rail, the bill is not expected to draw the broad support usually afforded to such measures.
The climate provisions are substantial. The bill includes $4 billion for electric-vehicle charging stations, $8.3 billion to reduce carbon pollution and $6.2 billion to make infrastructure resistant to extreme weather. Answering Mr. Biden, it would dedicate $3 billion to tearing down bridges and overpasses that separate many poor communities, most of them Black and Latino, from their cities.
To avoid breaking Mr. Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on middle-income Americans, House Democrats would not raise the gas tax to cover the increased spending.
Mr. DeFazio said the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee would produce separate legislation later to pay for the infrastructure spending, but House approved the spending without having seen the other side of the ledger.
In a call secretly recorded by an individual working for the environmental group Greenpeace UK, a veteran oil-industry lobbyist described efforts by Exxon Mobil to undermine government action on climate change.
During the call with a person he believed was a recruiter, Keith McCoy, a senior director of federal relations for Exxon, described how the oil and gas giant had targeted influential United States senators in an effort to weaken climate action in President Biden’s flagship infrastructure plan. That plan now contains few of the ambitious ideas Mr. Biden initially proposed to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change.
Mr. McCoy also said that Exxon’s support for a tax on carbon dioxide was “a great talking point” for the oil company, but that he did not believe the tax would ever happen. He also said that the company had aggressively fought climate science through “shadow groups.”
On Wednesday, excerpts from the conversation were aired by the British broadcaster Channel 4. The affiliate of Greenpeace that recorded the video, Unearthed, also released excerpts.
Darren Woods, Exxon’s chief executive, said in a statement that the comments “in no way represent the company’s position on a variety of issues, including climate policy, and our firm commitment that carbon pricing is important to addressing climate change,” and that Mr. McCoy and another lobbyist interviewed in the recording “were never involved in developing the company’s policy positions on the issues discussed.”
Millions of tax returns are still awaiting processing by the Internal Revenue Service, which has faced a far bigger backlog than in years past.
That means any refunds due for those Americans have also been delayed. About 70 percent of the individual returns processed so far have been due refunds, with an average size of $2,827.
More than 35 million 2020 federal returns were waiting to be processed at the close of the filing season in mid-May — more than three times as many backlogged returns than at the end of last year’s filing season, according to a report released Wednesday from an independent advocacy group within the Internal Revenue Service.
“For taxpayers who can afford to wait, the best advice is to be patient and give the I.R.S. time to work through its processing backlog,” Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, said in her midyear report to Congress. “But particularly for low-income taxpayers and small businesses operating on the margin, refund delays can impose significant financial hardships.”
The I.R.S. said in a statement that it had been processing returns continually for current and prior years, including amended returns filed by taxpayers. As of June 18, it had fully processed almost seven million individual tax returns since the end of tax season, and more than 15 million of the backlogged returns are in some stage of processing, the agency said.
The report — which also included recommendations for the I.R.S. and a series of objectives that the advocate plans to pursue in the upcoming year — said the backlog resulted largely from a pandemic-related evacuation order that restricted employee access to I.R.S. facilities. In 2019, before the pandemic started, the agency had a backlog of 7.4 million returns at the close of the filing season. Last year, that number swelled to 10.7 million.
The I.R.S. has not only had to perform its traditional duties, it has also had to digest tax legislation that was enacted in the 2021 filing season, the report said. Then, there was the third round of stimulus payments that the agency started sending in mid-March. Over the past 15 months, the agency has processed 475 million stimulus payments worth $807 billion.
The I.R.S. processed 136 million individual income tax returns by the end of the filing season, and issued 96 million refunds totaling about $270 billion. The 35.3 million returns that were still outstanding at the end of the filing season included individuals and businesses. The taxpayer advocate said those returns required some sort of manual assistance, meaning an employee needed to get involved before they could be pushed to the next stage of the processing pipeline.
A plan for a new global tax system that would ensure multinational corporations pay a fair share of tax wherever they operate and earn profits has been endorsed by 130 countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Thursday.
The new system, including a 15 percent minimum corporate tax rate put forward by the United States, was approved in June by finance leaders of the Group of 7 nations.
Some details still need to be worked out, including how to execute the plan, which is expected to be finalized in October, the O.E.C.D. said. But the organization says it expected taxation rights on more than $100 billion of profits to be reallocated from the companies’ home countries to the other markets where they operate.
The 15 percent minimum tax rate is estimated to generate $150 billion in additional tax revenue each year, the organization said.
“The framework updates key elements of the century-old international tax system, which is no longer fit for purpose in a globalized and digitalized 21st century economy,” the O.E.C.D. said in a statement.
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