Republicans slap down Manchin’s voting rights compromise – US politics live

  • Mitch McConnell says proposal is ‘rotten to the core’
  • Manchin’s plan tries to attract bipartisan support in Senate

Christopher Staudinger reports for the Louisiana Illuminator and Floodlight, a nonprofit that partners with the Guardian:

One morning in September, word of layoffs began to spread quickly through Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in the small industrial community of Garyville, Louisiana.

Related: A US oil company cut nearly 2,000 jobs – and reaped $2.1bn in pandemic benefits

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Most of the city’s attention was focused on the supreme court yesterday, as the justices dismissed a Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act. However, there were also some significant developments on Capitol Hill.

Democrats can change the packaging, but their plan for a power-grab of America’s electoral system is still rotten to the core. My full statement: https://t.co/HLRuDSZ3lS

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Joe Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday – as it happened

  • ‘Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments,’ president says
  • ‘It is time to move forward,’ Biden says after supreme court decision
  • Supreme court votes 7-2, preserving healthcare for millions
  • House votes to repeal measure that gave Bush authority to invade Iraq
  • New York grand jury stores up trouble for Trump Organization executives

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US failing to offer ‘Havana syndrome’ sufferers adequate care, diplomats say – live

  • Officials ‘invalidating our injuries and experiences’, letter states
  • Biden says US must redouble efforts to investigate virus origins
  • Senate Republicans want to lower cost of $1.7tn infrastructure plan

Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, was on the front lines of the protests and election disinformation fueled by Trump’s “Big Lie” about election fraud as the battleground state’s chief election official.

In a new interview with the Associated Press, Benson warns that the ongoing disputes and conspiracy theories around the 2020 election are only the beginning of what she sees as a sustained attack on American democracy that will culminate in a renewed attack on election legitimacy in 2024.

AP: Across the country, we are seeing several GOP-controlled legislatures seeking to exert more control over election officials. How concerned are you that we could end up seeing more of these outside ballot reviews like in Arizona or even takeovers of local election offices?

BENSON: I feel very strongly that the battles that we saw around 2020’s election ... was just the beginning of what is clearly turning out to be a multi-year, strategic, nationally coordinated, partisan assault on the vote in our country and on our democracy. And we will see another battle in the 2022 elections around that truth and around the security of the vote, around access to the vote. But it’s also all going to culminate, I believe, in an effort to try again in 2024 what those democracy deniers attempted to do in 2020 but failed. And in 2024, the bad actors, I believe, will be more coordinated, more strategic, better funded and will have the benefit of doing this work for a number of years. I’m deeply concerned about the future health of our democracy.

Democrats Move to Fulfill Biden’s Election Promise on Healthcare ‘Public Option’

Two Congressional Democrats are pushing to create a “public option” for healthcare coverage to compete with private health insurance plans, and aim to introduce legislation by the end of the year, NBC News reports.

A federal public option will help lower health care costs and guarantee that health care is a right not a privilege.@FrankPallone and I plan to work with our colleagues to craft comprehensive legislation to create a federal public option. https://t.co/Df0YmgEN35

Unlike 2009, @JoeLieberman isn't around to kill the public option. But now Democrats have thinner majorities, no hope of Republican support and are guaranteed to face an assault from health industry groups who are prepared to fight this. https://t.co/nMXYoQzPhG

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Madam Speaker review: how Nancy Pelosi outwitted Bush and Trump

John Boehner calls the Democrat the most powerful House speaker ever. Susan Page’s authoritative biography shows why

John Boehner, a Republican predecessor, concedes that Nancy Pelosi may be the most powerful House speaker in history. Pelosi provided George W Bush with the votes he needed to prevent a depression, as Republicans balked. She helped make Obamacare the law of the land.

Related: On the House review: John Boehner’s lament for pre-Trump Republicans

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Fauci hits back at rightwing criticism and says attacks on him ‘bizarre’

Scientist forced to defend himself from attacks by Trump allies and says ‘I can’t be bothered with getting distracted’

Anthony Fauci has described attacks on him from Republicans as “bizarre”, after a barrage of criticism from senior GOP figures.

Related: ‘There is a solution’: a Covid survivor’s life-or-death battle for Medicare for All

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Covid cases fall over 80% among US nursing home staff and residents

Despite vaccine hesitancy, figures show a big drop in infections – giving hope that, after a brutal year, an end is in sight

Joan Phillips, a certified nursing assistant in a Florida nursing home, loved her job but dreaded the danger of going to work in the pandemic. When vaccines became available in December, she jumped at the chance to get one.

Months later, it appears that danger has faded. After the rollout of Covid vaccines, the number of new Covid cases among nursing home...

Coronavirus live news: at least 3,000 nurses have died in year since WHO declared Covid pandemic

3,000 nurses dead, Covid exodus looming warns global federation; Brazil again suffers record deaths; five countries suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccine

Interim data from a late-stage study of their experimental Covid antibody therapy showed an 85% reduction in hospitalisation or death in patients, Vir Biotechnology Inc and GlaxoSmithKline Plc said on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Following the data an independent panel has recommended stopping the trial, the two companies said, adding they were planning to submit an emergency use authorisation application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment.

US nursing home residents vaccinated against Covid can get hugs again from their loved ones, and all residents may enjoy more indoor visits, the government said Wednesday in a step toward pre-pandemic normalcy.

AP: The policy guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, comes as coronavirus cases and deaths among nursing home residents have plummeted in recent weeks at the same time that vaccination accelerated. People living in long-term care facilities have borne a cruel toll from the pandemic. They represent about 1% of the US population, but account for 1 in 3 deaths, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Government officials acknowledged that isolation deepened the misery for residents as long-term care facilities remained locked down much of last year. Loneliness contributed to physical as well as mental decline. The ban on visits went into effect almost one year ago and only in the fall were facilities allowed to begin socially distanced outdoor visits and limited indoor ones.

“There is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one,” CMS said in its new guidance, “Therefore, if the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and performing hand-hygiene before and after.”

So while hugs are OK again for residents who have completed their vaccination, precautions such as wearing masks and using hand sanitiser remain in place as a counterbalance to risk. CMS also underscored that maintaining 6 feet of separation is still the safest policy, and outdoor visits are preferable even when residents and visitors have been vaccinated.

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Republicans want to make it harder to pass ballot initiatives. That should alarm us | David Daley

State legislators are trying to make it more difficult for citizens to take action when their own representatives won’t

They walked through Michigan college football games dressed as gerrymandered districts. They crisscrossed Idaho in a decades-old RV dubbed the Medicaid Express. In Florida, they united black and white, left and right, Trump-loving “deplorables” and radical criminal justice reformers into a mighty moral movement to end an ugly vestige of Jim Crow.

Related: The...

Biden to set out his foreign policy in state dept speech – live updates

President has promised US will re-engage globally after isolationist Trump era

A Texas county judge has temporarily blocked the state’s efforts to remove Planned Parenthood from Medicaid, report CNN. Caroline Kelly writes:

A slew of Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates asserted in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission failed to issue “a proper notice of termination” from the program. The state had promised to remove the groups from the Medicaid program Thursday.

The chief press officer for the Texas Health & Human Services Commission, Christine Mann, declined to comment on the case citing pending litigation.

Sam Baker and Andrew Witherspoon have a relatively upbeat analysis of the coronavirus situation across the US today for Axios. They write:

New coronavirus infections slowed by nearly 16% over the past week, continuing a trend of rapid improvement. The US still has a ton of coronavirus, and there’s still the potential for dark days ahead. But this is progress, and the improvement is significant. If this trend keeps going, the country will be in a far better and safer position as vaccines continue to roll out.

Nationwide, the US is averaging about 139,000 new cases per day — a 16% improvement over last week, which was a 16% improvement over the week before. The number of new hospitalizations was also down last week, by just over 26%. And deaths fell by about 6%, to an average of 3,097 deaths per day.

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Don’t swerve the culture war – that’s the lesson from Joe Biden to UK progressives | Owen Jones

The Democrats’ victory involved working with minorities and helping the working class. Keir Starmer, take heed

“Culture war” used to be a term inextricably linked with the maelstrom of US politics. Popularised by American sociologist James Davison Hunter in his 1991 book Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America, it described how socially progressive and conservative coalitions were locked in a seemingly eternal conflict. It could make for surprising alliances, he noted, citing Pr...