Beyond Pandemic’s Upheaval, a Racial Wealth Gap Endures

“I want to emphasize that,” he added. “Through no fault of their own.”

The pandemic has hit African-Americans and Latinos hardest on all fronts, with higher infection and death rates, more job losses, and more business closures.

Proposals that confront the wealth gap head on, though, are both expensive and politically charged.

Professor Darity of Duke, a co-author of “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” has argued that compensating the descendants of Black slaves — who helped build the nation’s wealth but were barred from sharing it — would be the most direct and effective way to reduce the racial wealth gap.

Vice President Harris and Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey have tended to push for asset-building policies that have more popular support. They have offered programs to increase Black homeownership, reduce student debt, supplement retirement accounts and establish “baby bonds” with government contributions tied to family income.

With these accounts, recipients could build up money over time that could be used to cover college tuition, start a business or help in retirement.

Several states have experimented with small-scale programs meant to encourage children to go to college. Though those programs were not created to close the racial wealth gap, researchers have seen positive side effects. In Oklahoma, child development accounts seeded with $1,000 were created in 2007 for a group of newborns.

“We have very clear evidence that if we create an account of birth for everyone and provide a little more resources to people at the bottom, then all these babies accumulate assets,” said Michael Sherraden, founding director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, which is running the Oklahoma experiment. “Kids of color accumulate assets as fast as white kids.”

Without dedicated funds — the kind of programs that enabled white families to build assets — it won’t be possible for African-Americans to bridge the wealth gap, said Mehrsa Baradaran, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap.”

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Lippold’s Soaring Lincoln Center Sculpture Lands at La Guardia

Richard Lippold’s soaring sculpture “Orpheus and Apollo,” which had been removed from Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall (now David Geffen Hall) in 2014, will be suspended in flight once again: as the centerpiece of La Guardia Airport’s Central Hall.

“There are not a lot of places you can put a 40-foot-high sculpture” weighing 5 tons, said the architecture critic Paul Goldberger, who had the idea in 2019 when the use of Central Hall — a grand glass-enclosed connector between Terminal B and the AirTrain — was still being determined. “It occurred to me that two problems could be solved with one act,” Goldberger said. The hall is to open next year.

The relocation agreement between Lincoln Center, which could not accommodate the sculpture in its renovation plans for Geffen Hall, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey overseeing the airport’s $8 billion transformation, was brokered by Goldberger, an adviser on both projects.

Central Hall, which will be accessible pre-security, is being developed as the living room of La Guardia around the sculpture, which consists of 190 bars of gleaming metal hanging on steel wires from the ceiling. It will be visible from many perspectives both inside and outside through the glass facade.

Lippold is also known for “Ad Astra,” a stainless steel sculpture outside the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

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Those 16 or Older in NJ Will be Eligible for a Vaccine on April 19

All New Jersey residents 16 or older will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccination beginning on April 19, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said on Monday. It’s an announcement that heeds President Biden’s call for states to speed up their timelines for all adults to be eligible, as most other states already have.

Mr. Murphy’s move comes as the pace of vaccinations across the country has been steadily increasing. As of Sunday, an average of more than three million people are being vaccinated each day in the United States, and about 106 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to a New York Times database.

But even as the rollout of vaccinations continues to pick up pace, federal health officials and public health experts have been warning that the country could face a possible fourth surge in coronavirus cases.

Last week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pleaded with Americans to “hold on a little while longer.”

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DeSantis Bans Agencies, Businesses From Requiring ‘Vaccine Passports’ in Florida

Florida has banned state and local government agencies and businesses from requiring so-called vaccine passports, or documentation proving that someone has been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, issued an executive order on Friday prohibiting businesses from requiring patrons or customers to show vaccine documentation, or risk losing grants or contracts funded by the state. It was not immediately clear how the order applied to state and local government agencies.

Requiring proof of vaccination, the order says, would “reduce individual freedom” and “harm patient privacy,” as well as “create two classes of citizens based on vaccination.”

There has been much discussion about vaccine passports, a way to show proof that someone has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, though the passports raise daunting political, ethical and privilege questions. The Biden administration has made clear that it will neither issue nor require the passports, but Republicans have seized on the issue as an example of government overreach.

executive orders aimed at curbing the virus crisis called for government agencies to “assess the feasibility of linking Covid-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis” and creating electronic versions of them. A wide range of businesses, especially cruise lines and airlines, are eager to have a way for their customers to show proof of vaccination, especially as the number of new virus cases rises across the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that about 101.8 million people — nearly one-third of the total U.S. population — had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. As of Friday, an average of nearly three million shots a day were being administered, according to data reported by the C.D.C.

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society,” Mr. DeSantis said at a news conference on Monday.

Some other Republican governors have also come out against the passport concept. Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska issued a statement Wednesday saying that the state would not participate in any vaccine passport program, and Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri told reporters Thursday that he would not require vaccine passports in the state but was also not opposed to private companies adopting them.

The C.D.C. has issued guidance for fully vaccinated people that allows for the resumption of some activities in private settings. And on Friday, the agency said fully vaccinated Americans can travel “at low risk to themselves,” though federal health officials have urged people not to travel at all, unless they absolutely must.

New York, however, the state recently introduced a digital tool to allow people to easily show that they have either tested negative for the coronavirus or have been vaccinated in order to gain entry into some events and venues.

Walmart, last month, joined an international effort to provide standardized digital vaccination credentials to people. The company joins a push already backed by major health centers and tech companies including Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Cerner, Epic Systems, the Mitre Corporation and the Mayo Clinic.

Some colleges and universities have also begun setting vaccine requirements for the next school year. Cornell University issued a statement on Friday saying that vaccinations would be required for in-person attendance in the fall, and Rutgers University in New Jersey said last week that all students would need to be fully vaccinated to be allowed to return to campus in the fall, baring religious or medical reasons.

Mr. DeSantis’s order is likely to draw legal challenges, raising questions about the impact of two Supreme Court decisions. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the high court in 1905 upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. That ruling for more than a century has let public schools require proof of vaccinations of its students, with some exceptions for religious objections.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who had refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple on narrow grounds, and other courts have struggled with how to balance state laws barring discrimination against constitutional rights like free speech and the free exercise of religion. It is not clear that Florida businesses could invoke a constitutional right to refuse to comply with the new measure.

Some venues and events in Florida had already made plans to require vaccinations. The Miami Heat basketball team said it would give prime seating to vaccinated fans. The South Beach Wine & Food Festival said it would require proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to attend. Nova Southeastern University said it would mandate vaccinations for all faculty and staff members as of Aug. 1 to participate in on-campus learning.

It was not immediately clear on Friday what those businesses would do in response to the governor’s order.

Isabella Grullón Paz contributed reporting.

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Seven Infrastructure Problems in Urgent Need of Fixing

Engineers say that when infrastructure works, most people do not even think about it. But they recognize it when they turn on a faucet and water does not come out, when they see levees eroding or when they inch through traffic, the driver’s awareness of the highway growing mile after creeping mile.

President Biden has announced an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure plan that would pump huge sums of money into improving the nation’s bridges, roads, public transportation, railways, ports and airports.

The plan faces opposition from Republicans and business groups, who point to the enormous cost and the higher corporate taxes that Mr. Biden has proposed to pay for it.

Still, leaders in both parties have long seen infrastructure as a possible unifying issue. Urban and rural communities, red and blue states, the coasts and the middle of the country: All are confronting weak and faltering infrastructure.

plagued by delays and cancellations, with similar problems affecting railways along the Northeast Corridor.

bridge has remained a source of frustration. Rusty and creaky, it has been listed as “functionally obsolete” in the federal bridge inventory since the 1990s, and it has a history of bottlenecks and crashes.

There is a $2.5 billion plan to fix the bridge and build a new one alongside it, but in Covington, Ky., some have expressed worries about the proposal. The mayor told The Cincinnati Enquirer that it was an “existential threat,” citing the size of the proposed bridge (some traffic would still cross over the old one, as well).

told local reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. “Hopefully somewhere in the bowels of this multitrillion bill, there’s a solution.”

Puerto Rico

a serious earthquake on Jan. 7.

The collapse brought attention to the more than 600 schools on the island that shared a “short column” architectural design, which makes them vulnerable to tremors. Teachers and parents were wary of reopening, and the schools with that design risk remain closed. Children who had gone to them are still learning remotely.

In addition, nearly 60 schools were closed after inspections following the earthquakes showed structural deficiencies. About 25 had “persistent” problems that predated the earthquake and its aftershocks, Puerto Rico’s education secretary told The New York Times last year.

residents went weeks with a boil notice in place.

The water crisis inflamed enduring tensions in Jackson, ones that grip many communities where white residents have fled and tax bases have evaporated. The city has old and broken pipes. It does not have the funding to repair them. City officials estimated that modernizing Jackson’s water infrastructure could cost $2 billion.

The storm also caused power failures for millions of people across Texas, which has prompted lawmakers there to weigh an overhaul of the state’s electric infrastructure. At least 111 people died as a result of the storm, according to state officials, and it also caused widespread property damage and left some residents to face huge electric bills.

conclusions were stark: A historic flooding event had caught up with years of underfunding and neglect.

The country has roughly 91,000 dams, a majority of which are more than 50 years old, and many are an exceptional rainfall away from potential disaster. As dams have aged, the weather has grown more severe, rendering old building standards outdated and creating conditions that few considered when many of the dams were built.

Residential development has also steadily spread into once rural areas that lie downstream from the weakening infrastructure. According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, about 15,600 dams in the country would most likely cause death and extensive property damage if they failed. Of those, more than 2,330 are considered deficient, the group said.

is not likely to let up soon, given new weather patterns driven by climate change. And some of the officials whose towns and cities were most affected by the 2019 floods are adamant: Simply refurbishing levees is not going to work anymore.

“Levees aren’t going to do it,” said Colin Wellenkamp, the executive director of Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, an association of 100 mayors along the Mississippi River. His group presented a plan to the White House last month detailing a “systemic solution” to flooding. It includes replacing wetlands, reconnecting backwaters to the main river and opening up areas for natural flooding.

A plan that simply replaces infrastructure, rather than rethinking what it encompasses, will be ineffective and ultimately unaffordable, Mr. Wellenkamp said. He is not sure whether his group’s proposals have been folded into the Biden plan. But he sees little choice.

“This is a losing game unless we incorporate other, larger solutions,” he said.

Campbell Robertson and Frances Robles contributed reporting.

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Caution vs. Optimism

The news about the state of the pandemic in the U.S. has been largely positive in the past few months. The vaccines are highly effective, and millions of people are receiving doses each day. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have fallen sharply from their January peaks.

But infections are rising again. The U.S. has averaged 65,000 new cases a day over the past week — a 19 percent increase from two weeks ago. That puts the country close to last summer’s peak, though still far below January levels.

aren’t surprised. “For literally a month and a half, we’ve all been predicting that the second half of March is when B.1.1.7 would become the dominant variant in the United States,” says Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health. “And sure enough, here we are.”

The increase is not distributed equally. “New York and New Jersey have been bad and are not getting better, and Michigan’s cases are rising at an explosive rate,” Mitch Smith, a Times reporter covering the pandemic, said.

Hospitalizations are also rising rapidly in Michigan, with Jackson, Detroit and Flint among the metro areas experiencing the highest rates of new cases in the country.

The outlook is more encouraging in much of the West and South, though cases have started to tick up in Florida, where officials in Miami Beach instituted a curfew this month to prevent crowds of spring breakers from gathering.

while warning that “reckless behavior” could lead to more infections.

The solution, Jha believes, is honesty. “There’s been this debate throughout the whole pandemic: Should we be more optimistic or should we be more pessimistic? My personal strategy has been to just be honest with people,” he says. “Be honest with people and give it to them straight. I think most people can handle it.”

In other virus news:

the second day of Derek Chauvin’s trial, six people who were at the scene last year as Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck testified. The teenager who recorded the video at the center of the case said she sometimes lay awake at night, “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more.” (Here are the takeaways from Day 2.)

  • Two Capitol Police officers are suing Donald Trump, claiming he is responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered during the Jan 6. riot.

  • These photos show the conditions in an overcrowded border facility in Donna, Texas, that is housing more than 4,000 migrants.

  • A January airstrike by the French Army targeting militants killed 19 civilians in Mali, a U.N. report found. The attack intensified calls for about 5,000 French troops stationed there to leave.

  • G. Gordon Liddy, who concocted the bungled burglary that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon, died. He was 90.

  • The N.F.L. will add a 17th regular-season game, the first expansion of the league’s schedule since 1978.

  • The Final Four is set for the N.C.A.A. basketball tournaments, after No. 1 seeds in each bracket — Gonzaga for the men and Stanford and South Carolina for the women — won last night.

  • Under the Sea: “There’s no bottom, no walls, just this space that goes to infinity. And one thing you realize is there are a lot of sea monsters there, but they’re tiny.”

    Lives Lived: Alvin Sykes converted to Buddhism in his 20s and led a monk’s life in the name of social justice. Though he was not a lawyer, he devoted himself to prying open long-dormant murder cases from the civil rights era, including that of Emmett Till. Sykes died at 64.

    Satan Shoes.

    That outrage is by design, as The Times’s music critic Jon Caramanica writes. “What ‘Montero’ has caused — or rather, what Lil Nas X has engineered — is a good old-fashioned moral panic,” he writes. “The song, the video, the shoes — they are bait.”

    Lil Nas X found major fame in 2019 with his viral hit “Old Town Road.” But what has kept him relevant is the skill set he developed before that, as an ardent Nicki Minaj fan on social media. That experience made him a master at steering online conversations, a talent that translates well to pop stardom.

    “He is a grade-A internet manipulator and, provided all the tools and resources typically reserved for long-established pop superstars, he is perfectly suited to dominate the moment,” Caramanica writes. “‘Montero’ may or may not top the Billboard Hot 100 next week, but it will be unrivaled in conversations started.” — Sanam Yar

    play online.

    Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: ___ chowder (four letters).

    If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.


    Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow.

    P.S. President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for re-election 53 years ago today, the last time a U.S. president has done so. The Times covered the news with a front-page banner headline.

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    Turing Award Goes to Creators of Computer Programming Building Blocks

    When Alfred Aho and Jeffrey Ullman met while waiting in the registration line on their first day of graduate school at Princeton University in 1963, computer science was still a strange new world.

    Using a computer required a set of esoteric skills typically reserved for trained engineers and mathematicians. But today, thanks in part to the work of Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman, practically anyone can use a computer and program it to perform new tasks.

    On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, said Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman would receive this year’s Turing Award for their work on the fundamental concepts that underpin computer programming languages. Given since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize, which the two academics and longtime friends will split.

    Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman helped refine one of the key components of a computer: the “compiler” that takes in software programs written by humans and turns them into something computers can understand.

    rely on the strange behavior exhibited by things like electrons or exotic metals cooled to several hundred degrees below zero.

    Quantum computers rely on a completely different kind of physical behavior from traditional computers. But as they create programming languages for these machines, Dr. Svore and her colleagues are still drawing on the work of the latest Turing winners.

    “We are building on the same techniques,” she said.

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    Suez Canal Is Open, but the World is Still Full of Giant Container Ships

    The growth of the shipping industry and ship size has played a central role in creating the modern economy, helping to make China a manufacturing powerhouse and facilitating the rise of everything from e-commerce to retailers like Ikea and Amazon. To the container lines, building bigger made sense: Larger ships allowed them to squeeze out savings on construction, fuel and staffing.

    “Ultra Large Container Vessels (U.L.C.V.) are extremely efficient when it is about transporting large quantities of goods around the globe,” Tim Seifert, a spokesman for Hapag-Lloyd, a large shipping company, said in a statement. “We also doubt that it would make shipping safer or more environmentally friendly if there would be more or less-efficient vessels on the oceans or in the canals.”

    A.P. Moller-Maersk said it was premature to blame Ever Given’s size for what happened in the Suez. Ultra-large ships “have existed for many years and have sailed through the Suez Canal without issues,” said Palle Brodsgaard Laursen, the company’s chief technical officer, said in a statement on Tuesday.

    But the growth in ship size has come at a cost. It has effectively pitted port against port, canal against canal. To make way for bigger ships, for example, the Panama Canal expanded in 2016 at a cost of more than $5 billion.

    That set off a race among ports along the East Coast of the United States to attract the larger ships coming through the canal. Several ports, including those in Baltimore, Miami and Norfolk, Va., began dredging projects to deepen their harbors. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spearheaded a $1.7 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate mammoth ships laden with cargo from Asia and elsewhere.

    The race to accommodate ever-larger ships also pushed ports and terminal operators to buy new equipment. This month, for example, the Port of Oakland erected three 1,600-ton cranes that would, in the words of one port executive, allow it to “receive the biggest ships.”

    But while ports incurred costs for accommodating larger ships, they didn’t reap all of the benefits, according to Jan Tiedemann, a senior analyst at Alphaliner, a shipping data firm.

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    Democrats Look to Smooth the Way for Biden’s Infrastructure Plan

    WASHINGTON — Senior Democrats on Monday proposed a tax increase that could partly finance President Biden’s plans to pour trillions of dollars into infrastructure and other new government programs, as party leaders weighed an aggressive strategy to force his spending proposals through Congress over unified Republican opposition.

    The moves were the start of a complex effort by Mr. Biden’s allies on Capitol Hill to pave the way for another huge tranche of federal spending after the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that was enacted this month. The president is set to announce this week the details of his budget, including his much-anticipated infrastructure plan.

    He is scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to describe the first half of a “Build Back Better” proposal that aides say will include a total of $3 trillion in new spending and up to an additional $1 trillion in tax credits and other incentives.

    Yet with Republicans showing early opposition to such a large plan and some Democrats resisting key details, the proposals will be more difficult to enact than the pandemic aid package, which Democrats muscled through the House and Senate on party-line votes.

    afford to lose only eight votes, Representative Tom Suozzi, Democrat of New York, warned that he would not support the president’s plan unless it eliminated a rule that prevents taxpayers from deducting more than $10,000 in local and state taxes from their federal income taxes. He is one of a handful of House Democrats who are calling on the president to repeal the provision.

    And in the Senate, where most major legislation requires 60 votes to advance, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, was exploring an unusual maneuver that could allow Democrats to once again use reconciliation — the fast-track budget process they used for the stimulus plan — to steer his spending plans through Congress in the next few months even if Republicans are unanimously opposed.

    While an aide to Mr. Schumer said a final decision had not been made to pursue such a strategy, the prospect, discussed on the condition of anonymity, underscored the lengths to which Democrats were willing to go to push through Mr. Biden’s agenda.

    The president’s initiatives will feature money for traditional infrastructure projects like rebuilding roads, bridges and water systems; spending to advance a transition to a lower-carbon energy system, like electric vehicle charging stations and the construction of energy-efficient buildings; investments in emerging industries like advanced batteries; education efforts like free community college and universal prekindergarten; and measures to help women work and earn more, like increased support for child care.

    The proposals are expected to be partly offset by a wide range of tax increases on corporations and high earners.

    would have temporarily removed the cap, but it stalled in the Senate and attempts to include it in pandemic relief legislation were unsuccessful.

    “It has to be elevated as part of the conversation,” Mr. Suozzi said. “There’s a lot of different talk about going big and going bold and making significant changes to the tax code. I want to make SALT part of the conversation.”

    Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus Package

    The stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more.

    Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read more

    This credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.

    There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.

    The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.

    He is among the Democrats who have requested a meeting with Mr. Biden to discuss repealing the cap, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.

    “No SALT, no dice,” declared another Democrat, Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.

    “There’s plenty of ways, in my opinion, to raise revenue and reinstate SALT,” he said in an interview, adding that he wanted to see the full details of the proposal.

    budget blueprint that was approved last month to include the infrastructure plan, which would enable them to undertake a second reconciliation process before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 and pass it with a simple majority.

    Elizabeth MacDonough, the parliamentarian, will have to issue guidance on whether doing so is permissible under Senate rules.

    If Democrats succeed, they could potentially use the reconciliation maneuver at least two more times this calendar year to push through more of Mr. Biden’s agenda.

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