President Biden told the lead Republican negotiator on an infrastructure package on Wednesday that her party must embrace $1 trillion in new spending as part of any bipartisan deal, highlighting the wide gulf that remains between the two parties as talks on a potential compromise reach a critical stage.
The figure that Mr. Biden gave Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia at their meeting represents nearly three times the $257 billion in new spending that Republicans included in their latest infrastructure counteroffer. The president also refused to budge from his proposal to finance the plan by increasing taxes for wealthy corporations, according to a person familiar with the discussion who disclosed details on condition of anonymity.
Mr. Biden said any new spending should be on top of $400 billion he wants to maintain for existing programs over the next five years, according to a second person familiar with ongoing discussions.
Republicans have rejected the idea of raising taxes to finance an infrastructure measure, and while Mr. Biden’s latest proposal would amount to nearly $1 trillion less than he initially requested for the package, it is far larger than G.O.P. lawmakers have been willing to consider.
A group led by Ms. Capito last week proposed a $928 billion plan, the vast majority of which would be money from existing programs, paid for by increases in user fees for drivers and unspent pandemic relief money.
It was unclear if Ms. Capito and the five Republican senators who have been involved in the talks would assemble another counterproposal before Ms. Capito is scheduled to speak to Mr. Biden on Friday. Administration officials and Democratic congressional leaders have suggested they will decide as early as next week whether there is a bipartisan compromise to be had on infrastructure or they must proceed on their own.
Some Democrats have pushed for party leaders to abandon the search for a deal with Republicans and instead muscle Mr. Biden’s plan through Congress using the fast-track budget reconciliation process, which circumvents a filibuster and would require only Democratic votes.
But moderate Democrats have warned against abandoning the bipartisan talks, and are quietly discussing possible alternatives with some of their Republican colleagues.
Over nearly a decade, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has painstakingly cobbled together a bipartisan Senate majority for legislation that would overhaul the way the military handles sexual assault and other serious crimes, a shift that many experts say is long overdue.
Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has won backing from President Biden and numerous other colleagues. If it could get to the Senate floor, her bill would easily clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold that stymies many other pieces of legislation.
But now she is running up against a final hurdle: opposition from the leaders of her chamber’s Armed Services Committee, Senators Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, and James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma. Hardly a political sweater set, the two men, both Army veterans who arrived in the Senate in the mid-1990s, nonetheless often coordinate like one on military matters.
Mr. Reed, 71, and Mr. Inhofe, 86, have combined to push back against Ms. Gillibrand’s legislation and delay any move toward a swift vote, a stance that many of the bill’s backers say shows far more deference to military commanders and committee protocols than justified given the decades of failure in protecting victims in the armed forces. Ms. Gillibrand’s bill would cut out the military chain of command from decisions over prosecutions of service members for sexual assault, as well as many other serious crimes, which would be a sea change for the military justice system.
“They are both against my bill, and they would like to kill it in committee,” Ms. Gillibrand said in an interview on Friday. “They have such a deep respect for the chain of command that they are often overly deferential to it.”
To many backers of the legislation, the reluctance being displayed toward it in varying degrees by Mr. Reed and Mr. Inhofe threatens the will of the majority of the Senate, which has grown weary of inaction by military leaders to lower the number of assaults and provide victims a fairer way to seek justice.
Workers in retail, hospitality and other service industries bore the brunt of last year’s mass layoffs. But unlike low-wage workers in past recessions, whose earnings power eroded, many of those who held on to their jobs saw their wages rise even during the worst months of the pandemic.
Now, as the economy bounces back and employers need to find staff, workers have the kind of leverage that is more typical of a prolonged boom than the aftermath of a devastating recession. Average earnings for nonmanagers in leisure and hospitality hit $15 an hour in February for the first time on record; in April, they rose to $15.70, a rise of more than 4.5 percent in just two months.
President Biden’s administration is embracing those gains and hoping they shift power away from employers and back toward workers. And Federal Reserve officials have indicated that they would like to see employment and pay rising, because those would be signs that they were making progress toward their goals of full employment and stable prices.
The stage is set for an economic experiment, one that tests whether the economy can lift laborers steadily without igniting much-faster price increases that eat away at the gains.
“Instead of workers competing with each other for jobs that are scarce, we want employers to compete with each other to attract workers,” Mr. Biden said in Cleveland last week. “When American workers have more money to spend, American businesses benefit. We all benefit.”
President Biden often commutes from the White House to his home state. He just usually waits until the end of the week.
On Thursday, Mr. Biden cleared his schedule to spend the day at his family’s beach house in Rehoboth Beach, Del., to celebrate the 70th birthday of Jill Biden, the first lady.
“Anyone who knows the first lady knows how much she enjoys her time in Rehoboth,” Michael LaRosa, her spokesman, said. “She will spend her birthday there with the president.”
The pair, who are rooted in their habits and not enamored with life at the White House — Mr. Biden has described it as living in a “gilded cage” — are planning a low-key celebration at home, with a cake but without the usual clutch of children and grandchildren, before returning to Washington for a rare weekend in the Executive Mansion.
Convention suggests that presidents should stay close to Washington and be judicious with taxpayer-funded travel, but that concept was tested to its limit with Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump spent over 417 days at one of his properties, a habit that blurred the line between his family business and presidential duties. He continues to charge the Secret Service for the cost of a room at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., resort, according to The Washington Post.
Mr. Biden, by contrast, is essentially a president who commutes, continuing a routine into his presidency by swapping Amtrak for Air Force One. During his 36 years in the Senate, Mr. Biden made it a point to travel back to Wilmington, Del., to spend most evenings with his family, a habit so ingrained that he still speaks lovingly of the train service that brought him home. Mr. Biden has also spent at least five weekends at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, according to a review of his public schedule.
This trip is the first time this year that the president has traveled to the family beach house, a property he purchased in the summer of 2017 for $2.7 million. At the time, Mr. Biden said in a statement that “Jill and I have dreamed of being able to buy a place at the beach.”
The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters spanning nearly four months in 2017 as part of a leak investigation, the Biden administration disclosed on Wednesday.
It was the latest in a series of revelations about the Trump administration secretly obtaining reporters’ communications records in an effort to uncover their sources. Last month, the Biden Justice Department disclosed Trump-era seizures of the phone logs of reporters who work for The Washington Post and the phone and email logs for a CNN reporter.
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, condemned the action by the Trump administration.
“Seizing the phone records of journalists profoundly undermines press freedom,” he said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources we depend on to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing.”
The department informed The Times that law enforcement officials had seized phone records from Jan. 14 to April 30, 2017, for four Times reporters: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt. The government also secured a court order to seize logs — but not contents — of their emails, it said, but “no records were obtained.”
The Justice Department did not say which article was being investigated. But the lineup of reporters and the timing suggested that the leak investigation related to classified information reported in an April 22, 2017, article the four reporters wrote about how James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, handled politically charged investigations during the 2016 presidential election.
Queen Elizabeth II will meet President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, later this month at the royal residence of Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday. It would be the first meeting between the two leaders since Mr. Biden’s election.
No further details were given about the June 13 meeting, part of President Biden’s first presidential trip abroad, which will include stops at the Group of 7 summit in England, a meeting with the European Union in Brussels and a face-to-face with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
Later on Thursday, the White House confirmed the Bidens’ visit with the queen.
The British monarch last hosted an American president in June 2019, when Donald J. Trump visited the country on a lavish state visit, which he later characterized as “a great time.” But the event stirred controversy, given only a handful of American presidents have received the honor of an official state visit. Some British citizens and lawmakers protested against the visit.
And on a previous visit in 2018, Mr. Trump famously made headlines by walking in front of Elizabeth, 95, during an inspection of the royal guard — a breach of protocol.
The world’s longest reigning monarch, Elizabeth has met with every American president since Harry S. Truman except Lyndon B. Johnson. She will celebrate her 70th year on the throne next year.
Initial claims for state jobless benefits were little changed last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The weekly figure was about 425,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week. New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for jobless freelancers, gig workers and others who do not ordinarily qualify for state benefits, totaled 76,000, a decline of 17,000 from the prior week. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. (On a seasonally adjusted basis, state claims totaled 385,000, a decline of 20,000.)
New state claims remain high by historical levels but are less than half the level recorded as recently as early February. The benefit filings, something of a proxy for layoffs, have receded as businesses return to fuller operations, particularly in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality.
The government will provide a more complete look at the employment market on Friday, when the monthly jobs report for May is released. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimate that employers added about 655,000 positions in the month, the median forecast shows.