Biden administration announces $600M to produce COVID tests and will reopen website to order them
The Biden administration has announced that it is providing $600 million in funding to produce new at-home COVID-19 tests and is restarting a website allowing Americans to again order up to four free tests per household.
US health agency recommends easing federal marijuana restrictions
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has delivered a recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration on marijuana policy, and Senate leaders are hailing it as a first step toward easing federal restrictions on the drug.
Judge limits Biden administration in working with social media companies
A judge on Tuesday prohibited several federal agencies and officials of the Biden administration from working with social media companies about “protected speech,” a decision called “a blow to censorship” by one of the Republican officials whose lawsuit prompted the ruling.
White House promises crackdown on migrant child labor
The Biden administration says it is creating a new task force to crack down on an explosion of the illegal exploitation of migrant children for labor in the U.S. Hundreds of companies that employed nearly 4,000 children last year were found in violation of federal labor laws, a dramatic increase in the last five years.
Biden's realism approach runs head-on into liberal pressure
When it comes to the thorniest issues confronting his administration, the instinct from Biden and his White House is to often speak about what he can’t do, citing constraints imposed by the courts or insufficient support in a Congress that is controlled by his own party.
US boosts monkeypox testing, 142 cases confirmed
The Biden administration has started shipping testing kits for monkeypox to commercial laboratories, in a bid to speed diagnostic tests for suspected infections for the virus that has already infected at least 142 people in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending tests to commercial labs, including Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare, which it said would significant expand the nation’s health system’s capacity to...
The AP Interview: Health chief warns of COVID funds shortage
With the nation yearning for a new normal after its long struggle with the coronavirus, U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra is warning that vaccines, tests and treatments will be “stuck on the ground” unless Congress provides additional funds the White House has demanded.
A retro feel to Biden's plan for covering OTC virus testing
The Biden administration’s plan for health insurers to reimburse consumers for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests is recalling the model of a bygone era when the companies processed large volumes of claims from individuals — with paper receipts.
The Latest: Washington Gov criticized for reopening plan
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is receiving criticism from lawmakers in his own party over his shifting economic reopening plan, with a group of Democrats from the state’s second most populous county threatening the possibility of a special legislative session.
Biden taps Sen. Manchin's wife to co-chair Appalachian board
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., leaves the Senate chamber following a procedural vote on the nomination of Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden's pick to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 11, 2021. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is nominating Gayle Manchin, the wife of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, to be the co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development partnership involving the federal government and 13 states. Gayle Manchin, 73, has held multiple government positions linked to education in a state where her husband is a political force. A former teacher, she was on the West Virginia Board of Education from 2007 to 2015 and served a two-year term as its president. Manchin was also the state's secretary of education and the arts in 2017 and 2018, but was removed from the post by West Virginia Gov.
California high court: Judges must weigh ability to pay bail
The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday, March 25, 2021, that judges must consider suspects' ability to pay when they set bail, essentially requiring that indigent defendants be freed unless they are deemed too dangerous to be released awaiting trial. The court’s ruling allows cash bail, so long as defendants can afford it. Previously, judges set bail based on suspects’ criminal records and pending charges. AdWhile it considered the case, the high court in August took the extraordinary step of requiring California judges to follow a lower court ruling and set bail amounts based on what suspects can afford to pay. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday nominated Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a leading proponent of ending cash bail.
Lawmakers: Require nursing homes to disclose vaccine data
Nursing homes have to publicly disclose their vaccination rates for flu and pneumonia, but theres no similar mandate for COVID-19 shots. Nursing homes have been required since last May to regularly report cases and deaths among residents and staff to the government. Nursing homes are again allowing loved ones to visit, and hugs are included. The main nursing home industry trade group, the American Health Care Association, says it supports disclosure of vaccination data. Wyden and Crapo said current government policy that encourages nursing homes to voluntarily report vaccination data to the government has only led to “limited participation by the industry.”The government should require nursing homes to break down vaccination data by race and ethnicity, given disparities in vaccine acceptance.
Biden taps VP Harris to lead response to border challenges
President Joe Biden speaks with Vice President Kamala Harris about the southern border during a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Washington. In delegating the matter to Harris, Biden is seeking to replicate a dynamic that played out when he served as President Barack Obama's vice president. As the first Black woman elected vice president, Harris arrived on the job as a trailblazer. The Biden administration has in recent weeks moved to open more than 10,000 new beds across the Southwest in convention centers and former oilfield camps. The White House faced criticism for limiting media access to Wednesday’s tour, keeping it to just one TV crew.
Asian Americans seek greater political power after shootings
It's also spurring her and other Asian Americans to push for greater political influence in Washington and other power centers. President Joe Biden and his aides have been repeatedly pressed to include Asian Americans in his Cabinet. “I think symbolism and representation matters, but only up to a point,” said Aarti Kohli, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “Those things all contribute to lower rates of political participation among Asian Americans, but people — mistakenly, I think — assume that Asian Americans are somehow less interested in U.S. civic life.”AdThat's evolving. “Asian Americans didn't necessarily grow up with that vocabulary of advocacy and how to fight for ourselves," Meng said.
Biden expands 'Obamacare' by cutting health insurance costs
I haven’t done any counting yet.”On health care, the numbers suggest that consumers' fears about medical costs could be eased by the new rescue package. States that run their own health insurance markets will offer the same enhanced assistance, although timetables for implementation may vary. Biden has opened up the health insurance markets as part of his coronavirus response. The higher health care subsidies are keyed to the pandemic and expire by the end of 2022. But it represents the biggest expansion of federal help for health insurance since the ACA's enactment.
Becerra confirmed to shepherd Biden's ambitious health plans
A lawyer, not a doctor, his main experience with the health care system came through helping to pass the Obama-era Affordable Care Act and defending it when Donald Trump was president. AdBecerra also will also be the point man on Biden's health care agenda, which includes insurance for all Americans, deputizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and tackling persistent racial and ethnic disparities in the health care system. Prescription drugs and health insurance will lead to major legislative battles. “It’s a different time and it’s a time of tremendous opportunity in health care,” he said. But during committee hearings several indicated a willingness to work with on prescription drugs, rural health care and other matters.
Students who got partial loan relief to see full discharge
WASHINGTON – Thousands of students defrauded by for-profit schools will have their federal loans fully erased, the Biden administration announced Thursday, reversing a Trump administration policy that had given them only partial relief. The change could lead to $1 billion in loans being canceled for 72,000 borrowers, all of whom attended for-profit schools, the Education Department said. The borrower defense to repayment program allows students to have their federal loans canceled if they were defrauded by their schools. The Education Department said a total of 343,331 applications for relief under borrower defense had been received as of Feb. 28. Sen. Patty Murray, who heads the Senate committee overseeing education, said DeVos used “faulty math” to deny student full relief.
Democrats muscle ahead with Biden's health secretary pick
President Joe Bidens pick for health secretary is taking heat for his defense of abortion rights from a tag team of Republicans looking to define him and the new administration as out of the mainstream. Becerra now serves as California’s attorney general and previously represented the Los Angeles area for more than 20 years in the U.S. House. Republicans voiced concern about Becerra’s record in support of abortion rights. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Becerra as attorney general “aggressively crusaded in favor of abortion” and repeatedly inserted California into abortion litigation involving other states. Perceptions changed after Becerra was appointed California attorney general in 2017.
Bail granted for woman who used meth before stillbirth
Becker, a California woman charged with murder after delivering a stillborn baby with methamphetamine in his body, may be released on bail after being held in Kings County jail since late 2019. Chelsea Becker, 26, has been in a Kings County jail since her arrest in November 2019, unable to raise $2 million bail. Kings County Superior Court Judge Robert Shane Burns on Tuesday granted her attorneys' request to release her to an out-of-county residential treatment center pending trial. Attempts in California in the 1990s to use the law to prosecute pregnant women failed. ——This version corrects the name of the Kings County Superior Court judge to Robert Shane Burns.
Biden's Cabinet half-empty after slow start in confirmations
Also pictured is Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from right, and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, third from right. Among Biden’s 23 nominees with Cabinet rank, just 13 have been confirmed by the Senate, or a little over half. On Tuesday, Biden's Cabinet was thrown into further uncertainty when his nominee to lead the White House budget office, Neera Tanden, withdrew from consideration after her nomination faced opposition from key senators on both sides of the aisle. That must change.”The Biden administration has prioritized confirming those nominees who are key to national security, the economy and public health decisions. The Biden administration has not been completely hamstrung by the slow pace of confirmations, however.
GOP takes aim at Biden's health care pick on abortion rights
President Joe Bidens pick for health secretary is taking heat for his defense of abortion rights from a tag team of Republicans looking to define him and the new administration as out of the mainstream. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s pick for health secretary is taking heat from Republicans for his actions in support of abortion rights. By a show of force, they're trying to deny a president who supports abortion rights his choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services with the coronavirus pandemic still untamed. Becerra, 63, was a reliable Democratic vote for abortion rights during more than 20 years representing a Los Angeles-area district in the U.S. House. She disagrees with his support for abortion rights but finds common ground elsewhere.
Biden's Cabinet half-empty after slow start in confirmations
Also pictured is Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from right, and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, third from right. Among Biden’s 23 nominees with Cabinet rank, just 13 have been confirmed by the Senate, or a little over half. On Tuesday, Biden's cabinet was thrown into further uncertainty when his nominee to lead the White House budget office, Neera Tanden, withdrew from consideration after her nomination faced opposition from key senators on both sides of the aisle. That must change.”The Biden administration has prioritized confirming those nominees who are key to national security, the economy and public health decisions. The Biden administration has not been completely hamstrung by the slow pace of confirmations, however.