Start your day here: After Republicans block voting rights, Democrats return to Build Back Better

Published January 20, 2022 at 8:12 AM EST
The word Democracy is seen in lights with the U.S. Capitol in the background at night.
Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP
Voting rights activists hold signs near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Good morning,

Here's what we're following today:

Returning to Build Back Better: Two Democratic senators joined Republicans to preserve the filibuster, allowing the minority party to block two bills that would expand voting rights. Democrats now plan to revive President Biden's domestic policy and spending plan.

Three things Biden wants to change in 2022: The president took questions from reporters for nearly two hours in his first formal news conference of the year. He mentioned three things he hopes to do differently and talked about his presidential style.

Aid arrives in Tonga: The first flights landed Thursday in the island nation hit by last week's massive volcano, bringing bottled water, shelters, generators and communications equipment.

🎧 Also on Up First, our daily podcast, Biden insists he won't send U.S. forces to Ukraine if Russia invades.

— The Morning Edition live blog team

(Carol Ritchie, Rachel Treisman, Nell Clark and Chris Hopkins)

Business

Amazon says it's opening an IRL clothing store

Posted January 20, 2022 at 12:05 PM EST
An Amazon logo is displayed on the outside of a white building.
Michel Spingler/AP
/
AP
The Amazon logo appears in Douai, northern France on April 16, 2020.

Amazon has announced plans to open its first-ever physical clothing store, dubbed Amazon Style, in greater Los Angeles.

The shop, set to open later this year, is “built around personalization,” according to a press release put out by Amazon on Thursday. While browsing the store, customers can scan an item’s QR code to view available sizes, colors and ratings. Shoppers can also use the app to select items to be delivered to a fitting room.

The Amazon Shopping app will be central to the tech-forward experience. As customers shop, machine learning algorithms will offer customers tailored item recommendations. Shoppers can also share information about style, fit and other preferences in the app.

When a customer steps into a fitting room, they’ll find all of the items they requested, plus selected items tailored to their preferences, according to the release. In the fitting room, customers can use touchscreens to browse and rate items, and request additional styles and sizes.

The shopping isn’t over once customers leave the store. The items they scanned will still live in the Amazon Shopping app. Customers can also order items online to try on at Amazon Style.

Instead of clothing racks, the store will only feature display items and respective QR codes. That way, the store can maximize its selections, which will cover a wide range of prices, according to the release.

The store’s first location is set to open at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, California.

Royals

Prince Andrew’s royal social media accounts disappear as sex abuse case continues

Posted January 20, 2022 at 12:01 PM EST
prince andrew
Steve Parsons
/
Pool photo via AP
Britain's Prince Andrew's official accounts on Twitter or Instagram have been deleted, days after his honorary military titles were removed by the Queen as the Royal Family seeks to distance itself from the prince who is facing a sex abuse trial. Here, Andrew speaks during a television interview at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor, in 2021.

Prince Andrew’s Twitter and Instagram accounts are no longer publicly accessible, days after he was stripped of military titles and royal sponsorships, as the Duke of York faces a sexual abuse case against him in the U.S.

Andrew's @TheDukeofYork handle on Twitter now populates a blank page with the message: "This account doesn't exist.” On Instagram, the royal’s @hrhthedukeofyork account is no longer available, while his Facebook account remains active with the last status posted in 2020.

Andrew’s social media pages were quietly deleted by Wednesday, less than a week after Buckingham Palace received Queen Elizabeth II’s approval to strip the prince of his honorary military titles and royal patronages.

The Royal Family has been distancing itself from Prince Andrew as his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein have come to light in recent years.

Last week, a federal judge in New York rejected Andrew’s request to dismiss the abuse case brought against him by Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre says Epstein arranged for Andrew to sexually abuse her when she was a minor. Andrew has denied those allegations.

The 61-year-old prince was also forced to surrender the “His Royal Highness” title denoting his senior role within the Royal Family.

The palace said that Andrew would continue to forgo royal public duties and that he’s “defending this case as a private citizen.”

Racial justice

New York City's natural history museum has started removing its Theodore Roosevelt statue

Posted January 20, 2022 at 11:30 AM EST
A statue depicts former President Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, flanked by two shirtless men, one of whom is wearing a Native headdress.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP
The Theodore Roosevelt Equestrian Statue is shown in front of the American Museum of Natural History's Central Park West entrance in New York City in 2020.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City quietly began removal of its controversial statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt Tuesday night, in the final chapter of a saga that has stretched for nearly a year and a half.

“The relocation of the Equestrian Statue from the front steps of the American Museum of Natural History began Tuesday," a museum spokesperson told NPR over email. "The process, conducted with historic preservation specialists and approved by multiple New York City agencies, will include restoration of the plaza in front of the Museum, which will continue through the spring."

The spokesperson added that such work is required to be conducted during nighttime hours for safety reasons and to minimize disruption to traffic and pedestrians. The statue will be stored in New York and prepared for long-haul shipping, and is expected to be transported to North Dakota in the next few weeks (more on that below).

The bronze statue — officially named "Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt"— has towered outside the museum's entrance for some 80 years, and became a source of local and national debate in recent years. It depicts the former New York governor and 26th U.S. president sitting on a horse, flanked by two shirtless, unnamed men. One is Native American and the other is of African descent.

The statue was commissioned in 1925 to stand on the museum's steps, since Roosevelt's father was one of its founders and Roosevelt himself was a "devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history," as the museum's website explains.

But it adds that the design itself "communicates a racial hierarchy that the Museum and members of the public have long found disturbing." Roosevelt's legacy — especially his views on race and support for the eugenics movement — has also come under wider scrutiny in recent years.

In 2017, a commission established by then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio evaluated the statue and several other controversial monuments on city-owned land. Members were divided on their recommendations, with half advocating for more research, half in favor of relocating the statue and several recommending the museum keep the statue in place but add signage with more information and context. The city went with the third option.

While the museum went on to open an exhibit about the statue's history and contemporary reactions to it in 2019, the nationwide reckoning with racial injustice following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd made "abundantly clear that this approach is not sufficient," as officials put it in June of that year.

The protests brought renewed scrutiny to monuments depicting Confederate generals and other symbols of white supremacy across the country, many of which have since been removed.

The museum said in a statement that it had asked the city, which owns the statue, to remove it from their property.

De Blasio was quick to convey the city's support, telling NPR at the time that it was "the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue." (Notably, then-president Donald Trump publicly disagreed.)

Theodore Roosevelt IV, a museum trustee and great-grandson to the former president, also gave his blessing. Noting its long association with the Roosevelt family, the museum said at the time that it would remain the site of the state's memorial to the former president, and would name its Hall of Biodiversity after him in honor of his conservation work.

A year later, in June 2021, the New York City Public Design Commission unanimously approved the relocation of the statue, saying it would finalize details in the coming months. In November, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation announced an agreement with the city for the "long-term loan and reconsideration" of the statue at its new presidential library, which is set to open in North Dakota in 2026.

"The board of the TR Library believes the Equestrian Statue is problematic in its composition. Moreover, its current location denies passersby consent and context," it said in a statement. "The agreement with the City allows the TR Library to relocate the statue for storage while considering a display that would enable it to serve as an important tool to study the nation’s past."

The library said that, with the support of Roosevelt family members, it would be establishing an advisory council composed of historians, scholars, artists and representatives from the Indigenous, Tribal and Black communities "to guide the recontextualization of the statue."

2 Marines are killed and 17 others injured in crash involving two military trucks in North Carolina

Posted January 20, 2022 at 10:13 AM EST

Two U.S. Marines have been killed and 17 injured after a crash involving military vehicles on a North Carolina highway.

Two of the injured Marines, who are in critical condition, were airlifted to a local hospital, according to a statement from the 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune, where the service members involved in the incident are based. Fifteen others were transported to a medical facility at the base and are listed in stable condition, the statement said.

The crash occurred along a stretch of U.S. 17 in Jacksonville, home to Camp Lejeune, early Wednesday afternoon, it said.

Sgt. Devin Rich of the North Carolina Highway Patrol said that while making a right turn, a 7-ton military vehicle “lost control and overturned and ejected the Marines that were in the back of the truck out into the roadway,” according to local television station WRAL.

The 2nd Marine Logistics Group later confirmed the crash involving two military vehicles along with “multiple casualties.” In a tweet, the base said it was working closely with county officials to investigate.

The truck that overturned was a medium tactical vehicle replacement, or MTVR, which is used primarily for transporting troops and equipment, the statement from the Marines said.

Rich said there were indications that the first vehicle was traveling “a little too fast” for the turn, according to The Associated Press.

WRAL quotes officials who said that one of the Marines ejected from the first vehicle was hit by the second one, which did not have time to stop. It wasn’t immediately clear if the Marine who was hit was one of the two killed, both of whom died at the scene, the television station said. It said the driver of vehicle was charged with exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted “our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the U.S. Marines who lost their lives in a tragic accident today in Onslow County.”

International

A Tongan man says he swam for more than 24 hours after the tsunami swept him out to sea

Posted January 20, 2022 at 9:58 AM EST

As Tonga comes back online following the eruption of its massive Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday, we're learning more about the toll it took on the environment and its people.

One survival story gaining attention around the world is that of Lisala Folau, a 57-year-old Tongan man who claims he swam for some 26 hours after he was swept out to sea by the tsunami waves the eruption triggered.

Folau, a retired carpenter who lives on a small island called Atala, with a population of about 60 people, shared his story with Tongan media agency Broadcom Broadcasting. George Lavaka, whom The Guardian identified as a senior editor at the radio station, shared a translated transcript of Folau's Thursday interview on Facebook.

Folau said that he was painting his house on Saturday evening when he heard from his brother about the incoming tsunami and climbed up a tree to seek refuge. He and his niece climbed down during a lull, but were caught off guard by a massive wave — he estimates more than 6 meters, or nearly 20 feet high — and swept out to sea, at about 7 p.m. local time.

Folau told the broadcaster that he has mobility issues that affect his legs and prevent him from walking "properly." He could hear his son calling out to him from land, but didn't respond because he didn't want him to risk his safety by jumping in to try to rescue him.

"My thinking was if I answered him he would come and we would both suffer so I just floated, bashed around by the big waves that kept coming," he said. "It stayed with my mind if I can cling to a tree or anything and if anything happen and I lose my life, searchers may find me and my family can view my dead body."

Folau first landed on Toketoke Island and says he saw a police boat heading back towards Atata around 7 a.m. He waved a rag at it as it passed by, but it did not stop for him.

From there Folau says he set off for the island of Polo'a, a journey that lasted from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. He then swam to Sopu, which is on the western edge of the capital Nuku’alofa, on the main island of Tongatapu.

He said his mind was on his family during the 7.5-km (4.7-mile) swim to the main island. He worried about his niece, who had been carried away by the wave, and the illnesses his sister and youngest daughter are facing.

"All these were racing in my minds and what point was there that now I have survived and what about them," he said. "This drove me to get to Sopu."

He says he reached the shore at about 9 p.m. local time Sunday, some 26 hours after the wave first swept him to sea. Folau says he crawled from the beach to the end of a public road and found a piece of timber to use as a walking stick as he tried to find help. A passing driver found him and, after a bit of questioning, helped him connect with his family.

It is not clear what happened to Folau's other family members, but the New Zealand news site Stuff reports that his daughter later recounted the experience and her gratitude in an emotional Facebook post.

Others are sharing reports of Folau's story on social media, hailing him as a "real-life Aquaman." The so-called superhero sounded super humbled by the experience. He told Broadcom it was "so unexpected that I survived after being washed away, floating and surviving the dangers I just faced."

The federal trial begins for 3 former police officers charged in George Floyd’s death

Posted January 20, 2022 at 9:40 AM EST
Former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are set to go on trial in federal court charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights.
AP
/
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office
Former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are set to go on trial in federal court charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights.

Jury selection is set to begin Thursday in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers who were on the scene when fellow officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes and ultimately killed him.

The murder of Floyd, who was Black, by Chauvin, who is white, set off a wave of global protests over racial justice and police accountability, and it led to a slew of criminal charges for the officers involved in the stop.

Federal prosecutors have charged Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane with violating Floyd's civil rights by failing to provide him with medical aid during the encounter. Thao and Kueng are also charged with failing to stop Chauvin’s use of force.

Chauvin isn’t on trial with the other officers because he pleaded guilty last month to federal charges of depriving Floyd of his civil rights, resulting in Floyd’s death.

“This trial is really unique and important because it does present the question of the duty of officers on what they didn’t do, as opposed to reviewing actions themselves,” Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, told MPR.

A Minnesota jury found Chauvin guilty of Floyd’s murder in a separate state trial in April, and he was later sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison.

The other three officers — Thao, Kueng and Lane — have also been brought up on state criminal charges, but a Minnesota judge delayed that trial until after their federal case, according to the MinneapolisStar Tribune. The state trial is expected to begin in March.

Pope Benedict XVI failed to act on priests abusing children when he was an archbishop, law firm says

Posted January 20, 2022 at 9:18 AM EST

A German law firm investigating the Catholic Church’s handling of child sexual abuse cases says former Pope Benedict XVI failed to take action in four instances — including two that resulted in legal charges — while he was the archbishop of Munich and Freising.

"In a total of four cases, we reached a consensus there was a failure to act," said attorney Martin Pusch of the law firm Westphal Spilker Wastl, according to news site Deutsche Welle. Despite reports of abuse, Pusch said, the church allowed priests to continue working without restrictions.

The findings, presented by Pusch and others at a lengthy news conference Thursday, contradict Benedict’s long-running denial that he covered up or ignored abuse. For much of the time in question, he was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He served in the Munich post from 1977 to 1982.

During the news conference, lawyer Ulrich Wastl pointed to records of a meeting in which Munich church leaders agreed to accept the transfer of an abusive priest in early 1980. Benedict denied being present at the meeting -- but the minutes of the session show he was, Wastl said.

Benedict, 94, resigned from the papacy in 2013, making him the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years. His tenure lasted just under eight years.

The long-awaited report, "Sexual abuse of minors and adult wards by clerics and full-time employees in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising from 1945 - 2019," runs nearly 1,900 pages.

Westphal Spilker Wastl conducted the inquiry at the Catholic Church’s request, looking into decades of records involving how Catholic leaders handled instances of priests abusing children and adolescents.

Politics

3 key takeaways from Biden's first news conference of 2022

Posted January 20, 2022 at 9:00 AM EST
President Biden talks to reporters during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
/
Getty Images North America
President Biden talks to reporters during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.

President Biden addressed the press yesterday for almost two hours during a rare formal news conference, almost a year exactly since his inauguration. Biden discussed what he'll do differently going into the rest of his tenure in office, how his senatorial leadership style may have negatively affected his agenda and what's left to do with the stalled Build Back Better Bill.

"It’s been a year of challenges, but it’s also been a year of enormous progress," Biden began the press conference.

NPR's Mara Liasson was in the room and joined Morning Edition with the details. Listen here for the main takeaways.

These are 3 things he'd like to change in his second year in office

Biden went into the New Year needing a bit of a reset after polls showed him with a low approval rating, Liasson reports.

Biden said he'll do some things differently in his second year.

First, Biden said he plans to get out of the White House more often to better interact with the public and make the case for his agenda. Next, he said he plans to seek more advice and perspective from outside experts such as academics, editorial writers and presidential historians. "Seeking more input, more information, more constructive criticism about what I should and shouldn’t be doing," Biden said.

Last, Biden said he plans to be deeply involved in the midterm elections, fundraising and campaigning with candidates. "Scores of them have already asked me to come in and campaign with them, to go out and make the case in plain, simple language as to what it is we’ve done, what we want to do, and why we think it’s important," he said.

He reflected on his own leadership

Biden also took time to reflect on his leadership style, shaped by decades as a senator, and how it may have affected getting his national agenda passed this past year.

"One of the things that I do think that has been made clear to me, speaking of polling, is the public doesn't want me to be the "president-senator." They want me to be the president and let senators be senators," Biden said.

"I’ve made many mistakes, I'm sure. If I made a mistake, I'm used to negotiating to get things done, and I've been, in the past, relatively successful at it in the United States Senate, even as vice president. But I think that role as president is a different role."

He still has plans for the Build Back Better bill

Biden also noted that he still has hope for the funds and reforms included in his Build Back Better bill, which was stymied by Democrat Joe Manchin. Biden said he was confident chucks of the large law could still pass by being broken up.

But Biden made clear he doesn't expect two substantial points on contention in the bill, the child tax credit and plans for free community college, to pass even if they were broken up into smaller bills, Liasson reports.

For more on what Biden has accomplished — and what he hasn't been able to push through — NPR's Ayesha Rascoe looks back on his first year as president.

First aid flights arrive in Tonga after massive volcanic eruption and tsunami

Posted January 20, 2022 at 8:31 AM EST
Tongan Foreign Minister Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu (right) is accompanied by Australian High Commissioner to Tonga Rachael Moore as they receive a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft delivering Australian aid at Fuaʻamotu International Airport on Thursday.
Handout/Australian Defence Force
/
Getty Images AsiaPac
Tongan Foreign Minister Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu (right) is accompanied by Australian High Commissioner to Tonga Rachael Moore as they receive a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft delivering Australian aid at Fuaʻamotu International Airport on Thursday.

The first aid flights to arrive since a massive volcano hit the Pacific island nation of Tonga last week have landed in the capital Thursday, bringing bottled water, shelters, generators and communications equipment.

The military transport planes dispatched by New Zealand and Australia arrived in Nuku’alofa at an airport that days before had been covered in ash from the eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai Saturday evening local time. That eruption thrust ash 100,000 feet into the sky and triggered a tsunami with effects felt as far away as the U.S. West Coast. It also knocked out an undersea cable that was a vital communications link for the remote archipelago.

The New Zealand government has confirmed three deaths in Tonga as a result of the Jan. 15 eruption, one of the strongest in decades, with an estimated power of 10 megatons, or more than 500 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in the final days of World War II.

Volcanic ash and seawater have contaminated the island chain's fresh water supply and the government there has advised people to drink only bottled water. The resulting tsunami also caused extensive damage in the low-lying islands.

New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement that a military C-130 Hercules had been dispatched “carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water containers, kits for temporary shelters, generators, hygiene and family kits, and communications equipment.”

“The delivery of supplies will be contactless and the aircraft is expected to be on the ground for up to 90 minutes before returning to New Zealand,” Defence Minister Peeni Henare said.

Tongans had to clear the runway by hand to make way for aid flights, Ashley Westerman, who is reporting on the disaster, told Morning Edition. The aircraft from New Zealand, which the ministry later confirmed had arrived, could not have landed earlier due to the thick ash, the Defence Ministry statement said.

In a separate statement, New Zealand’s Defence Forces said two ships carrying bulk water supplies, humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies had been dispatched to Tongan waters on Tuesday and were expected to arrive on Friday.

Meanwhile, Australia’s military confirmed Thursday that a C-17 transport with a similar manifest of disaster aid, had also arrived.

“The delivery of supplies today is part of the initial package of urgent humanitarian assistance,” according to an Australian Department of Defence statement.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in a tweet that "The men and women of the Australian Defence Force will be working hard to help Tonga get back on its feet and recover from this catastrophic event."

Australia has also deployed one of its warships, HMAS Adelaide, to aid in the effort, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

Synagogue hostage-taking

U.K. police arrest two suspects in their Texas synagogue hostage investigation

Posted January 20, 2022 at 8:12 AM EST
The exterior of a synagogue behind a fence and beside bare trees, with a large Star of David on the front.
Emil Lippe/Getty Images
/
Getty Images North America
Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is shown on Monday in Colleyville, Texas.

Counter-terrorism authorities in the U.K. have arrested two suspects in connection with Saturday's hostage-taking at a Texas synagogue.

Greater Manchester Police said officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West arrested two men on Thursday morning in Birmingham and Manchester. They were still in custody for questioning as of 8 a.m. local time.

U.K. authorities are supporting the U.S. with its investigation into the incident, in which British citizen Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at the Colleyville synagogue, holding three of them captive for some 10 hours. They managed to escape, and he died on the scene.

The FBI is investigating the incident as a terrorism-related matter and saidSunday that there was "no indication" that other individuals were involved.

Still, officers from the same U.K. unit arrested two teenagers in South Manchester on Sunday in connection with the hostage-taking. Authorities saidTuesday that the two had since been released without charge, and that an address in North Manchester had been searched as part of the investigation.

Akram was from the Blackburn area of Lancashire, which is to the north of Manchester.

During negotiations with law enforcement, he reportedly demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist serving an 86-year sentence in a Texas federal prison on terrorism charges. The FBI later confirmed that he invoked her name repeatedly.

That's not a huge surprise to Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Wilson Center. He told Morning Edition that a number of extremists have tried to champion Saddiqui's cause in the last decade, with several terrorist groups demanding her release in return for U.S. captives.

"Aafia Saddiqui, the name is certainly not very well known in the United States but within the network of Islamic militants it's actually a household name," he said.

Saddiqui, who attended MIT and Brandeis University, was convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill American soldiers and officials while in Afghanistan. Kugelman says many Islamic militants see her case as proof that Muslims are under siege by hostile actors, while her more mainstream supporters believe she has been treated poorly in federal prison and represents the injustices of the U.S. legal system.

Kugelman said he would be "utterly flabbergasted" if Saddiqui were to be released early after the hostage-taking, which her lawyer has condemned. He says the chances of an early release were slim before, as "successive U.S. governments believe unequivocally that Saddiqui is an unrepentant terrorist and she must stay behind bars at all costs."

Now it's even more unlikely in his view, since anyone within the government looking into the possibility of an early release or swap would be perceived as giving in to the demands of an extremist. Hear the full conversation.

Politics

With voting rights stalled, congressional Democrats look to Build Back Better again

Posted January 20, 2022 at 7:55 AM EST
The dome of the Capitol building is visible against a dark blue sky, with a red stoplight and hand icon visible on a traffic light in front of it.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
/
Getty Images North America
A view of the Capitol on Wednesday evening in Washington, D.C.

Senate Democrats failed to advance two voting rights bills last night after Republicans blocked a floor vote and Democrats couldn't manage to unite in a push to change Senate rules to sidestep the opposition.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona joined all Senate Republicans to preserve the filibuster by a vote of 52-48. That's despite, as NPR's Alana Wise and Arnie Seipel put it, "dire calls in their party, arguing that democracy itself is on the line, and threats of primary challenges when the two senators are up for reelection in 2024." Read more here.

With voting rights stalled, congressional Democrats are now looking to revive President Biden's domestic policy and spending plan, also known as Build Back Better.

The $1.7 trillion package stalled in December after Manchin said that he couldn't back it. Biden conceded at yesterday's press conference that "we're going to have to probably break it up" and pass pieces of the bill in smaller "chunks."

NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh says many of the Democrats — both progressive and moderate — whom she spoke to yesterday are eager to push ahead on pieces of the package, saying they need to do whatever it takes to get as much of it passed as possible.

Walsh told Morning Edition that many are focused on the child tax credit, even though Biden said yesterday he didn't think that could be part of this effort. Both the White House and congressional Democrats have said that the policy has cut child poverty in half, so there's a lot of interest in moving that forward. Democrats also expressed interest in advancing elements like housing programs and climate provisions.

Listen to the full conversation here.


Walsh also brought us up to speed on the latest twist involving former President Donald Trump and the House select committee investigating Jan. 6.

The Supreme Court last night upheld a lower court ruling that the National Archive must hand over White House records to the committee, rejecting the former president's request to keep them private. Those records include things like visitor logs, emails and memos about legal strategy — as Walsh put it, things that the committee wants to see as they piece together all the conversations around Trump that led to the insurrection.

House panel Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a statement last night that those materials were already on their way:

"The Select Committee has already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden and we look forward to additional productions regarding this important information."