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Biden praises infrastructure plan as a 'once-in-a-generation investment' in America – as it happened

1.02am BST

12.26am BST

Georgia lawmakers have approved a bill to invalidate a Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law, in the aftermath of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

The state’s governor is expected to sign the bill into law, which would make Georgia the first state to mostly do away with a citizen’s arrest statute. The reforms enacted by the bill would still allow security officers, private investigators, and off-duty officers to detain someone they believe has committed a crime.

12.05am BST

Americans largely approve of Joe Biden’s handling of the pandemic, and his Covid-19 recovery plan – but are more divided on his handling of immigration and gun control, a new AP-NORC poll found.

Biden’s overall job approval is at 61%, the survey found. Nearly three-quarters of the 1,166 adults surveyed approved of Biden’s handling of the pandemic response. About 60% approved of his healthcare policy and economic policy, and 42% of his immigration policy.

11.41pm BST

The cashier who served George Floyd in a Minneapolis store immediately before his arrest and death last May told a court on Wednesday of the “disbelief and guilt” he felt for allowing Floyd to pay with a suspected fake $20 bill when he later saw the police kneeling on him.

Testimony on the third day of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial continued in an atmosphere of tense emotions and harrowing evidence about Floyd’s death.

Related: Chauvin trial: cashier tells of guilt over role in events that led to George Floyd’s death

11.06pm BST

A mistake at a Baltimore facility ruined about 15m doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the New York Times reports.

From the Times:

The plant is run by Emergent BioSolutions, a manufacturing partner to both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Federal officials attributed the mistake to human error.

The mixup has halted future shipments of Johnson & Johnson doses in the United States while the Food and Drug Administration investigates. Johnson & Johnson has moved to strengthen its control over Emergent BioSolutions’ work to avoid further quality lapses.

10.47pm BST

Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona – who as a former Nasa astronaut has the training to administer shots – is helping vaccinate patients in Tucson today.

The US is making fast progress on vaccinations, with a third of residents having received at least one dose. Track the progress here.

Today I joined nurses from @ElRioHealth to help administer vaccines to folks in South Tucson. Getting vaccinated is the most powerful tool we have in the fight against COVID-19, so be sure to get yours as soon as you’re able. Who knows — I might be there to give it to you.

10.24pm BST

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague Maanvi Singh will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

10.14pm BST

Joe Biden said he hoped to work in a bipartisan fashion with congressional Republicans to get his infrastructure plan passed.

“The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future,” the president said.

10.09pm BST

Joe Biden argued that now is the time to pass this $2tn package because “our infrastructure is crumbling”.

The president said in Pittsburgh, “We have to move now because I’m convinced that, if we act now, people are going to look back in 50 years and say this is the moment when America won the future.”

10.02pm BST

During his infrastructure speech, Joe Biden removed a piece of paper from his pocket to read off the US coronavirus death toll as of today.

The paper also included the president’s private schedule, and it showed the president held an hour-long meeting on “national emissions” earlier today.

Biden held an hour-long meeting on “national emissions” today according to the private schedule he just held up on-camera during his speech in Pittsburgh

9.52pm BST

Joe Biden is now delivering remarks on his $2tn infrastructure proposal at a union hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The president noted he launched his campaign in Pittsburgh nearly two years ago, and now he has returned to explain how his administration will “rebuild the backbone of America”.

Millions of Americans lost their jobs last year.

Here’s the truth: We all do better when we all do well. It’s time to build our economy from the bottom up—and the middle out—not the top down.

9.31pm BST

Joe Biden has arrived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he is already running about 10 minutes late to deliver his infrastructure speech. But that’s par for the course for this president, who rarely arrives anywhere on time.

9.18pm BST

Rita Hart, the Democratic congressional candidate in Iowa who had filed a House challenge to the results of her race, has withdrawn that request.

“After many conversations with people I trust about the future of this contest, I have made the decision to withdraw my contest before the House committee on administration,” Hart said in a statement.

Running to represent the people of #IA02 in the U.S. House of Representatives has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I could not have done it without all of you. Read my statement from today here:

8.58pm BST

Karine Jean-Pierre, the principal deputy White House press secretary, confirmed that Joe Biden will hold his first cabinet meeting tomorrow.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Pittsburgh, Jean-Pierre said the president will “convene his first full cabinet meeting just a day after rolling out his American Jobs Plan, which will be a key topic of discussion”.

8.35pm BST

France’s schools are to close for at least three weeks and travel within the country will be banned for a month after Easter in an attempt to curb a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases that threatens to overwhelm hospitals, Emmanuel Macron has said.

In a televised address to the nation, the French president said the government had waited “until the last moment” to impose further restrictions, winning the country “precious weeks of freedom”, but that “we now have to make one more big effort”.

Related: France to close schools and stop domestic travel after Covid surge

8.15pm BST

Charles McMillian, who tried to speak to George Floyd as officers arrested him, just broke down crying on the witness stand at Derek Chauvin’s trial.

Chauvin trial witness Charles McMillian, who spoke with George Floyd before he was killed, breaks down in tears after watching video of Floyd calling out for his mother and saying that he can’t breathe.

7.55pm BST

The infrastructure plan that Joe Biden will announce on Wednesday is set to crystalize the US president’s vision of how to combat the climate crisis – hefty government intervention to retool America’s creaking systems, festooned with plenty of green, preferably union, jobs.

Biden opened his White House term with a cavalcade of executive actions to begin the gargantuan task of shifting the US to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the new $2tn package, known as the American jobs plan, is the first indication of the scale of spending that will be required to reshape day-to-day life in order to avert disastrous climate change.

Related: Biden’s $2tn infrastructure plan aims to ‘finally address climate crisis as a nation’

7.36pm BST

Joe Biden has just boarded Air Force One to travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he will deliver a speech on his infrastructure proposal in about two hours.

President Biden salutes at the top of the steps to Air Force One on his way to Pittsburgh to rollout his infrastructure and jobs plan

7.20pm BST

Joe Biden will convene the first cabinet meeting of his presidency tomorrow, according to multiple reports.

The meeting will be focused on promoting Biden’s infrastructure package, which he is introducing in Pittsburgh today, and it will look quite different from cabinet meetings of the past.

To begin with, the full Cabinet won’t meet in the room that bears its name, instead assembling in the more spacious East Room to allow for social distancing. All attendees, including the president, will wear masks. Also, the afternoon meeting probably will not include the over-the-top tributes to the chief executive that came to define Cabinet meetings held by President Donald Trump.

The timing of the first meeting was deliberate: a week after the full Cabinet was confirmed and a day after Biden was poised to release his infrastructure plan in Pittsburgh, which will likely to dominate Washington through the summer and shape next year’s midterm elections.

7.00pm BST

The Wisconsin state supreme court has struck down governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate designed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

More than a year into the pandemic, the US has not once managed to get the virus officially under control and, with variants and vaccines in a perilous “race”, Joe Biden is urging the public to remain vigilant and his public health experts are warning of the “impending doom” of another surge of infections if restrictions are relaxed.

The Wisconsin supreme court on has struck down governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate, ruling that the Democrat exceeded his authority by unilaterally extending the mandate for months through multiple emergency orders.

The 4-3 ruling from the conservative-controlled court is the latest legal blow to attempts by Evers to control the coronavirus. It comes after Republicans in the Legislature voted to repeal the mask mandate in February, only to see Evers quickly re-issue it.

Several states, including Arizona, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Texas, Wyoming, and now Arkansas have dropped their mask mandates.

We’re keeping track of statewide orders:

6.38pm BST

Donald Trump just put out a statement criticizing Joe Biden’s forthcoming bold legislative plan for infrastructure redevelopment.

Not known for his subtlety or accuracy, 45’s statement continues (from previous post):

This legislation would be among the largest self-inflicted economic wounds in history.

If this monstrosity is allowed to pass, the result will be more Americans out of work, more families shattered, more factories abandoned, more industries wrecked, and more Main Streets boarded up and closed down—just like it was before I took over the presidency 4 years ago.

6.27pm BST

In yet another break with presidential tradition, and before Joe Biden has even formally presented his infrastructure plan this afternoon, the immediate past president has weighed in.

Donald Trump has put out a statement. Here is the first section of it:

Joe Biden’s radical plan to implement the largest tax hike in American history is a massive giveaway to China, and many other countries, that will send thousands of factories, millions of jobs, and trillions of dollars to these competitive Nations.

The Biden plan will crush American workers and decimate U.S. manufacturing, while giving special tax privileges to outsourcers, foreign and giant multinational corporations.

6.01pm BST

Here’s where the day stands so far:

5.53pm BST

The cashier who served George Floyd immediately before his arrest last May has described him as appearing to be “high” on drugs in testimony on the third day of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.

Christopher Martin, 19, said he noticed Floyd because “he was a big man” and that they had a long conversation about sport. He said that the 46 year-old Black man’s speech was laboured.

5.40pm BST

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell signaled he is not likely to support Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, due to the tax provisions the president has proposed to pay for the legislation.

Speaking in Kentucky today, the Republican leader expressed severe skepticism about a bill that included “massive tax increases and trillions more added to the national debt,” per NBC News.

McConnell in KY says President Biden called him about his infrastructure plan yesterday.

On whether he’ll support it: “It’s like a Trojan horse called infrastructure… If it’s going to have massive tax increases and trillions more added to the national debt, it’s not likely.”

5.15pm BST

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

Texas’ highest criminal appeals court said Wednesday it would hear an appeal from a Texas woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for voting while inadvertently ineligible in 2016.

Related: Texas court to hear appeal from woman sentenced to prison for voting while ineligible

4.54pm BST

A reporter asked members of the White House coronavirus response team whether the Biden administration will soon alter its vaccine distribution strategy to focus on community demand rather than state population.

Andy Slavitt, a senior White House adviser, said the administration will “continue to watch where vaccines are needed”. He noted that the US is expected to have a surplus of vaccine doses in the coming months, but the country is not yet at that point.

4.33pm BST

The White House coronavirus response team is now holding a briefing to provide an update on vaccine distribution and case numbers.

Andy Slavitt, a senior White House adviser, announced that the Biden administration is establishing three more federally-run mass vaccination sites in Memphis, Tennessee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Greenbelt, Maryland.

“We need to keep taking the mitigation measures, like wearing a mask and social distancing, as we continue to get more and more Americans vaccinated every single day,” CDC Dir. Walensky says.

Related: ‘I’m scared’: top US official shares sense of ‘doom’ as Covid cases rise

4.18pm BST

Two officers of the US Capitol Police force have sued Donald Trump, accusing the former president of inciting the January 6 insurrection that resulted in them suffering emotional and physical injuries.

The two officers, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, filed the lawsuit today in the US district court for the District of Columbia, and they are seeking damages of at least $75,000 each.

Related: Police officers sue Donald Trump for injuries resulting from Capitol riot

3.58pm BST

A 38-year-old man has been arrested and charged with felony assault in connection to the attack on an Asian-American woman in Manhattan earlier this week, the New York police department said today.

Thanks to assistance from the public and excellent investigative work by @NYPDHateCrimes Detectives, the individual wanted for Monday’s assault of a 65 year-old Asian female, at 360 West 43rd St, was arrested and charged with Felony Assault as a Hate Crime.

The arrest comes after the man was seen on video kicking and stomping the woman on Monday.

In a statement, police identified him as Brandon Elliot, 38, and said the New York City man was living at a hotel that serves as a homeless shelter a few blocks from the scene of the attack.

Related: New York man charged with hate crime for attack on Asian American woman

3.36pm BST

The third day of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial is now underway in Minneapolis, where the former police officer is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd.

3.20pm BST

Pfizer plans to seek emergency approval for its Covid vaccine in younger people after a US trial found the jab prevented the disease and was “well-tolerated” in 12- to 15-year-olds.

The US pharmaceutical company, which partnered with the German firm BioNTech to manufacture the vaccine, said it would submit the trial data to the US Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks and to other regulators thereafter.

Related: Pfizer finds Covid vaccine safe and effective for children 12 to 15

3.00pm BST

The US Chamber of Commerce has released a statement criticizing Joe Biden’s proposals on how to pay for his massive infrastructure proposal.

The lobbying group praised the president for recognizing the need to revitalize the country’s infrastructure, but the chamber argued it should be paid for over a longer period of time than what the Biden administration is proposing.

2.41pm BST

Speaking of clean water, Ryan Felton and Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports and Lewis Kendall for the Guardian have this investigation of tap water in America:

In Connecticut, a condo had lead in its drinking water at levels more than double what the federal government deems acceptable. At a church in North Carolina, the water was contaminated with extremely high levels of potentially toxic PFAS chemicals ( a group of compounds found in hundreds of household products). The water flowing into a Texas home had both – and concerning amounts of arsenic too.

Related: We sampled tap water across the US – and found arsenic, lead and toxic chemicals

2.20pm BST

As part of his infrastructure plan, Joe Biden is pledging to ensure that every American has access to clean water.

“Every single American has a right to clean drinking water,” the president said in a tweet this morning. “It’s just plain wrong that in the United States of America today, millions of children still receive their water through lead service pipes. It’s long past time we fix that.”

Every single American has a right to clean drinking water. It’s just plain wrong that in the United States of America today, millions of children still receive their water through lead service pipes. It’s long past time we fix that.

2.06pm BST

The trial of Derek Chauvin will soon start its third day in Minneapolis, where the former police officer is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd.

Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter, will be back on the witness stand this morning. Hansen testified yesterday that she pleaded with Chauvin to check Floyd’s pulse, but she was blocked from administering medical care.

The woman who recorded the shocking video of George Floyd’s death that prompted mass protests for racial justice around the world has told the Derek Chauvin murder trial of her feelings of guilt at being unable to intervene to save his life.

Darnella Frazier, who at times sobbed as she gave evidence on the second day of Chauvin’s trial in Minneapolis, said that she still loses sleep over the killing of the 46-year-old Black man.

Related: Teen who filmed killing tells court George Floyd was ‘begging for his life’

1.58pm BST

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Joe Biden will deliver a speech today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to lay out his $2tn infrastructure proposal, the next plank of his “Build Back Better” agenda.

Biden’s plan … includes ‘historic and galvanizing’ investments in traditional infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and highways, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars to fortify the electricity grid, expand high-speed broadband and rebuild water systems to ensure access to clean drinking water, an administration official said on Tuesday. It also seeks to expand access to community care facilities for seniors and people with disabilities and invest in research and development and workplace training.

He will propose paying for the new spending with a substantial increase on corporate taxes that would offset eight years of spending over the course of 15 years, officials said. Among the changes, Biden will call for a rise in the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and measures to force multinational corporations to pay more taxes in the US on profits earned abroad. The tax plan would unwind major pieces of Donald Trump’s tax-cut law, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Related: Biden promises ‘historic’ $2tn spending in infrastructure – but Capitol Hill fight awaits

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