And the list of attendees for the White House dinner tonight, which is being held in Angela Merkel’s honor, includes several notable names that our readers will recognize.
Two former secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell, will attend the dinner in the State Dining Room.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell will also be present for Merkel’s White House dinner, her final such event as chancellor before she steps down later this year.
Several of Joe Biden’s senior advisers, including Steve Ricchetti and Susan Rice, will be in attendance as well.
Among the attendees of Joe Biden and Angela Merkel’s bilateral meeting are US secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
On Merkel’s side, the chancellor is accompanied by state secretary Steffen Seibert and German ambassador to the US Emily Haber, among others.
Once the meeting concludes, Biden and Merkel will hold a joint press conference, so stay tuned.
Joe Biden said it was a “great pleasure” to welcome German chancellor Angela Merkel back to the White House.
“She has been to the Oval Office many times,” Biden said of Merkel. “She’s a great friend, a personal friend and a friend of the United States.”
In return, Merkel thanked the US president for inviting her to the White House, saying she was “delighted” to be in Washington.
“I’d like to say here how much I value friendship with the United States of America,” Merkel said. “We are more than aware of the contribution of America to a free and democratic Germany. So I am very much looking forward to deepening our relations yet again.”
As reporters were being pushed out of the Oval Office, one journalist asked Biden when he might visit Germany.
“Soon, I hope,” Biden replied.
Biden and Merkel meet in Oval Office
What a difference three years makes. Germany’s Angela Merkel smiling actual smiles in Washington as she meets Joe Biden for the first time in his presidency, and vice president Kamala Harris.
All about Germany | deutschland.de
„I know what the USA have done for the history of a free and democratic Germany.“ Angela Merkel has been invited to the Oval Office during her first visit to Washington since #Biden was inaugurated as @POTUS. https://t.co/xmRhddFYrM
July 15, 2021
Biden and Merkel are due to hold a press conference later this afternoon, but snippets of their Oval Office meeting have been released and it’s a huge contrast to Merkel’s meeting there with Donald Trump in May, 2017, when he was president. He snubbed her suggestion that they shake hands for the camera, smirked and postured and then spent a joint press conference talking over reporters’ questions, while the two leaders almost speaking past each other.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and other G7 leaders and senior aides try to reason with U.S. President Donald Trump, seated at right, during the G7 Leaders Summit in Canada in 2018, when he initially refused to sign the traditional joint communiqué, which acknowledged the value of a rules-based international order. Photograph: Jesco Denzel/AP
And a year later, Merkel was at a G7 meeting with an obstreperous Trump, during which he threw two Starburst chews at her and said “Don’t say I never give you anything.” Leaders intimated that Trump was prone to fits of anger and other acts of rudeness.
Contrast with today. Here’s Merkel being greeted by Harris.
Vice President Kamala Harris
I had a wide-ranging discussion with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. We discussed strengthening democratic institutions and the transatlantic relationship, and addressing shared challenges like health and climate. @POTUS and I will work to deepen the U.S.-German partnership. pic.twitter.com/Ur1bRQmjI1
July 15, 2021
And here are some screenshots via Twitter of the Oval with Merkel and Biden.
Richard We Will Win! 🇺🇸
Not the original Angela Merkel! She’s been replaced.
And Uncle Joe has a new and improved mask with bushier eyebrows and blonder hair 😉 pic.twitter.com/NDgdjWC2zQ
July 15, 2021
at 3.17pm EDT
Approximately 20,000 Afghans have applied for the special immigrant visas on offer for those, such as interpreters and advisors, who helped the US during the war in Afghanistan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the briefing earlier today
Psaki says approximately 20,000 Afghans have applied for the special immigrant visas for Afghans that supported the U.S. during the Afghanistan War and details how the vetting process for the visas will work. pic.twitter.com/PDhEx6QZnk
July 15, 2021
The US said yesterday that it will urgently begin evacuating, from Afghanistan, the special immigration visa applicants whose lives are at risk because they worked for the US government as translators and in other roles.
Dubbed Operation Allies Refuge, the extraction is set to start during the last week of July. Fighting between US-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban has surged, with the militants gaining territory and capturing border crossings.
My colleague Emma Graham-Harrison reports today on Afghanistan’s neighbors taking action to try to prevent the country descending swiftly into civil war and a hotbed for terrorism again.
at 3.17pm EDT
A Fox News reporter asked Jen Psaki about the president’s thoughts on the protests happening in Cuba right now.
Specifically, the reporter asked whether Joe Biden believes the protests are a sign of discontent with Cuba’s communist government or a response to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.
.@PressSec on Cuba: “Communism is a failed ideology and we certainly believe that.” pic.twitter.com/eb5Sl9Fn0O
July 15, 2021
“Communism is a failed ideology, and we certainly believe that,” Psaki replied. “It has failed the people of Cuba. They deserve freedom. They deserve a government that supports them.”
She added, “This has been a government, an authoritarian communist regime that has repressed its people and has failed the people of Cuba. Hence, we’re seeing them in the streets.”
Psaki argued that the “failed” communist government had led to “a lack of access to economic opportunity, to medical supplies, to Covid vaccines”.
“So all of those pieces are true,” Psaki said of the cause of the protests.
Taking over the podium in the White House briefing room, Jen Psaki announced that Haiti received 500,000 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine last night, which were provided by the US through the Covax program.
The White House press secretary added that the US will send “significant amount of additional doses” to Haiti as soon as possible, in consultation with local health authorities.
Psaki reiterated that the US remains a “partner of the Haitian people,” as they attempt to recover from the assassination of their president, Jovenel Moïse.
Taking a few questions from reporters, Dr Vivek Murthy was asked about where online health misinformation seems to be coming from.
The surgeon general noted that much of the online misinformation on coronavirus and vaccines seems to be coming from individuals who incorrectly believe they are helping inform their communities about the risks of getting vaccinated.
(Public health experts have said the vaccines are safe and provide much-needed protection against coronavirus.)
Underscoring the need to crack down on health misinformation, Murthy pointed to polls showing the majority of unvaccinated Americans believe common myths about the vaccines or think that some of those myths might be true.
After taking a handful of questions from reporters, Murthy left the briefing room.
Dr Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general, asked Americans to always be careful when sharing information online about coronavirus or the vaccines.
“If you’re not sure, don’t share,” Murthy said. “When it comes to misinformation, not sharing is caring.”
The surgeon general noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics is launching an educational campaign to advise parents on navigating online health misinformation.
Coronavirus vaccine misinformation ‘has cost us lives,’ surgeon general says
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing, and she was joined by Dr Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general.
Murthy described the steps that the Biden administration is taking to crack down on misinformation surrounding coronavirus and vaccines.
The surgeon general called on major tech companies to more closely monitor misinformation and take action against super-spreaders of false claims about coronavirus.
Murthy also asked news outlets to take proactive steps to answer Americans’ questions about the vaccines to promote accurate information about the benefits of getting the shot.
U.S. @Surgeon_General Dr. Vivek Murthy gets personal about 10 of his family members who died of COVID, saying he “wishes each and every day that they had had the opportunity to get vaccinated.” pic.twitter.com/QRH86dDza8
July 15, 2021
Murthy described health misinformation as “an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health,” particularly because false claims have prevented some Americans from getting vaccinated against coronavirus.
“Simply put, health misinformation has cost us live,” Murthy said.
Noting that he has lost 10 of his own families to coronavirus, Murthy added, “It’s painful for me to know that nearly every death we are seeing now from Covid-19 could have been prevented.”
at 1.26pm EDT
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Joe Biden praised the monthly payments from the enhanced Child Tax Credit, which the IRS started distributing to American families today. Biden predicted that the payments, which were included in the coronavirus relief package he signed in March, will produce “the largest ever one-year decrease in child poverty in the history of the United States of America”.
- Angela Merkel will visit Biden at the White House this afternoon. The German chancellor, who will soon step down after 16 years in office, met with Kamala Harris this morning. Merkel and Biden are scheduled to soon participate in a bilateral meeting, and they will hold a joint press conference later today.
- The first procedural vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill will be held on Wednesday, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announced. The news comes as lawmakers race to finalize the details of the bill, which is based off the bipartisan infrastructure framework that Biden has endorsed.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Joe Biden predicted Republicans will try to boast about the enhanced Child Tax Credit, even though they did not vote for the coronavirus relief package that authorized the monthly payments.
The president is now calling on Congress to extend the program beyond 2021, and Republicans are expected to also oppose the $3.5tn bill that will approve that extension.
The president repeatedly referred to the enhanced tax credit as a “tax cut” for working families, criticizing those who do not support the program.
“To the people that say we cannot afford to give the middle-class a break, I say we can afford it,” Biden said.
The president’s speech on the Child Tax Credit has now concluded. Biden and Harris left the event without taking any questions.
Joe Biden predicted that the monthly Child Tax Credit payments would produce “the largest ever one-year decrease in child poverty in the history of the United States of America”.
“The benefits will be felt for years,” Biden said of the payments, which started being distributed to families today.
Pres. Biden says the Child Tax Credit will create “the largest ever one year decrease in child poverty in the history of the United States of America.” pic.twitter.com/98Bxnecxme
July 15, 2021
However, as things currently stand, the enhanced tax credit will not extend beyond 2021. The policy was included in the coronavirus relief package that Biden signed in March, and Congress would need to pass an extension to keep the monthly payments going.
The president called on lawmakers to extend the program, saying, “We shouldn’t let taxes go up on working families.”
Democrats will likely include an extension of the enhanced tax credit in their $3.5tn “human infrastructure” plan, which the Senate is working to advance.
at 12.48pm EDT
Biden praises monthly Child Tax Credit payments as a ‘historic’ step in ending child poverty
Joe Biden is now speaking at the White House, praising the benefits of the monthly payments from the enhanced Child Tax Credit.
The president first welcomed the nine families who are present for the event. Each of the nine families will benefit from the monthly payments, the White House said.
Biden acknowledged that this event must be “boring, boring, boring” for the children in the audience, so he suggested that their parents give them ice cream once it’s done.
“I believe this is actually a historic day,” President Biden says on eligible families in the U.S. will get their first monthly payments of the expanded child tax.
“It’s historic and it’s our effort to make another giant step towards ending child poverty in America.” pic.twitter.com/1ARCPgcx7j
July 15, 2021
Pivoting to the Child Tax Credit, Biden said the monthly payments were “historic” and marked a “giant step toward ending child poverty in America”.
The president compared the impact of the payments, which started being distributed today, to the effect that Social Security had in reducing poverty for the elderly.
“This can be life-changing for so many families,” Biden said.
at 12.39pm EDT
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now holding their event to celebrate the monthly payments from the enhanced Child Tax Credit, which started being distributed today.
The vice-president delivered remarks first, saying that the monthly payments would help lift American families out of poverty.
“The payments may be monthly, but the impact of this Child Tax Credit will undoubtedly be generational,” Harris said. “Today is a good day, America. It is a historic day.”
Trump responds to Milley’s concerns about potential coup: ‘I’m not into coups!’
Donald Trump is pushing back against new reporting that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen Mark Milley, feared the US was facing a potential “Reichstag moment” in the final days before Joe Biden took office.
“Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of ‘coup,’ and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley,” Trump said in a new statement. “I’m not into coups!”
The statement includes a number of insults hurled at Milley, who was nominated in 2019 by … Donald Trump.
The former president’s statement comes one day after New York magazine reported on excerpts from the new book I Alone Can Fix This, by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
According to the book, Milley spoke to an “old friend” shortly before the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The friend warned Milley that Trump was attempting to overturn the results of the presidential election, which he still claims were tainted by widespread voter fraud. (That is obviously not true. Trump fairly lost the election to Biden.)
Milley is reported to have said: “They may try, but they’re not going to fucking succeed. You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with guns.”
Read Martin Pengelly’s full report on the book here:
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will soon deliver remarks on the monthly payments from the enhanced Child Tax Credit, which the IRS started distributing today. (More details on that here.)
According to the White House, nine families who are benefitting from the payments will be in attendance for the president and vice-president’s remarks.
The blog will provide details on the event once it starts, so stay tuned.
More details from the Guardian’s Daniel Strauss:
Earlier in the week, Bernie Sanders met with Joe Biden at the White House. The meeting suggests that the White House is working to keep Sanders satisfied through the sausage-making process of crafting this $3.5tn reconciliation bill.
The meeting also indicates Sanders is seeing eye-to-eye with the Biden administration on a legislative package that could easily spark interparty fighting.
“If you’re asking at the end of the day do I think we’re going to pass this, I do,” Sanders told me on Capitol Hill yesterday.
“And by the way, as all of you know, the House is an independent body and they will go where they will. And they may want to go with larger funding, and if that’s the case I would be very supportive of that.”
Democrats need unity as they move forward on both the bipartisan part of their infrastructure package and their more expansive infrastructure proposals.
On Thursday, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate majority leader, said he would take the necessary legislative steps to move both parts of the infrastructure package forward next week.