Investigators have found no evidence the

Facebook on Friday announced that it may allow former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts to be reinstated in January 2023.

At that time, the social media company will reevaluate whether the risk to public safety of allowing Trump back onto its services has receded.

“We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest,” the company said in a blog post. “If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”

If Trump is allowed back on the service, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Trump further violates the company’s content moderation rules, Facebook said.

This two-year suspension will prevent Trump from using Facebook or Instagram to broadcast to his followers until after the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.

Facebook suspended Trump’s accounts following the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. The decision was Facebook’s most aggressive action against Trump during his four-year term.

Facebook referred the ban to its oversight board a few weeks later, saying that given the significance of the suspension, “we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld.”

Whatever or whoever they are, they’re still out there. U.S. intelligence is after them, but its upcoming report won’t deliver any full or final truth about UFOs.

The tantalizing prospect of top government intel finally weighing in — after decades of conspiracy theories, TV shows, movies and winking jokes by presidents — will instead yield a more mundane reality that’s not likely to change many minds on any side of the issue.

Investigators have found no evidence the sightings are linked to aliens — but can’t deny a link either. Two officials briefed on the report due to Congress later this month say the U.S. government cannot give a definitive explanation of aerial phenomena spotted by military pilots.

The report also doesn’t rule out that what pilots have seen may be new technologies developed by other countries. One of the officials said there is no indication the unexplained phenomena are from secret U.S. programs.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Findings of the report were first published by The New York Times.

The report examines multiple unexplained sightings from recent years that in some cases have been captured on video of pilots exclaiming about objects flying in front of them.

Congress in December required the Director of National Intelligence to summarize and report on the U.S. government’s knowledge of unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs — better known to the public as unidentified flying objects or UFOs. The effort has included a Defense Department UAP task force established last year. The expected public release of an unclassified version of the report this month will amount to a status report, not the final word, according to one official.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Sue Gough, declined Friday to comment on news stories about the intelligence report. She said the Pentagon’s UAP task force is “actively working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the report, and DNI will provide the findings to Congress.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about the report, said of the question at first, “It’s always a little wacky on Fridays.” But she added, “I will say that we take reports of incursions into our airspace by any aircraft — identified or unidentified — very seriously and investigate each one.”

The Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency have for decades looked into reports of aircraft or other objects in the sky flying at inexplicable speeds or trajectories.

The U.S. government takes unidentified aerial phenomena seriously given the potential national security risk of an adversary flying novel technology over a military base or another sensitive site, or the prospect of a Russian or Chinese development exceeding current U.S. capabilities. This also is seen by the U.S. military as a security and safety issue, given that in many cases the pilots who reported seeing unexplained aerial phenomena were conducting combat training flights.

The report’s lack of firm conclusions will likely disappoint people anticipating the report, given many Americans’ long-standing fascination with UFOs and the prospect of aliens having reached humankind. A recent story on CBS’ “60 Minutes” further bolstered interest in the government report.

Facebook’s independent Oversight Board in May decided to uphold the company’s choice to suspend Trump’s accounts. In its decision, however, the board noted that Facebook needed to reassess how it moderates the speech of political leaders, clearly outline those rules for the public and determine how long is appropriate for these users to be suspended.

The company said it determined that a two-year suspension was the appropriate length to allow a safe period of time after the acts of the Jan. 6 insurrection and it was a significant enough suspension to be a deterrent to Trump and others from repeating the violations in the future.

In a statement issued by his office, Trump criticized Facebook’s decision, calling it an insult to his voters and falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win,” Trump said in the statement. “Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!”–166109961/–166110778/–166112468/–166109961/–166110778/–166112468/ 


The biggest chunk of the bill

Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unveiled a $547 billion transportation funding package Friday that would ramp up spending on rail and transit, while encouraging states to repair existing roads rather than build new ones.

The biggest chunk of the bill is $343 billion for road and bridge construction, as well as highway safety, a boost of more than 50 percent over the last transportation bill Congress passed in 2015. It also calls for $109 billion for transit and $95 billion for rail — including a tripling of funding to Amtrak.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the committee, said the proposed legislation embodies a core piece of President Biden’s infrastructure plans, “seizing this once-in-a-generation opportunity to move our transportation planning out of the 1950s and toward our clean energy future.”

Beyond authorizing federal spending, the five-year bill seeks to overhaul rules on how states and other transportation agencies can use the money, putting environmental goals at the forefront and seeking to curb the nation’s dominance of car travel.

The bill underscores a partisan divide on transportation policy, with Democrats and Republicans at odds on the federal role of supporting transit and the extent to which transportation spending should be targeted at combating climate change.

“The benefits of transformative investments in our infrastructure are far-ranging: We can create and sustain good-paying jobs, many of which don’t require a college degree, restore our global competitiveness, tackle climate change head-on, and improve the lives of all Americans through modern infrastructure that emphasizes mobility and access, and spurs our country’s long-term economic growth,” DeFazio said.

Summer will be crucial for Biden’s legislative agenda. Here’s why.
President Biden and Congress have a narrow window this summer to pass legislation on infrastructure and other issues before a potential debt limit standoff. (Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

While the bill can expect a warm reception among House Democrats, who passed a similar proposal last year, it does not represent the bipartisan compromise that a Senate committee advanced last week. Republicans on the House committee, meanwhile, introduced their own proposal last month that is mostly focused on increasing road spending.

The Democratic bill doesn’t propose a way to pay for itself, which is typical, but the spending it outlines is far in excess of what the government is forecast to collect in taxes on gasoline and diesel that have historically been used to fund transportation.

Biden offers tax concession in infrastructure talks with key Republican

Former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the National Institutes of Health of trying to suppress his department’s investigation into the true origins of the coronavirus pandemic, as until recently theories that the pathogen leaked from a Wuhan, China lab were often viewed as conspiratorial.

On “The Ingraham Angle,” Pompeo remarked that outside of typical pushback within his own department from people who didn’t like him or President Donald Trump, he was also dealing with “internal debate” from the National Institutes of Health.

“[NIH] folks were trying to suppress what we were doing at the State Department as well,” he said.

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, an Obama appointee, recently said on Fox News’ “The Story” that he never ruled out a lab leak, but that it matched astrobiologist Carl Sagan’s mantra of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Pompeo also said Anthony Fauci, who runs the NIAID under the NIH umbrella, sounded like he was spreading Chinese government talking points in daytime interviews earlier Thursday:

Lindsey Graham calls on Fauci to testify before CongressVideo
“To hear Fauci this morning talk about how the Chinese have an interest in us discovering what happened is just crazy talk. The Chinese have a deep interest in covering it up. They have done so pretty darn effectively,” he said.

Fauci, 80, voiced “the exact same theories that the Chinese Communist Party has presented for over a year now,” said Pompeo, adding that such corollaries appear ill-timed:

“He implies good faith for the Chinese Communist Party: We are on the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square [incident] For Dr. Fauci to go out and think the CCP cared that there were people in Wuhan who were dying… is just naïve beyond all possible imagination.”

Pompeo went on to back up reporting from Vanity Fair that said a State Department official named Miles Yu, who can speak Mandarin, was actively translating and “mirroring” documentation on the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s website in order to compile a dossier of questions about its research to the secretary.

Pompeo praised Yu, a former commander at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., saying that what Yu reported was “pretty clear.

“When I received that [dossier] it was in early May [2020]. I was on TV talking about what I could get declassified at that point. We worked diligently to get them to declassify more,” he said.

“[Then-DNI Director John Ratcliffe] was a great partner in trying to do that. But there were folks all over the community who did not want to talk about this … who did not want the world to know the Chinese Communist Party was in the process of covering up several million losses of life,” the former Kansas congressman said.

The committee is scheduled to consider the bill Wednesday, a date the White House says it’s watching as Biden negotiates with Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), over a broader infrastructure deal. The two sides are split on how much to spend and how to pay for it, but Biden and Capito are scheduled to talk Friday after meeting at the White House earlier in the week.

The House bill adopts some of the ideas Biden set out in his initial $2.3 trillion proposal. It includes a $3 billion fund aimed at undoing harms caused by urban highway construction, which often divided Black neighborhoods. It also would invest $4 billion in electric vehicle-charging infrastructure.

The proposed transit funding is aimed tackling a maintenance backlog, expanding service and promoting the development of housing near transit hubs. Some rail funding would be used to spur development of high-speed rail. In both cases, spending is aimed at reducing congestion on roads by giving people alternate ways to get around and cutting carbon emissions.

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman of the committee’s rail panel, said the bill would “bring America’s aging rail infrastructure into the 21st century.”

The bill is also set to include $14.8 billion for earmarks, projects backed by individual members of Congress. That practice was scrapped a decade ago, but it has been revived by House leaders who argue that lawmakers understand the particular needs of their communities.–166095942/–166095945/–166096380/–166096645/–166096917/–166097008/–166097408/


Even as the national media minimizes the importance of election integrity

The Computing Research Association applauds the bipartisan effort to increase dramatically investments in American science and technology research at the National Science Foundation through the introduction of the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225). The cosponsors of the bill, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), along with Subcommittee on Research and Technology Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Ranking Member Michael Waltz (R-FL), all long-time champions of America’s scientific research enterprise, continue their leadership with this well-crafted vision for the future of the National Science Foundation.

The legislation proposes many improvements and updates to the Foundation. In particular, we view the proposed investments in the Foundation’s Research and Related Activities account as essential for the continued health of the US research enterprise, the country’s economic competitiveness, and our national defense. Additionally, the provisions on STEM education and workforce development, as well as the section on broadening participation, are crucial to address long-standing problems in the country’s scientific ecosystem and will help it to grow and benefit all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or economic standing.

We thank the bill’s co-sponsors and look forward to working with all parties to help perfect the bill as it makes its way through the legislative process.

Republicans in the Texas Senate muscled one of the most restrictive new voting laws in the U.S. to the cusp of the governor’s desk early Sunday, approving fewer ways to cast a ballot and more criminal penalties after rushing the bill to the floor in the middle of the night.

The sweeping measure, known as Senate Bill 7, passed along party lines around 6 a.m. after eight hours of questioning by Democrats, who have virtually no path to stop it from becoming law. But the bill must still clear a final vote in the Texas House later Sunday in order to reach Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it.

“I have grave concerns about a bill that was crafted in the shadows and passed late at night,” said Democratic state Sen. Beverly Powell.

Under revisions during closed-door negotiations, Republicans added language that could make it easier for a judge to overturn an election and pushed back the start of Sunday voting, when many Black churchgoers head to the polls. The 67-page measure would also eliminate drive-through voting and 24-hour polling centers, both of which Harris County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold, introduced last year.

Sign Up For The NPR Daily Newsletter
Catch up on the latest headlines and unique NPR stories, sent every weekday.

E-mail address
What’s your email?
By subscribing, you agree to NPR’s terms of use and privacy policy. NPR may share your name and email address with your NPR station. See Details. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Texas is the last big battleground in the GOP’s nationwide efforts to tighten voting laws, driven by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Georgia and Florida have also passed new voting restrictions, and President Biden on Saturday unfavorably compared Texas’ bill to election changes in those states as “an assault on democracy.”

The vote in the Texas Senate came just a short time after a final version of the bill had been made public Saturday. Around midnight, Republicans wielded their majority to suspend rules that would normally prohibit taking a vote on a bill that had not been posted for 24 hours, which Democrats protested as a breach of protocol that denied them and the public time to review the language first.

The bill would newly empower partisan poll watchers by allowing them more access inside polling places and threatening criminal penalties against elections officials who restrict their movement. Republicans originally proposed giving poll watchers the right to take photos, but that language was removed from the final bill that lawmakers were set to vote on this weekend.

Another new provision could also make it easier to overturn an election in Texas, allowing for a judge to void an outcome if the number of fraudulent votes cast could change the result, regardless of whether it was proved that fraud affected the outcome.

Election officials would also face new criminal penalties, including felony charges for sending mail voting applications to people who did not request one. The Texas District and County Attorneys Association tweeted that it had counted in the bill at least 16 new, expanded or enhanced crimes related to elections.

GOP legislators are also moving to prohibit Sunday voting before 1 p.m., which critics called an attack on what is commonly known as “souls to the polls” — a get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black church congregations nationwide. The idea traces back to the civil rights movement. Democratic state Rep. Nicole Collier, chairwoman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said the change is “going to disengage, disenfranchise those who use the souls to the polls opportunity.”

Pressed on the Senate floor over why Sunday voting couldn’t begin sooner, Republican Sen. Bryan Hughes said, “Election workers want to go to church, too.”

Collier was one of three Democrats picked to negotiate the final version, none of whom signed their name to it. She said she saw a draft of the bill around 11 p.m. Friday — which was different than one she had received earlier that day — and was asked for her signature the next morning.

Major corporations, including Texas-based American Airlines and Dell, have warned that the measures could harm democracy and the economic climate. But Republicans shrugged off their objections, and in some cases, ripped business leaders for speaking out.

Texas already has some of the country’s tightest voting restrictions and is regularly cited by nonpartisan groups as a state where it is especially hard to vote. It was one of the few states that did not make it easier to vote by mail during the pandemic.

The top Republican negotiators, Hughes and state Rep. Briscoe Cain, called the bill “one of the most comprehensive and sensible election reform bills” in Texas’ history.

“Even as the national media minimizes the importance of election integrity, the Texas Legislature has not bent to headlines or corporate virtue signaling,” they said in a joint statement.

Since Trump’s defeat, at least 14 states have enacted more restrictive voting laws, according to the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice. It has also counted nearly 400 bills filed this year nationwide that would restrict voting.

Republican lawmakers in Texas have insisted that the changes are not a response to Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud but are needed to restore confidence in the voting process. But doubts about the election’s outcome have been fanned by some of the state’s top GOP leaders, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, who led a failed lawsuit at the U.S. Supreme Court to try to overturn the election.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired Trump’s presidential campaign in Texas, offered a $1 million reward to anyone who could produce evidence of voter fraud. Nonpartisan investigations of previous elections have found that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. State officials from both parties, including in Texas, as well as international observers have also said the 2020 election went well.


Bill Gates will never be the same

For decades, Bill Gates has traveled the globe as near-royalty, knighted by Queen Elizabeth and draped in medals by President Barack Obama. And for the last year, the once pugnacious Microsoft founder has reinvented himself as one of America’s clearest, most humane voices on the Covid-19 pandemic.

It would only take two weeks for Gates to reinvent himself yet again — and not in the way that his past reinventions have gone.

For the first time since the turn of the century, Bill Gates is mired in deep scandal. And what has become clear over the past 48 hours is that Gates will never be the same.

The divorce of Gates and his wife, Melinda, was announced earlier this month but has devolved into a tabloid melodrama featuring secret boardroom investigations, hushed affairs, and the likes of Jeffrey Epstein. Gates was pummeled in a trio of stories over the weekend that detailed his alleged indiscretions, each of which began to shatter the aura that he has cultivated in the 20 years since he took his foot off the clutch at Microsoft.

Sign up for The Weeds newsletter
Vox’s German Lopez is here to guide you through the Biden administration’s unprecedented burst of policymaking. Sign up to receive our newsletter each Friday.

That image rehabilitation largely worked. Ever since stepping back from Microsoft, Gates has grown to epitomize what might be considered the “Good Billionaire”: a civic-minded, awkward geek who showed how capitalism’s winnings can be marshaled to make the world a better place through philanthropy. No donor was more important in the world than Bill Gates, who, along with his wife, had grown to symbolize something in short supply in corporate America: role models.

Denise and Alicia do laundry and have a dance party.
And the polling reflected that: 55 percent of Americans told Recode in a survey this year that they had a positive opinion of him; only 35 percent felt the opposite.

But Gates’s world has now come crashing down with incredible speed.

To recap: Gates has apologized and been dogged for over a year by his connections to Epstein, the convicted sex offender who eventually killed himself in federal custody. But Gates is now accused of having vastly underplayed his ties to the ignominious criminal, according to one report. A second report shows a pattern of Gates acting unprofessionally around women he worked with — and handling a sexual harassment allegation against his money manager in a way that upset Melinda. And in the perhaps most damaging revelation, Gates now admits that he had an affair with an employee at Microsoft back in 2000, which triggered an investigation by the tech giant’s board of directors in 2019, a third report says.

Gates’s team denies many of these allegations. But they are sure to capture some mindshare with the American public, piercing the reputation that Gates has worked so long to cultivate. And there’s little reason to think that the last shoe has dropped in a record-setting divorce proceeding that is trending toward ugly.

Will people look at Bill Gates with the same fondness ever again?

What two weeks ago was merely a marriage that had sadly petered out has spiraled into something nastier. Gates will be shrouded in questions for the foreseeable future about his romantic life — to say nothing about the uncomfortable pecuniary and legal questions about the future of his fortune.

People do recover from scandal, especially in this news and political environment. (Philanthropists like Michael Milken were no angels.) Gates will surely have his own side of the story to tell, and the Gates Foundation will still exist, giving him wide influence over the next few decades. But more than other philanthropists, much of Gates’s soft power came from his seemingly unimpeachable public profile, which will now be more than a little tarred by the worst kind of attention.

Even if this is relegated to a rough news cycle or two in the long sweep of history, the short-term consequences are profound given where we are in that history. Gates should be at the forefront of the humanitarian crisis in India, for instance, speaking out about the massive death tolls. (He’s instead drawn controversy for his support of vaccine patent protections.) Now he is on the defensive, and any next interviewer will understandably want to ask at least in part about his private life, depleting the power of his commentary on public health.

This should be a validating moment for Bill Gates, as much as the last year has been. Instead, he will likely be silent, legalistic, and, more broadly, on the back foot. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Show your support for Recode

Millions turn to Recode to understand how technology and the companies behind it are shaping our world — and what’s at stake as we rely on technology more than ever before. Financial contributions from readers help support our journalism and enable our staff to continue to offer our articles, podcasts, and newsletters for free. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today, from as little as $3, to help us keep our work free for all.

[Watch FREE] Ramirez vs Taylor Live Stream Reddit Online (Thursday, 22 May, 2021)–165675337/–165675337/


In key areas like immigration and Covid-19 relief, Biden isn’t breaking with Trump’s nationalism. In fact, he’s continuing it.

President Joe Biden’s address to the nation this Wednesday night wasn’t just a victory lap for the accomplishments of his first 100 days: It was a declaration that the Biden administration’s highest ambition would be reviving America and its democracy from the sorry state his predecessor had left it in.

There have been real accomplishments, like the transformative American Rescue Plan. But in key policy areas, even ones where Trump’s approach deeply damaged America’s democratic image, the Biden administration has seemingly been content with continuing its predecessor’s policies. On immigration and the global Covid-19 response in particular, Biden has seemed unable or unwilling to move past Donald Trump’s worldview, giving “America First” a home in a Democratic White House.

In mid-April, the Biden administration announced it would maintain the Trump administration’s 15,000-person cap on refugee admittance — a break with its campaign promise, not to mention a continuation of one of Trump’s most noxious policies.Vox’s German Lopez is here to guide you through the Biden administration’s unprecedented burst of policymaking. Sign up to receive our newsletter each Friday.

According to the New York Times, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in the Oval Office on March 3, “pleading with President Biden” to raise the refugee cap. Here’s how the president responded:

Mr. Biden, already under intense political pressure because of the surge of migrant children at the border with Mexico, was unmoved. The attitude of the president during the meeting, according to one person to whom the conversation was later described, was, essentially: Why are you bothering me with this?

After an intense backlash from congressional Democrats and liberal pundits, the administration reversed itself, saying it would announce a plan to raise the cap by an unspecified number by May 15.

The story on global vaccine distribution is similar.

For weeks after it became clear that the United States would have enough vaccines to meet domestic demand, the Biden administration refused to export its excess to poorer countries. That includes stockpiles of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has still not been approved for use in the United States.

This policy changed in late April, after a direct phone call between Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the country’s desperate straits. But insider reporting, this time from Politico, once again suggests the White House initially overrode the relevant agencies and directly blocked vaccine exports:

Senior officials in the White House and National Security Council had repeatedly rebuffed requests from leaders of health agencies, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to send doses abroad. The officials backing the exports cited weekly internal projections that showed the U.S. would have tens of millions of doses to spare. Their opponents urged Biden to wait until the U.S. had authorized more shot makers and was further along in its own vaccination campaign.

And there are other areas where Biden has sounded an America First tune. His administration plans to maintain Trump’s tariffs on China indefinitely, according to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. It has continued the Trump policy of using Title 42, a health code, to kick asylum seekers out of the country. It has refused to share vaccine manufacturing technology with foreign companies and countries, and took weeks to lift a ban on exporting vaccine raw materials that India desperately needed.

Vials of vaccine sitting on a wooden surface.
To be sure, there have been notable departures from Trump’s isolationist impulses — particularly when it comes to US membership in international organizations and agreements. But it’s fair to say that the Biden administration is going farther down an America First track than many Democrats would like.

Biden’s surprisingly weak record on helping foreigners
The administration’s defense on some of these issues is, more or less, Trump made them do it.

During a briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki blamed the refugee screwups on “the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited” that made it difficult to actually bring people into the country. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Tai said that “yanking off tariffs” would be impossible without causing economic disruption; there needed to be time for changes to be “communicated in a way so that the actors in the economy can make adjustments.”

These are debatable claims. The New York Times’s account suggests Biden’s disinterest, even independent of administrative capacity, was a major barrier to raising the refugee cap. But nonetheless, there is some truth to them. The Trump administration created bureaucratic and policy obstacles blocking Biden from overturning its policies, including on big-ticket foreign policy issues like the Iran nuclear deal and normalizing relations with Cuba.

And in several areas where there were no constraints, Biden has gone in a more internationalist direction. He rejoined the World Health Organization, eliminated the “Muslim ban,” and reentered the Paris climate agreement.

But these are low-hanging fruit, simple reversals of a handful of especially high-profile and widely criticized Trump policies. On the biggest challenge the global community is facing — the Covid-19 pandemic — the Biden administration’s international efforts have been frustratingly sluggish.

The global south is badly short of vaccines — and current efforts to acquire them, like the Covax purchasing fund, aren’t enough to make up the gap quickly. The Biden administration has been slow to act to address this problem, dragging its feet on exporting excess vaccines and lifting a ban on exporting the raw materials for vaccine manufacturing.

A health worker wearing protective gear collects a nasal swab sample in Siliguri, India. Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images
Much of this action has been a response to India’s current crisis, but there’s also a need for a proactive plan designed to prevent the next major outbreak by ramping up vaccination campaigns in poorer countries. So far, public health experts say the US has been largely absent.

Its $4 billion pledge to Covax is a nice gesture but not up to the task, and it’s not clear exactly how many more vaccines will be forthcoming from American stockpiles. On Friday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that “the president hasn’t made a determination about sending additional doses” beyond the excess AstraZeneca jabs already pledged.

“He’s avoided any commitments on global vaccination,” says Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at Yale University. “It’s incomprehensible and baffling.”

Similarly, on immigration, there is no rule forcing Biden to continue using Title 42 to expel asylum seekers. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claimed “there’s no intention to use the CDC Title 42 authority for a day longer than the public health imperative requires” — and indeed, the administration is currently considering a humanitarian exemption to the policy.

However, as my colleague Nicole Narea reports, the purported public health rationale for the policy is weaker than the administration suggests. Covid screening of asylum seekers has turned up low positivity rates; creating a broader testing regime that identified Covid-positive individuals would likely be sufficient to contain the risk and would certainly be more humane than sending migrants back to Mexico.

“I think it continues to be clear that the Title 42 travel ban is using a public health rationale for what is an ideological and political [policy],” Michele Heisler, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan, told Narea. “They’re afraid of sending a message that people should come.”

And on trade, Biden has voluntarily extended key Trump protectionist policies, including tariffs on metal imports and an effort to undermine the World Trade Organization’s appellate process. He even added to some of them, signing an executive order tightening “Buy American” rules for the federal government and proposing tax incentives for ordinary citizens to purchase American-made electric cars.

“It’s totally America First,” Dan Drezner, a professor at Tufts University who studies international trade, says of Biden’s policies. “I don’t think they’re more protectionist than Trump per se. But they’re not less either.”

America First, Biden-style
Of course, some degree of national partiality is to be expected in any presidency. Biden was elected by the citizens of the United States, not the world; it’s understandable that he’d give their interests priority.

But in the wake of Trump, who attacked the liberal international order that America helped create, Biden has a special kind of burden — recommitting the United States to creating a world where nations cooperate and care for those outside of their borders. But so far, the administration has seemed surprisingly comfortable with America First-style policies, a degree of nationalism that undermines the “America is back” restoration the Biden team has promised.

It’s not clear why the Biden administration is making these choices. (The administration did not respond to my request for comment.) But some hints may be found in Biden’s Wednesday night speech to Congress, where he sold his new legislative economic priority — the American Jobs Plan — by saying that “all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: Buy American.”

Overall, the speech seemed directly pitched at a particular kind of voter: economically distressed blue-collar workers without college degrees, the sort that (in some accounts) powered Trump’s surprise 2016 victory.

Donald J. Trump holds a rally at Giant Center on November 4, 2016, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Mark Makela/Getty Images
“I know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you. So many of you, so many of the folks I grew up with, feel left behind, forgotten, in an economy that’s so rapidly changing — it’s frightening,” he says. “Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree. Seventy-five percent don’t require an associate’s degree. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”

It’s not obvious that Biden’s political diagnosis is correct — the weight of the political science evidence suggests that economic circumstances had at best a limited effect on Trump’s rise. Nor is it obvious that Biden’s nationalist policies would actually help these voters: Keeping refugees out and AstraZeneca vaccines in storage would have little effect on their lives, while Trump’s tariffs did demonstrable damage to the American economy.

And what’s undeniable is that this administration’s choices have real-life consequences for people outside America’s borders. Hewing closely to the America First line may or may not be good domestic politics, but it’s almost certainly hurting some of the world’s most vulnerable people.