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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The United States hit a devastating milestone today - 500,000 people now dead from COVID-19. That's according to the tally kept by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Well, while infections have been falling and vaccinations have been ramping up, about 2,000 people are still dying from the virus in this country each day. President Biden led the nation in remembering and mourning those deaths this evening at the White House.

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Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

President Biden and Vice President Harris acknowledged a grim milestone Monday: the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans from COVID-19.

Biden and Harris, along with first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, emerged from the White House at sundown. They stood at the foot of the South Portico, covered in 500 candles honoring the dead, and listened to a Marine Corps band play "Amazing Grace" as they held a moment of silence.

Facing the rising threat of wildfire and extreme drought, Flagstaff, Ariz., unveiled an ambitious effort two years ago to cut the heat-trapping emissions that drive climate change.

Merrick Garland, President Biden's nominee for attorney general, answered questions from senators Monday. If confirmed, he would inherit a department damaged by accusations of political interference.

The U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for a New York grand jury to get former President Donald Trump's financial records. It also said it will hear a case involving a Trump-era rule on abortion.

The House Budget Committee is expected to pass the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, setting up a partisan vote in the full House later this week.

The House Budget Committee has approved legislation advancing President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, setting a path for intense debate in the Senate.

The legislation is set for a vote on the House floor at the end of the week. The Senate is then expected to take up the legislation and attempt to modify it to ensure it can pass procedural hurdles while still satisfying all 50 Senate Democrats.

Neera Tanden, President Biden's pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, saw her path to confirmation narrow significantly on Monday, after two of the Senate's more centrist Republicans said they would not lend their support to her confirmation.

Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney will not support Tanden's confirmation to lead the powerful OMB over past partisan attacks she made online, particularly against Republicans. The two have supported other Biden nominees.

Updated at 2:09 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear a set of cases involving a Trump-era rule on abortion, giving the 6-3 conservative majority its first opportunity to weigh in on the hot-button issue. At the same time, the justices tossed out an appeal brought by former President Donald Trump, who once again was seeking to block the New York district attorney from obtaining his tax and other financial records.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated at 2:01 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a one-sentence unsigned order, declined former President Donald Trump's request to further delay the enforcement of a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney for Trump's financial records. Monday's order paves the way for a New York grand jury to obtain the records and review them.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against MyPillow and its CEO Mike Lindell on Monday, saying he spread false information that its voting machines rigged the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Dominion filed a suit in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking damages in excess of $1.3 billion.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET

President Biden's pick for attorney general, Merrick Garland, vowed Monday that protecting civil rights and combating domestic terrorism would be priorities for the Justice Department under his watch.

Garland, a widely respected judge who has served for more than 20 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Watch the hearing live.

Confirmation hearings begin Monday for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland. The U.S. will reach another grim COVID-19 record. For Texans who have electricity, that good fortune is costing them.

Joe Biden has now been president for one month.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Biden's national security adviser said Sunday that the administration has concerns over the data China has provided to the World Health Organization regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We need a credible, open, transparent international investigation led by the World Health Organization," Jake Sullivan said in an interview with CBS' Face the Nation.

Most people know Judge Merrick Garland for what didn't happen to him. Five years ago, the Senate never acted on his nomination to the Supreme Court.

This week, that will change, as a new chapter begins in Garland's lifelong commitment to public service. Garland, 68, will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday as President Biden's pick to serve as attorney general. This time, few obstacles stand in his path to confirmation. But the institution he's likely to join operates largely in a state of shock.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to end the program today where we began - in Texas. As we've been reporting, residents there are still struggling to cope with the effects of that powerful winter storm that hit the state several days ago. Officials are warning millions of people to boil their water for safety after heavy damage from burst water pipes contaminated the supply. And even though power has been restored to most people who lost it at the height of the storm, many still don't have electricity, including thousands of people in the city of Houston.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took an ill-timed trip this week. Also, President Biden assured global national security officials the U.S. wants to strengthen international ties.

In response to the Biden administration's offer to the rejoin nuclear talks, Iran says the U.S. must lift all sanctions before Tehran dials back its uranium enrichment efforts.

In the last 28 months, the Republican Party has lost the White House and lost control of both chambers of Congress.

With the shock of those setbacks still sinking in, the party has been rocked and riven by former President Donald Trump's refusal to concede, a pro-Trump riot in the U.S. Capitol, and an impeachment effort that even some Republicans backed.

At a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, President Biden was asked if he supported the idea of forgiving up to $50,000 of student loan debt for individuals.

His answer: No. He supports cancelling $10,000 in debt, he explained. But he said he is wary of erasing big chunks of loans for people who went to Ivy League schools: "The idea that ... I'm going to forgive the debt, the billions of dollars in debt, for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn ..."

Updated at 5:49 p.m. ET

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he is opposing President Biden's nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden. The White House is standing by the nomination even as Manchin's opposition makes it more precarious.

Manchin cited negative comments about Republicans that Tanden made while running the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress. The social media remarks have been scrutinized, largely on the right, since her nomination.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Investigators are still trying to answer some key questions about the January 6 assault on the Capitol, like exactly who stormed the building that day? And what motivated them to be there? An NPR team has been analyzing the more than 200 cases the Justice Department has brought so far. The defendants include military men, extremists and hardcore Trump supporters. One thing they had in common - they were nearly all men. As Dina Temple-Raston of NPR's Investigations team explains, experts say gender likely played an outsized role in the way the day played out.

The U.S. Capitol Police has suspended six officers with pay for their actions on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of President Biden's Electoral College victory, according to a department statement.

An additional 29 officers remain under investigation as part of the department's ongoing probe into the events that unfolded that day.

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