Representative Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican, on Wednesday condemned Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s past conspiratorial and violent comments, but he declined to take any action against her on the eve of a vote forced by Democrats to remove her from congressional committees.
“Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” Mr. McCarthy said in a lengthy statement. “I condemn those comments unequivocally.”
But in the same statement, Mr. McCarthy criticized Democrats for moving unilaterally to kick Ms. Greene off the education and budget committees, calling the action a “partisan power grab,” and made clear he did not intend to punish her himself by stripping her of those posts.
He released the statement as House Republicans were meeting privately to discuss what to do about Ms. Greene, the Georgia congresswoman whose extreme statements have created a dilemma for their party. They were also planning to discuss the future of Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, who has drawn a backlash in the party for her vote to impeach former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Trump’s supporters want to strip Ms. Cheney of her leadership post as payback. And Democrats and some Republicans want to punish Ms. Greene for endorsing false claims and using bigoted and violent language.
Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, announced earlier on Wednesday that the House would move forward with a vote to remove Ms. Greene from committees, after it became clear that Mr. McCarthy would not do so.
“I have been in the Congress for 40 years,” Mr. Hoyer said. “I can’t remember — and I’ve thought about it — any situation that I believe is analogous to what Ms. Greene has done before and after her being elected to the Congress of the United States.”
The vote will force Republicans to go on the record for the first time on whether Ms. Greene should be penalized for her past comments.
While most Republican lawmakers have privately been horrified by her rhetoric, some have argued that members of Congress should not face punishment for remarks they made before they were elected, and that allowing one party (in this case, Democrats) to take unilateral action against a lawmaker in another party would set a dangerous precedent. Others are wary of taking a such a vote after Mr. Trump has rallied to Ms. Greene’s side.
In his statement, Mr. McCarthy suggested that he had a commitment from Ms. Greene to dial back her public statements.
“Her past comments now have much greater meaning,” he said. “Marjorie recognized this in our conversation. I hold her to her word, as well as her actions going forward.”
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, fended off a challenge from her conference’s right flank to strip her of her leadership position in a secret ballot vote held late Wednesday night after she voted to impeach Donald J. Trump last month.
The lopsided vote, 145 to 61, according to two people familiar with the results, showed that even as a majority of House Republicans opposed impeaching Mr. Trump, most were not prepared to punish one of their top leaders for doing so — at least not under a blanket of anonymity. It amounted to both a victory for Ms. Cheney, who refused to apologize for voting to impeach Mr. Trump, and a vote of confidence in Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top Republican, who delivered an impassioned speech in Ms. Cheney’s defense.
“We’re not going to be divided and we’re not going to be in a situation where people can pick off any member of leadership,” Ms. Cheney said at a news conference after the vote. “It was a very resounding acknowledgment that we need to go forward together.”
A fierce and at times painful debate played out in a private meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday night, as lawmakers rose to both air their grievances against Ms. Cheney and defend her.
Members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, some of whom led the charge to strip Ms. Cheney of her post, accused her of “aiding the enemy” by releasing an unsparing statement the day before the impeachment vote explaining why she was supporting the effort against Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the discussion. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of the former president’s fiercest defenders, said he felt Ms. Cheney could not represent a conference that had overwhelmingly voted against impeachment, given her own vote.
Other lawmakers said they were particularly upset by Ms. Cheney’s decision to identify herself in her statement as the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
But Ms. Cheney had a number of powerful defenders rally to her side, particularly Mr. McCarthy, who repeatedly made clear throughout the hourslong debate that he wanted Ms. Cheney to remain in leadership, and asked members to let him lead by picking his team.
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who previously held the role of conference chairwoman, also rose to speak in support of Ms. Cheney, arguing now was the not the time to change leaders.
And Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump who also voted to impeach him, also spoke in Ms. Cheney’s defense, and accused Mr. McCarthy of doing more to defend Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia — who is facing scrutiny for endorsing violent behavior and conspiracy theories in social media posts made before she came to Congress — than to defend Ms. Cheney, calling his leadership “embarrassing.”
President Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday that he would not agree to scale back the $1,400 direct payments to many Americans that are a centerpiece of his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, but would consider restricting them to lower-income individuals as Republicans have proposed.
“We can’t walk away from an additional $1,400 in direct checks, because people need it,” Mr. Biden told the lawmakers on a private conference call, according to two people who participated. “I’m not going to start my administration by breaking a promise to people.”
But he added: “We can better target the number — I’m OK with that.”
Mr. Biden’s comments came as Democrats pressed forward with their budget resolution in Congress, laying the groundwork for Democrats to push it through, if necessary, on a simple majority vote, without Republican support.
“We need to act fast,” Mr. Biden told the Democratic lawmakers, according to the people, who detailed the private conversation on condition of anonymity. “It’s about who the hell we are as a country.”
Under Mr. Biden’s plan, the full $1,400 payment would be limited to individuals earning no more than $75,000 a year, but those with higher incomes would receive smaller checks.
But Republicans expressed increasing skepticism that they could support the measure unless Mr. Biden significantly scaled back his proposal.
The president’s signal that he was open to compromise on the matter came a couple of days after he met at the White House with 10 Republican senators who are seeking a $618 billion package they said could win bipartisan backing. Their proposal calls for checks of up to $1,000 that would go only to individuals earning less than $50,000 a year, with the full payment limited to those whose annual income was $40,000 or below.
On the call with House Democrats, Mr. Biden said he was “not married to a particular, absolute number” on the overall stimulus package.
“We can make compromises on several of the programs,” he told them.
As for slashing the size of the package by more than two thirds, as the Republicans have proposed, Mr. Biden said on the call that that was “not in the cards.”
Miguel A. Cardona, President Biden’s nominee for education secretary, sailed through his confirmation hearing Wednesday, signaling his support for an urgent but flexible approach to helping the nation’s schools reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
If he is confirmed, one of the most pressing tasks for Dr. Cardona — one of the few state education chiefs who pushed for schools to reopen for in-person learning last year — will be fulfilling Mr. Biden’s goal of reopening most of the country’s K-8 schools in 100 days.
In his testimony before the Senate Education Committee, Dr. Cardona, who is Connecticut’s state education commissioner, credited his state’s success in reopening most districts there to the clear guidance provided on how districts could reopen with mitigation strategies, while understanding that every community was different.
He also strongly endorsed Mr. Biden’s proposal to send billions more in relief funding to schools, saying that the first round Congress sent to Connecticut “has really helped us keep the lights on,” and helped pay for things like personal protective equipment and extra custodial support.
He said more funding would be crucial for the recovery phase of the pandemic, when schools will need more counselors to deal with returning students’ social-emotional needs, and will need to boost academic support, including summer school and extended days.
“If we really want to recover, we need to invest now or we’re going to pay later,” Dr. Cardona said. “The funds that are being discussed now are really to help us with the long-term recovery process, preventing layoffs, when we need more teachers, not less.”
However, Dr. Cardona largely sidestepped a question of whether he would grant waivers from federal testing mandates this year, a requirement that is currently weighing on education leaders across the country. Waiving that requirement was among the first measures the Trump administration took to help districts navigate remote learning, and has divided the education community over whether schools need scores as an equity metric this year.
“I don’t think we need to be bringing students in just to test them on a standardized test — I don’t think that makes any sense,” Dr. Cardona said. “I do feel that if we don’t assess where our students are and their level of performance, it’s going to be difficult for us to provide targeted support and resource allocation in the matter that can best support the closing of the gaps that have been exacerbated during this pandemic.”
Dr. Cardona has a reputation as a consensus builder well-versed in education policy, and his nomination has received widespread support, including from both party leaders on the committee, who have signaled they will vote to confirm him.
His message was largely one of unity and a desire to compromise even on partisan goals, but he signaled a hard line when it came to students’ civil rights.
Republican lawmakers asked Mr. Cardona whether he supported transgender female athletes competing on sports teams with biological females. The Trump administration sought to penalize this practice in schools, even threatening to withhold funding from some districts in Dr. Cardona’s state who adhered to the policy.
When asked by Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, whether he was “OK with boys competing with girls,” Dr. Cardona signaled that the Trump administration’s interpretation would soon be null.
“I believe schools should offer the opportunity for students to engage in extracurricular activities, even if they’re transgender,” Dr. Cardona said. “I think that’s their right.”
Michael S. Regan, President Biden’s nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, vowed during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday to “move with a sense of urgency” in reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, while facing tough questions about his role in an administration crowded with high-profile climate czars.
If confirmed, Mr. Regan, the secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, will be tasked with reinstating dozens of Obama-era regulations that the Trump administration scrapped, and in many cases ensuring they are even more far-reaching. That includes reimposing national fuel-efficiency standards; plugging oil and gas wells that leak methane, a powerful short-term greenhouse gas; and possibly reimposing limits on emissions from power plants.
Yet Mr. Regan sought to allay Republican fears that the E.P.A. was poised to enact onerous new rules intended to hurt the fossil fuel industries that bring jobs to many of their states.
“I have also learned that we can’t simply regulate our way out of every problem we face,” Mr. Regan told lawmakers, pledging to be “collaborative” with states and to “work transparently with responsible industries eager to establish clear, consistent rules of the road.”
Mr. Regan will also be charged with rebuilding the agency, which lost nearly 5,000 employees during the Trump era and saw the morale of career employees plummet.
He is intended to round out the administration’s climate team, joining Gina McCarthy, who served as President Barack Obama’s E.P.A. chief and will lead a new White House Office of Climate Policy to coordinate domestic efforts, and John Kerry, the former secretary of state, who will be Mr. Biden’s international climate envoy.
Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware, who will become the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, called Mr. Regan “the right person to lead the Environmental Protection Agency during this critical time.”
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, said the Biden administration’s “barrage of executive orders” on climate change left her worried about the fate of her state’s economy.
“I am concerned that this is shaping up to be a third Obama administration,” she said.
Noting that she was concerned that “unconfirmed and unaccountable czars on climate” like Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Kerry would not be subject to “really any congressional oversight,” she asked Mr. Regan how his role would be distinguished from Ms. McCarthy’s, particularly if a dispute arises.
Mr. Regan sidestepped the question, saying that “with any complex issue, we anticipate healthy debates.”
Mr. Regan has won praise for working with both Republicans and Democrats on issues like a major coal ash settlement in North Carolina. The state’s two Republican senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, introduced Mr. Regan, and both indicated they planned to support his nomination — an early sign that his confirmation is not likely to meet with serious opposition.
“We have to understand that the election produced a different leader down in the White House,” Mr. Tillis said, adding that Republicans need to hope for “people in the administration who have a track record of listening” and finding middle ground.
“He will sometimes take on initiatives that I will disagree with, most likely vote against,” Mr. Tillis added. “But I do believe he is somebody we can rely on to be fair.”
On Wednesday, Democrats hurtled toward a Thursday vote on stripping committee assignments from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, over comments and social media posts promoting QAnon conspiracies and anti-Jewish tropes.
On a parallel track, Republicans met to consider ousting Representative Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, from a top leadership post. She is one of the few in her party to risk political peril by rebuking former President Donald J. Trump and voting to impeach him.
Both sagas have far-reaching implications for power players in post-Trump Washington. Here are four takeaways.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has been seriously weakened. The House Republican leader from California had hoped, like so many before him, to ride Mr. Trump’s popularity without being trampled by his excesses. If nothing, the ugly, humbling fights over Ms. Greene and Ms. Cheney proved that Mr. McCarthy — like much of his party — remains trapped under Mr. Trump’s shadow.
Since the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Mr. McCarthy has sent out mixed messages: first saying that Mr. Trump “bears responsibility,” for the attack, then visiting Mar-a-Lago to reconcile after the former president complained.
The same holds true with his handling of members of his caucus. In a private meeting Tuesday, he asked Ms. Greene to publicly express remorse — but stopped short of threatening to strip her of all committee assignments, a step he was willing to take a year ago against Representative Steve King of Iowa over remarks on white supremacy.
In seeking short-term safety to avoid a fight with the party’s right, Mr. McCarthy courts perils in the 2020 midterms — and has signaled that Mr. Trump still runs his show.
It is not quite so bad for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The Senate minority leader, facing a grim second Trump impeachment trial, truly deplores Ms. Greene and made a point of describing her (albeit not by name) as a “cancer” in the party.
But the current crisis is not without potential opportunity for the canny Mr. McConnell. Bashing Ms. Greene gives besieged Senate Republicans a safe way to vent their anger over the Capitol riot and disapproval of Mr. Trump’s political spawn — even if they don’t vote to punish him directly in the trial.
Drawing that line is vital for Mr. McConnell, who chose not to push back publicly on Mr. Trump’s dangerous and false claims of a stolen election in the days following the president’s defeat, when his intervention might have made a real difference.
It’s a mixed bag for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Mr. McCarthy’s unwillingness to punish his own member forced the Democratic speaker to impose her own penalties — a step she had hoped to avoid to evade charges that she was motivated by politics.
The move also provided an opening for several pro-Trump Republicans to counterattack by calling for Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat who has long been a Trump target, to be stripped of her committee posts.
Still, Democrats see mostly political upsides and plan to make Ms. Greene and QAnon a centerpiece of their 2022 strategy.
Ms. Greene won’t be silenced, no matter what happens. It is tempting to attribute Ms. Greene’s rapid rise to the advent of viral social media, but there is a long history of new House members and senators — including Huey Long — using new forms of communication (handbills and paid airtime on radio stations in his case) to bypass and challenge their party’s leadership.
Yet no member in memory has made the kind of violent, inflammatory or bizarre pronouncements made by the Georgia freshman.
And while she values her committee assignments, she appears to value her space in the spotlight, shone upon her by Mr. Trump, even more. This week, in a fund-raising email featuring Mr. Trump’s picture, she pledged that “the Democrat mob can’t cancel me.”
The House voted on Wednesday to approve a budget blueprint that lays the groundwork for passing President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package without needing any Republican votes, a key procedural step as Democrats push for speedy action to address the health and economic toll of the pandemic.
The 218-to-212 vote on the blueprint, known as a budget resolution, helps pave the way for Democrats to pass the relief package through a process called budget reconciliation. With that approach, the bill would be shielded from a filibuster in the Senate and could pass the chamber with only Democratic votes.
It is the same process that Republicans employed in 2017 in their unsuccessful effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and in their successful effort to overhaul the tax code.
Laying the groundwork to bypass a filibuster does not preclude passing a relief package with some Republican support. But instead of waiting to see if Republicans can be won over, Democrats are putting themselves in a position to pass the package with only a simple majority in the Senate, meaning no Republican votes would be needed if Democrats were united in support.
“We cannot afford to slow down our response to these urgent crises while Republicans decide if they want to help or not,” Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on Wednesday.
Representative Jason Smith, Republican of Missouri and the Budget Committee’s ranking member, criticized what he called a “partisan process” at odds with the message of Mr. Biden’s Inaugural Address.
“The power of our example — isn’t that what we were told?” Mr. Smith said. “Well, what’s the example here? That the unification, the bipartisanship, work-together attitude that the president called for was just empty words for the House majority.”
The House vote on Wednesday was mostly along party lines, with two Democrats voting against the measure and no Republicans voting in favor. The Senate voted on Tuesday to begin debate on its budget blueprint.
Senate Democrats will take control of the chamber’s committees under a new power-sharing agreement with Republicans after weeks of negotiations over how to manage the Senate that is divided 50-50.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the new majority leader, said he and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the new minority leader, had reached an agreement that would allow Democrats to assume the chairmanships of Senate committees that had remained under Republican leadership despite Democratic election victories.
The lack of an agreement, during the first month of the new Congress, created a bizarre situation that had slowed consideration of some of President Biden’s nominees, including a hearing for Judge Merrick B. Garland, the nominee for attorney general.
“I’m confident our members are ready to hit the ground running on the most important issues that face our country,” Mr. Schumer said on Wednesday.
The Senate’s so-called organizing resolution was initially slowed by Mr. McConnell’s demand that Senate Democrats pledge to preserve the filibuster for the next two years. Mr. Schumer did not accede to the demand but Mr. McConnell dropped his insistence after two Senate Democrats said they would not back eliminating the filibuster, meaning the votes did not exist to overturn it under the current alignment.
The new Senate arrangement is based on an agreement reached during 2001, when the Senate was last equally divided. It will allow equal party representation on committees but in the cases of tie votes, legislation or nominees will still advance to the floor for consideration.
Though the Senate is split 50-50, Democrats are in control by virtue of the power of Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote. The formal organizing resolution is expected to be considered later Wednesday.
A huge majority of Americans, including nearly two-thirds of Republicans, support the $1,400 stimulus checks President Biden is calling for, and his full $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal also has strong public backing, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.
The poll found that 78 percent of Americans supported the stimulus checks, including 90 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans — suggesting that Republicans in Congress who want to reduce the checks to $1,000 are out of step with their constituents on this issue.
The full stimulus package proposal — which includes the $1,400 checks as well as state and local aid, expanded unemployment benefits and other provisions — had 68 percent support over all, with backing from 97 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of Republicans. While Republicans are often overwhelmingly against Democratic spending proposals, only 47 percent of Republicans said they definitively opposed the package. Sixteen percent of Republicans said they were unsure.
The poll also showed majority support for several other Democratic priorities: 65 percent of respondents supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, 63 percent supported Mr. Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, 61 percent supported raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and 54 percent supported a decision to stop construction on former President Donald J. Trump’s border wall.
The poll, conducted from Jan. 28 through Feb. 1, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Congressional leaders received low approval ratings across the board, but Democrats fared better than Republicans. The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, had 37 percent approval compared with 21 percent for the minority leader, Mitch McConnell; and Speaker Nancy Pelosi had 45 percent approval compared with 27 percent for the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy.
Over all, 44 percent of respondents said they approved of congressional Democrats’ job performance, while 26 percent said they approved of congressional Republicans’ job performance. A similar pattern was evident in whether respondents thought the parties were moving in the right direction: They were evenly split on whether the Democratic Party was moving in the right direction, but said, 64 percent to 25 percent, that the Republican Party was moving in the wrong direction.
Forty-nine percent said they approved of Mr. Biden’s job performance so far, while 36 percent disapproved and 16 percent were unsure.
Ethan Nordean, a leader of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys, was arrested on Wednesday morning and charged in connection with his part in the violent insurrection at the Capitol last month, federal prosecutors said.
Mr. Nordean, the self-described “sergeants of arms” of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, had been under investigation for more than a week after prosecutors named him in court papers as a chief organizer of a mob of about 100 other members of the group that marched through Washington on Jan. 6, ending at the Capitol building. Prosecutors say that Mr. Nordean, carrying a bullhorn, led the mob and entered the Capitol with another top-ranking Proud Boys leader, Joseph Biggs, who is also facing charges in connection with the attack.
The Proud Boys, who have long been some of former President Donald J. Trump’s most vocal and violent supporters, have become a central focus of the Capitol riot inquiry, with more than a half-dozen of their members arrested so far. Last week, prosecutors unsealed conspiracy charges against two Proud Boys from New York, Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe, saying they had worked together to obstruct and interfere with law enforcement officers protecting Congress during the final certification of the presidential election.
In a criminal complaint against Mr. Nordean, prosecutors said that he and other Proud Boys “were planning in advance to organize a group that would attempt to overwhelm police barricades and enter” the Capitol. The 21-page complaint also said that, before marching on the building, Mr. Nordean had a brief exchange with another man charged in the assault, Robert Gieswein, of Woodland Park, Colo., who has been accused of being a member of the far-right militia the Three Percenters.
Mr. Nordean, 30, of Auburn, Wash., was near the front of a crowd of rioters that confronted an outnumbered detachment of Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6, prosecutors said. Moving past the officers, prosecutors said, he and other members of the Proud Boys forced their way into the building.
Before the attack on the Capitol, Mr. Nordean give hints of an “intent to organize a group that intended to engage in conflict,” according to a news release issued on Wednesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington. In late December, for example, he posted a message asking for donations of “protective gear” and “communications equipment,” prosecutors said. About a week later, prosecutors added, Mr. Nordean posted a video online, discussing what he described as “blatant rampant voter fraud” and saying that the Proud Boys were going to “bring back that original spirit of 1776 of what really established the character of what America is.”
After the assault, prosecutors say, Mr. Nordean continued writing inflammatory messages.
On Jan. 8, they said, he posted a photo on social media showing a police officer spraying pepper spray. The caption read: “If you feel bad for the police, you are part of the problem.”
The Biden administration is shooting down former President Donald J. Trump’s signature achievements one by one, but his Space Force will, for the time being, remain in flight.
On Tuesday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, brushed aside a reporter’s question about the future of the Air Force branch, created in 2019 to combat foreign threats to U.S. satellites and spacecraft with the support of Mr. Trump — who touted flags, uniforms and insignia that appeared to be plucked from the Star Trek prop room.
“Wow. Space Force. It’s the plane of today,” Psaki responded, in a mocking deadpan tone. “It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.”
That prompted an immediate outcry from several Republicans who accused her of downplaying the importance of a military command that employs thousands of highly-trained service members, some in their districts.
“It’s concerning to see the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny,” Representative Mike D. Rogers, Republican of Alabama, told Politico.
He demanded an apology. Ms. Psaki offered a clarification instead.
“They absolutely have the full support of the Biden administration,” Ms. Psaki said on Wednesday, noting that Congress — and not the White House — had the authority to scrap the program. “We are not revisiting the decision to establish the Space Force.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III convened the military chiefs and civilian secretaries of the armed forces on Wednesday to begin intensifying the Pentagon’s efforts to combat white supremacy and right-wing extremism in the ranks.
Mr. Austin also ordered that all military commands “stand down” at some point in the next 60 days to reinforce existing regulations barring extremist activity in the military, and to ask troops for their views on the scope and severity of the issue, the Pentagon press secretary, John F. Kirby, told reporters. He said many details of the “stand down” — a pause in operations that the military often uses to address safety issues — need to be worked out.
“This is very much a leadership issue, down to the lowest level,” Mr. Kirby said, citing what Mr. Austin, a former four-star Army general, had told the Pentagon leaders on a video call.
In the days since a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, senior leaders of the 2.1 million active-duty and reserve troops have been grappling with the reality that several current or former military personnel joined the rioters.
The Defense Department inspector general last month announced an investigation into the effectiveness of existing Pentagon policies and procedures that prohibit service members from advocacy of, or participation in, supremacist or extremist groups. That regulation was last updated in 2012, and Pentagon officials acknowledge that they are struggling with such basic issues as how to define what level of extremist activity is prohibited, as well as shortcomings in how the military identifies and quantifies violators.
Last year, the F.B.I. notified the Defense Department that it had opened criminal investigations involving 143 current or former service members. Of those, 68 were related to domestic extremism cases, according to a senior Pentagon official. The “vast majority” involved retired military personnel, many with unfavorable discharge records, the official said.
In the same room that rioters stormed last month, lawmakers gathered in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday for a memorial service to honor Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained during the Jan. 6 attack.
Mr. Sicknick is the fifth person to lie in honor in the Capitol, a distinction reserved for private citizens, while government officials, like former presidents, lie in state.
“Blessed are the peacekeepers like Brian,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said during the ceremony. “Let us be peacekeepers now in his memory.”
Mr. Sicknick’s family, lawmakers and other top officials attended the ceremony, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who also spoke; the Republican leaders, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California; Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III; and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington. Before the service, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, also paid their respects.
Mr. Sicknick’s remains were delivered to the Capitol on Tuesday evening, passing through a set of doors still shattered from the events of Jan. 6. Officers from his unit, some on mountain bikes, lined up near the steps outside.
Minutes later, President Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, departed the White House to pay their respects.
“We must be vigilant, as what President Lincoln referred to as the harsh artillery of time, we will never forget,” Ms. Pelosi said Wednesday during the ceremony near a stand where Mr. Sicknick’s remains and an American flag were placed. “Each day when members enter the Capitol, this temple of democracy, we will remember his sacrifice and then others that day who fought so hard to protect the Capitol and the Congress.”
At least 14 other Capitol Police officers were injured in the attack, according to a memo issued by the F.B.I. Two police officers who responded to the siege have since died by suicide.
“Knowing our personal tragedy and loss is shared by our nation brings hope for healing,” Mr. Sicknick’s partner, Sandra Garza, and his family said in a statement.
As he left the Capitol for the final time, Mr. Sicknick was met by rows of officers, saluting the hearse that drove his remains to Arlington National Cemetery.