President Biden on Wednesday nominated Stacey A. Dixon, an expert in intelligence technology, to serve as the nation’s No. 2 intelligence official.
The nomination of Dr. Dixon, the former head of the intelligence community’s advanced research project agency, to be the office’s principal deputy director reflects the Biden administration’s interest in making technological innovation in intelligence gathering a priority.
If the Senate confirms Dr. Dixon, who is currently the deputy director of the Defense Department’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, she will be the highest-ranking Black woman in the intelligence community and the first Black person to serve in one of its most senior posts. She has spoken in the past about the need for intelligence agencies to diversify their ranks.
“Dr. Dixon possesses a deep knowledge of the intelligence tradecraft and understands the critical work intelligence professionals perform every day,” said Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence.
The No. 2 post, called the principal deputy director, has been without a Senate-confirmed official since the Trump administration pushed Sue Gordon out of the job in August 2019.
Ms. Gordon described Dr. Dixon as “a really nice combination of an intelligence practitioner with deep technical skills.”
“This is a technical world, and she’s got the technical chops to deliver,” Ms. Gordon said.
Senior intelligence officials told Congress this year that new investments in technology and new research initiatives would be necessary for the United States to keep pace with China and improve intelligence collection there.
Dr. Dixon has long experience in research and development posts within intelligence agencies. She joined the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity in 2016, first as deputy director and then as director. Before that, she oversaw research and development for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Dr. Dixon, who holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, began her career at the C.I.A. and the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that oversees the nation’s spy satellites.
Persuading Congress to approve funding to research and develop new technology for the intelligence community is set to be a big political challenge. Dr. Dixon also has extensive experience in Congress, both as the Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s head of congressional affairs and as a budget director on the House Intelligence Committee from 2008 to 2010.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Dr. Dixon “did outstanding work” while working for the committee. “I hope she will be confirmed quickly,” he added.
Dr. Dixon has a long history of working to diversify the intelligence ranks, and Ms. Gordon said she was fiercely egalitarian in pursuing talent development.
“She delivers inclusive leadership based on ensuring equal access and equal opportunity,” Ms. Gordon said. “What I think she would say is you want to create a place where anyone with the drive and talent can succeed.”
The Democratic-led House on Wednesday passed legislation to prevent the White House from instituting expansive travel bans like the one former President Donald J. Trump imposed on predominantly Muslim countries, and would explicitly bar any such edict based on religion.
The No Ban Act, which passed 218 to 208, with one Republican joining the Democrats, would restrict the president’s wide-ranging power to control immigration by requiring that travel bans be temporary and subject to congressional oversight, among other limitations. It would prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion.
“The House has voted to ensure similar discriminatory bans don’t happen in the future,” said Representative Judy Chu, Democrat of California and the bill’s lead sponsor.
The House also approved in a 217-to-207 vote along party lines a related measure that would require that certain immigrants be allowed access to a lawyer when they are detained at ports of entry.
Republicans opposed the bills, arguing that controls should be tightened, not relaxed, given the crush of migration through the southwest border. Their objections mean the legislation is likely to have a difficult path in the Senate, joining a backlog of House-passed bills on immigration and other topics that face steep obstacles.
The measures were inspired by the harsh and abrupt steps Mr. Trump took at the start of his presidency to clamp down on the entry of foreigners into the country, which led to chaos at U.S. airports and a rush of legal challenges. In January 2017, he denied entry to citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries. Amid court challenges, Mr. Trump later amended the ban, expanding it to include some non-Muslim majority countries, such as North Korea.
“Those bans were a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths,” White House officials said in a formal statement of support for the bill issued this week.
President Biden, who reversed Mr. Trump’s travel bans after taking office, is backing the legislation. But in the statement, his advisers said that the administration reserved the right to restrict travel from specific countries in the future if necessary.
“The administration stands ready to work with the Congress to adopt a solution that protects against unfair religious discrimination while also ensuring the executive branch has the flexibility necessary to respond to serious threats to security and public health, and emergent international crises,” the statement said.
Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said she could never forget the hardship inflicted on travelers by Mr. Trump’s bans, which she called “illegal and ill-conceived,” and discriminatory against Muslims.
“Families were separated,” she said. “Many were denied the right to counsel.”
Still, the legislation comes at a fraught political moment for Mr. Biden and Democrats on immigration.
In March, border agents encountered nearly 19,000 children at the border — the largest number recorded in a single month — most of them fleeing poverty and violence in Central America. And the flow of migrant children is expected to increase in the coming weeks.
“Are Democrats working to repair the crisis?” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader, asked during debate on the legislation on Wednesday. “Are they working to stop the mass flow of illegal migration? No.”
The Senate voted to confirm Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general on Wednesday, making her the first civil rights lawyer or woman of color to serve as the Justice Department’s No. 3 official.
Ms. Gupta will oversee the department’s vast civil division, which is tasked with defending the Biden administration in court, as well as its antitrust, tax, and environment and natural resources divisions. She will also oversee the Civil Rights Division, which she once led, at a time when the Biden administration has vowed to use every tool at its disposal to combat systemic racism.
Ms. Gupta was confirmed 51 to 49, largely along party lines. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, broke with her party after groups representing Alaska Native women, survivors of domestic violence and other communities said they supported Ms. Gupta’s nomination.
“I was impressed not only with her passion that she carries but the work that she performs,” Ms. Murkowski said on the Senate floor. She added that, while some of Ms. Gupta’s previous public statements troubled her, she would “give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has demonstrated through her professional career to be committed to matters of political justice.”
Once Ms. Gupta is sworn in this week, the Justice Department’s top three officials will be in place. Lisa O. Monaco was sworn in on Wednesday as deputy attorney general, a day after the Senate confirmed her.
Ms. Gupta, 46, rose to national prominence soon after she graduated from New York University’s School of Law in 2001. She began working at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where she investigated a series of arrests and drug-related convictions of dozens of men, almost all of them Black, in Tulia, Texas.
Ms. Gupta proved that the drug charges had been fabricated by a narcotics agent named Tom Coleman, who was found guilty of perjury. In 2003, Rick Perry, then the governor of Texas, pardoned 35 people as a result of that case.
As a staff lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, Ms. Gupta built bridges with police departments and human rights groups as part of her efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system.
Conservative stalwarts involved in criminal justice reform, like Koch Industries and Grover Norquist, joined progressive groups in supporting Ms. Gupta’s confirmation. So did more than a dozen law enforcement organizations, including the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Nevertheless, Republicans largely declined to vote for her. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said on the Senate floor that the lack of support was a result “of her radical record far outside the mainstream and her career as a partisan activist.”
Even though Ms. Gupta has repeatedly said she does not support defunding the police, Mr. Cornyn insisted that she did, echoing an opposition ad created by a conservative legal group.
Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that as head of the Civil Rights Division in the final years of the Obama administration, Ms. Gupta had served the Justice Department “with class,” and that she was “a person of integrity and honesty and dedication to public service.”
President Biden will announce Thursday that the United States intends to cut planet-warming emissions nearly in half by the end of the decade, a target that would require Americans to transform the way they drive, heat their homes and manufacture goods.
The target, confirmed by three people briefed on the plan, is timed to a closely watched global summit meeting that Mr. Biden is hosting Thursday and Friday, which is aimed at sending a message that the United States is rejoining international efforts to fight global warming after four years of climate denial from the Trump administration.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on the U.S. target, which was first reported by The Washington Post.
The leaders of China, India and nearly 40 other countries are expected to join Mr. Biden virtually, and the United States hopes that the announcement of its new emissions goal will galvanize other nations to step up their own targets by the time nations gather again under United Nations auspices in November in Glasgow.
The new American goal nearly doubles the pledge that the Obama administration made to cut emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, although the country would have five more years to achieve it, according to the people familiar with the target, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. The 2030 target will be a range that will aim to cut emissions around 50 percent from 2005 levels. It will not include detailed modeling showing how the United States proposes to meet its pledge, one administration official said.
The goal is largely in line with what environmental groups and big businesses, including McDonalds, Target and Google, have wanted. They and others argue that cutting emissions at least 50 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade is the only way to put the United States on a path to eliminate fossil fuel pollution by the middle of the century.
On Tuesday, Gina McCarthy, Mr. Biden’s top climate change adviser, hinted that the United States would set that ambitious goal.
“I would argue that there’s opportunities for us to be able to be very aggressive, and we’re going to take that opportunity,” she said in an interview with NPR.
Meeting it, however, will be a steep challenge.
Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, and other energy experts said the 50 percent goal was attainable, but only with what Mr. Hultman described as “pretty significant action across all sectors of the American economy.”
More than a century after the Ottoman Empire killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenian civilians, President Biden is preparing to declare that the atrocities were an act of genocide, according to officials familiar with the internal debate.
Mr. Biden is expected to announce the symbolic designation on Saturday, the 106th anniversary of the beginning of what historians say was a yearslong and systematic killing campaign that Muslim Ottomans, the predecessors of modern Turkey, perpetrated against Christian Armenians during World War I. Doing so would signal that the United States’ commitment to human rights outweighs the risk of further fraying its alliance with Turkey.
Mr. Biden would be the first sitting American president to take such a step, following about 29 other countries.
The genocide declaration would signal that the United States is “willing to take geostrategic hits for our values,” said James F. Jeffrey, a former ambassador to Turkey who served in senior national security posts for the three presidents preceding Mr. Biden.
Foreign Minister Ara Aivazian of Armenia said in an interview on Wednesday, “The recognition by the United States will be a kind of moral beacon to many countries.”
“This is not about Armenia and Turkey,” Mr. Aivazian said. “This is about our obligation to recognize and condemn the past, present and future genocide.”
Whether Mr. Biden will issue the designation has been seen as an early test of his administration’s dealings with the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
Leaders in Turkey have resolutely denied that the killing campaign, which began in 1915, amounted to genocide, and the declaration could prompt backlash. Past American presidents have held back for that very reason, and Mr. Biden could still change his mind.
“Statements that have no legal binding will have no benefit, but they will harm ties,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey said in an interview with the broadcaster Haberturk. “If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs.”
Senate Republicans agreed on Wednesday to uphold a largely symbolic conference ban on earmarks, even as the rest of Congress is poised to bring back the practice with strict transparency requirements.
The decision to maintain the prohibition on earmarks — the practice of letting lawmakers set aside funding in large spending bills for individual projects in their communities — underscored how some Republicans, after disregarding deficit fears during the Trump administration and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, are quickly embracing fiscal conservatism under a Democratic president. House Republicans voted last month to overturn a similar ban in their conference.
But because conference rules are nonbinding, multiple senators signaled that they would take advantage of earmarks anyway as Democrats recast the process as “community project funding” and impose a series of guardrails to ward off abuse.
“Democrats are going to use the earmarks and the House Republicans are going to use them — are we going to give the Democrats in the Senate $8 billion to use against us?” said Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “If you don’t want to ask for an earmark, don’t ask for one. If you ask for one, you might not get one, because the old earmark days — they’re gone.”
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, told reporters that she planned to “look seriously at earmarks.”
“If I can make my voice heard and be specific on it and mindful of the transparency, I don’t have a problem with that,” Ms. Capito, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said.
The use of earmarks in huge government funding bills during the 1990s and 2000s gave lawmakers a chance to reflect the needs of their constituents and provided a mechanism for leaders to finesse tough votes on legislation.
But they also became a symbol of government largess and waste, particularly as a wave of self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives washed into Congress. After a series of scandals, including one that led to the imprisonment of the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Congress banned earmarks.
Under guidelines outlined by House Democrats, lawmakers would be required to disclose each project request on their congressional website and certify that no one in their family stood to benefit from it. Only 1 percent of the money the government appropriated each year, outside of entitlement spending, would be available for earmarks, and each member would be allowed up to 10 requests. The Government Accountability Office would also audit some of the projects.
The projects would only be funded if Congress reached agreements on the dozen annual spending bills and the top-line levels for domestic and military spending.
The Senate Republican conference also agreed to an amendment put forward by Senator Rick Scott of Florida, stating that the debt ceiling should not be raised without spending cuts or structural reform.
The Justice Department will investigate the policies and operations of the Minneapolis Police Department, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on Wednesday, a day after the former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd in a rare rebuke of police violence.
“The Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” Mr. Garland said in brief remarks at the Justice Department.
Such investigations are often the precursors to court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governments that create and enforce a road map for training and operational changes.
Mr. Garland’s announcement came a day after the conviction of Mr. Chauvin, who was fired by the Minneapolis Police Department last year after gruesome video of him kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes sparked protests across the nation.
The inquiry into the department is separate from the existing Justice Department investigation into whether Mr. Chauvin violated Mr. Floyd’s civil rights. It will be led by lawyers and staff in the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota.
Investigators will seek to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests; whether it engages in discriminatory conduct; and whether its treatment of those with behavioral health disabilities is unlawful. They will also review the department’s policies, training, supervision and use-of-force investigations, and whether its current systems of accountability are effective at ensuring that police officers act lawfully.
If the investigators find that the police department has engaged in unlawful policing, Mr. Garland said the Justice Department would issue a public report. It also has the option to bring a civil suit against the department and enter into a settlement agreement, or consent decree, to ensure that prompt and effective action is taken to bring the department’s practices into compliance with the law.
On Friday, Mr. Garland restored the robust use of consent decrees, rescinding a Trump administration policy that largely curbed their use. The Obama administration had repeatedly used the tool to address police misconduct. The restoration of consent decrees was one of the Biden administration’s first significant moves to hold police forces accountable in cases where they are found to have violated federal laws.
“Most of our nation’s law enforcement officers do their difficult jobs honorably and lawfully,” Mr. Garland said. “I strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices.”
The challenges that the nation faces in addressing systemic racial inequities “are deeply woven into our history,” Mr. Garland said, adding that it would take time and effort by all to build “trust between community and law enforcement.”
A day after a white Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, a Black man, lawmakers in both parties said they were cautiously optimistic that the verdict could provide new momentum in Congress to overcome the hurdles that have thwarted a far-reaching police overhaul.
In a speech on Tuesday night at the White House, President Biden formally called on lawmakers to resurrect the bill known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Democrats’ expansive measure to address the use of excessive force and racial discrimination, pledging to sign it into law “as quickly as possible.” The bill, co-written by Vice President Kamala Harris when she was a senator, has languished for almost a year amid partisan differences.
“We’re going to stay at it until we get it done,” the president assured Mr. Floyd’s family in call after the verdict.
On Capitol Hill, key lawmakers in both parties said on Wednesday that the conviction may have opened a rare window of opportunity to break the stalemate. In the clearest sign of progress, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, Republicans’ lead emissary on the issue, said that a bipartisan group of lawmakers was “on the verge” of a compromise in the coming weeks, although the details were murky.
“I am interested in making a difference. I do not care about making a point,” Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California and the lead author of her party’s legislation, said in an interview, signaling flexibility on a potential deal. “I can make a point and stand on a high horse, but that doesn’t get me anywhere.”
But to do so, the two parties would have to resolve the same stubborn ideological and political differences that blunted past efforts.
Democrats have pressed for aggressive federal intervention to curb abuses in policing. But they have stopped short of trying to defund police departments, as some of the most progressive lawmakers have advocated.
Republicans have pushed back on such prescriptive measures, saying the federal government should not mandate how the police do their jobs, only offer incentives and training. And they have worked to portray Democrats as anti-law-enforcement extremists, a potent line of attack during last year’s elections.
Ms. Bass and Mr. Scott, who have been in quiet talks for weeks to find a compromise, have yet to win the backing of party leaders on a roster of divisive issues. The chief sticking point continues to be Democrats’ demand to alter the legal liability shield for individual police officers, known as qualified immunity, to make it easier to bring civil lawsuits against them for wrongdoing. The two sides are also at odds over a proposal to change the federal code to make criminal prosecution of individual officers easier.
Ms. Bass, Mr. Scott and a smattering of other interested lawmakers have been working quietly to bridge the divide.
Mr. Scott signaled on Wednesday that he was working on a potential compromise that would make it easier for victims or their families to sue police departments, but not individual officers. Many jurisdictions already allow such lawsuits, and the details of his proposal were not immediately clear, but Mr. Scott said that Democrats had been “quite receptive.”
The Biden administration is weighing how to overhaul a Trump-era tax incentive that was pitched as a way to drive investment to economically depressed swaths of the country, but which early evidence suggests has primarily fueled real estate development in areas that were already becoming richer and whiter.
The so-called opportunity zone program, a creation of President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 tax law that Mr. Biden vowed on the campaign trail to reform, gives tax breaks to certain investors who pour money into designated areas.
Mr. Trump claimed the zones were pulling large amounts of investment into impoverished neighborhoods, particularly Black ones. But the most comprehensive study of investment in the zones to date — released last week by a pair of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who were granted access to anonymous tax returns filed electronically — contradicts that assessment.
The study suggests that in 2019, of the 8,000 census tracts designated by state officials as opportunity zones using criteria set under the Trump administration, only about 16 percent received any investment at all. Rural areas received almost none.
President Biden has declared that he intends to end the war in Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks this year. But it is less clear whether anything will change for detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay that the United States opened for that war.
Traditionally, when conflicts end, wartime detainees are sent home. But the U.S. government, under the administrations of both parties, has taken the position that the war Congress authorized after Sept. 11 is bigger than the conflict in Afghanistan. Moreover, Mr. Biden is not declaring defunct the broader war against Al Qaeda and its progeny, wherever they are.
Still, lawyers for at least two of the 40 remaining prisoners at Guantánamo told federal judges this week that whatever wartime legal authority the government had to detain their clients was evaporating. The motions were the first legal fallout from Mr. Biden’s announcement.
One of the detainees, Khalid Qassim, 44, is a Yemeni man who has been held without trial at Guantánamo for nearly 19 years; he was captured in late 2001 or early 2002 and is being held as a Qaeda trainee who “may have fought for the Taliban in or near Kabul and Bagram, Afghanistan, before fleeing to the Tora Bora mountains in late 2001.”
The other, an Afghan named Asadullah Haroon Gul, who is about 40, was captured in 2007 by Afghan forces and turned over to the United States military. A basis for holding him is his past affiliation with a militia that made peace with the Afghan government in 2017, essentially breaking with the Taliban.
The Justice Department has not yet responded to the filings. John F. Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an interview that Mr. Biden intended to close the prison, but argued that there was no direct link between its future and the coming end to what he called the “mission” in Afghanistan.
American officials announced new sanctions on Myanmar in the wake of the recent military coup, targeting two state-owned businesses with connections to the armed forces as part of an escalating international effort to jolt the country back onto a democratic path.
The move on Wednesday came two days after European Union officials expanded their own sanctions against Myanmar’s military leadership, targeting 10 officials who were involved in toppling Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and a violent crackdown on protesters.
The Treasury Department identified Myanmar Timber Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise, representing the country’s thriving timber and pearl industries, as sources of funding for the military and its leadership. The sanctions bar the companies from doing business in the United States or with American companies, and their assets were frozen under Wednesday’s order.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken accused the country’s military of killing more than 650 people — including many children — and detaining more than 3,200 others since February. He suggested the Biden administration would consider further action in the future.
“The Burmese military regime continues to ignore the will of the people of Burma to restore the country’s path to democracy,” Mr. Blinken said in a statement.
“Our action today reinforces our message to the military that the United States will continue to target specific funding channels and promote accountability for the coup and related violence,” he added.
The E.U. has also frozen assets and imposed visa bans on two other companies: Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, which trade in alcohol and other consumer goods.
Many opponents of the coup have resisted the military, at times taking to the streets with homemade weapons, including slingshots. On March 27, security forces killed dozens of people. It was the deadliest crackdown since the start of the coup, according to a human rights group tracking the killings.
John Kerry, President Biden’s global climate change envoy, said Wednesday that efforts by the United States to address global warming had been set back by a Trump administration that he said “lied to the American people” and refused to acknowledge the established science.
Speaking to Washington Post Live on the eve of a two-day summit that Mr. Biden will convene to galvanize other nations to set ambitious goals for cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Mr. Kerry said the United States should not be held back by the climate denial of the previous administration.
“This is the greatest moment of transformation of our economy in our lifetime, certainly, and we need to seize it,” Mr. Kerry said.
Mr. Kerry did not reveal how far the United States intended to reduce its own planet-warming emissions by 2030, something Mr. Biden is expected to announce at the opening of the virtual summit with 40 world leaders. A White House official and two others briefed on the plan, however, have said it will nearly double the pledge that President Barack Obama made to the Paris Climate Agreement of cutting emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Noting that United Nations scientists warned in 2019 that the world had about 12 years to get on track to cut emissions to relatively safe levels, Mr. Kerry criticized the Trump administration but said the United States was ready to move forward again.
“Two of those years were wasted with an administration that lied to the American people and never bought into the science,” he said. But he added about steep emissions cuts and a drastic global increase in renewable energy deployment, “This is doable.”
The former roadside zoo owner known as Joe Exotic, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, remains in prison. The animal rights activist he was convicted of trying to kill, Carole Baskin, was given control of his old zoo in Oklahoma.
But one year after the premiere of the Netflix series “Tiger King,” an unexpected quarantine binge hit that focused on their feud and the cutthroat world of roadside zoos, big cats remain unprotected from the exploitative practices the series helped reveal.
Now, a bipartisan group of United States senators has introduced the latest version of a bill designed to keep unlicensed individuals from owning tigers and other big cats and forbid zoo owners from letting the public pet the animals or hold cubs.
Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, agreed to introduce the bill on Monday with two Democrats, Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Tom Carper of Delaware.
“Big cats like lions, tigers and cheetahs belong in their natural habitats, not in the hands of private owners where they are too often subject to cruelty or improper care,” Ms. Collins said in a statement.
The bill is similar to legislation that Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois, introduced in 2020.
The documentary’s footage of baby cubs being ripped from their mothers so they could be petted by the public shocked many viewers. Since then, some state legislators have introduced their own versions of bills that would ban such practices.
Mr. Blumenthal said the bill he introduced was meant to protect big cats from cruel and dangerous practices, not to hamstring responsible zoos and sanctuaries.
He said the bill had been referred to the Environment and Public Works Committee, which Mr. Carper leads.
“My focus is on preventing abuse and exploitation of the big cats and safeguarding the public,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “Those two goals are paramount.”
As he masses troops near Ukraine, puts down domestic dissent and engages in a fast-intensifying conflict with President Biden, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is on the verge of decisions that could define a new, even harder-line phase of his presidency.
But while Mr. Putin’s annual address to Parliament on Wednesday was replete with threats against the West, he stopped short of announcing new military or foreign policy moves.
Russia’s response will be “asymmetric, fast and tough” if it is forced to defend its interests, Mr. Putin said, pointing to what he asserted were Western efforts at regime change in neighboring Belarus as another threat to Russia’s security.
“The organizers of any provocations threatening the fundamental interests of our security will regret their deeds more than they have regretted anything in a long time,” Mr. Putin told a hall of governors and members of Parliament. “I hope no one gets the idea to cross the so-called red line with Russia — and we will be the ones to decide where it runs in every concrete case.”
Mr. Putin’s speech had been widely anticipated, with about 100,000 Russian troops gathered on Ukraine’s border and Ukraine’s president warning openly of the possibility of war. Some analysts had speculated that Mr. Putin might use his annual state of the nation address to announce a pretext for sending troops into Ukraine.
But that scenario did not come to pass. Mr. Putin also made no reference to the jailed opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, whose supporters planned to hold protests across the country on Wednesday. Instead, Mr. Putin spent most of his speech on domestic issues, acknowledging Russians’ discontent with the hardships of the pandemic.
The United States last week announced a raft of new sanctions against Russia, blaming it for a major hacking operation. Mr. Biden also called for a summit meeting with Mr. Putin, which looked to many Russians like a crude American attempt to negotiate from a position of strength.
Hours after Mr. Putin’s speech, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that discussions about a possible meeting between the two leaders were ongoing.
“We don’t take anything President Putin says personally,” Ms. Psaki said. “We have tough skin.”
Katie Rogers contributed reporting.