Live Updates: Biden’s Budget Includes $1.52 Trillion in Federal Spending

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Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

President Biden proposed a vast expansion of federal spending on Friday, calling for a 16 percent increase in domestic programs as he tries to harness the government’s power to reverse what officials called a decade of underinvestment in the nation’s most pressing issues.

The proposed $1.52 trillion in spending on discretionary programs would significantly bolster education, health research and fighting climate change. It comes on top of Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package and a separate plan to spend $2.3 trillion on the nation’s infrastructure.

Mr. Biden’s first spending request to Congress showcases his belief that expanding, not shrinking, the federal government is crucial to economic growth and prosperity. It would direct billions of dollars toward reducing inequities in housing and education, as well as making sure every government agency puts climate change at the front of its agenda.

It does not include tax proposals, economic projections or so-called mandatory programs like Social Security, which will all be included in a formal budget request the White House will release this spring.

Among its major new spending initiatives, the plan would dedicate an additional $20 billion to help schools that serve low-income children and provide more money to students who have experienced racial or economic barriers to higher education. It would create a multi-billion-dollar program for researching diseases like cancer and add $14 billion to fight and adapt to the damages of climate change.

It would also seek to lift the economies of Central American countries, where rampant poverty, corruption and devastating hurricanes have fueled migration toward the southwestern border and a variety of initiatives to address homelessness and housing affordability, including on tribal lands. And it asks for an increase of about 2 percent in spending on national defense.

The request represents a sharp break with the policies of President Donald J. Trump, whose budget proposals prioritized military spending and border security, while seeking to cut funding in areas like environmental protection.

All told, the proposal calls for a $118 billion increase in discretionary spending in the 2022 fiscal year, when compared with the base spending allocations this year. It seeks to capitalize on the expiration of a decade of caps on spending growth, which lawmakers agreed to in 2010 but frequently breached in subsequent years.

Administration officials would not specify on Friday whether that increase would result in higher federal deficits in their coming budget proposal, but promised its full budget would “address the overlapping challenges we face in a fiscally and economically responsible way.”

As part of that effort, the request seeks $1 billion in new funding for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce tax laws, including “increased oversight of high-income and corporate tax returns.” That is clearly aimed at raising tax receipts by cracking down on tax avoidance by companies and the wealthy.

Officials said the proposals did not reflect the spending called for in Mr. Biden’s infrastructure plan, which he introduced last week, or for a second plan he has yet to roll out, which will focus on what officials call “human infrastructure” like education and child care.

Congress, which is responsible for approving government spending, is under no requirement to adhere to White House requests. In recent years, lawmakers rejected many of the Trump administration’s efforts to gut domestic programs.

But Mr. Biden’s plan, while incomplete as a budget, could provide a blueprint for Democrats who narrowly control the House and Senate and are anxious to reassert their spending priorities after four years of a Republican White House.

Coronavirus vaccines were administered in New Jersey this month. Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

President Biden’s spending plan for foreign programs increases support for two urgent challenges to the United States: curbing the pandemic and addressing a surge in mass migration from Central America.

It calls for $10 billion for global health programs — including, notably, $1 billion for security efforts to detect, prevent and respond to future pandemics. Officials said that amounted to a more than $800 million increase for global health security than the United States contributed last year.

It also would provide $861 million intended to combat corruption, prevent violence, reduce poverty and bolster economies in Central America in an attempt to curb the flow of thousands of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who head to the U.S. border with Mexico each year. The money would be the first tranche of a four-year plan to ultimately spend $4 billion to help stabilize those countries and end the migrants’ need to flee.

Thematically, the spending plans for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other foreign programs reflect what Mr. Biden has long promised: to shore up American alliances around the globe.

The plans include full funding for United Nations health and human rights agencies, which was withheld under the Trump administration. The plans also cite efforts to counter authoritarian governments, specifically calling out China and Russia, while pledging to fully pay American commitments to longtime Middle East allies, including Israel and Jordan, where King Abdullah II said last week he faced a palace coup.

The spending plans also make clear that the Biden administration wants to work with Palestinian leaders on a long-term peace plan with Israel — another departure from the Trump administration, which engaged almost entirely with Israel.

Over all, the budget blueprint calls for $63.5 billion for the State Department and international programs — a nearly 12 percent increase from current spending levels of $56.7 billion. Officials said that would also include funds to increase the number of career diplomats and Civil Service employees.

The proposed budget would further the anti-discrimination agenda championed by Marcia L. Fudge, the housing secretary.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden is requesting a $9 billion increase in the budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which would represent the biggest year-to-year boost in the agency’s funding in over two decades.

The proposed increase comes on top of the $27.4 billion in new assistance included in the pandemic relief bill passed earlier this year, and the $213 billion slated for housing in the White House infrastructure plan.

Although the agency’s proposed funding increase, about 15 percent, is less dramatic than increases given to education and environmental agencies, few departments have seen such a reversal of fortunes under Mr. Biden.

Taken as a whole, the White House proposals represent a focused effort to transform an agency relegated to backwater status under President Donald J. Trump into a key player in Mr. Biden’s efforts to target structural racial and economic inequality, administration officials said.

The centerpiece of the plan unveiled on Friday is an expansion of federal housing assistance voucher programs, the main conduit for low-income housing funding. The administration is hoping to add an additional 200,000 families to the 2.3 million already receiving the aid. That alone would account for a $5.4 billion increase in H.U.D.’s annual budget.

The proposed budget would also further the anti-discrimination agenda championed by Marcia L. Fudge, the housing secretary, by funding “mobility-related supportive services” to make it easier for families to move into more racially, ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods.

The plan also includes $500 million in additional funding for homelessness programs, which would target more than 100,000 additional households, including survivors of domestic violence and homeless youth. That funding is in addition to the $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers already provided in Mr. Biden’s pandemic relief bill.

The request would also provide $800 million in new investments across H.U.D. programs for modernization and rehabilitation aimed at energy efficiency and resilience to climate change crises “like increasingly frequent and severe wildfires and floods.”

Other increases include a $500 million expansion of the HOME program to construct and rehabilitate affordable rental housing; $180 million to support 2,000 units of new permanently affordable housing for the elderly and disabled; an increase of $295 million for community development block grants used to fund an array of anti-poverty initiatives; and a new $85 million allocation to support fair housing enforcement around the country.

H.U.D.’s budget largely flatlined under President Barack Obama, who faced pressure from Republicans to trim social welfare spending.

The department languished under Mr. Trump, seeing the mass departure of staff under the wavering leadership of Secretary Ben Carson, a former surgeon with little housing experience.

But its budget actually rose during his administration, as congressional Democrats and moderate Republicans, including Senator Susan Collins of Maine, added billions to the agency’s budget over the objections of Mr. Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney.

Representative Matt Gaetz has denied that he ever had sex with a minor or paid for sex.Credit…Daniel Brenner for The New York Times

The House Ethics Committee announced on Friday that it had opened an investigation into a torrent of allegations against Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, including that he broke sex trafficking laws, misused campaign funds and shared graphic images of women with other lawmakers on the House floor.

Though the committee shared few details about its work, the scope appeared to be exceedingly broad and overlap with an ongoing Justice Department inquiry into the third-term congressman. In a terse statement disclosing the inquiry, the top Democrat and Republican on the panel wrote that they would seek to determine whether Mr. Gaetz, 38, had violated House rules, the law or “other standards of conduct.”

“The committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift,” said the joint statement from Representatives Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, and Jackie Walorski, Republican of Indiana.

The decision by the ethics panel could further complicate Mr. Gaetz’s attempts to fight the allegations and remain in his House seat. But the committee typically works slowly and poses far less legal or political risk than a Justice Department inquiry.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Mr. Gaetz broke sex trafficking laws by having sex with a 17-year-old girl in exchange for something of value, and whether he paid adult women for sex, including while under the influence of illicit drugs. Separately, several current and former congressional officials have described to The New York Times and other news outlets incidents in which Mr. Gaetz, a proponent of marijuana legalization, showed up on the House floor smelling of the drug, or shared videos and photos there of women with whom he claimed to be having sex.

Mr. Gaetz has denied he ever had sex with a minor or paid for sex.

“Once again, the office will reiterate, these allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them,” his office said in an unsigned statement on Friday.

The ethics panel announced the investigation in one of its customary Friday afternoon news releases, just before issuing another that said it would look into potential sexual misconduct by Representative Tom Reed, Republican of New York. In March, a former lobbyist publicly accused Mr. Reed of groping her during a weekend political trip in 2017. Mr. Reed initially denied the accusation, but subsequently apologized and announced he would not seek re-election in 2022.

“We have already publicly addressed this situation and consistent with that are cooperating with the House Ethics Committee to bring this matter to conclusion,” Mr. Reed said in a statement on Friday.

President Biden announced a study will be conducted into adjusting the Supreme Court.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Biden on Friday will order a 180-day study of adding seats to the Supreme Court, making good on a campaign-year promise to establish a bipartisan commission to examine the potentially explosive subjects of expanding the court or setting term limits for justices, White House officials said.

The president acted under pressure from activists pushing for more seats to alter the ideological balance of the court after President Donald J. Trump appointed three justices, including one to a seat that Republicans had blocked his predecessor, Barack Obama, from filling for almost a year.

The result is a court with a stronger conservative tilt, now 6 to 3, after the addition of Mr. Trump’s choices, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just days before last year’s presidential election. (An earlier version misspelled Justice Ginsburg’s last name.)

But while Mr. Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asserted that the system of judicial nominations is “getting out of whack,” he has declined to say whether he supports altering the size of the court or making other changes — like imposing term limits — to the current system of lifetime appointments.

It is not clear that the commission established by Mr. Biden will by itself clarify his position. Under the White House order establishing it, the commission is not set to issue specific recommendations at the end of its study — an outcome that is likely to disappoint activists.

In his executive order on Friday, the president will create a 36-member commission charged with examining the history of the court, past changes to the process of nominating justices, and the potential consequences to altering the size of the nation’s highest court.

The panel will be led by Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel for Mr. Obama, and Cristina Rodriguez, a Yale Law School professor who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel under Mr. Obama.

Progressives say that Republicans unfairly gained an advantage on the court by blocking Mr. Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland in 2016, and they see adding seats to the court, setting term limits or instituting other changes as a way to offset the power of any one president to influence its makeup. Conservatives have denounced the effort as “court-packing” similar to the failed effort by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.

The issue of whether to alter the size of the court, which has been set at nine members since just after the Civil War, is highly charged, particularly when Congress is almost evenly divided between the two parties. An attempt by Mr. Biden to increase the number of justices would require approval of Congress and would be met by fierce opposition.

When asked about the current makeup of the court, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Friday that Mr. Biden would not ask Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 82, the oldest justice and the senior member of its liberal wing, to step down to ensure a liberal successor.

“He believes that’s a decision Justice Breyer will make when he decides it’s time to no longer serve on the Supreme Court,” Ms. Psaki said, adding that Justice Breyer has the “ability to make his own decision.”

The justices of the Supreme Court in 2017, before the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The idea of expanding the Supreme Court caught fire among some Democrats when the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year ignited a Washington power struggle.

As soon as it became clear that the Republican-controlled Senate would almost certainly confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett, creating a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the court, progressive Democrats — including prominent figures like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — argued that if Democrats won control of the presidency and the Senate in November, they should seriously consider increasing the number of justices.

Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the party’s nominee, had long opposed that idea, known as court packing. But after Justice Ginsburg’s death, he said he would establish a bipartisan commission to consider changes to the courts — a broad potential overhaul that could include court packing but also a variety of other measures.

“I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system, because it’s getting out of whack,” Mr. Biden said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

Expanding the court is an idea commonly associated with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who pushed legislation in 1937 that could have broadened the Supreme Court from nine to as many as 15 justices. The history is more complicated than the usual narrative suggests: Mr. Roosevelt, aiming to push older justices to step down, wanted to add a justice to the court for each sitting justice who declined to retire after 70.

Today, Democrats characterize court expansion as a defensive move against Republican actions, not as a unilateral power grab. In 2016, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, refused to hold a vote on Merrick B. Garland, now the attorney general and then an appellate judge, who had been nominated to the court by President Barack Obama after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Mr. McConnell held the seat open until after the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, who nominated Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

Many Democrats now say that Justice Gorsuch occupies a seat stolen by Republicans, which has shifted the ideological core of the court. The outrage intensified last year after Justice Ginsburg’s death as Senate Republicans committed to doing what they said was inappropriate in 2016: confirming a justice in an election year.

“Let me be clear: If leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year. Nothing is off the table,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, told his caucus on a phone call late last year.

Pete Buttigieg, now the transportation secretary, made the idea a linchpin of his early presidential campaign in 2020. By the end of the race, candidates across the ideological spectrum, including Senators Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, said court expansion should be explored.

Although the Supreme Court has consisted of nine justices for well over a century, the Constitution does not require that number, and Congress changed the size of the court several times between its establishment and the Civil War. That has not stopped Republicans from seeking to weaponize the growing calls for court expansion, particularly as they try to frame Mr. Biden as a political Trojan horse for the Democrats’ left wing.

President Biden visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta last month.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden’s spending plan calls for an almost 25 percent increase in discretionary funding — to $131.7 billion — for the Health and Human Services Department, the hub of the federal government’s pandemic response.

That increase includes a $1.6 billion increase for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency public health experts have viewed as chronically underfunded and neglected until public health emergencies. Data collection would be modernized, and epidemiologists would be trained to support local health departments.

Almost a billion dollars would go to the Strategic National Stockpile, the country’s emergency medical reserve, for supplies and efforts to restructure it that began last year.

The blueprint also calls for $6.5 billion to launch the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health — part of a requested $51 billion for the typically well-funded National Institutes of Health. The new agency would fund federal research, with a focus on cancer and diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Outside of pandemic response, the White House wants to expand spending in several areas that were also budget priorities for the Trump administration: fighting the opioid epidemic and eradicating H.I.V. and AIDS. But on other matters, it diverges clearly from Trump administration policies.

The Biden plan would expand spending on the Title X program that provides family planning services to low-income Americans — under Mr. Trump, that program was retooled to reduce the number of eligible providers. The proposal would also double spending on research into the causes of gun-related death and injury, an area long neglected because of political polarization.

But most health spending in the country is not discretionary, meaning the proposals do not tell us what the Biden administration hopes to do in Medicaid, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, among other large programs. The American Rescue Plan included some short-term funding to expand Affordable Care Act subsidies that help Americans buy insurance, and the administration has signaled it hopes to make those changes permanent.

So far, Mr. Biden has been quiet about whether he will pursue other health initiatives that were part of his campaign, such as lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare or establishing a government-run alternative for private health insurance, known as a public option, for Obamacare users.

The pandemic’s effects on the military are reflected in requests for funding to better monitor emerging infectious diseases.Credit…John Moore/Getty Images

President Biden is requesting $715 billion for national defense in his first Pentagon budget, a decrease of about .4 percent when adjusted for inflation, at a time when the White House has signaled a more confrontational approach with Russia and China.

The proposed budget for the Defense Department is 1.6 percent higher than the current allocation of $704 billion, in contrast to big funding increases for education, the environment and housing, reflecting Mr. Biden’s focus on domestic spending.

Spending on federal agencies besides the Defense Department increased about 16 percent, on average, in the discretionary budget released by the administration on Friday.

The defense budget prioritizes China as the Pentagon’s “top challenge” while also seeking to deter what it calls “destabilizing behavior” from Russia. It also places funding for America’s overseas combat operations into the Pentagon’s budget, ending the practice of requesting those funds separately.

The request is only the start of what is sure to be a vigorous debate in Congress over how much to spend on defense, and how to allocate it.

The plan quickly drew criticism from progressives who wanted to see deep cuts, including Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, who called it “disappointing.”

Shortly after the budget was released, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chairman of the budget committee, told reporters he had “serious concerns” that Mr. Biden had not chosen to scale back a “bloated Pentagon.”

Some Republicans expressed the opposite view, accusing Mr. Biden of sacrificing national security to fund liberal programs.

“President Biden can find trillions of dollars to pay for his liberal spending sprees but doesn’t prioritize the safety of America and our allies,” Representative Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican who serves on the armed services committee, wrote in a tweet.

Several large procurement programs begun by previous administrations have been left in place, such as the effort to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal and build new submarines, as well as the Pentagon’s efforts to create new long-range and hypersonic weapons.

In a nod to the reality of climate change, the request notes the need to refurbish military bases in order to make them better able to withstand extreme weather, and to fund energy research that will enable bases to continue operating if their electricity supply is threatened.

The pandemic’s consequences on military operations, which include sidelined warships and outbreaks on bases, are addressed in requests for funding to better monitor emerging infectious diseases in cooperation with allies and to develop medical countermeasures.

The Pentagon is currently engaged in what it calls a “global posture review” that is assessing which weapons, vehicles, and bases are needed. The budget notes that some existing programs will be defunded, with that money redirected to address the national security challenges identified by the review.

Roberta S. Jacobson said her appointment as a special assistant to the president had always been intended to last for only about 100 days.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Roberta S. Jacobson, the former ambassador to Mexico whom President Biden chose as his “border czar” on the National Security Council, will step down at the end of the month, she said on Friday, even as the administration struggles to confront a surge of migrants at the nation’s southwestern border.

Ms. Jacobson, who had been described as one of the Biden administration’s key players in dealing with the governments in the Northern Triangle area of Central America, praised Mr. Biden’s efforts to create a “humane, orderly and safe” immigration system after four years under President Donald J. Trump.

“I leave optimistically,” she said. “The policy direction is so clearly right for our country.”

Ms. Jacobson said that her appointment as a special assistant to the president and as the border coordinator in the White House had always been intended to last for only about 100 days — a period that will expire at the end of April, when she intends to leave government.

The timing of her departure is nonetheless striking, coming in the middle of the administration’s efforts to reduce the flow of immigration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Ms. Jacobson had been charged with leading that effort when her appointment was announced this year.

Republican critics say that Mr. Biden’s decisions to quickly reverse many of the harshest Trump-era immigration policies in his first days in office have encouraged a new wave of migration from Central America, including families and children traveling to the border alone.

Biden administration officials, including Ms. Jacobson, have argued that the increased flow of migration needs to be addressed at its source: primarily in Central American countries where violence, war, poverty, gangs and natural disasters are forcing people to flee their homes for refuge in the United States.

But her role as one of the administration’s top border officials was eclipsed late last month when Mr. Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris would lead the government’s diplomatic efforts with that region.

In an interview, Ms. Jacobson said the president’s move to put Ms. Harris in charge of the effort to stem migration from Central America was not a factor in her decision to leave or her timing.

The Grand Hotel in Vienna this week, where diplomats from the European Union, China, Russia and Iran held talks on the Iran nuclear deal.Credit…Joe Klamar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Talks in Vienna aimed at reinvigorating the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration left in 2018 and which Tehran began breaking a year later made some progress this week: They didn’t break down.

Senior diplomats involved in the talks agreed on Friday that initial steps in two working groups designed to bring both the United States and Iran back into compliance with the accord were positive and would continue next week.

Although there are no direct talks between Iran and the United States, the other signatories to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, under the chairmanship of the European Union — are engaging in a kind of shuttle diplomacy between them.

One working group is focusing on how to lift the harsh economic sanctions that the United States imposed that are inconsistent with the terms of the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A. The other working group is focusing on how Iran can return to the limits on enriched uranium and the centrifuges to produce it under the terms of the deal.

Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian representative to the talks in Vienna, said in a Twitter message after Friday’s meeting that “participants took stock of the work done by experts over the last three days and noted with satisfaction the initial progress made.” The senior diplomats who meet in what is known as the Joint Commission — representing all signatories except the United States — will reconvene next week “in order to maintain the positive momentum,” Mr. Ulyanov said.

U.S. officials have worked to play down expectations for any quick breakthrough and have urged patience.

In what has been perceived as a gesture of good will, Iran on Friday released a South Korean oil tanker that had been held since January in a dispute over billions of dollars seized by Seoul after the United States enacted punishing sanctions.

Jill Biden, the first lady, visited a preschool in Birmingham on Friday.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

BIRMINGHAM, Al. — When a group of senior West Wing officials recently met to discuss how to communicate the particulars of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package to the public, it did not take them long to decide that Jill Biden, the first lady, should travel the country to promote one of its most ambitious provisions: a generous tax credit that could, at least temporarily, lift millions of children out of poverty.

“Her nickname on the campaign trail was ‘The Closer,’” said Anita Dunn, a senior adviser for President Biden who was part of the planning.

On Friday, Dr. Biden traveled to Birmingham, Ala., for her first trip highlighting the provision, telling a crowd at the Y.W.C.A., “This administration is going to make sure you have what you need to get through the storm.”

“In the past, you used to get $2,000 for a tax credit for children,” Dr. Biden said. “This year, if you have kids under 6 years old, you’ll get $3,600. For older kids it will be $3,000.”

According to a fact sheet released by Columbia University, the relief plan could reduce child poverty in the United States by as much as half. Among its provisions, the stimulus package includes a child tax credit to supplement income for low-income families.

It also expands benefits on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $3.5 billion, or about $28 more per person, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Biden appeared with Representative Terri Sewell, Democrat of Alabama, who told the crowd that she was proud to be the only member of Congress in Alabama to vote in favor of the American Rescue Plan.

“They wanted direct resources,” Ms. Sewell said of families around the state, referencing the direct payments the stimulus plan has provided.

Earlier on Friday, the first lady visited an early childhood development center and met with prekindergarten students who will benefit from a $1 billion expansion of funding for Head Start programs, the White House said. The programs provide early intervention education and support for students, many of whom are low-income.

The $1.52 trillion budget plan released by the Biden administration on Friday called Head Start a chronically underfunded program, and asked for an additional $1.2 billion in funding for it, bring the total to $11.9 billion.

Out of the 45 million Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, about 392,000 of them are children living in Alabama, according to data compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a foundation that promotes the well-being of children. And according to Alabama Possible, a nonprofit that tracks poverty rates, approximately 256,000 children live below the federal poverty threshold. (An earlier version of this item misstated the total number of people who rely on SNAP across the country versus in Alabama.)

“It’s important to her that people who may have felt unseen in the past or disconnected from government, are welcomed, included and embraced by this administration,” said Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady’s communications director.

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