President Biden withdrew his nomination of David Chipman, a former federal agent who had promised to crack down on the use of semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity gun magazines, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The withdrawal is a major setback to the president’s plan to reduce gun violence after several mass shootings this year, and comes after his push to expand background checks on gun purchases stalled in Congress in the face of unified Republican opposition.
“We knew this wouldn’t be easy — there’s only been one Senate-confirmed A.T.F. director in the bureau’s history — but I have spent my entire career working to combat the scourge of gun violence, and I remain deeply committed to that work,” Mr. Biden said in a statement, announcing the withdrawal. “I am grateful for Mr. Chipman’s service and for his work.”
The selection of Mr. Chipman, a longtime A.T.F. official who served as a consultant to the gun safety group founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, provoked a powerful backlash from the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organizations who cast his confirmation as a threat to their Second Amendment rights.
Mr. Biden, who chose Mr. Chipman after receiving pressure from Ms. Giffords and other gun control proponents, needed the support of all 50 senators who caucus with the Democrats and the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to get Mr. Chipman confirmed.
In recent weeks, Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, told Biden administration and leadership officials that he could not support the nomination, citing blunt public statements Mr. Chipman had made about gun owners, people familiar with the situation said.
During a contentious confirmation hearing in May, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee seized on those comments — including an interview in which Mr. Chipman likened the buying of weapons during the pandemic to a zombie apocalypse.
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who had originally suggested he was open to the pick, eventually soured on the selection, too.
Mr. Chipman’s nomination deadlocked in the committee, but was reported to the Senate for a floor vote through a parliamentary maneuver. It never received one.
It is the second high-profile nomination of Mr. Biden’s to be withdrawn for lack of Democratic support. In March, Neera Tanden, his pick to head the budget office, pulled out of contention after an uproar over her caustic public statements. She was later hired as a policy adviser in the West Wing.
As hopes for Mr. Chipman’s confirmation waned this summer, White House officials began to discussing bringing him into the administration as an adviser, but no decisions have been made, according to a person involved in the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Thursday afternoon that the president would name a new nominee to lead the A.T.F. “at an appropriate time,” but didn’t give a timeline for the decision.
As recently as last month, the White House signaled it was standing by its nominee, praising Mr. Chipman’s 25 years of experience as an A.T.F. agent, but also acknowledging the uphill battle he faced to gain confirmation. White House officials pinned the blame solely on Republican lawmakers, ignoring the opposition from members of the Democratic caucus.
The withdrawal was earlier reported by The Washington Post.
In the 48 years since its mission shifted primarily to firearms enforcement, the A.T.F. has been weakened by relentless assaults from the N.R.A., which critics have argued made it an agency engineered to fail.
Fifteen years ago, the N.R.A. successfully lobbied to make the director’s appointment subject to Senate confirmation — and has subsequently helped block all but one nominee from taking office.
And at the N.R.A.’s behest, Congress has limited the bureau’s budget; imposed crippling restrictions on the collection and use of gun-ownership data, including a ban on requiring basic inventories of weapons from gun dealers; and limited unannounced inspections of gun dealers.
Annie Karni contributed reporting.
President Biden will travel to California on Monday to campaign for Gov. Gavin Newsom, adding yet another volley of national Democratic firepower to the governor’s effort to beat back a Republican-led effort to recall him.
The president will appear with Mr. Newsom in Long Beach for a final rally as the recall winds down to a Sept. 14 voting deadline. Vice President Kamala Harris appeared with the governor in Oakland on Wednesday and former President Barack Obama recorded a campaign advertisement released this week.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar stumped for the governor over Labor Day weekend, and Senator Bernie Sanders is featured in a television ad that has been in heavy circulation throughout the state.
Throughout the summer, Mr. Newsom’s allies in California privately complained that national Democrats were not paying sufficient attention to a race that, though it initially had seemed a long shot, has nationwide implications. Just weeks ago, Mr. Newsom appeared to be precariously on the edge of being recalled, but polls and ballot returns now suggest he is pulling ahead.
According to Political Data, Inc., which provides election data, nearly a third of the electorate had voted as of Thursday morning — the result of pandemic voting rules that sent mail-in ballots to all 22 million active and registered voters in California. More than twice as many Democrats have returned their ballots than Republicans so far — although many Republicans may be waiting to cast their votes in person.
The governor has also struggled to connect with the state’s large and growing corps of Latino voters, many of whom have said they are ambivalent about both Mr. Newsom and the Democratic Party. So far, just 20 percent of Latino voters have returned their ballots, compared with 36 percent of white voters.
Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach tweeted that he was looking forward to welcoming the president and the governor to his city on Monday. Mr. Garcia is the first Latino and openly gay man to lead the city of nearly half a million people and was tapped last year to speak to the Democratic National Convention.
Seeking to turn out the state’s massive Democratic base in an off-year special election, Mr. Newsom has portrayed the recall effort as one led by right-wing extremists seeking to seize power in the nation’s largest liberal stronghold. Luminaries in his camp have included not only nationally known Democrats, but also celebrities such as Katy Perry and George Lopez, who have reached out on their social media accounts.
He has found a rich target in the leading candidate to oppose him, the conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, who has said employers should be able to ask women about their reproductive plans and has vowed to immediately lift all pandemic mandates if he is elected governor.
Former President Donald J. Trump on Thursday endorsed a primary challenger to Representative Liz Cheney, aiming to oust one of his fiercest Republican critics in a race that will test whether his influence over the party’s base remains strong enough to end her family’s political dynasty in Wyoming.
Mr. Trump threw his support behind Harriet Hageman, a former Republican National Committee official and a 2018 candidate for governor in Wyoming, in a bid to consolidate his supporters behind a single rival to the incumbent congresswoman.
The former president has for months taken an especially keen interest in defeating Ms. Cheney in the Wyoming race next year. She voted to impeach him over his role in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, and has accused him of undermining democracy with his unwillingness to accept the results of the 2020 election.
Ms. Cheney’s outspoken criticism of Mr. Trump — a rarity in her party — caused a deep rift with her Republican colleagues in the House, and in May they removed her as their No. 3 in the conference. The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Ms. Cheney had once been seen as a rising G.O.P. star, but she was replaced by Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a formerly moderate Republican who has become a Trump loyalist in recent years, in the House leadership.
This summer, Mr. Trump has met with potential challengers to Ms. Cheney at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Some of his advisers fear that multiple viable challengers to Ms. Cheney would fracture the opposition and allow her to survive the 2022 race.
Ms. Hageman stepped down this week from her post as a committeewoman on the Republican National Committee.
In his statement endorsing Ms. Hageman, Mr. Trump said that she “adores the Great State of Wyoming, is strong on Crime and Borders, powerfully supports the Second Amendment, loves our Military and our Vets, and will fight for Election Integrity and Energy Independence (which Biden has already given up).”
Mr. Trump made plain his dislike of Ms. Cheney’s criticism of him in the news media, saying it was necessary to replace the Democrats’ “number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney.”
The endorsement drew complaints even before it was official. Catharine O’Neill, who writes for the conservative website Newsmax and was considered another potential candidate — and who tweeted a picture of herself with Mr. Trump last month — wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: “The Republican Establishment creeps around Trump are really bad. They are pushing him to make bad decisions, because they still don’t understand why Trump won in 2016. Sad.”
Mr. Trump has announced two upcoming rallies, in Iowa and Georgia, and has issued a spate of endorsements this month, often taking aim at fellow Republicans who have crossed or displeased him.
In Michigan, he endorsed a state legislator, Steve Carra, who is challenging Representative Fred Upton, another Republican who voted to impeach Mr. Trump. In Washington State, he is backing Joe Kent, a veteran running against Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, another Republican supporter of the former president’s impeachment.
Ms. Cheney has been bullish about her chances against a pro-Trump Republican challenger. “Bring it on,” she said on the “Today” show in May.
President Biden on Thursday will sign executive orders requiring the vast majority of federal workers and contractors who do business with the government to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. They are part of an aggressive new plan that will also put pressure on private businesses, states and schools to enact stricter vaccination and testing policies as the Delta variant continues its spread across the United States.
The mandate will apply to employees of the executive branch, including the White House and all federal agencies and members of the armed services — a work force that numbers more than four million — but not to those who work for Congress or the federal court system, according to White House officials.
“The overarching objective here is for the president to lay out the next steps” in getting the virus under control, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Thursday. “The federal mandate for workers is an example of that.”
Ms. Psaki said that there would be some disability and religious exemptions for some, but that the vast majority of workers would be subject to a 75-day “ramp-up” period. If workers decline to receive shots in that time frame, Ms. Psaki said, they will be subject to a human resources process.
“We would like to be a model for what we think other business and organizations should do around the country,” Ms. Psaki added.
The spread of the highly infectious variant had pushed the country’s daily average caseload over 150,000 for the first time since late January, overwhelming hospitals in hard-hit areas and killing roughly 1,500 people a day. The surge has alarmed Mr. Biden and his top health advisers, who see mass vaccination as the only way to bring the pandemic under control.
Mr. Biden, who was briefed by his team of coronavirus advisers on Wednesday afternoon, is set to deliver a speech at 5 p.m. Eastern that will address about six areas where his administration can encourage — or, at this point, push — more eligible Americans to receive vaccines.
Mr. Biden had already pushed federal workers to get vaccinated by announcing that those who refused would have to undergo regular coronavirus testing. But the surge, coupled with last month’s decision by the Food and Drug Administration to grant full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to those 16 and older, has made him decide to take more aggressive steps, eliminating the option of testing, the officials said.
At least one federal workers’ union has already indicated that the new requirements should be subject to the bargaining process. On Thursday, the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal-worker union, stopped short of offering full-throated support for Mr. Biden’s plan.
“Put simply, workers deserve a voice in their working conditions,” Everett Kelley, the union’s president, said in a statement. We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so.”
The mandates are a marked shift for a president who, mindful of the contentious political climate around vaccination, initially steered away from any talk of making vaccines mandatory. But the F.D.A. approval — which also prompted the Pentagon to require its employees to get vaccinated — has clearly strengthened Mr. Biden’s hand.
“Never before have we mandated a vaccine throughout the federal work force, the National Guard, among government contractors and also using the bully pulpit to try to influence businesses and universities and cities and states to do the same,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University.
Still, Mr. Gostin said, there is much more the president could do. He has already exercised his executive authority to require masks on airplanes and interstate trains and buses, and could similarly mandate vaccination for international or interstate travel — a step that Mr. Gostin described as “low-hanging fruit.”
One thing Mr. Biden cannot do is require all Americans to get vaccinated; in the United States, vaccinations are the province of the states. But Mr. Gostin said the president could also dangle the prospect of federal funding to prod states to require their own workers to get vaccinated, and his administration could offer technical guidance to states that want to develop “vaccine passports” for people to provide digital proof of vaccination.
More than 75 percent of American adults have taken at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, but overall, just 53 percent of the public is fully vaccinated. Bringing the overall number up will require more than cajoling; roughly 45 million children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination. And surveys show that about 14 percent of Americans say they are unlikely to ever get vaccinated.
Two officials familiar with Mr. Biden’s plan said that its underlying message would be that the only way to return to some sense of normalcy was to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
“We know that increasing vaccinations will stop the spread of the pandemic, will get the pandemic under control, will return people to normal life,” Ms. Psakitold reporters on Wednesday.
When asked if Mr. Biden would be adding more detail to existing policies or would outline measures that would have an immediate and broad effect on Americans, Ms. Psaki replied: “It depends on if you’re vaccinated or not.”
Administration officials see signs that more people in the United States are open to receiving shots — some 14 million got their first shots in August, four million more than in July, Ms. Psaki said. But about 27 percent of the eligible U.S. population age 12 and older have not received any Covid vaccinations, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In some of the hardest-hit states, the unvaccinated percentage is higher: 42 percent in Texas, for instance, and 38 percent in Florida.
About 1.3 million fully vaccinated people have received a third shot after federal officials approved them for people with compromised immune systems. Mr. Biden has publicly supported the idea of broadening the availability of third shots as boosters for much more of the population, but health experts have advised the White House to hold off promoting that for now.
On Wednesday, Ms. Psaki said that the White House was working toward a plan for boosters, but did not give a time frame.
The president will also be seeking to course-correct after a difficult month for his administration, directing the public away from a chaotic and violent end to the war in Afghanistan and back toward his administration’s efforts to curb a pandemic that has upended every facet of American life.
But amid renewed fears of the virus’s damaging effect on the economy and the prevalence of a troublesome variant, even Mr. Biden’s allies say it will take more than a speech to ease concerns that the virus has once again spiraled out of a president’s control.
“He ran on competence, bringing adults back into the room,” said Nick Rathod, a former domestic policy adviser to President Barack Obama. “This is something that he needs to take control of and show his level of competency. I think that’s why he was hired.”
Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to strike down the proxy voting system adopted by the House of Representatives last year to allow for remote legislating during the pandemic.
Mr. McCarthy’s appeal came after a federal appeals court tossed out a lawsuit he filed against Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California seeking to invalidate the voting system, the first in history to allow members of Congress to cast votes in the House without being physically present.
In that July ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously agreed that courts did not have jurisdiction under the Constitution to wade into the House’s rules and procedures. The decision upheld an earlier ruling by a Federal District Court and was endorsed by judges nominated by Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump, suggesting a broad consensus on the issue.
But House Republicans have continued to press the matter despite the setbacks, casting the remote voting rules as a political “power grab” by Democrats designed to pad their razor-thin majority — though many Republicans have also adopted the practice in recent months, as remote voting has become a tool of personal and political convenience for lawmakers.
“Although the Constitution allows Congress to write its own rules, those rules cannot violate the Constitution itself,” Mr. McCarthy said in a statement, “including the requirement to actually assemble in person.”
House Democrats implemented the special rules in May 2020, allowing lawmakers who were not present to designate other members as proxies who would cast their votes according to specific instructions. They have argued that the changes are necessary for safety reasons, given the danger of traveling in a pandemic and the need for social distancing. They have also noted that a number of Republican lawmakers have refused to share their vaccination status or wear masks in the crowded rooms of Congress.
It is unclear how long the measure, which was presented as a temporary one, might last.
Republicans, led by Mr. McCarthy, quickly filed suit. They argued that the nation’s founders had intended for Congress to meet in person, and argued that the proxy voting system violated constitutional principles. They have also promised to immediately return to normal voting procedures if they retake the majority next year.
The system, which has also allowed members of Congress for the first time to conduct remote committee hearings and file bills electronically, has been used by lawmakers in both parties for purposes other than its intended one. Some members have used remote voting to save them the hassle of traveling from their districts to Washington, while others have used it to be able to cast a vote while attending political events. And it has served the interests of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who can ill afford absences in Democratic ranks given her slim majority in the House.
Security officials at the Capitol plan to reinstall a fence around the complex ahead of a planned rally of Trump supporters next weekend called to demand the release of those arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 mob attack on Congress.
The Capitol Police Board is slated to approve a request from Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, who joined the force in the aftermath of the deadly attack, to restore the fence before the “Justice for J6” rally scheduled for Sept. 18, because of concerns that hundreds might attend, including some extremist groups, according to a person familiar with the board’s discussions.
The barrier, erected after a mob of President Donald J. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, had been removed in July, reopening public accessibility to the complex.
“We intend to have the integrity of the Capitol be intact,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday. “What happened on Jan. 6 was such an assault on this beautiful Capitol, under the dome that Lincoln built during the Civil War.”
The “Justice for J6” rally is being organized by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign operative, and his organization, Look Ahead America, which has demanded that the Justice Department drop charges against what the group calls “nonviolent protesters” facing charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot.
About 140 police officers were injured, including 15 who were hospitalized, and several people died in connection with the riot, including officers who took their own lives in the months after responding to the assault.
Some officers suffered brain injuries; one officer had two cracked ribs, two shattered spinal discs; and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake, according to the union that represents the Capitol Police.
Mr. Braynard has argued the brutal attacks on police officers during the assault were the work of a “few bad apples” and accused the Biden administration of targeting the “peaceful Trump supporters who entered the Capitol with selective prosecutions based on their political beliefs.”
Some Republicans who have sought to downplay the seriousness of the riot or spread conspiracy theories about who was responsible have expressed sympathy for suspects arrested afterward, vowing to fight for their release.
“We are closely monitoring Sept. 18 and we are planning accordingly,” Chief Manger said in a statement last week. “After Jan. 6, we made departmentwide changes to the way we gather and share intelligence internally and externally. I am confident the work we are doing now will make sure our officers have what they need to keep everyone safe.”
Five House committees on Thursday began formally drafting their pieces of Democrats’ far-reaching social policy and climate change bill that would spend as much as $3.5 trillion over the next decade — and raise as much in taxes and other revenue boosters — to reweave the social safety net and move the country away from fossil fuels.
The products of the drafting sessions, which could take several arduous days, are to be folded into a final bill later this fall that could be one of the most significant measures to reach the House floor in decades.
“What I want people to know is that this bill is for you,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said on Wednesday. “If you’re a woman with children at home and want to return to the work force; if you have people with disabilities at home and in home health care; if your children are little and you want universal pre-K; children learning, parents earning; if someone is sick in your family and you need family and medical leave, paid; the list goes on.”
Democrats plan to push through the legislation using a process known as reconciliation, which shields fiscal measures from filibusters and allows them to pass with a simple majority if they adhere to strict rules. The maneuver leaves the party little room for defections given its slim margins of control in Congress.
Republicans are unified in opposition to the emerging bill, and lobbyists for business and the affluent are also arrayed against it. They need only to peel away three or four House Democrats — or a single Senate Democrat — to bring the effort down.
“This week, as Democrats try to ram through their reckless $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend agenda, let’s not forget that American families and Main Street businesses will be left shouldering the burden of these devastating tax hikes,” said Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, which will begin drafting its hefty portion of the bill on Thursday, Friday and into next week.
The panel will start with the spending side this week before moving next week to the more difficult task of tax increases to pay for it. Among the items on its voluminous agenda: providing up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; expanding tax credits to pay for child care and elder care; raising the wages of child care workers; requiring employers to automatically enroll employees in individual retirement accounts or 401(k) plans; and expanding Medicare coverage to include dental, vision and hearing benefits.
The Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the bill, also under consideration on Thursday, would make prekindergarten universal for 3- and 4-year-olds; fund two years of tuition-free community college and increase the value of Pell Grants; provide money to rebuild and modernize school buildings; expand job training programs; and extend child nutrition programs bolstered on an emergency basis during the pandemic.
The Committee on Natural Resources, which has partial purview over climate change programs, will try to raise the fees for fossil fuel companies that explore and drill on public lands and waters; expand leasing of offshore sites for wind energy; spend up to $3.5 billion on a new civilian and tribal climate corps; and boost funding for wildfire control, climate resilience and adaptation to a warmer planet.
Smaller pieces of the bill will be drafted by the science and small business committees.
Senate Democrats, who are expected to skip the public drafting phase, have been meeting behind closed doors to try to work out their version of the bill and bring it directly to the floor.
They plan to submit a proposal to the Senate’s top rule enforcer as early as Friday that would legalize several groups of undocumented immigrants, including those who were brought to the country without authorization when they were children. It is up to the parliamentarian to determine whether specific measures qualify under Senate rules to be included in the final bill, which is supposed to be restricted to policies that directly affect government revenues.
Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.
The Biden administration on Thursday endorsed an aggressive proposal to limit prices for prescription drugs, calling for the government to negotiate with drug makers on prices and applying those prices not just to Medicare but to all drug purchasers in the country.
The proposal, published as a 29-page white paper from the Department of Health and Human Services, was included a range of recommendations to foster more competition among drugmakers and improve the affordability of drugs for patients enrolled in Medicare.
The administration cannot make such large changes on its own; it amounts to a signal to congressional Democrats. Democratic leaders in Congress have suggested that they hope to regulate prices in some way as part of the $3.5 trillion legislative package now being considered.
The House passed a bill with similar provisions in 2019, but senators working on the package have released few policy details as they wrestle with their approach.
Steve Ubl, the C.E.O. of the industry trade group PhRMA, called the policy “an existential risk to the industry.” Major across-the-board price reductions would result in reduced revenues for drug companies, and could hurt companies’ ability to spend on research as well as cause smaller companies to close if investors leave the sector, he said. His group and the companies it represents have mobilized to fight such a plan.
Drug price regulation represents a crucial piece of the still-developing Democratic package because it is one of the few proposed policies that could reduce, rather than increase, federal spending.
Any policy that substantially reduces drug prices has the potential to save the government a lot of money. The federal government pays a large share of drugs for patients with Medicare, and subsidizes insurance plans that purchase drugs for other Americans.
This new approach could help fund other expensive priorities, such as expanding Medicare benefits to cover dental care, and providing insurance coverage to uninsured people in states that have not expanded Medicaid. An approach that lowers drug prices less would leave less funding available for those other goals.
High prescription drug prices are a major consumer issue, one that voters consistently identify as a top concern. Reducing their prices could matter for many American households.
But broad price controls like the one endorsed by the white paper could encounter both political and logistical problems.
The pharmaceutical industry has long opposed government price negotiations of any sort in the United States, and some Democratic lawmakers are sympathetic to their concerns that price restrictions could stymie innovation and hamper future drug development.
Senator Amy Klobuchar said Thursday that she had been diagnosed and treated this year for breast cancer, and that her doctors said in August that her treatment had been successful.
“At this point my doctors believe that my chances of developing cancer again are no greater than the average person,” Ms. Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, wrote in a post on Medium.
Ms. Klobuchar, 61, said she learned in February that she had Stage 1A cancer after doctors at Mayo Clinic found “small white spots called calcifications during a routine mammogram.”
She said that she underwent various tests and she subsequently had a lumpectomy on the right breast to remove the cancer. In May, she said she completed radiation treatment.
She said that doctors determined in August that the treatment had been successful.
“Of course this has been scary at times,” Ms. Klobuchar said. Adding, “Cancer is the word all of us fear.”
The senator said she was lucky it was caught early and that she had delayed having a mammogram.
The American Cancer Society recommends annual breast cancer screenings for women who are 45 to 54 years old. Women who are 55 and older should be screened every two years, according to the society.
“It’s easy to put off health screenings, just like I did,” she wrote. “But I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams, and follow-through.”
Ms. Klobuchar, the chairwoman of the Rules and Administration Committee, said she underwent treatment while the committee investigated the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and convened hearings on the new voting restrictions imposed by Republican-controlled state legislatures in Georgia and other parts of the country.
Ms. Klobuchar, who said her husband took her to her radiation treatments, said that her Senate colleagues did not know she had cancer.
“It’s something that no one wants to hear and no one wants to experience,” she said of the illness. “In the end, I just have this unbounding gratitude for the people that were there for me.”
The White House pushed out several prominent Trump administration appointees from their posts on the advisory boards of U.S. military service academies, administration officials said on Wednesday.
The Biden administration was seeking to ensure that nominees and board members were “qualified to serve on them” and “aligned” with the president’s values, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said at a White House briefing. Chris Meagher, a White House spokesman, later confirmed that all of the appointees “either resigned or has been terminated from their position.”
Eighteen Trump appointees were asked to resign. They included former White House officials such as Kellyanne Conway, President Donald J. Trump’s counselor; Sean Spicer, his first White House press secretary; Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s second national security adviser; and Russell T. Vought, a former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget under Mr. Trump.
Several of them posted screenshots on social media of the letters they said they had received from the White House on Wednesday requesting that they resign by 6 p.m. or be removed from their positions.
Ms. Conway, one of Mr. Trump’s most prominent White House aides, wrote a letter refusing to resign from her advisory position at the Air Force Academy.
“President Biden, I’m not resigning, but you should,” she wrote on Twitter, with an image of her letter.
“Three former directors of presidential personnel inform me that this request is a break from presidential norms,” Ms. Conway wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Mr. Biden. “It certainly seems petty and political, if not personal.”
Other Trump appointees were similarly defiant. Mr. Vought also declined to resign as a member of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy, noting on Twitter that members serve three-year terms. He was appointed to the board in December.
Advisory boards to the military service academies are a mix of lawmakers and presidential appointees who advise and oversee the institutions on matters including morale, discipline and curriculum. Presidential appointees serve for three years.