Live Updates: Biden Plans Major Expansion of Vaccinations and Virus Relief

Photo of author

By admin

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. unveiled his plan to fight the coronavirus and improve the economy in a speech in Wilmington, Del.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

As the fallout from the assault on the Capitol sparks fresh concerns of new violence and Washington heightens security ahead of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration on Jan. 20, the president-elect is gearing up to assume office at a tenuous moment for the nation.

Mr. Biden unveiled an ambitious $1.9 trillion spending package on Thursday night, intended to help combat the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy. He has signaled that he will prioritize domestic issues during his first weeks in office even as the pending trial of President Trump may sidetrack the Senate from his priorities, including approving his cabinet nominees.

Speaking from Delaware on Thursday to introduce his sweeping economic plan, Mr. Biden urged lawmakers to come together and pass additional relief.

“Unity is not some pie in the sky dream,” he said. “It’s a practical step to getting the things we have to get done as a country, get done together.”

Mr. Biden’s plan has an initial focus on large-scale expansions of the nation’s vaccination program and virus testing capacity. In remarks scheduled for Friday afternoon, he is expected to give additional details about his plan to vaccinate Americans.

And as investigations continue, federal officials have moved to arrest dozens of Americans who rioted at the Capitol last week. A man seen holding a Confederate battle flag, a person identified as striking a police officer with a flagpole and a retired firefighter identified as having thrown a fire extinguisher at officers were among those arrested on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, in a briefing with Vice President Mike Pence, Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., acknowledged that in the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol, the bureau was “seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter” surrounding the inauguration, including plans for armed protests both in Washington and at state capitol buildings around the country.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Thursday authorized the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops and surrounded the state Capitol grounds in Sacramento with a six-foot, covered chain-link fence to “prepare for and respond to credible threats.”

Mr. Biden has spoken little about the threats to his inauguration, saying earlier this week only that he was “not afraid” to take the oath of office outdoors as planned. With less than a week to go, Mr. Wray and federal law enforcement officials sought to assure the public that Mr. Biden’s inauguration would be safe.

The Secret Service, which is leading the effort to secure the inauguration, said on Thursday that it would establish a “green zone” in downtown Washington this weekend, blocking streets surrounding the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial and shutting down train lines. National Guard troops continue to flood into the increasingly militarized city, with a total of 20,000 expected to be present for Inauguration Day.




Biden Outlines $1.9 Trillion Economic Rescue Package

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a spending package to combat the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. The plan includes $1,400 direct payments to individuals and more generous unemployment benefits.

During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck. Millions of Americans never thought they’d be out of work — many of them never even envisioned the idea — are facing eviction, waiting for hours in their cars to feed their families as they drive up to a food bank. A growing chorus of top economists agree that the moment of crisis — in this moment of crisis, with interest rates at historic lows, we cannot afford inaction. Our rescue plan also includes immediate relief to Americans hardest hit and most in need. We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most. The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough. One in seven households in America, more than one in five Black and Latino households in America, report they don’t have enough food to eat. So we’re going to extend emergency nutritional assistance for 30 — for 43 million children and their families enrolled in the SNAP program through the rest of this year. To the millions of you just looking for a fighting chance in this economy, I promise you, we will not forget you. We understand what you’re going through. We will never, ever give up.

Video player loading
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a spending package to combat the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. The plan includes $1,400 direct payments to individuals and more generous unemployment benefits.CreditCredit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a $1.9 trillion rescue package to combat the economic downturn and the Covid-19 crisis, outlining the type of sweeping aid that Democrats have demanded for months and signaling the shift in the federal government’s pandemic response as Mr. Biden prepares to take office next week.

The package includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, including money to accelerate vaccine deployment and to safely reopen most schools within 100 days. An additional $350 billion would help state and local governments bridge budget shortfalls, while the plan would also include $1,400 direct payments to individuals, more generous unemployment benefits, federally mandated paid leave for workers and large subsidies for child care costs.

“During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck,” Mr. Biden said in a speech to the nation on Tuesday evening. “There is real pain overwhelming the real economy.”

He acknowledged the high price tag but said the nation could not afford to do anything less. “The very health of our nation is at stake,” Mr. Biden said, speaking from Delaware. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

Here are some of the highlights of Mr. Biden’s so-called American Rescue Plan:

  • The “rescue” proposal would be financed entirely through increased federal borrowing, and flows from the idea that the virus and the recovery are intertwined.

  • The $20 billion “national vaccine program” he announced envisions nationwide community vaccination centers.

  • He also called for a “public health jobs program” that would address his goals of bolstering the economy and the coronavirus response while also rebuilding the nation’s public health infrastructure. The proposal would fund 100,000 public health workers to engage in vaccine outreach and contact tracing.

  • To address the racial disparities in health exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately claimed the lives of people of color, he pledged to increase funding for community health centers, and also intends to fund efforts to mitigate the pandemic in prisons and jails, where African-Americans and Latinos are overrepresented.

  • Mr. Biden proposed a wide range of efforts to help those who have suffered the most under the economic shutdowns, including emergency paid leave to 106 million Americans, regardless of the size of their employer, and extending tax credits to many families to offset up to $8,000 in annual child care costs.

  • The plan gives billions of dollars in aid to renters struggling to keep up with mounting unpaid liabilities to landlords, and it would give grants to millions of the hardest-hit small businesses.

  • The proposal would temporarily increase the size of two tax credits in a manner that would effectively provide more cash from the government to low-income workers and families.

  • Mr. Biden called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and he proposed extending expanded unemployment benefits through the end of September, with an extra $400 weekly supplement.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi signing the article of impeachment on Wednesday. She has discretion over when to transmit the article, formally starting the Senate proceeding.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

A day after the House impeached President Trump for inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate were developing plans on Thursday to try the departing president at the same time as they begin considering the agenda of the incoming one.

Democrats, poised to take unified power in Washington next week for the first time in a decade, worked with Republican leaders to try to find a proposal to allow the Senate to split time between the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump and consideration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s cabinet nominees and his $1.9 trillion economic recovery plan to address the coronavirus.

Although Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has privately told advisers that he approves of the impeachment drive and believes it could help his party purge itself of Mr. Trump, he refused to begin the proceedings this week while he is still in charge. That means the trial will not effectively start until after Mr. Biden is sworn in on Wednesday, officials involved in the planning said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has discretion over when to transmit the article of impeachment, formally initiating the Senate proceeding. Some Democrats said she might wait until Monday, Jan. 25, or longer to allow more time for the Senate to put in place Mr. Biden’s national security team to respond to continued threats of violence from pro-Trump extremists.

Ms. Pelosi is scheduled to give her weekly news conference later this morning and she will most likely take questions on impeachment.

With Republicans fractured after the president’s bid to overturn the election inspired a rampage, many of them were trying to gauge the dynamics of a vote to convict Mr. Trump. Doing so would open the door to disqualifying him from holding office in the future.

A cautionary tale was playing out in the House, where a faction of Mr. Trump’s most ardent allies was working to topple Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, from her leadership post. Ms. Cheney had joined nine other members of the party who voted with Democrats to charge the president with “incitement of insurrection.”

Most Senate Republicans stayed publicly silent about their positions. But Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska and one of the president’s leading critics, signaled on Thursday that she was among a small group in her party so far considering convicting Mr. Trump. In a stinging statement, she called his actions “unlawful,” saying they warranted consequences, and added that the House had acted appropriately in impeaching him.

Though she did not commit to finding the president guilty, saying she would listen carefully to the arguments on both sides, she strongly suggested that she was inclined to do so.

“On the day of the riots, President Trump’s words incited violence, which led to the injury and deaths of Americans — including a Capitol Police officer — the desecration of the Capitol, and briefly interfered with the government’s ability to ensure a peaceful transfer of power,” Ms. Murkowski said.

Ms. Murkowski joined a small group of other Republicans — including Senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Susan Collins of Maine — who have said they hold the president responsible for the siege and will weigh the impeachment charge. Mr. Romney was the only Republican last year to vote to convict Mr. Trump when the House impeached him for pressuring Ukraine to incriminate Mr. Biden.

But it remained unclear whether the 17 Republican senators whose votes would be needed to convict Mr. Trump by the requisite two-thirds majority would agree to find him guilty.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, in October. He has apologized for trying to reverse the results of the presidential election and disenfranchise tens of millions of voters.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who spent weeks trying to reverse the results of the presidential election before changing his mind at the last moment, apologized on Thursday to Black constituents who felt he had attacked their right to vote.

In a letter addressed to his “friends” in North Tulsa, which has many Black residents, Mr. Lankford, who is white, wrote on Thursday that his efforts to challenge the election result had “caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state.”

“After decades of fighting for voting rights, many Black friends in Oklahoma saw this as a direct attack on their right to vote, for their vote to matter, and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate,” he wrote, according to the news site Tulsa World.

Mr. Lankford said in the letter that he had never intended to “diminish the voice of any Black American.” Still, he added, “I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you.”

Mr. Lankford, who sits on a key Senate oversight committee, was initially one of the Republicans who tried to upend Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, even as courts threw out baseless questions raised by President Trump and his allies about election malfeasance.

Democrats in Congress have viewed Mr. Lankford as a rare, cooperative partner on voting rights, and his decision to join those Republicans seeking to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters — many of them Black citizens living in Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta — came as a surprise.

The first indication he might do so came during his appearance in December at a Senate hearing about alleged voting “irregularities,” when he repeated unsupported Trump campaign allegations about voting in Nevada that had been debunked in court nearly two weeks earlier.

Mr. Lankford and other Republicans had claimed that by challenging the election results, they were exercising their independence and acting in the interests of constituents who were demanding answers.

“There are lots of folks in my state that still want those answers to come out,” Mr. Lankford said a few days before the Electoral College vote was certified.

After the riot at the Capitol, Mr. Lankford was one of several Republican senators who abandoned their earlier challenge, saying the lawlessness and chaos had caused them to changed their minds.

In a joint statement that night with Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, Mr. Lankford called on “the entire Congress to come together and vote to certify the election results.”

Mr. Lankford has faced calls from Black leaders to resign from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, which is designed to commemorate the racist massacre in the city’s Greenwood district, an affluent Black community known as Black Wall Street. The massacre, which took place 100 years ago this spring, was one of the worst instances of racist violence in American history. A white mob destroyed the neighborhood and its Black-owned businesses, and up to 300 residents were killed.

Deanne Criswell, commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department, has coordinated the city’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ms. Criswell has been nominated as FEMA Administrator.
Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. continued to fill out his administration on Friday, turning to former Obama administration officials to take on key roles.

He tapped Deanne Criswell, currently the commissioner of New York City’s Emergency Management Department, to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If confirmed, she will help oversee the federal government’s pandemic response efforts.

Ms. Criswell previously worked at FEMA from 2011 to 2017 where she led the federal response to emergencies and disasters. She is also a member of the Colorado Air National Guard, where she served as a firefighter and deputy fire chief. She has deployed to Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq on firefighting missions.

Mr. Biden on Friday also chose David S. Cohen to return to the C.I.A. as deputy director, a role he filled from 2015 to 2017. Previously, Mr. Cohen was the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the Treasury Department. While there, he oversaw sanctions — intelligence-based actions that play a large role in national security — against Iran, Russia, North Korea and terrorist organizations.

Other officials named on Friday include:

  • Shalanda Young, the staff director and clerk for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, was nominated to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Jason Miller, a former Obama administration official who served as deputy director of the National Economic Council, was nominated to be the deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

  • Janet McCabe, who specializes in environmental law and policy and worked at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration, was nominated to be the agency’s deputy administrator.

Source link

Leave a Comment