Bipartisan infrastructure deal stalls as bigger plan gains
A $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal senators struck with President Joe Biden is at risk of stalling out as Republicans mount stiff resistance over ways to pay for it and momentum shifts to a more robust Democratic proposal coming into focus Tuesday. Biden’s big infrastructure proposals are moving on parallel tracks in Congress in a race against time and political headwinds to make a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Democratic colleagues to remain united — “Don't draw any lines in the sand,” he said — as they draft the bigger, multitrillion-dollar package of once-in-a-generation investments for the nation that are the top priority for the president and his party.news.yahoo.com
Republican Sen. Jerry Moran hopes to lift embargo on Cuba to boost Kansas farmers
‘The unilateral trade embargo on Cuba blocks our own farmers, ranchers and manufacturers from selling into a market only 90 miles from our shoreline, while foreign competitors such as China benefit at our expense,’ Moran saidnews.yahoo.com
Biden, Yellen say GOP virus aid too small, Democrats push on
From left, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joined the Democratic senators for a private virtual meeting, both declaring the Republicans' $618 billion offer was too small. “President Biden spoke about the need for Congress to respond boldly and quickly,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the lunch meeting. The president made it clear that he won’t delay aid in hopes of winning GOP support. Biden proposes $170 billion for schools, compared to $20 billion in the Republican plan.
Biden meets Republicans on virus aid, but no quick deal
President Joe Biden meets Republican lawmakers to discuss a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, in Washington. From left, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. AdRepublicans are tapping into bipartisan urgency to improve the nation's vaccine distribution and vastly expand virus testing with $160 billion in aid. Psaki said earlier Monday there is “obviously a big gap” between the $1.9 trillion package Biden has proposed and the $618 billion counteroffer. Biden himself has been on the phone to some of the Republicans, the official said.
More GOP senators say they won't join effort to object to electoral votes
"The Constitution clearly limits the role of Congress with respect to presidential elections to the counting of electoral votes that have been certified by the states. "To vote to reject these state-certified electoral votes would be to act outside the bounds of the Constitution, which I will not do." Federal law allows for written objections to a state's electoral votes to be made, but each must be supported by at least one member of the House and one member of the Senate. Scores of House Republicans are expected to raise objections to electoral votes from battleground states, but beyond challenges to the results from Pennsylvania and Arizona, it's unclear whether they will be joined by a GOP senator. Because Democrats control the House, it's highly unlikely the lower chamber will sustain any objection to states' electoral votes cast for Mr. Biden.cbsnews.com
Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in, swinging Supreme Court further to the right
Judge Amy Coney Barrett holds her hand on the Bible as she is sworn in as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 26, 2020. Tom Brenner | ReutersAmy Coney Barrett took her constitutional oath as a Supreme Court justice in a nighttime ceremony outside the White House on Monday, swinging the nation's highest court to a conservative 6-3 majority. U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he poses with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett on a White House balcony after she was sworn in to serve as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 26, 2020. The battle over Barrett's nomination was sparked last month after the death of Ginsburg, who served on the Supreme Court for 27 years. U.S. President Donald Trump applauds U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett after she took her oath of office and was sworn in to serve on the court on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 26, 2020.cnbc.com
Undaunted, US global media chief plows ahead with changes
WASHINGTON Despite a barrage of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, the new chief of U.S. global media is plowing ahead with changes to the Voice of America and other international broadcasters that are heightening concerns about their future as independent news organizations. Pack on Wednesday fired the executive editor of Radio Free Asia, Bay Fang, whom he had demoted from president shortly after assuming office last month. Although the review is not complete and no visa actions have yet been taken, some believe the review itself sends a chilling message to journalists. The visa review, in particular, will be perceived as a threat to many reporters," said Matt Armstrong, a former Republican appointee to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which was the AGM's predecessor. Failing to renew (visas) may result in harsh penalties for some of these reporters and their families, from jail to even death."
Trump allies take aim at his global media chief for firings
WASHINGTON Seven U.S. senators, including two strong allies of President Donald Trump, harshly criticized Trump's new chief of U.S.-funded global media on Wednesday for firing the heads of several international broadcasters without consulting Congress. Wednesday's letter was notable in that it was signed by the two powerful Trump allies who are particularly close to the president. The director and deputy director of VOA resigned just days before the firings, which also included the dismissal of each of their governing boards. Conservatives have in particular assailed the firings of former Rubio staffer Jamie Fly as head of RFE/RL and former U.S. diplomat Alberto Fernandez as head of MBN. "We urge you to respect the unique independence that enable USAGM's outlets and grantees to help cultivate a free and open world," the wrote.
VA says it lacks adequate medical gear for 2nd virus wave
FILE - In this March 27, 2019, file photo Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, left, speaks with Veterans Health Administration Executive in Charge, Dr. Richard Stone, second from left, before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. To handle a possible second wave of COVID-19, it would need a six-month supply. A future pandemic wave may test all of us in our preparation, Stone told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The Associated Press previously reported that VA health care facilities struggled with shortages of workers and protective equipment, forcing employees to reuse masks for days or weeks, even as VA leaders denied that it lacked adequate supplies. As of Tuesday, VA had 1,665 staff cases of COVID-19, including 133 that were considered active. At least 33 VA employees have died of the virus, according to VA data.