Political

Trump-Biden transition live updates: Trump back at WH, Biden plans COVID memorial

Bill Chizek/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, TIA HUMPHRIES, CATHERINE THORBECKE and KATE PASTOR, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 20 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Dec 31, 2:03 pm
2K relief payment vote blocked again

There was more drama Thursday over an attempt to have the Senate vote on House-passed legislation that would send qualifying Americans $2,000 stimulus payments.
 
Once again, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quashed an attempt — this one by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. — to call up and vote on the House-passed legislation.
 
McConnell claimed House Speaker Nany Pelosi and Sanders (the lead sponsor of the House-passed bill in the Senate) were supporting “socialism for the rich” after experts calculated that higher-income earners (up to $350,000 a year) would stand to get some federal relief under the House-passed plan. But the Republican leader made no mention of Trump or Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., also calling for those higher payments.
 
Schumer fired back, saying he never heard Republicans complain about “socialism for the rich” when they were giving big corporate tax breaks.
 
Sanders, in his retort, was ready with stats from McConnell’s home state, noting that “more than 22% of children” live in poverty and thousands of workers earn sparse wages, saying that “someone should ask them” what they would do with $2,000 payments.
 
“All I am asking Senator McConnell is give us a vote!” Sanders said. “Give us a vote! What is the problem? What is the problem with having the American people see how their senators vote.”

Dec 31, 11:51 am
Overview: Trump heads back to DC, Biden plans pre-inaugural COVID-19 memorial

Trump is heading back to Washington, D.C. from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida Thursday morning, a day ahead of schedule — missing his annual lavish New Year’s Eve party.

He had always planned to return ahead of Wednesday’s joint session of Congress where the Electoral College votes are certified but now will also be in the capital for New Year’s Eve. It’s unclear why he changed his plans, and the White House provided no comment.

Meanwhile, the The Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced that on the eve of the Biden inauguration it will host a “memorial to remember and honor the lives lost to COVID-19 in cities and towns across the country.”

The portion of the ceremony that takes place in Washington will include lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. “It will be the first-ever lighting around the Reflecting Pool to memorialize American lives lost,” according to the committee.

In the Senate, relief payments continue to be front and center even after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to slam the door on voting exclusively on the $2,000 relief payments Wednesday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and others may still try — likely without success — to force his hand by continuing to object to the Senate voting on the defense bill veto override alone. The Senate is expected to vote to end debate by Friday, putting the vote to override the veto as late as Saturday and keeping lawmakers in Washington over the New Year holiday.

For his part, McConnell, who said that relief checks were for Democrats’ “rich friends who don’t need the help,” plans to try to couple the $2,000 relief payments with other issues Trump has demanded Congress act on, including eliminating protections for tech companies and investigating baseless claims of election fraud. The strategy will likely serve as “poison pills” for Democrats, who won’t vote for it.

In the end, those $2,000 checks are not expected to be approved with most Republicans standing in the way, but Congress is — for the first time — expected to override Trump’s veto of that defense measure. Taken together, the two actions amount to a very rare bucking of this president by members of his own party.

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