By LIBBY CATHEY, ADIA ROBINSON, JACK ARNHOLZ, MEREDITH DELISO, LAUREN KING, MICHELLE STODDART and CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — This is Day Three of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:
Jan 23, 3:31 pm
If confirmed, Biden’s cabinet would hold a record-breaking number of women
Inauguration Day was historic, with Kamala Harris becoming the first woman and person of color to become vice president. But if all of Biden’s cabinet nominations are confirmed, Harris wouldn’t be the only one making history.
Twelve of Biden’s nominations for Cabinet and Cabinet-level positions are women, including eight women of color. If they’re all confirmed, it would shatter former President Bill Clinton’s record of nine women serving concurrently, which happened during his second term.
Janet Yellen, who was approved unanimously in the Senate Finance Committee on Friday, is nominated to be the first female secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Her confirmation vote is expected to take place early next week.
-ABC News’ Deena Zaru
Jan 23, 3:29 pm
State Department condemns arrests of protesters in Russia
The U.S. Department of State “strongly” condemned the mass arrests in Russia of protesters in a statement Saturday.
The department called for the release of the protesters and Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, who was jailed last week after he returned to the country for the first time since recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of harsh tactics against protesters and journalists this weekend in cities throughout Russia,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in the statement. “The United States will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners in defense of human rights — whether in Russia or wherever they come under threat.”
Tens of thousands of people joined protests across dozens of cities in Russia Saturday. By early evening, police had detained over 1,600 people, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors arrests.
In its statement, the State Department criticized the growing state of repression in Russia, from harassing protesters to threatening social media platforms, and defended Russians’ rights to protest and to free and fair elections.
It also called on Russia to explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil and to cooperate with an international investigation.
-ABC News’ Connor Finnegan
Jan 23, 2:23 pm
Biden administration pauses most deportations
Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced a 100-day pause on deportations of most people living in the country illegally along with a new priority system for those who will still be subject to removal.
The memo makes clear that Homeland Security will not be issuing a full stop on arrests and removals, but rather focusing on those who pose a national security or public safety risk, including anyone convicted of an “aggravated felony.”
“Nothing in this memorandum prohibits the apprehension or detention of individuals unlawfully in the United States who are not identified as priorities,” the DHS memo reads. The announcements came as Biden also put forward his legislative immigration proposal, which provides a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
-ABC News’ Quinn Owen
Jan 23, 12:57 pm
Impeachment timeline allows for more confirmations of Cabinet officials
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday that the Senate trial in Trump’s impeachment would begin the week of Feb. 8 — a timeline that gives more leeway for Biden’s Cabinet officials to be confirmed.
Right now, only two of Biden’s Cabinet secretaries have been confirmed.
The House will deliver an article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, which will formally launch the impeachment trial against the former president, which could have begun as early as Tuesday.
The later date also allows Trump time to mount a legal defense.
-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin
Jan 23, 12:04 pm
Biden spoke to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico on Friday
Biden and the president of Mexico spoke over the phone on Friday.
According to the the White House’s readout, the Biden administration plans on “reversing the previous administration’s draconian immigration policies.” Biden said he wants to increase the number of lawful immigration pathways, reduce migration by addressing its root causes, and improve processing asylum requests at the border. The two presidents agreed to work closely to together to both stem the flow of migration as well as coordinate the fight against COVID-19.
According to Mexico’s readout, the conversation unfolded in a “cordial tone.”
Jan 23, 5:13 am
Biden makes changes to Oval Office, removes controversial portrait hung by Trump
Biden’s work in the White House and in the country is just beginning.
ABC reported that while Biden has been in office for only three days, he has already made significant tweaks to the Oval Office.
In a wall next to his desk he hung a portrait of Benjamin Franklin.
He also hung up portraits of former presidents Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
Apart from that, he added busts of Latino civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
The portrait of controversial President Andrew Jackson, which Donald Trump previously hung in the office, is long gone.
This Saturday, the president will hold a private meeting with advisors in his new office, according to the White House.
-ABC’s Michelle Stoddart and Adia Robinson
Jan 22, 10:25 pm
Trudeau, Biden ‘to work shoulder to shoulder,’ Canadian PM says
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared details of his phone conversation Friday with President Joe Biden.
The two discussed “ending the pandemic, growing the middle class, fighting climate change, and creating good jobs for people on both sides of the border,” among other issues, Trudeau tweeted, along with a photo of himself smiling while on the phone.
When it comes to ending the pandemic, growing the middle class, fighting climate change, and creating good jobs for people on both sides of the border, @POTUS @JoeBiden and I know there’s a lot of work to do together – and no time to waste. pic.twitter.com/YfYEkY07aO
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 23, 2021
The two leaders “agreed to work shoulder to shoulder” to address the issues, Trudeau added, before congratulating Biden — whom he referred to as “Joe” — on the inauguration.
According to a readout of the conversation from Trudeau’s office, the prime minister also raised Canada’s “disappointment” over Biden’s cancelation of the Keystone XL pipeline and urged the removal of softwood lumber duties that Trump imposed.
In its own readout of the conversation, the White House said that Biden “acknowledged” Trudeau’s “disappointment” about the Keystone XL pipeline, and that the president “reaffirmed his commitment to maintain an active bilateral dialogue and to further deepen cooperation with Canada.”
Trudeau and Biden agreed to meet next month “in order to advance the important work of renewing the deep and enduring friendship between Canada and the United States,” the prime minister’s office said.
-ABC News’ Kirit Radia and Benjamin Siu
Jan 22, 10:27 pm
Trump’s former acting DHS secretary calls for Senate to confirm replacement
Former President Donald Trump’s acting Department of Homeland Security secretary is urging the Senate to confirm Joe Biden’s nominee for the post.
In a letter Friday to the Senate Homeland Security Committee that was obtained by ABC News, Kevin McAleenan argued that due to the ongoing pandemic, immigration issues and U.S. national security interests, the Senate should vote to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas.
“There has been a long-standing, bipartisan commitment to ensure that a duly-elected President receives swift confirmation of the national security positions in his Cabinet. There should be no exception to this commitment today, when multi-faceted challenges and threats face our nation, and effective responses from our Federal Government are essential,” wrote McAleenan, who also noted that domestic terrorism is an “increasing concern.”
McAleenan also vouched for Mayorkas’ credentials in his letter.
“After serving under his leadership during the Obama Administration, I know that Ali Mayorkas has the character, intellect, and integrity to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security,” he wrote. “He has the humility to listen to his operational component leaders and has the character to make difficult decisions.”
-ABC News’ Luke Barr
Jan 22, 4:08 pm
Senate departs for the weekend having confirmed only 2 Biden appointees
The Senate is not expected to take any additional votes on Biden appointees Friday, ABC News has learned.
That means Biden will head into his first weekend as president with only two Senate-confirmed appointees: Avril Haines, who was confirmed as director of national intelligence Wednesday, and Lloyd Austin, who was confirmed as defense secretary Friday.
The Senate left Friday without voting on the nomination of Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary. Her nomination unanimously passed out of the Senate Finance committee Friday morning. It’s not clear why the Senate did not vote on Yellen.
The Senate will also leave for the weekend without voting on several other nominees who sat for confirmation hearings this week.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the stall.
“He’s the one holding things up,” Schumer said.
-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin
Jan 22, 3:48 pm
Pelosi says impeachment timeline fair to Trump
In a new letter to colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says former President Trump will have had plenty of time to prepare for his upcoming Senate trial, which could start as soon as next week.
Republicans have called foul over the fact that the impeachment in the House was rushed and now they want to give the former president until mid-February to mount his defense.
But Pelosi is making it clear that the article will be sent to the Senate on Monday and that the process will be fair to the former president.
“The House has been respectful of the Senate’s constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process. When the Article of Impeachment is transmitted to the Senate, the former President will have had nearly two weeks since we passed the Article. Our Managers are ready for trial before the 100 Senate jurors,” she writes in her letter.
Once the article of impeachment is delivered to the Senate Monday, the trial must start by Tuesday at 1 p.m. unless Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell come up with an agreement that could give both sides more time to prepare.
-ABC News’ Mariam Khan
Jan 22, 3:25 pm
Biden says ‘we have to act now’ to address the economy
During a remarks on Friday, President Biden highlighted the dire economic situation many Americans are facing as the pandemic rages.
“We cannot, will not, let people go hungry. We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves,” Biden said. “I cannot watch people lose their jobs … We have to act. We have to act now.”
“It’s not just to meet the moral obligation to treat our fellow Americans with the dignity and respect they deserve, this is an economic imperative,” he added, noting there is a growing consensus among top economists calling for big action to buoy the economy in this moment of crisis.
Biden touted his $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, saying it has received broad, bipartisan support.
The president cited a Moody’s analysis that estimates the plan will result in the economy creating 7.5 million jobs this year alone.
“We have to do this, we have to move,” the president said.
“We’re going to finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in direct payments to folks,” Biden added, noting that the $600 payments that passed in late 2020 is “not enough.”
“I look forward to working with members of Congress of both parties to move quickly to get this American rescue plan to the American people,” the president said.
After his remarks, Biden signed two executive orders — one that will provide expanded food assistance and one that will launch a process to require federal contractors to pay their workers a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave.
Jan 22, 3:05 pm
Jill Biden makes surprise visit to National Guard troops at Capitol
First Lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit to the Capitol building to deliver some sweets to National Guard troops.
The first lady, carrying a basket, thanked the guard members for their service and said the Bidens were a National Guard family, referencing the late Beau Biden.
Jill Biden also reportedly distributed chocolate chip cookies and posed for a group photo with some of the troops.
Her visit Friday comes after photos of National Guard members sleeping in a parking garage sparked outrage from both sides of the aisle on social media.
Jan 22, 2:40 pm
Psaki confirms Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act
Psaki confirmed at a press briefing Friday that Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to help combat the COVID-19 crisis.
“There was a question yesterday about whether the Defense Production Act had been invoked,” she said. “It has been invoked, so those processes are now rapidly ongoing.”
While she said she didn’t have specific companies involved, she said “those conversations are happening as we speak.”
Jan 22, 2:19 pm
Psaki says Biden has ordered a comprehensive threat assessment on ‘domestic violent extremism’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Friday that Biden is taking new action to address domestic violent extremism in the wake of the Capitol raid earlier this month.
“The January 6th assault on the Capitol and tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known, the rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Psaki said. “The Biden administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve.”
Psaki said the administration’s initial work here will fall into three areas.
“The first is a tasking from president Biden sent to the ODNI today requesting a comprehensive threat assessment, coordinated with the FBI and DHS, on domestic violent extremism,” Psaki said.
“The second will be the building of an NSC capability to focus on countering domestic violent extremism,” she added, saying as a part of this, the National Safety Council will undertake a broad policy review effort.
“The third will be coordinating relevant parts of the federal government to enhance and accelerate efforts to address DVE,” she added. This process will focus on addressing evolving threats, radicalization, the role of social media and more, according to Psaki.
Jan 22, 1:39 pm
Biden to sign 2 economy-related executive orders Friday
Biden’s National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said at a press briefing Friday that Biden will sign two executive orders later in the day to aid Americans struggling amid the COVID-19-induced economic downturn.
Deese painted a picture of the pandemic-battered economy, saying, “We are 10 million jobs short still of where the economy was when this pandemic started.”
“Last month, the economy lost jobs for the first time since last spring,” he added. “Retail sales fell last month, and just yesterday we saw another 900,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance.”
Deese also touted Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, saying the team hopes “that Congress will move quickly to consider this important proposal without delay.”
As previously reported by ABC News, the two executive orders Biden will sign today deal with food insecurity and raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, Deese said.
One will aim to address the 29 million Americans struggling with hunger by asking the Department of Agriculture to expand food assistance by 15% for school children missing meals due to school closures, increase emergency SNAP benefits to the lowest income homes in the country and revise the amount provided by the program to better cover the cost of a healthy diet, according to the White House.
The other executive order will put federal agencies on a path to require a $15 minimum wage for contractors.
Deese also said Friday that the administration will then turn its focus to providing equitable relief for small businesses.
Jan 22, 1:35 pm
Austin administratively sworn in as secretary of defense
After being confirmed by the Senate, Lloyd Austin was administratively sworn in as secretary of defense by Tom Muir, acting director of the Washington Headquarters Services, Friday afternoon.
Austin was greeted outside the Pentagon by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley around noon before heading inside to be sworn in and begin his first day as the head of the department. On his way in he made very brief remarks to press:
“Hello everybody. Good to see you guys, and thank you for being here. I look forward to working with you. See you around campus,” said Austin, who did not take questions.
Jan 22, 1:17 pm
Some Republicans not prepared to split Senate time during impeachment
Several Republicans say they are not prepared to allow the Senate to conduct other business during the hours the impeachment trial is not going on, something that would require unanimous consent.
If a bifurcated approach cannot be agreed on, other Biden administration priorities — like confirmation of nominees and COVID-19 relief — will be on pause during the trial, however long it takes.
Negotiations behind the scenes are still ongoing but the trial will start Tuesday barring an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
By threatening to put other Democratic priorities on ice for the trial, Republicans are putting some pressure on Schumer to agree to McConnell’s proposed delay of the trial start date.
Jan 22, 12:14 pm
Biden, Harris mark anniversary of Roe v. Wade ruling
Biden and Harris said in a statement marking the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling that their administration “is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe.”
“In the past four years, reproductive health, including the right to choose, has been under relentless and extreme attack. We are deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to care — including reproductive health care — regardless of income, race, zip code, health insurance status, or immigration status,” their statement said.
Jan 22, 11:42 am
Pelosi confirms impeachment article will be delivered to Senate by House managers on Monday
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., confirmed plans for the House impeachment managers to deliver the impeachment article to the Senate on Monday.
Absent an agreement between Senate Democrats and Republicans on the contours of the trial, the delivery of the article would trigger a start to formal proceedings the following day.
Pelosi, pushing back on GOP claims that the timeline doesn’t provide former President Trump with enough time to prepare his defense, said in a statement that he “will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial as our Managers.”
“Exactly one week after the attack on the Capitol to undermine the integrity of our democracy, a bipartisan vote of the House of Representatives passed the article of impeachment, which is our solemn duty to deliver to the Senate,” Pelosi stated.
Jan 22, 11:11 am
Senate confirms Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense
By a vote of 93-2, the Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense on Friday.
He is the second Senate-confirmed Biden appointee and now becomes the first African American to lead the Department of Defense.
Jan 22, 11:07 am
Senate Finance Committee unanimously advances Yellen’s nomination
Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick for treasury secretary, had her nomination unanimously advanced by the Senate Finance Committee on Friday.
Her nomination will now go to the full Senate floor for final confirmation.
Yellen is the former chair of the Federal Reserve and, if confirmed by the Senate, would become the first woman to lead the Treasury.
Jan 22, 10:51 am
Photos of National Guardsmen resting in the parking lot sparks outrage
Lawmakers expressed outrage on Twitter Thursday night after photos of National Guardsmen allegedly being booted out of the congressional grounds and sequestered into a parking garage for their breaks went viral.
The images were first reported by Politico, which stated that thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to vacate congressional grounds and take rest breaks in a parking garage.
Tens of thousands of guardsmen were originally summoned to the nation’s capital to assist with security for Biden’s inauguration after the deadly mob attack earlier this month at the Capitol building.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle responded to the reports on Twitter.
“If this is true, it’s outrageous,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote. “I will get to the bottom of this.”
The verified Senate Republicans Twitter handle called it “unacceptable” and said the guardsmen “should be welcomed back inside the Capitol ASAP.”
Military veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, called the news “unreal.”
“I can’t believe that the same brave servicemembers we’ve been asking to protect our Capitol and our Constitution these last two weeks would be unceremoniously ordered to vacate the building,” Duckworth said. “I am demanding answers ASAP. They can use my office.”
On Friday morning, the Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman issued a statement assuring that, “with the exception of specific times on Inauguration Day itself while the swearing-in ceremonies were underway, the United States Capitol police did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities.”
Pittman said that the Capitol Police has worked tirelessly to identify accommodations for the guardsmen and that on Friday, “the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Office Building reached out directly to the National Guard to offer use of its facilities.”
“As of this morning, all Guardsmen and women have been relocated to space within the Capitol Complex,” Pittman added. “The Department is also working with the Guard to reduce the need for sleeping accommodations by establishing shorter shifts and will ensure they have access to the comfortable accommodations they absolutely deserve when the need arises.”
Jan 22, 10:18 am
Article of impeachment will be delivered to Senate on Monday: Schumer
The House will deliver the impeachment article against former President Trump to the Senate on Monday, formally launching trial proceedings next week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Friday.
Schumer’s announcement follows a request from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to delay the trial until February to give Trump and his still-forming legal team time to prepare a defense.
Trump will be the first former president to face an impeachment trial. Some Senate Republicans have argued that the trial would be unconstitutional because the 45th president is no longer in office, a stance that could trigger a Senate debate and vote on the validity of the trial in the coming weeks.
“I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,” Schumer said.
“The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump. It will be a full trial, it will be a fair trial,” he added, without details on the length or format of the proceedings.
Jan 22, 7:57 am
‘We’re not packing our bags at 100 million shots,’ Psaki says
While White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged that Biden’s goal of getting 100 million Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 within the first 100 days of his presidency “was bold at the time” it was set and “continues to be,” she insisted their efforts won’t stop there.
“When we reach that goal, and we’re confident we will, we’re going to build from there. So we’re not packing our bags at 100 million shots in the arms of Americans,” Psaki told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.
“We want to make sure that people know that we’re going to hold ourselves accountable and we’re going to do everything to make sure we’re getting as many people vaccinated as possible,” she added.
Addressing the criticism from some congressional Republicans on Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package, Psaki said the emergency relief plan “is big because the crises are big” but that it’s really just an opening offer and the president believes they can get a bipartisan package.
“This is exactly how it should work,” she said, “and it feels maybe unfamiliar to many people.”
“The president of the United States laid out his agenda, laid out his bold vision. There’s going to be a discussion with members of congress of both parties about where we go from here,” she continued. “They’ll like some pieces, they won’t like some pieces, we’ll see what the sausage looks like when it comes out of the machine.”
“He’s an optimist by nature, I can confirm for the American public,” she said of Biden. “But also he’s a believer, having spent 36 years in the Senate, that when the country is facing a crisis — and we’re facing multiple right now, not just health, the pandemic — that Democrats and Republicans are going to have to come together to agree on a package to address this crisis.”
When asked whether the Biden administration favours a delay on Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate in order to get more cabinet members confirmed, Psaki dodged the question and instead emphasized the urgent need for the confirmation process to move quickly.
“We want it to be expedited,” she said. “Again, you know, the president is somebody who’s focused on working with both parties to get both his cabinet through, address the crises we’re facing, and that’s what we’re going to work to do everyday. We’ll see if we’re successful.”
Jan 22, 7:25 am
Harris to stay at Blair House while Naval Observatory undergoes repairs
Harris and her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, will stay at Blair House while repairs at the vice president’s official residence, the Naval Observatory, are underway, a spokesperson told ABC News.
Blair House, which was built in 1824, is located just steps from the White House and is the oldest of four connected townhouses that comprise the president’s guest house.
An aide had previously confirmed that Harris will not immediately move into the Naval Observatory to “allow for repairs to the home that are more easily conducted with the home unoccupied.” The repairs are to replace the liners in the chimneys “and other household maintenance,” the aide said.
Jan 22, 1:30 am
Biden to outline response to US economic crisis
On his third day in office, President Joe Biden will tackle one of the country’s biggest issues: the economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden will deliver remarks on his administration’s response to the economic crisis in the U.S. Friday afternoon, according to the White House.
His announcement will come as so many Americans (at least 900,000) continue to battle with unemployment caused by the pandemic.
Biden will also continue to sign executive orders, the White House said.
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