By MICHELLE STODDART, LAUREN KING and KATE PASTOR, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — This is Day 37 of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Here is how the hearing is unfolding. All times Eastern:
Feb 24, 11:55 am
160 CEOs ask Congress to pass COVID-19 relief
One hundred and sixty chief executive officers sent an open letter to congressional leadership Wednesday, urging lawmakers to pass “immediate and large-scale federal legislation to address the health and economic crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic” on a bipartisan basis.
The letter asks Congress to “to authorize a stimulus and relief package along the lines of the Biden-Harris administration’s proposed American Rescue Plan,” perhaps leaving some room for negotiation on what the final package will look like. But the letter makes clear that major business CEOs, including the heads of Morgan Stanley, Visa, United Airlines, BlackRock, Comcast and Google are pushing for relief on the scale of Biden’s plan.
“The American Rescue Plan provides a framework for coordinated public-private efforts to overcome COVID-19 and to move forward with a new era of inclusive growth. The country’s business community is prepared to work with you to achieve these critical objectives,” the letter says.
Just Tuesday, though, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, one of the few Senate Republicans who has shown willingness to buck his party, criticized the $1.9 trillion bill in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“The $1.9 trillion bill is a clunker. It would waste hundreds of billions of dollars, do nothing meaningful to get kids back to school, and enact policies that work against job creation. The Congressional Budget Office’s recent analysis of the plan found that more than a third of the proposed funding—$700 billion—wouldn’t be spent until 2022 or later, undermining the administration’s claim that the massive price tag is justified for urgent pandemic-related needs,” Romney wrote.
Whether the pressure from big business will sway any Republicans in the Senate remains to be seen, but Wednesday morning’s messaging from GOP lawmakers is pretty clear: They have no intentions of budging.
Feb 24, 11:40 am
WH to send out 25 million masks
The White House will send 25 Million masks to more than 1,300 Community health centers, food pantries and soup kitchens to deliver for vulnerable communities, it says.
The masks, which are “high-quality, washable, and consistent with the mask guidance from the CDC,” will be delivered by the Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Department of Defense starting in March through May.
“As a result of these actions, an estimated 12 to 15 million Americans will receive masks. More than 25 million masks total will be distributed,” the administration said in the release.
Feb 24, 10:26 am
Blinken calls for reform in remarks to UN human rights council
In pre-taped remarks, Biden’s new Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered his first address to the U.N. Human Rights Council since the U.S. moved to rejoin as an observer. Blinken said the U.S. will seek full-time membership for the 2022 term.
In his remarks, Blinken called for reform of the council, including members with anti-Israel bias and members with troubling human rights records. He even called out a few countries by name, including Russia, Iran, Venezuela and China — all members. Blinken also noted America’s imperfect human rights record, citing discrimination and violence toward Black, indigenous and Asian Americans.
“I recognize that any pledge to fight for human rights around the world must begin with a pledge to fight for human rights at home,” Blinken said. “People of color in the United States deal every day with the consequences of systemic racism and economic injustice.“
Feb 24, 10:19 am
Biden, lawmakers to tackle supply chain in meeting
The president will hold a bipartisan meeting to discuss U.S. supply chains with House and Senate members in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon. Biden will later sign an executive order on the economy with Harris in attendance.
The order is expected to mandate a 100-day review of critical product supply chains in the U.S. focused on those for computer chips, large capacity batteries, active pharmaceutical ingredients and critical minerals and strategic materials, including rare earth minerals. The order is part of the administration’s effort to secure domestic supply chains in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that highlighted vulnerabilities that currently exist.
Feb 24, 10:16 am
Trump’s role in Jan. 6 siege looms over business of Washington: The Note
The first of what will be many congressional hearings on the Capitol siege revealed how much is still not known about what happened Jan. 6 — even after an impeachment trial, evidence unearthed in scores of prosecutions and countless hours of videos of the attack itself. Perhaps the most obvious blind spot is what former President Donald Trump knew and what he did about it in real-time.
Tuesday’s hearing raised a series of questions that directly involve the previous administration. Current and former law-enforcement officials aren’t sure why FBI intelligence didn’t make its way to the Capitol Police or why National Guard and Pentagon resources weren’t faster to arrive when it became clear how awful the situation was.
Judge Merrick Garland plans to make Jan. 6 investigations his first priority after he becomes attorney general. And even with additional hearings Wednesday, Thursday and beyond, the concept of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events leading up to and during the siege is gaining traction on Capitol Hill.
Many of the most consequential questions rest with Trump — assuming he is put in a position of having to answer them.
Feb 24, 9:38 am
Tanden nomination delayed amid criticism
Biden’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, was supposed to testify before the Senate Budget Committee Wednesday morning, however the committee postponed Tanden’s confirmation hearing, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.
In addition, a vote on the nomination in the Senate Homeland Security Committee has also been postponed, a spokesperson told ABC News that the delay was because, “members need more time to consider the nominee.”
Moments after news broke that two Senate committees postponed their votes on Tanden’s nomination, White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Tanden in a Twitter thread, making clear the White House is standing by their nominee.
“Neera Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during this time of unprecedented crisis. She also has important perspective and values, understanding firsthand the powerful difference policy can make in the lives of those going through hard times,” Psaki tweeted.
Neera Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during this time of unprecedented crisis.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 24, 2021
The nomination has been in trouble since lawmakers became critical of Tanden’s combative tweets aimed at Republicans and her effort to delete them before her nomination. Her nomination was in danger of being derailed when moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his opposition to her nomination, citing her temperament.
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