By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — This is Day 14 of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:
Feb 02, 4:42 pm
State Department spokesperson promises daily briefings
At State Department spokesperson Ned Price’s first department briefing, he announced a return to the once-daily briefing that was often skipped and then totally stopped under the Trump administration shortly after impeachment proceedings began.
“We’re putting the daily back in the daily press briefing,” Price said in a stiff, direct-to-teleprompter opening. He committed to “always operate in good faith,” to get Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top officials to the podium.
In another difference from the previous department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Price said the agency will “welcome” an “engaged, active press corps to hold our feet to the fire.”
Price is the first openly gay spokesperson for the State Department, which advocates say sends a potent message to foreign LGBTQ activists, especially those fighting in countries where same-sex relationships are still criminalized.
-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan
Feb 02, 4:14 pm
White House says administration starting at ‘square one’ on family reunification
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki held a wide-ranging briefing with reporters Tuesday in which she addressed bipartisan negotiations on COVID-19 following Biden’s two-hour meeting with GOP senators in the Oval Office Monday and his latest immigration executive actions.
When ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Mary Bruce asked about the realistic opportunity for compromise on relief legislation, Psaki said there are some “bottom lines” Biden will not budge on.
On Biden’s immigration executive orders expected later Tuesday, Psaki responded to Bruce, who raised the criticism that the orders initiate “reviews” of Trump’s most restrictive policies rather than recalling them. Psaki argued the administration needed to see where things stand first to move forward.
“Part of our effort, Mary, is to assess the damage that has been done by the policies that were put in place by the prior administration. We want to act swiftly. We want to act promptly, but we also need to make sure we’re doing that through a strategic policy process,” she said.
Psaki also promised a review within 120 days and every 60 days after on the progress the administration is making on reuniting families that were separated at the Southern border.
“We need to find out first where all these kids are and figure out where their parents are. And so, we’re starting at, you know, square one here, but our team wants to ensure that we are providing an update on what progress is being made,” Psaki added.
Later in the briefing, she admitted part of the administration’s work is to determine exactly how many children have been separated from their families. She couldn’t confirm whether the number is closer to 600 or 1,600.
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle and Sarah Kolinovsky
Feb 02, 3:42 pm
Senate confirms Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security
The U.S. Senate narrowly voted to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security in a 56-43 vote Tuesday afternoon.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted against his confirmation, citing a 2015 inspector general report that raised questions about Mayorkas’ actions in his former role at DHS.
A former federal prosecutor and deputy DHS secretary, Mayorkas is the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the department tasked with enforcing the country’s immigration policies.
He faces an increasing challenge at the border and at home as he takes over a department that hasn’t had a confirmed secretary in more than two years.
He also enters the department as it faces a national security threat in homegrown domestic extremists — an issue Mayorkas vowed to combat at his confirmation hearing.
-ABC News’ Luke Barr
Feb 02, 3:06 pm
Pentagon suspends all advisory boards in wake of last-minute Trump loyalist appointments
In response to the last-minute appointments to Defense Department boards of loyalists to former President Donald Trump, like Corey Lewandowski and others, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered the suspension of the activity of the Pentagon’s 42 civilian advisory boards while a “zero-based review” — or top-to-bottom review — of each board is carried out, according to a senior defense official.
While the review will streamline the potential overlap of many boards, the official acknowledged that the review was driven by Austin’s concerns about the last-minute appointments.
“The secretary was deeply concerned with the pace and the extent of recent changes to memberships of the department advisory committees done with a bit of frenetic activity in the final two months of the previous administration,” said the official. “It gave him pause to consider the broad scope and purpose of these boards and and to think about how they can best be aligned and organized and composed to provide competent technical professional, policy advice to the department.”
The official said that each board will have until February 16 to suspend its activities and then the board’s “sponsor” will have until April 30 to review who should be a member of the board, and whether it is viable by aligning with the National Defense Strategy. By June 1, the Pentagon will make its decisions.
The move will affect hundreds of individuals appointed to serve on the boards but not those appointed by a president or Congress. That means former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, for example, who was appointed by Trump in 2019 to serve at the Naval Academy’s board of visitors, will not be affected. Once the review is finished, individuals will be renominated to positions by the secretary of defense or the board’s sponsors.
Addressing the notion that the move will be seen as a Trump purge, the official said that Austin believes the process of suspension and review is “the most equitable, fair, and uniformly consistent way to do it across the department.”
-ABC News’ Luis Martinez
Feb 02, 1:17 pm
Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg to Biden’s Cabinet in historic vote
The U.S. Senate has voted to confirm Pete Buttigieg to lead the Department of Transportation in a 86-13 vote.
The former 2020 presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, mayor makes history as the first openly gay Cabinet member in U.S. history to be confirmed by the chamber.
At age 39, Buttigieg also represents another “first” as a millennial and the youngest person nominated to Biden’s Cabinet.
Buttigieg has pledged to recognize how infrastructure has the power to bridge racial and economic disparities in America, as well as to keep in lockstep with Biden’s agenda of fighting climate change and address systems reeling from plummeting ridership amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He will assume a department with 55,000 employees and a budget of tens of billions of dollars.
Feb 02, 1:11 pm
Biden and Yellen to join virtual Senate Dem lunch
Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will join the Democratic virtual caucus lunch Tuesday afternoon, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office.
The meeting comes amid talks over next steps for COVID-19 relief and the question of whether Democrats will proceed with Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” plan without bipartisan support.
Feb 02, 12:05 pm
Schumer confirms Senate will vote on budget resolution Tuesday
In floor remarks Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats will press on with their budget resolution with a vote to proceed to consideration in the afternoon, setting up the first steps of passing COVID-19 relief through the reconciliation process.
“Time is a luxury our country does not have,” Schumer said.
Schumer renewed calls for “big, bold relief” but told his Republican colleagues he welcomes their suggestions for the budget resolution.
“This process is open to bipartisanship,” he continued.
Senate Minority Leader McConnell did not mention COVID-19 talks during his floor remarks but said he will vote against the confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as Department of Homeland Security secretary, citing a 2015 inspector general report that raised questions about Mayorkas’ actions in his former role at DHS.
“We are talking about shoving through green cards as political favors and intervening to overturn denials,” McConnell said.
Feb 02, 10:35 am
House Dems argue Trump bears ‘unmistakable’ responsibility for Capitol riot in pre-trial brief
House Democrats argue their case that former President Trump bears “unmistakable” responsibility for inciting the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol, calling it a “betrayal of historic proportions” that demands judgment from the Senate in a pre-impeachment trial brief filed to the Senate Tuesday morning.
It’s the first time Democrats have formally laid out their argument against Trump since transmitting the charge against him on Jan. 13 to kick off trial proceedings.
In their 80-page brief, the House impeachment managers depicted the riot as Trump’s last-ditch effort to overturn the presidential election after dozens of failed lawsuits and pressure campaigns against state election officials.
“The only honorable path at that point was for President Trump to accept the results and concede his electoral defeat. Instead, he summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue,” the managers wrote in their brief submitted ahead of next week’s trial of the former president.
Foreshadowing what the House managers will argue on the House floor, Democrats wrote that Trump was “reportedly ‘delighted"” by the attack and “left his Vice President and Congress to fend for themselves while he lobbied allies to continue challenging election results.”
The brief also argues that Trump’s challenge to the results was a “direct assault on core First Amendment principles,” and that holding him accountable would “vindicate First Amendment freedoms — which certainly offer no excuse or defense for President Trump’s destructive conduct.”
“For Congress to stand aside in the face of such conduct would be a grave abdication of its constitutional duty, and an invitation for future Presidents to act without fear of constraint during their final months in office,” they wrote. “History, originalism, and textualism thus leave no doubt that the Senate has jurisdiction — and a constitutional duty — to decide this case on the merits.”
Feb 02, 9:52 am
House Dems, Trump to file pre-impeachment trial briefs
House Democrats on Tuesday are expected to make their case for convicting former President Donald Trump on a single article of “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in a pre-trial brief submitted to the Senate — arguing that the chamber’s action is needed to prevent him from holding elected office in the future.
Democrats will file their brief by 10 a.m. Tuesday, one week before Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial begins in earnest on Feb. 9.
They plan to detail Trump’s actions in the months leading up to the insurrection, attempting to paint a picture of a president who drew his supporters to Washington with the outright intention of them seeking to overturn the election by force if necessary, sources familiar with the brief said, and depicting the riot as the product of a months-long campaign to overturn the results.
To help argue their case, they are expected to cite videos and social media posts, along with law enforcement records and court documents stemming from the arrests of rioters from across the country who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s own words could also be invoked — both from the rally outside the White House on Jan. 6 and on his recorded phone call with the Georgia Secretary of State, when he repeatedly pressured him to alter the results of the election in the state because he falsely claimed it was “not possible” for him to have lost.
Trump is expected to file his own formal response to Democrats’ impeachment article on Tuesday by noon. His response comes after his entire legal team quit over the weekend, in part, because of disagreements over the legal strategy, according to sources. On Sunday, Trump announced he had hired two new lawyers to lead the team, Bruce Castor Jr. and David Schoen.
Feb 02, 9:05 am
Biden to sign immigration executive orders
Biden will sign three executive orders on Tuesday aimed at reforming the U.S. immigration system and rolling back his predecessor’s policies, including creating a task force aimed at reuniting children who American authorities separated from their families on the border, according to the White House.
Chaired by the Homeland Security secretary, the task force would work to identify all families broken apart under the various forms of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy,” which separated children from relatives at the U.S. border, even before it became an official policy, a senior Biden administration official said.
The task force, which would be vice-chaired by the secretaries of state and health and human services, would manage family reunifications on a case-by-case basis, making different immigration benefit determinations for different families, the official said.
Biden plans to sign another order that would direct his administration to address the root causes of migration from Central America and have the secretary of Homeland Security review the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, under which asylum seekers are sent to Mexico to wait for court appearances north of the border, the White House said. The third order will call for a review of the “public charge” rule former President Donald Trump tried to use to limit poor immigrants from coming to the country legally, according to the White House.
The rollout of these immigration actions had been pushed back when the Senate delayed a confirmation vote for Biden’s pick for Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, the White House said last week. The Senate is scheduled to vote on his nomination Tuesday afternoon. If confirmed, he’ll be the first immigrant and first Latino to lead the agency.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press briefing at 12:30 p.m. ahead of the evening signing.
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