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The Countdown: Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial proceeds after 56-44 vote

NEW YORK (WABC) — For President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, Eyewitness News will have a special election edition of “The Countdown” to get you caught up with all of the day’s political and campaign news.

You can watch it online, on the ABC7NY app or on our Connected TV apps for Fire, Roku, Apple TV and Android TV. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial opens with jarring video of Capitol siege; Senate agrees to proceed
Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial opened Tuesday with graphic video showing the former president whipping up a rally crowd to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” against his reelection defeat, followed by images of the deadly attack on Congress that came soon after.

In an early test of the former president’s defense, Trump’s team lost a crucial bid to halt the trial on constitutional grounds. Senators confirmed, 56-44, their jurisdiction over the trial, the first of a president no longer in office. While six Republican senators joined the Democrats in proceeding, the tally showed how far prosecutors have to go to win conviction, which requires a two-thirds threshold of 67 senators.

House impeachment manager chokes up recounting Capitol siege: ‘This cannot be the future of America’
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin on Tuesday delivered a tearful account of his experience during last month’s US Capitol insurrection, charging that the deadly episode “cannot be the future of America.”

Addressing lawmakers during former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, Raskin explained that his younger daughter, Tabitha, and son-in-law, Hank — the husband of Raskin’s oldest daughter — had accompanied him to Capitol Hill to witness the counting of electoral votes on January 6.

House Democrats’ stimulus check plan would exclude families earning more than $200k
House Democrats have rejected a Republican proposal to significantly narrow eligibility for further stimulus payments and are moving forward with legislation that would provide $1,400 stimulus payments per person. But the payments would phase out faster than earlier rounds and completely cut off individuals earning more than $100,000 and couples earning more than $200,000, according to the bill text, which the House Ways and Means Committee is set to debate Wednesday.

‘QAnon Shaman’ who wore horns at riot apologizes for storming Capitol
An Arizona man who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol while sporting face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns now says he regrets storming the building, apologized for causing fear in others and expressed disappointment with former President Donald Trump.

In a statement released late Monday through his attorney, Jacob Chansley said he has re-evaluated his life since being jailed for over a month on charges stemming from the riot and now realizes he shouldn’t have entered the Capitol building. Chansley, who previously said Trump inspired him to be in Washington on Jan. 6, said Trump “let a lot of peaceful people down.”

Monday, Feb. 8

Trump’s second impeachment trial: Start date, how to watch and other things to know
Former President Donald Trump’s historic Senate impeachment trial begins Tuesday, this time over the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol. While Trump’s acquittal is expected, all 100 senators will first have to sit at their desks and listen to hours of graphic testimony from House Democrats about the riots, which left five people dead. The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13, one week after the violence.

Georgia election officials formally launch investigation into Trump phone calls
The Georgia State Election Board has formally launched an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s phone calls to state election officials in which he sought help to overturn the results of the election after President Joe Biden’s narrow victory was certified twice. The investigation, which follows a formal complaint filed by a law professor alleging that Trump violated the law during those calls, marks the first formal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election in the state.

Democrats propose sending families at least $3k per child under Biden COVID-19 relief package
The House Ways and Means Committee on Monday is expected to lay out a proposal to send $3,600 per child to millions of American families, as House Democrats work to assemble the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package proposed by President Biden.

The 22-page proposal, first obtained by the Washington Post and confirmed by ABC News, would send $3,600 per child under 6 years old to American families, and $3,000 per child between the ages of 6 and 17. The benefit would decrease for Americans making more than $75,000 annually, or couples earning more than $150,000 a year.

Rep. Ron Wright of Texas dies following COVID-19 diagnosis
Republican Rep. Ron Wright of Texas has died, his congressional office announced in a statement Monday, saying that he had been admitted to the hospital after contracting COVID-19. “Congressman Ron Wright passed away peacefully at the age of 67 on Feb. 7, 2021. His wife Susan was by his side and he is now in the presence of their Lord and Savior,” the statement read. “For the previous two weeks, Ron and Susan had been admitted to Baylor Hospital in Dallas after contracting COVID-19.”

President Biden wants to use NFL stadiums for COVID-19 vaccine distribution
President Joe Biden says his administration intends to take up the NFL on its offer to use all of the league’s stadiums as COVID-19 vaccination sites. Biden mentioned the offer that came from Commissioner Roger Goodell in a letter this past week during an interview on CBS’ Super Bowl pregame show.

Trump impeachment trial to open with debate on constitutionality
Lawyers for Donald Trump on Monday blasted the impeachment case against him as an act of “political theater” and accused House Democrats on the eve of the former president’s trial of exploiting the chaos and trauma of last month’s Capitol riot for their party’s gain.

Trump’s legal brief is a wide-ranging attack on the House case, foreshadowing the claims his lawyers intend to present on the same Senate floor that was invaded by rioters on Jan. 6. The sharp-tongued tone, with accusations that Democrats are making “patently absurd” arguments and trying to “silence a political opponent,” makes clear that Trump’s lawyers are preparing to challenge both the constitutionality of the trial and any suggestion that he was to blame for the insurrection.

Sen. Schumer, Rep. AOC announce FEMA to help pay for COVID-related funerals, burials
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced Monday that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will help pay for COVID-related funeral and burial costs incurred by low-income families. The money will be available by application only to New York families in need. Families can be reimbursed for funeral and burial costs up to $7,000.

Friday, Feb. 5

House passes amended budget bill to fast-track Biden’s stimulus plan without Republican support
The House passed the Senate-amended budget resolution in a 219-209 vote, unlocking the next phase in drafting the COVID-19 rescue package. Maine Rep. Jared Golden was the only Democrat to vote no.

VP Kamala Harris casts first-ever tie-breaking vote on budget resolution to pass COVID relief package
Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first-ever tie-breaking vote in the Senate early Friday morning on a budget resolution that’s a key step toward fast-track passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan without Republican support.

“The yeas are 50. The nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative. And the concurrent resolution as amended is adopted,” she declared around 5:30 a.m. to the applause of fellow Democrats.

Congress reintroduces bipartisan Restaurants Act for long-term industry relief
A renewed glimmer of hope dawned on the restaurant industry Friday after the RESTAURANTS Act received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate. The legislation was crafted to provide long-term relief to the hard-hit establishments.

On Friday, Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and representatives Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, and Brian Fitzpatrick, of Pennsylvania, formally introduced the RESTAURANTS Act in the 117th Congress following a 90-10 vote in the Senate supporting a budget amendment that will establish a dedicated restaurant relief fund.

Biden administration to deploy 1,100 troops to help COVID vaccination efforts
The Pentagon will deploy more than 1,100 troops to five vaccination centers in what will be the first wave of increased military support for the White House campaign to get more Americans inoculated against COVID-19. President Joe Biden has called for setting up 100 mass vaccination centers around the country within a month. One of the five new military teams will go to a vaccination center opening in California. Other centers are expected to be announced soon.

Thursday, Feb. 4

Biden officials considering executive action on student loan relief
The Biden administration is reviewing whether it can take steps to provide student debt relief through executive action, even as it continues to call on Congress to pass legislation to help borrowers and their families. A tweet by White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to go further than her comments at a briefing earlier Thursday, when she said President Joe Biden was looking to Congress to act next on student loan relief. Biden has said he supports up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness per borrower.

Joe Biden aims to signal to world that America’s back in foreign policy speech
Asserting a broad reset of American foreign policy, President Joe Biden said Thursday that he would halt the withdrawal of U.S. troops stationed in Germany, end support for Saudi Arabia’s military offensive in Yemen and make support for LBTGQ rights a cornerstone of diplomacy.

In his first visit to the State Department as president, Biden called for a return to the “grounding wire of our global power.” He sought to buck up the diplomatic corps, many of whom were discouraged by the policies and tone of former President Donald Trump.

Trump, facing expulsion, resigns from Screen Actors Guild
Donald Trump has resigned from the Screen Actors Guild after the union threatened to expel him for his role in the Capitol riot in January. In a letter dated Thursday and addressed to SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, Trump said he was resigning from the union that he had been a member of since 1989.

House Dems ask former President Trump to testify under oath in Senate impeachment trial
House Democrats have asked former President Donald Trump to testify under oath for his Senate impeachment trial. A Trump adviser did not immediately return a message seeking comment about the letter from House impeachment managers.

Americans are ‘suffering’: Janet Yellen demands pandemic relief
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke out about the “urgent need” for pandemic relief and the recent GameStop stock market drama in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” Thursday.

“This is really an urgent need, and we need to act big, we have to make sure that we provide a bridge so that people aren’t scarred indefinitely by this crisis,” Yellen said. “And small businesses around the country, so many of them have closed, they’re the lifeblood of their communities and they really need help to make it to the other side.”

Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Biden’s COVID plan: President urges Democrats to take bold action, says GOP proposal too small
President Joe Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday he’s “not married” to an absolute number on his $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan but Congress needs to “act fast” on relief for the pandemic and the economic crisis. Biden also said he doesn’t want to budge from his proposed $1,400 in direct payments that he said were promised to Americans.

Democrats plan vote on ousting Marjorie Taylor Greene from panels as she embraces Q’Anon, violence
A top Democrat said the House will vote Thursday on removing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committees, intensifying the stakes over the Georgia Republican’s online embrace of conspiracy theories and violent racist views. The announcement by No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland came Wednesday as showdowns approached over Greene and Rep. Liz Cheney, who’ve antagonized opposing wings of a Republican Party struggling to define itself without Donald Trump in the White House.

Miguel Cardona, Joe Biden’s pick for education secretary, vows to tackle problems worsened by COVID-19
President Joe Biden’s nominee for education secretary is promising to help reopen schools but says much of the hardest work will come after that as schools try to address long-standing disparities worsened by the pandemic. “These inequities will endure, and prevent the potential of this great country, unless tackled head-on,” Miguel Cardona said in testimony prepared for a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing Wednesday. “And so it is our responsibility, and it would be my greatest privilege, if confirmed, to forge opportunity out of this crisis.”

New Jersey native, slain Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick honored in DC: ‘We will never forget’
Congressional leaders paid tribute Wednesday to slain U.S. Capitol police officer and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick in the building he died defending, promising his family and his fellow officers that they will never forget his sacrifice.

Sicknick, originally from South River, died after an insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, interrupting the electoral count after then-President Donald Trump urged them to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that Sicknick, who died the next day, was injured “while physically engaging with protesters,” though the cause of his death has not been determined.

Tuesday, Feb. 2

Biden administration moves to provide COVID-19 vaccine to pharmacies
President Joe Biden’s administration announced Tuesday that it is moving to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, freeing up more doses for states and beginning to distribute them to retail pharmacies next week. The push comes amid new urgency to speed vaccinations to prevent the spread of potentially more serious strains of the virus that has killed more than 445,000 Americans.

Starting next week, 1 million doses will be distributed to some 6,500 pharmacies across the country, the White House said. The administration is also boosting by 500,000 the weekly allocation of vaccines sent directly to states and territories for the coming weeks, up to 10.5 million. It is allowing state and local governments to receive additional federal dollars to cover previously incurred expenses relating to the pandemic.

Biden signs immigration executive order creating task force to reunite families separated at border
President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a second spate of orders to undo his predecessor’s immigration policies, demonstrating the powers of the White House and its limitations without support from Congress.

His orders on family separation, border security and legal immigration bring to nine the number of executive actions on immigration during his first two weeks in office. With proposed legislation to give legal status and a path to citizenship to all of the estimated 11 million people in the country who don’t have it, Biden has quickly taken aim at many of former President Donald Trump’s sweeping changes to deter immigration, both legal and illegal, and established a vision that is likely to far outlast his tenure if he’s able to muster enough support in a deeply divided Congress.

Biden Cabinet: Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary, the first openly gay person confirmed to a Cabinet post, tasked with advancing President Joe Biden’s ambitious agenda of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and fighting climate change. Buttigieg, a 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Biden’s one-time rival during the Democratic presidential primaries, was approved on a 86-13 vote.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reveals she is sexual assault survivor during Instagram Live on Capitol attack
A teary-eyed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday recounted hiding in her office bathroom as a man repeatedly yelled “Where is she?” during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and also revealed a sexual assault in her past as she talked about trauma. The remembered terror of the day made Ocasio-Cortez get emotional as she spoke during an Instagram live video, and she chastised those she said wanted Americans to put the day behind them and not recognize the lingering impact of such an event.

House Dems make case for conviction; Trump lawyers deny charges
Donald Trump endangered the lives of all members of Congress when he aimed a mob of supporters “like a loaded cannon” at the U.S. Capitol, House Democrats said Tuesday in making their most detailed case yet for why the former president should be convicted and permanently barred from office. Trump denied the allegations through his lawyers and called the trial unconstitutional.

The Democratic legal brief forcefully linked Trump’s baseless efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election to the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, saying he bears “unmistakable” blame for actions that threatened the foundation of American democracy. It argued that he must be found guilty when his impeachment trial opens before the Senate next week on a charge of inciting the siege. And it used evocative language to conjure the day’s chaos, when “terrified members were trapped in the chamber” and called loved ones “for fear they would not survive.”

Senate confirms Alejandro Mayorkas as Biden’s homeland security chief
The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday as President Joe Biden’s homeland security secretary, the first Latino to fill a post that will have a central role in the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, a sweeping Russia-linked cyber hack and domestic extremism. Mayorkas was confirmed by a 56-43 vote, the narrowest margin yet for a Biden Cabinet nominee. The first immigrant to serve in the job, he is expected to lead a broad policy overhaul of an agency that was accused of being deeply politicized as it carried out President Donald Trump’s initiatives on immigration and law enforcement.

Biden designates Myanmar military’s takeover a coup, triggering aid freeze
The Biden administration has declared the military’s takeover in Myanmar as a “coup d’état,” according to senior State Department officials, triggering a halt of U.S. foreign aid to the country’s government. The fast-unfolding situation presents a first foreign policy crisis to President Joe Biden, who argued during the 2020 campaign that he would “restore” U.S. leadership on democracy and human rights after four years of former President Donald Trump’s “America First” focus.

Monday, Feb. 1

Biden meets Republicans proposing $618 billion COVID-19 aid package
President Joe Biden met for two hours late Monday with a group of Republican senators who have proposed a slimmed down $618 billion coronavirus aid package that is only a fraction of the $1.9 trillion he is seeking. Skeptical Democrats vowed to push ahead in Congress with or without GOP support.

No compromise was reached from the lengthy session, Biden’s first with lawmakers at the White House. But the Republicans said there was agreement to keep discussions going over their smaller, more targeted package that would do away with Democratic priorities but might win GOP support and appeal to Biden’s hopes to unify the country.

Friday, Jan. 29

Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan: Democrats prepared to ‘move forward without’ Republicans
Democrats in Congress and the White House have rejected a Republican pitch to split President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan into smaller chunks, with lawmakers appearing primed to muscle the sweeping economic and virus aid forward without GOP help.

Despite Biden’s calls for unity, Democrats said the stubbornly high unemployment numbers and battered U.S. economy leave them unwilling to waste time courting Republican support that might not materialize. They also don’t want to curb the size and scope of a package that they say will provide desperately needed money to distribute the vaccine, reopen schools and send cash to American households and businesses.

Republican leader meets with Trump 2 weeks after pinning Capitol riot on ex-president
Just two weeks ago, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy declared Donald Trump culpable in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. By Thursday, he was seeking his political support. A private meeting between the two men at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort signaled a remarkable turnaround in the former president’s stature among elected Republicans. In the immediate aftermath of the insurrection Trump inspired, the idea that he would enjoy any sort of kingmaker role in his post-presidency seemed highly unlikely.

National Geographic photographer creates striking Inauguration Day time-lapse
It might sound difficult to capture an entire day in one frame, but that’s exactly what one National Geographic photographer did for President Joe Biden’s inauguration – with a little help in post-production. Photographer Stephen Wilkes and his assistant Lenny Christopher spent 15 hours that day in a scissor lift on the National Mall, snapping more than 1,500 photographs from the early hours of the morning until nightfall.

FBI: Pipe bombs at RNC, DNC were planted night before Trump supporters stormed Capitol
Two pipe bombs left at the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees, discovered just before thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, were actually placed the night before, federal officials said Friday. The FBI said the investigation had revealed new information, including that the explosive devices were placed outside the two buildings between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, the night before the riot. The devices were not located by law enforcement until the next day.

Thursday, Jan. 28

President Biden signs executive order to reopen Affordable Care Act enrollment amid COVID-19
President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered government health insurance markets to reopen for a special sign-up window, offering uninsured Americans a haven as the spread of COVID-19 remains dangerously high and vaccines aren’t yet widely available.

Biden signed an executive order directing the HealthCare.gov insurance markets to take new applications for subsidized benefits, something Donald Trump’s administration had refused to do. He also instructed his administration to consider reversing other Trump health care policies, including curbs on abortion counseling and the imposition of work requirements for low-income people getting Medicaid.

White House predicts 90,000 US COVID-19 deaths in next 4 weeks
The Biden administration launched its new level-with-America health briefings Wednesday with a projection that as many as 90,000 more in the U.S. will die from the coronavirus in the next four weeks – a sobering warning as the government strains to improve delivery and injection of vaccines.

The tone of the hourlong briefing was in line with President Joe Biden’s promise to be straight with the nation about the state of the outbreak that has already claimed more than 425,000 U.S. lives. It marked a sharp contrast to what had become the Trump show in the past administration, when public health officials were repeatedly undermined by a president who shared his unproven ideas without hesitation.

Wednesday, Jan 27

Democrat floats Trump censure as conviction grows unlikely
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine said Wednesday that he’s discussing with colleagues whether a censure resolution to condemn former President Donald Trump for his role in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol could be an alternative to impeachment, even as the Senate proceeds with a trial.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said the impeachment trial will move forward. But Kaine’s proposal is an acknowledgement that the Senate is unlikely to convict Trump of inciting the riot, a troubling prospect for many lawmakers who believe Trump must be held accountable in some way for the Capitol attack. If he were convicted, the Senate could then hold a second vote to ban him from office.

US terrorism alert warns of politically motivated violence after 2020 election
The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by anti-government sentiment after President Joe Biden’s election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks.

The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

GOP to stay neutral should Donald Trump run for president again
The head of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday declined to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024, saying the GOP would stay “neutral” in its next presidential primary.

In an interview, RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel also described the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group known as QAnon as “dangerous.”

The national GOP, under McDaniel’s leadership, spent the past four years almost singularly focused on Trump’s 2020 reelection. But should he run again in 2024 – and he has publicly and privately suggested he wants to – the national party infrastructure would not support his ambitions over other prospective candidates in accordance with party rules, she said.

Joe Biden signs executive orders to cut US oil, gas and coal emissions
In the most ambitious U.S. effort to stave off the worst of climate change, President Joe Biden signed executive orders Wednesday to transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy into a clean-burning one, pausing oil and gas leasing on federal land and targeting subsidies for those industries.

The directives aim to conserve 30 percent of the country’s lands and waters in the next 10 years, double the nation’s offshore wind energy, and move to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet, among other changes. Biden’s sweeping plan is aimed at staving off the worst of global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.

Tuesday, Jan. 26

Biden administration to boost COVID-19 vaccine supply next week
The Biden administration is boosting purchases of coronavirus vaccines to deliver enough to protect 300 million Americans by the end of the summer, as it surges deliveries to states for the next three weeks following complaints of shortages and inconsistent supplies.

President Joe Biden was set to announce the surge in deliveries to states Tuesday afternoon, along with the news that the federal government is purchasing an additional 100 million doses each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines. With existing purchases, the White House expects to be able to deliver enough of the two-dose regimens to states to vaccinate 300 million people.

Joe Biden orders end of federally run private prisons
President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered the Department of Justice to end its reliance on private prisons and acknowledge the central role government has played in implementing discriminatory housing policies. In remarks before signing the order, Biden said the U.S. government needs to change “its whole approach” on the issue of racial equity. He added that the nation is less prosperous and secure because of the scourge of systemic racism.

Judge bars President Joe Biden from enforcing 100-day deportation ban
A federal judge on Tuesday barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden.

U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations. Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

Kamala Harris swears in Janet Yellen, 1st woman Treasury secretary
Janet Yellen was sworn in Tuesday as the nation’s 78th Treasury secretary and the first woman to hold the office. She was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman elected to the position, at a ceremony performed outside on the East Wing entrance to the White House in view of the department Yellen will now lead. Yellen’s husband, George Akerlof, winner of the 2001 Nobel prize in economics, and their son Robert, also an economist, were present for the brief ceremony.

Senate rejects GOP motion to dismiss Trump impeachment trial
The Senate has rejected a Republican attempt to dismiss Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, a vote that allows the case on “incitement of insurrection” to move forward but also foreshadows that there may not be enough votes to convict him.

The 55-45 procedural vote to set aside an objection from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul puts the Senate on record as declaring the proceedings constitutional and means the trial on Trump’s impeachment, the first ever of a former president, will begin as scheduled the week of Feb. 8. The House impeached him two weeks ago for inciting deadly riots in the Capitol on Jan. 6 when he told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat.

Antony Blinken confirmed as Biden’s secretary of state
Antony Blinken, a longtime aide to Joe Biden and former deputy Secretary of State, has been confirmed by the Senate to be America’s next top diplomat. Blinken, confirmed on Tuesday 78-22, takes over an agency beleaguered by budget cuts and low morale, but has vowed to reinvest in American diplomacy.

Monday, Jan. 25

Senate confirms Janet Yellen as first woman to be treasury secretary
The Senate on Monday approved President Joe Biden’s nomination of Janet Yellen to be the nation’s 78th treasury secretary, making her the first woman to hold the job in the department’s 232-year history. Yellen, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, was approved by the Senate on a 84-15 vote, becoming the third member of Biden’s Cabinet to win confirmation.

Joe Biden reverses Trump ban on transgender people serving in military
President Joe Biden signed an order Monday reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender individuals from serving in the military. The new order, which Biden signed in the Oval Office during a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, overturns a ban ordered by President Donald Trump in a tweet during his first year in office. It immediately prohibits any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity.

House prepares to send Trump impeachment to Senate, GOP opposes trial
As the House prepares to bring the impeachment charge against Donald Trump to the Senate for trial, a growing number of Republican senators say they are opposed to the proceeding, dimming the chances that former president will be convicted on the charge that he incited a siege of the U.S. Capitol.

House Democrats will carry the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol Monday evening, a rare, ceremonial walk to the Senate by the prosecutors who will argue the case. They are hoping that strong Republican denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 riot will translate into a conviction and a separate vote to bar Trump from holding office again.

Biden administration looking to ‘speed up’ Harriet Tubman $20 bill redesign
With a change of administrations, it looks like Harriet Tubman is once again headed to the front of the $20 bill. Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put the 19th century abolitionist leader on the $20 bill. Obama administration Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had selected Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, on the $20 bill.

Biden plans to sign executive order for government to buy more US goods
Taking whatever steps he can to galvanize the economy, President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday to boost government buying from U.S. manufacturers as he begins the negotiation process with Congress over a $1.9 trillion stimulus package. The executive order is among a flurry of moves by Biden during his first full week to publicly show he’s taking swift action to heal an ailing economy. Biden’s aides have hammered the talking points that the country is in a precarious spot and relief is urgently needed.

White House adds American Sign Language interpreter to press briefings
The Biden administration is adding a sign language interpreter to its daily press briefings. White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced the move during Monday’s briefing, and an interpreter could be seen on the White House’s YouTube stream of the event. Psaki said President Joe Biden “is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families.”

Dominion Voting Systems sues Rudy Giuliani over false election claims, seeks more than $1B
Seeking to “set the record straight, to vindicate the company’s rights under civil law, to recover compensatory and punitive damages, and to stand up for itself, its employees, and the electoral process” Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sued former President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The 107-page lawsuit accused Giuliani of carrying out “defamatory falsehoods” about Dominion, in part to enrich himself through legal fees and his podcast.

First dogs Major and Champ arrive at the White House
The first dogs have arrived at the White House, including the first-ever rescue dog to call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. According to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s office, the family wanted to get settled before moving Champ and Major from Delaware to Washington.

Friday, Jan. 22

President Biden signs executive orders addressing economic crisis
President Joe Biden took executive action Friday to provide a stopgap measure of financial relief to millions of Americans while Congress begins to consider his much larger $1.9 trillion package to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8, Schumer says
Opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump on the charge of incitement of insurrection for the Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the schedule late Friday after reaching an agreement with Republicans.

Under the timeline, the House will transmit the impeachment article against Trump late Monday, with initial proceedings Tuesday. From there, Trump’s legal team will have time to prepare the case before opening arguments begin in February.

Janet Yellen’s nomination as Treasury secretary clears Senate committee
The Senate Finance Committee approved President Joe Biden’s nomination of Janet Yellen to be the nation’s 78th Treasury secretary on Friday, and supporters said they hoped to get the full Senate to approve it later in the day, making her the first woman to hold the job. The Finance Committee approved her nomination on a 26-0 vote. The administration is urging a quick confirmation vote, saying it’s critical to get the top member of Biden’s economic team in place as the Democratic president seeks to win approval of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon and the incoming chairman of the Finance Committee, said he hoped to get Yellen’s nomination approved by the full Senate later Friday.

Lloyd Austin confirmed by Senate as 1st Black secretary of defense
Lloyd J. Austin, a West Point graduate who rose to the Army’s elite ranks and marched through racial barriers in a 41-year career, won Senate confirmation Friday to become the nation’s first Black secretary of defense. The 93-2 vote gave President Joe Biden his second Cabinet member; Avril Haines was confirmed on Wednesday as the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. Biden is expected to win approval for others on his national security team in coming days, including Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Thursday, Jan. 21

President Biden requires masks for travel, lays groundwork for reopening schools
With a burst of executive orders, President Joe Biden served notice Thursday that the nation’s COVID-19 response is under new management and he’s demanding progress to reduce infections and lift the siege Americans have endured for nearly a year.

The 10 orders signed by Biden are aimed at jump starting his national COVID-19 strategy to increase vaccinations and testing, lay the groundwork for reopening schools and businesses, and immediately increase the use of masks – including a requirement that Americans mask up for travel. One directive calls for a addressing health care inequities in minority communities hard hit by the virus.

President Biden pushes to reopen schools within 100 days as part of COVID-19 response
President Joe Biden is pledging to reopen most K-12 schools within 100 days — an ambitious goal as Covid cases surge and teachers across the country fight some plans to reopen.

Teachers’ union leaders say they are pleased with Biden’s sense of urgency and focus, but they warn that the 100-day pledge may need to be a goal rather than a fixed target.

Rallies in NJ, NYC celebrate President Biden’s immigration reforms, call for more action
On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, rallies were held in New Jersey and New York to both celebrate immediate action taken on immigration as well as to urge more reforms.

In Newark, Make the Road New Jersey hosted a press conference in front of the Federal building to urge members of Congress from the New Jersey delegation to support the efforts and call on the Biden administration to cease what they call cruel and inhuman immigration enforcement practices and to investigate Department of Homeland Security practices.

In New York City, the New York Immigration Coalition held a rally in Battery Park celebrated the end of President Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.

Biden Cabinet: Buttigieg urges big funds for Dept of Transportation in Senate hearing

President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, was headed down a smooth path to quick confirmation, pledging to senators on Thursday to work with them to carry out the administration’s ambitious agenda to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.

A Senate committee vote on his nomination could come as soon as next week.

McConnell seeks to push Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial to February
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to push back the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial by a week or more to give the former president time to review the case.

House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riots have signaled they want a quick trial as President Joe Biden begins his term, saying a full reckoning is necessary before the country – and the Congress – can move on.

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