By LIBBY CATHEY, JACK ARNHOLZ and LAUREN KING, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — This is Day 8 of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:
Jan 27, 1:43 pm
John Kerry argues it will cost country ‘a lot more’ to ignore climate change
Former Secretary of State John Kerry — the nation’s first ever special presidential envoy for climate — discussed the climate plan and the impact it will have on jobs in a press briefing with reporters Wednesday ahead of Biden signing climate-focused executive actions.
In response to a question from ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega, Kerry said that efforts to improve climate will not come at the expense of American workers.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 27, 2021
“Unfortunately, workers have been fed a false narrative — no surprise, right? — for the last few years,” Kerry said in a nod to the Trump administration. “They’ve been fed the notion that, somehow, dealing with climate is coming at their expense. No, it’s not. What’s happening to them is happening because other market forces are already taking place.”
Pressed later on the cost of the Biden administration’s plans, Kerry said it costs “a lot more” to dismiss climate change than it will to address it now.
“There are countless economic analyses now that show that it is now cheaper to deal with the crisis of climate than it is to ignore it,” he said.
Jan 27, 1:10 pm
Biden’s climate team participates in White House press briefing
Former Secretary of State and now the nation’s first ever climate envoy, John Kerry, along with Biden’s national climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, joined together in the White House press briefing room Wednesday ahead of Biden signing executive actions on climate change.
“This executive order establishes a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, and it directs everyone who works for the president to use every tool available at our disposal to solve the climate crisis. Because we’re going to take a whole of government approach. We’re going to power our economy with clean energy,” McCarthy said.
"Today's executive order starts by saying it is the policy of this administration that climate considerations shall be an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security," White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy says. https://t.co/IdxzzBeGnP pic.twitter.com/qLzGFcgTaK
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 27, 2021
The duo discussed the urgency of addressing climate change and the need for global intervention — in a stark contrast with the priorities of the Trump administration.
“We could go to zero tomorrow, and the problem isn’t solved. So that’s why today, one week into the job, President Biden will sign this additional executive set of orders to help move us down the road, ensuring that ambitious climate action is global in scope and scale, as well as national — here at home,” Kerry said.
Kerry also detailed the plans to further the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement at another meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, in April.
Jan 27, 12:45 pm
Biden’s top COVID-19 advisers hold 1st joint public briefing
Biden’s top coronavirus advisers — including Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 Dr. Anthony Fauci, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients — have wrapped their first public briefing on the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In contrast with the Trump administration, the Biden administration has pledged to aim for three virtual, public briefings with health experts each week in an effort to be more transparent in their response. Biden is also branding his COVID-19 response team an “equity” task force, chaired by Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.
In another change promised by the Biden White House, an American Sign Langauge interpreter was also present for the briefing.
After a bit of a rocky start, with Fauci and other speakers having microphone issues, the briefing proceeded for nearly an hour and focused largely on vaccine distribution.
Jan 27, 12:30 pm
Biden’s pick for UN ambassador testifies in front of Congress
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during her nomination hearing Wednesday. During the hearing, Thomas-Greenfield said her three key priories, if confirmed, would be leadership rooted in core values, reforms at the UN, and having a close relationship with lawmakers.
“I’ve learned that effective diplomacy means more than shaking hands and staging photo ops,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “It means developing real robust relationships, it means finding common ground and managing points of differentiation, it means doing genuine old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.”
Over her 35-year career, Thomas-Greenfield has been posted Switzerland, Pakistan, Nigeria, Jamaica and elsewhere. Thomas-Greenfield grew up in segregated Baker, Louisiana. If confirmed, she will be only the second Black woman to ever hold the post.
“When we exert our influence in accordance to our values, the United Nations can be an indispensable institution for advancing peace, security and our collective well-being. If instead we walk away from the table and allow others to fill the void the global community suffers, and so do American interest,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
Jan 27, 12:10 pm
Blinken participates in ceremonial swearing-in with Harris
New Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his wife, Evan Ryan, participated in a ceremonial swearing-in with Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday.
Although daily guidance said the ceremony would take place at the White House, it happened next door, inside the ornate office of the vice president at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. They stood in front of two American flags and two white State Department flags for the ceremony.
Blinken was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 78-22 on Tuesday and officially sworn in by a senior career ambassador, Carol Perez, who is currently serving as acting under secretary for management.
Blinken has advised Biden on foreign policy for almost two decades. Previously, he served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, and when serving as national security adviser to Biden, he was present in the Situation Room during the Osama bin Laden raid. Blinken was also a top staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when then-senator Biden was its chair.
Jan 27, 11:26 am
Biden’s pick for energy secretary testifies before Senate
Jennifer Granholm, Biden’s nominee for energy secretary, is testifying in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
In her opening statement, Granholm laid out that her main focuses as energy secretary would be on nuclear energy, supporting scientific resources at the Department of Energy’s labs and facilities, and using that research to create jobs. Granholm also touted her experience as the former governor of Michigan and her efforts to get the state’s s auto industry to pivot to manufacturing electric vehicles during recession.
“In talking with you — Democrats and Republicans — I know that you all share that belief,” Granholm said, referring to the opportunity to create American jobs through efforts toward clean energy. “And if confirmed, I look forward to working with you to bring good paying jobs to every state, and to make sure that no worker gets left behind.”
Jan 27, 10:39 am
Blinken addresses State Dept. employees
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, reporting for work at the State Department, told the agency’s 70,000 employees around the world, “I will have your back.”
“It’s a new day for America. It’s a new day for the world,” Blinken said in remarks shortly after entering the building, calling his return “like a homecoming.”
Blinken recalled how his career began at the State Department 28 years ago as a special assistant. He last served in the department four years ago as its deputy secretary in the Obama administration and acknowledged the changes the agency and the world have undergone since.
“To date, the pandemic has claimed the lives of five State Department Americans and 42 locally employed staff around the world,” Blinken said. “And outside our doors, our government buildings are surrounded by new barricades. We’ve never been in a moment quite like this before.”
He went on to pledge to be an inclusive, transparent and morale-building boss, arguing, “We at State have a role to play in all of this.”
Blinken also vowed to invest in building a diverse and inclusive agency that is “truly representative of the American people.”
He said, “the world is watching us intently right now” to see “if we can heal our nation,” but, in a nod to the appeal of the Trump administration’s more isolationist approach, Blinken noted that the department must work first for the American people, saying the public wants to see “that our foreign policy is about them and their lives.”
“We will do right by them,” he said. “Now let’s get to work.”
Jan 27, 9:42 am
Two weeks from Trump’s impeachment trial, Biden moves on Cabinet and climate
With the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump slated to formally begin in two weeks, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., forced a procedural vote on the constitutionality of trying a former president on Tuesday and was met with the support of 45 Republicans — just three weeks after the Capitol, including the Senate chamber, was invaded. Though anything could happen at trial, the vote signals Democrats will not have the numbers to convict Trump and bar him from holding future federal office.
The idea behind delaying Trump’s trial to Feb. 9, an agreement reached by party leaders, was reached so that the Senate could work on Biden’s Cabinet confirmations and COVID-19 relief while the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team prepare.
On the Cabinet front, Biden meets his one-week anniversary in office with four Cabinet officials confirmed — lagging behind other administrations in recent history. On Wednesday, confirmation hearings will be held for Jennifer Granholm for the energy secretary, Linda Thomas-Greenfield at U.N. ambassador, and Denis McDonough to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The president on Wednesday will turn his attention to the climate crisis with a suite of new executive actions — making tackling climate change a priority across the federal government.
Biden, who has already revoked a permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project and moved to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate, is scheduled to deliver afternoon remarks and sign executive actions at 1:30 p.m., fulfilling campaign promises such as freezing new oil and gas leasing on federal land and kicking off his ambitious agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki will also hold a press briefing with the nation’s first ever climate envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and Biden’s national climate advisor, Gina McCarthy, around 12:15 p.m.
Kicking off what’s expected to happen three times a week moving forward, White House COVID-19 response team and other public health officials will hold a virtual, public briefing on the pandemic at 11 a.m. with participants including Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Jan 27, 6:51 am
Biden turns to climate crisis with new executive actions
On his one-week anniversary as president, Biden will turn his attention to the climate crisis with a suite of new executive actions Wednesday.
The president, who has already revoked a permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, will deliver remarks and sign executive actions on tackling climate change, creating jobs and restoring scientific integrity from the White House’s State Dining Room on Tuesday afternoon.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki will also hold a press briefing with Biden’s climate envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and Biden’s national climate advisor, Gina McCarthy.
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