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 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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