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Politics Live updates: Biden to host labor leaders in Oval Office to discuss coronavirus relief, infrastructure

14:37  17 february  2021
14:37  17 february  2021 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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President Biden plans to host labor leaders at an Oval Office meeting Wednesday at the White House to discuss two of his leading priorities: his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which is pending in Congress, and investing in the nation’s infrastructure.

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Biden holds a face mask as he participates in a CNN town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on Tuesday. © Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images President Biden holds a face mask as he participates in a CNN town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The meeting comes amid a stepped-up focus on the pandemic. Speaking at a nationally televised town hall on Tuesday, Biden pledged that any American who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of July and said he wants many elementary and middle schools to be open five days a week by the end of April.

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Here’s what to know:

  • Biden flew to Milwaukee on Tuesday on his first major trip since taking office, kicking off a new phase of his presidency that attempts to move past the impeachment of his predecessor and toward a more aggressive selling of his coronavirus relief plan.
  • Former president Donald Trump lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for a “lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality,” just days after the Senate — with McConnell’s help — acquitted Trump on an impeachment charge.
  • The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee filed a lawsuit accusing Trump, lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and two extremist groups of illegally conspiring to block Congress’s certification of the 2020 election.

6:59 AM: Biden to host labor leaders at White House for discussion of pandemic relief, infrastructure

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a person sitting at a table in a room: President Biden pauses as he signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Jan. 20. © Evan Vucci/AP President Biden pauses as he signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Jan. 20.

Biden plans to meet Wednesday with a group of labor leaders to discuss two of his leading priorities: his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and investing in the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure.

Part of the Oval Office meeting will be open to the press. Vice President Harris is also scheduled to participate.

Labor unions were key to the success of Biden’s presidential campaign, and they have a lot at stake in his pledge to “build back better” as the nation emerges from the pandemic. Investing in infrastructure and creating jobs is key to that plan.

The meeting also provides another platform for Biden to pitch his coronavirus relief package that is pending in Congress. On Tuesday, he did so at a town hall hosted by CNN in Milwaukee. On Thursday, he is scheduled to travel to Michigan to visit a Pfizer vaccine-manufacturing plant.

Inside the new President's routine: Oval Office fires and early bedtimes

  Inside the new President's routine: Oval Office fires and early bedtimes When President Joe Biden flew aboard Air Force One for the first time this month, he did not spend much time soaking in the moment. © Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 05: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the national economy and the need for his administration's proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief legislation in the State Dining Room at the White House on February 05, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden hosted lawmakers from both parties at the White House this week in an effort to push his pandemic relief plan forward.

Separately Wednesday, first lady Jill Biden is scheduled to host a virtual roundtable conversation on military child education.

By: John Wagner

6:55 AM: Sen. Graham says GOP needs Trump to retake majority in 2022

Lindsey Graham standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) puts on a face mask on the final day of the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Saturday. © Stefani Reynolds/AP Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) puts on a face mask on the final day of the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Saturday.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) weighed in Tuesday night on the feud between Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), lamenting that the two are “at each other’s throat” and claiming that Trump is key to the Republican Party’s electoral prospects in 2022.

“What I would say to Senator McConnell, I know Trump can be a handful, but he is the most dominant figure in the Republican Party,” Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking back the majority without Donald Trump. If you don’t get that, you’re just not looking.”

Graham said the pair did “a hell of a job” during Trump’s tenure.

“They’re now at each other’s throat,” Graham said. “I’m more worried about 2022 than I’ve ever been. I don’t want to eat our own.”

The Daily 202: Biden builds back boring in town hall. That’s not a bad thing

  The Daily 202: Biden builds back boring in town hall. That’s not a bad thing Let’s come out and say it: An absence of incendiary tweets doesn’t make a young presidency boring when the administration is facing a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, the resulting economic devastation, the climate crisis and a host of other problems. A running seven-day average of deaths from the virus stood at 2,455. Whatever the assessment of whether Biden is meeting those challenges, these are not boring times. On the substance, the Delaware Democrat probably disappointed progressives on several fronts.

In a statement Tuesday, Trump lashed out at McConnell for a “lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality.”

On Saturday, McConnell voted to acquit Trump in his Senate impeachment trial but harshly criticized him for being “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and suggested that there could be legal consequences for Trump’s conduct on the day of the riot.

By: John Wagner

6:30 AM: Analysis: Biden’s Middle East woes are already piling up

At home, the Biden administration has its hands full already. It’s battling the coronavirus pandemic, attempting to pass a major stimulus bill and reckoning with the latest spasm of climate change, as bitterly cold weather in Texas buckled the state’s power grid and left millions without electricity.


Video: Impeachment over, Congress shifts focus to security failures (Associated Press)

But troubles are mounting elsewhere, especially in the Middle East, where Biden seeks something of a reset in U.S. policy. On the campaign trail, Biden and his allies decried his predecessor’s bludgeoning “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran and coddling of human rights-abusing Arab autocrats. It was always going to prove trickier when in power, but events in recent days suggest that whatever grace period the White House hoped to have has already ended.

Biden's infrastructure plan needs input from cities and regions

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Read the full story

By: Ishaan Tharoor

6:21 AM: Biden administration takes more cooperative approach to its first high-level NATO meeting

a man wearing a suit and tie standing in a room: President Biden meets with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the Oval Office at the White House in late January. © Kevin Lamarque President Biden meets with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the Oval Office at the White House in late January.

The Biden administration is preparing to strike a more cooperative tone at the first meeting of senior NATO officials since Trump departed office, as the alliance faces difficult questions about how to proceed with a frayed U.S.-Taliban peace agreement and when to withdraw the remaining forces from Afghanistan.

The change in approach by Washington comes as the 72-year-old military alliance looks to find its footing after a tumultuous four years dealing with Trump. The challenges are vast — from defending against Russia, evolving to consider threats posed by China, and extricating forces from Afghanistan without prompting a collapse of the nation’s NATO-backed government and military force.

Senior U.S. defense officials, in a briefing with reporters, signaled that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would not offer any U.S. decisions on Afghanistan at the virtual two-day NATO meeting for defense ministers that begins Wednesday, as the Biden administration reviews its policy ahead of a May 1 deadline for a full U.S. troop withdrawal set out in the peace agreement.

Read the full story

By: Paul Sonne and Michael Birnbaum

6:17 AM: Fact Checker: Harris’s claim that Biden vaccine plan was ‘starting from scratch’

Vice President Harris attends a listening session with Black mayors on covid-19 at the White House in Washington on Feb. 10. © Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post Vice President Harris attends a listening session with Black mayors on covid-19 at the White House in Washington on Feb. 10.

“There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out. And so in many ways, we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year!”

Fact check: Breaking down Joe Biden's first month of claims

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— Vice President Harris, in an interview with Axios, Feb. 15, 2021

“We certainly are not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution.”

— Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in remarks at the White House, Jan. 21

Many readers have asked us to examine these apparently conflicting statements. There was even a Fox News report wondering why we had not quickly written a fact check. Well, we had been working on a fact check on this issue even before Harris’s interview was released — regarding similar remarks by Biden — but it takes time to interview people, especially when there is a federal holiday.

Read the full story

By: Glenn Kessler

6:15 AM: Biden holds town hall on first major presidential trip

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building: President Biden participates in a CNN town hall in Milwaukee on Tuesday. © Leah Millis/Reuters President Biden participates in a CNN town hall in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

MILWAUKEE — Biden arrived in Milwaukee on Tuesday for his first major trip since taking office, kicking off a new phase of his presidency that attempts to move past the impeachment of his predecessor and toward a more aggressive selling of his coronavirus relief plan.

Speaking at a CNN town hall, Biden pledged that any American who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of July. He said he wanted many elementary and middle schools to be open five days a week by the end of April. And he said that “by next Christmas, I think we’ll be in a very different circumstance.”

Still, the timeline in many ways remains unclear, with Biden hedging on some commitments and openly stating uncertainty about some goals. There can be a gap between when vaccine doses are distributed and when they are administered; restrictions might be in place long after vaccines are available; and the precise meaning of schools being “open” has sometimes been murky.

Read the full story

By: Matt Viser

6:11 AM: Larry Kudlow debuts new Fox Business show after leaving Trump White House

Lawrence Kudlow wearing glasses and a suit and tie: Larry Kudlow in the White House press briefing room on Sept. 23, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters, File) © Tom Brenner/Reuters Larry Kudlow in the White House press briefing room on Sept. 23, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters, File)

Larry Kudlow, the cable news host turned senior Trump adviser, is back on TV. And he’s flashing his newfound insider status.

Kudlow debuted his new Fox Business show on Tuesday afternoon, following a nearly two-year stint as Trump’s National Economic Council director and a long career at rival network CNBC before that. He used his first show to defend the Trump administration’s pandemic response, criticize the Biden administration and cast Biden as “the most far-left progressive president we’ve ever had in the Oval Office.”

It was typical Fox opinion fare, although Kudlow repeatedly reminded viewers of his broadened résumé.

Read the full story

By: Elahe Izadi

Business groups rally around green infrastructure plans .
Business groups are ramping up pressure on the Biden administration to move forward on infrastructure and arguing that a climate change component is critical to their members.The growing consensus among business leaders is that an infrastructure package should tackle green initiatives, but executives say they're leaving it to Congress and the White House to determine the provisions and overall price tag.Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said infrastructure, along with technology-focused legislation, will be the next priorities for congressional Democrats following the passage of COVID-19 relief.

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