As the third day of a Biden Administration begins, progress continues on a number of fronts.
Today, President Biden will sign another round of executive orders that will:
- Address the growing hunger crisis facing 29 million Americans — and as many as 12 million children – by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider expanding and extending federal nutrition assistance programs.
- Ensure equitable and effective delivery of direct payments — by asking the Treasury Department to change its delivery structure and focus on getting relief to the 8 million Americans who still have not received the financial assistance to which they are entitled.
- Help approximately 2 million veterans maintain their financial footing by asking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to consider pausing federal collections on overpayments and debts.
- Help ensure that unemployed Americans no longer have to choose between paying their bills and keeping themselves and their families safe from COVID-19 by asking the U.S. Department of Labor to clarify that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance.
- Enable effective and equitable distribution of government assistance by establishing an interagency benefit coordination structure.
- Restores collective bargaining power and worker protections by revoking Trump Executive Orders 13836, 13837, and 13839. It goes further to direct agencies to bargain over permissible, non-mandatory subjects of bargaining when contracts are up for negotiation so that workers have a greater voice in their working conditions.
- Eliminates Schedule F, which undermines the foundations of the civil service. Its existence threatens the critical protections of career employees and provides a pathway to burrow political appointees into the civil service.
- Promotes a $15 minimum wage. The Executive Order directs the Office of Personnel Management to develop recommendations to pay more federal employees at least $15 per hour.
Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for the Senate impeachment trial of disgraced former President Donald Trump be delayed until February, Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to send the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Schumer said Friday. Trial motions would have to begin the following day unless Republicans and Democrats broker an agreement to change that timeline. It is unknown whether a deal will be reached to delay the start date. “The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Friday morning. “It will be a full trial. it will be a fair trial.” Democrats are intent on trying to set up a dual track whereby the Senate could still confirm President Biden’s cabinet nominees before the trial starts each day to try to minimize the impact of the proceeding on his first days in office.
The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired General Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole no votes. Both chambers of Congress voted Thursday to grant Austin a waiver from a law that requires officers to be out of the military for seven years before taking on the job, as the four-star general only retired in 2016.
The Senate Finance Committee on Friday unanimously approved Janet Yellen’s nomination for Treasury secretary, sending her candidacy to the full Senate for a vote that could come as early as today. The overwhelming support for Yellen suggests that she will have no problem clearing the final hurdle to confirmation, after which she will begin working with Congress to advance President Joe Biden’s plan for an additional $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
The House is out until Monday, February 1st, but will meet at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, January 25th in pro forma session.
Worth Reading from earlier this week by Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times: President Donald J. Trump: The End, This terrible experiment is over.