Posts tagged with "President Joe Biden"

U.S.A. officially rejoins Paris Climate Agreement

February 22, 2021

The United States officially rejoined the Paris climate change agreement on Friday, February 19, as President Joe Biden continued to put global diplomacy and environmental policy at the center of his agenda, The Wall Street Journal reports.

On his first day in office last month Biden took an initial step toward rejoining the global accord—from which his predecessor in the White House had lost no time disengaging.

Under the agreement’s rules, a country can formally re-enter the pact 30 days after it gives notice to the United Nations. Friday marked the end of that 30-day period.

“The work to reduce our emissions has already begun, and we will waste no time in engaging our partners around the world to build our global resilience,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter.

Trump argued that the agreement’s terms weren’t fair to America because other major energy consuming nations weren’t doing enough to cut emissions under the pact. Although Trump repeatedly said during his presidency that the U.S.A. was no longer a party to the agreement; the withdrawal became effective in early November 2020, near the end of his term, because it took time to formally exit the pact.

Biden has named climate change as one of four crises he hopes to address during his presidency, along with the pandemic, the ailing economy and racial injustice, the Journal notes. The president tapped two veteran public advocates for climate action—former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy—for senior roles in his administration.

Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, will take a leading role in international climate talks. McCarthy, the first-ever White House national climate adviser, will focus on domestic climate matters.

The more than 190 countries that signed the Paris agreement set a goal of containing the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably to no more than 1.5 degrees, to limit the effects of climate change.

Under the Paris agreement, which was negotiated in 2015 and signed in 2016, each country crafted its own pledge to tackle climate change. The Obama Administration in its pledge, known as a nationally determined contribution, said it would cut U.S. emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

According to the Journal, the Biden administration is now working on a new target. The White House has said the president is expected to announce the target at an Earth Day Climate Summit with world leaders set for April 22.

The president created a National Climate Task Force comprising Cabinet secretaries and other senior officials to help implement his climate agendas.

Research contact: @WSJ

Five takeaways from Joe Biden’s CNN Town Hall

February 18, 2021

President Joe Biden took part in his first town hall since entering the White House on February16 —answering questions from CNN’s Anderson Cooper (and audience members) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

CNN’s Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza watched—and provided the following takeaways on the president’s performance:

  1. A hard deadline on vaccinations: Less than five minutes into the broadcasst, Biden made a promise that will be the big new—not just today, but for months to come: He said that “by the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American.” That pledge sets the clock ticking on Biden and his administration’s efforts to ensure that every single person in America who wants a vaccine will have one by the end of July. Biden also said he expected to have 400 million doses by the end of May. And, Cillizza noted, he set another goal: That things would be largely back to normal in the United States by next Christmas.) It’s worth noting that this is a change from Biden’s previous pledge from last month that everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one by the “spring.”  Biden laid the blame for the need to push that timeline at the feet of the Trump Administration, insisting that his predecessor “wasted so much time” in dealing with the virus.
  1. Clearing up the school reopening question: Biden’s press shop got into a bit of hot water over the past week by claiming that schools opening one day a week would count toward his pledge to open the majority of schools within his first 100 days in office. Critics, rightly, pointed out that it appeared as a bit of a cop-out, since most parents, desperate after almost a year of virtual learning, don’t see one day of school a week as anything close to normal. Biden blamed the confusion on a “mistake in communication,” insisting that he believes that a majority of students from kindergarten to 8th grade would be back in school— with “many” of them going five days a week, he told CNN.
  2. Biden as comforter-in-chief: Perhaps the biggest contrast between Biden and the man he replaced in office is empathy, CNN’s Cillizza says. Former President Donald Trump had none; Biden is all empathy, wearing his heart on his sleeve. The town hall format played to Biden’s strength in that regard—and provided a stark reminder of just how radically different Trump was from anyone who came before (or after) him in the office. Biden told several questioners to talk to him after the town hall in order to help deal with their specific problems. And in one striking exchange, a mother with her eight-year-old daughter stood up and asked Biden what to tell kids who are worried about getting COVID and dying. “Don’t be scared, honey,” the President told the little girl, speaking directly to her as he told her that kids don’t usually get the coronavirus, and, when they do, they very rarely pass it on. It was a grace note—and one that would have been unimaginable during Trump’s presidency.
  3. The end of (talking about) Trump: Biden did his best not to mention the former President by name. (Biden’s preferred way to name Trump without naming him was to refer to the 45th President as “the former guy.”) When asked direct questions about Trump—on his impeachment, on his meddling in the Justice Department—Biden was even more blunt about his views on the man he beat last November. “I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump,” Biden said at one point. At another, he said this: “For four years, all that’s been in the news is Trump. The next four years, I want to make sure all the news is the American people.” (That line drew applause from the socially distanced audience.) What Biden clearly believes is that the best way to deal with Trump is to rob him of the media oxygen he so badly craves. The less Biden talks about Trump, the less attention Trump gets. It’s a solid theory—especially when you consider that Trump has been de-platformed from Twitter and Facebook.
  4. A radical view on polarization: Despite study after study that shows that both Congress and the nation as a whole are more deeply divided along party lines than ever before, Biden insisted that we’re not. “The nation is not divided,” he argued. “You have fringes on both ends.” Er, OK. I know that Biden believes that things will return to normal the longer we get from Trump being president—and that he is uniquely situated to make bipartisanship a thing again. He campaigned on it. And he believes he won, at least in part, on that message. Maybe! But there’s very, very little evidence so far in his term—and yes, of course it’s early!— that suggests the Republican Party’s elected officials are ready to renounce their Trump-y ways, opines Cizzilla. And there’s even less evidence that the GOP base wants anything other than Trump. A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier on Tuesday showed that 75% of Republicans want Trump to play a “prominent” role in the party.

Research contact: @CNN

Biden to join virtual G7 event on efforts to combat COVID-19 on February 19

Febraury 16, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden will participate in a virtual G7 event on Friday, February 19, during which he plans to discuss efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild the world economy, CNN reports

According to the BBC, the G7 (or Group of Seven) comprises the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The group regards itself as “a community of values,” with freedom and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and prosperity and sustainable development as its key principles.

The virtual meeting, hosted by the United Kingdom, also will include leaders of the European Commission and European Council.

The Friday confab will be Biden’s first meeting with the leaders of the G7 as president and represents a departure from former President Donald Trump’s retreat from handling of the pandemic and global relations.

He’ll specifically focus on areas including “coordination on vaccine production, distribution, and supplies, as well as continued efforts to mobilize and cooperate against the threat of emerging infectious diseases by building country capacity and establishing health security financing,” a White House statement released Sunday evening said.

When it comes to rebuilding an economy badly battered by the pandemic, Biden is set to focus on “the importance of all industrialized countries maintaining economic support for the recovery,” the statement said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement this past weekend that he will use the virtual event to call for global cooperation in the battle against the “common foe” of coronavirus. Johnson will charge the leaders to “work together on a joined-up global approach to pandemics that brings an end to the nationalist and divisive politics that marred the initial response to coronavirus,” the statement said.

“Quantum leaps in science have given us the vaccines we need to end this pandemic for good. Now world governments have a responsibility to work together to put those vaccines to the best possible use. I hope 2021 will be remembered as the year humanity worked together like never before to defeat a common foe,” Johnson said.

Even as global Covid-19 cases have declined in recent weeks, the virtual meeting comes just as new variants are threatening to throw a wrench in government vaccination plans.

Biden’s vow to coordinate with other governments on the pandemic and global economy offers yet another break with Trump’s approach to foreign policy.

As the pandemic surged globally last May, Trump announced he was postponing the summit, “because I don’t feel as a G7 it probably represents what’s going on in the world.”

“It’s a very outdated group of countries,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One at the time.

CNN notes that, throughout his term, Trump publicly questioned and denigrated the value of the America’s  most longstanding alliances, including with USA from the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, the World Health Organization,and a slew of other United Nations agencies.

On his first day in office, Biden reversed several of Trump’s attempts to withdraw from international agreements—beginning the process of rejoining the Paris climate accord and halting the departure from the World Health Organization.

In remarks at the State Department earlier this month, Biden declared that “diplomacy is back at the center” of US foreign policy as he vowed to “rebuild” US alliances worldwide.

Research contact: @CNN

U.S. pharmacies to receive 1 million vaccine doses from Biden Administration next week

February 4, 2021

President Joe Biden will free up more doses of COVID vaccine for anxious Americans, his administration announced on February 2. The doses will be available at retail pharmacies nationwide by next week, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The push comes amid new urgency to speed vaccinations to the public, to prevent the spread of potentially more serious strains of the virus that has killed more than 445,000 Americans since the beginning of 2020.

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.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients announced the moves on a call with the nation’s governors Tuesday morning and then detailed them to the public in an afternoon news conference.

Drugstores have become a linchpin in the U.S. infrastructure for dispensing flu shots and shingles vaccines—and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly. “This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” Zients said.

“This is a critical step to provide the public with convenient trusted places to get vaccinated in their communities,” he adde, according to the Tribune.

The number of participating pharmacies and the availability of vaccines  are expected to accelerate as drug makers increase production. The White House said the ultimate goal was to distribute the vaccines through more than 40,000 pharmacies nationwide. State and local guidelines will determine who is eligible to get a shot at their neighborhood pharmacy. Availability will be limited at first.

“Getting it into pharmacies is a viable approach,” Dan Mendelson, founder of the health care industry consulting firm Avalere Health told the Tribune. “The pharmacies know how to move people in and out.”

Participating are major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, big box stores such as Walmart and Costco, and supermarket pharmacies. CVS said it will receive 250,000 doses initially, to be distributed to pharmacies in 11 states.

The pharmacy doses will be distributed to states by population, but a priority will be to get the vaccine to minority communities that have suffered a disproportionately high toll of disease and deaths from the virus, Zients said.

Walgreens said it was selected in part to “optimize vaccine access in medically underserved areas.”

The 1 million doses being shipped to pharmacies will be on top of the increased allotments to states over the coming three weeks.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

GOP plan is ‘just not in the cards,’ Biden says during call with House Democrats

February 4, 2021

President Joe Biden has reassured House Democrats that he is committed to his COVID-19 relief package in its current form, and that—despite his “cordial” meeting with Senate Republicans on February 1—“the idea that we’re going to go out and compromise and go from a trillion-nine to six hundred billion is just not in the cards,” The Daily Beast reports exclusively.

Biden’s remarks, made on a call with House Democrats on Wednesday morning—a recording of which was obtained by The Daily Beast—represent the surest indication yet that he plans to push for passage of the American Rescue Planhis $1.9 trillion relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic and the damage it has done to the nation’s economy, through the budget reconciliation process. That process, which allows the Senate to pass budget-related legislation through a simple majority, would circumvent attempts by Republicans to filibuster the relief plan.

“We’ve got to be up to the moment,” Biden said on the call. “That’s what the American people, I think, are expecting of us, and frankly, that’s what they have a right to expect. And that’s why I’ve asked for the package proposed.”

Biden took particular exception to the Republican proposal on direct payments to cash-strapped Americans. Under his plan, direct payments would begin at $1,400 per person, as well as for dependents, gradually phasing out for individuals with a gross income of more than $75,000. Under the Republican plan, those payments would be cut to a $1,000 maximum, phasing out for individuals who made more than $40,000 in taxable income, with a $50,000 cap.

The president said that the GOP proposal would leave out almost the entire middle class, which he called a non-starter.

“Who are we helping is just as important as who’s being left out,” Biden said on the call. “I don’t think we need to be in the business of helping those folks making three hundred grand a year, but a family making 60, 70 grand, maybe 80, who’s barely hanging on, middle-class folks?”

“We want to make sure we get the poor,” Biden continued, “but we can’t leave out the middle class.”

The adjective “targeted” is most often used by the Republicans to describe a plan under which direct payments would be cut from $1,400 to $1,000 per person—phasing out for individuals who made more than $40,000 in taxable income in 2019 with a $50,000 cap, according to The Daily Beast.

Democrats have not yet outlined an income bracket where they’d limit check eligibility, but it’s likely to be more in line with the $75,000 threshold in the CARES Act, and the administration is aiming to expand eligibility to adult dependents. Given their belief that the last round of checks worked well, many Democrats see no problem in getting more money into the economy, especially with the relatively negligible dollar difference between a “targeted” plan and what they may propose.

The president’s private assurances that slashing a more than a trillion dollars from his COVID relief bill, particularly cuts to direct payments to Americans and assistance for schools to reopen their doors, “is just not in the cards” come as Democrats on Capitol Hill have been preparing to pass the relief plan with minimal Republican support.

Democrats—who owe their razor-thin majority in the Senate to victories in the Georgia runoff elections in which $2,000 stimulus checks played a key role—have already put the reconciliation process into motion. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) invoked the memory of the onset of the Great Recession as a moment when Congress was “too timid and constrained” in its response, a line that centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) echoed on Tuesday morning.

“If it’s $1.9 trillion, so be it,” Manchin said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, stressing that while he wants the process to be bipartisan, he won’t stand in the way of passing much-needed relief. “If it’s a little smaller than that and we find a targeted need, then that’s what we’re going to be. I want it to be bipartisan.”

Research contact: @dailybeast

 

Biden: Trump’s impeachment trial ‘has to happen’

January 27, 2021

On Monday, January 25, President Joe Biden offered his most extensive comments he has made since taking office on former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, telling CNN, “I think it has to happen.”

Biden made the comment during a brief one-on-one interview with CNN in the halls of the West Wing. He acknowledged the effect it could have on his legislative agenda and Cabinet nominees—but said there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen.”

Biden told CNN he believed the outcome would be different if Trump had six months left in his term, but said he doesn’t think 17 Republican senators will vote to convict Trump.

“The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn’t changed that much,” Biden said.

His comments came the same night the House impeachment managers formally triggered the start of Trump’s second impeachment trial after they walked across the Capitol and began reading on the Senate floor the charge against Trump, the first president in history to be impeached twice.

The trial has loomed large over Biden’s early days in office as he’s sought to strike an uneasy balance between supporting it and pushing a message of unity, CNN notes.

Biden and his team were initially opposed to his administration—which Biden had often pledged would “turn the page” on Trump—with a focus on the former president. But, as more alarming details came into focus about the Capitol attack, early discussions among Biden advisers of taking an active role in slowing or trying to somehow manage impeachment were abandoned, aides said, as they’ve become well aware that trying to do so could divide Democrats.

Biden’s comments to CNN Monday evening build on a statement he released earlier this month that called the House impeachment vote “a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience.”

“This nation also remains in the grip of a deadly virus and a reeling economy,” Biden said at the time. “I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”

Chief Justice John Roberts will not be presiding, as he did for Trump’s first impeachment trial, according to two sources familiar with the matter, who said that Roberts has avoided doing so because Trump no longer is president.

Instead, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside, the sources said. The Constitution says the chief justice presides when the person facing trial is the current president of the United States, but senators preside in other cases, one source said.

As the fourth Senate impeachment trial of a president in US history gets underway, there are still two big looming questions over the Democrats’ impeachment case: Whether they will seek witnesses and how long the trial will take. The answers to both are still not known yet, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration still has a long list of nominations to be confirmed in the US Senate and Republicans already casting doubt on the need for another massive Covid-19 relief package.

Research contact: @CNN

White House welcomes two ‘very good boys’ as Biden’s dogs move in

January 25, 2021

Who let the dogs in? Well, President Joe Biden did. And they are very glad to be reunited with their “hoomans,” according to their Twitter feed, @TheFirstDogs.

Now that the two German Shepherds are in their new home at the White House, they commented, “Our hoomans, @potus and @flotus, are heccin’ awesome.”

And, as for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Major loves the South Lawn and Champ’s Monday thoughts involve mainly “bacun,” according to a report by The Huffington Post.

The fur babies belonging to Biden and his wife, first lady Dr. Jill Biden, arrived this weekend—marking the first time a pet has taken up residence in the White House since the Obamas left.

Notably, President Donald Trump was the first president in more than 100 years to not have had a pet while in office.

“The First Family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware,” said Michael LaRosa, press secretary for Jill Biden, in a statement to CNN on Monday, January 25.

Of the two very good boys, Champ is more than ten years old and has lived with the Bidens since December 2008—previously cohabitating with the family at the vice president’s residence during Obama’s presidency. Major, who is three years old, is the first-ever dog adopted from a shelter to live in the White House.

Rumor is they soon will have a brother or sister. Dr. Biden also wants a kitten.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Biden to reinstate the COVID travel restrictions Trump rescinded; impose new ban on South Africa

January 26, 2021

President Joe Biden plans to sign restrictions Monday on travel to the United States to mitigate COVID-19 transmission, a senior public health official confirmed on Sunday, January 24, to Reuters.

The ban would prevent most non-U.S. citizens from entry if they have recently been in South Africa, where a new strain of coronavirus has been identified. The virus has killed more than 418,000 people and infected upward of 25 million nationwide in the United States., according to an NBC News tracker.

Biden is also expected to reinstate broader restrictions that were in effect much of the past year but were rescinded by President Donald Trump days before his term ended, NBC said. The limits would affect non-U.S. citizens traveling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and much of Europe in what is known as the Schengen countries, which share a common visa process. Travelers from Brazil would also be affected.

Before Biden took office, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a tweet criticized Trump’s decision to rescind the bans he had implemented.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that, beginning Tuesday, it will no longer consider exceptions to its requirement that international travelers present negative coronavirus tests. Airlines had asked the agency to relax the rule for some countries with limited testing capacity.

“As variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, there is growing evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants, as well as unknown health and vaccine implications,” a CDC spokesman said in a statement. “Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 and emerging variants.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

President Joe Biden’s plea for the soul of America: ‘End this uncivil war’

January 20, 2021

Speaking from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol after a violent insurrection there claimed five lives on January 6, President Joe Biden’s first words as president offered Americans strong and direct reassurance that the most fundamental component of the nation’s government would remain intact, The Daily Beast reports.

“This is democracy’s day,” he said, minutes after being sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as the 46th president of the United States. “A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.”

“The people,” he continued, “the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

Biden, 78, addressed two threats that have worsened under President Donald Trump’s administration, the unchecked coronavirus pandemic and the growing presence of terrorism at home—which only two weeks ago arrived at the very platform from which Biden spoke. Standing resolutely, his jacket pinned with a small American flag on a chilly Wednesday afternoon, the president championed the “restless, bold, optimistic” collective pursuit of restoring what has been lost.

In an acknowledgement of the still bitterly divided national political climate—which is expected to continue long after Biden’s first few days in office—he called on citizens to help de-escalate the rampant partisanship, the Globe said.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes as my mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes.”

Throughout his 20-minute address, Biden strove to provide a positive outlook for the nation’s future, seeking to remind viewers that, despite strife, sadness, and anger, his administration will offer a unified approach. He pledged to pen a new chapter in the “American story.”

A significant part of that book includes an historic start. “Today we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change,” Biden said, beaming with pride for his number 2, who was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“My whole soul is in it,” Biden said. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause,” he continued, to applause, listing off the “foes” he plans to combat: “Anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness.”

“America is once again the leading force for good in the world,” he said.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe