Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 26, 2021

House Democrats deliver Trump impeachment article to Senate, McConnell drops Senate filibuster demand, and more


House Democrats deliver Trump impeachment article to Senate

The Democrat-led House on Monday delivered its article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate, setting the stage for a trial scheduled to start in early February. Nine House impeachment managers walked across the Capitol to the Senate chambers after 7 p.m. to read the impeachment article, which charges Trump with inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. "President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government," Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, said on the Senate floor, reading the charge. Trump's Republican allies expressed growing confidence that they would have enough votes to acquit Trump. "There are only a handful of Republicans and shrinking who will vote against him," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).


McConnell drops filibuster demand that blocked power-sharing deal

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday ended an impasse over a power-sharing deal with the narrow Democratic majority by dropping his demand that they promise to preserve the filibuster. McConnell gave in after two centrist Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kristen Sinema (D-Ariz.) — said they opposed ditching the procedural tool, which requires a 60-vote majority to advance legislation. Republicans could use it to block President Biden's agenda. "With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent," McConnell said. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) office said Schumer was glad McConnell had dropped his "ridiculous demand." Some lawmakers said they might stop supporting the filibuster if Republicans use it for constant obstruction. The Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats control with her tie-breaking vote.


Senate approves Yellen as Treasury secretary

The Senate on Monday confirmed Janet Yellen to be President Biden's Treasury secretary. Yellen, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, will be the first woman to serve in the post. She also was the first female Fed chair. The 84-15 Senate vote came after Yellen won unanimous approval from the Senate Finance Committee. Yellen told senators that Congress should pass a massive new round of coronavirus stimulus to support the economy as the pandemic continues. Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package, but he faces opposition from Republicans who are calling for a more modest and narrowly targeted bill. Yellen was Fed chair when former President Donald Trump took office, but he declined to appoint her to a second term.


Biden rescinds Trump ban on transgender people serving in military

President Biden issued an executive order rescinding a ban on transgender people serving in the military on Monday. The order reverses a policy former President Donald Trump announced in a tweet during his first year in office. On Twitter, Biden called the ban "discriminatory," writing that "America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride." An official statement from the White House echoed the sentiment, saying "an inclusive force is a more effective force." Biden's newly confirmed defense secretary, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, discussed his support for Biden's plan to scrap the ban during his Senate confirmation hearing last week. "If you're fit and you're qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve," Austin said.


DOJ watchdog investigates whether officials tried to reverse election results

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Monday that his office is investigating whether DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt" to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election. The news followed reports that former President Donald Trump considered replacing his acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, with another official, Jeffrey Clark, who appeared willing to push the unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud Trump was using in a failed attempt to get President Biden's victory overturned. Trump's attempt to reverse his election loss failed partly due to pushback from within his own Justice Department, including from Rosen and former Attorney General William Barr. Clark has denied he was involved in any plan to oust Rosen.


Dominion files defamation lawsuit against Giuliani

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani accusing him of defamation, saying he falsely implicated the company in bogus election fraud claims. Dominion said the "Big Lie" Giuliani used to try to reverse Trump's election loss to President Biden damaged Dominion's business and its reputation. The company also said Giuliani's claims resulted in death threats against Dominion employees. Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages. Just before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, Giuliani told Trump supporters that "crooked Dominion machines" were used to steal the election.


Supreme Court declares Trump emoluments lawsuits moot

The Supreme Court on Monday blocked two lawsuits that accused former President Donald Trump of violating the Constitution's emoluments clause by profiting from payments from foreign or state governments to his businesses. One of the suits was filed by New York restauranteurs and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington shortly after Trump took office in 2017. The other was filed later that year by attorneys general in the District of Columbia and Maryland. The high court's decision to declare the cases moot was widely interpreted as a sign that the justices were trying to put controversies of the Trump era behind them now that Trump is out of office.


Biden increases his target vaccine pace to 1.5 million per day

President Biden on Monday increased his goal for the nation's coronavirus vaccine push, saying he hoped to increase the targeted pace from 1 million doses a day to 1.5 million. Biden said he was "quite confident" that the vaccine program would reach the initial goal of 1 million doses a day "in the next three weeks or so," with the pace rising quickly to 1.5 million. Biden has criticized the speed of vaccine distribution under the Trump administration, and pledged to get 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Americans in his first 100 days in office. Some skeptics have questioned whether the goal is achievable, while others have said Biden's plan wasn't ambitious enough. Biden said every American who wants the vaccine should have access by spring.


Italian premier offers resignation to seek stronger mandate

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's office said Monday that he plans to offer his resignation on Tuesday. Conte last week made it through two confidence votes in Parliament, although he lost his majority in the Senate when ex-premier Matteo Renzi, a centrist ally, broke away from him. Conte's decision to submit his resignation was seen as a bet that he could win a fresh mandate from President Sergio Mattarella to pull together a stronger ruling coalition. Conte plans to meet with Mattarella, who will decide whether to accept the resignation. Mattarella has called for solid leadership to get the country through the coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated an already stagnant economy.


Portman announces he won't seek re-election

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday that he won't seek re-election after his second term ends in 2022. In a statement, Portman, who has built a reputation as one of the more bipartisan lawmakers in the Senate, said "it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy." He also said "if we continue pushing out to the right and to the left, there's not going to be much left in the middle to solve the real problems we face." Portman said he isn't sure who will run to replace him. The seat is expected to remain safely Republican, and possibilities include Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken, former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel, and J.D. Vance, the author of the memoir Hillbilly Elegy.


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