10 things you need to know today: February 4, 2021
Schumer and McConnell reach a Senate power-sharing deal, House Republicans keep Liz Cheney in leadership post, and more
Schumer, McConnell reach Senate power-sharing deal
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Wednesday that they had reached a power-sharing deal for the chamber, which is split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote giving Democrats a narrow majority. The agreement cleared the way for the full body of the Senate to approve the organizing resolution, which Schumer said meant that "committees can promptly set up and get to work with Democrats holding the gavels." The deal was expected to be like one used in 2001, the last time the Senate was evenly split. That arrangement let bills and nominations go to the floor even when committee votes were tied. The Senate had been deadlocked since Jan. 20, when Democrats took over the majority but Republicans remained in control of committees.
House Republicans vote to keep Liz Cheney in leadership post
House Republicans on Wednesday voted 145 to 61 to let Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) keep her leadership position. Some Republicans had demanded Cheney step down from her post as the No. 3 House Republican over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump on a charge that he incited the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. Cheney defended her support for Trump's impeachment as a vote of conscience. "I won't apologize for the vote," she said in a closed-door meeting of the House Republican conference. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is struggling to keep the splintering party together, defended Cheney but declined to punish Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) for past controversial statements espousing conspiracy theories, encouraging political violence, and spreading anti-Semitic lies.
House to vote on removing Greene from committee assignments
The Democrat-led House plans to vote Thursday on stripping controversial QAnon-supporting Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had pushed for less drastic measures to hold Green accountable for her promotion of baseless conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric toward Democrats, but he failed to reach an agreement with Democratic leaders. "I spoke to Leader McCarthy this morning, and it is clear there is no alternative to holding a Floor vote on the resolution to remove Rep. Greene from her committee assignments," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) tweeted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized McCarthy's "cowardly refusal" to punish Greene. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Greene's "loony lies" were a "cancer" for the GOP.
Canada designates Proud Boys a terrorist group
Canada on Wednesday designated the Proud Boys a terrorist entity. The decision came less than a month after the U.S. far-right group allegedly participated in the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The siege left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the groups on the terrorism list, which also include al-Qaeda, ISIS, and al-Shabab, are being targeted in a push to fight "ideologically motivated violent extremism" that Canada sees as the "most significant threat to domestic security." The U.S. Homeland Security Department warned recently of the threat of additional violence by "ideologically motivated violent extremists."
Supreme Court cancels hearing on 2 Trump immigration policies
The Supreme Court on Wednesday canceled plans to hear arguments on two of former President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policies after President Biden reversed them. The court had been scheduled to review lower court rulings on the policies — Trump's "Remain in Mexico" policy for asylum applicants, and his use of Pentagon money to build barriers on the southern border — but the Justice Department asked the high court to remove the Trump administration's appeals of lower court rulings from the court calendar. Biden's Homeland Security Department has already stopped sending Central American asylum seekers to Mexico while their cases are considered, and Biden stopped Trump's wall project right after taking office.
DOJ drops Trump discrimination lawsuit against Yale
The Justice Department on Wednesday dropped the Trump administration's lawsuit accusing Yale University of discriminating against Asian-American and white students in its admissions process. The lawsuit was one of several actions taken by the Trump administration to challenge college policies considering race in admissions, and other affirmative action practices. The Justice Department sued Yale in October accusing the Ivy League school of discriminating on the basis of race and national origin, claiming that most Asian-American and white applicants are one-eighth to one-fourth as likely to be admitted as Black applicants with similar qualifications. Yale denied the allegations, and the DOJ has withdrawn its finding that Yale violated Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Myanmar military government temporarily blocks Facebook
Myanmar's new military government late Wednesday started blocking access to Facebook in response to growing resistance to this week's coup against the country's civilian government. "Telecom providers in Myanmar have been ordered to temporarily block Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We urge authorities to restore connectivity so that people in Myanmar can communicate with family and friends and access important information." The ruling party and activists have been calling for civil disobedience to protest the ouster of the elected government, and the arrest of its leaders, including longtime democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi. Yangon residents on Wednesday staged a second night of "noise protests," banging pots and pans and honking car horns.
San Francisco sues school district over protracted closures
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued the San Francisco Board of Elections, the San Francisco Unified School District, and Superintendent Vince Matthews on Wednesday, accusing them of violating a state law mandating that school districts have a plan "to offer classroom-based instruction whenever possible," especially for students experiencing "significant learning loss due to school closures." San Francisco's public schools have been closed to in-person learning for 11 months, despite prodding from Mayor London Breed (D) and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). "I know this is a drastic step, but I feel we are out of options at this point," Breed said Wednesday. The San Francisco school districts has developed plans to start reopening but failed to reach agreement with its teachers' unions.
Biden insists on $1,400 checks but open to narrowing eligibility
President Biden said Wednesday that he was not willing to budge on his insistence on sending $1,400 coronavirus relief checks to individuals, saying that would amount to starting his presidency on a broken promise. But Biden said in a call with Democrats that he would consider narrowing eligibility to target a smaller group. Some members of both political parties have balked at the cost of sending out so many payments, suggesting that some people who don't need the aid could get them. Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Ten Senate Republicans have countered with a bill a third that size. Biden said Democrats, who have started a process that would let them pass the proposal without Republican support, could make "compromises" on some of the spending.
Mank and The Crown lead the 2021 Golden Globe nominations
Netflix's Mank led the 2021 Golden Globe film nominations, scoring six nods including for Best Motion Picture — Drama. The drama film category also consisted of The Father, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, and The Trial of the Chicago 7, while the nominees for musical or comedy film were Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Music, Hamilton, Palm Springs, and The Prom. The most-nominated TV series was The Crown, which earned six nominations including for Best Television Series — Drama. Lovecraft Country, The Mandalorian, Ozark, and Ratched were also nominated for drama series, while Emily in Paris, The Flight Attendant, The Great, Schitt's Creek, and Ted Lasso were nominated for musical or comedy series. The Golden Globes made history by nominating three female directors in one year, while among the most notable snubs was Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods.