The daily business briefing: January 26, 2021
The Senate confirms Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, Dominion Voting Systems sues Giuliani, and more
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 Senate 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 for a second term.
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.
Moderna accelerates work on vaccine booster for South African strain
Drug-maker Moderna said Monday that it was speeding up research on a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to fight a highly transmissible coronavirus strain recently discovered in South Africa. Moderna has said its vaccine works against the South Africa strain and another highly infectious variant first detected in the United Kingdom, but that the vaccine produced a weaker immune response against the South African one. The antibodies were above the level needed to protect against that variant, but the company said the findings suggested "a potential risk of earlier waning of immunity" against that strain. The company said it was accelerating work on the booster candidate "out of an abundance of caution."
Twitter bans My Pillow CEO's account
Twitter has permanently banned My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell from the micro-blogging platform over his tweets repeating the bogus claim that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Twitter said Lindell's baseless allegations of election fraud violated the company's civic integrity policy, which it adopted in September to combat disinformation. Major retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl's, have stopped carrying My Pillow products due to Lindell's ongoing insistence that the election was rigged in favor of President Biden. Lindell also could face a lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over his claim the company's voting machines were used to flip votes to Biden. Twitter has banned more than 70,000 accounts, including Trump's, for spreading misinformation.
Biden resumes effort to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill
The Biden administration will restart efforts to put famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to replace former President Andrew Jackson, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. Tubman would be the first Black person to be featured on a piece of U.S. currency, and the first woman since Martha Washington appeared on the $1 bill in the 1890s. "It's important that our notes ... reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman's image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that," Psaki said. The Obama administration launched a push to put Tubman on the bill in 2016, but the Trump administration dropped the plan in 2019.