Joe Biden, on his way to Wisconsin for the CNN town hall, was asked about the Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s recent comments that Republicans should unify in opposition to the president and his $1.9tn Covid relief bill.
Biden said, “It may unify Republicans, but it’ll hurt America badly.”
The son of a conservative activist has been charged with multiple federal offenses in a Capitol riot case, HuffPost reports:
Leo Brent Bozell IV is the son of conservative activist L Brent Bozell III, who founded the rightwing groups, Media Research Center and NewsBusters. Bozell is facing charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing an official proceeding and entering a restricted building, according to HuffPost, citing unsealed court documents.
The criminal complaint features photos of Bozell IV on the floor of the Senate. In an affidavit, an FBI agent included a tweet pointing out that Bozell IV was wearing a sweatshirt from a school where he used to work as a basketball coach.
More background on him and his family here:
Hi all – Sam Levin in Los Angeles, taking over our live coverage for the rest of the day.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) has opened up its first Covid-19 mass vaccination sites, starting in LA and in Oakland, as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to speed up immunizations and to reach communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Here’s the set up in Oakland:
More details from the AP:
The site, set up in heavily Latino East LA as part of an effort to reach communities that have suffered disproportionately during the crisis, aims to vaccinate up to 6,000 people a day. Another such site opened at the Oakland Coliseum, near working-class Black and Latino neighborhoods.
The LA site is “proximate to a community that has been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic”, Gov Gavin Newsom said. “The effort here is to address that issue forthrightly.”
The Biden administration intends to establish 100 such federally assisted vaccination sites nationwide in cooperation with state authorities.
The pandemic has been particularly brutal on Latino residents of Los Angeles, with inequities that have only gotten worse in the recent surge of the crisis. More:
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Sam Levin, will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Donald Trump released a blistering statement about Mitch McConnell, after the Senate minority leader said the former president was directly responsible for the Capitol insurrection. “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said. “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”
- Democratic congressman Bennie Thompson filed a lawsuit against Trump over the Capitol insurrection. The lawsuit, which also names Rudy Giuliani and two far-right extremist groups as defendants, accuses Trump of conspiring to incite the attack on the Capitol, violating an 1871 law prohibiting violence that prevents Congress from carrying out its constitutional duties.
- Joe Biden extended a coronavirus mortgage relief program until June. The program, which was set to expire at the end of March, will help 2.7 million Americans who are at risk of their homes, as the pandemic continues to hurt the US economy.
- The Biden administration is increasing coronavirus doses shipped to states to 13.5 million a week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced. The White House is also doubling vaccines doses shipped to pharmacies, providing them with 2 million doses a week.
- Biden is going to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, today for a CNN town hall focused on the coronavirus pandemic. The president is expected to make a pitch for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which is slowly making its way through Congress.
Sam will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Donald Trump has released a blistering statement about Mitch McConnell, after the Senate minority leader said the former president was “practically and morally responsible” for the Capitol insurrection.
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said in a statement released by his political action committee.
“McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse.”
Trump then went on to tout his success in the 2020 elections, even though he lost the presidential race to Joe Biden.
“My only regret is that McConnell ‘begged’ for my strong support and endorsement before the great people of Kentucky in the 2020 election, and I gave it to him,” Trump said.
“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.”
McConnell voted to acquit Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, but he then delivered a highly critical speech about the former president. The Republican leader said Trump was directly responsible for the Capitol insurrection, and he raised the possibility that Trump could face criminal prosecution over his actions on January 6.
Nevada officials are one step closer to renaming McCarran international airport after the former Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
Clark county commissioners have unanimously approved a resolution calling for the airport to be renamed, and the proposal will now be sent to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Reid represented Nevada in the Senate for 30 years, before the Democrat stepped down in 2017 at the age of 77. Reid was replaced in the Senate by Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto.
The AP has more details on the name change:
There have been longstanding calls to rename the airport. Its current namesake, former Nevada Sen. Patrick McCarran, served as one of Nevada’s two U.S. senators from 1933 until his death in 1954. He was known for his contributions to aviation along with his anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic views. …
The proposal drew public support from longtime Reid aides and supporters, including Dan Hamilton, dean of the law school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Stephen J. Cloobeck, founder of Diamond Resorts International, Inc. and a major Democratic donor; and MGM Resorts, which has Reid co-chairing its public policy institute.
The Guardian’s Erum Salam reports from San Antonio, Texas:
Texas remains in the grip of an arctic blast that has left millions of people without power for several days and advocates are warning of a growing crisis for homeless people in the state.
Homeless and elderly people are always the most vulnerable populations in a natural disaster, and many in Texas are facing limited options for food and warmth as the state struggles to deal with the freezing temperatures and deep snow.
Latest figures show that in 2020 there were 27,229 homeless people in Texas, a jump of about 5% on the previous year. Homelessness also significantly affects communities of color more than white communities. Of the total number some 37% of homeless people in Texas were Black, compared to being just 13% of the population.
Many organizations and volunteers are coming together to provide support for vulnerable groups especially those living outdoors or on the streets. VIA, San Antonio’s transit authority, is offering courtesy rides to the city’s emergency warming centers for those living outside on the streets.
Valerie Salas, the director of homeless services at Christian Assistance Ministry (Cam), said she was driving around San Antonio through ice and snow, looking for homeless people in need of shelter.
“For the past couple of weeks, we have been warning people because we knew a cold front was going to hit. I don’t think they realized how bad it was going to be,” Salas said. “We just hit the streets once the snow started coming down. I had calls of people crying that they were cold in their tents. Some had to go the hospitals, some had to go to shelters.”
Congressman Bennie Thompson addressed his new lawsuit against Donald Trump in a statement released by the NAACP, which filed the suit on his behalf.
“January 6th was one of the most shameful days in our country’s history, and it was instigated by the President himself,” the Democratic lawmaker said in his statement.
“His gleeful support of violent white supremacists led to a breach of the Capitol that put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger. It is by the slimmest of luck that the outcome was not deadlier. While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the President accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned. Failure to do so will only invite this type of authoritarianism for the anti-democratic forces on the far right that are so intent on destroying our country.”
Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP added, “Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for deliberately inciting and colluding with white supremacists to stage a coup, in his continuing efforts to disenfranchise African-American voters.”
The White House said Joe Biden has been briefed about the recent outbreak of Ebola in west and central Africa.
“While the world is reeling from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ebola has again emerged, simultaneously, in both Central and West Africa,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“The world cannot afford to turn the other way. We must do everything in our power to respond quickly, effectively, and with commensurate resources to stop these outbreaks before they become largescale epidemics.”
Psaki continued, “President Biden has been briefed on the situation in both Central and West Africa, and his prayers are with the families of those who have died and those who are impacted by Ebola, COVID-19, and other ongoing global health challenges.”
It’s worth noting that Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, previously served as the Ebola czar under Barack Obama, during the 2014 outbreak that ultimately killed more than 11,000 people.
“The Biden Administration will do everything in its power to provide U.S. leadership to stop these outbreaks, working with the affected governments, the World Health Organization, the African Union and the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and neighboring states,” Psaki said in her statement.
Congressman Jamaal Bowman announced that his mother, Pauline Bowman, has died of coronavirus.
“It is with deep sorrow that I share the passing of our mother, Ms. Pauline Bowman. She battled Covid for many weeks before transitioning on Valentine’s Day,” Bowman said in a tweet.
“Our mother raised us to live our lives with love and joy with and for each other. I share her legacy with all of you.”
Bowman was first elected to Congress in November, after defeating fellow Democrat and longtime incumbent Eliot Engel in a closely-watched primary.
The New York congressman is one of several well-known progressive lawmakers who joined the ranks of Congress last month.
The unusual winter storm hitting the central US is impacting the delivery of coronavirus vaccines to a number of states.
Mike DeWine, the Republican governor of Ohio, said vaccine shipments from Pfizer and Moderna could be delayed by one to two days. Small shipments are being delivered on a two-hour delay.
The winter storm has left millions of people without power in Texas, and at least two people have already died as a result of the subfreezing temperatures.
Republican David Perdue confirmed he is considering running for Senate again, after losing his runoff race to Democrat Jon Ossoff last month.
The former senator said he filed paperwork for the 2022 Senate race yesterday in order to “continue to keep all options open”.
If he won the Republican nomination, Perdue would be running against Democrat Raphael Warnock, who won his own runoff against Kelly Loeffler last month. Because Warnock won a special election, he must run again next year to secure a full term in the Senate.
In a statement, Perdue argued that Ossoff and Warnock, who is the first African American from Georgia to serve in the Senate, “do not fairly represent most Georgians”.
The former senator said the election of a Republican was necessary “to change the direction of the country” and provide a check on the “radical” Biden administration.
Perdue tried to make a similar argument during his runoff race, but his candidacy was complicated by Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud among Georgia voters in the presidential election.