Biden to address nation on Thursday to mark one year of Covid lockdowns – live
Senator Joe Manchin has said he is open to changing the rules around the Senate filibuster to make it more difficult to invoke.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Joe Biden does not embrace that idea.
“His preference is not to make changes to the filibuster rules,” Psaki said of the president.
With the filibuster in place, Republicans can block much of Biden’s legislative agenda in the evenly divided Senate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Joe Biden and Senator Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia, “speak regularly”.
Manchin has repeatedly said he does not want to eliminate the Senate filibuster, and he has now indicated he does not want to support future bills unless they have some Republican support.
Manchin’s comments have raised many questions about whether Biden will be able to advance any of his legislative priorities with an evenly divided Senate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Psaki sidestepped the question, emphasizing that Meghan and Harry live as “private citizens” and that the US maintains a “special relationship” with the UK.
The press secretary added that Joe Biden always commends those who bravely come forward to discuss their struggles with mental health.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said most Americans would receive their payments from the coronavirus relief bill by the end of the month.
The relief bill, which passed the Senate on Saturday, includes $1,400 checks for American adults making less than $75,000 a year. The checks phase out completely for those making more than $80,000 a year.
The original House bill phased out the checks for those making more than $100,000 a year, as the first two rounds of stimulus payments did.
The change means Joe Biden will give checks to fewer Americans than Donald Trump did, although this check amount is higher than the first stimulus payment of $1,200 and the second payment of $600.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked (once again) whether Joe Biden would support eliminating the Senate filibuster to advance his agenda.
“The president’s preference is not to get rid of the filibuster,” Psaki told reporters.
The press secretary cited the Senate’s passage of the coronavirus relief bill as evidence of what Democrats can achieve without scrapping teh filibuster.
“Look at what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last six weeks,” Psaki said.
But the relief bill passed using reconciliation, a legislative mechanism that will not be possible for most of the administration’s other proposals, and the bill did not attract any Republican support in the Senate.
With the filibuster in place, Democrats will need to convince 10 of their Republican colleagues to join them to get bills passed, a hefty task given the intense level of partisanship in Congress right now.
Biden to deliver primetime address to mark one year since coronavirus lockdowns
Joe Biden will deliver a primetime address on Thursday to mark one year since the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, White House press secretary Jen Psaki just announced.
The speech will be Biden’s first primetime address since becoming president, and Psaki said he will use the speech to once again pay his respects to the more than 500,000 Americans who have died of coronavirus.
Biden will also likely tout his $1.9 trillion relief bill, which the Senate passed on Saturday. The House is expected to approve the bill tomorrow, and Biden could sign it as early as tomorrow night.
Psaki described the relief package as “one of the most consequential and most progressive pieces of legislation in American history”.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that she and deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre are wearing purple today, in honor of International Women’s Day.
Psaki joked that the new deputy press secretary, Chris Meagher, is also wearing a purple tie today as part of his “indoctrination” into the women-dominated team.
A reporter asked Julissa Reynoso, a co-chair of the gender policy council and chief of staff to the first lady, about her recent trip to the US-Mexican border.
Reynoso was one of several senior administration officials who recently visited the border to get a better sense of how the US is handling the recent surge in unaccompanied migrant children trying to enter the country.
Reynoso said she spoke to some of the migrant children detained near the border, and she said the Biden administration is “very mindful of the human cost here”.
She noted the officials who traveled to the border have not yet briefed Joe Biden on their trip, but they plan to do so this week.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki is now holding her daily briefing with reporters, and she kicked off the event by wishing everyone a happy International Women’s Day.
Psaki noted that Joe Biden signed two executive orders today to mark the occasion.
One of the orders will establish the White House gender policy council, and the second will direct the department of education to review its policies on protecting students from sexual violence.
Julissa Reynoso, a co-chair of the gender policy council and chief of staff to the first lady, said the panel would help to “ensure we build a more equal and just democracy”.
Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith, a senior advisor to the White House coronavirus response team, noted that African Americans, Latino Americans and Asian Americans are still underrepresented among those who have been vaccinated.
This disparity is occurring as African Americans, Latino Americans and Asian Americans are dying of coronavirus at disproportionately high rates.
Nunez-Smith said the Biden administration is working to “bend the vaccination process toward justice”.
The health expert noted that the administration will be prioritizing pharmacies in its pharmacy vaccination program that do a better job addressing equity in administering vaccines.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, summarized the new guidance from her agency on best practices for Americans who have been fully vaccinated.
Walensky emphasized that “fully vaccinated” meant those who are at least two weeks out from receiving their final vaccine dose.
The CDC director reiterated that those who have been fully vaccinated can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors, without wearing masks or practicing physical distancing.
Fully vaccinated people can also visit with unvaccinated people from a single household, as long as everyone in that household is low risk and healthy.
Walensky added that those who have been fully vaccinated can refrain from quarantining after a known exposure to coronavirus, as long as they are asymptomatic.
The CDC director described the latest guidance as “an important first step” to paving a path out of this pandemic, but she emphasized there would be additional guidance as health experts gain more information about the protection that vaccines provide.
“It is not our final destination,” Walensky said of today’s guidance.
The White House coronavirus response team is now holding its briefing, to provide an update on the vaccine distribution process.
According to senior White House adviser Andy Slavitt, the US administered an average of 2.2 million vaccine doses a day over the past week.
On Saturday alone, the US administered 2.9 million vaccine doses, setting a new single-day record.
The pace of vaccinations means Joe Biden is ahead of his goal to administer 100 million doses over his first 100 days in office.
CDC says fully vaccinated people can meet indoors without masks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its long-awaited guidance on best practices for Americans who have been fully vaccinated.
According to the CDC, those who have been fully vaccinated can visit indoors with others who are fully vaccinated without wearing masks.
Additionally, those who have been fully vaccinated can safely gather indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without wearing masks, the CDC said.
That second point will likely be a huge relief for older Americans, many of whom have already been vaccinated and have gone months without visiting their children, grandchildren and other relatives because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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