Friday morning news – January 22, 2021

Biden signs 10 more coronavirus-related orders » President Biden plowed through another stack of executive orders on his desk Thursday, signing 10 new orders to fight COVID-19. 

BIDEN: We’re going to put the full force of the federal government behind expanding testing by launching a COVID-19 pandemic testing board. This effort will ensure that we get testing to where it is needed and where it is needed most. 

The president is directing the CDC to launch a program to make vaccines available through local pharmacies starting next month. That will build on a plan devised by the Trump administration.

He also signed an order mandating masks for interstate travel. That rule will apply to airports, planes, ships, trains, and buses. And travelers from abroad will have to show a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine upon arrival. 

Another order is aimed at having most schools open within the next few months. He wants the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide clear guidance for reopening schools. States would also be able to tap FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to help return kids to classrooms. 

Biden administration announces resumption of funding to WHO » And Dr. Anthony Fauci announced on Thursday that the United States is making a u-turn on funding the WHO. 

FAUCI: The United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization. 

President Trump said last year that he was pulling the plug on U.S. support for the U.N. health body. He blasted the WHO for early failures in responding to the pandemic and for its cozy relationship with China. 

The United States halted funding for the U.N. health agency, stripping it of cash from the country that has long been its biggest donor.

But Fauci, who is now President Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said by reengaging with the WHO, the new administration hopes to achieve several goals… 

FAUCI: To strengthen, and importantly, to reform the WHO; to help lead the collective effort to strengthen the international COVID-19 response. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus welcomed Thursday’s announcement. He called it a good day for the “WHO and a good day for global health.” 

Democrats enjoy slim Senate majority with swearing in of new Senators » Democrats now enjoy a slim majority in the U.S. Senate. Three new senators took the oath of office this week after President Biden’s inauguration. 

Vice President Kamala Harris administered the oath. 

HARRIS: And that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office you are about to enter, so help you God…
HARRIS: Congratulations.

John Ossoff and Rafael Warnock are joining the Senate after winning Georgia’s double runoff election earlier this month. And California Democrat Alex Padilla will serve out the remainder of Kamala Harris’ Senate term. 

And that makes Senator Chuck Schumer the new majority leader. 

SCHUMER: As the majority changes in the Senate, the Senate will do business differently. The Senate will address the challenges our country faces head on and without delay. 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is now the minority leader, congratulated the newest members of the Senate. 

MCCONNELL: Our country deserves for both sides, both parties to find common ground for the common good everywhere that we can, and disagree respectfully where we must. 

Democrats and Republicans are now tied, each with 50 seats in the upper chamber. But Vice President Harris gives her party the tie-breaking vote.

Senate confirms Haines as intelligence chief » And on Thursday, the Senate confirmed Biden’s first Cabinet pick. 

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 84, the nays are 10. The nomination is confirmed. 

That vote made Avril Haines the new director of National Intelligence. 

Earlier this week, she told senators that if confirmed, keeping tabs on Beijing would be a top priority. 

HAINES: Gaining and sharing insight into China’s intentions and capabilities, while also supporting more immediate efforts to counter Beijing’s unfair, illegal, aggressive and cohesive actions, as well as its human rights violations whenever we can. 

Haines is a former CIA deputy director.  

Also on Thursday, lawmakers in the House approved a waiver to allow retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as the next Secretary of Defense. 

That waiver was needed because Austin is less than seven years retired from the military and that Cabinet post is designed to be a civilian role. 

The Senate is likely to confirm Austin soon. 

Pelosi rejects calls to ‘move on’ from Trump impeachment » But a Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump could complicate efforts to confirm Biden’s nominees. 

Much depends on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends the article of impeachment to the Senate. 

Some lawmakers argue that impeaching a former president is a waste of time and the Congress should move on. But Pelosi this week said no way. 

PELOSI: Just because he’s now gone, thank God, you don’t say to a president, do whatever you want in the last days of your administration. You’re going to get a get-of-jail card free because people think we should make nice, nice. 

Pelosi did not say when she will send the impeachment article to the Senate, but insisted it will be “soon.” 

Earlier this week, thenMajority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a message to Pelosi indicating that the Senate is ready for a trial. 

Suicide bombings kill at least 32 in Baghdad » A pair of suicide bombings ripped through a crowded market in Baghdad on Thursday, killing dozens of Iraqis. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: A grim scene in Iraq’s capital city on Thursday: Blood stained the pavement of the busy market amid piles of clothes and shoes. 

Hours earlier, massive explosions shook central Baghdad, killing at least 32 people and wounding more than a hundred. 

Officials said the first suicide bomber cried out for help, claiming he was ill. When good Samaritans gathered to help him, he detonated his explosive belt.

The second bomber rode in on a motorcycle before blowing himself up. 

The blasts marked the first major suicide bombings in the city in nearly two years. 

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Iraqi military officials said it was the work of ISIS militants. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Joe Biden signs his first executive order in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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