Wednesday morning news – January 27, 2021

Biden: administration set to boost vaccine supplies to states » President Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. government will soon begin shipping larger supplies of coronavirus vaccines to states. 

He said with more than 400,000 Americans lost to COVID-19, battling the virus is a “war-time” effort. 

BIDEN: And we’re using the Defense Production Act to launch a full scale war-time effort to address the supply shortages… 

Speaking at the White House, he said the government is ramping up weekly supplies by at least 15 percent. 

He also said his administration will help states to organize their vaccination efforts by giving governors a three-week forecast of vaccine supplies. 

Biden signs exec. orders aimed at racial equality » The president also spoke to reporters on Tuesday just before taking his pen to another stack of executive orders—this time with a focus on racial equality.  

BIDEN: We have never really lived up to the founding principles of this nation to state the obvious, that all people are created equal and have a right to be treated equally throughout their lives. And it’s time to act now.

Biden said he’s rescinding the Trump administration’s ban on diversity and sensitivity training in the federal government. 

He’s also ordering the Department of Justice to end its reliance on private prisons. That means the DOJ will not renew most contracts with private facilities. He called the order the “first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration.”

Biden is also asking the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reassess a change made by former HUD Secretary Ben Carson that raised the bar for proving unintentional discrimination. It also gave defendants more latitude to refute such claims. However, that rule change has been tied up in federal courts.

White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday…

RICE: These aren’t feel-good policies. The evidence is clear. Investing in equity is good for economic growth, and it creates jobs for all Americans. 

The president also signed an order Tuesday reaffirming the sovereignty of tribal governments over their lands. 

Senate gridlock ends as two Democrats vow to guard filibuster rule » Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the Senate can finally get rolling after days of gridlock.  

With the chamber now split, 50-50, the Senate was frozen as party leaders clashed over a new power sharing agreement. But they have now agreed to move forward.

Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell locked horns on one paramount issue: the filibuster. 

That’s the rule that allows the minority party to block legislation that can’t muster at least 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate. 

Without that rule, a simple 51-vote majority would be enough. But McConnell argued…

MCCONNELL: The bar for lawmaking is high. It should be high. Even if both [parties] take turns being slightly frustrated by it. If your legislation can’t pass the Senate, you don’t scrap the rules or lower the standards, you improve your idea.

Since the 1800s, both parties have often used the rule to block legislation that would otherwise have passed with a simple majority. But many Democrats say it’s time for a change.

Schumer said Tuesday…

SCHUMER: For the last six years, Leader McConnell and the Republicans turned the Senate into a legislative graveyard. 

McConnell demanded the filibuster rule be protected but Schumer said no. 

SCHUMER: Now that Leader McConnell has relented on his demand that was preventing the Senate from moving forward with an organizing resolution, we can begin work. 

McConnell dropped his demand when two Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema vowed that they would not vote to end the filibuster.

While the chamber is evenly split, Vice President Kamala Harris breaks the tie in any 50/50 vote.

Sec. of State Blinken ready for work after Senate confirmation » Newly confirmed Secretary of State Tony Blinken is expected to start work today after senators approved his nomination on Tuesday. 

AUDIO: The yeas are 78, the nays are 22. The nomination is confirmed. 

The 58-year-old diplomat served in the Obama administration as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser. 

Blinken will take the wheel at the State Department charged with carrying out President Biden’s foreign policy plans. Much of that will center on reversing former President Trump’s “America first” approach. 

Blinken testified on Capitol Hill last week, telling lawmakers that “American leadership still matters.” 

BLINKEN: When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does, and then you have chaos.

But Blinken told lawmakers that he also agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy efforts. He specifically mentioned U.S.-brokered diplomatic deals between Israel and several Arab states and a tough stance on China.

However, the Biden administration is interested in reforging the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Trump pulled out of that deal in 2018.

Judge bars Biden from enforcing 100-day deportation ban » A federal judge on Tuesday barred the Biden administration from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium. 

U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas. Tipton said the administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

The moratorium went into effect Friday and applied to almost anyone who entered the U.S. without authorization before November.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Joe Biden signs an executive order on racial equity, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 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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