Sunday, January 17, 2021

Biden tries to focus on Covid and economy as Trump trial looms

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Joe Biden has urged congressional leaders to stay focused on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and confirm his cabinet candidates even as the US Senate prepares for Donald Trump’s trial.

Faced with the prospect of a Senate impeachment trial from his early days in the White House, the president-elect urged senators to act quickly to confirm his candidates for top positions in the economy and national security .

And he called on them to find time to resume his plans to fight the pandemic and the economic crisis, which he is expected to outline in a speech Thursday night.

“I hope the Senate leadership will find a way to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities for impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” Biden said after Wednesday’s vote, adding that he wanted to focus on “getting our vaccine. program on track and.. our economy is going.”

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon voted to impeach Mr. Trump on a charge of inciting insurgency, stemming from his role in last week’s siege on Capitol Hill. A dozen unprecedented Republicans, including Liz Cheney, sided with their fellow Democrats to remove the president.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, signed the article of impeachment in a ceremony Wednesday evening, which will now be sent to the Senate to be tried.

It is still unclear when Ms Pelosi will start the trial by sending the article to the upper house of Congress. When Mr. Trump was first impeached in December 2019, the President waited almost a full month before sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

The Senate is currently on hold and is not scheduled to meet until Tuesday, January 19, a day before Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President.

Mr Biden’s inauguration will also mark a change of guard in the upper house of Congress, with Democrats Take control after winning two hotly contested Senate second rounds in Georgia last week.

The room will be split, 50-50, with Kamala Harris, the vice president, casting the deciding vote. Chuck Schumer, the current Senate Minority Leader, will take over as Senate Majority Leader.

Until then, Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, remains the majority leader and controls the House calendar. He surprised his colleagues in Washington this week when he opened up the possibility of convicting Mr. Trump in a Senate trial, which could encourage other Republican senators to vote against the incumbent president.

Mr McConnell made it clear on Wednesday that he has no plans to bring the legislature back until next week, which means a trial is almost certain to cast a shadow over the early days of the Biden administration.

This complicates matters for Mr Biden, who intended to quickly push through an ambitious legislative package with ‘trillions’ of dollars for new economic relief linked to the coronavirus. He has also named several cabinet appointments, all of which will need to be confirmed by the Senate in the early days of his administration.

“Given the Senate rules, procedures and precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial can end before President-elect Biden takes the oath of office. next week, ”McConnell said.

After Wednesday’s vote, the White House released a pre-recorded video of Mr. Trump, in which the president made no mention of the impeachment or his successor, but said he had “condemned” them. violence at the Capitol and wished calm in the coming days. .

Thousands of armed National Guard soldiers are already patrolling the Capitol ahead of next week’s inauguration, and large parts of downtown Washington are closed to guard against possible further violence.

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