Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her COVID-19 vaccine along with her husband, Doug Emhoff.
This week, USA TODAY Politics focuses on the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, his remaining Cabinet picks and the final week of the current Congress.
Dates to watch:
- Jan. 3: New Congress is sworn in.
- Jan. 5: Senate runoff election in Georgia.
- Jan. 6: Congress will count and certify the electoral results in a joint session.
- Jan. 20: Inauguration of Biden, who will take the oath of office.
Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the transition.
McConnell blocks immediate action on $2K stimulus checks
All eyes are the U.S. Senate after the House passed two contentious measures that force Republicans into a difficult position, including whether to back President Donald Trump’s call to increase stimulus checks for Americans to $2,000 despite long-held objections to increased government spending.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked immediate approval of increasing the one-time payments from $600 to $2,000 Tuesday after a unanimous consent request by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Instead, the GOP leader outlined three priorities the president demanded Congress examine, linking the increased stimulus payments with Trump’s calls to repeal Section 230 that allows big tech companies legal immunity and an examination of election integrity after Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud after his defeat.
McConnell did not outline any timeline for when or if the chamber might take up increased stimulus payments or Trump’s other demands. The House on Monday passed a measure that raised the payments to $2,000 with bipartisan support. Forty-four House Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the measure as 130 rejected it.
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— Christal Hayes
Kamala Harris receives COVID-19 vaccine
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglass Emhoff, received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at United Medical Center in southeast Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning.
The couple received their first doses of the vaccine a little over a week after President-elect Joe Biden was vaccinated.
“That was easy! I barely felt it,” Harris exclaimed after being injected. The vice president-elect thanked the staff of United Medical Center for serving “a community that is often overlooked.” Harris later said she chose to be vaccinated in Southeast D.C., a majority-Black area of the city, to encourage “trust in the vaccine, in the people who work in your community every day.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Patricia Cummings, Tuesday Dec. 29, 2020, at United Medical Center in southeast Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP)
The vaccine was administered by nurse Patricia Cummings, the daughter of two Guyanese immigrants to the U.S.
“I want to encourage everyone to get the vaccine,” Harris said. “It is relatively painless and effective.”
Harris received the vaccine as the Trump administration’s rollout of vaccines across the country has lagged projections. Biden has pledged to make 100 million vaccines available in his first 100 days in office.
The incoming executives also received the vaccine amid a debate over whether public officials who were vaccinated were modeling good behavior or “cutting the line” ahead of groups who more needed the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci had urged Biden and Harris to receive the vaccine for “security reasons.”
“This is about saving lives. I trust the science, and it is the scientists who created and approved this vaccine,” Harris emphasized. “This is about saving your life, the life of your family members and of your community.”
— Matthew Brown
Donald Trump lashes out at Senate Republicans: ‘They only know how to lose!’
President Donald Trump spent Tuesday morning attacking fellow Republicans as the GOP-run Senate prepares to rebuke him over COVID-19 relief checks to Americans, the defense authorization bill, and his repeated pleas to overturn his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden.
“Our leaders (not me, of course!) are pathetic,” Trump said during an angry tweetstorm. “They only know how to lose!”
Trump, who is spending the end of the year at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida, appeared to be responding to news reports that the GOP Senate will reject his calls for $2,000 stimulus checks and instead stick with already approved $600 checks.
Trump had threatened to veto a COVID stimulus bill over the the issue but signed it Sunday night while demanding that Congress pass new legislation for $2,000 checks. The Democratic-run House did, but the Republican Senate is not expected to follow suit.
“$2000 for our great people, not $600!” Trump tweeted.
Trump also referred to reports that the GOP Senate will join the House in overriding his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. Trump had insisted that the bill include ending lawsuit protections for social media companies, but many Senate Republicans do not agree.
“A disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech,” Trump tweeted at one point. “Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW!”
Trump also protested the fact that the defense bill requires the Pentagon to change the names of military facilities named for Confederate generals.
Perhaps above all, Trump is angry with Senate Republican leaders because they will not support his call to overturn the election by refusing to count Biden electors in certain states.
Biden defeated Trump in the Electoral College, 306 to 232, and carried the popular vote by more than 7 million.
Election 2020: How Trump, Republicans have tried to overturn Joe Biden’s win
Congress is scheduled to count Electoral College votes – and certify Biden’s win – on Jan. 6.
During his Tuesday tirade, Trump tweeted: “Republican leadership only wants the path of least resistance.”
— David Jackson
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