President Joe Biden will launch another front in his battle against COVID-19 on Friday by taking steps to provide economic relief to Americans still reeling from the effects of the deadly pandemic. Biden is expected to sign two executive orders that will give low-income families easier access to federal nutrition and food assistance programs and start the process for requiring federal contractors to pay their workers a minimum wage of $15 per hour and give them emergency paid leave. He has already called on Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that would include another round of stimulus payments of up to $1,400 to millions of Americans. It’s unclear how quickly lawmakers will act on that package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to say when she would send the Senate an article of impeachment charging former President Donald Trump with inciting an insurrection. However, a source familiar with the plan but not authorized to speak on the record, said the article could be sent Friday — setting the stage for a trial Monday. “It will be soon,” Pelosi said. “I don’t think it will be long. But we must do it.”Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow Senate Republicans on a call Thursday afternoon he wanted to delay Trump’s impeachment trial for several weeks until the former president had a legal team in place, according to a Senate source who was unauthorized to speak about a private call.
Retired Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin was speeding toward confirmation as President Joe Biden’s new secretary of defense Thursday, as Congress waived a law prohibiting recently-retired officers from holding the post. Both houses brushed aside concerns that his retirement occurred inside the seven-year window that safeguards civilian leadership of the military. The Senate voted to exempt Austin, who has been out of uniform for less than five years, from the rule after a 69-27 Senate tally that came moments after a comparably lopsided 326-78 House vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor Thursday that a confirmation vote for Austin would be held Friday morning. Austin, a 41-year veteran, has promised to surround himself with qualified civilians and include them in policy decisions. If confirmed, Austin would become the first Black secretary of defense in American history.
President Joe Biden’s administration has put a pause on deportation for some undocumented immigrants, according to a memo from his acting Homeland Security Secretary. Hours after Biden was inaugurated, David Pekoske issued a memo calling for deportations to be halted for 100 days, immediately or by Friday at the the latest, as policies regarding immigration enforcement are being reviewed. Deportation is only paused for some, however. According to the memo, those who engage in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage, were not physically present in the U.S. by Nov. 1, 2020, or have voluntarily waived any rights to remain in the U.S. provided they were made fully aware of the consequences of the waiver, are subject to deportation.
Another chance at a massive payout awaits Friday night. The Mega Millions jackpot has ballooned to a projected $970 million. The lump sum payout is $716.3 million. Odds of winning? One in 302,575,350. During months of buildup and the longest stretch in the game’s history without a jackpot winner, millions in smaller prizes were won as the jackpot crept up. Now it’s the third-largest prize in U.S. lottery history, if claimed at its amount now. Adding to the excitement: A winning ticket for Wednesday’s Powerball was sold in the small northwestern Maryland town of Lonaconing. The jackpot reached $731.1 million, making it the fifth-largest U.S. lottery jackpot ever.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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