Biden’s first 100 days live updates: WH faces questions on child immigration policy

Official White House Photo by Adam SchultzBy MICHELLE STODDART, LAUREN KING and KATE PASTOR, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — This is Day 37 of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:

Feb 24, 7:04 pm
Vilsack sworn in as agriculture secretary via Zoom

Tom Vilsack was sworn in as the secretary of agriculture Wednesday evening in a ceremony the vice president said was her first via Zoom.

Harris was in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with a pool of journalists and Vilsack appeared on a large screen with his family.

“Congratulations, Mr. Secretary and to the whole family,” Harris said after he was sworn in. “The president is so excited. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ll do it together.”

Vilsack is returning to a role he held in the Obama administration for eight years. He previously served two terms as Iowa’s governor.

He was confirmed on Tuesday by a vote of 92-7.

Feb 24, 6:30 pm
Biden reverses Trump proclamation restricting immigration during pandemic

Biden has reversed former President Donald Trump’s presidential proclamation restricting immigration during the COVID-19 pandemic citing the economy, saying it does not advance the interests of the United States.

“To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world. And it harms individuals who were selected to receive the opportunity to apply for, and those who have likewise received, immigrant visas through the Fiscal Year 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery,” Biden wrote in a proclamation of his own.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Feb 24, 5:09 pm
Biden signs executive order to secure US supply chains

Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that will begin a 100-day investigation into vulnerabilities in the supply chain of critical sectors including computer chips, large capacity batteries, active pharmaceutical ingredients and critical and strategic materials, including rare earth minerals.

Biden touted the move as something that will strengthen America for future challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, which revealed myriad flaws in the supply chain.

“This is about making sure the United States can meet every challenge we face in this new era,” Biden said. “Pandemics, but also in defense, cybersecurity, climate change, and so much more. And the best way to do that is by protecting and sharpening America’s competitive edge by investing here at home.”

In remarks before the signing, he called the subject one of few “where Republicans and Democrats agreed,” having met earlier in the day with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

Feb 24, 5:08 am
Top Republican floats alternative candidate to head OMB

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., a top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, is throwing his weight behind an alternative nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget: Shalanda Young.

Young was nominated by Biden to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Young was most recently the staff director at House Appropriations, and she and Shelby have a close working relationship.

“I believe she would be good in that role. She’s smart, she knows the process inside-out, and she’s an honest broker who has demonstrated the ability to work with both sides and get things done. She would have my support, and I suspect many of my Republican colleagues would support her, as well,” Shelby said in a statement. “But that’s up to the Biden Administration.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Shelby’s support on Wednesday and the possibility of Young being a Neera Tanden replacement, but she made clear that the White House maintains support for Tanden.

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Feb 24, 4:17 pm
Manchin to support Haaland confirmation

Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., will vote to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland’s, D-Ariz., nomination to serve as secretary of the interior, easing concerns that Haaland’s appointment could be in jeopardy.

Manchin has been in close focus on this and other nominations this week, as the moderate Democrat has significant ability to jeopardize nominees in the evenly divided Senate.

Manchin has said he will oppose the nomination of Neera Tanden to the Office of Management and Budget and has not committed to a position on Xavier Becerra’s nomination to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I believe that every Presidential nominee and every Member of Congress must be committed to a new era of bipartisanship. That is the standard the overwhelming majority of Americans expect and deserve,” Manchin said in a statement. “With respect to Representative Haaland and her confirmation hearing, while we do not agree on every issue, she reaffirmed her strong commitment to bipartisanship, addressing the diverse needs of our country and maintaining our nation’s energy independence.”

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin

Feb 24, 4:15 pm
Biden extends national emergency over COVID-19

Biden has officially extended the national emergency declared over the COVID-19 pandemic beyond March 1. By law, the national emergency would have ended a year after it was declared unless the president took action to continue the order within 90 days of its expiration date.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation,” Biden wrote in his letter to Congress. “More than 500,000 people in this Nation have perished from the disease, and it is essential to continue to combat and respond to COVID-19 with the full capacity and capability of the Federal Government.”

The national emergency was initially ordered by former President Donald Trump on March 13, 2020, freeing up financial resources for the country as the pandemic took hold.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Feb 24, 3:48 pm
Psaki faces questions on child immigration policy

After an expanded detention facility for child migrants reopened in Carrizo Springs, Texas, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted Tuesday, “This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party.”

In a press briefing Wednesday, Psaki attempted to cast the Biden administration’s efforts to manage immigration as a major improvement over President Donald Trump’s policies but didn’t fully address Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism that such facilities shouldn’t exist at all.

Psaki said the administration had three options when it comes to child migrants: to send them back to their countries (which she said can be dangerous), to transfer them to a facility managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, or to put them in the care of families or sponsors “without any vetting.” She said the administration has chosen the middle option.

“What we are doing is working as quickly as possible to process these kids into these HHS facilities, which have been revamped, which have medical and educational services available, so that we can then transfer them to families. That’s what our approach is,” Psaki said.

Psaki would not commit to a request to allow media in to prove that children are treated humanely, citing privacy and security concerns. Psaki tried to explain the administration’s options in dealing with minors at the border and why the detention facilities have become a primary strategy.

“This is a difficult situation. It’s a difficult choice. That’s the choice we’ve made,” she said.

Psaki also attempted to defend delays in transferring children from facilities run by Customs and Border Protection, which often lack amenities, to Health and Human Service facilities that are intended for longer-term care. By law, children are supposed to spend no more than 72 hours in Customs and Border Protection facilities after initial apprehension.

“There were some delays last week because of weather, and because some of these facilities to safely move these kids to, did not have power and were not in a place where they could — they had the capacity to take in these kids and do it safely. That is not our objective. That is not our goal,” Psaki said. “So some, unfortunately, did stay four days, five days, or longer, but the objective is to move them as quickly as possible to the HHS sponsored facilities.”

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky

Feb 24, 3:33 pm
Biden meets with lawmakers about supply chain vulnerabilities

In keeping with the White House’s focus of the day, Biden held a bipartisan Oval Office meeting Wednesday with House and Senate members ahead of signing an executive order mandating a review of critical U.S. supply chains.

“The last year has shown the vulnerability we have with some of the supply chains, including the PPE that we needed badly but had to go abroad to get. And there are current strategies,” Biden said.

Biden praised the bipartisan effort to address the shortage of the chips for cars and said the group planned to discuss the problem, along with other shortage issues.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Feb 24, 2:54 pm
White House ‘surprised’ by number of J&J vaccine doses ready to ship

The White House was surprised to discover that Johnson & Johnson will only have about 3 to 4 million doses of its vaccine ready to ship once the FDA grants an emergency use authorization, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing Wednesday.

Johnson & Johnson had estimated it could ship 12 million doses at the end of February in a $1 billion contract signed with the federal government in August.

“We were surprised to learn that Johnson & Johnson was behind on their manufacturing. As you noted, it was kind of reported earlier to be about 10 million, and now it’s more like 3 to 4 million doses that they would be ready to ship next week if they are moved through the FDA process, which is not yet concluded, just to note,” Psaki said. “And we are going to continue to work with them on ensuring that that can be expedited.”

Despite the initial availability, Johnson & Johnson has said it expects 20 million doses to be available by the end of March and to meet its contractual obligation for 100 million doses by the end of June.

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky

Feb 24, 2:33 pm
Harris swears in Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador

Veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield was sworn in Wednesday morning as Biden’s U.N. ambassador. Thomas-Greenfield, known for her “gumbo diplomacy”, is a Louisiana native and child of the segregated South.

After being sworn in, Thomas-Greenfield tweeted saying she was “honored” to hold the post.

“Diplomacy is back. Multilateralism is back,” Thomas-Greenfield said in the tweet. “America is back.”

Feb 24, 11:55 am
160 CEOs ask Congress to pass COVID-19 relief

One hundred and sixty chief executive officers sent an open letter to congressional leadership Wednesday, urging lawmakers to pass “immediate and large-scale federal legislation to address the health and economic crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic” on a bipartisan basis.

The letter asks Congress to “to authorize a stimulus and relief package along the lines of the Biden-Harris administration’s proposed American Rescue Plan,” perhaps leaving some room for negotiation on what the final package will look like. But the letter makes clear that major business CEOs, including the heads of Morgan Stanley, Visa, United Airlines, BlackRock, Comcast and Google are pushing for relief on the scale of Biden’s plan.

“The American Rescue Plan provides a framework for coordinated public-private efforts to overcome COVID-19 and to move forward with a new era of inclusive growth. The country’s business community is prepared to work with you to achieve these critical objectives,” the letter says.

Just Tuesday, though, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, one of the few Senate Republicans who has shown willingness to buck his party, criticized the $1.9 trillion bill in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

“The $1.9 trillion bill is a clunker. It would waste hundreds of billions of dollars, do nothing meaningful to get kids back to school, and enact policies that work against job creation. The Congressional Budget Office’s recent analysis of the plan found that more than a third of the proposed funding—$700 billion—wouldn’t be spent until 2022 or later, undermining the administration’s claim that the massive price tag is justified for urgent pandemic-related needs,” Romney wrote.

Whether the pressure from big business will sway any Republicans in the Senate remains to be seen, but Wednesday morning’s messaging from GOP lawmakers is pretty clear: They have no intentions of budging.

Feb 24, 11:40 am
WH to send out 25 million masks

The White House will send 25 Million masks to more than 1,300 Community health centers, food pantries and soup kitchens to deliver for vulnerable communities, it says.

The masks, which are “high-quality, washable, and consistent with the mask guidance from the CDC,” will be delivered by the Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Department of Defense starting in March through May.

“As a result of these actions, an estimated 12 to 15 million Americans will receive masks. More than 25 million masks total will be distributed,” the administration said in the release.

Feb 24, 10:26 am
Blinken calls for reform in remarks to UN human rights council

In pre-taped remarks, Biden’s new Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered his first address to the U.N. Human Rights Council since the U.S. moved to rejoin as an observer. Blinken said the U.S. will seek full-time membership for the 2022 term.

In his remarks, Blinken called for reform of the council, including members with anti-Israel bias and members with troubling human rights records. He even called out a few countries by name, including Russia, Iran, Venezuela and China — all members. Blinken also noted America’s imperfect human rights record, citing discrimination and violence toward Black, indigenous and Asian Americans.

“I recognize that any pledge to fight for human rights around the world must begin with a pledge to fight for human rights at home,” Blinken said. “People of color in the United States deal every day with the consequences of systemic racism and economic injustice.

Feb 24, 10:19 am
Biden, lawmakers to tackle supply chain in meeting

The president will hold a bipartisan meeting to discuss U.S. supply chains with House and Senate members in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon. Biden will later sign an executive order on the economy with Harris in attendance.

The order is expected to mandate a 100-day review of critical product supply chains in the U.S. focused on those for computer chips, large capacity batteries, active pharmaceutical ingredients and critical minerals and strategic materials, including rare earth minerals. The order is part of the administration’s effort to secure domestic supply chains in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that highlighted vulnerabilities that currently exist.

Feb 24, 10:16 am
Trump’s role in Jan. 6 siege looms over business of Washington: The Note

The first of what will be many congressional hearings on the Capitol siege revealed how much is still not known about what happened Jan. 6 — even after an impeachment trial, evidence unearthed in scores of prosecutions and countless hours of videos of the attack itself. Perhaps the most obvious blind spot is what former President Donald Trump knew and what he did about it in real-time.

Tuesday’s hearing raised a series of questions that directly involve the previous administration. Current and former law-enforcement officials aren’t sure why FBI intelligence didn’t make its way to the Capitol Police or why National Guard and Pentagon resources weren’t faster to arrive when it became clear how awful the situation was.

Judge Merrick Garland plans to make Jan. 6 investigations his first priority after he becomes attorney general. And even with additional hearings Wednesday, Thursday and beyond, the concept of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events leading up to and during the siege is gaining traction on Capitol Hill.

Many of the most consequential questions rest with Trump — assuming he is put in a position of having to answer them.

Feb 24, 9:38 am
Tanden nomination delayed amid criticism

Biden’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, was supposed to testify before the Senate Budget Committee Wednesday morning, however the committee postponed Tanden’s confirmation hearing, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

In addition, a vote on the nomination in the Senate Homeland Security Committee has also been postponed, a spokesperson told ABC News that the delay was because, “members need more time to consider the nominee.”

Moments after news broke that two Senate committees postponed their votes on Tanden’s nomination, White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Tanden in a Twitter thread, making clear the White House is standing by their nominee.

“Neera Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during this time of unprecedented crisis. She also has important perspective and values, understanding firsthand the powerful difference policy can make in the lives of those going through hard times,” Psaki tweeted.

 

Neera Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during this time of unprecedented crisis.

— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 24, 2021

 

The nomination has been in trouble since lawmakers became critical of Tanden’s combative tweets aimed at Republicans and her effort to delete them before her nomination. Her nomination was in danger of being derailed when moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his opposition to her nomination, citing her temperament.

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