House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called House Democrats’ meeting with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris a “joy” on Friday.
Biden was “values-based, knowledge-informed, and strategic” in his presentation, and while he and the group were “open to bipartisanship,” she expressed encouragement that the White House was working on “getting results as soon as we can in the best possible way.”
Pelosi said that Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer will take the budget resolution to the floor Friday afternoon and Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth will lead debate on the budget plan.
She said that on Monday, they will begin working on the specifics of the bill, and predicted that the House will send a bill to the Senate “hopefully in a two week period of time,” so that “this will be done long before the due date” of the expiration of unemployment insurance in March.
After this package is passed, she said, they will work on a “Recovery Act” to create additional jobs.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release guidance on school reopenings in the coming week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday.
During the briefing, CNN’s Sara Murray asked Walensky about her previous comments about teachers and why it would be safe for teachers to return to the classroom if they have not been vaccinated — and whether that is considered the CDC’s official guidance at this point.
“Our goal is to get children back to school. School should be the last places closed and the first places open. Our goal is to make sure in getting children back to school that we do so both with the safety of the children and the safety of the teachers,” Walensky said.
“Among the things that we need to do to make sure that schools are safe is to make sure that the community spread of the disease is down,” Walensky said. “We are actively working on the guidance, the official guidance, which will be released in the week ahead.”
President Biden stressed the need for his $1.9 trillion Covid relief package on the heels of the January jobs report that shows slow US economic recovery and a lot of economic pain across the country.
“We saw the jobs report. Only 6,000 private sector jobs will be created. And at that rate, it’s going to take ten years before we get to full employment. That’s not hyperbole,” Biden said, seated beside Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office during a meeting with House Democratic leadership.
“I appreciate you all coming over because — the urgency with which you’re moving — this is about people’s lives. This is not just about numbers,” Biden told House Democrats hours after the Senate voted to begin the reconciliation process, adding that many Americans are “really hurting” and Congress has the opportunity “to do something consequential here.”
Citing lessons learned from his time working on the Recovery Act during the Obama administration, Biden reiterated, “We can’t do too much here, but we can do too little.”
Those comments come after former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warned of issues in the plan that could impact financial stability and the value of the dollar, saying that implementing the stimulus could lead to unprecedented inflationary pressure and that the proposed stimulus is three times as large as what Summers says is the projected shortfall.
Biden added, “It’s not just the macroeconomic impact on our economy and our ability to compete internationally. It’s people’s lives. Real, live people are hurting and we can fix it.”
Biden also added that he “can hardly wait” to sit down with Rep. Peter DeFazio, who was in attendance, to work on an infrastructure package.
The UK plans to vaccinate all adults age 50 and older “by May,” a Downing Street spokesperson told journalists at PA Media
It was the first firm indication of a date for the next phase of the coronavirus vaccine rollout and would mean that local elections in Wales and England could proceed on May 6 as planned.
According to PA Media, there was much “confusion” around the Friday morning statement from the Cabinet Office statement, which was then withdrawn by Downing Street three hours later before once again being confirmed as accurate.
The spokesperson told journalists that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would set out “a precise timeline” on Feb. 15 when his government is expected to announce a roadmap for exiting lockdown, PA Media reported.
The Biden administration is expected to announce Friday it is sending about 1,000 US troops to help around the country with Covid-19 vaccinations. The announcement is expected from the White House as early as this morning, according to two defense officials.
The plan calls for the troops to form into five teams to travel to designated sites. Orders are expected to call for troops to be ready to deploy within 96 hours of receiving their orders.
This effort is the first part of the FEMA request to DOD to provide military assistance for vaccinations to meet President Biden’s goal of increasing the number of Americans who get doses during his first 100 days in office.
The Defense Department and FEMA have been discussing sending up to 10,000 troops. Each team will have personnel who can administer vaccines as well as support troops. The goal is for the military to eventually ramp up to administering approximately 450,000 vaccines a day.
The US Northern Command in Colorado Springs is now expected to work out exactly what troops will go and a potential mix of active duty and National Guard.
There is already a significant, but separate military effort.
“There are over 20,000 national guardsmen deployed providing COVID support including at over 216 vaccine sites in 36 states and territories,” said Max Rose, Covid senior adviser to the secretary of defense.
The Pentagon has also kept hundreds of personnel on notice to be prepared to deploy mainly for helping overwhelmed health care facilities and hospitals around the country.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Democrats on the budget resolution passed early this morning, saying that they will work toward the final passage of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan before the end of February.
Biden is meeting with Democratic leaders and chairs of the committees this morning at the White House.
“As we all know, a budget is a statement of our values. Our work to crush the coronavirus and deliver relief to the American people is urgent and of the highest priority. With this budget resolution, we have taken a giant step to save lives and livelihoods,” Pelosi writes.
The key procedural step passed today sets up the ability for Democrats to pass the relief package without the threat of a filibuster from Republicans who oppose it.
“Next week, we will be writing the legislation to create a path to final passage for the Biden American Rescue Plan, so that we can finish our work before the end of February,” Pelosi continued in the letter.
Hong Kong is tightening its restrictions for air and sea crew members, who were previously exempt from quarantine measures, according to a government news release Friday.
Local crew members returning from travel must self-isolate at a quarantine hotel for 14 days, the government said. After quarantine, crew members will undergo seven days of medical surveillance.
All air crew members must undergo testing and wait for the result at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) or a designated location, the government added.
“The Government understands the impact on airlines’ and shipping companies’ operations, and that on air crew and sea crew members to be brought about by the new arrangements. Having said that, we would appeal to the industry’s understanding of the need to tighten the relevant exemption conditions, and call for the industry to join our concerted efforts to fight the virus,” a government spokesman said. “We will adjust the relevant arrangements in accordance with the development of the epidemic without prejudice to safeguard public health so as to maintain Hong Kong’s status as an international aviation and maritime hub.”
Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific posted a notice following the announcement saying, “We are actively managing our crew resources to plan for our flight services from 20 February onwards. More updates will be posted in our website by next week. Your patience and understanding are appreciated.”
The UK is confident that the epidemic is shrinking as the Covid-19 reproduction number (R) is now between 0.7 and 1.0, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said Friday.
The R is the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.
The growth rate in the UK is estimated to between -5% and -2% and the R number is estimated to be below 1, meaning that the number of “new infections is shrinking by between 2% to 5% every day”.
DHSC added that “it remains important that everyone continues to stay at home in order to keep the R value down, protect the NHS and help save lives”.
Mass vaccinations are rolling out across the US. CNN’s Athena Jones will answer your questions from a vaccine site at Yankees Stadium in New York.
What questions do you have about vaccines and the roll out process?