Raimondo: Inquiry on solar imports follows the law
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo pushed back forcefully Wednesday against critics — including some within the Biden administration — who say a government investigation of solar imports from Southeast Asia is hindering President Joe Biden’s ambitious climate goals.
Biden, Yellen say GOP virus aid too small, Democrats push on
From left, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joined the Democratic senators for a private virtual meeting, both declaring the Republicans' $618 billion offer was too small. “President Biden spoke about the need for Congress to respond boldly and quickly,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the lunch meeting. The president made it clear that he won’t delay aid in hopes of winning GOP support. Biden proposes $170 billion for schools, compared to $20 billion in the Republican plan.
Biden meets Republicans on virus aid, but no quick deal
President Joe Biden meets Republican lawmakers to discuss a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, in Washington. From left, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. AdRepublicans are tapping into bipartisan urgency to improve the nation's vaccine distribution and vastly expand virus testing with $160 billion in aid. Psaki said earlier Monday there is “obviously a big gap” between the $1.9 trillion package Biden has proposed and the $618 billion counteroffer. Biden himself has been on the phone to some of the Republicans, the official said.
Undaunted, US global media chief plows ahead with changes
WASHINGTON Despite a barrage of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, the new chief of U.S. global media is plowing ahead with changes to the Voice of America and other international broadcasters that are heightening concerns about their future as independent news organizations. Pack on Wednesday fired the executive editor of Radio Free Asia, Bay Fang, whom he had demoted from president shortly after assuming office last month. Although the review is not complete and no visa actions have yet been taken, some believe the review itself sends a chilling message to journalists. The visa review, in particular, will be perceived as a threat to many reporters," said Matt Armstrong, a former Republican appointee to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which was the AGM's predecessor. Failing to renew (visas) may result in harsh penalties for some of these reporters and their families, from jail to even death."
Trump allies take aim at his global media chief for firings
WASHINGTON Seven U.S. senators, including two strong allies of President Donald Trump, harshly criticized Trump's new chief of U.S.-funded global media on Wednesday for firing the heads of several international broadcasters without consulting Congress. Wednesday's letter was notable in that it was signed by the two powerful Trump allies who are particularly close to the president. The director and deputy director of VOA resigned just days before the firings, which also included the dismissal of each of their governing boards. Conservatives have in particular assailed the firings of former Rubio staffer Jamie Fly as head of RFE/RL and former U.S. diplomat Alberto Fernandez as head of MBN. "We urge you to respect the unique independence that enable USAGM's outlets and grantees to help cultivate a free and open world," the wrote.
VA says it lacks adequate medical gear for 2nd virus wave
FILE - In this March 27, 2019, file photo Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, left, speaks with Veterans Health Administration Executive in Charge, Dr. Richard Stone, second from left, before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. To handle a possible second wave of COVID-19, it would need a six-month supply. A future pandemic wave may test all of us in our preparation, Stone told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The Associated Press previously reported that VA health care facilities struggled with shortages of workers and protective equipment, forcing employees to reuse masks for days or weeks, even as VA leaders denied that it lacked adequate supplies. As of Tuesday, VA had 1,665 staff cases of COVID-19, including 133 that were considered active. At least 33 VA employees have died of the virus, according to VA data.