On Day 37, Biden’s rescue plan moves forward, his agencies levy new penalties against Saudis, and his allies want justification for Syria airstrikes. The President asks: “What am I doing here?”
“American Rescue Plan” Passes House.
By a vote of 219-212, House lawmakers have approved President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, advancing the legislation on to the Senate. No Senate Republicans are expected to support the plan, and Biden will rely on every Democrat vote in order to pass the bill in its current form. However, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled that the planned minimum wage hike cannot be passed if Congress uses the budget reconciliation process.
“President Biden is disappointed in this outcome,” press secretary Jen Psaki noted in a statement.
Khashoggi Report Released; No Blowback for MBS.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released the declassified report on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, which confirms that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved a plot to “capture or kill” the Muslim Brotherhood-linked critic. The State Department announced visa restrictions on 76 people linked to the killing, and the Treasury likewise levied sanctions against former Saudi intelligence official Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al Asiri and the crown prince’s personal security detail. Not subject to any of these measures: MBS himself.
Lawmakers Demand Explanation For Syria Airstrike.
Democrat lawmakers, led by Sen. Tim Kaine and Sen. Chris Murphy, are reportedly pressuring the Biden White House for legal justification of Thursday’s airstrike.
“The American people deserve to hear the Administration’s rationale for these strikes and its legal justification for acting without coming to Congress,” said Kaine, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees. “Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances.”
Biden was asked as he traveled to Texas what message he intended to send through the airstrikes. “You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” the president said.
Biden Visits Texas (Finally).
As temperatures warm and power is restored throughout the state, Biden arrived in Houston,Texas, on Friday to survey the damage from last week’s winter storms. He and First Lady Jill Biden toured a food bank and vaccination site, and the president delivered remarks.
“What am I doing here? I’m gonna get confused here,” Biden said in an awkward moment during his remarks.
Echoing comments from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, Biden stressed that “it’s not the time to relax” coronavirus mitigation efforts.
“We have to keep washing our hands, staying socially distanced, and for God’s sake, wear your mask. It’s not a political statement. It’s a patriotic thing to do,” he said.