GOOD MORNING DC: Oppose Censorship

#GoodMorningDC. Here's the world you are waking up to this Wednesday morning, February 24, 2021. 

Good Morning DC with Chief White House Correspondent  Ksenija Pavlovic Mcateer

Good Morning DC!

Nothing beats the political news in Washington DC. The suspense, the waiting, the thrill of being in-the-know. So let’s play morning news catch up, shall we?

Good Morning DC reported yesterday that Trump will claim at CPAC that he is a presumptive nominee. Mitt Romney agrees. “I don’t know if he’s planning to run in 2024 or not, but if he does, I’m pretty sure he would win the nomination,” said Romney at a New York Times DealBook virtual event on Tuesday. 

A group of Congressional Democrats along with California Representatives Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney want to take down conservative networks, FOX, OANN, and Newsmax. 

“Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN on U-verse, DirecTV, and AT&T TV both now and beyond any contract renewal date? If so, why?”  Eshoo and McNerney asked in their letter to John T. Stankey, CEO of AT&T that aims to shut down the open marketplace of ideas. 

Question: Care to flip the channel if you don’t like what you see? 

The trend is gaining momentum in the US Congress after Twitter and Facebook went on a censoring spree. Who wants to read them the First Amendment? 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Biden Administration is on track to have enough vaccine doses for 300 million Americans by the end of July. This news comes after the fifth consecutive week of increased vaccine supplies and a total vaccine allocation increase of 70% since the Trump Administration left office, according to the White House. Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Jeffery Zients told governors that the White House will increase allocations by 100,000 doses this week.  

Controversy over Neera Tanden’s OMB nomination continues. On Friday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and two Republican Senators spoke out against the confirmation of Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Since then Democratic leaders have spoken out against the opposition, insisting that there was a double-standard, as many male Republican senators were confirmed with more egregious offenses. In the Press Briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that at the moment there are no back-up nominees if Tanden is not confirmed. 

“There's one candidate to lead the budget department, her name is Neera Tanden,” Psaki said. 

Immigration and re-opening of Detention centers was a hot issue during the years of Trump and it continues with Joe Biden. The difference? Semantics. What to one were “cages,” to others are “youth shelters.” 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, took to Twitter to express her disagreement with the Biden administration’s reopening of a migrant facility for children.

“This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay - no matter the administration or party,” she tweeted yesterday afternoon. 

Ilhan Omar shared in Ocasio-Cortez’s disapproval of the administration’s decision and expressed it via Twitter. 

“Multiple administrations have made the callous choice to lock up thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States of America.” 

The Biden Administration’s current policy says that no unaccompanied children found at the border will be expelled, the White House claims. This policy, along with the current social distancing guidelines to protect the children from COVID-19 led to the opening of another temporary, emergency facility to safely house migrant children, according to Psaki. 

“The capacity of existing Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters has been significantly reduced because of course, you can't have a child in every bed,” Psaki said. “There needs to be spacing and we abide by those spacing to protect the kids who are living in those facilities for a short period of time. And to ensure the health and safety of these kids, HHS took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity, where these children can be provided the care they need while they are safely -- before they are safely placed with families and sponsors.”

Psaki said that the White House intends to close the facility as soon as it is no longer needed to follow COVID-19 guidelines. The new emergency facilities re-opened under Biden are run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (a part of the Department of Health and Human Services). In contrast, these facilities were operated by the Customs and Border Protection agency (part of the Department of Homeland Security) under President Trump.

While the Biden Administration is working toward a humane and moral immigration process for those fleeing persecution, “This is not the time to come. We don’t -- we have not had the time to put in place an immigration system, an immigration policy,” Psaki said. 

Biden and Trudeau met yesterday for the first bilateral meeting of his presidency. Similar to many traditions this year, it happened virtually. The discussion featured issues concerning the pandemic, economic situations, social issues, and more. This was the first step of President Biden’s attempt to restore alliances and international trust in American leadership. Biden called the pandemic an “immediate priority” and said the two countries would work together “to strengthen the supply chain” to hasten the economic recovery.

President Biden said the countries “agreed to double down” on climate change “to spur other countries to raise their ambitions” and said the US and Canada would be launching a joint initiative to meet a goal of zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. Trudeau, speaking first in English and then French, began by thanking “Joe” and said the bilat focused on “our ambitious new partnership roadmap based on shared values and priorities.” He said the discussions around improving supply chains would aid the recovery of “the people hardest hit” by the pandemic. He thanked Biden “in advance” for the work they’ll do together. “We stand United to defeat this pandemic and build a better tomorrow,” Trudeau concluded. Biden responded briefly, saying “au revoir” to Trudeau. He then walked off, putting his mask back on and left the East Room.

As the investigation into the January 6 attack on US Capitol unearths new information, the Former Marine and New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster has been charged with assault for allegedly using an aluminum pole as a weapon to strike a police officer during the insurrection of the Capitol on January 6. Bodycam footage from the officer captured the event, and Webster turned himself late yesterday afternoon.

Across the pond, fears of another lockdown are motivating Britons to plan foreign-country getaways. According to this morning’s Daily Express, yesterday alone, bookings soared by 600 percent. Lucky for those eager to make an exit, The Times reports that Greece is considering opening borders to British citizens who can prove they have received the vaccine as early as this May. 

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak plans to extend the stamp duty holiday through the end of June. This policy requires buyers to pay the stamp duty only on properties above £500 000 and could cost the British government about £1 billion. 

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has unveiled details on plans to transition the country out of lockdown. Scotland will go through “progressive easing” that will welcome more children back into classrooms, and potentially reopen shops, bars, restaurants, and gyms, among other non-essential businesses by the end of April. 

As of this morning, Amnesty has delisted Navalny as a "prisoner of conscience” over the comments he made about migrants from Central Asia and the North Caucasus fifteen years ago. In the statement, Amnesty said it's "no longer able to consider Navalny a prisoner of conscience given the fact that he advocated violence and discrimination and he has not retracted such statements." Amnesty first designated Navalny a prisoner of conscience after he was arrested on arrival at the Moscow airport on January 17, 2021.     

Ghislaine Maxwell has filed for bail for charges of aiding Jeffery Epstein and the filing reveals that she offered to give up her French and UK citizenship as a guarantee that she won't seek refuge in those countries. 

Finally some news for movie and music lovers. “Better Man,” a new biopic that’s being made and everyone talks about, will be based on the life of Robbie Williams and directed by Michael Gracey. 

What will Biden do today?

At 9:50 AM EST, President Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office. 

At 2 PM EST, the President and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with a bipartisan group of House and Senate members on U.S. supply chains in the Oval Office. 

At 4 PM EST President Biden will sign an Executive Order on the economy in the State Dining Room. 

At 11:00 AM EST White House COVID-19 response team will hold a press briefing.

12:30 PM EST Jen Psaki, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Sameera Fazili, and Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness Peter Harrell will hold the briefing. 

Heads up: On Friday, February 26, the President and the First Lady will travel to Houston, Texas.

And that’s a wrap for this Wednesday morning, January 24, 2021. We send our best wishes to Tiger Woods who’s in the hospital after the 7 AM car crash yesterday. Good Morning DC will be here tomorrow to bring you the latest and most relevant first. 

***

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