Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell applauded Joe Biden for signing the anti-Asian American hate crimes bill into law moments ago.
“Recent increases in anti-Asian hate crimes are alarming,” the Republican leader said on Twitter. “I’m proud the Senate took bipartisan action — and, as the proud husband of a remarkable Asian-American woman, I am especially glad this effort is now law.”
I applaud @POTUS for signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. Recent increases in anti-Asian hate crimes are alarming. I’m proud the Senate took bipartisan action — and, as the proud husband of a remarkable Asian-American woman, I am especially glad this effort is now law.
May 20, 2021
In his remarks before signing the bill, Biden similarly applauded the work of lawmakers of both parties to bring the legislation to his desk.
“I’m proud today of our political system, the United States Congress,” Biden said. “I’m proud today that Democrats and Republicans have stood up together to say something.”
Biden signs anti-Asian hate crimes bill: ‘We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out’
Joe Biden has now signed the anti-Asian hate crimes bill at the White House, two days after the House passed the legislation.
Echoing Kamala Harris, the president thanked the lawmakers of both parties who came together to pass the bill, which will establish a point person at the justice department to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes against Asian Americans.
The president expressed sympathy for the Asian Americans who are living in fear because of the recent surge in hate incidents against members of their community. He described such prejudice as “simply un-American”.
“We need to unite as one people, one nation, one America,” Biden said before signing the bill. “We must unite the country.”
He added, “I mean this from the bottom of my heart: hate can be given no safe harbor in America.”
Biden specifically urged Americans to speak out against hate in their communities. “Silence is complicity. And we cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act,” the president said. “Every time we’re silent, every time we let hate flourish, we make a lie of who we are as a nation.”
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have arrived in the East Room for the signing of the anti-Asian American hate crimes bill.
The vice-president spoke first, thanking lawmakers of both parties for getting the legislation to the president’s desk today.
Harris specifically thanked Senator Mazie Hirono and congresswoman Grace Meng for shepherding the bill through the Senate and the House.
“Because of you, history will remember this day and this moment, when our nation took action to combat hate,” Harris said.
Joe Biden spoke to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi today about the violence in Gaza, the White House said.
“The two leaders discussed efforts to achieve a ceasefire that will bring an end to the current hostilities in Israel and Gaza,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
“They agreed that their teams would stay in constant communication toward that end and the two leaders would stay closely in touch.”
Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, and the US president urged him to take immediate steps toward a ceasefire in Gaza.
Joe Biden will soon sign the anti-Asian American hate crimes bill into law, and many lawmakers are at the White House to witness the bill-signing.
Reporters noted this was the first time in months that a White House event actually looked somewhat normal, with lawmakers going maskless after the CDC said fully vaccinated individuals could skip masks in most settings.
For the first time in a long time, the East Room looks…normal. Lawmakers and guests are milling about, taking pictures and shaking hands with no masks. President Biden is expected to sign the Asian-American hate crimes bill shortly. pic.twitter.com/Y4dXNxeF0u
May 20, 2021
More from the AP regarding the violence in Gaza:
The White House says that reports of a move toward a cease-fire between Israel and the militant Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip are “clearly encouraging” but cautioned that a truce has yet to be agreed on.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the White House believes the Israelis have “achieved significant military objectives” in their strikes against Hamas targets, which is why President Joe Biden expects them to start “winding down” their operation there.
Psaki says the Biden administration has conveyed that to the Israeli side “and that is what we expect to happen.”
Psaki added that Biden’s comments to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling for de-escalation, were “a reflection of what we’re seeing on the ground.”
She said the United States’ “strategic approach here is to communicate directly, stay closely interlocked with the Israelis, with partners on the ground, to do everything we can to bring an end to the conflict.”
She also said the US has “held more than 80 engagements with senior leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and across the region.”
at 1.58pm EDT
White House pledges ‘fair and balanced’ global vaccine distribution
As the US opens up and lifts pandemic restrictions, Psaki also answered several questions about how it will handle coronavirus issues across the world.
– Psaki said the US plans to distribute vaccines to countries in need, but has not released a plan yet on where they will go. She said the Biden administration is trying to it “in a way that’s fair and has a regional balance.”
– On the topic of Covid vaccine boosters, Psaki said they will wait for the FDA guidance to decide whether Americans need further inoculation and that this idea was considered when creating its original distribution plan.
– As Republicans continue to push the theory that the coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab, Psaki said the Biden administration supports an independent investigation in China but would wait for evidence before making any claims about the origins.
Jen Psaki at the briefing Thursday. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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At the White House presser, Psaki also fielded questions about two major pipelines. She defended the Biden administration’s waiving of sanctions on the Russian company behind the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 and its German chief executive saying that it had geopolitical implications, and touting the US relationship with Germany.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken opted to waive the sanctions saying earlier they “would negatively impact US relations with Germany, the EU and other European allies and partners,” said the State Department report, which was obtained by NBC News.
Psaki, however, said the Russian pipeline decision was different than Biden’s blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline. “We’ve continued to convey we think it’s a bad idea, a bad plan,” she said, pointing to the various scientific reports about its environmental impact.
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The White House press conference with Jen Psaki is underway. Psaki started the presser with a focus on jobs. She pointed out that this week the unemployment claims are lower than they’ve been for months, and that there have been 500,000 new jobs per month under Joe Biden’s presidency thus far.
But the presser was largely focused on the the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which has claimed over 200 Palestinian lives, and 10 in Israel.
Psaki retained on focus on Biden’s 80+ conversations with global leaders in an attempt to deescalate the violence. “We’ve seen reports of a move toward potential ceasefire,” she said, but noted that it was too early to know whether the strikes will end.
When asked about the progressive Democrat move to block more weapons trade to Israel, Psaki doubled down on the country’s “long abiding security and strategic relationship” with Israel.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said the upper chamber will take action on the January 6 commission bill “very soon”. The House passed the bill to form a bipartisan commission to study the Capitol insurrection yesterday, but Schumer does not yet appear to have the votes to overcome a filibuster when the legislation comes up for a vote in the Senate.
- The House narrowly passed a bill to provide $1.9 billion in funding to bolster Capitol security in response to the January 6 insurrection. The final vote on the bill was 213 to 212, with six House progressives voting “no” or “present” on the proposal. The bill faces significant hurdles in the Senate.
- Bernie Sanders is expected to introduce a resolution today opposing the US sale of weapons to Israel, after more than a week of attacks in Gaza have killed hundreds of people, most of them Palestinian. The progressive senator said of his resolution, “At a moment when U.S.-made bombs are devastating Gaza, and killing women and children, we cannot simply let another huge arms sale go through without even a Congressional debate.”
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
The House has just wrapped up its final votes for the month of May. The lower chamber is not expected to take another vote until Monday, June 14.
Capitol Hill reporters spotted House members racing out of the chamber to catch flights back to their home districts.
The scent of jet fumes is thick. Just witness a House member run out of the Capitol and mutter: “Oh no I’m gonna miss a flight.” ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
May 20, 2021
House Democrats pass Capitol security funding bill over progressive opposition
The House has very narrowly passed a bill to provide $1.9 billion in funding to bolster Capitol security in response to the January 6 insurrection.
The final vote was 213 to 212, with three progressive members — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Jamaal Bowman of New York — voting “present” on the legislation.
House Press Gallery
The House passed H.R. 3237 – Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act, 2021 by a vote of 213-212- 3 present. https://t.co/2CbPwvf9LL
May 20, 2021
Three other House progressives — Cori Bush of Missouri, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — joined their Republican colleagues in opposing the bill.
According to multiple reports, the progressive lawmakers expressed concern about insufficient accountability for law enforcement officers whose agencies would receive funding from the bill.
The bill barely passed the House, and it faces significant hurdles in the Senate, where members of both parties have expressed reservations about the proposal.
at 12.32pm EDT
Two more House progressives — Cori Bush of Missouri and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — have voted no on the Capitol security bill.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted present, joining Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Jamaal Bowman of New York.
The House is now voting on the bill to spend $1.9 billion to bolster Capitol security, in response to the January 6 insurrection.
House Press Gallery
The House is voting NOW on passage of H.R. 3237 – Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act, 2021 (Sponsored by @rosadelauro / Appropriations Committee).
May 20, 2021
According to multiple reports, a group of House progressives raised some last-minute concerns about accountability for law enforcement officers whose agencies would be receiving money from the legislation.
So far, only one Democrat — congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — has voted against the bill. Two other House progressives, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Jamaal Bowman of New York, have voted “present”.
Congressman Greg Pence, the brother of former Vice-President Mike Pence, explained why he voted against the bill to form a bipartisan commission to study the January 6 insurrection.
“I think the whole thing is to spend the summer impeaching, again, Donald Trump. That’s all we’re doing. It’s a dog-and-pony show. … It’s another impeachment,” the Republican congressman told HuffPost.
During the insurrection, rioters, who were frustrated with the vice-president’s adherence to the Constitution as lawmakers certified Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, shouted, “Hang Mike Pence!”
Shortly after the insurrection occurred, Pence described his brother as a “hero” for overseeing the certification of the election.
Senate will act on January 6 commission bill ‘very soon,’ Schumer says
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has put the House-passed bill to form a bipartisan commission to study the January 6 insurrection on the legislative calendar.
Schumer said the Senate will take action on the bill “very soon”.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: “Even now, five months to the day after he left office, the Republican Party is still so terrified of Donald Trump that they are apparently willing to abandon the truth and the safety of our democracy on into the future.” pic.twitter.com/ObIBOmj5KK
May 20, 2021
Schumer encouraged his Republican colleagues to support the commission bill, after most House Republicans voted against the proposal. The Democratic leader accused Republicans of “spinelessness” in the face of Donald Trump’s lies about fraud in the presidential election.
“Even now, five months to the day after he left office, the Republican party is still so terrified of Donald Trump that they are apparently willing to abandon the truth and the safety of our democracy on into the future,” Schumer said.
“Maybe, despite the opposition of the Republican leader – the unfortunate and sad opposition of the Republican leader – enough of my Republican colleagues will step up and join with Democrats to establish the commission. They will get a chance to do so very soon.”
If Schumer brings the bill to the floor and Republicans block it, it could become the first official Senate filibuster of this Congress.