1/ Biden declared that “America is rising anew” in his first address to Congress, calling for a $4 trillion investment in infrastructure, children, families, and education to help rebuild the economy and compete with rising global competitors. Biden pointed to the nation’s emergence from the coronavirus and events that, in his view, tested American democracy, saying “We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and ‘we the people’ did not flinch.” Biden delivered his remarks with Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris sitting behind him – the first president to deliver an address to Congress with two women behind him – representing the line of succession to his office. “Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” he added. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)
poll/ 85% of Americans who watched Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress approve of his speech. 15% disapproved. Viewers described Biden’s speech as “Presidential, “Caring,” “Inspiring,” and “Bold.” (CBS News)
poll/ 71% of Americans who Biden’s speech said they feel more optimistic about the country’s direction. Overall, 68% said Biden has had the right priorities so far, while 32% said he has ignored the most important problems. (CNN)
2/ Another 553,000 Americans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week – a pandemic low for the third consecutive week. (Washington Post)
- The State Department urged U.S. citizens to leave India “as soon as it is safe to do” due to the coronavirus outbreak. The travel advisory noted that “access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in Covid-19 cases […] U.S. citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now.” (Washington Post)
3/ The Justice Department charged three white men with hate crimes for shooting and killing Ahmaud Arbery. A father and son armed themselves, got into a truck and chased and fatally shot the 25-year-old Black man after spotting him running in their Georgia neighborhood. Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory, and William “Roddie” Bryan where each charged with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also charged with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. (USA Today / Associated Press)
4/ The Senate voted to restore an Obama-era regulation designed to reduce climate-changing methane emissions from oil and gas fields. The Trump administration eliminated federal requirements for oil and gas companies to monitor and repair methane leaks from pipelines, storage facilities, and wells. (NPR / CNBC)
5/ A bipartisan group of senators proposed legislation to remove military commanders from their role in prosecuting service members for sexual assault. There were 7,825 reports of sexual assault involving service members as victims in 2019 – a 3% increase from 2018. The conviction rate, however, was 7% in both 2018 and 2019 – the lowest rate since the department began reporting in 2010. (New York Times)
6/ Federal agencies are investigating at least two incidents on U.S. soil that appear similar to the “Havana syndrome” attack, a mysterious, invisible event reported by American diplomats based in Cuba in late 2016. One of the unexplained attacks occurred in November near the Ellipse, the oval lawn south of the White House, and sickened one National Security Council official. (CNN / CNBC)
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