Deputy national security advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall was asked whether it was possible to connect the Texas power grid to the rest of the country.
Sherwood-Randall replied that such a plan was not “physically feasible at this time”.
The winter storm impacting the central US has caused widespread power outages across Texas, sparking criticism of the state’s independent energy grid.
Deputy national security advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall said the dire situation in Texas “demonstrate to us that climate change is real and it’s happening now and we’re not adequately prepared for it.”
Sherwood-Randall noted that FEMA has already provided Texas with 60 generators, as well as 729,000 liters of water, 225,000 meals and tens of thousands of blankets.
FEMA to provide ‘immediate assistance’ in Texas, White House says
Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily press briefing at the White House, which is virtual because of the snow in Washington.
Psaki was joined by deputy national security advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, who addressed the winter storm that has caused widespread power outages in Texas.
Sherwood-Randall said the White House has authorized FEMA to provide “immediate assistance” in Texas. The situation in Texas is improving, but Sherwood-Randall said rolling blackouts were likely to continue.
More details on Cancun-gate: Ted Cruz’s office reportedly contacted the Houston Police Department to request security assistance at the airport yesterday.
The HPD told ABC News that its officers “monitored his movements through the terminal.” Cruz then boarded a flight to Cancun, as his state deals with a winter storm and widespread blackouts.
Weekly jobless claims rises to 861,000 as US economy struggles
In case you missed it this morning: the number of initial weekly jobless claims in the US rose to 861,000 last week, the labor department announced.
The number represents an increase of 13,000 from the previous week, the latest sign that the US economy continues to suffer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Though the US unemployment rate slightly fell to 6.3% last month, nearly 10 million jobs lost since the beginning of the pandemic have not yet returned.
The latest report from the labor department also shows that 18.3 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits as of January 30.
Three-quarters of those recipients are receiving federal aid that is meant to help Americans who have hit the six-month limit on most states’ unemployment benefits programs, underscoring the grim job market many workers are facing.
That federal aid is currently expected to expire on March 14, which is why Joe Biden is pushing to get his $1.9 trillion relief package through Congress before then.
The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:
Joe Biden and his team have promised to extend the bipartisan olive branch like no previous administration in a move that on the surface appears to match the new president’s long political history of seeking support from Republicans.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has stressed a willingness to work with Republicans on its major initiatives like a Covid relief bill. Behind the scenes, it has initiated a broad push to reach out to as many congressional offices as possible, getting in contact with both former and current Republican lawmakers and their staffs, and hosting a high-visibility meeting between almost a dozen Republican senators and Biden himself.
But, it seems that the president’s outreach – perhaps to the relief of the party’s left and observers long used to cynical Republican obstructionism – has its limits when it comes to actual decision-making.
Republicans are warning that Biden and his team may not be following up on their promises. They grumble most interactions have been at the staff level. These Republicans say that Biden’s initial flurry of executive orders issued in the earliest days of the president’s new administration suggest an underlying go-it-alone approach.
“Biden talked about unity. He had that meeting with the 10 but he is being pushed aggressively by his so-called progressives,” the former Mississippi senator Trent Lott, a Republican, said.
“His first real test will be what they wind up doing on the Covid package if they don’t agree to come down off the $1.9tn, if they don’t agree to not include things like the $15 minimum wage then it’s not going to be very bipartisan. In fact, it could fail.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi closed her weekly press conference by urging reporters to be careful as they returned home tonight because a winter storm warning has been issued in Washington.
The Democratic speaker jokingly asked reporters if they wanted any other “grandmotherly advice” before she departed.
As she wrapped up, Pelosi also commended the House impeachment managers for presenting such a strong case for convicting Donald Trump, even though the Senate ultimately acquitted the former president of incitement of insurrection.
At one point earlier in the press conference, Pelosi mentioned Trump’s name and then seemed a bit appalled that she had uttered it. “Did I say his name?” Pelosi joked.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked whether Democrats would consider passing immigration reform using reconciliation, which would mean they could pass it through the Senate without Republican support.
“Not necessarily,” the Democratic speaker replied.
Pelosi acknowledged that many immigration activists would prefer Democrats use reconciliation for the bill, but it’s unclear whether reform proposals would meet the requirements to use the budgetary mechanism.
Joe Biden plans to formally introduce his immigration bill, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, later today.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about whether she believed all teachers needed to be vaccinated before their schools can reopen.
“I want everyone to be vaccinated, and I certainly want teachers to be,” the Democratic speaker said. “Depending on what the situation is in their area, it may or may not be necessary.”
Joe Biden has said he wants teachers to be prioritized in vaccine distribution, but the White House has said the president agrees with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on safely reopening schools, which does not require all teachers to be vaccinated before in-person instruction resumes.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats have now sent their proposal to form a 9/11 commission-style panel to investigate the January 6 insurrection to Republicans for review.
“For this to work, it really has to be strongly bipartisan,” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.
Pelosi confirmed that she consulted with the former members of the 9/11 commission to determine how the review should be conducted.
The speaker added that the commission must have subpoena power to uncover details about how the Capitol insurrection occurred.
House will vote on coronavirus relief package by end of next week, Pelosi says
House speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hoped the chamber will be voting on Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package at the end of next week.
“At the same time, there is communication with the Senate as to what the Byrd Rule allows,” the Democratic speaker said.
The Byrd Rule outlines what kind of proposals can be allowed in legislation being passed using reconciliation, which congressional Democrats are using to advance the relief package.
Biden has said he hopes to sign the relief package by March 14, when expanded unemployment benefits are currently set to expire.