Joe Biden has quadrupled the US’ refugee cap after facing a bipartisan backlash for being slow to increase the low number set by the Trump administration.
The president formally confirmed the decision to raise the bar from 15,000 to 62,500 refugee admissions per year, three months after he submitted a proposal to Congress on the issue.
“It is important to take this action today to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin,” Mr Biden said.
He added that the limit introduced by his predecessor “did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees”.
Meanwhile, Republican Wyoming representative Liz Cheney is in trouble with her party once again after going after Donald Trump at a closed-door event, as well as tweeting her disdain at anyone who still insists the 2020 election was stolen.
Elsewhere, Facebook’s independent oversight board will determine on Wednesday whether it will uphold Donald Trump’s suspension from its platforms.
The ban came after the then-president was seen to condone the rioters who stormed the Capitol building in early January.
Administration shifting distribution of Covid vaccine supply
CBS White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe reports that the Biden administration is shifting its distribution of Covid-19 vaccine, telling state officials that supply left unordered will become available to other states. He cites multiple officials familiar with the new plans.
Biden-Carter group portrait draws affection – and bafflement
A shot of Jill and Joe Biden meeting former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn has lit up social media today, partly because of the warmth of the occasion but largely because of the bizarre scaling effect created by the positioning of the four subjects.
Some users speculated that the photographer’s choice of lens may be responsible for the resulting distortion, which makes the current president appear approximately three times the size of Mr Carter’s wife.
Louise Hall has more.
Right-wing group launches lawsuit over Biden’s dogs
Well-known Republican-aligned campaign group Judicial Watch, which has long pursued legal action against Democrats and propagated false claims about everything from climate change to electoral fraud to conspiracy theories involving the Clintons, is now suing the Department of Homeland Security “for records of communication between Secret Service officials assigned to the White House regarding the Biden family dogs”.
The group’s grievance seems to be related to reported incidents in which Biden’s dog Major bit people. “The public has a right to know the details about any incident in which Secret Service personnel were injured by President Biden’s dog,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
The lawsuit has been met with derision.
Team Cheney doubles down
Kevin McCarthy may have made clear this morning that Liz Cheney’s days in the Republican leadership could be numbered, but the congresswoman and her team hardly seem cowed – at least not if her spokesperson’s words are to be believed…
LGBT campaign group says Biden administration planning to push back against anti-trans legislation
A report from the Daily Beast quotes the president of the Human Rights Campaign describing “conversations” with the White House as it formulates plans to push back against legislation in multiple states that bans transgender women and girls from playing in sports under their own gender identity.
Joe Biden alluded to the legislative battles underway across the US in his recent address to Congress, saying: “To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave, I want you to know your President has your back.” However, many viewers questioned what the sentence really meant without the president stepping into the breach on specific issues.
Kamala Harris pledges millions in aid to Central America
Vice President Kamala Harris gave a major speech this morning at the annual Washington Conference on the Americas, an address in which she said the administration would be sending massive aid to its southern neighbours in Central America. She also used the speech to outline the White House’s philosophy of the US’s place in its hemisphere.
“Latin Americans are shaping their own future,” she said. “They are writing their own story. They hold the pen. The way I see it, our role is to read those words, take them in, and help however we can as Latin America writes its own next chapter.
“Put another way, the United States is committed to supporting the vision of the people in the region, and their need for relief.”
Watch her full remarks here.
Josh Hawley discusses his behaviour on 6 January in live Q&A
In a live-streamed discussion with the Washington Post, GOP Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has defended himself against charges he helped incite the 6 January insurrection at the Capitol.
Mr Hawley, who along with Ted Cruz was one of only two senators to object to the election results after the insurrection was over, said that he didn’t know people in the crowd of Trump supporters were planning to storm the Capitol, and that most of them were there with peaceful intentions.
This does not address his decision to side with them after they attacked the Capitol.
Florida Democrat Val Demings launches what looks like a campaign ad…for what?
Val Demings, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida who served as one of the impeachment managers in Donald Trump’s second trial, has posted a charismatic promotional video to her official campaign Twitter account – without making it clear what she’s running for.
Several top-tier Democrats are lining up to challenge Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, in his re-election bid next year; some of them are also eyeing up the chance to challenge GOP Senator Marco Rubio, who may face a Republican primary challenge too. Ms Demings recently confirmed she is considering a statewide candidacy, but declined to be more specific.
A former cop and police chief, Ms Demings was thought to be a strong runner for the number two slot on Joe Biden’s presidential ticket.
Already out of the gate in the gubernatorial race is the famously tanned Charlie Crist, who served a term as governor from 2007 to 2011. He was elected to that office as a Republican, then ran for the state’s open senate seat – losing the GOP primary to Mr Rubio, whom he then challenged as an independent. Since then, Mr Crist has switched his party affiliation to the Democrats and is now serving his third term in the House of Representatives.
Is Liz Cheney done?
After her latest condemnation of Donald Trump and loyal Republicans still perpetuating the false narrative the election was stolen, Liz Cheney may be about to meet her Waterloo.
Speaking to Fox News this morning, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he is not under pressure to “get rid of her”, as the host put it, over her impeachment vote – but that there is clearly great rancour about her pronouncements about the party given her leadership position.
Mr McCarthy’s lengthy insistence that the GOP needs to stay on message made it clear that he views Ms Cheney as an obstacle to “earning” a House majority once again.
Gavin Newsom challenger takes to the airwaves
One of the numerous figures preparing to challenge California Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election is Republican John Cox, a perennial candidate who stood against Newsom in 2018.
An outlandish campaigner who has announced a 1,000 live bear as his running mate and embarked on a “meet the beast” tour of the state, Mr Cox is now hitting Californians’ TV screens with a campaign ad – one every bit as off-the-wall as the rest of his campaign.