Transition Roundup: Congress Takes Up Election Certification; Trump Bypasses Top Career Prosecutor for GA Job
Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
Both Democratic candidates in the Georgia Senate runoffs were projected to win, as of Wednesday mid-morning, which means President-elect Biden will likely have a Democratically-controlled House and Senate. Separately, Congress convenes Wednesday afternoon to certify the results of the presidential election. The process has led to a schism within the Republican Party. Thirteen Republican senators plan to contest the certification, 14 haven’t said publicly what they’ll do, 24 will vote to certify Biden and at least 140 House Republicans will oppose the certification, according to Politico. Washington, D.C., is bracing for pro-Trump protests that could get violent. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
Ahead of the protests, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., reminded top Justice and Defense department offices that under the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, any law enforcement officers deployed are required to wear clear identification. “Last June, Americans watched as President Trump and former Attorney General Bill Barr deployed unidentifiable federal officers in riot gear to crack down on peaceful demonstrators exercising their constitutional rights in cities across the country,” Murphy wrote in a letter. “This lack of identification made it impossible for citizens to distinguish between legitimate law enforcement and dangerous private vigilantes, or hold accountable enforcement personnel who engaged in abusive conduct.”
On Tuesday, the White House fired Sara Sendek, the head of public affairs for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “As a political appointee, Sendek would have left government service by Jan. 20. But she was still actively helping run CISA's response to the SolarWinds hack as well as the agency's work in support of the Georgia runoffs,” CyberScoop News reported. “She was surprised to be asked to leave by the White House” and was “not given a reason.” President Trump has contradicted CISA and the other intelligence agencies about the severity of the hack and blamed China for it, when the evidence suggests it was most likely Russia.
Mark Morgan, head of Customs and Border Protection, said he’s confident his agency’s briefings for Biden’s transition team are having an impact because “they've already walked-back” immigration goals, CBS News reported on Tuesday. However, Biden previously said that it would take time to undo the Trump administration's immigration policies.
Congress can use the “Congressional Review Act” to undo any last-minute or “midnight regulations” issued after August 21, 2020, Daniel Pérez, senior policy analyst for The George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center stated on Tuesday. It will likely be much easier for Biden to do so with the Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress.
The nonprofit Open the Government outlined several priorities the Biden administration should take up in regard to regulation rollbacks, reviews and enforcement, in a recent report, among its other recommendations for accountability and transparency in government.
The Labor Department issued a final rule on Wednesday that makes it easier to classify workers as independent contractors. In talking about the regulations Biden seeks to halt or delay during a briefing last week, Jen Psaki, a senior adviser to President-elect Biden's transition, specifically cited the rule, saying it “would make it easier for companies...to avoid minimum wage and overtime protections.”
After the U.S. attorney in Georgia unexpectedly resigned on Monday, Trump replaced him with a political-appointee prosecutor, bypassing a top career one, who would normally take over in the event of a sudden vacancy, Talking Points Memo reported on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the transition’s COVID team briefed Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on the increasing number of coronavirus cases and plans to increase vaccinations upon inauguration, according to a readout.
Former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush will attend Biden’s inauguration, but former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter will not, The Associated Press reported.
Upcoming: Biden will give remarks on the economy. The time is unclear, so far.
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