Biden focuses on the economy on second day in office

By Meg Wagner and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 8:45 p.m. ET, January 22, 2021
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12:47 p.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Lloyd Austin makes history as the nation's first Black Defense secretary

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The Senate just voted on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis to confirm President Biden's Defense secretary nominee, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin. The vote was 93-2.

That makes Austin the first African American to run the department.

The epic nature of Austin's journey – from a childhood in deeply segregated Alabama, through a military still plagued with racial inequity, to the pinnacle of US national defense – might be matched only by the scale of the challenges that now face him there.

Austin will be one of the most prominent members of Biden's Cabinet. The secretary of Defense is in control of the nation's largest government agency, commanding troops around the world and the complicated internal workings of the Pentagon that make it one of the world's most formidable bureaucracies.

Defense Department data shows that while Black service members represent 19% of all enlisted personnel, they make up only 9% of the mostly White, male officer corps. Biden noted in The Atlantic that Austin was "the 200th person ever to attain the rank of an Army four-star general, but only the sixth African American."

Biden vowed his Cabinet would look like the country picking leaders that if confirmed, will make history as the most diverse group ever to lead federal agencies.

Take a look at what Biden's Cabinet looks like here.

Watch the Senate's vote:

11:59 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Key GOP senator won't say if she's already made a decision on impeachment

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) leaves the Senate floor at the US Capitol building on December 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. 
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) leaves the Senate floor at the US Capitol building on December 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, considered a swing vote in the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, would not say if she’s already made a decision on how she will vote.

“My thought process is to see what happens as this unfolds,” she said. ”You know, we learned this morning that Speaker Pelosi is going to transmit the article on Monday. As I understand, right now, there hasn't been an agreed-to schedule on the pre-trial. I think what McConnell laid down was eminently reasonable, in terms of making sure that we got process. Got to have process and the process has to be fair. So yeah, so we’ve got to get started, I guess."
11:16 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Senate confirms Lloyd Austin as Defense secretary

From CNN's Clare Foran

Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, a recently retired Army general, listens during his conformation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington.
Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, a recently retired Army general, listens during his conformation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. Greg Nash/Pool/AP

The Senate voted on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis to confirm President Biden's Defense secretary nominee, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin. The vote was 93-2.

Austin will be the first African American to run the department.

Austin, who retired in 2016, had to be granted a waiver from a law requiring a defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the job. The House approved the waiver Thursday afternoon, followed by Senate approval of the measure later that same day. 

Confirmation of the Defense secretary gives Biden another key department chief in place. The Senate confirmed Biden's first Cabinet nominee Wednesday evening, voting to approve his pick for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, on his first day in office.

11:10 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Trump's impeachment trial could start next week. Here's what we know.

From CNN's Manu Raju

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the House's article of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of the Senate's impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

"I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday," Schumer just said on the Senate floor.

The House's transmission of the impeachment article on Monday would mean that the Senate trial would begin at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday – unless the Senate reaches an agreement that would push back the trial itself

Here's an outline of what would happen next on impeachment, according to multiple Democratic sources. 

  • Monday: The article read by the managers
  • Tuesday: The presiding officer (maybe Chief Justice Roberts, maybe Patrick Leahy) and members as jurors are sworn in.
  • Wednesday: Arguments could begin.

How long will the trial last? That is an open question. Most believe it will be a shorter trial than in 2020, which lasted 21 days. But it will depend on questions from senators and whether there will be witnesses or not.

It’s possible that arguments could be delayed if there’s a deal between Schumer and McConnell.

Also, the Senate has to adopt a resolution to set the rules of the trial. That will happen at the beginning of the week. Schumer’s goal is to do this on a bipartisan basis, but they can adopt it by a simple majority of 51 senators. 

10:55 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

GOP senator says Senate will conduct no other business during impeachment trial without an agreement

From CNN's Ali Zaslav, Lauren Fox and Jessica Dean

After Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Speaker Pelosi will send over the article of impeachment on Monday, top GOP Sen. John Cornyn made it clear, absent an agreement, the Senate would not conduct any business other than the impeachment trial once it begins. 

“We won't be doing any confirmations, we won't be doing any Covid-19 relief, we won't be doing anything else other than impeaching a person who's not even president,” Cornyn said.

He said Republicans haven’t given consent to divide the trial days between impeachment and other business, “no, it’s not gonna happen.”

The Texas Republican also said he thinks there will likely be a vote on Biden's Treasury nominee Janet Yellen this afternoon.

12:05 p.m. ET, January 22, 2021

McConnell says Senate impeachment process must not deny Trump "his due process"

From CNN's Alex Rogers

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested the impeachment trial begin days later than planned, urging the Senate to grant former President Donald Trump “due process.” 

“This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House,” McConnell said Friday morning. “The sequel cannot be an insufficient Senate process that denies former President Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself.”

“Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense, and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions at stake,” he added.

McConnell suggested that the House transmit the article of impeachment on Thursday, rather than Monday.

“That timeline would have provided the Senate some more floor time before we step up fully into the unknown of a trial, which by the way would have been a substantial benefit to the incoming administration and allowed them to get more of their Cabinet confirmed, which we are cooperating as best we can to expedite,” McConnell said.

McConnell was responding to the announcement by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just moments ago, announcing the House would send the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday.

“I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi, who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The Democratic leader said there would be a “full” trial.

10:41 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

NOW: Senate votes on confirmation of Biden Defense secretary pick Lloyd Austin

From CNN's Clare Foran

The Senate is now voting to confirm President Biden's Defense secretary pick, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin.

Austin, who retired in 2016 and would be the first African American to run the department, had to be granted a waiver from a law requiring a Defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the job.

Both chambers of Congress approved the waiver yesterday.

 

12:07 p.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Schumer says article of impeachment will be delivered to Senate Monday

From CNN's Clare Foran and Manu Raju

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer walking through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. 
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer walking through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.  Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The article of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on the floor this morning.

“I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi, who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,” he said.

The Democratic leader said there would be a “full” trial.

10:24 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

SOON: Senate to vote on confirmation of Biden Defense secretary pick

From CNN's  Clare Foran

Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, a recently retired Army general, attends his conformation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington.
Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, a recently retired Army general, attends his conformation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. Greg Nash/Pool/AP

The Senate is meeting to hold a confirmation vote for President Biden's Defense secretary pick retired Gen. Lloyd Austin.

If confirmed, Austin would be the first Black man to run the department.

Yesterday both chambers of Congress approved a waiver permitting Austin to serve as secretary of Defense in the Biden administration. He had to be granted a waiver from a law requiring a defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the job. The House passed the waiver Thursday afternoon, followed by Senate approval of the measure.

Ahead of the vote, Austin, who retired in 2016, had been reaching out to top House and Senate lawmakers. Only twice before has Congress approved such a waiver, including for James Mattis to run President Trump's Pentagon in 2017.

Confirmation of the Defense secretary will give Biden another key department chief in place as congressional Democratic leaders attempt to move swiftly to confirm Cabinet members and other key officials following Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. The Senate confirmed President Biden's first Cabinet nominee Wednesday evening, voting to approve his pick for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, on his first day in office.