Official White House Photo by Adam SchultzBy MICHELLE STODDART and LAUREN KING, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — This is Day 35 of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Here is how the hearing is unfolding. All times Eastern:
Feb 23, 11:41 am
Witnesses to testify for Garland
On the second day of Judge Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing, the nominee will not testify but five witnesses will testify virtually about his nomination and credentials. Those witnesses include Wade Henderson, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Josh Blackman, South College Texas of law professor, Andrea Tucker, a mother in D.C., whose twin children Garland tutors, Ken Starr, former solicitor general and U.S. circuit judge, and Donna Bucella, former director for Executive Office of U.S. attorneys.
Garland emerged virtually unscathed after Monday’s hearing, earning praise from senators on both sides of the aisle as he fielded questions on domestic terrorism, racial justice issues and restoring independence to the Justice Department, among other topics.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., did express concern over what they described as Garland’s unwillingness to pledge that he will not fire special counsel John Durham without proper cause, a commitment they note former attorney general William Barr made during his confirmation hearing about then-special counsel Robert Mueller.
Garland repeatedly emphasized that because he had no knowledge of Durham’s investigation he wanted to meet with him first before making a decision but said that because Durham hasn’t yet been fired in the new administration he sees no reason to doubt that decision.
Other Republicans, like Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., appeared to grow frustrated over Garland’s unwillingness to engage on questions about his views on immigration policy. Garland said he was not completely aware of Biden’s immigration policy proposals so declined to wade into the issue.
Feb 23, 11:30 am
Biden’s pick for HHS gets praise from Dems, but some are ‘not sold’
The first day of hearings for Biden’s pick for secretary of health and human services, Xavier Becerra, kicked off with glowing praise from Democrats, who heralded his experience, and criticism from Republicans, who think his resume is a detractor.
Both Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., who introduced Becerra, highlighted his potential to make history as the first Latino to lead the department and his experience leading massive departments and in policy as a congressman for 24 years. But Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said he is “not sold” Becerra has the “necessary experience or skills to do this job at this moment.”
Becerra, in his opening statement, said he was committed to working in a bipartisan way.
“No one understands your states and communities better than you. We may not always agree, but if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed, I will always listen to you and keep an open mind, find common cause, and work with you to improve the health and dignity of the American people,” Becerra said.
Becerra laid out his “vision” for the department with three goals: make COVID-19 treatments more accessible, bring down the cost of health care and restore faith in public institutions by putting science first.
Feb 23, 10:46 am
Biden to thank Black essential workers, meet with Trudeau
On Tuesday afternoon, the president will meet virtually with a group of Black essential workers to thank them for their critical roles during the pandemic.
Then, Biden will participate in his first bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and after give a statement on the meeting.
Feb 23, 10:12 am
Three Biden nominees considered by Senate
Three of Biden’s picks for key administration positions have hearings before Senate committees Tuesday. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider Debra Haaland for secretary of the Interior. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee will consider Xavier Becerra to serve as secretary of health and human services.
And the Senate Judiciary Committee will resume its hearing, which began Monday, to consider Merrick Garland for attorney general.
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