tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC January 26, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PST
good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. as the senate is about to approve key members of president biden's cabinet at this hour even as one of the most important, treasury secretary janet yellin, is getting sworn in shortly. the highly experienced economist and former fed chair becoming the first woman secretary of the treasury. even with the senate embroiled over the conflict of the second impeachment of donald trump, a final vote is also to confirm l tony blinken in the senate. that will let him tackle a host of problems overseas. and biden's top domestic policy adviser susan rice will be joining e press secretary jen psaki at this hour to talk about executive actions the president
will be taking later today for equity in housing. mitch mcconnell has agreed to a power-sharing move the will allow democrats to take charge of committees now that they're the majority. last night the nienhouse managers walked the article of impeachment into the senate deliver to the senate through corridors taken over by a mob of rioters only three weeks ago. in just a few hours the senators will be sworn in and agree to hear the evidence impartially, but a growing number of republicans have spoken out against even holding the trial. kristen welker, kasie hunt, and "washington post" senior washington correspondent phil rocker and chuck rosenberg, former senior fbi official and u.s. attorney. a busy day, kristen, on the
senate, the cabinet, racial equity policies to be unveiled and briefed shortly by susan rice and jen psaki. >> reporter: absolutely right, andrea. as you pointed out at the top of the show, this does fit into one of president biden's key campaign promises to take action on racial equity, so he is going to sign a series of executive actions today that will deal with a range of different topics, everything from education to health care, housing. it will mandate that the department of housing and urban development seeks to have equitable and fair housing and it's also going to call for essentially a disavowal of xenophobia and racism, particularly for asian-americans in the wake of the covid-19 crisis. some of the language that was used by the former administration. so of course the question is what if any teeth does this have, andrea. that will be at the forefront. back to you because we see the
swearing-in of janet yellin getting under way. >> yeah. let's see if we can hear. >> that i will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. >> that i take this obligation freely. >> that i take this obligation freely. >> without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. >> without any mental reservation or purpose of invasion. >> that i will well and faithfully discharge. >> that i will well and faithfully discharge. >> the duties of the office upon which i am about to enter. >> the duties of the office upon which i am about to honor. >> so help me god. >> so help me god. >> congratulations, madam secretary. >> thank you, ms. vice president. thank you so much. >> congratulations. >> thank you. >> that's quite a moment. she's now being called madam
secretary. and of course she is taking the position -- i think that was the treasury behind her, so it looks to me like they are on the eastport coe. that looked like the treasury building behind her in the background. of course alexander hamilton's treasury. kristen, we interrupted -- you interrupted yourself, i interrupted you because of the yellin swearing-in. any other points you wanted to make on the importance of this, the economic pry tirr she'll have to deal with? she is very well-known to people on the hill. confirmed i think with 84 votes or 85 votes perhaps. so this is a big bipartisan vote for her confirmation. >> reporter: it is a big bipartisan vote, andrea. let me just point out the fact that she is going to be of course the first woman to hold this post. and that also fits into president biden's campaign promise to have an administration that looks like the country, he said, and so she
certainly fits into that and it would be appropriate coming against the backdrop of the executive actions he'll be passing later today. as you point out, she takes over at a moment of crisis for the economy. questions about how the economy will move forward. a critical test for her and president biden, who of course has been push for that $1.9 trillion relief package. the question looming so large over that push, andrea, is how it might be impacted by the impeachment trial that's set to get under way in two weeks from now. but that is the key focus here for president biden, for this incoming administration, not only restoring the health of this nation but the health of the nation's economy, andrea. >> former fed chair, of course, longtime academic, and extremely well qualified and the first woman on impeachment, kasie, chuck schumer made the case against the former president in
an exclusive san bernardino view with rachel maddow last night. >> his act on the 6th was the most despicable thing any president has ever done, and he is the worst president ever. and you cannot just -- let's move on. you have to look back. >> actually convicting him is another matter. kasie, it's going to be a short trial but potentially a very difficult one to win a conviction. >> reporter: it is likely to be short, andrea, or at least that's what all sides seem to be suggesting. they want to see that from this trial. but again, we've said many times the key number here, 17. they need 17 republicans to join with all democrats to actually convict the president. it's pretty hard to count to 17. the reality is that while mitch mcconnell's been pretty public about saying he wants to slam the door on president trump, and he is reportedly being stronger
about that in private, it would take a, in fact, so many others to join him and potentially sacrifice their own political futures here. they're still very afraid of a base of their own party that is still, it seems, loyal to president trump. and the further that we've gotten away from the attack on january 6th, the more it has seemed like the will is simply not there for that self-sacrifice in addition to some looming concern about whether donald trump would start a third party and permanently break the republican party by doing so. so it's that same set of dynamics -- fear of donald trump, unwillingness to sacrifice themselves as they stare at this -- really their last and final opportunity to shut the door on the president and bar -- former president and bar him from ever serving in office again. now, i will say, andrea, the one thing that i think could affect how things go here is the case itself and whether reliving the moments, the horrific moments on
january 6th, when almost every member of both the house and the senate was in incredible physical danger, the democrats are going to put together a case that shows just how the president contributed to that. and these members are going to have to watch that and certainly i know members in both parties were extraordinarily shaken up by the events of the day, and we will see if being -- having them explicitly replayed and shown is something that moves hearts and minds, andrea. >> to that point, chuck rosenberg, we've heard reports the impeachment managers are looking at conservative social media videos, videos pieced together by just security, an online forum by the nyu center. >> mike pence, i hope you're going to stand up for good of our constitution and for the good of our country. and if you're not, i'm going to be very disappointed in you, i
will tell you right now. i'm not hearing good stories. >> speech is over. it was awesome. he went over all the voter fraud. i am very concerned about mike pence. i have no idea what he's going to do. did not love the way the president talked about that. and i don't know. we'll see. anyways, we're walking over to the capitol right now, and, i don't know, maybe we'll break down the doors. >> hang mike pence! hang mike pence! hang mike pence! hang mike pence! >> chuck rosenberg, to all of you, just watching it alone, especially for thoses who lived through it, that is dramatic evidence. >> it is, indeed, andrea. it is dramatic evidence.
to chuck schumer's point, senator schumer, it is, i believe, the most despicable act by a president of the united states ever. but that said, as a former federal prosecutor, it's not just what the president said on january 6th. and it's not just what his followers said after listening to him speak on january 6th. it's all of the things he said in the run-up to the election about there being an unfair system that was going to rob and cheat him. it's what he said immediately after the election when he called it a hoax and made arguments, spurious, of course, that the election was stolen from him. so as a prosecutor, you want to paint as broad a picture as you can. if you focus too narrowly, you open up a defense that the president didn't intend for his followers to go storm the capitol. but when you show all of the tapestry, all of the texture, all of the fabric of what this president did and what he said, over a long period of time, that evidence becomes even more compelling and more damning.
>> including, phil rucker, what he did not do afterwards when he was watching television and you all at "the washington post" were reporting, resisting appeals from even his own staff to call off the rioters and didn't do that for hours. >> that's exactly right, andrea. as the president on january 6th consumed the live coverage of what was happening at the capitol, he was, according to people around him, impressed that these crowds were fighting for him. he likes to see that all of these hundreds of insurrectionists, for lack of a better term, were rising up under his banner and trying to push to delay and prevent the certification of the electoral college vote. it took several hours for the president to urge them to stand down and to come home. but even then, he said "i love you" in that video to these insurrectionists, so he made very clear that afternoon in his
public utterances how he felt about the scene that was transpiring at the capitol. >> it's's clear, kasie, the republican caucus, at their regular tuesday lunch, is going to hear something of a constitutional challenge. they'll focus those opponents of conviction are going to focus on the constitutional aspects not the case itself, saying that a former president cannot be convicted. they'll hear from jonathan turley, one of the president's defenders in the impeachment hearings last time around, and as a legal expert he'll be coming to his defense. and mitch mcconnell must have invited that. >> reporter: it seems there is a push mongs republicans to try and figure out if there's ground to stand on in terms of this argument. and mcconnell is very good at reading his conference and it is possible that as we go forward here he could re-evaluate whether or not he got too far
out there, although right now he and people who have worked in his orbit, mcconnell world, as he sometimes loosely refer to them, are being defensive of the way he has criticized president trump in the wake of the january 6th riots. but this gives them a way to talk about it that it's not t about the riot. they're trying to put this on ground that's about the constitution and that the process and the procedure which, i mean, you have covered this town for so long, it's a pretty classic strategy when they don't actually want to talk about the issue at hand, because the reality is with a handful of exceptions they're all horrified by it and once again caught politically between what their base wants them to do and what they believe in what they need to do for their own re-election chances. and this, again, you know, we've talked about this over and over again, and the issue started out small. it got bigger and bigger, all the way to an insurrection at
the capitol. every time the republican party has been give an chance to shut donald trump out, they have not taken it. this is really the last and final one, and it looks like right now they're heading towards an argument about process and the constitution and our processes for impeachment as opposed to the actual issue itself and the content of that article. andrea? >> and very briefly, kristen, we heard from the president briefly who want e ran into a correspondent in the corridor last night, his attitude towards the impeachment trial? >> making his most extensive comments yet about the trial saying he believes it has to happen but also saying to the reporter who ran in to him from cnn that he does not believe that democrats have the votes to convict. so significant to hear that from the president behind the scenes. undoubtedly when reporters have a chance to ask him about that next, they'll try to follow up with him and get clarity on what he meant.
>> kristen welker, kasie hunt, chuck rosenberg, thank you all so much. listen to the latest podcasts. advancing equality. president biden expecting to sign multiple executive orders outlining his racial equality agenda today. i'll talk to the president of the naacp in moments. still ahead, white house domestic policy council chief susan rice expected to take the podium at the daily press briefing with jen psaki to talk about those executive orders. [ thunder rumbles ] [ engine rumbling ] ♪♪ [ beeping ] [ engine revs ] ♪♪ uh, you know there's a 30-minute limit, right?
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president biden is making racial equity a top priority in his first week in office, devoting more attention to the issue than any new president has since lyndon johnson. as "the new york times" points out, today he will sign several executive actions tackling fair housing, policing practices, and disallowing xenophobia. moments from now we'll get a preview of the president's agenda from domestic policy council director susan rice at the daily white house briefing. joining me now naacp president and ceo derrick johnson. very good to see you again. thanks for joining us today. an important day, but i guess the question is how far is he
going? is he going far enough? >> this is a great initial start. in fact, as i look back in history, this is the only president that has started it this early. even lyndon johnson only did so many in cases under a level of duress and public upheaval. this is a president that made a commitment during the campaign to follow up with that. we have been progressive to make sure it happened. the fact he's embedding this inside of domestic policy council shows the urgency and the gravity of what's taking place but in addition to that, racial equity is system-wide. it's not about one thing or function or set of policies. it's everything we do with african-americans, asians, latinos, we are tax-paying citizens and want ek witzable return on this country. >> what about the judicial system? there has been so much violence
against blacks. and the court system, at least according to, you know, any statistic that you look at, the mitch mcconnell approved, donald trump judges almost all white men. >> unfortunately, the prior administration was being aided and abetted by mitch mcconnell in the senate to stack the court, to try to sway the future of this nation. we would encourage this president, we would encourage leader schumer to make sure we right-size what it looks like in this nation. it's important we have a balanced court so that the constitution can hold to its creed, that all men and women are created equal with unalienable rights. that can only happen with we have the right justices. >> symbols are also important. i don't have to tell you that. also according to jen psaki we'll see harriet tubman replace
andrew jackson on the $20 bill. this was slow walked. this had been approved four or five years ago or more. and it was slow walked by the treasury secretary steve mnuchin. why is it a very big deal? >> symbolism is important, substance is better, but at the end of if day, in order for us to be the more perfect union that we learned in class, we must have a history that represents everyone. naacp had a fight in 1915 for the birth of the nation because we recognized how we are viewed on the screen is how we'll be treated in public policy and the street. when we have more representative than symbols that denote all of america and the significance that we all played, it allows people to see the beauty in the diversity that we are as a country and do away with this
white supremacist mentality that has caused so much harm over time. and they are the true domestic terrorists. the biggest threat to domestic terrorism and white supremacist activity is do democracy. the symbol of harriet tubman begins a next step of democracy that's inclusive of all people -- men, women, black, white, latino, all of us. >> and of course president biden was the first president ever to mention white supremacy in an inaugural address. what do you say to republicans who say that this focus on racism by president biden is creating divisions? >> i think the focus on racism has been established by a set of conservatives who used race to try to score political points. unfortunately, that racism that was used so effectively in the southern region has now become such a national phenomenon.
we have to set a course to address and right size that there is no superior race. that's what happened in nazi germany. there are no superior people. that's what happens when you create tribalism. there is one nation. in order to be one nation, we must see ourselves as one nation. >> derrick johnson, presidents of the naacp, thank you for being with us today. >> thank you. in search of a shot. the numbers of american who is want the coronavirus vaccine far outnumbering the doses available. we're live at a vaccination site in florida next. sofi made it so easy to pay off my student loan debt.
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this growing pressure on the new biden administration to fix the chaotic distribution of vaccines and make up for lost time, president biden announcing a new goal of getting 1.5 million shots a day from the previous goal of 1 million that he had but saying that any american who wants a vaccine should get one before summer. >> i think we'll be able to get that to 1.5 million a day rather than 1 million a day. i think we'll be able to do that
this spring. but it's going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we've ever tried in this country. but i think we can do that. >> critics are only saying that is only half as many daily vaccinations as needed to reach goals of vaccinating perhaps 70% of the public by the fall. and supply shortages continue to cause challenges across the country. in louisiana, a health system canceled more than 20,000 first-dose vaccination appointments last week. in arlington, virginia, 10,000 appointments were canceled at one site. another is canceling first-dose appointments today. meanwhile in florida, people continue to struggle, lining up for hours in hopes of getting a shot. many are elderly. kerry sanders is at a vaccinate site in port charlotte, florida, where they just ran out of vaccines for day. kerry, you've been on top of this all along. you hear one thing from governor
desantis in fle fle, another from the white house about the availability of vaccine doses. what are the facts? >> reporter: well, let me just give you a picture right here. this is charlotte county. in terms of eltdlderly populati they have the third greatest number of elderly population in the whole country. 43% of the residents in this community are 65 or older. so they came here today, 275, and take a look at the time-lapse footage. you can see them coming through, getting a shot, two people every minute. it was going on just fine. then they ran out of vaccine and that underscores the back and forth you hear from the florida governor and the white house, which is give us more vaccine, asks the state. the white house is saying you've got lots you're keeping in reserve. listen to the back and forth here. >> they've only distributed about 50% of the vaccines that they have been given in florida. so clearly they have a good deal
of the vaccine. >> that's disingenuous. we are number one in the country for doses per capita for the top ten states. the thing is, i think most governors are saying the same thing too. we have the throughput. you have every place that's doing this can do more, so i think just getting more doses -- >> reporter: republican governor ron desantis is pushing back on a federal plan to have fema and the national guard deployed, saying that there are plenty of sites like this that can deliver if the state. 77 sites. there are more than 200 pharmacies at the publix grocery store. it's just a matter of getting the vaccine. meantime in florida, a very troubling turn today. a paramedic has been arrested in polk county, florida, allegedly working with a captain to steal three doses of the vaccine for
the captain's mother. now, the authorities say that they have one already in custody. that is joshua killone. they expect to take the captain into custody today. not only does it show the desperation people may have to get the vaccine and in this case allegedly violate the law, but that paramedic was last year's paramedic of the year in polk county. a lot of concern and a lot of really telling details in people trying to now steal the vaccine, because there's a general perceived shortage. andrea? >> a lot of conflict there. kerry sanders, thank you very much. joining me is a senior scholar at the johns hopkins center for health security. doctor, let's sort through this. we're seeing the "washington post" reporting that jeff zients is going to get on with governors later today and tell them that they're going to get 16% more vaccine as of next
week. so the supply chain is going to be worked on and they'll get more supply to them. i don't know, you know, how that's going to be worked out. but the rollout obviously has a range of problems. we see it all around us. we've seen it here in d.c. as well as in maryland and virginia. just here in louisiana, florida, every place across the country. what is the biggest problem? is it lack of supply? is it supply chain problems, holdups at the local level? is it the federal level? >> i think it's all of the above. one of the things is most vaccination sent rs don't have predictn't. they don't know when they're getting more doses so that's stifling appointments for people to get vaccinated. this is similar to the 2009 pandemic when no knew when the vaccine was coming. that set up logistical problems. we have to get out of this pox where the state governors and federal government are arguing over what they have and don't
have. it has to be transparent everybody should know what they have, how much is in the freezer, how much they give so we can actually look at this and analyze it. a governor says this, the federal government says something different, and you don't know which one is true. it seems to be different everywhere you look. clearly, this is failing and unacceptable and they have to fix it because that's the only we v way we get through this pandemic. >> what are you expecting from them now sayings they can quickly produce a booster to deal with the south african variant and that other variants are response to moderna's vaccine? >> this is really good news and speaks to the elegance of the mrna vaccine platform that moderna used, that it can be easily adapted. hopefully it doesn't come to the need of a booster shot that's different from the original vaccine, but this is how we can update it. this is one of the lessons of the pandemic, these new platforms from pfizer and moderna, will change the way we face emerging infectious
diseases in the future. doing this ahead of time, to have boosters ready that are altered is important. but the data shows the vaccines will be robust enough against these variants. good to know we have a solution if one is needed. >> and johnson & johnson certainly signaling progress that may be releasing trial results next week. maybe they'll be ready to ask for emergency use authorization, a single-dose vaccine that does not require extreme refrigeration. >> that's going to be very, very important, because right now we have all of this worry about second doses and second dose and mixed batching after giving a moderna after a pfizer and vice versa. that evaporates if you have a single vaccine. and if you have a vaccine without stringent storage requirements, you can bring it closer to patients, use refrigerators in doctors' office, drugstores, mass vaccination clinics easily with the johnson & johnson vaccine
without this cold need. so this is something we need to have as rapidly as possible. i'm looking forward to the phase-three data and hope it looks good for emergency use approval and have it rolled out to the ranks of our vaccines. >> i want to squeeze in one more question before we get that white house briefing. reron saying its antibody cocktail is effective in preventing covid-19 symptomatic infection. in the trial, it was 100% effective. this doesn't replace vaccines, but this is an important therapeutic advance. >> yeah, so it is another tool. we expect the monoclonal ant antibodies would have that effect. do you go to nursing homes without vaccinated individuals and blanket the nursing home with the antibodies or high-risk individuals in the community? it's another option, but it's secondary to the vaccine. i think it would have been great if we would have had this earlier prevaccine, because we
could have protected our nursing homes. now it will have more of a limited role, like we've seen with its use in outpatient settings as well because there's not a good concept for using them as well as they could be. they'll sit on a shelf for a while and not necessarily have a place in therapy as much. >> and california has been such a hot zone, but they are now lifting their strict stay-at-home orders despite these restrictions. the state continues to see a rise in infections. why lift them now? >> california is a bit of a mystery to a lot of us. we don't understand why they're having such a hard time with cases and hospital capacity despite having the strictest restrictions in the country. i wonder if there's a little backfiring going on, that these stay-at-home restrictions are driving people into their homes and transmission is occurring in private gatherings. so i think it is important to try and make sure that your public health measures are guide d by the metrics. if restrictions aren't doing anything, they have to recap
benchmark rate and figure out how people are getting infected and target public health interventions that way. >> thank you so much. we're still waiting on that white house briefing. but first joining me now is joel payne, former press secretary for senate majority leader harry reed and brendan buck. we may be interrupted any moment by jen psaki and also susan rice. but let's start talking about that power sharing agreement. brandon, mitch mcconnell seems to have caved in and now agreed that he's not going to hold out for an agreement on the filibuster from, you know, written in blood from chuck schumer and that he will let the democratic majority take over those committees and get started. >> i don't know that he caved in. he really had nothing to lose by trying to see if democrats would basically tie their own hands.
you know, what he got out of this was i think two relatively robust commitments from two senators, cinema and manchin, who said they will never vote to get rid of the filibuster. i think that is a win. there's a lot of conversation as though they could always go back on their word. it sort of suggests that they don't understand what they're saying or what they're doing or what mitch mcconnell has planned in terms of potentially blocking democratic priorities. so the fact those two people put their word out and said they won't give in to the filibuster i think is a big win. if reality is they probably don't have the votes to do a lot of things they want to do via getting rid of the filibuster anyway. they don't have a the votes for medicare for all or a $2 trillion plan. it's premature to suggest they had a reason to get rid of the filibuster. hopefully they take it in place. it would be completely antithetical to what joe biden
said as a centrist if they got over it. >> jen psaki has just walked in. we'll get back to you if not today another day. susan rice is with her. here's jen psaki. >> -- adviser susan rice who will be talking about the racial equity executive order that the president will be signing this afternoon. she's kindly offered to stick around and take some questions. i will as usual play the role of bad cop when it's time for her to go. with that, i'll turn it over to susan. >> good afternoon, everyone. it's good to be back. jen, thanks. the president has committed the whole of our government to advancing racial justice and equity for all americans. i'm leading this effort out of the domestic policy council. i've assemed a first-rate team to drive this agenda forward.
we'll hold the federal government accountable for advancing equity for families across america. i have the support of every white house office and every agency in this work because, as president biden has made clear, advancing equity is everybody's job. tackling these challenges, though, is personal for me. i'm the descendant of immigrants from jamaica, enslaved americans. my grandparents and my parents are beneficiaries of the american dream, and so am i. my family's story is a remarkable one of the march towards greater equality and opportunity. but for too many american families, systemic racism and inequality in our economy, laws, and institutions, still put the american dream far out of reach. today the average black family has just one-tenth the wealth of the average white family. while the gap between the white
and black home ownership is now larger than it was in 1960. these long-standing inequities are compounded by the converging crises we face as a nation. americans of color are being infected by and dying from covid-19 at higher rates. 1 in 10 black americans and 1 in 11 latino workers are currently unemployed. by some estimates, 40% of black-owned businesses have been forced to close for good during the covid crisis. black and latino families with children are twice as likely to be experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic as white families. and black and latino-americans are 2.8 times more likely to die of covid-19. and for native communities across the country, the overlapping economic and health
crises have devastated tribal economies and health care systems. these are desperate times for so many americans. and all americans need urgent federal action to meet this moment. today president biden will deliver a national address on his plans to advance racial justice and equity starting with an equitable and inclusive recovery. president biden will renew the federal government's commitment to making the american dream real for families across the nation by taking ambitious steps to redress inequality in our economy and expand opportunity for communities that have been left behind including communities of color. his economic plans make historic investments in underserved communities and put equity at the heart of our recovery. his ambitious agenda builds on a legacy of americans forging opportunity out of crisis.
these aren't feel-good policies. the evidence is clear. investing in equity is good for economic growth, and it creates jobs for all americans. economists have estimated that the u.s. economy has lost a staggering $16 trillion over the last 20 years because of discrimination against families of color. if we closed racial gaps in income and opportunity, these same economists have estimated we could add $5 trillion to the u.s. economy over the next five years and add over 6 million new jobs for all americans. so building a more equitable economy is essential if americans are going to compete and thrive in the 21st century. we've hit the ground running to embed equity throughout the administration. on day one, the president signed
an executive order directing an unprecedented whole of government initiative to embed racial equity across federal policies, programs, and institutions. that starts with a review of policies and institutions to redress systemic racism where it exists and to advance equity where we aren't doing enough. every agency will place equity at the core of their public engagement. their policy design and program delivery to ensure that government resources are reaching americans of color and all marginalized communities -- rural, urban, disabled, lgbtq-plus, religious minorities and so many others. president has put equity at the center of his response to the covid-19 and economic crises. his executive order signed last week delivers rent relief,
student debt reprieve and emergency food assistance to families across the country, helping all americans, including black and brown families, who we know are being hit hardest by this crisis. and he took steps to make our broken immigration system more humane and secure. he restored the integrity of the census so that our constitutionally man daipted accounting of every person in the united states is fair and inclusive. even before taking office, sh president biden released his american rescue plan that will make historic investments in advancing equity. independent economists estimate his plan will cut child poverty in half, cut child poverty in half for all americans and reduce overall poverty by 30%. black american families this year will face a poverty rate of 20% if congress does not act on the american rescue plan.
but if enacted, the poverty rate would fall by over one-third, and it would fall by 40% for latino families and by one-fifth for asian-american and pacific islander families. the american rescue plan provides critical relief to native indian americans. this will lift so many out of poverty and provide relief across sectors where families of are most disproportionally impacted by this crisis, in food, financial security, health care access, education and child care. today president biden is continuing his commitment to embedding equity at the center of his agenda by signing an additional package of executive actions. the president will sign a memorandum directing the department of housing and urban development to mitigate racial bias in housing and affirmatively advance our
nation's fair housing laws. he will also sign an executive order directing the department of justice not to renew any contracts with private prisons. private prisons profiteer off of federal prisoners and are proven to be or found to be by the department of justice inspector general, to be less safe for correctional officers and for prisoners. president biden is committed to reducing mass incarceration while making our communities safer. that starts with ending the federal government's reliance on private prisons. the president will also sign an executive order reinvigorating the commitment of all federal agencies to engage in regular, robust, and meaningful consultation with tribal governments. and the president will sign a memorandum directing all federal agencies to take steps to combat xenophobia and acts of violence against asian-americans and pacific islanders, who have been
targeted by political leaders in our nation's response to covid-19. again, these are continue a continuation of our initial steps to advance racial justice and equity through early executive action. beyond this, the president is committed to working with congress to advance equity in our economy, our criminal justice systems, our health care systems, and in our schools. as i've said many times in my personal capacity, and i say again, i believe we all rise or fall together. advancing equity is a critical part of healing and of restoring unity in our nation. the president will have more to say about all of this later this afternoon. and i'm happy to take a few of your questions. >> you speak about communities of color right now that are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, of course. they're also less inclined to
have faith in the federal government response to the vaccination process. so what specifically is being done right now for communities of color to convince them it's okay to get this vaccine? >> much of this to my colleague jeff zients, but we have established within our covid task force on effort on equity and that includes obviously racial equity that will focus on health disparities but also on the reality that there are americans who -- particularly americans of color who, for very valid historical reasons, are skeptical and reluctant. and a large part of what our colleagues on the covid task force are doing, this is the second part, is reaching out directly through targeted campaigns to get to those varied
communities where the skepticism is highest and that's vitally important. because as communities of color are suffering disproportionately and may have less access to information about the vaccine, and the ability to easily go online in some instances and get an appointment, we have to take those additional steps to ensure that they are aware of its availability, they can get appointments, and that they understand that the vaccine is safe. >> i have a couple things. there's a lot of day one promises right now -- >> jen does news of the day. >> fine. >> on february 20th of last year, president biden said repeating the liability, closing the background loopholes and waiting period. what happened to that day one promise? >> i think you've seen we have rolled out an unprecedented number of early executive actions and as you've heard jen say and many of my colleagues say this is just the beginning.
we have 1,454 more days left in president biden's first term. and so give us a little something to do over the next few days. >> housekeeping question, if i may, and then a follow up. can you speak specifically to what this does as it relates to immigration and immigrants, does this cover particularly the prisons and private prisons, housing immigrants, undocumented immigrants, tens of thousands of whom are facing deportation in privately run prisons right now. >> this order today applies to department of justice run prisons. it is not, in this instance, applicable to those run by other agencies. >> of the i.c.e. or anything like that. and then going back to january 6th and what we saw just a few weeks ago at the capitol when we saw people roaming that building, carrying confederate flags, wearing anti semitic shirts, we saw lawmakers in that group, we saw firefighters in that group, we saw military veterans in that group.
what are you doing to address this issue of white nationalism and how concerned are you about the threat from some of these groups leading into this impeachment trial, in two weeks? >> well, i think we have seen, and it's been plain for all americans on their television sets just how serious a problem we face from nationalists and white supremacists who have demonstrated willingness to resort to violence in some instances, and that is why the president has ordered the intelligence community to compile a comprehensive assessment of the nature of this threat and challenge, and its origins and roots, and thus provide policymakers with inputs that would be very important to address this challenge. the national security council
has set up a capacity within the nsc to focus on domestic violent extremism and to ensure that we are within the white house and within the interagency coordinating efforts to craft and implement policies that will address this. we're taking it quite seriously. >> why doesn't this address the i.c.e. private detentions? >> it addresses the department of justice prisons in the first instance. it's not -- it's silent on what may or may not transpire with i.c.e. facilities. there was a department of justice inspector general report in 2016 that underscored that private prisons funded by doj were less safe, less secure, and arguably less humane. this was -- the obama-biden administration took steps to end renewing of contracts for
private prisons. trump administration reversed that. and we're reestablishing it. >> go ahead. i know we met this morning, but tell me your name again. >> mario -- two questions, the first, what will the administration do to address the relationship between communities of color and police, particularly as part of the mass incarceration component? and then second question, republican legislatures have signalled that they're going to look to roll back some of the voting procedures from the last election. we know that that's centered in some of those swing states and largely black and brown communities, what's the administration going to do about that as well? >> with respect to prisons, policing, the entire basket of very important criminal justice reform issues, this is something that we are committed to addressing and we will have more to say on criminal justice in the coming weeks, including on matters related to policing. so please stay tuned for that.
with respect to efforts to roll back the access to the ballot, this is something that i expect the president will address in his remarks today. it's a matter of real concern because we ought to be in the business of encouraging and enabling all americans who are eligible to vote to be able to vote. and that's why, you know, we will continue to work with congress on its various efforts to advance democratic reforms. there's legislation on the hill that would move us in that direction, including restoring and revitalizing the voting rights act. >> jonathan, you're the last one. susan will come back, i'm sure. >> thank you, ambassador. these measures here, executive actions which, of course, could be overturned and reversed by a future president, can you talk about what steps could be taken
to make them permanent, whether it's private prisons or other measures, so they could not be undone by a future president. >> jonathan, as you know, to codify something and make it lasting in law requires that congress -- both houses of congress pass it and that the president sign it. and for this, as well as many other things, there will be areas where legislative actions are the best and most durable approach. there will be some instances where in advance of legislation or efforts to achieve legislation it's wise to take executive action. so i don't think we should assume that by doing something by executive action where it may also be appropriate to seek legislation that we wouldn't do it. we have a very full legislative agenda. the president's first priority is enacting the american rescue plan as well as getting our nominees confirmed. and we'll be focused in the next few weeks on that. >> thank you, ambassador rice. >> thank you, jen, thank you,
everybody. >> just a couple more things at the top, and then be happy to take your questions. the president and his team have been working around the clock over the past six days to make meaningful progress on vaccinating as many people as possible. as we've talked about in this room before increasing the vaccine supply and building increased cooperation between the federal government and state and local leaders on the ground is key to getting that done. the president will speak later today on those efforts and provide an update on his team's work to bolster the vaccine supply available so that we can in turn get more shots into americans' arms as quickly as possible. and i'll also add, as many of you have reported, there are some calls this afternoon, with governors, to brief them on these plans, and give them an update on how we will continue
to work together even more efficiently. couple other things, earlier today the first female vice president swore in the first female secretary of the treasury. what's that for history? dr. janet yellen. today is a pretty historic day. this afternoon the vice president will make her first visit to a federal agency, the national institutes of health where she and the second gentleman will receive their second dose of the moderna vaccine. the vice president will thank dr. collins and their staff to develop the vaccine and efforts to keep americans safe. she will also make the case that congress needs to immediately pass the american rescue plan which includes $20 billion to invest in local vaccine distribution centers in the hardest hit areas. her remarks on the vaccination at nih will be live streamed on the white house youtube channel. so you can all tune in for all of that.
okay, jonathan, kick us off. >> thank you, jen. first on the response to the pandemic, two matters there. first, could you provide more details as to how much more of the vaccine is going to be distributed and how quickly to the states the governors sounded the alarm they are desperately low and they're in need. and could you talk about, the cdc considered a white house support measure for testing all passengers on u.s. domestic flights. >> well, jonathan, on the first part of our effort is certainly to ensure we are more effectively and efficiently working with governors and local officials to have expressed some frustration in recent weeks about the lack of information and the lack of a federal plan. we've only been here six days but we want to take steps as quickly as possible to address that, and part of that will be what the president updates us all on this afternoon. and i would be a very short lived press secretary and i got ahead of the president and we're having so much fun in here. you don't want that t
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