Biden Plans Executive Order Blitz After Wednesday Inauguration

Posted on 01/18/2021 6:36 AM

Senate to hold nomination hearings on six Biden Cabinet nominees

 


Washington Focus


 

Joe Biden will be sworn in as president of the United States at noon ET on Wednesday. The House returns from recess Thursday. The Senate returns from recess on Tuesday. Outgoing President Donald Trump will leave Washington for Florida on Wednesday morning. Vice President Mike Pence will attend the Biden inauguration.

 

The $1.9 trillion stimulus package and vaccine distribution (link for details) will be at the top of the agenda for Joe Biden after he is sworn in as U.S. president on Wednesday. Biden also plans to send a sweeping immigration bill to Congress that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people in the country illegally.

 

     Biden’s initial agenda. Biden’s incoming chief of staff Ron Klain on Saturday, in a memo to senior staff, said the incoming president would address “four overlapping and compounding crises,” covering the pandemic, the economy, the environment and racial equity. Biden plans to reverse many of President Trump’s policies during the first 10 days of the new administration, including executive actions focused on Covid-19, the economy and climate change.

 

    On Wednesday, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, moving to rejoin the Paris climate accord, extending a suspension of interest-free student loan payments, keeping in place restrictions on evictions and foreclosures and mandating mask wearing on federal property and during interstate travel on airlines, trains and transit systems. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, Klain noted in the memo. Some court challenges are expected.

 

     “Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain said, including the $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief bill he outlined last Thursday. Klain said that Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office. Klain said Biden also would soon unveil legislation related to economic recovery, voting rights and fighting violence against women.

 

     On Thursday, Biden will sign orders related to the Covid-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, including protecting workers from the pandemic and establishing public-health standards, according to the memo.

 

     Friday will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic, including “working families bearing the brunt of this crisis.”

 

     Next week, Klain said, Biden would take additional actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S./Mexico border under Trump’s policies. Provisions will also be announced relative to “Buy American” provisions, changes to the criminal justice system and access to health care.

 

The Senate this week has hearings on six nominations for President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet. There is nothing official yet on a hearing for the return of Tom Vilsack as USDA secretary. (George H. W. Bush had only two nominees receive hearings before his inauguration in 1989.)

 

     Janet Yellen, Biden’s Treasury secretary nominee, is expected to affirm the U.S.’ commitment to market-determined exchange rates when she testifies on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported, and she will make clear the U.S. doesn’t seek a weaker dollar for competitive advantage, the WSJ said, citing Biden transition officials familiar with her hearing preparation. According to the Intercontinental Exchange, the dollar has fallen roughly 12% against an index of six major currencies since March, when the Fed cut rates to near zero amid the coronavirus-induced downturn.

 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the Senate on Monday, according to a Harris aide. The California Democrat's resignation will come two days before she becomes the nation's first female vice president. Her replacement, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla — who was selected by the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom — could be sworn in before Wednesday, though another option is for him to be sworn in on the Senate floor minutes after the inauguration.

 

Who controls the Senate? Since Jan. 3, when the 117th Congress was sworn in, the Senate’s composition has been 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who vote with Democrats. That’s why the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has remained majority leader. Since Georgia had two runoff elections on Jan. 5, one of that state’s Senate seats is temporarily vacant, and the other will be held for a few more days by Kelly Loeffler, a Republican. The two Democrats who won the runoffs, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, will be seated once that election result is certified.

 

     Georgia election officials expect to certify the results by end-of-day on Wednesday, the day of Biden’s inauguration. Ossoff and Warnock then must bring their certification papers to Washington to be sworn in. Such swearings-in often occur the day after state certification. The addition of Ossoff and Warnock would bring the Senate’s balance of power to an even split, 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris breaking ties.

 

GOP senators are expected to argue Trump can’t be convicted in impeachment.​ With President Trump's impeachment trial looming as soon as this week, many Republicans will contend the Senate lacks jurisdiction to try him after he leaves office because he will be a private citizen.

 

     Karl Rove warned that if President Trump chooses his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to defend him in the Senate impeachment trial, it would backfire on him. Rove, who served as deputy chief of staff under President George W. Bush, said he believes Giuliani's claims on voter fraud in the aftermath of the 2020 election hurt his credibility, and his role in an impeachment defense would drive more GOP senators to convict Trump. "With the Rudy Giuliani defense, there is a strong likelihood that more than 17 Republicans will because essentially that argument is, this was justified," Rove said on Fox News Sunday.  The House impeached Trump last week on a charge of "incitement of insurrection" regarding the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that left five people dead, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer. Convicting Trump in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote, or 67 senators.

 

For Congress’ 2021 calendar, here is a link to one from CQ/Roll Call.

 


Hearings and Events This Week


 

Monday, Jan. 18


     • U.S. markets are closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Tuesday, Jan. 19


     • National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, online through Thursday.
     • Confirmation hearing: Yellen/Treasury. Senate Finance Committee hearing on Janet Yellin to be Treasury secretary.
     • Confirmation hearing: Mayorkas/HS. Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Alejandro Mayorkas to be secretary of Homeland Security.
     • Confirmation hearing: Blinken/State. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tony Blinken to be secretary of State.  
     • Confirmation hearing: Haines/National Intelligence. Senate Select Intelligence hearing on the nomination of Avril Haines to be director of National Intelligence.
     • Confirmation hearing: Austin/Defense. Senate Armed Services Committee

hearing on the nomination of Lloyd Austin to be Defense secretary.

Wednesday, Jan. 20


    • Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the U.S. at noon ET in Washington, D.C. After his speech, before an empty National Mall absent the usual crowd of Americans who attend inaugurations, Biden will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and then proceed to the White House.

Thursday, Jan. 21


     • Confirmation hearing: Buttigieg/Transportation. Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Pete Buttigieg to be Transportation secretary.  

 


Economic Reports for the Week


 

The economic calendar brings reports on housing starts, manufacturing PMI and existing home sales.

 

Monday, Jan. 18
     • Holiday. U.S. markets closed.


Tuesday, Jan. 19
     • Treasury International Capital  

Wednesday, Jan. 20

     • MBA Mortgage Applications
     • National Association of Home Builders NAHB/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for January. Consensus estimate is for an 86 reading, matching the December data.

Thursday, Jan. 21

     • U.S. jobless claims have moved higher in recent weeks, an indication that companies are laying off more workers while Covid-19 cases rise and the economic recovery falters. Figures for the week ending Jan. 16 will show whether the labor market is starting to stabilize or deteriorating further.
     • Census Bureau reports new residential construction data for December. Economists forecast a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.56 million housing starts, slightly more than the November figure. Building permits are seen coming in at 1.6 million, just below the previous month’s data.
     • Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index
     • Fed Balance Sheet
     • Money Supply
     • European Central Bank announces its monetary-policy decision. The ECB is unlikely to change the deposit facility rate, currently at a record-low negative 0.5%.
     • Bank of Japan announces its monetary-policy decision. The central bank is expected to keep its key short-term rate unchanged at negative 0.1%. It has been five years since Japan first instituted negative interest rates to head off a deflationary spiral.

Friday, Jan. 22

     • IHS Markit releases both the Manufacturing and Services Purchasing Managers’ indexes for January. Consensus estimate for the Manufacturing PMI is 56.5, while the Services PMI is expected to be 53.6. Both readings are slightly below the December data. 
     • National Association of Realtors existing-home sales for December. Economists forecast a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.4 million home sold, fewer than November’s 6.7 million. In November, the median existing-home price was $310,800, up 14.6% year over year.

 


Key USDA & international Ag & Energy Reports and Events 


 

Monday, Jan. 18
 

     Ag reports and events:

     • Holiday. U.S. federal offices closed
     • China customs to publish trade data, including corn, wheat, sugar and pork imports
     • China 4Q pork output
     • EU weekly grain, oilseed import and export data
     • Brazil coffee exporters group Cecafe releases December data

 

     Energy reports and events:

     • China December output data, including crude oil and refining
     • China second batch of December trade data, including breakdown for oil products
     • Holiday: U.S. (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day); most CME energy trading halts at 1pm ET, resumes 6 p.m.

 

Tuesday, Jan. 19
 

     Ag reports and events:

     • Export Inspections
     • Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook
     • Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook

 

     Energy reports and events:

     • IEA monthly Oil Market Report
     • EIA Drilling Productivity Report, with output forecasts for February
     • Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, day 1 of 3. Speakers include UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei, Adnoc CEO Sultan Al Jaber, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo

 

Wednesday, Jan. 20
 

     Ag reports and events:

     • Broiler Hatchery
     • Fruit and Tree Nut Data
     • Vegetables and Pulses Data
     • China customs to publish import data split by country
     • European Cocoa Association grinding data
     • Malaysia’s Jan. 1-20 palm oil exports

 

     Energy reports and events:
     • China third batch of December trade data, including country breakdowns for energy
     • December output data for oil products
     • SIEW Energy Insights webinar on Asia’s role in the energy transition
     • Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, day 2 of 3. Speakers include NNPC Group Managing Director Mele Kyari
     • Nymex WTI February futures expire
     • Russia 10-day crude loading program for February
     • API weekly U.S. oil inventory report, a day later than usual due to U.S. holiday earlier in the week

 

Thursday, Jan. 21
 

     Ag reports and events:

     • U.S. Bioenergy Statistics
     • Chickens and Eggs
     • Livestock Slaughter
     • North American Potatoes
     • Pecan Production
     • Port of Rouen data on French grain exports

 

     Energy reports and events:
     • Russian weekly refinery outage data from ministry
     • Insights Global weekly report on European product inventories in ARA region
     • Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, day 3 of 3. Speakers include IEA Head of Oil Market Division Toril Bosoni, Libya National Oil Corp. Chairman Mustafa Sanalla

 

Friday, Jan. 22
 

     Ag reports and events:

     • Weekly Export Sales
     • CFTC weekly commitments of traders report

     • Peanut Prices
     • Census: Typology
     • Cotton Ginnings
     • Cattle on Feed

 

     Energy reports and events:

     • Baker Hughes weekly U.S. oil/gas rig counts
     • EIA weekly U.S. oil inventory report

     • U.S. weekly ethanol inventories
     • EIA natural gas storage change

 


 

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