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Biden administration begins push for action on COVID-19 relief

President Biden had a full Monday lifting a ban aimed at transgender troops, imposing a ban centered on COVID-19, and extending a mandate to buy goods made by Americans. White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Biden has had a full day, lifting a ban aimed at transgender troops, imposing a ban aimed at COVID-19, and expanding a mandate to buy goods made by Americans.

    White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports on the day's events.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    President Biden's first full week in office, and a flurry of executive actions. At a morning meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Biden revoked President Trump's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.

  • President Joseph Biden:

    What I'm doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country. Transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve their government in the United States military.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president also issued a buy American order. It is aimed at providing support to U.S. manufacturers. The order raises the threshold for products to qualify under existing buy American regulations, calls for a review of waivers of buy American requirements, and appoints an official in the Office of Management and Budget to oversee the order's implementation.

    The president is reimposing a COVID-19 ban on foreign travelers from the U.K., Brazil and Ireland, as well as other European countries with open borders. South Africa was also included on the list over concerns about a coronavirus variant there.

    Meanwhile, the Biden White House has begun its push for legislative action on a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. On Sunday, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and other White House officials held a call with a bipartisan group of senators. But Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah said they remain concerned about the size of the package. Many others in the GOP are too.

    Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, has said he is also skeptical that a bipartisan deal can be reached. Instead, he is suggesting a process called budget reconciliation. That would let the bill pass with a simple majority,instead of 60 votes.

    For his part today, President Biden again voiced hope for a bipartisan agreement.

  • President Joe Biden:

    Whether we get it all done exactly the way I want it remains to be seen, but I'm confident that we can work our way through. We have to work our way through, because, as I have said 100 times, there is no ability in a democracy for it to function without the ability to reach consensus.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Meanwhile, the looming second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump threatens new divisions.

    The first step is tonight, with House managers formally delivering the article of impeachment to the Senate. It accuses Trump of incitement of insurrection. That comes after he urged supporters to march to the Capitol on January 6 and a mob of them stormed the building.

    On Sunday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was questioned about whether it was unconstitutional to try a former president. He said this:

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.:

    Yes, the first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I will do it because I think it's really bad for America. If you want to hold people accountable, there's other ways to do it, particularly for a president.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Senate Democrats on the other hand say it's important that President Trump be held accountable.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    It makes no sense whatsoever that a president, or any official, could commit a heinous crime against our country and then defeat Congress' impeachment powers by simply resigning, so as to avoid accountability and a vote to disqualify them from future office.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The trial will not begin until February. That gives the former president more time to mount his defense and the current president more time to confirm his Cabinet nominees.

    That includes this evening's Senate vote to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, next up, Antony Blinken, the nominee for secretary of state.

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