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10 things you need to know today: February 3, 2021

1.

House impeachment managers said in a brief filed with the Senate on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump was “singularly responsible” for inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 seeking to reverse his election loss to President Biden. The House’s nine Democratic impeachment managers called Trump’s actions “a betrayal of historic proportions.” “If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a Joint Session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense,” they wrote, “it is hard to imagine what would be.” Trump’s new defense lawyers responded hours later with a 14-page response to the House impeachment article. They said Trump did not incite the mob to attack the Capitol or “engage in destructive behavior.” [The Washington Post]

2.

President Biden told Senate Democrats in a virtual meeting that a $618 billion coronavirus relief package proposed by 10 Republicans is “way too small,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday. Biden, who is pushing for a $1.9 trillion package, urged lawmakers to “go big,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.). The Democrat-led Senate took a step toward passing Biden’s stimulus package with a simple majority. That would allow Democrats to pass Biden’s plan without the 10 Republican votes they would need to avoid a filibuster. Biden met Monday with the 10 Republicans and made it clear that he wants a bipartisan relief bill, but won’t delay to win over Republicans. The two sides did not reach a deal but are continuing talks. [USA Today, The Associated Press]

3.

The Biden administration said Tuesday that it would start sending some coronavirus vaccine doses directly to pharmacies. Many pharmacies already are administering vaccine doses distributed through state systems, but the new program will create a direct pipeline from the federal government to pharmacies. It is part of an effort to make vaccines more widely available. The initiative is separate from the federal government’s use of Walgreens and CVS to get vaccine doses to long-term care facility residents. White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said the government will start by sending one million doses per week to 6,500 pharmacies. The deliveries will be in addition to the weekly shipments to states, which totaled 10.5 million doses this week. [Politico]

4.

President Biden on Tuesday signed three executive orders on immigration that he said would make the U.S. immigration system more “fair, orderly, humane.” One of the orders establishes a task force to reunite children separated from their families at the Mexican border under a Trump administration policy designed to discourage illegal immigration. A second order addresses the surge in asylum applications and looks at replacing former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for people seeking asylum. The third order calls for federal agencies to perform a “top-to-bottom review” of immigration policies. “I’m not making new law,” Biden said. “I’m eliminating bad policy.” The orders came as the Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as Homeland Security secretary. He is the first Latino and immigrant to hold the job. [NPR, The New York Times]

5.

Two FBI agents were killed and three others were injured Tuesday in a gun battle that erupted when they tried to execute a search warrant in Sunrise, Florida. FBI Director Christopher Wray identified the agents who were killed as Special Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger. They were the first FBI agents killed on duty since 2008. The agents were investigating criminals who prey on children online. The man they were looking into was suspected of involvement in violent crimes against children. He reportedly barricaded himself inside the Water Terrace apartments in the normally quiet residential community. After the gun battle, the man, who was not immediately identified, was found dead inside. One law enforcement official said the suspect apparently killed himself before agents could get to him to place him under arrest. [The New York Times]

6.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg as President Biden’s transportation secretary. Buttigieg is the first openly gay Cabinet member in U.S. history to win Senate confirmation. At 39, he is the youngest member of Biden’s Cabinet. Buttigieg, who was among Biden’s rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, has vowed to use infrastructure projects to help address racial and economic disparities. He also has said he would help advance Biden’s fight against climate change by addressing mass-transit ridership that has fallen due to the coronavirus pandemic. Buttigieg tweeted after the 86-13 vote that he was “honored and humbled” and “ready to get to work.” [ABC News]

7.

A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced opposition leader Aleksei Navalny to more than two years in prison for violating his parole. Navalny, one of the main challengers of the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin, was accused of violating his parole for a 2014 conviction by failing to report to authorities when he was in Germany recovering from being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in an apparent state assassination attempt. Navalny was also accused of reporting to authorities in some cases on the wrong day of the week. Large crowds have protested his arrest, and police have arrested thousands. Navalny remained defiant. “All of this will fall apart,” he said, “because you cannot lock up the whole country.” [The New York Times]

8.

The State Department on Tuesday officially called the military takeover in Myanmar a coup d’état. The designation required the Biden administration to cut foreign aid to the country. President Biden quickly condemned the country’s military for taking control and detaining leading members of the governing party, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. But members of the administration spent a day debating whether to call the military’s actions a coup. The U.S. does little trade with Myanmar, also known as Burma, but some feared that the official designation could drive the military rulers to strengthen ties with China. Despite the halting of Washington’s already limited foreign aid to Myanmar, the U.S. plans to continue humanitarian aid to the nation’s Rohingya minority. [CNN, The Wall Street Journal]

9.

The remains of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died after being injured during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, arrived Tuesday to lie in honor in the building’s Rotunda. Dozens of Sicknick’s fellow officers lined up near the Capitol’s steps to wait for his remains to be delivered. President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) all visited the Rotunda to pay tribute to Sicknick. Sicknick, 42, died one day after he was injured in a clash with supporters of former President Donald Trump as they stormed the Capitol seeking to overturn Trump’s election loss. Sicknick will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He is only the fifth private citizen to lie in honor in the Capitol. [The New York Times]

10.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO later this year, the online retail giant said Tuesday. Bezos has served as the company’s chief executive since he founded it in 1995 as an online bookseller. He will become executive chair as Andy Passy, currently CEO of Amazon Web Services, replaces him as CEO. “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming,” Bezos wrote in a letter to employees. “When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions.” The news came as Amazon reported quarterly sales and profit that beat expectations. [CNN]

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