ג'ו ביידן וקמלה האריס
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrate their victory in the 2020 presidential elections
Photo: AFP
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrate their victory in the 2020 presidential elections

U.S. Congress opens new session as COVID-19, Biden's win dominate

GOP senators have vowed to become resistance force, starting with efforts to subvert will of American voters with plan to object to election results when Electoral College meets this week

Associated Press |
Published: 01.03.21 , 11:59
U.S. Congress is preparing to convene for the start of a new session, swearing in lawmakers during a tumultuous period as a relative handful of Republicans work to overturn Joe Biden's victory over departing President Donald Trump and the coronavirus surge imposes limits at the Capitol.
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  • Democrat Nancy Pelosi is set Sunday to be reelected as House speaker by her party, which retains the majority in the House but with the slimmest margin in 20 years after the November election.
    ג'ו ביידן וקמלה האריסג'ו ביידן וקמלה האריס
    U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrate their victory in the 2020 presidential elections
    (Photo: AFP)
    Opening the Senate could be among Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell's final acts at majority leader.
    Republican control is in question until Tuesday's runoff elections for two Senate seats in Georgia. The outcome will determine which party holds the chamber.
    It's often said that divided government can be a time for legislative compromises, but lawmakers are charging into the 117th Congress with the nation more torn than ever, disputing even basic facts including that Biden won the presidential election.
    Fraud did not spoil the 2020 presidential election, a fact confirmed by election officials across the country.
    Marianne Hoenow from Connecticut in the US celebrates the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in front of the Brandenbug Gate next to the United States embassy in Berlin, Germany Marianne Hoenow from Connecticut in the US celebrates the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in front of the Brandenbug Gate next to the United States embassy in Berlin, Germany
    An American woman celebrates Joe Biden's election victory at the Brandenbug Gate in Berlin, next to the U.S. Embassy in Germany
    (Photo: AP)
    Before stepping down as Trump's attorney general last month, Attorney General William Barr, a Republican appointed by Trump, said fraud did not affect the election's outcome.
    Arizona and Georgia's Republican governors, whose states were crucial to Biden's victory, have also stated that their election results were accurate.
    Nevertheless, a dozen Republicans bound for the new Senate, led by Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, and even more in the House have vowed to become a resistance force to Biden's White House, starting with efforts to subvert the will of American voters.
    These GOP lawmakers plan to object to the election results when the Electoral College meets Wednesday to tally his 306-232 victory over Trump.
    ארה"ב הצבעה וושינגטון הבירה מדינה עצמאית הקונגרסארה"ב הצבעה וושינגטון הבירה מדינה עצמאית הקונגרס
    The United States Congress
    (Photo: AFP)
    Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing ahead, eager to partner with Biden on shared priorities, starting with efforts to stem the pandemic and economic crisis. They plan to revisit the failed effort to boost pandemic aid to $2,000 for most people.
    "This has been a moment of great challenge in the United States of America filled with trials and tribulations, but help is on the way," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Democratic caucus, said in an interview.
    "America is a resilient nation, filled with resilient people," he said. "We will continue to rise to the occasion emerged from this pandemic and continue to march toward our more perfect union."
    The Capitol itself is a changed place under coronavirus restrictions. Lawmakers are arriving in Washington from all parts of the country potentially exposed to the virus during their travel.
    Several lawmakers have been sickened by the virus. A memorial was held Saturday for newly elected Republican lawmaker Luke Letlow, 41, of Louisiana, who died of complications from COVID-19 days before the swearing in.
    ארה"ב חבר קונגרס בית הנבחרים נבחר לוק לטלואו מת מ קורונהארה"ב חבר קונגרס בית הנבחרים נבחר לוק לטלואו מת מ קורונה
    Lousianna Republican lawmaker Luke Letlow died from COVID-19
    (Photo: AP)
    The Office of the Attending Physician has issued several lengthy memos warning lawmakers off meeting in groups or holding traditional receptions to prevent the spread of the virus.
    Masks have been ordered worn at all times and Pelosi has required them to be used in the House chamber. Members are required to have coronavirus tests and have access to vaccines.
    "Do not engage any in-person social events, receptions, celebrations, or appointments, outside your family unit, and always wear a face covering outside your home," the physician's office warned in one memo. "You should strictly avoid any type of office-based reception or celebration during the days ahead."
    Even the traditional swearing in ceremonies will be limited in the House. No more big family portraits with new lawmakers taking the oath of office. Instead, each representative-elect can bring one guest in line with social distancing protocols.
    ננסי פלוסי יו"ר בית הנבחרים ב ארה"ב ננסי פלוסי יו"ר בית הנבחרים ב ארה"ב
    Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The vice president typically swears in the senators.
    Pelosi, who is returning as speaker, faces a tight race, with the House split 222-211, with one race still undecided and one vacancy after Letlow's death.
    The California Democrat can endure some defections from her ranks, but only a few, barring absences. Some lawmakers are on quarantine after coronavirus infections or exposure. She needs to win a majority of those present and voting to retain the speaker's gavel.

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