WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – The new US President Joe Biden has brought his first minister through the Senate. With broad approval from the Republicans, the former General Lloyd Austin was confirmed as head of the Pentagon on Friday. On the second day in office, Biden continued to work on his agenda with new relief measures for the population in the Corona crisis. Meanwhile, the case against Biden’s predecessor Trump continues: The Senate receives charges on Monday for “inciting riot” from the House of Representatives.
For the 67-year-old Austin, 93 Senators voted with only two votes against. Democrats and Republicans each hold 50 seats in the chamber. After years of hardened fronts in the Trump era, this shows that Biden can also convince the other side with his government candidates.
The nomination of Austin as Minister of Defense was connected with an additional hurdle: Because his active time in the military as a four-star general was not long enough ago, he needed an exemption from Congress. Military officials actually have to be seven years out of active service to become ministers. Austin didn’t leave until 2016.
Austin sees China as a particularly big challenge for his ministry. As Secretary of Defense, he wants to strengthen relations with international partners and consistently take action against problems such as extremism and racism within the US military.
Austin is the first black to head the Pentagon. Biden had promised to form a cabinet that would reflect the diversity of America.
The Senate will have to deal with the impeachment proceedings immediately next week after the charges against Trump have been submitted. Trump’s term of office ended this week – but the process could result in a life ban for him. There have been discussions among Republicans, however, as to whether such a process can even continue to exist against a president after his term in office has ended.
Just a week after supporters of Trump stormed the US Capitol, the House of Representatives opened another impeachment trial against Trump in mid-January. Such a process is initiated by the House of Representatives, but conducted and decided in the Senate – along the lines of a court case.
The Republicans in the US Senate wanted to delay the start of negotiations until around mid-February. Their minority leader, Mitch McConnell, suggested that the House of Representatives should not formally forward its charges against Trump to the Senate until Jan. 28. Then both parties would have a good two weeks, until February 13, to submit their respective documents, as McConnell said. After that, the actual Senate hearing, which is similar to a trial in court, could begin.
McConnell warned, with a view to the quick action of the Democrats, that ex-President Trump should not be denied legal proceedings. Nor should it happen that the Senate or the office of the President would be damaged as a result. “Senate Republicans firmly believe that we need a full and fair process in which the former president can defend himself and the Senate properly examine the factual, legal and constitutional issues at stake.”
McConnell, who has been one of Trump’s most important allies in recent years, has not ruled out the possibility of voting in favor of condemning Trump. In the first impeachment trial, Trump was acquitted by the Republicans in the Senate. A two-thirds majority is required in impeachment proceedings. So far it is unclear whether enough Republicans would vote to convict Trump.
The Corona aid in Biden’s presidential decrees includes a better supply of food to those in need, as the White House announced on Friday. Biden also wants to ensure that employees who quit their jobs because of corona risks receive unemployment benefits. He will also instruct the Ministry of Finance to improve the transmission of decided direct payments to residents.
Among other things, food aid concerns the provision of low-income families. According to the White House, a “hunger crisis” affects around 29 million adults and 12 million children in the United States. Many children from poor households are dependent on school meals – which they are missing now because educational institutions are closed due to the pandemic. Biden also wants to see more federal workers get at least $ 15 an hour.
The President of the Democrats also wants to accelerate the vaccination campaign and fight the economic crisis with another stimulus package of 1.9 trillion dollars. For this, Biden must win the approval of Congress. In the Senate, several Republicans announced resistance because the amount was too high for them./lkl/so/DP/nas