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Biden pushes to meet vaccine target after Texas storm delay

Texas homes devastated by burst pipes in winter storm

The Biden administration is racing to meet its ongoing coronavirus vaccination targets following a delay caused by a severe winter storm that left millions of people in Texas without power this month.

Asked how the government was dealing with the delay, which saw the distribution of millions of vaccine doses put on hold, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the government was following a “contingency plan” to get back track.

Speaking on ABC News’ ‘This Week’, Ms Psaki said, at least 2 million of the 6 million delayed doses have already been distributed.

“We can’t control Mother Nature – no one can – but we can certainly contingency plan,” she said.

The White House press secretary said the government expected to “rapidly catch up this week” and make sure vaccines get out to communities “and also meet our deadlines and our timelines of the doses that are due to go out this upcoming week”.

Ms Psaki also said President Joe Biden is expected to visit Texas as early as this upcoming week after approving a major disaster declaration for the state following the severe winter storm.

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Good afternoon and welcome to The Independent’s live blog tracking the latest developments in US politics.

Chantal Da Silva21 February 2021 12:00

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Biden expected to visit Texas as state recovers from storm

President Joe Biden is expected to visit Texas as the state continues to reel from a storm that left millions without power and many with significant damage to their homes.

The president has signed a major disaster declaration over the devastation caused by the storm as he weighs a potential trip to the state.

The US leader has said he is planning to visit Texas when possible, but asserted that he did not wish to be “burden” to state officials.

“The answer is yes,” he said after being questioned on whether he plans to visit Texas. “But I don’t want to be a burden. When the president lands in a city in America it has a long tail.”

Read more on the president’s decision to issue a major disaster declaration here:

Chantal Da Silva21 February 2021 12:04

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Trump to address CPAC on future of Republican Party

Former President Donald Trump is expected to make his first post-presidential appearance addressing fellow Republicans at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, next weekend.

Ian Walters, the spokesperson for the American Conservative Union, confirmed the plans to AP, asserting that the former president will use the speech to discuss the future of the GOP.

Mr Trump is also expected to criticise President Joe Biden’s efforts to undo his immigration policies, a person with knowledge of the plans told the press agency on the condition of anonymity.

Mr Biden’s predecessor has kept a relatively low profile since his departure from the White House. However, he made headlines last week after conducting a series of phone interviews on the death of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.

Chantal Da Silva21 February 2021 12:13

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Biden pays visit to ‘close friend’ Bob Dole after cancer diagnosis

President Joe Biden paid a visit to former Sen. Bob Dole on Saturday after learning that the World War II veteran and 1996 Republican presidential nominee had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Mr Biden served in the Senate with Dole for more than two decades, with the White House describing the former senator as a “close friend” of the president.

The US leader visited Mr Dole, now 97, at the Watergate complex, where the war veteran and his wife, Elizabeth, have maintained a longtime residence.

Read more on the visit:

Biden pays a visit to ailing former GOP Sen. Bob Dole

President Joe Biden paid a visit Saturday to former Sen. Bob Dole, days after the World War II veteran and 1996 Republican presidential nominee announced he’d been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer

Chantal Da Silva21 February 2021 12:20

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Biden polling steadier than Trump’s, survey shows

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week has found President Joe Biden’s approval rating to so far be steadier than that of his predecessor Donald Trump in his first weeks of presidency.

The survey found job approval for Mr Biden to be at 52 per cent, with a disapproval rating of 38 per cent among registered voters.

The president’s average approval rating, meanwhile, stands at 54.3 per cent, with his average disapproval rating at 39.4 per cent, according to an average of polling conducted by RealClearPolitics.

The latest findings suggest that Mr Biden’s approval ratings so far appear to be even steadier than Mr Trump’s, a CNN analysis pointed out this weekend.

The Quinnipiac survey saw more than 1,000 US adults questioned from 11 to 14 February.

Chantal Da Silva21 February 2021 12:39

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Iran’s Zarif says US must lift sanctions for talks to revive 2015 deal to move forward

The US must first lift sanctions on Iran before any discussions on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal can be salvaged, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said.

Speaking with Iran’s English Language Press TV on Sunday, Mr Zarif said the country would not be making the first move to restore its agreement with major powers.

“The U.S. will not be able to rejoin the nuclear pact before it lifts sanctions,” Mr Zarif said. “Once everybody implements their side of obligations, there will be talks,” he asserted.

Last week, President Joe Biden’s administration said it was ready to talk about how to move forward and get both nations back to the discussion table on the accord, which sought to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons while lifting most international sanctions.

Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump walked away from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, which subsequently started to breach the terms of the agreement.

“Biden claims that Trump’s maximum pressure policy was maximum failure,” Mr Zarif said, according to AP. “But they have not changed that policy”.

“The United States is addicted to pressure, sanctions and bullying,” he asserted, adding. “It does not work with Iran.”

Chantal Da Silva21 February 2021 12:56

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Biden pick for attorney general says US laws must be ‘fairly’ enforced

President Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general says the Justice Department (DoJ) must ensure US laws are “fairly and faithfully enforced”.

In an opening statement released by the DoJ on Saturday ahead of a Monday appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jude Merrick Garland, Biden’s nominee for AG, said that if confirmed as AG he would work to ensure “equal justice under the law”.

“It is a fitting time to reaffirm that the role of the attorney general is to serve the Rule of Law and to ensure equal justice under the law,”Mr Garland says in his prepared statement.

Asserting that the US does “not yet have equal justice” as “communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution and climate change,” Mr Garland said the mission to change that “remains urgent”.

Read more on his opening statement here:

Garland says laws must be ‘fairly and faithfully enforced’

President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general says the Justice Department must ensure laws are “fairly and faithfully enforced,” while reaffirming an adherence to policies to protect the department’s political independence

Chantal Da Silva21 February 2021 13:21

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Turkey’s president looks to improve ‘tested’ relationship with US

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for greater cooperation with President Joe Biden’s new administration in a statement lamenting the “tested” relationship between the two countries.

Speaking in a video message released late Saturday, Mr Erdogan said that Turkish-American relations had been “seriously tested”.

However, he said the partnership between the two countries has already “overcome all kinds of difficulties,” according to AP.

The comments come following the world leader’s accusations that the US had supported Kurdish militants days after Turkish troops found the bodies of 13 hostages held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq.

While seeking to ease tensions, Mr Erdogan maintained on Saturday that the US did not give Turkey the “desired support and solidarity” in fighting the PKK. He said Turkey wanted a “clear stance” from allies.

Read more here:

In this file photo taken on 22 November 2014, then US Vice President Joe Biden (L) speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul

((AFP via Getty Images))

James Crump21 February 2021 13:45

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Pentagon reviews Trump decision to relocate Space Command from Colorado

The Pentagon will review Donald Trump’s last-minute decision to relocate US Space Command from Colorado to Alabama, it has announced.

The move, which the ex-president signed-off on one week before he left office last month,  blindsided Colorado officials and raised questions of political retaliation, reports the Associated Press.

The Department of Defence’s inspector general has announced an investigation into the relocation to see if it complied with Air Force and Pentagon policy.

“It is imperative that we thoroughly review what I believe will prove to be a fundamentally flawed process that focused on bean-counting rather than American space dominance,” said Republican congressman Doug Lamborn, whose district includes Space Command.

Read more from Graeme Massie here:

James Crump21 February 2021 14:00

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Pro-golfer Michelle Wie West condemns Rudy Giuliani for telling lewd story about her

Professional golfer Michelle Wie West has condemned Rudy Giuliani for telling a crude and “unsettling” story about her.

During an appearance on Steve Bannon’s podcast, Donald Trump’s former lawyer recounted how he had joked with Rush Limbaugh about Ms Wie being targeted by photographers when she putted during a round of golf together.

Mr Giuliani, who brought up Mr Limbaugh on the day he died of lung cancer, then recalled that the photographers were trained on them because when Ms Wie West putted “her panties show.”

Ms Wie West took to Twitter to respond to the objectifying comments, saying: “It’s unsettling to hear of this highly inappropriate story shared on a podcast by a public figure referencing my ‘panties’ whilst playing at a charity pro-am.”

Read more from Graeme Massie here:

James Crump21 February 2021 14:20

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