Biden administration has pledged $4bn to fund the global vaccine effort
Power restored to 2m homes in Texas
Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who became Donald Trump’s energy secretary, has said that Texans would willingly endure longer periods of sub-freezing temperatures if it stymied Democrats’ energy policy and efforts to combat climate change.
“Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” Perry was quoted saying in blog post published Wednesday on the website of Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy.
The blog post had asserted that those “watching on the left may see the situation in Texas as an opportunity to expand their top-down, radical proposals. Two phrases come to mind: don’t mess with Texas, and don’t let a crisis go to waste”.
Perry’s comments come as millions of Texas are struggling with a brutal winter storm, which created a surge in demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts. Frigid temperatures and snow have covered most of the central US this week, resulting in at least two dozen deaths, but Texas in particular has reeled because most of its power is on a state-run grid that has repeatedly been described as mismanaged.
Residents of the Lone Star state are lining up for grocery stores that are running out of food. Pipes have burst because of the cold, leaving residents without water to drink or prepare food. Many are scrambling to find shelter in buildings with electricity. Multiple municipalities have instituted “boil water” orders, as power outages have impacted water treatment facilities.
Meanwhile, many Texans slammed authorities for their handling of the crisis. The severe winter storm has, among some Republicans, been used to open up a new culture war around the expansion of renewable energy, which is a stated priority of the Biden administration in order to address the climate crisis.
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Nasa’s Perseverance rover safely lands on Mars
Congressional Democrats introduce sweeping immigration bill
Congressional Democrats introduced sweeping legislation to overhaul the US immigration system on Thursday, saying it was time to move beyond the “hateful horror show” of the last four years.
During a press conference, Democrats, led by the chief sponsors of the bill, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and Senator Bob Menendez, argued that after decades of failure, now was the time to pass immigration reform.
The bill, based on a framework outlined by president Joe Biden on his first day in office, offers an eight-year pathway to citizenship for many of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. It would also allow farmworkers, those with temporary protected status and Dreamers to apply immediately for citizenship.
All petitioners would have to pass background and security checks as well as pay their taxes and application fees. To avoid a surge at the border, only immigrants in the US by 1 January 2021 are eligible.
The bill faces an uphill battle in Congress, where Democrats maintain narrow majorities and Republicans have moved further right on the issue under Donald Trump. But Democrats argued on Thursday that Trump’s defeat offered a window of opportunity to move forward with a new approach after decades of failure.
“The reason we have not gotten immigration reform over the finish line is not because of a lack of will,” Menendez told reporters on Thursday. “It is because time and time again we have compromised too much and capitulated too quickly to fringe voices who have refused to accept the humanity and contributions of immigrants to our country and dismiss everything … as amnesty.”