Senate holds hearing into January Capitol attack by Trump supporters – live

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Senate will begin with witness testimony from law enforcement officers in what’s likely to be a contentious hearing

The Senate homeland security committee and the Senate rules committee is now holding the joint hearing on the security failures that caused the Capitol insurrection.

Several law enforcement leaders -- former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund, acting Metropolitan Police Department chief Robert Contee, former House sergeant at arms Paul Irving and former Senate sergeant at arms Michael Stenger -- will testify at the hearing.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, the chairwoman of the Senate rules committee, opened the hearing by saying she wanted the proceedings to be as “constructive as possible” so that Congress could learn valuable lessons from the failures on January 6.

“We want to make sure that nothing like this happens every again,” Klobuchar said.

The blog will have more updates and analysis from the hearing as it unfolds, so stay tuned.

Former Republican Senator David Perdue has announced that he will not run for the Senate in Georgia next year.

“After much prayer and reflection, Bonnie and I have decided that we will not enter the race for the United States Senate in Georgia in 2022. This is a personal decision, not a political one,” Perdue said in a statement to supporters.

Perdue had said earlier this month that he was considering running against Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, who just won his seat but will be up for reelection next year because he’s serving out the remainder of Johnny Isakson’s term.

Perdue served in the Senate for one term, but he lost his own runoff race to Democrat Jon Ossoff last month.

In his statement, Perdue reiterated his belief that Ossoff and Warnock, the first African American from Georgia to serve in the Senate, do not truly represent the state.

“As we saw in my race in November, Georgia is not a blue state,” Perdue said. “These two current liberal US senators do not represent the values of a majority of Georgians.”

Warnock’s campaign will likely celebrate the news that Perdue, someone with very high name recognition in the state, is getting out of the race.

In his opening statement, Steven Sund, the former chief of the US Capitol Police, will say the security failures on January 6 were a failure of resources rather than planning.

“The breach of the United States Capitol was not the result of poor planning or failure to contain a demonstration gone wrong,” Sund will say, according to his prepared statement shared by the Senate rules committee.

“No single civilian law enforcement agency – and certainly not the USCP – is trained and equipped to repel, without significant military or other law enforcement assistance, an insurrection of thousands of armed, violent, and coordinated individuals focused on breaching a building at all costs Without the intelligence to properly prepare, the USCP was significantly outnumbered and left to defend the Capitol against an extremely violent mob.”

Sund says that he rose the possibility of calling in the National Guard on January 4, but Paul Irving, the former House sergeant at arms, dismissed the idea because he was worried about “optics”.

In his own testimony, Irving will claim that reports of his “optics” concerns are “categorically false”.

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

Two Senate panels, the Senate homeland security committee and the Senate rules committee, will soon hold a hearing on the security failings that led to the Capitol insurrection.

Senators will hear from several law enforcement leaders who were involved in the security response on January 6, including former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund and acting Metropolitan Police Department chief Robert Contee.

The hearing comes more than a month after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol as lawmakers certified Joe Biden’s election, resulting in five deaths.

The blog will have updates and analysis from the hearing once it begins, so stay tuned.

Xavier Becerra, Joe Biden’s pick for health secretary, faces a busy couple of days of Senate hearings. Democrats have accused Republicans of playing politics with his nomination, despite it being a key appointment in the midst of a pandemic.

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar notes for the Associated Press that Republican opposition has grown louder ahead of his nomination hearings. On Monday, Sens John Kennedy of Louisiana and Tom Cotton of Arkansas released a letter in which they asked Biden to withdraw the nomination, calling Becerra “unfit for any position of public trust.”

Senate minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky – a man not noted for his bipartisan approach to politics – has called Becerra “famously partisan.” And the political group Heritage Action for America launched a cable and digital ad campaign against Becerra.

Republicans say Becerra is a radical supporter of socialized medicine, abortion and curbs on religious liberty and that he has no medical experience.

Why might Republicans be quite so vexed?

Becerra was California’s early face of opposition to the Trump administration. He was appointed by Gov Jerry Brown and took over as attorney general in early 2017 as Trump became president.

Over four years, he filed 124 lawsuits, challenging the Trump administration on immigration, environmental and health care policies. California took pride in viewing itself as the resistance to Trump, and Becerra embodied that ethos.

He will be grilled by two panels. Today it’s the health committee’s turn, followed Wednesday by the Finance Committee, which will vote on sending Becerra’s nomination to the Senate floor. If confirmed, he’d be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a $1.4 trillion agency with a broad portfolio that includes health insurance programs, drug safety and approvals, advanced medical research and the welfare of children.

There was a lot of talk about how Joe Biden was willing to work across the aisle in a bipartisan fashion, particularly around Covid relief efforts. That’s maybe not a feeling that is getting reciprocated right now.

Also at Congress today, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will appear to provide lawmakers an update on an economy that is still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic but which, many hope, is perhaps poised to take off later this year if the US vaccination program hits its stride.

The hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, one of the Fed chief’s mandated twice-a-year appearances on Capitol Hill, is scheduled to begin at 10am EST (1500 GMT) and, Reuters report, it will be Powell’s first since Democrats won the White House and control of both chambers of Congress.

It is likely to focus on the tension between a pandemic that has claimed more than half a million US lives and left millions unemployed, and an economy flush with savings and central bank support, and about to get additional federal spending.

The growing likelihood that Congress will pass Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan has raised concerns about a possible spike in inflation and overheating in asset markets, but Powell’s message to lawmakers will likely be a familiar one: don’t let off the gas.

Even with Americans being vaccinated at a rate of more than 1.5 million a day and coronavirus caseloads dropping, Powell and his fellow Fed policymakers are focused instead on the nearly 10 million jobs missing from the economy compared to a year ago, and the potent risks still posed by the virus.

They’ve pledged to keep interest rates low and use other monetary policy tools to speed up a labor market recovery. Two weeks ago, Powell pushed for a “society-wide commitment” to that goal - a nudge to lawmakers debating Biden’s stimulus plan.Despite the concerns of fiscal hawks – many of them who suddenly found their voice on the subject again after backing Republican efforts to provide Covid economic relief last year – Fed officials don’t think inflation is a risk, and regard much of the recent rise in stock prices, for example, as a sign of markets’ confidence in a post-pandemic economic rebound.

The hearing today will be followed by Powell’s appearance before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. President Joe Biden will have to decide in coming months whether to reappoint Powell, who was chosen for the job by former president Donald Trump.

At least 160 public Confederate symbols were taken down or moved from public spaces in 2020, according to a new count by the Southern Poverty Law Center, report the Associated Press.

The law center, which keeps a raw count of nearly 2,100 statues, symbols, placards, buildings and public parks dedicated to the Confederacy, will release the latest figures from its Whose Heritage? database on Tuesday. It has been tracking a movement to take down the monuments since 2015, when a white supremacist entered a South Carolina church and killed several black parishioners.

“These racist symbols only serve to uphold revisionist history and the belief that white supremacy remains morally acceptable,” said Lecia Brooks, SPLC chief of staff. “This is why we believe that all symbols of white supremacy should be removed from public spaces.”

When rioters tore through the US Capitol last month, some holding Confederate battle flags, they didn’t encounter a statue of the most famous rebel general, Robert E Lee. The Lee statue, which represented Virginia as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection for 111 years, had been removed weeks before.

Sometime after visitors and tourists are welcomed back to the Capitol, there will be a statue saluting Virginia’s Barbara Johns, a 16-year-old black girl who staged a strike in 1951 over unequal conditions at her segregated high school in Farmville. Her actions led to court-ordered integration of public schools across the US, via a landmark supreme court decision, Brown v Board of Education.

Each state legislature can choose two representatives to honor in the Capitol. In December, a Virginia commission recommended replacing Lee with Johns. A statue of George Washington remains. Joan Johns Cobbs, Barbara Johns’ younger sister, is ecstatic about the honor.

“You can’t imagine how sad I was seeing what was happening in the Capitol building,” Cobbs said. “I was saying to myself, ‘Oh, my God. I’m kind of glad her statue wasn’t there already.’ I wondered what would have happened.”

A judge plans to hear arguments today by lawyers for former Michigan governor Rick Snyder that he has been charged in the wrong county for misdemeanors over the Flint water supply.

Snyder’s lawyers argue that the paperwork specifies that the events took place in the locale of the affected water supply – Genesee County – but that Snyder was actually in his office in Ingham County at the time.

Snyder, a Republican, is charged with willful neglect of duty, report Reuters. Emergency managers who were appointed by Snyder to run Flint switched the city’s water source to the Flint River in 2014-15 while a new pipeline was being built from Lake Huron.

Snyder was one of nine people charged in January. Two people who were senior health officials in his administration were charged with involuntary manslaughter for nine deaths linked to Legionnaires’ disease.

The river water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion, resulting in lead contamination from old pipes. Separately, the water was blamed for a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

Understandably prosecutors have given Snyder’s argument short shrift. “The indictments are sound. ... It is incoherent to suggest that breaching a duty owed to the people of a particular city does not entail a sufficient connection to that city to establish venue there,” prosecutors said last week in a response to Snyder’s motion.

And if Genesee is not the right county, they added, then the case should simply be transferred to Ingham, and not dismissed.

Politico has this today teeing up the Senate hearing into the 6 January Capitol riot:

Those former sergeants-at-arms, Michael Stenger of the Senate and Paul Irving of the House, will also testify today, in their first public pronouncements about the deadly attack.

Read more here: Politico – Congress finally gets first chance for answers about the 6 January insurrection

The Stephen Collinson analysis piece for CNN today is on that subject – Joe Biden’s confirmation battles. He writes:

Read more here: CNN – Mounting confirmation battle sends warning sign to Biden

One of Biden’s cabinet picks, Neera Tanden for the director of the office of management and budget, has hit choppy waters with at least four senators already coming out with a ‘no’ vote – including Democrat Joe Manchin.

Yesterday White House press secretary Jen Psaki was still vocal in backing Tanden for the job. Overnight though Axios have published what they’ve labelled a scoop on a “plan B”:

Read more here: Axios – Biden’s OMB Plan B