The leaders of Japan, the United States, Australia and India plan to hold a teleconference as early as mid-March to discuss ways to counter China's growing influence, Japanese government sources said Friday. It would be the first summit involving members of the so-called Quad, a framework that was initially formed in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami but now mainly focuses on regional security. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also expected to discuss the fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and efforts to tackle climate change, the sources said. The foreign ministers of the four countries held an online meeting last month, in which they agreed to work toward a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region while strongly opposing any attempts by Beijing to alter the status quo in the East and South China seas by force. China has criticized the … [Read more...] about Biden, Modi to join Quad first ever summit this month: Sources
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Saturday passed President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan in a party-line vote after an all-night session that was delayed repeatedly as the Republican minority tried but failed to push through around three dozen amendments. The plan passed in a 50-49 vote with the support of every Democrat but no Republicans. It is one of the largest stimulus bills in U.S. history and gives Biden his first major legislative victory since taking office in January. The partisan victory was made possible by Democrats winning two Senate seats in Georgia special elections in January, giving them narrow control of the chamber. Biden said on Saturday he hoped for quick passage of the revised bill by the House of Representatives so he could sign it and start sending $1,400 direct payments to Americans. "This plan will get checks out the door starting this month to the American people, who so desperately need the help," Biden said at the … [Read more...] about Democrats push Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID bill through Senate on party-line vote
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Sunday designed to make it easier for Americans to vote, White House officials said, as Republicans across the country seek to limit voting rights in the wake of the 2020 election. Biden's order comes on the 56th anniversary of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" when state troopers and police attacked civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama, who were protesting racial discrimination at the voting booth. On Wednesday Democrats in the House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation to update voting procedures and require states to turn over the task of redrawing congressional districts to independent commissions. That bill faces tough chances of passing the Senate. Biden's order directs federal agencies to submit plans within 200 days that outline steps to expand voter registration and distribute election information to voters. It also directs the U.S. chief information officer to modernize federal … [Read more...] about Biden marks Selma anniversary with order to expand voting access
President Joe Biden has vowed that the $1,400 stimulus checks in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic relief bill will be sent out to Americans this month, but House progressives could still withhold their votes to force Democrats to move on the $15 minimum wage measure. The Senate passed the American Rescue Plan on Saturday after Democrats in the chamber agreed to drop the $15 minimum wage hike, lower the income threshold for the direct payments and reduce weekly unemployment benefits from $400 to $300. Now the legislation will be sent back to the House for approval, before it can be signed into law by Biden. House progressives previously indicated that they may reject the sprawling bill to leverage the party into fighting harder for the $15 minimum wage if Democrats decided to give up on the measure. On Friday, members of the left wing of the party condemned the removal of the wage hike, with some suggesting that they might not support the package. "This trend is … [Read more...] about Biden Vows $1,400 Stimulus Checks Will Go Out March But Will Progressives Delay for Wage Hike?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a flagship election reform bill on Wednesday that would update voting procedures and require states to turn over the task of redrawing congressional districts to independent commissions. The bill passed by a mostly bipartisan vote of 220 to 210. The legislation, numbered "H.R. 1" for the importance Democrats attach to it, "is designed to restore the voices of Americans who felt left out and locked out for too long," its original sponsor, Representative John Sarbanes, said in remarks outside the U.S. Capitol before the vote. The bill is one of many the House Democrats are voting on early in the Congress on a number of priorities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, policing and the environment. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has said he would sign the bill into law if it cleared both the House and the Senate. But the bills face long odds in the Senate, where all 48 … [Read more...] about U.S. House passes sweeping election bill, Senate prospects unclear