It has been an eventful day, and The Middle is here to walk you through it.
So without further ado, here are the day’s top stories.
1. Janet Yellen was confirmed by the Senate Monday evening by a vote of 84-15. With her confirmation, Yellen becomes the first woman ever to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.
Yellen’s nomination had been advanced by the Senate Finance Committee Friday by a unanimous vote of 26-0, with both Democrats and Republicans praising her performance in committee.
North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer, however, became one of 15 Republicans to vote against her on Monday, stating, “”She seems too eager to raise taxes on the American people, her energy policies are job killers, and her willingness to unilaterally double the federal minimum wage with little regard for its impact on jobs is frightening.”
Republican Sen. Rob Portman, conversely, said of Yellen, “I believe Janet Yellen is highly qualified. As it was said earlier, maybe one of the most qualified to serve. I am encouraged by my conversation with her about fiscal sanity where she said she would be a voice for fiscal sanity within the administration at a time when we have unprecedented levels of deficit and the largest debt.”
2. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed the power-sharing agreement between him and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to advance Tuesday, after two Democrats came forward in support of the filibuster. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) reiterated Monday that they would not support nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster, giving McConnell the reassurance needed to proceed.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes expressed dismay over the ongoing negotiations, asking, “Am I losing my mind or did Democrats win the Senate and McConnell is essentially filibustering them taking majority control of the body?”
But these kinds of negotiations are commonplace when there is an even 50-50 split in the Senate, as seen as recently as in 2001 under the presidency of George W. Bush. In 2001, Sens. Tom Daschle and Trent Lott devised a power-sharing agreement wherein nominations or legislations that received tie votes in committee would advance to the Senate floor for a full vote.
Lott, who stood to become majority leader once Dick Cheney took the oath of office, said at the time, “We don’t want a prescription for gridlock. We cannot allow that. We have to extend the hand of friendship to our colleagues and try to find a way to get the substantive issues to the floor of the Senate.”
McConnell and Schumer are expected to agree to a deal that mirrors the 2001 agreement.
3. Election technology company Dominion filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani, seeking $1.3 billion in damages.
Giuliani, who was at the forefront of Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the election, repeatedly made the false claim that Dominion was owned by Venezuelan communists and had corrupted the election through a systematic vote-stealing scheme.
This is the second such lawsuit to be brought in recent weeks, as Dominion had previously filed suit against attorney Sidney Powell who made similar claims in the wake of the election.
And the threat of litigation is not limited to individuals, as Dominion has requested retractions from media organizations, too. Conservative media outlet Newsmax, for example, was forced to offer an on-air retraction, and the right-wing website American Thinker also issued a retraction, apologizing to its readers for “abandoning 9 journalistic principles.”
You can watch Newsmax’s “clarification” below:
4. At least one individual was killed and nearly 30 injured—several critically—after a tornado blew through a Birmingham, Alabama suburb Monday night.
The search for survivors continues.
Video of the damage can be seen below:
5. Sen. Rand Paul forced a vote on Tuesday, arguing that it was unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial of a former president.
While the effort to dismiss the charges as unconstitutional was defeated by a vote of 55-45, the vote total does not bode well for the chances of conviction, as conviction in the Senate would require a two-thirds vote of 67 senators.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Patrick Toomey were the sole Republicans to join Democrats in the vote. Notably absent was Mitch McConnell who, despite having said that he is undecided on the charge, voted with his Republican colleagues to uphold the constitutional challenge.
6. The Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as the 71st Secretary of State on Tuesday by a vote of 78-22.
While 22 Republicans voted to oppose his confirmation, GOP chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Risch called him “the person for the job,” citing his “long and distinguished history when it comes to statecraft in foreign relations matters.”
The vote, while largely bipartisan, marked the most contested confirmation yet of Biden’s cabinet nominations, as Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was confirmed by a vote of 84-10; Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, by a vote of 93-2; and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, by a vote of 84-15.
The Revolving Door Project, a government watchdog group, has raised concerns that Blinken’s financial disclosures “provide limited information on the real nature of Blinken’s corporate-sector work,” though those concerns were not amongst those raised by Republicans who opposed his confirmation.
7. A suspect is in custody after killing one and injuring nine when he struck multiple people with his vehicle Monday afternoon. The man mowed down cyclists and pedestrians over several blocks in Portland, Oregon before being apprehended by bystanders following a crash.
Thus far, there is no evidence that the hit-and-runs were an act of terrorism or that they were politically motivated.
8. Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed that President Biden held a phone call with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday afternoon. A readout of the call is forthcoming, but it has been reported that they discussed support for Ukraine sovereignty, the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the SolarWinds hack, the intelligence concerning Russian bounties on U.S. troops, and 2020 election interference.
9. Twitter permanently suspended the account of Mike Lindell on Tuesday following his repeated circulation of election misinformation. The CEO of My Pillow had frequently spread false claims of voter fraud and election rigging and had called for Trump to invoke martial law.
The move comes on the heels of Twitter’s announcement of a new civic integrity policy this month, which states that users may not use its services “for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in the elections or other civic processes.”
10. THE END OF AN ERA. Budweiser announced on Tuesday that it will not run an ad during the Super Bowl for the first time in 37 years. Instead, Anheuser-Busch will donate its advertising dollars to the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative in an effort to raise awareness about COVID-19 vaccines.
Watch the video below to get your Budweiser commercial fix and take a trip down memory lane.