The Monday Politics Thread Celebrates Infrastructure Wee–Wait

Biden expected to repeal Trump’s transgender military ban as soon as Monday

The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.

The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

CBS News

Let’s get real. Joe Biden, Democrats and America need results much more than unity.

It’s time to give Biden’s 81 million voters a chance to be heard and Biden a chance to carry out the plans he ran on, even if he has to play hardball.

USA Today

Four presidents take a stand

On Wednesday, three men wearing overcoats stood in the amphitheater of Arlington National Cemetery, grouped at a pandemic-proper social distance as American flags whipped in the wind behind them. In the center was former President George W. Bush and alongside him were former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They had just attended President Joe Biden’s inauguration and were here to pledge their support to him in front of the American people. “The fact that the three of us are here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” said Bush, a Republican, in a video that was broadcast that evening. The tradition of such a transfer, Obama, a Democrat, pointed out, is “over two centuries old.”

CNN

Senate confirms Lloyd Austin, making him the nation’s first Black defense secretary

The Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin on Friday as the nation’s first Black defense secretary, the second nominee of President Joe Biden to be confirmed by the chamber.

Austin is a retired four-star Army general. He was the first Black general to command an Army division in combat and the first to oversee an entire theater of operations as the commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Austin’s confirmation process wasn’t without bumps. Controversy flared over a law barring recently retired military officers from serving as defense secretary, but top Democrats lined up behind Austin’s nomination, citing the need for Biden to have his national security team in place after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The law requires that an officer be retired for seven years before taking the post.

The House passed a waiver from the law for Austin on Thursday afternoon, and the Senate followed suit shortly after. 

USA Today

AOC Skipped Inauguration to Support a Teamsters Union Strike in the Bronx

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) skipped the January 20 inauguration festivities in Washington, D.C., for a strike. The congresswoman known as AOC showed up at Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx, just outside the borders of her Congressional district, to support a local Teamsters union whose workers are a big reason New York City has fresh fruit on a reliable basis.

Claudia Irizarry Aponte, a reporter for the New York-based publication The City who covers the Bronx, captured Ocasio-Cortez arriving at the picket line Wednesday evening with a pack of coffee and hand-warmers, wearing work boots.

Teen Vogue

Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.

The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

The New York Times

Roe v. Wade Was Passed 48 Years Ago and We Still Have a Long Way to Go

Today marks the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. For the first time in four years, this anniversary will once again happen under a Democratic president. Just two days after Joe Biden was sworn in as the nation’s 46th president, it would seem that this year, celebrating the anniversary of a nearly half-century-old ruling, one that has repeatedly been upheld by the Supreme Court, should be a celebratory occasion for reproductive rights advocates.

But today’s Supreme Court is seemingly determined to counter any enthusiasm for Roe, and we have the previous presidential administration to thank for it. About a week prior to the anniversary of the monumental Court case, the current Supreme Court reinstated medically unnecessary restrictions that, amid a pandemic, will make it harder for patients to access medication abortion. With anti-choice justices who will long outlive their appointer, it’s time to look beyond the specifics of Roe, and at attaining reproductive justice.

Teen Vogue

Scottish nationalists lay groundwork for second independence referendum

The Scottish National Party published a “Roadmap to Referendum” on Saturday, laying out plans for another vote on Scottish independence just as the United Kingdom grapples with COVID-19 and the impact of Brexit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who would have to agree to a new referendum, argues there is no need for a new vote after independence was rejected by Scottish voters in 2014.

But the SNP has said that if it wins a parliamentary majority at elections scheduled for May 6, it will pass its own bill so that a referendum can take place once the pandemic is over.

Reuters