Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was firm in his support for U.S. military intervention in situations the military believes such strikes are necessary during a discussion Sunday of recent retaliatory strikes in Iraq after U.S. and Iraqi forces were attacked by rockets.
“We want to make sure that again, we understand who’s responsible for this. The message to those who would carry out such an attack is you know expect us to do what’s necessary to defend ourselves,” Austin said on ABC News’ “This Week.”
While Austin said the Pentagon and Iraqi investigators were still gathering intelligence on who was responsible for the strikes, the U.S. would not hold back military force if American troops were endangered.
“We’ll strike if that’s what we think we need to do at a time and place of our own choosing. We demand the right to protect our troops,” Austin emphasized.
Austin, the first Black defense secretary to preside over the armed forces, has highlighted combatting extremism in the military and repositioning the military to combat national security threats like cyberwarfare, climate change and the rise of China as top concerns.
“China’s been busy modernizing its military and developing capabilities, and trying to close the competitive edge that we’ve always enjoyed,” Austin said. “They’ve also been very aggressive in the region. In some cases, they’ve been coercive and some of that coercion has been directed against our allies, and our allies are very important to us.”
– Matthew Brown
Sens. Ossoff and Warnock credit Georgia voters for $1.9T relief package
Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock – two Democrats elected in Jan. 5 runoffs in what was once considered a Republican stronghold – held a press conference hours after the Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in a 50-49 vote that fell along party lines.
Both senators made it clear that the package would likely have never come to pass without their upset victories.
“This is the most significant economic relief package for working- and middle-class families in American history,” Ossoff told reporters after the vote. “We will crush COVID-19, recover economically, safely re-open our schools, and get our daily lives back – and we’ll do it thanks to Georgia voters.”
“There is no question that the people of Georgia deserve a great deal of credit for what happened here today,” he said. “We simply would not be here had they not stood up in such a profound way in this historic election.”
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
‘One more giant step forward’: President Biden praises passage of COVID plan
President Joe Biden praised the Senate’s passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on Saturday, calling it “one more giant step forward” on promises he made on the campaign trail to send aid to millions of Americans suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on the promise help is on the way,” he said of his package that includes $1,400 relief checks, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, and billions of dollars for vaccine development and distribution.
“The bottom line is this: this plan puts us on a path to beating this virus,” he said.
Biden made an indirect reference to his predecessor President Donald Trump, saying passing the relief plan would show how he was “going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people.”
He congratulated Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for shepherding the bill through the Senate. The chamber worked for more than 27 straight hours as it made its final deliberations on the package.
“I’ve never seen anyone work as skillfully, as ably, as patiently with determination to deliver such a consequential piece of legislation,” Biden said.
The president had been in touch with several Democratic senators throughout the process.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a longtime Biden confidante, told reporters Saturday morning he had spoken to Biden, who had told him he was “really glad” the bill passed. The president had been in touch with Schumer with “some frequency” through the whole process, Coons said.
– Nicholas Wu and Joey Garrison
‘Dinner table’ politics:Why Joe Biden ditched bipartisan dealmaking to pass his COVID-19 relief bill