January 4, 2021 – Nancy Pelosi was narrowly reelected Sunday as House speaker. Her victory means that after two years acting as President Donald Trump’s most outspoken antagonist, Pelosi will now be responsible for trying to shepherd through Congress as much of President-elect Joe Biden’s policy agenda as possible.
“We accept a responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced,” the California Democrat told the chamber as she accepted a two-year term in her post, likely to be her last. “Now is certainly a time for our nation to heal. Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus. And defeat it, we will.”
The task at hand — producing legislation to tackle the pandemic, revive the economy and address other party priorities — will likely prove to be anything but easy.
Pelosi, who has led her party in the House since 2003 as the only woman speaker in history, secured her seat by the slimmest majority in nearly two decades, receiving 216 votes against the 209 votes secured by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who will be the chamber’s minority leader once again.
With the Democratic party in control of just 222 of the 435 seats, Pelosi can afford to lose only a handful of Democrats on any given vote. Even further, emboldened Republicans are gunning to retake the House majority in next year’s midterm elections and seem to be in no mood to extend an olive branch.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, R-California, used his own remarks before presenting Pelosi the gavel to torch Democrats’ record in the majority and effectively declare the beginning of the campaign to wrest power from them.
McCarthy accused Pelosi of over the past two years leading “the least productive Congress in nearly 50 years” and said there was a clear message in last November’s elections, when Republicans gained seats by defeating a dozen Democratic incumbents.
Wall Street to kick out three big Chinese telecom companies
In a move emblematic of the global, geopolitical U.S.-China power struggle, the New York Stock Exchange announced that it will end trading in the shares of three of China’s largest state-owned telecom companies this month, CNN reported.
The NYSE says the move is needed to comply with an order President Trump signed late last year that bans Americans from investing in firms that the U.S. government suspects are either owned or controlled by the Chinese military.
China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, the three state-run businesses which dominate China’s telecommunications industry, will all be suspended from the NYSE by January 11, when the order goes into effect.
All three of the telecom companies have traded in New York for many years. China Mobile, the country’s largest telecom company, has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1997. China Telecom and China Unicom have been trading there since the early 2000s.
China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Saturday that Beijing would take “necessary measures” to safeguard the interests and legal rights of Chinese companies.
On Monday, Reuters reported that China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying said the country firmly opposes the U.S. government’s behavior of politicizing trade issues, and further opposes the inclusion of such firms on what she called Washington’s list of “Communist Chinese military companies.”
Google workers announce plans to unionize
A group of Google workers have announced plans to unionize with the Communications Workers of America. The Alphabet Workers Union will be open to all employees and contractors at Google’s parent company and aims to tackle ongoing issues like pay disparity, retaliation, and controversial government contracts.
Now that the union effort is public, organizers will likely launch a series of campaigns to rally votes from Google workers. Prior to the announcement, about 230 Google employees and contractors had signed cards in support of the union.
“This union builds upon years of courageous organizing by Google workers,” said Nicki Anselmo, a Google program manager. “From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively.”
Google’s work on Project Maven, an effort to use AI to improve targeted drone strikes, sparked protests among employees who saw the work as unethical. In 2018, the company decided not to renew its contract with the Pentagon. The company also ended its forced arbitration policy after 20,000 workers staged a walkout to protest former executive Andy Rubin getting a $90 million exit package after he was credibly accused of sexual harassment.
Understanding the government’s new Emergency Broadband Benefit
U.S. lawmakers new round of economic stimulus measures amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic includes provisions which invest $7 billion in broadband initiatives. The largest chunk of this federal relief is $3.2 billion set aside for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a program that aims to keep qualifying low-income Americans online during this critical period.
In a recent BroadbandNow publication, editor-in-chief Tyler Cooper debunks the new broadband program and answers some of the most common questions the public may have about accessing the new benefits.
Cooper alerts readers that the EBB program does not have an official start date yet and that the Federal Communications Commission has stated that it could take several months for the program to go into effect.
He further reassures readers that even if they have outstanding broadband bills, they are still likely eligible to qualify for the benefits program, if their household meets the FCC’s guidelines for the agency’s Lifeline program, is approved for any school breakfast or lunch program, is a Pell Grant recipient, and more.