Government & Politics

For President Biden, it's a $1.9 trillion gamble.

If successful, his "American Rescue Plan" will help struggling families and businesses weather an unprecedented pandemic and provide a boost to a badly dented economy. It's also broadly popular with voters.

Critics, however, worry it will be end up being a poorly targeted plan that squanders trillions in borrowed money in ways that will do little to improve the nation's long-term economic outlook.

A white sign that says "vote here" on a brick street in Burlington.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR File

Next Tuesday is Town Meeting Day, and voters in Vermont's largest city, Burlington, face a choice: Give another term to incumbent Mayor Miro Weinberger or pick a new city leader.

A person in a headscarf stands next to signs outside a brick building.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC File

The COVID-19 crisis has interrupted tradition, from holiday celebrations to Vermont's Town Meeting Day. This hour, we take an in-depth look at how individual municipalities are navigating Town Meeting Day this year, and we answer your questions.

President Biden on Wednesday revoked a freeze that his predecessor had put on many types of visas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the order did not advance U.S. interests and hurt industries and individuals alike.

"It harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here," Biden said in a proclamation revoking the measure.

The scramble to secure a COVID-19 vaccine appointment is chaotic and fierce. There are not yet enough doses for everyone who's eligible and wants to get vaccinated. As frustration rises, the federal government hasn't offered much besides assurances that things will get better and appeals for calm.

Updated 12:59 p.m. ET

Former U.S. Capitol Security officials told Congress during a joint hearing on Tuesday they did not have sufficient information ahead of Jan. 6 to accurately predict the scale of the attack.

A needle going into the arm of a person with brown skin
Sean_Warren / iStock

As Vermont works to expand who can get vaccinated for COVID-19, state officials say they are committed to ensuring those disproportionately affected by the virus, including those who are Black, Indigenous and people of color, have equitable access to the vaccine. But what does equitable mean, and is the state's plan achieving it?

North Country Union High School principal Chris Young is among the educators across the state who's working to support and re-engage with students who have fallen off the map amid remote learning.
Anna Van Dine / VPR File

Education officials across Vermont say they’ll need help from the state in order to reconnect with chronically truant students that have “ghosted” school during the pandemic.

President Biden is set on Friday to announce a total of $4 billion in contributions to COVAX, the vaccine alliance trying to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries, a senior administration official told reporters.

Biden will make the announcement during a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders about the pandemic.

The White House plans to increase testing capacity in the U.S. through multiple channels, officials said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

The administration says it will spend $650 million to expand testing for K-8 schools and settings where people congregate such as homeless shelters, via new "hubs" created by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. Regional coordinating centers will work to increase testing capacity, partnering with labs and universities to collect specimens, perform tests and report results to public health agencies.

A worker installs fiber optic lines in Norton.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the glaring inequities in broadband internet service in Vermont. Reliable and affordable internet is essential for virtual schooling, work and accessing health care. Now, three different ideas — from three widely different entities — are being considered as ways to boost high-speed internet access.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans for Congress to establish an outside and independent commission to investigate "the facts and causes" related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a letter sent to her Democratic colleagues on Monday, the California Democrat said the commission will be modeled on the commission established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A woman stands outside in front of the Statehouse in Montpelier.
Molly Gray campaign, courtesy

Molly Gray has now been in office as Vermont's Lt. Gov. for over a month. This segment, we check in with her about the two intiatives she is currently working on and find out how she's been working with Gov. Phil Scott. 

For people who've been without health insurance during the pandemic, relief is in sight.

The U.S. Senate on Saturday acquitted former President Donald Trump on an impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection.

The acquittal comes more than a month after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were counting the electoral results that certified Trump's loss. Five people died in the riot, including a police officer. Two other officers later killed themselves.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

The Senate voted Saturday morning to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, a move that was reversed a few hours later with a deal to allow a key statement into the record.

The first three days of the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump went about as well as they could have for Democratic House impeachment managers.

The managers were methodical and organized in showing, as they called it, Trump's "provocation," which they argued led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as well as the "harm" it caused.

A sign reading face coverings required per gov. phil scott outside a general store entrance
Abagael Giles / VPR

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus, recent debates in the Statehouse over a bill that would update the state's sexual assault laws and more for Thursday, Feb 11.

On Wednesday, House impeachment managers had senators riveted to disturbing new security camera video that showed just how close the rioters that breached the U.S. Capitol came to lawmakers in the House and Senate chambers.

Wednesday's images, from several angles outside the chambers and in hallways outside leadership offices, showed one Capitol police officer run past Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney and direct him to turn around and run, as rioters were closing in on that location just off the Senate floor.

The Biden administration is promising to finally solve the nation's chronic shortage of COVID-19 tests. But is the new administration doing enough, especially with the more contagious coronavirus variants now looming?

Many public health experts are encouraged by the new administration's commitment to the importance of testing. But some are concerned officials are moving too slowly.

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