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COVID-19 memorial, Trump pardon watch, confirmation hearings: 5 things to know Tuesday – USA TODAY

Memorial ceremony will honor those lost to COVID-19

President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural committee on Tuesday will hold a national memorial event to remember and honor the nearly 400,000 lives lost in America to COVID-19. At 5:30 p.m. ET, a ceremony in Washington, D.C., will feature the lighting of the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. Cities around the country are invited to join by illuminating iconic buildings and ringing church bells. Biden has laid out ambitious goals to confront the pandemic, calling for 100 million vaccine doses to be administered in his first 100 days and an economic package to help families and small businesses.

Several Cabinet nominees face lawmakers for confirmation hearings

Confirmation hearings begin Tuesday for a series of President-elect Joe Biden’s key Cabinet nominees. The most controversial may be Lloyd Austin, the retired Army general who Biden selected to lead the Pentagon. Austin will need not only a favorable confirmation vote in the Senate but also a waiver by both the House and the Senate because he has been out of uniform only four years. Biden confidant Antony Blinken has been nominated to lead the State Department. Blinken is a more conventional pick than either of the men who have served as America’s top diplomat under President Donald Trump — Mike Pompeo and Rex Tillerson. If confirmed, Avril Haines, a former deputy director of CIA, would be the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. Also up for confirmation are Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Janet Yellen as treasury secretary, another first for a woman. 

Donald Trump may pardon 100 people in final days as president

President Donald Trump will put out a final list of pardons sometime before his term expires at noon Wednesday, said two advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity because the list is not yet public. Trump is not expected to pardon himself or issue preemptive pardons for members of his family. Some of Trump’s pardons are likely to be criticized, advisers said, and have been the subject of intense lobbying of the president by attorneys, political allies and other interested parties. Allies have also warned Trump not to pardon supporters who have been charged with breaking into the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. 

Senate returning from recess, will take up impeachment

The Senate is set to reconvene on Tuesday, a week after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump – and one day before Joe Biden is sworn in as president. Democrats had been hopeful in immediately moving forward with a trial to argue that Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection, but leaders on both sides have been reluctant to begin a trial just as Biden’s term starts. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate trial would not be rushed, and that the Senate would take up Trump’s impeachment once they are back in Washington and once the House officially transmits the article to the chamber. If the Senate receives the article of impeachment on Tuesday, rules dictate that the chamber would begin proceedings the following day at 1 p.m., meaning the process would begin on Jan. 20 around the same time Biden is inaugurated.

Lottery fever: Mega Millions jackpot grows to $850M

Lottery players have a chance to cash in on the third-largest U.S. jackpot ever Tuesday night – a Mega Millions prize worth an estimated $850 million. No one has won the top prize for either the Mega Millions or Powerball games in months, and it’s been nearly two years since a lottery jackpot has grown this large. The estimated cash prize for the next Mega Millions jackpot is $628.2 million; to get the full amount, winners must opt for an annuity paid over 30 years. Wednesday’s Powerball drawing stands at an estimated $730 million.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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