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Joe Biden signs ‘historic’ $1.9tn Covid relief bill into law – live


Senate votes to advance Haaland’s nomination for interior secretary

The Senate voted on Thursday to advance the nomination of Deb Haaland to be the next interior secretary, bringing her one step closer to becoming the first Native American cabinet secretary.

The final vote was 54-42, with four Republicans joining all Democrats.

Senate Press Gallery

By a vote of 54-42, #senate invoked cloture on Executive Calendar #31 Debra Haaland to be Secretary of the Interior.

Republicans voting yes: Senators Collins, Graham, Murkowski & Sullivan.

Not voting: Senators Burr, Cassidy, Kennedy & Moran.

March 11, 2021

Schumer said he plans to hold a final vote on her nomination on Monday.

Pressed repeatedly on the ongoing crisis of migrant children at the US-Mexico border, Psaki said she doesn’t want to “play games with what it’s called.” She refused to call the situation a “crisis” even as a record number of children and teens are being held in detention cells for far longer than legally allowed. Instead she referred to it as “a vital human challenge at the border.”

She also pushed back on claims by Texas governor Greg Abbott, who has said some of these migrants are bringing the coronavirus into the US.

“We stand by what we feel is a more humane approach to what is happening at the border and … we are looking for ways to expedite the process,” she said.


She said there would be “news” during Biden’s primetime speech on Thursday night, marking the first anniversary of widespread covid-19 lockdowns in the US.

Psaki said Biden has spent the last week “line-item editing” his speech as he tries to strike a careful balance between acknowledging the more than 500,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus, while offering a “sense of hope and what’s possible” if Americans abide by the public health guidelines and get the vaccine when it becomes available to them.

Asked why Biden purchased an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Psaki said he wanted to be “over-prepared and over-supplied.” She specifically noted that scientists aren’t sure which vaccine works best on children, and that the doses could potentially be used as a booster against emerging Covid variants.

The White House press briefing has begun, with press secretary Jen Psaki outlining a plan for Biden, the vice president and their spouses to visit states across the country next week as part of a campaign to promote the $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill he signed just moments ago.

Psaki said Americans can expect to start seeing direct deposits in their bank accounts as early as this weekend, after Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan that will send $1,400 checks to most Americans. She said the payments would continue to be sent in waves over the next several weeks.


Biden signs $1.9tn ‘American Rescue Plan’

With the flick of his pen, Biden signed into law a $1.9tn coronavirus relief package, cementing the first major legislative victory of his presidency.

“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving the people of this nation, working people, the middle class folks, people who built the country a fighting chance,” Biden said in brief remarks before signing the landmark legislation.

The bill will send $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans, extend unemployment benefits, provide federal assistance for housing, food and health care, dramatically expand the child tax credit. It also spends tens of billions of dollars on vaccine distribution and Covid testing.

Touting the bill’s broad public support, Biden said the plan’s passage by the House of Representatives on Wednesday ensured that “their voices were heard.”

Biden signed the bill into law a day ahead of schedule, and hours before he was due to give the first prime-time address of his presidency, during which the president vowed he would have “more to say” about the legislation.

Explaining the scheduling change, Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, said the president wanted to “move as fast as possible.” Klain said the White House still planned to hold a celebratory ceremony with members of Congress on Friday.

Ronald Klain

The enrolled bill arrived last night — so @POTUS is signing it today — we want to move as fast as possible. We will hold our celebration of the signing on Friday, as planned, with Congressional leaders!

March 11, 2021


Biden and Harris to travel to Georgia next Friday

Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, are headed to Atlanta next Friday to promote the administration’s $1.9tn stimulus aid package.

The destination is significant because the bill’s passage, the first major legislative feat of his presidency, was made possible by the election of two Democratic senators from Georgia in January, which gave Democrats control of both chambers of Congress. The relief package was passed without any Republican votes.

The Georgia senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both promised to deliver $2,000 stimulus checks if the state delivered Democrats the majority.

The bill Biden will sign into law shortly will send $1,400 direct payments to most American families, which Democrats say comes in addition to the $600 checks provided for in the last relief bill, enacted by Trump before he left office.

The promotional push around the legislation is part of a recognition by Democrats that they didn’t do enough to sell their economic recovery plan in 2009, when Barack Obama took office in the depths of the economic meltdown. Many Democrats now believe their reticence to claim credit for the massive stimulus package allowed Republicans to cast it as federal overreach and led to their crushing losses during the midterm elections of 2010.

Biden will discuss the plan during his first prime-time address on Thursday night. He will travel to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, to promote the bill on Tuesday, while Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff will be dispatched to Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico next week to help educate the public on what’s in the measure.


Arizona is part of a push by Republican-controlled legislatures across the country impose new voting restrictions after Trump’s unexpected loss in the state.

Speaking to CNN about the efforts underway in Phoenix, which would restrict the state’s vote-by-mail system which has been used by voters of both parties for years, Republican lawmaker John Kavanuagh said there was a “fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans” when it came to the franchise.

“Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud,” he said. “Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote – but everybody shouldn’t be voting.”

He continued: “Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.”

The comment has sparked significant backlash online.

Our voting rights reporter, who has been covering the rise of efforts to curtail voting access across the country following the 2020 election, said his comments amount to a “dog-whistle idea” that is often used to justify curtailing voting access.

Sam Levine

This is an appalling, dog-whistle idea that runs in the background of a lot of anti-voting measures. Barriers aren’t such a big deal because they will sort out people who don’t really want to vote. The people who want to vote will find a way to cast a ballot

March 11, 2021


Senate advances Becerra’s nomination

The Senate on Thursday voted to proceed with the nomination of Xavier Becerra to lead the Health and Human Services, a procedural step that paves the way for his confirmation next week. The final tally was 51-48.

As noted earlier, a Senate panel deadlocked over his nomination, forcing Schumer to bring it to the floor for a full vote on whether to move his confirmation forward.

Some Republicans have argued that Becerra is unqualified to lead the department of Health and Human Services, but their opposition has so far failed to derail his nomination.

Schumer, who used his powers to force the nomination out of a deadlocked committee, defended Becerra during a speech on the Senate floor earlier today.

I’m perplexed that none of my Republican colleagues would vote for him. He’s a capable man. He’s worked hard to make sure that people get healthcare. Some have said: well, he’s not a doctor. Neither was the previous Trump nominee for HHS, who happened to be a pharmaceutical company executive. What would Americans prefer?

With the support of Manchin and Collins, who announced their intention to vote for him earlier on Thursday, Becerra is all but guaranteed to be confirmed as the nation’s first Latino secretary of Health and Human Services.

House passes bill to close “Charleston loophole”

The House narrowly approved a bill that would close the so-called Charleston loophole that allows dealers to complete gun sales if a buyer’s background check has not been completed by the FBI in three days.

The measure would extend the window for conducting background checks from three days to 10 days.

The final vote was 219 to 210 with two Democrats voting against the measure and two Republicans voting for it.

Like the universal background check bill passed earlier, the legislation faces a difficult path in the Senate.


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Police say officer who shot and killed unarmed Daunte Wright intended to fire Taser


Police in a Minneapolis suburb said an officer accidentally shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man on Sunday afternoon during a traffic stop, releasing graphic body-camera footage they say shows the officer intended to use a Taser not a handgun during the death of unarmed Daunte Wright.

The incident plunged the suburb of Brooklyn Center into a night of unrest as Minneapolis remains on edge during the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd. Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in riot gear who deployed teargas and flash bangs to disperse the crowds.

At a press conference inside Brooklyn Center police headquarters, surrounded by riot police and national guard troops, the police chief, Tim Gannon, described the shooting as “an accidental discharge” and confirmed no weapon had been recovered from Wright’s vehicle.

The county medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide.

The mayor of Brooklyn Center, Mike Elliott, said he had spoken to Joe Biden, who offered assistance.

“I want to say that our hearts are aching right now,” Elliott told reporters. “We are in pain right now. And we recognise that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

“We will get to the bottom of this. We will do all that is in our power to make sure that justice is done for Daunte Wright.”

Elliott also said he supported firing the officer involved, who was later identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center police department.

Protesters face off with police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
Protesters face off with police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Protesters returned to the streets again on Monday evening, despite a 7pm curfew imposed by the governor of Minnesota. Hundreds of people gathered in the cold and rainy weather outside the Brooklyn Center police department, which was ringed by a metal fence, concrete barriers and police dressed in riot gear. Police later deployed flashbangs, teargas and smoke to disperse the crowd.

There are now a few hundred protesters outside the Brooklyn Center police dept, which is circled by fencing. Protesters have also blockaded off parts of Humboldt Ave.

— Oliver Laughland (@oliverlaughland) April 12, 2021

Police are now firing flash bangs, smoke and pepper balls into the crowd. Some are dispersing but others firing fireworks.

— Oliver Laughland (@oliverlaughland) April 13, 2021

Earlier in the day, mourners and outraged community members had made their way to the site where Wright was killed. On a grey, damp morning, Ben Witz and his sister came to the site to lay balloons.

“This is more difficult because there was another, there was another unarmed shooting,” Witz said, explaining that family members lived in the area and that the community was still traumatized from Floyd’s killing and the unrest that followed.

“It seems like it’s a common occurrence now with the police,” Witz said. “It’s crazy what’s happening. It really is.”

According to Brooklyn Center police, the incident occurred shortly before 2pm, when an officer pulled over a vehicle due to an alleged traffic violation.

The body-camera footage showed Wright being apprehended by two officers, when a third female officer approaches the scene. A struggle ensues and Wright gets back into his vehicle, at which point the female officer opens fire.

“Holy shit. I just shot him,” the officer is heard saying.

As the body-camera footage was released, a small group of activists in the police headquarters waiting area demanded the officer, who has not been identified, be fired immediately.

“Seeing the video just confirms what we already knew,” said Toshira Garraway, the founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence. “It’s just killing after killing after killing.”

She added: “They will always say, ‘I was afraid, or it was an accident.’ But the fact of the matter is: this was a murder. If she is not fired, this is only going to escalate.”

Fatal police shooting sparks protests in Minneapolis – video


Fatal police shooting sparks protests in Minneapolis – video

Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters she was on the phone with her son as the encounter occurred. According to her account, reported by local TV news, her son called as he was being pulled over and asked about insurance for the vehicle, which she had recently given him.

She said she heard officers instruct her son to get out of the car and then “scuffling” shortly before the phone hung up.

“A minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered, who was the passenger in the car, and said that he’d been shot and she put it on the driver’s side, and my son was laying there lifeless,” she said.

Police said officers determined the driver had an outstanding warrant.

Mother whose son was shot dead in Minneapolis suburb: 'I just want my baby home' – video


Mother whose son was shot dead in Minneapolis suburb: ‘I just want my baby home’ – video

Heavily armored national guard troops worked to barricade the police station on Monday morning, as fewer than a dozen protesters faced the building across a road.

Two national guard Humvees, guardsmen carrying long guns and dozens of officers in riot gear were outside the station as police installed concrete blocks. A couple of members of the Original Black Panthers of Minneapolis group chatted with state troopers.

Witz, 40, a liquor store employee, said he was concerned the business would be vandalized if protests over Wright’s killing led to major unrest.

“It was like a war zone,” Witz said of the unrest that followed Floyd’s death. “And now we’re seeing it here and, I mean, why do we have to vandalize, I mean, I, as a white person I don’t get it, but I want to be educated.”

On Sunday evening, hundreds of protesters marched to the police station and were met by officers in riot gear who discharged teargas, flash-bangs and other munitions. Crowds had largely dispersed by midnight.

The Minnesota department of public safety commissioner, John Harrington, said around 20 businesses at the Shingle Creek shopping center were broken into. The mayor, Elliott, urged protesters “to be peaceful and that peaceful protesters are not dealt with force”.

Brooklyn Center is a suburb in north-west Minneapolis with a population of about 30,000. Tensions are high as the murder trial of Chauvin entered its third week.

Some protesters damaged police vehicles.
Some protesters damaged police vehicles. Photograph: Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

Amid drizzle and grey skies on Monday, protesters such as Bethany Hemrich came to pay her respects near the site where Wright had been shot dead less than 24 hours before.

“As a mother of a Black child, I couldn’t even fathom,” Hemrich, who is white, said. “My son is 10, and I brought him to [the] George Floyd memorial and had to explain racism to him.”

As her voice broke, she continued: “They didn’t have to kill him. I feel like if it was a white person, they wouldn’t have shot him.”

Quinn Redeemed, 46, spoke of the tension in the area around police-involved deaths of Black people.

Redeemed said: “This just added gasoline to the fire. We’re tired and fired up. The world needs to really see what’s going on. And now, the world is watching Minnesota.”

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Police kill student who fired at them at Tennessee high school, authorities say


A student at a Tennessee high school has been shot and killed by police after opening fire on officers responding to reports of a gunman on campus, authorities said on Monday.

David B Rausch, the director of the Tennessee bureau of investigation, said at a news conference that police found the student in a bathroom at Austin-East magnet high school in Knoxville, a city about 180 miles (290km) east of Nashville. They ordered him out, but he wouldn’t comply, and that is when he reportedly opened fire, Rausch said. Police fired back.

The student died at the school, and an officer was wounded and taken into surgery, authorities said. No one else was hurt.

“It’s a sad day for Knoxville, and it’s tough for Austin-East,” Rausch said.

Asked about the overwhelming police response to a call that came in just before afternoon dismissal, the Knoxville police chief, Eve Thomas, said, “We have a student, a school incident. It’s our worst fear, an active shooter in a school.”

The shooting comes as more classrooms are reopening to students after months of remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic, which cut down the number of mass killings in the US. The nation has seen series of mass shootings in recent weeks, including eight people killed at three Atlanta-area massage businesses on 16 March and 10 people killed at Colorado supermarket on 22 March.

Speaking outside a hospital, Knoxville’s mayor, Indya Kincannon, told WATE-TV that she had spoken with the wounded officer and he was conscious and in good spirits.

Kincannon, a former Knox county schools board president, spoke at a February press conference about the gun violence that took the lives of three Austin-East students less than three weeks apart this year. Two of the victims were 15, and the other was 16. The shootings did not take place in the school.

Law enforcement officers respond to the shooting.
Law enforcement officers respond to the shooting. Photograph: Saul Young/AP

“I know that school is a safe place,” Kincannon said at that time, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “It’s a place where people are learning … The issues with violence are happening in the community, and it’s affecting kids when they’re outside of the school. That’s why we are focusing our efforts to protect the innocent, protect the school, protect the children and students and staff.”

Bob Thomas, the superintendent of Knox county schools, tweeted on Monday that a shooting had occurred but the building had been secured.

“The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas said.

He added in a separate tweet that authorities were gathering information and about “this tragic situation” and that additional information would be provided later.

Police urged people to avoid the area, adding that a reunification site had been set up on a baseball field behind the school for students to be reunited with family.

Last week, the Republican governor signed off on legislation that would make Tennessee the latest state to soon allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns – openly or concealed – without first clearing a background check and training.

The state’s governor, Bill Lee, backed the legislation over objections from law enforcement groups, who argued that the state’s existing permit system provided an important safeguard for knowing who should or shouldn’t be carrying a gun.

The law, which does not apply to long guns, will take effect 1 July. The new measure also increases certain penalties relating to theft, and also makes exceptions for people with certain mental illnesses and criminal convictions.

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Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore near deal for NBA’s Timberwolves


Former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore appear to be close to owning the Minnesota Timberwolves, finalizing a deal with current owner Glen Taylor, according to reports.

The pair released a statement on Saturday:

“We look forward to entering this phase of the process with Glen Taylor. Our respect for him and the legacy he built lays an amazing foundation for what is to come. We are excited by the prospect of getting to know the Timberwolves organization, the talented team and their incredible fans.”

The letter of intent paves the way for a 30-day exclusive negotiating window. If a deal is finalized, they would first become minority owners, according to the Athletic, and in 2023, would gain full control.

The Athletic reported an agreement was reached on a $1.5bn price and that the team would remain in Minneapolis – a requirement from Taylor, who has owned the team for almost 30 years.

ESPN also reported the deal was being finalized.

Rodriguez attempted last year to buy the New York Mets alongside ex-fiancee Jennifer Lopez, and Lore was among the other partners in that bid.

Lore, a billionaire New York native, stepped down as Walmart CEO in January. The former entrepreneur created (sold to Walmart for $3bn) and (sold to Amazon for $545m), among other business ventures.

A three-time AL MVP, Rodriguez retired in August 2016 with 698 home runs, a .295 average and 2,086 RBIs in 22 years. He was suspended for the 2014 season for violations of Major League Baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.

A-Rod, now 45 years old, earned about $448m as a player. The 14-time All-Star started his career with Seattle, signed a record contract with Texas in December 2000, and then moved from shortstop to third base when he was traded from the Rangers to the New York Yankees ahead of the 2004 season.

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