Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus bill on the brink of passage
The House of Representatives is poised Wednesday to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, which includes $1,400 checks, billions for vaccines, and money to reopen schools. House Democratic leadership has voiced confidence in their ability to pass the bill even if no Republicans vote for it, though some progressives have complained about spending reductions made by the Senate. Once the House has passed the legislation, it will go to President Joe Biden, who said Monday he would sign it “as soon as I get it.” The $1,400 stimulus checks could start going out in a number of weeks if they follow the same timeline as previous rounds.
Prefer to listen? Check out the 5 things podcast:
Mask mandate lifted and COVID-19 restrictions eased in Texas
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that rescinded most of his earlier orders, including restrictions on business occupancy and the statewide mask mandate, will go into effect Wednesday. Saying it was time to “open Texas 100%,” Abbott announced the order March 2 at a restaurant in Lubbock, citing declining hospitalizations across the state as more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus. “To be clear, COVID has not suddenly disappeared,” Abbott said. But he added that “state mandates are no longer needed.” Three out of four of Texas’ medical advisers said they weren’t consulted before Abbott lifted the mask mandate. Federal health officials, including Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the move comes too early and the coronavirus still poses a grave danger. President Joe Biden said it’s a “big mistake” to lift restrictions, calling it a result of “Neanderthal thinking.”
Senate expected to confirm Garland for attorney general
When President Joe Biden assembled his list of Cabinet picks, he was aiming to select the most diverse and representative cabinet in America’s history, but while some of his picks have sailed through their confirmation hearings, others have seen a rocky reception from the GOP. The final Senate confirmation of Merrick Garland for attorney general is poised for Wednesday. Garland, a longtime federal judge and former federal prosecutor, is expected to win substantial bipartisan support. Marcia Fudge, who is nominated for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is also expected to receive full Senate votes on Wednesday.
Jury selection to continue in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial
Jury selection is scheduled to continue Wednesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, where lawyers are set to vet more potential jurors about a case that rocked the country and spurred worldwide protests after George Floyd’s death. The court heard from nine prospective jurors on Tuesday and seated three. For hours, lawyers questioned potential jurors about their knowledge of the high-profile case, the protests and Floyd’s death, questioning whether they could set aside any existing opinions to serve impartially. The prospective jurors thus far ranged from eager to fearful, some expressing safety concerns about serving on such a high-profile and divisive case, especially if their identity became public. Three weeks have been set aside to choose the jury.
Piers Morgan moves on from British talk show
“Good Morning Britain” will have a different look beginning Wednesday after ITV, which produces the news show, announced host Piers Morgan “has decided now is the time to leave” the program. The move comes after Morgan ignited controversy for two consecutive days reacting to Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. During the CBS show, Meghan spoke about how she “didn’t want to be alive anymore” and faced racist attitudes from Buckingham Palace and the British media. On Monday, Morgan said he “(doesn’t) believe a word she says,” which drew major criticism. Morgan stormed off the set Tuesday as another presenter was criticizing his attitude toward Meghan. American consumers may know Morgan as a former judge on “America’s Got Talent.” In 2011, he replaced Larry King on CNN with his own talk show, which was canceled in 2014.
Contributing: The Associated Press