President Biden publicly endorsed changing Senate rules to prevent Republicans from using the filibuster to block voting rights legislation. Biden spoke Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia.
President Joe Biden: “To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed, to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights. When it comes to protecting majority rule in America, the majority should rule in the United States Senate.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to introduce proposals to change the filibuster rules as early as today in an effort to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. But it remains unclear if Democrats will have enough votes due to possible opposition from Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
A number of voting rights groups in Georgia boycotted Biden’s speech, saying they needed concrete action, not a “photo op.” We will speak to two prominent voting rights leaders after headlines — one who attended Biden’s speech and one who refused.
As the record-breaking Omicron-fueled COVID surge continues, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Janet Woodcock, told lawmakers “most people” will get COVID-19. Woodcock said the focus should be on making sure hospitals and other essential services can still function. U.S. daily cases are now averaging over 760,000, with record hospitalizations.
Here in New York City, students staged walkouts Tuesday to protest COVID protocols and learning conditions. The protest included hundreds of students from New York’s largest high school, Brooklyn Tech. Meanwhile, in Oakland, California, students have petitioned the school district to go to remote learning and implement better safety protocols, threatening to boycott in-person classes.
In Chicago, organizers are calling on federal investigators to look into Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s use of pandemic relief funds, accusing her of using the money to pay down city debt instead of helping those in need, including Chicago’s public schools.
The Red Cross has declared a national blood crisis as the U.S. sees its worst blood shortage in over a decade. Blood donations have decreased 10% since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The organization urged those who can to donate blood and platelets, as the Red Cross warned it has “less than a one-day supply of critical blood types.”
Top White House pandemic adviser Anthony Fauci confronted Senator Rand Paul during a Senate hearing Tuesday, accusing Paul of endangering his life with repeated lies.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “A person was arrested who was on their way from Sacramento to Washington, D.C., at a speed stop in Iowa, and they asked — the police asked him where he was going. And he was going to Washington, D.C., to kill Dr. Fauci, and they found in his car an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition, because he thinks that maybe I’m killing people. So I ask myself: Why would Senator want to do this? So, go to Rand Paul website, and you see 'fire Dr. Fauci' with a little box that says 'contribute here.' You can do $5, $10, $20, $100. So you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.”
Aid workers in Ethiopia say at least 17 people, including women and children, were killed when a drone bombed a flour mill in the Tigray region on Monday. A separate attack killing two people was also reported. The attacks came on the same day President Biden spoke by phone with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The White House says Biden raised concerns about civilian casualties in Ethiopia’s 14-month conflict in Tigray that’s left thousands of people dead and millions displaced.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it rescued 176 Haitian nationals from a precarious boat headed toward the Florida coastline Monday. This comes as the United States continues its mass deportations of Haitians amid a mounting security and political crisis. Seven deportation flights were reported yesterday alone. Today marks 12 years since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti which killed an estimated 300,000 people.
The Justice Department announced it’s forming a new unit to combat the growing threat of domestic terrorism. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen told a Senate committee Tuesday the number of FBI domestic terror investigations has more than doubled since March 2020.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen: “We’ve seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies.”
While Democrats opened the hearing with a video about the January 6 insurrection, Republicans worked to center questioning around leftist protest movements. Pressed by Senator Chuck Grassley, the FBI’s Jill Sanborn said the agency has opened over 800 cases related to the 2020 wave of Black Lives Matter protests.
Protesters have been taking to the streets of Fayetteville, North Carolina, following the deadly shooting of Jason Walker, a Black father, in front of his own home by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy on Saturday. Officer Jeffrey Hash, who is white, says he shot the 37-year-old Walker after he jumped on his car. Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Walker’s family, says the killing appears to be another case of “shoot first, ask later.” The City Council has asked the U.S. Justice Department to get involved in the investigation.
A hunger strike is underway at the Rikers Island jail in New York City. About 200 people began the strike to protest deplorable conditions inside, citing the rapid spread of COVID, inadequate heating and a growing level of violence at the city-run jail. Many of the hunger strikers say they haven’t been allowed outside in weeks.
Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, has died at the age of 85. In 1972, the group organized a major march to D.C. called the Trail of Broken Treaties. Bellecourt was a prominent figure in the occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 1973. In 2013, we spoke with Bellecourt about the campaign to force the Washington football team to change its racist name
Clyde Bellecourt: “We’re putting pressure on the whole world about these racist slurs and this continued cultural genocidal policies of this government. Let’s not forget, there’s over 2,000 high schools, colleges and universities throughout America have changed. They said they would never change, never change their name, just like Dan Snyder, but they have changed. Every single one of them have changed. And so will happen to this Washington team.”
In 2020, the Washington NFL team finally retired its old name. Click here to see our full interview with Clyde Bellecourt. His Ojibwe name was Nee-gon-we-way-we-dun, meaning “Thunder Before the Storm.”
In Buffalo, New York, Starbucks workers have successfully unionized a second U.S. location of the coffee chain. On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board certified the victory from a December election, ruling in favor of the union, which challenged a number of votes from people that it said do not work at the shop. Meanwhile, a Starbucks in Eugene has become the first Oregon location to petition for unionization.
In more labor news, Amazon workers at a Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse will vote again starting next month on what would be the company’s first U.S.-based union. Ballots will be counted on March 28. The new vote comes after the national labor board found Amazon interfered with the first election last year and intimidated workers.
In Maine, labor advocates are blasting Democratic Governor Janet Mills after she vetoed a bill that would have allowed farmworkers to unionize.
In Florida, Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick has won a special election to replace Congressmember Alcee Hastings, who died last year of pancreatic cancer. Her win brings the House to a 222-to-212 Democratic majority.
Meanwhile, Californians in the 22nd Congressional District will vote in a special primary in April to select a replacement for Republican Congressmember Devin Nunes, who resigned earlier this month to become CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group.
The Treasury Department has started circulating quarters featuring the celebrated author Maya Angelou. Angelou, who died in 2014, is the first Black woman to be featured on the 25-cent coin. Hers is the first in a series of special edition quarters featuring notable American women throughout history. Others include physicist and astronaut Sally Ride, Chinese American Hollywood star Anna May Wong and Indigenous activist Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.