News Headlines 3/4/21

CAPITOL POLICE: ‘POSSIBLE PLOT’ AGAINST CAPITOL TODAY, HOUSE ENDS WORK FOR WEEK: Capitol Police said yesterday (March 3rd) that they have intelligence of a, quote, “possible plot” by the Three Percenters militia group to attack the U.S. Capitol today. The threat appears to be connected to the conspiracy theory mostly promoted by QAnon supporters that former President Donald Trump will return to power today, the original presidential inauguration date until it was moved to January 20th in 1933. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security also sent an intelligence bulletin Tuesday warning a militia group had discussed trying to take over the Capitol on Thursday. Capitol Police said they are, quote, “aware of and prepared for any potential threats.” There is also still fencing around the Capitol complex that was put up in the wake of the January 6th attack. However, the House ended its work for the week last night due to the threat of violence.

HOUSE PASSES SWEEPING VOTING RIGHTS LEGISLATION: The Democratic-led House passed sweeping voting rights legislation last night (March 3rd) on a near party-line vote, the action coming at the same time as Republican-controlled states are moving towards enacting tighter voting restrictions. Its prospects in the Senate are very uncertain, where it will have little chance to get the 60 votes that would be needed to break an expected Republican filibuster. The Democrats claim the legislation is needed to fight voter suppression efforts, while the GOP claims it would inject federal interference in states’ authority to conduct their own elections. Among its provisions, the legislation would: require states to automatically register eligible voters; offer same-day voter registration; limit states’ ability to purge registered voters from their rolls; restore former felons’ voting rights; require states to offer 15 days of early voting; and allow no-excuse absentee voting. It would also mandate that nonpartisan commissions handle the redrawing of congressional districts to block partisan gerrymandering, and force the disclosure of donors to “dark money” political groups.

CUTOFF THRESHOLD LOWERED FOR DIRECT PAYMENTS IN $1.9 TRILLION COVID RELIEF BILL: President Biden and Senate Democrats agreed yesterday (March 3rd) to lower the income cutoff threshold for the direct payments that will go to Americans under Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, agreeing to what moderate Senate Democrats wanted. Under the legislation, individuals earning up to $75,000 will get $1,400 and couples earning up to $150,000, will get $2,800. The version approved by the House would gradually reduce that amount as salary increases until individuals making $100,000 and couples earning $200,000 get nothing. Under the compromise, the cutoff would be moved down to $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for couples. However, the moderates didn’t win on weekly emergency unemployment benefits, which will remain at $400 weekly in the bill, and not be reduced to the $300 weekly they’d wanted.

U.S. WARNS OF POSSIBLE MILITARY RESPONSE TO ROCKET ATTACK ON IRAQ BASE: The U.S. warned of a possible military response to a rocket attack early Wednesday (March 3rd) on an air base in Anbar province in Iraq where U.S. and coalition troops are housed. A U.S. contractor died, reportedly of a heart attack, after at least 10 rockets hit the base. No group claimed responsibility, but the attack came after the U.S. bombed Iran-backed militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week. Those U.S. strikes came in response to an attack on American forces in Iraq earlier in February.

CUOMO APOLOGIZES AGAIN, SAYS HE’S NOT RESIGNING: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized again yesterday (March 3rd) after three women have come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching and remarks, two of them former members of his administration, but rejected calls for him to step down, saying he’s not resigning. In his first public appearance since the accusations came out, the governor said he’d, quote, “learned an important lesson,” saying, “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.” He said that what he called his “customary greeting” of kisses and hugs isn’t acceptable, as, quote, “sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed.” He also stated, “I’m embarrassed by what happened… I’m embarrassed that someone felt that way in my administration.” He said he will fully cooperate with the independent investigation that will be carried out overseen by the state attorney general. But asked about the calls from some for him to step down, Cuomo said, “I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign.”

SUV IN CALIFORNIA CRASH IN WHICH 13 KILLED CAME THROUGH CUT OUT PART OF BORDER FENCE: Immigration officials said yesterday (March 3rd) that an SUV that crashed in Southern California near the border with Mexico Tuesday, killing 13 of the 25 people who were packed inside, had driven through a section of border fence that had been cut away, apparently by smugglers. Surveillance video showed the vehicle carrying migrants trying to sneak into the U.S. illegally driving through the opening. The SUV was hit by a tractor-trailer shortly after going through the fence.