Biden to sign $1.2trn spending bill after 2am Senate vote: Latest updates

Biden launches ad answering Trump’s question: ‘Were you better off four years ago?’

A US government shutdown has been averted after the Senate passed a $1.2trn spending package in a 2am vote 74-24. The bill will now be signed by President Joe Biden keeping the government open until the end of fiscal year 2024 on 30 September.

The House of Representatives passed the spending package 286 to 134, surpassing the two-thirds majority needed. Calling it a “betrayal of Republican voters”, a furious Marjorie Taylor Greene initiated the process to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson.

In 2024 election news, the Biden campaign is mocking Donald Trump as “Broke Don” after the latest Federal Election Commission filings revealed the president’s fundraising is far outstripping his Republican rival and he faces hundreds of millions of dollars in civil judgments in New York.

“Broke Don Hides in Basement,” one email to supporters reads. “Trump can’t raise money, isn’t campaigning, and is letting convicts and conspiracy theorists run his campaign.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris will today tour the blood-stained classroom building where the 2018 Parkland high school massacre occurred. She will be accompanied by some victims’ family members and is expected to make two announcements on gun violence prevention efforts.


Watch: Gingrich says ‘Freedom Caucus has been a disaster’

Oliver O’Connell23 March 2024 15:30


Marjorie Taylor Greene’s stunt shows Republicans are in a death spiral

On Friday, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene pulled off her most audacious stunt yet when she filed a motion to vacate to stage a no-confidence vote for Speaker Mike Johnson. The reason for filing that motion? Johnson did what he is supposed to do: pass spending bills to keep the government open.

The move went perfectly for Greene, who has shown little desire to legislate but an eagerness for attention. It turned out to be the perfect spectacle in Congress. Greene even brought her boyfriend, right-wing media provacateur Brian Glenn, along for the action. As soon as she exited the floor, reporters, including myself, swarmed her with questions — but she waited to speak until she descended the Capitol steps so she could have her moment in front of the cameras.

Eric Garcia23 March 2024 15:00


Harris to announce gun control measures at site of mass shooting

Vice President Kamala Harris will make two announcements on gun violence prevention efforts today during a visit to Parkland, Florida, where 14 students and three staff members were killed in a 2018 school shooting.

Ms Harris will meet with families of those killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, along with Rep Jared Moskowitz and state officials.

She will then deliver remarks on gun safety measures at 2.45pm, according to the White House.

The Hill reports that the vice president will announce the launch of the first-ever National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center, which will aim to help states effectively implement red-flag laws through training and technical assistance. The centre will be funded through a Department of Justice grant stemming from the bipartisan gun control bill that President Biden signed into law in 2022.

Ms Harris also will announce an official call to action for states to pass red-flag laws and to use the resources from the bipartisan gun control bill to implement them. Red-flag laws allow a judge to take away a firearm from someone based on the suspicion that the owner could use it to harm themselves or others.

Oliver O’Connell23 March 2024 14:30


Congress passes $1.2trn spending package as Marjorie Taylor Greene files motion to oust Mike Johnson

Eric Garcia and Gustaf Kilander report from Washington, DC:

Ms Greene filed a motion to vacate the speaker as the House was still voting on the spending agreement.

A two-thirds majority was reached to pass the spending package – 286 voted in favour and 134 voted against.

“This is a betrayal of Republican voters,” Ms Greene told reporters on Friday. “The bill … forced Republicans to choose between funding to pay our soldiers and in doing so, funding late-term abortion – this bill was basically a dream and a wish list for Democrats and for the White House.”

The Senate voted to 74-24 early Saturday morning, allowing the government to stay open and sending the bill to President Joe Biden, who said he would sign the legislation immediately once it reaches his desk. The bill will keep the government open until the end of Fiscal Year 2024 on 30 September.

Oliver O’Connell23 March 2024 14:00


VIDEO: White House reacts to shooting and blast at concert hall near Moscow

White House reacts to shooting and blast at concert hall near Moscow

Natalie Chinn23 March 2024 13:00


Outrage as Oklahoma authorities refuse to bring charges in death of nonbinary teen Nex Benedict

Advocacy groups in Oklahoma have criticised a statement from authorities over the death of non-binary teenager Nex Benedict, saying that the set of facts put out is “violently in opposition” to the experiences of members of the LGBTQ+ community.

On Thursday the Tulsa County district attorney announced that no charges would be brought against the other students involved in the altercation with Benedict, and that the incident was a case of “mutual combat”.

The teenager was beaten by other students inside a bathroom on 7 February, at the Owasso High School in Oklahoma. They died the following day, with the coroner later the death to be by suicide.

In his statement, Tulsa County DA Steve Kunzweiler said: “When I review a report and make a decision to file a charge I must be convinced – as is every prosecutor – that a crime was committed and that I have reasonable belief that a judge or jury would be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.

“From all the evidence gathered, this fight was an instance of mutual combat.”

Maroosha Muzaffar, Mike Bedigan23 March 2024 12:00


AOC warns of imminent famine and ‘unfolding genocide’ in Gaza in House speech

In remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday, US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned of imminent, weaponised famine in Gaza and the “unfolding genocide” against Palestinians by Israel, urging Congress to suspend the transfer of US weapons in an effort to “prevent further atrocity.”

The Democratic congresswoman from New York amplified warnings from humanitarian aid groups as more than one million people in Gaza “are at famine’s door,” a crisis that she said is “being intentionally precipitated through the blocking of food and global humanitarian assistance by leaders in the Israeli government.”

“This is a mass starvation of people, engineered and orchestrated, following the killing of another 30,000, 70 per cent of whom were women and children,” she said. “There is hardly a single hospital left. And this was all accomplished, much of this accomplished, with US resources and weapons.”

“If you want to know what an unfolding genocide looks like, open your eyes,” she added.

“It looks like the forced famine of 1.1 million innocents. It looks like thousands of children eating grass as their bodies consume themselves while trucks of food are slowed and halted just miles away. It looks like good and decent people who do nothing or too little too late.”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez told The Independent that cutting critical funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees would be “unconscionable.” Israel has accused the agency of having ties to Hamas, prompting a wave of cuts to the UN agency among Western countries, even as Israel and investigative bodies have yet to produce evidence.

Alex Woodward23 March 2024 11:00


Russia and China veto US resolution on ‘immediate’ Gaza ceasefire at UN

A US resolution on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza has been vetoed by both China and Russia at the UN Security Council as the death toll in the besieged territory reached 32,000 people.

It is the latest in a line of ceasefire resolutions to have been voted down in recent months, with the US having exercised its own veto three times. The US resolution, which had undergone several drafts before the vote, declared the “imperative” of an “immediate and sustained ceasefire,” but did not make it a legally binding demand as previous resolutions had.

It did, however, mark the first time the US had backed any UN resolution urging an immediate ceasefire.

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said ahead of the vote that Moscow would not be satisfied “with anything that doesn’t call for an immediate ceasefire”.

Richard Hall, Andrew Feinberg23 March 2024 10:00


Maryland lawmaker apologises for using racist slur in floor speech

“So this Republican jigaboo that it’s the tax rate that’s stopping business investment, it’s just completely faulty by people who have never run a business. They’ve never been there. They don’t have a clue what they’re talking about,” he said.

The slur is a derogatory and offensive term for a Black person. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, its origins can be traced back to a song from 1909, with the word being used throughout the early 20th century in association with the mockery of stereotypical African-American physical features.

Mr Trone apologised for his remarks in a statement to The Washington Post, claiming he misspoke and meant to use a different word.

“While attempting to use the word ‘bugaboo’ in a hearing, I misspoke and mistakenly used a phrase that is offensive,” he said.

Merriam-Webster defines “bugaboo” as “an imaginary object of fear”.

Martha McHardy23 March 2024 09:00


Marco Rubio breaks silence over Trump vice president rumours

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who once suggested the size of Donald Trump’s hands indicated smaller-than-average reproductive anatomy when he and the future president both ran for president eight years ago, has indicated a willingness to serve as Mr Trump’s vice president should the 45th president succeed in becoming the 47th after the November presidential election.

The Sunshine State’s junior senator said on Thursday that it would be “an honour” for Mr Trump to choose him as his 2024 running-mate after NBC News reported that he is under consideration, citing sources close to the ex-president.

“I think anybody who would be offered that should be honored, but I’ve never spoken to anybody in the Trump world about it,” he said.

Because the US Constitution doesn’t allow the president and vice president to be residents of the same state, selecting Mr Rubio as his running mate would require the former president to change his primary residence from Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Florida social club and the site where he allegedly stored hundreds of classified documents after he left the White House following his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

In such an instance, Mr Trump could re-establish residency in New York, where he lived from birth until he moved to Washington at the start of his term in 2017.

Selecting the Florida senator as his vice president would represent a significant rapprochement between the two men, who attacked each other in vulgar terms when they squared off for the GOP nomination during the 2016 election cycle.

Andrew Feinberg23 March 2024 08:00

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