10 things you need to know today: March 31, 2021
Biden to unveil $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan, the witness who recorded George Floyd video testifies, and more
Biden to introduce $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan
The White House on Wednesday will unveil the $2.25 trillion "Build Back Batter" infrastructure and job creation plan that forms the foundation of President Biden's economic agenda, The Washington Post reported, citing two people familiar with the plan. About $650 billion is expected to go toward rebuilding U.S. infrastructure, including highways, water systems, and transit agencies, with another $400 billion allocated to care for the elderly and people with disabilities, and $300 billion apiece will head to affordable housing and reviving U.S. manufacturing. Biden is expected to propose a plan to pay for the infrastructure push that includes increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent, and raising the top individual income-tax rate to 39.6 percent from 37 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Teen who recorded viral video testifies in Chauvin murder trial
The teen who filmed the viral video showing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into George Floyd's neck testified Tuesday in Chauvin's murder trial that "we all knew it wasn't right." The teen, Darnella Frazier, said Floyd was clearly "suffering" as he begged for his life while officers pinned Floyd in the street during an arrest attempt while Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for nine minutes. Chauvin faces charges of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. The second day of witness testimony came after both sides gave opening statements on Monday. The defense has argued Chauvin simply did what he was trained to do, and asserted Floyd's autopsy presented "no telltale signs" of asphyxiation.
Biden unveils 1st slate of judicial nominees
President Biden on Tuesday unveiled his first slate of judicial nominees, hailing the diverse group as "trailblazing." Nine of the 11 nominees are women. Three of the nominees are Black women being nominated for the U.S. courts of appeals, which often serve as a pathway for nominees to the Supreme Court. The most prominent of the three is U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom Biden is nominating to fill the seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit left vacant when Judge Merrick Garland became Biden's attorney general. As a candidate, Biden promised to nominate an African American woman to serve on the high court should there be a vacancy while he's president. Biden said his diverse set of nominees "draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession."
Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy dies at 90
G. Gordon Liddy, the Richard Nixon associate who organized the Watergate break-in and later refused to testify at the congressional hearings on the matter, died Tuesday at his daughter's home in Virginia. He was 90. Over the course of his life, Liddy served in the Marines, unsuccessfully ran for Congress, and worked as an FBI agent and prosecutor, but he gained notoriety as a Nixon operative. He was assigned to discredit Daniel Ellsberg after he leaked the Pentagon Papers, and went on to coordinate the 1972 burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in D.C.'s Watergate complex. Liddy, who also didn't testify at his criminal trial, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but had his sentence commuted, and ultimately only served 52 months. After his stint in prison, Liddy became an actor, specializing in playing villains, and hosted a syndicated right-wing radio talk show, "The G. Gordon Liddy Show."
Report: Gaetz faces DOJ inquiry into relationship with underage girl
The Justice Department is investigating whether Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him in a possible violation of federal sex trafficking laws, The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing three people with knowledge of the matter. The inquiry of Gaetz, an ally of former President Donald Trump, began near the end of Trump's presidency. The matter reportedly is part of a broader investigation into Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County tax collector and Gaetz political ally, who was indicted last summer on child sex trafficking charges. Gaetz, 38, told the Times his lawyers said he was the subject, not a target, of the investigation, which he alleged was part of an extortion scheme involving "false sex allegations."
Journalists get access to overcrowded border facilities
The Biden administration on Tuesday let journalists into its main border detention facility for migrant children for the first time. The facility was designed for a capacity of 250 people, but it is crammed with more than 4,100 people, including children and families. President Biden is under mounting pressure to increase transparency at migrant processing centers as a wave of people tries to get across the southern border into the United States, many of them Central American migrants seeking asylum. Journalists watched as children were processed, starting with a lice inspection and health check in a small room. Minors also were checked for other illnesses, although COVID-19 tests were reportedly only administered to those showing symptoms.
Biden announces measures responding to anti-Asian violence
The White House on Tuesday announced several executive actions in response to a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes. The moves came after two Asian-American senators complained that there were not enough Asian Americans in high-ranking positions in the Biden administration, and as activists demanded more attention to violence against Asian Americans in the wake of a shooting rampage in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, including six Asian American women. President Biden's moves include the reinstatement of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The White House also announced a $49.5 million grant program for Asian American and Pacific Islander survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, a COVID-19 Equity Task Force to address xenophobia, and a Justice Department initiative to curb rising hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.
Home prices rise at fastest pace in 15 years
U.S. home prices rose in January at the fastest pace in 15 years, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index released Tuesday. The index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas, jumped by 11.2 percent in the year that ended in January, as buyers competed for a tightly limited supply of properties for sale. There were 1.03 million homes for sale at the end of last month, unchanged from a January level that was the lowest in data that only goes back to 1982, the National Association of Realtors reported in early March. Another reason for the price increases is a surge in demand as many Americans sought more space as they started working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, or felt freer to move farther from their offices.
2 Capitol Police officers sue Trump for inciting Jan. 6 riot
Two Capitol Police officers filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, accusing him of inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. The veteran officers, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, said members of the mob used pepper spray and tear gas to assault them during the deadly riot, which broke out as lawmakers tried to certify President Biden's victory. The complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., also states that Blassingame is "haunted by the memory of being attacked" and "experiences guilt of being unable to help his colleagues who were simultaneously being attacked and of surviving where other colleagues did not." Less than a month before the attack, Trump tweeted that there would be "a big protest in D.C. on Jan. 6. Be there. Will be wild!"
Gonzaga remains unbeaten as Final Four set
Gonzaga easily beat Southern California on Tuesday, 85-66, to remain unbeaten and advance to the Final Four of the men's NCAA basketball tournament. The Bulldogs, now 30-0 and the top overall seed, play No. 11-seeded UCLA on Saturday, after the Bruins upset No. 1 seed Michigan, 51-49. UCLA is one of two teams, after VCU in 2011, to reach the Final Four after having to make it into the tournament's first round by winning a First Four play-in game. UCLA will be a big underdog in a Final Four that includes two No. 1 seeds (Gonzaga and Baylor), and a No. 2 seed (Houston). The women's Final Four includes three No. 1 seeds (Stanford, South Carolina, and Connecticut) and a No. 3 seed (Arizona).