10 things you need to know today: April 6, 2021
Manchin says tax hike in Biden infrastructure bill is too steep, police chief testifies that Chauvin violated policies in Floyd arrest, and more
Manchin: Biden infrastructure bill corporate tax hike too steep
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a moderate Democrat now holding a key swing vote in the 50-50 Senate, said he opposed the corporate tax hike President Biden wants to help pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure plan. Biden's proposal calls for raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent. Manchin said the rate should have "never been below [25 percent]," indicating that he would be comfortable with raising it to that level. Manchin said there were "six or seven other Democrats who feel very strongly about this." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed to fight the plan, a sign that no Republicans will vote for it. That means that Democrats will need Manchin and every other member of their caucus on board, making it likely to undergo changes before a vote.
Minneapolis police chief says Chauvin violated policies
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Monday that former officer Derek Chauvin violated his training and the department's policies by pressing his knee onto George Floyd's neck for nine minutes before Floyd died in custody last year. The restraint "should have stopped" once Floyd stopped resisting, Arradondo testified at Chauvin's murder trial. The chief said there was "an initial reasonableness" to use force to restrain a suspect, but that moment had clearly passed at the point shown in a viral video of the unarmed Black man's arrest when he was "no longer responsive and even motionless." Defense attorneys asked Arradondo how long it had been since he made an arrest, suggesting he was out of touch with the reality officers face on the job.
Senate parliamentarian opens door for Dems to pass more filibuster-proof bills
The Senate parliamentarian issued an opinion on Monday that could give Democrats more opportunities to pass major pieces of legislation this year — like the American Jobs Plan — without any Republican support, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. The Schumer spokesperson said this confirms Schumer's "interpretation of the Budget Act and allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstruction continues." Budget reconciliation is a procedural tool that Democrats used last month to avoid Republican filibusters and pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill with a simple majority — a 50-50 vote with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — rather than the 60 votes required to advance legislation over a filibuster.
Arkansas governor vetoes bill limiting transgender youth health care
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Monday vetoed a bill that would have barred physicians from performing gender-affirming procedures on transgender people under age 18. Hutchinson said the Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, which passed the legislature last month, "would be and is a vast government overreach" and "a product of the cultural war in America." He said the bill was "well-intended," but sought to create "new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people." The bill would have banned hormone therapy and other treatments. LGBTQ and medical advocates strongly opposed the bill, which they warned could have major negative impacts on trans youth, who face an elevated risk of suicide.
Gaetz denies sex allegations and says he 'absolutely' won't resign
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Monday that he would not resign from Congress in the face of allegations that he "slept with" a 17-year-old girl. "No, I am absolutely not resigning," he wrote in a column appearing in the Washington Examiner in which he predicted that "some of my feckless colleagues in Congress" would try to get him to step down. Reports last week revealed that the Justice Department was conducting a sex-trafficking investigation to determine whether Gaetz illegally transported teens across state lines for sex. Gaetz, 38, said political enemies who were angry because he "loathes the swamp" had something to do with the allegations. "First, I have never, ever paid for sex," he wrote. "And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old."
Dow, S&P 500 surge to record highs
Strong economic data boosted the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 to record highs on Monday. The Dow gained 1.1 percent to close at 33,527. The S&P 500 rose by 1.4 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped by 1.7 percent. The main U.S. stock indexes also rose on Friday after the Labor Department announced that the economy had added 916,000 jobs in March, smashing expectations. The gains also were fueled by optimism about the accelerating pace of coronavirus vaccinations, and easing pandemic-related restrictions on businesses in many states. The 10-year Treasury yield remained below a 14-month high reached last week, easing fears of inflation. U.S. stock index futures were mixed early Tuesday.
U.S., Iran to start indirect talks on restoring nuclear deal
Efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are picking up on Tuesday with a meeting in Vienna between Tehran and the five world powers that stayed in the accord after former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States. The U.S. also is sending a delegation after announcing on Friday that the U.S. and Iran would start indirect talks on returning to the landmark agreement on curbing Iran's nuclear program. Iran has repeatedly violated the terms of the deal, accelerating its uranium enrichment since the U.S. pulled out and imposed new sanctions, which had been relaxed under the terms of the agreement. President Biden said when he took office in January that he was making it a priority to get Iran back within the international restrictions established under the deal.
Prince Hamzah pledges allegiance to Jordan's King Abdullah
Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the former crown prince of Jordan, pledged his allegiance to King Abudullah, his half-brother, after being accused of plotting to destabilize the country and placed under house arrest. The news came after mediation, which a professional mediator and family friend described as "successful." Prince Hamzah, 41, issued a statement placing himself "in the hands of his majesty the king." He added: "I will remain committed to the constitution of the dear Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan." On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi accused the prince of collaborating with foreign parties and trying to mobilize "clan leaders against the government." Prince Hamzah was first in line to succeed King Abdullah until 2004, when King Abdullah designated his son as heir.
Putin signs law potentially letting him stay in power until 2036
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law that could let him stay in power until 2036. The move by Putin, who already has been serving as president or prime minister for more than two decades, formalized constitutional changes adjusting his term limits that were approved in a July 1 vote. Putin has said that the reforms were needed so his aides could focus on running the country rather than "darting their eyes in search for possible successors." Opposition leaders argued that the constitutional vote was marred by pressure on voters, a lack of transparency, and other irregularities. Since the vote, Russia has jailed Alexei Navalny, Putin's most prominent opposition rival. Navalny, 44, was jailed in January after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for nerve-agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.
Baylor dominates Gonzaga to win NCAA men's basketball title
The Baylor Bears won their first ever NCAA men's basketball championship Monday night, beating the previously undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs in a lopsided 86-70 victory in Indianapolis. The Bears dominated the game from the start and never trailed. Guards Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell kept Baylor with double-digit leads for most of the night. Butler scored 22 points, including four 3-pointers, and won the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award. Gonzaga star Jalen Suggs, who ended with 22 points, got into early foul trouble. Baylor previously came closest to a national championship 1948, when it finished second. The Bears ended Gonzaga's run for the first perfect season since Indiana's 1976 32-0 juggernaut year.