10 things you need to know today: May 28, 2021
Senate GOP prepares to block Jan. 6 commission, investigators say San Jose gunman targeted victims and spared others, and more
Senate Republicans set to block Jan. 6 commission
Senate Republicans prepared Friday to block a bill on establishing an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters. If they succeed as expected, it will be the first successful filibuster since President Biden took office with an evenly split, 50-50 Senate. The House passed the bill with the support of 35 Republicans. At least three GOP senators plan to back it, not enough to end a filibuster. Most GOP senators oppose establishing the commission, fearing it would hurt Republicans in 2022 elections. Trump has called the creation of a commission a "Democrat trap." GOP opposition has revived arguments for reforming the filibuster, a Senate tradition requiring 60 votes to advance a bill.
Sheriff: San Jose gunman walked past some co-workers, shot others
The gunman who killed nine people Wednesday at a San Jose light-rail yard targeted the victims, walking past some co-workers and shooting others, even telling a local union official, "I'm not going to shoot you," Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said Thursday. The alleged gunman, identified as maintenance worker Sam Cassidy, fatally shot himself as police arrived. He allegedly fired 39 rounds, and was armed with three semiautomatic handguns and 11 illegal high-capacity magazines. In 2016, Cassidy was questioned by border officials who found him with books on terrorism and notes about hating his workplace. The attack was the latest in a wave of mass shootings across the country. President Biden called for Congress to act immediately "to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America."
Senate Republicans present $928 billion infrastructure counterproposal
Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their $928 billion infrastructure counterproposal, narrowing the divide between them and the White House ahead of the Memorial Day deadline President Biden has set for a breakthrough. Biden last week trimmed his infrastructure and jobs plan to $1.7 trillion from $2.3 trillion. Republicans initially proposed a five-year $568 billion plan to improve the nation's roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. The GOP negotiators told Biden they recognized the two sides remained far apart with "little time to close the gap." The White House dislikes several elements in the GOP plan, including its call to cover costs by redirecting unused COVID-19 aid. Biden has proposed offsetting the spending with a corporate tax hike.
White House set to unveil Biden's $6 trillion budget
The White House on Friday plans to unveil President Biden's $6 trillion 2022 budget plan, which will include trillions to boost the economy and social spending, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing White House documents. The budget projects spending to rise to $8.2 trillion by 2031, with a decade of trillion-dollar deficits. It reportedly does not include major initiatives that haven't been announced. It does include several big proposals he has already introduced, including his American Jobs Plan, the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, and other discretionary spending increases. Biden already has signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package approved by Congress. The budget projects a $1.8 trillion federal deficit despite proposed tax hikes on corporations and high-income people.
Biden says he'll likely release report on COVID-19 origins
President Biden said Thursday that he would likely release the full report he has ordered intelligence agencies to produce on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, "unless there's something I'm unaware of." Biden announced on Wednesday that he had directed the intelligence community to report back on its findings in 90 days, although administration officials said the inquiry probably would take longer. The Senate unanimously passed a bill seeking to require the Biden administration to declassify all intelligence on the pandemic's origins. The rare show of bipartisanship came after a report on the hospitalizations of several researchers in China shortly before the first coronavirus outbreak renewed questions about whether the coronavirus could have escaped from a Chinese lab.
3 Tacoma officers charged over Manuel Ellis' death
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Thursday charged two Tacoma police officers, Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins, with second-degree murder for the death of Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man. A third officer, Timothy Rankine, was charged with first-degree manslaughter. Ellis died in March 2020 after officers Tasered and handcuffed him, and covered his head with a spit hood. He repeatedly told them he couldn't breathe. His final words, "I can't breathe, sir," were recorded by a home security camera, and were repeated at protests against racism and police brutality in the Pacific Northwest. The Pierce County medical examiner called the death a homicide caused by lack of oxygen from being restrained. Ellis' enlarged heart and methamphetamine intoxication were contributing factors.
Trudeau apologizes for WWII internment of Italian Canadians
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday formally apologized in Parliament for the internment of hundreds of Italian Canadians during World War II, calling it an "injustice." In 1940, then-Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King ordered 600 Italian Canadians, a fraction of the 112,000 Canadians of Italian descent in the country at the time, rounded up and held in camps. They were forced to wear uniforms with red dots on the backs that resembled targets. "When on June 10, 1940, this House of Commons declared war on Mussolini's Fascist regime in Italy, Canada did not also have to declare war on Italian Canadians," Trudeau said. "To stand up to the Italian regime that had sided with Nazi Germany? That was right. But to scapegoat law-abiding Italian citizens? That was wrong."
Jobless claims fall to another pandemic-era low
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to 406,000 last week, the latest in a string of pandemic-era lows. The figure was lower than the 425,000 applications economists had expected, and a big drop from the 444,000 filed the previous week. The second straight week of falling jobless claims came as more states, all run by Republican governors, have announced that they would end the extra $300 per week in enhanced federal benefits provided to help people who lost work during the coronavirus pandemic. JPMorgan economists said the ending of the unemployment insurance, set to expire in September, appeared "tied to politics, not economics," as the more than 20 states ending the benefits early are showing no signs of a tight labor market.
DeSantis threatens Celebrity Cruises with fines over vaccination requirement
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Thursday that Celebrity Cruise's requirement that 95 percent of all passengers over 16 be fully vaccinated "violates the spirit" of an executive order he issued barring "vaccine passports," as well as a state law that goes into effect July 1. If the cruise line, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Group, follows through, it will be "subject to a fine of $5,000" for each customer asked to show vaccination status, the governor's office said. The standoff looms over Celebrity's plan for late-June sailings for paying customers that will be the first in the U.S. after a 15-month, pandemic-induced shutdown. The CDC requires that 95 percent of cruise-ship passengers and 98 percent of crew members be fully vaccinated on non-volunteer cruises, and Celebrity said it plans to stick with those rules.
2 dead, 10 missing after boat carrying migrants from Cuba overturns
Two people died and 10 others went missing at sea after a boat carrying people trying to migrate to the United States from Cuba capsized on the way to Florida. A Coast Guard Cutter, the Resolute, spotted and rescued eight people on Thursday afternoon. The survivors said the boat left Puerto de Mariel, Cuba, on Sunday, and overturned Wednesday night. Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Jose Hernandez said the search for the 10 missing migrants would continue Friday. The Coast Guard has two cutters, a patrol boat, two Coast Guard helicopters, and one Navy helicopter looking for the other migrants. The Coast Guard said crews had not found the overturned boat as of late Thursday.