Washington — The House passed two progressive agenda items late Wednesday evening, moving forward with key legislative priorities even though the bills have an uncertain future in the Senate.
The House approved H.R. 1, a sweeping government and elections reform bill, by a vote of 220 to 210. It also approved the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by a vote of 220 to 212, with Democrats Jared Golden and Ron Kind joining all Republicans in voting against the bill. Republican Congressman Lance Gooden of Texas voted for the bill, but later tweeted that he did so by mistake.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, named after the Minnesota man who last year after an officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes, instigating a against racial violence and police brutality over the summer. The legislation, spearheaded by Congresswoman Karen Bass, would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases and reform qualified immunity, making it easier to pursue claims against police officers in civil court.
Other provisions in the House bill include incentivizing state attorneys general to investigate local police departments, and providing grants for states to create procedures for investigating police-involved deaths. The legislation attempts to improve transparency by creating a National Police Misconduct Registry, and mandate state and local law enforcement turn over data on use of force broken out by race, gender, disability, religion and age. The bill further aims to address cultural biases in police stations by mandating racial bias training, and would also change the standard for evaluating whether use of force was justified.
The billin June 2020, with Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick and Fred Upton joining all Democrats in supporting the bill. Both Fitzpatrick and Upton voted against the bill on Wednesday night.
Floyd’s family was at the Capitol on Wednesday evening for the debate and final vote on the bill. Floyd family attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and L. Chris Stewart said in a statement that the bill “represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of color and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of color.”
“Now we urge the Senate to follow suit and send this important legislation to President Biden,” the attorneys said.
A policing reform bill was proposed by Republican Senator Tim Scott in the Senate last year, but it was blocked by Democrats who argued that it did not go far enough. Although the two bills have many similarities, they differ in addressing qualified immunity protections for law enforcement officers. Republicans argue that overhauling qualified immunity would harm law enforcement officers acting in good faith, as it would make it easier to pursue litigation against them.
The Senate bill would require increased reporting of use of force and no-knock warrants, provide grants for law enforcement to be equipped with body cameras and require departments to maintain and share officer disciplinary records. Scott told reporters earlier this week that he had an initial conversation with Bass about their policing reform bills.
Although the vote on the Justice in Policing Act was initially scheduled for Thursday, it was moved up due to. Two House sources confirmed to CBS News that there were discussions about moving up votes in the House because of the threat. The U.S. Capitol Police “received new and concerning information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group,” the House Sergeant at Arms said in a bulletin on Wednesday.
Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday that “we do have some concerning intelligence” and “we have enhanced our security posture.” The concerns for lawmakers’ safety come after, with several rioters seeking to harm or even assassinate lawmakers.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released an updated schedule showing the House would vote on the George Floyd measure Wednesday night instead of Thursday, enabling the House to wrap up its workweek a day early and to not be in session Thursday.
Similar to the Justice in Policing Act, the House had already passed during the last Congress after Democrats took back the majority, but neither bill was considered in the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats now have a narrow 50-seat majority in the Senate, but most legislation requires 60 votes to advance. The bills are unlikely to gain support from ten Republican senators, so their.
H.R. 1, known as the “For the People Act,” would overhaul government ethics and campaign finance laws, and seek to strengthen voting rights by creating automatic voter registration and expanding access to early and absentee voting. The vote on the bill comes as Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country, including measures to limit mail-in voting and impose stricter voter identification requirements.
“We believe that H.R. 1 needs to pass because the Republican state legislators, concerned about their losses, either in their own states or in the country, are again upping their efforts to make it more difficult for people to vote,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court, which has a conservative 6 to 3 majority, is alsothat restrict access to voting, which Democrats argue disproportionately affect minority voters. If the court upholds these laws, it could allow legislatures to impose even more restrictive voting laws, and a higher standard for litigants seeking to challenge them.
Progressives have argued that the Senate should eliminate the filibuster, which would allow legislation to advance with a simple majority, in order to pass their key priorities. Some Democrats argue that it is important to eliminate the filibuster particularly so that voting rights legislation can be passed, such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court. Former President Barack Obamaso that voting rights laws could pass the Senate during his eulogy at Lewis’ funeral last summer.
Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock suggested there could be a limited exception to filibuster rules for bills related to voting and civil rights. Warnock was elected to represent Georgia in a January special election, and the Republican-controlled state legislature has recently advanced bills to make early and mail-in voting more difficult.
“Voting rights is preservative of all other rights, and we have to do everything we can to preserve the voices of the people in our democracy,” Warnock told reporters on Tuesday. “I think that the issues are urgent enough to leave all options on the table.”
However, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have expressed opposition to eliminating the filibuster. Manchin on Monday said that he would “never” change his mind about ending the filibuster.
“Never! Jesus Christ! What don’t you understand about never?” Manchin said.
Nikole Killion and Brian Dakss contributed to this report.
A SpaceX Starship prototype blasted off from southern Texas on Wednesday, climbed to an altitude of six miles, tipped over on its side as planned and plunged back to Earth in a high-altitude swan dive, flipping back vertical and then successfully landing near the launch pad. A few minutes later it exploded in a spectacular fireball.
It was the company’s third high-altitude Starship test flight and its first successful landing. But the rocket came to rest with a slight tilt and a fire could be seen at its base near the engine compartment. Moments later, the unpiloted prototype — SN10 — blew up, showering the pad with flaming debris.
Despite the explosion, the successful landing marked a major milestone for SpaceX founder Elon Musk in his drive to develop a fully reusable heavy lift rocket, even as it showed the risks that come with an aggressive test program.
“SpaceX team is doing great work! One day, the true measure of success will be that Starship flights are commonplace,” Musk tweeted.
Speaking just before SpaceX wrapped up its launch webcast — and before the rocket exploded — company commentator John Insprucker said, “third time’s the charm, as the saying goes.”
“We’ve had a successful soft touchdown on the landing pad, capping a beautiful test flight of Starship 10,” he said. “As a reminder, a key point of today’s test flight was to gather the data on controlling the vehicle while reentering, and we were successful in doing so.”
He closed by congratulating the Texas launch team, saying “they’ve steadily increased the test launch cadence over the course of the program and have delivered some of the most exciting test flights many of us have seen in a long time.”
Given three dramatic launches and explosions in a row, few would argue.
Mirroring the two earlier unsuccessful test flights, the Starship prototype, known as serial number 10 or SN10 for short, blasted off from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas, launch site at 6:14 p.m. ET and climbed away through a mostly clear sky using three SpaceX-designed Raptor engines.
Liftoff came about two hours after the engines ignited for an initial launch attempt, but shut down on computer command an instant later. Musk said software engine thrust limits were “slightly conservative,” engineers made an adjustment and the team pressed ahead with a second launch attempt.
Burning liquified natural gas and liquid oxygen, the ascent appeared to go smoothly, and as the rocket gained altitude, one engine, then two, shut down as planned.
Reaching maximum altitude of about six miles four-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the third engine shut down and the Starship promptly tilted over on its side and began plunging back toward Earth.
Using computer-controlled fins at nose and tail to help maintain its orientation, the Starship carried out a horizontal dive, tracked all the way by powerful cameras operated by SpaceX and multiple independent space enthusiasts.
As it neared the ground, the Starship’s engines restarted and the rocket flipped back to vertical as programmed for a tail-first touchdown using a single engine. Despite a slight tilt and the flame briefly seen at the base of the rocket, the test flight appeared to be a complete success.
“As we approached the landing pad, we successfully lit the three Raptor engines to perform that flip maneuver and then we shut down two of them and landed on the single engine as planned,” Insprucker said. “A beautiful soft landing of Starship on the landing pad at Boca Chica.”
He said Starship SN11 is “ready to roll out to the pad in the very near future. It’s an inspiring time for the future of human space flight.”
The rocket launched Wednesday is a prototype for the second stage of a giant rocket made up of a 230-foot-tall “Super Heavy” first stage generating 16 million pounds of thrust with 28 Raptor engines, more than twice the power of NASA’s legendary Saturn 5 moon rocket. A first-stage prototype has not yet been completed.
The rocket’s 160-foot second stage, also confusingly known as Starship, will use a half-dozen Raptor engines capable of boosting 100 tons of payload to low-Earth orbit. For comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket can put about 30 tons to orbit.
As with the two most recent test flights of Starships, SN10 was a prototype of the Starship second stage, this one using just three Raptor engines.
At least three versions of the Starship are envisioned: one for carrying heavy payloads to Earth orbit, the moon or Mars; one designed to carry propellants for orbital refueling operations; and one capable of carrying up to 100 passengers at a time.
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced Wednesday that he is taking an immediate medical leave of absence to receive a pacemaker. The procedure was performed Wednesday at St. Joseph’s hospital, and Boone is currently out surgery and recovering, the team announced.
“The procedure went as expected,” the Yankees tweeted.
Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza will take over for Boone until he returns.
Boone, who underwent open-heart surgery in 2009, said that over the past six to eight weeks he has experienced, “mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath.”
“As a result, I underwent a series of tests and examinations in New York prior to the beginning of spring training, including multiple visits with a team of heart specialists,” Boone said in a statement Wednesday. “While the heart checkup came back normal, there were indications of a low heart rate which, after further consultations with doctors in Tampa, necessitates a pacemaker.”
Boone said the doctors feel the procedure “will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life.”
At a press conference Wednesday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Boone had informed him of the situation “a few days ago.” Cashman said he told Boone to get the procedure done whenever is best for him, and that Boone informed him on Tuesday that the surgery was scheduled to take place Wednesday.
Cashman said that Boone was in a hospital bed for Wednesday’s daily Zoom meeting between the coaching staff and the Yankees’ front office, and he began the meeting explaining why he was there, as most people on the call were unaware of the situation. Cashman said Boone also prepared a video presentation from the hospital bed for the players.
According to Cashman, the timeframe for Boone’s return is fluid, but he said it, “could be as early as 48-72 hours, and if it takes later so be it.”
“All we care about is making sure he’s in a good place, first and foremost. That he’s healthy. That the pacemaker’s working properly,” Cashman said. “And that’s what the doctors will dictate and determine.”
“It sounds like it’s gonna be a short-term thing,” he said.
Cashman added that, while Boone is undergoing an outpatient procedure and is expected to recover fairly quickly, he would still have to go through COVID protocols to return to the team full-time.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement, “The thoughts of the entire organization are with Aaron and his family as he undergoes this procedure and takes the time he needs to properly heal.”
“Aaron leads our players, coaches and staff with a rare combination of work ethic, intelligence and a genuine concern for others,” Steinbrenner continued. “Our only priority at this time is Aaron’s health and well-being, and we will support him in every way throughout his recovery.”
Boone turns 48 next week and is set to begin his fourth season as Yankees manager. The team has made the playoffs each year Boone has been at the helm.
who did venture out found open lanes that only invited reckless driving, leading to a sharp increase in traffic-crash deaths across the country.lockdowns and stay-at-home orders kept many drivers off U.S. roads and highways last year. But those
The nonprofit National Safety Council estimates in a report issued Thursday that 42,060 people died in vehicle crashes in 2020, an 8% increase over 2019 and the first jump in four years.
Plus, the fatality rate per 100 million miles driven spiked 24%, the largest annual percentage increase since the council began collecting data in 1923.
The council reported eight states saw more than a 15% increase in the estimated number of deaths in 2020: Arkansas (+26%), Connecticut (+22%), District of Columbia (+33%), Georgia (+18%), Mississippi (+19%), Rhode Island (+26%), South Dakota (+33%) and Vermont (+32%).
Meanwhile, NSC estimates show that only nine states saw a drop in deaths: Alaska (-3%), Delaware (-11%), Hawaii (-20%), Idaho (-7%), Maine (-1%), Nebraska (-9%), New Mexico (-4%), North Dakota (-1%) and Wyoming (-13%).
And even though traffic is now getting close to pre-coronavirus levels, the bad behavior on the roads is continuing, authorities say.
“It’s kind of terrifying what were seeing on our roads,” said Michael Hanson, director of the Minnesota Public Safety Department’s Office of Traffic Safety. “We’re seeing a huge increase in the amount of risk-taking behavior.”
Last year’s deaths were the most since 2007 when 43,945 people were killed in vehicle crashes. In addition, the safety council estimates that 4.8 million people were injured in crashes last year.
Federal data shows that Americans drove 13% fewer miles last year, or roughly 2.8 trillion miles, said Ken Kolosh, the safety council’s manager of statistics. Yet the number of deaths rose at an alarming rate, he said.
“The pandemic appears to be taking our eyes off the ball when it comes to traffic safety,” Kolosh said.
Of the reckless behaviors, early data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show speed to be the top factor, Kolosh said. Also, tests of trauma center patients involved in traffic crashes show increased use of alcohol, marijuana and opiods, he said.
In Minnesota, traffic volumes fell 60% when stay-home orders were issued early in the pandemic last spring. Hanson said state officials expected a corresponding drop in crashes and deaths, but while crashes declined, deaths increased.
“Almost immediately the fatality rate started to go up, and go up significantly,” Hanson said, adding that his counterparts in other states saw similar increases. “It created less congestion and a lot more lane space for divers to use, and quite honestly, to abuse out there.”
In late March and early April, the number of speed-related fatalities more than doubled over the same period in 2019 in the state, Hanson said. Last year, Minnesota recorded 395 traffic deaths, up nearly 9% from 364 in 2019.
Drivers also used the empty roads to drive extreme speeds. In 2019, the Minnesota State Patrol’s 600 troopers handed out tickets to just over 500 drivers for going over 100 mph (160 kph). That number rose to 1,068 in 2020, Hanson said.
Traveling over 100 mph makes crashes far more severe, the safety council said.
The high number of speeding drivers is continuing even as traffic is starting to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to Hanson.
The safety council is calling for equitable enforcement of traffic laws, infrastructure improvements, mandatory ignition switch locks for convicted drunken drivers, reducing speed limits to match roadway designs, and laws banning cellphone use while driving, among other recommendations to stem the deaths.
The council collects fatal crash data from states on public and private roads. The numbers released on Thursday are preliminary, but every year are only slightly different from the final numbers, Kolosh said.
“It is tragic that in the U.S., we took cars off the roads and didn’t reap any safety benefits,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “These data expose our lack of an effective roadway safety culture. It is past time to address roadway safety holistically and effectively, and NSC stands ready to assist all stakeholders, including the federal government.”