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ICYMI: House passed Biden’s COVID relief bill. Legislation heads to Senate
The Democratically-controlled House approved President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package early Saturday, a key step for a measure that would provide millions of Americans $1,400 stimulus payments, ramp up vaccine distribution and extend unemployment aid through the summer. The bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, passed 219-212 — no Republicans voted for it, and two Democrats voted against it. So what’s next? For starters, the legislation heads to the Senate where it faces a rocky path in the evenly divided chamber. No Senate Republicans are expected to support the bill, citing its size and scope, so the president will have to count on every one of the 50 Democratic senators — and a tie-breaking 51st vote from Vice President Kamala Harris — to make sure its key pillars remain in the bill.
Trump makes first public appearance post-presidency at CPAC
Former President Donald Trump will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday. The annual event is usually the stage on which conservative activists plot the future of their movement. For those eyeing a White House run, they now find themselves in the unenviable position of having to compete for attendees’ attention with a still-popular former president within conservative circles. This year’s CPAC meeting comes as the Republican Party is divided between those who want to stick with Trump and those who want to move forward without all of his political baggage.
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Golden Globes overshadowed by stunning lack of diversity
The pandemic-delayed 78th annual Golden Globes will be happening Sunday (NBC, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. ET). Tina Fey and Amy Poehler return for their fourth time as hosts, bringing back a sense of normalcy to the show. Even their appearances will be on separate stages – in Los Angeles and New York – for the hybrid format in which most of the stars will appear remotely. But the biggest talking point ahead of Sunday’s show? The immediate backlash following a recent investigation by the Los Angeles Times revealed there isn’t a single Black member in the 87-person group of international journalists who decides who goes home with Golden Globe hardware. The investigation into the lack of diversity among voting members comes amid the noticeable snubs of top Black-led films in best picture categories — including Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” “One Night in Miami” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — and TV nominees.
Golden Globes: Will the show start Chadwick Boseman’s Oscar campaign?
USA TODAY Film Critic Brian Truitt gives his predictions for the 78th Golden Globes, airing Sunday night on NBC.
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COVID-19 pandemic: US set to formally authorize third vaccine
The U.S. is expected to authorize a third COVID-19 vaccine as soon as Saturday, according to The New York Times. A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted unanimously Friday to recommend authorizing Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate for use in adults, paving the way for an expected authorization.The J&J vaccine would be the third vaccine to reach Americans, joining ones from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, which have been provided to 46 million people since December. The approval of the FDA advisory group, was expected, because the company has met all the criteria the FDA established last year — a large-scale trial proving safety and effectiveness and proof that the company can manufacture the vaccine consistently and safely. President Joe Biden called the J&J single-dose shot a “third, safe, effective vaccine” in an address Friday.
Khashoggi killing: How will Biden handle Saudi Arabia after US report?
More fallout is expected this weekend after a newly declassified U.S. intelligence report concluded that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammad Bin Salman, approved an operation “to capture or kill” Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. intelligence officials came to that conclusion based on several factors, including the direct involvement of a top Bin Salman adviser in Khashoggi’s murder. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who had been critical of the Saudi ruling family, was killed inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. Lawmakers said the long-anticipated report demands a forceful U.S. response – including possible penalties for the crown prince, who is known by his initials as MBS. Though the Biden administration quickly signaled it would not take action against the crown prince, the State Department said it would use a “Khashoggi ban” to impose visa restrictions “on those who engage in extraterritorial attacks on journalists or activists.” The crown prince has denied he ordered Khashoggi’s killing.