Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- President Joe Biden signed a resolution Monday formally ending the COVID-19 national emergency that former President Donald Trump first enacted in early 2020. Biden originally planned to let the emergency declaration expire in May, but signaled last month he would not veto a measure—first passed by House Republicans—ending the emergency earlier.
- Former President Trump on Monday appealed an order requiring former Vice President Mike Pence to testify before the grand jury investigating Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Trump had originally challenged special counsel Jack Smith’s move to compel Pence to testify, citing executive privilege, but Chief Judge James Boasberg of the D.C. District Court ruled against the former president last month—and Pence had signaled he would not appeal the decision. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals—which last week rejected Trump’s motion to block senior aides from testifying to the grand jury—will now decide on the former president’s renewed challenge.
- The State Department formally announced Monday it’d determined Russia had “wrongfully detained” Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested and charged with espionage in late March. The special designation, which typically takes months to reach, transfers jurisdiction of the case to the State Department’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and allows the U.S. government to pressure the Russian government to free Gershkovich, who could face a 20-year prison sentence if convicted.
- Following an increase in attacks from Gaza and Lebanon in recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday officially reversed his decision to fire Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Netanyahu had first announced his dismissal of Gallant about two weeks ago, when the defense minister called on the government to pause Netanyahu’s controversial judicial reforms.
- An employee of a Louisville, Kentucky branch of Old National Bank shot and killed five people—including at least four bank employees, one a close friend of Gov. Andy Beshear—and wounded nine others in an attack Monday morning. Police say the assailant live-streamed some of the shooting on social media before officers returning his fire killed him at the scene.
- Nashville’s Metro Council voted unanimously to reinstate Democratic State Rep. Justin Jones on Monday, days after a Republican supermajority ejected him from the Tennessee legislature for interrupting proceedings with a protest over the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville last month. He was sworn in again Monday, and will hold the seat until a special election can be called. Shelby County commissioners, meanwhile, will meet Wednesday to consider reappointing Jones’ fellow ousted Democrat, Rep. Justin Pearson.
- The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that new orders for durable goods—including appliances, computers, and machinery intended to last three or more years—increased a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent from January to February, making up ground lost in January. Nondurable goods inventories fell month-over-month by the same margin.
- President Biden told NBC News’ Al Roker on Monday he’s “planning on running” for reelection in 2024, but said he’s “not prepared to announce it yet.” Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, meanwhile, announced yesterday he will seek reelection for a fourth term next year, bolstering Democrats’ chances of retaining the majority in the Senate. Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, was the most expensive U.S. Senate contest in 2022, and two failed Republican candidates from last year—former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick and State Sen. Doug Mastriano—are reportedly considering mounting challenges to Casey.
- Republican businessman Bernie Moreno filed paperwork on Monday to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio for his U.S. Senate seat next year, joining State Sen. Matt Dolan in the race for the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, Republican Sheriff Mark Lamb filed to run for U.S. Senate in Arizona, vying for the seat currently held by independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
A Legal Debate Over Mifepristone
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday received a two-step to-do list from a pair of federal judges in Texas and Washington:
- Yank approval of the abortion drug mifepristone
- Touch nothing about the mifepristone status quo
What’s a law-abiding federal agency to do?
This is not a rhetorical question—in a filing Monday, the FDA requested clarification on how it’s supposed to square this circle. Both judges issued preliminary injunctions rather than ruling on the underlying legal questions, and the issue could eventually head to the Supreme Court—the Biden administration has already asked the Fifth Circuit to issue an order keeping the FDA’s mifepristone approval intact. The drug is included in the most common method of abortion in the United States today, so any new restrictions on its use will have enormous ramifications—which may explain why some Democratic lawmakers have advocated for the FDA to ignore (one of) Friday’s rulings.