Day 436: "Fairly significantly."
1/ Senators reached a bipartisan deal “in principle” for $10 billion in new Covid-19 funding. The scaled-back compromise, however, is less than half the White House’s original $22.5 billion request. Lawmakers hope Congress can approve the legislation next week before leaving for the two-week April recess. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News)
2/ Biden ordered the release of roughly a million barrels of oil a day from the nation’s emergency reserves to counteract the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The release of as much as 180 million barrels of oil over the next six months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would be the largest-ever since the emergency stockpile was established in the early 1970s. The White House called it “unprecedented,” and Biden said he expects that gasoline prices could drop “fairly significantly.” Gas is currently averaging about $4.23 a gallon, compared with $2.87 a year ago. “This is a moment of consequence and peril for the world and pain at the pump for American families,” Biden said. (USA Today / New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
3/ The Justice Department expanded its Jan. 6 investigation to examine the fundraising and organizing for the rally that immediately preceded the riot at the Capitol, as well as attempts to obstruct the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. In the past two months, a federal grand jury has issued subpoena requests to government officials in Trump’s orbit who assisted in the rally, as well as the push by Trump allies to promote alternate slates of fake electors. One of the subpoenas sought information about people “classified as VIP attendees” at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)
4/ Trump used an official White House phone to place at least one call during the Jan. 6 attack, which was not reflected in the official presidential call log. The Presidential Records Act mandates the preservation of White House records pertaining to a president’s official duties. According to Republican Senator Mike Lee, Trump called him on the day of the insurrection from the number 202-395-0000, which is a placeholder that corresponds to an official White House phone. Lee said Trump had meant to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville. Rudy Giuliani also left Lee a voicemail, which was allegedly meant for Tuberville. Trump’s official White House records are also missing seven hours and 37 minutes of phone logs, which correspond to the attack on the Capitol by his supporters. (The Guardian)
5/ A federal judge ruled that sections of Florida’s new election law were unconstitutional and racially motivated. “In the past 20 years, Florida has repeatedly sought to make voting tougher for Black voters because of their propensity to favor Democratic candidates,” Judge Mark Walker wrote in the decision. Walker overturned a provision limiting when people could use a drop box to submit their ballot, along with a section prohibiting from engaging with people waiting to vote, which he said “discourages groups who give food, water, and other forms of encouragement to voters waiting in long lines from continuing to do so.” Walker also placed the state under a 10-year order to receive clearance from the federal government before changing key parts of its voting laws again. The decision, however, is certain to be appealed and is likely to be overturned either by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta or the Supreme Court. (Associated Press / New York Times)
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