1/ The House and Senate passed a stopgap spending bill to prevent a partial government shutdown this weekend, sending the measure to Biden as Congress continues to struggle with approving all 12 appropriations bills that fund the government. The short-term spending package – the third since September – will extend current funding for the FDA, Energy, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs through March 1, with funding for the rest of the government, including the Pentagon, continuing through March 8. Lawmakers, however, are in session together for six days prior to the March 1 deadline, and for 10 days before the March 8 deadline. The Senate passed the legislation, 77-18, followed by the House, 314-108, hours later, after 13 hardline Republicans – who have repeatedly held the chamber hostage in retaliation for the spending deal Speaker Mike Johnson reached with Democrats – launched a last-minute campaign to attach partisan border security measures to the funding package. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)
2/ A Justice Department investigation into the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, found “cascading failures” and “no urgency” by law enforcement before, during, and after the attack that killed 19 children and two teachers. “Had law enforcement agencies followed generally accepted practices in an active shooter situation and gone right after the shooter to stop him, lives would have been saved and people would have survived,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in announcing the 600-page report, adding that the law enforcement response was a “failure that should not have happened.” For 77 minutes, nearly 400 law enforcement officers failed to intervene as an 18-year-old gunman with a semiautomatic rifle remained inside a pair of connected fourth grade classrooms. “During that period, no one assumed a leadership role to direct the response towards the active shooter, provide situational status to responding officers, establish some form of incident command, or clearly assume and communicate the role of incident commander,” the report said. All told, fewer than 10 law enforcement officers on the scene that day are known to have either been fired or resigned. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / NPR / Politico / USA Today)
3/ Texas refused to comply with a cease-and-desist letter from the Biden administration demanding that Texas National Guard stop blocking U.S. Border Patrol agents from accessing a public park. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton rejected the Biden administration’s demand that the state abandon the public park along the U.S.-Mexico border. “Because the facts and law side with Texas, the State will continue utilizing its constitutional authority to defend her territory, and I will continue defending those lawful efforts in court,” Paxton said. Homeland Security officials said a woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande after Border Patrol agents “were physically barred by Texas officials from entering the area” under orders from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The Biden administration has threatened to “refer the matter to the Department of Justice for appropriate action” if Texas continues to deny Border Patrol agents full access to the area. (CBS News / NBC News / Axios)
4/ Florida House Republicans introduced legislation that would ban flags that depict a “racial, sexual orientation and gender, or political ideology viewpoint” in government buildings and schools. Republicans claim the ban on flags is to protect children from being “subliminally indoctrinated with critical race theory, Marxism and transgender ideology” in classrooms. Critics called legislation an attempt by Republicans to “bully” the LGBTQ and minority communities in the state. In the past two years, Florida banned “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in the state’s public schools, ordered its schools to ignore federal guidelines aimed at protecting LGBTQ students and teachers from discrimination, expanded its ban on classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity, banned an AP African-American Studies course, and released new standards for teaching Black history that requires students to learn that enslaved people “developed skills” that “could be applied for their personal benefit.” (Axios / Politico / Associated Press / The Hill / The Guardian)
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