COVID-19 stimulus relief bill, mask mandates, SpaceX launches Starlink: 5 things to know Thursday

Senate set to begin debate on COVID-19 stimulus bill

Awaiting an estimate for the total cost of the bill, the Senate’s consideration of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill was pushed back a day and will begin Thursday, according to a senior Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity. Under the special rules used to pass the bill, the total cost must come in under the $1.9 trillion authorized in previous legislation. The version of the bill passed by the House went billions of dollars over, so Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would have to introduce a Senate version of the bill bringing it in line. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said on a Wisconsin radio station he would threaten to hold up Senate passage of Biden’s bill by forcing Democrats to read the nearly 700-page bill in its entirety and would offer more amendments to the bill following debate, potentially prolonging final passage of the legislation through the weekend..

  • Democrats left scrambling on a $15 minimum wage now that it appears left out of COVID-19 stimulus bill
  • Americans are more interested in getting stimulus than in seeing bipartisanship support for bill, poll says

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Mask mandates rolling back in some states, but Biden’s not on board

Four states have now announced rolling back mask mandates in major recalls of COVID-19 safety measures over the last month. But some of the nation’s largest retailers including Kroger, Best Buy, Macy’s, Starbucks and Target are not rolling back theirs. Cities, businesses, and families are often making their own choices of whether to wear masks or go to restaurants, despite governors in Mississippi, Texas, Montana and Iowa urging their residents to go back to a carefree life. President Joe Biden slammed decisions to reopen, the day after the Texas and Mississippi governors said they’re discarding masking mandates, and said they’re “a big mistake.” “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it,” Biden said. “It still matters.” Some businesses say they will continue to abide by guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shield their frontline workers from exposure to COVID-19. .

  • Texas isn’t alone.These 15 states also do not currently have a statewide mask mandate.
  • Some states have rolled back mask mandates. More could be on the way. Here’s what it could mean for all of us.

House cancels session after police warn of ‘possible plot’ to breach Capitol

The House of Representatives canceled its Thursday session after receiving information about a possible security threat at the Capitol on March 4. The United States Capitol Police said Wednesday they were aware of a “possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group,” and a notice sent to all congressional offices said the agency was bolstering its security presence on Capitol Hill. March 4 has been highlighted by the debunked QAnon conspiracy as the “true inauguration day” for former President Donald Trump. It is the date presidents were inaugurated on prior to 1933. The Senate has not announced plans to discontinue its Thursday session.

  • Police bolster security at US Capitol as QAnon theory claims Trump will become president March 4

SUV in deadly California crash entered through hole in border fence

An investigation into “smuggling events” related to a crash near the US-Mexico border that left 13 people dead will resume Thursday, as national attention focuses on immigration and border issues surrounding the tragedy. The crash involved an SUV packed with dozens of passengers that collided with a semi-truck in California on Tuesday, according to California Highway Patrol officials. The people who died in the crash were among 44 who entered the United States through a 10-foot hole cut into Southern California’s border fence, officials say. “All are suspected to have entered the U.S. illegally,” Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. “Border Patrol is investigating the smuggling events.”

  • 13 killed in California border crossing crash: How did it happen? Why were there 25 people in an SUV? A visual explanation

SpaceX launched Starlink satellites from Kennedy Space Center

SpaceX launched its 20th mission for the Starlink internet constellation from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A early Thursday. Starlink is an effort by SpaceX to create a whole new option for high-speed internet access anywhere in the world with the goal to offer service comparable to mid to high-speed options that exist in most urban and suburban areas. Starlink’s key difference is that it will be utilizing thousands of low-orbit small table-size satellites, which will provide faster transmission rates over the older high-orbit satellite networks. Consumers interested in signing up can pre-order on Starlink’s website. Orders are delivered on a first-come, first-serve basis, and limited to a select number of users per coverage area.

  • Elon Musk aims to make fast satellite internet with Starlink, Will it be worth it?

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