Senate approves $8.3 billion for coronavirus fight » The Senate on Thursday almost unanimously approved more than $8 billion in funding to fight the coronavirus.
AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 96. The nays are 1. The 60-vote threshold having been achieved, the bill is passed.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul cast the only vote against the measure.
The Senate voted to send the $8.3 billion bill to the president’s desk, just a day after the House approved the funds. The money would pay for a multifaceted attack against the virus.
U.S. coronavirus death toll rises » Meantime, the U.S. death toll from the virus is on the rise once again. Recent deaths in Washington State and California bring the total to 11.
Officials in California ordered a cruise ship with about 3,500 people aboard to stay back from the California coast Thursday—until they can test passengers and crew.
That after a traveler from its previous voyage died of the disease and at least two others became infected.
California Governor Gavin Newsom…
NEWSOM: With this new ICU patient that passed away entered into this next phase that has required me under the circumstances to advance a proclamation of a state of emergency in the state of California.
A Coast Guard helicopter lowered test kits onto the Grand Princess by rope Thursday—as the vessel remains anchored off the Northern California coast.
Schumer seeks to walk back remarks aimed at justices in abortion case » Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer responded Thursday over a firestorm he ignited with his remarks about an abortion case at the Supreme Court.
At a rally in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Schumer said two conservative justices would—quote—“pay the price” … for their decision in the case.
His remarks on Wednesday drew sharp criticism from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and members of Congress.
On Thursday, Schumer sought to walk back those comments.
SCHUMER: I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They didn’t come out the way I intended to. My point was there would be political consequences, political consequences, for President Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court with the newly confirmed justices stripped away a woman’s right to choose.
But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t buying it. He said “there is nothing to call this but a threat.”
MCCONNELL: He very, very clearly was not addressing Republican lawmakers or anyone else. He literally directed the statement to the justices by name.
These were Schumer’s exact words on Wednesday:
SCHUMER: I want to tell you Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh, you’ve released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price!
He added “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
McConnell said Schumer’s remarks could have “horrific unintended consequences.” And Texas Senator Ted Cruz floated the idea of a censure.
The justices are currently weighing a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Court blocks ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy on part of US border (KC✓) (LJ✓)
A federal appeals court has blocked a Trump administration policy on part of the U.S. border that requires asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. court hearings. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco only blocks the “Remain in Mexico” policy in Arizona and California, the two border states under its authority.
The ruling will take effect next week unless the Supreme Court steps in sooner.
President Trump’s administration says it is asking the high court to intervene. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled in the administration’s favor on questions of immigration and border enforcement.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
COVINGTON: International court approves Afghan, Taliban and U.S. forces in Afghanistan » Judges at the International Criminal Court Thursday authorized a far-reaching investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. The investigation targets Afghan government forces, and the Taliban, as well as American troops and U.S. foreign intelligence operatives.
Some human rights groups applauded the ruling, but Washington strongly condemned it. The United States does not recognize the ICC as a legitimate court and does not cooperate with it.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded.
POMPEO: This is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body. It is all the more reckless for this ruling to come just days after the United States signed a historic peace deal on Afghanistan, which is the best chance for peace in a generation.
Pompeo added—quote—“We will take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, unlawful, so-called court.”
Warren ends presidential campaign » Senator Elizabeth Warren is ending her presidential bid. She is the latest to drop out of the rapidly thinning Democratic field.
Her announcement comes two days after she failed to win a single state on Super Tuesday and finished third in her home state of Massachusetts.
WARREN: I have no regrets at all. This has been the honor of a lifetime!
She follows former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who dropped out on Wednesday.
Biden now leads the delegate count with 603. Sanders has 538. Both Bloomberg and Warren had tallied less than 70.