Thursday morning news – March 11, 2021

House passes $1.9 trillion relief bill » House Democrats have approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill.

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 220, the nays are 211. The motion is adopted. 

The bill heads to the president’s desk, and Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters…

PSAKI: He will sign the bill at the White House on Friday afternoon. 

The soon-to-be law will, among other things, send money to state and local governments, provide funds for schools, child tax credits, and another round of direct stimulus payments.

Democrats say it will help the country defeat COVID-19 and nurse the economy back to health. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: 

PELOSI: This is a momentous day in the history of our country because we have passed historic, consequential and transformative legislation. 

The Biden administration is planning an aggressive campaign to sell the public on the merits of the bill, dubbed the “American Rescue Plan.” 

But Republicans say they also intend to better educate the public about the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell… 

MCCONNELL: The American people need to learn more and more about it, and we’re going to see that they do that in the coming months as we talk repeatedly about the provisions in the bill that the Democrats do not want to discuss. 

He called it one of the worst pieces of legislation he has seen in his time in the Senate. Republicans say the bill is little more than a titanic liberal spending spree.

Biden announces order of 100 million additional doses of J&J vaccine » President Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. government is stepping up its investment in the newest coronavirus vaccine. 

BIDEN: I’m directing Jeff and my HHS team to produce another 100 million doses and purchase another 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The “Jeff” the president referred to is White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients. 

The heads of Johnson & Johnson and Merck joined President Biden at the White House for Wednesday’s announcement. 

A new partnership between the rival companies should enable faster production of the J&J vaccine. Merck CEO Ken Frazier… 

FRAZIER: In these extraordinary times, we are colleagues, not competitors. 

President Biden reaffirmed his recent timeline. He believes all Americans will have access to coronavirus vaccines by the end of May. 

Senate confirms Garland as attorney general » The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Merrick Garland as U.S. attorney general. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: On a vote of 70 to 30, the veteran federal appeals court judge was confirmed and will take the reins at the Justice Department. 

During his confirmation hearing, Garland said his first priority will be the prosecution of those who participated in the Jan. 6th siege on the U.S. Capitol. 

Some Republican senators backed his confirmation, including GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who cited what he called Garland’s long reputation as a straight shooter. But Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton was among the Republicans voting “no.” He said he believes Garland will be too soft on crime. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

Senate confirms HUD, EPA nominees » The Senate also confirmed two other Biden nominees on Wednesday.

Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge will head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

AUDIO: 66 yeas, 34 nays. The nomination is confirmed. 

That puts Fudge in charge of the agency just as Congress passed new benefits for renters and homeowners amid the pandemic.

Fudge is a former mayor in suburban Cleveland. She’s served in Congress since 2008. 

Lawmakers also signed off President Biden’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency. On a vote of 66 to 34, the Senate confirmed North Carolina regulator Michael Regan as EPA administrator. 

China, Russia working together to build lunar research station » China and Russia will work together to build a lunar research station, possibly on the surface of the moon. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has details. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: China’s National Space Administration announced the joint project on Wednesday. It said the International Lunar Research Station will be built either on the moon’s surface or in lunar orbit and it will be open to use by other countries. 

It gave no timeline for its construction.

In its early years, the Chinese space program relied heavily on cooperation with Russia, but it has since charted its own course. 

It has already launched two smaller experimental space stations and placed a rover on the far side of the moon. It also expects to land a rover on the surface of Mars in the coming months. If it succeeds, China would become only the second country after the United States to do so.

China is also planning four crewed missions this year to work on its first permanent orbiting space station.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., pose after signing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill during an enrollment ceremony on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 10, 2021, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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