Hot off the Wire: Listen to today’s top stories
President Joe Biden is preparing to call on Congress to suspend the federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months. It’s meant to ease financial pressures at the pump and reveals the political toxicity of high gas prices in an election year.
Administration officials say Biden wants to suspend the 18.4 cents-a-gallon tax on gas and 24.4 cents-a-gallon on diesel fuel. If the gas savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump. Prices are averaging about $5 a gallon nationwide.
Lawmakers in both parties have been skeptical of the idea. The Democratic president also wants states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief.
Senate bargainers have reached agreement on a bipartisan gun violence bill. That potentially tees up congressional passage this week on an incremental but notable package that would stand as Congress’s response to mass shootings in Texas and New York that shook the nation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer predicted Senate approval later this week, and passage by the Democratic-led House could follow quickly. It would make background checks tougher for the youngest gun buyers and bolster spending for school safety and mental health programs, and bar gun ownership by romantic partners convicted of domestic abuse.
Officials say a commercial jetliner carrying 126 people caught fire after landing at Miami International Airport, though no serious injuries were reported. Airport officials say Tuesday’s fire followed the collapse of the front landing gear on a Red Air flight arriving from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Afghanistan’s state-run news agency reported a powerful earthquake struck a rural, mountainous region of the country’s east, killing 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 more. Wednesday’s quake was one of the deadliest in decades. Officials warned that the already grim toll may still rise. Information remained scarce on the magnitude 6.1 earthquake near the Pakistani border.
The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders says it believes that a Ukrainian photojournalist and a soldier who was accompanying him were “coldly executed” in Russian-occupied woodlands in the first weeks of the war in Ukraine.
The bodies of Maks Levin and serviceman Oleksiy Chernyshov were found April 1 in woods north of the capital, Kyiv. Reporters Without Borders said it sent investigators back to the spot to investigate the circumstances of their deaths.
Visitors will return to a changed landscape in Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday as it reopens following record floods that reshaped the park’s rivers and canyons, wiped out numerous roads and left some areas famous for their wildlife viewing inaccessible possibly for months to come.
Civil trial jurors have found that Bill Cosby sexually abused a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in 1975. The Los Angeles County jury delivered the verdict Tuesday in favor of Judy Huth, who is now 64, and awarded her $500,000. The jury’s decision is a major legal defeat for the 84-year-old Cosby.
In sports highlights, Tampa Bay’s Isaac Paredes homers in his first three at-bats, Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin cruises to his ninth win, and Gronk retires again.
The House Jan. 6 committee heard from state and local officials who fended off Donald Trump’s pressure to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The panel investigating the U.S. Capitol attack resumed Tuesday with testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about Trump’s call asking him to “find 11,780” votes to prevent Joe Biden’s election victory. His deputy Gabe Sterling and Arizona’s Republican state leader Rusty Bowers were also key witnesses.
The panel is focused on Trump’s pressuring battleground state officials with schemes to reject state tallies and electors, all fueled by his false claims of election fraud.
The Supreme Court is limiting the reach of a federal statute that requires stiff penalties for crimes involving a gun. The 7-2 decision united both conservative and liberal justices. The justices said the law can’t be used to lengthen the sentences of criminals convicted of a specific attempted robbery offense.
The decision was a win for a former marijuana dealer sentenced to 30 years in prison. The justices upheld a lower court ruling saying the man should be re-sentenced. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the decision for a majority of the court.
The Supreme Court has ruled that religious schools can’t be excluded from a Maine program that offers tuition aid for private education. It’s a decision that could ease religious organizations’ access to taxpayer money.
The most immediate effect of the court’s decision beyond Maine will be next door in Vermont, which has a similar program. But Tuesday’s outcome also could fuel a renewed push for school choice programs in some of the 18 states that so far have not directed taxpayer money to private, religious education.
The State Department is confirming the death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine who is believed to be only the second American to have been killed in the conflict there. The department said Tuesday that Stephen Zabielski had died in Ukraine and that it is in touch with his family to provide consular support and assistance.
Charitable giving in the United States reached a record $485 billion in 2021, though the increase did not keep pace with inflation. That’s according to a report Tuesday that offers a comprehensive look at American philanthropy.
The Giving USA report says donations in 2021 were 4% higher than the record-setting $466 billion contributed in 2020. But that it was down 0.7% when adjusted for inflation. Many nonprofits are now feeling the strain because giving is not growing as fast as price increases.
Reacting to the intense needs of the early COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the calls for racial justice, giving increased in unusual ways in 2020, but has generally returned to previous patterns.
In another sign that the world of entertainment is returning to pre-pandemic normal, Broadway theaters will no longer demand audiences wear masks starting in July. The Broadway League announced Tuesday that mask-wearing will be optional next month onward, a further loosening of restrictions.
The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety says three minutes after a gunman entered a school where he slaughtered 19 elementary students and two teachers there was sufficient armed law enforcement on scene to stop the gunman.
Yet police officers armed with rifles stood and waited in a school hallway for more than an hour while the gunman carried out the massacre. Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, called the police response “an abject failure.” He says police radios did not work within the school and that school diagrams officers used were wrong.
The Supreme Court has rejected Bayer’s appeal to shut down thousands of lawsuits claiming its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. The justices on Tuesday left in place a $25 million judgment in favor of Edwin Hardeman, who says he developed cancer from using Roundup for decades to treat poison oak, overgrowth and weeds on his San Francisco Bay Area property.
Poland’s foreign minister says the current security crisis in Europe shows that Europe cannot defend itself without the United States. But he also argued Tuesday that NATO members in Europe should take more responsibility for their own defense. Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau told a gathering of Polish ambassadors said that Poland views the engagement of the United States “as a fundamental condition of peace in Europe.”
Nobel Peace laureate Dmitry Muratov says he was not expecting the medal he was auctioning off to help Ukrainian child refugees sell for the record amount of $103.5 million. Bidding in the auction ended in New York on Monday, which is World Refugee Day. The sale shatters the old $4.76 million record for a Nobel. The identity of the buyer isn’t immediately known.
—The Associated Press