President Joe Biden will address Americans at 7.30pm eastern time following mass shootings across the country, including at a Texas elementary school last week that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Biden will deliver “remarks on the recent tragic mass shootings, and the need for Congress to act to pass commonsense laws to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is taking lives every day”, the White House said.
The speech comes on the same day that the House judiciary committee is holding a hearing to mark up Democrats’ omnibus gun-control bill, the Protecting Our Kids Act.
Chris Murphy, the Democratic senator from Connecticut who was sworn into office shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, has published an op-ed in Fox News calling for gun reform.
Appealing to a conservative Fox News audience, he wrote:
I believe that the Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to buy and own firearms. But I also believe that like every constitutional right, there are limits. I don’t believe the Constitution protects the right of criminals or people with serious mental illness to own weapons. And while all of us might draw the line in a different place, I think we all agree that the Constitution allows Congress to decide which weapons are so dangerous as to be kept exclusively in the hands of the military.
And as I said on the Senate floor last week, I also acknowledge that in order to find common ground, I will need to agree to a smaller set of reforms than I would prefer. I’m willing to pass incremental change, like tightening up our background checks system and helping states pass laws to allow law enforcement to temporarily take guns away from individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others. I’m also very supportive of providing more mental health resources to help young men in crisis and more funding to pay for security upgrades at our schools.
For me, the only thing we cannot do is nothing.
The White House expects that Covid-19 vaccinations for children under 5 could begin as early as 12 June, said Dr Ashish Jha, Covid response coordinator.
“Our expectation is that within weeks, every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment,” he said.
Children under 5 are the last remaining Americans who are not yet eligible for vaccines. Within weeks, “every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment”, Jha said.
A decision on authorizing the vaccine for young kids is expected soon after the panel of experts advising the US Food and Drug Administration meets 14 and 15 June.
Donald Trump will “fight even harder” on the road to a possible White House run in 2024 because of the acquittal of a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign on a charge of lying to the FBI.
“If anything, it makes me want to fight even harder,” the former president told Fox News Digital. “If we don’t win, our country is ruined. We have bad borders, bad elections and a court system not functioning properly.”
Ohio is poised to allow teachers and other school employees to forgo hundreds of hours of training normally needed to carry a gun at work under a bill awaiting the governor’s signature.
House Bill 99 will streamline the process for school employees to carry weapons on campus, and has been welcomed by Republican governor Mike DeWine. “My office worked with the general assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety and to ensure training requirements were specific to a school environment and contained significant scenario-based training,” he said in a statement.
The bill, which passed the Senate Wednesday, has raised eyebrows given its passage following a wave of mass shootings, including at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
The Associated Press reported that it’s opposed by teachers unions, gun control advocates and law enforcement groups, and supported by some police departments and school districts. Republicans who backed the law see it as a work around for a recent court ruling that said school employees must undergo a lengthy training process before coming to work armed.
That’s it from me today. I’m handing the blog over to my west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, to cover Joe Biden’s speech tonight on gun violence.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Biden will deliver a primetime address at 7.30pm ET on “the need for Congress to act to pass commonsense laws to combat the epidemic of gun violence”, the White House said. The speech comes less than two weeks after a mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers. The massacre has intensified calls for national gun-control legislation, but it remains unclear whether any bill can pass Congress.
- The House judiciary committee held a markup hearing on Democrats’ omnibus gun-control bill, the Protecting Our Kids Act. The bill would raise the age requirement for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, and it would also establish severe restrictions on the sale and possession of high-capacity magazines, among other reforms. The committee hearing could set up a full House vote on the bill, but the legislation currently has no path to passage in the evenly divided Senate.
- Democrats on the House judiciary committee accused Republicans of being “complicit” in mass shootings by refusing to amend gun laws, while Republicans argued Democrats were moving too quickly to pass gun-control legislation days after the Uvalde tragedy. Noting that it has been 23 years since the shooting at Columbine High school, committee chairman Jerry Nadler asked his Republican colleagues, “What the hell are you waiting for?”
- Donald Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, met with the House select committee investigating January 6. Barr’s conversation with the lawmakers investigating the Capitol attack lasted for two hours, CNN reports, and he discussed his interactions with Trump before and after the 2020 election.
Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
A Florida legislative map that favors Republicans is set to stay in place during the state’s upcoming elections after a court declined on Thursday to block it.
The ruling, reported by Politico, adds to the woes facing Democrats in Congress, where court rulings have given Republicans an edge in redistricting, while President Joe Biden faces low approval ratings.
The Florida case centered on a Congressional district map drawn, in an unusual move, by Republican governor Ron DeSantis, rather than the legislature. Civil rights and voting groups had sued over the map, arguing it violates anti-gerrymandering clauses in the state’s constitution.
The decision by the state supreme court not to intervene in the case means an appeals court will likely decide the matter, but not before the state’s August 23 primary. The map gives Republicans an advantage in congressional districts and also dismantles the district of House Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat representing North Florida.
William Barr, who served as attorney general under former president Donald Trump, on Thursday met with the House select committee investigating January 6, CNN reports.
Barr met for two hours with lawmakers investigating the assault on the US capitol, and discussed his interactions with Trump before and after the 2020 election, CNN said, citing sources familiar with the investigation. The network also saw him in the room where interviews are done.
The meeting dealt with Barr’s interactions with Trump before and after the election, as well as his conclusion that the 2020 election was not affected by fraud, as the former president claims.
The committee’s chairman Bennie Thompson said in January that the former attorney general had spoken to the panel repeatedly. Barr was accused of turning the Justice Department into the then-president’s tool during his time as attorney general, but ultimately resigned before the end of Trump’s term.
John Hinckley, who shot and injured then-president Ronald Reagan in 1981, will have all court restrictions on him lifted later this month, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Declaring 67-year-old Hinckley is “no longer a danger to himself or others,” US district court Judge Paul L. Friedman said as he decided to release Hinckley from court oversight on June 15, the Associated Press reports.
A jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of mental insanity in the March 30, 1981 shooting that also partially paralyzed Reagan’s press secretary James Brady and injured a Secret Service agent and a Washington police officer. Hinckley was obsessed with actress Jodi Foster and the movie “Taxi Driver,” in which a character attempts to kill a presidential candidate.
Hinckley spent more than two decades in a mental hospital following the shooting before being gradually allowed to visit and eventually live in his parents’ Virginia community. The remaining restrictions include giving notice before traveling more than 75 miles from his home, allowing officials access to his electronic devices and online accounts and avoiding travel to areas where someone under Secret Service protection might be present. Friedman had made the decision to end the restrictions in September of last year but delayed its effective date to ensure Hinckley was fitting in well to his community.
Reagan died in 2004, and his foundation issued a statement objecting to the end of restrictions on Hinckley, particularly his plans to pursue a career in music. “We strongly oppose his release into society where he apparently seeks to make a profit from his infamy,” the Reagan Foundation and Institute said.
President Joe Biden’s approval rating has risen by six percentage points from the low point it hit last week, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday found, but it still lingers at an unpopular 42 percent.
A spike in inflation coupled with the chaotic US military pullout from Afghanistan sent Biden’s approval rating sinking last August, and it has struggled to recover in the months since. The poll conducted over two days of more than 1,000 US adults found that 52 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s performance.
The low numbers have raised alarms that Biden’s Democrats, who control both the House and Senate by narrow margins, could lose control of one or both chambers in the midterm elections set for November.
Abortion rights groups have filed a lawsuit in Florida to stop its ban on abortions after 15 weeks from taking effect next month.
The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two Planned Parenthood affiliates and six abortion providers, attempts to block the law signed by governor Ron DeSantis from being enforced starting July 1, arguing it violates the state’s constitutional guarantee of privacy.
The law “will force Floridians to remain pregnant against their will, violating their dignity and bodily autonomy, and endangering their families, their health, and even their lives,” the ACLU said in a statement announcing a suit.
Florida’s law was one of a host of measures passed by states in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling expected later this month that could see the Roe v Wade decision allowing abortion in the United States reversed or greatly weakened. Flordia’s law is modeled on similar legislation approved in Mississippi, which is the subject of the supreme court’s deliberations.