Funding was set to expire at midnight Friday if the 2,232-page bill wasn’t approved, but after late-night votes both houses passed the $1.3 trillion legislation, which bankrolls the federal government through September. It includes increases in both military spending and domestic programs, allowing both parties to claim some success. But the bill’s fate was thrown into question after President Donald Trump suddenly suggested he’s “considering a veto” because it doesn’t address a program for young undocument migrants, which he has sought to cancel, and fails to fund his border wall.
The Presidential Daily Brief
At least two people were killed in a hostage situation on Friday in the southern French city of Trèbes, where a gunman barricaded himself inside a local supermarket. The suspect, who was later shot and killed by police, had reportedly declared allegiance to the Islamic State and demanded the release of the chief living suspect in the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed. In France alone, more than 240 people have died since 2015 in similar attacks claimed by the Islamic State.
With the departure of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, former United Nations ambassador and Fox News commentator Bolton will become President Trump’s third national security adviser in 14 months. McMaster, who replaced Michael Flynn last February, was often at odds with Trump’s foreign policy intuition. He pushed for not discarding the Iran nuclear deal and supported an Afghanistan troop increase — both policies Trump eventually supported. Bolton will take the reins April 9 as Trump works to stabilize his national security team before meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“We’ve seen the Russian patterns before.” So said the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, claiming that Russia backs Taliban fighters in “destabilizing activity” that could further spoil relations between Moscow and Washington. Gen. John Nicholson told the BBC that Russia has exaggerated the number of ISIS insurgents operating inside the war-torn country to “legitimize” its support for the Taliban, which is also fighting the militants. Nicholson suggested that supplies were strategically left behind after recent Russian military exercises on the Tajik-Afghan border and later smuggled to the Taliban.
Trade wars are hell. Reacting to President Trump’s announcement of new tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese goods, the Dow dropped more than 700 points Thursday. Asian markets nosedived as well, led by Japan’s Nikkei average sliding 4.5 percent, and European exchanges dipped in early trading. Today China fired the latest salvo in the tariff battle with new levies on 128 American products that make up $3 billion in imports, including aluminum and pork — which one Chinese firm produces in the U.S. for sale in China.
Know This: Democrats have accused HUD Secretary Ben Carson of cronyism and misleading the public. A stage version of Frozen has opened on Broadway. And the founder of Toys R Us has died at the age of 94 after his company announced it would close.
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.
Listen Up: OZY’s podcast, The Thread, is back. This season, we’ll travel through nearly a century of history leading up to the #MeToo movement by profiling the original silence-breakers and the men who exploited them. Listen to the trailer or subscribe for free here.
The truth was in there. Despite wild theories about extraterrestrial origins, a six-inch skeleton with an elongated skull found in the Chilean desert in 2003 has been identified as a pre-term human with major deformities after researchers performed genome sequencing on its DNA. Although previously shown to be of Earthly origins, “Ata” puzzled experts because of its advanced bone development for its small size. Scientists said the skeleton had an assortment of mutations and theorized that they may have been caused by nitrate exposure at the mine where she was found.
The Department of Justice said yesterday that AT&T would use the planned $85 billion acquisition as a “weapon” against competitors, withholding content like the NBA playoffs. The company’s attorneys responded that the government’s numbers were specious and that its lead witness was unprepared. Both sides will offer evidence about whether the merger will lead to a significant price increase for consumers — the DOJ claims it could be $400 million per year — and stymie emerging “virtual” multichannel providers. The trial is expected to last up to two months.
Disco is dead — again. The satellite designed like a three-foot-wide disco ball made of 76 reflective panels was secretly shot into orbit by spaceflight startup Rocket Labs in January. It was supposed to stay in orbit until September, but yesterday the art project — meant to make people gaze in wonder at the night sky — was pulled back toward Earth, burning up in the atmosphere. Some astronomers were pleased to see the “publicity stunt” go, complaining of disruptive light pollution and equating the Humanity Star to “space graffiti.”
The legal team for TV star Bill Cosby, 80, has filed a motion to have Judge Steven O’Neill removed from the case, which already ended in a mistrial once. Cosby stands accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004, and his legal team says O’Neill, whose wife runs a sexual assault trauma center, can’t be objective in the case. As evidence, they cite the fact that he’s already approved the testimony of five additional accusers in the second trial, which is scheduled to start April 2.
Hundreds of demonstrators protesting Sunday’s police shooting of an unarmed Black man linked arms outside the Golden 1 Center before the Sacramento Kings hosted the Atlanta Hawks last night. Ticket-holders were prevented from getting into the building and the game started 20 minutes late. While there were reportedly discussions of canceling the game altogether, the NBA eventually gave the go-ahead. Afterward, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, surrounded by players, gave a short speech offering sympathy to the shooting victim’s family and affirming respect for people’s right to protest.