US Domestic News Roundup: U.S. senators to propose legislation to mandate balloon tracking; Analysis-DeSantis sharpens divide between Republican isolationists and hawks over Ukraine and more
Biden's proposal is an early step in a negotiation over fiscal 2024 spending with Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives, who say they will refuse to raise the nation's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to sharp spending cuts. US Senators Menendez, Warren urge regulators to support new gun sale code U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday called on federal regulators to issue guidance to speed the adoption of a new merchant category code (MCC) by payment networks to identify firearms sellers.
Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
U.S. senators to propose legislation to mandate balloon tracking
Two senators are introducing legislation Wednesday to mandate tracking systems on high-altitude weather and research balloons to help the U.S. military differentiate between potential threats. Senators Mark Kelly, a Democrat, and Republican Ted Budd will introduce legislation seeking to ensure balloons operating in U.S. airspace can be identified, they said in a statement to Reuters. The issue drew new attention after U.S. fighter jets shot down a Chinese balloon and three other objects last month.
Analysis-DeSantis sharpens divide between Republican isolationists and hawks over Ukraine
The 2024 Republican presidential race could become a contest between isolationists and foreign policy hawks after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent his strongest signal yet he does not believe support for Ukraine is in the U.S. national interest, analysts, strategists and campaign aides said on Tuesday. The war in Ukraine provides a new battleground for declared and as yet undeclared Republican 2024 hopefuls that could shape how the party engages with the world for years to come, those people said.
Special prosecutor in Alec Baldwin 'Rust' shooting steps down
The special prosecutor handling the case against actor Alec Baldwin in the 2021 "Rust" movie set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins announced on Tuesday she is stepping down, as Baldwin's lawyers had sought. The decision by special prosecutor Andrea Reeb came a month after Baldwin's attorney filed a motion to remove her because she is also a representative in the state legislature. The Baldwin team argued it violates the state constitution for a legislator to serve in another branch of government.
North Carolina's top court hears redistricting case with national implications
North Carolina Republicans on Tuesday urged the state's high court to reverse course and permit lawmakers to draw politically advantageous legislative districts, an outcome that would boost the party's chances of holding onto its tenuous majority in the U.S. House of Representatives next year. The hearing in Raleigh took place after the state Supreme Court's conservative justices agreed to reconsider a 2022 ruling that found partisan redistricting, or gerrymandering, was unlawful under the state constitution.
Texas judge to consider banning abortion pill in US
A U.S. judge in Texas is set to hear arguments on Wednesday in a bid by anti-abortion groups to ban sales of the abortion pill mifepristone across the country, even in states where abortion is legal, as they challenge regulatory approval granted more than two decades ago. The groups, led by the Texas-based Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, are asking conservative U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo for a preliminary order halting sales of the drug while their lawsuit proceeds.
U.S. Senate Democrats, Republicans to battle over spending amid bank collapse
The U.S. Senate Budget Committee begins debate on Wednesday over Democratic President Joe Biden's $6.8 trillion budget proposal, as the collapse of a pair of banks threatens to ratchet higher the stakes of a partisan standoff on spending and debt. Biden's proposal is an early step in a negotiation over fiscal 2024 spending with Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives, who say they will refuse to raise the nation's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to sharp spending cuts.
US Senators Menendez, Warren urge regulators to support new gun sale code
U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday called on federal regulators to issue guidance to speed the adoption of a new merchant category code (MCC) by payment networks to identify firearms sellers. The letter will add fuel to a debate over the new codes, approved by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in September to help detect suspicious firearms and ammunition sales to combat gun violence.
Soggy California drenched anew as Nor'easter buries New England, New York
The latest in a series of atmospheric river storms soaked California on Tuesday, bringing another deluge of rain to the already-saturated state, while a Nor'easter swirling over New York and New England prompted emergency orders and closed roads. Several inches of rain was forecast in some areas of California, while as much as 3 feet (0.9 m) of fresh snow was expected in high-mountain elevations where snowdrifts already reach rooftops, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Ohio sues Norfolk Southern over Feb. 3 train derailment
The state of Ohio sued Norfolk Southern Tuesday over the Feb. 3 derailment of a freight train that released over a million gallons of hazardous materials and pollutants into the environment around the town of East Palestine. "This derailment was entirely avoidable," Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said at a press conference, adding he was seeking compensation for damages to the state's environment, economy and residents.
US to impose inflation fines on first set of drugs, lowering costs
The U.S. government will subject 27 drugs to inflation penalties, it announced on Wednesday, meaning people on Medicare will pay less out-of-pocket by $2 to as high as $390 per average dose starting April 1. President Joe Biden's signature Inflation Reduction Act includes a provision penalizing drugmakers for charging prices that rise faster than inflation for people with disabilities or age 65 and older on the government's Medicare health program.
(With inputs from agencies.)