News Wrap: Biden backs Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids as Senate votes to send Ukraine aid

In our news wrap Thursday, President Biden backs Finland and Sweden's bids to join NATO, the U.S. Senate voted to send Ukraine an additional $40 billion in military and economic aid, a grand jury indicted the white man accused of killing 10 black people at a Buffalo supermarket on a first-degree murder charge, and the Jan. 6 panel has requested an interview with Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Biden threw his support behind Finland and Sweden's bids to join NATO today. He welcomed their leaders to the White House a day after they formally submitted their applications in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    At a Rose Garden event, the president said both countries would be valued members of the defensive alliance.

  • President Joe Biden:

    Finland and Sweden make NATO stronger, not just because of their capacities, but they're strong, strong democracies. And a strong, united NATO is the foundation of America's security.

    By joining NATO, allies make a sacred commitment to one another that an attack on one is an attack against all.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But the government of another NATO member, Turkey, opposes their effort to join the alliance. It has accused the Nordic countries of supporting Kurdish militants who it claims threaten Turkey's security.

    The president of Finland address Turkey's objections while at the White House.

    Saulo Niinisto, President of Finland: As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey's security, just as Turkey will commit to our security. We are open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, more help is on the way for Ukraine. The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly today to send the country an additional $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid.

    And the Biden administration also authorized 100 million more dollars in military assistance. It includes long-range howitzers, radars and other field equipment.

    A grand jury has indicted the white man accused of killing 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on a first-degree murder charge; 18-year-old Payton Gendron briefly appeared in court today, but did not speak during the proceeding. Authorities are still investigating whether to pursue hate crime and terrorism charges.

    The U.S. House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol siege has requested an interview with Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk of Georgia. They're seeking more information about a tour the congressman led of the Capitol the day before the insurrection. The panel believes some involved in the violence were gathering information ahead of time about the building's layout. Loudermilk insisted in a statement that the tour was with a constituent family with young children and that the family never entered the Capitol Building.

    A CDC advisory panel today approved the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine booster for kids ages 5 to 11. But it still requires formal authorization from the CDC's director. The Food and Drug Administration gave its approval on Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, in China, Shanghai is slowly lifting its COVID restrictions. Some residents were allowed to shop for groceries for the first time in nearly two months.

  • Zhong Renqiu, Shanghai Resident (through translator):

    It's good, and my mood feels very happy. The lifting of the lockdown is starting. It's good news for us. It's my first day going to the supermarket. We have mainly relied on government provisions and things obtained through group buying.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The World Health Organization today reported that global COVID deaths dropped by about 21 percent in the past week, but infections are rising in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, and the Western Pacific.

    More Americans apply for unemployment benefits last week. The Labor Department reported that new jobless claims rose by 21,000 to 218,000, hitting a four-month high. But the total number of Americans collecting unemployment aid is still at a 53-year low.

    And on Wall Street, stocks added to their losses a day after suffering their biggest drop in nearly two years. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 237 points to close at 31253. The Nasdaq fell 29 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 23.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": a look at the Biden administration plans to address the baby formula shortage; political scientist Ian Bremmer discusses his new book exploring whether we're prepared to address major global crises; how political entrenchment has transformed the evangelical Christian voting bloc; plus much more.

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