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In our news wrap Tuesday, a congressional committee subpoenaed former Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani in the Jan. 6 investigation. A federal judge approved a debt restructuring plan that ends Puerto Rico's struggle to emerge from bankruptcy. Warnings flew back and forth between Russia and NATO powers over Ukraine. Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay activating 5G cell towers near major U.S. airports.
The Biden administration's Web site for requesting free at-home COVID tests is now open for business. It went online today, a day ahead of the officially scheduled launch.
The Web site, COVIDtests.gov, allows four tests to be ordered per residential address. We will focus on federal efforts to deal with COVID after the news summary.
The U.S. Senate formally opened debate today on voting rights legislation with little prospect of passing anything. Democrats want to expand voting access, increase regulation of campaign financing, and challenge states that they say restrict voting rights.
Republicans say it is federal overreach, and they plan to block action again. Party leaders sparred on the Senate floor.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
Senate Democrats are under no illusion that we face difficult odds, especially when virtually every Senate Republican, every Senate Republican, is staunchly against legislation protecting the right to vote.
Sadly, unfortunately, this is Donald Trump's Republican Party, and it is the one now trying to take away the vote.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
The partisan election takeover bills that Democrats want to ram through this week are not, not, in any way, successors of the civil rights legislation from the mid-20th century.
Targeting Americans' online speech and sending government money to political campaigns is not about civil rights. It's about tilting the playing field.
Democrats say they will seek to change Senate rules so that Republicans cannot block a simple majority vote. But it's unlikely they can muster the votes for that either.
We will return to this, later in the program.
A congressional committee subpoenaed former Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani today in the January 6 investigation. He pushed baseless claims of voter fraud after the 2020 election and leading up to the assault on the U.S. Capitol. The panel also subpoenaed several others, including lawyers Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis.
A federal judge has approved a debt restructuring plan, ending Puerto Rico's struggle to emerge from bankruptcy. It cuts the U.S. territory's public debt of at least $74 billion by 80 percent. Local leaders today called it a big step forward. Opponents said that it will force new austerity measures.
Warnings flew back and forth today between Russia and NATO powers over Ukraine. That's after talks last week ended with no progress. Today, in Berlin, NATO's secretary-general met with Germany's new chancellor, and said the danger of a Russian attack on Ukraine is rising.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General:
The risk of a conflict is real. NATO allies call on Russia to de-escalate, and any further aggression will come with a high cost for Moscow. NATO is a defensive alliance, which does not threaten Russia or any other country.
But, in Moscow, after a meeting with Germany's foreign minister, the Russian foreign minister said the risk is from NATO moves near Russia's borders.
Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister (through translator):
We don't threaten anybody with anything, but we do hear the threats addressed to us. I hope it only reflects certain emotions that certain powers incite within the Western camp. We will act in accordance with concrete steps and concrete actions.
Russia also announced that it is sending troops to Belarus for war games, adding to its forces deployed near Ukraine.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister, and they agreed to meet Friday in Geneva.
Verizon and AT&T agreed today to delay activating 5G cell towers near major airports. The new wireless technology will speed up service, but airlines warn that it could interfere with instruments measuring distance to the ground.
Major carriers had threatened to ground or delay flights. Their announcement followed talks with the White House.
In Texas, the nation's most restrictive abortion law may stay in effect longer, as a legal challenge continues. A federal appeals court now says that a judge who already ruled against the law will not review it again. Instead, it goes to the Texas Supreme Court, controlled by Republican justices.
The new law bans abortions at about six weeks of pregnancy.
And on Wall Street, stocks tumbled on fears of higher interest rates. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 543 points, 1.5 percent, to close at 35368. The Nasdaq fell 386 points. That's more than 2.5 percent. The S&P 500 slid 85 points. That's 1.8 percent.
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