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News Wrap: Obama endorses Biden, urges ‘great awakening’ in politics

In our news wrap Tuesday, former President Barack Obama ended months of neutrality and endorsed his vice president, Joe Biden, for the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama said Biden has the character and experience to guide the nation through one of its darkest times. Also, the U.S. Senate appears to be at a stalemate over adding another $250 billion to aid small business amid the pandemic.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Former President Obama ended months of neutrality and endorsed his former vice president, Joe Biden, for the Democratic nomination. He said Biden has the character and experience to guide the nation through one of its darkest times and a long recovery.

    And he appealed for an end to the Trump era.

  • Former President Barack Obama:

    We need Americans of good will to unite in a great awakening against a politics that too often has been characterized by corruption, carelessness, self-dealing, disinformation, ignorance, and just plain meanness.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The former president also urged action on addressing economic inequality, expanding the Affordable Care Act, and rejoining the fight against climate change.

    The Pentagon is extending a halt to nonessential travel for troops, for their families and civilians due to the pandemic.

    It had been set to expire on May 11. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today he hopes to announce a new target date for ending some of the restrictions this week.

    The U.S. Justice Department sided today with a church fighting coronavirus curbs, one of several such confrontations. Greenwood, Mississippi, had fined worshipers $500 for attending drive-in services. And the church sued.

    In a statement, U.S. Attorney General William Barr supported health restrictions, but he said religious groups must not face special burdens.

    Federal appeals courts have weighed in against new abortion barriers related to the pandemic. On Monday, one court upheld a ruling against Oklahoma's ban on abortions as nonessential procedures. A second court ruled that women in Texas will still be allowed to take so-called abortion pills to terminate pregnancies.

    The U.S. Senate now joined the House of Representatives in delaying its return to work until May 4, citing COVID-19 concerns. That came amid a stalemate over another $250 billion to aid small business.

    White House adviser Larry Kudlow warned that the initial $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program is nearly gone.

  • Larry Kudlow:

    We need that $250 billion. I mean, the run rate is going to — they're going to be out of — the program, the PPP, is going to be out by this week, maybe by Thursday or Friday. So we could use the 250 to complete that program.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    On the Democratic side, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi again rejected the administration's request, unless it also provides more aid for hospitals and for state and local governments.

    In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival, Benny Gantz, reported significant progress toward forming a unity government. The country's president, Reuven Rivlin, extended their deadline until Wednesday. An agreement could end a year-long political deadlock.

    North Korea has fired a barrage of short-range missiles in a new high-profile weapons test. South Korea's military says the missiles were launched from both the ground and air and landing at sea. North Korea has fired off a series of weapons in recent months.

    Back in this country, the death toll rose to 34 today, after severe storms ravaged the South on Easter. The National Weather Service said that it appears at least 27 tornadoes hit the region.

    In Alabama and half-a-dozen other states, crews began clearing debris and removing fallen trees. Officials said social distancing and other coronavirus restrictions could complicate the effort.

    And the Environmental Protection Agency says that it will not tighten the air quality standard for pollution from soot. Staff scientists had recommended tougher regulations. The auto and power industries opposed any change. And EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said today that the existing rule is sufficient.

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