Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekend

COVID-19 relief bill is one step closer to President Biden’s signature

COVID-19 relief is (almost) on the way. President Joe Biden won preliminary approval Saturday of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill after the Senate voted 50-49 for the package, capping more than 27 hours of debate. A final vote is required next week in the Democratic-controlled House to adopt the Senate version of the bill before Biden can sign it into law, but approval is expected. “The bottom line is this,” Biden said in a nine-minute speech praising the Senate’s vote. “This plan puts on a path to beating this virus.” However, some House Democrats are already griping over the modifications made to the legislation — particularly the removal of a federal minimum wage hike. And support from progressives will be critical because, with no Republicans on board, House Democrats can only afford to lose five votes and still pass the bill. 

  • President Biden ditched bipartisanship to pass his COVID-19 relief bill. Will he pay a price for going it alone?

President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room following the passage of the American Rescue Plan in the U.S. Senate at the White House on March 6, 2021 in Washington D.C. (Photo: Samuel Corum, Getty Images)

Gov. Cuomo refuses to step down as another ex-aide calls conduct inappropriate

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defiantly refused calls for his resignation on Sunday as the two most powerful state lawmakers suggested he should at least consider stepping down amid dual scandals that have engulfed his administration. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called for Cuomo’s resignation Sunday after five women publicly accused him of inappropriate behavior and his administration withheld the true COVID-19 death toll in nursing homes for months. State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stopped just short of saying Cuomo should quit, but said he should “seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.” 

The call for resignation comes after another woman who worked for Cuomo described conduct she felt was inappropriate for the workplace. Ana Liss, 35, told The Wall Street Journal in a story published Saturday that when she worked as a policy aide to the governor between 2013 and 2015, Cuomo called her “sweetheart,” once kissed her hand and asked personal questions, including whether she had a boyfriend. She said he sometimes greeted her with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks.

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Cuomo allegations: If true, “I think we have to take action.”

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Real quick

  • A manhunt was underway in Minneapolis after the fatal shooting of a man near “George Floyd Square.” Police provided few details of the shooting.
  • The Biden administration is still sheltering children separated from close family members in federal facilities for weeks on end.
  • Hollywood Foreign Press Association reveals plan for “transformational change” after Golden Globes diversity scandal.
  • Coach Les Miles placed on leave at Kansas following reports about his behavior with female students while he was at Louisiana State University.
  • Duchess Meghan says speaking for herself is “liberating.” Here’s what to expect from the Oprah interview.
  • Tiger Woods’ history with Ambien, details of latest car crash raise questions.

Idahoans burn face masks; Arkansas may lift more COVID-19 mandates

Idaho State police on Sunday were investigating a protest at the state Capitol in Boise, in which scores of Idahoans burned masks to protest COVID-19 public health recommendations that they view as restrictions on freedom. State police say the protest Saturday drew about 100 people to the Capitol steps. Videos posted on social media showed adults encouraging children to toss masks into a fire. Health experts say masks are critical tools against a disease that has killed more than 500,000 Americans, including almost 2,000 in Idaho. Republican Gov. Brad Little has never ordered a statewide mask mandate, but seven counties and 11 cities have them in place.

In addition: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday he will end a mask mandate next month if the state’s test positivity or hospitalizations are low. Last week, President Joe Biden dismissed the decision by some Republican governors to end mask mandates as “Neanderthal thinking.” “Just give us our freedom back and lift some of our mandates,” he said. “That’s not caveman thinking, that’s common sense.”

Attendees toss surgical masks into a fire during a mask burning event at the Idaho Statehouse on March 6, 2021 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo: Nathan Howard, Getty Images)

Biden signs voter access order on ‘Bloody Sunday’ anniversary

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Sunday directing the federal government to promote voting access in a move meant to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches for civil rights. “Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted,” the president said. The order directs federal agencies to expand access to voter registration and election information. That includes directing heads of all federal agencies to submit a “strategic plan” to the White House within 200 days on how their departments can promote voter registration and participation. The executive action, limited in scope, comes as Biden backs the Democrat-led voting rights legislation, H.R. 1.

The signing fell on the 56th anniversary of “Blood Sunday” in Selma, Alabama, when more than 100 peaceful protesters on their way to Montgomery were met on the Edmund Pettus Bridge by a wall of police. The protesters were tear-gassed and beaten.

  • The House passed a sweeping voting rights act on Wednesday. What’s in it?

Listen 🎧

Breonna Taylor was a loving older sister and dedicated EMT who wanted to settle down and have a family. She was killed by police at the age of 26 one year ago this week. We discuss how her story was told over the past year, including what her loss means for her family, on today’s 5 Things podcast. 

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Contributing: Associated Press.

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