Biden to call for suspending Russia’s preferential trade status over Ukraine
President Joe Biden will announce Friday the U.S. will join the European Union and G7 allies in calling to revoke Russia’s permanent normal trade relations status, which would allow new tariffs on Russian imports, according to a source familiar with the decision. According to Friday’s official presidential schedule, Biden will “(announce) actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine” at 10:15 a.m. ET. The move, which requires congressional action, comes as a group of bipartisan lawmakers has pressured the president to take more aggressive action to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. The source said Biden looks forward to working with Congress on the legislation, which would put Moscow’s trade relationship with the U.S. in the same category as North Korea and Cuba. A diplomatic confrontation is also expected in the U.N. Security Council on Friday. Russia requested the meeting to discuss its claims of “the military biological activities of the U.S. on the territory of Ukraine.” The Biden administration has forcefully denied that assertion, saying Moscow could be laying the groundwork for its own attack.
Vice President Harris visits Romania as Ukraine refugee crisis grows
Vice President Kamala Harris and Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis will meet Friday in the nation’s capital Bucharest to discuss growing concerns about the influx of displaced people fleeing Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion. It’s a problem that Biden administration officials and European leaders warn will likely get more complicated in the days and weeks ahead. Harris’ talks with Iohannis come after she spent Thursday in Poland, which has already welcomed 1.5 million Ukrainians since the invasion began. While in Poland, Harris condemned Russia’s airstrikes on a maternity hospital in Ukraine as “atrocities of unimaginable proportions” and urged an investigation into the attacks. She also underscored the United States’ commitment to “defend every inch of NATO territory.” The trip came amid a controversy after the Pentagon declined Poland’s surprise proposal to provide Soviet-built MiG-29 fighter jets for the United States to give to Ukraine.
Texas judge hears case in suit against Abbott’s directive to treat gender-affirming care as ‘child abuse’
District Judge Amy Clark Meachum will hold a hearing Friday on whether to grant an injunction barring the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from following Gov. Greg Abbott’s Feb. 23 directive to treat gender-affirming care for minors as “child abuse.” This comes after she issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the state’s child-welfare agency from investigating a couple for child abuse because they helped their teenage transgender daughter access gender-affirming medical care. Lawyers from two national civil rights organizations asked Meachum in an emergency hearing last week to issue the temporary restraining order. Several families in Texas with transgender kids started to be investigated immediately after Abbott’s February order, according to Paul Castillo, senior counsel for civil rights organization Lambda Legal. Meachum’s temporary restraining order put those investigations on pause. If she grants an injunction, those and similar investigations would be blocked completely.
‘Significant storm’ to build into the weekend
A potential “bomb cyclone” storm could batter portions of the central and eastern U.S. Friday and into the weekend, forecasters warn. Severe thunderstorms could rattle portions of the Southeast on Friday and Saturday. “Damaging wind and a few tornadoes are possible late Friday night into early Saturday morning across parts of the Southeast and coastal Carolinas,” the Storm Prediction Center said. Heavy snow is forecast across interior portions of the Northeast; as much as a foot is possible in some areas. “Not only is the Northeast looking at snow with this, but it could also be looking at some strong, gusty winds,” Weather.com meteorologist Domenica Davis said.
MLB players can report to spring training sites after lockout ends
Spring training sites in Florida and Arizona will be open to players Friday, one day after Major League Baseball’s acrimonious lockout ended with a new proposed five-year collective bargaining agreement. The deal came 99 days after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a lockout following the expiration of the last CBA, and one week after the clubs concluded eight days of bargaining in Florida with no deal. Opening day has been pushed back a week to April 7 to allow for a shortened spring training period of a little more than three weeks. The first week of games on the original schedule, which was supposed to begin on March 31, will be rescheduled as doubleheaders or played on teams’ mutual off days. After Manfred initially canceled games as negotiations dragged on, the new agreement will keep the full 162-game schedule for the 2022 season.
Contributing: The Associated Press