Senate passes Israel and Ukraine aid and New York City winter weather: Morning Rundown

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How the Supreme Court could respond to Donald Trump’s latest request. Neighbors of a woman who opened fire at Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch say they warned authorities months before about her behavior. And eyes are on a closely-fought special election to replace ousted Rep. George Santos.

Here’s what to know today.

The possible paths forward in Trump’s presidential immunity fight

Former President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to pause an appeals court ruling that rejected his claim of immunity from prosecution, in a last-ditch attempt to keep his federal election interference case from going to trial.

Trump ultimately wants the Supreme Court to hear and overturn the appeals court decision, but justices must first decide whether to put the ruling on hold.

What happens next? Supreme Court reporter Lawrence Hurley laid out four possible scenarios.

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One very likely outcome is that the Supreme Court will ask special counsel Jack Smith’s team for a response to Trump’s request for a pause. 

Another possibility is that the high court treats Trump’s request as a regular appeal, meaning it would schedule an oral argument and issue a detailed ruling, which could create uncertainty around an eventual trial date. The other possibilities may seem simple but could present their own challenges.

Read the full story here.

More coverage of Donald Trump:

  • The Georgia judge presiding over the election interference case against Trump said it is “possible” that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will be disqualified from the case.
  • Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with Nightly News’ Lester Holt that the United States’ “credibility is at stake,” after Trump’s disparaging remarks about NATO allies.

New York faces biggest snowstorm in 2 years

storm clouds satellite
NOAA/NESDIS/STAR

Up to 6 inches of snow could blanket New York City’s Central Park by midafternoon as a snowstorm moves through the Northeast. If the city picks up a half-foot or more of snow, it will be the largest snowstorm to hit since January 2022. Boston could also see up to 6 inches of snow, while Philadelphia could receive a lighter dusting.

Elsewhere in the U.S., severe thunderstorms are forecast to charge through parts of the South, with a tornado watch in effect for parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Follow live updates.

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Higher prices are here to stay, economists predict

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the consumer price index for January, and economists expect that the rate of inflation will have changed little from December, 3.7% from 3.9%. If the annual CPI lands at or below the forecast 2.9%, it would mark the first time inflation has drifted back into the 2% range since March 2021. While the Federal Reserve is still targeting a 2% annual inflation, economists say solid economic growth will keep forcing prices to rise. Absent a weakening labor market, price growth may be stuck, economists with Citibank said in a note to clients yesterday.

As for interest rates, analysts at Bank of America said the data released this morning will help Fed officials build a case for a rate cut later this year

Neighbors voiced concerns prior to Houston church shooting

lakewood church shooter home
A note hangs on the front door of the home of Lakewood Church shooter on Feb. 12, 2024.Suzanne Gamboa / NBC News

Years before a woman opened fire at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, six women who lived in the same neighborhood as her described how she harassed them, threatened them, displayed firearms and made them fear being outside their homes. The women held a news conference in the driveway of a home in their Conroe, Texas, neighborhood yesterday to describe Genesse Ivonne Moreno’s past behavior.

Five months before the shooting, the women had raised their concerns with elected officials, police, the sheriff’s office and the city’s legal department. “No one should have died,” one neighbor said.

On Monday, authorities said the shooting may be related to a dispute between the shooter and her ex-husband’s family, some of whom are Jewish, police said. Authorities also said “antisemitic writings” were found in a search of items belonging to Moreno. 

Moreno was carrying an assault-style rifle with the word “Palestine” during the shooting, police previously said. A motive in the shooting is still unclear.

Moreno’s 7-year-old son was struck in the head and is now “fighting for his life,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said. A 57-year-old man who was also injured was released from the hospital.

CIA chief pushes for Gaza cease-fire deal in Egypt

CIA Director William Burns has arrived in Cairo for talks on a hostage release deal, which would include a temporary cease-fire and a better plan for getting aid into Gaza. David Barnea, director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, will also travel to the Egyptian capital, a senior Israeli official told NBC News. Israel previously rejected Hamas’ terms for a deal and the official said the Israeli side was not “optimistic” this time around.

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President Joe Biden discussed the deal with Jordan’s King Abdullah II yesterday at the White House, in his first meeting in Washington with an Arab leader since Oct. 7. Both leaders criticized Israel’s plan to launch a ground offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where Biden said more than a million ‘’exposed and vulnerable’’ displaced people are sheltering.

Follow live updates.

Senate passes Ukraine and Israel aid package, sending it to House

Senate Democrats and Republicans joined this morning to pass a $95 billion national security package that includes critical aid for three key U.S. allies — Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

It is a significant step forward after months of delays centered on whether tough border security measures would be part of the package.

The emergency aid bill now faces an uncertain fate in the GOP-controlled House, where Speaker Mike Johnson, made it clear he would not bring the Senate package to the House floor.

Salt substitute decreases risk of high blood pressure

Woman sprinkling salt in bowl while preparing a salad
Cavan Images / Getty Images

Even for people who don’t have hypertension, using a salt substitute may significantly decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a study published this week. Those substitutes can include salty-tasting potassium chloride, along with other flavorings such as mushroom, seaweed and lemon. According to the analysis, researchers found that cutting back salt by more than a third was protective against high blood pressure over a two-year period. 

A senior author of the study added that anyone could benefit from replacing salt with a substitute, which goes a step further than earlier studies that observed the effect of salt substitutes among people with hypertension.

Politics in Brief

New York special election: A special election today in New York’s 3rd Congressional District will determine a replacement for disgraced former Rep. George Santos and could have implications beyond Long Island, given the narrow Republican majority. 

Biden’s fiercest defender: First lady Jill Biden played a big role in crafting a deeply personal response after special counsel Robert Hur released a report last week alleging that Biden could not remember key dates in his life, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

Republican Party leadership: Trump endorsed Michael Whatley to be the next head of the Republican National Committee and backed his daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair. 

Border security: The failure of a bill that would have included funding for new border security measures now means the Department of Homeland Security won’t have funds to hire new agents, and there could be fewer arrests, detentions and deportations if funding runs out. Here’s what else could happen.

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2024 election: Nikki Haley fired back at Trump for his recent comments about her husband, who is currently deployed, saying Trump is “not qualified” to be president because of his “disrespect for the military.” 

Lloyd Austin’s health: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to resume his normal duties today after he underwent general anesthesia for “non-surgical procedures” related to a bladder issue, the Pentagon said.

Staff Pick: Don’t give up on your New Year’s resolutions

If you’re anything like me, you haven’t made much progress on your New Year’s resolutions. But that’s OK! There’s still plenty of time to turn things around. This look at research-based strategies for making and meeting goals, whether it’s exercising more or picking up a new hobby, is both a brief psychology lesson and a source of motivation. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

In Case You Missed It

  • The Kansas City Chiefs’ overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl drew a staggering 123.4 million viewers, surpassing last year’s record viewership.
  • An Oklahoma City principal with a weekend gig as a drag queen said he was forced to resign under pressure from state Superintendent Ryan Walters after the school district received multiple threats.
  • Former teen heartthrob Andrew Keegan, of “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Party of Five” fame, has denied rumors that he runs a cult.
  • One person was killed and five others were injured in a shooting yesterday at a New York City subway station, authorities said.
  • The former student of a North Carolina wilderness camp where a 12-year-old boy recently died is suing the program for troubled youths, alleging staff members dismissed her claims of sexual assault and denied her basic necessities.
  • Halftime show performer Usher and his girlfriend, Jenn Goicoechea, were married over Super Bowl weekend.
  • Community college bachelor’s programs may play a major role in closing the higher education gap for Latino students and can be life-changing in terms of financial stability, according to a new study.  

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

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