Tougher immigration bill draft released and Taylor Swift wins album of the year: Morning Rundown

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In today’s newsletter: American pilots adapt new tactics to destroy Houthi weapons. A life-threatening weather system hits California. And Taylor Swift makes history at the Grammys. 

Here’s what to know today.

For U.S. carrier pilots, a vexing mission hunting down Houthi weaponry 

Aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower
Marijan Murat / picture alliance via Getty Image

For pilots on board the USS Eisenhower in the Red Sea, the effort to safeguard commercial shipping requires them to adapt to an unexpected mission. “We did not train to come to the South Red Sea and do what we are currently doing,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Travis Keating, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot. “When we first came out here, we had a lot of unknowns.”

More than two dozen F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters and support aircraft flew off the U.S. Navy ship to take part in a joint U.S.-U.K. mission to target Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles and drones that Houthi forces use to strike cargo ships in the Red Sea. U.S. destroyers accompanying the carrier fired Tomahawk missiles at Houthi targets on shore. 

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In all, the U.S. and the U.K. struck 36 Houthi targets in 13 locations in Yemen, U.S. officials said in this round of strikes. Despite the U.S.-led airstrikes, Houthi fighters in Yemen vowed to keep up their attacks in the Red Sea until Israel halts its military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Houthi attacks have forced shipping companies to divert vessels to longer, costlier routes. About 12% of global shipping passes through the waterway daily, and the strikes pose a threat to supply chains that could cause a rise in consumer prices. It remains unclear whether the stepped-up airstrikes will quell the Houthis’ attacks on commercial cargo vessels.

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Read the full story here. 

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Senators releases draft of bipartisan bill to toughen border measures

Senators released the text of a bipartisan agreement to enact tougher immigration and asylum laws, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to vote on the package this week. The agreement — reached by Senators James Lankford, Chris Murphy, and Kyrsten Sinema — would be the most aggressive border security and migration overhaul bill in decades if it passes. 

The $118 billion package includes provisions aimed at tightening an overwhelmed asylum system and reducing record high-crossings at the southern border. The bill includes a new emergency authority that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to, as President Joe Biden has put it, “shut down” the border if there are too many migrants trying to cross.

It’s still unclear if the legislation has the support to pass in the Senate, where it will need at least 60 votes to defeat a filibuster. 

Taylor Swift wins album of the year for ‘Midnights’; Billy Joel debuts first new song in 17 years 

Gif of Dua Lipa, Jay-Z and Blue Ivy, Taylor Swift, and Miley Cyrus at the 66th Grammys.
Getty Images

Taylor Swift made history at the 66th Grammy Awards when she won her fourth album of the year award for “Midnights,” surpassing Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder. Swift also announced a new album, “The Tortured Poets Department”, that is expected to be released in the spring. SZA, who led the list of nominees with nine nominations, took home three awards. Miley Cyrus won her first two Grammys, including record of the year for “Flowers.” Billie Eilish won for song of the year for “What Was I Made For?” and R&B singer/songwriter Victoria Monét won best new artist.

The awards show also featured a slew of performers, including Joni Mitchell, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, and Luke Combs. Billy Joel also debuted his first new song in 17 years.

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Read last night’s coverage here.

More on the Grammys: 

Life-threatening storm system moves into California 

Person in raincoat walks through knee-high water on flooded sidewalk.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

A severe storm system began moving into California, marking the start of what’s expected to be days’ worth of heavy rain and snow. The system, which a National Weather Service meteorologist predicted would be “potentially historic,” was forecast to bring potentially dangerous flooding, debris flows and mudslides. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a storm-related state of emergency for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

In higher altitudes, including the Sierra Nevada and Northern California mountain ranges, the concern is heavy snow through Tuesday. The snow is expected to produce whiteout conditions, making travel dangerous, according to the National Weather Service.

Follow along for live updates. 

Possible hostage deal threatens to divide Israel’s right-wing Cabinet

People close to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say the proposed deal for a cease-fire and hostage release threatens to tear apart the country’s right-wing Cabinet. The deal pits dueling narratives of Israel’s vision of itself against each other: its pledge to its soldiers and citizens that no one will be left behind, versus Israel’s oft-stated goal that it will destroy its enemies at any cost.

The proposed framework of a deal, which was negotiated a week ago in Paris by intelligence chiefs from Israel, the U.S. and Egypt as well as Qatar’s prime minister, would include a six-week pause in the fighting in the Gaza Strip, during which the two sides would exchange Israeli hostages in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed back to the Middle East today in a push to promote the deal. Follow live updates. 

Today’s Talker: Taylor Swift announced a new album at the Grammys…

Taylor Swift.
JC Olivera / WireImage

…that will be released on April 19, titled “The Tortured Poets Department. Fans suspected earlier that the pop singer might announce “Reputation (Taylor’s Version)” after she changed her profile picture to a black-and-white image across several of her social media profiles, including Instagram. 

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Politics in Brief

Congress: Sen. John Fetterman has quickly become Republicans’ favorite Democrat as he has been distancing himself from the left, saying he is “not a progressive.”

Election 2024: Democrats in Wisconsin are seeing an opportunity to gain power back from the Republicans in the battleground state. New maps are expected to eat into Republicans’ long-standing majorities and more favorable congressional lines could follow. 

Republican National Committee: Donald Trump said that “there’ll probably be some changes” at the RNC when he was asked how Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was doing. 

NBC News poll: President Joe Biden’s approval rating fell to a new low, according to a new national NBC News poll. Biden trails behind former President Donald Trump on policy and personal comparisons, including by more than 20 points on which candidate would better handle the economy.

Staff Pick: Will Asian American voters help pick George Santos’ replacement?

Image: US-POLITICS-VOTE-PRIMARY
Joseph Prezioso / AFP – Getty Images

Early voting is now underway to fill Santos’ seat in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, two months after he was expelled from the House and turned to Cameo to make a living. Asian American voters, who make up about 18% of the electorate, could help determine the outcome and the candidates — former Rep. Tom Suozzi and Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip — are openly chasing their support. — Jana Kasperkevic, platforms editor

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