Plus three other things you need to know today.
14 states sue to block cuts to food stamp benefits
A coalition of Democrat-led states have sued to stop the Trump administration’s planned cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which would affect nearly 700,000 people by 2021. The lawsuit says the administration ignored the will of Congress, as it’s almost identical to a failed measure proposed in 2018 that couldn’t get enough support in the Senate.
In bipartisan vote, Senate passes new North American trade pact
Democrats and Republicans in the Senate easily approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement, or USMCA, updating the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement on issues of technology, labor standards and environmental safety. The deal’s passage comes against the backdrop of the sharply divisive Senate impeachment trial, with the House approving USMCA a day after voting to impeach the president and the Senate passing the agreement hours before the start of pre-trial proceedings.
Disaster declaration and aid come weeks after series of earthquakes rock Puerto Rico
On Thursday, President Trump “declared that a major disaster exists” in Puerto Rico and ordered FEMA to supplement recovery efforts. Details on the relief, including the exact amount of aid dollars, remain vague. The announcement has been criticized as coming terribly late.
Trump’s impeachment defense team expands
Sources say Harvard emeritus law professor Alan Dershowitz and former independent counsels Kenneth W. Starr and Robert Ray have joined the president’s team of attorneys. Starr was a key figure in former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and is expected to play “a constitutional and historic role during the proceedings” alongside Ray, CNN reports. Dershowitz, who’s defended clients like Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson, will present oral arguments.