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House to vote on funding bill with Ukraine aid

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), with Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), holds a news conference for their Protecting Our Democracy Act to attempt to create checks and balances on presidential power, on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 9, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The U.S. House will vote Wednesday on legislation that would fund the government through September and send nearly $14 billion in aid to Ukraine as it fends off an invasion by Russia.

Congress has to pass a spending bill by Friday to prevent a government shutdown. To give the Senate enough time to vote on the long-term plan, the House plans to pass a second bill to extend current funding through Tuesday.

Lawmakers crafted the larger $1.5 trillion bill after weeks of talks. Democrats and Republicans had to settle disputes over how much to hike spending on domestic programs and the military, a debate that evolved after Russia attacked Ukraine last month.

“This bipartisan agreement will help us address many of the major challenges we face at home and abroad: from Covid-19, to the vicious and immoral attack on Ukraine, to the need to lower costs for hardworking American families,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement Wednesday.

The legislation is expected to pass with support from both parties. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell backs the funding bill and said he would urge his caucus to vote for it.

The Biden administration also supports the plan.

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Congress for years has bounced among short-term spending bills and dodged shutdowns with last-minute votes. Funding lapses can lead to furloughs of federal workers, disruptions to government services and economic damage.

Both parties also want to prevent a shutdown to avoid an appearance of dysfunction as the U.S. takes a leading role in the international effort to hamstring Russia’s economy and bolster Ukraine’s defenses.

The new spending bill fits into the broader U.S. strategy in Ukraine. The $13.6 billion set aside for the conflict would fund aid for displaced Ukrainians, equipment for the country’s military and U.S. troop deployments to neighboring nations.

Biden’s Office of Management and Budget said the money would allow the U.S. “to respond quickly and efficiently to the emerging and evolving needs in Ukraine, across the region, and around the world.”

The $1.5 trillion bill includes $782 billion in defense spending and $730 billion for nondefense programs. Many Democrats and a handful of Republicans have long tried to rein in military funding as the U.S. maintains its place as by far the biggest defense spender in the world.

McConnell said the bill contained more defense funding than the Biden administration first proposed and more money to support Ukraine’s military than Democrats wanted.

The plan would also put $15.6 billion into the U.S. coronavirus response effort. While U.S. infections have plummeted since the worst of the wave driven by the omicron variant, Congress aims to help the U.S. respond to future twists in the pandemic.

Pelosi and Schumer said the money would help the U.S. “protect and treat against new variants, avoid shutdowns and fight the virus abroad.”

“This makes it far more likely that if and when a new variant hits, the country will be able to maintain this new normal,” they said.

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Teladoc Tumbled 38% After Big First-Quarter Loss. Is It Just a Pandemic Play?

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After pandemic drop, Canada’s detention of immigrants rises again By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen after it was announced that the border would close to “non-essential traffic” to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at the Thousand Isla

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is locking up more people in immigration detention without charge after the numbers fell during the pandemic, government data obtained by Reuters shows.

Authorities cite an overall rise in foreign travelers amid easing restrictions but lawyers say their detained clients came to Canada years ago.

Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022 – a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. Immigration detainees have not been charged with crimes in Canada and 68% of detainees as of March 1 were locked up because Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears they are “unlikely to appear” at an immigration hearing, according to the data.

The rise puts Canada at odds with Amnesty International and other human rights groups that have urged Ottawa to end its use of indefinite immigration detention, noting CBSA has used factors such as a person’s mental illness as reason to detain them.

A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA has said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

A lawyer told Reuters her detained clients have been in Canada for years.

In the United Kingdom, too, immigration detention levels rose last year after dropping earlier in the pandemic, according to government statistics. Unlike Canada, the United States and Australia, European Union member states have limits on immigration detention and those limits cannot exceed six months.

The rise in detentions puts people at risk of contracting COVID-19 in harsh congregate settings, refugee lawyers say.

Julia Sande, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty, called the increase in detentions “disappointing but not surprising,” although she was reluctant to draw conclusions from limited data.

The number of immigration detainees in Canada dropped early in the pandemic, from a daily average of 301 in the fourth quarter (January through March) of 2019-20 to 126 in the first quarter (April through June) of 2020-21.

FEW NO-SHOWS AS DETENTIONS DROPPED

Detaining fewer people did not result in a significant increase in no-shows at immigration hearings – the most common reason for detention, according to Immigration and Refugee Board data.

The average number of no-shows as a percentage of admissibility hearings was about 5.5% in 2021, according to that data, compared to about 5.9% in 2019.

No-shows rose as high as 16% in October 2020, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board said this was due to people not receiving notifications when their hearings resumed after a pause in the pandemic.

Refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said the decline in detention earlier in the pandemic shows Canada does not need to lock up as many non-citizens.

“We didn’t see a bunch of no-shows. We didn’t see the sky fall … It for sure shows that the system can operate without throwing people in jail,” Brouwer said.

He added that detainees face harsh pandemic conditions in provincial jails – including extended lockdowns, sometimes with three people in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Refugee lawyer Swathi Sekhar said CBSA officials and the Immigration and Refugee Board members reviewing detentions took the risk of COVID-19 into account when deciding whether someone should be detained earlier in the pandemic but are doing so less now.

“Their position is that COVID is not a factor that should weigh in favor of release,” she said.

“We also see very, very perverse findings … [decision-makers] outright saying that individuals are going to be safer in jail.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Nasdaq futures rise as market attempts comeback from April sell-off, Meta shares soar

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Stock futures rose in overnight trading as the market shook off the April sell-off and investors reacted positively to earnings from Meta Platforms.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 70 points or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures gained 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2%.

The moves came as shares of Meta surged more than 18% after hours following a beat on earnings but a miss on revenue, a sign that investors may see signs of relief in the beaten-up tech sector. Shares were down 48% on the year heading into the results.

Meanwhile, shares of Qualcomm gained 5.6% in extended trading on the back of strong earnings while PayPal rose 5% despite issuing weak guidance for the second quarter.

“I think a lot of people want to believe that earnings are going to pull us out of this, but earnings are not what got us into this,” SoFi’s Liz Young told CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime” on Wednesday. “… But the reality is there are so many macro headwinds still in front of us in the next 60 days that the market is just hard to impress.”

The after-hour activity followed a volatile regular trading session that saw the Nasdaq Composite stoop to its lowest level in 2022, as stocks looked to bounce back from a tech-led April sell-off. The index is down more than 12% since the start of April.

In Wednesday’s regular trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 12,488.93, after rising to 1.7% at session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.75 points, or 0.2%, to 33,301.93 propped up by gains from Visa and Microsoft, while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,183.96.

Investors await big tech earnings on Thursday from Apple, Amazon and Twitter, along with results from Robinhood. Jobless claims are also due out Thursday.

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