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Mabinty Quarshie, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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Most Americans think LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination. In reality, many federal protections aren't available to the LGBTQ community.
Most Americans think LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination. In reality, many federal protections aren't available to the LGBTQ community.

Happy Thursday, OnPolitics readers!

It's been another busy day Capitol Hill. The House passed the Equality Act today. Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was confirmed as President Joe Biden's energy secretary. Lawmakers aren't done probing the Jan. 6th Capitol riot.

It's Mabinty, with the top news of the day.

Equality and justice for all

Don't know what the Equality Act is? I've got you covered. The House passed the sweeping legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

So why does it matter? The legislation amends civil rights laws such as the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion and national origin, to include protections on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It also would prohibit such discrimination in public places, on transportation and in government-funded programs.

Democrats say the bill is needed because today's "patchwork" of laws across states leaves LGBTQ Americans vulnerable to discrimination. While the bill is one of President Biden's top legislative priorities it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. (If you forgot, the Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democratic caucus members.)

COVID relief plan: Republicans lawmakers = no GOP mayors = yes

Biden's relief package heads for a vote Friday in the Democratic-controlled House – where it is expected to pass. No Republicans in the House or Senate have publicly supported the bill.

However, cash-strained city halls are some of the legislation's biggest boosters. In all, 32 Republican mayors are among 425 mayors nationally who urged passage of Biden's COVID-19 relief package in a letter through the U.S. Conference of Mayors to Congress.

What the mayors want: The $350 billion in direct aid Biden's legislation, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, would pump into state and local governments and the $130 billion more for the reopening of public schools.

What Republican lawmakers don't want: The steep price tag of Biden's bill and an unneeded bailout for liberal-controlled cities and states that mismanaged finances.

What Americans want: A Morning Consult poll this week found 76% of Americans support passage of the legislation, including 60% of Republican voters, 71% of independents and 89% of Democrats.

Is the money the U.S spends on the military abroad necessary?

The U.S. has enjoyed global military dominance for decades. The Department of Defense spends more than $700 billion a year on weapons and combat preparedness. Yet today, the most urgent threats to the U.S. are increasingly nonmilitary in nature, experts say.

Among them: cyber attacks; disinformation; China's economic dominance; climate change; and disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.

"A lot of our military presence around the world is now really just out of habit," said Benjamin H. Friedman, policy director of Defense Priorities, a Washington think tank that advocates for a smaller world role for the U.S. military. While most Americans believe it’s important for the U.S. to have the No. 1 military in the world, many are also against the “endless wars” of the past two decades.

More news to know:

If you need a laugh, Baarack (not the president) is the sheep to the rescue. —Mabinty

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID relief plan splits Republicans, Equality Act passes: OnPolitics