Sweet relief

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Alex Connor and Laura L. Davis, USA TODAY
·4 min read
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At long last, the coronavirus relief bill has passed. Merrick Garland is the 86th U.S. attorney general. And our colleague Andrea Sahouri has been acquitted of all charges stemming from reporting at a protest last summer.

It's Alex and Laura. What a Wednesday!

But first, the man behind the mask: Google's logo tribute celebrates the doctor responsible for inventing the surgical face mask.

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Is it Friday yet?

The House officially passed Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package Wednesday, but don't expect the president's signature until Friday. The bill sailed through the House despite complaints from liberal Democrats that too many concessions were made. The final vote was 220-211, in which one Democrat voted against the bill and all Republicans opposed it. The legislation's passage concludes a months-long process beginning when Biden introduced the plan in mid-January. The bill, one of Biden’s signature legislative priorities, delivers on his promise to send aid to millions of Americans grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surrounded by Democratic House and Senate committee chairs, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sign the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill during a bill enrollment ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden, who will sign the bill into law Friday.
Surrounded by Democratic House and Senate committee chairs, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sign the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill during a bill enrollment ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden, who will sign the bill into law Friday.

A win for the free press

Andrea Sahouri, the Iowa journalist who was arrested as she reported on racial justice protests last summer, was found not guilty. Sahouri, a Des Moines Register reporter, was one of a handful of journalists whose charges stemming from coverage of the protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing were not thrown out. "It's important for journalists to be on the scene and document what's happening," Sahouri testified. "Protests erupted not just across the country but all over the world. I felt like I was playing a role in that. I know we are a small city, but I felt like I was playing a role in that." Sahouri was acquitted of both misdemeanor charges against her: failure to disperse and interference with official acts. Both could have carried up to 30 days in jail.

Des Moines Register Reporter Andrea Sahouri hugs her mom Muna Tareh-Sahouri after being found not guilty at the conclusion of her trial, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at the Drake University Legal Clinic, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Des Moines Register Reporter Andrea Sahouri hugs her mom Muna Tareh-Sahouri after being found not guilty at the conclusion of her trial, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at the Drake University Legal Clinic, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Real quick

Attorney general and HUD secretary confirmed by Senate

The Senate was busy with confirmations Wednesday. Merrick Garland was confirmed as the 86th attorney general of the United States, and Marcia Fudge as secretary of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. After he’s sworn in, Garland will face a job unlike any other incoming attorney general, overseeing the Justice Department at a pivotal moment in American history. He'll inherit criminal justice and law enforcement issues, as well as questions on domestic terrorism. Fudge received strong bipartisan support in a 66-34 vote, becoming the second Black woman to serve in the post and one of the most powerful government leaders in the nation, heading an agency facing the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression.

What everyone's talking about

Why did Breonna Taylor become a household name?

She didn’t have a fancy job, and she wasn’t a high-profile figure. But something about her death moved people to the streets. As America battled the COVID-19 pandemic and health care workers were lauded as heroes, one of their own – a 26-year-old emergency room technician – was shot while many of them slept. Nearly a year since her death, Breonna Taylor remains an enigma. What made her, more than the women who died before her, become a household name? Black women across the country sat in their bedrooms, their dorm rooms and their boardrooms when the news of Taylor’s death spread, Marina Affo writes. With it came this harrowing truth: As unique as she was, Taylor could have been them. She could have been their younger sisters, their aunties, their ride-or-die girlfriends.

Demonstrators hold up images of Breonna Taylor as they rally in front of the U.S. Department of Justice in protest following a Kentucky grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case on Sept. 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. A Kentucky grand jury indicted one police officer involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor with 3 counts of wanton endangerment. No officers were indicted on charges in connection to Taylor's death.
Demonstrators hold up images of Breonna Taylor as they rally in front of the U.S. Department of Justice in protest following a Kentucky grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case on Sept. 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. A Kentucky grand jury indicted one police officer involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor with 3 counts of wanton endangerment. No officers were indicted on charges in connection to Taylor's death.

A break from the news

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID stimulus bill, Andrea Sahouri, Merrick Garland, Breonna Taylor: Wednesday's news