News Wrap: The Senate advances measure to let 9/11 families sue Saudi Arabia – PBS NewsHour

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HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening. I’m Hari Sreenivasan. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff are away.

On the “NewsHour” tonight: A relentless wave of ISIS-claimed bombings in Baghdad bring the death toll to nearly 200 just in the last week. What’s behind the latest spike in violence?

Also ahead: With the race’s finish line in sight, Democrats in Kentucky and Oregon cast their primary vote, but is the party moving further apart ahead of the general election?

Plus, from military artillery ranges to prisons, a remarkable story of transformation and the unlikely allies of endangered butterflies.

SUSAN CHRISTOPHER, Inmate, Mission Creek Corrections Center: When I watched the butterflies struggling to come out of their cocoon out of their chrysalis, it really makes me realize that, yes, we all do need to struggle to get to where we need to be.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”


HARI SREENIVASAN: The day’s two Democratic primaries have Hillary Clinton hoping to avoid a double defeat, and Bernie Sanders hoping to pull out a pair of wins.

In Oregon, it’s a vote-by-mail affair. But Kentucky’s primary day was more traditional, with voters giving voice to the divisions in the party.

VIRGINIA HUNT, Kentucky Resident: I think Hillary stands up for women and children and families, and the violence in our country, the gun issue, oh, my goodness, so many issues, foreign policy. I think she’s well-qualified. I think she understands families in this country and what they need.

KENT LOOFBOURROW, Kentucky Resident: Partly because of Hillary’s comments on coal, I think especially in Eastern Kentucky, that’s going to be a big deciding factor. And even people that I wouldn’t have expected to vote for Bernie are talking about voting for him.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Republicans also voted in Oregon, with Donald Trump close to wrapping up the GOP nomination.

Today, he reported to the Federal Election Commission that he’s worth more than $10 billion, with annual income of $557 million. He’s refused, so far, to release his tax returns.

We will come back to divisions on the Democratic side later in the program.

The U.S. Senate voted today to let families of 9/11 victims sue the government of Saudi Arabia, setting up a possible veto showdown. The Saudis have threatened to pull billions of dollars from the U.S. economy if the measure becomes law. Senators from both parties rejected the warning and passed the bill by voice vote.

New York Democrat Chuck Schumer said it sends a clear message.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), New York: If the Saudis didn’t participate in this terrorism, they have nothing to fear about going to court. If they did, they should be held accountable. It’s that simple. And there are certain moral things that supersede day-to-day relationships between countries.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The White House argues the bill could boomerang, and expose Americans overseas to legal jeopardy.

Spokesman Josh Earnest:

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: We need to make sure this is — that we don’t overlook the potential unintended consequences of a bill that could put the United States at risk around the world. That is a dangerous proposition and one that the commander in chief, I think, is rightly concerned about.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The legislation still has to get through the U.S. House.

It looks as though operator error was a critical factor in the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia a year ago. The National Transportation Safety Board officially concluded today that the train’s engineer was distracted by radio traffic. The train accelerated to 106 miles an hour going into a sharp curve with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour. It derailed, killing eight people and injuring hundreds.

The Justice Department will investigate state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes. The New York Times reports the focus is on any Russian officials, coaches or athletes who violated drug rules at competitions in the U.S. Those who used the U.S. banking system in the process could be targets, too. It’s unclear if Russian authorities will cooperate.

A move to make young American women subject to a military draft has been sidetracked for now. The House Rules Committee today dropped a provision that women 18 to 25 sign up for the draft, just as men do. Conservatives argued it could present a dangerous blurring of gender lines.

The head of the Armed Services Committee, Republican Mac Thornberry of Texas, raised questions about selective service overall.

REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R), Texas: There has not been a review of whether we need selective service since 1994. And so my strong view is that we need to ask the big questions and figure out whether we need it. If so, for what purpose? What would happen if we did away with it? If we do have it, who’s going to be involved?

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. has not had an actual military draft since 1973.

The Senate today confirmed Eric Fanning to be the secretary of the Army, the first openly gay leader of any military service. He was approved on a unanimous voice vote eight months after President Obama nominated him for the job.

The president of Mexico has proposed legalizing gay marriage. Enrique Pena Nieto signed initiatives to add the provision to the Mexican Constitution and the national civil code. The country’s Supreme Court has ruled it’s unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriages, but not all Mexican states have legalized the practice.

Racial segregation is getting worse in America’s public schools. The Government Accountability Office reports black and Hispanic children are increasingly concentrated, with few, if any, white classmates. Those schools also offer fewer math, science and college prep classes and have higher rates of suspension and expulsion.

A separate report today focused on the state of black America. We will look at that later in the program.

And Wall Street sold off today on growing expectations of a new interest rate hike. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 180 points to close just under 17530. The Nasdaq fell 59 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 19.

Still to come on the “NewsHour”: a spike in violence that’s claimed nearly 200 Iraqi’s lives; the deepening divide in the Democratic base; Muslim students speak out as they struggle to fit in; why higher graduation rates don’t equal higher incomes for black Americans; and much more.

News Wrap: The Senate advances measure to let 9/11 families sue Saudi Arabia – PBS NewsHour