Congress returns today, and Speaker Mike Johnson is in the hot seat. The FAA says it will investigate after the engine cover flew off a Southwest flight during takeoff. And the latest forecast for today’s total solar eclipse. 

Here’s what to know today.

Speaker Johnson faces Ukraine aid dilemma and a threat to his job

Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file

Congress returns from a two-week recess today and all eyes are on House Speaker Mike Johnson. 

Johnson is facing political and international pressure to make good on his word to pass aid for Ukraine. While he has vowed to put billions in foreign aid on the House floor once lawmakers return, doing so could trigger a vote to oust him from the speakership led by one of his most vocal critics, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who opposes the aid and wants to shift focus to the U.S. border. If Greene or another Republican forces a vote to oust Johnson, a simple majority vote could remove him as speaker.

Johnson has a long to-do list, with deadlines to renew a surveillance program April 19 and reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration in May. And lawmakers are still trying to handle the funding for a new bridge in Baltimore following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the break. Some estimates have put the price tag at $400 million.

Read more about U.S. aid for Ukraine:

  • GOP Rep. Mike Turner said that Russian propaganda has taken hold among some of his House Republican colleagues and is even “being uttered on the House floor,” following House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul’s remarks that Russian propaganda has infected’’ the GOP base. 

Total solar eclipse to cross North America

Whitten Sabbtini for NBC News

Grab your safety glasses, eclipse day is here. 

If the conditions are clear, tens of millions of people will be treated to stunning views as the moon passes between Earth and the sun, temporarily blocking the sun’s light. The entire continental U.S. will see the moon at least partially block the sun. A select path will get a total eclipse. 

NBC News will have reporting from correspondents along the path of totality in Arizona, Ohio, Indiana, New York and Texas. Follow here for live updates throughout the day. 

Tune into NBC News NOW as Lester Holt hosts a two-hour special starting at 2 p.m. ET from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

More eclipse tips and coverage:

More eclipse tips and coverage:

Democrats go all in on an unfiltered Trump

Photo collage of Trump and side profile of a person holding their ear
Leila Register / NBC News; Getty Images

With the White House hanging in the balance and former President Donald Trump’s poll numbers holding steady, many Democrats are now changing gears and want more Trump in the media, not less. 

Party operatives think that the chaos of the Trump White House years have faded in the minds of many Americans, replaced instead by a more nostalgic view. Poll after poll has shown Trump leading President Joe Biden head to head and even overtaking him on favorability, something that never happened in the run-up to their 2020 matchup. And those supporters appear unfazed by the criminal charges Trump currently faces.

Democrats argue that social media clips or news stories just can’t capture the rambling, partially improvised, over-the-top rhetoric of a full Trump rally. Some are all for Trump’s return to posting all-caps rants on X. Others share clips of his speeches or interviews, and Biden’s campaign social media accounts have even posted a series of reminders from Trump’s White House years.

Containers being moved from ship to access fallen Baltimore bridge’s roadway

Joe Biden
Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Recovery efforts at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse reached a “critical step” as crews began removing shipping containers from the vessel Dali. Removal will allow them to access a key portion of the roadway, now perched above the containers on board the 980-foot, Singapore-flagged ship. The bodies of three of six roadway workers who were on the bridge when it collapsed have been recovered, and the other three are presumed dead.

Moving the ship is important, as it would allow authorities to reopen the port to at least some traffic, officials said.

Israel vows war ‘not over’ after pulling troops out of southern Gaza

The Israeli military says it has reduced the number of ground troops in the southern Gaza Strip following the conclusion of its monthslong operation in the city of Khan Younis, raising questions about the future of its offensive in the enclave amid pressure from the U.S. to reduce the war’s humanitarian toll. In a statement yesterday, the IDF said it was pulling its 98th commando division “to recuperate and prepare for future operations,” as Israeli army vehicles were seen heading to a base in southern Israel.

Michael Horowitz, head of intelligence at Le Beck International, a security and risk management consultancy, said, “I think this is a turning point in the campaign in Gaza.”

“The IDF contingent in Gaza will be the lowest since the ground invasion started in late October last year, made of only two brigades along an axis that cuts Gaza into two,” he said. “Essentially, this means the IDF is probably moving to a more long-term counterterrorism campaign of more target raids. This is something the U.S. had been asking for months.”

Southwest flight from Denver makes emergency landing after engine cover falls of plane 

The engine cowling hanging from the wing of a Southwest Airlines flight
The engine cowling hanging from the wing of Southwest Airlines flight 3695 yesterday.Cooper Glass

The Federal Aviation Administration said it’s going to launch an investigation after the engine cover of a Southwest Airlines plane fell off during takeoff in Denver and hit the wing flap. The plane returned safely to Denver after the pilot reported the incident. This is the second incident recently involving a reported malfunctioning of equipment on a Southwest Airlines flight. The FAA is investigating a reported engine fire before takeoff at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport last week. 

Politics in Brief

Congress: A suspect was arrested in connection with a fire at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Vermont office that is being investigated as arson. The fire damaged the outside of the door to Sanders’ office and surrounding areas.

Abortion rights: As the Supreme Court decides whether to allow restricted access to the abortion drug mifepristone, a network of providers is working together, mailing abortion pills, setting up mobile clinics and offering financial help to women in states with bans.

Electoral college: The 2024 results may depend on whether Trump and Republicans have maintained the Electoral College advantage they held in the last two presidential elections.

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Staff Pick: Aid agencies say the Israeli military has been attacking them for months

A man displays blood-stained British, Polish, and Australian passports after an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, on April 1, 2024, killed seven World Central Kitchen workers.
A man displays bloodstained British, Polish and Australian passports after an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, on April 1 killed seven World Central Kitchen workers.Abdel Kareem Hana / AP

After the killing of the World Central Kitchen staff, an aid agency tipped off my co-reporter, Gabe Joselow, that this was not the first time WCK had been attacked. Once he started looking into it, he turned up case after case of aid workers being killed or injured in Israeli strikes. As a field journalist, I worked alongside aid workers in conflicts and natural disasters for years, they are right in there striking the balance between safety and providing aid where its needed. Gaza is a uniquely difficult and dangerous logistical challenge, and we wanted to show the system of how they try to keep safe, and just how much that had broken down.

— Aurora Almendral, editor, international news

In Case You Missed It

  •  A Kentucky man admitted to faking his own death to avoid paying more than $100,000 in outstanding child support to his ex-wife. 
  • A trial begins today against Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway over the lung cancer deaths of two people in a small northwestern Montana town where thousands of people were exposed to asbestos.
  • Sore and sandblasted but triumphant, runner Russ Cook, nicknamed the Hardest Geezer’’ reached the northernmost point of Africa yesterday, almost a year after he set off from its southern tip on a quest to run the length of the continent.
  • Washington Nationals starting pitcher and 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg officially retired from baseball.
  • A lucky player from Oregon has won the $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot after the drawing was delayed. 
  • Job growth continues to power the U.S. economy, with the BLS reporting 303,000 payrolls added in March and immigrants are a big part of that success.
  • UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones was arrested on allegations that he assaulted and threatened to kill a drug testing agent.

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