May 2015 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in United States news for the month of May 2015.
Clinton Announces Support for Super PAC (May 6): Hillary Clinton announces that she'll support Priorities USA Action, a Democratic Super PAC, during her presidential campaign. She's the first Democratic presidential hopeful to endorse the powerful fund-raising groups.
NFL Finds Brady Guilty in Deflategate (May 6): An NFL investigator releases a report that finds "substantial and credible evidence" that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knew that the team's employees were deflating the footballs. (May 11): Based on the findings of the report, the NFL suspends Brady for the first four games of the 2015-2016 season. The New England Patriots stand behind Brady after the NFL's investigation released its report. Patriots owner Bob Kraft says in a statement, "Tom Brady has our unconditional support. Our belief in him has not wavered." According to his agent, Brady will appeal his four-game suspension. For the team's role in deflategate, the New England Patriots are fined $1 million and lose two top draft picks.
U.S. Court Finds NSA Phone Records Collection Excessive (May 7): A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rules that Congress never authorized the bulk collection of the phone records of U.S. citizens when it passed the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and therefore the National Security Agency's program that does so is illegal. The panel allows the program to continue, but calls on Congress to amend the law. In the court's opinion, Judge Gerard Lynch writes "knowledge of the program was intentionally kept to a minimum, both within Congress and among the public." The program had been secret until 2013, when it was disclosed by Edward Snowden.
Boston Marathon Bombing Jury Sentences Tsarnaev to Death (May 15): Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is sentenced to death during the second phase, the penalty phase, of his federal death penalty trial. The sentence is read in front of bombing survivors and families of the victims in a south Boston courtroom. The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing is the worst act of terrorism to take place in the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Senate Passes Trade Promotion Authority Bill (May 22): After weeks of negotiations, the Senate passes the Trade Promotion Authority bill by a vote of 62 to 37. Several Republicans and 14 Democrats support the bill which moves to the House. The bill would give Congress the ability to vote for or against international trade agreements made by the White House, but not filibuster or amend them. The legislation is referred to as "fast track" authority because it will speed up the process of the U.S. approving trade agreements. The Obama administration has been pushing for the bill to go through, saying that it is needed to secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves the U.S. and 11 other nations.