What We're Following This Afternoon

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The Senate confirmation battle begins:  President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, setting up a historic election-year showdown over the high court and its future. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, in response said: “It seems President Obama nominated Garland not with the intent of seeing him confirmed, but in order to politicize it for the purpose of the election.” Still, some Republican senators are open to a meeting:

Trump to skip next Republican debate: The GOP presidential front-runner says he will instead deliver a “very important” speech to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby group. Ohio Governor John Kasich says he won’t attend the March 21 debate in Salt Lake City if Trump doesn’t. Senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s main rival, has not commented yet on his participation in the Fox News debate.

Fed to leave rates unchanged:

Read the Fed’s statement here. Update: More here

Britain to impose a sugary-soda tax: The move, announced today by Chancellor George Osborne, is an attempt to curb what has been described as an obesity crisis. Belgium, France, Hungary, and Mexico have taxes on drinks with added sugar, as do Scandinavian countries. Britain’s tax will go into effect in two years.

News from the morning here