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News Wrap: Biden signs COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to combat rise in anti-Asian attacks

In our news wrap Thursday, President Biden signed the new COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that passed Congress with bipartisan support. The U.S. House of Representatives approved nearly $2 billion to increase security at the Capitol in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, but it is unclear if the Senate will vote to create an independent commission to investigate the events of the day.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    In the day's other news: The World Trade Organization appealed to governments and companies to spread COVID vaccine production to the developing world.

    The agency's head said manufacturing doses in Africa and Latin America is vital to containing the pandemic. So far, Africa has less than 1 percent of the world's vaccine production capacity. Latin America has just 2 percent.

    President Biden today signed the new COVID Hate Crimes Act. It had passed Congress with bipartisan support after a spike in anti-Asian attacks.

    At a White House ceremony, the president spoke about fighting hate and not being complicit by failing to act.

  • Pres. Joe Biden:

    Every time we are silent, every time we let hate flourish, we make a lie of who we are as a nation. I mean it literally.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    One group tracking anti-Asian incidents in the U.S. reported more than 6,600 assaults since the pandemic began.

    New claims for unemployment benefits have hit a new low during the pandemic. The Labor Department says 444,000 Americans filed claims last week. That's down 34,000 from the previous week, and it continues a steady decline since the year began.

    The U.S. House of Representatives today approved nearly $2 billion to beef up security at the Capitol in the wake of the January 6 insurrection. The measure passed by a single vote, with most Republicans saying the bill was too expensive and unnecessary. Some liberal Democrats also voted against additional security. It includes new temporary fencing and a quick-response force. Prospects for passage in the Senate, however, are unclear.

    Meanwhile, it's also unclear what the Senate will do about creating an independent commission to investigate the Capitol assault. The House approved it last night, but, in the evenly divided Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is opposing the bill.

    Majority Leader Chuck Schumer accused GOP opponents today of kowtowing to former President Trump.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer:

    Even now, five months to the day after he left office, the Republican Party is still so terrified of Donald Trump that they are apparently willing to abandon the truth and safety of our democracy on into the future.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In last night's House vote, 35 Republicans joined majority Democrats backing the bill. That came despite the opposition of their leader, Kevin McCarthy.

    He argued today there's no need for a commission.

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy:

    You have got two committees in the Senate already doing their investigation. I believe, in two weeks, they will already have their report back, even though Pelosi wasted all this time.

    You have got the architect of the Capitol given $10 million to study what we need done here to protect it. And then you have got the Justice Department, rightfully does a much better job than we could ever do.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The issue could come to a head in the Senate next week.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, is closing two detention sites for migrants amid accusations of abuse and inhumane conditions. One is a jail in Massachusetts where there have been complaints of excessive force and overcrowding. The other is a Georgia facility, where migrant women alleged that a gynecologist performed unwanted procedures on them.

    Both sites are now under federal investigation.

    And on Wall Street today, stocks managed a rally after a three-day slide. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 188 points to close at 34084. The Nasdaq rose 236 points, nearly 2 percent, and the S&P 500 added 43, or 1 percent.

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