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In our news wrap Tuesday, California extended stay-at-home orders as some intensive care units reach capacity, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received the Moderna vaccine, the U.S. Senate deadlocks over increasing COVID relief checks, federal judges in Georgia blocked efforts to prevent some 4,000 people from voting in Senate runoffs, and Boeing's 737 Max resumed U.S. commercial flights.
The end of this pandemic year is now in sight, but president-elect Joe Biden is warning the worst is yet to come.
Today, in Wilmington, Delaware, he forecast a post-holiday spike in infections and deaths through February. He also charged that the Trump administration has fallen far behind its pledge to vaccinate 20 million people by year's end.
President-elect Joe Biden:
With only a few days left in December, we have only vaccinated a few million so far. In the pace the vaccination program is moving now, as it — if it continues to move as it is now, it's going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.
Hours earlier, vice president-elect Kamala Harris received the Moderna vaccine in Washington. She urged more people to get the shots.
Meanwhile, officials in Colorado reported the first U.S. case of a more contagious COVID variant, initially discovered in Britain.
The U.S. Senate convened a rare, holiday-week session today and deadlocked over increasing COVID relief checks to $2,000. President Trump signed a bill on Sunday that includes $600 for most Americans, but he's demanding bigger checks. Today, he called it — quote — "the right thing to do."
On the Senate floor, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to commit himself on the issue.
Sen. Mitch Mcconnell:
The president would like further direct financial support for American households. This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.
Later, McConnell offered a bill linking the $2,000 checks with other presidential demands.
In the meantime, he blocked an attempt by Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to force a vote. Schumer said the Senate should not adjourn until it takes action.
Sen. Chuck Schumer:
This issue has united Americans from coast to coast and bridged the massive political divide here in Washington. A vast majority of the public, Republican and Democrat, strongly support $2,000 checks.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also tried to force action on bigger checks, but McConnell blocked that, too.
In turn, Sanders objected to voting to override the president's veto of a major defense bill, as the House did last night. We will talk with Senator Sanders later in the program.
The president today lashed out at Republicans for opposing his veto of that defense bill. He tweeted that — quote — "Weak and tired Republican leadership will allow the bad defense bill to pass."
He opposes the bill because it strips Confederate names from military bases and does not strip liability protections from social media firms.
A federal judge in Georgia has blocked efforts to prevent some 4,000 people from voting in next week's U.S. Senate run-offs. Two counties had planned to make those voters prove their residency, after a lawsuit by a conservative group. The run-offs will determine control of the Senate.
The U.S. Justice Department will not bring federal criminal charges in the killing of Tamir Rice in Cleveland. A white police officer fatally shot the Black 12-year-old in 2014. Rice was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center. Today's announcement said video of the incident is too poor quality to determine exactly what happened.
Boeing's 737 MAX jetliner resumed commercial flights in the U.S. today for the first time in nearly two years. The planes were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two deadly crashes. Today, an American Airlines 737 MAX flew about 100 people from Miami to New York.
The company president said passengers can have complete confidence in the plane.
This is an aircraft that has been more highly scrutinized than any ever before. We're very confident that this aircraft is the safest in the skies. And we're confident to be putting it back in the air and confident to showing it to our customers and getting people back to where they want to go.
Airlines in Brazil and Mexico have already resumed using the 737 MAX, with 600 flights this month.
New federal dietary guidelines out today say no candy or cake for kids under 2. They also recommend feeding babies only breast milk for at least their first six months. For adults, the guidelines continue previous alcohol limits, no more than two drinks a day for men and only one drink daily for women.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 68 points to close at 30335. The Nasdaq fell 49 points, and the S&P 500 slipped eight.
And famed fashion designer Pierre Cardin died today. His futuristic avant-garde designs revolutionized the fashion industry starting in the early 1950s.
He summed up his view of fashion in an interview last February.
Pierre Cardin (through translator):
Copying is not creating. It's making something different, a different sensitivity. It shows what I have inside me, my psyche, my will to create the shapes, the fabrics, the colors as I feel them, and how I want to show them to people.
Pierre Cardin was 98 years old.
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