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News Wrap: Capitol Police ask the National Guard to remain deployed for two more months

In our news wrap Thursday, Capitol Police asked for National Guard troops to remain deployed there for two more months, U.S. Senate begins debate on President Biden's COVID relief package, the U.S is now vaccinating more than 2 million people per day, protests continue in Myanmar a day after security forces killed 38 people, and U.S. jobless claims climbed higher last week.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The United States Senate has begun debate on President Biden's COVID relief package totaling $1.9 trillion. It runs 628 pages and includes $1,400 payments for most American families, aid for state and local governments, help for schools and much more.

    Vice President Harris cast a tie breaking vote to proceed today, with the 50-50 Senate split down party lines.

  • Sen. Richard Durbin:

    The Republican leader comes to the floor everyday and mocks this plan, a Democratic wish list, a liberal wish list, Nancy's Pelosi's wish list.

    This is the American people's wish list. Eighty percent of the American people support what President Biden is trying to do.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham:

    This bill is not about fighting COVID. It's about a chance in a partisan fashion to do things they couldn't do otherwise.

    They're taking an opportunity, my friends on the other side, of loading this bill up with a liberal wish list, parochial interests, because they can.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The House of Representatives already passed the bill also on straight party lines. Senate Democratic leaders say they hope to get it approved before Monday.

    We will talk to senators on both sides after the news summary.

    For the first time, the nation is vaccinating an average of more than two million people every day for COVID-19. That number, from the CDC, is up from 1.3 million just a month ago. There was also word today that California will allocate 40 percent of its vaccine doses to hard-hit low-income communities.

    Security was high at the U.S. Capitol today. Officials had reported a possible far-right attack plot amid claims that former President Trump would return to power. All of that put the complex on alert, and the House of Representatives canceled today's session. But things stayed quiet.

    Meanwhile, Capitol Police asked for National Guard troops to remain deployed there for two more months.

    President Biden says that he's ready to sign a sweeping elections bill that House Democrats passed last night, if it survives the Senate. The bill ends voting restrictions and gerrymandering, among other changes. The president said that it would repair democracy.

    But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell argued that it's stacked to favor Democrats.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell:

    The same party that wants to change Senate rules when they lose a vote, pack the Supreme Court when they lose a case, and throw out the Electoral College every time they lose the White House, now wants to forcibly rewrite 50 states' election laws from Washington.

    It's unprincipled, it's unwarranted. Large portions of it may well be unconstitutional.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    House Democrats also passed last night major legislation to overhaul policing nationwide. It's named for George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police, and it bans choke holds and creates national standards for police behavior.

    We will focus on the policing and the election bills later in the program.

    In Myanmar, crowds were back protesting the military coup, a day after security forces killed at least 38 people. Police in Yangon fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators. In Mandalay, people built barricades to protect themselves and impede police from making arrests.

    OPEC and allied countries are leaving most of their current oil production cuts in place, for now. Their decision today reflected fears that the pandemic could again stall growth and undercut demand for oil. The announcement triggered a jump in oil prices.

    Back in this country, the Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that the federal debt will double in the next 30 years. It says that interest rates will rise as the economy recovers, and so will spending on Social Security and Medicare. The forecast does not include the COVID relief package now under consideration.

    The U.S. Labor Department reports that there were 745,000 new claims for unemployment benefits last week. That's a slight increase.

    And on Wall Street, stocks sank today, after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that inflation will increase temporarily in the coming months. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 346 points to close at 30924. The Nasdaq fell 274 points, and the S&P 500 shed 51.

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