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In our news wrap Monday, a Congressional Budget Office report found President Biden's plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 would reduce poverty but raise the federal deficit, Texas Rep. Ron Wright becomes first sitting member of Congress to die of COVID-19, vaccinations in the U.S. are picking up speed, and the corruption trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumes.
In the day's other news: The Congressional Budget Office projected that President Biden's call for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would help and hurt. CBO analysts estimated it would lift 900,000 people from poverty, but cost 1.4 million jobs by 2025.
The White House said whether it is part of the COVID relief package or not, it is a priority for Mr. Biden.
The president is — remains firmly committed to raising the minimum wage to $15. That's why he put it in his first legislative proposal. And he doesn't — he believes any American working a full-time job, trying to make ends meet, should not be at the poverty level. And it's important to him that the minimum wage is raised.
The federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 an hour since 2009.
Texas Republican Ron Wright has become the first sitting member of Congress to die of COVID-19. The two-term lawmaker passed away on Sunday. He had battled lung cancer in the last year. Ron Wright was 67 years old.
In December, Louisiana Republican Luke Letlow died of COVID before taking his seat in the U.S. House.
There is also word that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will quarantine for 14 days after one of his security guards tested positive.
Coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S. are gaining momentum. The CDC reported today that more than four million people were inoculated over the weekend. But there were fresh concerns that vaccines may fall short against variants of COVID.
The World Health Organization said that vaccine makers will have to adjust.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
We know viruses mutate, and we know we have to be ready to adapt vaccines so they remain effective. This is what happens with flu vaccines, which are updated twice a year to match the dominant strains.
New infections across the U.S. have fallen to their lowest levels since November. But the average daily death toll remains near all-time highs.
In Israel, the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumed today, after being delayed by the pandemic. He showed up just long enough to plead not guilty to accepting gifts from wealthy friends and offering favors to get positive news coverage.
Myanmar's new military rulers are moving to stop protests against last week's coup. They imposed a curfew today and banned gatherings of more than five people. Large crowds marched again in Yangon today, chanting slogans and giving salutes that symbolize resistance. Elsewhere, police fired water cannons at protesters in the capital, Naypyidaw.
The death toll from a disaster in India's Himalayas rose to 26 today, with 165 people missing. A glacier broke apart in the country's north on Sunday, sending a wall of water down a mountainside. Rescue teams worked today to find more than three dozen workers trapped in a power plant tunnel. One man described the moment that the deluge hit.
Puran Singh Rana (through translator):
I witnessed something that looked like a scene from a Bollywood film. About 50 to 100 people were running for their lives, but could not be saved. And they were engulfed by the river.
Officials said the potential causes of the disaster range from climate change to earthquakes.
Back in this country, the U.S. Senate moved to confirm Denis McDonough today as secretary of Veterans Affairs. He had served as deputy national security adviser and as White House chief of staff during the Obama administration.
Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama says that he will not seek reelection in 2022. Shelby is 86 and has served six terms. He is the fourth Senate Republican whose term is up in two years to announce that he won't run for office again.
The last U.S. House race from 2020 is finally over. New York Republican Claudia Tenney was certified today as the winner in her contest by 109 votes. Once she's sworn in, the House will be at 221 Democrats and 211 Republicans, with three seats unfilled.
And on Wall Street, major indexes hit new highs on stronger corporate earnings and economic stimulus hopes. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 237 points to close at 31385. The Nasdaq rose 131 points, and the S&P 500 added 28.
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