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In our news wrap Friday, the election of Donald Trump was certified when Congress tallied the Electoral College votes. Vice President Biden presided as a number of House Democrats objected, but none had the support of a senator, which the rules require. Also, Mr. Trump disputed reports that U.S. taxpayers will pay for a wall on the Mexican border, insisting Mexico would reimburse the cost.
In the day's other news: The election of Donald Trump as president was certified when Congress tallied the Electoral College votes. Vice President Joe Biden presided, as a number of House Democrats objected, but none had the support of a senator, as the rules require.
Even as people waited hours in Georgia…
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN:
There is no debate. There is no debate. If it's not signed by a senator, the objection cannot be entertained.
Mr. President, the objection is signed by a member of the House, but not yet by a member of the Senate.
Well, it is over.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Mr. Trump finished with 304 electoral votes to 227 for Hillary Clinton. She won the popular vote by a margin of about 2.9 million.
The president-elect was busy on other fronts today. In a series of tweets, he disputed reports that U.S. taxpayers will pay for a wall on the Mexican border under a plan his own advisers shared with Congress. Instead, he insisted that Mexico will reimburse the cost later.
And he mocked Arnold Schwarzenegger's low ratings as his replacement on the new "Celebrity Apprentice" television show. Mr. Trump wrote — quote — "So much for being a movie star."
Job creation in the U.S. slowed last month, as the unemployment rate ticked higher. The U.S. Labor Department reports the economy saw a net gain of 156,000 jobs. The jobless rate edged up to 4.7 percent, as more people started looking for work. Hourly pay rose nearly 3 percent. That's the most in more than seven years, as employers paid more to attract and to keep workers.
From President Obama today, a challenge on repealing Obamacare. He says that Republicans need to present their alternative before they repeal the existing law. In an interview with the news Web site Vox, he acknowledged the Affordable Care Act has flaws, but he challenged critics to come up with an improvement.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
I am saying to every Republican right now, if you, in fact, can put a plan together that is demonstrably better than what Obamacare is doing, I will publicly support repealing Obamacare and replacing it with your plan. But I want to see it first.
Republicans have yet to agree on their own plan, but they say they hope to enact repeal and to vote on a replacement this year.
Russia announced today that it's withdrawing some of its forces from Syria, starting with an aircraft carrier and other warships. The carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov was deployed in November, as Russia intensified airstrikes on Eastern Aleppo. That's the city that fell to Syrian government forces on December 22.
The long-running search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will finally end in two weeks. Malaysia's government says it's calling a halt, as teams finish searching more than 46,000 square miles in the Indian Ocean. The airliner disappeared in March of 2014, with 239 people on board. Debris has washed up in Eastern Africa.
Back in this country, states across the Deep South declared emergencies today ahead of a winter storm, and Atlanta braced for the worst. A 2014 storm paralyzed the city and stranded thousands of people overnight on jammed highways. Officials said plans are in place to avoid a repeat.
Wall Street closed the week on a high note. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 64 points to finish at 19963, after flirting with 20000. The Nasdaq rose 33 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly eight. Both the Nasdaq and the S&P closings were new records.
And Michelle Obama had her final formal event as first lady today. She spoke at a White House event for the school counselor of the year, and she spoke directly to the nation's youth.
MICHELLE OBAMA, First Lady:
Lead by example with hope, never fear, and know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life. Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I have made you proud.
The Obamas have two more weeks in the White House, until Inauguration Day, January 20.
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