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News Wrap: Congress inches closer to a possible stimulus deal

In our news wrap Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have agreed that a bipartisan relief bill worth $900 billion is a starting point, the House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, widespread flooding in Indonesia kills at least five people, and an Alabama man turns 104 after surviving COVID-19.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    New numbers tonight show U.S. job growth is slowing sharply, as COVID-19 spreads unchecked.

    Employers added a net of 245,000 jobs in November. That is the fewest since April. That was down sharply from 610,000 in October and the fifth straight month of decline. The unemployment did fall slightly to 6.7 percent, partly as people stopped looking for work.

    The top Democrat and top Republican in Congress are talking up new economic relief after months of stalemate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have agreed that a bipartisan bill worth $900 billion is a starting point.

    Pelosi rejected a larger package in September, but she pointed to two big differences today.

  • Rep. Nacy Pelosi, D-Calif:

    With a Democratic president committed to a scientific solution for this, with the idea that we will have a vaccine, it's a complete game-changer from then.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Pelosi says that new pandemic aid would be attached to an omnibus government funding bill.

    We will return to all this after the news summary.

    The pandemic's human toll keeps hitting new highs. More than 2,800 people died on Thursday alone, and, today, the CDC called for everyone to wear masks indoors, except in their own homes. The guidance had applied only to public spaces.

    Meanwhile, president-elect Joe Biden vowed that vaccines will be free to all and safe. He acknowledged fears, especially in hard-hit minority areas.

  • President-Elect Joseph Biden:

    What I heard from my friends in the community, and not but blocks from here as we stand, is that, well, we're not going to be the guinea pigs.

    And, look, it's going to take some effort to rebuild confidence in science, because it's been so diminished in this administration.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Also today, much of the San Francisco Bay Area imposed new stay-at-home orders.

    A federal judge in New York state has ordered tonight that DACA, a program that protects migrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation, be restored. The judge says that the U.S. Homeland Security Department must resume accepting requests for DACA status immediately. He had already ruled that then acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf was not serving legally in his post when he limited the program.

    The U.S. military is going ahead with President Trump's plan to withdraw forces from Somalia. Today's announcement says most of the 700 to 800 U.S. troops will move to neighboring countries. They are engaged in a long-running mission against an al-Qaida affiliate group.

    The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Democrats argued in favor of treating it as a public health issue. Most Republicans said there are more important matters. The bill is likely to die in the Republican-run Senate.

    On Wall Street, hopes for economic relief overshadowed disappointing jobs numbers. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 248 points to close at 30218. The Nasdaq rose 87 points and the S&P 500 added 32. All three indexes finished at all-time highs.

    And an Alabama man has turned 104 years old after surviving COVID-19. Major Wooten was discharged from a hospital on Tuesday, as staffers sang "Happy Birthday" to him. His actual birthday was Thursday. He had been hospitalized just before Thanksgiving.

    Wow. Congratulations to him.

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