In our news wrap Friday, the FDA prepares to approve Pfizer's inoculation for emergency use, the U.S. Senate approved a sweeping defense funding bill, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will suspend indoor dining in New York City starting Monday, the Trump administration is set to carry out the second federal execution this week, and European Union leaders agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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The U.S. is on the verge of rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, as the number of daily infections shattered records this week.
But, as the Food and Drug Administration prepares to approve Pfizer's inoculation for emergency use, there are reports that the White House ordered the agency's head to authorize it today, or to resign.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn later played that down, calling it an untrue representation of a phone call he had with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
In other developments, New York Governor's Andrew Cuomo again suspended indoor dining in New York City beginning on Monday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y.:
In New York City, you put the CDC caution on indoor dining together with the rate of transmission and the density and the crowding, that is a bad situation.
The hospitalizations have continued to increase in New York City. We said that we would watch it if stabilization — if the hospitalization didn't stabilize, we would close indoor dining. It has not.
We will have more on the vaccination effort later in the program.
The U.S. Senate approved a sweeping defense funding bill today. It's worth $740 billion and includes a 3 percent military pay raise. The bill received enough support to override the president's veto threat over liability shields for social media companies.
Soon after, Senate lawmakers also passed a one-week extension of government funding in order to avoid a shutdown. That will buy them more time to negotiate COVID-19 relief.
We will have more on this after the news summary.
President-elect Joe Biden introduced five more of his Cabinet picks today and emphasized their diversity. In Wilmington, Delaware, Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge pledged to curb racial inequity at the department of Housing and Urban Development. She would be only the second Black woman to lead the agency.
Rep. Marcia Fudge,D-OH:
The crisis of injustice that has forced communities of color to make it in America with one dream tied behind their back.
Each crisis chips away at their hope, at the promise our nation. But I believe that hope is on the way.
Former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice pledged to expand opportunity, as head of the president's Domestic Policy Council. She noted her own history being the granddaughter of Jamaican immigrants and a descendant of enslaved people.
For far too many, the American dream has become an empty promise, a cruel mockery of lives held back by barriers, new and old. That is not good enough for any American.
Meanwhile, President Trump held no public events today, but he continued to dispute the election results on Twitter, without evidence.
The Trump administration today is set to carry out the second federal execution this week. Louisiana truck driver Alfred Bourgeois will be put to death for abusing and killing his 2-year-old daughter in 2002. Three more federal executions are scheduled for January, before president-elect Biden takes office.
European Union leaders agreed today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by the end of this decade. The European Commission president said that the deal will put them on a path toward climate neutrality in 2050. She spoke at their summit in Brussels.
Ursula Von Der Leyen:
Now that we have secured the funding, we have the means for our actions. All E.U. countries should benefit from the transition with economic growth, a cleaner environment and healthier citizens. The European green deal will be our growth strategy.
However, some environmental groups like Greenpeace have warned that emissions need to be cut by at least 65 percent in order to sufficiently tackle climate change.
Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been charged under the city's national security law. Local media reported that Lai was charged on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security. If convicted, Lai could face up to life in prison.
And trading was light on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 47 points to close at 30046. The Nasdaq fell 28 points, and the S&P 500 shed four.