In our news wrap Wednesday, Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked debate on a bipartisan infrastructure plan, leaving the bill — worth $1.2 trillion — unfinished. The Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon grew to half the size of Rhode Island. The Biden administration agreed to a plan for finishing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. The list of COVID positive Olympics athletes grew.
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In the day's other news: Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked debate on a bipartisan infrastructure plan. The bill, worth $1.2 trillion, is not finished, but it would fund roads — excuse me — roads, bridges, broadband and other projects.
Democratic leaders said that a procedural vote would speed things up. Republicans argued it was premature. And they spoke ahead of the tally.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY:
We are now in the fourth week of negotiations since the bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement with the White House on an infrastructure framework, four weeks.
According to the negotiators, spurred on by this vote this afternoon, they are close to finalizing their product.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY:
There's no outcome yet, no bipartisan agreement, no text, nothing for the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate, and certainly nothing on which to vote, not yet.
Negotiators say the bill could be ready by early next week, and there could be another vote then.
More than a dozen states have reached a legal settlement over opioid abuse worth $26 billion in their lawsuits against major U.S. distributors and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Today's announcement says the companies would pay the money over 18 years. They would not admit to any wrongdoing.
We will take a closer look, later in the program.
Huge wildfires kept growing today in Oregon and California and spewing giant plumes of smoke and ash. The Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon is now half the size of Rhode Island. Strong winds have blown smoke from that fire and others all the way to the East Coast. And several major cities have issued air quality alerts.
In Central China, the death toll rose to at least 25 in catastrophic flooding. Chinese troops blasted open a dam west of hard-hit Zhengzhou, hoping to lower water levels. And more video emerged of subway tunnels being inundated in the city a day earlier. Three trains were at a standstill for more than 40 hours.
The Biden administration agreed today a plan for finishing the Nord Stream II gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. Previous U.S. administrations had argued that it would give Moscow control of European energy supplies. Today's agreement with Germany means that there will be no further U.S. sanctions to block the pipeline.
To potentially undermine our relationship with Germany and to send a signal to our allies and to our partners the world over that the United States is willing to throw asunder important relationships, that's not something that we were eager to do, certainly.
Under the deal, Germany pledges to retaliate if Russia tries to use energy as a weapon.
Former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty today to rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles. He's accused of attacking five women over nine years. Weinstein is already serving a 23-year prison term in New York on similar charges. He was extradited yesterday.
A federal judge in Arkansas has temporarily blocked a state ban on gender-confirming treatments for transgender youth. The law says that no one under age 18 may receive hormone therapy or related procedures. Today's ruling freezes the law until its fate is decided in court.
COVID-19 infections in Tokyo hit a six-month high today just before the Summer Olympics officially open. Several more athletes also tested positive.
Still, the head of the World Health Organization said in Tokyo that the number of infections is less important than the response.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
The mark of success in the coming fortnight is not zero cases. And I know that some cases have already been detected. The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible.
Olympic competition also began today, so now a spoiler alert. We have the result of the U.S. women's soccer match, one of the first events at these Games.
The top-ranked Americans were upset by Sweden in their opening match. That ends a 44-game unbeaten run for the U.S. team. They'll try to rebound on Saturday against New Zealand.
On Wall Street, corporate earnings reports pushed stock prices higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 286 points to close at 34798. The Nasdaq rose 133 points. The S&P 500 added 35.
And a first for Major League Baseball. An all-female announcing crew worked a game last night. Baltimore Orioles' play-by-play announcer Melanie Newman and MLB analyst Sarah Langs called a game between Baltimore and Tampa Bay. They were joined by three female colleagues. Hooray.