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In our news wrap Friday, the Republican National Committee censured Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for taking part in the Jan. 6 investigation, new COVID cases in the U.S. are falling in 49 states, the Winter Olympics are officially underway in Beijing, and House Democrats pushed through a bill to funnel billions of dollars into the U.S. semiconductor industry.
In the day's other news: The Republican National Committee censured two GOP members of Congress for taking part in the investigation into the January 6 assault on the Capitol.
Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are the only Republicans involved in the congressional probe. The RNC accused them of — quote — "participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."
Former President Trump and his running mate are clashing over the legitimacy of the 2020 election results. Former Vice President Mike Pence insisted today that he could not have blocked Congress from certifying the results in his role as president of the Senate.
Speaking in Florida, Pence rejected Mr. Trump's false claims to the contrary.
Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone.
And, frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.
The former vice president's remarks were his strongest rebuttal yet of Mr. Trump on the events of January 6.
That giant winter storm sweeping across the U.S. dumped more than a foot of snow across the Northeast and New England today. Airlines were forced to cancel another 3,400 flights.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned that ground travel is not safe either.
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY):
What is really treacherous, yes, well, this storm is throwing everything at us. We have snow, we have freezing rain, we have sleet, we have icy roads. Our biggest concern right now is ice on the roads.
Ice also took down trees across the South and the Central U.S., and more than 370,000 homes and businesses lost power, from Texas to New York.
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has reached 900,000. That is based on a count by Johns Hopkins University. It comes even as new infections are falling in 49 of the 50 states.
Also today, Austria became the first country in Europe to impose a strict vaccine mandate for most adults. It takes effect tomorrow.
Russia denied today that it is planning to fake an attack by Ukrainian forces to justify invading Ukraine. The Russian foreign minister called the U.S. allegation — quote — "an absurdity." Meanwhile, Russia's President Vladimir Putin met with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing. They affirmed support for each other's agendas on Taiwan, Ukraine, and other issues.
We will get details after the news summary.
The Winter Olympics are officially under way in Beijing. President Xi presided over a gala ceremony today. U.S. officials and other countries boycotted over China's authoritarian policies. The Bird's Nest stadium hosted the spectacle, but attendance was limited by COVID restrictions.
Back in this country, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed through a bill to funnel billions of dollars into the U.S. semiconductor industry. They said the measure takes on China and its repressive policies, but Republicans argued it is toothless.
They spoke on and off the floor of the House.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY):
Congress will show the American people and the world with clarity of purpose and the courage of our convictions that we do not take our global leadership for granted, that we will not miss the opportunity to strengthen American industry and create jobs of the future for our workers.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX):
Pass a bill on the floor of this House that has literally no chance of checking China, holding them to account, ensuring that they no longer continue to carry out the atrocities that they're carrying out.
The Senate passed its own bill last summer. The two measures now have to be reconciled.
A Georgia man and his son convicted of chasing and murdering Ahmaud Arbery have withdrawn guilty pleas to a federal hate crime charge. Greg McMichael gave notice of his decision last night. His son Travis did the same today. Earlier this week, a federal judge rejected their plea agreement.
A federal jury in New York convicted attorney Michael Avenatti today of wire fraud and identity theft. He was accused of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of nearly $300,000. The money was for writing a book about an alleged affair with former President Trump.
In Puerto Rico, more and more teachers joined growing protests for higher wages and better working conditions. Officials said 70 percent of teachers were absent from work, and some schools had no teachers at all. A federal control board has approved a fiscal plan that falls short of the teachers' salary demands.
And on Wall Street today, stocks turned in mixed results. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 21 points to close at 35089. The Nasdaq rose 219 points. The S&P 500 added 23. For the week, the Dow gained 1 percent, the Nasdaq rose 2.4 percent, and the S&P 500 was up 1.6 percent.
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