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News Wrap: New unemployment numbers underscore the pandemic’s economic damage

In our news wrap Thursday, another 712,00 people filed for jobless benefits last week, tripling the average total from before the pandemic. And momentum is building for a new economic relief measure in Washington as COVID-19 numbers continue to surge in the United States.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: New unemployment numbers underscored again the pandemic's economic damage. Another 712,000 people filed for jobless benefits last week. That was down from the week before, but it's still triple the average total before the virus hit.

    Momentum is building now for a new economic relief measure in Washington before Congress quits for the year. President Trump said today that he would support a bill. And Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives voiced optimism.

    The bipartisan Problem Solvers group in the House, including Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, urged action now.

  • Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va.:

    Congress damn well better come together and deliver the relief that is so necessary, frankly, relief that was necessary weeks and months ago. But today is just as good a day as any to actually see it through.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congress' top Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate's Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke today about a stimulus bill. And several more Republican senators came out for a bipartisan $900 billion measure.

    We will speak with Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney in just a few minutes.

    The nation's foremost infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says that he will stay on at the National Institutes of Health and he will serve as the Biden administration's chief medical adviser on the pandemic.

    Also today, president-elect Biden named Brian Deese to head the National Economic Council. Deese worked in the Obama administration, and he helped to craft the auto industry bailout.

    President Trump refused to say today if Attorney General William Barr still has his confidence. Instead, the president told a reporter — quote — "Ask me in a number of weeks."

    On Tuesday, Barr said there's been no evidence of widespread election fraud, as the president claims.

    Today, Mr. Trump said that Barr needs to keep searching.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Well, they haven't looked very hard, which is a disappointment, to be honest with you, because it's massive fraud. This is not civil. He thought it was civil. This is not civil. This is criminal stuff. This is very bad criminal stuff.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to hear the president's challenge to 220,000 ballots. He lost the state by just under 21,000 votes. The Trump campaign is pursuing a similar lawsuit in federal court.

    China and the United States clashed today on two fronts. On travel, the U.S. State Department imposed tough new restrictions on Chinese Communist Party members and their families coming to the U.S. for extended stays. Beijing blamed what it called extreme anti-China forces.

    China also denounced a U.S. ban on cotton goods from a major producer in Xinjiang province over allegations of forced labor. The Foreign Ministry denied that thousands of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang are being forced to work inside detention camps.

    We will explore this further later in the program.

    Back in this country, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a lower court to reconsider COVID-19 curbs on religious services in California. It could lead to throwing out the restrictions. Last week, the high court ruled against similar limits in New York state.

    The U.S. Senate today confirmed Christopher Waller for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. His approval means that President Trump has now chosen four of the six Fed governors.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 85 points to close at 29969. The Nasdaq rose 27 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two points.

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