In our news wrap Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan COVID-19 hate crimes bill, responding to attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The U.S. House of Representatives voted along party lines to grant Washington, D.C. statehood. Internationally, Russia announced its troops are withdrawing from the border with Ukraine — but leaving their heavy weapons in place.
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In the day's other news: California's two state university systems, the nation's largest, joined a wave of colleges mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for students this fall.
Meanwhile, India reported a global record of nearly 315,000 infections in 24 hours, with another 2,100 deaths. We will have details on India after the news summary.
The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan COVID-19 hate crimes bill today, responding to attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It includes funding to increase data collection and reporting.
Hawaii's Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono co-sponsored the measure.
Sen. Mazie Hirono:
As important as the content and substance of the bill is the message of this bill that we in the Senate are going to stand with our AAPI community and indeed any community that is discriminated against on the basis of race or any of the categories that you and I can think of.
The U.S. House of Representatives may act on a similar bill in the coming weeks.
Today, the U.S. House voted again to make Washington, D.C., the nation's 51st state. Democrats pushed it through on party lines, with no Republican support. Prospects for passage in the evenly divided Senate are low.
Russia has announced that its troops are withdrawing from the border with Ukraine, but leaving their heavy weapons in place. Thousands of Russian troops had taken part in maneuvers in Crimea and Western Russia. The defense minister said today they have achieved their goals. Ukraine's president welcomed the move.
Israel and Syria traded allegations today after trading fire overnight. The Israelis said that they launched airstrikes when a Syrian anti-aircraft missile mistakenly flew deep into Israel. It exploded near Dimona, the desert town where Israel's nuclear reactor is located. Syria said the Israeli air raid came first.
Indonesia is searching desperately for a submarine with 53 crewmen aboard. It disappeared Wednesday. The hunt centered off Bali today, where the sub sank in deep water. Extreme pressure may have crushed it. If not, the crew runs out of oxygen by Saturday.
Back in this country, Senate Republicans offered their own infrastructure plan. It would cost nearly $570 billion over five years. President Biden wants $2.3 trillion over eight years. Both sides talked today of compromise and their own plans.
Sen. John Barrasso:
It's time to say we want to do things that are really in the best interest of the American people, what the American people are asking for, and that's why we're here today with this proposal that was sent to the White House a little earlier today.
The president has said from the beginning that he would welcome any good-faith effort to find common ground, because the only unacceptable step would be inaction.
The White House also said the president would consider smaller steps and not one mega-bill.
The governor of Kansas vetoed a bill today aimed at barring transgender students from girls sports teams in public schools. Democrat Laura Kelly called the legislation regressive. Overnight, North Dakota's Republican Governor Doug Burgum vetoed a similar measure, but faced a possible override. Several states have already enacted such bans.
Unemployment claims in the U.S. fell to 547,000 last week. That is the lowest since the pandemic began. But Wall Street retreated today on reports of possible capital gains tax hikes on the wealthy. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 321 points to close below 33816. The Nasdaq fell 131 points. The S&P 500 slipped 38.