In our news wrap Tuesday, the White House rebuked Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott over banning COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Meanwhile, the state of Florida fined Leon County $3.5 million for requiring its employees to get vaccinated. In Britain, a report by parliament charged that a delay in imposing a COVID lockdown caused thousands of unnecessary deaths.
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In the day's other news: The U.S. House of Representatives was on track to approve raising the federal debt ceiling by $480 billion. Democrats favored the move, while Republicans were opposed.
The action averts a national default, at least until early December. The bill passed the Senate last week, and now goes on to President Biden after the House passes it for his signature.
The White House challenged Texas Governor Gregg Abbott today over banning COVID-19 vaccine requirements. The Republican issued a ban last night. It came as the Biden administration is about to issue rules for a federal vaccination mandate for larger employers.
At the White House today, Press Secretary Jen Psaki challenged Abbott's action.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary:
I think it's pretty clear, when you make a choice that's against all public health information and data out there, that it's not based on what is in the interests of the people you are governing. It is perhaps in the interest of your own politics.
Also today, the state of Florida fined Leon County $3.5 million for making its employees get vaccinated. The county is home to Tallahassee, which is the state capital.
And in New York, a federal judge blocked a state vaccine mandate for health care workers, unless it includes religious exemptions.
Record numbers of Americans quit their jobs in August, driven in part by pandemic-related fears. The U.S. Labor Department reports that 4.3 million people resigned. That was the most in nearly 21 years. Job openings were down as well.
In Britain, a report by Parliament today charged that a delay in imposing a COVID lockdown caused thousands of unnecessary deaths. In response, a Cabinet minister defended the ruling Conservative Party's actions.
Stephen Barclay, U.K. Cabinet Minister:
We took the decisions based on the evidence before us. But, of course, we have always said, with something so unprecedented as the pandemic, there will be lessons to learn.
We're keen to learn them. That's why we have committed to an inquiry, and that will be the opportunity to look at what could be done differently and what lessons we take into the future.
Britain did impose a lockdown in late March of 2020, when infections threatened to overwhelm the health care system.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled today that the Vatican cannot be held liable for sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests. Two dozen alleged victims had attempted to sue the holy see. The court found that the Vatican's status as a sovereign state gives it legal immunity.
In Iraq, a pro-Iranian leader is rejecting election results that show his party and its allies lost seats in Parliament. Hadi Al-Amiri says the results of Sunday's vote were — quote — "fabricated." Meanwhile, supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr celebrated in Baghdad last night after their coalition came out on top.
Fadhil Al Take, Muqtada al-Sadr Supporter (through translator): We congratulate the Iraqi people on the victory of the reform project led by the leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Today, we feel that Iraq has been liberated. We haven't had this feeling since 2003. Today, Iraq is truly liberated from corruption.
The various factions now have to form a coalition government, and that could take months.
Back in this country, a former U.S. Navy engineer and his wife appeared in federal court, accused of selling nuclear submarine secrets in an FBI sting. Diana and Jonathan Toebbe allegedly thought they were dealing with an unnamed foreign power. The Toebbes heard the charges in Martinsburg, West Virginia, but entered no pleas. The judge ordered them to remain in custody.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 117 points to close at 34378. The Nasdaq fell 20 points. The S&P 500 slipped 10.