National Politics

Biden, top Democrats swing behind bipartisan virus aid bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden swung behind a bipartisan COVID-19 relief effort Wednesday and his top Capitol Hill allies cut their demands for a $2 trillion-plus measure by more than half in hopes of breaking a monthslong logjam and delivering much-sought aid as the tempestuous congressional session speeds to a close.

Congress swats back Trump's veto threat of defense bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is closing out his relationship with Congress with one more power jab, threatening to veto a hugely popular defense bill unless lawmakers clamp down on big tech companies he claims were biased against him during the election.

Iowa Democrat to challenge 6-vote loss in appeal to US House

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Democratic congressional candidate who trailed by six votes after a recount said Wednesday she will forgo further legal challenges in Iowa and instead appeal directly to the U.S. House for additional recount proceedings.

Louisiana expects 1st coronavirus vaccine doses this month

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana should receive its first doses of a coronavirus vaccine within weeks if the proposed drug wins federal approval as expected, and frontline hospital workers and nursing home residents and staff should be vaccinated by the early part of January, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday.

House committee chair presses Census on delays to count

Internal U.S. Census Bureau documents indicate that it will be unable to meet a year-end deadline for handing in data used for allocating congressional seats as it deals with irregularities found in the numbers-crunching phase of the count, according to a Wednesday letter from the chair of the U.S. House committee that oversees the bureau.

COVID-19 slams Minnesota police, fire, ambulance services

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz and public safety officials pleaded Wednesday for Minnesotans to follow coronavirus safety guidelines to protect their local police, fire and ambulance services, which have been hit hard by staff shortages amid the surge in cases.

Election officials certify Trump's win in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's top election office announced Wednesday that it officially certified the results of the Nov. 3 election, with President Donald Trump securing the state's 11 electoral votes.

Biden facing growing pressure over secretary of defense pick

President-elect Joe Biden is facing escalating pressure from competing factions within his own party as he finalizes his choice for secretary of defense. Black leaders have encouraged the incoming president to select an African American to diversify what has so far been an all-white prospective Cabinet, while others are pushing him to appoint a woman to lead the Department of Defense for the first time. Meanwhile, a growing collection of progressives opposes the leading female contender, Michèle Flournoy, citing concerns about her record and private-sector associations. The competing pressures come weeks into Biden’s push to build an administration while trying to preserve the broad coalition that fueled his victory.

Missouri lawmakers pass $1.2B virus spending bill

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday passed a $1.2 billion coronavirus aid package, then left without taking action on Republican Gov. Mike Parson's proposal to prevent lawsuits against health care workers and businesses during the pandemic.

Arizona's Kelly is sworn into Senate, narrowing GOP edge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arizona Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly was sworn into the Senate on Wednesday, narrowing Republican control of the chamber and underscoring his state's shift from red to blue.

Supreme Court wrestles with non-unanimous juries case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday struggled with whether to require new trials for potentially thousands of prisoners who were convicted by non-unanimous juries before the court barred the practice earlier this year.

Same leadership, same issues for SC's budget committee

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's Republican leaders made no major changes on Wednesday to their main House committees, and the group that handles the budget remains stuck with the same problems, only this time they're looking at steep cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Maine lawmakers convene for historic meeting during pandemic

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — With Gov. Janet Mills in quarantine, the state's acting chief justice instead swore lawmakers into office Wednesday in a historic offsite session that featured the state's first openly gay House speaker and the first Black woman in a party leadership position.

Putin orders 'large-scale' COVID-19 vaccination in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a “large-scale” COVID-19 immunization campaign to start by late next week, with doctors and teachers set to be first in line to get a Russian-designed vaccine that has yet to complete the advanced studies needed to ensure its effectiveness and safety in line with established scientific protocols.

GOP leader McDaniel to run for 3rd term with Trump's backing

Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, is launching her bid for a third two-year term heading the GOP's governing organization after the party’s stronger-than-anticipated showing in November’s election, even though President Donald Trump lost.

San Francisco bans smoking inside apartments; pot smoking OK

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — City officials in San Francisco have banned all tobacco smoking inside apartments, citing concerns about secondhand smoke. But lighting up a joint inside? That’s still allowed.

Armenian opposition pushes PM to step down over peace deal

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators rallied in Armenia's capital Wednesday to continue to pressure the ex-Soviet nation's prime minister to resign over a peace deal with neighboring Azerbaijan that domestic critics see as a betrayal of national interests.

US lawmakers unveil anti-slavery constitutional amendment

NEW YORK (AP) — National lawmakers introduced a joint resolution Wednesday aimed at striking language from the U.S. Constitution that enshrines a form of slavery in America’s foundational documents.

Fed and Treasury urge Congress to approve more virus relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress to approve COVID-19 relief funds without further delay, though Democrats continued to attack a decision by Mnuchin to allow five Fed lending programs to expire during the pandemic.

Many New Hampshire Democrats skip opening session over virus

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire lawmakers bundled up and spread out on an athletic field Wednesday to start their next two-year session. But many House Democrats skipped the gathering over concerns about the coronavirus, and the no-shows, coupled with a show of force by Republicans, signaled a rough path ahead.