President Joe Biden expressed optimism for the future of the country during the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony yesterday in Washington, telling the American people that “we have so much ahead of us.”
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New, stricter Covid-19 testing requirements for all travelers coming to the US are set to take effect Monday. The new rules will require travelers coming to the US to test negative one day before departure instead of up to three days before entering the country. The shift in policy — which Biden announced yesterday alongside a slate of new steps to combat Covid-19 this winter — underscores the potential threat posed by the newly discovered Omicron variant. Separately, several GOP-led states are expanding unemployment benefits to unvaccinated residents who lose their jobs due to vaccine mandates. And in Europe, Germany announced a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated yesterday as its leaders backed plans for mandatory vaccinations in the coming months.
2. Federal funding
Congress averted a government shutdown last night when both chambers voted to pass a stopgap bill to extend funding through mid-February. It came after party leaders brokered a deal to overcome GOP opposition to vaccine mandates. Passage of the measure ahead of today’s midnight deadline ended a standoff that had threatened to trigger a shutdown when a small number of Republican senators who object to Biden’s vaccine requirements had held out the possibility of holding up a quick vote on the funding bill. To resolve the impasse, the two parties agreed to hold votes on the stopgap bill, as well as a GOP amendment to prohibit the use of federal funding for Covid-19 vaccine mandates, which ultimately failed.
3. Build Back Better
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is casting skepticism in conversations with senators that the Build Back Better bill can pass the Senate this year, potentially delivering a blow to the Senate Majority leader’s push to get the bill approved by Christmas. Manchin still has a number of concerns, namely that budget gimmicks hide the true cost of the bill, and he’s pushing to ensure it costs no more than $1.75 trillion. But he also is seeking to pare down the bill, which passed the House last month, in a number of other areas, including paid family leave, a methane fee on emissions from energy producers and a Medicare expansion to cover hearing costs.
The Trump-era border program known as “Remain in Mexico” is set to relaunch on Monday due to a court order. That means the US will again send migrants to Mexico to await their immigration court hearings. Mexico agreed to the terms of the revamped program yesterday and said it would begin accepting migrants. The program, which forces non-Mexican migrants to stay in Mexico until their immigration court dates in the US, was suspended at the beginning of Biden’s term and formally terminated months later. But in August, a federal judge in Texas said the administration had violated federal law in how it had gone about unwinding the program and required it to be restored.
The US joined with international allies to impose new sanctions on Belarus yesterday in response to the migrant crisis on the border with Poland and the political repression and ongoing human rights violations committed by the regime of Belarus’s longtime strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko. The US, UK, European Union and Canada took coordinated action against Belarusian entities and individuals in their latest effort to pressure Lukashenko, who has been accused — in the words of the US secretary of state — of using “innocent migrants as a political weapon, as an effort at destabilization.” The sanctions also come at a time of heightened tension between Moscow — Lukashenko’s strongest backer — and much of the West as Russia’s President amasses troops on the border with Ukraine.
It’s December and it hasn’t snowed in Denver yet
Denver has never entered December without measurable snow since it started keeping records back when Chester A. Arthur was President.
But there are blizzard warnings for Hawaii???
There could be up to a foot of snow and 100-mph wind gusts!
Shawn Mendes released a new song following Camila Cabello breakup
Soon to be found on the playlists of heartbroken teens everywhere.
There’s a shortage of Santas this holiday season
Yet another supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic.
MLB removes player photos from its website due to the lockout
Now batting … No. 8 … Gray Silhouette.
Which island nation just cut its last remaining ties with the British monarchy after 400 years?
C. The Bahamas
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That’s roughly how much the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled yesterday in new federal water infrastructure funding. The EPA is urging states to use the money — provided in the recent bipartisan infrastructure law — to address environmental impacts faced by historically underserved communities.
“This is a crisis now and it’s only going to get worse.”
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, imploring Congress to address the global computer chip shortage by passing the CHIPS for America Act, a $52 billion bill that would encourage domestic semiconductor production and research.
Pandas on ice!
Check out these pandas cooling off this week at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Why? Because … pandas! (Click here to view.)
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