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The Weekly National News Roundup | Shlomo Rudman

Manchin: Deal on Dem Spending Bill Not Close – Sen. Joe Manchin said on Thursday that Democrats won’t reach an agreement on a wide-ranging social spending bill ”anytime soon,” despite ongoing negotiations within the party. ”This is not going to happen anytime soon, guys,” Manchin told reporters on Thursday. ”They’re trying to get a meeting of the minds.” He went on to say that Democrats are making ”good progress” on a deal. ”There’s a lot of details,” Manchin said. ”Until you see the text and the fine print, it’s pretty hard to make final decisions.” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Manchin both met with White House officials on Thursday, but Sinema told CNN’s Manu Raju, when asked if a deal would be reached by Friday, ”Don’t ask me. I can’t answer that question,” adding that ”I don’t negotiate in the press” when pushed. Manchin added to Raju that ”everything is moving back and forth” when it comes to climate change, and said when asked if increasing revenue is the biggest hurdle that ”It’s hard money. Soft money should go to debt.”

Letter Shows Fauci Lied about Gain-of-Function Research Funding – A new letter from the National Institutes of Health offers more evidence that White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci lied to Congress when denying that federal health agencies had funded “gain-of-function” research, The Federalist reported Thursday. Sen. Rand Paul in May challenged Fauci about an annual $600,000 grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology through EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based non-profit. “The NIH has not ever and does not now, fund gain of function research,” Fauci said. “Sen. Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect.” Gain-of-function research refers to scientists modifying organisms. Although Fauci has defended it in studying potential therapeutics such as vaccines, the research was deemed so dangerous by the U.S. government it was banned from 2014 to 2017. Fauci repeated his claims in July during another back-and-forth with Paul.

Trump Announces New Media Company, Social Network – Former President Donald Trump is creating a media company and social media network meant to “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.” The 45th president, who has been kicked off Twitter and Facebook, announced the creation of “TRUTH Social” in a press release from the Trump Media & Technology Group on Wednesday. Truth Social is already available for pre-order in the Apple App store, the press release said, and the app plans to start its beta launch for invited guests in November 2021. A national rollout is expected in the first quarter of 2022. “I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump, who is the chairman of TMTG, said in the press release. “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable,” he added.

FDA Approves Mix-and-Match for Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended its emergency use authorization for all COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday to allow for mix-and-match boosters for patients who initially received a different vaccine. The federal agency also authorized booster shots for Americans who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson inoculations. The FDA had previously authorized boosters for the Pfizer vaccine. The decision on Wednesday would allow recipients of all three vaccines to get booster shots of doses from other companies if and when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues an official recommendation.

Republicans Again Block Dems’ Voting Bill – For the third time this year, Senate Democrats on Wednesday tried to pass sweeping elections legislation that they tout as a powerful counterweight to new voting restrictions in the states. Once again, Republicans blocked them. But amid the stalemate, there are signs that Democrats are making headway in their effort to create consensus around changing Senate procedural rules, a key step that could allow them to muscle transformative legislation through the narrowly divided chamber. Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, recently eased his longstanding opposition to changing the filibuster rules, which create a 60-vote threshold for most legislation to pass. “I’ve concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule,” said King, who acknowledged that weakening the filibuster would likely prove to be a “double-edged sword” under a Republican majority. Democrats still face long odds of passing their bill, now known as the Freedom to Vote Act, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., excoriated Wednesday as a federal “election takeover scheme.” But the softening of King’s stance on the filibuster amounts to progress, if incremental, for Senate Democrats as they look to convince others in their caucus to support a rule change.

Pentagon Tests Hypersonic Weapons – The Pentagon announced that the United States military conducted three successful tests on Wednesday for a program to develop new hypersonic missile weapons. News of the tests arrived shortly after US President Joe Biden expressed worries towards China’s hypersonic weapon capabilities the same day. Experiments conducted on the weapon components “demonstrated advanced hypersonic technologies, capabilities, and prototype systems in a realistic operating environment,” a Pentagon statement said, Reuters reported. The three tests were conducted by the Sandia National Laboratory at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Findings from the study will assist in “the development of the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) and the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) offensive hypersonic strike,” a statement detailed, according to Reuters.

GOP Introduces Bill to Block Biden’s Snooping – In the wake of a controversial proposal by the Treasury Department and Senate Democrats to direct collection of additional data on Americans’ bank accounts, Senate Republicans — led by South Carolina’s Tim Scott — introduced a bill Thursday to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from implementing any such policy change. “The Democrats’ plan to allow the IRS to spy on the bank accounts of nearly every person in this country, even those below the poverty line, should be deeply concerning to anyone who values privacy and economic inclusion,” Scott said in a statement. The Biden administration on Tuesday backed down on a controversial proposal that would have directed the IRS to collect additional data on every bank account that sees more than $600 in annual transactions, after widespread criticism from Republican lawmakers and banking industry representatives, who said the tax enforcement strategy represented a breach of privacy by the federal government. Instead, the administration and Senate Democrats are proposing to raise the threshold to accounts with more than $10,000 in annual transactions, and any income received through a paycheck from which federal taxes are automatically deducted will not be subject to the reporting. Recipients of federal benefits like unemployment and Social Security would also be exempt. According to the new GOP bill, called the Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act, “The Secretary of the Treasury (including any delegate of the Secretary) may not require any financial institution to report the inflows or outflows of any account maintained by such institution, or any balances, transactions, transfers, or similar information with respect to any such account, except to the extent that such reporting is required under any program, or other provision of law, as in effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.”

Haiti Gang Leader Threatens to Kill US, Canadian Hostages – The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that police say is holding 17 members of a kidnapped missionary group is seen in a video released Thursday saying he will kill them if he doesn’t get what he’s demanding. The video posted on social media shows Wilson Joseph dressed in a blue suit, carrying a blue hat and wearing a large cross around his neck. “I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” he said in the video. He also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles, as he spoke in front of the open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed. “You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he said. Earlier this week, authorities said that the gang was demanding $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear that included the five children in the group, among them an 8-month-old. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian were abducted, along with their Haitian driver.

 

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