10 things you need to know today: July 29, 2021
The Senate votes to start debate on $1 trillion infrastructure compromise, U.S. pole vaulter tests positive for COVID, and more
Senate votes to advance bipartisan infrastructure proposal
The Senate on Wednesday voted 67-32 to consider a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill hammered out in negotiations involving centrist Republicans and Democrats, and the White House. The plan calls for big investments in the nation's public works system, including about $550 billion in new money for roads, bridges, rail, transit, water, and other physical infrastructure. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was among the 17 Republicans who voted to advance the compromise legislation. President Biden called the deal "the most significant long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century." He added: "Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal, but that's what it means to compromise and forge consensus — the heart of democracy."
U.S. pole vaulter tests positive for COVID-19
U.S. pole vaulter Sam Kendricks has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to bow out from the Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced in a tweet Wednesday. Kendricks won the bronze medal in the event in the last Olympics, and is currently ranked No. 2 in the world. The USOPC said that Kendricks "is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed. Out of respect for his privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time." Kendricks was transferred to a hotel and placed in isolation with support from U.S. Olympic committee staff. Those who had come into close contact with him "were immediately notified," USA Track and Field said. Qualifying for the event starts Sunday.
Wave of new mask mandates issued following CDC guidance change
The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging people to wear masks indoors prompted a flurry of new mask mandates in cities, states, schools, and businesses. Nevada and Kansas City, Missouri, were among the jurisdictions that brought back mandates following the CDC's Tuesday announcement. The attending physician in the House of Representatives announced that the chamber was reinstating its mask mandate as the virulent Delta variant of the coronavirus drives the latest surge of infections. Some Americans, weary of pandemic precautions, objected. Jamie Reinhold of suburban Atlanta said she was considering removing her children from school if their district insists on masks. "It's my child," she said. "It's my choice."
Fed chair says Delta variant poses little risk to economy, for now
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday at the close of a two-day policy meeting that the Delta variant of the coronavirus poses only a limited threat to the U.S. economy. "What we've seen is with successive waves of COVID over the past year and some months now," Powell said, "there has tended to be less in the way of economic implications from each wave. We will see whether that is the case with the Delta variety, but it's certainly not an unreasonable expectation." The Fed said in its statement following the meeting that the economy was moving closer to the "substantial further progress" necessary to justify reducing its $120 billion economy-boosting monthly bond purchases. It held interest rates near zero as expected.
Report: Trump called acting AG almost daily about election fraud
Then-President Donald Trump called then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen almost daily after the November election to tell him about claims of voter fraud, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing two people familiar with the matter. During the calls, which occurred in late 2020 and early 2021, Trump asked Rosen what the Justice Department was doing about the allegations, the people said. At the time, Trump and his supporters were working to stop the certification of the election results. The calls reportedly stopped after the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack by a mob of Trump supporters. Rosen reportedly listened to what Trump had to say, but never said he planned on taking any action. He would often try to change the topic, but Trump was "absolutely obsessed about it," a person with knowledge of the matter told the Post.
Teacher Pedro Castillo sworn in as Peru's president
Former rural schoolteacher Pedro Castillo took the oath of office Wednesday as Peru's new president, promising to govern the South American nation "with the people and for the people." During the ceremony, held on Peru's bicentenary of independence from Spain, the leftist leader vowed broad changes to fight corruption and monopolies, and to increase spending on education and health. The political newcomer said Spain's colonization of the country created a "caste system" that divided Peruvians. To underscore the break with the past, he said he wouldn't govern from the presidential palace, known as the "House of Pizarro" after the leader of the Spanish conquest of Peru, Francisco Pizarro. "This country is founded on the sweat of my ancestors. The story of this silenced Peru is also my story," he said.
Former N.Y. state Senate candidate arrested over Jan. 6 attack
Daniel Christmann, a Brooklyn plumber who unsuccessfully ran for the New York state Senate last year, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Christmann, 38, was detained on charges including disorderly conduct and entering a restricted building, the Department of Justice said. The FBI received tips from people who saw videos Christmann posted to his "dannyforsenate" Instagram account showing people inside the Capitol. The criminal complaint states that Christmann wrote messages online confirming he was involved in the riot, and surveillance footage captured him climbing through a window to get into the Capitol building. After two of his friends were arrested in connection with the riot, federal authorities say Christmann messaged people and asked them to delete photos and videos showing him inside the Capitol.
Tsunami warning issued after 8.2 magnitude earthquake off Alaska
An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska late Wednesday, triggering a tsunami warning covering parts of the state's coast that was lifted after about two hours. A buoy near Old Harbor on Kodiak Island measured an eight-inch rise in water level. Hawaii also was briefly placed under a tsunami watch. The earthquake was centered about 75 miles southeast of Chignik, Alaska, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center. Police in Kodiak, the largest town on Kodiak Island, urged people to seek high ground. There have been just 17 earthquakes of magnitude 8.2 or higher since 1990, according to United States Geological Survey data.
Actor Bob Odenkirk hospitalized after 'heart-related' collapse
Actor Bob Odenkirk was being treated for an unspecified "heart-related incident" in a New Mexico hospital on Wednesday after he collapsed on the set of his TV show Better Call Saul. Odenkirk, 58, was shooting the sixth and final 13-episode season of the darkly humorous Breaking Bad prequel when he fell ill and was rushed to a nearby hospital. Odenkirk's representatives released a statement say that Odenkirk and his family wanted "to express gratitude for the incredible doctors and nurses looking after him, as well as his cast, crew, and producers who have stayed by his side." His son, aspiring actor Nate Odenkirk, tweeted: "He's going to be okay."
Dusty Hill of ZZ Top dies at 72
ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill died in his sleep at his Houston home, the blues-rock band announced on its website Wednesday. He was 72. "We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the 'Top'," surviving band members Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons said in a statement. Hill joined the band, instantly recognizable for its members' long beards, shortly after it was formed in 1969. He, Beard, and Gibbons released 15 studio albums that included hits such as "La Grange," "Tush" and "Gimme All Your Lovin'."