Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 27, 2021

Germany's center-left Social Democrats narrowly beat Merkel's conservatives, Pelosi pushes back infrastructure vote, and more

1

Germany's center-left Social Democrats narrowly beat Merkel's bloc

Germany's Social Democrats narrowly beat outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union bloc in Sunday's parliamentary elections, according to preliminary results. The Social Democrats appeared to have won 26 percent of the vote, while the CDU/CSU got 24.5 percent in their worst showing since the party's founding in 1945. Social Democrat leader Olaf Scholz said he had a "clear mandate" to lead after 16 years of conservative-led rule under Merkel. With the results so close, Christian Democratic leader Armin Laschet vowed to do "everything possible" to form a ruling coalition himself. Negotiating a coalition deal could take months. The Greens won a record 15 percent, and will demand concessions on climate in negotiations to join a ruling bloc.

2

Pelosi delays infrastructure vote as Democrats seek unity

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday night that the House would vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday, delaying beyond a previous Monday deadline to give Democrats time to work out their differences on President Biden's larger domestic policy package. The new timetable would provide just enough time to strike a deal to avert a possible government shutdown. Pelosi said she was still working on getting Democrats unified behind President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending bill, which Democrats in the evenly split Senate can pass without Republican votes using a process called budget reconciliation. Some moderate Democrats want to make deep cuts to the legislation, and Pelosi said it "seems self-evident" that its cost will be lower.

3

Pfizer to submit children's COVID-19 vaccine data to FDA in days

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Sunday that the company plans to submit the data from COVID-19 vaccine trials for children between ages 5 and 11 to the Food and Drug Administration within "days, not weeks." Last week, Pfizer revealed that the vaccine it developed in tandem with BioNTech was safe and effective within the age group even with a smaller dose than the one that's been approved for ages 12 and up. Once the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sign off, younger children will be able to get vaccinated, which will likely help schools prevent outbreaks. Bourla, speaking on ABC's This Week, also said it would be possible to provide enough doses for both the unvaccinated and those eligible for booster shots.

4

Swiss voters approve same-sex marriage

Swiss voters on Sunday overwhelmingly approved legalizing same-sex marriage, with 64.1 percent of people casting ballots in favor of the change to the country's marriage law. Voters also approved letting lesbian couples access sperm banks, and allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. The same-sex marriage vote had been widely expected to pass, although the opposition gained some late momentum with heavy advertising. The alpine nation long lagged behind much of Western Europe on gender issues, and it was one of the last in Western Europe to accept same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples in Switzerland have been permitted to enter civil partnerships with some legal rights since 2007.

5

Mayorkas says more than 10,000 Haitians admitted to pursue asylum claims

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday that between 10,000 and 12,000 of the roughly 15,000 Haitian migrants who wound up in a makeshift camp near the Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas, had been admitted to the United States to pursue asylum cases. Several thousand others were deported to Haiti, sparking an outcry from immigrant rights advocates and some of President Biden's fellow Democrats, who argued that it was inhumane to send migrants home to an impoverished nation struggling to respond to political instability made worse by gang violence and the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Haiti also faces a humanitarian crisis on its southern peninsula following a devastating earthquake.

6

Iceland elects female-majority parliament for 1st time

Iceland elected its first female-majority parliament over the weekend, making the North Atlantic nation the only one in Europe with women lawmakers outnumbering men. With all votes counted on Sunday, women held 33 seats in Iceland's 63-seat parliament, the Althing. The three parties in Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir's outgoing coalition government won 37 seats in the Saturday vote, a two-seat gain likely to allow the coalition to stay in power. Iceland was ranked the world's most gender-equal nation for the 12th straight year in a World Economic Forum report released in March. It offers men and women the same parental leave, and passed its first law on equal pay for men and women in 1961. Forty-one years ago, it became the first country to elect a female president.

7

Texas governor promises to hire border agents if Biden fires them

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Sunday that he would hire any Border Patrol agents at risk of being fired by the Biden administration over viral images that showed agents on horseback appearing to use their reins as whips against Haitian migrants crossing the border from Mexico. "If they are at risk of losing their job by a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas," Abbott said on Fox News Sunday. "I will hire you to help Texas secure our border." Biden has condemned the images, and the Department of Homeland Security has launched an investigation of the incident. Attorney General Merrick Garland has threatened to sue Abbott for overstepping his authority on border policy.

8

San Marino residents vote to legalize abortion

San Marino voters on Sunday overwhelmingly backed a proposal to legalize abortion in the European microstate, which is surrounded by Italy and home to 33,000 people. About 77 percent of those casting ballots in the referendum supported making abortion legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, rejecting a 150-year-old law that criminalized the procedure, according to official returns broadcast on San Marino RTV. Under the proposal, abortion also would be legal later in a pregnancy if the woman's life or health is in danger. Next, San Marino's Parliament will have to draft a bill formally legalizing abortion. San Marino, one of the world's oldest republics, is one of the last European states to legalize abortion, which is still illegal in Malta and Andorra. Poland introduced a near-total ban this year.

9

U.S. wins Ryder Cup in rout of normally dominant Europeans

U.S. golfers on Sunday reclaimed the Ryder Cup for just the third time this century, completing a three-day rout of the previously dominant European team. American Patrick Cantlay remained undefeated in this year's contest with a 4 and 2 win over Shane Lowry of Ireland at Whistling Straits golf course in Wisconsin. The American team included eight players under 30, the youngest American team in the 94 years of the event. Golf luminaries like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who had led the squad since the 1990s, didn't play. "This is the next era of Ryder Cup teams for the USA, and I wanted to send a message," Cantlay said. "Everyone on our team has a killer's instinct and we're going to bring that to future Cups."

10

Moulin Rouge! wins best musical at pandemic-delayed Tony Awards

Moulin Rouge! The Musical won best musical and Matthew Lopez's two-part The Inheritance took best play at the 2020 Tony Awards, which were held Sunday night after a 15-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Moulin Rouge!, based on the 2001 movie musical, beat out Jagged Little Pill and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. The production hauled in a total of 10 awards, including the statuettes for direction, choreography, actor, supporting actor, set design, costumes, lighting, orchestrations, and sound. The next biggest winner was A Christmas Carol, a London play version of the holiday classic. The three nominated musicals closed on March 12, 2020, when Broadway started its longest shutdown ever. All three are returning this season, as are many other productions.

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