10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2022
Manchin and Schumer reach a deal on a health and climate spending package, the U.S. proposes a prisoner exchange to free Brittney Griner, and more
Manchin, in reversal, agrees to health and climate spending plan
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday they had reached a deal on a health-care and climate spending package. The agreement signaled a possible breakthrough after more than a year of negotiations that collapsed several times. Democrats could try to advance the legislation next week. The deal, a pillar of President Biden's economic agenda, calls for about $433 billion in new spending, mostly to fight climate change. Manchin, a moderate from a coal-producing state, and Schumer agreed to tax-law changes, including a new corporate minimum tax and Internal Revenue Service investments to catch tax cheats, to raise $739 billion over a decade. That would offset the bill's cost and reduce the deficit, a Manchin priority.
U.S. proposes prisoner swap with Russia to free Brittney Griner
The Biden administration has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving time in the United States, for basketball star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Paul Whelan, CNN reported Wednesday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that the Biden administration had made a "substantial proposal" to Moscow "weeks ago" for Whelan and Griner, both classified by the U.S. as wrongfully detained. Griner, a WNBA player and two-time Olympic gold medal winner, has been held on drug charges since February. Whelan was arrested in 2018 on espionage charges. Griner told a Moscow court Wednesday that after her arrest she had to sign documents she didn't understand because they were in Russian.
Judge sentences two more ex-officers for violating George Floyd's civil rights
A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao to three years and three and a half years in prison, respectively, for violating George Floyd's civil rights during his 2020 killing. Keung and another ex-officer, Thomas Lane, held down Floyd, an unarmed Black man detained on suspicion of using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes, while former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. Thao held back bystanders who were calling for the officers to give Floyd medical attention. Earlier this month, Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Chauvin to about 20 years and Lane to two and a half years.
Biden ends isolation after 2 negative COVID tests
President Biden has completed his five-day isolation and tested negative for COVID-19 twice, clearing him to resume normal activities, his doctor said Wednesday. Biden will wear a mask when near others for 10 days in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden, who at age 79 is in a high-risk group, credited his quick recovery and mild symptoms to his vaccination, two booster shots, and a five-day course of the Pfizer antiviral Paxlovid. Biden said "COVID isn't gone" and he encouraged people to get vaccines, booster shots, and COVID treatments to minimize the risk of severe illness. "You don't need to be president to get these tools," he said.
Fed announces another big interest-rate hike to fight inflation
The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it would raise interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point for the second straight month as it continues to aggressively fight the highest inflation in four decades. The 12-member Federal Open Market Committee unanimously approved the unusually large increase, and signaled in a statement issued after its two-day meeting that it expected to make "ongoing increases." The central bank's statement noted that "spending and production have softened" since June's three-quarter-point rate hike, but that strong job gains have continued and prices have continued to rise, "reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher food and energy prices, and broader price pressures."
Report: Cassidy Hutchinson cooperating in DOJ Jan. 6 inquiry
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide in then-President Donald Trump's White House, is cooperating with the Justice Department's investigation into the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack by a mob of Trump supporters trying to prevent Congress from certifying his election loss, ABC News reported Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the matter. The Justice Department reached out to Hutchinson, who was a top adviser to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, after her blockbuster testimony to the House select committee that is investigating the attack, the Journal's sources said. Hutchinson testified to the House panel that Trump knew some people at his "Stop the Steal" rally before the attack were armed when he urged them to march to the Capitol.
2 more patients appear to beat HIV infections
Two more people have joined a small group of patients who appear to have been cured of their HIV infections, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Doctors caring for one of the patients, a 66-year-old man in Southern California, said they found no human immunodeficiency virus that can replicate in his body following a transplant of stem cells containing a rare genetic mutation that blocks HIV infection. He stopped antiretroviral drug therapy in March 2021 after the transplant. The other patient, a woman in her 70s in Spain, still has dormant HIV in some cells, but the quantity is declining and the virus isn't replicating. She stopped antiretroviral therapy 15 years ago. The cases could provide fresh clues toward a cure for the virus that causes AIDS.
Hulu, facing complaints from Democrats, says it will accept political ads
The Disney-backed Hulu streaming service said Wednesday it will start accepting political ads, reversing a policy that had angered Democrats after Hulu rejected two of its ads on abortion and guns this month. Hulu will now apply the standards Disney uses for its sports and entertainment cable networks. Hulu said the decision to bring its policy in line with Disney's other networks and the streaming service ESPN Plus came "after a thorough review." "Hulu will now accept candidate and issue advertisements covering a wide spectrum of policy positions, but reserves the right to request edits" or other changes, "in alignment with industry standards," the statement said. Mosaic Communications, a Democratic advertising firm, had announced a day earlier it would stop buying candidate ads with Hulu until it changed the policy.
Mega Millions jackpot reaches $1 billion
The Mega Millions jackpot rose above $1 billion on Wednesday after Tuesday night's drawing failed to produce a winner. The grand prize in Friday night's drawing stood at an estimated $1.02 billion, lottery officials said, but continuing ticket sales could push closer to the biggest-ever lottery payday of $1.58 billion, won in a 2016 Powerball jackpot. The cash option for the current estimated prize would be $602.5 million. The jackpot for Tuesday's drawing would have been $830 million, which would have been the third largest Mega Millions prize, and the fourth largest lottery prize in history. Participants desperate to see if they had won flooded the Mega Millions website with "unprecedented" traffic, a Mega Millions spokesperson said.
'Leave It to Beaver' star Tony Dow dies at 77
Actor Tony Dow, best known for playing Wally Cleaver on the classic television show Leave It to Beaver, died on Wednesday of complications from liver cancer, his manager Frank Bilotta announced. He was 77. Dow joined the cast of Leave it to Beaver at age 12, and portrayed the title character's responsible older brother Wally for six seasons. In the 1980s, Dow and the other surviving members of the Leave It to Beaver cast reunited for a TV movie and two spin-off sitcoms. Dow also appeared in guest spots and directed other television shows, and became a sculptor. He was open about having clinical depression, and delivered speeches on mental health, telling audiences, "If Wally Cleaver can be depressed, anybody can be."