ACROSS OUR STATE & NATION
Evictions looming, Biden fails to
to extend ban
WASHINGTON (AP) — A nationwide eviction moratorium is set to expire Saturday after President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress worked furiously but ultimately failed to align on a long-shot strategy to prevent millions of Americans from being forced from their homes during a COVID-19 surge.
More than 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, some in a matter of days, as nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states during the pandemic has been slow to make it into the hands of renters and landlords owed payments.
Tensions mounted late Friday as it became clear there would be no resolution in sight. Hours before the ban was set to expire, Biden called on local governments to “take all possible steps” to immediately disburse the funds. Evictions could begin as soon as Monday.
“There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic,” Biden said in a statement.
“Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can,” he said.
$1T infrastructure plan clears another Senate hurdle
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate further advanced a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan Friday with a bipartisan group of senators helping it clear one more hurdle and bracing to see if support can hold during the next few days of debate and efforts to amend it.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the chamber should be able to process the legislation quickly given the bipartisan support. But as the day dragged into evening, the full text of what promises to be a massive bill was not finished by the time lawmakers adjourned.
Senators will return for a rare Saturday session as they push through a lengthy process.
“We may need the weekend, we may vote on several amendments, but with the cooperation of our Republican colleagues I believe we can finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill in a matter of days,” Schumer said.
But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, predicted, “It’s going to be a grind.”
Study: Vaccinated people can
carry as much virus as others
In another dispiriting setback for the nation’s efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, scientists who studied a big COVID-19 outbreak in Massachusetts concluded that vaccinated people who got so-called breakthrough infections carried about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots.
Health officials on Friday released details of that research, which was key in this week’s decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infection surges. The authors said the findings suggest that the CDC’s mask guidance should be expanded to include the entire country, even outside of hot spots.
The findings have the potential to upend past thinking about how the disease is spread. Previously, vaccinated people who got infected were thought to have low levels of virus and to be unlikely to pass it to others. But the new data shows that is not the case with the delta variant.
The outbreak in Provincetown — a seaside tourist spot on Cape Cod in the county with Massachusetts’ highest vaccination rate — has so far included more than 900 cases. About three-quarters of them were people who were fully vaccinated.
Travis Dagenais, who was among the many vaccinated people infected, said “throwing caution to the wind” and partying in crowds for long nights over the July Fourth holiday was a mistake in hindsight.
Justice says IRS must give Trump tax returns
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department, in a reversal, says the Treasury Department must provide the House Ways and Means Committee former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, apparently ending a long legal showdown over the records.
In a memo dated Friday, Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel said the committee chairman “has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President’s tax information” and that under federal law, “Treasury must furnish the information to the Committee.”
The 39-page memo is signed by Dawn Johnsen, installed by the Biden administration as the acting head of the legal counsel office.
During the Trump administration, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wouldn’t turn over the tax returns because he concluded they were being sought by Democrats who control the House of Representatives for partisan reasons.
The committee sued for the records under a federal law that says the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers. The committee said it needed Trump’s taxes for an investigation into whether he complied with tax law.
says he had
a small heart
attack, will be back
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — “Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk said Friday that he “had a small heart attack” but will “be back soon.”
The 58-year-old actor took to Twitter to make his first public statement since collapsing on the show’s Albuquerque, New Mexico, set on Tuesday.
“Hi. It’s Bob,” Odenkirk tweeted. “Thank you. To my family and friends who have surrounded me this week. And for the outpouring of love from everyone who expressed concern and care for me. It’s overwhelming. But I feel the love and it means so much.”
“I had a small heart attack,” he continued. “But I’m going to be ok thanks to Rosa Estrada and the doctors who knew how to fix the blockage without surgery.”
His representatives had previously only said that he had a “heart related incident” and was stable in an Albuquerque hospital after collapsing while shooting the show’s sixth and final season.
To get shots in arms, governments turn to money
Millions of people in the U.S. who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine could soon have a new reason to roll up their sleeves: money in their pockets.
President Joe Biden is calling on states and local governments to join those that are already handing out dollars for shots. New York, the nation’s biggest city, started doling out $100 awards on Friday.
The president, health officials and state leaders are betting that the financial incentive will spur hesitant people to get the shot just as the highly contagious delta variant sweeps through parts of the country — particularly those with low vaccination rates — and as the number of daily inoculations falls sharply from its April high.
Jay Vojno, getting his shot Friday in New York, said he figured some kind of incentive was coming, so he was willing to hold off on getting vaccinated until it did.
“I knew they were going to do it, so I just waited,” he said.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump urged senior Justice Department officials to declare the results of the 2020 election “corrupt” in a December phone call, according to handwritten notes from one of the participants in the conversation.
“Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” Trump said at one point to then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, according to notes taken by Richard Donoghue, who was then Rosen’s deputy and who was also on the call.
The notes of the Dec. 27 call, released Friday by the House Oversight Committee, underscore the lengths to which Trump went to try to overturn the results of the election and to elicit the support of senior government officials in that effort. Emails released last month show Trump and his allies in the last weeks of his presidency pressured the Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud, forwarding them conspiracy theories and even a draft legal brief they hoped would be filed with the Supreme Court.
The pressure is all the more notable because just weeks earlier, Trump’s own attorney general William Barr, revealed that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have overturned the results. Unsubstantiated claims of fraud have been repeatedly rejected by judge after judge, including by Trump appointees, and by election officials across the country.
“These handwritten notes show that President Trump directly instructed our nation’s top law enforcement agency to take steps to overturn a free and fair election in the final days of his presidency,” committee chairman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, said in a statement.