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National News

February 25, 2021

Here is the latest news from The Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are rallying solidly against Democrats’ proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. But even as they do, lawmakers are awaiting a decision by the Senate’s parliamentarian that could bolster or potentially kill a pivotal provision hiking the federal minimum wage. Democrats plan to push the sweeping package through the House on Friday. They were hoping the Senate would follow quickly enough to have legislation on President Joe Biden’s desk by mid-March. But the big suspense is over whether the nonpartisan parliamentarian will decide if the minimum wage plan can stay in the bill and enjoy its protection against a GOP filibuster.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-led House is poised to pass a bill that enshrines protections in the nation’s labor and civil rights laws for LGBTQ people, a top priority of President Joe Biden, though the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. Supporters say the law would ensure that every person is treated equally under the law. But some religious groups and social conservatives worry that the bill would force people to take actions that contradict their religious beliefs. Meanwhile, hundreds of the nations leading corporations have endorsed the measure.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Linda Thomas-Greenfield is taking up her post as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. A senior Russian diplomat says the red carpet will be rolled out and Moscow is ready to work with the Biden administration but it takes two to tango. Thomas-Greenfield is scheduled to present her credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday. Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky says Moscow looks forward to interactions with her. But he says America’s view that Russia is an enemy and a threat hasn’t changed under President Joe Biden, so it’s very difficult to imagine how the interaction with Moscow might change.

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders are gathering to try to inject new energy into the bloc’s lagging coronavirus vaccination effort as concern mounts that new variants might spread faster than authorities can adapt. At a videoconference summit Thursday, they’ll debate ways to speed the roll out of vaccines and the severity of restrictions needed to halt the spread of the virus. COVID-19 has killed more than 515,000 people across the 27 nations. The leaders will also weigh whether and when to introduce vaccine certificates. Europe’s tourism and travel industries are suffering, and the vacation destinations of southern Europe are desperate to avoid another disastrous summer. The summit talks will also touch on getting vaccines to other countries in need, notably in Africa.

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets have followed Wall Street higher after the Federal Reserve chairman said the U.S. central bank is in no hurry to withdraw support for the economy. London and Frankfurt rose in early trading while Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong closed higher. U.S. futures were mixed. Overnight, Wall Street hit a new high after chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed sees no inflation danger. That helped to dampen fears sparked by a rise in U.S. Treasury bond yields, an indicator of inflation sentiment. Investors also are looking for Congress to approve President Joe Biden’s proposed economic aid plan. That includes $1,400 checks to most Americans.