Tuesday morning news – December 29, 2020

House votes to raise amount of stimulus checks » Lawmakers in the House voted last night to grant President Trump’s recent request to raise the payout in the next round of stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 for most Americans.

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 275. The nays are 134. The bill is passed. 

Democrats were lockstep in support of the measure. Virginia Congressman Don Beyer said a larger relief payout is needed and long overdue. 

BEYER: $600 is not enough for people facing eviction and hunger. For many, this would just pay a past due rental bill from July. 

Most Republicans voted “no,” including Texas Congressman Kevin Brady.

BRADY: I worry that as we spend nearly another nearly half a trillion dollars so hastily that we’re not targeting this help to the very Americans who are struggling the most and need that help. 

But dozens of Republican lawmakers sided with both Democrats and President Trump on raising the amount of the checks. 

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it will be a much tougher sell. Republicans are wary of more spending, pointing to a national debt spiraling toward $28 trillion.

Biden rips Trump policies, decries lack of cooperation in transition » President-elect Joe Biden tore into the outgoing Trump administration in remarks on Monday. 

He said his transition team is encountering “roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. 

BIDEN: We just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility. 

Biden spoke from Wilmington, Delaware, after a briefing from members of his national security and foreign policy review teams. 

He also vowed to reverse President Trump’s immigration and border asylum policies.

BIDEN: We’re going to work purposely, diligently, and responsibly to roll back Trump’s restrictions, starting on day one. 

He claimed the Trump administration has “systematically created” a “humanitarian disaster” on the southern border. 

The head of the Border Patrol labor union and other critics of Biden’s border plans say his polices will encourage illegal immigration. 

States step up vaccine efforts for nursing homes, healthcare workers » States are stepping up efforts to roll out coronavirus vaccines to healthcare workers and nursing home residents. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday marked the start of an effort to vaccinate all long term care residents in his state. 

MURPHY: Long term care facilities across the entire nation, and certainly here, have been crushed by COVID-19. They have borne an outsized burden of this pandemic. 

And Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told reporters…

KEMP: The federal government and the team at Operation Warp Speed have rolled out a program for long term care facilities to partner directly with CVS and Walgreens to deliver the vaccine to their residents and their staff. 

And Kemp said his state is offering a delicious incentive for healthcare workers to get the new coronavirus vaccine shots. 

KEMP: Each frontline worker who’s vaccinated will receive a Waffle House gift card, and if that doesn’t get you in line, I don’t know what will. 

Vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer are shipping out nationwide. 

And a huge study of another vaccine candidate kicked off on Monday. The shots produced by drugmaker Novavax are the fifth to reach final-stage testing in the United States. 

China sentences lawyer who reported on outbreak to 4 years » A Chinese court on Monday sentenced a former lawyer who reported on the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak to four years behind bars. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: A lawyer for Zhang Zhan said her supposed crime, according to the government, was—quote—“picking fights and provoking trouble.”

Chinese authorities arrested her in May, saying she spread false information, granted interviews to foreign media, and “maliciously manipulated” the outbreak.

Zhang traveled to the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan in February and reported her findings on social media platforms. 

The 37-year-old staged a hunger strike during her detention and is reportedly now in poor health. 

China also threatened and detained several doctors who first raised concerns about the pandemic for—quote—“rumor-mongering.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

EU nations sign off on trade deal with UK » Ambassadors from the 27 EU nations gave their unanimous approval on Monday to a freshly minted trade deal with the U.K. 

The approval had been expected, since all EU leaders have welcomed the deal that the two sides struck on Christmas Eve. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also celebrated the agreement. 

JOHNSON: I believe it will be the basis of a happy and successful and stable partnership with our friends in the EU for years to come. 

But U.K. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said Monday that while Brexit means new opportunities, it also brings “specific challenges.” 

Firms are scrambling to digest the impact of the more than 1,200-page trade deal.

And the British government is warning businesses to brace for some—quote—“bumpy moments” when new trade rules take effect on Thursday.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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