Thursday morning news – July 15, 2021

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kent Covington. 

Biden meets with Democrats at Capitol on new spending plans » President Biden held a lunch meeting at the Capitol Wednesday with Senate Democrats as he looks to firm up support for trillions in new spending.

BIDEN: Great to be home, great to be back with all my colleagues, and I think we’re going to get a lot done.

The meeting came one day after party leaders announced that Democrats had agreed amongst themselves on an enormous new spending blueprint.

The budget agreement envisions spending $3.5 trillion over the coming decade on Democratic priorities like climate change, health care and family-service programs.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer…

SCHUMER: This budget resolution will allow us to pass the most significant legislation to expand support and help American families since the New Deal.

Many Republicans have signed onto a bipartisan infrastructure plan in the neighborhood of $1 trillion. But GOP Sen. John Barrasso warned that trillions in spending on top of that is a bad idea.

BARRASSO: They’re acting like this is Monopoly money. Look, this is about the green bad deal. This is about a massive expansion of the government’s role in our healthcare. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Democrats hope to push the resolution through the Senate and House before the August recess. The plan still needs buy-in from moderate Democrats to secure the 50 votes needed to pass in the Senate.

New report reveals inflation in wholesale prices » News of the new spending deal came as the Labor Department issued another report on Wednesday showing inflation taking a bite out of the U.S. economy.

Inflation at the wholesale level jumped 1 percent in June, pushing price gains over the past 12 months up by 7.3 percent. That is the largest 12-month increase on record.

That news followed a Tuesday report showing consumer prices are also surging.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers Wednesday it’s a simple matter of supply and demand.

POWELL: Strong demand in sectors where production bottlenecks has led to especially rapid price increases for some goods and services, which should partially reverse as effects of the bottlenecks unwind.

Powell said once again that he’s confident the inflation surge is temporary.

Some economists aren’t quite as sure and are growing increasingly uneasy.

But the Fed and the White House insist there is little risk of inflation spiraling out of control as it did in the 1970s.

U.S. to begin evacuating Afghans who aided American military » The Biden administration is preparing to evacuate Afghan interpreters and translators who aided the U.S. military.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki…

PSAKI: We’re launching what we are calling Operation Allies Refuge to support relocation flights for interested and eligible Afghan nationals and their families who have supported the United states and our partners…

President Biden has faced pressure from lawmakers in both parties to come up with a plan to help evacuate Afghan military helpers.

Meantime, former President George W. Bush spoke out on the withdrawal Wednesday. Bush has typically declined to comment on policy decisions by his successors. But with regard to the troop pullout in Afghanistan, he told German public broadcaster DW News…

BUSH: I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad and I’m sad.

The U.S. military is expected to complete its troop pullout next month.

COVID-19 cases on the rise in the U.S. » COVID-19 cases are back on the rise in the United States, doubling over the past three weeks. That as the ulta-contagious delta variant continues to spread.

The 7-day rolling average of new daily cases now stands at about 24,000—up from 12,000 in late June.

New cases were rising slowly around the first of July, but spiked after July 4th holiday gatherings.

The five states with the biggest two-week jump in cases per capita all had COVID-19 vaccination rates lower than the national level.

While new cases have surged in some areas, deaths from COVID-19 have risen only slightly, about 8 percent over the past week.

Overdose deaths hit record high last year » More Americans died of drug overdoses last year than ever before. That according to a new government report. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 in 2020 in the grip of the pandemic.

That estimate far eclipses the high of about 72,000 drug overdose deaths reached the previous year and amounts to a 29% increase.

The country was already struggling with its worst overdose epidemic heading into last year. But researchers say clearly COVID-19 poured fuel on the fire.

That as lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get.

Prescription painkillers once drove the nation’s overdose epidemic. But heroin and fentanyl deaths have surpassed painkillers in recent years.

CDC data suggests fentanyl was involved in more than 60% of the overdose deaths last year.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

I’m Kent Covington. For more news, features, and analysis, visit us at

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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