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Nation and world news briefs for 091620

Nation and world news briefs for 091620

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CAPITOL HILL

Pelosi says House will remain in session

WASHINGTON  — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief, a move that came as Democrats from swing districts signaled discontent with a standoff that could force them to face voters without delivering more aid.

Pelosi's comments came as moderate Democrats, many from areas won by President Donald Trump four years ago, signed on to a $1.5 trillion rescue package endorsed by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of about 50 lawmakers who seek common solutions to issues.

The plan contains many elements of COVID rescue packages devised by both House Democrats and Republicans controlling the Senate, including aid to schools, funding for state and local governments, and renewal of lapsed COVID-related jobless benefits.

The price tag is significantly less than the $2.2 trillion figure cited by Pelosi but it's also well above an approximately $650 billion Senate GOP plan that failed last week due to Democratic opposition.

WILDFIRES

Bad air spreads from massive fires

PORTLAND, Ore.  — Putrid, dangerous air spewing from massive wildfires on the West Coast is seeping into homes and businesses, sneaking into cars through air conditioning vents and keeping people already shut away by the coronavirus pandemic from enjoying even a walk outside or trip to the park.

People in Oregon, Washington state and California have been struggling for a week or longer under some of the most unhealthy air on the planet. Relief from the acrid yellowish-green smog may not come for days or weeks, scientists and forecasters said.

And with wildfires getting larger and more destructive because of climate change and more people living closer to areas that burn, it’s likely smoke will shroud the sky more often in the future.

PROTESTS

Charges placed after demonstrations

Thirteen people who are accused of committing crimes while participating in a civil disturbance in Lancaster on Sunday night sat behind bars Tuesday, with bail for seven of them set at $1 million.

The eight for whom charging documents have been made public are accused of being instigators during demonstrations over the fatal police shooting of an armed man. Authorities said the protests degenerated into rioting that damaged Lancaster's police headquarters and produced an arson fire that blocked a downtown intersection.

Police in Lancaster, a diverse city of nearly 60,000 in the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country, said Tuesday that they arrested five others on similar charges, a group that was awaiting arraignment and to have bail set. The 13 defendants range from 16 to 43 years old.

INSURANCE

Americans without insurance growing

ORLANDO, Fla. — In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit and the U.S. economy crashed, median household income was the highest ever on record, but the number of U.S. residents without health insurance also increased, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

Median household income in 2019 was $68,703, an increase of 6.8% from the previous year. That figure surpassed past boom-before-the bust years in 2007, when it was $62,090 in 2019 dollars and in 1999, when it was $62,641 in 2019 dollars, according to the Census Bureau.

The number of people without health insurance increased last year to 29.6 million residents, or about 9.2% of the U.S. population from 28.6 million residents, or about 8.9% of the population, in 2018. That was primarily due to a decrease in the number of people covered by Medicaid, which provides health coverage to low-income adults, children, pregnant women and people with disabilities.

Hispanics saw the greatest jump in the uninsured of any racial or ethnic group, going from 17.9% in 2018 to 18.7% in 2019. The percentage of non-Hispanic whites and Asians without health insurance grew by less than half a percentage point from 2018 to 2019, and there was no statistical change for Blacks.

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