States scale back virus reporting just as cases surge

OMAHA, Neb. — Several states scaled back their reporting of COVID-19 statistics this month just as cases across the country started to skyrocket, depriving the public of real-time information on outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in their communities.

Dems renew questions about FBI background check of Kavanaugh

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are raising new concerns about the thoroughness of the FBI’s background investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after the FBI revealed that it had received thousands of tips and had provided “all relevant” ones to the White House counsel’s office.

Groups worry about tapping COVID relief for infrastructure

WASHINGTON — Organizations representing long-term care facilities on Friday urged lawmakers working on a bipartisan infrastructure plan to avoid dipping into COVID-relief funds to help pay for the roughly $600 billion in new spending sought for the public works buildout.

Yellen outlines to Congress emergency measures on debt limit

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress on Friday that she will start taking emergency measures next week to keep the government from an unprecedented default on the national debt, warning that a default would cause “irreparable harm to the U.S. economy and the livelihoods of all Americans.”

Pelosi says ‘deadly serious’ Jan. 6 probe to go without GOP

WASHINGTON — Unfazed by Republican threats of a boycott, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared Thursday that a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection will take on its “deadly serious” work whether Republicans participate or not.

Virus’s impact: More relaxing and thinking, less socializing

SAN DIEGO — The eruption of COVID-19 last year caused the proportion of people working from home in the U.S. to nearly double, with the shift most pronounced among college graduates and workers in such fields as finance and professional services.

GOP’s vaccine push comes with strong words, few actions

WASHINGTON — Republican politicians are under increasing pressure to speak out to persuade COVID-19 vaccine skeptics to roll up their sleeves and take the shots as a new, more contagious variant sends caseloads soaring. But after months of ignoring — and, in some cases, stoking — misinformation about the virus, experts warn it may be too late to change the minds of many who are refusing.

Western wildfires grow, but better weather helps crews

BLY, Oregon — Lower winds and better weather helped crews using bulldozers and helicopters battling the nation’s largest wildfire in southern Oregon, but gusty winds pushed a Northern California wildfire into Nevada on Thursday, prompting evacuations as blazes burn across the West.

Pelosi bars Trump allies from Jan. 6 probe; GOP vows boycott

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rejected two Republicans tapped by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, a decision the Republican denounced as “an egregious abuse of power.”

Infrastructure bill fails first vote; Senate to try again

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans rejected an effort Wednesday to begin debate on the big infrastructure deal that a bipartisan group of senators brokered with President Joe Biden, but pressure was mounting as supporters insisted they just needed more time before another vote possibly next week.

Massive wildfires in US West bring haze to East Coast

PORTLAND, Ore. — Wildfires in the American West, including one burning in Oregon that’s currently the largest in the U.S., are creating hazy skies as far away as New York as the massive infernos spew smoke and ash into the air in columns up to six miles high.

Trump inaugural committee head accused of being UAE agent

LOS ANGELES — The chair of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee was arrested Tuesday on charges alleging he secretly conspired to influence U.S. policy to benefit the United Arab Emirates, even while he was seeking a position as an American diplomat.

Biden wants spending to boost economy, but GOP to block vote

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Monday that his infrastructure and families agenda must be passed to sustain the economic momentum of his first six months in office, aiming to set the tone for a crucial week of congressional negotiations on the two bills.