House Democrats push through massive manufacturing, tech bill aimed at competing with China:
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is taking a lead role in courting Republicans to get the legislation through Congress. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
On Friday, a large bill set to strengthen U.S. tech and advanced manufacturing to ensure competitiveness with China passed the U.S. House. The America COMPETES Act The $350 billion legislative package includes a wide range of provisions such as $45 billion being used for addressing supply chain issues, looking into human rights abuses in China, and issuing directives to U.S. officials to secure further commitments from China on combating illicit fentanyl trafficking. It barely made it through the lower chamber with a party line vote of 222-210. It is likely that they can reconcile their version with the Senate’s, which has bipartisan support. Their version is roughly $200 billion and aims to establish programs for the commercialization of artificial intelligence and advanced computers while protecting domestic research. It is likely that the Senate version is a better representation of the final bill as Democrats will need Republican support to get it through.
U.S. winter storm leaves hundreds of thousands without power:
A car is abandoned overnight after it crashed during a snowstorm in Toledo, Ohio, U.S., February 3, 2022. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse
Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses went without power on Friday after a winter storm dumped sleet and heavy snow on much of the central United States this week. According to Poweroutage.us, over 370,000 households went without power in areas ranging all the way from Texas to New York. Airlines canceled nearly 3,000 flights on Friday after being forced to scrap 5,000 of them on Thursday. Windchill warnings remain in effect in Texas and the Great Plains as morning lows range from below 0°F to single digits. Winter storm warnings remain in effect from Tennessee to New England where a mixture of sleet and snow is expected to make travel difficult.
Strained US hospitals seek foreign nurses amid visa windfall:
Faith Akinmade, an ICU nurse at the University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Ky., who is originally from Nigeria, poses for a photo in front of the hospital (Tom Round/University of Louisville Hospital via AP)
Faced with a drastic shortage of nurses, many hospitals are beginning to look abroad for healthcare workers. Hospitals are struggling with many retiring nurses and with handling the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent report by the University of California, San Francisco shows that there is a shortage of 40,000 nurses in California alone, which make up 14% of the workforce. There is currently double the normal number of green cards available for foreign professionals as few were issued during the height of the pandemic. Many hospitals are attempting to fill in the gaps with traveling nurses, but this can be expensive and still fails to bring in the number of nurses needed. The Biden Administration has taken steps to help foreign health care workers enter the country so that they can help battle current infections. Despite the demand, there’s no guarantee hospitals will get the needed visas. Greg Siskind, an immigration attorney, said U.S. consular offices are hampered by limits on remote work and video interviews and are not required to issue available visas. On top of this, most employment-based green cards tend to go to professionals already in the United States, not overseas, though the process can at least be sped up.