5 things to know for September 23: Covid-19, debt calling, immigration, policing, France

Here is what you need to know

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Thursday 09.23.21

The wild home-selling blitz is cooling down in the US, but home prices are still ludicrously high. The average home price last month was up 14.9% from a year ago. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On With Your Day.

By AJ Willingham

A cancer patient gets a Covid-19 booster shot in Hartford, Connecticut.


The US Food and Drug Administration announced it will grant emergency use authorization for a booster dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in people 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease and people whose jobs put them at risk of infection. That last category includes health care workers and also people who work in places like grocery stores, homeless shelters and prisons. Today, vaccine advisers to the CDC will meet to act on the FDA’s decision. The CDC must give its stamp of approval before any booster doses can be officially given. (Third doses are already approved for certain immunocompromised people.) A member of the CDC’s vaccine team said yesterday that findings from several studies show vaccine protection against Covid-19 does wane over time, especially for older people.

Debt ceiling

Democrats are nervous about expected Republican pushback in the Senate over the debt ceiling. Instead of facing up to GOP resistance leading up to the mid-October deadline, some Dems are considering lengthy, laborious legislative methods to pass a measure to raise or suspend the debt ceiling without Republican help. If the US were to default, the government would have to limit its spending, and that would spell real consequences for millions of Americans. Social Security payments and the next monthly child tax credits could be delayed, and food stamp recipients could be left waiting for funds. A default also could set off a recession that would wipe out millions of jobs and erase about $15 trillion in household wealth, a report from a financial services company warns.


As the crush of migrants along the southern US border persists, Border Patrol agents in Del Rio, Texas, say they had asked their leaders as far back as June for extra help to rapidly process migrants. Agents this summer began to see an increase in people crossing the Rio Grande into the US, at times getting up to several hundred congregating under the Del Rio International Bridge. In recent days, that number ballooned to 14,000. The Biden administration is scrambling to deal with the crisis by ramping up deportation flights and talking with officials in Brazil and Chile about repatriating migrants who’d lived there. Photos of refugees arriving in Del Rio show a dangerous, desperate journey through heat and muddy water to the squalid, tight encampments that have raised alarm bells among health and humanitarian experts.


After months of negotiation, a bipartisan effort to move forward with federal police reform legislation has officially ended without a deal. Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Karen Bass, both Democrats, and Republican Sen. Tim Scott led the talks, but they say complex issues like qualified immunity (a legal doctrine that protects police officers from being sued in civil court) kept them from finding a plan that would garner bipartisan support in the Senate. After the breakdown, President Biden criticized Republican leaders for rejecting even modest reforms and is now considering taking executive action on policing reforms. Meanwhile, a group of former and current Black women officers have filed a class action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, claiming racial and sexual discrimination.


Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday for the first time since a major diplomatic dispute erupted between the two countries over a trilateral deal among the US, UK and Australia. The fallout of the deal, which includes the provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, led to tension during this week’s United Nations General Assembly and inspired unrestrained criticism from some French officials. Macron, however, has been more reserved. A joint statement from the US and France after the call said Macron and Biden “agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners.”