Shutdown averted, more omicron US cases, November jobs report: 5 things to know Friday – USA TODAY

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Both chambers of Congress passed a bill Thursday to fund the government through Feb. 18 – 11 more weeks – narrowly avoiding a shutdown. The passages give President Joe Biden an ample of amount of time to sign the bill before funding was set to run out at midnight on Friday. The Senate voted 69-28 late Thursday to pass the short-term measure that the House approved hours earlier by a vote of 221-212 that was almost entirely along party lines. The measure gives Congress several more weeks to work on a longer-term funding plan covering the entire fiscal year. A group of Republican senators nearly forced a shutdown after they threatened to delay passage of the bill in the upper chamber. They wanted language preventing the use of federal money to carry out a Biden administration mandate on workplace vaccinations, but the amendment to do that failed 50-48. “I am glad that in the end cooler heads prevailed,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday of the vote to keep the government open. 
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Some schools in Michigan will remain closed Friday due to threats of violence, after a 15-year-old shooter at Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Michigan, killed four students and wounded seven others Monday. Though many schools are closing out of an abundance of caution, others mention safety concerns and reported threats. Oxford High School, meanwhile, is closed through the rest of the week. Pat Watson, the superintendent of Bloomfield Hills Schools, about 20 miles south of Oxford Township, wrote in a memo Wednesday night that the district and others nearby “have received numerous reports of threats of violence circulating on social media.” 
Confirmed U.S. cases of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus are likely to tick up on Friday as known instances continue to rise across the country.  Five cases of the variant were identified in New York, state and city officials said Thursday. Cases of the variant have also been confirmed in California, Hawaii, Minnesota and Colorado. In Minnesota, health officials said a man began experiencing symptoms the day after attending the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Officials in New York said they were working to trace attendees of the convention, which was held Nov. 19-21 and drew about 50,000 people, according to event organizers. The omicron variant, first reported by scientists in South Africa, has been designated a “variant of concern” by global health officials, meaning it has the potential to be more contagious than prior strains or more resistant to vaccines.
Inflation is surging. Supply chains are snarled. And economists still are predicting that America’s employers delivered another month of solid job growth in November on the strength of steady consumer spending. Economists have forecast that employers added 535,000 jobs in November, nearly the same as October’s gain of 531,000, according to data provider FactSet via The Associated Press. FactSet also forecasts the unemployment rate dipped from 4.6% to 4.5%. Beneath the headline figures on hiring and unemployment, though, lurks a potentially even more consequential question: Are more people who lost jobs to the pandemic recession finally coming off the sidelines to look for work again? Many more job-seekers are needed to help companies fill their open jobs and sustain the economy’s growth. The omicron COVID-19 variant won’t affect Friday’s jobs report for November because the government gathered the data for it before that variant emerged. But omicron could exert an impact on the job market in future months.
We don’t want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing we need: Mariah. And that’s a wish granted because the Queen of Christmas is in overdrive this holiday season. We’ve got Mariah songs, Mariah merchandise, Mariah at McDonald’s and, now, a sequel to last year’s “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special,” which lands on the Apple TV+ streaming service Friday. Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson appeared in last year’s special. This year, viewers can expect Khalid, Kirk Franklin and a “song that is a fan favorite that I didn’t perform in the first Christmas special,” Carey said. “I go all out every year, darling,” she told USA TODAY. “I love the holidays. It’s just my thing.”
Contributing: The Associated Press


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