Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
Democrats take aim as Trump abandons drug pricing plan
Democrats see U.S. President Donald Trump becoming increasingly vulnerable to criticism about healthcare costs after the administration's decision to scrap a proposal to lower drug prices, and 2020 White House candidates are rushing to seize the spotlight on the issue. The debate over the future of the American healthcare system has become a focal point of the Democratic presidential nominating contest. As Trump has failed to make strides to remedy the problem, Democrats are becoming more vocal.
2020 Democratic hopefuls: party needs to embrace progressive ideals, not Trump voters
Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren told a room full of liberal activists on Saturday that the party needs to fully embrace policies such as higher taxes on the wealthy, wiping out student loan debt and criminal justice reform if they want to win the White House. The 70-year-old U.S. senator from Massachusetts said these ideas are not only supported by the activists gathered at the Netroots Nation conference in Philadelphia, the largest annual gathering of progressives in the United States, but by large majorities of the American public.
Barry drenches Louisiana after weakening to tropical storm
Hurricane Barry weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall in Louisiana on Saturday after a westward shift that appeared to spare low-lying New Orleans from the massive flooding feared earlier this week. The National Hurricane Center, which had labeled Barry the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019 just hours earlier, said the storm came ashore near Intracoastal City with maximum sustained winds that had dropped to 70 miles per hour (115 kph).
A wide swath of New York's Manhattan borough was plunged into darkness Saturday after a transformer explosion knocked out power to subways, stores, and Broadway theaters, but the city's main utility said it had restored most power within hours. No deaths or injuries were reported due to the blackout, which officials said began at 6:47 p.m. EDT (2247 GMT), and darkened a stretch of the city from West 42nd Street to West 72nd Street. The outage occurred 42 years to the day from a major 1970s blackout that sparked looting and rioting in the United States' most populous city.
Vice President Mike Pence viewed an overcrowded, foul-smelling facility in Texas on Friday where nearly 400 men are detained after being accused of crossing the U.S. border illegally. Some 384 single men were corralled behind metal fences inside the sweltering facility in McAllen, according to a pool reporter on the scene. The men did not have mats or pillows and some were sleeping on concrete.
Trump administration freezing fuel efficiency penalties
The Trump administration said late on Friday it was issuing final rules to suspend a 2016 Obama administration regulation that more than doubled penalties for automakers failing to meet fuel efficiency requirements. Congress in 2015 ordered federal agencies to adjust a wide range of civil penalties to account for inflation and, in response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under President Barack Obama issued rules to eventually raise fines to $14 from $5.50 for every 0.1 miles per gallon of fuel that new cars and trucks consume in excess of the required standards.
Pelosi sets spending demands for two-year budget deal
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday that a two-year budget agreement with the Trump administration must include equal increases in defense and nondefense spending, plus additional money for a program intended to improve healthcare for military veterans. "We all agree on the need to address the debt limit, but we also must reach an agreement on spending priorities based upon the principle of parity as soon as possible," the top Democrat in the House of Representatives told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a July 13 letter.
Jailed American financier Jeffrey Epstein made payments to two potential witnesses seeking to influence them in the child sex trafficking case against him late last year, prosecutors said late on Friday. In a filing in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said Epstein wired a total of $350,000 to the two individuals, who were not named. They said they learned of the payments through records they obtained from a financial institution, which was not identified.
Man dead after attacking immigration detention facility in Washington state: police
A man armed with a rifle attacked an immigration detention facility in Washington state early on Saturday, throwing incendiary devices at the building and cars in the parking lot before dying after police opened fire, authorities said. An employee at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma reported one vehicle on fire and said the suspect was also attempting to ignite a large propane tank outside the facility, the Tacoma Police Department said in a statement.
When a massive blackout plunged much of Manhattan into darkness on Saturday evening, a choir and the casts of Broadway musicals entertained tourists with impromptu performances in the street. The outages struck at around 7 p.m. (2300 GMT), just as many shows were starting at theaters in Midtown and at the Lincoln Center plaza on New York City's Upper West Side.
(With inputs from agencies.)