Analysis & Comment

Your Friday Briefing

Good morning. We’re covering a big test for President Biden’s agenda, the E.U.’s newest pandemic challenge and Lithuania’s spitting contest with China.

Biden’s agenda on the line

President Biden signed a short-term spending bill to fund the U.S. government until early December and avoid an imminent shutdown.

The extension gave lawmakers additional time to reach consensus over the dozen annual bills that dictate federal spending, but the future of Biden’s domestic agenda still hung in the balance.

Late Thursday night, Democrats in the House of Representatives delayed a vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, a setback to a crucial piece of Biden’s economic agenda. Liberal Democrats had threatened to block it without substantial progress toward passing a $3.5 trillion social policy and climate bill.

That larger legislation faces tough resistance from moderates in the party. On Thursday, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a key holdout, announced for the first time that he would support only $1.5 trillion in funding for the social safety net.

The debt ceiling: On Thursday night, the Senate took its first procedural step to raise the debt limit, setting up another partisan clash. Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, told Congress that the deadline was Oct. 18 and inaction would risk a first-ever default on the federal debt.

E.U. nations risk a virus surge

European countries with insufficient vaccination coverage could be in serious trouble if they relax Covid-19 restrictions in the next few weeks, according to a new report by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

So far, only three of the bloc’s 27 member countries have fully inoculated more than 75 percent of their residents, according to the agency’s data. Just over 62 percent of the bloc’s total population is fully vaccinated, and eastern nations like Romania and Bulgaria are far behind wealthier countries to the west.

That level of vaccine coverage will not be enough to forestall outbreaks when pandemic restrictions are relaxed, the agency warned, especially now that the Delta variant is the bloc’s dominant strain.

Schools: Most children in the bloc have resumed attending school in person, with no coronavirus vaccine authorized yet for children under 12. For this reason, it is especially important for the education system to put preventive measures in place, the report said.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Several countries in Asia are now on track to surpass the U.S. in fully vaccinating their populations.

Only nine African countries have met a goal of vaccinating 10 percent of their populations by the end of September, the W.H.O. said.

Lithuania vs. China

The Baltic country has enraged Beijing by cozying up to Taiwan, quitting a Chinese-led diplomatic forum and telling its officials to scrap certain Chinese phones that it says carry censorship software.

Politics Updates

In response, Beijing has recalled its ambassador, halted trips by a Chinese cargo train into the country and has made it nearly impossible for many Lithuanian exporters to sell their goods in China. Chinese state media accused Lithuania of being the “anti-China vanguard” in Europe.

The nations are hardly comparable: China has 1.4 billion people. Lithuania has fewer than 3 million, no tanks or fighter jets, and its economy is 270 times smaller than China’s.

But Lithuania has proved that even tiny countries can create headaches for a superpower. Its role as a transit corridor for goods heading to Europe makes it important to Beijing. And now, its fellow members in the European Union are expected to discuss the situation at a meeting next week. Nothing could be worse for Beijing than if other countries followed Lithuania’s example.

THE LATEST NEWS

Europe News

A French court sentenced Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, to a year of house arrest for illegally financing his failed 2012 re-election campaign.

A Dutch newspaper reported that the police in the Netherlands had beefed up security around Prime Minister Mark Rutte amid fears over the country’s notorious drug gangs.

German police arrested a 96-year-old woman, who worked as a secretary in a concentration camp, after she failed to show up in court.

Britain’s top criminal court sentenced the police officer who abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard to life in prison.

Africa and the Middle East

Ethiopia ordered the expulsion of seven senior U.N. officials, some of whom are leading the aid response in Tigray.

In East Africa, people who usually work in tourism are struggling to make a living without regular safaris.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel claims he wants to “shrink” the conflict with Palestinians, though a solution may remain elusive.

What Else Is Happening

Aid groups say a humanitarian crisis looms in Afghanistan.

Police stormed an Ecuadorean prison where more than 100 inmates died this week as gangs fought for control.

U.S. senators grilled a Facebook executive about accusations that Instagram harms teenagers.

A strange comet astonished astronomers when it erupted four times in quick succession.

A Morning Read

Daniel Craig spoke to The Times about his final James Bond appearance in “No Time to Die,” out on Oct. 8. “I’ve got other projects I do, and they’ll reward me, but there’s nothing quite like a Bond movie,” he said.

The State of Vaccine Mandates in the U.S.

    • Vaccine rules. On Aug. 23, the F.D.A. granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and up, paving the way for mandates in both the public and private sectors. Such mandates are legally allowed and have been upheld in court challenges.
    • College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.
    • Schools. California became the first state to issue a vaccine mandate for all educators in public and private schools. New York City has also introduced a vaccine mandate for teachers and staff, but it has yet to take effect because of legal challenges. On Sept. 27, a federal appeals panel reversed a decision that temporarily paused that mandate. it. Los Angeles has mandated vaccines for students 12 and older who are attending class in person.
    • Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get vaccinated. Mandates for health care workers in California and New York State appear to have compelled thousands of holdouts to receive shots.
    • New York City. Proof of vaccination is required of workers and customers for indoor dining, gyms, performances and other indoor situations. City education staff and hospital workers must also get a vaccine.
    • At the federal level. On Sept. 9, President Biden announced a vaccine mandate for the vast majority of federal workers. This mandate will apply to employees of the executive branch, including the White House and all federal agencies and members of the armed services.
    • In the private sector. Mr. Biden has mandated that all companies with more than 100 workers require vaccination or weekly testing, helping propel new corporate vaccination policies. Some companies, like United Airlines and Tyson Foods, had mandates in place before Mr. Biden’s announcement.

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