Incumbent Raphael Warnock has defeated Donald Trump-backed GOP challenger Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Senate runoff. Also in the news: China has announced it will reverse some of its severe anti-COVID-19 measures.
🙋🏼♀️ I’m Nicole Fallert, Daily Briefing author. After a loss, holidays can be hard. One woman’s ornaments help loved ones’ voices live on.
Let’s get going with Wednesday’s news.
Takeaways from the Georgia Senate runoff
In the final 2022 midterms battle, Georgia voters gave Senate Democrats an extra cushion when they extended the party’s majority by reelecting incumbent Raphael Warnock. “After a hard fought campaign, or should I say campaigns, it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy – the people have spoken,” Warnock said Tuesday evening. His victory makes him the first Black senator elected to a full six-year term in Georgia history.
What it means: Warnock’s win solidified a cycle in which Democrats defied history by defending every incumbent Senate seat, a first for the party in power since 1934.
- Impact for the Senate: A 51-49 majority will likely mean little in terms of policy goals given the Republicans took back the House, but it will be significant in terms of judicial appointments and other key confirmations for the next two years.
- High voter turnout broke fatigue talk. The Georgia secretary of state’s office said Tuesday that roughly 3.3 million people voted in total either through absentee ballot, early voting in-person or on Election Day.
China announces rollback of strict anti-COVID-19 measures
In a sharp reversal, China has announced a series of measures rolling back some of its most draconian anti-COVID-19 restrictions, including limiting harsh lockdowns and ordering schools without known infections to resume regular classes. The 10-point announcement Wednesday from the National Health Commission follows recent street protests in several cities over the strict “zero-COVID” policy now entering its fourth year, which has been blamed for upending ordinary life, travel and employment while dealing a harsh blow to the national economy. Read more
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Suspect in Colorado shooting at LGBTQ nightclub charged with 305 counts
The suspect accused of a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ bar and nightclub last month was formally charged with 305 counts Tuesday, including hate crimes and murder. Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who identifies as nonbinary according to defense court filings, is accused of fatally shooting five people and injuring 17 others at Club Q on Nov. 19. The attack joins a long list of violent assaults on the LGBTQ+ community, particularly at bars and nightclubs. The attack coincided with “Trans Day of Remembrance”, an annual day for remembering lives lost to anti-trans violence. Two of the five victims killed at Club Q were trans. Read more
Trump companies convicted on all charges in Manhattan criminal tax fraud case
A Manhattan jury on Tuesday convicted two of former President Donald Trump’s companies on all charges in a criminal tax fraud scheme, adding a new complication to the many investigations and legal matters shadowing his third presidential campaign. The Trump Corporation was found guilty on all of nine criminal counts, and the Trump Payroll Corporation was found guilty on all of eight criminal counts. The charges included conspiracy, a scheme to defraud, and three counts of criminal tax fraud for each company. Read more
- Department of Justice special counsel issues subpoenas in Trump probes.
- Analysis: Trump called for suspending the Constitution. The silence from Republicans is deafening.
- Jan. 6 committee: Committee to recommend DOJ pursue criminal charges, but hasn’t yet decided on names.
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Report finds FDA’s food regulatory agency lacks leadership
Leadership and culture must also be restructured to better respond to food safety crises and chronic public health problems, according to the 51-page report by the Reagan-Udall Foundation, a group separate from but closely tied to the FDA. The “lack of a single, clearly identified person” to lead the foods program has led to a culture of “constant turmoil” at the agency, the report found. Experts called the report a strong “first step” to addressing longstanding internal issues that have contributed to problems such as the deadly contaminated infant formula crisis that led to a national shortage this year. Read more
- “In desperate need“: Moms still search frantically for baby formula months after shortage.
📷 Photo of the day: People’s Choice Awards 2022 📷
Last night was a scene of music, glam and a good time at the 2022 People’s Choice at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. Some of the winners: Shania Twain received the Music Icon Award for her endless contributions to the music industry and to celebrate that, she performed a medley of her biggest hits. Ryan Reynolds accepted the People’s Icon award, Lizzo was awarded the PCAs Champion award while Carrie Underwood took home her 10th PCAs win for Country Artist of 2022.
Click here to see more photos from the People’s Choice Awards.
A little less heavy
Nicole Fallert is a newsletter writer at USA TODAY, sign up for the email here. Want to send Nicole a note, shoot her an email at NFallert@usatoday.com or follow along with her musings on Twitter. Support journalism like this – subscribe to USA TODAY here.
Associated Press contributed reporting.