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USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 10/7/2021 Laura L. Davis, USA TODAY
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The U.S. dodged a debt limit crisis – for now – with a deal struck by lawmakers. Pfizer officially asked the FDA to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids. And 18 former NBA players were charged in a $4 million health care fraud scheme.

The Capitol is seen in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, as the Senate edges back from a standoff over lifting the nation's borrowing cap. © J. Scott Applewhite, AP The Capitol is seen in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, as the Senate edges back from a standoff over lifting the nation's borrowing cap.

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Debt ceiling deal

Senate Democrats announced Thursday that they will move forward with a short-term extension of the debt limit, accepting an offer from their Republican counterparts to avoid the economic chaos that would come if the U.S. was unable to pay its bills. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats and Republicans reached a deal on a short-term extension of the debt ceiling into December. The U.S. would start defaulting on debts for the first time ever starting Oct. 18. The plan would need to be voted on in both the House and Senate before it goes to President Joe Biden's desk, and it would merely postpone a long-term decision on the debt limit. Congress would need to act on another debt limit solution by December to avoid another risk of default. 

Pfizer seeks vaccine authorization for younger kids

Vaccines for kids could be coming soon. Pfizer and BioNTech have asked federal regulators to authorize emergency use of their coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, the companies said Thursday. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will need to sign off on the vaccine before it becomes available to children of those ages. An independent expert panel will review the data Oct. 26. Pfizer and its German vaccine partner released data from a clinical trial last month indicating their vaccine was safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11 at one-third of the dose given to adolescents and adults. The vaccine could be crucial for elementary schools, where no students have had access to vaccination because of age limits.

Pfizer files for emergency use of COVID vaccine for kids 5-11 © AP Pfizer files for emergency use of COVID vaccine for kids 5-11

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Texas to appeal judge's ban on abortion law

Late Wednesday, the state notified U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin that it planned to file an appeal to his ruling that temporarily bars state actors, including judges and court clerks, from enforcing provisions of the state's restrictive abortion law. Texas' law, which took effect Sept. 1, bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy. The decision follows a lawsuit from the Biden administration after the U.S. Supreme Court in September declined to block the law. The fight over the Texas abortion law is far from over. Here's what comes next.

18 ex-NBA players charged in $4M health care fraud scheme

More than a dozen retired NBA players have been indicted after they were accused of defrauding a league health care plan, according to federal court records. Federal prosecutors say the 18 players – including Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Darius Miles and Sebastian Telfair – submitted fraudulent reimbursement claims for a total of $3.9 million between 2017 and 2020 and pocketed about $2.5 million in the process. In some instances, multiple ex-players sought reimbursement for the same treatment on the same date. For example, Allen, Davis and Tony Wroten all claimed they had root canals on the same six teeth on the same date in 2016, prosecutors say. All of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and 16 of them were arrested Thursday by the FBI.

xxx © Phelan M. Ebenhack, AP xxx

Real quick

4 dead after flash flooding in Alabama

Terrified drivers climbed out of swamped cars and muddy floodwater flowed through neighborhoods after a stalled weather front drenched Alabama for hours, leaving entire communities underwater Thursday and killing at least four people with still more drenching storms to come. Dozens of people had to be rescued Wednesday night in central Alabama, which saw as much as 13 inches of rain. Near the coast, heavy rains caused sewage to bubble out of underground pipes. Rescue crews helped motorists escape as low visibility and standing water made travel life-threatening in some areas. As much as 5 more inches of rain was possible through Thursday evening, the National Weather Service said, with the heaviest rains to the north. But the rain was expected to end by late Thursday as storms moved eastward. 

A flooded neighborhood is shown in Pelham, Ala., Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Parts of Alabama remain under a flash flood watch after a day of high water across the state, with as much as 6 inches of rain covering roads and trapping people. © Jay Reeves, AP A flooded neighborhood is shown in Pelham, Ala., Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Parts of Alabama remain under a flash flood watch after a day of high water across the state, with as much as 6 inches of rain covering roads and trapping people.

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