Inflation report, Trump set to testify, Biden to sign PACT Act: 5 things to know Wednesday

·5 min read

Inflation comes off 40-year high but stays elevated at 8.5%

Inflation stayed elevated but eased from historically high levels in July, raising hopes that a relentless surge in prices may have peaked. Consumer prices increased 8.5% from a year ago, down from a 9.1% annual rise – a 40-year high – in June, according to the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index. Gasoline prices fell but food and rent continued to march higher. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated yearly inflation would fall to 8.7%. On a monthly basis, consumer prices were unchanged, compared to a 1.3% rise in June. Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy items and generally provide a better gauge of future price trends, increased 0.3% in July following a 0.7% rise the prior month. That held the annual increase at 5.9% after three straight monthly declines.

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Trump says he's testifying Wednesday in New York's civil investigation

Former President Donald Trump will be questioned under oath Wednesday in New York Attorney General Letitia James' long-running civil investigation into his dealings as a real estate mogul, he confirmed in a post on social media. The New York civil investigation, led by James, involves allegations that Trump's company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of prized assets like golf courses and skyscrapers, misleading lenders and tax authorities. In his post on Truth Social, Trump called James "racist," invoking his oft-repeated claims about James, who is Black, and the investigation. Trump's testimony comes amid a flurry of legal activity surrounding him, taking place just days after FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of an unrelated federal probe into whether he took classified records when he left the White House. Trump held a dinner meeting with a dozen House Republicans Tuesday, and his guests said he radiated confidence despite the FBI search of his Florida home.

Biden to sign PACT Act, to help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits

Despite some Republicans pulling support, President Joe Biden will sign a bill Wednesday enhancing health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill, known as the PACT Act, won final approval in the Senate last week by a vote of 86-11, ending a brief stalemate that had infuriated advocates and inspired some to camp outside the Capitol. Biden described the legislation as the biggest expansion of benefits for service-connected health issues in 30 years and the largest single bill ever to address exposure to burn pits. "I look forward to signing this bill, so that veterans and their families and caregivers impacted by toxic exposures finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they earned and deserve," Biden said in a statement last week. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War era veterans and survivors also stand to benefit from the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham to challenge Georgia election-interference subpoena

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is expected to challenge his subpoena in federal court Wednesday for testimony before an Atlanta-area grand jury investigating whether former President Donald Trump interfered in the 2020 election. The South Carolina senator and staunch Trump ally, in a motion to quash the Fulton County, Georgia, subpoena, asserted that he was engaging in legitimate inquiries as a lawmaker when he contacted a Georgia official following the election and that legislative privilege shields him from such demands. The expected move would come one day after a Georgia judge granted Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani's request to delay his testimony. But the judge added Giuliani must appear in Atlanta in person to testify. Graham and Giuliani were subpoenaed along with a number of high-profile Trump allies, including attorney John Eastman, who devised the plan to gather alternate slates of electors to overturn President Joe Biden's election.

Serena Williams returns to the court after announcing she'll soon retire

Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, is set to play her first match Wednesday since announcing her decision to retire from the sport in the coming weeks. Coming off her first victory in more than a year, Williams will take on No. 12 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in the second round of the National Bank Open in Toronto. Williams, the 40-year-old, 23-time Grand Slam champion, made the announcement that she is stepping away from tennis in Vogue's September edition, saying "it's the hardest thing that I could ever imagine." The four-time Olympic gold medalist added in an Instagram post Tuesday that "the countdown has begun" and she will enjoy the next few weeks. Williams will end her career after the U.S. Open – a tournament she has won six times that is set to begin August 29 – to focus on building her family. Williams and entrepreneur and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian have been married since November 2017 and have one child together.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inflation report, Trump to testify, PACT Act: 5 things to know Wednesday