Reuters US Domestic News Summary

Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

Puerto Rico braces for storm Dorian, one of first tests since 2017

Puerto Rico braced on Wednesday for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian, one of the island's first major tests since devastating hurricanes struck in 2017. Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from those back-to-back hurricanes that killed about 3,000 people just months after the territory filed for bankruptcy to restructure $120 billion of debt and pension obligations.

With Democratic debate deadline looming, two polls show no bump for bottom-tier candidates

Two national opinion polls released on Wednesday of Democrats vying for their party's 2020 presidential nomination did not show any of the candidates at the back of the crowded pack picking up enough support to qualify for the next debate in September. Wednesday night is the deadline to meet the party's polling and fundraising thresholds for next month's televised debate. Appearing on stage with the other candidates is crucial to keeping alive hopes for being the Democratic nominee to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November 2020.

Let it burn: U.S. fights wildfires with fire, backed by Trump

It was the kind of fire that has terrified communities across the drought-ridden U.S. West in the past few years: a ponderosa pine forest ablaze in the mountains of New Mexico filling the air with thick, aromatic smoke. Except this fire was deliberately set by state penitentiary prisoners, dressed in red flame-resistant clothing and dripping a mix of gasoline and diesel around trees and scrub.

U.S. authorities investigate as many as 11 deaths at veterans hospital

U.S. authorities are investigating suspicious deaths at a veterans hospital in West Virginia, the Veterans Affairs department said on Tuesday, and a U.S. senator said the probe may involve up to 11 deaths. Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said there was a "person of interest" in the investigation of as many as 11 deaths, and that VA officials assured him this person "is no longer in contact with veterans at the VA facility."

U.S. Senator Gillibrand exits Democratic presidential race

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who ran a presidential campaign centered on advocacy for women, ended her bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination on Wednesday after failing to gain traction in opinion polls or qualify for next month's debate. The move did not come as a surprise. Gillibrand, 52, languished below 1 percent in polls and struggled to raise money in a packed field.

Federal corruption probe hits home for UAW boss, contract talks under 'storm cloud'

The FBI on Wednesday conducted searches at the home of United Auto Workers President Gary Jones, a union retreat and multiple other locations as part of a corruption probe into illegal payments to union officials, posing fresh problems for the union at a pivotal time. News of the FBI action came as the UAW, a once powerful force in the organized labor movement, holds sensitive contract talks with Detroit automakers General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) .

Chicago Public Schools budget passes amid discord with teachers

The Chicago Board of Education approved a $7.7 billion fiscal 2020 budget on Wednesday, rejecting a call to delay a vote on the spending plan by the district's teachers union, which is eyeing a possible strike next month. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which is in contract talks with the nation's third-largest public school system, claimed the new spending plan fails to address "dire" shortages of social workers, nurses and other staff.

U.S. driver Jessi Combs killed in bid to break land-speed record

Race car driver Jessi Combs, host of the television series "All Girls Garage," was killed in a high-speed crash while trying to set a new land-speed record, her family said on Wednesday. Combs, 39, was attempting to become the fastest woman on Earth when she was killed while racing on Tuesday on the Alvord Desert, a dry lake bed in southeastern Oregon, the family said in a statement.

California sheriff's deputy who admitted sniper hoax is fired

The Southern California sheriff's deputy who made up a story that a sniper shot him in the shoulder has been fired, the Los Angeles County sheriff said on Wednesday. The shooting hoax perpetrated by the deputy, Angel Reinosa, last Wednesday in Lancaster City sent police SWAT teams hunting for the gunman. By Saturday evening, the officer admitted to investigators he had not been shot as he walked to his car.

FBI studies two broken cameras outside cell where Epstein died: source

Two cameras that malfunctioned outside the jail cell where financier Jeffrey Epstein died as he awaited trial on sex-trafficking charges have been sent to an FBI crime lab for examination, a law enforcement source told Reuters. Epstein's lawyers Reid Weingarten and Martin Weinberg told U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan on Tuesday they had doubts about the New York City chief medical examiner's conclusion that their client killed himself.