White House backs $400 per week jobless benefit in last-ditch COVID talks with Congress

“We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion,” McEnany told reporters Thursday. “It’s one that she is is not interested in.”

Mnuchin and Pelosi are scheduled to talk by phone early Thursday afternoon, a Pelosi spokesman said.

The Trump administration is pressing for an agreement, more so than Capitol Hill Republicans.

The White House plan, offered Wednesday, gave ground with a $250 billion proposal on funding for state and local governments and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed debate Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure. A vote is likely on Thursday, spokesman Drew Hammill said, depending on how the Mnuchin-Pelosi exchanges go.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between the two sides.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cautioned late Wednesday that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when a huge $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill passed in May.

In a Wednesday evening appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

Pelosi responded Thursday, saying the administration is still far short on aid to state and local governments. And she said she won’t agree to take half a loaf now.

“Some of you have asked, ‘Isn’t something better than nothing?’ No,” Pelosi told reporters, citing the “opportunity cost” for provisions sought by Democrats but potentially lost in any rush to agreement.

After initially saying the Democratic-controlled chamber would vote Wednesday night on a $2.2 trillion relief bill — a debate that would have been partisan and possibly unproductive — Pelosi made an about-face and postponed the vote until Thursday in hopes of giving the talks with Mnuchin greater breathing room.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A landmark $2 trillion relief bill in March passed with sweeping support and is credited with helping the economy through the spring and summer, but worries are mounting that the recovery may sputter without additional relief.

The “top line” limit upon which Pelosi, the Trump administration and Senate Republicans might be able to agree has been a subject of considerable speculation. Pelosi had drawn a hard line until recently, and talks had foundered, but failure now could mean there wouldn’t be any

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House backs bill to boost ‘clean energy,’ enhance efficiency

Updated


WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a modest bill to promote “clean energy” and increase energy efficiency while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are considered a major driver of global warming.

The bill boosts renewable energy such as solar and wind power, sets stricter energy efficiency standards for buildings and authorizes grants to local communities for more efficient schools, homes and municipal buildings.


The House approved the bill, 220-185, Thursday, sending it to the Senate, where a separate energy bill is pending. The Senate bill, like the House measure, would phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that are used as coolants, after an internal dispute among Senate Republicans was resolved earlier this month. Use of HFC gases is being phased out worldwide.



“I want to give a clear-eyed assessment: This bill is not going to stop climate change,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. “But it is a good opportunity to make good and sometimes necessary changes to programs, which might make it easier to do a bigger, more ambitious bill in the near future.”


The House bill, dubbed the “Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act,” would support clean energy technologies through research and development funding through the Energy Department. It also boosts electric cars and programs to finance clean energy projects.

Supporters said it would create well-paying jobs across the country and help the U.S. transition to a “clean energy future” that is less dependent on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.


The bill would authorize more than $36 billion to help speed up the electrification of the transportation sector and make electric cars an option for more communities. It also authorizes funding for “clean” school buses, electric vehicle charging equipment and other zero-emission vehicle programs.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chairman of

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House Backs Bill to Boost ‘Clean Energy,’ Enhance Efficiency | Business News

By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a modest bill to promote “clean energy” and increase energy efficiency while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are considered a major driver of global warming.

The bill boosts renewable energy such as solar and wind power, sets stricter energy efficiency standards for buildings and authorizes grants to local communities for more efficient schools, homes and municipal buildings.

The House approved the bill, 220-185, Thursday, sending it to the Senate, where a separate energy bill is pending. The Senate bill, like the House measure, would phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that are used as coolants, after an internal dispute among Senate Republicans was resolved earlier this month. Use of HFC gases is being phased out worldwide.

“I want to give a clear-eyed assessment: This bill is not going to stop climate change,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. “But it is a good opportunity to make good and sometimes necessary changes to programs, which might make it easier to do a bigger, more ambitious bill in the near future.”

The House bill, dubbed the “Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act,” would support clean energy technologies through research and development funding through the Energy Department. It also boosts electric cars and programs to finance clean energy projects.

Supporters said it would create well-paying jobs across the country and help the U.S. transition to a “clean energy future” that is less dependent on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.

The bill would authorize more than $36 billion to help speed up the electrification of the transportation sector and make electric cars an option for more communities. It also authorizes funding for “clean” school buses, electric vehicle charging equipment and other zero-emission vehicle programs.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the legislation would “modernize our energy system, create jobs and take positive steps towards addressing the climate crisis.” He called it “one of the most impactful steps we can take now to create manufacturing jobs and boost our competitiveness, all while protecting our environment.”

Pallone said he and other lawmakers who pushed for the energy package tried to “move provisions we believe have a shot at becoming law this Congress” after negotiations with the Senate.

House Republicans disputed that, saying the bill would cost more than $135 billion while including no serious reforms.

“Don’t be fooled by its name — this bill has little to do with innovation and everything to do with House Democrats’ embrace of their high-cost Green New Deal,” Republican Reps. Greg Walden of Oregon, Rob Bishop of Utah and Frank Lucas of Oklahoma said in a joint statement. Walden is the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce panel, while Bishop leads the GOP on Natural Resources and Lucas is the top Republican on the House Science panel.

While many Democrats have expressed support for the Green New Deal — a non-binding but

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White House virus adviser backs Louisiana’s restrictions

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The White House’s coronavirus response coordinator Wednesday hailed Gov. John Bel Edwards’ COVID-19 restrictions as helping to save lives, giving the Democratic governor a boost on the eve of a special session where Republican lawmakers will work to strip some of those regulations.

Dr. Deborah Birx applauded Edwards’ leadership in responding to Louisiana’s coronavirus outbreak, which surged in the New Orleans area in March and then statewide in June and July. She described the statewide mask mandate, limitations on bars and other restrictions as appropriate to combat the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.

“Louisiana made changes that saved people’s lives, both in the March/April timeframe in New Orleans and in the summer post-Memorial Day surge throughout the state,” Birx said.

She added: “We’ve learned that masks work. We’ve learned that restrictions on indoor dining work. We’ve learned that closing bars at a time of high transmission definitely works.”

The White House official spoke with reporters at Louisiana State University, after holding a closed-door meeting with Edwards, state college system leaders and students. She’s held similar meetings in two dozen other states.

Birx’s comments continued a trend of the Trump administration praising the efforts of Louisiana’s Democratic governor to combat the pandemic, even as many of President Donald Trump’s supporters in the state pan Edwards’ performance.

Louisiana’s majority-Republican Legislature is convening a 30-day special session Monday. At the top of the agenda is a GOP-led effort to try to roll back the governor’s emergency powers and revoke some of his coronavirus restrictions.

Republicans say Edwards has damaged Louisiana’s economy and businesses through regulations he’s enacted since mid-March. The governor said he’s trying to allow businesses to operate while also controlling an outbreak that has killed 5,225 people in Louisiana, according to the state health department’s latest figures Wednesday.

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, a Republican from Ascension Parish, described “what many see as an imbalance of power” in the governor’s emergency authority and pledged that the “special session will not end without a solution to this problem.”

It’s unclear what sorts of limits on the governor’s power lawmakers will propose.

GOP Senate President Page Cortez, of Lafayette, said legislators want the ability to weigh in on the response when an emergency extends for months.

“I believe that the governor needs to be able to declare an emergency and have the authority to be nimble enough to operate within that emergency. But at a certain point, when the emergency becomes so extended, the policymaking body should be involved in those conversations,” Cortez said.

Edwards loosened restrictions earlier this month, allowing restaurants, churches, gyms and other businesses to operate at 75% of their capacity, agreeing to resume high school football and authorizing LSU to have 25,000 fans in Tiger Stadium for football games.

But he’s maintained tight limits on bars, keeping them to takeout and delivery sales only unless they operate in a parish that has recently seen low percentages of coronavirus tests returning positive. He’s also

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White House backs $25B airline relief extension amid coronavirus aid talks

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urged Congress on Thursday to extend payroll grants for airline employees through next March, in order to avoid sweeping furloughs throughout the industry.

He said $25 billion was necessary to provide sufficient relief for six more months, mirroring the amount approved in March that expires Sept. 30. Meadows said he thought it was a small price to pay given the trillion-dollar-plus proposals under discussion, though broader coronavirus relief talks continue to stall.

“Compared to $1.5 trillion, it’s a rather small amount of additional assistance that could potentially keep 30 to 50,000 workers on the payroll,” Meadows said after a meeting with airline executives, who warned of imminent furloughs.

That’s the price tag on a compromise plan floated by the 50-member bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in the House earlier this week. Democratic committee leaders shot it down as too skimpy, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has demanded at least $2.2 trillion in relief. Earlier this week she said she’d be open to additional airline assistance as part of a broader relief package, but didn’t offer a dollar figure.

Senate Republicans didn’t include airline aid in their “skinny” $300 billion plan that couldn’t muster the 60 votes needed for cloture last week.

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