Dems, GOP stretch for hard-to-get districts in House races

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — In a rustic Virginia district that bounced its Republican congressman after he officiated a same-sex wedding, the battle to replace him pits a self-described “biblical conservative” backed by President Donald Trump against a Black doctor who worked in Barack Obama’s White House.



FILE - In this June 14, 2020, file photo 5th Congressional District Republican candidate Bob Good leaves Lynchburg's Tree of Life Ministries, in Lynchburg, Va. Good is running against Democrat Cameron Webb. (Amy Friedenberger/The Roanoke Times via AP, File)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this June 14, 2020, file photo 5th Congressional District Republican candidate Bob Good leaves Lynchburg’s Tree of Life Ministries, in Lynchburg, Va. Good is running against Democrat Cameron Webb. (Amy Friedenberger/The Roanoke Times via AP, File)

The district, which stretches from Washington’s far suburbs to the North Carolina line, has elected just one Democrat for a single two-year term this century. Trump carried it by 11 percentage points in 2016. Yet Democrats are spending money to go after it.

The contest between Republican Bob Good and Democrat Cameron Webb will answer whether a Black candidate with an expertise in health care can prevail in a traditionally conservative area during a pandemic and a time of racial reckoning. It’s also an example of how both parties are pursuing a handful of districts that might seem a reach.

Democrats are contesting over a dozen seats from New York’s Long Island to Alaska where Trump won by at least 10 percentage points, usually a daunting margin. Republicans have fewer viable targets but are spending serious money in places like South Florida and central California where Trump lost badly four years ago.

Marking the efforts’ seriousness, at least one side’s outside groups are spending $1 million or more in most of these races. The expenditures come during an election when the question isn’t whether Democrats will keep their House majority but how large it will be.

Democrats have more opportunities because of the suburbs’ continuing flight from Trump, GOP retirements and primaries that produced some weaker candidates, and a fundraising edge that lets them spend amply.

“The political environment is tough, so it’s forcing us to shore up key defensive seats,” said Dan Conston, president of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a big-spending political committee aligned with House GOP leaders. But he said strong candidate recruitment “has created great pick-up opportunities for us to win back seats in surprising places.”

The paramount factor is Trump, whose unpopularity is wounding numerous GOP congressional contenders. Trump compounded his problems with his fuming debate performance against Democratic rival Joe Biden, his COVID-19 diagnosis and his scoffing at the perils of a virus that’s killed over 215,000 Americans.

“Strategists on both sides see a very real potential for a total blood bath on Election Day for Republicans, for the president,” said Brendan Buck, who advised former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., explaining Democrats’ spending in difficult races. “If there’s a wave, you don’t want to leave any opportunity behind.”

“We’re on offense this cycle, and we didn’t get here by accident,” said Lucinda Guinn, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s House political arm.

In Virginia, Good snatched the GOP nomination from

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People in the GOP, White House, and Trump’s campaign increasingly think they will lose the White House, and maybe the Senate too, reports say



graphical user interface, application: President Donald Trump speaks from the Blue Room of the White House on Octover 10, 2020. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images


© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks from the Blue Room of the White House on Octover 10, 2020. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • Republicans and White House officials fear that President Donald Trump is headed for defeat, according to a series of recent reports.
  • Some fear the GOP could lose control of the Senate in a “blue wave” of Democratic votes on November 3.
  • The gloom from Republicans seems supported by polling data, which paints an increasingly negative picture for Trump.
  • Trump’s much criticised performance in his debate with Joe Biden and, his behavior when diagnosed with COVID-19, are among factors said to be alienating voters. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Fears are growing in the Republican Party and White House that Democratic nominee Joe Biden may be on course for a landslide presidential election victory, according to multiple reports. 

The weekend brought further gloomy polling data for the Trump campaign, with an ABC/Washington Post poll released Sunday showing that Biden has support of 53% of likely voters to Trump’s 41%.

The result matched trends in a series of other recent polls showing the president trailing Biden on average by 10 points or more. 

Swing state polls brought more bad news  — with Biden continuing to hold a lead in states that flipped to the Republicans in 2016: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to data compiled by the New York Times.

Though the races in these states are tighter, Biden’s lead has been consistent. It led to a rash of bad headlines prompted by worried insiders:

  • Citing dozens of White House and Trump campaign officials, the Associated Press reported on Monday the fear that Trump’s widely criticised first debate performance with Biden and erratic response after being diagnosed with COVID-19 could see them lose not just the White House but also the Senate. 
  • NBC News on Friday reported that Republican donors and operatives worry a “blue wave” is coming. They are said to favor shifting resources from the presidential race — seen by some as a lost cause — to protecting vulnerable Congress seats. 
  • Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz on Saturday warned that the GOP faced “a bloodbath of Watergate proportions” and could lose control of the Senate and White House if conditions are wrong come polling day.
  • Reuters also last week reported that the GOP was increasingly anxious that the Democrats are poised to seize control of the Senate. Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis was “the nail in the coffin; it’s all over” for the party’s hopes of defending its majority, a senior Senate Republican aide told the outlet. 

Though Trump’s prospects of victory may appear to be fading, some campaign officials believe the president will able to claw back ground this week, reported AP.

The Senate confirmation hearings of judge Amy Coney Barrett, which begin on Monday, are expected to take focus away from the pandemic and fire up conservatives.

Other officials hope that, as in 2016, pollsters are undercounting

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White House COVID-19 aid offer is panned by Pelosi, Senate GOP

WASHINGTON — A new White House coronavirus aid offer got bad reviews from both ends of the political spectrum on Saturday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected the most generous Trump administration plan to date as “one step forward, two steps back.” The Republicans who control the Senate dismissed it as too expensive and a political loser for conservatives.

Pelosi said she is still hopeful that progress can be made toward a deal but it’s as clear as ever that GOP conservatives don’t want a deal on her terms.

The White House had boosted its offer before Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi spoke on Friday afternoon. President Donald Trump is eager for an agreement before Election Day, even as his most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

“Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” Trump said Friday on Twitter.

The new offer totals about $1.8 trillion, aides familiar with it said, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent offer before that was about $1.6 trillion. The aides were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.

In a letter Saturday to colleagues, Pelosi said, “This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back. When the president talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold.”

She said that while his administration attempted to address some of the Democratic concerns, disagreement remained on many priorities and Democrats are “awaiting language” on several provisions.

“Despite these unaddressed concerns, I remain hopeful that yesterday’s developments will move us closer to an agreement on a relief package that addresses the health and economic crisis facing America’s families,” Pelosi’s letter said.

Mnuchin’s latest offer also got a roasting from GOP senators, who weighed in on a conference call Saturday morning, according to a Republican familiar with the call who was not authorized to discuss the call publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Many conservatives are skeptical of so much deficit-financed aid in the first place, and Pelosi-sought provisions such as expanding eligibility for the Affordable Care Act landed with a thud.

Pragmatists such as Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio and politically endangered Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appear willing to “go big” as Trump wants. But rank-and-file Republicans — Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rick Scott of Florida, and John Barrasso of Wyoming, for example — are adamantly opposed to another relief bill that’s so generous.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains skeptical of the chances for an agreement, having told an audience in Kentucky on Friday that he didn’t see a deal coming together before Election Day.

“I think

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White House virus aid offer is panned by Pelosi, Senate GOP

A new White House coronavirus aid has gotten bad reviews from both ends of the political spectrum

WASHINGTON — A new White House coronavirus aid offer got bad reviews from both ends of the political spectrum on Saturday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected the most generous Trump administration plan to date as “one step forward, two steps back.” The Republicans who control the Senate dismissed it as too expensive and a political loser for conservatives.

Pelosi said she is still hopeful that progress can be made toward a deal but it’s as clear as ever that GOP conservatives don’t want a deal on her terms.

“Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” Trump said Friday on Twitter.

The new offer totals about $1.8 trillion, aides familiar with it said, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent offer before that was about $1.6 trillion. The aides were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.

In a letter Saturday to colleagues, Pelosi said, “This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back. When the president talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold.”

She said that while his administration attempted to address some of the Democratic concerns, disagreement remained on many priorities and Democrats are “awaiting language” on several provisions.

Mnuchin’s latest offer also got a roasting from GOP senators, who weighed in on a conference call Saturday morning, according to a Republican familiar with the call who was not authorized to discuss the call publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Many conservatives are skeptical of so much deficit-financed aid in the first place, and Pelosi-sought provisions such as expanding eligibility for the Affordable Care Act landed with a thud.

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House Minority Leader Patrick Neville won’t seek re-election for top GOP spot

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville announced Friday that he won’t seek to retain his House leadership post, months after news reports that he would be challenged for the seat and likely lose it.

“There’s been a lot of folks that have been, quite frankly, spending all their time trying to run against me instead of … helping Republicans win elections,” Neville said.

The Castle Rock Republican said he plans to instead focus on getting reelected to serve his district for the next two years. He also plans to complete the last year of his executive MBA at the University of Denver.

The divide has grown between supporters of Neville, who holds far-right views and associates with groups like the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, and Republicans who say the party needs to make changes to get elected in an increasingly blue state.

Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, had previously announced he would seek the minority leader’s spot, with backing from many in the Republican caucus.

Neville said he came to the decision a week ago and decided to announce it before the election in hopes that it will help Republicans focus on flipping Democratic seats. The House leadership vote takes place after the election.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Virginia GOP challenger confident in close House race that has outspent presidential campaigns

Millions of dollars have been spent so far on three congressional campaigns in hotly contested Virginia districts  — with one surpassing even the 2020 presidential campaigns and another close behind.

Advertising in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District topped $11 million earlier this week, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The 2nd District racked up more than $8 million.

Those races are roughly in the ballpark of the combined costs of advertising for President Trump and Joe Biden, which total more than $9 million.

VIRGINIA SENATE DEBATE SEES WARNER, GADE GLASH ON TRUMP, RACE, HEALTH CARE

“I believe it’s one of the most expensive congressional races in the country already,” Joe Desilets, the campaign manager for the 7th District’s GOP candidate Nick Freitas told Fox News Thursday. “Just on TV and radio, there’s over $13 million between past and future spending in this election, and obviously there’s a ton more in mail, digital, and other campaign spending.”

Recent polls show him neck-and-neck with incumbent Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is serving her first term after flipping the district in 2018.

Freitas’ campaign and supportive PACs have spent more than $4.4 million so far, compared to Spanberger’s $6.6 million. But Freitas is breaking GOP fundraising records, according to Desilets.

“We feel great about where the race is right now, and it’s clear that the Democrats are increasingly worried,” Desilets said. “Every time we turn around, they add another million dollars in attack ads.”

VIRGINIA SENATE RACE SEES UNDERDOG GOP CHALLENGER CONFIDENT DESPITE UPHILL BATTLE

Spanberger, a former federal law enforcement officer and ex-CIA case officer, is the first Democrat to win election in the district since 1968.

This combination of Sept. 29, photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

This combination of Sept. 29, photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

While at least three congressional races in the state are close, polls show Biden with an advantage in the presidential race. Virginia went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and no Republican has won a statewide election there since 2009.

Still, ads supporting Biden have cost more than $6 million, roughly double what the other side has spent.

That combined total is barely ahead of the $8 million spent in the 2nd District race between incumbent Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria and GOP challenger Scott Taylor. Like Spanberger, Luria is serving her first term. She narrowly won the seat from Taylor two years ago.

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The 5th District race between Dr. Cameron Webb and Bob Good is also tight, with spending at around $4 million between the two camps.

The state’s Democratic Party summed the situation up simply in an email soliciting donations Thursday night.

“We’ve hit our fundraising goals every month this year, but here’s the thing: so have the Republicans.”

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GOP senator defends not wearing a mask at Rose Garden Supreme Court event

Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn appeared on ABC’s “The View.”

GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who attended the White House Rose Garden event two weekends ago now tied to at least 14 coronavirus cases, on Thursday defended her decision not to wear a mask at the event.

During an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, said that while the event is a good reminder to Americans to take precautions, she was tested right before the event and behaved safely.

“I had been tested right before I went to the event I had my mask on and actually had it there on my arm when i walked into the event,” Blackburn said. “I took it off to walk into the event but you know it’s a great reminder to us wash your hands, wear gloves if you need, be certain you are using sanitizer.

PHOTO: Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Blackburn, who said she has since tested negative for coronavirus, was at the White House during the event to witness Trump’s announcement of his Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Barrett’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Blackburn is a member, are set to begin on Monday.

PHOTO: Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

But following the positive coronavirus tests of two Republican senators on the committee who attended the Rose Garden event, Democrats, who have consistently argued that the Senate should wait to confirm a new justice until after the next president is selected, have also argued that holding the hearings now is a safety concern.

Still, on “The

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Former GOP chair Michael Steele calls Trump ‘the superspreader’ in the White House

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele referred to President TrumpDonald John TrumpState Department revokes visa of Giuliani-linked Ukrainian ally: report White House Gift Shop selling ‘Trump Defeats COVID’ commemorative coin Biden says he should not have called Trump a clown in first debate MORE as a “superspreader” on Tuesday as a growing number of White House officials test positive for the coronavirus.

Steele knocked Trump after footage emerged online showing the president taking off his mask after returning to the White House on Monday, despite his positive COVID-19 diagnosis several days earlier. Trump spent the weekend at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center getting treatment for the disease.

At the time, Trump appeared to be posing for photos on a balcony at the White House. Not long after, the president could be seen leaving to enter the building without his mask on.

“He takes his mask off in contravention of everything we know. He is the superspreader. He is the problem in the White House, and everyone wants to tiptoe around it,” Steele said on MSNBC, where he serves as a political analyst.

“People are getting sick. We don’t know how and to what degree they will be sick over the next few weeks, and yet he’s standing there, thumbs up, like, you know, ‘I got a cold’ and ‘I got the sniffles,’” he said.

Trump drew widespread criticism on Monday after urging Americans not to “be afraid” of the disease, which has infected more than 7 million people in the country and has been linked to more than 210,000 deaths.

“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment. We have the best medicines, all developed recently,” the president said in a video, in which he did not wear a mask.

“Don’t let it dominate. Don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen,” Trump went on, adding that he felt “better than 20 years ago.” 

During Trump’s time being hospitalized over the weekend, White House physician Sean Conley said the president was administered supplemental oxygen on Friday. At the time, Conley said Trump had developed a high fever and that his oxygen saturation had “transiently” dipped below 94 percent.

White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOvernight Defense: Trump says he’s leaving Walter Reed, ‘feeling really good’ after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows | Dems expand probe into Pompeo speeches Trump’s physician declines to provide key information on his health Trump says he’s leaving Walter Reed Monday evening MORE also said at one point that the president’s blood oxygen level “dropped rapidly” on Friday before he began showing signs of improvement later during the weekend. 

The president’s COVID-19 diagnosis comes as several White House aides and officials have tested positive for the disease over the past week.

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Democratic chair of House committee investigating Speaker Michael Madigan accuses GOP of ‘wearing two hats,’ says no more meetings until after election

Accusing his Republican counterparts of engaging in “political theater” ahead of the Nov. 3 election, the Democratic chairman of a special Illinois House committee investigating the conduct of longtime Speaker Michael Madigan said Tuesday that the panel won’t meet again until the polls close.



Emanuel Chris Welch et al. looking at a laptop: State Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch addresses issues concerning seclusion in Chicago Public Schools during a meeting of the Illinois State Board of Education at the Thompson Center in Chicago, Nov. 22, 2019.


© Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch addresses issues concerning seclusion in Chicago Public Schools during a meeting of the Illinois State Board of Education at the Thompson Center in Chicago, Nov. 22, 2019.

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside said in a statement that the three GOP lawmakers on the special investigating committee, formed in response to a petition from House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs, “are wearing two hats.”

“While sitting on a committee that is charged with conducting an impartial investigation based on the petition filed by Leader Durkin, the Republican members of this committee are also engaged in competitive political campaigns in which they have chosen to campaign almost exclusively against the speaker,” Welch said.

Welch took issue in particular with two committee members, Reps. Grant Wehrli of Naperville and Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst, participating in a campaign news conference on Monday, “effectively confirming their assumption of guilt and chiding Democratic opponents for not jumping to the same conclusion.”

Wehrli and Mazzochi are both engaged in competitive reelection battles against Democratic challengers who have received sizable campaign contributions from funds tied to Madigan, who also chairs the state Democratic Party.

Republicans have accused Welch of acting in defense of Madigan by blocking a vote last week to issue subpoenas to compel testimony from the powerful Southwest Side Democrat and other witnesses.

Earlier Tuesday, the leading Republican on the committee, Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon, accused Welch of trying to slow-walk the investigating by requesting “a data dump” from Commonwealth Edison, which is at the center of the investigation

Durkin petitioned for the creation of the rarely used special investigating committee after ComEd in July admitted in a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office that it engaged in a yearslong bribery scheme aimed at currying favor with Madigan.

The only witness to testify before the committee to date, an executive with ComEd parent Exelon, confirmed that, among other actions, the utility paid Madigan associates through third-party companies despite the fact that they did little or no work.

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The committee is tasked with determining whether Madigan should be charged with engaging in “conduct unbecoming to a legislator” and face potential discipline.

While Republicans on the committee sought documents from ComEd pertaining to its communications with Madigan and close associate, Welch has requested a decade’s worth of documents detailing the company’s dealings with the administration of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his two predecessors and the with current and former leaders of all four caucuses of the General Assembly.



Emanuel Chris Welch wearing a suit and tie: State Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch addresses the issues concerning seclusion in Chicago Public Schools at the Thompson Center in Chicago on Nov. 22, 2019.


© Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch

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GOP senators ask CBO how much immigration provisions in House stimulus bill will cost

A group of Republican senators have asked the Congressional Budget Office to calculate how much measures in the House stimulus bill that directly benefit illegal immigrants would cost the American taxpayer.

“It is unfortunate that instead of working to help the American people, Speaker Pelosi and her majority in the House of Representatives are taking this opportunity to advance the economic well-being of illegal immigrants,” Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., wrote in a letter to the CBO’s director.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS’ STIMULUS BILL INCLUDES STIMULUS CHECKS FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, PROTECTIONS FROM DEPORTATIONS

”Among other things, H.R. 6800 allows illegal immigrants to claim stimulus payments. In addition, Speaker Pelosi’s bill also provides illegal immigrants with taxpayer funded healthcare services,” they write.

The HEROES ACT, which passed the House last week, includes a number of items that will benefit illegal immigrants, with a provision that would allows some illegal immigrants — who are “engaged in essential critical infrastructure labor or services in the United States” —  to be placed into “a period of deferred action” and authorized to work if they meet certain conditions.

It also grants protections to those employers who hire those undocumented immigrants, ordering that “the hiring, employment or continued employment” of the defined group is not in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That lasts until 90 days after the public health emergency is ended.

It’s language that was also included in the first House Democratic stimulus bill proposed back in May — a bill that was ultimately rejected in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Also in the legislation is language that would allow the a second round of stimulus checks, $1,200 per adults and $500 per dependant, to be extended to those without a social security number — including those in the country illegally who file taxes via an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

The senators’ letter also notes provisions that would give health care to illegal immigrants.

“We are concerned these changes will not only impose additional fiscal burdens on our nation’s budget but will also incentivize further unlawful immigration,” they wrote.

Among the questions they have for the CBO is how many illegal immigrants would be able to claim stimulus payments and how much it will cost, and how many illegal immigrants would benefit from the work authorization — and the estimated impact that would have on the job market.

“It’s time the American people have a fuller understanding of exactly how much Speaker Pelosi’s policies will cost them. While we have estimates of how much H.R. 6800 may cost in total, we believe Congress must know the costs of the specific provisions providing benefits to illegal immigrants,” they said.

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President Trump on Tuesday poured cold water on the chance of Republicans and Democrats coming to a deal on stimulus, saying that Pelosi was “not negotiating in good faith.”

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the

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