Trump returns to White House, state GOP files lawsuit against Pritzker tax amendment and the return of Dark Lord imperial stout



a bottle of wine on a table: Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Ind. will release its coveted Dark Lord imperial stout via touch-free pick up this fall instead of at its usual Dark Lord Day festival in the spring.


© Gregg Gearhart / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Ind. will release its coveted Dark Lord imperial stout via touch-free pick up this fall instead of at its usual Dark Lord Day festival in the spring.

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a man talking on a cell phone: Cubs President Theo Epstein talks with GM Jed Hoyer and manager David Ross before a game against the White Sox on Sept. 25, 2020, at Guaranteed Rate Field.


© John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Cubs President Theo Epstein talks with GM Jed Hoyer and manager David Ross before a game against the White Sox on Sept. 25, 2020, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Good morning, Chicago. Illinois public health officials reported Monday 1,853 new known coronavirus cases and 14 additional confirmed deaths. In Chicago, the positivity rate has increased over the last three days: it’s now at 4.4%.

Meanwhile, the CDC updated to its COVID-19 guidelines to say the virus can spread more than 6 feet through the air. Some experts said the updated guidance isn’t enough — here’s why.

Also, a Chicago-area study showed that nearly one-third of coronavirus patients experienced some type of altered state. The neurological symptoms identified ranged from confusion to delirium to unresponsiveness.

Here’s more coronavirus news and other top stories you need to know to start your day.

Trump, after receiving unprecedented level of care, downplays COVID-19 threat and returns to White House — without a mask

President Donald Trump staged a dramatic return to the White House Monday night after leaving the military hospital where he was receiving an unprecedented level of care for COVID-19. He immediately ignited a new controversy by declaring that despite his illness the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans — and then he entered the White House without a protective mask.



a man standing next to a tree: Scott Sheridan, a tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, is losing his job as the school eliminates many offerings in the humanities.


© Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Scott Sheridan, a tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, is losing his job as the school eliminates many offerings in the humanities.

Trump’s message alarmed infectious disease experts and suggested the president’s own illness had not caused him to rethink his often-cavalier attitude toward the disease, which has also infected the first lady and several White House aides, including new cases revealed on Monday.

GOP-aligned group files lawsuit challenging ballot language on Pritzker’s graduated-rate income tax amendment

The Illinois Policy Institute, a GOP-aligned group opposed to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s graduated-rate income tax plan, filed a lawsuit suit Monday contending the explanation of the proposed state constitutional amendment sent to voters was “misleading” and needs court-ordered clarification.



J.B. Pritzker wearing a suit and tie: Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds a news conference at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Sept. 22, 2020.


© E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds a news conference at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Sept. 22, 2020.

The Pritzker-backed Vote Yes for Fairness group backing the proposed amendment called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said it was simply an attempt to gain attention to efforts to

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Amy Coney Barrett’s Rose Garden Debut Complicates GOP Confirmation Plans

WASHINGTON—The event designed to present Amy Coney Barrett as President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is now complicating Senate Republicans’ effort to keep her confirmation on track.

At least eight people at a Rose Garden event on Saturday, Sept. 26, have tested positive for Covid-19, including two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee responsible for advancing the nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he intends to cancel Senate votes planned for the next two weeks, aiming to guard against the risk of the virus spreading in the Senate and sidelining more Republicans while keeping on track confirmation hearings set to begin Oct. 12.

“Every precaution needs to be taken because we don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all, either in committee or in the full Senate, and therefore, everybody needs to be in an all-hands-on-deck mind-set,” Mr. McConnell said Friday on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

The nightmare scenario for Mr. McConnell would be that so many Republicans fall ill that he is left unable to muster the quorum necessary to hold votes before Election Day. Under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate needs a majority to do business. Republicans hold 53 of 100 seats. The absence of three Republican senators would deprive Mr. McConnell of a majority from within his own conference should Democrats decide to use procedural tools to force Republicans to demonstrate that they have a quorum. Vice President Mike Pence isn’t a senator and can’t contribute to a quorum.

In the immediate term, the bigger complication was for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), whose plans call for holding opening statements on Monday, Oct. 12, before Judge Barrett is questioned. Mr. Graham had originally planned in-person hearings, but on Friday he said “any senator who wants to participate virtually will be allowed to do so.”

That statement left open the possibility of a virtual Supreme Court nomination hearing. Many on the Senate Judiciary Committee were potentially exposed Thursday to Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), an attendee of the Saturday event at the Rose Garden whose positive Covid-19 test result came back on Thursday night—after the committee meeting that day.

Democrats blasted Republicans, saying GOP leaders were taking unnecessary risks by rushing.

“To proceed at this juncture with a hearing to consider Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court threatens the health and safety of all those who are called upon to do the work of this body,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the committee, and other Democrats wrote to Mr. Graham. “Holding a remote hearing for a Supreme Court nomination is not an adequate substitute,” they wrote, because “questioning nominees by video is ineffective and ignores the gravity of our constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on lifetime appointments, particularly those to the nation’s highest court.”

CDC guidelines recommend that people stay home for 14 days from their last known contact with a person diagnosed with Covid-19.

That would make Friday, Oct. 16, the first day that any committee member

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GOP Senator Marco Rubio Calls on White House for Frequent Updates About Trump’s Condition

Republican Senator Marco Rubio called on the White House for transparency following President Donald Trump testing positive for COVID-19.



a man wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (R) speaks to members of the media in the Senate Subway under the U.S. Capitol on August 6, 2020 in Washington, DC. Rubio called for regular updates on the president's health after he tested positive for COVID-19.


© Stefani Reynolds/Getty
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (R) speaks to members of the media in the Senate Subway under the U.S. Capitol on August 6, 2020 in Washington, DC. Rubio called for regular updates on the president’s health after he tested positive for COVID-19.

With a number of people sharing conspiracy theories regarding Trump’s COVID diagnosis, the Florida senator said it was the White House’s duty to share “frequent, detailed, & transparent updates” regarding the president and his condition. He also said that everyone should “be skeptical of outlandish rumors” regarding Trump’s diagnosis.

World Reacts To Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Testing Positive For Coronavirus

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“A significant increase in conspiracy theories & outrageous claims since the President’s diagnosis,” he wrote. “Lies spread much faster than fact checking.”

Rubio had previously wrote on Twitter that he was praying for the president and first lady Melania Trump after the announcement that the couple had tested positive. The senator also tweeted: “Any adversary who views news of @POTUS testing positive as an opportunity to test the United States would be making a grave mistake.”

It’s unclear what types of updates Rubio is seeking from the White House. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted out an update from the president’s physician, and Trump has tweeted messages to his supporters that he felt that everything was “going well,” as well as a video message that he was going to Walter Reed Hospital.

While Rubio did not expand on what conspiracies he was referring to, a number of different theories have circulated since Trump was diagnosed with COVID, with some claiming the announcement was politically motivated and others more outlandish.

As previously reported, former congressional candidate and conservative commentator Deanna Lorraine suggested that Democrats intentionally gave the president the virus during the first presidential debate on Tuesday. “Trump was fine until the debate, where they set up microphones & podiums for him,” she wrote. “He tests positive a couple of days after the debate. I put nothing past the left. NOTHING.”

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Two GOP senators test positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing Barrett confirmation vote

Two Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that they had tested positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing the GOP’s hopes of swiftly confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court if they were both to remain unable to vote in the full Senate through the end of the month.



Mike Lee, Thom Tillis are posing for a picture: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)


© Getty Images
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina announced they’d tested positive — just days after attending a White House event where President Donald Trump nominated Barrett. Multiple attendees of that event, including Trump, have tested positive in the week since the ceremony, which featured many people not wearing masks and not observing social distancing protocols.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday renewed demands for Republicans to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearings. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told CNN on Friday night he plans to move ahead with confirmation hearings on October 12 and a committee vote later in the month.

Confirmation hearings could go on without Lee and Tillis, both of whom met in person with Barrett earlier this week, and could participate virtually in the hearings.

Graham said he needs the two senators to be back by October 15, when the committee will begin its debate of the nomination after the hearings are done.

The South Carolina Republican said he expects the members who have tested positive to be back in time for a committee vote on October 22. The concern is if Democrats boycott the commitee vote, the GOP may not have a quorum for that vote if both senators are absent. The committee rules require a majority of members on the panel to be present for a quorum.

But even if they don’t have a quorum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can always advance the nomination to the floor under the rules.

The greater concern for Republicans is the Senate floor vote, for which lawmakers do need to be present to vote and for which the GOP has no margin for error. If Tillis and Lee were to be gone for an extended period, it would threaten the chances of confirming Barrett, given Republicans’ 53-47 majority.

Already, two other Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have signaled they are unlikely to vote for Barrett because they think the high court selection should be made by whoever wins the White House on November 3.

Video: Trump has Covid, now what? (CNN)

Trump has Covid, now what?

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If only Lee were out, Barrett could still get confirmed with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. But if one more Republican were unavailable to vote, they wouldn’t have the votes to confirm Barrett. So now that Tillis is also entering isolation, the GOP’s math gets trickier since it’s unknown how long the senators will be out.

Republicans have told CNN the current plan is to vote on the

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A top House Republican criticized the $400 weekly federal unemployment benefit in the White House stimulus plan, saying the GOP doesn’t want ‘wasteful spending’



Kevin Brady wearing a suit and tie: Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas on Capitol Hill. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo


© Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas on Capitol Hill. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

  • Rep, Kevin Brady criticized elements of the White House plan, including a $400 federal unemployment benefit.
  • “The worry is: ‘How much wasteful spending will we have to swallow to do this?” Brady said in a Fox Business interview.
  • Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee, expressed concern that a $400 federal unemployment benefit disincentivizes work.
  • Numerous studies indicate an earlier $600 federal benefit didn’t keep people out of the labor force.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas — the ranking Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee — was critical of elements within the White House’s stimulus proposal on Thursday, including a $400 weekly federal unemployment benefit.

During an interview with Fox Business, Brady said many Republicans are reluctant to back a stimulus plan with a big price tag.

“The worry is: ‘How much wasteful spending will we have to swallow to do this?” Brady said, adding he wanted the federal government to prioritize spending on thwarting the coronavirus and aiding the jobless.

But he expressed concern that a $400 federal supplement to state unemployment checks would disincentivize people from seeking work, arguing many would earn more out of work than on the job as a result.

It’s a claim often made by Republicans about the economic impact of the $600 federal unemployment benefit that expired in late July. Numerous studies show it didn’t keep jobless people out of the workforce.

Brady said “targeted help” was needed, particularly to airlines moving ahead with layoffs and the restaurant industry.

Read more: BlackRock’s investment chief breaks down why Congress passing a second round of fiscal stimulus is ‘quite serious’ for markets and the economy — and pinpoints which sectors will benefit in either scenario

House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi are pressing for a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan. It includes a $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit, another wave of $1,200 stimulus checks, and aid to cash-strapped states and small businesses.

Meanwhile, the White House put forward a $1.6 trillion virus aid proposal containing many of the same measures, but lower spending amounts.

Brady’s remarks underscore the opposition to significant federal spending among GOP lawmakers. Many in the GOP say they’re opposed to stimulus plans since it would grow the federal debt. Lawmakers have approved over $3 trillion in federal aid since the pandemic began devastating the economy in the spring.

Negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi stretched into their fifth day on Thursday. The California Democrat assailed the White House’s proposal in a Bloomberg TV interview.

“This isn’t half a loaf. What they’re offering is the heel of the loaf… and you really can’t just say, well, just take this,” she said.

Read more: Stimulus talks press on as dealmakers push for another boost to unemployment payments. Here’s everything you need to know about the rescue package.

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House Democrats blame GOP as asbestos ban stalls

House Democrats are accusing Republicans of holding up a bill to ban asbestos that had been expected to pass with little controversy this week.

The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act exited committee with just one no vote and was expected to sail through the voting process without amendments.

But Democratic aides on the Energy and Commerce Committee say that progress has stalled as GOP lawmakers object to a provision that assures the legislation would have no impact on ongoing litigation over injuries tied to use of talcum powder.

“Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes. More than 40,000 Americans die every year from asbestos exposure, but Republicans are willing to look the other way,” Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said in a statement.

“Republicans walked away from this opportunity to ban asbestos merely over language that prevents shutting the courtroom door. This raises serious questions about the sincerity of their intentions.”

Republicans on the committee did not respond to request for comment from The Hill.

Asbestos, tied to lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, is still used in a surprising number of products despite its dangers, largely within the automotive sector along with other industrial uses. 

The bill bars the production, use and importation of asbestos, implementing a ban on the substance within a year of the its passage, with a few narrow exceptions.

The legislation would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act, which doesn’t deal with the cosmetic uses of asbestos being challenged in court.

A number of women have waged successful battles in court, arguing their ovarian cancer was linked to the use of asbestos-laced baby powder.

Democratic aides say they added the so-called savings clause “to make sure nothing in the bill would block the minority women who are primarily bringing suits over harm from cosmetic talc.”

The legislation moved ahead in Congress after the Environmental Protection Agency moved last year to restrict asbestos but stopped short of banning it outright.

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GOP cool to White House’s $1.6T coronavirus price tag

The latest White House coronavirus relief offer, with a $1.6 trillion price tag, received a cool reception Thursday from congressional Republicans.

The new offer from Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinAmerican Airlines to furlough 19,000 workers On The Money: ‘One more serious try’ on COVID relief yields progress but no deal | Trump tax bombshell shines light on IRS enforcement | Senate passes bill to avert shutdown hours before deadline ‘One more serious try’ on COVID-19 relief yields progress but no deal MORE, which exceeds the original $1.1 trillion Senate GOP package and the $1.5 trillion the White House signaled it could support last month, was made as part of renewed talks this week with Democratic leaders.

But Republicans, including influential chairmen and members of leadership, are warning they can’t support it, creating another potential obstacle for negotiators trying to strike a deal on emergency COVID-19 aid after nearly two months of stalemate.

Asked about the prospect of supporting a $1.6 trillion measure, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Fight night: Trump, Biden hurl insults in nasty debate GOP seeks to redirect criticism over Trump tax returns Grassley says disclosing Trump’s tax records without authorization could violate law MORE (R-Iowa) was direct: “No.”

“I think we’ve made it very clear that there’s so much money … that isn’t even out of Washington yet,” Grassley said. “We’re more in the neighborhood of something below $1 trillion.”

Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Fight night: Trump, Biden hurl insults in nasty debate GOP seeks to redirect criticism over Trump tax returns The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by JobsOhio – Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty MORE of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, also appeared unsure he could back a bill with that dollar amount by criticizing the inclusion of a $400 per week federal unemployment benefit.

“How much wasteful spending will we have to swallow to do this?” he said during an interview with Fox Business Network on Thursday.

The pushback comes as Republicans have struggled to unite behind a strategy on the coronavirus relief talks. Senate Republicans initially unveiled a $1.1 trillion package in late July but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senators pan debate: ‘S—show,’ ‘awful,’ ’embarrassment’ ‘One more serious try’ on COVID-19 relief yields progress but no deal The Hill’s Campaign Report: Debate fallout l Trump clarifies remarks on Proud Boys l Down to the wire in South Carolina MORE (R-Ky.) warned that he could lose up to 20 of his 53 GOP senators with that measure.

But Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election SCOTUS confirmation in the last month of a close election? Ugly MORE (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, predicted Thursday that if there were going to be a deal

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House Democrats Prep to Pass Stimulus Bill That is Dead with GOP if Talks Fail

Once again, House Democrats are preparing to go it alone.



a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talk with members of Congress following ceremonies honoring late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the U.S. Capitol on September 25 in Washington, DC.


© Photo by Jonathan Ernst – Pool/Getty
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talk with members of Congress following ceremonies honoring late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the U.S. Capitol on September 25 in Washington, DC.

Amid renewed negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the House postponed plans Wednesday evening to vote on a trimmed-down $2.2 trillion stimulus package until Thursday to “give further room for talks,” a Democratic aide told Newsweek.

Democrats have dubbed the new proposal the Heroes Act 2.0, which they unveiled this week after the last few months failed to produce a bipartisan agreement for another pandemic relief measure.

If a deal is not reached, the Democratic measure is expected to pass along mostly party lines. The proposal offers political cover for Democrats headed into tough re-elections on November 3, as moderates have grown increasingly anxious over Congress’ stimulus inaction. The lack of progress has resulted in mounting pressure on Pelosi to allow another vote on some form of pandemic relief.

The new $2.2 trillion Heroes Act, which is scaled back from the old $3.4 trillion Heroes Act that the House passed in May, includes a second round of $1,200 checks, a $600 weekly federal supplement to unemployment insurance, $225 billion for education, $436 billion for state and local governments, food aid, airline industry assistance and Paycheck Protection Program funding.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated that legislation of such size and cost is out of the question for Republicans, accusing it of being riddled with “poison pills.” GOP lawmakers want a more tailored measure, such as the roughly $500 billion package Senate Democrats blocked Republicans from advancing earlier this month. Some Republicans have shown a willingness to spend more while many remain opposed.

HEROES vs. HEALS Act: How Stimulus Packages Differ Ahead Of Second Coronavirus Relief Aid

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“We’re very, very far apart,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters.

Video: Trump argues large rallies during Covid-19 have ‘no negative effect’ (NBC News)

Trump argues large rallies during Covid-19 have ‘no negative effect’

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At the same time, on the other side of the capitol building, Pelosi and Mnuchin were meeting.

“[$2.2 trillion] is too high,” McConnell said. “The thought that Senate Republicans would jump up to $2.2 trillion is outlandish.”

Despite the lack of a deal that’s persisted for months, Mnuchin and Pelosi are vowing to continue their talks.

“We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do,” Mnuchin told reporters. “And we’re going to see where we end up.”

The political reality is that Congress is still not poised to approve coronavirus-related legislation until after Election Day when tensions die down. Moderate Democrats had pushed House leadership to put forward a proposal that could muster bipartisan support rather than another messaging bill, raising questions about

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House Delays Vote on $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill Lacking GOP Backing

WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives postponed a vote on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package as Democrats tried to find common ground with the White House on a bipartisan agreement, though they remained far apart on key issues.

Democratic aides said the delay was to allow the two sides one more day to keep talking before a vote. As written now, the legislation has no hope of advancing in the GOP-controlled Senate, but many centrist Democrats were eager to pass a new bill before they returned to campaigning in their home districts.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) met Wednesday afternoon for 90 minutes and failed to reach an agreement.

“We found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” Mrs. Pelosi said as she announced plans to hold a vote. “Our conversations will continue.”

The updated legislation released earlier this week shaved the price tag of economic relief to $2.2 trillion, compared with the $3.5 trillion bill the House passed in May.

“We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do,” Mr. Mnuchin said after the meeting. “We’re going to see where we end up.”

Mr. Mnuchin and Mrs. Pelosi have made a late push to try to reach a coronavirus-relief deal before the election, despite skepticism on Capitol Hill that an agreement is possible at this stage. The House is slated to leave for a monthlong recess at the end of this week.

Separately on Wednesday, the Senate passed a short-term spending bill, approved by the House last week, keeping the government funded through Dec. 11.

Republicans and Democrats are in agreement on many of the policy items under discussion, including additional aid for small businesses, restaurants and airlines as well as money to help schools reopen safely, but they remain split over top party priorities.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leaving a Wednesday meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.



Photo:

Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Frustrated lawmakers from both parties have begun pushing for legislation that would extend or change the popular Paycheck Protection Program that allows small businesses to get forgivable loans, with some House Democrats considering a procedural maneuver that would go around leadership. In the Senate on Wednesday, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.) attempted to pass legislation to simplify the forgiveness provisions by unanimous consent but it was blocked by Democrats who have insisted that any coronavirus legislation be more expansive.

In a call with House Democrats on Wednesday, Mrs. Pelosi said the two major obstacles for reaching a deal were Democrats’ priority to include funding for state and local governments in the aid bill, which many Republicans have dubbed a “blue state bailout,” and Republicans’ priority to have liability protections for businesses and health providers, which Democrats object to, according to a person on the call.

“They’re not there at all,” Mrs. Pelosi said of the state and local aid money, according to the person.

Many Republicans have resisted a large new round of spending and have expressed

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House GOP China task force releases recommendations

The House GOP’s China task force unveiled its full report laying out hundreds of recommendations and legislative suggestions to combat threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday. 

The report includes more than 400 policy recommendations to address issues ranging from national security concerns, human rights violations, problems with the supply chain, Beijing’s missteps in its handling of the pandemic and China’s overall expanding influence on the world stage.

The task force — which is made up of 15 GOP lawmakers who sit on 11 different committees — was initially slated to be bipartisan before Democrats ultimately opted out before its launch in May.

Republicans insisted the report is not politically motivated, even as President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE has sought at every turn to tie Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE to China. The report is being released less than five weeks before Election Day.

“It’s not a Republican or Democrat report, it’s not a political exercise, it’s policy. And we hope it will be a blueprint for future Congresses,” Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) told The Hill in an interview. McCaul is the the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of the task force. 

“In fact, two-thirds of the legislative recommendations we make are bipartisan recommendations, some of which have already been passed in either House or Senate, and it deals with everything Chinese Communist Party related.” 

The report comes amid one of the lowest points in relations between the U.S. and China, with the two side clashing over trade, intellectual property protections, cyber security, human rights, Hong Kong’s freedom and Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. 

Recommendations included in the report include a push for a bilateral free trade agreement with Taiwan, for the U.S. to provide a safe haven for Hong Kong refugees and calls on the administration to look into whether human rights violations in China against Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups rise to the level of genocide. 

The group also calls for the implementation of a foreign investment blacklist for countries that require heightened scrutiny, increased transparency in companies’ financial disclosures that do business in the Xinjiang region in addition to substantial military investments and investments into technology to remain competitive. 

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