Pelosi rejects White House stimulus offer as ‘wholly insufficient’

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues calling the Trump administration’s latest stimulus offer “wholly insufficient.”
  • Over the weekend, the White House proposed a $1.8 trillion measure, a figure that’s too high for many Senate Republicans and too low for House Democrats.
  • On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urged Democrats to pass a measure repurposing leftover funds from the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Trump administration’s latest stimulus proposal is “grossly inadequate,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Sunday, suggesting Congress and the White House are no closer to a deal on a coronavirus relief package.

Over the weekend, the White House proposed a $1.8 trillion stimulus measure, angering both Senate Republicans, who consider that number far too high, and House Democrats, who passed a $2.2 trillion proposal last month.

The White House proposal includes a $400 boost in weekly unemployment insurance, $1,200 stimulus checks for US adults, and $1,000 checks for each child, The Washington Post reported.

Democrats have pushed for a $600 increase in weekly unemployment benefits and $1,200 checks for child dependents, as well as substantially more funding for state and local governments.

In her Oct. 11 letter, Pelosi decried the administration’s proposal, saying the disagreements have to do with more than the top-line numbers.

“[I]n terms of addressing testing, tracing, and treatment, what the Trump administration has offered is wholly insufficient,” she wrote.

Senate Republicans are equally unimpressed, CNN reported. “I don’t get it,” Florida Sen. Rick Scott told White House officials on a phone call this weekend, two sources told the news outlet. Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said the larger White House proposal would “deflate” the GOP base, the sources said.

With a deal between the White House and Congress seemingly out of reach, the Trump administration is also lobbying for a stimulus measure that would repurpose $135 billion in leftover funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, Politico reported.

Democrats have previously shown little interest in the idea, complaining about a lack of transparency with respect to how PPP funds were used — and seeking a much larger stimulus for an economy in recession.

In their appeal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urged an end to the impasse, which last week saw President Trump call off negotiations before reversing himself in the wake of bipartisan anger.

“The all-or-nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” the officials wrote.

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DC faults White House over Rose Garden event, says contact tracing insufficient

By ASHRAF KHALIL

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an extraordinary step, the Washington, D.C., Department of Health has released an open letter appealing to all White House staff and anyone who attended a Sept. 26 event in the Rose Garden to seek medical advice and take a COVID-19 test.

The letter indicates a lack of confidence in the White House medical team’s own contact tracing efforts regarding an ongoing virus outbreak that has infected President Donald Trump, multiple senior staff members and two U.S. senators, among others.

Co-signed by nine other local health departments from neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, the letter flatly states a belief that contact tracing on the outbreak has been insufficient.

It says the public appeal is based on, “our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date, there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals.”

It asks all White House employees, anyone who attended the Sept. 26 event and anyone who may have been in contact with those people to “contact your local health department for further guidance/questions regarding your potential need to quarantine.”

The letter represents a rising level of concern and a clear shift in strategy by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government, which had previously remained publicly hands-off and said it trusted the White House’s robust medical operation to handle its own contact tracing and follow-up.

Bowser said earlier this week that repeated attempts to contact the White House over the outbreak had received a “very cursory” response but that she believed the necessary steps were being taken.

“There are established public health protocols at the White House that are federal in nature,” Bowser said on Monday. “We assume that those protocols have been engaged.”

A Health Department spokeswoman did not respond to questions on whether the letter had been directly sent to any White House employees or people who attended the Sept. 26 event, or if the D.C. government had been provided with a list of attendees.

The move highlights the public health dilemma faced by Bowser’s government regarding the current outbreak. The Trump White House has operated for months in open violation of several D.C. virus regulations, hosting multiple gatherings that exceeded the local 50-person limit and in which many participants didn’t wear masks.

It shines a further spotlight on the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony to introduce Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Multiple attendees, including Trump and Notre Dame University President Rev. John Jenkins, who flew in from Indiana for the ceremony, have now tested positive.

Washington’s local virus regulations don’t apply on federal property, but the current outbreak has blurred those distinctions. Trump inner-circle members like former counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has also tested positive, are D.C. residents, as are many of the staffers, employees, Secret Service members and journalists who have had close contact with infected officials.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Monday that the White House “has established a robust contact tracing program led

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U.S. House probe of 737 MAX finds ‘disturbing pattern’ of Boeing failures and ‘grossly insufficient’ FAA oversight

An intensive investigation by a U.S. House Committee into the causes of the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes reveals new details documenting what a final report calls “a disturbing pattern of technical miscalculations and troubling management misjudgments made by Boeing,” along with “grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chair of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, signaled in a teleconference briefing that the committee plans to soon propose legislation reforming how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifies airplanes as safe to fly.

He called it “mind boggling” that the MAX, which had two crashes that killed 346 people within five months, was originally certified by both Boeing and the FAA as compliant with all safety regulations.

“The problem is, it was compliant and not safe. And people died,” DeFazio said, “Obviously the system is inadequate.”

The report says Boeing engineers at various points during development of the MAX raised questions about all the critical design elements of the flight control software that later led to the crashes — the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

It cites internal Boeing memos and emails in which engineers asked about the system being triggered by a single sensor, about the potential consequences of a faulty sensor, about how repetitive MCAS activations might affect the ability of pilots to maintain control, and about whether pilots would react in time if MCAS was triggered erroneously.

“Ultimately, all of those safety concerns were either inadequately addressed or simply dismissed by Boeing,” the report states.

Nor did Boeing flag these issues to the FAA. The report documents four instances when Boeing engineers delegated to work on behalf of the safety regulator during the MAX’s certification “failed to represent the interests of the FAA.”

DeFazio said that in February 2019, after the crash of a Lion Air MAX jet but before the Ethiopian Airlines crash, Ali Bahrami, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, told him the accident was a “one-off” and that “there’s no problem with that plane.”

Yet DeFazio said that, based on a seven-hour interview with Bahrami by committee investigators last December, it appeared the FAA’s head of safety “really didn’t know much of anything about the MAX or its development.”

The House investigation concludes that “excessive FAA delegation to Boeing has eroded FAA’s oversight capabilities.”

DeFazio said the majority Democrats on the committee have been in discussions for weeks with the minority Republican members over “legislation to make sure this never happens again.”

The Senate’s Commerce Committee is likewise considering this week a bill to strengthen the airplane certification process.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Everett), chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, said the Boeing workers he represents are distraught at the MAX tragedies and that legislators “really do need to act.”

“We’re optimistic we can work it out,” DeFazio said.

Issues raised but dismissed

The report describes how Boeing “failed to classify MCAS as a safety-critical system, which would have attracted greater FAA scrutiny during the certification process.”

At a meeting documented in a

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