House Democrats pushed through an aid package with little chance of becoming law.

House Democrats on Thursday pushed through a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan that would provide aid to families, schools, restaurants, businesses and airline workers, advancing a wish list with little chance of becoming law.

The pandemic relief measure passed the House on a 214-to-207 vote, with at least 17 Democrats joining Republicans in opposing it. The handful of moderate Democrats who bucked their party argued that with negotiations still taking place with the Trump administration, the chamber should vote on a bipartisan deal.

Republicans had already panned the relief bill as too large.

The decision to put it to a vote anyway on Thursday evening reflected mounting anxiety among some rank-and-file Democrats at the prospect of facing voters next month without being able to point to some action to provide relief. There was also a desire among some party members to formalize their latest offer.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted that there was still a chance that the talks would produce a deal, but the vote shined a light on the continued failure of Congress and the White House to come together on a new package, and the dwindling chances that they can do so before lawmakers scatter to campaign for re-election.

Earlier in the day, Ms. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with each other for about 50 minutes, with Mr. Mnuchin taking an offer of a $1.6 trillion package to Ms. Pelosi’s Capitol Hill suite.

Ms. Pelosi told reporters that she did not expect a resolution on a stimulus package to emerge Thursday. But she said that she was reviewing documents sent by the Treasury Department and that “we’re going back and forth with our paper and conversation.”

During the stalemate, several industries, notably airlines, are running into severe financial constraints as the virus persists and people continue to shy away from traveling. United Airlines and American Airlines began furloughs of 30,000 workers on Thursday after Congress was unable to come up with a fresh aid package for the industry.

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White House Officials Pushed CDC to Downplay Risks of Reopening Schools

Top White House officials pushed the CDC to minimize the dangers of COVID-19 for young people and pressured schools to reopen this summer.

Two former CDC officials tell The New York Times that White House officials, like aides in Mike Pence’s office and Dr. Deborah Birx—the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force—were attempting to bypass the CDC to boost data that showed the virus’ spread was slowing down. While the identities of the former CDC officials remained anonymous, they confirmed to CBS News that The Times report was true.

Former Pence adviser Olivia Troye, who worked on the White House coronavirus task force, told The Times that Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, frequently asked her to create more data that showed a drop in cases among young people. Troye ultimately left her post in August and has now become a Trump detractor and outwardly critical of how the administration handled the pandemic.

According to The Times, Birx urged the CDC to promote data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—part of the Department of Health and Human Services—which said that prolonged school closings could impact children’s mental health and asserted that the virus’ spread in families was low. In an email from Birx to CDC Director Robert Redfield, Birx asks him to include the document as “background” in CDC guidance for school reopenings.

A second former CDC official said that Birx spearheaded the message for school reopenings, which centered on the dangers of kids staying at home rather than reentering the classroom. This official said that the White House was “slicing and dicing our data to fit its narrative.”

This official also said that CDC scientists were frightened by the “preamble” to guidance shared on the website, which emphasized the possible negative impact that delayed school openings could have. The CDC had used some of that data for its own guidelines, but it wasn’t the focal point.

Brian Morgenstern, the White House deputy press secretary, told CBS that the president “relies on the advice of all of his top health officials who agree that it is in the public health interest to safely reopen schools, and that the relative risks posed by the virus to young people are outweighed by the risks of keeping children out of school indefinitely.”

A White House official boasted about Birx’s close relationship with Redfield, telling CBS that “the notion that Dr. Birx was ‘pressuring’ Dr. Redfield to do something he didn’t agree with seems preposterous on its face.”

“A conversation or comments exchanged between friends and colleagues is hardly some sort of politically-charged demand,” the official added.

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White House reportedly pushed CDC hard to fall in line on sending kids to school, sought alternate safety data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began working in early summer on guidance for sending children back to school, and the White House then “spent weeks trying to press public health professionals to fall in line with President Trump’s election-year agenda of pushing to reopen schools and the economy as quickly as possible,” The New York Times reported Monday night, citing documents and interviews with current and former government officials.

This “strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic” included searching for “alternate data” that suggested children were at little or no risk from the coronavirus, the Times reports, and trying to swap in guidance from a little-known Health and Human Services Department agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

SAMHSA was focused on the emotional and mental health toll remote school could have on children, but CDC scientists found multiple problems with the agency’s assertion that COVID-19 posed a low health and transmission risk for children. That’s the language the White House was most interested in, though, and throughout the summer the CDC won some battles and lost others trying to keep it out of public guidance, the Times documents.

Olivia Troye, one of Vice President Mike Pence’s envoys on the White House coronavirus task force until leaving the administration in July, told the Times she regrets being “complicit” in the effort to pressure the CDC to make children look safer than the data supported. She said when she tried to shield the CDC, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, charged “more junior staff” to “develop charts” for White House briefings.

In early July, several prominent medical groups, including the American Association of Pediatrics, advised sending kids back to school with stringent safety measures, in part because the data at the time suggested lower risk for kids. “More recently, data compiled by the academy from recent months shows that hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have increased at a faster rate in children and teenagers than among the general public,” the Times reports. Read more at The New York Times.

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Texts show Ex-House speaker pushed lawmaker to pass bailout

Updated


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio lawmaker leading the charge to repeal a nuclear bailout bill was unsuccessfully pressured by the former House speaker to vote in favor of its passage, newly released records show.

In late May 2019, former House Speaker Larry Householder texted his fellow GOP colleague Rep. Dave Greenspan to ensure he had his vote for the bill that is now at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe, according to a series of text messages released by the Ohio House on Thursday.


Federal prosecutors in July accused Householder and four others of shepherding energy company money for personal and political use as part of an effort to pass the legislation, then kill any attempt to repeal it at the polls. All five men have pleaded not guilty.



“I really need you to vote yes on HB6, it means a lot to me,” Householder wrote in the text messages released Thursday. “Can I count on you?”

The bill in question would send more than $1 billion to two Ohio nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo now owned by Energy Harbor, a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.

It just so happened that Greenspan was sitting down for an interview with FBI agents when he received the text message from Householder, according to the criminal complaint, which identified Greenspan as “Representative 7.”


Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, responded no to Householder’s request, citing “significant challenges” with the bill.

Householder replied, “I just want

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