White House lurches in new direction on stimulus talks, pushing for airline aid

The newest twist in the talks appears to be fast-tracking negotiations to aid the airline industry but shelving the prospects broader unemployment aid, another round of $1,200 relief checks to millions of Americans, small business assistance, and a number of other programs.

Still, after sinking on Tuesday, the stock market rallied sharply Wednesday on the prospect of a partial deal. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up more than 500 points, or nearly 2 percent. Airline stocks fared even better, with American Airlines and United Airlines seeing their share prices up more than 4 percent.

The herky jerky nature of the economic relief talks have played out over months, as the White House and Democrats have failed to agree on a broader support package. The economy showed some signs of recovery over the summer but not it appears pockets are softening again, with the travel industry last week announcing a spate of layoffs and the labor market remaining stubbornly weak while the coronavirus pandemic remains a factor in many parts of the country.

President Trump and Pelosi exchanged insults again on Wednesday, a sign that the broader relief talks are unlikely to be revived. But both sides did appear interested in trying to work out some sort of immediate aid for the airline industry, which has seen a dramatic drop in traffic since earlier this year. Last week, American and United began furloughing more than 30,000 employees.

Mnuchin’s outreach came amid a growing backlash from Republicans running for reelection who questioned – and in some cases denounced – Trump’s decision to end negotiations between Mnuchin and Pelosi on a broader relief package. Trump had announced Tuesday that he was asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to focus on confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court instead — a decision McConnell said he supported.

Pelosi last week urged airlines to hold off on the layoffs, saying she would renew a payroll support program either as a stand-alone bill or part of a broader deal.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) tried Friday to advance a $28 billion bill to help airlines keep workers on payroll, under a procedure that would have required unanimous consent from all lawmakers. Republicans blocked the move.

Senate Republicans have pushed a package of similar size for the airlines that has less stringent requirements on how the aid will be used. It’s unclear if Pelosi and Mnuchin could come up with a deal on airlines that both parties would support, especially after Tuesday’s bizarre events that began when Trump suddenly announced on Twitter that “I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election.”

The backlash was swift. Seven hours after Trump said talks were terminated, he appeared to reverse himself in a new string of tweets.

At 9:54 p.m. Eastern time, he called on the House and Senate to “IMMEDIATELY” approve $25 billion in new aid for the airline industry, which has already begun laying off thousands of employees after federal aid programs

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Freedom Caucus pushing McCarthy to back long-shot effort to remove Pelosi as House speaker

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are trying to convince House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to back an effort to remove Nancy Pelosi as the speaker of the chamber, an unrealistic long-shot effort happening less than seven weeks before Election Day.

McCarthy, R-Calif., on “The Ingraham Angle” Wednesday night said he is not interested in pursuing the move against the speaker, essentially dashing any hope the Freedom Caucus members — who occupy just about 40 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives — would have had of gaining traction in their effort.

“What I’m in favor of is defeating Nancy Pelosi and [Jerry] Nadler and all the others,” McCarthy said as he made his pitch for Republicans deposing Pelosi, D-Calif., the old-fashioned way — by winning elections on Nov. 3. “If we were able to remove Nancy Pelosi you’d have another Democrat. The real challenge would be we’re … four weeks away from [the] election, or 40-some days. These Democrats could actually vote against Nancy Pelosi, use it in their campaigns to say they’re not with her, even though they vote with her 95% of the time.”

MODERATE DEMOCRATS PRESSURE PELOSI, HOUSE LEADERSHIP TO MOVE ON NEW CORONAVIRUS BILL: ‘STOP THE STUPIDITY’

But if the vote is forced it could put moderate Democrats in the uncomfortable spot of backing the controversial Pelosi on the record or publicly spurning their caucus’ leader. The Freedom Caucus is known for its rabble-rousing antics in the House. Its members previously mounted an effort against former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, which was unsuccessful.

“I don’t think it’s the best move at this moment,” McCarthy continued. “I think the best move is win 218 seats and that defeats Nancy Pelosi.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., however, prodded Republican leadership to engage with the long-shot effort to remove Pelosi in a Wednesday night tweet.

REP. ANDY BIGGS: NANCY PELOSI NEEDS TO BE REMOVED FROM HER POST AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE

“Isn’t it past time for Rep. Nancy Pelosi to leave her office as Speaker of the House?” he said. “I call upon our leaders in Congress to put forward the Motion to Vacate the Chair that has been prepared and merely needs to be brought to the floor.”

Biggs linked to a Sept. 7 Fox News op-ed in which he made the case for removing Pelosi — though the op-ed does not acknowledge the nearly nonexistent chance of success such a motion would have. Every Republican could vote for it, as well as double-digit Democrats in a campaign stunt that McCarthy says could help them in moderate districts, and Pelosi would still hold onto the speaker’s gavel.

“Pelosi recently referred to members of Congress who support President Donald Trump as ‘domestic criminals,'” Biggs wrote. “The left hates President Trump and the Americans who voted for him. In and of itself, it is a most despicable statement designed to divide the nation, but it shows a disregard for the institution itself.”

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