McConnell sets Senate vote on coronavirus aid, Pelosi spurns White House bid

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday the Republican-led U.S. Senate would vote next week on a targeted, $500 billion coronavirus economic aid bill of the type Democrats already have rejected as they hold out for trillions in relief.

With negotiations on a broader package stalled and Election Day approaching, both Republicans and Democrats faced pressure to take action to help Americans weather a pandemic that has killed more than 214,000 people and damaged the U.S. economy.

Congress passed $3 trillion in coronavirus aid, including help for the unemployed, in the spring.

Both sides say more aid is needed now, but appear to remain far apart. With leaders of the Democratic-run House and Republican Senate still sparring, a bipartisan deal on coronavirus relief remains unlikely before Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections.

President Donald Trump, a Republican who called off coronavirus relief talks last week only to restart them days later, pushed lawmakers again on Tuesday to “Go big or go home!!!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a swipe on Tuesday at Trump’s about-face. “Following his tweet, the stock market went down and so did he in the polls,” Pelosi said of Trump’s assertion last week that there would be no aid package before the election.

In recent days, Pelosi has refused a White House offer for a $1.8 trillion coronavirus aid package even though it moved closer to her $2.2 trillion proposal – and despite mounting pressure from some members of her own Democratic caucus who would like to see a compromise.

Pelosi angrily defended her stance Tuesday when a CNN interviewer asked her to respond to a progressive Democrat, Representative Ro Khanna, who had urged her to accept the White House proposal instead of waiting until February next year, when Democrats may also control the Senate and the White House.

“Nobody’s waiting till February. I want this very much now, because people need help now. But it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail,” she told CNN.

McConnell said the full Senate’s first order of business when it returns on Monday would be to vote on a $500 billion relief bill. It would include more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, which has helped small businesses pay employees during the pandemic.

McConnell said the bill would include help for schools and liability protections for businesses, which Republicans sought. McConnell also said there would be more unemployment benefits and assistance for hospitals in the bill.

“I want to give our friends on the other side one more chance to do highly targeted relief that the country desperately needs,” McConnell said in Barbourville, Kentucky.

But Senate Democrats blocked a similar proposal last month. Democrats have repeatedly rejected targeted aid proposals, preferring to do comprehensive bills that also include large sums of money for state and local governments whose budgets have been slammed by the pandemic.

Pelosi,

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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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Senate Republicans will ‘go along with’ White House stimulus proposal despite their pushback

President Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Sunday that Senate Republicans will “go along with” the $1.8 trillion White House stimulus proposal despite their vocal pushback.



Lawrence Kudlow wearing a suit and tie: Trump economic adviser: Senate Republicans will 'go along with' White House stimulus proposal despite their pushback


© Screenshot
Trump economic adviser: Senate Republicans will ‘go along with’ White House stimulus proposal despite their pushback

Kudlow told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the White House expects GOP support from Republicans in the upper chamber. A source told The Hill on Saturday that several senators expressed “significant concerns” about the proposal’s cost in a call with administration officials.

The White House economic adviser said on Sunday he does not think the coronavirus stimulus bill is “dead.”

“Don’t forget, Republicans in the Senate put up their own bill a few weeks ago and got 53 votes, I think it was, so they united,” he said. “I think if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it.”

Kudlow also criticized Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for their “intransigence” over funding unemployment assistance, small business loans and stimulus checks in individual bills or an overall bill.

“Well, I’m not talking about your Democratic friends,” CNN host Jake Tapper pushed back. “I’m talking about 20 Senate Republicans who were mad at Secretary Mnuchin and saying that the proposal of $1.8 trillion was way too much.”

Video: Problem Solvers Caucus leaders push for coronavirus stimulus deal (FOX News)

Problem Solvers Caucus leaders push for coronavirus stimulus deal

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The White House economic adviser noted the president would “go beyond” the cost of the current proposal to fund assistance for unemployed people, small business loans and stimulus checks.

“I think if we could get this thing settled on the Democrat side, we will get it settled on the Republican side,” he said. “There will still be further efforts of negotiation perhaps today but certainly this coming week.”

“The D’s are holding this thing up,” he added.

Kudlow also told CNN that he doesn’t think the economic “recovery” in the U.S. “is dependent on” a stimulus bill.

When Tapper said the Federal Reserve chairman disagreed, Kudlow said he’s “essentially saying the same thing – targeted assistance would be a good idea.”

Kudlow’s remarks come after the White House proposed a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package, a higher amount than the $1.6 trillion offered last week and rejected by Pelosi and Democrats.

Several Senate Republicans blasted the proposal in a call with White House officials, with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) labeling it a “death knell” for the GOP ahead of the elections

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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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Senate Republicans Denounce White House’s Offer for Coronavirus Relief

Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, a Republican, warned that accepting a bill with Ms. Pelosi’s support would amount to a “death knell” for the party’s ambitions to retain its majority in the Senate and would “deflate” the Republican base, reflecting longstanding concerns among senators eager to protect their credentials as fiscal hawks and stave off primary challengers in the next election cycle.

Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, declared that accepting a Democratic push to expand elements of the Affordable Care Act would be “an enormous betrayal” of Republican voters. Republicans have also voiced concerns that the health care provisions Democrats have pressed for could result in the use of federal funds for abortions, a characterization Democrats dispute.

“I don’t get it,” Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, said of the administration’s efforts to reach a sweeping bipartisan deal with House Democrats, echoing the sentiments of multiple senators.

Ms. Pelosi, for her part, informed Democratic lawmakers that she found elements of Mr. Mnuchin’s proposal to be inadequate, writing in a letter on Saturday that “this proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back.” After scaling down House Democrats’ original $3.4 trillion proposal to $2.2 trillion, she has been unwilling to accept much less than that.

“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,” Ms. Pelosi wrote, adding “at this point, we still have disagreement on many priorities.” She ticked off a number of unresolved issues, including what she said was insufficient funding for unemployment benefits, child care, and state and local governments, and “reckless” liability protections that Republicans have insisted are a priority.

She said she was waiting for specific language from the administration about several provisions, including a national strategy for testing and tracing to contain the spread of the virus. It remained unclear whether she and Mr. Mnuchin would speak over the weekend.

Moderate Republicans, particularly those who are facing tough re-election races, are among the few senators who have voiced support for a bipartisan coronavirus deal and expressed few reservations about the pice tag. A handful of those senators, on a private call with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, pushed for action on a bipartisan deal, particularly after Mr. Trump briefly withdrew negotiators from talks and gave Democrats political cover for failure to reach an agreement.

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Senate Republicans rip new White House coronavirus proposal

Senate Republicans on Saturday offered fierce pushback against the administration’s latest coronavirus relief proposal during a call with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks | Trump proposes .8T coronavirus relief package | Vegas ties helped Trump score M windfall in 2016 Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks SBA simplifies PPP forgiveness for small loans MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump campaigns on Rush Limbaugh show l Democrats question Trump’s mental fitness l Coronavirus stimulus in doubt before election Debate commission co-chair: ‘No evidence whatsoever’ Trump has tested negative The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Dems ruffle feathers with POTUS fitness bill MORE.

Senate Republicans raised concerns about the $1.8 trillion price tag of the White House’s latest offer to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLoeffler unveils resolution condemning Pelosi for comments on 25th Amendment On The Money: Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks | Trump proposes .8T coronavirus relief package | Vegas ties helped Trump score M windfall in 2016 Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks MORE (D-Calif.), multiple sources familiar with the call told The Hill.

One source familiar with the call said that there were “significant concerns raised with the price tag.”

“There’s an openness to continue negotiating, but the current topline is an obstacle,” the source added.

Concerns about the White House’s offer came from across the conference, underscoring the work the White House and Trump face to get any potential deal across the finish line in the GOP-controlled Senate even as the president has publicly urged negotiators to “go big.”

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThis week: Coronavirus complicates Senate’s Supreme Court fight Poll finds support for independent arbiters resolving ‘surprise’ medical bills Democratic Senate candidate in Tennessee discusses working-class background MORE (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate’s Health Committee, told Meadows and Mnuchin that there was “no appetite” within the Senate Republican conference for a $1.8 trillion bill, a second person briefed on the call told The Hill. Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for coronavirus Netflix distances from author’s comments about Muslim Uyghurs but defends project Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns MORE (R-Tenn.) warned that it could be a “death knell” for the party in November and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) told Meadows and Mnuchin “I don’t get it.”

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Cruz says he raised concerns with Trump over Gorsuch and Kavanaugh before nominations Deadline accidentally publishes story about Pence being diagnosed with COVID-19 MORE (R-Utah), who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, also expressed concern that it would cost the party support in the election and would take the focus off of the caucus’s top priority: confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

In response

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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 passes revised coronavirus relief bill, but it’s unlikely to move in the Senate

The House passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Thursday, as the prospects for a deal between Democrats and the White House seem to be fading.  But the bill is unlikely to move through the Republican-led Senate, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he would not support any legislation that has a price tag of more than $2 trillion.

The bill passed almost entirely along party lines, with only 18 Democrats voting against it. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that Democrats and the Trump administration were still far apart on issues including funding for state and local governments, and there is “a stark difference not just of dollars, but of values.”

After discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in recent days, Pelosi said the two also remain “way off” on a child tax credit, which Democrats want to have included in any deal. But she also said that they’re “in the ballpark” on health care provisions and assistance for small businesses.

She said that she was “hoping” the House would vote on the revised HEROES Act on Thursday but still expressed some optimism that a deal could be reached with the White House.

“Hopefully, we can find our common ground on this and do so soon,” she said, but she reiterated her argument that a smaller relief bill is not better than no bill at all.

“People say, ‘Isn’t something better than nothing?’ No, there can be an opportunity cost,” Pelosi said in her press conference, giving the example of a tax cut which Republicans would like to include in a final proposal. House members could return to their districts to campaign as soon as Thursday evening, meaning that the window to pass any legislation is closing quickly.

The revised HEROES Act is a slimmed-down version of the $3.4 trillion relief bill the House passed in May. It would restore a popular benefit providing an additional $600 per week on top of unemployment benefits, deliver another round of direct payments and provide funding for schools and state and local jurisdiction.

Some of the more moderate Democrats in the House had pushed Pelosi to put another bill on the floor. The bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus introduced a bill that would cost around $2 trillion, and Mnuchin said on Wednesday that his $1.6 trillion counteroffer to Pelosi would be similar to that framework.

A House Democratic aide confirmed to CBS News that Mnuchin and Pelosi were expected to speak on the phone on Thursday afternoon to continue negotiations.

McConnell said Wednesday that “the thought that Senate Republicans would go up to $2.2 trillion is outlandish.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also dismissed Pelosi as being “unserious” in negotiations. She praised the White House offer for a $1.6 trillion proposal, but said Democrats are refusing to budge.

“Nancy Pelosi is not being serious. If she becomes serious, then we can have a discussion here,” McEnany said at a press briefing on Thursday. She added

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House, Senate diverge on curbing Louisiana governor’s power

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana House Republicans on Thursday started advancing multiple approaches to intervene in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus decision-making, as disagreements emerge with the Senate on the best method of attack.

The House and Senate, in their first week of a monthlong special session, disagree over how far lawmakers should go and what’s within the limits of their constitutional authority.

Negotiations continue behind the scenes as lawmakers in the majority-Republican Legislature try to determine what can win support from both chambers — and what could get enough votes to either override Edwards’ veto or avoid the Democratic governor’s desk entirely.

The House and Governmental Affairs Committee backed bills that would require lawmakers to determine whether a governor can renew an emergency or disaster declaration after 30 days. The panel also approved a more immediate measure sponsored by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder that would jettison Edwards’ coronavirus orders for a month after the special session ends.

“It allows us to take a deep breath and see what direction we need to go in,” said Schexnayder, a Gonzales Republican.

The committee also advanced a proposal by Republican Senate President Page Cortez that received unanimous Senate support a day earlier, though some House Republicans suggested the measure does very little to address their complaints.

Cortez’s bill would require a governor to give legislative leaders advance notice and explanation when extending an emergency order — but doesn’t give lawmakers new avenues to revoke or stall the orders.

The proposals move to the full House for debate, with little clarity on what approach is gaining traction. Democrats oppose anything that would substantially chip away at Edwards’ authority.

“The governor has been well within his rights in declaring steps that we as a state need to take to protect one another,” said Rep. Candace Newell, a New Orleans Democrat.

Conservative Republicans angered by Edwards’ continued restrictions on businesses and activities want to scrap the governor’s coronavirus rules now.

“We believe in individual freedoms to wear a mask or not, to stay home or not, and the time has come. Seven months in, we feel it’s time to loosen up the reins,” said Rep. Dodie Horton, a Haughton Republican. She added later: “We want to be free again.”

Cortez and his bill cosponsor, Republican Sen. Patrick McMath of Covington, said going further than their proposal and trying to require legislative approval of a governor’s orders could violate the state constitution. They defended their measure against criticism that it’s window-dressing, not substance.

“Folks in my district aren’t going to love this. But it respects the separation of powers,” McMath said. “Oversight is incredibly powerful.”

Lawmakers complain they have been sidelined in the decision-making.

Edwards administration officials note the governor has loosened restrictions several times, most recently in mid-September. They say the rules are less restrictive than many other states with lower rates of virus infections and follow White House recommendations.

James Waskom, the governor’s homeland security director, cautioned that yanking the public health emergency

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CCAGW PAC Endorses Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall for Senate, and Reps. Ron Estes and Steve Watkins for Re-election to the House of Representatives

Today, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee (CCAGW PAC) announced its endorsement of Reps. Ron Estes (R-Kans.) and Steve Watkins (R-Kans.) for re-election to the House, and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kans.) for election to the Senate.

CCAGW PAC based its endorsements on the candidate’s’ lifetime score in CCAGW’s 2019 Congressional Ratings.

Rep. Estes was named a “Taxpayer Super Hero” in 2019 with a perfect score of 100 percent and is a lifetime “Taxpayer Hero” with a rating of 94 percent. Rep. Watkins has a lifetime rating of 99 percent based on his first year in Congress and Rep. Marshall has a lifetime rating of 87 percent, both earning the title of “Taxpayer Hero.”

“During their tenures in the House, Reps. Estes, Watkins, and Marshall have been strong and reliable votes to curb government waste and reform Washington,” said CCAGW PAC Chairman Tom Schatz. “On top of their impressive voting records, they worked with their colleagues to enact and retain historic tax cuts, support deregulation, and help ignite America’s economic boom. I urge Kansans to re-elect Reps. Estes and Watkins to the House of Representatives, and elect Rep. Marshall to the Senate.”

CCAGW PAC is affiliated with the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, a 501(c)(4) organization. CCAGW PAC’s mission is to support political candidates who will fight to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in government and represent the best interests of taxpayers.

Paid for by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200930005689/en/

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