Stimulus Talks Remain Deadlocked as House Told No Votes Expected

(Bloomberg) — Prospects for a quick end to the stalemate over a new stimulus faded Monday with members of the House being told not to expect any action this week and many Senate Republicans rejecting the White House proposal for a deal.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks from the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Trump, making his first public appearance since returning from a three-day hospitalization for Covid-19, is setting the stage for a return to the campaign trail even as questions remain about whether he’s still contagious.


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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks from the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Trump, making his first public appearance since returning from a three-day hospitalization for Covid-19, is setting the stage for a return to the campaign trail even as questions remain about whether he’s still contagious.

President Donald Trump, well behind Democrat Joe Biden in every recent poll, again attempted to prod negotiations by urging the GOP by tweet to cut short confirmation hearings for his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to focus on bolstering the economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to talk more this week as they attempt to bridge the gap between the Democrat’s $2.2 trillion proposal and the administration’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer.

Even if they manage to strike a deal, there’s almost no chance of getting legislation written and passed by Congress before the Nov. 3 election, in which control of the White House and the Senate is at stake.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, sent out a notice to lawmakers Monday saying “that due to the Trump Administration’s failure to reach an agreement on coronavirus relief, no votes are expected in the House this week.” The House is not in session this week and most members are away from Washington. But they remain on 24-hour standby, though, should an agreement be reached.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks from the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Trump, making his first public appearance since returning from a three-day hospitalization for Covid-19, is setting the stage for a return to the campaign trail even as questions remain about whether he’s still contagious.


© Bloomberg
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks from the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Trump, making his first public appearance since returning from a three-day hospitalization for Covid-19, is setting the stage for a return to the campaign trail even as questions remain about whether he’s still contagious.

Trump’s changes in direction last week — first calling off talks in a tweet, then saying he wanted a bigger package than even Democrats have proposed — may have hardened Pelosi’s resolve to hold firm. On Sunday she called the White House offer a “miserable and deadly failure.”

Investors took the standoff in stride. U.S. stocks climbed to the highest in almost six weeks, fueled also by a rally in big technology companies, which Trump highlighted in a tweet Monday morning.

“The stimulus stalemate still looms large, though it failed to derail the market,” said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investment product at E*Trade Financial.

One big issue for the administration may be Senate Republicans.

Multiple GOP senators participating in a Saturday conference call told Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that any agreement with Democrats that ends up around $2 trillion is too much, according to two people familiar with the call.

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This ecologist was told she could keep her natural garden. Here’s why she’s fighting city hall anyway

An ecologist is challenging Toronto’s long grass and weed bylaw, even though the city exempted her from having to cut down her natural garden — which is home to tall shrubs and trees, as well as butterflies and chipmunks.

Nina-Marie Lister, an ecology and urban planning professor at Ryerson University, says she never asked for an exemption and she rejects it. Instead, she and her lawyer are arguing that the bylaw itself is unconstitutional and outdated, saying it goes against the city’s own pollinator protection and biodiversity strategies.

“[The current bylaw] really stands in the way of individual citizens on a small patch of yard trying to do the right thing at a time of biodiversity collapse and climate crisis,” said Lister, who was also a consultant on the city’s own biodiversity strategy.

The two are now drafting a replacement bylaw to present to the city this fall.

Lister and her family have been tending the garden at her home near Davenport Road and Christie Street for the past five years. It includes a front-yard meadow, a green roof and around 100 different species of plants, shrubs and trees, most of which are native to Ontario.

Nina-Marie Lister’s natural garden is home to about 100 different species of trees, plants and shrubs. (Lorraine Johnson)

“In the work that I do, it would be very odd for me not to have a garden that was full of life, rich in biodiversity and frankly, one that gives us enormous benefit as a community,” Lister said.

Lister, who is also and the director of Ryerson’s Ecological Design Lab, says the garden holds storm water, controls runoff and provides habitat for various birds and at-risk insects like monarch butterflies. It’s also been home to other creatures, including frogs, rabbits and chipmunks.

Plus, she says, it provides education and respite; passersby often stop and sit on logs that have been turned into makeshift seats, kids play in the flowers, and before the pandemic, school groups would come by.

‘The whole thing is ridiculous,’ lawyer says .

Lister says she hopes people get a sense of joy when they walk past the garden, but instead some have complained to the city.  A bylaw officer visited her home in August and said the garden violated the bylaw, which resulted in an order to mow it down.

The long grass and weed bylaw states grass, weeds and vegetation cannot be taller than 20 centimetres. A conviction can include forced mowing, at the landowner’s cost, and a fine of up to $5,000. That doesn’t include growth that’s part of a natural garden or planted to produce ground cover. Exemptions can be granted for natural gardens.

Some of Lister’s plants are between 90 and 120 centimetres. 

About 600 square metres of Nina-Marie Lister’s natural garden can be seen from the street. (John Lesavage/CBC)

Eventually, Lister was granted an exemption, but she says she didn’t apply for one and an inspection was never done to grant it.

Lister told the city

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‘This is a busy White House’: Trump told Dr. Fauci he didn’t have a lot of time to talk about COVID-19: Bob Woodward

President Trump reportedly told journalist Bob Woodward that he was too busy to meet with Dr. Anthony Fauci one-on-one in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

A previously unheard recording of Trump released Monday shows Trump shrugging off the need for more in-depth meetings with the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, CNN reported Monday.

“This is a busy White House,” Trump told Woodward in March as the death toll started rising. “We’ve got a lot of things happening.”

“Honestly there’s not a lot of time for that, Bob,” the president added.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci


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President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci

President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci

Video: Martha MacCallum on Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis: ‘The President seemed impenetrable’ (FOX News)

Martha MacCallum on Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis: ‘The President seemed impenetrable’

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The new recording is from one of 18 interviews that Trump gave to Woodward for the iconic journalist’s book “Rage” about Trump’s White House.

Earlier recordings revealed that Trump admitted that he “like(s) playing down” the threat from the pandemic to the public even though he knew how dangerous it was.

In the new recording, Trump praises Fauci as “a sharp guy” but again seeks to tamp down the need for a full-court press to battle the virus, which was just starting to kill significant numbers of Americans.

Last week, the Republican president became one of 7.4 million Americans who contracted coronavirus and to date, he is currently receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Woodward has said he believes Trump’s mishandling of the virus shows that he is profoundly unfit to lead the country.

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White House aides tried to block Bolton book, court is told

An aide to Trump also “instructed her to temporarily withhold any response” to a request from Bolton to review a chapter on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine so it could be released during the impeachment trial, wrote Knight’s lawyer, Kenneth L. Wainstein.

Wainstein said that his client had determined in April that Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” no longer contained any classified information, but the “apolitical process” was then “commandeered by political appointees for a seemingly political purpose” to go after Bolton. The actions she was asked to take were “unprecedented in her experience,” the letter said.

Knight said that political appointees repeatedly asked her to sign a declaration to use against Bolton that made a range of false assertions. She said that after her refusal, she was reassigned from the White House despite earlier expectations that she would transition to a permanent position there.

“She had never previously been asked to take the above-described measures, and she has never heard that predecessors in her position ever received such instructions in the course of their prepublication reviews,” the letter said.

Representatives for the National Security Council and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for Bolton, Charles J. Cooper, declined to comment on the specifics of the letter but said that his client had not asked Knight to disclose her account of events and that he had received a copy of the letter unexpectedly Tuesday evening.

The filing was an extraordinary twist in the legal saga surrounding Bolton’s book. The Trump administration unsuccessfully sought to block distribution of the book earlier this year after it was already printed, claiming despite Knight’s assessment that it contained large amounts of classified information. It is moving to seize his $2 million advance and has opened a criminal investigation, threatening criminal charges for unauthorized disclosures of secrets.

But the letter called into question the premise of all of those efforts — that the book, in its published form, contains any classified information.

Knight’s account is also the latest in a series of disclosures by current and former executive branch officials as the election nears accusing the president and his political appointees of putting his personal and political goals ahead of the public interest and an evenhanded application of the rule of law.

Wainstein recounted a series of irregularities that he said were unlike any other prepublication review that Knight had handled in her two years working at the National Security Council.

Knight, after extensive work with Bolton to change aspects of his draft to eliminate classified information, had told his team informally that it no longer had any unpublishable material. But the White House never sent a formal letter saying the process was over and political appointees in the White House directed Knight not to communicate with them in writing about the book.

In June, as the delay dragged on, Bolton and Simon & Schuster published the book, arguing that Knight’s informal assurance fulfilled the legal commitment

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