Minnesota House to reconvene for vote on $1.4B bonding bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota House reconvenes Wednesday for what could be its last chance to pass a $1.37 billion public works construction borrowing package, but it requires at least six Republican votes.

The legislation, known as a bonding bill, requires a 60% supermajority to pass. And the Democratic-controlled House must approve it before the Republican-controlled Senate can take it up, which could happen Thursday.

The bonding bill is the biggest piece of unfinished business left over from the 2020 regular session, which ended in May. With less than three weeks to go until the election, this is seen as the Legislature’s last chance for the year.


House Speaker Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, said Monday that she was confident of getting the six GOP votes needed by Wednesday.

The bonding bill would finance $1.87 billion in public infrastructure projects statewide once other funding sources are counted. The House version also includes some new spending and a business tax break.

House Republicans blocked previous attempts to approve the package. They wanted Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to give up the emergency powers that he’s used to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve dropped that demand but are now seeking budget cuts to offset the debt service costs of the bonding bill.

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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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McConnell plans coronavirus aid vote as Pelosi says White House stimulus plan falls short

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans a vote on limited coronavirus stimulus legislation based around the Paycheck Protection Program this month.
  • Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted that lawmakers should “go big or go home” ahead of the 2020 election.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is negotiating a potential stimulus deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said the latest White House proposal “falls significantly short” of what is need to address the crisis.

Senate will take up Covid-19 small business relief when it returns, says Mitch McConnell

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The Senate will vote on a limited coronavirus stimulus bill this month, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, as lawmakers stumble in their push to send aid to Americans before the 2020 election.

In a statement, the Kentucky Republican said the Senate would take up aid legislation after the full chamber returns on Monday. McConnell called the plan “targeted relief for American workers, including new funding” for Paycheck Protection Program small business loans. Speaking at an event in his home state, he said the bill would also include money for schools, an unemployment insurance boost and liability protections for businesses.

McConnell said in his statement that the Senate would have enough time to both pass the relief proposal and confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett “unless Democrats block this aid for workers.” Democrats have in recent days targeted Republicans for moving forward with Barrett’s nomination while millions of Americans left jobless by the virus outbreak await federal assistance.

Democrats, who blocked a roughly $500 billion Republican plan in the Senate last month, could dismiss the latest GOP proposal as inadequate. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to a request to comment on whether Democrats would support the new Republican bill.

McConnell announced plans for a vote as hopes for new spending to boost the health-care system and economy dim. Democrats and the Trump administration have failed to strike a relief deal as the U.S. creeps closer to Election Day on Nov. 3. Meanwhile, the White House and Senate Republicans appear more out of sync than ever on what the federal response will require.

“STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday shortly after McConnell detailed plans to vote on narrow legislation.

Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a roughly $1.8 trillion plan — about $400 billion less than the bill House Democrats passed earlier this month. Pelosi has dismissed the proposal, and on Tuesday suggested Trump “only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the [stock] market to go up.”

“Over 215,000 Americans have died, nearly 7.8 million have been infected and millions more are still without jobs or income security and therefore struggling to make rent and put food on the table,” she wrote to House Democrats. “Tragically, the Trump proposal falls significantly short of what this pandemic and deep recession demand.”

Pelosi for

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Penguin Random House, PEN America team up to Book the Vote

NEW YORK (AP) — Neil Gaiman, Anita Hill and Ann Patchett will be among the contributors to Book the Vote, an online initiative to provide information on the electoral system, voting registration and civic topics.



FILE - Anita Hill attends the 10th annual DVF Awards in New York on April 11, 2019. Hill, Neil Gaiman and Ann Patchett will be among the contributors to Book the Vote, an online initiative to provide information on the electoral system, voting registration and civic topics. Book the Vote (bookthevote.com) is a collaboration among Penguin Random House, PEN America, the non-profit organization When We All Vote and the literary retailer Out of Print, which is owned by Penguin Random House. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – Anita Hill attends the 10th annual DVF Awards in New York on April 11, 2019. Hill, Neil Gaiman and Ann Patchett will be among the contributors to Book the Vote, an online initiative to provide information on the electoral system, voting registration and civic topics. Book the Vote (bookthevote.com) is a collaboration among Penguin Random House, PEN America, the non-profit organization When We All Vote and the literary retailer Out of Print, which is owned by Penguin Random House. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Book the Vote is a collaboration among Penguin Random House, PEN America, the non-profit organization When We All Vote and the literary retailer Out of Print, which is owned by Penguin Random House.

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The web site will include videos from Gaiman, Hill, Patchett and other authors and public figures, including Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Tobin, Susan Orlean and Alan Cumming. One feature is called “How America Works” and covers four topics: the right to vote, voting for the president, the Supreme Court and the electoral college.

“Truth, facts, press freedom, and the future of open discourse are all on the ballot this November,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.

Noseel and Penguin Random House U.S. CEO Madeline McIntosh said they were pleased to be working together to provide credible and authoritative information about the U.S. election and voting rights.

___

Online: bookthevote.com

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Michelle Obama expresses empathy for White House staff ‘touched by this virus’ and urges Americans to vote.

The former first lady Michelle Obama, one of the Democratic Party’s most respected figures, delivered what the Biden campaign called her “closing argument” for Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s candidacy on Tuesday, speaking in deeply personal terms to Americans disillusioned by politics about the need to vote.

In a 24-minute video, Mrs. Obama appealed to parents and young people, white working-class Americans and people of color, lashing President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus — “he continues to gaslight the American people by acting like this pandemic is not a real threat,” she said — and warning that Mr. Trump’s habit of stoking division could be an effective political tool. She urged voting as the best remedy.

“We can expect that this election will be won by the slimmest of margins, just like it was four years ago,” Mrs. Obama said. “A handful of votes per precinct in Pennsylvania, or Arizona, or Wisconsin, or Florida, or anywhere else will make all the difference.”

As she released the video on her own social media platforms, Mrs. Obama acknowledged Mr. Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis. She alluded to his decision to return to the White House while still receiving treatment for the virus, and the choice to take a drive outside of the hospital on Sunday, a move that some medical experts saw as dangerous for the Secret Service agents around the president.

“My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know,” she wrote on Twitter.

In the video, Mrs. Obama appeared to speak implicitly to white voters who are struggling economically and are put off by terms like white privilege.

“It is frustrating to hear some folks say that you’ve been the beneficiary of privilege, that the color of your skin gives you a head start,” she said. “But right now, the president and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his breathtaking failures by giving folks someone to blame other than them. They’re stoking fears about Black and brown Americans.”

That approach, she said, is “morally wrong, and yes, it is racist. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work.”

“As a Black woman who has — like the overwhelming majority of people of color in this nation — done everything in my power to live a life of dignity, and service, and honesty, the knowledge that any of my fellow Americans is more afraid of me than the chaos we are living through right now, well, that hurts,” Mrs. Obama said.“Imagine how it feels to wake up every day and do your very best to uphold the values that this country claims to holds dear — truth, honor, decency — only to have those efforts met by scorn, not just by your fellow citizens, but by a sitting president.”

Mrs. Obama said on Twitter

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Two GOP senators test positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing Barrett confirmation vote

Two Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that they had tested positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing the GOP’s hopes of swiftly confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court if they were both to remain unable to vote in the full Senate through the end of the month.



Mike Lee, Thom Tillis are posing for a picture: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)


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Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina announced they’d tested positive — just days after attending a White House event where President Donald Trump nominated Barrett. Multiple attendees of that event, including Trump, have tested positive in the week since the ceremony, which featured many people not wearing masks and not observing social distancing protocols.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday renewed demands for Republicans to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearings. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told CNN on Friday night he plans to move ahead with confirmation hearings on October 12 and a committee vote later in the month.

Confirmation hearings could go on without Lee and Tillis, both of whom met in person with Barrett earlier this week, and could participate virtually in the hearings.

Graham said he needs the two senators to be back by October 15, when the committee will begin its debate of the nomination after the hearings are done.

The South Carolina Republican said he expects the members who have tested positive to be back in time for a committee vote on October 22. The concern is if Democrats boycott the commitee vote, the GOP may not have a quorum for that vote if both senators are absent. The committee rules require a majority of members on the panel to be present for a quorum.

But even if they don’t have a quorum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can always advance the nomination to the floor under the rules.

The greater concern for Republicans is the Senate floor vote, for which lawmakers do need to be present to vote and for which the GOP has no margin for error. If Tillis and Lee were to be gone for an extended period, it would threaten the chances of confirming Barrett, given Republicans’ 53-47 majority.

Already, two other Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have signaled they are unlikely to vote for Barrett because they think the high court selection should be made by whoever wins the White House on November 3.

Video: Trump has Covid, now what? (CNN)

Trump has Covid, now what?

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If only Lee were out, Barrett could still get confirmed with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. But if one more Republican were unavailable to vote, they wouldn’t have the votes to confirm Barrett. So now that Tillis is also entering isolation, the GOP’s math gets trickier since it’s unknown how long the senators will be out.

Republicans have told CNN the current plan is to vote on the

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House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it

The House passed a bipartisan resolution condemning the sprawling QAnon conspiracy theory, though 17 Republican lawmakers voted against the measure in the 371-18 vote.



a man standing in front of a crowd: House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it


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House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it

The GOP lawmakers voting “no” were Reps. Jodey Arrington (Texas), Brian Babin (Texas), Rob Bishop (Utah), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Michael Burgess (Texas), Buddy Carter (Ga.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Drew Ferguson (Ga.), Bill Flores (Texas), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Steve King (Iowa), Mike Kelly (Pa.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Scott Perry (Pa.), Thomas Tiffany (Wis.) and Daniel Webster (Fla.).

Rep. Justin Amash (L-Mich.), who used to be a Republican, also voted against the resolution.

Another GOP lawmaker, Rep. Andy Harris (Md.), voted present.

President Trump has not condemned the QAnon conspiracy, which revolves around the baseless theory that Trump and his allies are working to expose a cabal of Democrats, media figures and celebrities who are running an international child trafficking ring.

As unhinged as the conspiracy is, it has gained steam in conservative circles and several Republicans running for the House this year have backed the theory, including Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who is expected to win her general election race this November.

Greene has been praised effusively by Trump and backed by Republican leadership despite her supportive comments about QAnon and a history of racist and anti-Semitic comments.

The measure condemning QAnon was sponsored by Reps. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) and Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.).

“QAnon and other conspiracy theories and movements that dehumanize people or political groups, incite violence or violent threats and destroy faith and trust in our democratic institutions must be identified, condemned and exposed through facts,” Riggleman told The Hill.

“The First Amendment is a powerful weapon. Turning that weapon on those who use fantasies as a menacing grift is the responsibility of reasonable citizens, legislators and executives.”

The QAnon theory is considered a serious threat, and has been tied to multiple instances of criminal activity.

Besides Greene, several other House GOP candidates have also expressed openness to the QAnon theory, including Lauren Boebert in Colorado, Burgess Owens in Utah, Mike Cargile and Erin Cruz in California, and Illinois’s Theresa Raborn.

The Freedom Caucus-affiliated House Freedom Fund, for example, has endorsed and directed funding toward Greene, Boebert and Owens.

Greene and Boebert have both attempted to distance themselves from the theory since winning their primaries. Experts studying QAnon have said while those walk-backs are expected, they’ll do little to convince the theory’s adherents that the candidates aren’t on their side.

While most Republicans have clearly condemned the theory, they have also sought to distract from it by pointing to allegations of violence by left-wing activists.

An amendment offered by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) to include language in the measure condemning violence committed by antifa was voted down in the House Rules Committee.

Antifa, short for anti-fascist, refers to a loose collection of primarily leftist activists. The movement has been a preferred target of Trump as the

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U.S. House condemns ‘QAnon’ conspiracy theory; 17 Republicans vote no

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to condemn the online pro-Trump conspiracy theory known as “QAnon,” but 17 Republicans opposed the non-binding resolution, whose sponsor Democrat Representative Tom Malinowski said he has received death threats.



a large clock tower in front of United States Capitol: The U.S. Capitol building dome is seen in Washington


© Reuters/ERIN SCOTT
The U.S. Capitol building dome is seen in Washington

The House voted 371-18 to reject the conspiracy theory, which posits President Donald Trump has been working to take down a global child sex ring. As many as a dozen Republican candidates for Congress have voiced some support for the theory, and at least one of them appears to be a on a path to victory.

“The grotesque nature of the tweets and Instagram posts and the anti-Semitic tripe spewed by QAnon adherents should cause concern for everyone,” Representative Denver Riggleman, a Republican co-sponsor of the resolution, said on the House floor.

“But the death threats Tom Malinowski received were at surprise and a shock,” Riggleman said. “This type of behavior is easily condemned.”

Seventeen Republicans lawmakers and independent Representative Justin Amash voted against the resolution. Another Republican voted present, and forty lawmakers, most of them Republicans, did not vote.

Writing on Twitter, Amash said the resolution threatened protected speech – and may make things worse. “These are conspiracy theorists who believe in a deep state that’s fighting against them,” he wrote.

Republican candidates who have voiced some measure of support for the QAnon theory include Georgia businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, on track for a House seat after her Democratic opponent dropped out, and Jo Rae Perkins, who is running for Senate in Oregon against incumbent Senator Jeff Merkley. He is expected to win.

The theory claims without evidence that “deep-state” traitors, child sex predators and prominent Democrats are plotting against Trump, who in turn is leading a plot against them. The FBI included QAnon last year in a warning about “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists.”

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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House on track to vote on $2.2 trillion stimulus plan from Democrats with no bipartisan deal in sight

The House of Representatives is on track to vote Thursday evening on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus proposal put forward by House Democrats with no bipartisan deal in sight even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have continued talks in an effort to reach an agreement.



a person wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 23: U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) arrives at the U.S. Capitol on April 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is expected to vote later today on the latest economic stimulus package passed earlier in the week by the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)


© Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 23: U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) arrives at the U.S. Capitol on April 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is expected to vote later today on the latest economic stimulus package passed earlier in the week by the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Time is quickly running out to clinch a bipartisan agreement that could be signed into law as Democrats move forward to advance a plan that Republicans have rejected as too costly and is not expected to be taken up by the GOP-held Senate.

Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke by phone on Thursday afternoon, marking the latest discussion between the top stimulus negotiators, but after the call there was no deal at hand.

Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, tweeted later that during the call “the two discussed further clarifications on amounts and language but distance on key areas remain. Their conversation will continue this afternoon.”

In an indication of how challenging it may be to reach a bipartisan agreement at this point, Pelosi, on a private call with the House Democratic whip team Thursday morning, sounded very down about the prospects of a deal for a new stimulus package to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, according to two people on the call.

Pelosi repeatedly spoke of the “different values” held by Democrats and Republicans, making clear that even the latest offer from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin fell far short of what was needed to deal with her view of the scale of the current economic issues.

Pelosi’s framing on the private call earlier Thursday tracks with the criticism she’s leveled at Republicans during stimulus negotiations for months — that the Trump administration simply isn’t willing to do what’s necessary on the fiscal side of things to address the depth of the economic problems created by the pandemic.

Republicans say it is now up to Pelosi to counter the roughly $1.6 trillion proposal Mnuchin put on the table Wednesday, which is hundreds of billions of dollars away from the roughly $2.2 trillion plan House Democrats could vote on as soon as later Thursday.

Video: Pelosi: Dems will propose new covid relief plan shortly (CNN)

Pelosi: Dems will propose new covid relief plan shortly

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Pelosi said during her weekly news conference that she is “hopeful that we can reach agreement” on a bipartisan deal, but nevertheless made clear that the two sides are not on the same page on key issues.

“We’re kind of in the ballpark on some things,” Pelosi said, but added, “still way off in terms of state and local

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Democrats postpone House vote on COVID-19 stimulus bill to give more time for negotiations

WASHINGTON — House Democrats postponed a vote Wednesday on a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill in the hopes a deal could be reached as negotiations drag on with the White House on a plan to help Americans struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Here’s how the federal interest rate can help save the economy during a recession

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The vote was postponed until Thursday to allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House negotiators more time to discuss a potential bipartisan deal, said a Democratic aide, who was unable to discuss internal deliberations publicly. 

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met at the Capitol Wednesday for their first in-person negotiations since August. The two sides have been at an impasse for months over the size and scope of a COVID-19 relief bill, but rank-and-file members have pressured congressional leaders to get some sort of relief deal done by Election Day. 



Nancy Pelosi wearing a costume: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. speaks during a news conference Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.


© Jose Luis Magana, AP
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. speaks during a news conference Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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“We made a lot of progress over the last few days, we still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do. And we’re going to see where we end up,” Mnuchin said Wednesday. 

The House measure is a pared-down version of the legislation passed by House Democrats in May. It’s expected to pass the House, but will face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, where lawmakers have balked at a higher price tag for more relief.

House Democrats unveiled their proposal Monday, though House Republicans panned the bill as a “socialist wish list” and said they would oppose it. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Wednesday it would be “outlandish”  to think Republicans would be on board with a $2 trillion bill, though he said he and other Republicans want to see relief for Americans.

“I mean we had 52 out of 53 republicans willing to spend roughly a half a trillion dollars,” McConnell added of a scaled-down $300 billion bill that was blocked in the Senate. “The thought that Senate Republicans would go up to 2.2 trillion is outlandish.” 

Pelosi said the vote, which was originally planned for Wednesday night, would “formalize our proffer to Republicans in the negotiations.”

Layoffs: Shell plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs as oil demand slumps

Video: Mnuchin: ‘We’re prepared to do’ stimulus deal if ‘fair compromise’ (Fox Business)

Mnuchin: ‘We’re prepared to do’ stimulus deal if ‘fair compromise’

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Asked if he would be able to negotiate a deal over $1.5 trillion, Mnuchin said, “We’re going to go back and do a little more work again.”

Many of the benefits Congress approved in the Spring to fight the economic impact of the virus have run out. The $600 federal boost to unemployment benefits halted in July,

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