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Politics blunts Christmas as U.S. government shutdown nears, COVID-19 aid uncertain – The Guardian

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By Steve Holland and Tim Reid

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump spent Christmas Day golfing at his West Palm Beach club while millions of Americans faced the risk of losing jobless benefits on Saturday and the threat of a partial government shutdown next week if he refuses to sign a $2.3 trillion coronavirus aid and spending package.

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, whose victory Trump still refuses to acknowledge nearly two months after the Nov. 3 election, spent the day at his Delaware home and had no public events, according to his staff. Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

Trump stunned members of both parties when he unexpectedly announced this week his dislike of the $2.3 trillion spending bill, a package that had taken members of Congress months to negotiate. The bill provides $892 billion in coronavirus relief, and $1.4 trillion in regular government appropriations.

A source familiar with the situation said many White House officials were caught by surprise. While his strategy going forward on the bill is unclear, he could still sign the package given he has not made an explicit veto threat.

The bill is now at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort, awaiting his decision.

Without his signature on the coronavirus aid bill, about 14 million people will lose unemployment benefits on Saturday, and a partial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday.

Trump played golf with his close ally and fellow Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham, said a source familiar with the president’s activities. The White House said he was briefed on a Nashville vehicle explosion that injured three people in what police described as an “intentional act.”

On Christmas Eve, Trump tweeted a series of grievances, repeating baseless claims about the election result, including one aimed at Senate Republicans, whom he accuses of abandoning him because many now publicly recognize Biden as the winner.

Trump, who was represented in the negotiations with lawmakers by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and had not objected to the terms prior to the votes in the House of Representatives and Senate, complained that the package was too full of money for special interests and foreign aid, and said the $600 in direct payments to most Americans was too small, demanding instead that the amount be increased to $2,000.

CONGRESS TO RETURN

Americans face an unprecedented holiday season amid a pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 people in the United States, and the daily death toll is repeatedly well over 3,000 people, the highest since the pandemic began.

Trump this week issued dozens of pardons, including to former aides and four private security guards convicted of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians.

Meanwhile, Congress, which normally is adjourned the last week of December, will be preparing to return to work.

On Monday, following the Christmas weekend, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on overriding Trump’s veto of a $740 billion bill authorizing the country’s defense programs. If the House vote succeeds, the Senate could hold its vote as early as Tuesday..

Trump could also choose to take advantage of a situation known as a “pocket veto,” rather than outright vetoing the coronavirus aid package.

Because the current Congress expires on Jan. 3, Trump could let the normal 10-day period that a president has to sign or veto a bill simply run out. Bills die if they are not enacted during the Congress in which they are introduced.

If he does issue a veto, the House and Senate could try to override it next week. Congress might also have to pass a stopgap spending bill on Monday, before money that funds government operations expires at midnight.

Also on Monday, the Democratic-controlled House plans to vote on legislation providing one-time, $2,000 checks to individuals to help them during the coronavirus pandemic.

(Reporting by Steve Holland in Palm Beach, Florida and Tim Reid in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Washington, Simon Lewis in Wilmington, Delaware and Richard Cowan in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons, Mary Milliken and Howard Goller)

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GOLDSTEIN: If politicians want decency in politics, be decent – Toronto Sun

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But that was then, this is now.

When politicians call for civility, I’m reminded of the saying, “don’t pee on our legs and tell us it’s raining.”

They sound like baseball owners complaining about overpaid baseball players.

Who do they expect to fix the problem?

If federal politicians were ever going to be moved toward simple decency, it would have happened when the late Liberal MP Arnold Chan appealed for civility in Parliament on June 12, 2017.

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Dying of nasopharyngeal cancer, which would take his life three months later at the age of 50, Chan — by all accounts a good person who entered politics for the right reasons — used his farewell speech in the Commons to make an appeal for MPs to reach for their better angels.

“We can disagree strongly — in fact we should,” he said. “This is what democracy is about … When we listen, we listen to one another despite our strong differences, that’s when democracy really happens. That’s the challenge that’s going on in the world right now. No one is listening.”

Then Green Party leader Elizabeth May spoke warmly of a note Chan had sent to her when she was wrestling with a difficult political decision.

When he died, Conservative MP O’Toole, and Liberal cabinet minister Ahmed Hussen, were among his honorary pallbearers, reaching across the political divide.

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Week In Politics: Trump Is Impeached Again – NPR

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We take a look at President Trump’s second impeachment, how congress might handle Biden administration business and look ahead to next week’s presidential inauguration.

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Ivanka’s political future comes into sharper focus – POLITICO

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When Donald Trump incited a mob riot on Capitol Hill last week, he didn’t just complicate his own political future— he scrambled the political career arcs of his kids as well.

At least three Trump family members are either considering runs for office or being urged to do so, according to well-connected GOP operatives and Trump family allies.

Top party officials say that Lara Trump, wife of the president’s son Eric, is actively contemplating a run for the Senate in North Carolina, where an open seat awaits in 2022. “It’s real and she is legitimately interested in it,” said one Trump family political adviser.

The president’s eldest son, Don Jr., is eyeing a future in politics as well, though allies say it’s unclear when or what office he’d seek after he passed on running for the Senate in Wyoming this last cycle. He and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle have also been scoping out real estate in Florida.

The newest and most-buzzed about possibility, however, surrounds the president’s daughter Ivanka. The senior White House adviser is set to decamp to Florida after her father’s presidency comes to a close. And though talk of her launching a primary challenge to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has given off the faint whiff of political fan-fick, in reality, Trump officials say, there have been machinations behind the scenes.

One person in contact with the president said that Jared Kushner is viewed as “working single-mindedly to protect and promote his wife’s ‘political career.’” And two sources, including one top GOP fundraiser, said that Trump ally and mega donor Tom Barrack had been pressing fellow Republican financiers to put together some type of operation that could lure Ivanka into entering the race.

“He’s calling people and trying to line them up saying Rubio is terrible, worthless, he’s probably going to lose, Ivanka is going to go there and we should all get together and pledge our support to her and get her to run,” the GOP fundraiser said.

Tommy Davis, a Barrack spokesman, said no chatter of challenging Rubio ever took place.

“It’s not true. He’s never made any comments like this about Marco and he’s not making these calls,” said Davis. “Maybe people are getting confused because we did as much work as we could for the Senate Leadership Fund for the Georgia race. But that was before Christmas. But, no, nothing about Ivanka and nothing about Marco.”

And one person close to Trump said that Ivanka herself had denied having interest in running for office. But the president’s advisers are openly playing up her political potency.

“Ivanka only got into politics to help her father and help his agenda but what’s now clear is that Ivanka is a political powerhouse in her own right,” said Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump.

Others in Trumpworld say the signs are evident that Ivanka is leaving the door open to elected office. In late October, Ivanka, who had been registered as a Democrat in the past, gave an interview in which she declared herself “unapologetically pro-life.” One top Florida Republican who is close to the Trumps and Rubio noted that she not only upped her appearances on the campaign trail during the 2020 cycle — both for her father and the two Republicans in the Georgia Senate runoff — but passed out food at a food distribution event in Miami before Christmas.

“We’re taking the possibility seriously,” the Republican official said. “And so is Marco. And that’s a good thing. But you never know. She’s a Trump and the Trumps move on their own timetables.”

And, perhaps most tellingly, in the last week, Steve Bannon, as he was renewing his contacts with Trump himself, began talking up Ivanka’s political resume.

“The second most fire breathing populist in the White House was Ivanka Trump,” the president’s one-time adviser said on a recent podcast of his. If, Bannon added, Rubio voted for the certification of Joe Biden’s election — and he did — then, “I strongly believe and would strongly recommend that Ivanka Trump immediately…. if she is not going to remain an assistant to the president, she should immediately file and run for the senate and primary Marco Rubio in Florida.”

American politics has seen its share of family dynasties before. And though Donald Trump’s standing may have taken a hit by his handling of his election loss — which included inciting a riot that led to violence on Capitol Hill, his ouster from major social media platforms, resignations from his Cabinet, public disgust from party leaders and his second impeachment — public polling still shows that his name remains the most dominant in Republican circles. Virtually everyone expects that to transfer to his children.

“Their brand was certainly stained and it’s a stain we’ll never be able to erase,” said one top Republican strategist. “At the same time, the name of the game is winning a primary and someone with the last name of Trump could win.”

But running in theory is different from running in practice. In Florida, Rubio’s standing has been considered largely stable up to this point. The senator was trashed by hardcore Trump supporters for his vote that certified the Electoral College results. But those close to him said he was expecting far worse. They also point to his solid support in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most-populous, where 74 percent of the GOP voters are Hispanic and overwhelmingly Cuban-American like Rubio.

“We have nothing bad to say about Ivanka,” said a Rubio adviser. “He’s going to run his race. I’m not sure she really wants to run? She just finished working in the White House and she has three small children — and now she’s going to move to Florida and run against Marco Rubio in a Republican primary?”

For that reason, the expectation among Trump allies and even establishment Republicans is that Ivanka will take her time considering a run while Lara jumps in. One Republican operative who worked with both Lara and Ivanka Trump in 2020 noted that Ivanka was less interested in the rallies and retail politics that come with running for office.

Ivanka Trump is expected to take some time off after leaving the White House, according to one former White House official, and she is currently working on closing out her work, including mitigating the fallout of the riots on Capitol Hill. After that, her family is expected to pack up their home in Washington.

A person close to Lara Trump, meanwhile, said that she has not made any decisions on entering the race in North Carolina, although consultants have been “poking around” for her in the state.

“For [Ivanka] to take on Marco or Florida she’s gotta be ready to rock and roll,” the operative said. “Whereas with Lara, I get the vibe she is ready to go.”

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