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Senate Democrats block movement on economic stimulus package citing 'serious issues' with bill – CNN

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As coronavirus hits the Senate — with one senator now diagnosed and several others self-quarantining — tensions are running high on Capitol Hill. While Republicans are urging quick action, Democrats argue that Republicans are prioritizing corporate industry over American workers in the legislation.
Democrats registered their frustration by lining up against a key procedural vote to advance the package. The vote was 47-47. Lawmakers needed to clear a 60-vote threshold to succeed.
The vote, originally set for 3 p.m. ET, was delayed until 6 p.m. as Democrats dug in against it and to allow for more time for negotiations. A final bipartisan deal to respond to the toll of the spread of coronavirus has not yet been reached, but talks are expected to continue into Sunday evening.
Senators were voting instead on a shell bill that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is using as a placeholder until a final deal is reached.
Further complicating matters, there are now five GOP senators in self-quarantine or isolation — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has tested positive for coronavirus, as well as Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney of Utah, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rick Scott of Florida.
That means that the 53-47 GOP majority is now reduced to 48-47. A stimulus bill will need 60 votes to pass in the Senate, meaning it will have to have substantial bipartisan support to get to 60, but the diminishing vote strength of the majority is on the minds of Republicans negotiating with Democrats to approve this must-pass bill.
Two senators introduced a bipartisan resolution on Thursday to amend the rules to allow senators to vote remotely during a national crisis, but McConnell has consistently opposed such a measure.
McConnell has continued to urge swift passage of the legislation, arguing that it is necessary to quickly enact relief measures as the nation reels from the impact of coronavirus.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters after the procedural vote was initially delayed that the legislation initially presented to Democrats had “many, many problems,” saying that it “included a large corporate bailout provision with no protections for workers and virtually no oversight.” Schumer said, however, that “Democrats want to move forward with bipartisan agreement,” adding that the staff-level work is ongoing “to change some problematic provisions” with the legislation.
Earlier in the day, Schumer had said there were “serious issues” with the current proposal and negotiators would be meeting soon to try and iron them out.
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren echoed that message, saying that there is “great unhappiness” in the Democratic caucus about the proposal as it currently stands. The Massachusetts senator cited the proposed $500 billion fund for distressed companies, which she complained lacked restrictions.
“This is not a bipartisan proposal,” Warren said. “This is a Republican proposal.”
The latest pushback from Democrats comes as the Senate gears up to take a key procedural vote Sunday to advance the stimulus package — and amid the news that Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has become the first US senator to test positive for coronavirus, which has increased the sense of urgency among senators wary of being in close proximity.
In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded an ominous warning Sunday that she may not support an emerging stimulus bill that had been on a fast track through Congress this weekend and that has grown to roughly $2 trillion, according to two people directly involved in the talks.
Departing a meeting with the top four congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Pelosi said there is no deal yet and that the House will introduce its own bill — something that could significantly draw out the process to finalize legislation.
The fate of a final proposal — and quite possibly the American economy — is in the hands of the four congressional leaders, all of whom gathered in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Sunday.
Pushback from Democrats has centered on not only the substance of the legislation, but also on the process that Republicans used to come up with it, arguing that they were locked out of negotiations at the start.
McConnell has defended his approach, telling CNN’s Dana Bash Thursday, “Republicans are in the majority in the Senate. We wanted to put forward our proposal. We feel like we have an obligation to do that as a majority and the Democrats, of course, need to be given an opportunity to react to it.”
Democrats, including Schumer, argued, however, that that approach would risk delaying efforts to find quick agreement. And as of Sunday afternoon, no bipartisan agreement had yet been reached.
McConnell struck an optimistic tone in a news conference after the meeting, despite the fact that no bipartisan deal has been reached yet. He said that negotiators are “very close” and that he is “confident” that they will “get to yes.”
McConnell insisted that the vote on final passage is still happening Monday, saying, “Make no mistake about it: We’ll be voting tomorrow.”
“I mean, the wheel has to stop at some point, and I don’t want any of you to buy the notion that this isn’t a thoroughly bipartisan proposal already,” McConnell added.
But Pelosi sounded a different message on her way into that critical meeting. “From my standpoint, we’re apart,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol when asked if she expected a deal Sunday.
The Senate did consider input from Pelosi and House committees who worked through Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to provide it.
Schumer told reporters after the four corners meeting that lawmakers “are continuing to talk.”
Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said he hopes McConnell “will think twice before he has a showdown vote this afternoon” as bipartisan negotiations on the massive economic package continue.
“I’m anxious to see what Speaker Pelosi would put on the table,” Durbin said, when asked about Pelosi saying she would introduce her own coronavirus funding bill.
Asked if he thinks Senate Democrats would vote against cloture on the economic stimulus bill Sunday, the Illinois senator said he’s not going to speculate as negotiations are still ongoing.
On Saturday, Schumer signaled he might accept the bill. But on Sunday morning, Democratic sources said they had uncovered numerous problems with provisions dealing with aid to workers and loan assistance to businesses.
If Pelosi doesn’t support the bill, Senate Democrats could stall action on the bill by blocking a procedural motion set for a vote Sunday afternoon.
The Speaker also could change it when the bill goes to the House if it passes the Senate on Monday, as Senate Republicans and the White House want. That could slow getting out the much-needed aid to workers and businesses. Pressure would mount — from Wall Street to Main Street — on Pelosi and House Democrats if they don’t adct quickly.
The scale of the package — which has grown by over a trillion dollars over the course of several days and by more than $500 billion just during Saturday’s negotiations alone, the people said — underscores the recognition of the urgency brought on by the accelerating spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has all but shuttered the American economy over the last week.
Treasury secretary projects optimism on stimulus bill for coronavirus relief
Staff worked through the night — some in the office past 3 a.m. ET, people told CNN — to draft the legislative language to reflect the status of the negotiations between the four bipartisan working groups that have been cloistered in closed Senate hearing rooms for hours over the course of an urgent last few days.
Republicans have expressed optimism that a deal is in the offing, but there are still a handful of hurdles that have kept Democratic negotiators from fully signing on. That said, lawmakers on both sides acknowledge that a deal is imperative as soon as possible.
Mnuchin appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and said lawmakers have a “fundamental understanding” that a deal has been reached to pass a massive stimulus bill as soon as Monday.
More than 200 colleges delay deposit deadlines as families face unprecedented economic uncertaintyMore than 200 colleges delay deposit deadlines as families face unprecedented economic uncertainty
“Democrats very much want to reach a bipartisan agreement to address this major health and economic crisis,” Justin Goodman, spokesman for Schumer, said in a statement Saturday night. “There is not yet an agreement, and we still have not seen large parts of the Republican draft.”
Key outstanding issues, according to people involved in the talks and those who have seen the draft Republican proposal, center on two fronts: the total aid package that can be directed to the states and the restrictions included in the aid pool created for distressed large industries.
That piece of the package has grown to more than $500 billion, according to a person familiar with the Republican bill as its drafted to this point, grants significant discretion to the Treasury secretary in terms of how the money must be used and the scale of the restrictions for the companies that receive loans as it relates to future stock buy backs — a key ask for Democratic negotiators.
Nancy Pelosi-Steve Mnuchin relationship key to federal government's coronavirus responseNancy Pelosi-Steve Mnuchin relationship key to federal government's coronavirus response
Democrats have also continued to push for an expansion of stabilization funds for states and localities — a request from the National Governors Association. While a significant amount of money has been included, much of it through the addition of the supplemental emergency funds that has been fold into the bill, Democrats have pressed for more as states face significant budget shortfalls in the months ahead.
Democrats have, however, secured wins on several other key priorities, including an expansion and enhancement of unemployment insurance to the tune of at least $250 billion, the people said. They have also negotiated significant funds to be directed toward health care providers and front line health workers.
Bipartisan negotiators also reached an agreement in principle on a $350 billion forgivable loan package for small businesses that would be designed to keep employees paid even as business ground to a halt.
The total cost of the package has been the subject of some confusion over the weekend, with Larry Kudlow, the director of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, saying Saturday it would end up around $2 trillion, only to later clarify that included the legislative package, plus the leverage deployed through a Federal Reserve lending facility.
Now, however, the legislative package alone has reached $2 trillion, the people said.

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Political and General News Events from April 6 – National Post

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April 6 (Reuters) –

For other diaries, please see:

Political and General News

Top Economic Events

Emerging Markets Economic Events

Government Debt Auctions

U.S. Federal Reserve

Today in Washington

—————————————————————- This diary is filed daily. ** Indicates new events —————————————————————-

MONDAY, APRIL 6

** TOKYO – The Japanese government’s advisory panel on the new coronavirus outbreak will meet in preparation for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency – 0500 GMT.

** BERLIN – German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz speak to reporters on the government’s latest aid measures to help the country’s industry shoulder the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis – 1200 GMT.

BAKU – Azerbaijan has received an invitation to a meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC ministers to stabilize the oil market in a video conference format. ZAGREB – Video conference of EU ministers of justice meetings – 0800 GMT.

DA NANG, Vietnam – ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (to April 9). DA NANG, Vietnam – ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) (to April 9). DA NANG, Vietnam – ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM) and Related Meetings.

DA NANG, Vietnam – Vietnam hosts 36th ASEAN Summit in Da Nang (to April 9).

– – – – – – – – – TUESDAY, APRIL 7

BRUSSELS – Video conference of the Eurogroup meeting. GLOBAL – World Health Organisation observes World Health Day. – – – – – – – – –

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8

** NAIROBI – Kenya’s national assembly is scheduled to debate and approve tax cuts unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government to cushion the economy from the coronavirus crisis.

BRUSSELS – Video conference of EU foreign affairs ministers (development) meeting – 1200 GMT.

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW – Ninth anniversary of signing a bilateral treaty between the Russia and United States on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, START-2 (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).

GLOBAL – International Roma Nation Day.

– – – – – – – – – SATURDAY, APRIL 11

FRANCE – Ninth Anniversary of the French law banning the burqa and niqab.

ABIDJAN – Ninth anniversary of the arrest of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo by supporters of president-elect Alassane Ouattara with the help of French forces, thereby ending the 2010-2011 Ivorian crisis and civil war. – – – – – – – – –

SUNDAY, APRIL 12

GLOBAL – International Day of Human Space Flight. – – – – – – – – –

MONDAY, APRIL 13

WASHINGTON DC – The International Monetary Fund hosts its annual spring meeting with the World Bank.

– – – – – – – – –

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15

** BRUSSELS – EU finance ministers discuss further support for economies ravaged by coronavirus. ** BRUSSELS – EU health ministers discuss the outbreak of the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

RIYADH – G20 finance ministers, central bank governors convene video conference

BELFAST/NEW YORK – 107th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

South Korea – South Korean National Assembly election.

– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, APRIL 16 ZAGREB – Video conference of EU foreign affairs ministers (trade) meeting – 0800 GMT.

VATICAN CITY – 93rd birthday of Pope Benedict. – – – – – – – – –

MONDAY, APRIL 20

UNITED STATES – 10th anniversary of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia – Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and budgetary heads from the APEC countries attend the APEC trade ministers’ meeting in Malaysia (to April 21).

– – – – – – – – –

TUESDAY, APRIL 21 LONDON – Queen Elizabeth to celebrate her 94th birthday.

PARIS – 59th anniversary of the first manned mission to space. BRUSSELS – EU informal meeting of environment ministers (to April 22).

BRUSSELS – EU General Affairs Council meeting.

– – – – – – – – – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22 GLOBAL – Earth Day.

BRUSSELS – EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting.

– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, APRIL 23

GLOBAL – U.N. World Book and Copyright Day. – – – – – – – – –

FRIDAY, APRIL 24 GLOBAL – World Immunization Week 2020 (to April 30). BRUSSELS – EU informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers (to April 25). – – – – – – – – – SATURDAY, APRIL 25

GLOBAL – World Malaria Day. – – – – – – – – –

MONDAY, APRIL 27

BRUSSELS – EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting (to April 28).

BRUSSELS – EU informal meeting of employment, social policy and health ministers on social policy (to April 28).

BRUSSELS – EU informal meeting of transport ministers (Energy) (to April 28). – – – – – – – – – TUESDAY, APRIL 28

PORT ARTHUR, Tasmania – 22nd anniversary of Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania. – – – – – – – – –

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29

LONDON – Ninth wedding anniversary of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. BRUSSELS – Informal meeting of health ministers (to April 30). – – – – – – – – –

TUESDAY, MAY 5 ZAGREB – EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb (to May 7).

– – – – – – – – –

SUNDAY, MAY 10

POLAND – Referendum election.

– – – – – – – – –

MONDAY, MAY 11

BRUSSELS – EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting – – – – – – – – –

TUESDAY, MAY 12

BRUSSELS – EU Foreign Affairs Council (Defence) meeting

BRUSSELS – EU General Affairs Council meeting

– – – – – – – – –

THURSDAY, MAY 14

** WELLINGTON – New Zealand’s finance minister delivers budget that aims to tackle the long-term challenges facing the country while also preparing the economy for the future.

BRUSSELS – EU Foreign Affairs Council (Development) meeting.

– – – – – – – – –

SUNDAY, MAY 17 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Referendum election DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Dominican Chamber of Deputies DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Dominican Senate – – – – – – – – – MONDAY, MAY 18

BRUSSELS – Eurogroup meeting

BRUSSELS – EU Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council meeting (to May 19). – – – – – – – – –

THURSDAY, MAY 19 BRUSSELS – EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting. MALAWI – Referendum election.

– – – – – – – – –

FRIDAY, MAY 20

BURUNDI – Referendum election. – – – – – – – – –

TUESDAY, MAY 26

BRUSSELS – EU General Affairs Council (Cohesion) meeting. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – NOTE: The inclusion of diary items does not necessarily mean that Reuters will file a story based on the event.

For Technical Issues Please contact Thomson Reuters Customer Support (TRCS) at https://customers.reuters.com/kccontactus/telephone.aspx

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On Politics: ‘Our Pearl Harbor Moment’ – The New York Times

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Good morning and welcome to On Politics, a daily political analysis of the 2020 elections based on reporting by New York Times journalists.

Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.


  • The surgeon general, Jerome Adams, warned the country on Sunday that the coronavirus crisis was about to get worse, and fast. “The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment,” he told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s going to be our 9/11 moment. It’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives, and we really need to understand that if we want to flatten that curve and get through to the other side, everyone needs to do their part.” At one point, he explicitly addressed the handful of governors who have yet to issue stay-at-home orders. “If you can’t give us 30 days, governors, give us, give us a week, give us what you can, so that we don’t overwhelm our health care systems over this next week,” he said.

  • In his daily briefing, President Trump also warned of the tough road ahead, though he notably departed from the advice of Adams and other top medical officials. He continued to promote the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug whose effectiveness is currently being tested. “I’m not a doctor,” Trump said, even as he encouraged people to make use of it. “If it does work, it would be a shame we did not do it early,” he added. Reporters asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whether he agreed that people should use the drug before its efficacy had been determined, even though it can cause significant side effects. But Trump prevented him from answering.

  • Trump is still settling scores from the impeachment inquiry, and he’s doing it out in the open. Late Friday he fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general. The next day he acknowledged that it had been at least partly in response to Atkinson’s decision last year to advance the whistle-blower complaint that set off the president’s impeachment. “He took a fake report and he brought it to Congress,” Trump said. He also endorsed the firing of a Navy captain who had sent a letter demanding aid for his coronavirus-stricken ship.

  • The pandemic has transformed how the 2020 campaign will play out in terms of both mechanics and strategy. And its effects are being felt by candidates in all sorts of races, from the presidential contest down to the local level. For incumbents, embracing a strong response could prove to be a political boost. Then again, frustration and tragedy could lead to an inevitable loss of faith in establishment figures. No matter the level of federal or state intervention candidates prefer, the issue they must confront first and foremost is the virus, and what it means for both health care and economic policy.

  • At a time when doing what’s normal puts you radically out of step, one state is sticking to its guns and moving forward with its primary tomorrow. That state is Wisconsin, a lone experiment amid a nationwide sea of caution. Poll workers have dropped out by the thousands because of safety concerns, and the National Guard will be deployed to understaffed polling places. Election clerks, who have more of an obligation to show up than other poll workers, sent a letter last week to Tony Evers, the Democratic governor, saying that they would be “putting themselves and their families at risk” by doing their jobs. The Republican-controlled Legislature refused a request by Evers to mail ballots to all voters, but over a million of them have already requested absentee ballots.

  • On the eve of the Wisconsin primary, join a few members of our politics team today at 4 p.m. Eastern as they discuss how the coronavirus has upended the campaign in ways large and small. Explore the nitty-gritty of the extended primary season — and their thinking about November. Bring your questions for Rachel Dry, the deputy politics editor, and Katie Glueck and Sydney Ember, national politics reporters. You can register for the call here.


President Trump at the White House coronavirus briefing on Sunday. “What do you have to lose?” he asked as, for the second day in a row, he recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients despite the guidance of doctors and health experts.


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In his first campaign for governor of Texas, in 2014, Greg Abbott pledged to be a bridge between the far-right and pro-business wings of the Republican Party, someone who would lead as the opposite of a flamethrower and in such a way that even moderate Democrats could get behind.

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Now he is in his second term, and that tactic has worked to a large extent. But in the midst of a pandemic, many Texans’ patience for a middle-of-the-road approach has run low.

On the one hand, Mr. Abbott has tried to heed the recommendations of public health experts for how to combat the spread of the coronavirus in his state, refusing to play down its threat even as other Texas Republicans were happy to write it off. On the other, he’s been acutely aware of the politics behind a statewide stay-at-home order, wary of upsetting those Republican voters who insist that such a directive grossly infringes upon their liberties.

As the former Democratic presidential candidate and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro put it, however, states are now either in “safe” or “unsafe” mode — there is no in-between. And a growing number of Texans, Republicans included, believe that as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread, Mr. Abbott’s mixed signals have left their state in the latter.

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Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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Politics This Morning: Rodriguez asks House Speaker to look into possibility of virtual sittings – The Hill Times

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Good Monday morning,

Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez has asked Speaker Anthony Rota for advice on the possibility of convening the House virtually. “I would like advice and assistance on the ability for the House of Commons administration to support and facilitate virtual sittings of the House of Commons where it could conduct its regular business.” Since the current Standing Orders don’t allow for electronic or remote voting, Mr. Rodriguez acknowledged, there would have to be “substantial revisions” to the rulebook. The letter addressed to the Speaker, who presides over the Commons, was also copied to opposition House leaders.

The Bloc Québécois said it’s supportive of the idea of holding virtual sittings, saying in a statement that it has been calling for such measures for days to allow for opposition parties to hold the government accountable for its COVID-19 response. The Bloc also proposed some parameters under which a virtual sitting might take, including adjusting the hours MPs are normally expected to sit and that speaking times should be negotiated and reflect a party’s respective standing.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer last week called for increased accountability, saying that “these accountability sessions could take place via videoconference, be chaired by the Speaker, and follow House rules until MPs can meet in person.”

Though the House motion that called for its temporary suspension marked April 20 as the date Parliament would return, it appears unlikely, given expectations that physical-distancing measures will remain in place for several weeks more, that all 338 MPs will resume sitting on the Hill. NDP whip Rachel Blaney told The Hill Times last week parties were in “preliminary discussions” over how Parliament might make up for the week lost, or be allowed to return to normal.

It was also still unclear when exactly the House will be recalled to pass the feds’ enhanced wage-subsidy program. Ms. Blaney said opposition parties want to have enough time to review the bill, to avoid another late-night showdown over the government’s proposed spending powers, which it later retreated from.

The online portal to apply for the feds’ Canada Emergency Response Benefit opens today. Since the government has staggered application dates by birth months, those born between January and March are first in line. While the criteria for the CERB stipulates that the beneficiary must be at least 15 years old, some students may find themselves unable to qualify if they haven’t earned at least $5,000 in the past 12 months. It also excludes those who have voluntarily quit their jobs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have acknowledged that the programs being rolled out may not cover everyone who stands to be affected, but have said more relief measures are in the works.

Mr. Trudeau and his team have signalled that they’re hoping that working the phones, as opposed to initiating retaliatory measures against the U.S., will help resolve the dispute over the shipment of medical supplies, particularly 3M masks, to Canada. ” I will say that we will do what is necessary to keep Canadians safe and we will do it in as constructive a way as possible,” he told reporters Sunday.

ICYMI, Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, has carved out some exceptions—in instances where one cannot practice physical distancing on public transit—for when she thinks wearing homemade masks is a “good idea.”

Queen Elizabeth wants Canadians to know that Canada is on her mind, as she acknowledged, in a statement, the difficulty of remaining hopeful “when faced with loss and uncertainty, but Canadians have many reasons for optimism, even in the most trying times.”

Later, this week, the House Finance and Health committee are expected to convene again for more virtual meetings, though times for those meetings have not yet been made public.

The Hill Times

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