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A Transpartisan Conservative Coalition Is Pushing Through An Inadequate Pandemic Relief Bill

On Sunday, the U.S. reported 138,950 new COVID cases and on Monday it was 166,873 new cases. Yesterday the one-day new cases report was 182,172, bringing the U.S. today to over 14 million. 5,498,496 are active cases, 25,722 are critical. There are 42,623 cases per million residents. Other comparable countries are experiencing the pandemic far less catastrophically.

  • Israel- 36,763 cases per million residents

  • Spain- 35,781 cases per million residents

  • France- 34,141 cases per million residents

  • Brazil- 29,966 cases per million residents

  • Italy- 26,825 cases per million residents

  • UK- 24,150 cases per million residents

  • Russia- 15,909 cases per million residents

  • Germany- 12,940 cases per million residents

  • Canada- 10,123 cases per million residents

  • Mexico- 8,667 cases per million residents

  • Japan- 1,177 cases per million residents

  • Australia- 1,089 cases per million residents

  • New Zealand- 412 cases per million residents

  • China- 60 cases per million residents

Writing for the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Betsy McKay reported that "The new coronavirus infected people in the U.S. in mid-December 2019, a few weeks before it was officially identified in China and about a month earlier than public health authorities found the first U.S. case, according to a government study published Monday. The findings significantly strengthen evidence suggesting the virus was spreading around the world well before public health authorities and researchers became aware, upending initial thinking about how early and quickly it emerged... The results add to growing evidence suggesting Covid-19 was present outside of China earlier than previously known."

Another Wall Street Journal reporter, Kristina Peterson, covered the talks in Congress about passing another pandemic rescue package. The members will try their darnedest to get to this before they depart for another long holiday vacation. A much of conservative Democrats got together to force a completely inadequate and grudging, penny-pinching Republican plan down Congress' throat. Senators like Joe Manchin and Mark Warner and House members like Blue Dogs Abigail Spanberger and Josh Gottheimer don't negotiate with Republicans; they happily encourage them and give in to them. They have been dealing with McConnell and McCarthy.

Peterson reported that Fed Chair Jerome Powell "repeated his view Tuesday that additional government spending would support a more durable economic recovery. 'We can see what may be the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines,' he said at the Senate hearing. 'Some fiscal support now would really help move the economy along as well.' The new bipartisan proposal highlighted the growing pressure from rank-and-file lawmakers to pass additional coronavirus aid as the pandemic surges nationwide."

Some of those lawmakers are actually concerned about their constituents; others are concerned about appearances and how what's done or what remains undone will impact their own career trajectories.

The proposal unveiled Tuesday, which would run through March 2021, includes some measures sought by both parties. Lawmakers included $160 billion in state and local funding-- long one of the biggest sticking points in talks among congressional leaders.

Democrats and Republicans from a handful of states had pushed for additional relief for state and local governments, which President Trump has derided as a bailout for states led by Democrats.

The bipartisan proposal also nods at one of Republicans’ top priorities: legal protections for businesses and other entities operating during the pandemic. Lawmakers said they would provide a short-term suspension of liability lawsuits related to Covid-19 at the state or federal level, giving states time to put in place their own protections.

The proposal also includes $288 billion for small-business relief, including the Paycheck Protection Program, $16 billion for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, $82 billion for schools, $25 billion for rental assistance and $180 billion for additional unemployment insurance, including $300 a week through March, aides said. In addition, the plan would give $17 billion to airlines.
Republicans said they had worked to keep the overall cost in check, after GOP lawmakers balked at the size of Democrats’ previous proposals.
“We’ve been very careful. This is not a $1.8 trillion stimulus bill,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), part of the bipartisan group, said Tuesday. “This is a relief measure-- half that amount.”
Other members of the bipartisan group include Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Warner of Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.
On the House side, supporters include GOP Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Tom Reed of New York, in addition to Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Dean Phillips of Minnesota, among others.
...Trump, whose signature would be needed for any legislation to become law, has commented little on the coronavirus-relief debate since the election. Before than he urged Mnuchin to cut a deal hovering around $2 trillion with Pelosi, saying he hoped to send out a second round of direct payments to Americans. Those negotiations ended in a political stalemate as Election Day neared.

Trump's interest in a $2 trillion pandemic relief deal and a second round of direct payments to Americans ended on November 3 when there were no more votes to be had for his campaign and when he had more pressing things to think about-- like selling pardons.

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