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► Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate is moving “at warp speed” (which is about “half-speed” in regular person parlance) on producing a massive stimulus bill in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As CNN reports:
Two GOP sources told CNN’s Manu Raju that Republican senators are close to reaching an agreement among themselves on the details of Mnuchin’s plan. The conference plans to meet later on Wednesday to discuss where they stand, with one of the sources expecting an agreement by lunchtime.
The idea is to cut a deal among themselves, and then try to hammer out a bipartisan agreement with Democrats on a massive package that could pass Congress in a matter of days. But Democrats have their own plans, so there are hard-fought negotiations ahead.
The bill McConnell is talking about would be the third major piece of federal legislation to move through Congress this month:
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). McConnell is pushing the Senate to vote on the legislation this week — though Sen. Rand Paul is again throwing wrenches — and it will almost certainly be signed by President Trump shortly thereafter. Outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to quickly support this legislation.
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. Politico has more on this third major piece of legislation:
Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Tuesday there is a “high level of interest” among Republicans for a Trump administration proposal to send as many as two $1,000 checks directly to individual Americans to help respond to the economic slowdown, a move that could cost an estimated $500 billion, according to GOP sources.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a pitch for the initiative at a lunch with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, part of an $800 billion-plus package being floated by the White House that also includes as much as $250 billion in emergency loans for smalls businesses being hit by the economic slowdown.
Under the Mnuchin plan, direct payments — on a means-tested basis — could be sent to American via the IRS as early as next month, although even that may not be as fast as some in Congress want.
For more on these bills and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast:
► Two members of Colorado’s congressional delegation are in self-quarantine after being alerted that they may have had contact with an infected person. From The Denver Post:
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow both announced Tuesday that they’re self-quarantining after coming into contact last week with a constituent who subsequently was found to have the coronavirus.
It’s not clear if it was the same constituent, but the contact was on the same day — March 11 — and both men were notified of the contact by the same health department.
“I was alerted today by the Tri-County Health Department that a Coloradan who visited my Washington office for a constituent meeting has tested positive for coronavirus,” Gardner, a Yuma Republican, said in a press release.
“While I am not showing any symptoms at this time, I have made the decision to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution,” he added.
Crow is also not reporting showing any symptoms but is self-quarantining for precautionary reasons.
► President Trump is finally getting his border shutdown…with Canada. The United States and Canada have agreed to close the border to all non-essential travel.
If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…
SERIOUSLY, THERE WILL BE NON-CORONAVIRUS NEWS MOMENTARILY…
► Colorado’s Congressional delegation is backing Gov. Jared Polis in calling for support from the Small Business Administration. From The Denver Post:
Gov. Jared Polis and members of Colorado’s congressional delegation pushed the Small Business Administration on Tuesday evening to approve a disaster declaration that would free up emergency loans for small businesses in the state struggling with the impacts of COVID-19.
The federal government hasn’t approved a request for disaster declaration in Colorado that Polis made, although that designation is expected to come any day now. Utah and New Mexico already have that designation in hand, allowing some Colorado border counties to participate in an emergency loan program for small businesses. Those counties include Archuleta, Costilla, La Plata, Las Animas, Montezuma, Dolores, Mesa, Montezuma, Montrose, San Miguel.
► Kansas on Tuesday became the first state to cancel school for the remainder of the school year (though, as NPR points out, Kansas begins and ends its school year earlier than most states). California Gov. Gavin Newsom thinks a similar move is inevitable in his state.
► This video from “The Fix” at The Washington Post demonstrates the dramatic shift in rhetoric from Fox News over the last week:
— The Fix (@thefix) March 17, 2020
► According to a press release from the State of Colorado, the State Capitol is closed to visitors until further notice.
► The Washington Post details six
frightening concerning potential scenarios as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. This is not one of those stories that will make you feel better.
Here’s some more bad news, via The New York Times:
A federal government plan to combat the coronavirus warned policymakers last week that a pandemic “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves,” resulting in widespread shortages that would strain consumers and the nation’s health care system.
The 100-page plan, dated Friday, the same day President Trump declared a national emergency, laid out a grim prognosis for the spread of the virus and outlined a response that would activate agencies across the government and potentially employ special presidential powers to mobilize the private sector.
Among the “additional key federal decisions” listed among the options for Mr. Trump was invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950, a Korean War-era law that authorizes a president to take extraordinary action to force American industry to ramp up production of critical equipment and supplies such as ventilators, respirators and protective gear for health care workers.
► Here’s another Coronavirus response effort that includes Colorado’s entire Congressional delegation SANS Rep. Ken Buck. From the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:
U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, along with six Colorado U.S. representatives, on Tuesday signed a letter asking FEMA to reach out to and further clarify coronavirus safety resources for state, local, territorial, tribal governments.
“Many counties across Colorado have expressed frustration over what they perceive as a lack of clear guidance as to what actions are reimbursable under this national emergency declaration,” the letter stated…
…The letter signed by Bennet and Gardner noted that on Friday President Donald Trump invoked the Stafford Act, which allows local, municipal, county, tribal and territorial governments to access federal funds through the FEMA public assistance program.
► The Colorado teacher’s union is calling on all school districts in the state to close schools; East Otero School District in La Junta is on Spring Break currently and has yet to announce a plan for next week.
► Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order to allow for flexibility in the party caucus/assembly process due to Coronavirus.
► Officials are concerned about a potential Coronavirus exposure at an immigration detention facility in Aurora.
► Denver7 has more on the latest Coronavirus news in Colorado.
► #DoingMyPartCO seems to be going well.
HERE IT IS: POLITICAL NEWS THAT IS NOT ABOUT CORONAVIRUS…
► Former Vice President Joe Biden solidified his frontrunner status in the Democratic Presidential Primary on Tuesday, sweeping the night with wins in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona (Ohio moved its election to June). As The Washington Post reports:
The emphatic wins raised further questions about the viability of the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). It set Biden, who began the day leading the contest by more than 100 delegates, on a clear course to a first-ballot victory at the Democratic National Convention in July barring a seismic shift in the race’s dynamics.
This was the third consecutive week of voting in which Biden dramatically outperformed Sanders, including 16 of the past 21 contests before Tuesday’s.
“Our campaign has had a very good night,” said Biden, speaking briefly Tuesday evening on a live stream from his home in Wilmington, Del. “We moved closer to securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. And we’re doing it by building a broad coalition,” he said, pointing to support from minorities and suburban women.
Biden offered a message aimed at unifying the party, much as he did after his victories last week, telling Sanders’s supporters that he shares many of the senator’s priorities.
“I hear you. I know what is at stake. I know what we have to do,” Biden said.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is facing growing pressure to end his Presidential bid. The Sanders campaign says it is taking some time to “assess” the state of the race. Michelle Cottle, a member of the editorial board at The New York Times, lays out the case for Sanders to wrap things up.
► Outside of the Democratic Presidential Primary, one of the more notable election results from Tuesday was in Illinois, where a conservative Democratic incumbent was ousted by a more progressive challenger. From Politico:
Rep. Dan Lipinski, a Chicago congressman known for his staunch opposition to abortion and his votes against Obamacare and same-sex marriage, finally succumbed to a liberal challenger Tuesday in a primary held in the throes of the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic.
The eight-term Illinois Democrat fell to businesswoman Marie Newman, who led 48 to 44 percent when The Associated Press called the race, a resounding victory for the party’s progressive wing, which has struggled so far this year to capitalize on its 2018 success…
…Newman, who came within 2,200 votes of ousting Lipinski in 2018, crafted a formidable and well-funded campaign operation for the rematch. Her turnout operation knocked over 100,000 doors and she nabbed early endorsements from nearly every high-profile progressive, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
► That guy who jumped into the Democratic Senate Primary in December who nobody had ever heard of has formally ended his campaign.
► Several Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate are claiming that Coronavirus prevented them from being able to access the June Primary ballot. Yesterday was the deadline for candidates to submit petition signatures for ballot access. As The Denver Post reports:
Lorena Garcia turned in more than the necessary 10,500 signatures, but the secretary of state’s office must see whether she has enough valid ones to join John Hickenlooper and, in all likelihood, Andrew Romanoff on the Democratic primary ballot. Two other candidates turned in fewer than the required number of signatures.
“We didn’t make it, and we would have if it was not for coronavirus,” said Michelle Ferrigno Warren, who said she collected about 9,000 signatures.
She intends to ask a Denver District Court judge to either place her on the ballot or delay the deadline by a week. The coronavirus outbreak made voters reluctant to open doors or pick up pens and left some campaign volunteers electing to self-quarantine rather than canvass.
Garcia says her campaign turned in 13,824 signatures, which gives her a shot at making the Primary ballot; for comparison, fellow Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper had about an 86% validity rate with his petition signatures.
Warren says that she could have collected enough signatures if not for Coronavirus, but that’s pretty unlikely; she likely needed at least 15,000 total signatures in order to account for those that are deemed invalid for various reasons (wrong address, etc.)
► Politico magazine ranks the Top 12 potential Vice President picks for Democratic Presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.
► The Chief of Staff in the Colorado House Minority Office goes full-blown Coronavirus hoax messenger.
► That’s some nimble politicking right there:
— Justin Wingerter (@JustinWingerter) March 18, 2020
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► You can’t shoot the Coronavirus, but that hasn’t stopped many Coloradans from flocking to buy guns and ammunition.
► We certainly wish Sen. Gardner well, but this is still a funny response:
You met with a constituent?!
— BEofM (@SolusBrex) March 17, 2020
► The Idaho state legislature isn’t doing squat about Coronavirus, but they ARE making sure to pass two anti-transgender bills.