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► Senate Republicans and the White House are in disarray over how to proceed on another coronavirus stimulus package. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz spoke for all of us, if unwittingly, in a story from The Washington Post on Tuesday:
Indeed, Sen. Cruz: What in the hell are you doing?
The Washington Post updates with the latest today:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pushing to unveil an approximately $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill as early as Wednesday, legislation that would include a new round of payments to individual Americans and tens of billions of dollars for schools, with some of the money tied to classrooms reopening.
But McConnell is still working to overcome divisions with the White House, as President Trump has insisted on the inclusion of a payroll tax cut that is deeply unpopular with Senate Republicans. Whether to include that provision remained a critical outstanding question Wednesday, a day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows encountered a barrage of criticism on the issue during a private lunch with GOP senators on Capitol Hill.
And it’s already clear that the package McConnell is finalizing will not be fully embraced by fellow Senate Republicans. Several conservative lawmakers are irate about spending another trillion dollars after already pumping $3 trillion into the economy in March and April. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) denounced the plans as “insane” and “an abomination” after storming out of the GOP lunch Tuesday to deliver a rant to reporters.
Senate Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and there’s little chance the legislation they are currently crafting would be able to secure the 60 votes needed to proceed to a final vote. But emerging from the discussions with a formal plan would give them a starting point to begin negotiations with House Democrats, who passed a $3 trillion tax and spending plan in May aimed at addressing the coronavirus’s impact.
Here’s the short version: The U.S. economy is headed for disaster if Senate Republicans do not act swiftly to ease financial burdens on Americans and local municipalities (extended unemployment benefits expire at the end of July; the House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion relief bill BACK IN MAY). President Trump is demanding a payroll tax cut, which will accomplish precisely squat for the 12 million people who are unemployed. Senate Republicans like Rand Paul, meanwhile, are more concerned about the national debt, which will be relevant for no-one if the economy completely bottoms out. The Colorado Sun has more on how an end to unemployment extension benefits will impact Coloradans.
And what has Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said about all of this? Empty platitudes, mostly: “We have to—together—get through this by making sure that people are able to get back to work, that businesses are able to survive, that individuals know that they’re going to be okay.” Neat. Now pass a damn bill.
► On Tuesday evening, President Trump held his first coronavirus briefing in months, which he began by telling the American people that the virus will “get worse before it gets better.” Trump also claimed, laughably, that he has always supported wearing masks in public. But the biggest takeaway from Tuesday, as The Washington Post notes, is that Trump did not actually provide an update on efforts to combat the virus, to create a vaccine, or on the federal response in general.
► Senator Cory Gardner is getting called out for his mealy-mouthed response over calls to take down an ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) that is patently false and plainly offensive.
If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…
Now Only Partially Coronavirus-Related…
► Last week we noted an absurd story in which oil and gas industry cheerleaders were blaming Colorado regulations — and not coronavirus — for a significant downturn in production. As the Aurora Sentinel reports, not everybody is reading from the same script:
Analysts say international market forcers and, to a lesser extent, COVID-19 are to blame for a regional production crash hitting Arapahoe and Adams counties from January through April, which is the most recent month with complete data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
In Adams County, oil production more than halved from about 814,000 barrels in January to 404,000 barrels in April. Arapahoe County oil production dropped by more than 80 percent, according to state reports…
…Adams County Commissioner Eva Henry stressed that the recent production decline wasn’t the result of more stringent regulations on oil and gas industry operators. [Pols emphasis]
► Don’t be like Florida Republican Rep. Ted Yoho, who is under fire for calling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “disgusting” and “a fucking bitch.” On Wednesday morning, Yoho took to the House floor to offer one of the most non-apology apologies you are ever likely to witness:
“I rise to apologize for the abrupt manner of the conversation I had with my colleague from New York. It is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America, but that does not mean we should be disrespectful. Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I’m very cognizant of my language. The offensive name calling, words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding.”
He either called her a “f**king bitch” or he didn’t. That term doesn’t leave a lot to be misconstrued. Or misunderstood.
► As The New York Times reports, Pfizer is getting nearly $2 billion from the federal government to produce a coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year. It is still not clear that a vaccine CAN be ready by the end of 2020. Denver Congresswoman Diana DeGette oversaw a recent hearing on ensuring a safe rollout for a potential vaccine.
► Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, the Republican nominee for Congress in CO-3, continues to face problems related to her outspoken support for QAnon conspiracy theories. Those questions are about to be amplified, as The New York Times reports:
Twitter said Tuesday evening that it had removed thousands of accounts that spread messages about the conspiracy theories known as QAnon, saying their messages could lead to harm and violated Twitter policy.
Twitter said it would also block trends related to the loose network of QAnon conspiracy theories from appearing in its trending topics and search, and would not allow users to post links affiliated with the theories on its platform.
It was the first time that a social media service took sweeping action to remove content affiliated with QAnon, which has become increasingly popular on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
► As 9News reports, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is joining other city leaders in calling on the federal government to end its scary federal policing practices. President Trump is sending federal law enforcement officials to Chicago, which has plenty of people apprehensive after the armed federal response in Portland last week.
► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is introducing legislation that he hopes will make it easier for college students to vote in November.
► First Daughter Ivanka Trump will be in Colorado on Thursday to talk about child care and land conservation efforts.
► A proposed measure seeking to extend the statute of limitations for filing ethics complaints won’t make it onto the 2020 ballot.
► The Aurora City Council approved an independent investigation into the death of Elijah McClain.
► Last call for alcohol in Colorado is now 10:00 pm, part of ongoing efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.
► Will Sen. Cory Gardner follow President Trump’s wishes and vote to confirm William Perry Pendley as the Director of the BLM — even though Pendley is an outspoken proponent of SELLING PUBLIC LANDS ALTOGETHER?
► It’s not just Senate Republicans who are at each other’s throats — House Republicans are also busy fighting amongst themselves.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► The American ambassador to Britain says that President Trump tried to get him to move golf’s British Open to a Trump golf course in Scotland.
► Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of President Trump’s most outspoken defenders, is apparently ethically-challenged. From POLITICO:
Gaetz, a close ally of President Donald Trump from the Florida Panhandle, improperly sent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a limited liability company linked to a speech-writing consultant who was ousted from the Trump administration, in direct conflict with House rules.
In another possible violation, a private company installed a television studio in his father’s home in Niceville, Fla., which Gaetz uses when he appears on television. Taxpayers foot the bill to rent the television camera, and the private company that built the studio — which Gaetz refuses to identify — takes a fee each time he appears on air, his office said. It’s unclear how much it cost the private company to construct the studio.
This may run afoul of the House gift rule, which prohibits any lawmaker, aide, and their family members from accepting gifts worth more than $50. The official definition of a gift is very broad and covers virtually any good or service with monetary value.
► President Trump loves to tout his supposed power in helping to decide close races around the country by virtue of offering his public support to a particular candidate. But as POLITICO finds, Trump’s record is right at .500 these days:
But if you actually take the trouble to analyze Trump’s endorsement record, the numbers are not as impressive as the president or his allies make them sound. In fact, Trump-endorsed candidates have lost not one or two but at least five races: Virginia RepresentativeDenver Riggleman lost his chance for another term to Bob Good; Lynda Bennett lost to 24-year-old Madison Cawthorn in an open seat race in North Carolina for Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows’ old district; and five-term Colorado Representative Scott Tipton was defeated for renomination by gun rights activist and alleged QAnon conspiracy theorist Lauren Boebert. [Pols emphasis] Trump also failed to get the North Dakota treasurer’s race right when Daniel Johnston lost to fellow Republican Thomas Beadle. And earlier, Trump went all-out in his endorsement of incumbent conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who was beaten by liberal Jill Karofsky in April.
And those were the formal endorsements. He’s struck out on an informal one as well: Trump actively tweeted against Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, though he never formally endorsed Massie’s opponent Todd McMurtry. Nevertheless, Massie easily won his primary in June.
► Some 150,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States are apparently NOT good for the economy. Who knew? (Other than everybody who is not an elected Republican)
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