Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Coronavirus-Stimulus Plan Splits Senate GOP; Doctors Covid-19 Press Conference, and other C-Virus Updates

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Zuma Press
Vulnerable lawmakers don’t want to return to campaign trail empty-handed, while some conservatives want to curb more government spending
Republican senators splintered into factions over their party’s proposal for the next coronavirus-aid package, as GOP lawmakers’ antipathy toward government spending ran into the turbulence of election-year politics.
With the country in the grip of a pandemic, the party is divided over the scope and scale of aid needed to keep the economy afloat—and over whether their party’s precarious standing in polls justifies setting aside ideological concerns about the fast-growing federal deficit fewer than 100 days before voters head to the polls.
“You can see a bunch of people already pushing back,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). He added that if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) can get half of Senate Republicans to vote for the bill, “that’d be quite an accomplishment.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, Mr. McConnell acknowledged the “fulsome discussion” in the party.
“I think it’s a statement of the obvious that I have members who are all over the lot on this,” said Mr. McConnell, who called the plan a starting point that represented the broadest consensus of GOP senators. “There are some members who think we’ve already done enough, other members who think we need to do more.”
The stimulus debate pits the GOP’s political pragmatists against its spending hawks, with the fate of swing-state incumbents hanging in the balance: At-risk Republican senators don’t want to return to the campaign trail during the August recess empty-handed, while fiscal conservatives recoil at any plan that they see as ballooning the deficit and conditioning the public to expect broader government assistance once the pandemic is over.
At stake could be control of the Senate and White House, some Republicans warn. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report last week released a new analysis of key Senate races that for the first time this cycle favored Democrats to take back the chamber. Democrats are expected to keep control of the House this fall.
The situation complicates the party’s negotiations with Democrats, which Mr. McConnell said would be led by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Some Republicans are grumbling privately that Messrs. McConnell and Mnuchin waited too long to start putting a bill together and the process hasn’t been transparent. They are worried that the GOP’s opening $1 trillion bid puts them at a disadvantage in talks with Democrats, who have proposed a rival $3.5 trillion plan.
Those complaints boiled over at a closed-door lunch on Tuesday, where arguments broke out between GOP senators who sparred over major elements of the Senate GOP plan unveiled on Monday by Mr. McConnell. The Heals Act would fund another round of direct payments to Americans, assistance for schools and small businesses and provide liability protections against coronavirus lawsuits.
The proposal also provides more money for testing, contact tracing and vaccines and extends unemployment benefits, although it would cut the current federal $600 weekly supplement to $200 a week through September.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE and follow links below to related stories and resources:

Doctors’ Capitol Hill Coronavirus Press Conference

‘99.8 Percent of People Get Through this with Little to No Progressive or Significant Disease’

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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