Habemus stimulus? Congress seemed to be getting closer on an agreement last night, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately told his Republican colleagues that he fears voter frustration will bring down Georgia’s two sitting senators next month if Congress doesn’t was not adopting another stimulus bill.
It‘s been more than eight months since the last coronavirus revival law was enacted. The ink was not dry on this bill, finalized at the end of March, before many lawmakers, union leaders and others began to argue that more help was needed.
McConnell has mostly refused to negotiate, repeatedly postponing talks and even pushing back the occasional White House attempts to resume talks.
But now Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler need a win ahead of the Jan.5 runoff in Georgia, McConnell has indicated he is ready to move forward.
He told senators on a private call yesterday that they shouldn’t plan to leave Washington for the holidays until this weekend, as he expects it will need a few more days for lawmakers to finalize. agreement and draft the legislative text.
During the call, McConnell said Loeffler and Perdue were “getting hammered” for Congress’ inability to provide further assistance in the event of a pandemic.
The bill under discussion now includes funding for direct stimulus payments to Americans. Sen. John Thune, House Republican No. 2, said yesterday he expected the checks to be $ 600-700 per person, although some Democrats are calling for a repeat of the $ 1,200 checks issued in the spring.
The bill would not include the accountability protections for businesses and schools that McConnell had sought to establish as a condition of the talks, nor the regular funding of state, local and tribal governments that Democrats had called essential.
As Congress grapples with stimulus, state leaders have taken matters into their own hands. In New Mexico, $ 1,200 stimulus checks began to be sent to about 130,000 unemployed residents after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a $ 330 million relief package that included small business assistance last month. and direct payments to those who lost their jobs.
The federal stimulus bill should include billions of dollars to support vaccine distribution, and this week, hospital pharmacists discovered good news: Many of the vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already been cleared for distribution, are filled with more than just assigned doses.
The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday it would allow pharmacists to use the extra doses left after the first five – the amount that should be contained in each vial.
Joe Biden has said he will ask Americans to mask themselves for the first 100 days of his tenure as president. A mask mandate is supported by a large majority of the country, but it is still not universally popular.
A mayor in the heart of the country was forced to literally step out of the dodge this week after serving on a mask term. Joyce Warshaw, the mayor of Dodge City, Kan., Said she received such a violent and threatening hate mail after signing a city-wide mask warrant that she feared for her safety. So Warshaw resigned from his office yesterday, a few weeks before the end of his one-year term.
A message read: “We are coming to get you.” Warshaw said the word “murder” had been used on several occasions. “Our nation is experiencing so much division and so much inappropriate bullying that is accepted, and that worries me,” she said. “I don’t know if these people would act according to their words.”
The pressure on Biden yesterday to choose Representative Deb Haaland as Home Secretary, as a rare consensus of progressives, moderates and even some Republicans, has expressed support for what would be a historic appointment.
Haaland, who was recently elected to a second term representing New Mexico’s first district in Congress, would be the first Native American to lead the Interior Department.
Progressive groups, tribal leaders and some of Haaland’s colleagues in Congress have been pressuring Biden for weeks to choose her for the post, but Democratic House leaders have expressed concern over allowing Biden to recruit too many representatives of the Democratic caucus given its small majority. .
Yesterday, leaders adopted Haaland’s candidacy. “Congresswoman Deb Haaland is one of the most respected and one of the best members of Congress I have served with,” Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, adding that she would be “an excellent choice” for the Secretary of the Interior.
Some progressive groups have also pressured Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, who is retiring after 12 years in the Senate, to step down from the presidential bid.
Biden is also considering a much less consensus-generating figure to serve in its administration: Diana Taylor, member of the board of directors of Citigroup with deep ties to Wall Street.
Taylor was the Managing Director of Wolfensohn Fund Management and New York State Banking Superintendent under former Republican Gov. George Pataki. She is also the longtime romantic partner of Michael Bloomberg.
It’s unclear what role Biden would place Taylor in, but one of the positions she’s under consideration for is as a director of the Small Business Administration, according to people familiar with the selection process.
Progressives have expressed concern over his potential selection, as part of broader concerns over the party’s lack of representation of the left flank among Biden’s staff picks so far.
“The progressive movement deserves a number of seats – important seats – in the Biden administration,” Senator Bernie Sanders, himself a cabinet candidate, told Axios recently. “Have I seen this at this point? I do not have.”