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Selling the vision for GOP's new coronavirus relief package

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Thursday at the U.S. Capitol. Credit: EPA / Jim Lo Scalzo

GOP to roll out relief bill

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Senate Republicans will unveil their $1 trillion coronavirus relief package on Monday — as GOP leaders and House Democrats try to reach a compromise on a fifth stimulus bill.

Republicans and Democrats have been at odds for months over what components the next relief package should include. Mnuchin, Meadows and White House senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow, making the Sunday talk show rounds, called for Congress to approve coronavirus relief aid in stages.

“The administration and Republicans are completely on the same page,” Mnuchin said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Democrats have been pushing for the immediate passage of a wide-ranging $3.5 trillion package approved by the House in May, arguing that long-term aid, not piecemeal fixes, are needed to aid to scores of unemployed Americans and struggling businesses.

The Trump administration opposes an extension of a $600-a-week enhanced unemployment payment that expired this month, Mnuchin and Meadows said. Instead, White House officials favor a plan to reimburse an individual's lost wages or salary by up to 70%, reports Newsday’s Scott Eidler with Jesse Coburn.

On ABC's "This Week," Meadows outlined what the Trump administration could immediately support: "I see us being able to provide unemployment insurance, maybe a retention credit, to keep people from being displaced or brought back into the workplace, helping with our schools.”

Meadows said if Congress can pass those measures, "we can negotiate on the rest of the bill in the weeks to come."

Pelosi: 'We have been ready'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed Republicans for waiting months to negotiate a new coronavirus relief package, noting that House Democrats passed the $3.5 trillion HEROES Act in May that would have extended unemployment benefits, provided aid to state and local governments and expanded testing and contact tracing.

Republicans, she said on CBS' "Face the Nation," are "in disarray and that delay is causing suffering for America's families. So we have been ready for two months and 10 days. I've been here all weekend hoping they had something to give us."

Pelosi said the push by Republicans to abandon a $600 weekly increase in unemployment insurance in favor of a plan that would reimburse up to 70% of a worker’s former wage would further complicate the distribution of aid. States have been struggling to keep up with the demand of unemployment insurance applications, as aging computer systems and understaffed offices are overwhelmed by the economic crisis.

“The reason we had $600 was because of its simplicity,” Pelosi said, adding that “people don't all make a salary ... They make wages and they sometimes have it vary. So why don't we just keep it simple?"

Schumer, Cuomo call for action

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in separate news conferences called on Senate Republicans to move fast in reaching a coronavirus relief deal with Democratic leaders.

Schumer, speaking in Manhattan, said plummeting revenue to state and local governments may soon trigger massive layoffs in the public sector, and urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to "stop the dithering, start negotiating, put a bill on the floor of the Senate ASAP.”

Cuomo said the end of the $600 enhanced unemployment payment "is going to really cause havoc and tremendous distress for people. If the unemployment [benefit] stops, Washington is playing politics, they have gridlock."

The governor called on all Republican elected officials in New York "to stand united with the people of the state, encouraging support for New York State." He added, "If we don't get state aid from Washington, it's going to be a very bad situation for this state and the people in this state." For more, read the story by Newsday's Eidler with Coburn.

Testing turnaround?

The Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar said he was “highly confident” that the time to process COVID-19 tests “will decrease this week” as labs across the country continue to report results beyond the recommended two- to three-day window.

Adm. Dr. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary with the Health and Human Services Department, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the federal government is working to shorten the turnaround time, reports Newsday's Eidler.

"Let me assure you that we are not going to stop our efforts until testing is exactly where we want it to be, with rapid turnaround times," said Giroir, who is Trump’s point person on testing efforts.

Giroir acknowledged that testing is slowest in major national commercial lab chains.

"We are trying to bring that down," he said. He added that "pooling" was authorized at major laboratories, including Quest and LabCorp, and "surge testing" will be added to U.S. cities with major outbreaks.

Meadows defended the administration’s testing efforts on “This Week,” noting that the country is currently averaging 1 million tests a week. Public health officials have said the U.S. should be conducting up to 5 million tests a week and turning around test results at a faster pace to get ahead of the virus.

“What we need to do is make sure that we focus on those nursing homes, long-term care, so that we can bring that death count down because those are the ones that are most at risk,” Meadows said.

Pelosi, meanwhile, continued to blast the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus, telling “Face the Nation” she has “a new name” for the president.

"Mr. Make Matters Worse," Pelosi said. "He has made matters worse from the start. Delay, denial. 'It's a hoax. It'll go away magically. It's a miracle,' and all the rest. And we're in this situation with — you spelled out some of the numbers very clearly early. So it makes matters worse."

Janison: Trump's state of campaign

The use of public resources and platforms to stage smear events with the potential to sway voters in the fall has become far from subtle as Trump battles declining poll numbers, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Examples abound of how U.S. taxpayer-funded agencies are giving a boost to Trump’s reelection effort. Federal law enforcement is drafted into shadowy assignments shaped around the president’s critique of Democratic-run cities. Attorney General William Barr seeks at every turn to nullify the stench of the 2016 Russia scandals. The State Department is taking aim at China in ways designed to eclipse Trump's months of embarrassing public support for Beijing's handling of the coronavirus.

Trade adviser Peter Navarro works to beat down the credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose rather bland, fact-based warnings about COVID-19 clashed with Trump's fervent efforts to put a positive spin on pandemic news.

The Education Department pushes for school reopening in ways that happen to make private institutions look better as alternatives, a long-running GOP plank. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention altered its school-opening messages last week in a way that aligns with Trump's campaign.

With Election Day now less than 100 days away, we’ll see what the remaining days bring.

Never Trump 2.0

The “Never Trump” movement that tried unsuccessfully to derail Trump’s candidacy in 2016 has taken a new shape heading into the 2020 race.

What was once a loosely organized movement led by a select group of conservative activists in 2016 has since reemerged as a network of well-funded Republican political action committees aimed at thwarting Trump’s reelection bid and promoting the candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa Hernandez.

The list of anti-Trump groups run by disaffected Republicans includes Right Side PAC, a group formed last month that counts Long Island native Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, as one of its advisers.

John Lewis remembered

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis will lie in state on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Monday and will be honored at a 1:30 p.m. ceremony attended by congressional leaders.

On Sunday, Lewis made one last passage over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, as a horse-drawn carriage carried his coffin over the site where 55 years earlier, he and other marchers were brutally beaten in what would become known as “Bloody Sunday,” a key moment in the civil rights movement.

Lewis (D-Ga.) died last week at the age of 80 after fighting pancreatic cancer for more than a year. (For more on the ceremonies honoring Lewis, click here.)

More coronavirus news

See a roundup of the latest pandemic developments from Long Island and beyond by Newsday's reporting staff, written by Lisa L. Colangelo and Vera Chinese. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • Trump has backed out of throwing the ceremonial first pitch at an upcoming New York Yankees game against the Boston Red Sox, writes Newsday's Erik Boland. The president in a tweet claimed he can’t make it to the Bronx on Aug. 15 after all because of his “strong focus” on the coronavirus and economy. The game would have been his first MLB appearance since getting booed attending a World Series game in Washington, D.C., last year.
  • A "Trump 2020" banner was illegally placed outside the Huntington Lighthouse over the weekend, reports Newsday's Keldy Ortiz. Suffolk police say they are investigating who broke into the lighthouse, attached the flag and jammed the door.
  • Both the Biden and Trump campaigns are using social media ads to go after social media companies. Trump's Facebook ads attack Twitter, while Biden's ads on Facebook ask for the platform to take down misleading statements by the Trump campaign. See more from The Associated Press.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch Trump ally and the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is pushing for ex-special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before the panel. Democrats argue Graham is trying to orchestrate a partisan stunt to drum up support for Trump ahead of the general election. Politico has more on the prospect of Mueller testifying.
  • With some New York congressional primaries yet to be called, some are looking at last month’s contests in the age of COVID-19 as a sign of what may be to come in November, when more voters are expected to cast absentee ballots. The Washington Post looks at how national observers are keeping a close eye on the race between longtime Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) and Suraj Patel, a former Obama campaign staffer.

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