AGREEMENT ON STIMULUS $2 TRILLION

AGREEMENT ON STIMULUS $2 TRILLION

SEE SOME DETAILS BELOW

Senate Democrats have reached a deal with the Trump White House and Senate Republicans on a massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that is targeting relief toward America’s workers, hospitals, industries, and state and local governments.

“At last, we have a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said early Wednesday morning. “After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic.” McConnell added the Senate will vote on the bill later in the day.

Though the preceding days had been filled with tense negotiations that occasionally erupted into public shouting matches on the Senate floor, lawmakers worked relatively quickly for Congress as they responded to an unprecedented economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and White House Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met six times on Monday alone, working until the early hours of the morning on Tuesday to hammer out a deal. In a statement, Schumer said he was pleased with the result.

“Rather than accept such a fundamentally flawed, partisan bill, Senate Democrats have been working hard on a bipartisan bill with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Trump,” Schumer said. “I am pleased to report that our hard work has paid off.”

The final product is so large in part because it contains both Republican and Democratic proposals: $500 billion in federal funding for big businesses and municipalities hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, as well as a direct one-time cash payment to Americans and four months of expanded unemployment insurance.

Schumer, the lead Democrat negotiating, appeared on the Senate floor early Tuesday afternoon to announce Democrats were closer to a deal after securing several key provisions, including expanded unemployment insurance for laid-off workers, and oversight on that $500 billion loan program for businesses.

“Last night, I thought we were on the five-yard line. Right now, we’re on the two,” Schumer said. “At this point, of the few outstanding issues, I don’t see any one that can’t be overcome within the next few hours.”

Now that a deal has been reached, McConnell will likely move quickly to get the bill to the floor and passed Wednesday. McConnell spent the beginning of the week signaling impatience and frustration with Senate Democrats, whom he blamed for unnecessarily holding up the process after they shot down two procedural votes to move the bill forward.

Democrats, meanwhile, blamed McConnell for cutting them out of the beginning of the bill drafting process and not bringing them in until Republicans had put forward their opening bid.

By Tuesday afternoon, both Democratic leaders and McConnell had struck a more conciliatory tone. Appearing on multiple television shows this morning and afternoon after releasing her own $2.5 trillion bill on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was confident a deal could be struck in the Senate. And McConnell echoed the same sentiment.

“Today, the Senate can get back on track. Today, we can make all of the Washington drama fade away,” McConnell said. “If we act today, what Americans will remember, and what history will record, is that the Senate did the right thing.”

Now that a deal has been reached, the Senate will likely move with urgency to get it across the finish line with a vote. Then, it still must clear the House, where Democrats have been discussing passing the bill by unanimous consent — both to expedite the bill’s passage and to protect members by keeping them at home.

There is still a ways to go until the bill lands on President Donald Trump’s desk ready to be signed, but the biggest hurdle has now been cleared.


What the plan includes

  • A $500 billion loan program for businesses: The biggest sticking point between Democrats and Republicans throughout the negotiations was $500 billion worth of emergency loans both for large businesses and municipalities grappling with the coronavirus outbreak. For instance, $50 billion of that money was allotted to passenger airlines, according to the Washington Post.

Rather than trying to negotiate that figure down, Democrats instead negotiated to have strings attached to it. Instead of giving the Trump administration broad discretion to make the loans, Schumer and Pelosi said there will likely be a new inspector general in the Treasury Department specifically to oversee these funds, as well as a congressional oversight panel to examine how the money is being used.

A slew of additional conditions, championed by progressives and supported by the public, including a requirement for companies to implement a $15 minimum wage, have not made it into the final legislation.

  • “Unemployment insurance on steroids”: Schumer announced Monday afternoon that unemployment insurance will be expanded to grapple with a new surge in claims, calling it “unemployment insurance on steroids.” The new bill will increase unemployment insurance by $600 per week for four months. This money is in addition to what states pay as a base unemployment salary. This benefit would extend to gig economy workers, freelancers, and furloughed workers who are still getting health insurance from their employers, but are not receiving a paycheck.
  • Expanded funds for hospitals, medical equipment, and health care worker protections: In a statement, Schumer reported to Senate Democrats that the latest bill will contain $150 billion for hospitals treating coronavirus patients. Of that money, $100 billion will go to hospitals, $1 billion will go to the Indian Health Service, and the remainder will be used to increase medical equipment capacity.
  • Increased aid to state and local governments: Schumer also said about $150 billion of federal money would be allocated for state and local governments who are dealing with the impacts of the crisis in their local communities, including $8 billion for tribal governments.
  • Direct payments to adults below a certain income threshold: The legislation would include a one-time $1,200 check that would be sent to most adults making $75,000 or less annually, according to past tax returns. A $500 payment would also be sent to cover every child in qualifying households. The final policy marks a significant change from the direct payments initially proposed by Republicans, which would have given less to many individuals who do not have taxable income. It now includes the majority of adults who are under the $75,000 threshold and phases the payment out as people’s incomes increase.
  • Loans to small businesses: There would be $367 billion in the bill aimed at providing loans for small businesses, according to the Washington Post.

What comes next

The Senate still needs to approve the deal in a vote, when 60 lawmakers will have to vote in favor of it to pass. That will happen Wednesday, McConnell told reporters.

The package will then head over to the House, where Democrats also have their own $2.5 trillion economic stimulus bill, which Pelosi unveiled on Monday. In order to proceed expeditiously, it’s quite possible the House will simply take up the Senate deal, rather than going to conference to hash out differences between the two chambers.

If so, its next challenge will be figuring out how best to vote on it.

Given the fact that many House members are currently working remotely, there’s the possibility that lawmakers approve the legislation via a process known as unanimous consent, when a bill is able to pass as long as no one objects to it, even if most members aren’t physically present.

House Rules Chair Jim McGovern has urged his colleagues to consider unanimous consent or voice voting with the members who are present, instead of remote voting.

If lawmakers were to go the unanimous consent route, that means that a single lawmaker who’s physically present could object to the bill’s passage and potentially delay proceedings even further. Previously, for example, Rep. Louie Gohmert had threatened to object to another legislative package that focused predominantly on expanding paid sick days and paid leave benefits to a subset of workers, though he ultimately relented.

It’s possible another lawmaker could voice this type of opposition again, though they would likely face immense pressure from both the public and their colleagues not to do so. Despite this scenario, remote voting isn’t being considered just yet.

As ABC News reports, one of the concerns raised about remote voting is that it contradicts policies that have been laid out in the Constitution regarding how Congress should convene in person. Some lawmakers have worried, too, that it could set a concerning precedent for other votes that take place down the line. While the possibility could pick up momentum if it appears necessary in the weeks to come, it’s not expected to happen this week with the stimulus bill.

DAWG SAYS: I AM GLAD TO SEE A DEAL HAS BEEN MADE, IM AM CURIOUS WHAT ELSE IS IN IT THAT HAS NOT BEEN REPORTED YET. THE ABOVE ARTICLE FROM MSN IS NOT REAL INFORMATIVE.

FAKE NEWS OF THE DAY


Fake news of the day: Belgium’s Health Minister Ban ‘Non-Essential Sexual Activities of Three or More’ Due to Coronavirus Concerns?

Fact ChecksViral Content / By Kim LaCapria / March 23, 2020

Claim

Belgium’s health minister banned “non-essential sexual activities” in groups of three or more due to coronavirus.

Rating

Not True

Amid a worldwide COVID-19 crisis on March 21 2020, a headline circulated — “Belgium Health Minister Puts Ban On Non-essential Sexual Activities Of Persons 3 Or Greater In Indoor Areas.”

Often spreading without a link, occasionally the headline appeared with some initial body text in coronavirus meme groups:

Belgium Health Minister Maggie de Block has put a ban on all non-essential sexual activities of persons 3 or greater in indoor areas.

Health Minister de Block announced today that, effective immediately, “non-essential” sexual activities of 3 people or more are banned in Belgium to combat the spread of COVID-19.

De Block said she was forced to act swiftly because of Belgium’s reputation as being the “beer-drinking” and “group sex capital of Europe.”

According to the text shown here, Belgium’s Health Minister put a hold on all “non-essential sexual activities” between three or more people in indoor areas. A screenshot was posted to Imgur, where it was viewed more than 130,000 times in a single day:

One screenshot produced a reverse image search result from 2014 showing an individual named Maggie De Block:

Among the new faces is Maggie De Block, who will become State Secretary for Asylum Policy, Immigration and Social Integration (Ministry of Justice). The 49-year-old member of the Flemish Liberal Open VLD, who lives in Merchtem (Flemish Brabant), has also been surprisingly appointed for most of us. She has been a family doctor since 1991 and has been able to bring her experience into her parliamentary work in the Social Affairs Committee in the Chamber. It entered there in 1999. Maggie De Block has chaired the Chamber’s Infrastructure Committee since 2010.

The headline itself, however, originated with a satirical news site called World News Daily Report. At the bottom of the page, a disclaimer in the footer read:

World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.

An article titled “Belgium Health Minister Puts Ban On Non-essential Sexual Activities Of Persons 3 Or Greater In Indoor Areas” proved popular in meme groups and on Imgur during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was satirical in nature. All items from World News Daily Report are not intended to be interpreted as news, just humor.

DAWG SAYS: SERIOUSLY PEOPLE WHERE DO WE COME UP WITH THIS STUFF? BUT IT DOES CREATE TRAFFIC TO THEIR SITE WITH SATIRE OR FUN FAKE NEWS.