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Wake Up To Politics - September 9, 2020

It’s Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Election Day is 55 days away. The first presidential debate is 20 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a $500 billion proposed coronavirus relief package on Tuesday. According to the Washington Post, the legislation includes:

  • $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits through the end of the year (to replace the $600 weekly benefits that lapsed in July)
  • A $250 billion second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses
  • $105 billion for schools
  • $31 billion for vaccine development and distribution
  • $20 billion for farm assistance
  • $16 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing
  • $10 billion for child-care support
  • $10 billion to forgive a loan to the U.S. Postal Service
  • A liability shield to protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits
  • A tax credit to help families pay for private school tuition

The bill, which McConnell described as a “targeted proposal,” is a slimmed-down version of a $1 trillion package McConnell released in July. That proposal was roundly rejected by Democrats as well as some Senate Republicans; this version is unlikely to fare better, at least on the other side of the aisle.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has proposed a much broader $3 trillion relief package, quickly labeled the Senate GOP proposal “emaciated” and “pathetic.” Pelosi has refused to consider a “piecemeal” bill or one costing less than $2 trillion, which McConnell called hypocritical since she reconvened the House to pass a bill that only focused on the U.S. Postal Service.

Bipartisan negotiations mostly sputtered last month and have shown little sign of re-igniting; the House returns next week and then lawmakers have only a few weeks until both chambers adjourn again before Election Day.

Trump Administration

The United States will withdraw 1,200 troops from Iraq by the end of September, the Pentagon announced this morning. The move will bring the U.S. troop level in Iraq down to 3,000. “This reduced footprint allows us to continue advising and assisting our Iraqi partners in rooting out the final remnants of ISIS in Iraq and ensuring its enduring defeat,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, explained. “This decision is due to our confidence in the Iraqi Security Forces’ increased ability to operate independently.”

President Trump is also expected to announce a reduction in Afghanistan — where the U.S. has about 8,600 troops stationed — in the coming days. Ending America’s “endless wars” was a centerpiece promise of Trump’s 2016 campaign and has once again returned to the president’s stump speech as he seeks re-election in November.

The Justice Department moved Tuesday to intervene in a defamation lawsuit brought against President Trump by author E. Jean Carroll. The DOJ filed court papers asserting that Trump was acting in his official capacity when he denied Carroll’s allegations that he raped her in the 1990s; if approved by a judge, the unusual request would allow government lawyers to defend Trump in the suit, using taxpayer money. It would also mean that any damages Carroll may win against Trump would be paid by taxpayer dollars.

In the filing, the Justice Department cited the Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, which shields federal employees from civil litigation if the Attorney General certifies that the employee was acting within the scope of their duties during the incident in question, a concept known as “sovereign immunity.” According to the New York Times, “legal experts said [the law] has rarely, if ever, been used before to protect a president, especially for actions taken before he entered office.”

2020 Central

Recommended reads

“The 8 states where 2020 will be won or lost” Politico

“Trump doubles down on crime message as polls suggest it’s a risky gamble” NBC

“Trump, Calling Himself ‘the No. 1 Environmental President,’ Green Washes His Record” New York Times

“It’s not 2016 for third-party candidates” Washington Post

New polls


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will receive an intelligence briefing at 12 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Pennsylvania. He will visit Cornerstone Ministries Church in Murrysville to participate in a “conversation on the importance of life” at 12 p.m. and a “fireside chat” hosted by Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, at 12:45 p.m.

He will then deliver remarks at a “Workers for Trump” event at 3 p.m. in Freedom, Pennsylvania.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will hold a press briefing at 12 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. The chamber will vote at 11:15 a.m. to confirm the nomination of Brett Ludwig to be a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and to advance the nominations of Christy Wiegand to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania and Hala Jarbou to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Michigan.

The chamber will vote at 2:15 p.m. on confirmation of the Wiegand nomination and to advance the nominations of Thomas Cullen to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Virginia and Diane Gujarati to be a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

  • The Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on the search for a coronavirus vaccine, featuring testimony from Surgeon General Jerome Adams and NIH Director Francis Collins.

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court is on summer recess.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will travel to Warren, Michigan, to deliver remarks on “his plan to ensure the future is Made in America by all of America’s workers.”

  • According to Bloomberg, Biden will introduce a plan to impose a 10% tax penalty on companies that move operations overseas and a 10% tax credit for companies that create jobs in the U.S.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will attend virtual fundraisers.

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