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Pelosi said the bill, which will be released by the House Oversight Committee in the coming days, paints a “clear choice” for Republicans, many of whom have remained silent during Trump’s continued broadsides against the Postal Service and mail-in ballots.

“We want them to vote for this, that’s why I held back on some suggestions people want,” Pelosi told Democrats on a caucus call Monday morning, according to three sources on the call.

But it’s unclear if any Republicans will support the bill — House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called Pelosi’s plan a “money grab” in a Fox Business interview Monday. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed little urgency to address the issue at an event in Kentucky on Monday, saying the “Postal Service is going to be just fine.”

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also dismissed Democrats’ efforts as “partisan.”

“It’s not only unrealistic, it’s unnecessary,” Meadows told reporters aboard Air Force One Monday.

The House will return for just one day on Saturday — in a rare interruption of the chamber’s August recess and after this week’s Democratic National Convention — to vote on the bill, which was still being drafted Monday afternoon. Pelosi said members would see the final text within 24 hours.

Trump launched another attack on the Postal Service on Monday afternoon, declaring that the agency “has been failing for many decades” and asserting that Democrats “don’t have a clue,” but failing to offer a plan to fix its current crisis.

Post offices nationwide have reported mail delays in recent weeks, with Democrats pointing fingers at Trump’s handpicked postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor who took the helm of the agency in May.

Democrats plan to grill DeJoy about his operational changes — which include a reduction in overtime hours, a hiring freeze at senior levels and efforts to remove mail-sort machines — at an emergency hearing on Monday, Aug. 24. DeJoy, who has agreed to testify before the committee, has denied any “slowing down” of mail.

The Democrats’ bill would be modeled after legislation released by Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) last week, with additional language to address mail-sorting machines — some of which have been removed from processing centers under recent orders from the Trump administration.

Initially, Democrats were planning to pass the Maloney bill to address organizational changes but not provide additional funding. But Pelosi announced the change to include billions in funding during the private caucus call Monday.

The Postal Service Board of Governors requested $25 billion earlier this year to head off expected funding shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats agreed, including the $25 billion in a coronavirus relief bill the House approved in May.

But Senate Republicans refused to consider the legislation, dismissing the broader bill as a Democratic wish list. Congressional negotiators and the White House instead agreed to $10 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service during coronavirus negotiations earlier this month.

Those talks fell apart and it’s unclear when — or if — congressional leaders and the White House will resume negotiations on a broader relief package. Meadows said Monday he hasn’t spoken to Pelosi or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in over a week.

“We’re not expecting a follow up call from Speaker Pelosi unless her members encourage her to actually come back to the negotiating table,” Meadows said.

Senate Republicans are also planning to introduce a “skinny” coronavirus relief package that’s expected to include $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, $300 in boosted weekly federal unemployment benefits until late December, more funds for the Paycheck Protection Program and liability protections, a top priority for McConnell. It will also likely include funds for schools and testing.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill in July that would provide the Postal Service with up to $25 billion in emergency funding. Among the bill’s GOP supporters are Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) who faces a competitive Senate race in November and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

“All Missourians, especially seniors, veterans, and people in rural communities, depend on timely, reliable mail delivery,” Blunt said in a statement Monday. “I fully support including additional funding for the USPS in the next COVID-19 relief package.”

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Senators clash over masks on Senate floor

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Brown said the moment was emblematic of a Senate where “there isn’t much interest … in public health.”

“We have a majority leader who calls us back here to vote on an unqualified nominee and, at the same time, to vote for judge after judge after judge, exposing all the people who can’t say anything … and expose all the staff here,” said Brown, referring to potentially spreading the coronavirus to staffers. “The majority leader just doesn’t seem to care.”

The moment was a rare public disagreement over the way the Senate is being run during the pandemic. Though Democrats have complained about the Senate’s agenda, they’ve rarely publicly criticized members of the GOP over masks in such a direct fashion. Several senators have contracted the virus over the past eight months, though the Senate has not been the venue for mass spread of the disease so far.

Most senators wear masks throughout the Capitol, although some members do occasionally take off their masks or forget to put them back on. After Brown’s speech, Sullivan took off his mask to adjourn the Senate, then promptly put it back on.

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A Foreign Office Minister Has Resigned From Government Over Plans To Cut International Aid

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Baroness Liz Sugg (right) is a minister at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (PA)


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The government is facing a brewing backbench rebellion and ministerial resignations over its controversial plans to scrap the UK’s pledge to give 0.7% of GDP in international aid.

Baroness Liz Sugg, minister for overseas territories and sustainable development at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), submitted her resignation following the move.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, she said it was “fundamentally wrong” to abandon the commitment, adding that it should be “kept in the tough times as well as the good”. 

“Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crises,” she continued.

“I cannot support or defend this decision, it is therefore right that I tend my resignation.”

The plan has also sparked anger from a number of backbench Tory MPs, with one former minister claiming the cut could lead to 100,000 preventable deaths. 

Rishi Sunak confirmed in his Spending Review on Wednesday that the UK would be reducing the commitment  0.7% of GDP international aid commitment to 0.5% following the crippling effects of the coronavirus crisis on the economy.

He told MPs: “During a domestic fiscal emergency, when we need to prioritise our limited resources on jobs and public services. 

“Sticking rigidly to spending 0.7% of our national income on overseas aid, is difficult to justify to the British people, especially when we’re seeing the highest peacetime levels of borrowing on record.”

It is understood that the government would increase the level of aid spending back its original level in the future once the economic situation improved. 

But a Treasury source suggested that MPs were unlikely to get a chance to vote on the aid cut, as the law enshrining the commitment allows for it to be adjusted in challenging circumstances.

Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell told PoliticsHome yesterday he hoped to lead a rebellion against the changes to aid.

Speaking in the Commons following the chancellor’s statement, Mr Mitchell told Mr Sunak the decision “will be the cause of 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children.

“This is a choice I for one am not prepared to make and none of us in this House will be able to look our children in the eye and claim we did not know what we were voting for,” he added. 

Fellow backbenchers Peter Bottomley, Tobias Ellwood and Pauline Latham also spoke out against the move and expressed their intention to oppose it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has joined criticised the government, writing on Twitter that cutting aid was “shameful and wrong”.

“It’s contrary to numerous government promises and its manifesto. I join others in urging MPs to reject it for the good of the poorest, and the UK’s own reputation and interest,” he added. 

 

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Diego Maradona dies: Three days of mourning begin in Argentina as tributes pour in

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Diego Maradona (centre) and Ossie Ardiles (right) played together at the 1982 World Cup

Today’s football superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo “could not even dream” of being admired as much as Diego Maradona was, says his former Argentina team-mate Ossie Ardiles.

Three days of national mourning have begun in Argentina after Maradona died on Wednesday at the age of 60.

His body will lie in state at the Casa Rosada, the seat of the Argentina government, during that time.

“To be Diego Maradona was incredibly beautiful,” Ardiles told the BBC.

“But on the other hand, it was not easy at all. Right from a really early age, he was subject to the press all the time. He didn’t have a normal childhood, he never had normal teenage years.

“Everybody wanted to be with him, everybody wanted a piece of him, so it was incredibly difficult.”

Maradona, who played for clubs including Barcelona and Napoli, was captain when Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, scoring the famous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-finals.

Former Tottenham midfielder Ardiles, who played alongside Maradona at the 1982 World Cup, said he was “a god” in Argentina, in Naples and all around the world.

“He will be remembered as a genius in football,” he added. “You can see the extraordinary amount of interest that he generates.

“People like [Juventus and Portugal striker] Ronaldo, or people like [Barcelona and Argentina forward] Messi, they couldn’t even dream of having this kind of admiration.

“That was the Maradona phenomenon – all the time.”

A post-mortem examination was due to take place on Maradona’s body later on Wednesday after he died at about midday local time at his home in Tigre, near Buenos Aires.

The former Argentina attacking midfielder and manager had successful surgery on a brain blood clot earlier in November and was to be treated for alcohol dependency.

A minute’s silence took place before Wednesday’s Champions League matches and the same will happen before all other European fixtures this week.

Messi and Ronaldo were among current players to pay tribute, while Brazilian football great Pele said he hoped one day they would “play ball together in the sky”.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Maradona “made world football better”.

“There was a banner in Argentina, one year ago, that I read that said: ‘No matter what you have done with your life, Diego, it matters what you do for our lives,'” former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola added.

“It expresses perfectly what this guy gave us. The man of joy and pleasure and his commitment for world football.”

Former Tottenham manager and Argentina defender Mauricio Pochettino said: “Broken with pain. Diego, you were my hero and friend. I was so fortunate to have shared football and life with you.”

The Vatican said Pope Francis, an Argentine and a football fan, would be remembering Maradona in his prayers.

Fans mourn their hero

In Argentina, Wednesday’s match between Sport Club Internacional and Maradona’s former club Boca Juniors was postponed.

Fans flocked to La Bombonera, Boca Juniors’ stadium in Buenos Aires, where many were in tears – despite, in the case of some, being too young to remember Maradona’s playing days.

They also congregated in the San Andres neighbourhood, where Maradona lived, and to La Plata, where he most recently was manager of local club Gimnasia y Esgrima.

In the country’s capital, “gracias Diego” replaced train information on digital metro signs, while fans sang La Mano De Dios (The Hand Of God) in city suburbs.

Boca Juniors women's player Yamila Rodriguez cries in front of graffiti image of Diego Maradona

Thousands of miles away, they also gathered outside Napoli’s San Paolo stadium, which was lit up in tribute to the man who scored 81 goals in 188 appearances for the Italian club.

Fireworks erupted in the sky as those below, clad in Maradona shirts and even Maradona face masks, chanted and wept.

Presentational grey lineAnalysis box by Katy Watson, South America correspondent

Maradona wasn’t just a sportsman for Argentinians, he was an icon, a political player and of course, a loveable rogue. There is deep sadness as people prepare to pay their respects to their superstar footballer.

But his influence goes beyond Argentina – South Americans are proud of their footballing heritage so this news has resonated across the region.

In neighbouring Brazil, where their man Pele vied for the title of world’s best footballer, Maradona’s death was headline news – much of the rivalry between the two countries can be put down to the two players, such is the passion for the beautiful came here.

But rivalry was put aside with Pele paying tribute to Maradona as a dear friend.

“One day, I hope, we will have a kick about together in heaven,” he said.

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A statement from Napoli said: “Everyone is waiting for our words but what words could we possibly use for a pain such as this that we are going through?

“Now is the moment for tears. Then there will be the moment for words.

“We are in mourning. We feel like a boxer who has been knocked out. We are in shock. A devastating blow for both city and club.”

A day of mourning will take place in Naples on Thursday.

The mayor of the city, Luigi de Magistris, has called for the Stadio San Paolo be renamed in honour of Maradona.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Paul Elliott, who played against Maradona while at Pisa, said: “I have to say it was remarkable. There was a sublime talent that this man had, an aura, a presence, and you know when you feel a sense of energy.

“Napoli is a very poor part of the south of Italy, but their whole world was built around Maradona and Napoli.

“If you look at where the club was when he arrived, the impact of one man unequivocally was the key and the catalyst to the success that they had, and the way he just gave everybody hope.

“That was just by his remarkable, sublime talent.”

Fans gather outside Napoli's stadiumA Napoli fan cries while looking at Maradona tributesA mother and son mourn Maradona outside La BomboneraA fan wearing a Maradona Argentina shirt looks at a tribute in Buenos AiresA woman lights a candle at a tribute in La Plata



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