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The only good news heading into the September session is that Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have reached a tentative agreement to continue funding federal agencies beyond the Sept. 30 deadline, taking the possibility of a government shutdown largely off the table. Some lawmakers and aides have discussed attaching relief provisions to a stopgap spending bill, but reaching a consensus there could be difficult.

McConnell told reporters in Kentucky last week that “I don’t know if there will be another package in the next few weeks or not… It’s harder to do now because we’ve moved closer and closer to an election.”

Some in the White House also don’t have a strong sense of urgency. Asked if he felt comfortable with the state of the economy if a coronavirus relief deal wasn’t reached, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg TV, “We can absolutely live with it.”

Senate Republicans are privately playing up reports that moderate House Democrats are pressing Pelosi to compromise on a relief package. They’re circulating quotes from a dozen Democrats in swing House races calling for additional economic help for financially strapped Americans.

“I think a coronavirus relief package will probably help both parties because there’s a need,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in an interview. “I think this is one of the issues where I’m not so sure the political benefit is one versus the other as much as it is you know we actually need to do something.”

Pelosi, however, shows no signs of budging from her position. The House passed a $3.4 trillion bill in May, and Pelosi and Schumer agreed to come down more than $1 trillion from that figure during negotiations with Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. But they don’t seem inclined to go much further.

“The White House and Senate Republicans have made clear that they still do not comprehend the scale of this disaster or the urgent needs of our communities and the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement on Friday. “House Democrats have come to the negotiating table willing to compromise, and we will continue reaching out until we achieve a fair agreement that meets the needs of all Americans.”

Senate Democrats from Schumer on down have slammed McConnell for sitting out talks on the coronavirus relief package. While the Kentucky Republican said the key is for the White House and Democratic leaders to reach a deal first, he’s also faced a challenge in balancing the competing factions within his own conference.

A large bloc of Senate Republicans, concerned about the tidal wave of deficit spending this year, believes the U.S. economy will recover without additional government aid. McConnell, however, also has a number of vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in less than two months, and they’ve been pressing him for action.

Senate Democrats are largely counting on the endangered GOP incumbents to help push the Republican leadership toward an agreement.

“It’s still so hard for me to imagine Mitch McConnell packing up the Senate for the election home stretch having not even tried to negotiate in good faith,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “I’ve stubbornly stuck to this idea that Republican senators at the very least will be driven to get something done by their fear of backlash from voters.”

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Pelosi: Covid relief deal could still happen before Election Day

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On Friday, Pelosi told CNN she sent Mnuchin a list of concerns “that we still had about ‘what is the answer?'”

“My understanding is he will be reviewing that over the weekend, and we will have some answers on Monday,” she said Sunday.

Pelosi said she’ll not hold out to see whether Democrats win the White House and the Senate and keep the House after in the Nov. 3 elections to pursue a bill more to Democrats’ liking. Instead, she said she’ll continue working to get a relief bill passed “as soon as possible.”

The speaker went on to say that a relief bill could be passed as soon as this week in the House, but that it’s up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whether it would go to the Senate floor.

McConnell has largely steered clear of stimulus talks recently and many GOP senators are opposed to the $2 trillion deal being discussed by Pelosi and Mnuchin. On Tuesday, McConnell softened his stance a bit, saying he would allow the Senate to vote on a Pelosi-Mnuchin agreement — assuming that first Trump agrees to sign it.

Earlier Sunday on CNN, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “We’ve identified those Senate Republicans most likely to vote” for the relief deal to pass. But he said Republicans will not blindly pass the bill without first reading its terms fully.

“We are not Nancy Pelosi. We are not going to vote or opine on a bill and pass it before we have read it,” he said.

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one man’s reflections on what has gone wrong with ‘the family’

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Jeremy Corbyn is elected as the new leader of Labour Party, September 2015: Forde barely hides his contempt for the MPs ‘who put a Marxist on the ballot paper’. | PA Images


4 min read

At times searing in his criticism of those he holds responsible for trashing the prospects of the Labour party, Gisela Stuart finds Matt Forde’s new book both entertaining and insightful

Matt Forde’s “Politically Homeless” is like an episode from the Archers’ in the early months of the lockdown. One man’s reflections on what has gone wrong with “the family”. To be fair to Forde, unlike the Archers, he does make you laugh.

We often think of political parties as families, and there is a reason for that. We like some members more than others, every so often we have a big row, but eventually we find a way of rubbing along. And we have secrets; things which we either all know to be true, but we would rather not talk about or which we hope will go away if we ignore them long enough.  Even when things get really bad, we rarely pack our bags and, move in with the family on the other side of the road.  

Matt Forde is as entertaining as he is insightful and like many of us, he wants to get back to the days when Labour was in government, invested in Sure Start centres, schools and hospitals, introduced a national minimum wage and ended boom and bust.

Every MP or party activist who has ever screamed and shouted at Regional Office for not doing this, that or the other, would benefit from Forde’s take on what it is like to be a regional organiser. The joys and tribulations of by-elections, ministerial visits, and photo calls. Needs must, and if that means dressing up as a chicken and stalking Charles Kennedy, then so be it. He is generous in naming some MPs he’s worked with who genuinely cared about their constituents and even occasionally said “Thank you”. He thought the late Tessa Jowell “made you behave better by her just being there” and he is right.

Every MP or party activist who has ever screamed and shouted at Regional Office for not doing this, that or the other, would benefit from Forde’s take on what it is like to be a regional organiser

But he is searing in his criticism of the string of events which started with Ed Miliband trashing the achievements of the Blair/Brown governments and culminated with the party electing Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. He barely hides his contempt for the MPs who put a Marxist on the ballot paper. He wonders if those who did so to “broaden the debate” were gutted because they couldn’t find a fascist.

Anyone who is still in doubt about the mountain Labour has to climb only needs to read his chapter on Stoke on Trent. A collection of six towns, represented by three Labour MPs, where the local council was so divided that a grand coalition of Britain’s three biggest political parties could only muster a majority of one against a collection of BNP and independent councillors who were either hard-left ex-Labour or had never been part of any political party.

Corbyn’s Labour Party hoped that by ignoring the stain of antisemitism, which became attached to the party as a whole, it would just somehow go away, which of course it didn’t. But there is an even bigger secret much of today’s Labour Party tries to not talk about. It is the simple fact that the whole point of a political party is to win elections. If you are not in power then you can’t make the changes necessary to help the people you claim to care about.

Jacqui Smith, when she was chief whip, used to remind MPs that the “worst day in government was better than the best day in opposition”. Entertaining as opposition might be, it can’t be your purpose.

It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to have a good heart-to-heart with our friends about the state of the party, drown our sorrows with a glass of wine and have a good laugh, but we can give each other Forde’s book as a Christmas present.

Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston is a Non-Affiliated peer and was Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston 1997-2017

Politically Homeless by Matt Forde is published by Quercus

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Nasa moon announcement: What is on the Moon?

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The US space agency, Nasa, has revealed conclusive evidence of water on the Moon.

Unlike previous detections of water in permanently shadowed parts of lunar craters, scientists have now detected the molecule in sunlit regions of the Moon’s surface.

Nasa has said it will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024.

But what does this new discovery mean for this mission and future missions to the Moon?

What else is on the surface of the Moon?

BBC Science Correspondent Laura Foster explains.

Video by Laura Foster, Terry Saunders and Mattea Bubalo.

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