With top Washington negotiators significantly apart on a huge COVID-19 relief bill, Democrats controlling the House are plunging ahead with a partisan debate on their next option — a $2.2 trillion measure that's anathema to the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans.
Thursday's vote was chiefly sought by moderate Democrats who say the party needs to display greater flexibility. But the end result was a partisan debate around the legislation that was expected to end with a mostly party-line vote, leaving lawmakers no closer to an outcome.
Voting on the $2.2 trillion plan came after a burst of negotiations this week between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The Trump administration delivered concessions Wednesday, including a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and a markedly higher overall price tag of $1.6 trillion, but that failed to win over Pelosi.
“This isn’t half a loaf, this is the heel of the loaf,” Pelosi said in a televised interview Thursday. Pelosi spoke after the White House attacked her as “not being serious."
In other developments:
- President Donald Trump canceled a planned appearance in western Wisconsin amid calls from the city’s mayor and the state’s governor, both Democrats, that he not hold a rally amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
- The head of Pfizer, one of the drugmakers racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, told employees he was disappointed that its work was politicized during this week’s presidential debate and tried to reassure U.S. staff that the company won’t bend to pressure to move more quickly.
- U.S. airlines began furloughing more than 32,000 employees on Thursday after a federal prohibition on job cuts expired. American Airlines and United Airlines said that they could reverse the furloughs if Congress and the White House quickly agree to provide billions more in taxpayer help to the embattled airline industry.
- Carnival Cruise Line is canceling most U.S. sailings through the end of this year, the latest sign that the cruise industry’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic could still be many months away.
- After receiving more positive test results, the Tennessee Titans find themselves back in a waiting mode, hoping the NFL allows them back inside their headquarters by Tuesday. Their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is now postponed until later in the season because of the league's first COVID-19 outbreak.
- The Minnesota Vikings reopened their headquarters for team activities Thursday, following another morning of zero positive COVID-19 test results four days after playing the Titans. Minnesota plays at Houston on Sunday, a game between two of the NFL's six 0-3 teams that remains on track for now.
- The coronavirus pandemic has caused the postponement or cancellation of 24 games involving major college football teams since Aug. 26. The delays and disruptions have created long layoffs, unusual practice schedules and short-handed rosters, leaving coaches wracking their brains for ways to keep players engaged mentally and physically.
- October is prime time for flu vaccinations, and the U.S. and Europe are gearing up for what experts hope is high demand as countries seek to avoid a “twindemic” with COVID-19.
- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week to a still-high 837,000, evidence that the economy is struggling to sustain a tentative recovery that began this summer.
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