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Second stimulus checks: Trump says Democrats holding up new direct payments

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Donald Trump says Democrats are the reason you haven’t received a second direct payment from the government.

As of now, negotiations have stalled out on a coronavirus aid package both sides agree should include a check for Americans. Republicans blame Democrat. And as you might imagine, Democrats blame Republicans.

On Friday, Trump tweeted he’s directed the Treasury Department to get ready to send direct payments to all Americans but “DEMOCRATS ARE HOLDING THIS UP!”

Last month, Trump said it was his goal to send Americans an even larger second direct payment than the $1,200 most people received in round one. But as The Associated Press notes, both sides appear to be playing the blame game rather than making any serious moves to try to break their stalemate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed the case for funding for the U.S. Postal Service, rental assistance, food aid and rapid testing for the virus at her weekly press event, blasting Republicans as not giving a damn and declaring flatly that “people will die” if the delay grinds into September.

“Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gave a damn,” Pelosi said when asked if she should accept a smaller COVID-19 rescue package rather than endure weeks of possible gridlock. “That isn’t the case.”

All of the chief combatants have exited Washington after a several-day display of staying put as to not get blamed for abandoning the talks. The political risk for Trump is continued pain in U.S. households and a struggling economy — both of which promise to hurt him during campaign season. For Democrats, there is genuine disappointment at being unable to deliver a deal but apparent comfort in holding firm for a sweeping measure instead of the few pieces that Trump wants most.

Across a nearly empty Capitol, the Senate’s top Republican sought to cast the blame on Pelosi, whose ambitious demands have frustrated administration negotiators like White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“They are still rejecting any more relief for anyone unless they get a flood of demands with no real relationship to COVID-19,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell has kept the talks at arm’s length, nursing deep divisions among Republicans on the foundering relief measure.

Among the items lost is perhaps $10 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service to help improve service as its role in the fall election takes on greater importance, given an expected surge in mail voting because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump is against $3.4 billion demanded by Pelosi for helping states with the crush of mail-in ballots.

Trump seemed to take advantage of the stalemate to press his case against voting by mail. He said Thursday on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria” that among the sticking points were Democrats’ demand for billions of dollars to assist states in protecting the election and to help postal workers process mail-in ballots.

“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”

The White House and congressional leaders are far apart on the aid for shoring up households, reopening schools and launching a national strategy to contain the virus, which has infected more than 5.2 million people in the United States and has killed more than 166,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

All indications are talks will not resume in full until Congress resumes in September.

For Americans, that means the end of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has expired, as has a federal ban on evictions. Schools hoping for cash from the federal government to help provide safety measures are left empty-handed. States and cities staring down red ink with the shattered economy have few options.

Trump’s executive actions appeared to provide a temporary reprieve, offering $300 in jobless benefits and some other aid. But it could take weeks for those programs to ramp up, and the help is far slimmer than what Congress was considering. More than 20 million Americans risk evictions, and more are out of work.

The Democrats said they are waiting for the White House to put a new offer on the table: “We have again made clear to the Administration that we are willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously,” they said in a statement.

But Mnuchin shot back with his own statement, saying, “The Democrats have no interest in negotiating.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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‘Asking for a disaster’: White House continues crusade against mail-in voting

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders on Saturday discussed whether to reconvene the House, which is currently in recess, to address the Postal Service crisis. Pelosi and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, on Sunday invited Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, Robert Duncan, to testify at a hearing next Monday.

“The hearing will examine the sweeping operational and organizational changes at the Postal Service that experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections,” they said in a statement. “The Postmaster General and top Postal Service leadership must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election.”

Trump has asserted without evidence that universal mail-in voting would lead to widespread voter fraud — fearmongering rhetoric that comes as he trails former Vice President Joe Biden in several national and battleground-state polls. There’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud, though White House chief of staff Mark Meadows countered on Sunday that “there’s no evidence that there’s not, either.” Only nine states have universal mail-in voting.

Even in an active pandemic that has infected 5.3 million Americans and killed more than 169,000 people in the U.S., 80 percent of registered voters who support or lean toward supporting Trump would rather vote in person, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Nearly 60 percent of voters who support or lean toward supporting Biden would prefer to vote by mail.

The pandemic has also disproportionately affected people of color, many of whom vote for Democrats over Republicans. Trump won 57 percent of white voters in 2016, according to exit polls, but only 8 percent of Black voters, 28 percent of Hispanic voters and 27 percent of Asian voters.

Meadows said the president’s issue wasn’t voting by mail, but rather mailing ballots to every registered voter in the country — “even those that don’t request it.” He argued that voter rolls were inaccurate and that ballots could be sent to old addresses or dead people’s homes, potentially leading to the actual residents voting more than once.

It’s “asking for a disaster,” Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” noting that Trump had already requested his absentee ballot to vote in Florida, a critical swing state.

“We want to make sure that every vote counts but that only one vote counts. And so, when you look at that, this debate is really over a process,” he continued. “A number of states are now trying to figure out how they’re going to go to universal mail-in ballots. That’s a disaster, where we won’t know the election results on Nov. 3 and we might not know it for months.”

Democrats have noted that five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — have voted largely or entirely by mail for years, with few problems. They’ve also pointed out that people who want to cast ballots in another person’s name would be subject to prosecution for using a fake signature.

New Jersey Democrats highlighted fraud in a May special election in which four people were charged as evidence that the system works, though nearly 20 percent of the ballots in that vote-by-mail election were disqualified because of mistakes in how they were completed.

“I actually have some optimism from that that actually people tried to screw with the system and they failed,” Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said on “Fox News Sunday.” He added that the individuals were caught, indicted and would pay a price.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said that voter fraud is “incredibly rare,” but that when it’s done by mail, “the reason why it’s so easy to find out is because you literally have a paper trail.”

Trump allies pointed to recent primary elections in New York state — where it took six weeks to declare Maloney the winner — as a harbinger of what’s to come in November if most of America votes by mail.

In a nightmare scenario that Meadows laid out for Republicans, Pelosi would choose the next president if there’s no declared winner by Jan. 20. And Jason Miller, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said Democrats were trying to rush through a system that takes years to properly implement.

“We’ve seen where dogs and even cats have received official communications from registrars, from secretary of states,” Miller said on ABC’s “This Week.” “It takes a long time for states to be able to put this together safely and securely. And to go and to rush this through, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said a friend of his in New Jersey who was recently married received a ballot in both her new name and her maiden name. He also invoked Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, who said there was “no reason” Americans couldn’t vote in person as long as they wore a mask and followed social-distancing guidelines.

“I think what President Trump wants is a fair system,” Kushner said on CBS’ “Face the Nation. “If you have a tried-and-true system, where there are some security mechanisms built in, that’s acceptable. But you can’t have a new system and expect Americans to have confidence in the election.”

Democrats have said the Postal Service issue isn’t just about voting, noting that the agency also delivers medicine for seniors and paychecks for workers. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), however, appeared on three of the political talk shows, where he accused Trump of trying to suppress votes by defunding and destroying the post office.

“He wants to sabotage the Postal Service because he does not want many millions of people to be able to vote through mail-in ballots,” Sanders said of the president on CNN. “That’s not me. That is exactly what he said.”

Sanders added on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump was “sabotaging our democracy.”

“I guess that he thinks that a suppressed vote, a lower voter turnout, will work for him and that it will help him win the election,” he told host Chuck Todd.

Democrats and Republicans did agree on one thing, though: Congress needs to act.

Pelosi is considering bringing the House back from recess early to pass Postal Service legislation, though the measure would be focused on the agency’s organizational issues, not funding. And on Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged his Republican counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to bring the upper chamber back to take up any such bill the House passes.

Meadows suggested that he was ready to make a deal, be it narrow legislation on Postal Service funding or a package that included stimulus aid to Americans and an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.

“We’ll pass it tomorrow,” Meadows said of such a package. “The president will sign it and this will all go away, because what we are seeing is Democrats are trying to use this to their political advantage.”

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Postmaster General Called To Testify At Urgent Hearing On Trump Mail Sabotage

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to testify at an urgent hearing in the post office.

“Over the past several weeks, there have been startling new revelations about the scope and gravity of operational changes you are implementing at hundreds of postal facilities without consulting adequately with Congress, the Postal Regulatory Commission, or the Board of Governors,” Chairwoman Maloney wrote. “Your testimony is particularly urgent given the troubling influx of reports of widespread delays at postal facilities across the country—as well as President Trump’s explicit admission last week that he has been blocking critical coronavirus funding for the Postal Service in order to impair mail-in voting efforts for the upcoming elections in November.”

The House Oversight Committee also called on Robert M. Duncan, the Chairman of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors to testify. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, August 24th at 10 AM ET.

Congress might not be able to get legislation through Mitch McConnell’s Republican Senate majority, but they do have the power to bring unbearable public pressure on those who executing Trump’s conspiracy to slow down the mail.

The Trump administration ignores document requests from Congress, so it is likely that the House will have to compel DeJoy to testify.

Hearings like this one are exactly what needs to happen. There has to be a drumbeat of negative attention to stop Trump.

The Oversight Committee hearing is the first step in stopping the President from wrecking the USPS to steal an election.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

Follow Jason Easley on Facebook

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These Vulnerable Senators Risk Losing Their Seats, Costing The GOP The Majority. Here’s The Latest

  • Senate elections have become much more competitive in recent months, as Democrats have recruited popular candidates in states where President Donald Trump’s popularity has suffered.
  • Suburban voters in competitive states will likely decide which party has the majority come November, according to election analysts.
  • Voting trends, fundraising and polls paint a picture as to what a blue wave in 2020 could look like.

Four GOP senators are facing tight elections against strong opponents. If just three lose, it would cost Republicans the majority in the Senate.

President Donald Trump’s suffering popularity as the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide unrest rage on is adding an additional challenge for these senators.

Democrats have recruited moderate, well-known and well-funded senatorial candidates to challenge several vulnerable Republican senators, according to Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. The candidates resonate with suburban voters who helped flip the House of Representatives in 2018, giving Democrats a growing chance at taking the majority from Republicans in Congress’s upper chamber, he told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

These Democratic candidates’ ability to appeal to swing voters — in addition to the anti-Trump sentiment that many of them already feel — have made seats in Colorado, Arizona, Maine and North Carolina among the most competitive, according to the Cook Political Report. As a result, the Democrats have a chance of flipping the Senate from its current 53-45 makeup. (Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maine Sen. Angus King are independents, but caucus with Democrats.)

In addition to a Senate outlook that looks increasingly bleak for the GOP, as recent polls show, Democrats are effectively guaranteed to maintain control of the House of Representatives. Further, likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden has maintained a consistent lead against Trump in both national and swing-state polls. (RELATED: FiveThirtyEight Gives Biden 71% Chance At Victory)

Data published by the Brookings Institute shows how much suburbs have trended towards Democrats since 2016. The data show that suburbs across the country witnessed higher turnout in 2018 than in 2016 — despite midterms typically having lower turnouts — among black, Asian and young voters, which all historically favor liberal candidates.

“Turnout helped the Democrats greatly in 2018. Anti-Trump voters came out in numbers,” Olson told the DCNF. “This year, unlike then, Trump himself will be on the ballot.”

“Will his supporters show up in numbers?” he continued. “If not, that’s one more big problem for Republican Senate candidates.”

Further complicating these down-ballot races, according to election forecasters, is Trump himself, whose approval rating is around 40%. Surveys have shown that voters overwhelmingly disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and continuous protests over the death of George Floyd, have energized Democrats who were already eager to vote him out of office.

Republicans aren’t “home free even if Trump supporters do come out,” Olson said. “What if some check the presidential box and then skip the down-ticket races? What if they vote down-ticket based on something other than party allegiance?”

“Trump doesn’t behave like other candidates, and Trump voters may not behave like other voters either,” Olson told the DCNF. (RELATED: Susan Rice Says Trump Supporters In The Senate Belong In ‘Trash Heap Of History’)

Colorado

In Colorado, a Democratic-leaning state that Hillary Clinton won by five points in 2016, former Gov. John Hickenlooper won his primary to face incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner. Hickenlooper had consistent, strong support from suburban voters across the state in previous general elections, results show.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) asks a question to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as he testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations committee in Washington, DC on 30 July 2020. (Photo by GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Gardner has slightly out-raised his opponent, bringing in nearly $17 million compared to Hickenlooper’s approximately $14 million, according to campaign finance reports.

But his fundraising has not translated to a boost in the polls.

Gardner has consistently trailed Hickenlooper by double-digit margins — the widest deficit for any Senate GOP incumbent — making him the most vulnerable incumbent senator in the country, Roll Call reported.

Additionally, Trump has trailed Biden in every Colorado poll. Gardner’s voting record has closely aligned with the president’s agenda, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Arizona

Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona is trailing Democrat Mark Kelly, who has vastly out-raised and outpolled his Republican rival, according to finance reports from both campaigns and recent polls. Kelly, a former astronaut, is married to former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who launched a national gun-control campaign after she was shot during a campaign stop in 2011.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, participate in a news conference. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The 2018 midterm elections saw Democratic turnout increase in all but two counties in Arizona, giving Democrats an additional House seat and Sinema more total votes than 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, final tallies show.

Polls also show Biden leading Trump and Kelly leading McSally by similar margins. Meanwhile, McSally votes in line with Trump 95% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report moved the race from “toss up” to “lean Democrat” in July as well, emphasizing Kelly’s polling advantage, prolific fundraising and favorable political environment.

Maine

In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins, cruised to reelection in 2008 and 2014, winning by margins of 28% and 37%, respectively. But in 2016, Clinton defeated Trump in the state by about 3%.

And in the 2018 midterm elections, increased Democrat turnout among suburban voters around Bangor flipped Maine’s 2nd Congressional District and the governorship, electing Democrat Janet Mills, exit polls showed.

The percentage of Democratic votes in the state rose in every single county in 2018, according to the Brookings data, increasing the party’s overall turnout to levels just shy of 2016, but in a midterm year.

Collins has faced repeated criticism over her swing vote to confirm now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who faced sexual assault allegations during his nomination process to the Supreme Court in October 2018. One of the only pro-choice Republicans in Congress, both abortion advocates and sexual assault survivors viewed Collins’s vote as a betrayal.

Her vote drew criticism, alleging that she had put partisan politics above her own personal beliefs, which she had relied on throughout her career. Collins’s vote to confirm a judge who refused to commit to protecting Roe v. Wade drew outrage from moderate, pro-choice Mainers who had supported her, and put her challenger, state House Speaker Sara Gideon, into the national spotlight.

Since then, Gideon has out-raised Collins consistently, bringing in almost $6 million more than the incumbent in the second quarter of 2020. Gideon has polled ahead of Collins as well, beating her in every poll commissioned in 2020 except for one, according to FiveThirtyEight. (RELATED: Crowdfunding Site For Susan Collins Challenger Got So Much Traffic It Crashed)

North Carolina

In North Carolina, Cal Cunningham clinched the Democratic senatorial nomination after Charlotte’s fast-growing, diverse suburbs aligned behind him, primary results showed. Cunningham faces Sen. Thom Tillis in a state where Trump captured 49% of the vote in 2016.

Voters elected Roy Cooper, a Democrat, as governor that same year. His approval rating is in the high 50s amid the coronavirus pandemic and is favored to win reelection, according to the Cook Political Report.

Numerous political fiascos have also plagued North Carolina.

In 2018, Republican Mark Harris withdrew his candidacy f0r the House of Representatives after a member of his campaign pleaded guilty to illegally casting absentee ballots for voters.

Last year, the North Carolina Supreme Court threw out the state’s congressional map after deciding that the map was gerrymandered in Republicans’ favor.

And in June, the president and the Republican National Committee withdrew their party’s convention after Cooper refused to relax stringent public health guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tillis trails in polls against Cunningham by 5.4 points, according to RealClearPolitics average. Trump is dead even with Biden in the state.

Cunningham has also consistently out-raised Tillis. Though PACs supporting Tillis have raised just over $42 million, PACs supporting Cunningham have raised nearly $48 million.

Other States Are Also In Play

Further endangering Republicans’ majority are solid Democrat candidates that have made races in traditionally conservative states competitive.

In Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst faces Theresa Greenfield, a former Iowa businesswoman. Greenfield has said Ernst, a Republican, failed to represent farmers in the state and accused her of favoring corporate interests over working Iowa families.

Her attacks against Ernst have been effective in the Republican-leaning state, where increased Democratic turnout in 2018 flipped two congressional districts blue, results reported from The New York Times show. Even as Trump holds a small lead over Biden in the state, Ernst has flip-flopped with Greenfield in recent polls.

In Montana, Republican Sen. Steve Daines is running against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock in a tight race. Bullock, who won reelection in 2016, despite Trump winning the state by 20 points, has a 52% approval rating compared to Daines’ 47%, according to Morning Consult polls.

Though Bullock received 50.2% of the vote, he was not far behind Trump, who received 55%, results showed.

In 2018, all but three counties in Montana saw increased Democratic turnout, according to Brookings. GOP turnout fell by approximately 16%, according to exit polls from 2016 and 2018.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have looked to Alabama and Michigan to help hold their majority. In Alabama, incumbent Democrat Sen. Doug Jones is viewed as an underdog against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, the GOP nominee.

Despite Jones’s widely-praised record, including the successful prosecution of the KKK members who bombed a Birmingham church in 1963, he barely beat disgraced candidate Roy Moore in 2017’s special election.

If Jones loses, Democrats will need to win four seats instead of three to flip the Senate.

In Michigan, Republican candidate John James is running against Democrat Sen. Gary Peters. James, a retired military pilot and self-made businessman, came within seven points against Sen. Debbie Stabenow two years ago.

James has consistently out-raised Peters in the 2020 cycle. But as Trump’s approval rating has slipped in the Great Lakes State, James’s has as well.

Even if James continues to out-raise Peters, he will have to win without much outside help, as the National Republican Senatorial Committee has prioritized reelecting vulnerable incumbents instead of expanding their caucus, Politico reported.

Additionally, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has encouraged vulnerable Republicans to distance themselves from the president if it will benefit their own races, CNN reported on July 31.

Holding the Senate is a “knife fight in an alley already, and we very much understand the Senate could go either way,” McConnell told Martha McCallum in July.

Doing so, however, forces Republicans to walk across a political tightrope.

“These vulnerable senators can’t afford to explicitly repudiate Trump,” said a senior Republican on Capitol Hill, speaking anonymously to CNN. “They just need to show they are independent on issues important to their states.”

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A case for charging Trump with criminally negligent mass homicide

Americans have died needlessly as a result of a malicious narcissist’s lust for power, and if this country’s Legislative and Judicial Branch were not controlled by corrupt Republicans, deadly Don Trump would be in serious legal jeopardy.

If Trump was a regular citizen responsible for the death of even one American through disregard for human life, he would be charged, convicted, and sent to prison for criminally negligent homicide.

However, since Republicans have deemed that Trump is above the law, they will never consider holding him responsible for one American death, much less over 160,000 American citizens who “died for the Dow. Trump did say he could shoot someone in the face in Times Square and not lose support from one of his supporters – apparently he was talking about Republican politicians and not just his pathetic acolytes.

Conservatives just can’t stop defending Trump; because he is a white Republican and the criminally-culpable GOP standard bearer. A couple of months ago a celebrity lawyer insisted that Trump is not responsible for any of the American deaths resulting from his refusal to act prior to, and during, a global pandemic. In fact, Jonathan Turley contends that nothing Trump does, or has done, can be regarded as criminal; or worth even mentioning. That includes Trump inciting his loyal armed supporters’seditious action towards Democratic governors. But this is about Trump’s guilt in the mass death of at least 160,000 innocent American citizens, not a two-bit celebrity lawyer or gun-toting fascists.

According to Jonathan Turley, Trump cannot be possibly be responsible for any of the tens-of-thousands of American deaths due to COVID-19.  In Turley’s mind, Trump simply “mishandled a crisis.” Trump is guilty of much more than mishandling a crisis – particularly because he is guilty of deliberately exacerbating the effects of a deadly virus for political and personal gain. 

If Trump was guilty of simply “mishandling a crisis,” then Turley’s lame argument might be acceptable. However, Trump did not “mishandle a crisis. He purposely failed to act on several, months-long warnings from his own administration claiming thousands of Americans would die and the economy would face devastation without swift action to mitigate COVID-19’s spread.

There is little doubt in many Americans’ minds that Trump does indeed have “tens-of-thousands American citizens’ blood on his hands.” And according to fairly recent history, America under Republican rule launches wars and attacks sovereign nations’ leaders for killing their own citizens. That brings up a prescient question Republicans will never answer. Why are Senate and House Republicans not demanding immediate, drastic action to hold Donald J. Trump accountable for the lives of 160,000 (and still counting) innocent American men, women and children?

Although Trump did not personally kill over 160,000 Americans, or create COVID-19, he was certainly aware of just how economically dangerous inaction would be as well as the deadly consequences of doing nothing. Trump’s refusal to act was not “mishandling a crisis” or bad policy; Trump’s lack of action fits the general requirements to charge and convict any American citizen in every state of the Union with “criminally negligent (mass) homicide.”

Unlike a capital murder charge, criminally negligent homicide does not focus on the “intentional conduct to kill a human being, or over 160,000 (and counting) innocent human beings in Trump’s case. Instead, it “addresses situations where a defendant is aware of a situation, knows it’s dangerous, but ignores a risk that results in a death of another.” Trump’s attempt to conceal the coronavirus’ danger to American lives and the nation’s economy, despite knowing how deadly doing nothing would be, resulted in mass deaths of American citizens as well as creating an economic catastrophe.

Although there are no criminal statutes for decimating a thriving economy Trump inherited from President Barack Obama, Trump was and still is criminally negligent for the deaths of tens-of-thousands of innocent Americans’ lives. Republicans, including Trump, believe that any foreign leader guilty of killing his own citizens warrants being deposed or at least attacked militarily.

Saddam Hussein was deposed for killing Iraqi Kurds that lead to an American invasion and occupation as well as creating the Islamic State. Likewise, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was the recipient of Trump’s missile attack for allegedly  killing innocent men, women, and children during a civil war exacerbated by Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

The level of Trump’s “criminal negligence” is well-documented at this point and every day brings new disclosures describing exactly how criminally-negligent Trump was, and still is, by pretending the pandemic was a “Democratic and media hoax.”

Despite the daily revelations regarding what Trump knew and when, including warnings beginning in November of 2019, there is the damning report that he did not want to do anything to protect American lives. His initial reaction to the virulent plague was sitting idly by, or going golfing, and just allowing the extremely virulent plague towash over the country;” that remark prompted Dr. Anthony Fauci to inform Trump that allowing the virus to spread unimpeded would result in millions of dead Americans. In a sign that Republicans are co-conspirators in Trump’s mass killing-spree, there is a sickening sentiment among Trump’s Republican allies to end all efforts to contain the deadly contagion and accept thousands of more dead Americans; in their diseased minds, mass loss of life is a cheap price to pay to help Trump’s reelection.

It is noteworthy that even prior to the emergence of the novel coronavirus, Trump maliciously ignored, and vehemently opposed, warnings from health and security experts in his own corrupt administration warning him of the folly of cutting funding to federal agencies tasked with fighting a global pandemic. Remember, despite Moscow Mitch McConnell’s initial assertion otherwise, President Barack Obama’s Administration handed Trump a well-thought out strategic process for addressing a global pandemic; a scenario that Trump’s people reiterated after his poorly-attended inauguration.

In a commentary explaining how America’s coronavirus crisis was a “man-made disaster,” author Dan Benbow lays out, in fine detail, exactly why Trump is guilty of criminally negligent homicide; not only by refusing to act immediately on learning of the threat to Americans, but also by eliminating agencies and processes created specifically to address a global pandemic to  save thousands of American lives. Mr. Benbow did not address Trump’s “alleged” plan to withhold federal assistance to Democratic states because they weren’t nice to Trump.

It is worth noting that Trump understands his own guilt because he recently pronounced China as guilty of mass worldwide killing” due to its “incompetence” in handling the Covid-19 outbreak in China. If that is Trump’s mindset, then he is unilaterally guilty of criminally negligent mass homicide of American citizens. Because unlike China’s early exposure to the “novel” coronavirus, Trump was duly warned over and over again two months prior to revelations that there was an impending pandemic. It is noteworthy, as well, that Trump was warned by his own people that immediate action was necessary to prevent precisely what his security and health experts warned would happen without prompt action – innocent Americans would perish en masse and the nation’s economy would crashand burn.

Trump is not guilty of “mishandling a crisis” and his monumental incompetence had nothing whatsoever to do with him allowing COVID-19 to rage across America. Incompetent or not, Trump was surrounded by highly competent health and national security experts  who warned him well in advance of the coronavirus’ arrival in America. But instead of acting to protect American lives, he purposely chose to do nothing so as not to spook the stock market that he concluded would impedehis reelection efforts.

Any first year prosecutor would have an easy task earning a conviction against a criminal like Trump. Based on the mountain of evidence, much of it from Trump’s own mouth, that he was aware of a situation, he knew it was dangerous, and yet he ignored that risk resulting in the death of tens-of-thousands of American citizens. If that was Trump’s only crime, he needs to be prosecuted according to the law for committing criminally negligent (mass) homicide. However, Trump, with Jarod Kushner’s valuable assistance, deliberately did nothing in hopes of blaming Democratic Governors for Trump’s crime that has led to mass American deaths and the worse economic disaster since The Great Depression.

A deliberate action for personal, or political, gain that results in even one death is a substantially more heinous crime thacriminally negligent homicide. However, with Trump’s criminal fascist cohort running the Department of Justice and the United States Senate, he will almost certainly continue to be hailed as a heroic god-like figure.

 

 

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Senate Dem Tells Mitch McConnell To End Recess Immediately And Stop Trump’s Postal Sabotage

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end recess and return to D.C. immediately to stop Donald Trump’s plot to derail the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the November election.

“It’s unacceptable that in the United States of America, the Postal Service has to warn Americans that their ballots may not be counted if they vote by mail,” the Democratic lawmaker said.

She added, “Mitch McConnell should end recess, return to Washington, and work to … ensure the Postal Service can operate in a safe and timely manner.”

Full statement:

It’s unacceptable that in the United States of America, the Postal Service has to warn Americans that their ballots may not be counted if they vote by mail. Republicans in the Senate have failed Americans by refusing to stand up to the president’s political attacks that are putting the election at risk while also delaying the delivery of prescription drugs, Social Security checks, and other essentials. Mitch McConnell should end recess, return to Washington, and work to pass the bipartisan emergency funding needed to provide urgent economic relief, combat this pandemic, and ensure the Postal Service can operate in a safe and timely manner.

America is in crisis, and Mitch McConnell takes a vacation

More than 170,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus. Millions are out of work. And, now, with less than three months to go until the presidential election, Donald Trump is threatening to rig the contest in his favor.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a relief bill in May to tackle these crises, including $25 billion to make sure the post office is adequately funded.

Instead of immediately ending recess and returning to D.C. to pass a bill that would help millions of Americans while protecting the U.S. Post Office from Trump’s attempted rigging, Mitch McConnell is on vacation.

Follow Sean Colarossi on Facebook and Twitter

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Second stimulus checks: Where we stand halfway through August

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As of now, there are no plans on the table for lawmakers to act on President Donald Trump’s goal of an even larger second direct payment to Americans.

Both Republicans and Democrats agree it makes sense to send $1,200 checks to help boost the bank accounts of families, but they can’t come to a consensous on a larger coronavirus aid package. And with negotiations stalled out, that means it’s possible no additional direct payments are on the way.

As we entered the weekend, both sides continued to play the blame game rather than make any serious moves to try to break their stalemate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed the case for funding for the U.S. Postal Service, rental assistance, food aid and rapid testing for the virus at her weekly press event, blasting Republicans as not giving a damn and declaring flatly that “people will die” if the delay grinds into September.

“Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gave a damn,” Pelosi said when asked if she should accept a smaller COVID-19 rescue package rather than endure weeks of possible gridlock. “That isn’t the case.”

On Friday, Trump tweeted he’s directed the Treasury Department to get ready to send direct payments to all Americans but “DEMOCRATS ARE HOLDING THIS UP!”

All of the chief combatants have exited Washington after a several-day display of staying put as to not get blamed for abandoning the talks. The political risk for Trump is continued pain in U.S. households and a struggling economy — both of which promise to hurt him during campaign season. For Democrats, there is genuine disappointment at being unable to deliver a deal but apparent comfort in holding firm for a sweeping measure instead of the few pieces that Trump wants most.

Across a nearly empty Capitol, the Senate’s top Republican sought to cast the blame on Pelosi, whose ambitious demands have frustrated administration negotiators like White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“They are still rejecting any more relief for anyone unless they get a flood of demands with no real relationship to COVID-19,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell has kept the talks at arm’s length, nursing deep divisions among Republicans on the foundering relief measure.

Among the items lost is perhaps $10 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service to help improve service as its role in the fall election takes on greater importance, given an expected surge in mail voting because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump is against $3.4 billion demanded by Pelosi for helping states with the crush of mail-in ballots.

Trump seemed to take advantage of the stalemate to press his case against voting by mail. He said Thursday on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria” that among the sticking points were Democrats’ demand for billions of dollars to assist states in protecting the election and to help postal workers process mail-in ballots.

“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”

The White House and congressional leaders are far apart on the aid for shoring up households, reopening schools and launching a national strategy to contain the virus, which has infected more than 5.2 million people in the United States and has killed more than 166,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

All indications are talks will not resume in full until Congress resumes in September.

For Americans, that means the end of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has expired, as has a federal ban on evictions. Schools hoping for cash from the federal government to help provide safety measures are left empty-handed. States and cities staring down red ink with the shattered economy have few options.

Trump’s executive actions appeared to provide a temporary reprieve, offering $300 in jobless benefits and some other aid. But it could take weeks for those programs to ramp up, and the help is far slimmer than what Congress was considering. More than 20 million Americans risk evictions, and more are out of work.

The Democrats said they are waiting for the White House to put a new offer on the table: “We have again made clear to the Administration that we are willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously,” they said in a statement.

But Mnuchin shot back with his own statement, saying, “The Democrats have no interest in negotiating.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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‘We’re Desperate’: Transit Cuts Felt Deepest in Low-Income Areas

WASHINGTON — As Nina Red stood under a tree in the New Orleans rain, waiting for two buses that never came, she recalled a feeling of helplessness.

Ms. Red, 69, a resident of the city’s Algiers neighborhood, does not have a car. The bus, which she has ridden for 43 years, is the cheapest way to get around. But since the coronavirus pandemic hit, she has noticed service take a deep dive.

A six-mile trip to the grocery store, which used to take an hour, sometimes takes close to three. Routine doctor’s appointments at 8 a.m. require her to wake up by 5. Many days, buses have skipped her stop without warning. When they do arrive, they are packed, making her worry she is going to be exposed to the coronavirus.

“We’re desperate,” Ms. Red said. “We have no other transportation. If we had an alternative, we would take it.”

New Orleans, like most American cities, has seen its transit budget drastically affected during the pandemic. Public transit leaders across the country have issued dire warnings to Congress, saying that the first $25 billion in aid they received in March is quickly drying up, and they need more — otherwise their systems will go into a “death spiral.”

In return, though, Congress has shown little sign that another stimulus package will pass soon, or even include any of the $32 billion more in assistance that transit experts say is needed to prevent systems from making more severe cuts to service that could stall the nation’s economic recovery.

But as service cuts to the United States’ bus, rail and subway systems start to happen, experts say it is the nation’s low-income residents, people of color and essential workers bearing the brunt. Many of them feel the congressional gridlock is completely ignoring their plight.

“It seems like we’re invisible,” Ms. Red said, “and they don’t care about us.”

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on public transit. Ridership on top city systems has declined 70 percent to 90 percent. Sales tax revenue, which fuels many transit agency budgets, has cratered because of a collapsing economy. All told, transit agencies across the country are projected to rack up close to $40 billion in budget shortfalls, dwarfing the $2 billion loss inflicted by the 2008 financial crisis.

To stay afloat, transit leaders have started to pare back service, which has caused immediate disruption. Many riders are already experiencing longer commute times, more system breakdowns, a lack of social distancing and, in some cases, unexplainable lapses in service.

But the effect is not spread equally, according to data.

Minority residents account for 60 percent of all public transit riders, according to industry experts. While over 2.8 million essential workers rely on public transportation to get to work, expert analysis found, 67 percent of those are people of color.

In the early days of the pandemic, industry analysis also showed white ridership on transit systems dropped drastically, with 22 percent of transit users identifying as white, compared with 40 percent normally. Black ridership, which normally accounts for 24 percent of transit users, increased to nearly 38 percent.

“The wealthy have lots of choices,” said Beth Osborne, the director of Transportation for America, an advocacy group. “People with enough money can choose to opt out for a while. That’s quite a luxury.”

Experts say the ability for higher-income and white-collar workers to work remotely or use a car at higher rates than low-income and minority residents highlights another systemic inequity made glaringly obvious during the pandemic.

Two economic studies have found Black people could be dying at nearly double the rate of white people from the coronavirus, in part because of their heavier reliance on public transportation.

For essential workers like Mosi Tibbs, 26, who lives just outside Pittsburgh, the inequality is glaring during his daily bus trip to his job at Trader Joe’s.

Mr. Tibbs, who is Black and the main breadwinner for his household, has noticed buses on his route coming less frequently, or much later than normal. When they do arrive, they are usually packed and filled with riders who are not wearing their masks.

He has considered buying a car because he does not want to risk being late to his job and losing it, or contracting the virus and giving it to his wife, who has Celiac disease. But it is just not affordable right now.

“I’m upset I have to make that type of decision,” Mr. Tibbs said. “I have to choose between financial stability, and the health of myself and my wife.”

The plight of public transportation riders has drawn attention on Capitol Hill, but not in ways that have produced hope for transit riders across the country.

In May, House lawmakers passed a coronavirus aid package that would dedicate an additional $15 billion in funding to transportation agencies. It stalled in the Republican-led Senate.

The White House and top congressional Democrats are still at a standstill over the next relief package. The Senate has gone home for its August recess, with no indication that a deal is imminent. The White House’s $1 trillion proposal does not include any emergency relief for public transit.

The omission has caused uproar among lawmakers. In late July, 110 representatives in the House signed a letter urging congressional leadership to include $32 billion in emergency funding for public transportation agencies in any future aid measure.

Last week, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Democrats had heard the warnings from public transit leaders and were imploring their Republican colleagues to ensure funding is included.

“This is when government is needed,” he said. “Jump-starting our economy means getting people back to work safely, and that means mass transit: fully operational, fully funded mass transit.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, did not respond to a request for comment.

Transit leaders have signaled that the cuts they are making to service are only the start, and the real pain will be felt in the coming months. Bigger city systems will see the first round of coronavirus aid dry up in the next few months, while midsize cities expected to see the worst next year.

Nearly one-third of public transit agencies are furloughing employees or are planning furloughs, according to the American Public Transportation Association. A third of agencies are also delaying capital projects that were meant to upgrade transit systems and reduce the risk of accidents.

Reduced revenue from fares and sales tax subsidies have meant cities like San Francisco have cut half their bus lines. In New Orleans, where 14 percent of its transit workers have tested positive for the virus, fare revenue has dropped by 45 percent. Chicago expects up to a $1.5 billion budgetary shortfall into next year.

If additional aid from Congress does not come through, transit systems could plunge into a transit death spiral, where cuts to service and delayed upgrades make public transit a less convenient option for the public. That, in turn, prompts further drops in ridership, causing spiraling revenue loss and service cuts until a network eventually collapses.

Transit advocates say if that happens, it could slow the nation’s path to economic recovery by cutting off a main way for workers who rely on public transit to get to work.

And while congressional leadership remains at an impasse over the next round of coronavirus aid and how much more support to give transit agencies, those outside Washington said it was simply another sign of how federal lawmakers were out of touch with the struggles facing everyday Americans.

“It’s not their problem,” Ms. Red said. “Their families and friends have everything they need. They don’t look at us.”

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Trailing McConnell, Amy McGrath shakes up her campaign

“There is no more destructive force in Washington than Mitch McConnell—he is the architect of the dysfunction that is hurting Kentuckians,” Kanninen said in a statement. “Amy has served her country for more than 20 years, and she will continue to fight for Kentucky as senator. I’m honored to be a part of that fight.”

Nickolas will stay on with the campaign as a senior adviser overseeing paid media.

The McConnell campaign was quick to highlight the move, tweeting the McGrath campaign “needed to find someone with better expertise in lighting millions on fire.”

The change is the latest sign of problems for McGrath, who has raised huge sums of money in her bid to take out McConnell but has had trouble effectively hitting the longtime GOP lawmaker.

McGrath, who raised $17.4 million in the second quarter, faced a tougher than expected primary against Democratic state Rep. Charles Booker, who was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Booker ultimately lost by less than three percentage points, after McGrath outspent him almost 10 to 1 in television ads.

A recent survey from Quinnipiac University had McConnell leading 49 percent to 44 percent, with 5 percent of voters undecided. But another poll from Morning Consult had McConnell beating McGrath 53 percent to 36 percent.

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Coronavirus & Congress — How to Get the Pandemic Bill Negotiations Unstuck

(tupungato/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Cross-partisan talks about another pandemic-relief bill are clearly bogged down. But the rhetoric, and even a lot of the journalism, around how that has happened tends to mask more than it reveals.

Republicans say the Democrats are clinging to unreasonable demands and irresponsible spending levels. Democrats say Republicans don’t want a bill and aren’t prioritizing real needs. And the headlines in recent days have been filled with disgust at the decision of both houses (and so both parties) to leave town until after Labor Day without resolving the fate of unemployment benefits, small-business assistance, aid to states, and much else.

Up to a point, all of that is true. But it reflects a set of failed calculations in both houses of Congress and at the White House. House Democrats began this process in May with an irresponsible partisan travesty of a bill—a kind of progressive wish list meant to quiet tensions within the Democratic conference that could never have become the foundation for a real legislative process. Nancy Pelosi, who has a real gift for managing her members, seemed to assume that she could separate her intra-party challenge of keeping the radical wing of House progressives calm from the inter-party challenge of negotiating a bill. It wasn’t a crazy notion, but it has not worked out, and she has found herself instead treating at least the top-line spending numbers in that bill as a foundation for negotiations. That means the Democrats have been backed into entering this process with demands for an unrealistic level of spending, and one somewhat detached from substantive policy aims.

The Democrats can try to present this as a bargaining strategy, but it looks more like a blunder that has undermined their ability to push for their key priorities in a bill and has left them talking about spending levels instead. When reporters asked Pelosi on Thursday when she thought negotiations would resume, she said “I don’t know, when they come in with $2 trillion.” Even if the final bill approaches such overall levels of spending, that wouldn’t happen by demanding a particular overall level of spending. But that is where Pelosi has been stuck for the moment.

This in turn has undermined the strategy that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had hoped to pursue. His goal, in the wake of the process that resulted in the CARES Act in March, was to avoid once again getting stuck as just an observer of negotiations between Pelosi and the administration. So he sought to have the House go first, and propose legislation that Senate Republicans could then negotiate against and work from. He did this in April and May by saying Senate Republicans saw no need for further action, and calling for a pause before any new bill.

When the Democrats used that opportunity to put forward a political sham, however, the Senate found itself in the same place as in March, compelled to start the process of actual legislative proposals. But having left things to the House by saying Senate Republicans saw no urgency in a further legislative measure, McConnell created space for more than a dozen Senate Republicans to publicly commit to opposing any further measure, and found it difficult to get his caucus moving on a new package. Senate Republicans proposed that package only at the end of July. And by that point, the administration had basically started its own process, with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin again negotiating directly with Speaker Pelosi—exactly the process McConnell had hoped to avert.

Some Senate Republicans really don’t want the process to succeed, as the Democrats suggest. Most do, though, including McConnell himself. But he seems resigned to a process that again leaves him largely locked out. One Republican senator told me last week (disapprovingly) that McConnell said to Mnuchin, in front of a group of fellow Senators, that it was imperative that Mnuchin “get a deal done at all costs.”

But meanwhile, the administration’s own attempts at tactical cleverness have also backfired. The executive actions President Trump announced in early August were constitutionally obnoxious but substantively unworkable. The memo aimed at offering tax relief would create such enormous uncertainty for employers that most seem likely to just keep their existing arrangements for payroll-tax payments. The one aimed at giving states more unemployment-insurance funds would require more state spending and an administrative system that likely couldn’t be set up for months. If they were intended to create pressure for Congress to act, they seem to have failed. Instead, they have reinforced everyone’s pre-existing positions, with some Republicans saying they make congressional action less necessary, others insisting that they create added impetus for legislation, and Democrats treating them as evidence that Republicans aren’t engaged with real needs.

Secretary Mnuchin really is trying to advance a deal and to negotiate. It’s far from clear that the president has the same aim, though, and in any case Trump has set no clear priorities and has taken no direct part in the process. He’s content to be an observer and commentator, as usual, which also makes it hard for some Republicans to know where to stand.

So at the moment, things do seem good and stuck. And yet, because decision-making is so thoroughly centralized in this process, the logjam could be broken more quickly than it seems. Congress taking its August break, for instance, strikes me as basically irrelevant to this process. If anything, it lets Pelosi reset a little and reposition for making a deal without her more radical members in her ear.

And it should be possible to reconceive of the process as stuck around a few key substantive disputes, rather than overall top-line numbers. By working from some substantive aims to a cost, rather than aiming for an overall dollar figure to begin with, the differences between the parties might at least become a little clearer.

To the extent that there has been haggling about substantive details, the Democrats have argued for a trillion dollars in relatively open-ended funding to the states and an additional several hundred billion dollars for schools, along with continuing the expanded unemployment-insurance benefits, topping up a variety of federal welfare programs, more money for the postal service, and election support. Republicans’ priorities, largely contained in the Senate package proposed last month, includes a renewal of PPP funds for small business, significant (but lesser) support for schools, liability protections for employers, and a gradual curtailment of the additional unemployment benefits.

Looked at that way, rather than in terms of top-line numbers, some prospects for compromise seem obvious. The toughest arena of contention may be aid for state and local governments, which Republicans did not include at all but for which Democrats are demanding a trillion dollars or more. On that front, to make up lost state revenue due to the shutdowns, lawmakers should consider the option of federal or federally-backed loans to state governments, offered on very easy terms (perhaps even at zero interest) and repayable over a decent interval.

Lost state revenue can be quantified against some measure of expected tax receipts, so that aid is directed to filling revenue gaps rather than addressing longstanding pension problems and the like. And Congress could have the Treasury build on the Municipal Liquidity Facility it established with the Federal Reserve in April to buy state bonds and quickly provide financing, or it could otherwise guarantee loans that could help states replace lost income. Swift support could allow the states to get through this fiscal year’s intense economic hardship without needing to cut back education, welfare, or other core services. And providing such help not as grants but as generous loans that can be slowly repaid to the Treasury as state revenues recover over time can both protect federal finances and avoid favoring higher-tax states.

If Congress offered states a total of a trillion dollars, with say three-quarters of that in the form of loans, and without additional funds allocated specifically to schools (states could decide what portion of their support should go to what essential services), legislators could offer the bulk of the aid the Democrats have in mind at much more like the cost that Republicans were envisioning.

In other areas, compromise should be easier to reach. President Trump’s reckless politicizing of the postal-service funding debate probably means that Democrats are now very likely to insist on money for the post office as a non-negotiable demand. If that’s so, Republicans should agree only in return for changes to the structure of the emergency unemployment benefit, which allow it over time to diminish the perverse incentives against work that the program enacted in March has created. Some election support to the states makes sense, and shouldn’t be outrageously expensive. It should also be tied to reforms of federal law (like the one proposed recently by Senator Rubio) that could allow states more time to count votes if election day turns out to be a complicated mess.

And lawmakers should not forget that we are still fighting the virus. This bill should not only focus on the economic hardship created by the response to the pandemic but also on strengthening the ability of the states to test, track, and respond to outbreaks, which we should expect to recur this fall. There is still a great deal of work to be done on that front (as well as in preparation for the early distribution of vaccine doses, should ongoing trials turn out well.)

This is a lot to pack into a legislative package, and the obstacles created by both Democratic and Republican miscalculations won’t help. But it is important that congress remain engaged in this effort. The needs are real, and this will almost certainly be the last major legislative measure on this front before the election so it needs to meet some of those needs. And a deal will have to be worked out before legislators turn to a government funding measure (which must be completed by the end of September).

There is a plausible path forward, both House Democrats and Senate Republicans will need to use the recess to reset their expectations some, and the administration will need to focus on a few key priorities to help a deal happen. We have seen this done several times this year. It’s not impossible. But it won’t be easy.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.