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Congress lacks urgency for more economic stimulus

One of the pandemic's few silver liningscame in late March, when elected officials put aside partisan differences to quickly pass a massive, across-the-board economic stimulus. Six months later, we're back to the old normal — even though many remain desperate for assistance.

Driving the news: The Senate on Thursday rejected a so-called "skinny bill" championed by Republicans. It would have included a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses, school funding, and virus-related liability protections for businesses.


What's happening: America is more than a month past the expiration of expanded unemployment benefits and the initial PPP program, and the "V-shaped recovery" remains little more than a cable news talking point. Yet there is no urgency on either side of the aisle, and it's unconscionable.

  • Democrats want a much larger package, something closer to the House bill they passed back in May. They've already demonstrated a willingness to pass some piecemeal spending — namely the U.S. Postal Service funding bill — but hypocritically refuse to do so on broader stimulus, even though they agree with features like the revamped PPP, which could help keep countless small businesses from going under.
  • Republicans seem uninterested in meeting Democrats near the middle, and knew the skinny bill would be rejected before cynically proposing it. President Trump almost never raises the issue during speeches or other public comments, instead pretending the pandemic and its consequences are in the rearview.
  • Some on Capitol Hill would like to attach stimulus funding to a continuing resolution to fund the government past September, but few seem optimistic that it will happen.

The bottom line: The CARES Act was hardly perfect, and efforts like PPP were marred by both logistical hiccups and some alleged fraud. But it was, on balance, a vital lifeline for the country — one where politicians didn't let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift travel restrictions from Europe and Brazil

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

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Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sydney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

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Off the rails: Inside Trump’s aborted plan to control the CIA

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: President Trump becomes increasingly rash, and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

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Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

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Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

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Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

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Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.

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Why it's harder for the far right to organize underground

Researchers see one bright spot as far-right extremists turn to private and encrypted online platforms: Friction.

Between the lines: For fringe organizers, those platforms may provide more security than open social networks, but they make it harder to recruit new members.

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