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McConnell says Senate will vote on new small business relief funding before election

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the Senate's "first order of business" when it returns on Oct. 19 will be to vote on "targeted relief for American workers," including new funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Why it matters: House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the Trump administration are still very far apart on key elements of a relief deal, and any push for smaller, more targeted legislation is more of a political maneuver than any thing else.


  • The Senate has largely been left out of the negotiating process between House Speaker Pelosi and the White House, and any deal that results from those conversations will likely not be supported by Senate Republicans.
  • This is McConnell’s way of showing Senate Republicans are still dedicated to some form of coronavirus stimulus, and could serve as a backstop in the event that a new bill is passed in the House that Republicans in the Senate deem unworkable. 

Driving the news: McConnell's statement comes one month after Senate Democrats filibustered a Republican "skinny bill" that focused on school aid, unemployment benefits and assistance for small businesses. Democrats called the package "piecemeal" and said it was "laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support."

What they're saying: “The PPP is a popular program that has saved tens of millions of American jobs. It is so bipartisan that its first round was replenished and extended several times by unanimous consent in both the Senate and the House," McConnell said in a statement.

  • “Democrats have spent months blocking policies they do not even oppose. They say anything short of their multi-trillion-dollar wish list, jammed with non-COVID-related demands, is “piecemeal” and not worth doing."
  • "Speaker Pelosi frequently says she feels “nothing” is better than “something.” And she has worked hard to ensure that nothing is what American families get."

Meanwhile: President Trump, who called off stimulus negotiations with Democrats last week, tweeted on Tuesday morning, "STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!" It's unlikely that a package the size that Trump and Democrats are negotiating will win the support of Senate Republicans.

Go deeper: Trump tells House GOP leader he wants a "big deal" on COVID relief

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela despite tight security

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.

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Driving the news: With less than two weeks before the election, the Biden campaign is drawing on the former president's popularity with Democrats to drive turnout and motivate voters.

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Murkowski says she'll vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Saturday that she'll vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, despite her opposition to the process that's recently transpired.

The big picture: Murkowski's decision leaves Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as the only Republican expected to vote against Barrett.

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Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

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The murder hornets are here

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

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Biden is highest-spending political candidate on TV ads

After spending an additional $45.2 million on political ads this week, former Vice President Joe Biden has become the highest-spending political candidate on TV ads ever, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

By the numbers: In total, the Biden campaign has spent $582.7 million on TV ads between 2019 and 2020, officially surpassing Michael Bloomberg's record spend of roughly $582 million. Biden's spend includes his primary and general election advertising.

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SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

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Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.
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