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Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.


The state of play: Pelosi extended an artificial Tuesday deadline for a pre-election stimulus deal after making some progress with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the White House's top negotiator. She plans to speak again with Mnuchin on Wednesday afternoon.

  • "I’m pretty happy. I think we have a prospect for an agreement," Pelosi told MSNBC earlier Wednesday. "I’m optimistic, because even with what Mitch McConnell says — we don’t want to do it before the election, but let’s keep working so that we can do it after the election."
  • "We want it before, but again, I want people to know: help is on the way," Pelosi added. "It will be bigger, it will be better, it will be safer, and it will be retroactive."

The other side: McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate would consider a relief bill with presidential sign-off if it passed the House, but he has privately urged the White House not to strike a deal before the election — arguing Pelosi isn't willing to give enough and isn't negotiating in good faith.

  • Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters on Wednesday: "The leader’s position is sort of dictated by the math. I mean, he knows where the votes are and as much as we all want to get a deal, a deal that would pass in the Senate with all Democratic votes and a handful of Republicans is not something the leader would like to happen."
  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was asked Wednesday whether the administration would be able to convince McConnell to get on board with a deal. He responded:"I’m more working with Pelosi right now trying to get her to be reasonable. Once we get a deal there, hopefully we’ll be able to discuss the merits with our Senate colleagues."

Go deeper: McConnell says stimulus "unlikely" before election despite Trump's desperation

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Amazon may have violated law in Alabama warehouse vote, NLRB says

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Lindsey Graham tests positive for COVID-19

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, despite being vaccinated.

Why it matters: Graham emphasized that the mildness of his symptoms is due to being vaccinated. If he had been unvaccinated his symptoms would be "far worse," he said.

U.S. consulting with U.K., Romania and Israel on response to alleged Iran attack

The British and Romanian governments summoned the Iranian ambassadors to London and Bucharest on Monday to protest last week's drone strike on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, which both countries have attributed to Iran.

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