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Senate Republicans to vote on skinny bill amid stimulus deadlock

As Congress remains deadlocked on new stimulus funding, Senate Republicans are preparing to pass their own slimmed-down version of a bill this week — without Democrats.

Why it matters: Several weeks have now passed since key relief programs from the CARES Act expired and millions of Americans continue to struggle under the enormous weight of the pandemic.


  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he's skeptical Congress can reach a deal before November because "the cooperative spirit we had in March and April has dissipated as we’ve moved closer and closer to the election."
  • The price tag being discussed could fall between $500 billion–$700 billion, sources familiar with the talks say — far short of the $2.2 trillion Democrats demand.

Driving the news: Nearly every morning during recess, Senate Republicans had a call with the White House's top negotiators, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to discuss the status of the stimulus talks and where the vastly opinionated conference can find common ground.

  • Most GOP senators, particularly those in competitive re-election races, agree that they need to do something to cushion the economic blow of the pandemic, despite largely disagreeing on what legislation should like.
  • The conference has decided that they can get behind a narrow, scaled back package that addresses only the key issues with widespread GOP support, including more money for schools, widespread liability protections and restructured unemployment benefits.
  • "We have a focused, targeted solution that we hope the House would pass," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday.

Between the lines: Many Senate Republicans privately expect this effort will fail but see the expected vote as a maneuver to put Democrats, who passed their $3 trillion HEROES Act in May, on defense.

  • "They would like to change the conversation and highlight the immediate needs in a skinny bill and force Democrats to essentially shoot it down," a Senate GOP aide told Axios.

The other side: "Republicans may call their proposal ‘skinny,’ but it would be more appropriate to call it ‘emaciated,'" Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats on Thursday, saying Republicans "are trying to 'check the box' and give the appearance of action rather than actually meet the truly profound needs of the American people."

Biden raises $141 million more than Trump

Joe Biden's campaign, the Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising committees raised $466 million cash on hand, the presidential candidate's team announced late Sunday.

Why it matters: President Trump's campaign raised $325 million, his campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh announced earlier Sunday.

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Virtual Emmys address chaotic year for American TV and society

The Emmy Awards Sunday night addressed the major U.S. issues this year — including the protests on systemic racism and police brutality, the wildfires engulfing parts of the West Coast, the census, the pandemic, essential works and the election.

Why it matters: Award shows have always addressed wider cultural issues, but this year — amid unprecedented stress and uncertainty — that trend has accelerated.

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Arrest over Trump letter containing poison ricin

A suspect was arrested for allegedly "sending a suspicious letter" after law enforcement agents intercepted an envelope addressed to President Trump containing the poison ricin, the FBI confirmed in an emailed statement to Axios Sunday.

The big picture: Axios understands that the suspect, a woman, was arrested at the Canadian border while trying to enter New York.

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Driving the news: Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, twice Wisconsin's number, actually has been trending higher in recent public and internal polling, a welcome development for the campaign.

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Inside Joe Biden's Supreme Court strategy

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Why it matters: Biden aides believed they were winning when the race was about the coronavirus pandemic. Now they plan to use the Supreme Court opening as a raucous new field for a health care fight, returning to a theme that gave Democrats big midterm wins in 2018.

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Ginsburg death displaces violence in cities as dominant social media storyline

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Ruth Bader Ginsburg-related social media interactions dwarfed all other topics this week — a departure from a run of weeks where, other than the coronavirus, violence in cities was the dominant storyline.

The big picture: In just two days, there were 41 million interactions (likes, comments or shares) on stories about the late Supreme Court justice, according to exclusive NewsWhip data.

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Biden to Senate Republicans after RBG passing: "Please follow your conscience"

Joe Biden made a direct appeal to Senate Republicans in a speech addressing the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, urging them to "cool the flames that have been engulfing our country" by waiting to confirm her replacement until after the election.

The state of play: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said soon after the news of Ginsburg's death that President Trump's nominee would get a vote in the U.S. Senate by Election Day.

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Leaked Treasury documents reveal massive money laundering in global banking system

Thousands of leaked government documents covering at least $2 trillion worth of transactions reveal how some of the world's biggest banks knowingly moved around the money of oligarchs, terrorists and criminals, with few consequences, according to a massive investigation by BuzzFeed News, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and hundreds of other news organizations.

The big picture: The investigation, published on Sunday, examines more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks and other financial firms with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN.

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