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Trump floats executive action even if stimulus deal is reached

The White House is finalizing a series of executive orders addressing key coronavirus stimulus priorities if negotiations with Congress fall apart, and it's leaving the door open for President Trump to use them even if a deal is reached that doesn't encompass all of his priorities, two administration officials tell Axios.

What we’re hearing: “I wouldn't be surprised that, if something gets left off the table, we’d be like ‘we can take this executive action too and be able to win on it anyway,’” one official said.


Details: The most likely executive orders would be one to suspend payroll taxes and another to let states use money already allocated in the CARES Act to make unemployment insurance supplemental payments.

  • Trump said Thursday that he expects to sign the executive orders as early as today.

Why it matters: Several of the benefits laid out in the CARES Act have already expired or are close to expiring, and leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are still far apart on reaching an agreement on a new tranche of funding.

Behind the scenes: Trump and his top negotiators, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still prefer to do this legislatively — because they could get huge chunks of money that the White House can’t produce on its own and a bipartisan bill would receive broader support.

  • But the president is also anxious to be seen as being in control of the process, the officials said. Top aides and Republicans have also told him that if they don’t succeed at producing some sort of economic package, Americans will see it as a White House failure.
  • “It’s an election year. We need to get this done. We need to pump money into the economy and the only ones who benefit politically from not doing that are [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer and [Joe] Biden,” one House Republican told Axios.
  • The lawmaker noted that Pelosi and House Democrats already passed a bill, while the Senate has struggled to get support for their own.

What they're saying: “Certainly there are limitations with what we can do from an executive order point of view, but we will be as aggressive and robust as we possibly can be,” Meadows told reporters Thursday evening. “At this point, we're trying to be prepared.”

  • White House spokesman Judd Deere told Axios: “A legislative solution is the priority, but negotiations are a two-way street and Democrats are unfortunately playing politics, which is why President Trump is fully prepared to use his executive authority to help those who continue to be impacted by this virus from China.”

Susan Collins says Senate should postpone Supreme Court vote until after Election Day

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement Saturday that she believes the Senate should wait to vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat until after the general election.

Why it matters: Collins will be a key senator in how this process plays out. As one of the most centrist Senate Republicans, whether or not the Senate confirms Trump's SCOTUS nominee could hinge on her vote.

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Pinpointing climate change's role in extreme weather

Climate scientists are increasingly able to use computer models to determine how climate change makes some extreme weather more likely.

Why it matters: Climate change's effects are arguably felt most directly through extreme events. Being able to directly attribute the role climate plays in natural catastrophes can help us better prepare for disasters to come, while driving home the need to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

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Big Tech takes the climate change lead

The tech industry is playing a growing role in fighting climate change, from zero-carbon commitments to investments in startups and pushing for the use of data to encourage energy efficiency.

Why it matters: Big Tech is already dominating our economy, politics and culture. Its leadership in helping to address climate change — and reckon with its role in contributing to it — could have similarly transformative impacts.

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Lindsey Graham says he will vote for Ginsburg's replacement before next election

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Saturday said he plans to support a vote on President Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy left by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday, before the election.

Why it matters: Graham in 2016 opposed confirming President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, because it was an election year.

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Schumer: "Nothing is off the table next year" if Senate GOP moves to fill Ginsburg's seat

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democrats on a conference call Saturday that "nothing is off the table next year" if Senate Republicans move to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat in the coming weeks.

What he's saying: “Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year," Schumer said, according to a source on the call. "Nothing is off the table.”

ActBlue collects record-breaking $30 million in hours after Ginsburg's death

ActBlue, the Democratic donation-processing site, reported a record-breaking $30 million raised from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday in the aftermath of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, NPR writes and ActBlue confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters via the New York Times: "The unprecedented outpouring shows the power of a looming Supreme Court confirmation fight to motivate Democratic donors."

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Trump says Republicans have an "obligation" to fill Ginsburg's seat "without delay"

President Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday morning that Republicans have an "obligation" to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court following her death Friday.

What he's saying: "We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices," the president said. "We have this obligation, without delay!"

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