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Trump weighs executive action as negotiations progress on next coronavirus stimulus package – USA TODAY

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Talks on a huge coronavirus relief measure resumed on Saturday in Washington. Negotiators on both sides said that the talks were “productive” and would continue on Monday. (Aug. 1)

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WASHINGTON – The president on Monday said he was weighing executive action as Congress and the White House struggle to break the impasse over another emergency relief package to counter the coronavirus’ impact on U.S. families and the economy.

Negotiators on Monday signaled they’d made progress hashing out differences between Republican and Democratic proposals for the next stimulus package, though a deal remains far out out of reach and millions of unemployed Americans remain in financial limbo after a $600 weekly unemployment benefit expired on Friday. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Congress’ top Democrats, met again Monday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for several hours, where they examined the competing proposals and went through specific dollar amounts in various areas in the two bills. 

“It was productive, we’re moving down the track,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters after the meeting in her Capitol Hill office. “But we still have our differences. We’re trying to have a clearer understanding of what the needs are.”

Mnuchin said both sides were “a little bit” closer to a deal but Meadows noted that they were still far apart. 

It was the latest meeting between the four, who worked last week and through the weekend to discuss any potential middle ground between the Democrats’ $3 trillion bill and a $1 trillion Republican proposal.

What each side wants: $1,200 checks? Money for schools? Breaking down what Republicans and Democrats want in the coronavirus stimulus plan

More: Congress leaves town without a coronavirus stimulus deal, allowing $600 unemployment benefit to end

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The US recently topped 4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and now has reached another unenviable milestone.

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Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Monday floated the possibility of taking unilateral action if a deal could not be made with Democrats, claiming he has the power to step in and curtail Congress should there be a need. The president specifically noted the moratorium on housing evictions that recently expired.

“A lot of people are going to be evicted but I’m going to stop it because I’ll do it myself if I have to,” Trump said at the White House. “I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders and we’re looking at that very seriously right now.”

Later Monday, Trump also said he was examining executive action on a payroll tax cut, something he has repeatedly demanded be part of various coronavirus legislation but has been met with blunt rejection from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. It is not clear whether Trump has the power to make such a move, and it would likely be challenged legally.

“I can do that also through an executive order so we’ll be talking about that but we’re having a very good discussion with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” the president said at a press conference Monday evening.

He noted the hurdles and his opposition to Democrats wanting to send more funds to state and local governments that have had their budgets decimated due to the pandemic. 

 “The problem is they want to do bailouts of their various Democrat-run states and cities,” Trump said. “We don’t think that’s fair.”

Here’s what Democrats propose: House passes $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan, faces pushback in Republican-led Senate

The GOP plan: Mitch McConnell unveils $1 trillion pandemic aid package to criticisms from Republicans and Democrats

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As the talks continue on Capitol Hill, big divisions remain on the $600 boost to unemployment, which Democrats want to extend until at least January and Republicans have argued is too high and disincentivizes Americans from going back to work. The bonus bolsters state benefits that average nationally about $370 a week.

There are also differences on a host of items, from funds for state and local governments and the post office, areas important to Democrats, and liability insurance for businesses, something Republicans have said is a requirement in any next bill. 

The Senate this week is set to take action on the expired boosted unemployment benefit but it’s unclear whether any measure will pass as Democrats have dug in their heels against a piecemeal approach to passing additional funds to counter the pandemic. Senate Republicans last week attempted to pass a one-week extension on the $600 benefit but Democrats blocked the proposal, arguing it would still lead to lapses in funds getting to families and stressed for Republicans to work with them on a long-term solution. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., assailed Democrats Monday in a Senate floor speech, arguing it is “time for the Democratic leadership to get serious about making law for the American people.”

“The Speaker of the House and the Democratic Leader are continuing to say our way or the highway with the massive wish-list for left-wing lobbyists they slapped together a few weeks ago and called a coronavirus bill,” he said. “These are not the tactics that would build a bipartisan result. These are not the tactics that will get more cash in Americans’ pockets, more help to the unemployed, and more assistance for schools to re-open.”

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New York Gov. Cuomo weighs curfew for NYC, has National Guard on standby following George Floyd protests – CNBC

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s imposing a curfew on New York City starting Monday night and has the state’s National Guard on standby after a weekend of violent protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Cuomo said the curfew starts at 11 p.m. and will be lifted at 5 a.m. Tuesday, he said in an interview with WAMC public radio on Monday. The governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio will review whether to renew the curfew in the morning, he said.

The New York City Police Department will also double its presence to help prevent violence and property damage, Cuomo and de Blasio said. The additional officers will be deployed to areas where violence and property damage occurred during Sunday night’s protests — specifically in lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

“I’ve told mayors all across the state that I can call out the National Guard,” Cuomo said at a news conference earlier Monday. 

Cuomo said he believe the New York Police Department should have enough personnel, but he will call in the National Guard if they need more backup. Some of the violent actions taken by the NYPD have exacerbated the problem, he said. 

“There are videos of some NYPD actions that are very disturbing. There are videos of NYPD cars driving into a crowd that are very disturbing. Pulling a mask down off of a person to pepper spray them. Throwing a woman to the ground. It’s on video. It’s on video,” he said. 

Cuomo said he asked New York Attorney General Letitia James on Saturday to conduct a report on those officers acting aggressively toward the protesters. He said that no immediate actions have been taken until James submits the report.

“I asked the attorney general for a report. I want that report done 30 days from when I asked her just two days ago. But I’m going to speak to the mayor about, in the meantime, what is the response for those police actions on video.”

Cuomo said that he has the legal authority to impose a curfew, which a handful of cities across the country have implemented, but he’s not at that point. However, he said he knows “something has to be done because last night was not acceptable and the night before was not acceptable on any level.”

Some state governors, like those in Minnesota, Georgia, Ohio, Washington and Kentucky, have also mobilized their National Guard forces. 

Earlier Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the reports of police misconduct during the weekend’s violent protests, saying that they will be immediately investigated but defended a “vast majority” of NYPD officers. 

De Blasio was criticized for initially defending the officers who rammed their cars into a group of people, saying the incident was caused by the protesters surrounding the vehicles. 

Cuomo said he stands with the protesters over the killing of Floyd, adding “it perverts everything you believe about this country.” The mass gatherings, however, are “counterproductive” to the city’s goal of reopening the economy. 

“We just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed,” he said. “People will have lost their jobs, people wiped out their savings, and now mass gatherings? With thousands of people in close proximity? One week before we’re going to reopen New York City?”

New York City is scheduled to begin its phase one reopening next week, although Cuomo warned that the mass gatherings over the weekend could threaten the city’s progress in controlling the coronavirus spread. 

“We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see these mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything that we have done,” he said.

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