Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has been mercilessly attacked by Trump. But he still attended a White House Christmas Party.

Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Georgia).

  • On Friday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted images of himself and his daughter, Lucy, taking pictures amidst the lavish holiday decor at the White House.
  • Despite the festivities, Trump is still incensed with Kemp for not helping him overturn the presidential election results in Georgia, which saw President-elect Joe Biden capture the state by a little over 12,000 votes.
  • The governor posted the White House photo just hours after Trump questioned his conservative credentials, as well as those of GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Despite President Donald Trump’s withering attacks against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp over certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential win in the state, his invitation to a White House Christmas party didn’t get lost in the mail.

On Friday, the Republican governor tweeted images of himself and his daughter, Lucy, taking pictures amidst the holiday decor and festivities at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

“Lucy and I had a great time at the @WhiteHouse Christmas Party today,” Kemp wrote. “Merry Christmas, everyone!”

Many conservatives, including some high-profile Republicans, were not thrilled with the message.

Jenna Ellis, a prominent member of the Trump campaign’s legal team, responded to Kemp’s tweet with one word: “Seriously?”

GOP Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini responded to the tweet, calling the governor “scum.”

Kemp has drawn the ire of Trump and many rank-and-file Republicans and activists for what they perceive as a lack of support in investigating unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the state.

The governor posted the White House photo just hours after Trump questioned his conservative credentials, as well as those of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another favorite GOP target of the president.

“The Secretary of State and Governor of Georgia, both so-called ‘Republicans’, aren’t allowing Fulton County to go through the vital Voter Signature Verification process,” Trump wrote. “Also, they are not allowing Republican ‘watchers’ to be present and verify!”

Despite Trump’s claims, the state already requires signature verification, and official poll watchers from both parties were present across the country during the 2020 election.

Last week, the president once again slammed Kemp, retweeting a post from attorney Lin Wood that called for the governor and Raffensperger to be imprisoned for not challenging the election results in the state.

“President Trump @realDonaldTrump is a genuinely good man,” Wood wrote. “He does not really like to fire people. I bet he dislikes putting people in jail, especially ‘Republicans.’ He gave @BrianKempGA & @GaSecofState every chance to get it right. They refused. They will soon be going to jail.”

Biden’s narrow victory in the state was confirmed through an initial count and two reviews. On December 14, the Electoral College met in Atlanta and certified the state’s 16 Electoral College votes for the president-elect.

Still, Kemp has borne the brunt of attacks from Trump.

During a November interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, the president said that he was “ashamed” to have endorsed Kemp in his 2018 gubernatorial campaign against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams.

Earlier in December, Trump called Kemp for help in overturning the election results, arguing that the governor could hold a special legislative session that would install pro-Trump electors.

Kemp declined to call the state legislature back into session.

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Biden just introduced a historic climate A-team tasked with carrying out an ambitious energy agenda

Biden’s climate and energy team. Clockwise from top left: Brenda Mallory, Jennifer Granholm, Gina McCarthy, Michael Regan, Deb Haaland, and John Kerry.
Biden’s climate and energy team. Clockwise from top left: Brenda Mallory, Jennifer Granholm, Gina McCarthy, Michael Regan, Deb Haaland, and John Kerry.

  • President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his climate team during a press briefing Saturday.
  • The team is stacked with pro-climate heavyweights and a number of firsts, including Michael Regan, who would be the first Black man to lead the Environmental Protection Agency if confirmed. 
  • Biden has said he intends to make climate change a top priority, though his agenda will face steep challenges in a divided government. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden introduced what he called a “barrier-busting” climate and energy team Saturday, vowing to create millions of union jobs and reposition the US as a leader in the global fight against climate change. 

“We have no time to waste,” Biden said during a press briefing in Wilmington, Delaware. “Just like we need to be a unified nation to respond to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change.”

Leading that response will be a team of pro-climate heavyweights who include a number of firsts.

Read more: 24 energy investors, CEOs, and analysts share their top predictions for 2021 as the industry rebounds from a pandemic-driven slump

Meet Biden’s climate A-team

Among Biden’s top picks is Gina McCarthy, who helmed the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Barack Obama. She’ll head a new White House office focused on climate policy.

There, she’ll be able to reach across cabinets to advance a unified domestic strategy.

“Defeating this threat is the fight of our lifetimes,” McCarthy, who’s currently the CEO of the Natural Resources Dense Council, an environmental nonprofit, said during the briefing. “But the opportunities to act on climate change right now fill me with incredible optimism.”

She’ll work in parallel with former Secretary of State John Kerry, whom Biden tapped to be his international climate czar. Ali Zaidi, who currently serves as the deputy secretary for energy and environment for New York State, will be McCarthy’s deputy.

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Gina McCarthy, former head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, will serve as Biden’s national climate czar.

Biden also introduced former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his pick for Energy Secretary, and environmental regulator Michael Regan of North Carolina, whom he nominated to run the EPA – the office most central to his climate-change agenda.

If confirmed, Regan would be the first Black man to lead the EPA. 

There are other firsts, too.

During the briefing, Biden introduced Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, whom he nominated to lead the Interior Department. If confirmed by the Senate, she’ll be the first Native American to lead the department – and the first to lead any cabinet-level agency – which oversees about 500 million acres of public lands. Haaland was a cosponsor of the Green New Deal. 

Biden also named longtime environmental attorney Brenda Mallory as the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. If confirmed she’d be the first Black person to assume the role. 

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2018/03/04: Jennifer Granholm, Former Governor of Michigan, speaking at the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is Joe Biden’s pick for energy secretary.

A monumental challenge ahead

“So many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once,” Biden said during the briefing. 

Americans aren’t just facing a pandemic, he said, but symptoms of climate change like superstorms, forest fires, and floods. His solution is to slash emissions to net-zero by 2050 – through the rollout of electric cars, adding more renewable energy to the grid, and improving the efficiency of buildings – while creating high-paying jobs. 

To be clear, that is an ambitious task, and one that will prove even more challenging should the government remain divided. Experts say the administration will likely focus their efforts initially on reversing many of Trump’s rollbacks, largely through executive orders.

“The current administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked big oil companies over American workers,” Biden said. “Our administration will not only bring those standards back. We’ll set new ambitious standards. “

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Congress is rushing to pass a 2-day funding extension to buy more time for stimulus negotiations and avoid a government shutdown

schumer pelosi mcconnell hoyer mccarthy
From left to right: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

  • Another government shutdown looms after lawmakers failed to strike a deal on both a government funding bill and a economic relief package.
  • A number of policy disagreements continue to crop up, with one leading GOP senator describing the talks as “whack-a-mole.”
  • Hangups appear to include stimulus checks, federal aid to states through a FEMA program, and Federal Reserve lending programs.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Congressional leaders on Friday sought to pass a two-day funding extension to keep the government open – and buy more time in a last-ditch effort to strike an elusive deal on a $900 billion federal rescue package by Sunday.

Both chambers must pass another stopgap spending bill, but it is unclear whether they would be able to do so before the clock struck midnight. The House of Representatives was expected to vote on it Friday evening.

The Senate has a different set of rules. Under the procedure known as unanimous consent, legislation requires support from every senator, meaning it only takes one to block it. Failure to pass the spending bill in both chambers and get a signature from President Donald Trump would lead to a partial government shutdown.

GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said earlier on Friday he would oppose the stopgap spending bill unless he received more details about a fresh round of stimulus checks that are expected to be part of the relief legislation. But later in the day Hawley indicated his concerns were addressed and he would not oppose the short-term spending bill.

“I have been assured by Senate GOP leadership that #COVID direct assistance to working people IS in the #covid relief bill under negotiation & will remain,” he tweeted. “And on that basis, I will consent to a brief continuing resolution to allow negotiations to conclude.”

A lapse in funding could have little impact on agency operations if Congress resolves their impasse over the weekend. Bill Hoagland, a budget expert and senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said essential personnel such as air traffic controllers, safety regulators, and airport security personnel would still report to work.

“A weekend shutdown, we’ve had them before,” Hoagland said in an interview. “They are not as nearly as disruptive as it would be if it began during the workweek for the American public.”

Under the weekend shutdown scenario, he said federal agencies would commence closing down on Monday if Congress failed to pass a short-term funding bill. But Hoagland said he considered that possibility unlikely given the immense pressure lawmakers are under to quickly get federal aid out the door.

Leaders in both parties came out against the idea of allowing government funding to lapse on Friday as well. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “I’m not for a shutdown in any shape or form.” That sentiment was echoed by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, who said, “we’re going to keep the government open.”

A stimulus deal reached by late Friday would be “a triumph of hope over experience”

Congressional leaders are struggling to close policy disagreements which have hobbled negotiations for several months. They are scrambling to settle those differences in a matter of days, and the talks appear very likely to slip into the weekend.

Sen. John Thune, the second-ranked Senate Republican, said anticipation of a deal struck by Friday evening would be “a triumph of hope over experience” and suggested a vote on a relief package could come early next week.

“I was thinking best case scenario of getting something voted on was  going probably to be Sunday but it may be later than that,” Thune told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The hangups appear to include the details around a fresh round of stimulus payments for Americans, emergency aid to states and municipalities, and the Federal Reserve’s lending powers. But Congressional leaders are still citing continued progress in the talks.

During a speech on the Senate floor on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “even more optimistic right now than I was last night” about reaching an agreement and added negotiations “remained productive.”

“The Senate will be right here until an agreement is passed, whenever that may be,” he said.

The scope of the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs is emerging as a last-minute sticking point in the fast-moving talks. Republicans led by Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are seeking to cut off the central bank’s lending ability past December 31, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin set in motion last month.

Toomey, the incoming chair of the Senate Banking Committee, called it “a bright red line” for him in the relief legislation earlier this week. Those programs have backstopped the economy, supporting markets for corporate bonds and providing loans to state and local governments as well as medium-sized businesses.

But Democrats argue the move would stymie President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to stabilize the economy during a prolonged downturn. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell also previously said he would continue the programs into next year, but the Trump administration stepped in to end them after Dec. 31.

Congress is running up against more deadlines that could have more dire implications for many Americans if it fails to strike a deal, get President Donald Trump’s signature and enact it into law soon. Around 14 million people are threatened with the loss of unemployment aid within two weeks if certain federal programs are not renewed. 

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White House aides reportedly stepped in to keep Trump from calling for $2,000 stimulus checks fearing it could torpedo relief negotiations

Donald Trump wildcard
US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on December 7, 2020.

President Donald Trump’s advisors talked him out of calling for $2,000 stimulus checks in the next federal rescue package since it could derail the ongoing relief negotiations on Capitol Hill, The Washington Post reported.

The newspaper cited two sources familiar with the events.

The Post reported that Trump held a phone call with allies when he said he wanted stimulus payments to be “at least” $1,200 and perhaps as large as $2,000. Congressional leaders are currently drafting a $900 billion emergency relief package with $600 stimulus payments for Americans, half of the $1,200 amount distributed in March and April through an earlier pandemic aid package.

Trump was in the midst of outlining his desire when White House officials told him the move would capsize the negotiations between top Republicans and Democrats, which appear likely to slip into the weekend. Republicans are trying to keep the price tag of a relief package under $1 trillion, and larger direct payments could swell the legislation’s cost well beyond that.

An anonymous source told the Post that “aides were really frantic, saying: ‘We can’t do this; it will blow up negotiations.'”

Ben Williamson, a White House spokesman, told The Post that Trump supports large relief payments for struggling Americans.

“The President has heard from Americans all over the country who are hurting through no fault of their own, and he’s made clear he wants the next round of relief to include stimulus checks at a significant number,” he said. “We’re working with Congress to settle on an agreement that can pass as soon as possible.”

In the run-up to the election, Trump sought a large relief package and suggested at times he could support one bigger than the $2.2 trillion amount that Democrats wanted. But Republicans didn’t follow suit and repeatedly threw cold water over his demands. They instead opted to push for a $500 billion relief package that Democrats blocked twice.

The president’s position on stimulus has veered wildly in the past and he has been largely quiet on the subject since his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden. Trump, though, has indicated recently he still backs large stimulus checks. “Right now, I want to see checks – for more money than they’re talking about – going to people,” he told Fox News in an interview that aired Sunday.

The White House jumped into the stimulus negotiations last week with a $916 billion offer, and it included $600 stimulus checks for people. But Democrats panned its exclusion of federal unemployment benefits.

On Capitol Hill, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have led calls to include stimulus checks, which were initially left out of a bipartisan plan now under consideration. Progressive lawmakers in the House have also ramped up their drive to include sizable stimulus payments in the next relief package.

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Head of White House security office has his right foot amputated due to severe COVID-19 and is facing ‘staggering medical bills,’ new report says

trump mask white house rally coronavirus
President Donald Trump takes off his face mask as he comes out on a White House balcony to speak to supporters gathered on the South Lawn in Washington, October 10, 2020.

  • The head of the White House security office, Crede Bailey, had a part of his lower right leg and the big toe on his left foot amputated during an ongoing battle with COVID-19, Bloomberg reported Monday. 
  • Bailey has been hospitalized with a severe case of coronavirus for three months, but is reportedly recovering from the illness. 
  • Friends of Bailey’s have raised over $35,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his rehabilitation and “staggering” healthcare costs.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Crede Bailey, who heads the White House security office, lost part of lower right leg, including his foot, and a toe on his left foot during a monthslong battle with COVID-19, Bloomberg reported Monday. 

Bailey, whose office handles White House credentials and works with the Secret Service, contracted the coronavirus in September and has been hospitalized for three months, but is reportedly recovering from the illness. 

Friends of Bailey’s have raised more than $35,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his rehabilitation and healthcare.

“Crede beat COVID-19 but it came at a significant cost: his big toe on his left foot as well as his right foot and lower leg had to be amputated,” Dawn McCrobie, a friend who organized the fundraiser, wrote last week, Bloomberg reported.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment about Bailey’s condition to Business Insider and Bloomberg reported that Bailey’s family requested that the White House not publicly acknowledge his illness. 

Last month, McCrobie wrote that Bailey’s “family has staggering medical bills from a hospital stay of 2+ months and still counting in the ICU and a long road ahead in rehab before he can go home.” She added that Bailey will need to pay for a slew of physical alterations in his home and a car that he can operate to accommodate his disability. 

Dozens of top administration officials and people tied to the White House have contracted COVID-19 and President Donald Trump has consistently downplayed the threat the virus poses. The president, who himself contracted the virus and was hospitalized for several days, has told Americans not to “be afraid of COVID,” mocked those who wear face masks, and condemned aggressive state measures taken to slow the spread of the virus. 

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The White House is reportedly pressing Senate Republicans to include a $600 stimulus check for Americans in the next relief package

mitch mcconnell trump
  • The White House is pressing to include $600 stimulus checks in the next pandemic aid package, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
  • It reflects the increasing calls on Capitol Hill to include the relief payments in a $908 billion pandemic aid package that omitted them.
  • Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Josh Hawley are pressing for stimulus checks in Congress.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House is reportedly pressing top Senate Republicans to include a $600 stimulus check for Americans in the next virus relief package, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing two sources familiar with private discussions.

The amount is half of the $1,200 direct payments sent to millions of Americans earlier this year through the CARES Act that Congress. It was not clear whether Democrats would get onboard with the idea.

The White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The development reflects the growing calls on Capitol Hill among Democrats and some Republican to include a fresh wave of stimulus payments in the next rescue package.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is spearheading a group of Democratic senators in pushing to include relief checks for Americans. The framework of the $908 billion economic aid plan omitted them.

“The American people need help and they need help now,” Sanders and some fellow Democrats said in a letter obtained by Business Insider. “We agree with President-elect Biden that a $1,200 direct payment should be included in this proposal.” 

Sanders indicated last week he would reject the proposal unless it includes the checks and tosses out the liability shield for businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits. At a press conference, Senate minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats backed the direct payments, but said it should be added onto the latest package instead of traded off for another measure.

Negotiators are crafting the legislative text of the plan, which they are trying to keep under $1 trillion to garner more support from Republicans.

Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has emerged as a prominent Republican urging another wave of relief payments. “I’m continuing to be flummoxed as to why there aren’t any direct payments. Everybody supported this in March,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday.  “It’s the most useful, helpful, and frankly popular aspect.”

He called the development of the White House supporting $600 checks “progress” in a tweet on Tuesday, but maintained his support for the $1,200 direct payments.

In March, Congress and President Donald Trump authorized $1,200 checks for millions of American taxpayers earning up to $75,000 annually, plus an extra $500 per child under 17. The cash amount diminished until being phased out for those making above $99,000. Married couples earning up to $150,000 a year also qualified for the full payment.

Read more: Goldman Sachs says buy these 25 stocks it expects to pay big dividends that will keep growing over the next decade

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Attorney General Bill Barr may leave office before the end of Trump’s term: NYT

Trump Barr
Barr has been considered a staunch defender of the president.

  • Attorney General Bill Barr is considering leaving office before President Donald Trump’s term ends in January, The New York Times reported.
  • The report comes after Barr broke from the president last week and said the Justice Department and the FBI had not found evidence of widespread voter fraud that would alter the results of the 2020 election.
  • Barr has been considered a staunch defender of the president, but when asked whether he still has confidence in the attorney general, Trump said “ask me that in a number of weeks.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

US Attorney General Bill Barr is considering leaving office before President Donald Trump’s term ends in January, The New York Times reported.

The report comes after Barr broke from the president last week and said the Justice Department had not found evidence of widespread voter fraud that would alter the results of the 2020 election.

Three sources reportedly told the Times that Barr may leave before Trump exits office; one said the attorney general was considering it since before his statement about the election last week.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Barr has been considered one of the president’s most staunch defenders. Prior to the election, he even echoed one of Trump’s claims that mail-in ballots could be susceptible to interference by foreign actors, something US intelligence officials did not find evidence to support.

The president has not said much publicly in response to Barr. But when asked recently whether he still has confidence in the attorney general, Trump said “ask me that in a number of weeks.”

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump advisors are trying to stop the president from firing Barr.

Despite Barr’s statement, the president has continued to make unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud. Before Barr spoke out, Trump even suggested, without evidence, that the federal government, including Barr’s department, might be involved.

While Trump has continued to cast doubt on the election results, enough states have certified their results to secure an electoral college victory for President-elect Joe Biden.

Some of Trump’s allies have also criticized Barr for not doing more in service of the president’s attempts to change the results of the election.

“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation,” Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said in a statement.

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White House economic advisor suggests there’s no rush to pass a stimulus as more than 10 million people remain unemployed

Joseph LaVorgna
Joseph LaVorgna, Chief Economist of the National Economic Council.

  • An economic advisor at the National Economic Council on Friday signaled there’s no rush to release a second coronavirus stimulus package.
  • Joseph LaVorgna, chief economist at the National Economic Council, said he doesn’t “believe the recovery at the moment is in jeopardy,” despite a disappointing Friday jobs report that said 10.7 million Americans were unemployed in November.
  • Congress is considering a $908 billion stimulus proposal after months of negotiations. This revised proposal does not include a $1,200 direct payment.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief economist at the National Economic Council, signaled the White House sees no rush to release a coronavirus stimulus package as Friday’s jobs report said more than 10 million Americans remain unemployed. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday that the country added 245,000 jobs in November, a figure far lower than the projected 460,000 additions and a sign that economic recovery has stagnated.

LaVorgna, in an interview with Yahoo! Finance, said these numbers don’t indicate that there’s an urgency for a second stimulus package.  

“The White House has, as you know, wanted to do an assisted plan for those people hurting for some time. And that’s why the president took a variety of executive order actions this past summer,” LaVorgna said.

“Certainly people need assistance. While the unemployment rate certainly has surprised many people to the downside, we’d like to it to get to where it was pre-pandemic when it was at a 50-year low,” he added. “So there are negotiations going on. We don’t believe the recovery at the moment is in jeopardy.”

The pandemic has roiled markets and forced millions into unemployment as local governments shut down businesses nationwide to curb the spread of the virus. 

The Labor Department clocked 10.7 million unemployed people in November. About 14.8 million Americans said the pandemic was the reason they didn’t work last month, according to the Labor Department report.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on LaVorgna’s remarks.

LaVorgna’s remarks contradict what Fed Chair Jay Powell said about the need for a stimulus in October. Powell warned that the economy might falter if another stimulus package doesn’t make it through Congress. 

“Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses,” Powell said in a speech. Powell has consistently urged Congress to pass a stimulus package to help the economy recover from the devastation brought on by the coronavirus.

More recently, other lawmakers took Friday’s jobs report as a sign for Congress to expedite the stimulus negotiations, Business Insider’s Ben Winck and Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported

The report “shows the need for strong, urgent emergency relief is more important than ever,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “Senate Republicans are increasingly understanding this urgency, and [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] should hear their pleas as well as those of the millions of struggling American families.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said the disappointing jobs report “further necessitates our taking action to crush the virus, to open up the economy and to open up our schools.” 

Earlier this week, Congress took its biggest step toward a deal in months. Congressional Democrats said they were in favor of a $908 billion stimulus proposal. The revised offer is a considerably modest figure compared to the multitrillion-dollar package House Democrats originally pushed. There is no $1,200 direct payment included in this stimulus proposal. 

Senate Republicans, including Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, indicated they are supportive of the $908 billion proposal. 

And as Business Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported, President-elect Joe Biden said on Friday that the latest $908 billion stimulus package “would be better” if it included a new wave of direct payments for Americans.

“I think it would be better if it had the $1,200. I understand that may still be in play,” Biden said.

He added: “The whole purpose of this is we’ve got to make sure people aren’t thrown out of their apartments, lose their homes, are able to have unemployment insurance they can continue to feed their families on as we grow back the economy.”

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Biden says his inauguration will be a ‘more imaginative’ virtual event, in contrast to Trump’s emphasis on large crowds

Biden transition
President-elect Joe Biden speaks to the media after receiving a briefing from the transition COVID-19 advisory board.

  • President-elect Joe Biden said Friday he expects his January 20 inauguration to be a “more imaginative” virtual event, much like the 2020 DNC. 
  • “It is highly unlikely that there will be a million people on the mall, going all the way down to the [Lincoln] Memorial,” Biden said.
  • Biden is taking a starkly different approach to President Trump, who began his term in 2017 by arguing about the number of spectators at his inauguration.

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday said he expects his inauguration to be mostly virtual, although he’ll still plan to take the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol. 

Although Biden said plans for the January 20 ceremony aren’t complete, he expects it to be a “more imaginative” event than previous inaugurations. He said it may be similar to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, an all-online event that broadcast lawmakers and citizens from around the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is highly unlikely that there will be a million people on the mall, going all the way down to the [Lincoln] Memorial,” Biden said on Friday. “My guess is that there will not be a gigantic inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, but my guess is you’ll see a lot of virtual activity in states all across America, engaging even more people than before.”

Asking crowds to stay home instead of flooding the National Mall would separate Biden from his predecessor, President Donald Trump, who began his term by arguing about the size of his crowds. He said about 1.5 million well-wishers had come to cheer him on, but the media reported far fewer.

Trump inauguration
President Donald Trump delivering his inaugural address.

In non-pandemic years, crowds typically gather along the grassy stretch of parkland between the US Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. In the days after Trump’s 2017 ceremony, his office argued about the size of his crowd, which most estimates put at smaller than former President Barack Obama’s 2009 crowd.

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in-person and around the globe,” former press secretary Sean Spicer said at the time, although photos taken of the National Mall appeared to tell a different story.

During his re-election campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized Biden for not drawing big enough crowds at his rallies. In November, Obama tore into Trump at a Biden campaign event, saying Trump had an “obsession” with crowd size.

“What is his obsession, by the way, with crowd size?” Obama said. “This is the one measure he has of success. He’s still worrying about his inauguration crowd being smaller than mine.”

Trump also has not said whether he plans to participate in the 2021 inauguration ceremony. Outgoing presidents typically great incoming ones at the White House on inauguration day. 

Biden said on Friday that his team hadn’t finalized plans for January 20. “But the key is keeping people safe,” he said.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders call for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks that are excluded from the latest COVID-19 relief bill gaining momentum in Congress

AOC defund the police obama
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday doubled down on her call for a fresh wave of $1,200 direct payments to Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing unemployment.
  • “If people don’t get UI assistance, and if they don’t get a stimulus check, then relief isn’t going to be felt in their lives, not in a substantive way,” Ocasio-Cortez told NBC News.
  • Rep. Rashida Tlaib and GOP Sen. Josh Hawley are also other members of Congress urging a second round of stimulus checks. 
  • Stimulus checks, as were distributed to millions of American taxpayers as part of the CARES Act in March, are missing from the latest $908 billion coronavirus relief package that’s currently making its way through Congress.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont echoed his colleagues’ demand by announcing that he won’t vote for the latest relief bill in the absence of “significant” changes, including adding in $1,200 checks.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive lawmakers are calling for a new wave of $1,200 direct payments to be included in the $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package that’s gathering steam in Congress. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Democratic leadership have signaled their willingness to move forward with the relief legislation, despite their previous calls for a federal assistance package of at least $2.2 trillion.

Ocasio-Cortez argued that while the framework of the new relief bill contains a slew of positive measures, she’s concerned that without unemployment insurance and direct payments, needy Americans won’t receive direct relief. 

“If people don’t get UI assistance, and if they don’t get a stimulus check, then relief isn’t going to be felt in their lives, not in a substantive way,” Ocasio-Cortez told NBC News’ Garrett Haake on Friday. “Will I support resources to hospitals and schools and firefighters? Absolutely. But I am extremely concerned that it’s not going to solve the immediate problems that people have.”

She added, “If you’re on the brink of an eviction or if you’re behind on six months of bills, you need that check, you need the check, and state and local funding isn’t going to help you.” 

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont followed up Ocasio-Cortez’s demand with his announcement that he won’t vote for the relief bill unless “significant” changes are made, including adding in $1,200 checks.

Read more: The $908 billion coronavirus stimulus deal could be the next one Congress passes: Here’s what’s in the relief package and what you could get

 

Other progressives such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have also urged the inclusion of direct payments. And there is some GOP support for direct payments as well. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has signaled he won’t vote in favor of a relief package without stimulus checks and tweeted on Friday that he would “gladly” work with Ocasio-Cortez on this effort. 

The latest government rescue package was introduced on Tuesday by a bipartisan group of 16 senators. Congressional Democrats embraced the framework a day later, saying it should be the starting point in negotiations with Republicans after months of gridlock. Though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell favors a slimmer rescue plan, some GOP senators are lining up behind the compromise proposal. It still lacks legislative text, which is expected early next week.

Ocasio-Cortez, for her part, has long been an outspoken supporter of a new round of stimulus checks, but said previously that checks alone – without funding for state and local governments – would simply amount to a “sugar high.”

She’s also been sharply critical of the GOP push to shield firms and schools from legal liability if their employees are infected with COVID-19 on the job. Republicans have insisted on including a so-called liability shield in any relief bill, but many Democrats view the measure as a poison pill.

If Congress fails to pass a new relief bill before the end of the month, nearly 12 million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas when their pandemic-related assistance expires. Millions of Americans would also be evicted from their homes when a national moratorium on evictions expires at the end of December along with student-loan forbearance. 

Pressure is mounting on Congress as Covid-19 cases spike across the country and the labor department reported on Friday that the pace of hiring has decreased for the fifth consecutive month as 10 million Americans remain unemployed. 

President-elect Joe Biden has insisted that any stimulus passed before he’s inaugurated in late January will be a “down payment” on a more comprehensive relief package he’ll seek to pass early in his presidency. 

“Any package passed in the lame duck session is not enough,” Biden said in a Friday statement. “It’s just the start. Congress will need to act again in January.”

As part of the CARES Act in March, Congress and President Donald Trump authorized $1,200 direct payments for millions of American taxpayers earning up to $75,000 annually, plus an extra $500 per child under 17. The cash amount diminished until being phased out for those making above $99,000. Married couples earning up to $150,000 a year also qualified for the full payment.

The Treasury Department and IRS distributed nearly 153 million stimulus payments this year, according to the Peter Peterson Foundation. The program carried a $292 billion price tag.

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