No surprise here, but the Senate has defeated the $2.2tn stimulus bill that the House passed.
House Speaker Pelosi and the White House are continuing negotiations, but Senate leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told Republicans that a deal is “unlikely in the next three weeks”.
Electoral college explained: how Biden faces an uphill battle in the US election
Helena Robertson, Ashley Kirk and Frank Hulley-Jones report:
When Americans cast their ballots for the US president, they are actually voting for a representative of that candidate’s party known as an elector. There are 538 electors who then vote for the president on behalf of the people in their state.
Each state is assigned a certain number of these electoral votes, based on the number of congressional districts they have, plus two additional votes representing the state’s Senate seats. Washington DC is also assigned three electoral votes, despite having no voting representation in Congress. A majority of 270 of these votes is needed to win the presidency.
The process of nominating electors varies by state and by party, but is generally done one of two ways. Ahead of the election, political parties either choose electors at their national conventions, or they are voted for by the party’s central committee.
The electoral college nearly always operates with a winner-takes-all system, in which the candidate with the highest number of votes in a state claims all of that state’s electoral votes. For example, in 2016, Trump beat Clinton in Florida by a margin of just 2.2%, but that meant he claimed all 29 of Florida’s crucial electoral votes.
Such small margins in a handful of key swing states meant that, regardless of Clinton’s national vote lead, Trump was able to clinch victory in several swing states and therefore win more electoral college votes.
Biden could face the same hurdle in November, meaning he will need to focus his attention on a handful of battleground states to win the presidency.
President Barack Obama has tapped a new ad supporting the Democratic challenger to senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina.
“If you want a senator that will fight for criminal justice reform, lower college costs and to make health care affordable, you’ve got to vote for my friend Jaime Harrison,” Obama says in the video. “Now you have the power to make history again by sending Jaime Harrison to the US Senate.”
Graham, the chair of the Senate judiciary committee, has been derided by his opponent for promising to never consider a supreme court nominee during an election year after blocking Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, and then fully reversing course to help rush Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett through.
He has been facing in the toughest reelection campaign of his senate career, with his opponent Harrison outraising him and garnering support from Democrats across the country.
In a fundraising email sent after the Obama ad launched, Graham wrote to supporters: “President Obama’s endorsement makes it absolutely clear that the Left is determined to defeat me and flip the Senate to blue.”
Pelosi’s chief of staff Drew Hammill has provided more updates about the speaker’s discussion with the treasury secretary. They spoke for 45 minutes, he said, and saw that “decisions could be reached and language could be exchanged, demonstrating that both sides are serious about finding a compromise”.
Both sides plan to meet again tomorrow, Hammill said.
Today so far
That’s it from me today. I’m handing over the blog to my west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- House speaker Nancy Pelosi and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin had another call about a coronavirus relief bill. After the call, Pelosi said the she is “closer” to reaching a deal with the White House, but she acknowledged earlier today that a relief bill may not be passed until after Election Day.
- Mitch McConnell reportedly told Republicans that he has urged the White House not to push for a coronavirus relief deal before the election. According to multiple reports, the Senate majority leader expressed concern that a coronavirus relief deal could complicate the timing of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the supreme court. McConnell currently plans to hold a final vote on Barrett’s nomination next Monday.
- The US has seen nearly 300,000 excess deaths since late January, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said 299,028 excess deaths occurred in the US between January 26 and October 3.
- The justice department filed its antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the search engine giant of unfairly stifling competition. Attorney general William Barr described the lawsuit as “a monumental case for the Department of Justice and, more importantly, for the American consumer.”
- USA Today gave its first-ever presidential endorsement to Joe Biden. “Biden is a worthy antidote to Trump’s unbounded narcissism and chronic chaos,” the newspaper’s editorial board said in the endorsement.
- Melania Trump canceled her planned appearance at a Pennsylvania campaign rally tonight due to a lingering cough from coronavirus. The first lady’s chief of staff said she had canceled her travel plans out an abundance of caution about her lingering symptoms.
Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Pelosi: Democrats and White House are ‘closer’ to a deal on coronavirus relief
House speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hoped she could reach a deal with the White House on a coronavirus relief bill by the end of the week.
Shortly after the speaker’s call with treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin this afternoon, Pelosi said the two sides were “closer” to an agreement on a relief package.
Asked whether she thought a deal could be reached by the end of the week, Pelosi said, “I hope so. That’s the plan. That’s what I would hope. That’s the hope, let me say that.”
But Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told Republicans today that he has urged the White House not to move forward with a relief deal before Election Day.
McConnell expressed concern that a vote on a relief bill could complicate the timing of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the supreme court. The Senate leader currently plans to hold a final vote on Barrett’s confirmation next Monday.
Joe Biden received another negative coronavirus test result today, the Democrat’s campaign said.
“Vice-president Biden underwent PCR testing for Covid-19 today and Covid-19 was not detected,” the campaign said in a statement.
Biden has been regularly releasing the results of his coronavirus tests since Trump announced he tested positive earlier this month, shortly after the first presidential debate.
Meanwhile, the president still will not provide a clear answer on when he last tested negative for coronavirus.
According to CNN, Trump abruptly ended his 60 Minutes interview after 45 minutes and did not return for a planned “walk and talk” with the vice president.
The president’s interview, along with Joe Biden’s 60 Minutes interview, is set to air this Sunday. Biden sat down for his interview yesterday in Wilmington, Delaware.
Trump tweeted out a video of 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl without a mask in the White House after she interviewed the president for this Sunday’s show.
“Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me. Much more to come,” Trump said in the tweet.
Both Trump and Joe Biden have been interviewed for this Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes.
If his most recent tweet is any indication, the president may not have been too pleased with how his interview unfolded.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told Republicans today that he has warned the White House not to make a deal on coronavirus relief before the election.
The Washington Post reports:
McConnell suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not negotiating in good faith with treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, and any deal they reach could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court next week.
In a Bloomberg interview on Tuesday, Pelosi adamantly denied that she was stringing the White House along and said she wouldn’t be negotiating with the White House if she didn’t want a deal.
But McConnell’s remarks, made in a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans, show the raw political calculations that both parties are dealing with two weeks before the November 3 elections. McConnell’s comments were confirmed by two people familiar with them who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them.
Speaking to reporters today, McConnell pledged that he would put a coronavirus relief bill on the Senate floor for a vote if Pelosi and Mnuchin reach a deal.
But the Senate leader would not commit to a timeline for voting, simply saying he would put the bill on the floor “at some point”.
Meanwhile, Barrett’s final confirmation vote is expected to take place next Monday.
A White House spokesperson said the administration’s offer on the coronavirus relief bill is now up to $1.88tr.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi has pushed for a $2.2tr package, but there are ongoing discussions between the speaker and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin about state and local funding in the bill, as well as language over liability.
Again, even if Pelosi and Mnuchin reach a deal on the bill, it’s unclear whether the legislation will be able to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
A number of Republican lawmakers have voiced serious skepticism about passing another massive relief bill, even though Trump is pushing for it.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said he had a “long and serious” conversation with Dianne Feinstein, after the top Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee applauded chairman Lindsey Graham’s handling of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings.
“I’ve had a long and serious talk with Senator Feinstein. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Feinstein received severe criticism from progressives after she applauded Graham for overseeing “one of the best set of hearings that I have participated in”.
The comments sparked some calls for Feinstein to step down from her senior role on the committee.
“Americans — whose lives hang in the balance — deserve leadership that underscores how unprecedented, shameful and wrong this process is,” said Ilyse Hogue, the president of the abortion rights group NARAL, in a statement last week.
“The ranking member of the Senate judiciary committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, failed to make this clear and in fact offered an appearance of credibility to the proceedings that is wildly out of step with the American people.”
US has seen nearly 300,000 ‘excess deaths’ since January, CDC says
The US has seen 299,028 excess deaths since January 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new report.
“Overall, an estimated 299,028 excess deaths occurred from late January through October 3, 2020, with 198,081 (66%) excess deaths attributed to Covid-19,” the CDC report says.
“The largest percentage increases were seen among adults aged 25–44 years and among Hispanic or Latino persons.”
Among adults aged 25–44 years, the “excess death” rate is up by an alarming 26.5% compared to recent years.
Among Hispanic Americans, the “excess death” rate is up by an even more shocking 53.6%.
“These results inform efforts to prevent mortality directly or indirectly associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, such as efforts to minimize disruptions to health care,” the CDC said.
“CDC continues to recommend the use of masks, frequent handwashing, and maintenance of social distancing to prevent Covid-19.”
The Guardian’s Richard Luscombe reports from Miami:
The Miami police department has admonished one of its officers for an “unacceptable” political display after he was photographed Tuesday inside a voting site in the city, in full uniform and wearing a Trump 2020 mask.
Officer Daniel Ubeda was captured in a cell phone image taken by Steve Simeonidis, chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, at the Government Center polling site in downtown Miami on the second day of early voting in Florida.
“This is city-funded voter intimidation. Ubeda should be suspended immediately,” Simeonidis said in a tweet accompanying the photograph, pointing out that the officer was armed and inside the voting site. By 2pm Tuesday, the tweet had been shared more than 20,000 times.
In its own tweet, City of Miami police said it was investigating the incident.
“We are aware of the photograph being circulated of a Miami Police officer wearing a political mask in uniform,” the department said. “This behavior is unacceptable, a violation of departmental policy, and is being addressed immediately.”
It’s worth noting that Mitch McConnell said the Senate would consider a coronavirus relief bill “at some point” if a deal is reached between House speaker Nancy Pelosi and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.
That phrasing leaves it very unclear when the Senate would take up a coronavirus relief package if an agreement is reached.
Speaking to Bloomberg TV earlier today, Pelosi acknowledged that a bill may not be passed until after Election Day, depending on how the negotiations unfold.