An Evaporating $600 for Millions of Americans

Republicans get ready to unveil their latest stimulus proposal, but Democrats say it might be too little — and definitely too late. It’s Monday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

  • The White House and its Republican allies in the Senate plan to unveil their proposal today for a new round of coronavirus stimulus legislation. But the Trump administration is far from confident that it will reach a deal with Democrats by the end of the week, when a $600-a-week unemployment insurance expansion that is relied upon by millions of Americans is set to expire.

  • In a series of televised interviews yesterday, White House officials argued that Congress should pass a stopgap measure extending that popular program. This would allow Democrats and Republicans to postpone negotiations on the broader bill, possibly until after Congress returns from its August recess.

  • But Democratic leaders have consistently said they want to negotiate on everything, or nothing at all. In remarks last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called that piecemeal approach “a tactic in order to not honor our other responsibilities.”

  • Yesterday, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Pelosi accused Republicans of dragging their feet. “This is an emergency,” she said. “Maybe they don’t understand. I don’t know what they have against working families in America to keep this going so long.”

  • All together, today’s G.O.P. stimulus proposal is expected to cost roughly $1 trillion, or one-third the price of a bill that the Democratically controlled House passed in May, and that has languished ever since.

  • Speaking to Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday, Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, said that in the larger stimulus bill, Republicans wanted to send another round of checks to American families, extend new lifelines to businesses and renew a nationwide moratorium on evictions that expired last week.

  • But Republicans also want the new unemployment insurance bump to be less than the weekly $600 that was included in the original virus stimulus package, Kudlow said. “They went too far,” he told Tapper, arguing that offering such a high amount reduced the incentive for unemployed people to seek jobs amid the pandemic. “We want to pay folks to go back to work.”

  • Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week” that the original bill “paid people to stay home,” and declared, “We’re not going to extend that provision.”

  • Democratic leaders have insisted that, with the pandemic still raging and workplaces remaining hazardous for many Americans, those benefits should be extended in full. “The unemployment insurance has kept millions out of poverty, prevented the recession from becoming a depression,” Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said at a news conference yesterday. “We need to extend it.”

  • Almost immediately after protests began following George Floyd’s killing in late May, President Trump started portraying protesters as lawless and violent. Now, with federal forces increasingly appearing to inflame the demonstrations, that just might turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Demonstrators took to the streets by the thousands in cities across the country on Saturday, declaring solidarity with protesters in Portland, Ore., where Trump deployed federal agents last week to put down gatherings that have continued uninterrupted for the past 60 nights.

  • Many of the weekend’s protests were marked by an increasingly confrontational and strident dynamic — particularly in Seattle, where close to 50 demonstrators were arrested. Clashes between demonstrators and the police led to injuries on both sides.

  • Federal agents have not been deployed to Seattle, but protesters there called for them to leave nearby Portland. Seattle’s police chief deemed the protests “a riot,” and officers used flash grenades and pepper spray on the crowds, bloodying some protesters, and elsewhere abruptly rushed at demonstrators and pummeled them to the ground.

  • In Austin, Texas, the police said one person had been shot and killed at a protest on Saturday, leading the mayor to pronounce himself “heartbroken and stunned.” The police said a suspect in the shooting had been detained.

  • Oregon’s attorney general on Friday lost her bid for a restraining order against the federal agents that had been deployed to the city. At various points throughout the weekend, officers fanned out well beyond the federal courthouse that they had nominally been sent to protect. Declaring that protests had crossed the ambiguousboundary dividing lawful demonstrations from riots, they used physical force to quell the protests. Ellen Rosenblum, the attorney general, said in an interview with The Times that this was “absolutely beyond their authority.”

Credit…Octavio Jones for The New York Times

Fireworks were ignited inside the gates of the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in Portland, Ore., which federal agents were guarding on Saturday.

Four years after a presidential contest marred by foreign interference, the 2020 election was already guaranteed to be messy — even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has injected a new level of uncertainty and chaos into things.

Taken together, two articles published by The Times this weekend depict the complex and interrelated factors threatening the American electoral system — and underscore the possibility that, if unaddressed, the ambiguities swirling around this year’s election could lead to a democratic crisis in the fall.

Trump has mostly denied the overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and he has pushed back against reports that Moscow is trying to help him win again this year.

And since March, when the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, new uncertainties have taken hold. How will voters cast ballots in November? Will those who cannot vote in person — or who do not feel safe doing so — be able to cast ballots by mail?

And when the dust settles after Nov. 3, will both Trump and Joe Biden accept the official results?

Trump and his Republican allies have repeatedly claimed — with hardly any evidence — that voter fraud is a widespread problem in the United States, and that allowing mail voting could make it worse.

And last week, Trump refused to guarantee that he would accept the result of the election if he lost, an outcome that appears to be increasingly likely, according to national and swing-state polling.

As our reporter Katie Glueck wrote in one article, “The presidential race is now not simply a fight over character, competence or even vicious personal attacks, but is also about one of the fundamental pillars of American democracy: free and fair elections, and faith in the outcome.”

If, by Dec. 14, enough states have not certified their election results to give one candidate 270 Electoral College votes, the election could be thrown to the House of Representatives — where each state’s delegation would count for one vote, giving Republicans the advantage.

This prospect starts to appear at least somewhat plausible when we look at the way Georgia’s primary election played out on June 9. Our reporters Danny Hakim, Reid J. Epstein and Stephanie Saul conducted a thorough investigation.

Throughout the state — but especially in the heavily populous and disproportionately African-American Fulton County — resources were stretched well past their limits as election workers sought to process a deluge of absentee ballots and confronted a shortfall in poll workers at in-person voting sites.

As our reporters found, in the run-up to the election, state election officials declined to fulfill requests by local officials who sought needed resources as they worked to put in place a complex new voting system. That led to huge bottlenecks at polling sites, and lines so long they caused some prospective voters to simply leave.

And in the aftermath of the election, questions have emerged about whether the system successfully counted many mail-in ballots marked with check marks or X’s instead of filled-in ovals. Thousands of votes may remain uncounted, according to officials.

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