Congress

Exclusive: White House asks Congress to approve three arms sales to Taiwan – sources

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with three sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, sending in recent days a notification of the deals to Congress for approval, two sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

In September, Reuters reported that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees Foreign Military Sales, the sources said.

A State Department spokesman said: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

There was no immediate comment from Taiwan’s representative office in Washington.

The sales notified to Congress were for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Patricia Zengerle and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Franklin Paul and Matthew Lewis

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White House calls for Congress to release unused small business loans

Oct. 11 (UPI) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday sent a letter to Congress calling for the release of unused Paycheck Protection Program funds amid ongoing talks on an additional round of COVID-19 stimulus.

Mnuchin and Meadows urged lawmakers to release the $134 billion in loans provided to small businesses to maintain operations and retain employees included in the $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March, while also criticizing Congress — particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — for their “all-or-nothing” approach to negotiating additional stimulus.

“The House has passed two separate partisan bills instead of compromising with us on bipartisan legislation like we have done in the past,” they wrote. “We will continue to try to work with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer. It is not just about the top-line number but also about legislation that can be passed by the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Trump to help the American people.”

The letter comes after Mnuchin introduced a $1.8 trillion proposal on Friday, raising the White House’s previous offer of $1.6 trillion and inching closer to the $2.2 trillion package passed by the Democratic-led House earlier this month.

Mnuchin’s proposal was met with criticism from Democrats who believed it was not enough and some Republicans who believe the funding is too high.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow said that he believes Senate Republicans can come to an agreement in support of a newly proposed $1.8 trillion package despite host Jake Tapper noting that 20 GOP members of the chamber criticized the latest proposal from the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as a “death knell” for the measure.

“I don’t think it’s

Chamber of Commerce endorses former White House physician Ronny Jackson for Congress

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced its support for former White House physician Ronny Jackson’s bid for a House seat.

Jackson, a Republican, is a former physician to Presidents Trump and Obama and a retired Navy rear admiral. He is running for retiring Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Senate passes stopgap spending bill hours before shutdown deadline | Brief military mentions in chaotic first Trump, Biden debate | Lawmakers grills Pentagon officials over Germany drawdown Lawmakers grill Pentagon over Trump’s Germany drawdown Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon’s use of COVID-19 funds MORE‘s open seat in Texas.

“As our nation faces many challenges and is collectively working to not just reopen our economy but return to growth and expanded opportunities for all Americans, we need leaders like Ronny Jackson. He has a proven track record of standing up for good policies,” Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue said in a statement on Thursday.

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Jackson faces Democratic candidate Gus Trujillo and Libertarian Jack Westbrook in the race to replace Thornberry. The Cook Political Report deems the open seat “Solid Republican.”

Trump tapped Jackson to be Veterans Affairs Secretary in 2018 but the White House withdrew his nomination over allegations that he overprescribed pills and would repeatedly be drunk while on duty.

The doctor recently made headlines for defending the White House’s coronavirus-related protocols in a Fox & Friends interview, following Trump’s positive COVID-19 test.

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Congress remains vulnerable to Covid despite White House outbreak

WASHINGTON — The White House coronavirus outbreak, which has infected nearly 20 people in President Donald Trump’s circle, sheds new light on the lack of contact tracing and safety protocols in place for the House and Senate.



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And while those working around President Donald Trump are tested daily, the Capitol has no such protocols.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ignored multiple questions from reporters this week when asked if widespread testing should be offered in the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday on MSNBC “Most of the people in our world who have come into contact and have been tested positive did not get the virus at the Capitol. It was in other encounters, including at the White House.”

Since the offer of rapid testing machines was initially made by the White House in May, Pelosi and McConnell have remained in agreement on one thing: no widespread testing on Capitol Hill, despite pressure from leaders on both sides of the aisle to do so.

Timeline: How coronavirus spread through the Trump administration

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“With just so many bodies coming in and out of here, I don’t understand why the speaker would continue to not have testing,” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who supported the White House’s offer since July, told reporters on Friday.

After the outbreak in the White House and three senators who had recently been there announcing they had tested positive, high-ranking lawmakers endorsed endorsed widespread testing for the 535 members of Congress and Capitol staff.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in the hours after Trump’s diagnosis “This episode demonstrates that the Senate needs a testing and contact tracing program for senators, staff, and all who work in the Capitol complex.”

McConnell and Schumer agreed to recess

White House says ‘not optimistic’ about COVID-19 aid, talks with Congress are off

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday said he was not optimistic that a comprehensive deal could be reached on further COVID-19 financial aid and that the Trump administration backed a more piecemeal approach, even as he said negotiations with Congress were over.



a man wearing a suit and tie: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump's health after he was tested positive for COVID19


© Reuters/KEN CEDENO
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump’s health after he was tested positive for COVID19

“We’re still willing to be engaged, but I’m not optimistic for a comprehensive deal. I am optimistic that there’s about 10 things that we can do on a piecemeal basis,” Meadows told Fox News in an interview.

Meadows did not say what 10 items the administration wanted to tackle, but reiterated President Donald Trump’s position tweeted late Tuesday night that he would back separate legislation addressing airlines, small businesses and stimulus checks for individuals.

Trump called off talks with lawmakers on pandemic aid in a tweet on Tuesday, rattling Wall Street as U.S. stocks sank. He later pulled back saying he would support a few stand-alone bills.

U.S. stock indexes appeared set to open higher on Wednesday, and airline stocks were also higher.

“The stimulus negotiations are off,” Meadows later told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “Obviously we’re looking at the potential for stand-alone bills. There’s abut 10 things that we agree on and if the Speaker is willing to look at it on a piece-by-piece basis then we’re willing to look at it,” he said referring to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Democratic-led House has already passed full legislation seeking a wide range of aid as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, infecting an estimated 7.5 million Americans and killing more than 210,600 — the highest in the world.

Pelosi on Tuesday said