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May 13, 2020: Pelosi Bails Out Lobbyists
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

House Democrats unveiled a massive, $3 trillion relief package on Tuesday -- but once again, all that money leaves out relief for working people and provides a way for corporate lobbying groups to get small business loans. And that’s before the Republicans even got to work on it!

Meanwhile, Democrat Christie Smith lost the special election for former Rep. Katie Hill’s seat in California’s 25th district, falling to a Republican defense contractor. In case that wasn’t bad enough, Democrats also picked up a loss in the special election for Wisconsin’s 7th district.

And lastly, Joe Biden’s campaign may have signed its first actual progressive: per CNN, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has agreed to co-chair a task force on climate change for the Biden campaign, clearly hoping that she can push for some positive changes from inside the rusty Biden machine.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW

It’s unfair to say that you can never count on Nancy Pelosi for anything. If you’re a corporate lobbyist, for instance, you can certainly count on her to have your back.

House Democrats under Pelosi’s charge unveiled a new massive coronavirus relief package on Tuesday, and while it once again skips vital, people-first relief like direct payments or mortgage and rent suspension, it DOES include specific provisions that let corporate lobbying firms apply for federal bailout money. So that’s great for them, at least!

For almost everything else, the bill is another miserable disappointment. Here are the scraps: $25 billion for the Post Office, which is sorely needed, but will likely be first on the Republican chopping block; one more round of measly $1200 stimulus checks for adults making less than $75,000, and some kind of hazard pay for frontline workers. There are some feeble stabs at other relief, but the whole thing is so thoroughly means-tested it’s hard to tell who it will actually help.

Again, this is the starting point. Republicans haven’t even begun to strip this thing for parts yet. Pelosi is expected to push it through the House on Friday, at which point it will go to Mitch McConnell’s Senate, which is already howling that it goes too far and spends too much.

There are Representatives yelling at Pelosi to do better, like Rep. Pramilla Jayapaul, but if the Speaker decides her corporate lobbyist bailout bill is going forward, we’ve seen time and time again there’s little that the lonely progressive caucus can do to stop it.

Democrats Lose in CA and WI

To add injury to insult, Democrats also lost two elections on Tuesday. In the special election to fill Rep. Katie Hill’s seat in California, Democrat Christy Smith lost to Mike Garcia, a Republican former pilot who most recently worked as a defense contractor.

Smith and Garcia will get an almost immediate rematch, as both say that they plan to run for the seat in the November general election. The results in this round aren’t great: early on Wednesday morning Garcia was up by double digits.

Part of that probably has to do with turnout. The special election sent out vote-by-mail ballots to every voter. As of Monday, tracking data showed 40 percent of Republicans had sent theirs back in, compared to only 27 percent of Democrats.

Democrats also lost another contentious special election in Wisconsin’s 7th district. This one, to fill former Rep. Sean Duffy’s seat, wasn’t supposed to be close, but analysts were looking at it to gauge relative party enthusiasm in the swing state going into the general. Trump carried the district by more than 20 points in 2016; Duffy won it in 2018 by 22 points. Democrat Tricia Zunker lost to Republican Tom Tiffany, but only by about 15 points, which means the gap is closing, marginally.

In a general Presidential election, Biden is up just three points over Trump in the state. But that’s assuming we even get an election. On Tuesday, milksop son-in-law Jared Kushner said he was quote “not sure I can commit one way or the other” to having the General election in November.

It’s long been a worry that Trump would try to postpone the election if he thinks he’s going to lose, and while nobody’s outright saying it yet, Kush-boy’s wishy-washy response doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in democracy.

AOC Joins Team Biden

Joe Biden appears to have opened the door a tiny, tiny crack to the progressive wing of the party. That might be giving him too much credit, but here’s one good thing at least: the campaign has managed to convince Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to co-chair a task force on climate change.

A spokesperson for AOC confirmed to CNN that she was involved with other members of the Climate Justice community.

Sure, some on the left will probably shout at her for being a sellout, but if Biden is to be the nominee, it can only be a good thing if someone with a proven track record of standing up to the establishment is in a position to hassle him over climate change. She certainly hasn’t pulled any punches in prior statements, saying quote “if Biden is only doing things he's comfortable with, then it's not enough," endquote in an interview with the New York Times last month.

The bigger question is what will happen to the task forces -- which were first announced when Bernie Sanders endorsed Biden -- in the event that the former VP actually does beat Trump in November.

AOC will surely work hard to lay the groundwork, but then it’s still a leap of faith that a Biden administration won’t ice her out after that.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

In a recent court filing, the FBI accidentally let slip a major state secret: the identity of a Saudi embassy official in Washington who was suspected of helping two of the hijackers on 9/11. It’s the first on-record confirmation that the FBI believed it had found a link between the Saudi Embassy and the hijackers, which could have major ramifications for a lawsuit against the Saudi government brought by families of 9/11 victims.

The coronavirus has been detected for the first time among some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Refugee camps in both South Sudan and Greece’s Aegean Islands reported cases, meaning that the disease could soon compound the already dire refugee crisis worldwide.

A new study estimates that over 100,000 small businesses have been forced to shut down permanently since the beginning of the pandemic, according to researchers at Harvard, University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois. The researchers estimate that is roughly 2 percent of all small businesses in the country.

And lastly, Rep. Greg Stube, one of the biggest goons in Congress, owned himself in delightful fashion this week, when he introduced a bill specifically targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar over campaign spending on her now-husband’s company. What he didn’t realize is that the bill’s sloppy wording would also prohibit President Trump’s re-election campaign from spending any money at Trump properties as well, something it is certainly dying to do. Oops!

That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today. Stay tuned for the full show this afternoon!

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Jack Crosbie

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn