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What's Ahead in Washington

Barrett Hearing Mostly Civil; Nomination Will Head to Full Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he expects Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination will clear the Judiciary Committee Oct. 22 and be on the Senate floor starting Friday, Oct. 23.
McConnell, speaking in Kentucky, predicts Barrett would be confirmed and says “we have the votes."
The hearing was a sharp contrast from the 2018 confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which were marred with bombastic behavior from senators, regular interruptions from protesters, threats to lawmakers and lurid sexual assault accusations pushed against the nominee.
Read more from Fox News
Talks Continue but Will Another Stimulus Get Across the Finish Line?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Democratic colleagues that there are still big differences with the White House over a number of components of the fiscal stimulus, even as an agreement nears on a coronavirus testing program.
White House National Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow suggested the continuing disputes show Pelosi doesn’t want to compromise. “The goalposts are moving -- you get to this point and then something else happens,” he said on Fox Business on Friday.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been making progress on the issue of a national Covid-19 testing strategy, on which Pelosi insisted. But early Friday afternoon it was unclear whether the two planned to continue their regular calls in what’s been an on-again, off-again negotiation for a coronavirus relief bill.
Mnuchin and Pelosi don’t have any talks scheduled for now, according to two people familiar with the administration’s thinking, though neither ruled out a resumption. A House Democratic aide said there was no sign the negotiations were being cut off or ended at this point.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has raised his own major roadblock to any deal: the size. President Donald Trump said Thursday he was prepared to go beyond the $1.8 trillion his team had been trying to offer to Pelosi, who favors a $2.2 trillion plan.
“He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” McConnell said Thursday of Trump’s latest position.
Read more
Facebook, Twitter To Face Judiciary Committee Over Censorship of Hunter Biden Article
Republican Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) has asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism to explain their actions affecting their platforms’ distribution of a New York Post article linking Joe Biden and his son Hunter to a Ukrainian energy company.
Hearing date is to be determined, but will occur before the election, and would “consider potential campaign finance violations” Hawley says in letter.
Separately, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says Senate Judiciary Committee will subpoena social media companies on Oct. 23 over the New York Post issue.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says at press conference that tech companies like Facebook or Twitter should not be allowed to suppress speech.
“I don’t think any monopoly-type companies like that ought to be able to pick and choose who gets to speak,” McConnell said.
More here
PPP Funding to get Senate Vote Oct. 19
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says when the Senate returns the week of Oct. 19 they will vote on new funding for the Payment Protection Program.
“Our first order of business will be voting again on targeted relief for American workers, including new funding for the PPP,” says McConnell in statement
Unless Democrats block the vote, “we will have time to pass it before we proceed as planned to the pending Supreme Court nomination” of Amy Coney Barrett, said McConnell.
The House is on recess until mid-November, though lawmakers could be called back with 24 hours notice to vote on any economic stimulus deal.

The Senate is in session the week of Oct. 19, 2020.

Highlighted Senate Committee Hearings
Oct. 21
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Hearing:
"Passenger and Freight Rail: The Current Status of the Rail Network and the Track Ahead."
Oct. 22
Senate Judiciary Committee - Markup
Senate Committee on the Judiciary markup to consider the nominations of Amy Coney Barrett, of Indiana, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States…(and more).


Not to be missed

Airplane Virus Transmission Risk Low
Commercial jets’ air filtration systems sweep up airborne coronavirus within minutes, a Pentagon test found, suggesting that flying poses a low risk of exposure.
Aerosol tracer particles were no longer detectable after six minutes in the cabin of commercial United Airlines Holdings Inc. Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft, the U.S. Transportation Command announced Thursday. The air exchange and filtration systems provided more protection than hospital isolation and operating rooms.
The average American home takes about 90 minutes to clear such particles from the air, the command said.
The tests, conducted in late August, involved more than 300 aerosol releases over eight days.  The results have limitations because the testing considered only one infected passenger on the flights, according to Cmdr. Joe Pope, Transportation Command’s operations directorate liaison for the testing.
The study found masks highly effective, reducing the presence of particles in the cabin by about 95%, reporters were told at a briefing.
The testing used mannequins and was conducted by biodefense company Zeteo Tech LLC, DARPA, and the University of Nebraska’s National Strategic Research Institute. The findings will be submitted to a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Read more from Reuters
Southwest Headed for Larger Airports in Houston & Chicago
Southwest Airlines said Monday it will expand in Houston and Chicago by starting flights to those cities’ largest airports, stepping up its head-to-head competition against bigger airlines.

Southwest already serves smaller airports in both cities — Hobby in Houston and Midway in Chicago. The airline said it expects to return to Houston George Bush Intercontinental, where United is the dominant carrier, and launch service at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where both United and American Airlines have major operations, in the first half of next year.
The move comes as the airline struggles with a steep drop in travel during the coronavirus pandemic. Southwest entered the downturn in stronger financial health than United or American, and its lesser reliance on moribund business travel could give it a further advantage. Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Watterson said Southwest also has idle planes that it can use for the new service.
Read more

FBI, DHS Issue Warning of Possible Hack of US Elections Systems
The U.S. Homeland Security Dept and FBI issue an alert on “recent malicious activity” that has been directed in part at federal, state and local govt networks.
“Although it does not appear these targets are being selected because of their proximity to elections information, there may be some risk to elections information housed on government networks,” the alert says.
Race for Virus Cure Hits Reality
The sprint to find medical breakthroughs to contain Covid-19 stumbled this week, as a pair of pharmaceutical giants working to develop treatments and vaccines suffered setbacks. Yesterday, Eli Lilly said that enrollment in a government-sponsored clinical trial of its antibody therapy had been paused out of safety concerns. That came less than 24 hours after Johnson & Johnson said research on its experimental vaccine was paused after a study volunteer fell ill.
More from MSN
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