WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package on Thursday as the parties argued to a standstill over the size and scope of the aid, likely ending hopes for coronavirus relief before the November election.
The mostly party-line vote capped weeks of wrangling that gave way to election-season political combat and name-calling over a fifth relief bill that all sides say they want but are unable to deliver. The bipartisan spirit that powered earlier aid measures is all but gone.
Democrats said the measure shortchanged too many pressing needs. Republicans argued it was targeted to areas of widespread agreement, but the 52-47 vote fell well short of what was needed to overcome a filibuster. All the present Democrats opposed it, while conservative Rand Paul, R-Ky., cast the only GOP “nay” vote. The Democratic vice presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, was campaigning in Miami and missed the vote.
“It’s a sort of a dead end street, and very unfortunate,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. “But it is what it is.”
The $650 billion measure is significantly smaller than legislation promoted by Republican leaders this summer. But that version was too big for most conservatives, so the GOP bill was instead stripped back to focus on school aid, jobless benefits and help for small businesses. That maximized Republican support even as it alienated Democrats, who say such a piecemeal approach would leave out far too many vulnerable people.
The result was a predictable impasse and partisan tit-for tat as the congressional session limps to its pre-election close. The panicked atmosphere that drove passage of the $2 trillion landmark CARES Act in March has dissipated as the nation powers through the pandemic with partial reopenings of businesses and schools, though the economy lags and the virus continues to badly disrupt life in the U.S.
It’s becoming plain that all Congress will do before the Nov. 3 election is pass legislation to avert a government shutdown. The outcome of the election promises to have an outsize impact on what might be possible in a postelection lame-duck session, with Democrats sure to press for a better deal if Democrat Joe Biden unseats President Donald Trump.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted that Thursday’s GOP defeat would prompt Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., back to the negotiating table, as an earlier filibuster in March helped make the $2 trillion rescue bill more generous.
“But (Thursday’s) bill is not going to happen because it is so emaciated, so filled with poison pills, so partisanly designed,” Schumer said.
McConnell crafted the measure to permit his GOP colleagues to go on record in favor of popular provisions such as another round of “paycheck protection” help for smaller businesses, help for schools to reopen and supplemental jobless benefits. He again blasted Democrats on Thursday, saying they are still pushing a liberal wish list and are willing to scuttle provisions with widespread backing to deny Trump a victory.
“Today every senator will either say they want to send families the relief we can agree to or they can send families nothing,” McConnell said.
There’s no indication yet that bipartisan talks that crumbled last month will restart. Top lawmakers and aides offered glum assessments both publicly and privately.
Veteran Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley said it’s “sad” there will be no virus aid deal, though he also said the outlook for the economy may not be as bleak as he once thought.
“If you’d asked me, two or three weeks ago I’d say very, very negative,” Grassley said. But with the job market improving and “the whole world kind of getting out of this pandemic, depression, we’re in” Grassley said, there’s “a lot less of an impact than I would have thought two weeks ago.”
The stalemate is politically risky for all sides heading into the fall election, and both sides accused the other of acting primarily with political calculations in mind. Democrats said GOP senators need to “check a box” and vote on any kind of relief bill before exiting Washington to campaign while Republicans said Democrats were intent on denying Republicans a political win.
“What is of overwhelming importance to Democrats is keeping coronavirus alive as a political issue,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. “They’d rather have no bill, zero funding and a political weapon than have a bill and allow Republicans to say that we helped Americans.”
All that’s left — barring a breakthrough that looks unlikely now — is to pass a government-wide short-term spending measure that would avert a shutdown at month’s end and set up a postelection lame-duck session to deal with any unfinished Capitol Hill legislation, which could include coronavirus relief.
The scaled-back GOP virus plan is roughly one-seventh the size of a whopping Democratic package that passed the house in May and about one-fourth of the $2.2 trillion set by Pelosi last month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mentioned a $1.5 trillion figure in testimony last week.
The failed measure would have provide $105 billion to help schools reopen, created a scaled-back $300-per-week supplemental jobless benefit, and devoted $258 billion for a second round of paycheck protection subsidies for smaller businesses. Lesser amounts would have furthered vaccine research and development and funded the Postal Service, farmers, and child care.
It did not contain a new round of $1,200 direct payments to Americans, and the new $300 weekly jobless benefit would expire just after Christmas, on Dec. 27. The GOP bill also lacked money for election costs that lawmakers from both parties have supported to accommodate a huge influx of mail-in ballots.
Official estimates of the measure’s cost were unavailable, but a GOP legislative aide said the cost is about $650 billion, with about half of the price tag offset by repurposing prior COVID funds.
Raising Canes Opens Clearwater Location to Rave Reviews
CLEARWATER, Fla. (FNN) – Hundreds of people lined up Tuesday for the grand opening of Raising Canes, the latest chicken hot spot in the Tampa Bay area. Raising Canes, which was founded in Louisiana, dubbed Clearwater as their first Florida location and fans delivered a warm welcome for the chain that proudly proclaims, “we serve only the most crave-able chicken finger meals, it’s our one love.”
The Pena’s showing some sibling love wanted to be the first in line for this momentous occasion. Getting in line at 10 PM, the duo planned to camp out with friends.
“We had to stay up all night, but it was fun,” said Ashley Pena. “We are definitely going to remember this experience.”
20 of the first 100 people were entered into a drawing to win free Raising Canes for a year!
For Kim Boldus, bringing the franchise to the area hits close to home and means the world to her.
“Raising Canes is really all about being in the community,” she said. I’m really excited personally and professionally because I am from this area, born and raised. I am very excited to bring this amazing restaurant. We do so many amazing things to pair with the community and I can’t wait to see what we do here in Clearwater.”
According to their website, Raising Canes supports over 30,000 local organizations. At the grand opening, they had the support of the local Chamber of Commerce as well as the Mayor to celebrate this momentous occasion.
After the pomp and circumstance, it was time to eat, much to the delight of the hungry fans waiting for a taste of chicken tender goodness, some who has experienced Raising Canes before, and others who wanted to see what the hype was all about.
“We’ve had our food truck out in the community this week and so we’ve had so many people excited to see us,” Boldus added. “For those who have never been, you can expect the most tender chicken fingers you’ve ever had with the best special secret sauce and garlic Texas toast that will blow your mind.”
Unsure of what to get? Bodldus offers a simple solution.
“Definitely a box combo so that you can try everything we have on the menu!”
Raising Canes is located at 2525 Gulf to Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33765. The restaurant offers both dine-in and drive-through options and is open from 10 AM until midnight Sunday – Thursday and 1 AM on Friday and Saturday.
Tim Giuliani Elected to International Chamber of Commerce General Council
Orlando, Fla. – Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) President and CEO Tim Giuliani has been elected to the World Chambers Federation (WCF) of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) General Council. Representing more than 1,400 chambers from around the world, this year’s Council is comprised of one of the most diverse cadres of chamber leaders in its history, reflecting WCF’s commitment to advancing regional and gender diversity.
“This is much more than simply a professional honor,” said Giuliani. “This recognition further reinforces Orlando’s reputation as a global leader in economic development and highlights how our mission of advancing Broad-based Prosperity® aligns with WCF’s objective to elevate and empower businesses to be leading players in tackling our most pressing issues. I look forward to sharing our region’s best practices and vision for inclusive growth with my fellow members to show how we all can drive an impactful future for communities everywhere.”
ICC is the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries with a mission to enable business to secure peace, prosperity, and opportunity for all and ensure business work for everyone, every day, everywhere. Through a unique mix of advocacy, solutions and standard setting, the organization promotes international trade, responsible business conduct and a global approach to regulation in addition to providing market-leading dispute resolution services. Its members include many of the world’s leading companies, SMEs, business associations and local chambers of commerce.
The Partnership has a long history of supporting the Orlando region’s business community. Through its business development efforts, the Partnership works to market the Orlando region as an ideal location for successful and innovative businesses to scale and success while also growing the diversity of the regional economy by providing complimentary services to expanding businesses to achieve a soft and welcoming landing in the business community. The Partnership’s programs and initiatives support our region’s existing businesses by driving regional investment, catalyzing regional leadership and helping to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
In collaboration with ICC, the WCF provides all the tools to support Chambers and MSMEs, connecting chambers worldwide to develop and reinforce our chamber community. Chamber leaders from local, regional, national and transnational chambers were eligible to run for the General Council, each member serving a three-year term with the opportunity to run twice. The final composition of the Council sees representation from all parts of membership worldwide. It includes nine representatives from the Americas, thirteen from the Africa and Middle East region, nine from Asia-Pacific and twelve from Europe.
“We are proud of the level of enthusiasm and support of our members who showed interest in serving on the ICC WCF General Council,” said WCF Chairman Nicolás Uribe. “We have successfully brought together one of the most diverse and inclusive Councils in our long history, and I look forward to working with all members to strengthen the WCF and the wider chamber community.”
The new members of the WCF Executive Council are as follows:
Mr Tim Giuliani, President and CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership (USA)
Mr Marcelo Elizondo, Director – prosecretary, Argentina Chamber of Commerce and Services (Argentina)
Mr Andrew McKellar, CEO, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Australia)
Mr Olivier Willocx, Chief Executive Officer, Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (Belgium)
Mrs Maria Teresa Bustamante, President, FIESC Foreign Chamber of Commerce (Brazil)
Mrs Min Yu, General Director, ICC China Secretariat, China Chamber of International Commerce (China)
Mrs Rim Siam, President of Economic Business Women Council, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce (Egypt)
Mr Giorgi Pertaia, President, The Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Georgia)
Mr Volker Treier, Chief Executive of Foreign Trade and Member of the Executive Board, Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (Germany)
Mr Mohammed Khazaee Torshizi, Senior Advisor to President, Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines & Agriculture (Iran)
Mr Kazuo Nishitani, Executive Director, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Japan)
Mr Seong Woo Lee, Vice President, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Korea)
Mr Trajan Angeloski, President, Macedonian Chambers of Commerce (Macedonia)
Mrs Tamader Al Thani, Director of International Relations and Chamber Affairs, Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Qatar)
Mr Mihai Daraban, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania (Romania)
Mr José Luis Bonet, President, Spain Chamber of Commerce (Spain)
Mr Vincent Subilia, Director General, Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (Switzerland)
Mr Izzet Volkan, Chairman of the Board, Corlu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Turkey)
Mr Gennadiy Chyzhykov, President, The Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ukraine)
Mrs Shevaun Haviland, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce (United Kingdom)
Orlando International Airport Pushing 50 Million Passenger Mark, Again
ORLANDO, FL. – With a strong start to the holiday travel season in November, Orlando International Airport (MCO) came dramatically close to breaking the 50 million passenger barrier, again. Previously, MCO shattered the mark before the pandemic and it was not predicted to fully rebound again until at least 2025.
“We have far exceeded anyone’s expectations for traffic growth at Orlando International Airport,” says Kevin Thibault, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “On a rolling 12-month basis, MCO welcomed 49.7 million passengers as of November. If you break that down even further, it is about two days-worth of traffic shy of 50 million.”
For the month of November, MCO was bolstered once again by robust international traffic, which climbed over 85 percent. Those numbers were also affected by the resumption of service by Sunwing to Toronto. Another key factor, MCO recorded the third-lowest domestic air fares in the country from July through September for the top 50 U.S. airports.
Rolling 12-month Traffic Statistics:
- International traffic is up by triple digits with a 225 percent increase over the same 12-month period in 2021 with 5,352,825 total international passengers.
- Domestic traffic climbed 21.04 percent year-over-year to 44,350,955 passengers at MCO.
- Combined, overall traffic at MCO for the 12-month rolling total was up 29.82 percent to 49,703,780 passengers.
November 2022 Traffic Statistics:
- International traffic climbed 85.35 percent with a total of 466,169 international arrivals and departures.
- Domestic passenger traffic was up 3.83 percent on 3,772,635 total travelers for the month.
- Combined, traffic was up 9.11 percent with a grand total of 4,238,804 arrivals and departures at MCO.
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