WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Pressure Grows For Another Stimulus Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McMcConnell of Ky., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McMcConnell of Ky., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Pressure Grows For Another Stimulus Bill

WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and I’m hoping we’ll get another movie with Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, perhaps in his golden years. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Pressure mounts on Congress to provide coronavirus relief

Hoping to break a monthslong stalemate, a bipartisan group of lawmakers today announced a relief plan that would provide $180 billion in additional unemployment insurance.

That would translate to a weekly boost of $300 to unemployment payments for 18 weeks, reports NPR. That’s lower than the $600 per week that Democrats wanted.

The new proposal would set aside $288 billion to help struggling small businesses. It would also provide $16 billion for coronavirus testing and the development and distribution of vaccines. And the plan would temporarily shield businesses and other entities from coronavirus-related lawsuits. [NPR]

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the plan, saying “we just don’t have time to waste time.” He said he prefers a more targeted plan that would cost about $500 billion.

McConnell also said that a must-pass spending bill will likely include economic relief. That spending bill must be approved by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she talked to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for the first time today since late October. She said Mnuchin agreed to review a plan she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent to Republicans yesterday. Mnuchin also said he would look at the bipartisan proposal announced today. [CNBC]

2. Justice Department hasn’t found widespread voter fraud that would change the election, Barr says

As President Donald Trump continues to spread baseless claims of election fraud, Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press today that federal investigators have not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of last month’s election.

“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don’t like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and ‘investigate,’ ” Barr said. [AP]

Meanwhile, Republicans are concerned the president’s claims of a widespread conspiracy will cost them two crucial Senate runoff races in Georgia that could determine which party holds the majority in the chamber.

“You can’t say the system is rigged but elect these two senators,” Eric Johnson, a campaign adviser to Republican Senate candidate Kelly Loeffler, told The New York Times. “At some point he either drops it or he says I want everybody to vote and get their friends to vote so that the margins are so large that they can’t steal it.”

Trump is expected to visit Georgia this weekend. [NYT]

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani reportedly asked Trump for a preemptive pardon. [ABC News]

3. The coronavirus may have been in the U.S. last December

The coronavirus may have been infecting people inside the U.S. as early as Dec. 13, more than a month before the first confirmed case around Jan. 20, according to a new study published today.

Researchers came to the conclusion after analyzing blood donations collected by the American Red Cross and found coronavirus antibodies in samples from nine states.

The study highlights that, despite being nearly a year into the pandemic, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about the coronavirus. [NPR]

In Illinois, officials announced 12,542 new cases and 125 deaths. The state is seeing a rolling, seven-day average of 8,851 cases per day, a 28% decline from the average two weeks ago. [WBEZ]

In Chicago, the city’s top public health official said some frontline healthcare workers might be able to receive vaccines within the next two to three weeks. Lower-risk residents could get it in the spring, and children by the summer. [Chicago Tribune]

Meanwhile, a new report from CNN suggests that local officials in China’s province of Hubei, where the virus was first detected, may have downplayed the severity of the outbreak.

In a report marked “internal document, please keep confidential,” health officials listed nearly 6,000 new cases on Feb. 10, more than double the official number that was publicly announced. [CNN]

4. The return of Rahm?

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is among the candidates under consideration for transportation secretary by President-elect Joe Biden, reports The Associated Press, which adds that an announcement is not believed to be made soon.

But Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other progressives have publicly criticized the idea of nominating Emanuel because of his handling of the police killing of Laquan McDonald. [AP]

Coincidentally or not, The Wall Street Journal this week published an op-ed from Emanuel, who mentioned a big transportation issue: the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, which sets standards on how much fuel cars need.

“The Biden administration could strengthen fuel-economy standards on its own, then turn to Congress to create new incentives for renewable energy,” Emanuel wrote. [WSJ]

5. Yes, we’re talking about the monolith

Here’s the shot: The disappearance of the mysterious monolith in Utah will not result in a major investigation from local authorities.

The sheriff for Utah’s San Juan County basically said he doesn’t have the time, resources and energy to take the thing seriously, especially since it was illegally placed on public land. [AP]

Now the chaser: A similar monolith has now been discovered in northern Romania, about halfway around the world.

The mayor of the Romanian city of Piatra Neamt cautioned residents on Facebook that “there is no reason to panic for those who think there is still life in the universe.” [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Iran’s parliament voted to stop UN inspections of nuclear facilities and put more pressure on European nations to ease sanctions. [AP]
  • An Illinois law created a “profit machine” for scandal-plagued ComEd, according to a watchdog report. [WBEZ]
  • Chicago Public Schools is holding off on a plan to close three elementary schools in North Lawndale and open a new one. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Chicago’s winter parking ban is now in effect. [Block Club Chicago]

Oh, and one more thing …

Here’s one for anyone who grew up in the ’80s. Peter Dinklage will star in a remake of The Toxic Avenger, a 1984 cult hit about a man who falls into a vat of toxic waste and becomes a deformed superhero named Toxie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the remake will be “a contemporary reimagining that will subvert the superhero genre a la Deadpool.”

I was too young to see Toxic Avenger when it first came out, but, because it was the ’80s, the film was adapted into a children’s cartoon show called the Toxic Crusaders. And I definitely remember that one. It was a messed up version of Captain Planet, and the toys came with slime. [Hollywood Reporter]

Tell me something good …

What’s something you like doing during the winter?

Jian Ping writes:

“Be a winter swimmer in Lake Michigan!

“I live near the lake in the city and have been swimming in Lake Michigan for a decade during the summer. Due to COVID-19, I didn’t stop swimming in late Oct., as I usually do. Instead, I put on a wetsuit, neoprene gloves, booty and cap, and have continued my daily swim in the lake to this day, including this morning in the choppy water. Still swim for 35-40 minutes each morning now. Pleasantly surprised by the magical impact of the cold water on my body and mind, and absolutely love the healthy feeling after each swim. Will continue swimming this winter as long as the lake is not frozen! A silver lining of the pandemic since I can’t turn indoors for a workout at a gym.”

What are some of your favorite things to do during the winter? Feel free to email at therundown@wbez.org or tweet to @whuntah.

Have a nice night! If you like what you just read, you can subscribe to the newsletter here and have it delivered to your inbox.