China condemns US backing for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

You Wenze called the lawmakers' comments 'a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law, a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China's internal affairs'.
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Why Democrats are holding out for more comprehensive stimulus
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer speak to members of the press after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the US Capitol August 7, 2020, in Washington, DC. | Alex Wong/Getty Images They don’t think Trump’s executive actions come close to covering what’s needed — and they have the leverage to push for more. President Donald Trump waded into stimulus discussions this weekend, signing a bevy of executive orders meant to mitigate the economic fallout from Covid-19 and put pressure on Democrats. Democratic lawmakers, however, haven’t been deterred by his actions, which they’ve deemed “paltry” and “narrow.” Instead, they’ve remained steadfast in their position on the next stimulus bill, a measure Republican opposition previously hindered progress on for months. Recently, the expiration of the enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) program has thrown the need for more aid into sharp relief, renewing pressure on both parties. Given the dynamic in Congress and the context of this fall’s elections, experts say Democrats have the leverage to keep pushing for a more comprehensive proposal that could help address significant gaps left by Trump’s actions. As of this week, Congress is still at an impasse: While Democrats have urged more funding for expanded UI, Republicans have been reluctant to maintain the benefit that gave more than 30 million unemployed people $600 per week above what they received from their state unemployment programs. Instead, the GOP has proposed a smaller long-term benefit, as well as short-term extensions of the existing program. The two parties, too, continue to differ significantly on the scope of the bill and the degree of support it will provide for struggling states and other overwhelmed social insurance programs such as food aid. Trump’s executive actions — to extend UI benefits, defer payroll taxes, and freeze student loan payments — attempted to shift the pressure to act off Senate Republicans, a number of whom are up for reelection in November. But with the exception of the measure on student loans, his efforts are widely viewed as insufficient and difficult to implement. It could be weeks, for example, before anyone sees the UI assistance he’s proposed. As a result, Congress is still seen as playing a key role in approving more substantive support, though it’s unclear whether the two parties will actually be able to overcome their differences. On Monday, talks between negotiators were at a standstill as both Democrats and Republicans pushed the other party to compromise. “I hope saner voices in the Republican Party will prevail and say, ‘Sit down with Pelosi, sit down with Schumer, and meet them in the middle, for God’s sakes,’” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday during an appearance on Morning Joe. “That’s what we’re willing to do. And we’ve said it: We’re waiting for them to come back and say yes.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of the chief negotiators for the White House, called on Democrats to adjust their demands. “If we can get a fair deal, we’re willing to do it this week,” he said in a CNBC interview on Monday. Negotiations over both a broader package and any short-term UI extension have stagnated thus far. And while Republicans have argued that Congress could approve a short-term UI bill for now, Democrats emphasize that doing so would mean the GOP would likely walk away without passing more comprehensive stimulus. “We’re not doing short-term action, because if we do short-term action, they’re not going to do anything else,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the New York Times this weekend. In a press conference on Friday, Pelosi emphasized that Democrats were willing to compromise, noting that she offered to reduce their more than $3 trillion proposal by $1 trillion, if Republicans were willing to increase their $1 trillion one by a comparable amount. Republicans rejected the offer, according to Pelosi, who cited the disagreement as a sign of how the GOP has stalled progress. Repeatedly, Democrats have emphasized they’re interested in backing a bill that matches the scale of the current problem. At this point, Democrats have the leverage to keep pushing for a more generous package: Since the Senate Republican conference is split, any bill will need a solid chunk of Democratic support in order to pass, giving the party more sway to determine what it includes. Additionally, experts see Republicans bearing more of the electoral fallout in November’s elections if the economy continues to struggle, meaning they should be more open to a potential deal. Democrats have the numbers in Congress A key reason Democrats aren’t backing down is that the numbers in Congress are on their side. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has emphasized repeatedly, his conference is currently fractured, with as many as 15 to 20 Republicans poised to vote against any new stimulus, including the HEALS Act, the piecemeal counterproposal Republicans rolled out two weeks ago. “If you’re looking for total consensus among Republican senators, you’re not going to find one,” McConnell said last Tuesday. That split means that Republicans will need substantial Democratic support for any compromise to pass the Senate. Were the 53-person Republican conference to stay united, they would typically require seven Democrats to join them in order to avoid any filibuster and approve a bill in the upper chamber. Because of the anticipated GOP defections, they’d likely need a much higher number to do so on this legislation. Schumer alluded to this dynamic while addressing the factors at play last Friday. “The House doesn’t have the votes to go south of $2 trillion; the Senate Democrats don’t have the votes to go south of $2 trillion,” he said. Since the 2018 midterms, Democrats have been able to use their majority in the House as a key pressure point in negotiations about the government shutdown and earlier stimulus packages. Due to the divides in the Senate GOP conference this time around, they have even more leverage in the upper chamber. Republicans are set to bear more of the political backlash, for now In addition to the advantage they have in Congress, Democrats are also set to face less political backlash than Republicans are — for now. That dynamic enables them to push the GOP to consider a more comprehensive package, since it’s in Republicans’ political interest to take action on the matter as well. Because they are the party in power in both the White House and the Senate, Republicans are seen as the ones who are most likely to get the blame in this November’s elections if Congress doesn’t approve more stimulus and the economic fallout persists, experts say. “Voters are likelier to hold the incumbent presidential party more responsible for the state of the economy, and the country as a whole,” says Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia. “From a purely political perspective, Republicans should have more incentive to stimulate the economy than the Democrats.” Recent polling, after all, shows that a majority of voters on both sides of the aisle support additional stimulus. A Reuters/Ipsos poll fielded in mid-July found that 76 percent of voters back an extension of enhanced weekly UI. Vulnerable Senate Republicans, as well as Trump, could see serious electoral fallout in November if Congress doesn’t act and the economy is still struggling. “Depending on how popular stimulus is in some of these states, how many people are fearing unemployment, it can certainly cost votes for Republicans” if nothing gets done, Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, previously told Vox. Democrats, too, could face some of that blowback if this impasse continues, though they have the advantage of being able to point to actions they’ve already taken. This past May, Democrats passed the HEROES Act, their attempt at another round of stimulus, which would extend enhanced UI through the end of January and provide more than $900 billion in funds to state and local governments. “I think Democrats should feel like they are in a pretty good position right now,” says Jim Manley, a staffer for Harry Reid during his tenure as Senate majority leader. “The speaker came down and Republicans refused to make a commensurate move.” The ongoing impasse between the parties, though, means that millions of Americans on unemployment insurance are waiting to see what comes next, even as many have already seen a sharp drop in their weekly benefits. Will you become our 20,000th supporter? When the economy took a downturn in the spring and we started asking readers for financial contributions, we weren’t sure how it would go. Today, we’re humbled to say that nearly 20,000 people have chipped in. The reason is both lovely and surprising: Readers told us that they contribute both because they value explanation and because they value that other people can access it, too. We have always believed that explanatory journalism is vital for a functioning democracy. That’s never been more important than today, during a public health crisis, racial justice protests, a recession, and a presidential election. But our distinctive explanatory journalism is expensive, and advertising alone won’t let us keep creating it at the quality and volume this moment requires. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will help keep Vox free for all. Contribute today from as little as $3.
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A Trump rally attendee holds a large “Q” sign while waiting in line on to see President Trump at his rally August 2, 2018. “Q” represents QAnon, proponents of a debunked conspiracy theory. | Rick Loomis/Getty Images Awash in racism and conspiracy, Marjorie Taylor Greene embodies the logical ends of Trumpism. Marjorie Taylor Greene, currently the leading candidate in the race for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District seat, has a campaign that marries two powerful political forces: conspiracy theories and racism.In doing so, Greene could give new energy to Trumpism in the next Congress. Like President Donald Trump, Greene has played on racist tropes, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy theories to amass a reputation for repudiating political correctness in favor of “truth-telling.” She has, for instance, called Q, the purported leader of the QAnon conspiracy theory — which claims Trump will save the US from “deep state” pedophiles and other malcontents — a patriot. She’s called George Soros, a Jewish Democratic donor, a Nazi. And she boasts a long history of decrying Islam, denying racial inequality, and defending Confederate memorabilia. Now Greene seems poised to win a seat in Congress. She leads the Republican field in Tuesday’s runoff election against John Cowan, a local neurosurgeon, for the US House of Representatives seat representing the 14th District in Georgia. The 14th stretches from the Atlanta suburbs to the state’s northwest corner. More than 85 percent of its constituents are white. It is a conservative, deep-red district that is rated Solid Republican by the Cook Political Report. And nationally, the race has garnered attention as one of a number with prominent QAnon candidates that, together, seem indicative of Republican Party’s future — and how much sway Trump’s controversial political style may hold over the party’s directionin the years to come. Establishment Republicans have struggled to manage bigotry and conspiracism In June, Politico published an exposé featuring videos of Greene making antagonistic and xenophobic comments.In one clip, taken from the candidate’s YouTube page, Greene says: “Let me explain something to you, Mohammed! Let me explain. We already have equality and justice for all Americans. Muslims are not being held back in any way ... what you people want is special treatment, you want to rise above us, and that’s what we’re against! After the story, mainstream Republicans rebuffed Greene’s campaign. Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Republican whip, called her statements “disgusting” in the New York Times, and a spokesperson for House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney called the comments “offensive and bigoted” in Politico. However, while House leadership rebuked her comments, these types of statements were not without precedent — particularly at the top of the Republican ticket.President Trump has built his political career levying similar racist and xenophobic statements, like insinuating that Barack Obama was not a citizen, insisting that broad swaths of Mexicans were violent criminals, and telling female Congress members of color to return to their home countries. Beyond racism,Greene also supports, and has promoted, QAnon. It is a conspiracy theory that believes a pedophilic “deep state” of federal officials is working against Trump — and that he has a secret strategy to defeat them. Greene has previously said on YouTube that she’s “very excited about that now there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it.” This adherence is concerning in part because believers in conspiracy theories like these have shown themselves to act erratically, if not violently, in recent years. For example, in 2016, a man fired gunshots into a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, because a similar conspiracy theory had suggested there was a secret pedophile ring connected to Hillary Clinton being run from the basement. Some experts, like Media Matters president Angelo Carusone, fear bringing this type of fringe thinking to Congress would amplify the number of conspiracy theorists, including those with a willingness to attempt dangerous attacks. Greene’s racist comments and her naked embrace of fringe conspiracy theories appear to have won her support in her district, but threaten to undermine the more tempered political vision of some moderate Republicans seeking to realign the party for a potential Trump loss. Rising Republican star Maryland Gov.Larry Hogan recently argued in an Atlantic interview on the future of the party that “successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division,” and that it should be the goal of the GOP to build “a big tent.” Likewise, last month, Oren Cass, a former staffer for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), critiqued the Trumpism and the Republican orthodoxy of the past 20 years, arguing their limited scope will increasingly make it difficult for Republicans to hold on to power:“The kind of coalition that those ideas were built for does not seem to have any potential as a majority coalition,” Cass told Vox’s Ezra Klein. As a potential end to Trump’s presidency looms, many in the GOP disagree on the direction for a post-Trump norm. Some, like Hogan, push for a moderate vision; others, like Sen. Ben Sasse, have taken up the cause of fiscal conservatism; and still others, like Rep. Doug Collins, advocate for a focus on “law and order.” Meanwhile, Republicans like Greene and fellow QAnon-aligned candidate Lauren Boebert are pushingto take Trumpism to its logical end — with more racism and conspiracy theories. Greene epitomizes the potential peril of a “Congressional QAnon Caucus” Strong support for candidates like Greene undermines this push for a transition to a more approachable, pluralistic, economically populist Republican Party. This year, several Republican candidates have successfully campaigned for office by tapping into conspiratorial thinking. According to the Media Matters QAnon tracker, “Nineteen candidates — 18 Republicans and one independent — have already secured a spot on the ballot in November by competing in primary elections or by fulfilling other requirements needed to get on the ballot.” If these candidates win in November, experts fear it will institutionalize fringe thinking. “There’s a huge concern with having a potential for a popularly elected caucus that has no basis in fact, or as untethered by campaigning on evidence,” Graham Brookie, a specialist in disinformation and the director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told Vox. “It would be dangerous to have a cadre of elected officials in the House’s representatives that believes the federal government is trying to overthrow itself violently.” And it is dangerous in part because, although 18 members would be a small caucus, small but vocal caucuses like the Tea Party have caused the GOP trouble — and transformed it — in the past. QAnon candidates have been so successful, in part, due to institutional distrust endemic in the GOP caucus. Many “elements of the worldview underpinning QAnon don’t look all that different from what’s coming from the top of the ticket,” Vox’s Cameron Peters writes in explaining the group’s electoral popularity. Peters notes that a Yahoo News/YouGov poll from late May found “half of all Americans who name Fox News as their primary TV news source believe the conspiracy theory (that Bill Gates wants to use mass vaccination to implant microchips), and 44 percent of voters who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 do as well.” This success, which includes Greene’s lead in her conservative Georgia district, offers a preview for how party grassroots elected officials with a strong affinity for Trump and his style may proceed in his absence. With Trump trailing in national polls, a second term in the White House is not a sure thing — but the presence of Greene and other QAnon supporters in Congress would ensure, at the very least, the continued projection of virulent racism and misinformation into the national discourse. Will you become our 20,000th supporter? When the economy took a downturn in the spring and we started asking readers for financial contributions, we weren’t sure how it would go. Today, we’re humbled to say that nearly 20,000 people have chipped in. The reason is both lovely and surprising: Readers told us that they contribute both because they value explanation and because they value that other people can access it, too. We have always believed that explanatory journalism is vital for a functioning democracy. That’s never been more important than today, during a public health crisis, racial justice protests, a recession, and a presidential election. But our distinctive explanatory journalism is expensive, and advertising alone won’t let us keep creating it at the quality and volume this moment requires. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will help keep Vox free for all. Contribute today from as little as $3.
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