White House blames Democrats for failure to renew federal jobless benefits

UNTV News   •   August 3, 2020   •   209

The White House on Friday (July 31) sought to put the onus on Democrats in Congress for a failure to renew expiring federal jobless benefits, saying they had rejected four offers put forward by the Trump administration without countering.

“The Democrats believe that they have all the cards on their side and they’re willing to play those cards at the expense of those that are hurting,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters.

Lawmakers and the White House are at odds over efforts to further shore up the economy and manage the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has left tens of millions of Americans out of work and killed at least 152,384 people in the United States.

In a meeting Thursday (July 30) night between top White House officials and congressional Democratic leaders, negotiations focused on an extension of the $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits, which Americans who lost jobs because of the health crisis have been receiving in addition to state jobless payments.

The Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent senators home for the weekend without reaching a deal.

According to a person familiar with the closed-door negotiations, the White House proposed reducing the $600 weekly payment to $400 for the next four months. While that was a move toward the demands of Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, the source said they rejected it as insufficient.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans tried, without success, to pass a bill reducing the jobless benefit to $200 per week.

For weeks, McConnell has said any deal must include a shield for companies and schools from liability lawsuits as they reopen.

The source, who asked not to be identified, said the White House hinted that it could embrace a deal without that provision.

Democrats want a wide-ranging economic stimulus bill that would include about $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments experiencing plunging revenues during the economic downturn.

In mid-May, the Democratic-controlled House passed a $3 trillion bill that the Republican Senate has ignored. (Reuters)

(Production: Deborah Gembara)

White House proposals on police reform being finalized, reduced immunity off table

UNTV News   •   June 11, 2020

The White House said on Wednesday (June 10) it is putting the finishing touches on proposals to reform the police in the wake of George Floyd’s killing while in police custody, adding that reducing immunity for cops is a “non-starter.”

Speaking at a White House briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said administration plans to address protester concerns about police brutality are reaching “final edits,” and said the proposals could be made public in the “coming days.”

Also on Wednesday, President Donald Trump rejected any proposal to rename U.S. military bases that are named for Confederate leaders from the 1860s Civil War, dismissing appeals made in the wake of Floyd’s death.

McEnany said renaming the bases was “an absolute non-starter for the president.” (Reuters)

(Production: Mana Rabiee)

Trump celebrates impeachment acquittal, lashes out at political foes

UNTV News   •   February 7, 2020

US President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump, facing a bruising re-election campaign and possible further investigations in Congress, celebrated his acquittal on impeachment charges on Thursday (February 6) in a speech that drew on White House pomp to underscore the fact that he remained in office.

After walking down a red carpet to a standing ovation from scores of Republican lawmakers, administration officials and conservative media figures in the White House, Trump re-aired old grievances and accused Democrats of staging a “corrupt” effort to undermine his presidency.

“We went through hell unfairly. Did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I’ve done things wrong in my life, I will admit. Not purposely. But I’ve done things wrong. But this is what the end result is,” he said as he held up a morning newspaper, with a headline reading “Trump acquitted.”

“And there’s nothing from a legal standpoint, this is a political thing. And every time I’d say ‘this is unfair, let’s go to court’, they say ‘sir, you can’t go to court, this is politics’. And we were treated unbelievably unfairly. And you have to understand, we first went through ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’. It was all bullshit. We then went through the Mueller report,” he added.

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit Trump on charges bought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives, only the third time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached.

The acquittal was Trump’s biggest victory yet over his Democratic foes in Congress, who attacked Senate Republicans for refusing to call witnesses or seek new evidence at the trial. (Reuters)

(Production: Mana Rabiee)

Democrats rally their supporters as first test of the nominating season kicks off

UNTV News   •   February 4, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg

Iowa Democrats kick off what could be a bruising nominating process when they gather at caucus sites around the state on Monday (February 3) to begin choosing a challenger to President Donald Trump.

At more than 1,600 schools, community centers and other public locations, voters will render judgment on a field of 11 Democratic contenders led by front-runners Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joe Biden, who have battled for the top in recent Iowa opinion polls.

Mostly white, rural Iowa is the first test in the state-by-state battle to pick a Democratic nominee to face Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election. After more than a year of campaigning and more than $800 million in spending, the results in Iowa could begin to provide answers for a party desperately trying to figure out how to beat the Republican president.

Do voters want someone with appeal to centrists, independents and disaffected Republicans, like moderates Biden, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Senator Amy Klobuchar? Or should the party choose a candidate who energizes its liberal base and could bring out new voters, like progressives Sanders and fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts?

The race has been overshadowed in recent weeks, with Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar relegated to part-time campaigning in Iowa as they stayed in Washington for the Senate impeachment trial of Trump. They heard closing arguments on Monday, just hours before the caucuses.

The caucuses will begin at 7 p.m. CST (0100 GMT on Tuesday), and results are expected to begin rolling in within a few hours. Because voters may register as late as Monday, the caucuses could draw a late surge of attendance, particularly among independent voters or Republicans turned off by Trump.

Even if one candidate wins by a commanding margin in Iowa, Democrats may still lack clear answers as the race moves on to the other three early-voting states of New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina later in February.

Whoever remains in the race by Super Tuesday, when 15 states and territories vote on March 3, will also confront billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is skipping the early states in favor of focusing on delegate-rich states.

Sanders, who finished in a virtual dead heat with Hillary Clinton in Iowa during his first presidential run in 2016, surged recently in many Iowa polls to move just ahead of Biden.

But Warren and Buttigieg remain within striking distance. Many polls show a big bloc of undecided Iowa voters, creating the potential for upsets and late surges.

Iowa state party officials are expecting a record turnout, exceeding the nearly 240,000 voters who attended the caucuses in 2008 amid the excitement over Barack Obama’s first presidential candidacy.

During final rallies across the state, all the contenders made their cases for why they would be the best choice to beat Trump.

Biden touted his experience after decades in elected office, particularly a track record of achieving progressive goals through bipartisan relationships with lawmakers. (Reuters)

(Production: Jane Ross, Nelson Villareal, Deborah Gembara)

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