McConnell moves to shut down debate on Barrett nomination, setting up final vote just days before election
- Barrett's confirmation proceedings will amount to one of the quickest for a Supreme Court nominee in modern times -- just over a month since she was chosen to fill the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- and comes despite the GOP refusing to even have a hearing for President Barack Obama's pick in 2016 because they argued it was too close to the election in March of that year.
- On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination to the full chamber, over the boycott of Democratic committee members, who put in their seats pictures of individuals affected by the Affordable Care Act. Democrats have used a looming Obamacare case before the Supreme Court as a central part of their argument against her confirmation and have protested Barrett's nomination to fill Gisburg's seat this close to Election Day. Liberal groups have criticized the way Democrats handled the confirmation process, in particularly calling out the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who praised the panel's Republican chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, at the conclusion of the confirmation hearings last week.
Did someone have it in for Christine Holgate?
- Another interesting one is from former Victorian Labor minister Philip Dalidakis on Thursday with a photo of his and his daughter's Apple watches – around the same time Labor senator Kimberley Kitching hit Holgate at the Senate hearing over the gifted watches.
- AFR Weekend is not suggesting Dalidakis played any role in Holgate's problems but the falling-out is a good example of how enemies can be made, particularly at Australia Post.
- The gift of Cartier watches is a particularly bad look which may well spell her demise, with insiders giving her a 50:50 chance of survival, even more so late on Friday when the $12,000 cost was revised up to $19,950.
- Former chairman John Stanhope told the AFR Weekend on Friday the board agreed to her idea and he signed a thank-you but did not know the details.
Fact check: Did Biden get $3.5 million from Russia?
- Hunter Biden's lawyer, George Mesires, told CNN that Hunter Biden was not an owner of the firm Senate Republicans allege received the $3.5 million payment in 2014.
- A partisan investigation conducted by Senate Republicans, whose report was released this month, alleged that Elena Baturina, a Russian businesswoman and the wife of late Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, sent $3.5 million in 2014 to a firm called Rosemont Seneca Thornton, and that the payment was identified as a "consultancy agreement." The report did not provide any further details about the transaction.
- Hunter Biden was a co-founder and CEO of the investment firm Rosemont Seneca Advisors.
- But Mesires said Hunter Biden did not co-found Rosemont Seneca Thornton.
- Neither the Senate report nor Trump have provided any evidence that the payment was corrupt or that Hunter Biden committed any wrongdoing.
Stimulus negotiations: House Democrats aren't ruling out a vote but obstacles remain
- One aide familiar with the discussions told CNN that if a deal was reached, the expectation is that "it would come to the floor ASAP" for a vote in the Democratically controlled House.
- An overall agreement is still not finished and it may not be reached in time for Election Day. The deal would have to be finished by the weekend in order to get a vote on the floor next week and Pelosi said Thursday that major issues remain outstanding from unemployment insurance to liability protections.
- McConnell said earlier this week he would consider any bill agreed to between Pelosi and Mnuchin that has the President's support, but aides familiar say it's unlikely McConnell would bring anything to the floor ahead of Election Day, especially if few Republicans in the House back the proposal.
Biden says if elected he will form bipartisan commission to recommend changes to Supreme Court
- News of his plan for the commission comes after the candidate has declined in recent weeks to answer whether he would expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court, a proposal that is commonly referred to as "court packing." Following the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, some progressive members of the Democratic Party have floated the idea of expanding the size of the court and adding liberal justices should Biden be elected and Democrats take the majority in the Senate.
- As he has avoided directly answering the question, Biden has taken to accusing President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans of court-packing, saying their push to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the election is an effort to undo the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Judiciary Committee to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett over Democratic boycott
- Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said the GOP is moving forward no matter what, setting up a Monday confirmation vote by the full Senate, amounting to one of the quickest confirmation proceedings in modern times by pushing the nomination through in just over a month.
- It comes despite the GOP's refusal to move on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee eight months before the 2016 elections.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has led the Republican strategy to transform the judiciary, confirming more than 200 nominees since President Donald Trump was inaugurated.
- But in 2020, another election year, the Senate has taken half the average time to consider Barrett's nomination, pushing it forward even as millions of Americans had already started voting.
Global stocks slide as progress on stimulus stalls with just two weeks to go to the US election
- Global stocks dropped on Thursday, driven lower by another blow to expectations that US lawmakers may agree on a stimulus framework before the November election.
- The dollar index edged higher by 0.1%, to $92, but was still around its lowest in almost two months.
- S&P; 500 futures edged lower overnight after a top US official said Russia and Iran have "taken specific actions to influence public opinion" relating to the presidential election.
- Elsewhere in Europe, shares fell for a fourth day after new records of coronavirus cases were set across the region and governments continued to re-impose movement restrictions on citizens.
- Economically-sensitive commodities like copper and nickel also dropped about 0.4%, suggesting deteriorating expectations for the global industrial economy.
- The price hit a 15-month high the previous day after PayPal said it would soon allow users to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin.
Australia Post spent $12,000 on Cartier watches
- Australia Post spent $12,000 on luxury watches, celebrating the government-owned corporation's controversial deal to provide banking services at post offices.
- Facing Senate estimates hearings on Thursday, chief executive Christine Holgate revealed four senior employees had each received a $3000 Cartier watch after finalising the [email protected] deal with Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB.
- Ms Holgate has been forced to defend Australia Post over a series of recent controversies, including threats to call in the police over delays to the delivery of Pauline Hanson-branded stubby holders destined for residents of Melbourne's locked-down public housing towers in September.
- In 2018, Ms Holgate accused ANZ boss Shayne Elliott of misleading the public over a fee dispute about the banking plan, part of an expansion of financial services at Australia Post outlets, including in regional and remote areas.
- The luxury watches were given to senior executives who secured a deal to expand banking services at post offices.
GOP pushes back on White House's stimulus talks with Pelosi, signaling final action could slip until after elections
- At a closed-door lunch, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows fended off serious concerns raised by GOP senators over the Trump administration's efforts to finalize a roughly $2 trillion package before the elections, even as Pelosi reported progress in her negotiations with the Trump administration on Wednesday.
- Senate Republicans, who failed to advance their own $500 billion plan Wednesday over Democratic opposition, have given Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin an earful over the last two weeks about the frantic push to reach a deal that the GOP argues is far too expensive.
- The Kentucky Republican, who told his colleagues this week that he had urged the White House not to cut a major preelection deal, has not yet said when he plans to close the chamber's doors so senators can return home to campaign before November 3.
'Originalism' isn't what you think it is
- The most fundamental aspect of our original constitutional system is the restraint of power.
- And now, when 56 million students are still trying to stay in school safely or learn remotely -- and the effects are felt by nearly every workplace, community, county and state -- this Senate dropped everything to rush through the nomination of a single judge.
- The Northwest Ordinance of 1785 is at the front of every bound copy of the United States Code alongside the nation's three other "organic laws" -- the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.
- May a few leaders find the courage to summon it this week and may those elected in November do the same -- jealously guarding their independent constitutional roles regardless of who sits in the White House, prioritizing fundamental national commitments over the consolidation of power, and bravely filtering their positions through the eyes of history.