Monday morning news – February 1, 2021

GOP senators propose relief bill compromise » Ten Republican senators are asking President Biden to sit down at the bargaining table to hammer out a compromise relief bill. 

They’re proposing a bill one-third the size of what Biden is seeking. They’re urging him to negotiate rather than try to ram through his $1.9 trillion package solely on Democratic votes.

Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy is one of those 10 senators. 

CASSIDY: If you say you want bipartisanship and you want unity, and you want Republicans to join, and then you have a budget reconciliation which is chock full of handouts and payoffs to Democratic constituency groups. 

Many Democrats want to pass Biden’s relief package through a process known as budget reconciliation. That would allow the bill to advance with a simple 51-vote majority. And Republicans would not be able to block it unless at least one Democrat defects. 

Biden’s economic adviser Jared Bernstein told Fox News…

BERNSTEIN: Look, the American people really couldn’t care less about budget process, whether it’s regular order bipartisanship, whether it’s filibuster, reconciliation. They need relief and they need it now. 

Sen. Cassidy said the GOP plan would cost about $600 billion, taking a much more targeted approach. 

But he said they agree with the White House that Congress must fund the ongoing vaccination effort. 

CASSIDY: So we have $160 billion. We match his figure when it comes to vaccination.

But the Republican group would rein in spending in other areas.  

The GOP plan would send another round of stimulus checks to some Americans. But it would not match Biden’s plan to send $1,400 checks to most Americans.

New COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations drop in Calif. » California on Sunday reported another 481 COVID-19 related deaths, a day after the statewide death toll topped 40,000.

But there is some good news to report. The number of coronavirus patients filling California hospital beds has dropped below 15,000. That’s still very high, but a drop of more than 25 percent over the past two weeks.

That mirrors a national trend. After the United States hit a peak of more than 250,000 new cases per day in mid January, it’s down to a little over 150,000 daily cases now. 

But infectious disease specialist, Dr. Thomas Frieden warns…

FRIEDEN: This virus is still way out of control in the U.S. Get your vaccine the moment it’s your turn. But it’s going to be many months before it’s safe to go out. And that’s why it’s so important to double down on those protection protocols. Mask up and avoid indoor air with people who are not in your household. 

COVID-19 deaths are not yet tracking with the falling case numbers. 

A 7-day moving average showed deaths peaked at more than 3,400 per day in the United States last month. That’s down only slightly to 3,200 deaths per day now.  

Russian police arrest thousands of protesters » Police in Russia have arrested upwards of 5,000 people… 

AUDIO: [Sound of protest]

…as protesters continue to fill city streets demanding the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

Tens of thousands gathered Sunday across Russia—many chanting slogans against President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny’s team called another protest in Moscow for tomorrow, when he is set to face a court hearing that could send him to prison for years.

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken had this to say about the Kremlin’s crackdown on Navalny and his backers. 

BLINKEN: It remains striking to me how concerned, and maybe even scared, the Russian government seems to be of one man, Mr. Nalvany.  

The 44-year-old anti-corruption investigator is Putin’s best-known critic. 

Authorities arrested him last month at a Moscow airport as he returned from Germany where he was treated for a nerve agent poisoning.

Myanmar military says it is taking control of the country » The military of Myanmar is seizing control of the country.

Phone and internet connections were cut in the capital of Naypyidaw on Monday. And some reports suggest senior politicians including the nation’s top leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, had been detained.

A presenter on military-owned state television announced the takeover last night, and cited a section of the military-drafted constitution that allows it to take control in times of national emergency. 

The report claimed the takeover was in part due to the government’s failure to address alleged voter fraud in the last election and the fact the government did not postpone the election amid the pandemic. 

The White House issued a statement, saying “The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.”

Winter storm slams Northeastern U.S. » A winter storm is blanketing much of the Northeastern United States with up to a foot-and-a-half of snow. 

Bob Oravec with the National Weather Service predicted on Sunday…

ORAVEC: Washington DC probably 6 to 8 inches; similar amounts near Philadelphia. New York City anticipating 6 to 12 inches; snow going all the way up into Upstate New York and also across most of eastern and northern New England. 

Forecasters say parts of the region could see blizzard-like conditions, with a foot to 18 inches of snow.

This is the same system that covered parts of the Midwest with the most snow in years. Chicago got almost 7 inches by Sunday morning. That forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights.

(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File) In this Jan. 23, 2021, file photo, police officers confront people protesting the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow, Russia.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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