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Republicans finally agreed among themselves on more pandemic relief. They still have to work out a plan with Democrats because look at doing an entire deal.
We could also look at doing parts. What's their plan is unemployment help runs out. I'm David Greene with Steve Inskeep. And this is up first from NPR News.
Federal agents are using flash grenades and tear gas against demonstrators at Portland's federal courthouse. We want the feds out and we want the police to take accountability.
What happens next? After months of clashes, also a Horse-Drawn wagon carried the body of John Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. His effort to cross that bridge with other protesters made it a landmark of the civil rights movement. How did Alabamans say goodbye? Stay with us. We'll guide you through this day's news.
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It turns out a few trillion dollars may not be quite enough to tide over the country in the pandemic.
Congress has approved that much in relief. But a key provision is running out. It's the extra 600 dollars many Americans have been receiving in their unemployment checks. Months ago, Democrats proposed an extension after much delay. Republicans will unveil a plan today, but they don't like that unemployment provision. Some lawmakers did not like that. Some people were making more than they could by working. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tells ABC the Republican plan will be different.
We are going to be prepared on Monday to provide unemployment insurance extension. That would be 70 percent of whatever the wages you were prior to being unemployed.
NPR congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell is covering this story. Kelsey, good morning. Good morning. How did the Republicans come in about two months after the Democrats on this?
Well, back two months ago when Democrats passed their bill, the Heroes Act, Republicans said they had to kind of wait and see if the economy would rebound. But the economy is very much not rebounding right now. And now they're in this moment where they were planning to release a bill last week. But it didn't happen in large part because of that unemployment provision. They simply can't agree. You know, this is not Republicans trying to come to an agreement with Democrats even.
They can't agree amongst themselves and they haven't even set a timeline to talk to Democrats. And it's not just unemployment, though. That is a major portion of this. There's also some disagreement about the overall cost of this.
OK, well, let's talk about some of these disagreements, including the one on unemployment. What is it the Democrats want to do and how does that compare with what we heard Mark Meadows say?
All right. So we talked a lot about these special unemployment benefits from the Carers Act back in March that offered six hundred dollars a week on top of state unemployment benefits, which, you know, they vary from state to state and they're about 378 dollars on average. Now, they landed on a plan to give six hundred dollars because doing anything else was going to be too difficult. And they want to make sure that most people could maintain income close to what they were making before.
Democrats want to extend that. And Republicans are saying the 70 percent of a person's wages would be more fair. But I reported over the weekend that the U.S. Department of Labor warned Congress back in May that it strongly oppose such a change because would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible to implement. But the Trump administration says it's workable and Treasury Secretary Steven Manoogian just called it a technical fix.
Yeah, of course, that's the debate here, because the situation is urgent. People need the money now, not next month or next to here. Now, Secretary Manoogian was talking on Fox News Sunday and talked of maybe getting this package passed by splitting it into pieces. Let's listen.
Within the trillion dollar package, there are certain things that have timeframes that are a bigger priority. So we could look at doing an entire deal. We could also look at doing parts.
What's the advantage of doing parts, as he says? Well, it would possibly appease some different parts of the Republican Party. Some people are worried about this big price tag, which is expected to be about a trillion dollars as the starting point from Republicans and others are interested in just individual provisions like that, money for unemployment or money for schools or liability protections. But breaking it up is not appealing to Democrats would like some leverage to kind of encourage Republicans to get onboard with broader changes and more protections for people in this bill.
And Republicans know they need bipartisan support to pass this. So Democrats have some incentive to wait, to not agree to something that they think is not enough.
And Democrats, of course, have been united on this. That's NPR's Kelsey Snell.
Of all the cities witnessing protests in recent months, the most sustained protests have come in Portland. And it is also in Portland that police tactics against protesters have come into sharp focus.
Portland is one of the cities where federal agents not always identified have arrested protesters that tear gas and military uniforms have only intensified these protests.
NPR's Vanessa Romo has been reporting on this from Portland, Oregon. Hi there, Vanessa. Hi, Steve. What are you been seeing?
Well, thousands of protesters have been showing up every night in front of the federal courthouse. They're shouting and chanting and confronting federal agents at the moment. We're monitoring reports of arrests that have been happening early this morning. Overall, overnight Sunday, the crowd was significantly smaller. So that's something that's developing and we'll be keeping an eye on. As far as the mood overall, it was much more subdued. There were several speakers, black community leaders and even some young black children who addressed the crowd and spoke about the role of white allies in the Black Lives Matter movement.
It was a very different scene earlier than what I saw on Saturday night, which became incredibly violent. On Saturday, protesters breached the fence that has been erected around the courthouse. And that prompted federal agents to fire several rounds of flash grenades and tear gas into the crowd. The thing is that protesters now expect federal agents to do this. So they bring leaf blowers to blow the canisters and the smoke back toward the building. And that's what they did Saturday night.
Another interesting thing that happened is that they took a page from the protesters in Hong Kong. So a lot of people are wearing gas masks. And on Saturday, after the fence was torn down, the feds were firing gas into the crowd. And so they kneel down and held up shields and umbrellas and formed a wall against the onslaught.
Well, all of this is happening after a curfew, is that correct?
Exactly. The violence happens during a really small window of time, very late at night, very early in the morning during the days. Things have an almost festive feel. There are speakers that are blasting music. There were volunteers that are barbecuing ribs and feeding them to anybody who drops by.
OK, that sounds like quite a scene. Is it clear what it is the protesters want by targeting the courthouse?
Well, during one of these quiet moments, I spoke to a protester named Melissa Get at All who says that things have gotten really out of control since President Trump sent in the federal forces.
We want the feds out and we want the police to take accountability and start stepping back from their role as like murdering people.
Basically, just to be clear, the murdering that she's talking about there is the police killing of black people like George Floyd. But she also told me that she worries that the struggle against the presence of federal agents is distracting from the Black Lives Matter mission, which is to hold Portland police accountable for brutality against black, Latino and native communities.
How do the developments in Portland fit in with others around the country?
It sparked similar protests around the country in solidarity. Most of these have been nonviolent, but there have been some clashes. So in Seattle on Saturday night, officials arrested 45 people and they said that some protesters tried to set fire to a juvenile detention complex. In Aurora, Colorado, a jeep plowed into a crowd of protesters and one of the protesters fired a gun at the car but hit another protester who's in stable condition in the hospital.
There'll be more to report on that story. Vanessa, thank you very much. Thanks, Steve. That's NPR's Vanessa Romo.
55 years later, an old black and white video of the Edmund Pettus Bridge is still shocking. Police attacked unarmed marchers demanding the right to vote in Alabama. That day in 1965 is known as Bloody Sunday. And a leading marcher, John Lewis, became an icon of the civil rights movement.
This past Sunday, a wagon carried Lewis over that bridge a final time. He died last week at the age of 80. The son of sharecroppers went into politics and served 30 years in Congress. His body returns to Washington today to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
NPR's Debbie Elliott has been watching the proceedings in Alabama. Debbie, good morning. Morning. What's it been like to be there?
You know, it's been both somber and a bit of a celebration as well. You know, people here call it John Lewis's home going. A lot of people turned out in Selma yesterday to witness, you know, that final crossing across the Edmund Pettus Bridge for John Lewis. It was something to behold.
These beautiful white flower arrangements were at the foot of the bridge. Red rose petals had been scattered along that path where he and others had been beaten at one time. And then this horse drawn caisson carried John Lewis, his casket, which was draped in an American flag up over that iconic bridge across the Alabama River.
People were cheering. Someone in the crowd yelled, Goodbye, soldier. Others saluted the procession. I might add, including Alabama state troopers, which was rather chilling to watch, you know, a far cry from 1965 during the voting rights march when state troopers were cracking open. John Lewis, his head.
Yeah, absolutely. What have people been telling you as they watched all this?
You know, I stood next to a man who raised his hand in salute as Lewis passed. And his name is Frank Cunningham. He's from Potter's Station, just about five miles from Selma. He's a construction worker. And here's what he said.
I just want to salute a soldier that oh, home. He played a role playing for all of us. And let us know that if there's a better way, a better way, you know, involved. No, I want to know how to get along with everybody. That's what we're allowed to be about.
You know, most of the people I spoke with talked about how Lewis was this person who never gave up, no matter what happened.
He was getting beat up at every turn in the 60s.
He never gave up the hope that the nation could be a better place and live up to its promise for all people.
And it was a sign of change in America that he went from the outside to the inside from being a protester to being a member of Congress for a decade, where he also kept making good travel.
Yes, sir, I absolutely.
That's true. Kept raising his voice. How will people remember him in Washington?
You know, there's a special ceremony at the rotunda in the U.S. capital today. They're going to honor the conscious of the Congress, as he was called. Then he'll lie in state on the steps of the Capitol through tomorrow.
Debbie, thanks very much. You're welcome. That's NPR's Debbie Elliott. And that's a first for this Monday, July twenty seventh. I'm Steve Inskeep. And I'm David Greene. We hope you start your day back with us here tomorrow. You can subscribe to us wherever you listen to podcasts.
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