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D.C. Memo: No relief

This week from Washington, we’re headed off of the unemployment benefits cliff, Motherboard obtains spy plane footage of Minneapolis and a look at the CD-7 race.

photo of us capitol
With extra unemployment benefits set to run out Friday, Congress was nowhere near a deal on extending them or providing other coronavirus relief.
REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, we’re headed off of the unemployment benefits cliff, Motherboard obtains spy plane footage of Minneapolis and a look at the CD-7 race. Let’s get on with this.

The expiration date

We are at the edge of the cliff. Congress had until the end of this month to extend the additional $600 weekly benefit provided to those on unemployment. A number of economists predict disaster for the U.S. economy without that benefit in place.

Republicans and Democrats are no closer to an agreement on COVID-19 response legislation. Democrats passed a new, $3 trillion coronavirus-relief package back in May, but it was not taken up by the Senate. That bill would have extended the $600 benefit until January 2021. Republicans insist on a decrease to $200, with a number of Republicans senators in favor of no extension at all.

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“If Senate Republicans continue to refuse to extend the $600 supplemental unemployment insurance benefit, it will result in millions of American families falling off a financial cliff with no safety net,” Rep. Betty McCollum told MinnPost last week. “It’s as if President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell are holding the American people and our economy hostage to gain some kind of petty political advantage.”

Read more at MinnPost. 

Droning on

In May, Motherboard reported that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) was flying drones over Minneapolis during protests. Other agencies had military surveillance drones as well, and this month, Motherboard obtained footage from a Minnesota State Patrol spy plane. 

The footage is similar to what you might see in a drone video from a war zone and demonstrates what sort of technology police used during the protests.

MinnPost requested records about CBP’s involvement from both CBP and the regional National Guard. We are still waiting on a response.

Seventh District primary

In Minnesota’s Seventh District, Republicans are hashing things out in the primary.

With five candidates still in the race, and two contenders with significant support, it comes down to which candidate has the best chance of defeating 15-term Rep. Collin Peterson in the fall. Is it former Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach, the endorsed candidate with fundraising power and the endorsement of the president and national GOP leadership? Or is it Dave Hughes, the candidate from the last two cycles who’s spent years talking to voters?

Read more at MinnPost.

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Fifth District primary

The biggest news out of the Fifth District is less related to the candidates and more related to the outside money flowing into the race. Americans for Tomorrow’s Future, a Super PAC that claims to support “America’s alliance with Israel,” has now spent around  $1.4 million on television ads and direct mail to defeat Rep. Ilhan Omar. None of its disclosed donors are from Minnesota.

In less than a week, it has essentially doubled its spending.

For context, the amount that this Super PAC is spending ($1,447,783) is more than either Omar ($471,624) or her DFL challenger Antone Melton-Meaux ($1,411,804) spent in Q2 of 2020.

If you still want more context on the candidates, Sahan Journal’s Hibah Ansari interviews supporters of both Melton-Meaux and Omar and publishes why they support their respective candidate in their own words.

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By the numbers

Morning Consult poll

We finally have some new polling on Minnesota. In a poll of 662 voters, Morning Consult finds that former Vice President Joe Biden is 3 points ahead of President Donald Trump (47 to 44). However, there is a margin of error of around 4 percentage points.

Census fears

The president is once again attempting to modify the census based on who is undocumented. And it’s again spurring fears that there may be a census undercount, reports MinnPost’s Tiffany Bui.

“People, not having the time to understand the whole piece and understanding that, yes, the memo is out there but what is the real impact to them?” said Mónica Hurtado of Voices for Racial Justice. “What are the data sets that the government can use to remove what they are calling undocumented people from the districts?”

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In other news

Quote of the week

“You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time,” writes Rep. John Lewis in his final op-ed, published in the New York Times. 

What I’m reading

Journalists of Color at The Star Tribune: The changes we want for our newspaper 

A group of journalists of color at the Star Tribune released a public letter to management on Thursday, demanding changes to the paper and that the mostly-white staff actually reflect the country. They write: “We are tired of incremental change. We are tired of being undervalued. We are tired of our ideas being passed over.”

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.