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THE BIG DEAL—Trump faces unusual barrier to COVID-19 aid: President TrumpDonald John TrumpDes Moines mayor says he’s worried about coronavirus spread at Trump rally Judiciary Committee Democrats pen second letter to DOJ over Barrett disclosures: ‘raises more questions that it answers’ Trump asks campaign to schedule daily events for him until election: report MORE‘s last-ditch effort to secure another enormous package of emergency coronavirus relief is being threatened by an unusual group: his GOP allies in Congress.

For almost four years, Republican leaders have rallied behind the president on issues as varied as health care, immigration, trade and defense, even when his positions bucked long-held conservative doctrines.

Yet just weeks before the Nov. 3 election, as the embattled president is exhorting Congress to move a major package of COVID-19 aid, those same lawmakers have emerged as the single greatest barrier standing in his way. The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong tell us why here.

Republican resistance: 

The politics: The resistance comes at a crucial point in the presidential campaign, when Trump is recovering from his own bout with COVID-19, trailing badly in the polls and all but pleading with Republican leaders to “go big” with a late-cycle lifeline to promote on the trail.

“I would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or

Even as the number of new jobless claims continues to fall, the number of workers still waiting for jobless benefits in Washington state remains stubbornly high. 

Last week, Washingtonians filed 15,496 new unemployment claims, a 12.6% drop from the prior week, the Employment Security Department (ESD) said Thursday. It’s the lowest tally since early March, when pandemic-related layoffs were picking up — and a potential sign of a gradually improving economy. Almost 317,000 Washingtonians were collecting unemployment benefits as of last week. Nationally, there were 840,000 new claims last week, down 1% from a week earlier.

But there were also 20,223 Washingtonians as of last week who are waiting for the ESD to resolve issues with their unemployment claims, according to the agency’s weekly report. 

And that figure doesn’t reflect the many thousands of workers who have already been turned down for benefits and are now trying to appeal.

“It’s infuriating,” said Kendall Prince, a Spokane resident and Air Force veteran who says she’s owed around $11,000 in benefits on a claim ESD recently denied.

Though Prince, 25, has since found a job, she needs the benefits to cover the debt she racked up during the 10 weeks she was out of work. “If it weren’t for the mercy of my friends and family, I would be a homeless veteran right now,” she said.

ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine acknowledged the “frustration and hardship these delays can cause” in a statement Thursday. She said such cases are the exception — the 20,223 unresolved claims represents 1.5% of all claimants during the pandemic. ESD officials say they’re shifting resources to reduce backlogs left over from an unprecedented number of claims generated by the pandemic.

But some labor advocates say the continued backlogs also reflect policy choices.

The Unemployment Law Project, a Seattle-

“Enrolling in Health Insurance,” Wellness Corporate Solutions

September 28, 2020; New York Times

One of the worst times to lose your health insurance would have to be during a pandemic. To date, 12 million people have lost employer-based health insurance coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic shutdown, but 85 percent of those affected have been able to find substitute insurance, whether that be through the Obamacare health exchange, Medicaid, or a spouse’s plan.

But as the end of the year approaches and CARES Act protections expire, that could be changing. Stan Dorn, the director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation at Families USA, raises the alarm. Dorn tells Reed Abelson of the New York Times that, “we are on track to have the largest coverage losses in our history.”

Abelson notes that, “Many businesses have tried to keep their workers insured during the pandemic. Employers relied on government aid, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorized by Congress to ease the economic fallout, to pay for premiums through the spring and summer.”

Government funding appears to have “prevented the economic crisis from becoming a coverage crisis right away,” says Leemore Dafny, a professor at Harvard Business School and lead author of an article last month looking at the pandemic’s effect on small business. According to Dafny, nearly a third of small businesses surveyed in late June said they were not sure they could keep paying premiums beyond August.

“We will probably really start to see it during renewal time, November and December,” Mark Hall, a professor who directs the health law and policy program at Wake Forest University,” remarks. “That will be when the money really dries up.”

Abelson notes that many small business owners prioritized using PPP dollars to keep their employees on health insurance, even

Driving PA Forward, along with the students and faculty of Villanova University’s Framework Legal Advocacy Clinic, has released a report that found Pennsylvania shares drivers’ personal information without being able to determine how the details revealed are going to be used.

Drivers’ Personal Information Shared

Personal information provided by drivers to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), such as date-of-birth, address, height, eye color, and photo, can end up in the hands of federal law enforcement and private businesses. The research revealed that this could happen without the driver’s knowledge.

Certain parts of the report were confirmed by PennDOT, while the agency asserted there were some inaccuracies. The agency does share information in response to a “subpoena or warrant or lawful data request form,” as well as with federal law enforcement, said PennDOT community relations coordinator Diego Sandino.

Immigration Advocates Protest

Driving PA Forward, a statewide coalition composed of farmers, businesses, advocacy, faith, labor, and community organizations, directs its activities towards passage of legislation regarding the accessibility of a standard driver’s license with strict privacy and data protection for all Pennsylvanians regardless of their immigration status.

Last year, an article in the Washington Post drew bipartisan criticism, reporting that millions of drivers’ images across the United States have been used without permission. This is very alarming to drivers in states that allow drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants. In Maryland, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reported to have run a facial recognition search of millions of drivers.

“Once the information is placed in the databases, it can be accessed by government agencies and private businesses,” stated the report. PennDOT disputes that any businesses have access to the information through these databases; the researchers say otherwise. The report further states that there is still no