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GOP endanger two reps in new map. Dems say it’s not enough.



North Carolina legislators on Friday passed a new set of Congressional maps that would endanger two Republican representatives in next year’s election, after a court said last month their existing district maps were a partisan gerrymander that violated the state’s constitution.

Democrats say the proposed map — which is expected to give Republicans an 8-5 advantage over Democrats in the purple state — favor Republicans too much and should be tossed.

“The congressional map passed by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature simply replaces one partisan gerrymander with a new one,” former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that announced a legal challenge to the remedial maps.

Holder chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, whose sister group, the National Redistricting Foundation, is supporting a group of North Carolina voters challenging the maps in court.

The maps passed Friday created two new Democratic-leaning districts around Greensboro and Raleigh. In the current map, the cities were split into different districts, diluting the urban, Democratic voters between more rural, red districts. Republican Reps. George Holding and Mark Walker will face much tougher re-elections under the new maps.

New Congressional map passed by North Carolina’s legislature.Sate of North Carolina

The maps were approved by the state Senate on Friday without a single Democratic vote, Republicans said.

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“The Democrats who sued to prohibit partisan redistricting have demanded their preferred partisan outcomes in exchange for voting to support new Congressional maps,” state Sen. Ralph Hise, a Republican who co-chairs the Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections, said in a statement. “Such brazen hypocrisy is astounding.”

Democrats criticized the redistricting process.

“It’s important to understand that Republicans redrew the maps in the absence of a court order,” Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson said Friday night.

Earlier this year, a state court threw out state legislative maps and dictated rules for the the legislature’s redistricting process. It limited the use of data and outside experts and demanded the process take place in the public eye.

The resulting maps earned some bipartisan support, but when the Congressional districts were challenged with the same court shortly afterward, the court issued a preliminary injunction asking for new maps. The injunction did not order the same narrow process.

Democrats allege the Republicans took advantage of that.

“They got to use all their old tricks. The product was a fundamentally partisan process,” said Jackson, who represents Mecklenberg, North Carolina.

During the livestreamed map drawing process, Hise could be seen leaving the room frequently and returning with specific changes, leading many to believe Republicans were discussing maps behind closed doors in pursuit of partisan advantage.

Pat Ryan, a spokesman for the Republican state Senate President Phil Berger, said Democrats were seeking their own unfair advantage, so the GOP did not use their proposed changes in the Congressional maps.

“They had a predetermined partisan outcome in mind,” Ryan said.

Walker, one of the endangered Republicans, tweeted on Friday that he would still run.

“I love the people of NC and I will keep fighting for them — no matter what liberal attorneys, judicial activists and politicians in Raleigh do in self-interest,” he wrote in one tweet, noting in another that he had run and won with two different district lines since his election in 2014. “We did it with a new district in 2016. We will do it again in 2020.”

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EU digs its heels in: Brussels blames Britain for no progress – ‘Not our fault!’



BRUSSELS has continued its assault on the UK for the lack of progress made in the current Brexit talks between the two sides.

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Senate Republicans cool to 2nd round of stimulus checks, direct deposits



WASHINGTON — Democrats want another round of direct stimulus payments to Americans up to $1,200 as coronavirus cases rise in dozens of states. President Donald Trump isn’t ruling it out. But Senate Republicans are on the fence or opposed, complicating its prospects.

“I wasn’t supportive of the first round. I don’t think I’d be supportive of the second,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. “This is not a classic recession that requires financial stimulus.”

House Democrats have passed a $3 trillion bill that includes another round of direct deposits and checks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has endorsed that bill nudged Senate Republicans on Thursday to “get off their hands and finally work with Democrats to quickly provide additional federal fiscal relief.”

Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Republicans are divided on whether to send more money to Americans when asked about Trump’s interest in a second round of payments.

“About direct payments or some of the checks — that’s something he’s talked about, and some of our members are interested in that as well. There are some of our members who aren’t interested in that, so we’ll see where that goes,” the South Dakota Republican said.

Thune said Republicans would still need to agree “on a number” and other components of it.

The Senate left on Thursday for a two-week recess.

Coronavirus cases have risen in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and California — numerous states have paused or rolled back their reopening. The state of the economy over those two weeks is likely to impact the Senate Republican calculus.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., outlined three broad priorities for the next coronavirus relief bill: “Kids, jobs and health care.” He said he wants it to pass before August, which leaves just two weeks to act once the Senate returns from break on July 20.

Asked by Fox Business Network if he favors another round of direct payments, Trump said, “I do. I support it. But it has to be done properly.” He then segued to discussing unemployment insurance.

Asked again if he wants more direct payments, Trump responded, “I want the money getting to people to be larger so they can spend it,” before saying he doesn’t want it to be “an incentive not to go to work,” an apparent reference to the $600 weekly jobless benefit in the CARES Act that Republicans don’t want to extend.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said the “direct stimulus checks are going to depend on how the economy is doing” and noted the “great unemployment numbers” of June, when the rate fell to 11.1 percent.

“So if it turns out the economy is recovering, that’s a good thing and direct stimulus checks may not be necessary,” he added.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said the Senate will “talk seriously and in earnest when we get back” about what might be in the next relief bill, mentioning the rising debt as a concern for the GOP.

“If there is another bill, it will be targeted,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully, we’ll learn from our first three bills in terms of what works and what doesn’t. The subtext, or the undercurrent, here at least on my side of the aisle is the fact that we owe $25 trillion and climbing.”

The first round of stimulus payments cost $293 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Surveys show they’re popular among voters as the Nov. 3 general election nears. A CNBC/Change Research poll conducted in early May found 74 percent approval for sustained direct payments in the 2020 battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

A FT-Peterson US Economic Monitor poll showed that 76 percent of Americans say an additional payment is “very” or “somewhat” important to them, while 24 percent said it was not. The results were nearly identical when limited to battleground states.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who faces a competitive re-election battle this fall, was noncommittal when asked about another round of stimulus checks and direct deposits.

“We need to look at it, the jobs numbers. I want to see Iowa and how we’re doing at getting folks back to work. And we’ll take it from there,” she told NBC News.

Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed.

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Verhofstadt told to 'keep his nose out' after attack on UK plan to end freedom of movement



GUY Verhofstadt has stirred up more rage among Brexiteers on social media after taking another swipe at Home Secretary Priti Patel over the Government’s plans to end freedom of movement.

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