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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline looms States begin removing Capitol's Confederate statues on their own Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal MORE (R-Ky.) has been careful to maintain his distance from the negotiations between White House officials and Democratic leaders on coronavirus relief legislation.

McConnell’s decision not to participate directly in talks between Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline looms On The Money: White House warns there's likely no deal with no agreement by Friday | More generous unemployment benefits lead to better jobs: study | 167K workers added to private payrolls in July Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal MORE, White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline looms Trump dismisses legal questions on GOP nomination speech at White House Overnight Defense: Esper says 'most believe' Beirut explosion was accident, contradicting Trump | Trump later says 'nobody knows yet' what happened in Lebanon | 61-year-old reservist ID'd as fourth military COVID-19 death MORE and Democratic leaders has struck some colleagues as odd.

Senate Republicans say McConnell has proceeded cautiously because any deal that emerges is likely to divide the Senate GOP conference. They note the GOP leader has made it a practice in recent years to avoid taking up issues that divide Republicans if possible.

“You got 20 Republicans who are not on board,” said a Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss why the GOP leader is keeping his distance from the talks.

“You have a lot of conservative folks asking, ‘What are we doing here? Is this really helpful? We’re saddling the next generation and the next generation with huge debt,’ ” the lawmaker added.

“Considering where members are right now, it’s a good thing for him to step back and let the members come to him. I don’t think there would be anything to be gained if he were to go out on a limb and endorse this, this or this,” the source added. “When you’re riding at the point of the posse, you better check over your shoulder to see if the posse is still there. Otherwise, why take the first arrow?”

McConnell’s goal has been to diffuse responsibility for getting a deal to the broader Senate Republican Conference, which has the dual benefit of letting GOP colleagues feel more involved while insulating himself from a potential backlash if the resulting bill sparks the anger of fiscal hawks.  

Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal ACLU targets Democrats, Republicans with mobile coronavirus billboards MORE (R-Fla.) said McConnell has made it clear that he doesn’t want the relief bill to be dictated from the top.

“He’s also frankly said that he wants it to be negotiated by members, like the last [relief bill] was. He doesn’t want it to be a top-down bill. What he wants to do is sort of agree on areas to work on and then empower the members to do different task forces, the chairmen and ranking members to meet and work out the details,” Rubio said.

McConnell’s decision to stay out of the room has made it more necessary for Mnuchin and Meadows to attend Senate Republican Conference lunches during the week to provide periodic updates and listen to senators’ concerns about the trajectory of the talks. That has allowed senior White House officials to hear about the deficit concerns held by multiple GOP senators.

Democrats maintain that McConnell is worried about a rebellion within his own conference.

“I’ve asked Republicans, ‘how could he possibly explain this?’ Getting up on the floor every day criticizing Democrats for their ideas, not putting a bill forward, not even going to the negotiation. I’ve never seen anything like this. Never,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks The Hill's Campaign Report: Who will Biden pick to be his running mate? Don't count out Duckworth in Biden VP race MORE (D-Ill.).

“His caucus is hopelessly fractured. He realizes anything he supports will be opposed by half of his caucus and he’s afraid of the consequences,” he added.

Election prognosticators say the battle for control of the Senate is a toss-up as Republicans, who hold 53 seats, must defend 23 seats in November while Democrats have only 12 up for reelection. 

If moderates such as Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGroup of GOP senators back more money for airlines to pay workers OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project Trump signs major conservation bill into law MORE (R-Colo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsAnalysis finds record high number of woman versus woman congressional races Group of GOP senators back more money for airlines to pay workers Republicans uncomfortably playing defense MORE (R-Maine), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstAnalysis finds record high number of woman versus woman congressional races The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  Sabato's Crystal Ball shifts Iowa Senate race to 'toss-up,' Georgia toward GOP MORE (R-Iowa) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGroup of GOP senators back more money for airlines to pay workers The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  ACLU targets Democrats, Republicans with mobile coronavirus billboards MORE (R-Ariz.) are voted out of office, conservatives who are opposed to another big spending bill will make up a greater percentage of the GOP conference.

Two other more centrist members — Sens. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Virus bill unlikely to pass this week Establishment-backed Marshall defeats Kobach in Kansas GOP Senate primary MORE (R-Kan.) and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection MORE (R-Tenn.) — are retiring at year’s end. 

McConnell’s own reelection appears probable after a new Morning Consult poll this week showed him with a commanding 17-point lead over Democratic challenger Amy McGrath.

McConnell says he plans to remain as Senate Republican leader even if the GOP loses control of the upper chamber. It is highly unlikely McConnell would be challenged for the top GOP post next year. 

Scott Jennings, a Kentucky-based GOP strategist who has advised McConnell’s past campaigns, said the GOP leader recognizes that him being in the room during talks with Democratic leaders wouldn’t necessarily yield a deal any sooner.

“Kentucky’s experienced one of the highest unemployment crises in the country over [COVID-19]. We’ve been hit economically very hard. What his constituents want is their elected officials to engage on this and do what they can do,” he said.

Jennings said McConnell “plays these things the way he thinks he needs to play them for that specific moment and to get a result.”

“I’ve heard him say many times lately that he’s not looking for grandstanding, he’s looking for outcomes. And so if he needs to be in a room, he’ll be in the room. If he doesn’t need to be in the room and thinks that’s more helpful to getting an outcome, that’s what he does,” he added. 

Colleagues think McConnell wants to get a deal done, even though it’s certain there will be parts of the bill he doesn’t like. 

“His job as majority leader is to shepherd legislation and get results,” Rubio said. 

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he is willing to accept a deal between the White House and Democratic leaders. 

“I am prepared to support [it], even if I have some problems with certain parts of it,” he said.   

As majority leader, McConnell has been careful to avoid bringing issues to the floor that badly divide his conference. It’s a major reason why he delayed bringing bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation to the floor until the lame-duck session in 2018, by which time President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE was solidly behind a proposal that ultimately passed and was signed into law. 

McConnell has played a central role in recent years in helping to broker deals when Democrats and Republicans were deadlocked over major policy problems that threatened to have serious implications for the nation’s economy. He cut a deal with then-Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Trump outraises Biden in July, surpasses billion for the cycle Duckworth: Republican coronavirus package would 'gut' Americans With Disabilities Act MORE at the end of 2012 to extend many of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts and get past the so-called fiscal cliff that had stymied bipartisan negotiators for months. McConnell reached out to Biden when it became clear that then-Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' Obama calls filibuster 'Jim Crow relic,' backs new Voting Rights Act bill McConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule MORE (D-Nev.) was prepared to let the tax breaks lapse.

In the summer of 2011, McConnell helped craft a compromise to raise the nation’s debt limit by finding a mechanism to allow Congress to raise borrowing authority passively. The compromise ended a weeks-long stalemate and helped the nation avert a default. 

This year, however, he has instead opted to receive regular briefings from Mnuchin and Meadows. 

“He’s made it very clear to all of us, he’s at the table without being at the table,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions MORE (R-Iowa). 

Tags Lamar Alexander Mitch McConnell Steven Mnuchin Martha McSally Chuck Grassley Susan Collins Mark Meadows Cory Gardner Donald Trump Pat Roberts Dick Durbin Marco Rubio Joni Ernst Harry Reid Joe Biden

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Woman killed when bullet goes through window of Queens home, teen son finds body

JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens (WABC) -- A mother of three is dead, her body found by her 14-year-old son, after a bullet went through her apartment window and struck her in the neck early Wednesday morning.

It happened around 12:47 a.m., as the family was sleeping inside their third-floor apartment on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights.

The victim's son woke up to the sound of the crashing window, and he ran into the room and found his mother on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head.

He called 911, and EMS responded and pronounced 43-year-old Bertha Arriaga dead at the scene.

The NYPD has released surveillance video of individuals seen in the area who they want to identify.
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The NYPD is asking for the public's assistance in identifying the individuals in this video

"A woman was shot, murdered, in her own home," Deputy Inspector Julie Morrill said. "We do not see anything like a shootout situation...There appears to be a theft occurring at the time, an attempted theft of a bicycle that was locked up in front of this location. The theft that was occurring ended. The bike was not taken by these perps. A shot rang out. At this time, it is still under investigation as to who fired that shot "

Neighbors and police say it's a nice residential area, and that while there have been some bike thefts, there is not much crime in general.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted about the horrific incident saying, "This is what senseless gun violence does - it destroys families."

Last night in #JacksonHeights, a stray bullet entered a 43-y/o mother’s window, killing her & leaving her to be found by her 14-y/o child. This is what senseless gun violence does — it destroys families.

Anyone with any info about this incident please call @NYPDTips 800-577-TIPS

— Commissioner Shea (@NYPDShea) September 30, 2020
"These individuals were on the street outside that location when the shot rang out, and any information that you can give us on them or the thefts of bikes in that area would be greatly appreciated," said Assistant Chief Galen Frierson, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens North.

CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for the information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Later Wednesday morning, three people were shot, one fatally, at a car wash in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

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