The Hill's 12:30 Report: Focus shifts to next stimulus package

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.

   

THIS MORNING

About those $1,000 checks to Americans:

In an interview this morning on Fox Business, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Trump downplays need for widespread testing before reopening economy On The Money: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | More than 6M file for jobless benefits | Fed launches T in economic relief | Dems, Mnuchin in talks over next aid deal MORE said Americans could receive two $1,000 checks from the government within nine weeks. http://bit.ly/2U0BRfU

In Mnuchin's words: This is an unprecedented situation, where for good reason the government has instructed major parts of the economy to close down so that we can win this fight against this virus ...  While we're doing that, we understand there are impacts on hard-working Americans, and the president is determined to support them."

Mnuchin also said: "As soon as Congress passes this we'd get this out in three weeks, and then six weeks later, if the president still has a national emergency, we'll deliver another $3,000." 

Watch Mnuchin on Fox Business: http://bit.ly/2WsvC6r

 

UPDATES FROM THE WHITE HOUSE THIS MORNING:

Trump on two coronavirus drugs that are being tested: "I think it's going to be very promising. It could be a game changer. And maybe not. Based on what I see, it could be a game changer. They're very powerful." http://bit.ly/394OCKT

Trump called it a war: "It's a medical war.  We have to win this war." http://bit.ly/3a3nTjb

Livestream of the Coronavirus Task Force's daily press briefing: http://bit.ly/3a3Ob4N

 

It's Thursday -- today is the first day of spring! I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

Did someone forward this to you? Want your own copy? Sign up here to receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox daily: http://bit.ly/2kjMNnn

 

WHERE THINGS STAND

No new coronavirus cases today in China: Via CNN, "China has reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the first time since the pandemic began, marking a major turning point in the global battle to contain Covid-19." https://cnn.it/3b5g7Fi

The U.S. is preparing to buy 30 million barrels of oil: "The Department of Energy (DOE) announced Thursday it would conduct the sales to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), fulfilling a pledge by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE to offer assistance to the oil industry as prices plummet with the twin threats of the coronavirus and a trade war between Saudi Arabia and Russia." http://bit.ly/2UjE2KH

 

NEWS THIS MORNING

Unemployment claims spike:

Via The Hill's Sylvan Lane, "the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits soared last week as businesses shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic began laying off workers." http://bit.ly/2Ujd6L5

The numbers: "Weekly claims for unemployment insurance rose to 281,000 between March 8 and 14, spiking 70,000 from the 211,000 applications for jobless benefits filed between March 1 and 7."  

 

Raise your hand if you forgot Tulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order The Hill's Morning Report — ,000,000,000,000: GOP unveils historic US rescue effort Gillibrand endorses Biden for president MORE was still running:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination this morning. http://bit.ly/3dc5kLB

Did she endorse?: Yes, she announced that she is supporting former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSteyer endorses Biden for president Sanders 2020 press secretary: Democratic leadership interested in 'corporate status quo' or 'they're planning to replace Joe' Biden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths MORE.

In her words: "I'm suspending my presidential campaign and offering my full support to Vice President Joe Biden."

Was this surprising?: No. Her campaign failed to gain traction and was overshadowed by Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSteyer endorses Biden for president Sanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Sanders 2020 press secretary: Democratic leadership interested in 'corporate status quo' or 'they're planning to replace Joe' MORE (I-Vt.).

Watch her announcement: http://bit.ly/3b1Qu8y  

 

IN THE WHITE HOUSE

Signed, sealed, delivered:

Last night, President Trump signed an emergency aid bill to help Americans impacted by the coronavirus. http://bit.ly/3d652Wq

What's in this bill?: Paid leave benefits, unemployment benefits and free virus testing

As a quick reminder: "The bipartisan bill, which is the product of days of negotiations last week between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi calls for investigation into reports of mistreatment of pregnant women in DHS custody Wisconsin highlights why states need a bipartisan plan that doesn't include Democrats federalizing elections Pelosi defends push for mail-in voting: GOP 'afraid' to let people vote MORE (D-Calif.), is the second such legislative package passed by Congress to address the COVID-19 outbreak." 

 

Welp, this isn't great for U.S.-China relations:

Via The Hill's Olivia Beavers, "President Trump is blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic threatening lives and the economy in the United States, further testing a relationship with Beijing already stressed by a trade war." http://bit.ly/393yadM

For example: President Trump began his press briefing yesterday by calling it a "Chinese virus." 

What this means for the U.S.-China relationship: http://bit.ly/393yadM

 

IF THIS PANDEMIC HAS SHOWN US ANYTHING, IT'S THAT TRUMP ISN'T CHANGING HIS COMMUNICATION STYLE: 

Via The Hill's Niall Stanage, "On Wednesday morning, as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 100, Trump blasted 'Sleepy Joe Biden' on Twitter, accused the Democratic National Committee of seeking to hobble Biden's main rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and complained yet again that the 'Fake News' media was out to get him." http://bit.ly/393idUI

And then: "Later, at a White House press briefing, Trump defended his use of the term 'Chinese Virus' to refer to the coronavirus, despite criticism from some quarters that the term is racist." 

Op-ed: http://bit.ly/2xSlmtU

  

IN CONGRESS

Who would get the direct payments?:

Senate Republicans are considering setting a limit on who can receive direct payments for a coronavirus stimulus. http://bit.ly/3a3M7cN

The threshold: $75,000 for individuals or $150,000 for couples 

Where that threshold came from -- 2008: "Republican senators say they want to model direct payments on the stimulus checks former President George W. Bush sent out in 2008 during the financial crisis. Twelve years ago, the rebates were reduced for individual incomes above $75,000 and joint incomes above $150,000." 

 

Pelosi wants Trump to use his war powers: 

This morning, Speaker Pelosi called on President Trump to use the emergency war powers that he invoked yesterday. http://bit.ly/2Qt360E

Why: To accelerate production of medical supplies.

Back story: "Trump on Wednesday had invoked the 1950 Defense Production Act -- an exceedingly rare step for a president -- which empowers the government to mobilize private industry to ramp up production in the name of national security … Yet in a subsequent tweet Wednesday evening, Trump suggested that while he's invoked the Defense Production Act, he has no immediate plans to use it." 

  

LIGHTER TIDBITS

I will keep finding ways to make you smile. I promise!

Bostonians sang "Sweet Caroline" out their windows: The video is great. Watch: https://ihr.fm/2WD5rdp

I love this!: Some people have started putting their Christmas lights back up to cheer people up. http://bit.ly/2J2TAgk

Jimmy Fallon hosted his show from home, starring his youngest daughter: The result is pretty funny. Watch: http://bit.ly/2TZSw3k

^ Fallon then interviewed "Hamilton" creator Lin Manuel Miranda on his next at-home episode: It's equally as good. Here's the video: http://bit.ly/2WxW7HH

Does anyone who is homeschooling their kids this week agree?: Television producer Shonda Rhimes tweeted, "Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year.  Or a week." This tweet has more than 600,000 likes so far. http://bit.ly/2wkBML6

In your free time -- you can watch Broadway musicals and plays online for free: Here's how: http://bit.ly/33zBWdU

 

This teacher is the MVP -- Omg, this is incredible.

You must watch past the first minute. Trust me. 

Watch: http://bit.ly/2QriM4f 

 

NOTABLE TWEETS

Oh myyy: 

This video has 2.6 million views so far.

Watch: http://bit.ly/3bd3IQ2

 

ON TAP

The Senate is in. The House is out. President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C.

9 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence led a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting in the Situation Room.

Noon: The Senate met. The Senate's full schedule today: http://bit.ly/3dfjTOf

12:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump receives an intelligence briefing.

 

WHAT TO WATCH

11 a.m. EDT: The White House Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing. Livestream: http://bit.ly/390ffRa

2 p.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2U1Fy4W

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Today is National Chocolate Caramel Day.

 

I just thought you should know...:

The "Friends" reunion will be delayed because of the coronavirus. Why: It was set to be filmed on March 23 and 24. http://bit.ly/2Wq0pR5

 

And to brighten your day of social distancing, here's a baby snuggling with a goldendoodle. Who needs teddy bears when you have this dog?: http://bit.ly/2wdro82