The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Deadline approaches for 2020 Dems




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Monday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, find us at @asimendinger and @alweaver22.

After four months, the race for the 2020 Democratic nod is almost in full bloom as the battle to face off against President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE next year takes shape.


The party has a clear current front-runner. Democrats also have a swarm of other candidates all trying to gain in polls and lock in enough individual donors to make it to a debate stage in Miami on June 26 or 27 under Democratic National Committee rules.


For those scraping the bottom of the polling and donor barrels, the hourglass is running low. Candidates now have a month until June 12 to qualify through polling prerequisites for invitations to the first debate.


According to FiveThirtyEight, 18 candidates have qualified for the debates while others sit on the bubble because they recently entered the race (examples, Colorado’s Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE and Rep. Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonMoulton, Stewart pen op-ed backing three-digit suicide prevention hotline 2020 Democrats react to NYPD firing of officer in Garner case: 'Finally' Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE of Massachusetts) or are on the verge of entering (Montana Gov. Steve Bullock this week and perhaps New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden expands lead in new national poll De Blasio brushes off low poll numbers: 'The vast majority of Democratic voters are going to make their decision late' NYPD fires officer in Eric Garner case MORE), meaning that someone will likely be forced off the stage because the DNC capped the number of debate participants at 20. Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Sanders unveils plan to double union membership in first term The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden expands lead in new national poll MORE (D-N.Y.), who has met the polling threshold but not the donor metrics, aired her grievances about what she views as the arbitrary donor rules created by the DNC (CNN).


In a race where candidates can ill-afford a major setback, missing the debate stage would qualify as one. In other words, the race is on.


As for the front-runner, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' 'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices MORE is showing off a more disciplined version of himself in his third presidential bid, according to Amie Parnes.


At an event in Las Vegas last week, Biden declined to respond in his typical fashion when a supporter yelled that he could “hug and kiss me anytime!” Instead, he laughed before pivoting back to his stump speech, showing off a more restrained candidate his supporters believe could go a long way toward securing the party’s nomination next year.


Polling is bearing this out. According to a new South Carolina poll, Biden leads with 46 percent, tripling the support of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (I-Vt.), his closest competitor.


The Associated Press: White House hopefuls swarm rival Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE’s home turf of California.

Politico: “Why not me?” Big-city mayors watch with envy as South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegTop adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' Biden, Sanders lead Trump in hypothetical match-ups: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes MORE surges.

The Associated Press: Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman from Texas, plans “reintroduction” as 2020 buzz fizzles.

While Biden holds firm atop the field, those trailing him are trying to score points on policy, and some are trying to do in a timely fashion.


Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Harris to appear in CNN climate town hall after backlash MORE (D-Minn.) made one of the first trips by a presidential candidate to Puerto Rico, which has been in the news lately amid the fight for disaster aid and what Democrats see as Trump’s dismissal of the territory and its recovery from devastating hurricanes.


Some candidates are taking aim at Biden, particularly over combating climate change. After an adviser for Biden described a pending policy proposal as a push to seek a “middle ground,” progressives in the race weighed in. Sanders and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeInslee unveils climate plan to support rural communities Harris to appear in CNN climate town hall after backlash Castro qualifies for next Democratic primary debates MORE (D) both criticized the former vice president, while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezPoll: Voters split on whether it's acceptable for Israel to deny Omar, Tlaib visas NJ college censures trustee over posts targeting 'the squad' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (D-N.Y.), a leading progressive voice in Congress, said a “middle ground” plan is a “dealbreaker” (The New York Times).


Jonathan Allen: As Biden predicts a shorter race, rivals dig in for long fight.

Another area where Democrats have tried to carve out space is the economy, which Trump is sure to claim as his own given the 3.6 percent unemployment rate and rising wages. However, as Max Greenwood reports, Democrats have avoided giving Trump credit for a strong economy. Instead, they salute former President Obama and the policies he shepherded after the Great Recession.


The presidential race is expected to get more crowded this week as Bullock, the two-term Montana governor, takes the plunge, bringing the number of Democrats in the race to 23.


Bullock, who won reelection by four points despite Trump carrying the state by nearly 21 points, teased an announcement on Saturday, before releasing a second video on Sunday showing his children creating a pros and cons list for a 2020 campaign.


The Hill: Top Dem money man puts muscle behind Latino mobilization.


The New York Times: Iowa’s likely outcome for 2020 contenders: A field of broken dreams.


The Associated Press: Wisconsin Republican Party rebuilds for 2020.


On the GOP side of presidential politics, Trump has some campaign-related stops on deck this week, with a stop in Louisiana on Tuesday and a trip to New York on Thursday. Trump is expected to dine in New Orleans with the winner of a fundraising raffle during his trip to Louisiana, which will double as an official event to discuss jobs, energy and infrastructure (The Advocate).  


Trump will fly to New York City on Thursday to headline a fundraiser for his reelection campaign. Beyond annual remarks at the United Nations, the president has largely bypassed his home town since his inauguration (The New York Times).





CONGRESS & INVESTIGATIONS: Time is at a premium on Capitol Hill as lawmakers struggle to make progress on pending must-pass issues, including a budget agreement and an increase in the nation’s borrowing authority.


There are only eight legislative days before lawmakers leave for recess around Memorial Day, and nine weeks of work before the August recess, during which lawmakers will be forced to make headway toward a deal to raise the debt limit and toward a budget agreement before $100 billion in automatic cuts slice through the government on Oct. 1 (CNN).


Among a host of issues still unresolved is disaster assistance, a sticking point for the White House, particularly over Democrats’ demands for increased funding for Puerto Rico.


The White House and House Democrats are also working on an infrastructure proposal with a price tag of between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. Republican lawmakers say they have sticker shock, and insist they will not vote to raise the deficit to fund infrastructure and will refuse Democrats’ pitch to raise gasoline or other taxes to fix roads, bridges, ports and broadband.


The president is expected to highlight the issue during his trip to Louisiana this week. According to Scott Wong and Mike Lillis, House Democrats are calling on leadership to pass a bill through the House if no bipartisan compromise appears possible after discussions with the president.


House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioHouse Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment Trump bashes Mueller for 'ineptitude,' slams 'sick' Democrats backing impeachment Pelosi denies she's 'trying to run out the clock' on impeachment MORE (D-Ore.) says that if talks fail, he’d like to push an infrastructure measure through his committee. Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaKing incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks San Jose mayor proposes mandatory liability insurance for gun owners Democrats give cold shoulder to Warren wealth tax MORE (D-Calif.), a top progressive, wants leadership to muscle up to bring an infrastructure bill to the floor immediately to stake out a negotiating position with Trump. In part, he wants to also show voters that Democrats are not obsessed with investigating the president.


Trump is supposed to meet with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSaagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? Johnson eyes Irish border in Brexit negotiations Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' MORE (D-N.Y.) later this month to continue gauging odds of a deal.


Paul Kane: Time works against Democrats in Trump investigations. So does a lack of shame.


> A growing number of leading Democrats are declaring that the U.S. is facing a "constitutional crisis" that's worse than the Watergate scandal that forced former President Nixon out of office, as Cristina Marcos reports.


Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSecond Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death MORE (D-N.Y.) agree on the “constitutional crisis” label, while House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said "this is bigger than Watergate."


But despite the dire terms, Democrats are not moving any faster toward the same remedy the House turned to with Nixon over Watergate: impeachment. Liberals clamoring for that route — and Republicans goading Democrats into it — are losing patience. Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenDanish prime minister: Trump's idea to buy Greenland 'absurd'  Juan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts We need a climate plan for agriculture MORE (D-Texas) declared at a rally with activists on Thursday that saying there's a constitutional crisis "means you have to do something about it."


Hugh Hewitt: The Senate has important work to do. Why waste time subpoenaing Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpPETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report House chairman warns foreign governments to 'cease and desist' spending money at Trump properties MORE?


The Washington Post: Trump and his allies are blocking more than 20 separate Democratic probes in an all-out war with Congress.


The Hill: House chairman issues subpoenas for Trump's tax returns.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoChina threatens to sanction US firms over sales of F-16s to Taiwan Trump moves forward with billion F-16 sale to Taiwan Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week MORE is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Trump, France's Macron discuss G-7 ahead of annual meeting Romney: 'Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery' MORE this week, his first such official diplomatic bilateral meeting with a president who presents myriad challenges for the United States.


The secretary met U.S. officials at the American Embassy in Moscow on Sunday before traveling to the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where he’ll meet with Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.


Morgan Chalfant reports that arms control is at the top of Pompeo’s list with Putin, but the roster is long (The Hill). Trump spoke with Putin by phone for 90 minutes earlier this month and brought up what he called a “Russian hoax,” referring to the two-year investigation by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE (The New York Times).


Schumer, in a statement on Sunday, encouraged the secretary to warn the Russian leader that “any attempt to interfere in U.S. elections will not be tolerated.


Citing Mueller’s findings and indictments brought against Russians tied to Moscow’s 2016 election interference, Schumer advised the administration without specifics to convey to Putin that “any action to interfere in our elections will be met with an immediate and robust response.”





> China and trade: Escaping the tariffs war waged between the Trump administration and China appeared as murky over the weekend as it was when trade negotiations broke up on Friday in Washington.


Chinese Vice Premier Liu He told state media that Beijing’s negotiators did not retreat from any preliminary commitments to the Trump administration, adding that U.S. trade tariffs would need to be lifted as a threshold in future discussions.


Both governments said negotiators expect talks to resume, but no date has been set.


The United States is prepared for China to retaliate in the wake of Trump’s decision to escalate tariffs on $200 billion in imported Chinese goods to 25 percent as punishment for what the president described as Beijing’s backtracking on commitments U.S. negotiators insist China made during negotiations (The Hill).


White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE said Trump is likely to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit to be held next month in Japan (Reuters).


“We want to be as sure as we can be. We don’t think the Chinese have come far enough,” Kudlow said on "Fox News Sunday."


“The problem is two weeks ago in China there was backtracking by the Chinese. We can’t forget this. This is a huge deal with the broadest scope and scale the two countries have ever had before,” he added.

But we have to get through a lot of issues. For many years China trade, it was unfair. ... One of the sticking points right now is we would like these corrections in an agreement, which is codified by law in China” (The Hill).

The president took to Twitter over the weekend to defend his decision to impose high tariffs on Chinese goods, which raise prices for U.S. consumers. Trump suggested for the first time that the federal government may offer another round of taxpayer-funded subsidies to U.S. farmers who complain of significant losses as China’s imports of American wheat and soybeans plummet. An earlier program offered the U.S. agriculture sector up to $12 billion in temporary relief, but some farmers complain they have not received federal subsidies for which they applied.


On Saturday, Trump again suggested that a trade deal with China had eluded his administration because Beijing wants to wait until after the 2020 election to see who will occupy the Oval Office.


“I think that China felt they were being beaten so badly in the recent negotiation that they may as well wait around for the next election, 2020, to see if they could get lucky & have a Democrat win — in which case they would continue to rip-off the USA for $500 Billion a year,” Trump wrote.


The only problem is that they know I am going to win (best economy & employment numbers in U.S. history, & much more), and the deal will become far worse for them if it has to be negotiated in my second term. Would be wise for them to act now, but love collecting BIG TARIFFS!”


The president continued in that vein on Sunday, arguing the United States is “right where we need to be” with China (The Hill).


The Hill: Five things to know about the trade war with China.


The Wall Street Journal: Frustration, miscalculation inside the U.S.-China trade impasse.


Financial Times (FT): China’s Liu denied backtracking with the Trump administration, suggesting negotiators from both countries were still discussing language when the president announced higher tariffs. Analysts predict the Trump administration will not achieve a trade deal with import levies. “Basically the US cannot defeat China through trade,” Huang Weiping, an economics professor at Renmin University in Beijing, told FT. “American sanctions did not break Russia or Cuba. They will definitely not break China.”


The Washington Post: Economic risks posed by Trump’s go-it-alone approach to trade, immigration.


The New York Times: Trump’s trade war escalation will exact economic pain, White House’s Kudlow says: “Both sides will suffer on this.” Asian stocks were lower this morning, and futures markets suggested Wall Street will open down, too.


The Associated Press: What are Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, and how do they work? … In a fact check, Trump’s trade assertions, theories are a fog of misinformation. For starters, tariffs are paid by U.S. companies and usually passed on to consumers (The Associated Press).


On Capitol Hill, Trump’s trade challenges are not limited to China. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is bogged down and faces slim odds of ratification by Congress. The administration has begun to discuss various fallback options, including living with some aspects of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump campaigned in 2016 to tear up and replace (The Hill).


Americans are much less free to trade today than we were on Jan. 20, 2017, when Trump took office. He withdrew us from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was a huge agreement,” said Dan Ikenson, director of the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, a think tank that favors free trade.

He has imposed duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and another $70 billion with the aluminum tariffs and other tariffs,” Ikenson added. “I think there were some serious miscalculations done by President Trump and [United States Trade Representative Robert] Lighthizer, and we’re going to be in far worse shape when they’re gone than when they came.”

Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress who consider themselves opponents of trade barriers are holding their fire about Trump’s decisions. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyWhite House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord GOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation MORE of Iowa, a Republican advocate for Midwestern farm interests, defended the president.


“We've gotta get [these] negotiations right, and we have to applaud Trump being the first president to call out China on bad behavior and bring them to the negotiating table,” he said (The Hill).


Grassley earlier this month threatened to block Trump’s signature hemispheric trade deal from advancing if the president didn’t agree to scrap tariffs imposed on Mexico and Canada.


The administration, working through the Federal Communications Commission, is separately battling Chinese telecom companies, a complicating factor as a backdrop to the trade tit-for-tat. The FCC's action against China Mobile and its ongoing investigations into two other Chinese telecom giants could help spur Beijing back to the negotiating table, according to analysts (The Hill).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



The threat of Iran is in our backyard, by Doug SchoenDouglas SchoenTrump taps Monica Crowley to be Treasury spokeswoman The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Deadline approaches for 2020 Dems MORE, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The United States must not flinch in the face of Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnRomney: 'Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery' Pompeo expresses concern over North Korea missile tests State Dept. extends travel ban to North Korea MORE’s missiles mind trick, by Sung-Yoon Lee, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features former Massachusetts Gov. William WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldPhysician: Biden 'more than capable' of handling the rigors of campaign, White House Board member resigns from Republican LGBT group over Trump endorsement Trump challenger: 'All bets are off' if I win New Hampshire primary MORE, a Republican challenger to Trump for the primary nomination in 2020. Felicia Wong, president & CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, also stops by.


The House convenes at noon on Tuesday.


The Senate meets at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of Michael J. Truncale to be United States district judge for the Eastern District of Texas.


The president will sign an executive order dealing with economic opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Trump will have lunch with Vice President Pence. He’ll welcome far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary to the White House, the first prime minister from Hungary to be granted a White House visit since 1998 (The New York Times). Trump will host a White House iftar, the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset.


USMCA is a landmark victory for American workers, farmers, businesses, with more free markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth. Urge Swift Passage of the USMCA Because a Win for Workers is a Win for America. Learn more.


Courts: The Supreme Court will begin issuing some of the most consequential decisions of the year nearing the end of its term. Here’s what to watch (The Hill). … Trump has been frustrated that some of his policies were blocked by lower courts before being upheld by the Supreme Court and he now wants to stop lower courts from being able to issue national injunctions in a move that could dramatically limit the authority of judges behind the orders (The Hill). … During an interview with The Washington Post, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, 99, whose memoir is in bookstores on Tuesday, expresses regret that he was on the losing side of a Second Amendment case he believes costs lives.


Sweden: A Swedish prosecutor has reopened a preliminary investigation into a 2012 rape allegation against jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian AssangeJulian Paul Assange3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Mueller on Trump's WikiLeaks embrace: 'Problematic is an understatement' The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment MORE, which Assange has long denied. WikiLeaks’ editor said the reopening of the case offers Assange a chance to clear his name (Reuters).


State Watch: Attorneys general from more than 40 states alleged on Friday in a lawsuit in Connecticut that the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers and executives conspired to artificially inflate and manipulate prices for more than 100 different generic drugs, including treatments for diabetes, cancer and arthritis (The Associated Press). … Congress confronts a mishmash of legislation aimed at ending the semi-annual clock switch that comes with daylight saving time (The Hill). ...Several states last week enacted strict energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs, a move designed to counter efforts by the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era rules (The Hill). … Local police departments are increasingly using facial recognition technology to apprehend suspects, raising new questions about privacy, legal rights and errors (NBC News). … In backlash against the spreading use of the technology, San Francisco may become the first city to ban police, official use of facial recognition (The Associated Press).


Boeing: Former Boeing engineers say relentless cost-cutting sacrificed safety at the company (Bloomberg Businessweek). … The lawsuits Boeing confronts after two deadly crashes will set a price on victims’ minutes of terror. The cost to settle claims are expected to top $1 billion (Bloomberg).





And finally … Good morning! As you reach for your coffee and bacon this morning, take note that insect agriculture is trending beyond the needs of the U.S. pet industry. Cricket farming, a new brainchild for some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, is happening on a Florida farm that is described as silent by day and noisy at night.


Crickets, according to their fans, offer a protein source that can compete with chicken and beef if Americans ever get beyond the ick of eating bugs. But there’s another hitch: Raising crickets to bring to market is expensive.


The challenge — enter the tech brainiacs — is lowering production costs, which “are way too high to be economically feasible in our current food system,” Florida’s Ovipost cricket farm CEO Trina Chiasson concedes.


Compared with the low cost of raising industrial chickens, she says, producing crickets is “not even close.” Those production costs explain why a pound of boneless chicken breast retails for a little more than $3 versus $15 for a pound of food-grade crickets from farms in Louisiana and Georgia (Science News).