The Hill's Morning Report - Can Sanders be stopped?




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Tuesday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Good morning! Four more days until the South Carolina primary … seven more days until Super Tuesday … 252 days until Election Day!

The Democratic primary field will convene on a debate stage for the 10th time tonight as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTop Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Poll: Biden leads Sanders by 22 points GE employees urge company to use laid-off workers to make ventilators MORE (I-Vt.) comes under fire while trying to capture the Democratic nomination.


With two wins in his pocket and hurricane-level gusts of wind at his back, Sanders is the front-runner. A win in South Carolina and a convincing performance on Super Tuesday would defy the centrist wing of the Democratic Party as it works to stop Sanders while boasting that a moderate nominee could defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE.


Sanders is under renewed scrutiny for remarks he made to “60 Minutes” on Sunday when he suggested it was “unfair to simply say everything is bad” under the rule of late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. His rivals howled, and so did some key Democratic lawmakers, including members of Congress from South Florida who represent thousands of Cuban Americans (The Hill).


Socialism, communism and dictators may emerge as debate topics tonight in Charleston, S.C., when seven contenders make their closing national arguments before primary voters in 14 states are heard. Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergFormer Bloomberg staffer seeks class-action lawsuit over layoffs Bloomberg spent over 0M on presidential campaign The Hill's Campaign Report: Officials in spotlight over coronavirus response MORE expects new pummeling after his rocky debate performance in Nevada. But Sanders knows he’s the night’s target. 


The New York Times: Tonight’s Democratic debate: Everyone vs. Bernie Sanders.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Democratic rivals have seven days to stop Sanders.


NBC News: 5 things to watch in the South Carolina debate: Will Biden's firewall hold?


Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response MORE, who is facing a do-or-die contest on Saturday, has gone on the attack in recent days against the democratic socialist from Vermont. In a new ad released Monday, Biden accused Sanders of attempting to undermine former President Obama’s reelection in 2012 by threatening a primary challenge (The Hill). 


“When it comes to building on Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSenator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Biden could be picking the next president: VP choice more important than ever Civil rights leader Joseph Lowery dies at 98 MORE’s legacy, Bernie Sanders just can’t be trusted,” the Biden campaign ad says (Politico).


In surveys, Biden continues to lead in the Palmetto State. According to new surveys released Monday by NBC News and Marist College and PublicPolicyPolling, the former VP tops Sanders by 4 and 15 points, respectively. 


While some candidates have spent time meeting voters in Super Tuesday states this week, Biden planted himself in South Carolina to fortify his claim that he’s the candidate best able to win the support of African Americans and minority voters. If he wins on Saturday, Biden’s first primary victory as a presidential candidate would give him the opening he needs to fight on.


The New York Times: Sanders says he’ll attract a wave of new voters. It hasn’t happened.


Gerald F. Seib: Four debate questions Bernie Sanders could be asked.


The Washington Post: As other campaigns go national, Biden is laser-focused on South Carolina. 


The Hill: Sanders seeks to capitalize on Nevada in Texas, California.


As Sanders continues to pace the field, Democrats who are desperate to thwart his momentum are heaping pressure on some candidates to drop out to help the party unite around a single contender. According to reporting by Max Greenwood and Amie Parnes, the nudges are aimed at Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike Trump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances Biden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll MORE (D-Minn.) and Tom SteyerTom SteyerProgressive advocates propose T 'green stimulus' plan Candidates want data privacy rules, except for their own campaigns Budowsky: Biden should pull together a 'dream team of rivals' MORE. They both struggled mightily in Nevada and do not have clear paths to the nomination. 


They are not alone. Some Democrats are questioning whether former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegReuters poll finds Sanders cutting Biden national lead to single digits Biden says he'll adopt plans from Sanders, Warren Buttigieg guest-hosts for Jimmy Kimmel: 'I've got nothing else going on' MORE has a realistic trajectory, even as he competes with Sanders for the lead as measured by delegates captured to date. He notched top finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary but has struggled to gain traction among minority voters. Calls will begin to be heard for Biden to exit the race if he loses to Sanders in South Carolina, and even his surrogates suggest his third bid for the White House will be over if he performs poorly in the states that vote March 3, which Democrats see as a national primary. 


“I think sooner rather than later, a bunch of these candidates are going to have to understand that they don’t have a viable path to the nomination and need to get behind someone,” said Rufus Gifford, the finance director for Obama’s 2012 bid, a Biden supporter.


The Hill: GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman.


The Hill: At CNN town hall, Sanders defends Castro comments despite Dem backlash. 


The Hill: Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals.


CNN: Bloomberg says at a private event says Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGranting cash payments is a conservative principle 7 things to know about the coronavirus stimulus package Scarborough rips Trump for mocking Romney's negative coronavirus test: 'Could have been a death sentence' MORE would have done a better job than Obama if elected in 2012.





WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The president was halfway around the world in India during the early morning hours there when he tweeted reassurances as global financial markets sagged.


The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday suffered their biggest one-day percentage losses in two years on worries the spread of the coronavirus beyond China and into Europe signals more prolonged uncertainty for global production, supply chains, sales, trade, travel and employment. Investors sold riskier assets and rushed to traditionally safer bets such as gold and U.S. Treasuries (Reuters).


“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump tweeted. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”


The administration on Monday sent Congress a request for $1.25 billion in emergency funding to address the coronavirus outbreak, to be combined with $535 million in reprogrammed Ebola funds and other already appropriated resources. The White House budget office said the needed funds would cover vaccines, treatment and protective equipment (The Associated Press). A total of 53 Americans confirmed to have been infected with the virus have been or are being treated in the United States, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.


The president faces a challenge to balance COVID-19 risks with responses (The Hill). The administration set up a coronavirus task force in late January in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and implemented a quarantine process for Americans returning from China and travel restrictions to mitigate the spread of the virus. A White House spokesman told reporters that Trump continues to be briefed on the situation daily (The Hill). 


WHO, the global health organization, on Monday described “deeply concerning” spikes in COVID-19 cases in Italy, Iran and South Korea. U.S. public health officials and infectious disease experts acknowledge the virus may spread beyond current containment efforts in the United States but have continued to reassure the public that the risks of infection remain low.


The virus has killed 2,704 people worldwide since December, most of them in China, and infected at least 80,289 people, according to the latest information.


The Associated Press: Airline, cruise stocks pummeled on fear of the spreading virus.


The Associated Press: Asian shares today extend losses after Monday’s financial markets swoon.


Reuters: South Korea, nearing 900 cases of the virus today, says it will test mass numbers of people for infection.


The Associated Press: World health officials say COVID-19 has the potential to be a pandemic but isn’t one yet. 


The Associated Press: The United States and South Korea may cut back on joint military exercises because of the virus.


The Miami Herald: How one Florida patient’s worry about coronavirus collided with his “junk” health insurance and produced a whopping emergency room bill for the flu, plus new insurance hurdles.





Other administration news: New rules promulgated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services took effect on Monday to disqualify people from acquiring green cards if they use certain government benefits. Around the country, fearful immigrants, including citizens and legal residents, have dropped social services to which they or their children may be entitled because they worry they might be deported. Advocates for immigrant rights demonstrated against the new restrictions in numerous cities and urged people to seek legal advice to sort out the federal changes. A 5-4 Supreme Court vote Friday was a win for Trump on thepublic charge rule as justices lifted a final injunction covering Illinois (The Associated Press). … Extraditions of criminal suspects from Mexico to the United States soar under Trump (The New York Times) … Legal immigration fell 11 percent under Trump policies, based on 2018 data. The trend is expected to accelerate through 2021 (The New York Times).


Trump wraps up two days in India: Today, Trump held meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed optimism about an eventual trade deal between the two countries, but was not specific. “The last two days were amazing in every sense of the word,” Trump said as he and Modi briefly addressed reporters after the first of their two meetings. The president described the trip as “unforgettable,” “extraordinary” and an expression of “love” (The Associated Press). The president on Monday received a warm welcome in India, where he announced a $3 billion defense deal and toured the Taj Mahal at sunset. He and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpUK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus Trump defends million in Kennedy Center funding in coronavirus stimulus Budowsky: President Trump, meet with all former living presidents MORE fly back to Washington today (The Hill).


CONGRESS: National intelligence: Senate Republicans have been handed some new headaches following Trump's temporary appointment of Richard Grenell to serve as acting director of national intelligence (DNI). Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrDOJ probing stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of coronavirus crisis: report GOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Stimulus bill to prohibit Trump family, lawmakers from benefiting from loan programs MORE (R-N.C.) released a statement praising the work of former acting DNI Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireFormer intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials Acting director of National Counterterrorism Center fired: report Trump taps new director for National Counterterrorism Center MORE and his deputy, Andrew Hallman, while omitting reference to Grenell. Especially concerning among some lawmakers was Grenell's hiring of Kashyap Patel, a former key aide to Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump steps up intensity in battle with media Nunes urges Americans to 'stop panicking': 'It's a great time to just go out' if you're healthy Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for another week fighting the coronavirus, seek to curb fallout MORE (R-Calif.), who will have a mandate to sideline or jettison officials viewed as disloyal to Trump, according to reports. Because Grenell says he is not a candidate to be nominated to permanently serve as DNI, senators have limited leverage over his management (The Hill).


> Tech & Congress: The Transportation Security Agency is barring employees from using the popular video app TikTok following criticism from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJoe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing MORE (D-N.Y.) and other China hawks in Congress who raised national security concerns (The Hill).


> Sweet thank-yous: And speaking of Schumer, the New Yorker on Sunday acknowledged a report that he spent more than $8,600 on cheesecake in less than 10 years, saying it is his "guilty pleasure" and that he frequently rewards supporters with gifts created by a famed New York restaurant (The New York Post). The senator's PAC, Friends of Schumer, paid Junior's Cheesecake in New York for "supporter acknowledgments" in amounts ranging from $46 to $516.45 (CNN).




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 fringes are absorbing the parties. That’s dangerous, by Charles Lane, columnist, The Washington Post.


Bernie’s Cuba illiteracy, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board.


The new wealth test for immigrants is un-American, by Catherine S. Ramírez, opinion contributor, The New York Times.


The House returns to legislative work at 2 p.m. following the Presidents Day recess. Lawmakers will debate five Veterans Affairs measures.  


The Senate resumes work on nominations at 10 a.m. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar will testify at 10 a.m. to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee about the president’s fiscal 2021 budget request for HHS. He is expected to respond to questions about U.S. preparedness and response to the coronavirus as a public health issue. 


The president and the first lady are returning from India today.


Vice President Pence speaks to a gathering organized by the Michigan Farm Bureau in Lansing, Mich., at 12:45 p.m. After flying to Troy, Mich., the vice president will headline a reelection event at 5 p.m. and return to Washington.


Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBrooklyn man accused of lying about hoarding medical supplies, coughing at officers Juan Williams: Mueller, one year on States should plan now for November voting options MORE will attend the weekly Senate GOP luncheon today in the Capitol. That conversation should be lively.


Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida will speak at 3 p.m. about the U.S. economic outlook and monetary policy at the annual policy conference of the National Association for Business Economics in Washington. Investors are listening carefully following market jitters and global worries about the effects of the coronavirus contagion.


The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget hosts a “2020 Better Budget Process Summit: Building Momentum for Meaningful Reform” from 1:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill (registration is HERE). Speakers include Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe Hill's Morning Report - Can Sanders be stopped? Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Republicans scramble to avoid Medicare land mine MORE (R-Wyo.) along with Sens. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordFormer Sen. Tom Coburn dies at 72 Burr requests ethics investigation into stock sale, denies wrongdoing Senior GOP senators object to direct payments at caucus meeting MORE (R-Okla.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights | Court sides with tribes in Dakota Access Pipeline case | Trump officials walk away from ethanol court fight Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights Overnight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' MORE (D-R.I.). Budget experts Bill Hoagland from the Bipartisan Policy Center, Laura Blessing from Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute, and Bill Dauster of the University of Pennsylvania will join summit host Maya MacGuineas for a deep-dive discussion about “reforming our broken budget process.”


The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) annual governmental affairs conference at the Washington Convention Center today features speakers Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyCoronavirus sets off industry scramble for aid from Washington Why Klobuchar should be Biden's vice presidential pick Overnight Defense: 'Tens of thousands' of National Guard troops could be activated for coronavirus response | Hospital ships could take week to deploy | Trump says military to help Americans stuck in Peru MORE, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump and former governor of South Carolina; Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerRomney says he tested negative for coronavirus, will remain in quarantine Senate GOP super PAC books more than million in fall ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Markets expected to plunge amid partisan squabbling MORE (R-Colo.); Reps. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryBottom line Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition Lawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank MORE (R-N.C.) and Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanPelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid House Democrats eyeing much broader Phase 3 stimulus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers clash during Pompeo hearing on Iran | Trump touts Taliban deal ahead of signing | Trump sued over plan to use Pentagon funds for border wall MORE (D-Calif.), both members of the House Financial Services Committee; and David Plouffe, who steered campaigns for former President Obama. 


The Hoover Institution will host “The Human Prosperity Project on Socialism and Free-Market Capitalism” from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in downtown Washington. Information/RSVP:


You’re invited to The Hill’s newsmaker event:

America's Opioid Epidemic: Lessons Learned & A Way Forward, on Wednesday in Washington, explores access to treatment for opioid addiction and recovery issues with Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rep. David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceBoeing suspends Washington production, GE Aviation lays off thousands Mnuchin details IRS challenges with cash-only marijuana businesses Democrat: Lawmakers need to approach opioid crisis as 'a chronic situation' MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoTrump administration expected to roll back Obama-era mileage standards As we face coronavirus battle, we must ensure critical supplies of respirators for health care workers Overnight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain MORE (D-N.Y.). RSVP today


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Courts: Following accusations of sexual assault spanning decades that launched the #MeToo movement and ended the Hollywood career of disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, a jury in New York on Monday found him guilty on counts of rape and sexual assault. On three other charges, jurors found Weinstein, 67, not guilty. He was immediately jailed and faces a prison sentence of up to 29 years (The Associated Press). Weinstein also faces civil lawsuits and prosecution in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times). … The Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in a legal battle about whether federal law authorizes the U.S. Forest Service to allow a gas pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail. The ruling could determine if the $8 billion pipeline project moves forward (The Hill). … The justices on Monday agreed to hear a religious rights dispute involving the city of Philadelphia’s refusal to place children for foster care with a Catholic agency that bars same-sex couples from serving as foster parents (Reuters).


Justice: As WikiLeaks founder Julian AssangeJulian Paul AssangeJudge orders Chelsea Manning's release from jail Lawyers: Chelsea Manning recovering after suicide attempt Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 MORE’s extradition hearing in London began on Monday, a British judge heard conflicting portraits that described either a truth-telling journalist or a reckless criminal (The Associated Press). Assange, 48, is fighting extradition to stand trial in the United States on charges of violating the Espionage Act, arguing he would not receive a fair trial (The Washington Post). The United States argues that Assange put lives at risk with his decision in 2010 to make public or publish thousands of classified military documents and diplomatic cables via the online WikiLeaks site (NBC News).  


Celebration of life: Vanessa Bryant eulogized her husband, the late Kobe Bryant, and her daughter Gianna Bryant at a memorial service before 20,000 at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday. Speaking through tears, she labeled the former Los Angeles Lakers star "the MVP of girl dads" and said that it was fitting that he died alongside Gianna, saying they had to be “together.” Vanessa Bryant led the memorial ceremony, which also featured speeches from Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s former teammate, and a performance by Beyoncé (ESPN). On Monday, Vanessa Bryant also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the helicopter operator, saying that the company failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” (Los Angeles Times).





And finally … Who says Washington power brokers don’t work across the aisle anymore? If you don’t immediately recognize this fun couple spotted in the posh Cafe Milano in the nation’s capital on Monday night  Trump’s U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka enjoyed some after-dinner Cohiba cigars and bonhomie among other VIP diners. The two men have been friends for more than 30 years and celebrated their shared contributions to the new NAFTA, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement initiated by Trump and recently ratified by Congress, reports The Hill’s editor-at-large Steve Clemons, who filed to the Morning Report, played paparazzi and apparently enjoyed a delicious meal.