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 SandersHillicon Valley: Amazon wins union election — says 'our employees made the choice' On The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists 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 TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks 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 BloombergThe truth behind companies' 'net zero' climate commitments The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan Bloomberg, former RNC chair Steele back Biden pick for civil rights division 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 BidenBiden taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS US mulling cash payments to help curb migration 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 ObamaUS raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks Matt Stoller calls on Biden administration to keep McKinsey away from infrastructure Obamas describe meeting Prince Philip in statement mourning his death 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 KlobucharLobbying world New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy Bottom line MORE (D-Minn.) and Tom SteyerTom SteyerSteyer says he has 'no plans' to run for public office again GOP targets ballot initiatives after progressive wins On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 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 ButtigiegButtigieg hopes cruises will return by mid-summer Biden to host bipartisan talks on infrastructure next week The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip 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 RomneyRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS On management of Utah public lands, Biden should pursue an accountable legislative process Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start 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 TrumpTrump says Prince Philip's death an 'irreplaceable loss' for UK Twitter will not allow Trump account archive on platform Jill Biden unveils next phase of military families program 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 BurrNorth Carolina mayor Rett Newton launches Senate bid Democratic hopeful Jeff Jackson raises .3M for North Carolina Senate bid Rick Scott 'very optimistic' Grassley will run for another term MORE (R-N.C.) released a statement praising the work of former acting DNI Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireJudge dismisses Nunes's defamation suit against Washington Post Retired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid says he voted for Biden Congressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts 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 NunesRepublican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC What good are the intelligence committees? CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be 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 SchumerChuck SchumerThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally H.R. 1/S. 1: Democrats defend their majorities, not honest elections McCarthy asks FBI, CIA for briefing after two men on terror watchlist stopped at border 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: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. 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. https://wapo.st/39Vu08G


Bernie’s Cuba illiteracy, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/2veb863


The new wealth test for immigrants is un-American, by Catherine S. Ramírez, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2VhnqFg


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 BarrBill BarrDominion: Ex-Michigan state senator 'sowing discord in our democracy' with election fraud claims Hunter Biden says he doesn't know if Delaware laptop was his Gaetz showed lawmakers nude photos of women he claimed to have slept with: report 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 - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Lummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Wyo.) along with Sens. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordRubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanent Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many MORE (R-Okla.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure Democrats look to impose capital gains tax at death 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 HaleyNikki HaleyBiden funding decision inflames debate over textbooks for Palestinian refugees The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Let's make a deal on infrastructure, taxes Pence launches conservative political group MORE, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump and former governor of South Carolina; Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.); Reps. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryOn The Money: House panel spars over GameStop, Robinhood | Manchin meets with advocates for wage | Yellen says go big, GOP says hold off House panel spars over GameStop frenzy, trading apps Robinhood CEO, regulators to testify at House hearing on GameStop frenzy MORE (R-N.C.) and Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanBiden funding decision inflames debate over textbooks for Palestinian refugees Iran talks set up delicate dance for Biden team Biden can build on Pope Francis's visit to Iraq 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: jmarsch@stanford.edu.


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 JoyceGreene sounds off on GOP after Hill story Marjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Which path will Democrats take on COVID-19 bill? MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoLawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 MORE (D-N.Y.). RSVP today


Catch The Hill’s Campaign Report newsletter, with the latest from The Hill’s politics team. Sign up to receive evening updates, polling data and insights about the 2020 elections. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


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 AssangeBiden DOJ to continue to seek Assange extradition Assange, Snowden among those not included on Trump pardon list Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon 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 LighthizerBob LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 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.