The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the APTA - Dems rally to Biden's side on Super Tuesday Eve

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Tuesday, and yes, it’s SUPER! 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! Fourteen states and one territory vote in primaries today! … 246 days until Election Day! ***

It took a while, but the Democratic establishment struck back at Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTlaib, Ocasio-Cortez offer bill to create national public banking system Cutting defense spending by 10 percent would debilitate America's military The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy MORE (I-Vt.) in a big way on Monday as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll Ivanka Trump raises million in a week for father's campaign On The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election MORE moves to coalesce the party behind him and try to score points tonight in Super Tuesday contests.


In less than 24 hours, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegWhat a Biden administration should look like Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls LGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFederal appeals court rules Minnesota must separate late-arriving mail-in ballots Trump announces intention to nominate two individuals to serve as FEC members Start focusing on veterans' health before they enlist MORE (D-Minn.) announced they were ending their campaigns and subsequently rallied to Biden’s side Monday night. Buttigieg endorsed Biden during a press appearance shortly before the rally. Klobuchar appeared with Biden in Texas. 


“I'm looking for a leader," said Buttigieg, whom the former VP likened to his late son, Beau Biden. “I'm looking for a president who will draw out what is best in each of us, and I'm encouraging everybody who was part of my campaign to join me because we have found that leader in Vice President — soon to be President — Joe Biden" (The Hill).


“I believe we can do this together, and that is why today I am ending my campaign and endorsing Joe Biden for president,” Klobuchar said at the Dallas rally to chants of “Amy! Amy!” "We do not just want to eke by a victory. We want to win big, and Joe Biden can do that. … I cannot think of a better way of ending my campaign than joining his.”


Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) also endorsed the former vice president toward the end of the rally, saying he wants a competitor who can defeat Trump. 


The Hill: Establishment Democrats rallying behind Biden.


The New York Times: Frozen in anxiety: How Democratic leaders struggled to confront Bernie Sanders.


Jonathan Allen: Biden rallies establishment in bid to turn back Sanders.


The Hill: Biden surges higher with Klobuchar, Buttigieg endorsements.


Many Democrats have been surprised by the rapid shakeout of the field following the early-state results. Some draw parallels to the GOP race in 2016, when no candidate shot to the head of the pack early, allowing Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE to line up the nomination. Many political watchers believed it would take until after Super Tuesday for the presidential field to narrow this year, but Biden’s massive win in South Carolina accelerated decisions by Buttigieg and Klobuchar to suspend their bids for the White House and endorse him right away. Fearing Sanders could lose to Trump if he’s the nominee and cost Democrats seats in Congress, the two candidates focused on the big picture.  


“That definitely crystalized it,” said a source close to the Klobuchar campaign, adding that conversations about dropping out began in earnest on Sunday when she talked to advisers and looked at the daunting primary map ahead of her. “It was about how we can help the party.”


A Buttigieg source echoed the sentiment, saying the massive slate of races this month was not going to turn in the former mayor’s favor. 


“I don’t think anybody was expecting [Biden] to win every delegate out of South Carolina,” the source said. “The way he won changed what [the post-Super Tuesday landscape] looked like.”


Despite Biden’s momentum, Sanders remains the favorite in many of tonight’s contests, including for the lion’s share of California’s 415 delegates — the most of any state — as 14 states will dole out more than one-third of the overall total. As Jonathan Easley writes in his preview, Sanders is also headed for a top finish in Texas, the second-largest Super Tuesday contest as measured by pledged delegates. The progressive Independent should win California in blowout fashion, and he’s maintained a healthy lead in the Lone Star State throughout the early voting period, when more than 1 million people cast ballots in the Democratic primary. 


The Vermont Independent also appears to be headed for victories in Colorado, Utah, Maine and Vermont. With Klobuchar out of the race, Sanders is the clear favorite to win Minnesota, and he’s pressing to win in Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren has expressed interest in being Biden's Treasury secretary: report The Democrats' 50 state strategy never reached rural America What a Biden administration should look like MORE’s (D-Mass.) home state as well. Warren herself vowed to remain in the race during a rally in Los Angeles on Monday night (CNN).


Nevertheless, the trajectory of the race may not produce a certain winner by summer. According to FiveThirtyEight, there is now a 63 percent chance no candidate reaches the requisite 1,991 delegates to win the nomination before the convention, with Biden and Sanders holding a 21 percent and 16 percent chance of winning outright, respectively. 


Niall Stanage: Super Tuesday: What each candidate needs to do.


The Hill: 5 things to watch on Super Tuesday.


With the departures by Buttigieg and Klobuchar, the Democratic contest also just got much older. All four of the main candidates remaining are septuagenarians (Sanders is 78 years old, former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergLate donor surges push election spending projections to new heights New voters surge to the polls What a Biden administration should look like MORE is 78, Biden is 77 and Warren is the youngest at 70. Trump is 73.)


The number to watch heading into tonight: 15. To win delegates, candidates must win at least 15 percent of the vote either statewide or in each congressional district. The more candidates who hit the 15 percent mark, the more even the delegates will be handed out tonight (The New York Times). 


Also worth watching will be how Bloomberg fares tonight in what is his first appearance on the ballot this year, having skipped the early vote states. Prior to South Carolina, Bloomberg was riding high, but Biden’s success has changed everything. According to polls, Bloomberg sits third or fourth in most states set to vote tonight, and how many contests he hits the magic 15 percent figure in will help determine his viability moving forward, though he has said he has no intention of dropping out before the convention in Milwaukee. 


Looking beyond Super Tuesday, six states will vote on March 10, headlined by Michigan and its 125 delegates. On March 17, four more states will take their turns, all of which are considered crucial to Democrats: Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Arizona. 


Politifact: How Sanders runs in Democratic primaries when he’s an independent in the Senate. 





CORONAVIRUS: From coast to coast, the new coronavirus is showing up in a rising number of U.S. patients, including some who traveled to countries, such as Italy, South Korea and Iran, where deadly outbreaks are in the spotlight. At least 105 Americans have been infected in and outside the United States.


Mystery transmissions within California and Washington state are posing serious challenges for state and local health officials as the U.S. death toll from the virus climbed to six on Monday. All of the victims died near Seattle, including four residents of a nursing home.


As of this morning, COVID-19 has killed 3,118 people worldwide and infected at least 91,313 patients in more than 70 countries, according to the latest information.  


“We’re dealing with an evolving situation,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, told NBC News.


“We’re dealing with clearly an emerging infectious disease that has now reached outbreak proportions and likely pandemic proportions,” he added.


The Associated Press: Testing for COVID-19 sheds light on how the virus is spreading in the United States.


New England Journal of Medicine: The detailed medical treatment of a 35-year-old patient diagnosed with COVID-19 in Washington state — the first case of the new coronavirus treated in this country.


Trump will visit the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this afternoon and will travel to Atlanta on Friday to tour the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has dispatched personnel to states experiencing cases of the new virus.


At the White House, members of the president’s task force said they expect to see a spike in confirmed U.S. cases, which they said will be an indicator that testing for the virus and disease detective work are succeeding.


“This is a time to use common sense, a good time to wash your hands,” Pence said during a press briefing at the White House that included additional task force members with relevant expertise. Pence introduced Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and newly detailed infectious disease response coordinator Deborah Birx, an immunologist with extensive experience with HIV/AIDS, loaned to the White House from the State Department (pictured below).


The administration has not expanded its list of travel advisories beyond outbreak areas in Iran, Italy, South Korea and China. But the confirmed COVID-19 cases accumulating in other countries could compel the United States to expand its travel warnings. There are no restrictions or advisories regarding travel within the United States, officials said.


Trump, Pence and top federal medical specialists held multiple meetings on Monday, including with pharmaceutical executives, and they coordinated by phone with the nation’s governors about reimbursing state costs tied to virus preparation and response (The Associated Press). Cases of the virus have been confirmed in at least 12 states and Nebraska continues to house patients at a special quarantine unit as of this morning.


The aims: more virus testing, more contact tracing and patient containment in Washington to keep as many people as possible from becoming ill, and fast-tracked private sector collaboration to spur vaccines and effective therapies. A potential COVID-19 vaccine is not expected to be ready before the end of this year or early in 2021, Vice President Pence said. The U.S. military is contributing to research behind a vaccine (The Hill).


Referring to the White House discussions with drugmakers, Trump said, “We’ve asked them to accelerate whatever they’re doing in terms of a vaccine.”  


House lawmakers led by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election Overnight Health Care: House Dem report blasts Trump coronavirus response | Regeneron halts trial of antibody drug in sickest hospitalized patients | McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 MORE (D-Calif.) are rushing to unveil today a proposed emergency spending measure for coronavirus response with a price tag anticipated to be between $7 billion and $8 billion (The Hill). Pelosi wants her colleagues to approve a bill this week, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop Senate GOP super PAC makes final .6M investment in Michigan Senate race On The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election Overnight Health Care: House Dem report blasts Trump coronavirus response | Regeneron halts trial of antibody drug in sickest hospitalized patients | McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 MORE (R-Ky.) says he wants to put a measure on the Senate floor next week (Roll Call). Trump has said he’ll sign into law whatever Congress sends him.


At the Federal Reserve, central bankers are expected to confer today with global finance ministers to assess the economic impacts of COVID-19. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDemocrats call Trump's COVID-19 response 'among the worst failures of leadership in American history' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, Biden set for weekend swing state sprint Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' MORE will lead the conference call at 7 a.m. ET (CNBC). The group is not expected to call today for coordinated interest rate cuts or specific spending by governments (Reuters).


Powell said in a Friday statement that the central bank "will use our tools and act as appropriate" to protect the economy (The Hill). Markets have priced in three rate cuts this year, according to analysts, and Powell’s statement was credited with easing investor fears on Monday as stocks surged (The Washington Post).


The Hill: Meet NIH’s Dr. Fauci, the federal government’s coronavirus expert and media-savvy infectious disease expert for more than 30 years.


Bloomberg News: Trump team weighs virus responses to contain economic fallout.


The Associated Press: The coronavirus crisis in China is ebbing.





INTERNATIONAL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE is projected to be the victor against Benny Gantz in Monday’s election in Israel, but is just short of winning a governing majority in the Knesset. 


Exit polls on Israeli TV stations showed Netanyahu and his allies capturing 59 seats out of the 120 in the Knesset, putting him on the verge of winning a majority with 90 percent of the votes counted. The final results are expected to be released later on Tuesday, which could put the third race in the past year over the top for the incumbent prime minister (The Associated Press). 


Gantz, a former military chief, did not concede Monday’s election to Netanyahu (The Jerusalem Post). The prime minister goes on trial on corruption charges on March 17.


> China: The Trump administration announced on Monday a series of new restrictions against Chinese journalists working for state media, including a limit of 100 Chinese citizens who may work in the U.S. for the five Chinese news organizations, all of which are state controlled. The decision, which Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUPDATED: Pompeo's son raised 'hackathon' event in email to State Department Pompeo: US citizens born in Jerusalem can now list Israel on passports The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states MORE rolled out on Monday, was a reaction to how the Chinese have treated American and foreign journalists (The Hill).  


Pompeo made the personnel rollback after the State Department identified the five media outlets as “foreign missions of the People’s Republic of China” last month.   


“Unlike foreign media organizations in China, these entities are not independent news organizations,” Pompeo said in the statement. “The decision to implement this personnel cap is not based on any content produced by these entities, nor does it place any restrictions on what the designated entities may publish in the United States.”


The move comes a month after three Wall Street Journal reporters were expelled from China, the first time it had happened in 22 years (The New York Times).


> Afghanistan: The U.S. is facing key obstacles in the way of implementing a deal with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan, with the Taliban’s potential talks with the Afghan government hitting a snag over the release of prisoners. 


According to Reuters, the U.S. agreed to different parameters with the Taliban and the Afghan government, creating headaches as it looks to seal an agreement. The U.S.-Taliban accord says the Afghan government will free up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners prior to March 10, which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has publicly questioned. The U.S. deal with the Afghan government, however, says that the two sides would only be committed to discussing “feasibility” of such a release.


With a deal up in the air, the administration is taking its case to Congress. Pompeo told senior lawmakers on Monday that the administration is making two secret documents related to “military implementation” available to top foreign relations lawmakers as it looks to earn support from both sides of the aisle for the deal (Politico).

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!


Coronavirus respiratory droplets and you, by Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2VGreAe


Protecting Americans from infectious disease threats, today and tomorrow, by Dr. Tom Frieden, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2VClmbe 


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The House meets at 10 a.m. At 9 a.m., two hours after conferring with Group of Seven finance ministers by phone, Mnuchin is scheduled to appear before the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss Trump’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget. He will be asked about the new coronavirus and economic and monetary impacts.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. Officials will testify at 10 a.m. before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee about the federal coronavirus response. Officials from the CDC, NIH, Health and Human Service Department and Federal Drug Administration will provide updates.


The president this morning speaks to the National Association of Counties conference in Washington. Trump this afternoon will tour sections of NIH in Maryland at 2:30 p.m. as part of his ongoing tutorial about infectious diseases. The president today will meet with GOP lawmakers and administration officials to discuss an impasse in Congress over surveillance legislation (The Hill).


Pence will meet with the Problem Solvers Caucus at 11 a.m. and participate in the Senate GOP and Democratic lunches at 1 p.m. and 1:15 p.m., respectively. He will also take part in a roundtable on the coronavirus at NIH with the president, and lead a task force meeting on the topic at 4:15 p.m.


The National Association of Counties is holding its annual legislative conference in Washington this week. In addition to the president, today’s speakers include Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoWarren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks Trump says talks on COVID-19 aid are now 'working out' MORE (R-N.Y.), Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise Bank lobbying group launches ad backing Collins reelection bid House Democrats call on State Department for information on Uighur prisoner Ekpar Asat MORE (D-Fla.) and former Secretary of State Colin PowellColin Luther PowellDemocrats see signs of hidden Biden voters flipping from GOP GOP former US attorneys back Biden, say Trump 'threat to rule of law' How each of us can help to cure our nation's ills MORE. Information is HERE.


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Supreme Court: Justices on Monday heard oral arguments in a lawsuit pushing for greater constitutional protections tied to the administration’s expedited deportation proceedings (The Hill). … Justices on Monday said they will consider the fate of the Affordable Care Act for the third time during the term that begins in October. At the request of Democratic-controlled states, the court will hear arguments responding to a lower court decision that challenged the constitutionality of the 2010 law. Health coverage and existing provisions of ObamaCare remain in effect (The Washington Post and The Hill). … Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case about the constitutionality of the government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as currently structured. The bureau, a favorite punching bag for the banking industry and conservatives, has been embattled since its creation as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law (The Hill).


> News media: How journalists at The New York Times make personal decisions and adjustments, such as not participating in elections, to enhance neutrality: “How journalists try to stay impartial.” … In a surprise move, MSNBC’s “Hardball” political talk show host Chris Matthews, 74, announced his retirement effective Monday night following a string of controversies about some on-air political comments (CNN). 


Entertainment: Don’t miss Aaron Sorkin’s interesting chat in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine about why he’s drawn to writing about “heroes without capes” for television, the big screen and Broadway and his take on this year’s Democratic presidential aspirants. “There are grand gestures out there to be had, and no one is going for them. We’re drowning in timidity.”


➔ RIP: Former GE CEO Jack Welch died on Monday at 84 (CNBC). … James Lipton, creator and host of Bravo’s long-running “Inside the Actors Studio,” died on Monday at 93 (The Hollywood Reporter).


And finally … Happy anniversary to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, which opened in 1891 and is 130 years old this week, according to historians and benefactors. It’s been a magnet for student groups, tourists and local families since its opening. Free and open year-round, the zoo welcomes 2 million visitors a year from all over the world. It’s also a conservation and research center


This young chimpanzee posing at the zoo in May 1926 is part of the Library of Congress photo collection.




--This report was updated at 10:02 a.m.