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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks What's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? Alito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open MORE (D-Mass.) announced on Thursday that she is suspending her 2020 Democratic presidential bid, officially turning the race into a one-on-one battle between former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks What's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? Young voters set turnout record, aiding Biden win MORE (I-Vt.).  

Warren made the announcement on Thursday morning from the driveway of her home in Cambridge, Mass., after a poor showing on Super Tuesday and being unable to crack the top two finishers in any of the first 18 contests (The Hill).

"We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together — what you have done — has made a lasting difference. It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters — and the changes will have ripples for years to come," Warren told her staff while announcing her decision (The Washington Post).

The Wall Street Journal: Elizabeth Warren drops out of presidential race.

Throughout her campaign, she became known for her constant stream of policy proposals and for having “a plan for that.” Warren, whose high-water mark came in early October when she served as the Democratic front-runner, was also known in political circles for her organizational strength. However, after being pilloried over her support for “Medicare for All” (and subsequent decision to backtrack from it), she was unable to translate that into support at the ballot box.

Warren said that while she had spoken to both Sanders and Biden, she would not immediately endorse either campaign (The Hill). 

The New York Times: Will Elizabeth Warren endorse a candidate? She has a few options.

The Hill: Warren on Sanders supporters' online attacks: “I think it's a real problem.”

The Hill: Trump: Warren dropping out “three days too late.”

Notably, the Massachusetts Democrat’s exit also marks the end of the run for female candidates with a legitimate shot at the nomination. Starting on March 15, the debates are expected to feature Biden and Sanders exclusively as the Democratic National Committee is expected to raise the threshold for inclusion, meaning Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSix people whose election wins made history Next Congress expected to have record diversity Native Americans elected to Congress in record numbers this year MORE (D-Hawaii) likely will not qualify. 

“All those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years,” Warren told reporters. “That’s going to be hard.”

Reid Wilson, The Hill: On The Trail: Warren falls victim to the electability obsession.

The Hill: Women ask “if not now when?” after Warren exits the presidential race.

As for Sanders and Biden, both candidates are gearing up for Tuesday as six states will hold primary or caucuses, with intense focus on Michigan, a key general election state that will dole out 125 delegates. Sanders’s team announced that instead of holding a rally in Jackson, Miss., he will instead be campaigning in Michigan — the only swing state contest next week — on Friday and Sunday. Sanders indicated to reporters on Wednesday that he will be going all out to win there in what has become a must-win contest (The New York Times). Sanders stunned Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden to name longtime aide Blinken as secretary of State: report Understanding mixed results in Pennsylvania key to future elections What's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? MORE in the 2016 Michigan primary, taking the state by 1.5 points.  

Meanwhile, the former vice president rolled out a pair of key endorsements ahead of the Michigan primary as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — who delivered the Democratic State of the Union response last month — and Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinBickering Democrats return with divisions Questions swirl at Pentagon after wave of departures Overnight Defense: Another Defense official resigns | Pentagon chief says military 'remains strong' despite purge | Top contender for Biden DOD secretary would be historic pick MORE (D-Mich.) both announced their support. Biden will campaign in the coming days in Missouri, Mississippi and Michigan ahead of Tuesday’s contests. 

The Associated Press: Biden’s victories unleash something he’s never had: Money. 

The Washington Post: The day everything went Joe Biden’s way.

Amie Parnes, The Hill: Sanders ad with former President Obama raises eyebrows.

The Washington Post: Mike Bloomberg plans new group to support Democratic nominee.

One issue remains unresolved for the candidates in the coming weeks: whether they will receive protection from the Secret Service after a scary moment on Tuesday night when two dairy protesters rushed the stage at Biden’s victory event. Former second lady Jill Biden and spokeswoman Symone SandersSymone SandersSunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight Sunday shows - Biden win reverberates Biden adviser says White House has not reached out to president-elect MORE were forced to deal with one of the protesters as the former vice president is not under Secret Service protection.  

During an interview on Thursday, Biden told NBC’s “Today” show that it’s something that should be looked into. Prior to the Nevada caucuses, dairy protesters also interrupted Sanders at an event. 

“I think that that’s something that has to be considered the more outrageous some of this becomes,” Biden said. “My wife’s something else, isn’t she? I wasn’t scared for me. I was worried for Jill. God love her. She’s incredible” (Politico). 

In order to receive Secret Service protection, a campaign must ask the Department of Homeland Security to assess threats, with the “big four” congressional leaders eventually reviewing that assessment and making a decision. According to the Secret Service on Thursday, “no candidates have requested protection” at this point. 

In the 2016 cycle, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE and Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBen Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after being 'extremely sick' with COVID-19 Ben Carson says he used unproven COVID-19 treatment recommended by MyPillow CEO Chelsea Clinton blames Trump for Secret Service officers in quarantine MORE received Secret Service protection in November 2015, while Sanders received protection in February 2016 following the Iowa caucuses. Hillary Clinton already was protected by the Secret Service as a former first lady. 

During his time as vice president, Biden’s Secret Service code name was “Celtic.” Sanders’s during the 2016 cycle was “Intrepid” (Time).

The Hill: Protestor who rushed stage at Biden rally: “There wasn't tight security.” 

Tim Alberta, Politico Magazine: “Life After Bernie”: The young left braces for disappointment in 2020.

 

 





LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: Headlines about the coronavirus emergency in the United States told a hand-wringing story on Thursday about levels of national anxiety. First, confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus are spiking. Second, without sufficient tests among masses of people, the virus is able to move deeper into communities undetected. Experts believe the respiratory ravages of COVID-19 could be significant in the United States until a vaccine is deployed.

The wait for an approved vaccine is estimated to be at least a year. The wait for 1 million tests to track transmissions and help people who have symptoms of respiratory illness was supposed to take a week.

The New York Times: Confirmed coronavirus cases in New York double to 22 while 2,700 people are under quarantine.

States on Thursday reported limited testing supplies and members of Congress said they are wary of reassurances from Trump administration officials about the availability of 1 million tests.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar again told reporters, as he did early this week, that a private manufacturer authorized to make the tests expects to ship the promised kits to U.S. laboratories by the end of this week. 

That amounts to the capacity to test roughly 400,000 people; it takes multiple test samples to confirm a single result (The Associated Press).

The number of U.S. cases has grown rapidly in the last several days after more labs started testing and guidelines for eligibility were expanded. This morning, the United States reports 233 confirmed cases of the new strain of virus, including 13 deaths — one in California and the rest in Washington (The New York Times). 

The Washington Post: Three people in Maryland report the first cases of coronavirus in the state. (Three states have thus far declared emergencies: Maryland, California and Washington.)

The New York Times tracking map: At least 18 states report cases.

Around the world this morning, the death toll is 3,383, with 98,704 reported cases in seven dozen countries, according to the latest information.

Seventeen times as many cases of COVID-19 are now outside of China as in it, and a worried World Health Organization on Thursday ordered countries to “pull out all the stops” and “push this virus back” (The Associated Press).

Trump will soon receive a bill he’s promised to sign, approved this week by the House and Senate with bipartisan support. It would release $8.3 billion into the U.S. battle against COVID-19. The measure includes funds for lab testing, infection control and tracing people who came in contact with infected people (The Hill). The bill’s details are multifaceted; some lawmakers believe more federal help may be needed for the majority of U.S. workers who have no paid sick leave and might not be able to work (The Associated Press). 

Trump, speaking about the coronavirus Thursday in Scranton, Pa., during a live town hall program moderated by Fox News, said, “We’ve been given really tremendous marks … for the way we’ve handled it” (New York Post).

As the number of cases of COVID-19 mount in the United States, so do questions about costs of the medical care required from start to finish, especially among older patients who are most at risk for life-threatening illnesses that place heavy demands on hospitals, nurses, doctors and clinicians (The Hill). 

Reuters: U.S. insurers are working to ease coronavirus out-of-pocket medical costs.

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington county warns of at least 17 positive tests after 300-person wedding The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by UAE - US records 1 million COVID-19 cases in a week; governors crack down Washington state issues sweeping restrictions to combat coronavirus surge MORE (D), who greeted Vice President Pence at a military facility outside Tacoma with an elbow bump on Thursday, announced plans to cover the costs of tests for people in his state who lack health insurance. Washington has 75 known cases of the coronavirus. “We have the authority and intention to cover those costs," said Inslee (pictured below), who has publicly clashed with the Trump administration over its public health readiness and coordination to date

Washington state insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler added that a new emergency order requires Washington health insurers to cover COVID-19 testing without copays or deductibles. 

"In addition to that, individuals will be able to have a one-time refill on their prescriptions as a part of that emergency order," Kreidler added (KUOW).

Inslee said people in his state should "seriously consider" avoiding large events with crowds. The spread of the virus has prompted businesses and nonprofits nationwide to cancel conferences and nonessential travel, relying on telework, video hookups and increasingly cautious face-to-face meetings among colleagues.

Trump, Pence and business leaders are eager to calm public jitters and soften economic shocks that pose recessionary risks. At the White House, officials advise Americans to go about their daily lives while exercising “common sense” about their risks of infection (The Hill). Trump tasked the vice president with the heavy lifting to manage a major public health crisis, while the president serves as national cheerleader and keeps his focus on reelection (Politico).

The Associated Press: Around the world, fears of COVID-19’s “devastation” for the poor. Vatican City reports its first case of the virus while insisting Pope FrancisPope FrancisVatican, Instagram investigating Pope's account liking lingerie model post Biden's fellow Catholics helped deliver him to the White House Biden speaks with leaders of Israel, India MORE has a cold, and a member of France’s Parliament has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

 

 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CONGRESS: Two days later, the battle between Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNew York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn Biden congratulates Pelosi on Speaker nomination Senate Democrats introduce bill to shore up PPE supply MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Republicans continues to rage after the Democratic leader warned that two conservative justices would “pay the price” if they voted against abortion rights. 

Schumer tried to do damage control in a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, saying that he “should not have used the words I used” at the rally in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday about Justices Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchCOVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process Reinvesting in American leadership MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughCOVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process The magnificent moderation of Susan Collins MORE. However, the damage was done, leading to the war of words that has erupted, headlined by Chief Justice John Roberts’s rare rebuke of the New York Democrat. 

Since then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' MORE (R-Ky.) denounced Schumer on the Senate floor, calling the comments a “threat” and saying it was clear who it was directed at, while Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Rush Limbaugh lauds Hawley: 'This guy is the real deal' Trump told advisers he could announce 2024 bid shortly after certification of Biden win: report MORE (R-Mo.) threatened a censure attempt against the Senate Democratic leader. 

Senate Democrats have rushed to Schumer’s side in the aftermath, saying his remarks were mischaracterized. 

“I respect Chief Justice John Roberts, but I respectfully disagree with the statement he made yesterday about Senator Schumer’s comments before the Supreme Court building. It is not in Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerNew York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn Biden congratulates Pelosi on Speaker nomination Senate Democrats introduce bill to shore up PPE supply MORE’s nature to physically threaten anyone, or to create a dangerous situation for any person. That is just not Chuck Schumer,” said Sen. Richard DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Ending Trump's transactional arrogance on our public lands President is wild card as shutdown fears grow MORE (D-Ill.).

As Harper Neidig and Jordain Carney write, although Schumer admitted the comments were a mistake, the uproar could provide an opening for both sides to highlight the court's agenda this term. Brian Fallon, the executive director of the progressive group Demand Justice, said that it’s “fully appropriate” for political leaders to call out what he sees as the court’s partisan agenda.

 

 

> Health care: Vulnerable Senate Republicans are dodging direct answers about whether they support a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which the Supreme Court announced earlier this week it plans to take up. 

News that the court will rule on the suit poses a new headache for Republicans in tough races this year as they look to hold onto their Senate majority. Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (R-N.C.) told The Hill he is focused on protecting people with pre-existing conditions, but did not say definitively whether he supports the lawsuit. Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol McSally's final floor speech: 'I gave it my all, and I left it all on the field' MORE (R-Ariz.), facing a tough race against Mark Kelly, said she did not want to comment on a “judicial proceeding.”  

> Surveillance: Lawmakers are struggling to come up with a deal to extend expiring intelligence programs as they only have four working days to get legislation through both chambers and to President Trump’s desk by the March 15 deadline. 

How that gets done, or what a final bill would like, remains unclear as the surveillance fight has sparked deep political and policy divisions on both sides of the aisle and in the House and Senate. Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, acknowledged that debate over expiring provisions in the USA Freedom Act, as well as whether to tackle broader surveillance reforms, was an open question this late in the game.  

“I think, as you know, we’re not all in the same place,” Thune said. “I would say the consensus position in the conference is that everybody wants to explore reforms. … The question is what’s the best way to get that done” (The Hill).

 

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!



OPINION

Why government leaders must act now to address the next recession, by Claudia Sahm, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/334sKOt 

Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnDemocrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Nominated for another Speaker term, Pelosi says it's her last MORE Saves the Democrats, by Peggy Noonan, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/2PPlVLe 

ObamaCare: 10 years of distress and disappointment, by Chris Talgo, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2xeCg5E



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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet Monday at noon.   

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. on Monday. 

The president will travel to Nashville to survey tornado damage and meet with state and local officials. He will then head to Florida to join a political roundtable in Palm Beach with supporters this evening and speak at a GOP joint fundraising committee dinner there at 8:30 p.m. 

Pence will meet with the president’s coronavirus task force later today. On Saturday he will be in Florida to meet with cruise ship companies to discuss the coronavirus and public health issues (Cruise Industry News).

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its employment report for February at 8:30 a.m. — eagerly awaited early data because of the ongoing economic shocks tied to the coronavirus. Here’s why analysts think the COVID-19 impact is hard to gauge at the moment (The New York Times).

The Center for American Progress at 11:30 a.m. will host a discussion with seasoned experts about the coronavirus and effective responses to the current global health emergency. Speakers include Ronald Klain, former Ebola response coordinator for former President Obama; Rachel Levin, M.D., Pennsylvania health secretary; Lisa Monaco, former White House homeland security adviser to Obama; and Johns Hopkins University Associate Professor Jennifer Nuzzo, who is an epidemiologist. Information and RSVP HERE

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.



ELSEWHERE

Courts: A U.S. immigration judge on Thursday ruled that a Tennessee resident who is a German citizen can be deported to Germany because of his admitted work in 1945 as a concentration camp guard during World War II. Citing the Immigration and Nationality Act, the judge said Friedrich Karl Berger, 94, provided “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” (The Hill). … Lawyers for the NFL and DirecTV have asked the Supreme Court to review a long-simmering class action lawsuit that deals with whether individual teams, not the NFL, should be able to determine how paying cable or dish audiences can get live telecasts on Sundays. A decision on whether the high court will take up the case is expected as early as this week (ESPN).

Immigration: Trump on Thursday said his administration will begin withholding funding from self-described sanctuary cities after a federal court ruled last week that it could do so. The president argues that cities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation in defiance of the federal government are sheltering criminals. "As per recent Federal Court ruling, the Federal Government will be withholding funds from Sanctuary Cities," Trump tweeted. "They should change their status and go non-Sanctuary. Do not protect criminals!" (The Hill). … Federal apprehensions at the U.S. border with Mexico spiked in February for the first time since May, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data released on Thursday. The government reported 30,068 people apprehended in February, a 2.95 percent increase from January. A rise in illegal border crossings from single adults and unaccompanied minors resulted in the higher number, CBP said (The Hill).

OPEC: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Thursday agreed to cut oil output by an extra 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in the second quarter of 2020 to support prices that have been hit by the coronavirus outbreak. The intergovernmental organization of 14 nations made its action conditional on Russia and others joining in (Reuters).

In The Know: Former President Clinton, speaking during a Hulu documentary about his wife, says he feels "terrible" about the public scrutiny former White House intern Monica Lewinsky experienced following their sexual relationship in 1998. The documentary, “Hillary,” is available on Friday, according to The Daily Mail. The 42nd president, who initially denied having an affair with “that woman,” who was 23 at the time, now says he thinks Lewinsky’s life was “unfairly” defined by what occurred. Lewinsky was exhaustively questioned about her actions with the president by former independent counsel Kenneth Starr and later by members of the House impeachment team (The Hill).

THE CLOSER

And finally … Morning Report readers are on top of the latest news about the coronavirus known as COVID-19, so kudos to our Quiz Masters for being prepared and attentive to all known health risks and precautions!

Acing this week’s puzzle: Mark McKee, Mike Axelrod, Lin S. Franks, Daniel Bachhuber, Daniel McLellan, Laura Silver, Allyson Foster, Tim Aiken, Thomas Miller, William Chittam, Tom Werkema, John Hille, Dianne Smith, Kathryn Elsayed, Donna Nackers, Judi Buckley, Mary Frances Trucco, Larry Charles, Patrick Kavanagh, Richard Davis, Glen Smith, Ray Fleming, Ilene Kantrov, John Ciorciari,  Michael Kenny, Bob Schneiderman, Tim Burrack and Abby Alkire

More winners: Luke Charpentier, Majda Seuss, Margaret Gainer, David E. Letostak, Walter Pflaumer, Thomas Schoener, John Donato, Candi Cee, Caroline Fisher, J. Stewart Baker, Mike Roberts, Charity Frasier, Joan Domingues, Ricky Soberano, David Keltz, Priscilla M. Cobb, Richard Kolber, Janet Larson, Manny Glaubitz, John Carlan, Kane Martin, Carol Katz, John H. van Santen, Jim Bond, Robert Nordmeyer, Dan Kostenbauder, Buzz Watkins, PDYKE, Robert Salmon, Pat Williams, Enzo de Palma and David Anderson. 

They knew that children are the least likely to die following infection with COVID-19, according to available medical data.

Europe’s epicenter of the new coronavirus is in Italy.

To avoid COVID-19 infection, health experts recommend that we wash hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based products; avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth; practice social distancing (three feet) from people who cough or sneeze; and avoid nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Thus, the correct quiz answer is “all of the above.”  

Researchers and medical experts predict a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved and available for the general public in a year to 18 months.