The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Trump, Dems close in on deal

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is 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!

President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE on Monday said he will restart the U.S. economy with business activity and everyday life within weeks rather than months, asserting the COVID-19 mortality rate is low enough to balance against what he called the life-and-death risks of rising unemployment and a recession or worse.


“It’s not going to be three or four months,” Trump said during a nearly two-hour briefing at the White House on Monday evening in which he signaled his desire to lift, perhaps in a week, the government’s 15-day national shelter-in-place advisory to mitigate the contagion.


“We can do two things at the same time,” the president said, referring to his desire to revive U.S. business activity while also responding to “hot spots” of infection in New York, California, Washington and other states. Trump likened the evolving U.S. COVID-19 mortality rate, which he predicted will be less than 1 percent, to what Americans have come to shrug off from influenza annually or the toll from automotive accidents.


“The mortality rate is a big thing to me,” he said, noting that while any death from the virus is “terrible,” the halt to business, travel, school and congregating in the United States poses life-or-death risks that he said include suicides.


The Washington Post: Trump says he may soon push businesses to reopen.


Reuters: Cities, states are desperate for coronavirus help and the U.S. military prepares even as Trump considers heading in the opposite direction.


When asked if he will seek the concurrence of his public health advisers, including Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, and Deborah Birx, coordinator of the president’s coronavirus health policies, Trump said, “I certainly listen to them and others that we have who are doing a good job. … Ultimately it’s a balancing act.”


The Hill: The president said the United States and its economy are not “built to be shut down.”


The Hill: Senate on the cusp of a stimulus deal after agreements reached for key provisions.


The president said he continues to support Congress’s efforts to send him the largest fiscal stimulus measure in history, even as he envisions airlines, cruise lines, hotels, small businesses and commercial activities reawakening within weeks to welcome Americans back to work.


The federal government would continue to help states and localities that experience high infection rates, such as New York City, Trump added. But he did not explain if the federal government would continue to mobilize federal assets if he lifts the national emergency declaration and public health emergency order he imposed across the country.


The United States has confirmed at least 46,450 cases of the coronavirus as testing ramps up around the country and numbers spike each day. Fatalities from the respiratory disease number 593, according to the latest information


Birx, speaking to reporters alongside Trump, said public health experts believe the U.S. data, along with information from China, South Korea and Italy, show that patients most at risk of death from the virus also suffer from underlying health vulnerabilities or are older than 50. In Europe, less than 1 percent of those who died were younger than 50, she added. Currently, 34 percent of the U.S. population is 50 or older.


Politico: Trump’s new 2020 reality: Nothing matters but his coronavirus response.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump's coronavirus briefings face criticism.


In the Senate, lawmakers were close to a deal on a nearly $2 trillion economic relief package after a day of partisan bickering. Senate Democrats on Monday voted against a bill for a second day after more than three days of intense negotiations. 


While exiting Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE’s (D-N.Y.) office, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinConservatives are outraged that Sarah Bloom Raskin actually believes in capitalism Suspect in Khashoggi murder arrested The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules MORE said negotiators were “very close” to an accord.


Schumer and Senate Democrats were concerned about $500 billion included in the package intended for loans and loan guarantees for corporations affected by the virus and its fallout. Some Democrats referred to it as a “slush fund” because under the draft legislation, the Treasury Department would have the authority to dole out the funding.  


The differences over the package, which was written largely by the Senate GOP, reached a crescendo on Monday when Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE (R-Ky.) and others prepared to vote once again to start debate on the legislation. After McConnell opened the Senate with a scorched-earth speech against Democrats for holding up the bill, Schumer objected when Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden, NATO eye 'all scenarios' with Russia Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (R-Maine) sought permission to speak. 


“This is unbelievable,” Collins said into her microphone. Later on, Collins told Schumer that his move to object was “appalling.”  


Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion Senate's antitrust bill would raise consumer prices and lower our competitiveness Sinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform MORE (R-Ark.), who was standing at the front of the chamber, could be overheard calling the maneuvers “bullshit.” Schumer and McConnell shortly after weighed in and agreed to a floor schedule (The Hill).


The second vote to start debate went down 49-46, with Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) the only Democrat to join Republicans. Five Republican senators are in self-quarantine (The Hill). 


The stimulus package aims to help individuals and businesses who have been affected by the virus. The bill would give $1,200 to American adults making under $75,000 and an additional $500 per child, and boost unemployment benefits while also aiding hospitals and the healthcare industry (The Washington Post).


The Washington Post: Six days: Tracking Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservative pundit says YouTube blocked interview with Rand Paul These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 I'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back MORE (R-Ky.) from coronavirus testing to positive diagnosis.


In the House, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse leaders unveil bill to boost chip industry, science competitiveness with China Pelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year MORE (D-Calif.) unveiled a plan in excess of $2.5 trillion that would give $1,500 to individuals, expand funding for unemployment insurance, offer student loan relief, expand food stamps and bar corporations that receive federal help from buying back stocks or firing employees, among other provisions. The bill also requires corporations that receive loans to pay workers a $15-per-hour minimum wage (The Hill).


“Democrats take responsibility for our workers,” Pelosi said. “We require that any corporation that takes taxpayer dollars must protect their workers’ wages and benefits — not CEO pay, stock buybacks or layoffs.”


The Hill: Key House chairman cautions against remote voting, suggests other options amid coronavirus outbreak.





The Hill: The Federal Reserve rewrites the crisis playbook.


Bloomberg News: Top economists see echoes of the Depression in the sudden U.S. stop. 


Gouging & scams: Trump on Monday signed an executive order to tap the Defense Procurement Act to allow the Justice Department to crack down on price gouging and hoarding of “scarce” supplies during the COVID-19 emergency. The president still has not used the 1950 act to order the private sector to produce ventilators, masks, personal protective equipment or other scarce hospital supplies (The Hill). … The government warns Americans about virus scammers who are preying on many, including the elderly (The Associated Press). 


More in Congress: Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Biden celebrates 'right to repair' wins Advocacy groups urge Congress to tackle tech giants' auto industry focus Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE’s (D-Minn.) husband, John Bessler, is hospitalized with COVID-19 after positive test results on Monday. The Democratic senator, in a statement, described her husband coughing blood and struggling to breathe. She added she has not been tested because she does not qualify under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines (The Hill). 


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CORONAVIRUS & STATES: New York’s newest mandate is to order all hospitals in the state to increase the number of beds by a minimum of 50 percent and to request that all licensed and registered retired nurses to “enlist” and help combat the coronavirus as it rages across the state and New York City. 


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) (pictured below) announced on Monday plans to increase the number of beds to prepare for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients, including through a new reliance on temporary hospital facilities in New York City. Such a facility is being built at the Javits Center in Manhattan, where 1,000 hospital beds are planned.


Married with the rise in beds is Cuomo’s call for licensed and registered nurses to help stem the rise of the virus. 


“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say, try to reach a 100 percent increase, but you must reach a 50 percent increase,” he said during Monday’s news conference in Albany.


“We are going to the entire retired community of health care professionals, who are licensed, registered, and we’re saying, ‘We want you to enlist to help.’ It’s not a mandatory directive. I can’t legally — well, I probably could legally — ask them to come into state service. But this is just a request,” he added. “We put it out, we’ve gotten … 30,000 responses to date. I’m doing an emergency executive order for all nurses who are registered to enlist.”


According to the latest statistics, there have been 20,875 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — 6 percent of the cases across the world — and 157 deaths in New York, while New York City is home to 13,119 of the positive cases.


Helping matters in the state has been the testing capability. According to The New York Times, New York has gone from being able to test 1,000 individuals per day 10 days ago to 16,000 per day on Monday. New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioSarah Palin dined inside NYC restaurant on Saturday despite not being vaccinated Hochul raises .6 million since launching gubernatorial campaign De Blasio says he won't run for New York governor MORE (D) added that 400 ventilators from the federal stockpile are en route to New York City.


The New York Times: density is New York City’s big “enemy” in the coronavirus fight.





Birx, an immunologist, said on Monday that newly available data for parts of New York and New Jersey revealed a rate of infection larger than elsewhere: 28 percent of swab specimens tested so far in that region are positive for COVID-19, much higher than the 8 percent seen in the rest of the country (The New York Times). Birx urged the population there to practice voluntary isolation and self-distancing because of the clear evidence that the coronavirus penetrated deeply into the general community for “weeks” in New York City, New Jersey and Long Island.


The Hill: Florida is implementing a mandatory 14-day isolation period for anyone traveling from New York or New Jersey.


Elsewhere, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) closed all nonessential businesses across the state, citing the decision by some Marylanders not to practice social distancing despite the repeated warnings. Nearby, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) closed all schools across the state for the remainder of the school year (The Hill).


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued “safer at home” orders for their respective states, while Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) called on all businesses and organizations providing nonessential services to close their physical office spaces (The Hill). Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden, NATO eye 'all scenarios' with Russia Legislatures move to limit governor powers after pandemic What if politicians were required to tell the truth? MORE (D) also issued a “stay-at-home” order late Monday (Axios). 


The Texas Tribune: No abortions in Texas unless the mother's life is in danger, Texas attorney general says as coronavirus spreads.


While states continue to issue “stay-at-home” directives, state law enforcement officers are seeing a surge of complaints about retailers hiking prices of essential goods and scammers preying on elderly individuals with fake messages about the virus. 


In interviews, attorneys general across the country told The Hill’s Reid Wilson that their offices are being inundated with hundreds or thousands of new reports. In some cases, retailers and resellers are raising prices of basic supplies as Americans race to stock up. 


“What we're hearing and seeing right now is an uptick in price gouging reports,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D). "What's happening is we're seeing hand sanitizer for $20, $30 a bottle. We're seeing water priced at a much higher rate than we would normally see. We're seeing essential paper products, paper towels, toilet paper, six rolls for $30."




POLITICS: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE is under pressure to find new ways to command attention as criticism mounts from some Democrats over keeping a low profile as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. 


As Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes write, some Democrats want to see Biden as the public face for the party in offering a counter-message to Trump as he steamrolls toward the Democratic nomination. Trump has seen an uptick in his approval rating over the past two weeks. 


Meanwhile, Biden went almost a full week without speaking on camera before he broadcasted live out of his home in Delaware to critique the president’s “planning and preparation” for the virus. Several former Obama administration officials told The Hill that’s not enough. 


"You're constantly hearing about Cuomo, and I know he's the governor of New York, but Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee," one former official said. "He needs to show his leadership.”


“Here's a guy who has deep relationships on the Hill, who understands how we govern, and he's largely been on the sidelines,” the former official continued. “I know a lot of us expect more from him in this moment."


The Hill: Biden: Trump's “failure of planning and preparation” worsened coronavirus crisis.


The Hill: Democrats consider “contingency options” for July convention.


CORONAVIRUS & INTERNATIONAL: Around the world, at least 1.5 billion people have been instructed to remain at home to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, while at least 383,944 people have contracted the virus and 16,595 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University


On a brighter note, China announced it will lift its lockdown in most of Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak that began in December, beginning at midnight on Tuesday. Those living in Wuhan, however, will remain under tough shelter-in-place restrictions until at least April 8 (The Associated Press).


> The United Kingdom switched gears on Monday after weeks of resistance to the risks of COVID-19 as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered his countrymen to remain at home except for essential shopping or other activities (BBC and The Hill). His televised address on Monday was viewed by close to 25 million people, according to reports. Great Britain also called up the army to help hospitals (Reuters). The United Kingdom will pay for 80 percent of workers’ wages during the emergency (The Hill).


The U.K. has at least 6,726 confirmed cases of the virus and has reported 336 deaths, according to the latest data.





> Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel, through a spokesperson, said Monday that she tested negative for COVID-19 after self-isolating beginning on Sunday. She will have additional tests. Merkel learned on Friday that her doctor, from whom she received a flu vaccination, had tested positive for the virus (ABC News). 


> India: The world’s most populous democracy halted its crucial train network in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus (The Associated Press). Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged India’s 1.3 billion people to stay home and the majority of the country is under lockdown.


> South Africa: South Africa now has the highest COVID-19 infection rate on the African continent, and 57 million people have been ordered into lockdown (The Associated Press). 


> Summer Olympics: Because of the risk of COVID-19 infection, Australia joined Canada on Monday in withdrawing athletes from the competition scheduled this summer in Tokyo (Reuters). And on Monday night, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee joined the push for postponement (The New York Times).

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Preparing for November’s election must be a national priority, by Dan Lips and Sean Roberts of the Lincoln Network, opinion contributors, The Hill.


Seven ways Congress can support small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak, by Rhett Buttle and Katie Vlietstra Wonnenberg, opinion contributors, The Hill.


The House convenes in a pro forma session at noon. 


The Senate meets at 10 a.m.


The president will participate in a virtual town hall at 12:30 p.m. with Fox News along with leading members of the White House coronavirus task force.


Vice President Pence will take part in a call with conservative leaders on COVID-19 response and will take part in the Fox News town hall. He will also participate in a call with educators on virus response at 2:15 p.m., and lead a White House coronavirus task force meeting at 3 p.m.


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Supreme Court: Justices on Monday ruled that states can eliminate the insanity defense (The Hill). … The Supreme Court decided on Monday that under the U.S. Constitution and without further action by Congress, states are immune from copyright suits in federal court (The Hollywood Reporter). … Justices on Monday tossed out a lower court lawsuit and ended comedian Byron Allen’s racial bias claims against Comcast (Reuters). 


Afghanistan: The United States on Monday cut aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion after rival leaders failed to agree on a new government (The Associated Press). Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion Pence to deliver keynote at fundraising banquet for South Carolina-based pregnancy center Russia suggests military deployments to Cuba, Venezuela an option MORE made an unannounced trip to Kabul on Monday (The Hill).  


National Puppy Day was Monday: You may have missed it, but many of us need puppy pictures with morning coffee these days. Twitter supplied some inspiring images HERE and HERE and HERE





And finally … The president spoke on Monday of his concern for Americans’ mental health and stress during lockdowns, teleworking orders and school closures. Exercise is one relatively safe antidote, especially performed outdoors or at home, and many people are finding creative ways to adapt physical fitness routines to pandemic conditions and restrictions.


There are online exercise classes, hot yoga setups in home basements, outdoor martial arts classes in groups spaced six feet apart and plenty of stationary bikes drenched in sweat (The Associated Press).


Public health and mental health specialists say that COVID-19 does not have to keep Americans from their workouts (The Washington Post).


Even in health-conscious California, one of three states with the highest numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases, workouts are encouraged, albeit at a safe distance (The Mercury News).