The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - House to pass relief bill; Trump moves to get US back to work

 

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Finally, it’s Friday. 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! 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: 'Scary' to see uniformed troops on steps of Lincoln Memorial Pelosi: Democrats to unveil sweeping criminal justice proposal Monday Pelosi demands Trump clarify deployment of unidentified law enforcement in DC MORE (D-Calif.) vowed quick bipartisan House passage today of the historic $2.2 trillion rescue legislation approved unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday just as the United States became the world’s coronavirus epicenter.

"We will have a victory … for America's workers. If someone has a different point of view, they can put it in the record," Pelosi said while voicing her confidence that Congress is meeting the emergency with speed and smart policies.

Democratic leaders had planned to move the bill by voice vote, allowing for what Pelosi called “lively debate” today without requiring a full House to pass the legislation (The Hill). At the request of House leadership, C-SPAN planned to air "brief video statements" from lawmakers explaining their positions on the bill (The Hill). 

Leaders, however, have scrambled lawmakers back to Washington because of concerns that at least one member, likely to be Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse holds first-ever proxy votes during pandemic House GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House adopts historic rules changes to allow remote voting MORE, R-Ky., will demand a recorded vote at a time when most House members remained in their districts because of the coronavirus. The office of Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi: Democrats to unveil sweeping criminal justice proposal Monday Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Hoyer wins Maryland House primary MORE, D-Md., wrote in an advisory to colleagues Thursday night: "Members are advised that it is possible this measure will not pass by voice vote" (NBC News).

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE has said he will sign the package into law as soon as it crosses his desk. Having praised Congress for its bipartisanship, there’s a question: Will the president host a bill signing with leaders from both sides of the aisle? 

Pelosi cast the stimulus measure as a landmark effort by Congress to stabilize families as well as the economy, following earlier enactment of measures that responded to the medical and health needs posed by the coronavirus. A fourth bill will focus on policies that address future, sustainable boosts to boost U.S. economic growth, she predicted (Bloomberg News).

“Our next bills will lean toward recovery, how we can create good-paying jobs as we go forward, perhaps building the infrastructure of America. All of these things are being done in a bipartisan way,” Pelosi said during a Bloomberg television interview from Capitol Hill.  

The speaker ticked through specific “unfinished business” tied to economic recovery that she believes warrants legislative attention by the House. One example: State and local governments require “much, much more infusion of cash,” she said. Pelosi mentioned California, her home state, and Washington, D.C., which has complained to lawmakers that its fiscal needs were shortchanged by the $2.2 trillion measure. The nation’s capital remains under an emergency stay-at-home order and confirmed 36 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, raising its total to 267 (The Associated Press).  

The Hill: State and local governments face dire revenue shortfalls. Rainy day funds will be exhausted in the coming months. 

The Hill: More relief legislation ahead.

The Senate’s unprecedented agreement to swiftly inject federal cash into nearly every cranny of the U.S. economy, coupled with the Fed Reserve’s $4 trillion in capital assistance, reassured battered financial markets, which racked up the strongest three-day rebound on Thursday seen since April 1933. 

Nonetheless, there is new evidence that workers top America’s list of collateral damage. The Labor Department on Thursday reported a surge in layoffs; more than 3.3 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week (The Hill).

There will be more job losses ahead, but Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO's Michelle McMurry-Heath says 400 projects started in 16 weeks in biotech firms to fight virus, pandemic unemployment total tops 43 million IRS faces obstacles with remaining stimulus checks On The Money: GOP turning against new round of ,200 rebate checks | Millions of Americans frustrated by delayed unemployment checks | Senate votes to give coronavirus relief program more flexibility MORE argued the record unemployment benefits claims, while sobering, are “not relevant” in light of the trillions of dollars in direct payments, loans and federal assistance to employers and workers. He has said the funding will begin to flow in the guise of direct deposits for individuals and available lending by private banks to small businesses early next month (The Hill)  

James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, has warned that nearly a third of U.S. workers, or 46 million people, could be unemployed in the short term, which would nearly double what the country experienced during the Great Depression.

There are no official figures yet, but the unemployment rate has leaped to at least 5.5 percent from 3.5 percent early this year, according to economist Martha Gimbel of Schmidt Futures. “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” she told The Washington Post

The Hill: How fast can the stimulus money move out the door? 

The Hill: Those $1,200 federal rebates to families have prompted lots of questions and fewer answers.

The Hill: Which companies and industries won big in the relief bill? Think airlines, big corporations, hospitals, banks and labor unions.

 

 

Trump is constructing a data-backed case to urge governors to lift lockdowns, continue the practice of social distancing and let their states get back to a semblance of regular operations.  

In a letter to governors on Thursday, the president said the administration will create new county-based guidance that ranks areas of the country as “high risk, medium risk or low risk.” Monday is the final day in the administration’s 15-day advisory to stay home to prevent new transmissions. Trump is searching for a credible way to restart commercial activity in parts of the country at the same time that COVID-19 remains a health risk and feature of everyday life (The New York Times).  

“We have to get back to work,” he said. “We’re going to be talking about dates. We’re going to be talking to a lot of great professionals.”  

Deborah Birx, the immunologist and physician who advises the White House and coordinates policy with the president’s coronavirus task force, said 40 percent of the expanse of the country has experienced low numbers of coronavirus cases. The administration’s expanding collection of data from other nations and drawn from county-by-county reports in the United States suggests inconsistencies with researchers’ initial computer models. 

The predictions about infection rates and fatalities don’t square with evidence on the ground, Birx said. With increased U.S. testing, improved data gathering and sharing, the administration believes some early projections about COVID-19 will be revised. “We get to see across the whole country,” she said. 

Trump has made no secret of his impatience with an idled America and has said he would like to restart the economy by Easter, April 12. To do that, however, he needs governors to see things his way. “I think we’re close,” he said. “As soon as we open, that doesn’t mean we stop with the guidelines,” i.e. hand-washing and social distancing, he explained.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and other analysts have said the United States could potentially get back on its feet quickly. They believe it is possible to reverse much of the temporary pain created by COVID-19 by controlling new transmissions, improving medical therapies, and gradually shifting 160 million Americans out of lockdowns and halts to travel, leisure and commerce to reignite the underlying vigor of the U.S. economy.  

Powell on Thursday conceded “we may well be in a recession.” But during an NBC “Today” show interview, he said the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong and could bounce back.

Others are not so sure. The coronavirus is still spreading with fury worldwide. There are warnings about the inevitability of waves of COVID-19 contagion, as well as future pandemics. Close to half a million people worldwide have been infected with the respiratory contagion. In parts of the United States and Italy, hospitals and healthcare systems are buckling. A vaccine remains a year away, at least. Effective therapies remain in laboratories for now (The Associated Press).

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Hill during an exclusive interview that the situation will get worse before it gets better. 

Even if the pathogen’s relatively brief rampage through China and South Korea offers hope for containment and treatment methods, the economic carnage across the globe remains significant. There is an assumption among world leaders that daily life and consumer behavior in developed economies will resume once the danger has passed. They point to conditions in China and South Korea as examples of lockdowns, economic contractions, followed later by rapid rebounds. Are they right? (BBC).  

Leaders of Group of 20 (G-20) nations spent 90 minutes on Thursday talking via conference call, agreeing to consult one another about their countries’ responses throughout the pandemic. The virtual meeting of the G-20 nations involved more than a dozen heads of state (The Associated Press).

The Washington Post: Americans are increasingly fearful about the coronavirus and a U.S. recession because so many have already been hit, according to a new poll.

The Hill: Ventilators continue to be debated. Is there enough life-saving hospital equipment that can mechanically breathe for patients in respiratory distress? Health officials say ventilators are in short supply for the number of patients they are treating.

Birx at the White House tried to reassure Americans on Thursday that the current caseload of patients with the coronavirus has not outpaced accessible ventilators needed to treat coronavirus-triggered pneumonia, including in the New York City-New Jersey region, where the majority of new U.S. cases are occurring.

The New York Times reports that the White House was set to announce an agreement with General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to produce as many as 80,000 ventilators until the Federal Emergency Management Agency reevaluated how many of the machines actually would be produced for a prohibitive up-front federal investment. Alternatives remain under consideration. 

The Hill: Relaxed COVID-19 screening measures at U.S. airports may pose a weakness within containment efforts.

 



 

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LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS & STATES: Trump said on Thursday that New York City can expect the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort to dock at Pier 90 in Manhattan on Monday, several weeks ahead of schedule. The Comfort will offer backup medical capacity to the city, if needed. The president said he wants to travel to Norfolk, Va., on Saturday to watch the white vessel pull out of the Virginia Naval Station where it has been undergoing maintenance, and he invited Fox News to cover the event. He said the ship “is loaded up to the top” with necessary supplies for use in New York.

 

 

> Massachusetts: At least 100 employees at three major Boston hospitals have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising new alarms about shortages of virus-free healthcare workers in urban centers who can treat the high numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases seen around the country (CNN).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CORONAVIRUS & INTERNATIONAL: The virus could soon devastate poor countries, according to epidemiologists and public health experts who are watching COVID-19 move into India, Africa and parts of South America (The Economist). 

The United Nations’ International Labour Organization on Thursday revised upward its projection just days ago that 25 million workers could lose their jobs around the world because of the virus. The ILO is still working on a new, higher estimate (Reuters).

> China: Trump early this morning spoke by phone with President Xi Jinping. Afterward, he tweeted, “Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”

> Italy: Hopes that the coronavirus epidemic might be in retreat in Italy suffered a setback on Thursday when data showed that both the number of new cases and deaths had ticked higher. Officials said on Thursday that 712 people died of the illness in the previous 24 hours, pushing the total tally to 8,215, while new infections rose by 6,153 to 80,539 (Reuters). Italian researchers are looking at whether a higher than usual number of cases of severe pneumonia and flu recorded in Lombardy at the end of 2019 are evidence instead that the new coronavirus spread beyond China earlier than previously thought (Reuters).

> Canada: A U.S. proposal to deploy troops along the undefended joint border with Canada, which is 5,525 miles long, to help fight the spread of coronavirus was denounced on Thursday by the Canadian government as unnecessary and an aggravation (Reuters).

> Netherlands: The coronavirus pandemic severely wilted spring trade in beautiful blossoms in the Netherlands as orders plummeted during what is usually a vibrant season for cut flowers (NPR). The Dutch government banned public gatherings of any size until June, thwarting the traditional human urge to tiptoe through the tulips. The industry offered a message delivered with flowers (pictured below): “Hope Flourishes.”

 

 

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

How much damage? The true cost of the Senate’s coronavirus relief bill, by Tim Kane, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3dx4UQ3 

Policing in the age of empty streets, by Arthur Rizer, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/33QmaeQ

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. 

The Senate will convene for a pro forma session on Monday at 11 a.m. The next votes are scheduled for April 20.  

The president will receive his intelligence briefing at noon, and may brief the press during a coronavirus update scheduled this evening. 

Vice President Pence will lead a meeting of the president’s coronavirus task force and speak to the media at 5 p.m. in the White House briefing room.  

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases at 8:30 a.m. a report on U.S. consumer spending in February. The report will be a snapshot of a remarkably different time just weeks ago.

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

Venezuela: The United States on Thursday indicted Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and charged him with running his country as a narcoterrorism enterprise. The State Department will offer cash rewards of up to $55 million for information leading to the arrests or convictions of Maduro and his associates, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoMurkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump Pepper spray fired during Tiananmen Square memorial in Hong Kong The Hill's 12:30 Report: NYT publishes controversial Tom Cotton op-ed MORE said (The Associated Press).

Trump adds economic, markets expertise: The president brought on Kevin Hassett, the former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, to help guide the administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic and is adding Joe LaVorgna, a former Wall Street economist, to his small team (The Hill).

 

 

U.S. politics: “Jimmy KimmelJames (Jimmy) Christian KimmelBiden to give virtual interview with Colbert on Thursday Jimmy Kimmel: 'I was wrong' to share deceptive Pence video Scarborough apologizes to Pence, Cruz after heated Twitter feud MORE Live!” on Thursday included an interview with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Davis: 72 hours cementing the real choice for November OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs order removing environmental reviews for major projects | New Trump air rule will limit future pollution regulations, critics say | DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden plan MORE, who remains in a slow-motion Democratic presidential primary contest with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs order removing environmental reviews for major projects | New Trump air rule will limit future pollution regulations, critics say | DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden plan Google: Chinese and Iranian hackers targeting Biden, Trump campaigns Sanders: Police departments that violate civil rights should lose federal funding MORE (I-Vt.). Biden said his campaign must begin the official background vetting process for a potential running mate and he has between five and seven people in mind for that next stage. He said he consulted former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NYT publishes controversial Tom Cotton op-ed The millions of young people forgotten amid pandemic response Poll: Biden leads Trump, Cunningham neck and neck with Tillis in North Carolina MORE about the winnowing process he used in 2008.  … Sanders has added to his campaign staff in New York ahead of the state’s April 28 primary (The Hill). … Among some Democratic strategists who favor Biden, “the perfect cocktail of shitstorm” amounts to Sanders’s persistence as the contest drags on, coupled with the dominance of TV hounds Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during a national emergency, reports Amie Parnes.

Energy: The United States may experience a decline in fracking, which involves blasting water and other chemicals deep within the ground to lift oil and natural gas out of rock crevices. Petroleum dropped to $23 from a high of $53 dollars in mid-February, far below the “break even” point that producers say they need to turn a profit (The Hill).

THE CLOSER

And finally …  Congratulations to readers who played the Morning Report Quiz about television’s award-winning comedy, “The Office,” which this week marks 15 years since its premiere.

Here’s who showed off some serious TV trivia savvy: William Chittam, R. Milton Howell III, John Donato, Tess Posso, Taylor Mayhall, Daniel Bachhuber (playing along from Thailand, as usual), Ira Azulay, Patrick Kavanagh, Jack Rand, Sara Hall Phillips, Mike Roberts, Allyson Foster, Rachel Tyree and John Geilman.  

They remembered (or Googled) the label on character Michael Scott’s mug: World’s Best Boss.” 

Dwight Schrute dueled with Andy Bernard in a battle to win the heart of Angela Martin.

Will Ferrell played Deangelo Vickers, the regional manager of fictional Pennsylvania paper company Dunder Mifflin Scranton. He replaced Michael Scott, portrayed by Steve Carell. 

Jim Halpert abruptly broke up with Karen Filippelli so he could date Pam Beesly.