The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump: Tough times but progress being made

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



Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 9,648*. Tuesday 10,993.

 

* The United States surpassed 10,000 confirmed fatalities by midday Monday.



In New York, Italy and South Korea on Monday, the shared temptation was to herald any signs that fatalities and the pace of new coronavirus cases were ebbing. 

 

Tremendous progress has been made,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE said during a Monday briefing in which he displayed his impatience with questions that focused on states’ challenges in locating sufficient medical equipment and supplies.

 

The progress has been made before the surge comes, because the next week, week and a half is going to be a big surge, the professionals tell us,” the president said, while presenting all 50 governors as “very happy, every one of them” during a teleconference with Vice President Pence on Monday.

 

“We’re increasingly hopeful that the aggressive mitigation strategy we put into place will ultimately allow our hospital system to successfully manage the major influx of cases we have right now,” he added, reading from notes.

 

The president, who has repeatedly said he wants governors to decide on stay-at-home orders for their states, said a national order is not called for. “If I thought it was necessary, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” he said. 

 

Federal travel restrictions around urban areas experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases are unnecessary, Trump added, because U.S. airlines are cutting domestic routes on their own and flying planes that are nearly empty.

 

The Hill: Trump and his administration confront the most difficult week yet of the coronavirus outbreak.

 

The Associated Press: Modeling coronavirus: “Uncertainty is the only certainty.”

 

In Great Britain, Japan and Lebanon, on the other hand, the situation on Monday appeared more dire, and in Spain, infections continued to rise today along with the death toll. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, now in critical care, is the first known head of government to be sickened and hospitalized with the highly contagious respiratory virus. In Japan, cases of COVID-19 surged anew. Lebanon, describing a situation of “extreme danger,” took steps to extend the country’s lockdown order to the end of April.

 

Eager for any shred of relief in the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared on Monday more than 1,500 points on the idea that coronavirus cases may be slowing in some U.S. hot spots (The Hill). Stocks surged 7 percent, building on a global rally fueled by tentative signs that the rate of increase in deaths may be slowing (CNBC). 

 

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter On The Money: McConnell: Talking about fifth coronavirus bill 'in next month or so' | Boosted unemployment benefits on the chopping block | Women suffering steeper job losses from COVID-19 Overnight Health Care: US braces for COVID-19 'slow burn' | Packed crowds spark pandemic alarms as states reopen | White House announces move to cap insulin costs for seniors MORE (D), during a briefing on Monday, said his state may have flattened the curve of the coronavirus outbreak but cautioned that it is too soon to be certain. Deaths related to COVID-19 have stayed flat for two days in New York, he said, while new hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions are down. "Those are all good signs and again would suggest a possible flattening of the curve,” he added (The Hill).

 

At the same time that Trump warned of another tough two or three weeks with coronavirus cases and fatalities, the White House and congressional leaders are anticipating millions more Americans will lose their jobs this month.

 

They’re coming closer to a meeting of the minds that the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act enacted late last month will not be enough. The conversation is moving toward at least another $1 trillion in federal help to prop up the economy (The Washington Post). 

 

Trump said he’d be open to a second round of federal assistance to furloughed workers if the payments were directly dispersed to beneficiaries rather than funneled through state unemployment insurance systems, a mechanism he said Democratic lawmakers preferred.  

 

Asked about reported glitches, Trump made light of any fumbles. “All we can do is get this massive amount of money to the states,” he said. “It’s getting out.”

 

Inside the executive branch, small businesses are howling that the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA) are not able to process the tsunami of applications for much-needed bridge loans available under the new law. The E-Tran system used by the SBA crashed and was down for hours on Monday before it was revived, Bloomberg News reported. Some banks are still unable to access SBA application systems, and industry leaders say questions about loan benefits remain unanswered (The Hill).

 

The president said more than 3,000 lenders had made loans as of Monday, adding that if the government exhausts funds appropriated for the lending programs to small businesses, “we’ll ask Congress to refill it immediately.”

 

Congress is now feeling pressured to move quickly on the next phase of relief. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Democrats' out-party advantage in 2020 Democratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' MORE (D-N.Y.) — bashed by Trump on Monday as a “lightweight” and partisan politician he’s known “for most of my adult life” — told reporters that lawmakers will have to return to Washington "relatively soon" to move on new legislation. 

 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response MORE (D-Calif.) said in a letter that her colleagues should move this month. Aides said federal bureaucratic delays processing the newest benefits Trump signed into law are adding to the sense of urgency (The Hill). 

 

The Associated Press: In what proximity are you to confirmed cases of COVID-19? Drill down to the county level, and you can see the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the 50 states.

 

 

 



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LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS: The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Gov. Tony Evers (D) cannot order the state’s primary election today postponed, as he attempted to do earlier Monday by executive order.

 

The ruling by the state Supreme Court reinstated Tuesday’s contest and came roughly five hours after Evers tried to call it off and close the polls due to the spread of the virus. The court’s decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by GOP lawmakers and could result in chaos on Tuesday as clerks and election volunteers prepare for in-person voting (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). 

 

Compounding the issues for Evers, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a group of GOP lawmakers and blocked the state from accepting absentee ballots after today’s election. The governor had pushed for absentee ballots to be counted until April 13 (The Hill).

 

Evers’s executive order, which would have pushed in-person voting until June 9, came after weeks of questions concerning whether the contest would go forward. In recent days, he said that his hands were tied and that the GOP-held legislature would have to play ball on the issue. A district judge also declined to postpone the election, arguing that it wasn’t the court’s responsibility. 

 

Earlier Monday, Evers indicated that his executive order was the last gasp opportunity to postpone the election.

 

“There’s not a Plan B. There’s not a Plan C,” Evers said earlier Monday (The Associated Press).

 

The ruling means that voters in the state who have not cast absentee ballots will be forced to decide between health risks posed by the spread of COVID-19 and their participation in the democratic process as states across the nation have postponed their elections until June. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenProsecutor investigating whether Tara Reade gave false testimony as expert witness Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally George Floyd's sister says Minneapolis officers should be charged with murder MORE is the heavy favorite to win today’s Democratic primary, which has turned into a relative blip on the radar screen due to the virus. 

 

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Political trench warfare colors views on coronavirus.

 

 

 

 

Elsewhere on the political scene, Trump and Biden spoke by phone for 15 minutes on Monday about the coronavirus emergency, following the president’s tweet earlier in the day asking, “What ever happened to that phone call he told the Fake News he wanted to make to me?” (The Hill).

 

“We had a good talk,” Trump said, noting that he and Biden had “a really wonderful warm conversation” and agreed not to detail the private back-and-forth publicly. Biden offered suggestions, and Trump said he responded by describing what the administration is doing.

 

The conversation was a very friendly conversation,” he repeated (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Biden hosts Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), a potential VP pick, on podcast.

 

The Hill: Trump, Biden set for tight battle in Florida.

 

The Washington Post: Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Democratic lawmakers: 'Completely irresponsible' for IRS to demand essential workers provide own PPE Joe Biden must pick a progressive black woman as VP if he wants to win MORE (D-Ga.) endorses Joe Biden’s presidential bid.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CORONAVIRUS & INTERNATIONAL: Prime Minister Johnson was moved to the intensive care unit a day after being admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital in London after 10 days of symptoms due to coronavirus. He remains on oxygen this morning but is not on a ventilator.

 

According to Downing Street, the prime minister, 55, was shifted to the ICU as his condition "worsened.” 

 

"The prime minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas' Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus,” Downing Street said. “Over the course of [Monday] afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital.” 

 

“The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication,” the statement added (BBC). 

 

Trump praised Johnson as “such an incredible guy” and said that, “intensive care is big stuff, really big stuff … scary stuff.” 

 

He said representatives of four U.S. companies with potentially useful therapies for COVID-19 are making drugs available at the London hospital, should Johnson and his physicians elect to try them.

 

“I’ve asked them to contact London immediately,” Trump said. “They have offices in London — and major companies. … They’ve really advanced therapeutics and therapeutically and they have arrived in London already. Their London office has whatever they needed. We’ll see if we can be of help. We’ve contacted all of Boris’s doctors and we’ll see what is going to take place. But they are ready to go.

 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been tasked with filling in for the prime minister “where necessary.” Raab told the BBC on Monday evening that Johnson was “in safe hands.”

 

“There's an incredibly strong team spirit behind the prime minister,” Raab said (Politico).

 

BBC: Coronavirus: Too early to consider lockdown exit strategy, says Raab.

 

The New York Times: Johnson’s illness plunges U.K. back into uncertainty.

 

 

 

 

> Japan: The Japanese government approved a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package as the country creates a cushion for the coming economic fallout from the coronavirus and prepares for rising tallies of confirmed cases in the coming days and weeks (Reuters). 

 

Unlike other countries, Japan is unlikely to issue a nationwide lockdown, according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. On Monday, Abe announced a state of emergency in Tokyo and other populous cities across the countries (Reuters).  

 

“Japan won’t and doesn’t need to take lockdown steps like those overseas,” Abe told reporters, pointing to what he’s heard from infectious disease experts. “Trains will be running and supermarkets will be open. The state of emergency will allow us to strengthen current steps to prevent an increase in infections while ensuring that economic activity is sustained as much as possible.” 

 

As of Monday night, there were 3,654 confirmed cases and 85 deaths in Japan (Reuters).

 

Reuters: No need for panic buying, Japan government advises population.

 

> South Korea: For the first time since late February, South Korea reported fewer than 50 positive cases of the virus as the country continues to handle the spread of the virus.

 

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 47 new positive cases on Sunday, bringing the national total to 10,294 as of Monday evening. The single day total dropped from 81 confirmed cases the day prior. The death toll in South Korea is at 191 (Reuters).

 

> Spain: The coronavirus is a deadly roller coaster in Spain. Today, confirmed cases and deaths are up, but on Monday, the country, which has been devastated by the virus, reported the lowest single-day total of new infections in more than two weeks, giving people there and around the world hope that the spread of the virus could be slowing. There were 4,273 positive cases reported on Monday — the lowest number since March 22, but fatalities reached 13,798 this morning and confirmed cases shot up more than 5,000 in a day (Bloomberg News).

 

> France: Parisians are now banned from engaging in outdoor sports from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. because officials were disturbed that people were not heeding warnings to remain at home and not congregate in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. French politicians and doctors expressed dismay that the streets of Paris were dotted with joggers and people crowded around markets (Reuters).



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

Lockdown Can’t Last Forever. Here’s How to Lift It. By Gabriel Leung, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3aPmbSQ 

 

Coronavirus presents a crisis for Africa. We have a duty to help. By Michael Gerson, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2Rj4MKt 



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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will hold a pro forma session at 11:30 a.m.

 

The Senate will convene in a pro forma session on Thursday at 10 a.m. Votes are not scheduled until April 20.

 

The president participates at 3 p.m. in a White House event about the CARES Act, which was enacted in late March, focusing on its small business lending provisions. 

 

Vice President Pence will lead the White House meeting with the coronavirus task force and participate in an evening press briefing.

 

The Hill on Monday launched a coronavirus newsletter helmed by Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons. Daily emailed updates include exclusive interviews with policymakers. Sign up HERE!

 

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

Coronavirus therapies: Here's what you need to know about the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which Trump has repeatedly told Americans he favors for therapeutic use during the pandemic (The Hill).

 

Coronavirus patients around the world are rushing to join studies of an experimental drug that showed promise against some similar viruses in the past. Interest in the drug remdesivir, marketed by Gilead, has been so great that the National Institutes of Health is boosting the size of its study (The Associated Press).

 

The Washington Post reports on Trump’s hunch to advocate on behalf of a scientifically unproven drug as beneficial for the coronavirus. The New York Times reports the president has “a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.” Among those who have advised Trump in support of the drug as therapy for COVID-19 on the basis of anecdotal information are White House economist Peter Navarro, TV’s Dr. Oz, Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, and former New York Mayor Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden Democrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo MORE.

 

 

 

 

U.S. Navy: Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Monday defended his dismissal last week of Capt. Brett Crozier from the coronavirus-infected USS Theodore Roosevelt and initially defended his own decision to call Crozier “stupid” in front of the ship’s sailors (The Washington Post) until he issued an apology late on Monday (CNN). 

 

Modly last week faulted the former captain of one of the nation’s 11 aircraft carriers for his decision to communicate outside the chain of command about a COVID-19 contagion aboard the ship. Modly says Crozier used poor judgment and attracted media attention that placed the U.S. Navy in Trump’s sites, according to an interview he gave to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on Sunday. 

 

Crozier, who is infected with the coronavirus and in quarantine in Guam, was dismissed without an investigation. Trump on Monday was asked about Modly’s denunciations of Crozier, recorded and leaked to the news media, forcing Modly to defend his actions for a fifth day (NBC News). Trump said he may get involved in the controversy (The Hill).

 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithBoosting military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region House chairmen demand explanation on Trump's 'illegal' withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty Overnight Defense: Trump to withdraw US from Open Skies Treaty | Pentagon drops ban on recruits who had virus | FBI says Corpus Christi shooting terror-related MORE (D-Wash.) called for the removal of the Navy chief because his “decision to address the sailors on the Roosevelt and personally attack Captain Crozier shows a tone-deaf approach more focused on personal ego than one of the calm, steady leadership we so desperately need in this crisis,” he said in a statement. “I no longer have confidence in Acting Secretary Modly’s leadership of the Navy and believe he should be removed from his position” (The Hill).

 

Sports: The golf major tournament schedule was overhauled on Monday as Augusta National Golf Club (seen below) announced that the Masters Tournament has been postponed until November and The Open Championship scheduled for mid-July was canceled. The Masters, which was supposed to start on Thursday, is now scheduled to begin on Nov. 12. If the current schedule stands, the three majors on the 2020 calendar will take place between August and November. The PGA Championship, originally scheduled for May, is now scheduled for Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco. The U.S. Open will take place at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., on Sept. 17-20 (ESPN).

 

 

 



THE CLOSER

And finally Lady Gaga, Elton John, Keith Urban, Andrea Bocelli, Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Paul McCartney are among the musical celebrities joining forces later this month during a televised fundraiser that pays tribute to the millions of global health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization and Global Citizen announced on Monday. 

 

Three late-night comedians — Jimmy Fallon, 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 and Stephen ColbertStephen Tyrone ColbertBiden answers daughter's phone call, eats ice cream during interview with Colbert Biden to give virtual interview with Colbert on Thursday Jimmy Kimmel mocks Pence delivery of PPE MORE — will emcee the event, along with characters from “Sesame Street.”

 

The special, “One World: Together at Home,” will air on Saturday, April 18, at 8 p.m., broadcast by ABC, NBC, CBS and radio’s iHeart Media. The program will be streamed on various platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Instagram and YouTube.

 

The effort is reminiscent of musical artists’ past fundraisers for worthy causes, including the “Live Aid” concert in 1985, which raised money for African famine relief (the recording “We Are the World” raised $75 million), and 1992’s “Concert for Life” in London’s Wembley Stadium to benefit AIDS research.

 

"Through music, entertainment and impact, the global live-cast will celebrate those who risk their own health to safeguard everyone else’s,Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen, said in a statement Monday (NBC News).