The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, Congress close to deal on new coronavirus bill

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It’s Monday. 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, 40,683.

 

“Now I been out in the desert, just doin' my time 

Searchin' through the dust, lookin' for a sign 

If there's a light up ahead well brother I don't know 

But I got this fever burnin' in my soul 

So let's take the good times as they go 

And I'll meet you further on up the road.”

 

 ― from Bruce Springsteen’s, “Further On (Up the Road)”



Congressional leaders say they’re “hopeful” a bipartisan deal will be struck this week to replenish the government’s drained small-business lending program with an interim bill that President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE’s says he wants to sign.  

 

“I think we're making a lot of progress,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhy Trump can't make up his mind on China Five takeaways from PPP loan data On The Money: Trump administration releases PPP loan data | Congress gears up for battle over expiring unemployment benefits | McConnell opens door to direct payments in next coronavirus bill MORE said on Sunday. “I'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement, that the Senate can pass this [Monday] and that the House can take it up on Tuesday, and, Wednesday, we'd be back up and running” (The Hill).

 

“Let’s see what happens,” Trump added during a White House briefing on Sunday evening. “We are very close to a deal,” he said with caution. “We want to take care of our workers. We want to take care of our small companies.”

 

With unemployment rising dramatically around the country and millions of small businesses barely hanging on, lawmakers and the White House are under intense public pressure to split their differences and take immediate action.

 

The Washington Post: $470 billion virus relief deal takes shape, including $100 billion for hospitals, $310 billion for Paycheck Protection Program and $60 billion for separate emergency lending program for small business. 

 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war MORE (D-Calif.), making her first appearance since 2017 on “Fox News Sunday,” said owners of small businesses “will have more money as soon as we come to an agreement, which will be soon.”   

 

Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerMexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew House Democrat calls for 'real adult discussion' on lawmaker pay MORE (D-Md.) told his colleagues on Sunday evening that the House could meet as early as Wednesday for a recorded vote on an interim coronavirus relief measure. 

 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerA renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Sunday that “the very things we Democrats have been fighting for are now going into the bill." 

 

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union", Schumer said Democrats never sought to block funding for small businesses but rather to add help for other immediate needs during the pandemic. "So we Democrats said yes, we want to put more money in, but let's set aside some money to make sure it goes to the rural areas, the minority areas, to the unbanked. And the $60 billion for the disaster loan was our proposal, and now the administration is going along with that."

 

Congress recessed on Friday in limbo when $350 billion in appropriations for the government’s new Paycheck Protection Program, intended to bankroll private loans to small businesses during the coronavirus emergency, was tapped out in less than two weeks of frantic demand.

 

Lawmakers in both parties want to replenish the Small Business Administration program by adding another $250 billion. Democrats and the GOP have bickered, however, over whether to add hundreds of billions of dollars more to an “interim” bill to help hospitals, states and cities. The politically uncomfortable alternative for lawmakers in both parties has been whether to kick the immediate needs to a longer-term recovery measure that could be months away, when millions of restaurants, bars, salons and other small enterprises say they are on the brink of going under as millions of Americans remain idled at home. 

 

Politico reported the White House resisted more federal funding for cities and states in the interim measure this week, in part because administration officials are concerned that a lifeline from Uncle Sam would be a disincentive to governors to lift COVID-19 restrictions sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

 

Administration COVID-19 announcements:

✓ Trump repeated on Sunday that the official U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is likely to be closer to 60,000 cases than the 100,000 to 240,000 projected by the White House in March;

 

✓ The president says he will use the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of swabs for coronavirus testing (The Hill);

 

✓ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it will provide guidance this week to hospitals and clinics about how to resume elective surgeries;

 

✓ The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which licenses all U.S. nursing homes and has seen thousands of deaths reported at long-term care facilities since January, announced on Sunday it will require all nursing homes to inform patients and families if there are confirmed COVID-19 cases inside their facilities and require nursing homes to report known cases to the CDC. Not all states wanted to be transparent about such key data;

 

✓ Trump said if Iran needs help to battle the coronavirus, including financial assistance or ventilators, “Yeah, we would certainly be willing to help.” Iran has rejected the notion it needs or would accept help from the United States (The Hill);

 

“We'll be specifically providing governors and state health officials with information about all of the lab capability that exists in their state,” Vice President Pence announced on Sunday, following weeks in which Trump and Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, asserted that governors are in the dark about all the private and public laboratories in their states that can process coronavirus tests.

 

> Separately, Jordain Carney reports that even though public interest in the Russia probe, impeachment and the Steele dossier ebbed significantly with the onset of a severe economic shock and a deadly virus, Senate Republicans still plan to investigate the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation. Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools Clash looms over next coronavirus relief bill Trump says GOP 'flexible' on convention plans MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRomney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention Grassley won't attend GOP convention amid coronavirus uptick Trump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP MORE (R-Wis.) are requesting FBI documents, while Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate MORE (R-S.C.) released declassified Department of Justice documents he's received tied to former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. (A separate GOP investigation into Hunter Biden and Ukraine’s Burisma Holdings company is largely on hold because of a stalemate over subpoenas.) 

 

Stimulus addendum: Mnuchin says it was his idea to put Trump’s name on $1,200 stimulus checks sent to millions of Americans (Mediaite video).

 

The Hill: Sunday talk show discussions turned to the small protests in states calling for an end to stay-at-home restrictions. 



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LEADING THE DAY

STATE WATCH: States will ease some COVID-19 mitigation restrictions this week, Trump said over the weekend. Look for Texas, Vermont and Montana to be first (Reuters).

 

The United States today has at least 759,786 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in all 50 states and a rising death toll. Rural and less populated states are just beginning to feel the intensity of COVID-19 spread. 

 

The Hill: Trump: Some governors have “gone too far” with coronavirus restrictions.

 

The New York Times: The president is head of government, but has warmed to anti-government messaging and social-media-organized demonstrations that urge governors to lift coronavirus restrictions.

 

Flashpoint: Many governors and Trump are at odds over testing enough people for coronavirus infection to safely and confidently restart economic activity (Reuters).

 

June 1 may be when New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — the nation’s epicenter of COVID-19 contagion — can begin to ease stay-at-home orders and reopen non-essential businesses, according to a model reported by health data organization IHME, which is backed by the University of Washington and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (NBC4NY). The model is HERE.

 

 

 

 

> Pennsylvania: How Gov. Tom Wolf (D) stays off Trump’s enemies list during the coronavirus crisis (Politico).

 

> Local discord about lifting COVID-19 restrictions: While sparring between Trump and governors over reopening the country continues, a series of skirmishes emerged at the local level among governors, mayors and citizens. Weeks ago, fights broke out between state and local leaders over public health restrictions, and experts say decisions about how and when to ease restrictions do not invite consensus (The Hill).

 

> Higher education & admissions: The decision by governors around the U.S. to shutter schools and move students to home-based learning sent a wave of disruption through the college admissions process. The challenges vex students, parents and college admissions departments (The Hill).

  

***

 

POLITICS: Progressives were on the short end of the stick in their push to win the Democratic presidential nomination. But with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Tammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream Mexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump MORE as the party’s presumptive nominee, they’ve set their sights on the vice presidential slot and are pushing for a progressive to nab that position. 

 

The former VP has already announced that he will select a woman as his running mate. However, progressive advocacy groups are urging him to pick a potential running mate viewed as one of their own to indicate to the left flank that he is not taking their support for granted. 

 

“Joe Biden absolutely has to pick a progressive champion as his VP pick. He has to unify the party, and that’s the key,Charles Chamberlain, head of Democracy for America, told The Hill. “What we saw during the primary is we saw that we have two major factions of this party, the corporate wing, more establishment Democrats, and there is progressive, ascendant left. And he absolutely has to choose from that progressive left to unify the party.”

 

Among those Biden is expected to consider are Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDemocrats awash with cash in battle for Senate Tammy Duckworth hits back at Tucker Carlson: 'Walk a mile in my legs' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorses Biden, urges him to pick Warren as VP Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 Hillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates MORE (D-Minn.) and Stacey Abrams — some of whom made clear this past week that they would accept the offer to be his running mate if offered (The Hill).

 

The New York Times: Vote for Biden? Sanders supporters say it’s “up in the air.”

 

> Senate battle: The fight for Senate supremacy is tightening up as the coronavirus continues to harm the economy and throw the U.S. into a severe recession. 

 

As Alexander Bolton writes, with Election Day a little more than six months away, some Senate Democratic candidates are starting to outraise vulnerable Republican incumbents in states where Trump’s approval rating has taken a hit. While the GOP remains in the driver’s seat to retain control of the upper chamber, Democrats are narrowing the gap.

 

In Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina and South Carolina, Democratic challengers have outraised GOP incumbents. Adding to Democratic optimism, the Senate Democratic campaign arm had its best-ever first-quarter fundraising haul with $28 million, including $11 million in March — nearly $2 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 

 

However, the GOP still maintains an edge in cash on hand by nearly $11 million and maintains a three-seat edge that could prove decisive in November.

 

The Hill: How the GOP hopes to overcome steep odds in House battle.

 

Politico: Cash-rich Democrats tighten grip on House majority.

 

The Hill: Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyBiggs, Massie call on Trump to remove troops from Afghanistan Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low MORE (R-Wyo.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio) request return of donations to Massie's primary opponent after racist tweets surface.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CORONAVIRUS & INTERNATIONAL: According to the latest statistics, there are 2,411,553 cases of the virus worldwide and the reported death toll from the coronavirus is at least 165,338 around the world. Europe, which has been hard hit by the virus, eclipsed 1 million confirmed cases on Sunday (The Associated Press). 

 

> Spain: Spanish health officials reported an increase of 410 deaths on Sunday, the lowest single-day rise in the death toll in nearly a month as one of the hardest hit nations looks to recover from the virus.

 

Spain’s Health Ministry reported the figure a day after announcing 565 deaths on Saturday. Sunday’s total was the lowest since March 22 and is less than half of the highest single-day total of 950 on April 2. As of this morning, there were 198,674 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 20,852 deaths (Reuters).

 

The Associated Press: “A stroke of luck” to be on global cruise during pandemic.

 

> South Korea: South Korea started to loosen restrictions on social distancing for churches and sporting events on Sunday, allowing the Korean Baseball League and other sporting associations to go on without spectators. “It is safest to maintain the intensive social distancing, but it isn’t easy realistically. We need to find a middle ground,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said during a televised meeting of government officials. “If we can maintain a stable management at the current level, we will shift to ‘routine social distancing’ from May 6.” The announcement came after South Korea reported eight confirmed cases of the virus — the lowest single-day total in two months (Reuters). 

 

> Sweden: In one of the few nations that has not issued a lockdown and has maintained a relaxed set of restrictions, Sweden’s top epidemiologist said today that the country is seeing “a sort of plateau” in cases. Anders Tegnall told reporters that the latest number of cases and deaths has begun to stabilize after the country allowed its schools, gyms, bars and restaurants, among other locales, to stay open since the pandemic took hold, but called on its populous to adhere to social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. However, as nations across the globe see catastrophic economic results due to widespread lockdowns and restrictions, the Swedish response is being watched closely. As of this morning, Sweden has 14,385 confirmed cases and 1,540 deaths (Bloomberg News). 

 

> Mexico: Analysts are sounding alarms over Mexico's financial future, as the country struggles with coronavirus amid a preexisting economic slump. As Rafael Bernal writes, ratings agency Fitch downgraded the country's sovereign debt to its lowest investment grade above junk bond status on Wednesday, citing both the coronavirus lockdown and the national government's "ad hoc [economic] policy interventions" as contributing factors. Mexico's economy had remained relatively stable and under strictly orthodox management since 1994, when a financial meltdown, among other consequences, led to mass migration of its citizens to the U.S.

 

> Vatican: Pope FrancisPope FrancisMcCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue Pope Francis urges Catholic media to 'overcome the diseases of racism, injustice and indifference' Countries are using the coronavirus to repress and persecute MORE left the Vatican for the first time in more than a month since Italy went into lockdown to deliver mass in an empty church nearby and pressed for humanity writ large to band together in the recovery from the virus, arguing that not doing so would create “an even worse virus.”

 

“Now, while we are looking forward to a slow and arduous recovery from the pandemic, there is a danger that we will forget those who are left behind,” the pontiff said during his homily. “The risk is that we may then be struck by an even worse virus, that of selfish indifference. A virus spread by the thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me” (Reuters).

 

> U.S. adversaries: In the past two weeks, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have all moved to test Washington in the sea, in the air and on land as U.S. forces are becoming more restricted in movement out of health concerns (The Hill).

 

The Associated Press: North Korea denies that Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnWill the real Kim Yo Jong stand up? North Korea nixes idea of more talks with US Trump's Mount Rushmore stunt will backfire MORE sent Trump “a nice note.”

 

> Canada: At least 16 people, including a police officer, were killed in Nova Scotia on Sunday after an individual went on a shooting spree on Sunday in what is the worst mass shooting there in 30 years. According to police, the shooter disguised himself as a police officer and his car as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser. Police also announced that the shooter was dead (The Associated Press).

 

 

 



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 to keep workers healthy on the job, by Scott Gottlieb and Stephen Ostroff, opinion contributors, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3anGHJ0 

 

How COVID-19 is making millions of Americans healthier, by Hans Taparia, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2KeexFQ 



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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will hold a pro forma session on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m.

 

The Senate will convene in a pro forma session at 2 p.m.

 

The president will have lunch with Pence at the White House.

 

The vice president, in addition to dining with Trump, will convene a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force and participate in an evening briefing for the media.

 

The Coronavirus Report, helmed by The Hill’s Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons, has updates and exclusive video interviews with policymakers emailed each day. 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

Contact tracing: The United States is now immersed in a civil liberties, big-brother debate about asking Americans to use Bluetooth technology and cell-phone apps on a voluntary basis to help the public health community figure out who may have been in contact with people infected with COVID-19. Google and Apple say the app they teamed up to create preserves anonymity and has no repository to archive information beyond 14 days (CBS News “Sunday Morning”). … State and local health departments are lobbying Congress for billions of dollars to hire and train more U.S. contact tracers beyond the current 2,200, upping the commitment to as many as 100,000 (The Hill).  

 

Business slide: Disney, the largest entertainment company in the world, will stop paying 100,000 employees this week in an effort to drastically cut costs during the coronavirus crisis. The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the company, which hauled in $7 billion last year, advised employees to seek federal help from expanded federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act unemployment benefits. However, it will honor executive bonus commitments and a $1.5 billion dividend payment to stockholders (The Hill). … Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, which has furloughed workers and missed a debt repayment, will file to seek bankruptcy protection this week, Reuters reports. It appears poised to be the first U.S. department store chain to falter during the pandemic-hastened economic downturn.

 

Hospital hackers: Where there is suffering, there are malevolent people who try to profit: U.S. hospitals are being targeted by hackers who see vulnerable targets as easy prey in a crisis. A major threat to hospitals over the past month has been ransomware attacks, which involve hackers locking up a network and demanding payment to allow access again. Experts are warning that they expect these attacks to only increase (The Hill). 

 

Sports: Professional sports is by no means the only athletic industry that has been profoundly affected by COVID-19: the ongoing pandemic could cripple youth sports across the country. The Associated Press reports that the virus has caused a roughly $25 billion industry to shut down as baseball fields, gyms and other athletic facilities sit barren while youth leagues and tournaments are postponed or canceled outright. The Amateur Athletic Union reported that membership from 20,000 to 3,000 in a matter of weeks as it remains hopeful that it can hold tournaments in the near future.

 

“One World: Together at Home”: With an impressive assemblage of star power, global concert “One World” over the weekend raised nearly $128 million for the World Health Organization and regional charities that are helping to battle the coronavirus (The Hill)

 

 

 



THE CLOSER

And finally …  America’s zoos and aquariums, many of which are closed to the public during the coronavirus crisis, are under financial strain, just like most of the country. Nonetheless, they are trying to be happy places, thanks to their keepers and creative marketing teams that reel in virtual visitors, TV hits and social media enthusiasts.

 

Don’t miss:

 

The Cincinnati Zoo is selling masks for adults and children adorned with playful animal prints. You may have thought your bandanas were sufficient, but for $18.99, don’t forget your snout can signal more than “stay away.”

 

The Chicago Aquarium recently let penguins walk around the building to check out what’s on the other side of their enclosures. Adorable! (CBS News video).

 

The Milwaukee County Zoo encouraged its large blue iguana, “Digger,” to take a pretty peppy stroll around the Aquatic and Reptile Center over the weekend (CBS News video).

 

And be snoopy while you have the time! Webcam opportunities afford up-close views of how various animals survive in their own perpetual lockdown (The Daily Beast).