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The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Pelosi touts mammoth fifth COVID bill; jobs numbers a gut punch

 

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Back by popular demand, it is 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! 

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 67,682. Tuesday, 68,934. Wednesday, 71,078. Thursday, 73,431. Friday, 75,670.

COVID-19 claimed the lives of at least 8,000 people in the United States over just five days this week.

The House is motoring ahead and pushing for a potential vote on another massive coronavirus relief bill next week as the economic situation becomes more dire across the country, with the employment statistics for April set to be released this morning. 

After passing nearly $3 trillion in relief since the start of the pandemic, Democratic lawmakers are preparing to release a gargantuan package. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGraham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that the coming relief bill needs to be “Rooseveltian,” with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Businesses, wealthy brace for Biden tax hikes | Dow falls more than 650 points as COVID-19 cases rise, stimulus hopes fade | Kudlow doesn't expect Trump to release detailed economic plan before election Overnight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Gaffes put spotlight on Meadows at tough time for Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerTop Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate Trump orders aides to halt talks on COVID-19 relief This week: Coronavirus complicates Senate's Supreme Court fight MORE (D-Md.) telling their caucus that a vote will happen, but it’s not set in stone for next week (The Hill).

“We have an emergency of such magnitude that no one has ever seen before. This is probably the worst situation that is only getting worse and should be getting better,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.  

Pelosi also told Bloomberg TV on Thursday that the bill’s release is “imminent,” and is expected to include at least $800 billion in funding directed to state and local governments, along with money for COVID-19 testing and food stamp funding, unemployment support and other direct payouts for the needy and unemployed. 

“This is not plowing any new territory,” Pelosi said. “It is digging deeper with more money.” 

Politico: Pelosi to lay down multi-trillion-dollar marker with new coronavirus package.

The Wall Street Journal: House Democrats close in on new stimulus proposal.

The Associated Press: Dems eye money for smaller cities, towns in next virus bill.

However, the looming Democratic proposal is not expected to be backed by the Senate GOP, which has indicated senators are not ready to commit trillions more in spending to combat the virus in an expeditious fashion. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes, one item Senate Republicans are averse to is more stimulus checks. 

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act package enacted in late March included one-time payments of $1,200 for people making up to $75,000 a year. While the White House and Democrats are signaling support for doing at least one more round of checks, GOP senators are thumbs-down on the idea.  

“Well, people in hell want ice water too,” said Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) about another round of checks. “I mean, everybody has an idea and a bill, usually to spend more money. It’s like a Labor Day mattress sale around here.”

Meanwhile, Ses. Bernie SandersBernie SandersObama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom Ocasio-Cortez says Democrats must focus on winning White House for Biden MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg The painstaking, state-by-state fight to protect abortion access MORE (D-Calif.) are expected to propose later today monthly checks of $2,000 to those who make less than $120,000.  

Having put negotiations on pause, Senate Republicans continue to insist on including language to protect businesses from virus-related lawsuits and liability (Reuters). On Thursday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE said that employers. including sports stadiums and team owners, need protection from lawsuits that may stem from infections with COVID-19 as national activities resume. 

The administration has not established national standards for worker safety in the era of the coronavirus and McConnell has not released a legislative proposal on the issue yet.  

The bottom line: The fight between GOP and Democratic lawmakers has turned into a proxy battle over help for employers versus employees as lawmakers are drawn into a severe economic crisis through the eyes of favored constituents in an election year. 

The Hill: Congress, Treasury tussle over IRS guidance on $2.2 trillion COVID-19 package.

The Wall Street Journal: Work-from-home Congress also can’t figure out how to unmute.

The battle lines on the fifth COVID-19 package come as the economic reality continues to deteriorate across the United States; the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning will report historic and crushing unemployment in April. 

According to CNBC, the government is expected to show that more than 20 million lost their jobs last month due to the pandemic, with the unemployment rate skyrocketing to between 11 percent and 20 percent. Today’s news will also come a day after the Labor Department reported that an additional 3.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 2. In total 33.5 million Americans have filed job claims since the outbreak (The Hill). 

The Associated Press: A devastating jobs report for April will show virus’s impact.

Elsewhere in Congress … The Senate failed to override Trump’s veto of a resolution aimed at limiting the president’s ability to take military action against Iran. The upper chamber voted 49-44, falling short of the two-thirds needed to topple the veto. It marks the seventh time Trump has used the veto as president. The resolution would require the president to pull U.S. troops from any hostilities against Iran within 30 days unless he receives congressional approval for the military action (The Hill). 

 

 

 

 

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LEADING THE DAY

JUSTICE & RUSSIA PROBE: Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and whom Trump said in 2017 had lied to Vice President Pence, walked away from criminal allegations on Thursday when the Justice Department dropped its prosecution of the retired general. The unusual action was a dramatic reversal in a case brought by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE and an outcome Trump praised after becoming convinced that Flynn was a political victim of overreach by what he calls former “dirty cops” in the FBI (The Associated Press). Flynn met with Mueller’s team 19 times and provided “substantial assistance,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo. A federal judge will assess the government’s rare withdrawal from a high-profile prosecution in which the defendant pled guilty on multiple occasions (NBC News and The New York Times).

CBS News: Attorney General William BarrBill BarrPolice accountability board concludes that Seattle police officers used excessive force during encounters with protesters Trump hasn't asked Barr to open investigation into Bidens, McEnany says Seattle, Portland, NYC sue Trump administration over threat to pull federal money MORE said in an interview on Thursday that it was the Justice Department’s “duty” to dismiss the case. “A crime cannot be established here.” Barr said, “I think it’s sad that nowadays these partisan feelings are so strong that people have lost any sense of justice.” Barr continues internal department investigations of other aspects of the government’s Russia probe, which began in 2016 with a counterintelligence examination of Russia’s interference in that year’s presidential election. 

The Hill: The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released long-delayed transcripts related to the investigation by the panel into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The committee released 57 transcript interviews from 2017-2018 that show what was said behind closed doors as lawmakers sought to determine whether members of the Trump campaign and Russia coordinated to tip the scales of the election.  

The upshot: Six months before a presidential election, Trump’s allies at the highest levels at the Justice Department and managing intelligence agencies bolstered Trump’s public efforts since 2017 to delegitimize FBI, special counsel and House and Senate investigations that showed that Russia’s activities were designed to influence the 2016 U.S. election.

The Hill: The Trump administration on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to shield grand jury materials it says are secret, drawn from the Russia probe conducted by Mueller.

 

 

***

 

STATE WATCH: Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Thursday said the state’s factories can reopen on May 11, removing one of the last major obstacles to North American automakers bringing thousands of laid-off employees back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic (Reuters). She extended the state’s stay-at-home order to May 23 (The Hill). 

> California: Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Ford, GM scientists knew in 1960s that emissions caused climate change: report | Testing for oil in Arctic wildlife refuge proposed for this winter | Biden's oil stance jars Democrats in tough races Electric vehicles see state-level gains 10 under-the-radar races to watch in November MORE (D) called it “jaw-dropping” that the coronavirus crisis blew a $54.3 billion hole in his state’s budget. California’s deficit is nearly three and a half times the state’s “rainy day fund” emergency reserves (San Jose Mercury News).

> Pennsylvania: Hazleton, Pa.’s Rafael Benjamin, 64, who was winding up a long career with Cargill in April, became one of 5,000 workers in U.S. meat processing plants infected this year by COVID-19 and one of 20 such deaths. Bloomberg News reported the “cold, crowded and deadly” breeding ground for the coronavirus in U.S meat plants. Vice President Pence today visits an Iowa grocery chain to talk about meat shortages and supply chain issues. As he speaks, thousands of meat plant employees around the country continue to recover while discussing plant safety concerns. 

 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Trump campaign eyes election night party at his sold-out DC hotel Harris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' MORE, pinned in place by COVID-19 precautions, will soon begin experimenting as a presidential candidate with virtual rallies focused on wooing voters in Florida and Michigan, two key swing states (Tampa Bay Times). The former vice president and presumed Democratic nominee held virtual campaign “stops” on Thursday in Jacksonville and in Tampa via teleconference from his home in Delaware, and the technology was not flawless. The screen went black for a few minutes. Audio lagged in spots. Some viewers jumped off, and the Trump campaign crowed about the glitches (WFLA). Biden’s team tested the virtual barnstorming format with former second lady Jill Biden on Wednesday in Michigan. (What’s the post-COVID-19 virtual substitute for drop-bys that used to take place in cozy coffee shops and local bakeries?)

The June 2 primaries are just ahead in many key states — including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Indiana and Washington, D.C. — and described by both parties as a “mini Super Tuesday.” Candidates are trying to nudge voters to participate safely through mail-in and absentee ballots. The process, impacted by COVID-19, is a challenge for states and local election officials, for voters and for candidates who want to transform eager supporters into completed ballots well before Election Day. In Pennsylvania, for example, almost 1 million people have requested to vote by mail (TribLive). 

The Hill: Trump campaign releases new ad attacking Biden on China.

The New York Times: “Full steam ahead” for Trump’s convention? North Carolina has doubts.

As Biden’s campaign gazes ahead at an unpredictable summer campaign phase before an actual or virtual national party convention, he’s still trying to allay misgivings among progressives who haven’t finished mourning losses by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who vows to do all he can to defeat Trump, and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAll fracked up: Biden's Keystone State breakdown What do Google, banks and chicken salad have in common? Final debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit MORE (D-Mass.), who says she backs Biden and would be pleased to be his running mate. As Amie Parnes and Jonathan Easley report, passion on the left for the former vice president who is doing all those hook-ups from his Delaware basement won’t be built in a day.

 



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

COVID-19’s distinctive footprint on immigrants in the United States, by Goldie McQuaid and Diana Fishbein, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2SN8EUG

We need to protect reopened businesses from a lawsuit pandemic, by Marc A. Thiessen, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2L9ltEL

 

 

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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will convene in a pro forma session at 10 a.m.

The Senate meets on Monday at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Brian Montgomery to be deputy secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Department.

The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump rips Biden in scramble to win Pennsylvania Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Melania Trump to hit campaign trail in Pennsylvania MORE participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day at 11:30 a.m. Trump will meet with GOP members of Congress at 1 p.m.

The vice president will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, to encourage U.S. faith leaders to reopen houses of worship to the public. Pence will visit the headquarters of the Hy-Vee grocery chain in Iowa for an industry discussion about food supply chains, including for meat. The vice president will return to Washington in the evening. 

Economic indicator: The Labor Department reports at 8:30 a.m. on U.S. employment in April. Economists anticipate record-setting unemployment, marking the first comprehensive snapshot of an economy in sudden freefall because of a public health crisis.

The Coronavirus Report, presented 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

Supreme Court: Justices on Thursday unanimously threw out criminal fraud convictions of two allies of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) who had been tied nearly seven years ago to a political payback scheme involving traffic backup on a bridge into his home state. In a statement, Christie trained most of his fire on Paul Fishman, a former U.S. Attorney who handled the case, saying “there are no words of apology that would be sufficient to right the wrongs” he committed. Trump concurred, tweeting the decision was a “total exoneration” (The Hill). 

Petroleum: As the coronavirus pandemic ravages local economies, communities reliant on the oil and gas industry say it may take years, not months, to bounce back. Even in towns familiar with the boom and bust cycle of oil, local leaders say they’ve been hit with a double whammy (The Hill). 

➔ POTUS plus: Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage Trump expected to bring Hunter Biden's former business partner to debate Davis: On eve of tonight's debate — we've seen this moment in history before MORE signed a deal with the History channel to be executive producer of a documentary series about the U.S. presidency. The untitled project will look at the history of the position as well as the struggles presidents have gone through. Clinton is also likely to be featured on camera (Deadline). 

 



THE CLOSER

And finally … A big round of applause to quiz masters who knew their stuff about the legendary Babe Ruth. Here’s a list of those who went 5/5 on yesterday’s quiz: Patrick Kavanagh, Paul Manges, JPatrick White, Walter Pflaumer, Ki Harvey, Ed Kelly, Tom Chabot, Phil Kirstein and Sandy Walters. 

They knew the Yankees legend hit at least 40 home runs in 11 different seasons.

Ruth was sickened when the influenza pandemic struck in 1918, but it was his doctors’ decision to paint the inside of his throat with silver nitrate as therapy that almost cost him his life.

Baltimore boasts the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. There’s a statue honoring Ruth outside Camden Yards (pictured below), home of the Orioles.  

In December 1919, the Boston Red Sox infamously sold Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000.

Finally, Ruth’s teammate Lou Gehrig was not part of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural class. He was inducted in 1939 after retiring from the game in 1938.