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The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Pelosi touts $3T bill as Fauci stresses go-slow openings

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday. 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, 79,528. Tuesday, 80,684. Wednesday, 82,387.

 

Global confirmed cases of COVID-19 today total more than 4.2 million, of which 1.3 million have been tallied in the United States.



House Democrats rolled out a mammoth coronavirus relief package on Tuesday, arguing that now is the time for more spending as they push to bring Republican lawmakers to the negotiating table. 

 

The proposal — a monstrous $3 trillion, 1,815-page bill — is expected to be voted on Friday, according to House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package Key Democrat unveils plan to restore limited earmarks Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission MORE (D-Md.), and serve as an opening salvo in eventual negotiations with Republicans, who are playing a waiting game in deal-making. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Budget Committee chair pledges to raise minimum wage: 'Hold me to it' Capitol review to recommend adding more fencing, 1,000 officers: report MORE (D-Calif.) called on the GOP to end its self-imposed “pause” in discussions, pointing to rising unemployment figures and ongoing economic damage. 

 

"We must think big for the people now because if we don’t it will cost more in lives and livelihood later. Not acting is the most expensive course,” Pelosi said in a speech on Tuesday. “We are presenting a plan to do what is necessary to deal with the corona crisis and make sure we can get the country back to work and school safely.”

 

The Associated Press: Pelosi unveils $3T virus bill, warns inaction costs more.

 

READ: House Democrats' $3 trillion coronavirus relief package.

 

As Cristina Marcos notes, the $3 trillion bill — which would be the largest bill in U.S. history, if passed — contains a grab bag of Democratic priorities, including billions for food assistance, state and local governments, contingency plans for vote-by-mail in the November elections, another round of direct stimulus payments to individuals and hazard pay for essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

 

Despite the Democratic laundry list of policies, the bill may not earn the support of the entire caucus because some of Pelosi’s colleagues do not believe the legislation goes far enough. Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Budget Committee chair pledges to raise minimum wage: 'Hold me to it' Democrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike MORE (D-Wash.) and Mark PocanMark William PocanSenate Democrats likely to face key test of unity on 2022 budget Democrats blast Facebook over anti-vaccine pages Watch Out: Progressives are eyeing the last slice of the budget MORE (D-Wis.), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, sent a letter to Democratic leadership on Tuesday pushing to delay a vote on the bill until next week to allow time for potential amendments, including federal payouts for all workers’ salaries up to $100,000 and direct federal grants to businesses to help afford continued rent. 

 

The Hill: Eight surprises in the House Democrats' $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

 

The Washington Post: House Democrats unveil coronavirus rescue bill that would direct more than $3 trillion to states, individuals, health systems.

 

The Associated Press: Dems’ $3 trillion COVID-19 recovery bill would increase state aid and back hazard pay for essential workers.

 

Democrats unveiled a bill they know won’t become law as a strategy to bring GOP negotiators to the table. But on Tuesday, Republicans said they will first evaluate the effects of $2.8 trillion already enacted as COVID-19 relief before signing on for more.

 

"What you've seen in the House, Nancy, is not something designed to deal with reality, but designed to deal with aspirations. This is not a time for aspirational legislation, this is a time for practical response to the coronavirus pandemic," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Hawley gets boisterous ovation at CPAC for Electoral College objection   Why Congress must invoke the 14th Amendment now MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters after the bill was released, with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents John Boehner tells Cruz to 'go f--- yourself' in unscripted audiobook asides: report MORE (R-S.C.) deeming the bill “dead on arrival” in the Senate (The Hill).

 

However, as Alexander Bolton writes, Senate Republicans are privately putting together a wishlist of their own for the next COVID-19 relief package, which some believe will set the stage for a bill to be passed this summer. Chief among those ideas: a litigation shield for businesses that reopen as the pandemic carries on and a reform of beefed-up unemployment benefits that Congress approved in March that critics say are making it tougher to hire lower- and middle-income workers.

 

The Hill: Democrats' coronavirus relief bill reins in president's ability to remove IGs.

 

The Hill: House Democrats' bill would create a second round of direct coronavirus relief payments. 

 

The Washington Post: At least 100,000 small businesses in America permanently shut because of coronavirus stay-at-home orders and economic duress, economists project.

 

As the $3 trillion price tag tied to Pelosi’s proposal began to sink in on Capitol Hill, the administration’s top public health and infectious disease experts testified that the United States is a long way from putting COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, no matter how eager anyone may feel to reopen restaurants, put children back in classrooms and day care centers, and book summer travel.

 

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOne dose of Pfizer vaccine offers significant protection for those who have had COVID-19: studies Fauci: Whatever COVID-19 vaccine is available, 'take it' Julia Roberts presents Award of Courage to Fauci: 'You have been a beacon for us' MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, voiced near-term caution, along with more upbeat predictions about the eventual development and approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps next year. Fauci repeated that his expert advice to President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE, governors, lawmakers and the public is not about the economy, but about human health, a lethal virus and how to halt its spread.

 

“My concern is that if some areas, city, states or what have you, jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci told senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during virtual testimony in which some members, including the chairman, and witnesses participated from their homes (The Hill).

 

Fauci’s message was no surprise: Reopen too soon, or with inadequate preparations, and more people will be infected and many more than the current 82,000 will die. New outbreaks will revive stay-at-home restrictions, lessen public confidence and hobble the twin goals of both a healthy population and revival of the economy, he added.

 

“If we do not respond in an adequate way when the fall comes, given that it is without a doubt that there will be infections that will be in the community, then we run the risk of having a resurgence,” he said, noting that a vaccine will not be available in time for the customary back-to-school season.

 

Fauci and other U.S. public health advisers previously warned that a seasonal resurgence of flu in addition to the continued presence of COVID-19 this fall could overwhelm some hospitals if states and cities are not careful. This scenario envisions “waves” of contagion, not a single peak, plateau and ebb of infections before COVID-19 “disappears,” as Trump is fond of saying.

 

 

 

 

Another item from Tuesday’s testimony was an admission under senators’ grilling that the Health and Human Services Department mismanaged control over the distribution of the experimental drug remdesivir, which has shown promise in treating patients, especially in the early stages of COVID-19 illness. Senators complained that HHS distributed the scarce drug to states rather than to major hospital centers with identified and immediate patient needs. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, part of HHS, assured senators that lessons had been learned.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported that immunologist Deborah Birx, coronavirus policy coordinator at the White House, complained in a May 7 email to her senior colleagues, including Fauci, that there had been a “misalignment” in the administration’s handling of remdesivir (The Hill). 

 

The Hill: As Niall Stanage writes, Fauci’s science-based caution contrasts with Trump’s political optimism, his sweeping superlatives and impatience. Opinion polls show Fauci is trusted by a majority of Americans across parties, a caution flag for the president.

 

“There is certainly not a confrontational relationship between me and the president,” Fauci said during the Senate hearing, adding that when he gives Trump advice, “he hears that, he respects it, he gets opinions from a variety of other people” (The New York Times).

 

The Hill: Five takeaways from the Senate testimony.

 

Politico: Fauci fatigue has set in among some Republicans.

 

Others, however, are speaking up in the director’s defense. Wyoming Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged Tomi Lahren says CPAC attendees clearly want Trump to run in 2024 Trump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars MORE is the third-highest ranking Republican in the House.

 

 

 

 

Morning Report exclusive: Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGraham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Cruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director MORE (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter Tuesday night to acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell and Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMajority of Republicans say 2020 election was invalid: poll Biden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case Justice Department renews investigation into George Floyd's death: report MORE calling for the release of all information surrounding the circumstances under which Obama administration officials sought to learn the identities of Trump associates about whom intelligence was gathered, a process in which senior advisers seek to “unmask” certain intelligence identification. The request by two GOP committee chairmen relates to Michael Flynn and others. The Justice Department said on Tuesday it does not intend to disclose former officials who requested “unmasking.” It is unclear whether Grenell will furnish the information. READ the letter HERE.



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LEADING THE DAY

STATE WATCH: Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home orders will “with all certainty” be extended for the next three months, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a meeting on Tuesday. Ferrer said the order, which had not been issued as she spoke, would shorten only if there was a “dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand.” In Los Angeles County, home to more than 10 million people, coronavirus infections and fatalities are on the rise, although other regions in California have shown more progress in bending the disease curve (Los Angeles Times).

 

All 23 of California’s universities in the state system will remain closed to in-person instruction through the fall semester (ABC7).

 

> Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) today is expected to announce further easing of some restrictions on business and gatherings as COVID-19 hospitalizations plateau, but Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) says local officials don’t yet feel comfortable reopening (The Baltimore Sun). Parts of Maryland surrounding the nation’s capital, where infection rates continue to climb, are paying close attention to the governor’s three-phase plan.

 

> Virginia: Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is delaying Northern Virginia’s reopening amid the coronavirus epidemic until at least May 29, two weeks after the rest of the state is expected to reopen. Northam said Tuesday he’s signed an executive order extending mandated closures and restrictions on businesses in the parts of Virginia closest to Washington, D.C. (pictured below), a heavily populated area where regional officials have said they are not yet ready to reopen. Northam ordered some nonessential businesses closed two months ago and his planned first phase of reopening for the rest of the state is still set for Friday (The Associated Press).

 

 

 

 

***

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Republican Mike Garcia holds a lead over Democrat Christy Smith in Tuesday night’s special election in California’s 25th Congressional District to replace former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillObamas to attend Biden inauguration Trump pardons George Papadopoulos in latest batch of pardons Former Rep. Katie Hill files lawsuit against ex-husband, Daily Mail over nude photos MORE (D-Calif.).

 

Garcia, a former Navy pilot, leads with 56 percent to 44 percent for Smith. The race remained uncalled as of early this morning with 81 percent precincts reporting. While Democrats have a voter registration edge over Republicans in the suburban Los Angeles district, the pandemic created an opportunity for the GOP to recapture the seat. Participating voters, almost exclusively via mail, are seen as older and less diverse.

 

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE won the district in 2016 by 7 points, while Hill defeated former Rep. Steve KnightStephen (Steve) Thomas KnightThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Pelosi touts T bill as Fauci stresses go-slow openings The Hill's Campaign Report: A Los Angeles House seat is in play for Republicans Democrats on edge over California special election nail-biter MORE (R-Calif.) by 9 points in 2018. Garcia toppled Knight in a jungle primary to win a spot in Tuesday’s runoff (The Associated Press).

 

In Wisconsin, Republican Tom Tiffany took home a special election contest to replace former Rep. Sean DuffySean DuffyLobbying world CNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Bottom line MORE (R-Wis.), who resigned the seat last year. 

 

Tiffany, a state senator, defeated Democrat Tricia Zunker, a member of the Wausau School Board and associate justice on the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court. Tiffany defeated Zunker with 57 percent support with all precincts reporting (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Nebraska Democrat Kara Eastman wins House primary to take on Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.).

 

The New York Times: Trump is courting black voters. His failures on the virus are a problem.

 

> Convention politics: The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Tuesday made the first move to scale back the nominating convention and shift some parts of the confab online in response to the coronavirus crisis.

 

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee passed a resolution to grant new power to the party’s convention planning committee to “make the necessary changes to the format, size, date or other aspects in order to conduct a safe convention.” As Jonathan Easley reports, delegates will be able to take part in the convention "in person or by means that allow for appropriate social distancing,” according to the resolution. 

 

The convention committee has been given broad authority on everything from “adjusting the convention format to dealing with crowd size.” The annual gathering is slated to run from Aug. 17 until Aug. 20 in Milwaukee.

 

The virus has also set off a scramble for officials to address election-related challenges, including the potential for some states to consider online voting to make sure there is access to the polls.

 

As Maggie Miller writes, while some states are considering the move, federal officials and cybersecurity experts are strongly urging them to shy away from, arguing that it could open up new avenues for interference.

 

The Associated Press: Basement-bound Biden campaign worries some Democrats.

 

The Hill: Polls show Biden has edge with voters who don't like their choices.

 

The Washington Post: Biden defends his decision to campaign from home, calls Trump reckless.

 

The Hill: Poll: Biden leads Trump by 3 points in Wisconsin.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

INTERNATIONAL: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoUS intel: Saudi crown prince approved Khashoggi killing Golden statue of Trump at CPAC ridiculed online Five things to watch at CPAC MORE’s first official trip to Israel today will focus on the risks of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon and U.S. worries about Israel’s close economic ties with China, he said Tuesday during an interview with conservative newspaper Israel Hayom

 

“We recognize the deepening economic relationship with China and that presents opportunities,” Pompeo told the paper. “We want to share with them our views on the risks that come alongside that as well.”

 

Pompeo said the purpose of his visit will be to bring Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE and rival Benny Gantz, both now representing a power-sharing government, “up to speed on the progress” of Trump’s “vision for peace” – the administration’s plan for resolving the Israeli and Palestinian conflict that was announced in January (The Hill). 

 

> Russia: Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinFor better or worse: Which way will US-Saudi relations go under Biden? How to rethink Russia sanctions Tucker Carlson bashes CNN, claims it's 'more destructive' than QAnon MORE, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday and was hospitalized due to complications from the virus.

 

“Yes, I got sick, I’m being treated,” Peskov told a state-run news outlet in Moscow. Peskov is the second person in Putin’s administration to test positive, and the fifth senior government official to have it (The Moscow Times).

 

> Canada: Canadian officials will give senior citizens on a fixed income a one-time direct payment ranging from $215 to $357 to deal with COVID-19 related costs (Reuters).

 

> Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry announced Tuesday a national, 24-hour curfew during Eid al-Fitr, the five-day Muslim holiday later this month in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The curfew will be in effect from May 23 until May 27 after Ramadan concludes (Reuters).

 

> Spain: In a positive development, the oldest woman in Spain defeated the coronavirus. María Branyas, a 113-year-old, thought to be the oldest woman in the country, was diagnosed with the virus shortly after the nation went into lockdown in March, but only experienced mild symptoms and has now fully recovered after weeks in isolation. As the BBC noted, Branyas has survived through the Spanish Flu of 1918 and the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. 



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

The triumph of experience over hope, by Megan McArdle, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3dGez69  

 

Democrats should back ‘safe harbor’ liability protection, by William A. Galston, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/2yTu0ZZ 



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Private equity backed company Cengage decided to make digital learning materials free after schools across the country closed — ensuring students can continue learning.


Learn more at www.investmentcouncil.org/coronavirus

 



WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet in a pro forma session at 9:30 a.m.

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to consider the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, which would reauthorize and reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through Dec. 1, 2023 (The Hill). The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on the state of broadband amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The president at 4 p.m. will host an event in the Rose Garden with Govs. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisGrocery store worker slapped after asking customer to wear mask, video shows Lobbying world Colorado presses Biden to reverse Trump Space Command move MORE of Colorado (D) and Doug Burgum of North Dakota (R).

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will deliver a speech about current economic conditions at 9 a.m. via webcast, hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Watch HERE

 

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 were divided during oral arguments on Tuesday amid a landmark fight over access to Trump’s financial records and tax returns (The Hill and The Washington Post).The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today about whether states have the power to rein in faithless electors, who are Electoral College representatives who vote against their state's popular vote. The case will effectively ask the high court to decide the rules for the Electoral College just months before the 2020 presidential election (The Hill).

 

Financial rescues: The Federal Reserve is facing bipartisan pressure to quickly launch and expand two emergency lending programs designed to help businesses and local governments avoid bankruptcy during the pandemic-driven economic downturn.

 

During a Tuesday hearing, members of the Senate Banking Committee urged the Fed’s top regulatory official, Randal Quarles, to roll out the Main Street Lending Program and Municipal Liquidity Facility as soon as possible, with access to a wider array of potential borrowers (The Hill). 

 

➔ Broadway: New York City theaters, which have been closed since March 12 because of the coronavirus, will remain shuttered through Labor Day, the Broadway League announced on Tuesday. According to The Hollywood Reporter, industry insiders believe some theaters will not return until early 2021.

 

 

 



THE CLOSER

And finally …   Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain recently learned about a virtual singalong project organized by Bethesda, Md., music teacher Sean Gaiser for his students in grades one through three.  

 

“My whole goal was to put a compilation video together featuring every single kid that sent in their vocal, and a video of them singing the song with me,” said Gaiser, who recorded a guitar version of “Don’t Stop Believin’” for the boys he teaches.

 

The song, considered a rock anthem, was the best-selling digital track from the 20th century, with more than 7 million copies sold in the United States.

 

As the videos poured in, there was a surprise submission. After learning about the project, Cain also sent a video.

 

The rocker told students at the Mater Dei School, a private Catholic school for boys, that his father was the inspiration for the song. He described a pep talk he got from his dad when he was trying to reach his dream of making it big in the music industry in the 1970s. That conversation would later inspire one of the best-known rock songs.

 

You have something special, don’t stop believing,” Cain recalled his father telling him.

 

Cain, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, turned to a piano and played the song for the Maryland students. In the video Gaiser created, the young chorus is seen and heard joining in and singing backup (WTOP).