The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Trump takes his 'ready to reopen' mantra on the road

              Presented by The American Investment Council



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Thursday. 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. Thursday, 84,136.

President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE heads to Pennsylvania today after targeting the state's Democratic governor for what the president argues is a glacial effort to reopen during the COVID-19 crisis. Scores of protesters descended on the state capital last month to demonstrate against Gov. Tom Wolf's (D) stay-at-home directive, and the president on Monday voiced solidarity with Pennsylvanians who "want their freedom now." 


Nonetheless, Wolf is getting high marks in his state; a poll released this week showed 72 percent of adults polled in Pennsylvania approve of his handling of the pandemic. Trump today will tout the administration’s coronavirus testing scorecard, as he did in the Cabinet Room on Wednesday with the governors of Colorado and North Dakota (pictured above).


The president plans to tour a medical equipment distributor in Allentown, in the state where former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Saudis picked up drugs in Cairo used to kill Khashoggi: report Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting MORE was born and enjoys close ties. Pennsylvania will play a key role in deciding the outcome of November's presidential election and Biden had a lead over Trump of more than 6 points in the state at the end of April, according to the RealClearPolitics poll average (The Hill). 


CNN: New poll shows Trump leading Biden in 15 states that make the Electoral College difference, while Biden leads the incumbent nationally. 


Trump this week is picking a fight over reopening schools, but also conceding it’s up to the governors. Why are schools an emerging argument now, nearing the end of the academic year? Parents will be unable or reluctant to return to jobs and workplaces if schools and child care centers remain closed through the summer and into the beginning of the new school year. 


Studies show that loss of learning due to school closures reduces each student’s earning potential for life. The cost to the United States (as measured in future earnings) of four months of lost education is $2.5 trillion, or 12.7 percent of annual gross domestic product, according to a recent study released by the Brookings Institution. Well over half the country’s states decided to keep schools and universities closed until the fall at the earliest, continuing distance instruction.


Trump said he does not consider states truly open for business if schools are closed for in-person instruction. “I think you should absolutely open the schools,” he told reporters.


But parents, school administrators and teachers continue to be concerned about children’s potential exposure to COVID-19 in the absence of an effective, approved vaccine. 


Public confidence is key to economic recovery. So it’s not rosy news that Americans have dialed back their expectations about when it will be safe for gatherings of 10 or more people, with about 2 in 3 adults now saying it will not be until July or later before those events can happen, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll (The Washington Post).


Trump chafes at rival messengers, especially those inside the administration, who counsel a go-slow approach to easing state restrictions. On Wednesday, the president took aim at Anthony FauciAnthony FauciUK study: Pfizer, AstraZeneca vaccines offer protection against Delta variant The tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Delta variant's UK dominance sparks concerns in US MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who testified this week that states that open too soon and without adequate preparation risk new COVID-19 outbreaks and fatalities. Fauci also said he would be concerned about children returning to classrooms prematurely. Trump said he was “surprised” at Fauci’s comments and disagrees, adding, "He wants to play all sides of the equation" (NBC News).


Separately on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell described the central bank’s bleak outlook if Congress does not provide more fiscal relief to Americans at a time when 40 percent of U.S. households with annual incomes less than $40,000 have lost jobs since the pandemic began. The United States sustained the “biggest shock our economy has felt in modern times” and is likely to face an “extended period” of weakness, Powell said during remarks that sent financial markets into a swoon (The Washington Post).


Trump was asked on Wednesday if lawmakers should move forward on another stimulus measure in coming weeks. “I don’t know, it depends,” he said. The president brushed aside a $3 trillion recovery measure unveiled by House Democrats on Tuesday, which has been described by Republicans as a liberal wish list that has zero chance of picking up bipartisan steam as written. “It’s, as they say, DOA,” Trump told reporters.


Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNew Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat Greene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust Overnight Health Care: Biden pleads for more people to get vaccinated | Harris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety | Novavax COVID-19 vaccine shown highly effective in trial MORE (D-Calif.) defended the Democrats’ mammoth proposed measure during an interview with The Associated Press, arguing that American families that have been economically devastated because of the contagion are “worth it” when measured alongside another $3 trillion in federal help. The House is expected to vote on the package on Friday.


The Hill: House Democrats unveil proposed rule changes to allow remote voting.


The Hill: Top House Republicans reject Democrats' call for proxy voting.


The Washington Post: Coronavirus rapid tests by Abbott used at the White House and offered for use to Congress have a high error rate, according to a non-peer-reviewed study by a group at New York University.





Elsewhere on Capitol Hill … The FBI served a warrant on Wednesday to seize Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze Burr House Democrats to Schumer: Vote again on Jan. 6 probe Lara Trump lost her best opportunity — if she ever really wanted it Trump touts record, blasts Dems in return to stage MOREs (R-N.C.) cellphone as part of a Justice Department investigation of his stock trades as the coronavirus pandemic began early this year (Los Angeles Times).House progressives are pushing leadership to delay Friday’s vote on the HEROES Act, but they have not indicated plans to tank the bill if they don’t get the amendments included that they favor. However, leadership is facing pressure to ensure party unity given that Republicans aren’t expected to vote for the bill (The Hill). … The Senate fell a single vote short of greenlighting a proposal to prevent federal law enforcement from obtaining internet browsing or search history information without a warrant. The amendment, authored by Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHydrogen isn't as clean as it seems The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week New Alzheimer's drug sparks backlash over FDA, pricing MORE (D-Ore.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE (R-Mont.), was voted down, 59-37 (The Associated Press).



STATE WATCH: In a bit of better news, the United States is experiencing a sustained and sharper decline in new COVID-19 cases, according to an assessment by former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “The national epidemic is slowing,” he said, tweeting graphics published by Our World in Data. The trend is improving nationally, but there remain cities and states with persistent coronavirus infection rates, hospitalizations and fatalities.


> Washington, D.C.: Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) extended the city’s stay-at-home order, which was set to expire on May 15, to June 8 because of the continuing rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths. 


The new order underscores the challenges for a major tourist locale and raises questions for lawmakers who are flying in and out of the city to work. The District of Columbia has one of the highest per capita rates of coronavirus cases in the country. Bowser said Wednesday that a four-day decline in new cases and expanded testing offer hope for improvement (The Hill).


> Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home restrictions on Wednesday. The court ruled for Republicans that his administration overstepped its authority when it extended the order for another month without consulting legislators. The ruling means the state is essentially reopened ahead of the May 26 expiration date of Evers' order. It lifts caps on the size of gatherings, allowing people to travel as they please and allowing shuttered businesses to reopen, including bars and restaurants (The Associated Press).


> Washington: Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeSeattle is first major US city to see 70 percent of residents fully vaccinated, mayor says Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience Environmentalists see infrastructure as crucial path to climate goals MORE (D) unveiled a controversial coronavirus contact tracing program for his state in which reopened restaurants must "create a daily log of customers and maintain that daily log for 30 days, including telephone/email contact information, and time in” (The Seattle Times).


> Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced on Wednesday that the statewide stay-at-home order will be lifted effective Friday at 5 p.m., and that his office will substitute a safer-at-home advisory. As part of the order, retail and personal services stores (including barber shops and salons) can reopen with 50 percent of normal capacity. The move comes more than six weeks after Hogan instituted an initial lockdown order (Baltimore Sun).   


> Georgia: Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Biden's European trip Teen who filmed Floyd murder awarded honorary Pulitzer Senate confirms first Muslim American federal judge MORE (D-N.J.) and Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHouse Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias House candidate in Chicago says gun violence prompted her to run MORE (D-Mass.) and 80 members of Congress wrote to the Department of Justice on Wednesday seeking a criminal civil rights investigation into the murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery and an independent investigation into local authorities’ handling of the case. Georgia law enforcement made two arrests in the case last week more than two months after Arbery, unarmed, was shot and killed during an altercation captured on video. Arbery was black. The defendants, father and son, are white and are closely tied to local law enforcement in Brunswick, Ga.


> National parks: Yellowstone National Park will partly reopen after being closed for seven weeks due to the novel coronavirus. While the southern portion in Wyoming of the park will reopen, the region that sits in Montana will not as the state has not lifted its 14-day self-quarantine order for out-of-state visitors on nonessential business. 


While most of the park sits in Wyoming, 70 percent of parkgoers enter through Montana. Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockBiden 'allies' painting him into a corner Democratic Kansas City, Mo., mayor eyes Senate run Overnight Energy: Climate Summit Day 2 — Biden says US will work with other countries on climate innovation MORE (D) said on Wednesday that the three gates will not open before June 1 to allow communities near Yellowstone requisite time to prepare for visitors to return (The Associated Press).



POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell sent Congress a list of dozens of Obama administration officials, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who they say asked for documents that led to the “unmasking” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn from intelligence reports between the 2016 election and Trump’s inauguration.


Trump’s own administration acknowledged on Wednesday that Obama administration advisers followed proper procedures in privately “unmasking” Flynn’s name (The Associated Press).


Biden’s inclusion on the list set off another distracting political spat, with Trump saying that his administration “caught” the former VP and Obama administration officials, and GOP officials claiming the unmasking took place for political purposes. Grenell released the names in a letter to Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonHillicon Valley: House targets tech giants with antitrust bills | Oversight chair presses JBS over payment to hackers | Trump spokesman to join tech company | YouTube suspends GOP senator YouTube suspends Ron Johnson for 7 days GOP senators introduce bill to make Iran deal subject to Senate approval MORE (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyHouse unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Iowa governor questions lack of notice on migrant children flights to Des Moines Senate crafts Pelosi alternative on drug prices MORE (R-Iowa), who requested the list late Tuesday night (The Hill). 


"This was all Obama. This was all Biden. These people were corrupt, the whole thing was corrupt, and we caught them,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria BartiromoMaria Sara BartiromoThe US can solve the border crisis by decoupling from China Democrats control the language of politics and culture — but for how long? Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' MORE. “I watched Biden yesterday, he could barely speak. … He said he didn’t know anything about it, and now it just gets released … that he was one of the unmaskers.” 


Biden’s campaign defended the former VP’s actions, saying that Flynn’s discussions with the Russian ambassador late in 2016 set off a “concern across the American government.” A campaign spokesman added that GOP lawmakers and Grenell are engaging in a “gross politicization” of the information they released. 


“These documents simply indicate the breadth and depth of concern across the American government -- including among career officials -- over intelligence reports of Michael Flynn’s attempts to undermine ongoing American national security policy through discussions with Russian officials or other foreign representatives,” Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesman, said in a statement. 


The Washington Post: Court asks retired judge to oppose Justice Department effort to drop the Flynn case, examine whether ex-Trump adviser committed perjury.


> Special election: The GOP is celebrating its first House seat pickup in California in 22 years. Republican Mike Garcia defeated Democrat Christy Smith in the special election to replace former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Maher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' Former Obama official named NFL senior VP of communications MORE (D) in California’s 25th Congressional District. 


Smith conceded the contest on Wednesday afternoon. Hill defeated former Rep. Stephen KnightStephen Thomas KnightCivil rights activist Dolores Huerta endorses California Democratic House challenger The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Trump takes his 'ready to reopen' mantra on the road Republican flips House seat in California special election MORE (R-Calif.) by 9 points in 2018. 


"We believe that the current tally shows Mike Garcia is the likely victor in the May 12 special election," Smith said in a statement. "As such, I'd like to congratulate him" (The Hill).


> Fundraising follies: Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders won't vote for bipartisan infrastructure deal Bipartisan infrastructure deal takes fire from left and right Politics of discontent: Who will move to the center and win back Americans' trust? MORE (I-Vt.) appear to be working together on most issues — with one notable omission: fundraising. 


Sanders built a gargantuan list of small donors, and while he has endorsed Biden, his support has not translated into him raising money for the Biden campaign as he has not sent an email solicitation for the former VP, according to The Hill’s Jonathan Easley. Meanwhile, he has used it to raise funds for progressives at the state level and to promote progressive policies, drawing criticisms from some corners of the Democratic Party. 


While Biden has posted strong numbers in recent months, he remains at a massive disadvantage compared with the president’s fundraising juggernaut. Trump’s campaign has raised more than $700 million this cycle and has about $250 million in the bank. 


The Washington Post: As Biden veep search ramps up, Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety, efficacy in SC event to kick off tour Kamala Harris is still not ready for primetime (much less 2024) Lara Trump calls on Americans at border to 'arm up and get guns and be ready' MORE (D-Calif.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill House unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (D-Minn.) get a close look.


The Hill: Candidates shift to volunteering as pandemic halts campaigning.





> Committee fight: Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingPence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' First Democrat announces Senate bid against Iowa's Grassley MORE (R-Iowa) is pushing to get his committee assignments back, but Republicans on the Steering Committee indicated that there remains steadfast opposition to any chance of that taking place. 


According to the Sioux City Journal, King said at a forum Monday that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Greene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust Pelosi, leaders seek to squelch Omar controversy with rare joint statement MORE (R-Calif.) agreed to “advocate” for him before the committee. Multiple Steering Committee members said on Wednesday that they have no intention of allowing King to return to his committees. 


“It’s bullshit. We have not discussed this at steering,” one member told The Hill


Rep. David JoyceDavid JoycePorter urges increased budget for children's National Parks program Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Boehner finally calls it as he sees it MORE (R-Ohio) went a step further, telling The Hill that the Iowa Republican should not be allowed on any committees even if he wins reelection in November. GOP leaders are clearly rooting against King.


“I’ve not seen anything that he's done to date that would warrant his being put on any committees in the future. His continued self-promotion at the expense of the rest of the conference is unacceptable,” Joyce said in a phone interview. “If it comes up next term, his actions don't warrant any committee assignments.”


King, who is in a competitive primary on June 2, was removed from the committees in early 2019 after The New York Times reported on his latest racist remarks. McCarthy announced that King would not serve on any panel through the end of the 116th Congress.  


Politico: Steve King makes new push for committee reinstatement despite racist remarks.


INTERNATIONAL: World Health Organization: It will be four or five years before COVID-19 is under control, WHO’s chief scientist predicted on Wednesday, offering a dour assessment of the difficulties that lie ahead (The Hill).


Many factors will determine how long and to what extent the virus remains a threat, including whether it mutates, what containment measures are put in place and whether an effective vaccine is developed, Soumya Swaminathan told the Financial Times’s Global Boardroom online conference.  


“I would say in a four- to five-year timeframe we could be looking at controlling this,” she said, adding there was “no crystal ball” and the pandemic could “potentially get worse.”


A vaccine “seems for now the best way out,” but there were “lots of ifs and buts” about its efficacy and safety, as well as its production and equitable distribution, she said. A vaccine could also stop working if the virus changed, she added.


Peter Piot, professor of global health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who spoke on the panel, agreed that control of the virus depended on the development of an effective vaccine, but said the “elimination” of the disease “is going to require much, much more.”





> Italy: The Italian government approved a 55 billion euro ($59.6 billion) stimulus package as the country looks to reboot the economy and businesses from the national lockdown (Reuters).


> Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the national state of emergency across a large swath of the country on Thursday, but declined to do so in Tokyo and Osaka in an effort to slow the spread of the virus (Reuters). 


> Spain: According to a study looking at antibodies, about 5 percent of the Spanish population has been infected by the novel coronavirus, with the results varying from different regions of the country.


The Carlos III institute for health and the National Statistics Institute conducted the antibody research beginning on April 27 with tests of 90,000 individuals across 36,000 households (Reuters).


Reuters: European Medicines Agency: coronavirus vaccine could be ready for approval in a year.


> France: The French dairy industry is calling on the nation to increase purchasing and consuming cheese as sales have plummeted 60 percent due to the ongoing pandemic. The industry launched a new public relations campaign on Wednesday, “#Fromagissons”  — a combination of the words “fromage,” or cheese, and “agissons” to act — as cheese production has fallen off while restaurants and markets remain closed (ABC News). 


> Global climate emissions: The coronavirus pandemic has cut pollution. “This drop definitely lets us know human activities are a big factor in heat trapping emissions, but that said, the lesson is not that you tank the global economy,” said Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists who helped write the Fourth National Climate Assessment. “You have to do things in a sustained way rather than in a crisis way, which is what we’re doing now with COVID-19. It’s so destructive and affects the economy” (The Hill).




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!


To get Congress and the economy back to work, jump in the testing pool, by Darius N. Lakdawalla and Dana P. Goldman, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2WrGwsx 


Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskOn The Money: House Democrats line up .5T in spending without budget | GOP takes aim at IRS | House Democrat mulls wealth tax What will Elon Musk and Richard Branson do about Jeff Bezos flying into space? Republicans open new line of attack on IRS MORE unleashed again, by Kara Swisher, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2xWV6ie 


Private equity backed company Serta Mattresses answered the call to serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, donating 10,000 beds to New York City hospitals.

Learn more at www.investmentcouncil.org/coronavirus



The House will meet in a pro forma session at 3 p.m. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hear testimony at 10 a.m. from Rick Bright, who says he was improperly punished following his internal warnings about the harmful potential of hydroxychloroquine if used to treat COVID-19 patients, which contradicted Trump’s public advice. Bright, an authority on vaccine development who seeks whistleblower protection, is fighting his transfer last month to a position at the National Institutes of Health from his post as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) (The Hill).


The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m. and will resume consideration of the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020 that would reauthorize and reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) through December 1, 2023.


The president will visit a medical supply distribution business near Allentown in swing-state Pennsylvania to showcase administration efforts to respond to the coronavirus crisis. He speaks at 2:15 p.m. and will be back at the White House by 5 p.m.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE will serve as chair of a 2 p.m. principals meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council via conference call.


Economic indicator: At 8:30 a.m., there will be another report about waves of unemployment claims, this one chronicling activity last week. The nation’s unemployment rate in April soared to 14.7 percent, according to the Labor Department, and May will be worse. 


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Supreme Court: Justices on Wednesday grappled with the issue of “faithless electors,” and sounded uncomfortable during oral arguments by teleconference with the idea of delinking Electoral College representatives from commitments to the popular vote in their states (The Hill and The Associated Press).


From incarceration to stay-at-home: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, 71, was released from prison on Wednesday to home confinement with his wife in their Northern Virginia condominium because of the coronavirus risks (The Washington Post). 


➔ Sports: The PGA Tour has a plan of action when it returns next month: Testing, testing and more testing. The PGA will test players, caddies and key staffers around them once a week for COVID-19, and everyone at the golf course will have their temperatures checked, starting with the event on June 8 in Fort Worth, Texas. There will be no gallery at events for the first month at least, with golfers and caddies expected to social distance at all times (The Associated Press). 


And finally …   It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by official Washington’s adventures in Zooming and teleconferencing, we’re eager for some smart guesses about ongoing tech adjustments during the pandemic.


Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


Which surprisingly personal sound was heard on May 6 as Supreme Court justices conducted oral arguments via teleconference with live audio?


1)        Curse word

2)        Doorbell

3)        Toilet flushing

4)        Italian aria


The New York Times pointed out that a ____ could be seen behind a Senate committee chairman this week as he conducted a live-televised hearing from his home while self-isolating after possible contact with COVID-19.


1)        Dog-eared copy of “Complete Nashville Cookbook”

2)        Sleeping dog named Rufus

3)        Framed picture of dogs playing poker

4)        Bottle of Bird Dog Whiskey atop a well-stocked bar


Washington analysts, experts and anchors now appear live on television seated in their respective home “sets,” thanks to various digital tools. These homey backdrops spawned which “rater” on Twitter, a witty creation that went viral and attracted its own media coverage?


1)        @ratemyskyperoom (Room Rater)

2)        @dog_rates (WeRateDogs ®)

3)        @HomespunHairRater (Rooted at Home)

4)        @RatetheSpin (Home Bodies)


Stay-at-home orders around the country began in March, but House members are slow to adapt. Which of these proposed changes is to receive a vote in Washington this week?


1)        Mandatory daily COVID-19 testing of all members

2)        Temporary shift of all in-person floor votes to West Virginia’s Greenbrier bunker

3)        Proxy voting rules

4)        Use of GrandPad ® tablets for remote House voting