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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 79,528. Tuesday, 80,684. Wednesday, 82,387. Thursday, 84,136. Friday, 85,906.
Fatalities worldwide from COVID-19 now surpass 300,000.
The House is scheduled to vote today on a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package as lawmakers look ahead to eventual negotiations with Senate Republicans and the U.S. economy continues to reel from the pandemic.
The monstrous proposal is expected to pass largely along party lines and subsequently die at the steps of the Senate, but the main goal of House Democrats is to bring Republicans to the table to hash out a fifth bipartisan relief package. The GOP, however, wants to “pause” talks and Democrats accuse conservatives of standing idle as tens of millions of Americans face economic ruin.
“It’s amazing to me how much patience and how much tolerance someone can have for the pain of others,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiJudge to hear Trump's case against Jan. 6 committee in November Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech GOP lawmaker calls for Meghan, Harry to lose royal titles over paid leave push MORE (D-Calif.) said at her weekly press conference on Thursday while dressed in black (The Associated Press).
The Speaker also touted the work of her party in a letter to colleagues, noting that Democrats are “taking the lead” with the proposal. However, Pelosi and her party could have to wait for bipartisan talks to start in earnest, mostly likely in June.
As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) are publicly at odds over future legislation. Senate Republicans have declared the HEROES Act “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber, setting the stage for what could come next.
The Senate GOP believes that while there will be a fifth coronavirus relief package, it won't happen before a Memorial Day recess, with McConnell indicating that he wants an understanding with the White House before opening negotiations.
The Associated Press: As coronavirus rolls on, Republicans hit “pause” on new aid.
The Wall Street Journal: Democrats’ progressive wing adds drama to coronavirus vote.
CNBC: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration with Sinema rises Schumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race Guns Down America's leader says Biden 'has simply not done enough' on gun control MORE (D-N.Y.) says he is “optimistic” Congress will strike a deal on more coronavirus relief.
On the eve of the vote, the White House issued a veto threat of the House bill, arguing that Democrats are more concerned with “delivering on longstanding partisan and ideological wishlists” than giving relief to those affected by the virus.
Despite opposition to the bill as drafted, the White House has indicated the president is willing to include billions more in federal help for state and local governments that have been hit hard by the virus outbreak, according to The Washington Post. Administration officials view the concession on state and local funding, opposed by many conservative lawmakers, as the pathway to inclusion of GOP priorities in the next bill.
The Washington Post: Lots of talk — but so far no action — about a second $1,200 stimulus check for U.S. households.
The House Rules Committee also voted on Thursday to approve changes that would allow lawmakers to work remotely, part of a proposal to be voted on Friday. The House is expected to approve the measure later today.
The House sergeant-at-arms and Capitol physician sent guidance to lawmakers on Thursday encouraging everyone to wear facial coverings, maintain six feet of distance and avoid elevators (The Hill).
President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE ventured out of Washington for a few hours on Thursday to tell Pennsylvanians in a region he wants to win in November that the United States is adding medical supplies to the national stockpile to prepare for a future pandemic while trying to navigate through the current one.
The president’s speech at a supply distribution center in Allentown, Pa., (pictured below) offered mixed messages about how Americans will recover from the public health and economic crises. Hours before Trump spoke, the government reported that nearly 3 million more people filed for jobless benefits last week, bringing the total claims since March to 36.5 million (The Hill). Around 2 million Pennsylvanians have lost their jobs in the last eight weeks.
Trump prompted momentary alarm among economists and business analysts on Thursday when he said the United States could punish China over the coronavirus by walking away from a trade deal. “We could do things. We could cut off the whole relationship,” he said in what is widely considered an unlikely option, but one that would send historic shockwaves through the global economy (Foreign Policy).
At home, the president is encouraging states, including Pennsylvania, which has taken a go-slow approach, to speed up reopenings of businesses and schools. Trump boasted Thursday that the United States has the best coronavirus testing “capacity” in the world, even as he downplayed infectious disease experts’ emphasis on the importance of increased testing for the virus, tracing infections through patient contacts and ensuring adequate hospital treatment.
“Could be that testing’s, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated,” Trump told employees at Owens & Minor Inc., contradicting medical and research experts and even White House physicians who last week uncovered at least two infections among White House aides through daily tests.
“We have the greatest testing in the world,” the president added. “But what we want is we want to get rid of this thing. That’s what we want" (The Hill).
During a morning Fox Business interview, Trump said “we will lose over 100,000 [people] perhaps in this country,” without mentioning that the United States is projected to exceed 100,000 COVID-19 fatalities by the end of this month or early in June. The president predicted “we will have a vaccine by the end of the year,” but without explaining that human clinical trials, peer-reviewed data, government approval, vaccine manufacture and global distribution all must take place first, and are unlikely by December.
The Associated Press: In Pennsylvania, Dem governor aims to contain GOP revolt.
LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS TROUBLES: McConnell announced that Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrDemocratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (R-N.C.) is stepping aside as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee as the Justice Department (DOJ) investigates stock sales he made shortly before the market crashed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Burr informed McConnell of the decision Thursday morning, only hours after federal investigators seized the North Carolina Republican’s cellphone over allegations of insider trading. DOJ’s probe started in March after reports emerged that Burr sold up to $1.72 million in stocks in February after senators took part in closed-door briefings about the virus and its potential impact — well before most Americans realized its threat (The Hill).
Burr maintained on Thursday that he did not exercise poor judgment with the sale, and has denied any wrongdoing.
“This is a distraction to the hard work of the committee and the members, and I think that the security of the country is too important to have a distraction,” Burr told reporters. His decision is effective at the close of business today.
The move caught senators by surprise on Thursday. According to Jordain Carney, multiple senators, including those on the panel, were unaware of Burr’s decision and were first notified by reporters.
"Oh wow," said Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (R-Maine). “I don't know what to say, I truly didn't know about it. He's been an excellent chairman of the committee.”
Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Senators call for answers from US firm over reported use of forced Uyghur labor in China MORE (R-Fla.) is the favorite in the clubhouse to take over as committee chair in Burr’s absence. Rubio is second in line behind Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Top GOP senators want joint review of Afghan visa process Biden pick for China envoy raises concern over nuclear buildup MORE (R-Idaho) to become chairman, but Risch is already chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is designated a “Super A” committee under Senate Republican conference rules, and Risch is unlikely to give up the post to lead the intelligence panel (The Hill).
Burr is not the only lawmaker to be questioned by the FBI over insider trading allegations. A spokesman for Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel Feinstein Ban on new offshore drilling must stay in the Build Back Better Act Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Jane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California MORE (D-Calif.) told NBC News that she also answered questions from the FBI and provided documents about stock trades her husband made.
The Hill: Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerI voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Draft Georgia congressional lines target McBath, shore up Bourdeaux Warnock picks up major abortion rights group's endorsement in reelection bid MORE (R-Ga.) submits stock documents to Justice Department, Ethics Committee, SEC.
Politico: How Burr's stock scandal shocked the Senate.
More in Congress: Vaccine specialist Rick Bright, former head of the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), testified on Thursday that he believes he was punished by political appointees inside the Trump administration and removed from his post because his warnings about supply shortages and hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment ran afoul of Trump’s positions. Bright, who is asserting whistleblower protection, told a House subcommittee there is little time to respond effectively to COVID-19 to prevent the “darkest winter in modern history.” Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar dismissed Bright’s assertions (USA Today). … As Niall Stanage writes, Trump’s comments that Bright is a “disgruntled employee” who is “not liked or respected” complicates the president’s repeated assurances to Americans that he heeds the advice of public health and economic experts as he juggles two major crises while asking Americans to give him four more years.
STATE WATCH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday published six checklists to help reopen businesses, schools and day care centers, among others, leaving decisions to state and local officials. The checklists are what’s left of extensive materials drafted by the CDC and sent to the White House for review in April. Omitted after controversy within the administration? Guidance for places of worship (The Washington Post). The White House on April 27 published general, phased guidelines for reopening.
> Texas: Officials in the Lone Star State, which began reopening commercial activities two weeks ago, reported 58 new deaths over 24 hours on Thursday, the single largest death toll in one day, with 116 deaths over three days (the worst three-day total thus far in May). Texas has reported more than 18,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (Star-Telegram).
> Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said the Chicago region has joined three others in the state currently on track to move to the next phase of his reopening plan on May 29. Until then, stay-at-home orders are in effect. However, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said on Wednesday that Chicago’s lakefront will not reopen anytime soon under the phased reopening plan she’s following for the city (Chicago Tribune). Illinois tallied a total of at least 88,081 COVID-19 cases and 3,945 deaths as of Thursday evening.
> Virginia: The state on Thursday reported 1,067 new COVID-19 cases, the most tallied in a single day in Virginia and the highest since 1,055 cases on May 1. Virginia also reported 28 additional coronavirus deaths. The worrisome statistics emerged before most of Virginia is scheduled today to enter “phase 1” of its economic reopening plan. Hard-hit Northern Virginia is delaying its reopening by at least two weeks. Accomack County, which now has nearly 600 cases and 60-plus more cases than Virginia Beach, voted on Wednesday to request a reopening delay. The City of Richmond also submitted a similar formal request on Thursday. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) granted both requests Thursday, extending the localities’ reopening until at least May 28 (Wavy).
> Washington D.C.: Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) issued an executive order mandating that riders on the Metro subway and bus system wear face masks. Face coverings will be required on all public transit in D.C. and must be worn in transit stations (NBC Washington).
> New York: A five-county section of central New York that includes Syracuse has met the criteria necessary to begin reopening some businesses this weekend, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Hochul gets early boost as NY gubernatorial race takes shape EMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul MORE (D) said on Thursday. Central New York is the fifth upstate region where construction, manufacturing and curbside retail businesses that were closed amid the coronavirus pandemic can start up again on Friday, he said. The other areas include the Finger Lakes, including Rochester; the Southern Tier, which borders Pennsylvania; the Mohawk Valley, west of Albany; and the rural North County, which includes the Adirondack Mountains. The rest of the state, including New York City, has not made enough strides against COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations to plan to open for business (The New York Times).
Forward.NY.gov is a new website to help New Yorkers understand the reopening checklists and progress to date in each county.
New York transit funding help from Uncle Sam: On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “I am proud to announce the first $500M of $3.9B in CARES Act transit funding headed to the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Important funding to keep transit systems clean and operating to get people back to work! Spend it wisely! @NYGovCuomo @NYCMayor.”
The Hill: New York Stock Exchange to partially reopen trading floor after Memorial Day.
NBC News: A barber north of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who cut hair for weeks against the governor’s stay-at-home order that was issued in March, has tested positive for the coronavirus. “Extraordinarily disheartening” is how the county public health director described the COVID-19 risks to others created by the barber.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE said Thursday night that he does not remember Tara Reade, a former staffer of his on Capitol Hill who is accusing him of sexual assault.
“To be honest with you, I don’t,” Biden told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. “This claim has changed as it’s gone on.”
After saying last year that Biden touched her neck and shoulders, Reade levied sexual assault allegations against the former vice president this year stemming from his time in the Senate. She alleges that Biden pushed her against a wall and put his hand up her shirt in a Senate hallway.
“Nothing like this ever, ever happened,” Biden said Thursday. “She has a right to be heard, but then it should be vetted, and the truth ultimately matters.”
The comments constitute the first time Biden has answered questions on the topic since first discussing the allegations with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” two weeks ago (The Washington Post).
The Associated Press: Biden says he would not pardon Trump or block investigations.
The New York Times: Trump, Biden and the myth of “but 2016.”
> Census: A potentially lengthy delay in the 2020 census due to the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a major wrench into the decennial redistricting process.
As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, the Census Bureau suspended field operations in March and asked Congress last month for a four-month delay in delivering the population data that states rely on to draw congressional lines. Congress must approve the request, which would push back the deadline for states to receive the data from April 1, 2021 until July 31, 2021. If lawmakers sign off on the delay, it could upend at least some states’ redistricting efforts and potentially interfere with scheduled elections in two states: New Jersey and Virginia.
Experts and watchdog groups concede that a delay in the census is virtually inevitable, given the public health risks posed by pandemic. What’s more, stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures have effectively put a hold on the door-knocking by census workers that was initially slated to begin this month.
As of Wednesday, roughly 59 percent of households have responded to the census. In 2010, the final self-response rate was 66.5 percent.
The Hill: GOP chairman dismisses moving Election Day: “No justification for changing the elections.”
The Hill: Poll: Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallVaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Defund the vaccine mandate Biden presses companies to get ahead of vaccine mandate MORE (R-Kan.) takes lead over Kris Kobach in Kansas Senate primary.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
COVID-19 looks like a seminal rather than transitory event in history, by Lawrence Summers, former Treasury secretary, opinion contributor, Financial Times. https://on.ft.com/2zF9HPL
Scenes from the class struggle in lockdown, by Peggy Noonan, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3by5LxB
With help from private equity, Bentley Labs switched from making cosmetics to manufacturing hand sanitizer — doing its part to keep America's first responders safe.
Learn more at www.investmentcouncil.org/coronavirus
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will meet at 9 a.m. to consider the proposed $3 trillion “Heroes Act,” a fifth coronavirus recovery bill, and a rules change to allow for proxy voting related to remote work by lawmakers.
The Senate will meet on Monday at 3 p.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Scott Rash to be a U.S. district judge for the District of Arizona.
The president will speak about ambitions for COVID-19 vaccine development at noon in the Rose Garden, and will welcome military leaders at 12:30 p.m. as they present the flag of the newly created Space Force during an Oval Office signing ceremony for a 2020 Armed Forces Day Proclamation. Trump at 4 p.m. will head back out to the Rose Garden to speak at an event honoring “Hard Work, Heroism, and Hope,” before departing for Camp David for the weekend.
Vice President Pence leads a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 2:30 p.m.
Economic indicator: U.S. retail sales and industrial production figures for April will be released at 8:30 a.m. by the Census Bureau (analysts expect more indications of the economic downturn).
INVITATION to The Hill’s Virtually Live event May 20 at 1 p.m., “The Vir[tech]ual World Ahead”: Explore lessons from our new digital reality, including increased reliance on telecommunication networks and an accelerated digitalization of industries. How should policymakers approach coverage, access, affordability and capacity? Rep. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneProposals to reform supports for parents face chopping block Powerful Democrats push back on one-year extension of child tax credit Democrats at odds with Manchin over child tax credit provision MORE (D-Wash.), FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly and more will talk with editor-at-large Steve Clemons. RSVP today!
➔ Courts: Trump will ask the Supreme Court to halt a lawsuit against him brought by Maryland and Washington, D.C., alleging he violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled on Thursday that the suit against the president over his Washington hotel property could proceed. The vote of the deeply divided appeals court was 9-6 (CNBC).
> International: The French government warned Thursday that it would be "unacceptable" for Sanofi, a Paris-based multinational pharmaceutical company, to reserve the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for the United States. France's Deputy Finance Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said in an interview that she contacted the firm after its CEO told Bloomberg News he would likely supply a vaccine to the U.S. government first because "it's invested in taking the risk." Pannier-Runacher said she spoke to the head of Sanofi's French division who confirmed that its vaccine, when ready, would be available in every country, including France. Plans call for the first phase of clinical trials later this year and, if successful, availability of a vaccine by the second half of 2021 (ABC News).
Meanwhile in Rome, the Vatican says individuals congregating at St. Peter’s Basilica and three other papal basilicas will have their temperatures checked upon entrance in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Vatican made the announcement on Thursday, with such attempts to screen for illness taking place at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, St. John’s In Lateran and St. Mary Major. While Italian churches outside Vatican control are mandating limited numbers of worshipers at mass, the wearing of masks and social distancing, temperatures will not be scanned (Reuters). … In a lighter development, a tiger escaped in Jalisco, Mexico, and was seen wandering the streets before its owner chased it down with a lasso (VIDEO).
➔ Tech: Privacy groups assert that TikTok is in violation of a children’s privacy law and endangers kids. A coalition of groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission arguing that the popular app, which is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company, collects personal information about children ages 13 and younger without parental consent. A year ago, TikTok paid a $5.7 million fine to the FTC for the exact violation (The Associated Press).
➔ Panda Watch: The Calgary Zoo will return two giant pandas to China after being unable to acquire enough fresh bamboo to feed them. Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Calgary in 2018 after spending five years at the Toronto Zoo and were due to remain in Canada through 2023. Clement Lanthier, the zoo’s president, said the pandas are “picky” about their diet. “There’s a reason why they are endangered. They need their bamboo. That’s all they do. They eat bamboo and they sleep,” he said (The Associated Press).
And finally … Congratulations to Morning Report quiz winners! We were inspired by official Washington’s adventures in Zooming and teleconferencing, and readers clearly are paying attention to tech adaptations made necessary because of the coronavirus.
Here’s who aced this week’s puzzle: Candi Cee, Paul Blumstein, Cynthia Whittlesey, Patrick Kavanagh, John H. van Santen, Randall S. Patrick, Allyson Foster, Rick Pilon, Amy Dolan Strano, John Donato, Colin McKee, Luther Berg, Terry Pflaumer, Shin Inouye, Lori Benso and RJ Agostinelli.
A toilet flushing (we don’t know whose) was heard on May 6 as Supreme Court justices conducted oral arguments via teleconference with live audio.
The New York Times pointed out that a sleeping dog named Rufus could be seen behind Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (R-Tenn.) this week as he conducted a live-televised hearing from his home as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He was self-isolating in Tennessee because of possible contact with COVID-19.
Homey backdrops behind many Washington analysts, officials and journalists who appear on television, thanks to digital tools used at home during coronavirus restrictions, inspired the popular social media curiosity @ratemyskyperoom, known as “Room Rater” on Twitter.
Stay-at-home orders around the country began in March, but House members have been slow to adapt. Today they will vote on rules to allow members to vote by proxy.