The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bending the COVID-19 curve proves temporary for many states

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday. 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, 115,732. Tuesday, 116,127. 


Worldwide reported cases of COVID-19: More than 8 million.

As COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations rise in some states, the potential for renewed restrictions imposed by officials remains an option. Despite saturation news coverage, warnings from public health experts and harrowing accounts by coronavirus survivors, people are ignoring precautions, such as wearing masks and remaining distanced from others. Some frustrated officials are considering pauses in the phased reopenings of businesses, despite pressure to welcome people back to offices, schools and daily routines (The Hill).


Escalating case numbers are showing up in Sun Belt states such as Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. All four of those states reported their highest single-day increases in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases over the weekend. Twenty states reported more coronavirus cases in the last week than in the week prior. Ten states have recorded their highest-ever single-day counts in just the last week, according to an analysis by The Hill.


“We’re demonstrating we can safely reopen,Vice President Pence said on Monday during a White House event. “We can reopen our country, but we can continue to put the health, particularly, of our most vulnerable first.”  


During his first coronavirus briefing in more than a week, California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom considers new California stay-at-home orders, warns hospitals could be overwhelmed by Christmas Who will replace Harris in Senate? 'Rising' discusses Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge MORE (D) defended his state’s progress in testing and holding the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases steady at a current 4.5 percent. “As we reopen, inevitably we're going to see an increase,” he said on Monday (SFGate).


Texas: “A small number” of Dallas Cowboys players and a few Houston Texans have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to sources who spoke with ESPN. Many of the players who tested positive were asymptomatic, according to the report (ESPN).


Arizona: Daily coronavirus numbers climbed again Monday in the Grand Canyon State, continuing more than two weeks of higher numbers of reported cases, deaths and hospitalizations. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has defended his state’s responses to the pandemic, despite a surge of new COVID-19 infections. The governor’s stay-at-home order expired just more than a month ago (AZ Central).


The Hill: African Americans are more likely to know someone who died of the coronavirus, surveys show.


On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are watching nationwide coronavirus disease and fatality tallies with wary eyes. The combination of new outbreaks and persistently high unemployment scrambles a debate about whether to extend expiring unemployment benefits, which were included in the CARES Act in March to help tens of millions of people pay bills during stay-at-home orders. But the benefits are set to expire in August. Republicans object to prolonging a policy that adds a flat $600 in weekly benefits to all unemployment recipients, arguing the benefit has made unemployment more lucrative than working, thus discouraging some employees from returning to jobs they had (The Hill).


President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinFinancial groups applaud Biden Treasury pick Yellen US sanctions Chinese company for conducting business with Maduro regime Monumental economic challenges await Biden's Treasury secretary MORE and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell initially defended the necessary structure of the stimulative weekly unemployment benefits. Since then, GOP lawmakers and National Economic Council Director Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE have said the $600-per-week benefit should end next month (CNBC).


The Associated Press: COVID-19’s heavy toll on residents and staff in U.S. nursing homes and long-term care facilities has sparked a blame game.


The New York Times: U.S. prison deaths tied to the coronavirus climbed 73 percent since May. 


Therapies: The Food and Drug Administration on Monday withdrew its emergency use authorization for the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine used as therapies for patients with the coronavirus, saying the drugs are “unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19.” The agency highlighted the “serious side effects” as a reason for the reversal.


In revoking the authorization, first reported by Politico, the agency noted that recent data from a large randomized controlled trial showed no difference between using hydroxychloroquine and standard COVID-19 treatment alone. However, because the drugs are on the market and approved for other uses, such therapy could still be prescribed for "off-label" use. Clinical trials studying the drugs can also continue. The World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health are still conducting trails (The Hill).


Trump repeated on Monday he took hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis to ward off potential infection with COVID-19. “It certainly didn’t hurt me. I feel good. I feel good,” he told reporters.


Travel: The U.S. ban imposed in March on travelers from the United Kingdom will last for months under coronavirus restrictions, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciScott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge Rand Paul says Fauci owes parents and students an apology over pandemic measures MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a weekend interview. He told The Telegraph the restrictions will likely remain in place until there is an effective vaccine. Bans are also in place for travelers to the United States from the European Union, China and Brazil.


The Associated Press: Rise in infections shows the need for vigilance as the world reopens.


The Washington Post: Coronavirus recommendations are ignored as the case numbers rise. “They’re either just over it, or they’ve come to believe it’s a phony pandemic because their own personal grandmother hasn’t been affected yet,”  Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California at Irvine, told the Post. “People just think this is a nothingburger. So they think the risk is exaggerated.”


The range of sports, amusements and entertainment events canceled, postponed and reimagined without fans and audiences continues to grow. On Monday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said the 93rd Academy Awards will be moved from February until April 25 because of the impact of COVID-19 on the movie industry. The Academy’s Board of Governors also extended the window for eligible feature films to Feb. 28. Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15 (The Associated Press). 


The Women’s National Basketball Association on Monday announced plans to play a reduced season, with a 22-game schedule that will begin in late July without fans in attendance (The Associated Press). 





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SUPREME COURT: Justices on Monday handed the LGBTQ community a major victory with a 6-3 ruling that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender under provisions of civil rights law that bar employer discrimination based on “sex.” Justices Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoConservative justices seem prepared to let Trump proceed with immigrant census plan for now For Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Alito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open MORE, Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE and Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Defusing the judicial confirmation process Will the Supreme Court take ObamaCare off life-support? MORE dissented from a majority decision written by Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Supreme Court blocks New York coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries MORE with concurrence from Chief Justice John Roberts (The Hill).


As The Hill’s Harper Neidig and John Kruzel report, Gorsuch drew reactions of surprise and anger from right-wing commentators following the landmark Supreme Court ruling. 


Asked about the decision, Trump said, “I've read the decision and some people were surprised, but they've ruled and we live with their decision,” adding he thought it was a “very powerful decision, actually."


The Washington Post: Trump’s efforts to resist gay rights runs into his Supreme Court pick.


The Hill: Trump says the White House would “live” with Monday’s SCOTUS decision on LGBTQ worker rights.


The Hill: Business groups applaud the Supreme Court ruling protecting LGBT workers from job discrimination.


The Supreme Court on Monday also denied a petition to hear an immigration “sanctuary” case from California (CNN). 


Justices also sidestepped hot-button issues dealing with the Second Amendment and legal protections for police (The Hill).


The court on Monday revived a permit sought by energy companies and the Trump administration to build a proposed natural gas pipeline beneath the Appalachian Trail to bring natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina. The 7-2 decision, which tossed out a lower-court ruling, was a win for Atlantic Coast Pipeline (The Associated Press).







POLITICS: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Monday that they raised nearly $81 million in May, marking their highest fundraising total of the 2020 cycle.


The two operations, which have combined their fundraising efforts, pulled in $80.8 million last month. The total shows that political fundraising may be on the rebound from the impact of the novel coronavirus as the Biden campaign raised $20 million less ($60.5 million) in April.


In March, Biden’s team and the DNC raised $79 million. The Trump campaign has not yet released its May fundraising figures. 


According to the Biden campaign, half of those who contributed in May were new donors. The average online donation to the campaign last month was $30. Despite the strong fundraising, the Trump reelection campaign maintains a massive cash-on-hand advantage, having reported $255 million in the bank at the end of April (The Hill). 


On Monday, Biden’s camp kept up its strong fundraising as the former VP and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Biden's economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans MORE (D-Mass.) headlined a virtual event that hauled in $6 million (ABC News). Next week, former President Obama will make his first virtual fundraising appearance (Axios).


The Associated Press: “It's frustrating”: Trump advertising blast has limits.


Des Moines Register: Iowa Poll: Trump leads Biden by 1 point in tight contest for president.


The Hill: Planned Parenthood endorses Biden for president. 


> Tulsa rally: Attendees at the president’s “Make America Great Again” rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday will be given temperature checks, masks and hand sanitizer before entering the arena, according to the Trump campaign. 


The precautions are the first such indications of any efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus at the first campaign rally since the pandemic started in March. Trump campaign manager Brad ParscaleBrad ParscaleAides tried to get Trump to stop attacking McCain in hopes of clinching Arizona: report MORE tweeted the checklist, noting that more than 1 million individuals have requested tickets for the event of roughly 19,000 people (The Hill).


The Associated Press: Oklahoma governor seeks larger event for Trump’s Tulsa rally.


The Washington Post: As Trump casts Biden as “sleepy Joe,” his critics raise questions about his own fitness.


> Primary troubles: Powerful Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members are rallying behind Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelTop donor allegedly sold access to key politicians for millions in foreign cash: report Meet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin MORE (D-N.Y.) as he fends off a tough primary challenge from Jamaal Bowman, a progressive African American candidate. 


House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesHouse Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Nominated for another Speaker term, Pelosi says it's her last Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.), the caucus chairman seen as the heir apparent to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases House Democrats urge congressional leaders to support .1B budget for IRS Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate MORE (D-N.Y.), threw their weight behind Engel, a pro-Israel Jewish American and longtime House member, over the weekend. So has influential House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed Maxine Waters says Biden win is 'dawn of a new progressive America' MORE (D-Calif.), and the CBC’s political action committee, led by Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksMeet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House Hispanic Caucus endorses Castro for Foreign Affairs gavel Dozens of progressive groups endorse Joaquin Castro for Foreign Affairs chair MORE (D-N.Y.), the Queens party boss.


CBC members, however, are not criticizing Bowman, and instead, have largely praised the 44-year-old public education advocate. Instead, the key endorsements of Engel are a reflection of an unspoken rule on Capitol Hill: Establishment Democrats, including most members of the CBC, usually set aside other considerations and protect their own from outside challenges. The primary contest is next Tuesday (The Hill).


CBC lawmakers aren’t the only ones backing Engel’s bid. Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Katko fends off Democratic opponent in New York race Harris County GOP chairman who made racist Facebook post resigns MORE announced Monday that she is supporting Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — marking her first primary endorsement of the 2020 cycle (The New York Times). 


The Associated Press: Senate hopeful former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperDemocrats frustrated, GOP jubilant in Senate fight Chamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Down ballot races carry environmental implications | US officially exits Paris climate accord  MORE (D) apologizes for slave comment.


The Hill: Democrats seize on protests, pandemic in push to flip state houses.





CONGRESS: Senate Republicans are divided on an amendment sponsored by Warren to rename U.S. military institutions named after Confederate generals, creating political headaches for some members.


The president has threatened to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act if the amendment is included in the package, something that GOP lawmakers fear is a bad look, especially after the Pentagon announced last week that it is open to renaming the bases. 


GOP senators are stuck in a tough position as they look to straddle the political fence. On one side, they do not want to be viewed as out of touch on racial issues at a time of widespread social protests. However, they don't want to get into a public fight with Trump, especially for those in tough races this fall (The Hill).


> Police reform: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary MORE (R-Ky.) told lawmakers on Monday that he wants to pass police reform legislation by the July 4 recess, giving the upper chamber roughly two and a half weeks to do so, which is considered a speedy timeline. 


The timeline represents a U-turn several top Republicans predicted only hours earlier as they told reporters before a meeting with the GOP leader that they did not expect to be able to pass a bill before the two-week break. 


"I think he, if everything can be pulled together, yeah. I think there's a sense that there's a lot of work that's been put into this and it would be nice to get it up and get it voted on," Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMurkowski: Trump should concede White House race Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told The Hill when asked if McConnell wants to vote before the break. 


Thune noted that the schedule wasn't "concrete" but that McConnell believes that Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottDemocrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer unveils detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine & next steps GOP senators congratulate Harris on Senate floor MORE (R-S.C.) has “done a lot of work" and that he would get "a lot of support for the work that he's done” (The Hill).


Rolling Stone: The power of Black Lives Matter: How the movement that’s changing America was built and where it goes next, by Jamil Smith.


The Associated Press: Senate GOP to restrict police chokeholds in emerging bill.


ESPN: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: I “encourage” a team to sign Colin Kaepernick.


The Hill: Pelosi mulls making masks mandatory at committee hearings.


Clarification to Monday’s newsletter: Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread Potential 2024 Republicans flock to Georgia amid Senate runoffs Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE's (R-Ark.) negotiations to set up a process to rename military installations named after Confederate generals came after Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona certifies Biden's victory over Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Biden unveils batch of his White House team Mark Kelly to be sworn in as senator on Wednesday MORE (R-Ariz.) indicated she would support Warren’s amendment. Given that the Senate Armed Services Committee is split 14-13 in the GOP's favor, her support would have allowed Warren's amendment to pass.

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!


What one of the founders of evangelicalism can teach us about racism, by Michael Gerson, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3hwt6nH 


Expecting students to play it safe if colleges reopen is a fantasy, by Laurence Steinberg, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3dbyr0s 


Facebook tripled safety and security teams to 35,000 people since 2016


Facebook has made major investments in new teams and technology to help secure its platforms and provide transparency during the US 2020 election.


Learn more about our progress.


The House will meet for a pro forma session on Thursday at 10 a.m.


The Senate will reconvene at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the Great American Outdoors Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a virtual hearing at 2:30 p.m. about police brutality and community relations.


The president says he will talk with law enforcement representatives and sign an executive order recommending policing reforms at noon in the Rose Garden. “We want law and order,” he said when asked about the goal of the order, which will leverage federal grant funds to try to influence some police policies. Trump said he will hold a “news conference at some point in the day” today. Trump will also receive his intelligence briefing at 2 p.m.


Pence will travel to Iowa and have lunch with Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) and take a tour of Winnebago Industries, followed by a discussion with employees. The vice president will return to Washington this evening.


Federal Reserve: Powell testifies to the Senate Banking Committee at 10 a.m. in the first of two virtual appearances on Capitol Hill to present  the central bank’s semi annual monetary policy report to Congress. On Monday, the Fed said it was ready to launch a previously announced corporate bond-buying program (The Associated Press).


Economic indicator: The Census Bureau report on retail and food sales in May will be released at 8:30 a.m. The report is expected to show a record rise in retail sales (Reuters).


The Tennessee-based Millennial Debt Foundation will hold the inaugural meeting of the Millennial Debt Commission at 10 a.m. The commission is made up of 16 millennial business leaders from across the nation and will examine the rising national debt and its long-term consequences. Among those advising the commission are Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread Potential 2024 Republicans flock to Georgia amid Senate runoffs Voters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican MORE (R-Fla.), Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' MORE (R-Iowa) and Rep. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherReestablishing American prosperity by investing in the 'Badger Belt' Actors union blasts Democrat for criticizing GOP lawmaker's wife Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats MORE (R-Wis.). Information about viewing the meeting is HERE.


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International: North Korea on Tuesday blew up a four-story liaison office on its side of the border with South Korea at Kaesong in a rift between the countries over propaganda leaflets. The destruction represents a major setback to efforts by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to coax North Korea into cooperation (Reuters).  …. In France, Paris restaurants and cafes fully opened on Monday as the country lifted border restrictions to welcome travelers from European Union nations in a renewed push to boost tourism that was halted for months by the coronavirus (Reuters). 


Voice of America (VOA): VOA reported on Sunday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) distributed media guidance to CDC staff members on April 30 referencing “a rule” to deny interview requests received from journalists at the congressionally funded Voice of America, according to information obtained by the Knight First Amendment Institute under the Freedom of Information Act (VOA News). … On Monday, VOA Director Amanda Bennett and Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara submitted their resignations, 10 days after Trump named conservative filmmaker Michael Pack as head of VOA’s parent agency. … The White House in April publicly assailed VOA, which has guarded its reputation for impartiality at a time when the Trump administration lambasts the news media, asserting it “too often speaks for America’s adversaries — not its citizens,” a comment journalists at VOA deny. In April, one White House complaint: VOA referenced China’s reported coronavirus death toll in comparison with the rising U.S. tally of fatalities from COVID-19 (Politico).


➔ Executions: The Justice Department will begin executing federal death-row inmates in a few weeks following a months-long legal battle over the plan to resume executions for the first time since 2003. Attorney General William BarrBill BarrNew DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Five federal inmates scheduled for execution before Inauguration Day MORE directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions beginning in mid-July of four inmates convicted of killing children (The Associated Press). A majority of Americans support capital punishment in cases of murder (Gallup).


And finally … For $4.5 million, potential real estate buyers could shelter in place in an entirely different time period inside the basement of a seven-bedroom, 12,000-square-foot Potomac, Md., mansion. The home’s basement contains a facsimile of a small-town street, complete with cobblestones, storefronts, a faux movie theater and classic cars.


Considering various crises leading the news this morning, who doesn’t want to go back in time?


See photos HERE.