The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Wooing voters, Trump autographs Arizona border wall

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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, 119,977. Tuesday, 120,402. Wednesday 121,225.

Against a backdrop of rising COVID-19 contagion, President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE visited swing state Arizona on Tuesday seeking to improve his reelection chances with a tough-on-illegal-immigration message and a new order to end most work visas.


The president made two stops in the Grand Canyon State on Tuesday, where his standing has fallen since his 2016 victory. Trump visited the border near Yuma to commemorate the 200th mile of rebuilt barrier, calling the ominous black construction “really foolproof” before heading to Phoenix to rally young supporters.


The trip west came at a key time for the president, who has been the subject of one damaging headline after another this month. COVID-19 continues to spread widely in parts of the country — especially Arizona. His second event of the day was held in a packed mega-church where social distancing was scarce and few attendees wore masks (Bloomberg News). 


Reuters: Trump visits border wall in Arizona amid increase in coronavirus cases, polling worries.


While in Arizona, Trump faced increasing criticism for his decision on Monday to suspend until 2021 some visas that permit immigrants to work in the United States — including H-1B, H-2B, H-4, L-1 and certain J-1 approvals. According to The Hill’s Alex Gangitano, business groups have become vocal critics of the new limits. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it opposes the change and warns that Trump's executive order could slow growth and stifle job gains at a time when the economy needs fewer restrictions, not more.


The president on Tuesday continued to defend his decision.


“We want to give jobs to Americans right now,” Trump told reporters when asked why Monday’s executive action was necessary (The Hill).


The New York Times: With tweets, videos and rhetoric, Trump pushes anew to divide Americans by race.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump's law and order bet falling flat.


The Associated Press: Trump says he’ll issue executive order to protect monuments.


The Hill: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenAzar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE doubles lead over Trump to 12 points in national poll.


On the other side of the aisle, Biden held a long-awaited virtual fundraiser with former President Obama, who used the moment as a call to action for supporters of the former vice president and argued that Biden is the right person at the right moment. 


“I am here to say the help is on the way if we do the work because there’s nobody I trust more to be able to heal this country and get back on track than my dear friend Joe Biden," Obama said. "I appreciate you all being on this call, but, man, this is serious business."


The event also became the biggest virtual fundraiser of the 2020 cycle for the former vice president, who hauled in $11 million on Tuesday night as 175,000 people contributed (The Hill).  


The New York Times: How Biden is catching up to the Trump money “juggernaut.”


The Hill: Trump campaign says it raised $10 million around the president’s Tulsa, Okla., rally.


Meanwhile, the list of candidates Biden is considering to become his running mate grew on Tuesday. Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassDemocrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help Rep. Bass tweets photo of Trump in response to FBI call for information on rioters San Francisco mayor says Harris replacement pick 'a real blow to the African American community' MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is being vetted, according to CBS News. Bass, who has become a leading voice in the discussions surrounding police reform on the left, has the backing of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) (The New York Times). Biden has said he hopes to name a running mate by Aug. 1.


Amie Parnes, The Hill: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPorter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters DeVos mulled unilateral student loan forgiveness as COVID-19 wracked economy: memo MORE (D-Mass.) the top choice for VP for some Black progressives.


Josh Kraushaar: Prepare for a Biden landslide.


The Associated Press: Biden turns focus to Wisconsin with battle-tested hires.





> Tuesday’s primary results remain uncertain this morning because mail-in ballots take days to count in some states. In New York, it could be July before the results are official in some races and some incumbent Democrats are on “upset watch” lists.


Jamaal Bowman, a progressive black candidate, is on the verge of toppling Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelState Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 2020: A year in photos MORE (D-N.Y.), who first came to Congress in 1989 and leads by 25 percentage points with 92 percent of precincts reporting (The Hill). A Bowman victory would not be considered a shocker, not unlike the situation in New York’s 12th Congressional District as Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyWhat our kids should know after the Capitol Hill riot  House Democrats reintroduce bill to reduce lobbyist influence Trump administration misses census data deadline, eyes March handover to Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) is neck-and-neck with Suraj Patel, another progressive, who is seeking to unseat her for the second consecutive election. Neither contest has been called by The Associated Press. Unlike the two incumbents, Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeLawmakers call for small business aid at all levels of government The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Top tech executives testify in blockbuster antitrust hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) held off a primary challenge for a second straight cycle in her bid for an eighth term in Congress. 


In Kentucky, the state’s Senate Democratic primary is too close to call as nearly half of the vote has not been counted, with Amy McGrath, backed by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Democrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.), barely holding on against Charles Booker, a black state representative who has been fueled by the death of George Floyd and the protests across the country. With 54 percent of precincts in, McGrath leads by 8 percentage points (44.7 percent to 36.5 percent). The full statewide vote will not be announced until June 30, with the winner facing off against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi mum on when House will send impeachment article to Senate Democratic senator: COVID-19 relief is priority over impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (R-Ky.) in November (The Hill).


The Hill: Madison Cawthorn defeats Trump, Meadows pick in race to succeed chief of staff. 


Politico: Top takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries: The left, the right, the wait.


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CONGRESS: Senators are retreating into their familiar bunkers as the chamber is set to bring up police reform legislation today, with Democrats expected to block a proposal authored by Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottMcConnell says he's undecided on whether to vote to convict Trump McConnell won't reprise role as chief Trump defender GOP Sen. Tim Scott opposes impeaching Trump MORE (R-S.C.) in response to the death of George Floyd


In a letter to McConnell, Schumer, Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerNCAA tables name, image and likeness vote after DOJ warns of potential antitrust violations Warren and other senators seek investigation into Trump administration resuming federal executions Cory Booker says he has no plans to propose to Rosario Dawson this Christmas MORE (D-N.J.) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Biden scolds Republicans for not wearing masks during Capitol attack Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (D-Calif.) argued that the GOP bill is “unsalvageable” and pushed the majority leader to bring together a bipartisan group of lawmakers to make a deal. 


“We will not meet this moment by holding a floor vote on the JUSTICE Act, nor can we simply amend this bill, which is so threadbare and lacking in substance that it does not even provide a proper baseline for negotiations. This bill is not salvageable and we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point,” the three Senate Democrats wrote. 


Bringing the JUSTICE Act to the floor of the Senate is a woefully inadequate response, and we urge you to bring meaningful legislation to the floor for a vote,” they added (The Hill).


Only one Senate Democrat, Doug Jones of Alabama, has indicated he could vote for the motion to proceed to Scott's bill. Barring a bipartisan deal, the legislation won't attract the needed 60 votes to start debate on the measure.  


With the expected blockade of the bill, lawmakers are preparing to pocket the issue and use it for political gain in November as Republicans will pan Democrats as obstructionists, while Democrats are expected to charge that the GOP isn’t interested in real reform on the subject (The Hill). 


The Associated Press: Once reluctant, GOP’s only black senator now leads on race.


The Hill: Georgia Republicans remove protections for police in hate crimes bill.


The Hill: Portland becomes latest city to defund police, reallocate money to alternative programs.


The Hill: FBI determines NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace “not the target of a hate crime.”





> More checks?: GOP lawmakers have largely given a frosty reception to the possibility of backing another round of direct checks to Americans in response to the  continued coronavirus pandemic. However, while the president has warmed to the idea of giving another round of $1,200 checks before Election Day, GOP lawmakers have grown more concerned with the mounting number of cases in states that re-opened early, trying to figure out what role if any the federal government can play to soften the impact (The Hill).


CORONAVIRUS: The government’s leading infectious disease expert, who advises the White House on COVID-19, warned Congress on Tuesday that a “disturbing” new surge of coronavirus infections has emerged as states reopen and people fail to heed guidance to don masks, avoid contact with crowds and practice hand-washing (The Hill).


The next two weeks “will be critical” to slowing outbreaks, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes Should there be a 'Secretary of Thought'? Post-holiday COVID-19 surge hits new deadly records MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers (The New York Times).


"Deaths always lag considerably behind cases. You're seeing more cases now while the deaths are going down,” said Fauci, who moved his mask on and off as he responded to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, many of whom participated remotely.


“The concern is, if those cases infect people who wind up getting sick and going to the hospital, it is conceivable you may see the deaths going up, so I think it is too early to say,” he added while responding to questions about asymptomatic people who transmit the coronavirus and the current trends in U.S. fatalities, now rising at a slower pace.


Fauci said he understands young people are feeling a "pent-up urge to go out" but advised them to resist and, if they won’t, to wear masks, remain carefully distanced from others, and follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Fauci appeared alongside CDC Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir, who is helping states with testing and medical supplies.


Key testimony:


⇾ It’s impossible for federal experts to anticipate the dynamics of a possible “second wave” of infection in the fall without knowing how the crisis proceeds in the current first wave, Fauci said. Cold weather, indoor congregating and the flu season present risks in the months ahead, and the CDC wants everyone to get flu shots, Redfield repeated.


⇾ U.S. testing for COVID-19 is increasing, Fauci said in response to a question about Trump’s boast to a Tulsa crowd that he asked his advisers to “slow” testing for the coronavirus because higher infection rates are a “double-edged sword.”


"I know for sure that, to my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing," Fauci said. "That just is a fact. In fact, we will be doing more testing" (The Hill).


⇾ “It will be when and not if” an effective vaccine emerges from human trials, Fauci said, noting he remains “cautiously optimistic” that some vaccine could be available at the end of the year or early in 2021 (The Associated Press).


⇾ The FDA vows to resist any political pressure to speed up the approval and manufacture of a vaccine for use in the United States without clearing required federal safety hurdles. “We absolutely must maintain regulatory independence and make the right decision for the American people based on the science and the data,” Hahn told lawmakers (The Associated Press).


The Hill: Senate Republicans say the country needs more COVID-19 testing.


> States to watch: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday called his state’s rampaging contagion “serious” and implored residents to stay home. He will not impose new lockdowns, he clarified, saying his state is “open for business” (The Hill). ... Oklahoma, which was Trump’s rally stop on Saturday, broke a single-day state record the next day for reported coronavirus cases. Like many other states experiencing spikes, Oklahoma has seen an increased share of younger patients with the virus. As of Tuesday, nearly a third of cases are in patients ages 18 to 35 (The Hill). … Nevada on Tuesday also set a new record for the highest single-day number of reported cases of the virus (The Hill).


> Mental health & coronavirus: While lawmakers appropriated $175 billion several weeks ago to help health providers weather the COVID-19 crisis, little of that money has made its way to mental health and addiction services providers who primarily treat low-income Medicaid patients. They are lobbying to clear what they say is an unknown logjam (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!


The police reform Americans want, by William A. Galston, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/31mr2ZZ 


The second defeat of Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Biden to seek minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal Former Sanders spokesperson: Progressives 'shouldn't lose sight' of struggling Americans during pandemic MORE, by Ross Douthat, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2YsBvBa  


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The House will meet at 2 p.m. for a pro forma session and resume legislative work on Thursday. 


The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the confirmation of Cory Wilson to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.


The president will meet at the White House with Polish President Andrzej Duda beginning at 2:20 p.m. and the two leaders will hold a press conference in the Rose Garden at 3:30 p.m. (The Hill and The Associated Press).


Invitation: The Hill Virtually Live hosts a Pride Month summit next Tuesday at 11 a.m. to discuss civil rights in America with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community. Olympic medalist Adam Rippon, Rep. Sharice DavidsSharice DavidsBiden: Federal government 'has long-broken promises to Native American tribes' Overnight Energy: Biden makes historic pick with Haaland for Interior | Biden set to tap North Carolina official to lead EPA | Gina McCarthy forges new path as White House climate lead Biden makes historic pick with Haaland for Interior secretary MORE (D-Kan.), Chasten Buttigieg, Alphonso David, Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial With Senate at stake, Georgia is on all our minds Build trust in vaccines by investing in community workers MORE (D-N.Y.) and more join Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons. Register HERE


The National Governors Association (NGA) holds a virtual event from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. ET to cap a series of regional gatherings focused on infrastructure and led by NGA Chairman Gov. Larry Hogan, the GOP governor of Maryland. At least seven governors will speak during today’s concluding summit, which will be live-streamed and available on the NGA website and on the association’s YouTube and Facebook channels.


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➔ International: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers will be able to reopen next month as Great Britain moves toward easing the national lockdown. However, some economic vehicles will not reopen yet, including night clubs, gyms and pools (BBC). … Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (pictured below) was ordered by a federal judge to wear a face mask in public, with the order saying that he has a “constitutional obligation” to follow the laws or face a fine of 2,000 reals ($390). Bolsonaro has routinely been seen flouting a decree across Brasilia to wear a mask, having denigrated the virus as a “little flu” (AFP). … The European Union is considering banning Americans from traveling into its countries due to the continued spread of the novel coronavirus across the United States (The New York Times). … Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic said Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19 after organizing an exhibition in the Balkans over the weekend that eschewed social distancing and where partying and hugs were commonplace (The New York Times).





Tech: Five companies in the last week joined a campaign to boycott Facebook advertising over what they call a failure to regulate hateful content on the platform. While this is not the first effort to pressure the social media giant to make changes via advertisers, civil rights groups organizing the “Stop Hate” campaign say the current political climate makes an effective push more likely (The Hill).


Regrets galore: Late night host Jimmy KimmelJames (Jimmy) Christian KimmelAnnual Snowball Express event to thank military families goes virtual amid pandemic John Mulaney says Secret Service investigated him over SNL joke Obama jokes that he's 'scared' of Michelle, Sasha MORE apologized for donning blackface in his imitations of celebrities in the 1990s, saying he regrets those sketches. Before his time as host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC, the comedian did a recurring imitation of NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone and others. He said, “I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke” (The Associated Press). … Tina Fey, creator and star of the Emmy-winning show 30 Rock,” asked streaming services to pull episodes of the comedy that showed white characters in blackface. In a letter, Fey apologized for the episodes and the "pain they have caused" (CNN).


And finally … one small step (all right, a lot of steps) for a Scottish pensioner, one giant leap for charity!


Margaret Payne, a 90-year-old grandmother, launched an epic climb to raise money for a good cause and completed her fundraiser on Tuesday. Payne scaled the stairs at her home the equivalent of 2,398 feet — enough to reach the peak of Scotland’s iconic Suilven mountain, which she last saw when she was 15. Payne calculated that repeatedly climbing her own staircase would get her to the top of a mountain she scaled just once in her long life. 


“I just climbed a few stairs every day until I got to the top, 282 times,” Payne told The Associated Press. The feat took her 73 days and kept her busy for 10 weeks while the United Kingdom hunkered down to try to tame its own COVID-19 epidemic.


Payne’s regular exercise routine on wet and windy Scottish days was transformed into her own fundraiser for the National Health Service to show gratitude for the care of her late husband, Jim, who died on Christmas Day last year. Three other charities will also benefit from the $521,000 she raised.  


I can’t imagine myself ever doing anything like this again,” Payne said. “But I think that it is important, as you get old, that you don’t sit back and think ‘I’m getting old, I can just relax.’ If you want to keep going, you must keep active, and keep walking” (The Associated Press and BBC).