The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump takes on CDC over schools

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It 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, 129,947. Tuesday, 130,306. Wednesday, 131,480. Thursday, 132,309.


Globally, confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection now surpass 12 million.

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE picked a public fight with federal disease experts on Wednesday while lobbying governors to reopen schools for in-person instruction this fall, and Vice President Pence repeated the president’s threat that federal funds are on the line if state and local officials do not bring students of all ages back to classrooms despite COVID-19 worries.


It was the latest in a series of moves by the president since March that stirred confusion and conflict around how to safely resume daily life in a country with more than 3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 132,000 fatalities. It’s a death toll that includes children of all ages.


Trump’s handling of the coronavirus gets low marks from a majority of Americans because his assurances are so often wrong: He has said coronavirus infections would be minimal in the United States, the pathogen will “disappear,” masks should not be required, hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus would be a “game changer,” an effective vaccine will be ready this year and COVID-19 infections are “harmless” in 99 percent of cases.


Trump (pictured above on Wednesday) has steered clear of laying out any national coronavirus policy and by law, the states decide when and how public schools instruct their students and serve families. Those facts confronted Trump on Wednesday when he assailed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Twitter over voluntary guidance it published in May and June to help administrators, teachers, students and parents decide how to begin the school year safely (The Hill).  


“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things,” Trump tweeted. “I will be meeting with them!!!”


Pence injected additional confusion when he said school decisions by state and local officials come before CDC recommendations about a pathogen schools have never before encountered. “None of the CDC’s recommendations are intended to replace state and local rules and guidance,” he said during remarks at the Department of Education. Then the vice president said the CDC would issue “new guidance” next week with “all new tools” for schools (The Hill). “Well, the president said today, we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” he added.


The Hill: Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Education Department moves to reverse Trump-era rules on campus sexual misconduct Watchdog says DeVos made nine figures in outside income during Trump years MORE “very seriously” considers withholding funds from schools that do not reopen.


CDC Director Robert Redfield on Wednesday said different approaches by school districts is fine. “The advantage of everybody not doing it in the exact same way is you begin to learn what aspects are more effective than others,” he said. “There’s no definition of ‘open.’ It can be any variety of how the schools decide to do it.”


Around the country, families with children in preschool through college are wrestling with tough questions about COVID-19 and the school year — questions that in many cases are unique to each household, pupil, school, school bus, and community. Teachers and administrators are working to adapt with strategies that may rely on combinations of in-person and virtual learning, part-time instruction and shortened fall semesters. And everyone has become an armchair virologist.


The New York Times: Gotham’s public schools will not fully reopen in the fall. Classroom attendance in September will be limited to one to three days a week in an effort to hold down COVID-19 infections.


The Associated Press: Opening classrooms may mean hard choices.


Want to track how states are planning ahead for the new school year? Johns Hopkins University has a new state-by-state tracker with loads of data HERE. Forty-four states and territories have released school reopening plans.


> Blaming: Trump on Wednesday repeated his pejorative shorthand for COVID-19, calling it the “China Virus” on Twitter.


> Testing: Americans continue to face coronavirus testing delays despite surges in infections across the South, Southwest and West. “It’s a hot mess,” said 47-year-old Jennifer Hudson of Tucson, Ariz. “The fact that we’re relying on companies and we don’t have a national response to this, it’s ridiculous. … It’s keeping people who need tests from getting tests” (The Associated Press). … Backlogs in processing tests are leading to delays of five to seven days for many people awaiting results, complicating efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 amid surges of new infections (The Wall Street Journal, subscription).


> Florida: The Sunshine State’s current crisis with COVID-19 outbreaks looks like an upward slope that will not bend. Florida is America’s newest epicenter of the virus (The Hill).


> Oklahoma: Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa that drew thousands of people in late June, along with the large protests that accompanied it, “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart said Wednesday. Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. Among those infected: An Oklahoma reporter who covered the rally, six Trump campaign staff members and two Secret Service personnel who worked in advance of the campaign event (The Associated Press).


> New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Wednesday ordered that masks must be worn outdoors in the Garden State as a technique to slow the spread of COVID-19 (masks have been required indoors in New Jersey since April) (MSNBC). The governor outlined exceptions to the order and conceded that enforcement will be difficult. No penalty has been identified for violations (NJ.com).


Meanwhile, U.S. businesses and economists have embraced national mask-wearing and urge some consistency in policies. A complete economic rebound is unlikely until the pandemic ends, but economists and business advocates see masks as low-risk and high-reward in the interim (The Hill). The Retail Industry Leaders Association this week wrote to the National Governors Association seeking a consensus agreement that masks be required when in public and while shopping in all 50 states. The association says a patchwork of state policies contributes to public confusion and to conflicts between retail employees and customers (SGBonline).


> Ludo intermisit: Ivy League college varsity sports programs have been canceled for the fall because of the coronavirus. Winter sports after Jan. 1 are up in the air (CBS News). It’s the first N.C.A.A. Division I conference to say it will not play football this fall (The New York Times).





Report: Facebook leads industry on removal of hate speech


At 35,000 people, our safety & security teams work to keep our platforms safe 24/7. A recent EU report found we remove more reported hate speech than other major platforms. But any hate speech is too much — there’s more work to do.


Learn more.


2020 POLITICS: Only weeks ago, top Republicans were moving “full steam ahead” with a full-scale Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Fla. Now, they are on their heels as the state has been ravaged by nearly 224,000 COVID-19 cases and doubts abound that the GOP can safely hold the made-for-TV gathering Trump hoped for. 


As The Hill’s team of Morgan Chalfant, Julia Manchester and Jonathan Easley write, Trump shifted his messaging on the convention this week, saying the GOP is “flexible” regarding its plans to hold its convention in a packed arena as initially intended. However, he still says COVID-19 will “go away,” keeping alive an event plan for August.


However, in recent weeks the party has scrambled to recalibrate. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry (R) in late June ordered that masks be worn indoors, a precaution that is expected to remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, at least five GOP senators said this week they won’t be traveling to the convention, with some – including Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate locks in hate crimes deal, setting up Thursday passage Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee House votes to extend ban on fentanyl-like substances MORE (R-Iowa) – deciding against attending because of the virus. 


Dan Eberhart, a GOP fundraiser and CEO of oil drilling company Canary, an oil drilling company, said there has been “a lot of mixed messaging” around the convention plans. Older donors who would normally push for key roles are hesitant to attend because of health risks, said Eberhart, while some fear Trump is imperiling the GOP’s Senate majority.


“Trump is so toxic in some of these states that you could have some ticket splitting,” Eberhart said. “I am wanting to go but still mulling the decision and wondering how big it will actually be.”


The New York Times: What will Trump’s upcoming rally in New Hampshire be like? It’s anyone’s guess.





With GOP convention plans up in the air, Niall Stanage reminds us in his latest memo that next week was supposed to be the originally-planned Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. It was delayed a month and then downsized to a virtual event in a bow to the pandemic. 


The calendar dates serve as a reminder of how much the political landscape has been changed by COVID-19. Since the outbreak, Biden wrapped up the nomination and has seen his lead over the president grow in state and national polls.  


> For Team Trump, the terrain looks rocky less than four months from Election Day. According to the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter, Democrats hold a significant advantage in the Electoral College tally, with 279 votes categorized as leaning, likely or solidly Democratic — with Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin moving into the lean Democratic category. 


For the Republican ticket, 188 electoral votes are seen as leaning, likely or solidly red, with 71 remaining in toss-up states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina).


Politico: Trump’s culture wars worked in 2016. His aides worry the world has changed.


The Hill: Biden to unveil $700 billion jobs plan in Pennsylvania.


The Washington Post: Liberals want more from Biden than an anti-Trump message.


The Hill: Hispanic Democrats build capital with big primary wins.


SUPREME COURT: In a victory for the Trump administration, justices ruled 7-2 on Wednesday that employer-paid health coverage that includes contraceptives can be optional for some companies and religious-affiliated groups, including universities, hospitals and charities, despite mandated no-cost contraception provisions in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (The Hill). 


Also on Wednesday, justices determined in a 7-2 decision that federal employment discrimination laws do not apply to teachers at church-run schools whose duties include religious instruction. The decision that the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom forbids judges from interfering in the internal workings of religious institutions could affect more that 100,000 teachers at Catholic elementary and secondary schools and many other employees of religious groups (The New York Times).


Conservatives on the Supreme Court have been more broadly supportive of religious rights and organizations, ruling last week that states that aid private schools may not exclude religious ones (The Washington Post and The Hill).


The Supreme Court is expected at 10 a.m. to end its 2019-2020 term. Court-watchers await a decision on whether Trump must turn over his financial and tax returns to Congress and the Manhattan district attorney (The Associated Press). 


More about courts & lawsuits: Harvard and MIT sued the Trump administration on Wednesday seeking to prevent the government from stripping foreign students of visas if their universities move exclusively to online classes amid the pandemic. The lawsuit follows Monday’s announcement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (modified in a statement on Tuesday night by the State Department) that international students whose studies move entirely online would be required to depart the country, rescinding a previous plan to grant exemptions to student visa-holders (The Hill). 




CONGRESS: Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform New signs of progress emerge on police reform MORE (R-S.C.) said Wednesday he’s talking with House Democrats, including Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen BassKaren Ruth BassTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform New signs of progress emerge on police reform MORE (D-Calif.), about a potential revival of police reform legislation. 


Scott, speaking alongside Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGroups see new openings for digging up dirt on Trump Amy Coney Barrett receives million advance for book deal: report Garland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees MORE in Columbia, S.C, said that he and Bass discussed compromising on points of his reform bill, including qualified immunity, after Democrats argued that the legislation did not go far enough. 


However, the South Carolina Republican expressed optimism that the two sides could strike an accord in the coming weeks.


“Folks who are now calling me about the legislation from the other side suggest that perhaps it's not dead,” Scott said. “We may have a Lazarus moment. We may not” (The Hill).


ABC News: Unfair policing of African Americans a “widespread phenomenon,” Barr says.





> 2020 gridlock: Election-year gridlock is gripping the Senate, sparking deep frustration and a round of partisan finger pointing amongst lawmakers. 


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, lawmakers have watched several recent legislative priorities unravel, including Scott’s police reform bill, funding the government, and a lower-profile prescription drug bill. The upper chamber is split over the main cause of the impasse, with Republicans accusing Democrats of positioning themselves for November and Democrats viewing it as a symptom of greater dysfunction in the Senate.

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!


Congress’s bipartisan national-service bill would be a powerful tonic for what’s ailing America, by David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3faT52k 


Democrats Are Making Unforced Errors, by Karl RoveKarl Christian RoveThe Memo: Trump battles to stay relevant House Republicans who backed Trump impeachment warn Democrats on Iowa election challenge GOP hammers Democrats over Iowa Democrat's election challenge MORE, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/38IWV0b 


How Facebook is combating hate and voter suppression


Facebook is taking critical, new steps to protect its platforms and the upcoming election:


— Strengthening policies against hate
— Expanding voter interference policies
— Launching new Voting Information Center


Get the latest.


The House meets at 2 p.m. for a pro forma session and won’t return to legislative business until July 20. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women Allow a vote on the 'Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act' Female Republicans 'horrified' by male GOP lawmaker's description of Cheney: report MORE (D-Calif.) will hold her weekly press conference at 11 a.m. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress GOP state attorneys general urge Biden, Congress not to expand Supreme Court Pelosi: Jan. 6 commission must focus only on insurrection MORE (R-Calif.) will hold his own press conference at 10:15 a.m. The House Armed Services Committee is likely to spark some headlines at 1 p.m. about Pentagon authority over civilian law enforcement while questioning Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperInspector general chose not to investigate Secret Service in clearing of Lafayette Square: report The paradox of US-India relations Overnight Defense: Trump-era land mine policy unchanged amid review | Biden spending outline coming Friday | First lady sets priorities for relaunched military families initiative MORE and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley (The Associated Press).


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session.


The president participates in a roundtable with Hispanic leaders at the White House.


Vice President Pence travels to political battleground Pennsylvania for a bus tour that begins in Lancaster and ends 79 miles later in Philadelphia. Pence will host a roundtable discussion at Lancaster’s Rajant Corporation, provider of wireless networks, and speak to law enforcement officers and their families at the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5. He will return to Washington this evening.


INVITATION TODAY: Join The Hill Virtually Live at 11 a.m. for “Health Reimagined: The Future of Healthcare.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield; the National Institute of Health’s Anthony Fauci; Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodMcAuliffe holds wide lead in Virginia gubernatorial primary: poll HHS expands Medicaid postpartum coverage for Illinois mothers up to a year after giving birth Lauren Underwood endorses Jennifer Carroll Foy in Virginia governors race MORE (D-Ill.), a registered nurse; and American Medical Association President Patrice Harris join Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons to discuss lessons from the pandemic, treatments and potential cures and challenges posed by community spread of COVID-19. REGISTER HERE.


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Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.


 Tech: An independent audit of Facebook faults the company for “vexing and heartbreaking” decisions that have been “significant setbacks for civil rights” (The Hill). The social network was repeatedly faulted for not having the infrastructure for handling civil rights and for prioritizing free expression on its platform over nondiscrimination. In a statement, the company said, “What has become increasingly clear is that we have a long way to go. As hard as it has been to have our shortcomings exposed by experts, it has undoubtedly been a really important process for our company” (The New York Times). … On Wednesday, Facebook said it shut down Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneThere was Trump-Russia collusion — and Trump pardoned the colluder On The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes MORE’s Facebook pages and account (and Facebook-owned Instagram followed suit) and the account of far-right group Proud Boys under its policies banning hate on the platform (CNN and The Hill).


➔ Economic indicators: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report jobless claims for the week that concluded with the Fourth of July holiday. The number of people filing each week for unemployment benefits has ebbed since the outset of the coronavirus crisis, but the numbers remain painfully high and layoffs continue. The unemployment rate in June was 11.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared with 3.5 percent in February. Between February and June, 12 million people were officially without employment, according to federal data. … Providing yet more evidence that the U.S. retail sector is hurting, Brooks Brothers, which dressed Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, on Wednesday announced it will seek protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy law and close more than a quarter of its 200 stores (The Associated Press). … United Airlines warned 36,000 employees they could face furloughs on Oct. 1 (The Hill).





Alaska hunting: In effect today is a new National Park Service rule at federal preserves in Alaska that allows hunters to use artificial light to hunt black bears, even cubs, in their dens, permits hunters in motorboats to shoot swimming caribou and allows wolves and coyotes to be hunted during their denning seasons. The regulatory changes overturn Obama-era bans on controversial hunting and trapping techniques (CNN).


Retiring: Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanVindman says he doesn't regret testimony against Trump Esper: If my replacement is 'a real yes man' then 'God help us' Ukrainian president whose call with Trump sparked impeachment congratulates Biden MORE, a specialist in Ukraine policy who testified during the Trump impeachment investigation, is retiring from the U.S. Army after more than 21 years of service. David Pressman, Vindman’s attorney, said in a scathing statement that the former National Security Council aide, who was sent out of the White House to the Defense Department following Trump’s Senate acquittal, is retiring “after it has been made clear that his future within the institution he has dutifully served will forever be limited” (The Hill).


➔ Media: Shepard Smith, the longtime Fox News anchor, is moving to CNBC and will launch “The News with Shepard Smith” at 7 p.m. ET in the fall (The Hill). … MSNBC has picked Joy Reid to fill the 7 p.m. hour vacated by longtime host Chris Matthews in early March. She becomes the only black woman to host a cable news show on prime time (The Washington Post).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by former President George W. Bush’s 74th birthday days ago, we’re eager for some smart guesses about the 43rd commander-in-chief.


Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. After a Fourth of July holiday hiatus for our puzzle, winners may return anew to newsletter fame on Friday.


Which of the following was NOT a nickname Bush bestowed on Karl Rove, the engineer of his 2000 and 2004 campaigns?

  1. Big Time
  2. Boy Genius
  3. The Architect
  4. Turd Blossom 

How many White House chiefs of staff did Bush appoint during his two terms? 

  1. Two
  2. Three
  3. Four
  4. Five


During the 2000 GOP presidential primary, what decision did Bush describe as the biggest mistake of his career? 

  1. Entering politics
  2. Attending Yale University
  3. Selling his share of the Texas Rangers
  4. Trading away Sammy Sosa


During former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, what did Bush 43 slyly hand Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMinneapolis mayor on Floyd: 'Ultimately his life will have bettered our city' Obamas praise Floyd jury, urge more action: 'We cannot rest' Bush says he doesn't criticize other presidents to avoid risking friendship with Michelle Obama MORE in a clip that went viral?

  1. Jolly Rancher 
  2. Altoid
  3. Gum
  4. Cough drop