The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided GOP to unveil COVID-19 bill


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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, 140,534. Tuesday, 140,909.

The Trump administration and Congress are bracing for a battle over the fifth coronavirus relief package, with lawmakers of all stripes drawing lines in the sand as Senate Republicans prepare to release the GOP bill as early as today.  

President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE and Republican leaders appeared in the Oval Office on Monday as they tried to build a unified front. However, that quickly dissipated as the president threw his weight behind a payroll-tax cut that has received little support on Capitol Hill from Republicans and a $1 trillion starting point, which is expected to rise in the coming weeks in negotiations with Democratic leaders (The Hill). 

In particular, the payroll-tax cut, a favorite of the president, is already becoming a hard sell with many Senate Republicans as the conference has repeatedly rebuffed the president’s call to move on it in past negotiations. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyJudiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 MORE (R-Iowa) warned that the move would create a public relations headache for Republicans. 

“Go to the fact that Social Security people think we're raiding the Social Security fund. And we are raiding it, but we have always put in general fund revenue in it so it is made whole. But that creates — it might create political problems — but it creates a public relations problem," Grassley told reporters on Monday. 

Other top Republicans, including Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP says Ron Klain pulling Biden strings Rick Scott acknowledges Biden 'absolutely' won fair election After vote against aid package, Golden calls for more bipartisanship MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBottom line This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill MORE (Texas), a top adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJudiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Juan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP MORE (Ky.), also are opposed to its potential inclusion. 

“I’m not a fan of that. I’ve made that pretty clear,” Thune said (The Hill). The Senate Majority Whip added that he believes the president’s allies will make sure the cut will be included in the first draft, but indicated that it won’t go much further (The Hill).

Instead, Senate Republicans are expected to push for another round of direct checks, targeted this time at those making $40,000 or less rather than $75,000 like the original CARES Act did. The reasoning? A payroll-tax cut would only affect those who are employed, while another round of direct payments would give aid to unemployed individuals. 

While the internal dynamics of negotiating with the Senate GOP are difficult, discussions with Democrats are expected to be another animal entirely. Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsHow scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Kinzinger calls for people with info on Trump to come forward MORE are set to kick off those talks today when they meet with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote Clinton, Pelosi holding online Women's Day fundraiser with Chrissy Teigen, Amanda Gorman What good are the intelligence committees? MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFirst Black secretary of Senate sworn in Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote The bizarre back story of the filibuster MORE (D-N.Y.) in the Speaker’s office. The meeting will take place after the administration pair brief the Senate GOP during lunch (The Hill).

Among the main questions about the bill remains how expansive it will be. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney reported, Mnuchin pointed to the $1 trillion figure on Monday, but Senate Republicans expect that number to rise to at least $1.3 trillion. It remains unlikely that either number will satisfy Democrats, as the lower chamber passed a $3 trillion relief package in late May that McConnell declined to consider. At present, Schumer is urging his members to stonewall the GOP-led bill (The Hill). 

The Washington Post: GOP coronavirus bill likely to include payroll-tax cut and tie school money to reopening plans. 

The Associated Press: Trump, Congress square off over virus aid as crisis worsens.

The Hill: Trump payroll-tax cut creates new headache for Republicans. 

The Hill: White House, Senate GOP clash over whether to include testing funds in upcoming relief bill.  

NBC News: Here are the COVID-19 and economic relief programs enacted in March that are soon set to expire, including federal unemployment benefits.

With negotiations underway, questions still surround what a final bill will do regarding expanded unemployment benefits, which are set to expire at the end of the month. As Niv Elis writes, the issue is front-and-center for House Democrats and the Senate GOP, with Republicans arguing that the additional $600 in benefits creates a disincentive for individuals to return to the workforce. 

However, Democrats believe the benefits are crucial at a time of massive unemployment, and note that more targeted systems cannot be put in place for months. 

The Hill: GOP eyes more than $70 billion for schools in coronavirus package.

The Washington Post: Endangered GOP senators under pressure as Senate considers new coronavirus measures. 

Alex Gangitano, The Hill: Lobbyists gear up for final push as next coronavirus relief package takes shape.

The Wall Street Journal: Senate confirms Russell Vought as head of White House budget office. 



> The late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDOJ faces swift turnaround to meet Biden voting rights pledge Harris holds first meeting in ceremonial office with CBC members Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE: House lawmakers are considering ways to honor Lewis, the longtime Georgia Democrat, who died on Friday from pancreatic cancer. 

Whether his body will lie in state in the Capitol is up in the air. Another idea is a renewed push to expand voting rights in his honor to mark an issue Lewis made the hallmark of his political career. As Cristina Marcos and Mike Lillis write, the coronavirus pandemic scrambles customary options to pay respects to a notable member of the House. 

Mourners were able to file through the Capitol to honor former President George H.W. Bush, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHouse Freedom Caucus chair weighs Arizona Senate bid Cindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors MORE (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBottom line House Democrats reintroduce bill to reduce lobbyist influence Trump voters and progressives have a lot in common — and Biden can unite them MORE (D-Md.) before their respective funerals. 

Lewis’s services have not been publicly disclosed. His family has delayed revealing funeral plans until after the Thursday burial of the Rev. C.T. Vivian, another civil rights activist who also died Friday. 

The Daily podcast, The New York Times: The life and legacy of John Lewis (39 minutes). 

CBS News: Georgia Democrats select state Sen. Nikema Williams to replace Lewis on the November ballot.



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CORONAVIRUS: Researchers, rather than elected officials, on Monday brought patients, their families and clinicians glimmers of better news about the coronavirus, its treatment and the ingenuity that might one day defang COVID-19 using vaccine weaponry.

An inhaled form of a commonly used medicine could reduce the odds that patients will become severely ill once infected by the coronavirus, a British drug company said on Monday following a small (101 patients) double-blind, non-peer-reviewed trial. The drug, based on interferon beta, a protein naturally produced by the body, has become the focus of efforts in Britain, China and the United States to find something that keeps patients from developing the worst effects of the contagion.

Scientists have found that the coronavirus attacks the body in part by blocking its natural interferon response, disarming cells that would otherwise be alerting neighboring cells to activate their own genes and fortify themselves against the invading virus. In theory, administering interferon to patients could invigorate their defenses in the early stages of illness. The inhaled form of interferon beta tested by Synairgen was shown to reduce by 79 percent the odds of patients developing the worst cases of the disease and needing the most intensive care, such as ventilation, compared with patients who received a placebo (The New York Times).

Separately, a University of Oxford group and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca reported Monday that their coronavirus vaccine candidate, on which the U.S. and European governments have placed big funding bets, was shown in early-stage human trials to be safe and to stimulate a strong immune response.

The study, published in the British medical journal the Lancet and involving 1,077 volunteers, was described as promising. A second report in the same publication on a Chinese vaccine showed what researchers not involved in the study described as modest positive results (The Washington Post). 

The data also show that vaccine-caused side effects, including fever, headaches, muscle aches and injection site reactions, show up in about 60 percent of patients. All of the side effects were described as mild or moderate, and all resolved themselves over the course of the study. Based on the results, AstraZeneca said it is likely that future studies will test administering two doses of the vaccine to patients (STAT News).

The presence of antibodies in patients’ blood gives researchers a promising hint at the vaccine’s effectiveness, but experts say only the results of an ongoing, massive phase three study will show if the vaccine really works to protect people from COVID-19 infection. The Oxford vaccine is one of 23 drug candidates currently being tested in studies in people across the globe, according to the World Health Organization (ABC News). 



> Masks: After months of refusing to wear a mask in public, which would have bolstered current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump on Monday reversed course and tweeted a black and white photograph of himself wearing a face covering, which he called “patriotic.” 

We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!” he tweeted.

Mask restrictions at Disney World in Florida are now tighter. To ensure that patrons wear face coverings throughout the park, Disney has banned eating or drinking while walking (ABC 13).

Winn-Dixie grocery stores, with roots in the deep-red South and early resistance to the idea of asking customers to wear masks, changed its policy just hours after Trump said masks are patriotic (The Washington Post). Other large retail and grocery chains, some in competing markets, had already required shoppers to have face coverings (Delish).

> Sports and COVID-19: Another one bites the dust. The Marine Corps Marathon, scheduled Oct. 23-25 in the Washington area, will not be a live race this year, but instead becomes virtual. Organizers hope to be back with a traditional event in 2021 (WTOP).


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Among the security issues clouding discussion of elections just 15 weeks away are foreign and domestic hackers and government entities seeking to spread misinformation, efforts to suppress voter participation, voting equipment vulnerabilities in states and counties, ballot disqualifications and delays among absentee and mail-in ballots and a president who threatens not to accept the Election Day results.

On Monday, no one was surprised that Pelosi, Schumer and the Democratic leaders on the House and Senate Intelligence panels said they fear Congress is a target of a “concerted foreign interference campaign.” What everyone wants to know is the foreign intelligence they’ve learned about, and what FBI Director Christopher Wray can advise as a response.

The New York Times: Lawmakers did not identify the foreign power in question, though their letter last week implied they’ve seen reporting and analysis by U.S. intelligence agencies that prompts unease.

The Hill: Democrats ask FBI for counterintelligence briefing before August break, saying they worry about foreign interference in this year’s election. 



> Republican donors are trying to save the Senate majority, reports The New York Times. Worried that Trump is in trouble with voters and the House may be out of reach this cycle, GOP donors and analysts want to preserve the party’s power in the Senate. 

> Rallies in the COVID-19 era: Trump held his first "tele-rallies" over the weekend, signaling a shift in campaigning as the coronavirus pandemic makes his signature large gatherings unworkable for social distancing and other precautions. The president convened virtual rallies targeted at supporters in Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina across three days, speaking over the phone for roughly 25 minutes in each case. The events were broadcast live on Facebook as the president attempts to reach voters in new ways while in-person campaigning is put on hold, reports The Hill’s Brett Samuels.

> Multitasking: The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports on Democratic physicians who are running for Congress. Like their Republican counterparts, they manage to put their medical and health care experience to use on the campaign trail during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press: He has a plan for that: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year MORE on Monday outlined his priorities for the next coronavirus relief measure. His ideas are in sync with those of House and Senate Democrats.

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! 



Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line Democrats offer resolution denouncing white supremacists ahead of Trump trial MORE (D-Wis.): The woman who could help Biden solve his political challenges, by Henry Olsen, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/32Hm4HF 

'All or nothing' in the prosecution of police shootings, by Paul H. Robinson, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2E6rNNb



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The House meets at 9 a.m.  

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2021. The Senate this week is expected to vote on controversial Federal Reserve nominee Judy Shelton (The Washington Post)

The president will sign an unspecified memorandum at 12:15 p.m. in the Oval Office. Trump announced on Monday that he will resume delivering COVID-19 briefings at the White House, reviving an on-camera practice “probably” at 5 p.m. (The Hill) — and it is on his schedule today, along with an 11 a.m. briefing by the press secretary. (Before Trump’s COVID-19 appearances in the press briefing room ended in April, his public standing took a beating after frequent exaggerations and misinformation, including musings about “injecting” bleach, UV light and taking the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as coronavirus treatments without medical approval.)

Vice President Pence and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceCan a common bond of service unite our nation? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - House boots Greene from committees; Senate plows ahead on budget Pence announces post-White House office, plans to move back to Indiana MORE will travel to the University of South Carolina in Columbia to meet with Gov. Henry McMaster (R) to discuss a contagion that has made the state a national hot spot with 70,000 confirmed cases (more than 13,338 emerging in the last week) (The New York Times). The vice president will host a discussion about safely reopening schools. Later in Charleston, Pence will speak at a political event for businesswoman Nancy Mace, a Republican running for the House. The Pences will return to Washington tonight.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoTrump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Green New Deal's 3 billion ton problem: sourcing technology metals US condemns arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong MORE, who is in London, participated in a morning roundtable discussion with the Henry Jackson Society and at midday met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At 12:45 local time, the secretary meets with U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the two men continue discussions over lunch. Pompeo and Raab will take questions from the news media, after which the secretary participates in a roundtable discussion with the British American Business Council. In the evening, the secretary will attend a dinner hosted by U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert Wood Johnson.

INVITATION TODAY: The Hill Virtually Live event at 1 p.m., “Advancing America's Economy: The Role of Private Capital,” with Reps. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display Rep. Stephanie Murphy says she's 'seriously considering' 2022 challenge to Rubio Blue Dogs push for further action on domestic terrorism MORE (D-Fla.) and Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) and other experts, along with The Hill's editor-at-large Steve Clemons. Registration HERE.

The member-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) hosts a Zoom discussion from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. today with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who will talk about U.S. foreign policy challenges with CFR President Richard Haass and take questions from reporters. 

INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live event Thursday at 1 p.m. “Diabetes and the COVID Threat,” focuses on effective diabetes care during the COVID-19 crisis, with Reps. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J A-OK, Tanden in Trouble House Democrats press Facebook on role as a 'breeding ground for polarization' COVID-19 vaccine makers pledge massive supply increase MORE (D-Colo.) and Tom ReedTom ReedTaylor Swift celebrates House passage of Equality Act Here are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality Act House passes sweeping protections for LGBTQ people MORE (R-N.Y.), the co-chairs of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, plus a panel of health experts. Moderator: The Hill's Clemons. Registration HERE.

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➔ International: The European Union early on Tuesday adopted a groundbreaking, $857 billion economic stimulus program to battle the recessionary impacts of the pandemic (The New York Times). … The United Kingdom announced the suspension of its extradition treaty with Hong Kong on Monday as the feud with China grows over the national security law imposed over the former British colony. Speaking to the British Parliament, the foreign secretary revealed that the treaty would be suspended immediately, with an arms embargo being put in place, and that it would not be reversed “unless and until there are clear and robust safeguards, which are able to prevent extradition from the UK being misused under the new national security legislation” (Reuters). … King Salman of Saudi Arabia, 84, was admitted to a hospital in Riyadh on Monday with an inflammation of the gallbladder, according to state news agency SPA. The Saudi king was undergoing medical checks, but no further details were available (Reuters).



Urban violence: Trump told reporters on Monday he plans to send federal law enforcement personnel into Democratic-led cities to quell violence. The president is running for reelection on a law enforcement platform that accuses Democrats of being “anarchists” and tolerant of law-breakers and criminals, an accusation that state and local officials dispute (Reuters). …Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on MSNBC on Monday she will not allow federal agents Trump says he will deploy to enter her city and will do “everything in my power” to stop them (Chicago Tribune).Chad WolfChad WolfSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Liberal watchdog group files ethics complaint over Boebert's reimbursements Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides MORE, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, said on Monday he does not need to consult or comply with Portland officials. "I don't need invitations by the state, state mayors or state governors to do our job. We're going to do that, whether they like us there or not," Wolf said (The Hill).  ... Democrats want answers from the Trump administration about what federal law enforcement personnel are doing in Portland, Ore., after reports that federal agents plucked people off the streets without identifying themselves. Local officials want the mysterious federal agents to depart (The Hill). … Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday was asked about a record 106 homicides so far this year in her city, an increase of 20 percent from 2019 at the same date. "The trajectory doesn't look good," Bowser said when asked about the rise in murders. "We know that the proliferation of guns is very concerning," she added (WJLA). On Sunday, one person was killed and eight injured during a daylight shooting spree in Northwest Washington that police believe was a targeted attack involving three suspects armed with long guns and a pistol (The Washington Post).

Supreme Court: Justices on Monday denied a bid by Democrats to fast-track the ongoing battle in lower courts over disclosure of Trump’s financial records and tax returns, which the House subpoenaed and the president has withheld (The Hill). 

➔ The Big Screen: Hollywood’s grand return to theaters was delayed once again on Monday as “Tenet,” Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated release, saw its release date pushed back indefinitely due to COVID-19. The movie’s release to theaters has now been delayed three times, with its most recent play centered around an Aug. 12 debut having been scrapped. Adding to the problems was California’s statewide closures of cinemas as the virus spreads. “We are not treating ‘Tenet’ like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that,” said Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich (The Associated Press).


And finally … Comet watchers in the Northern Hemisphere, look heavenward!  

NEOWISE, a bright ball of ancient ice and dust streaking through the night sky just 64 million miles away will be closest to Earth on Wednesday, although the comet has been clearly visible all month — because it is three miles wide.

To see it before it escapes into the outer galaxy for another 6,800 years, you need a spot away from city lights, some excellent distance vision and the observational fortitude to find the Big Dipper constellation in the northwestern sky as a clue about where to gaze, according to NASA (CNN).