The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate GOP, House Democrats begin battle over $1 trillion bill

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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 146,935. Tuesday, 148,056.



Senate Republicans on Monday rolled out their long-awaited $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill, setting up a clash with Democratic lawmakers in the coming weeks as the two sides are miles apart on a number of key items upon the kick off of negotiations. 

 

The proposal, titled the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, came after a week of negotiations between the Trump administration and Senate Republicans and saw multiple bumps in the road, including a four-day delay in the release of the plan after disagreements between the two sides. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal Pelosi, Schumer say White House declined T coronavirus deal COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (R-Ky.) touted the proposal on Monday as the right path forward in the ongoing response to COVID-19.

 

“The American people need more help, they need it to be comprehensive and they need it to be carefully tailored to this crossroads,” McConnell said. “That is what this Senate majority has assembled.”

 

Headlining the proposal is a reduction of the enhanced unemployment insurance from $600 to $200 per week, a move the GOP haggled over in recent days, as White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE told reporters early Monday that the issue was still being hammered out (The Hill). The proposal also includes $16 billion for coronavirus testing, $105 billion for schools, and a five-year shield from coronavirus-related lawsuits unless a business, school or government agency is involved in “gross negligence” or “intentional misconduct.” 

 

The HEALS Act will also include another round of direct checks to some Americans that will mirror those that were distributed after the CARES Act was approved in late March. The proposal would give a one-time check to those making up to $75,000 a year, with the amount winding down before it hits the $99,000 income ceiling. The checks will then phase out (The Hill). 

 

Also included in the proposal is another round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, the small-business loan program designed to help small businesses weather the storm created by the pandemic. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the GOP’s proposal would limit participation to firms with no more than 300 employees, a rollback from the CARES Act, which included companies with up to 500 employees. 

 

The Washington Post: Economic relief talks ramp up as GOP releases bill; Democrats, White House officials meet.

 

Reuters: Provisions of the proposed Senate GOP measure are compared with the House Democratic coronavirus relief bill.

 

Politico: “It's a tough hand”: Brutal year gets even worse for McConnell.

 

As McConnell announced the bill, bipartisan talks commenced, with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet Overnight Health Care: Trump to take executive action after coronavirus talks collapse | Vaccine official says he'd resign if pressured politically Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet On The Money: Five takeaways from the July jobs report Overnight Health Care: Trump to take executive action after coronavirus talks collapse | Vaccine official says he'd resign if pressured politically MORE meeting with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet New postmaster general overhauls USPS leadership amid probe into mail delays MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPostal Service says it lost .2 billion over three-month period A three-trillion dollar stimulus, but Charles Schumer for renewable energy — leading businesses want to change that Democrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production MORE (D-N.Y.) as the two sides attempt to bridge massive divides at the outset of negotiations.

 

While McConnell and Mnuchin made a point to keep the bill around the $1 trillion mark, the price tag will almost assuredly grow, as Democrats have a much longer list of items they consider essential to passing a relief bill. In May, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion package filled with a laundry list of progressive items included in the gargantuan bill. 

 

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, the two most contentious issues are expected to be the GOP’s push to include a sweeping liability shield for businesses and other entities for five years and its desire to claw back the weekly unemployment insurance, which expires at the end of the month.  

 

“There are trillions of dollars being used now by the Fed and our government to bolster the stock market. The stock market's in good shape, right? And that may be a good idea. Why can't we spend trillions of dollars to bolster the middle class?” Pelosi told MSNBC on Monday afternoon. “When they talk about what they're talking about, we're like, why are you quibbling over $600 when people need that to buy food, pay the rent and, again, inject demand into the economy by spending that money, inject demand and create jobs?”

 

“So, where is the savings in all of that?” Pelosi added. “There is a big difference between trickle-down and bubble-up.”

 

The Associated Press: Mnuchin, Pelosi talk virus relief; GOP slashes jobless aid.

 

The Hill: GOP measure gets warm welcome from business groups.

 

The Hill: GOP coronavirus bill includes $1.75 billion for construction of new FBI building.

 

> Defense bill: President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE retweeted a number of Twitter messages voicing support for the National Defense Authorization Act despite recently issuing a veto threat against the $740 billion package because of a potential provision that would force the renaming of military installations named after Confederate figures.

 

On Monday morning, the president shared 19 tweets by GOP members pushing for the bill’s passage. The House’s version of the bill calls on the Defense Department to make the renaming changes within a year, while the Senate’s version says the names must be changed in three years (The Washington Post).

 

> Congress mourns: The late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisMaxine Waters says Biden 'can't go home without a Black woman being VP' Georgia school lifts suspension of student who posted photos of crowded hall We must protect the right to vote, even today   MORE (D-Ga.) was honored by Congress on Monday as he lay in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda and was the recipient of myriad tributes from lawmakers for his work on civil rights throughout his storied career. 

 

Among those who appeared on Capitol Hill were Vice President Pence and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Whitmer met with Biden days before VP announcement: report Maxine Waters says Biden 'can't go home without a Black woman being VP' MORE, who made a rare appearance at the Capitol for the occasion (The Hill). Among those who did not appear was Trump, who told reporters earlier Monday that he would not appear in the Capitol to pay respects to the longtime Atlanta-area lawmaker (The Hill).

 

 

 



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LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: The final week of a dispiriting July began with news of high-profile patients infected with COVID-19 and continued pressure on some states and localities to impose tougher requirements to thwart an unseen pathogen that spreads easily through the air in bars, restaurants and crowded venues and at family events.   

 

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien contracted COVID-19 with mild symptoms and has been working from a secure, isolated off-site location and at home, Bloomberg News reported on Monday. O’Brien is the most senior Trump adviser to contract COVID-19 to date (The Hill). National Security Council staff members were not informed that O’Brien had tested positive; some found out through press reports.

 

At least 14 Miami Marlins players and coaches tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the cancellation of the season opener Monday night with the Baltimore Orioles. The Marlins (pictured below) remained in Philadelphia, where more coronavirus test results are awaited (ESPN).

 

About 4,000 federal employees say they contracted COVID-19 at work — and 60 have died (The Washington Post).

 

A pet cat in the United Kingdom was confirmed on July 22 to have contracted COVID-19, although the British government said there is no evidence the pet transmitted the coronavirus to humans. It is believed the cat was infected by its owner (BBC).

 

> Close bars and reduce restaurant capacity to slow the spread? In Tennessee, that’s a no, even when the advice comes from the White House. In Kentucky, that’s a yes.

 

Deborah Birx, an infectious disease expert and adviser to Trump, said Monday in a private meeting with Tennessee officials that the state should close bars and limit indoor restaurant dining to prevent a looming escalation of the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Gov. Bill Lee (R) rebuffed Birx’s recommendations, saying his state will not shut down its economy again and has no plans to act on her suggestions. Lee said he would not close bars, limit restaurants or give county mayors the authority to take such actions locally.

 

In Tennessee, the governor controls the health departments in 89 of 95 counties. Mayors can close businesses without his approval in a few metropolitan areas only (Tennessean).

 

Birx defended the advice she shared while in Nashville, noting as a point of comparison that in four weeks, Arizona managed to slow the spread of COVID-19 by closing bars, limiting indoor dining and ordering mask-wearing.

 

Birx met on Sunday with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and state health officials, offering the same advice to try to halt new outbreaks and to prevent Kentucky from becoming another coronavirus hot spot akin to Florida or Texas (Lexington Herald-Leader). She found a different kind of reception.

 

On Monday, Beshear said he would shutter bars beginning today for in-person consumption and said restaurants will have to reduce their indoor capacity to 25 percent. His temporary order to last two weeks takes effect about a month after bars reopened and restaurant capacity was allowed to increase to 50 percent.

 

This is going to hurt a lot of restaurants,” Beshear said. “But the White House’s modeling shows this is absolutely necessary to control the spread” (Lexington Herald-Leader).

 

Beshear also asked Kentucky schools to delay the start of the new academic year until at least the third week of August (Lexington Herald-Leader).

 

While visiting North Carolina on Monday to talk about potential vaccine manufacture, Trump said states should heed federal guidance about how to mitigate escalating coronavirus transmissions in some regions.

 

“These states are not out of the woods, but rigorous compliance with guidelines should allow them to turn the corner, and very, very quickly,” the president said. “We are working with every governor and health commissioner across the country to bring a complete, individualized analysis to each state, as well as tailored recommendations.”

 

> Vaccine updates: CBS 4 Miami: “Today is a day of hope,Vice President Pence said on Monday while visiting the University of Miami to hail a phase three clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The university is one of 89 sites across the country participating in human experiments with a drug co-developed by the biotech firm Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. … It will be months before results are confirmed, and there is no guarantee the vaccine will ultimately work against the coronavirus (The Associated Press and The Atlantic). … Would you pay $40 for an effective COVID-19 shot? That is the “highest number” under consideration by coordinators of a global coronavirus vaccine funding plan as they consider a wide range of potential prices that could ensure fair global access to COVID-19 vaccinations (Reuters).

 

> Universities: George Washington University (GWU) in the nation’s capital announced on Monday that it will hold all undergraduate courses and most graduate classes online for the fall semester, with limited exceptions. Students living in Washington but not on campus will be eligible for a 10 percent break in tuition. An undergrad year at GWU carries a full-freight sticker price of nearly $59,000, 

 

> Retail precautions: Target, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods won’t be open on Thanksgiving because of COVID-19 precautions tied to crowds and social distancing expectations, the major retailers announced. Alternatives, according to Target, are in-person bargain shopping beginning in October and online retail purchases (CNBC). 

 

> Tech it home: Google employees worldwide can now work from home through June 30, CEO Sundar Pichai announced on Monday. Google is the first major tech company to extend its timeline to next summer as the coronavirus pandemic drags on (CNBC). 

  

> New York’s mistakes: The height of the pandemic exposed staffing and economic inequalities in New York City’s public and  private hospitals as well as the maddening bureaucratic knots New York’s elected officials have long accepted at hospitals. The result: Thousands of people infected with COVID-19 who might have survived died in the spring, and the city invested more than $53 million in the temporary conversion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to an overflow hospital where only 79 patients wound up receiving treatment (”The Daily” podcast, The New York Times). 

  

> Masks: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) square off in court today over who has the power to order Georgians to wear face masks during a public health crisis (Reuters).A large majority of voters say they support a national mask mandate. A new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill found that 79 percent of respondents said they would support requirements to wear face coverings, while another 70 percent said they supported the idea of local governments imposing fees on individuals who do not wear masks.

 

 

 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced on Monday that the University of Notre Dame has withdrawn as the host of the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 due to COVID-19. Cleveland, Ohio, becomes the new site. 

 

In a statement, Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins said that while students will be on campus, the educational value of hosting the event would be greatly diminished and didn’t make it worth holding the debate on campus. 

 

The Commission on Presidential Debates revealed that Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland will take over as host when Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden meet for the first time on stage. 

 

CPD is pleased to announce that the first presidential debate will be co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic and held at the Health Education Campus (HEC) in Cleveland,” the commission said in a statement, noting that the university hosted the vice presidential debate in 2004. 

 

Miami and Nashville, Tenn., are slated to host the other two Trump-Biden televised face-offs, with Salt Lake City expected to welcome the vice presidential debate.

 

 

 

 

> Convention protocols: The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) circulated a memo on Monday laying out protocols for attending the party’s convention in Milwaukee, Wis., including that attendees must test negative for COVID-19 during each day of the convention in order to enter the main convention area.

 

According to CNN, the DNCC is banning attendees from going to bars and restaurants and recommending that they also wear a face shield or goggles along with a mandated mask. Those attending the convention must also self-isolate for 72 hours before departing to Milwaukee.

 

> Ad wars: The Biden campaign announced a new wave of advertising on Monday aimed at highlighting the effects of the coronavirus on older Americans, a sign that the former VP believes the voting bloc could be attainable for him in November.

 

As The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes, the message in the ads could resonate with many voters, including younger people worried about their parents or grandparents. But it is also evidence that Democrats believe older voters could be shifting in their direction amid criticism of the president’s handling of the pandemic. 

 

Past Republican presidential nominees have won older voters by solid margins. In 2016, 2012 and 2008, Republicans carried voters over 65 by 7, 12 and 8 points, respectively, according to exit polls. However, recent polls have shown Biden on equal footing with such voters, who are among the most reliable when it comes to making their way to the polls.

 

The Hill: Running for office this year? The largest number of Black female candidates since 2004.

 

The New York Times: Trump announced, then canceled a Yankees pitch on Aug. 15. Both came as a surprise to the team’s officials because they had not scheduled such an event. What happened? The president did not want to be upstaged.

 

The Hill: Former President Obama, George Clooney will hold a virtual fundraiser for Biden today.



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! 



OPINION

Is it time to designate social media as “critical infrastructure”? by Charles Clancy and Emily Frye, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3f3LvFV

 

In defense of Mark EsperMark EsperPentagon sends 3 cargo planes to Lebanon filled with aid as questions on blast remain Overnight Defense: Esper says 'most believe' Beirut explosion was accident, contradicting Trump | Trump later says 'nobody knows yet' what happened in Lebanon | 61-year-old reservist ID'd as fourth military COVID-19 death Trump tempers his description of Beirut explosion as an attack: 'Nobody knows yet' MORE, by James Carafano and Thomas Spoehr, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2P2gwja



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WHERE AND WHEN

The House honors Lewis whose casket will lie in state at the Capitol beginning at 8 a.m.The House Judiciary Committee holds a long-awaited oversight hearing focused on the Justice Department with witness Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGOP lawmaker calls for Justice Dept. to probe international court Barr pulls over to thank pro-police rally in Virginia Trump: Yates either lying or grossly incompetent MORE at 10 a.m. Barr plans to strongly defend Trump (The Washington Post). Hearing information HERE. … The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a 10 a.m. hearing about the events of June 1, when U.S. Park Police and other federal personnel cleared Lafayette Square near the White House of peaceful demonstrators using chemical agents before Trump’s walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Army National Guard Major Adam DeMarco will provide an account to lawmakers that contradicts explanations from the Trump administration (The Washington Post). Virtual hearing information is HERE.

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m.

 

The president has no public events on his schedule.

 

INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live at 11 a.m. on Wednesday interviews Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and other technologists, policy leaders and business representatives about “The Future of Human Connectivity.” Register HERE.

 

INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live at 1 p.m. on Thursday hosts “American Resilience: The Future of Small Business,” with Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotHouse Republicans introduce legislation to give states 0 million for elections Bottom line The Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks MORE (R-Ohio), ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, plus small-business leaders and advocates. Register HERE.

 

The Hill’s Coronavirus Report has updates and exclusive video interviews with policymakers emailed each day. Sign up HERE!

 

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.



ELSEWHERE

International: Belgium announced on Monday that a Belgian family may congregate with only five other people at a time, down from 15, in an attempt by the country to avoid another COVID-19-induced national lockdown after a jump in confirmed cases. In addition, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said that mass gatherings must be capped at 100 for indoor and 200 for outdoor events (Reuters). … A man who defected from North Korea to South Korea in 2017 reversed course in recent days and returned to the north after being accused of sexual assault last month. The man, who owed thousands to a fellow defector from the north, showed up in North Korea last week and had symptoms of COVID-19 (Reuters).

 

➔ White House: The iconic Rose Garden will soon get a facelift, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate GOP, House Democrats begin battle over trillion bill Melania Trump announces plans to renovate White House Rose Garden Trump tweets photo of himself wearing a mask MORE announced on Monday. Plans for the project track the design that former first lady Jackie Kennedy unveiled more than half a century ago, with a 2020 goal of upgraded electricity hookups and drainage, new limestone walkways, and replacement of some crab apple trees with white rose shrubs. The work, funded by private donations, will take about three weeks to complete (The New York Times). 

 

 

 

 

➔ Policing: Trump on Monday tweeted that demonstrators in Portland and other cities are “sick and deranged Anarchists & Agitators.” ... The Trump administration is sending more federal law enforcers to Portland, Ore. Local officials complain violence has escalated with the federal presence on the streets (The Washington Post). … Mayors of Portland and other major cities have appealed to Congress for help to make it illegal for the federal government to deploy militarized agents to cities that do not want them (The Associated Press).A majority of Americans say they are concerned about the rise in crime in U.S. cities, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill. The same survey found that 46 percent of respondents said they were concerned about rising crime in their own communities. The findings come as calls grow louder to defund police departments amid nationwide protests over racial injustice.



THE CLOSER

And finally … The price of one precious metal is in the headlines — yet again. On this day way back in 1978, gold for the first time topped $200 per ounce. On Monday, it neared $2,000 an ounce during a year in which gold prices have soared 30 percent.

 

As CNBC reported, spot gold prices jumped on Monday morning during Asia hours to a new high. Gold traded at $1,931.11 per ounce after earlier moving as high as $1,943.92 per ounce, eclipsing the previous record high set in September 2011. One mining and energy commodities analyst told CNBC that for gold prices to keep climbing, for example to a level such as $2,500 per ounce, the United States would likely have to find itself in a dramatic scenario such as interest rates below zero.