The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Biden VP possible next week; Meadows says relief talks 'miles apart'

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Monday (and hello August)! 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 Monday morning: 154,860.


The average weekly death count is rising in nearly half the states (The Washington Post).

A final countdown has begun for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Biden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot MORE as he nears the selection of a running mate and remains in pole position to unseat President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE in exactly three months. 


Biden told reporters last week that he plans to make his vice presidential selection this week, but sources say the announcement is expected next week as candidates continue to jockey for the spot. On Sunday, Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassBlack Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head George Floyd police reform bill reintroduced in House Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (D-Calif.) made the television rounds to describe why the vice presidency interests her and what she would bring to the role. 


The Washington Post: Biden campaign is signaling that a VP announcement will likely wait until the second week of August.


The Associated Press: 2020 Watch: And the Democratic veepstakes winner is?


Appearing on a pair of Sunday morning programs, Bass, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, sought to explain her 2016 comment referring to Fidel Castro as “Comandante en Jefe” following his death. It’s a potential problem in Florida, which is home to many Cuban immigrants. Bass acknowledged to “Meet the Press” that people in the key swing state viewed her description as “endearing” to the former Cuban dictator. 


“I didn’t see it that way. I was expressing condolences to the Cuban people, to the people in Cuba, not Cubans around the world,” she told moderator Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddTeachers union president: 'No perfect solution' to reopening schools Congressional Democrats say Trump acquittal was foregone conclusion Raskin: 'No regrets at all' on handling of Trump impeachment trial MORE. “I don’t think that’s a toxic expression in California, but let me just say, Chuck, lesson learned. Wouldn’t do that again” (The Hill).


Adding to the intrigue, Bass also became a target of Trump World on Sunday as Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDeSantis derides 'failed Republican establishment' at CPAC The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display Mehdi Hasan gets MSNBC Sunday prime-time show MORE (R-Fla.) and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (R) heavily criticized the remarks in a call organized by the reelection campaign. Rubio said that Bass would be “the highest-ranking Castro sympathizer in the history of the United States government” (The Hill).


Nevertheless, Bass has a lot of admirers, and many have lobbied the Biden camp to turn her way. According to one House Democrat, members from across the political spectrum within the House Democratic caucus have vouched for her to Team Biden. 


“She’s very progressive but doesn’t come off as scary,” the lawmaker told the Morning Report.


As The Hill’s Amie Parnes points out, Bass is battling a number of top Democrats for the spot, including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisExclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren To unite America, Biden administration must brace for hate Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenExclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSenate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Lawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing MORE (D-Ill.) and Susan Rice


The Hill: VP contender Bass explains her 2010 remarks praising Scientology.


The New York Times: Elizabeth Warren’s journey on race is a preview of her party’s.


Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic: When Karen Bass went to work in Castro’s Cuba.


Dana Milbank, The Washington Post: Why would Biden pick a human lightning rod for VP? 


The Hill: Biden up 4 points in North Carolina, 1 point in Georgia: poll.


On the other side of the aisle, the president’s team stepped back from remarks last week questioning whether the November election should be delayed due to the large number of mail-in ballots, which he argues will be rife with voter fraud. 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 told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the contest will indeed take place on Nov. 3, but argued that the infrastructure is not prepared to handle the number of mail-in ballots that will be cast this fall. 


“[The president] has not looked at delaying any election. What we will do is if we try to transform this and start mailing in ballots all across the country, all 50 states, what we will see is a delay because they're just not equipped to handle it,” Meadows said. “We're going to hold an election on Nov. 3rd and the president is going to win” (The Hill).


As The Hill’s Jonathan Easley writes, Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting are a burgeoning concern among conservatives, who argue that his repeated comments could suppress the GOP vote, allowing Democrats to take advantage of expanded voting opportunities.


The Hill: Trump struggles to stay on script, frustrating GOP again.


The Associated Press: Clock is ticking on Trump comeback as early voting nears.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: On The Trail: Signs of a post-Trump GOP.





The CARES Act: Good for workers, good for America


Unions and airlines agree: a clean extension of the CARES Act will position the airline industry to support economic recovery. Learn why.


CONGRESS: Negotiators are no closer to reaching a resolution on a new coronavirus relief package as the two sides lobbed barbs at each other on Sunday and are set to resume talks this week.


Trump administration officials were pessimistic on Sunday about the chances of striking an accord in the near future, with Meadows (pictured below) noting that the gulf between the two sides remains expansive on myriad issues (The Hill). 


"There are more unresolved issues than resolved issues. There are more than a dozen initiatives that remain miles apart,” Meadows told the Morning Report late Sunday.


The Washington Post: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Budget Committee chair pledges to raise minimum wage: 'Hold me to it' Capitol review to recommend adding more fencing, 1,000 officers: report MORE (D-Calif.), Mnuchin, Meadows point to disagreements as deal on unemployment benefits, coronavirus relief remains elusive.


The Hill: Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE on $600 unemployment benefit: We can't be “paying people more to stay home.”


The Washington Post: Trump administration examining options for unilateral action if no coronavirus deal is reached with Congress.


Sunday Talk Shows: Stimulus debate dominates.





As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, lawmakers across the Capitol complex are frustrated as the bill’s negotiators blow past deadlines with little to show for their efforts.


After two weeks back in Washington — with one week spent crafting the GOP plan and the other on fruitless bipartisan talks — lawmakers wonder whether an accord may elude Congress as the pandemic and economic downturn continue and the November elections approach. 


“I’m telling people the truth that this entire thing has been a very impressively large cluster,” said Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.). “As bad as ... it is from the outside, they ought to see it from the inside ... just the mess that this is.”


The Hill: Stimulus impasse threatens both economy and Trump.


The Wall Street Journal: Democratic, administration negotiators at loggerheads over $600 jobless benefit.


While the $600 weekly unemployment payments garnered the most attention as the provision neared expiration, Republicans and Democrats also have key differences on proposals for a second round of direct checks to some Americans that is expected to become part of any deal. 


As The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda writes, lawmakers in both parties have released proposals for a second round of payments that have a number of similarities, but two key issues remain unresolved: The amount of the payments for children and other dependents, and whether taxpayers need to have Social Security numbers to get the payments.


CORONAVIRUS: As August begins, news about COVID-19 in the United States is a sobering stew of the terrible — rising deaths, out-of-control spread and talk of a “new phase” of contagion as well as complicated questions about safety in schools and continued economic carnage. The bleak headlines are only somewhat leavened by the outlook for vaccines and the work of determined clinicians who are using more tools to stave off the worst fate for some patients infected by the coronavirus.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected in an internal document that by Aug. 22, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could top 180,000, Yahoo News reported on Friday. With more than 60,000 new cases a day, the virus has shown no signs of disappearing, and while the rate of increase is slowing, deaths, which lag behind infections, are climbing.


In March, White House public health experts pointed to disease models that projected U.S. deaths could reach 240,000 from COVID-19 (The Hill).


Florida alone on Sunday surpassed the record among states for the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single week, or 1,230 over seven days (The Hill).


The Washington Post: Experts push for new tack on virus. “We just have to assume the monster is everywhere.


The optimism about an eventual vaccine (forecasts suggest one or more may be in wide circulation by mid-2021) is now accompanied by ample doses of caution in the public health community. Some medical experts worry that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could face unprecedented political pressure to approve a COVID-19 vaccine before it is ready (The Hill and The New York Times).


"You saw the issue of politicization around hydroxychloroquine and the pressure that was put on FDA then. There's a legitimate concern that does not happen again," said Jesse Goodman, a Georgetown University professor who was previously FDA's chief scientific officer.


Trump’s persistent cheerleading for hydroxychloroquine, deemed by respected researchers to be ineffective as a treatment for COVID-19 in five randomized, peer-reviewed, double-blind scientific studies and discarded by the FDA as a treatment for the coronavirus, remains a public communications headache for federal scientific advisers. And it is political quicksand for the president, who gets low marks from Americans for his handling of the coronavirus crisis.


Brett Giroir, assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department, said on Sunday that “it is time to move on” from conversations about hydroxychloroquine because the drug is not effective against the coronavirus. Giroir, a pediatrician and specialist in federal testing efforts during the pandemic, responded during an interview on “Meet the Press” about Trump’s habit of circulating false or misleading medical and scientific information.  


Stat News: The scientific world is amazingly close to a COVID-19 vaccine. What could go wrong? by Michael S. Kinch, author of the book, “Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity.”


The Washington Post: What the government must do to successfully administer a COVID-19 vaccine, by Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Topher Spiro.


> Teetering: Voices of the pandemic: An Arizona superintendent of schools, Jeff Gregorich, is struggling with a decision about whether schools in his district can reopen safely during a pandemic (The Washington Post). … Daniel Vought, 30, a former bar worker; Lakeisha Rollins, 30, a single mother with a baby due this month who had worked in a grocery store; and Thomas Kennerly, 48, a former police officer, were each separately cast adrift in Washington, D.C., by COVID-19’s economic devastation. All need help from the D.C. and federal governments. All are ensnared in Washington’s dysfunctional, overwhelmed social services system and caught in limbo because of an impasse among lawmakers in Congress (The Washington Post).  


> Name-calling, mistrust: Pelosi denigrated White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, describing her during a private negotiating session last week with Mnuchin and Meadows as “the worst” and calling Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOne dose of Pfizer vaccine offers significant protection for those who have had COVID-19: studies Fauci: Whatever COVID-19 vaccine is available, 'take it' Julia Roberts presents Award of Courage to Fauci: 'You have been a beacon for us' MORE, another federal adviser on infectious diseases, a “hero” (Politico). Pelosi said on Sunday that she believes Trump disseminates inaccurate information, abetted at times by Birx (Reuters).


“I think the president has been spreading disinformation about the virus, and she is his appointee so, I don’t have confidence there, no,” she told ABC’s “This Week.”


Two of the president’s White House communicators came to Birx’s defense on Twitter on Sunday, saying Pelosi was “deeply irresponsible” for wielding “baseless political attacks” that are “disgusting and shameful.”


Birx, appearing on CNN on Sunday, said COVID-19 outbreaks are not under control in the United States because “people are on the move.” Birx has traveled to 14 states to assess conditions on the ground. “All of our discussions about social distancing and decreasing gatherings to under 10 [people] — as I traveled around the country, I saw all of America moving,” she added (The Hill).


Birx said people who vacationed in “hot spots” should assume they are infected. “What we’re seeing today is different from March and April,” she said. “It is extraordinarily widespread. …And to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus.”


Pelosi, who is negotiating with Republicans to support more federal money for schools with no strings attached about in-person or online instruction, said on Sunday that slowing outbreaks of COVID-19 in many states will be necessary before schools can safely restart (The Hill).


"When you ... reduce the spread, you can open up the schools, when you reduce the rate of infection in a community," the Speaker said. "But until you do that, you have to be very careful."




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! 


Baseball is playing for its life, and ours, by Doug Glanville, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3k3YKdw


A COVID-19 outbreak among children at a Georgia summer camp is a warning, by The Washington Post editorial board. https://wapo.st/3gAcxXf


The CARES Act: Good for workers, good for America


Unions and airlines agree: a clean extension of the CARES Act will position the airline industry to support economic recovery. Learn why.


The House reconvenes on Tuesday at 11 a.m.


The Senate will meet at 3 p.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Mark Menezes to be Energy Department deputy secretary.


The president at 11:30 a.m. will meet with U.S. tech company employees in the Cabinet Room and will sign an executive order dealing with hiring U.S. workers. He will have lunch with Vice President Pence. 


Pence will have lunch at the White House with the president at 12:30 p.m. 


HBO’s “The Swamp,” a documentary about Washington insiders, partisan politics and Congress, airs Tuesday from 9 to 11 p.m. ET (trailer HERE). Directed by filmmakers Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme, “The Swamp” probes national politics in the now alien-looking pre-pandemic Capitol Hill period during Trump’s impeachment last year. The film  features GOP Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump to reemerge on political scene at CPAC Former Trump officials eye bids for political office Cancun fallout threatens to deal lasting damage to Cruz MORE of Florida, Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieCan members of Congress carry firearms on the Capitol complex? Republicans rally to keep Cheney in power House Republicans gear up for conference meeting amid party civil war MORE of Kentucky and Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckHouse to launch antitrust hearings starting next week Congress faces news showdown with Facebook, Google House Republicans gear up for conference meeting amid party civil war MORE of Colorado as well as Democratic Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Biden 'disappointed' in Senate parliamentarian ruling but 'respects' decision Democrats look to improve outreach to Asian and Latino communities MORE of California and John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesEfforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Former Md. senator Paul Sarbanes dies at 87 Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE of Maryland. 


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


Supreme Court: Senate Republicans are divided over whether to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, should one arise anytime soon. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Hawley gets boisterous ovation at CPAC for Electoral College objection   Why Congress must invoke the 14th Amendment now MORE (R-Ky.) has pledged to fill any vacancy rapidly, some GOP senators think such a move would be a starkly partisan flip-flop because Republicans refused to fill the election-year vacancy created after Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016. Senate Republicans held the seat open for a year, and McConnell refused to schedule a hearing for Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandMerrick Garland is right to prioritize domestic terrorism, but he'll need a bigger boat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan McConnell backs Garland for attorney general MORE, former President Obama’s nominee for the seat. The decision to wait out Obama’s term allowed Trump to seat two conservative justices on the Supreme Court in quick succession. At the time, McConnell cited the 1992 “Biden rule,” an interpretation of Biden’s statement following the Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasLaurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election Supreme Court won't review Pennsylvania GOP election lawsuits A powerful tool to take on the Supreme Court — if Democrats use it right MORE hearings that it would be advisable to delay SCOTUS confirmation hearings until after that year’s presidential election. “The Senate will continue to observe the ‘Biden rule’ so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision,” McConnell said four years ago (The Hill). 


Death penalty: Trump on Sunday tweeted his opposition to a ruling by a federal appeals court to throw out the death sentence in the conviction of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. A three-judge panel on Friday ordered a new penalty-phase trial for the 27-year-old inmate. U.S. prosecutors said they are weighing options, which include asking the full appeals court to hear the case or take it to the U.S. Supreme Court (The Associated Press). “The Federal Government must again seek the Death Penalty in a do-over of that chapter of the original trial. Our Country cannot let the appellate decision stand. Also, it is ridiculous that this process is taking so long!” wrote Trump, who is running for reelection as a defender of law enforcement and capital punishment.  


Immigration: Conservative law professor John Yoo met with Trump at the White House on Thursday following publication in June of a National Review article he wrote asserting that a recent Supreme Court ruling that blocked Trump’s plans to end the Obama administration's protection of “Dreamers” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could help the president institute future policies without needing congressional approval. Yoo, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has long espoused an expansive view of presidential power, which he defended after 9/11 in controversial legal memos seeking to protect officials from prosecution for war crimes for waterboarding terror suspects at a time when he worked for former President George W. Bush (The Hill). 


International: Officials have declared a state of disaster in Victoria, Australia, amid rising coronavirus cases and deaths in the region. The declaration went into effect on Sunday, with the region reporting more than 11,000 confirmed cases of the virus. Under the new restrictions, Melbourne residents will be able to shop for essential items within approximately 3 miles of their homes during daytime hours before an 8 p.m. curfew begins (The Hill). … Without completing human clinical trials, Russia says it will begin mass vaccination in October against COVID-19. First to receive the experimental medication: health care workers and teachers. The rush to be first in a global race to inoculate is part of Russia’s national pride (The New York Times).


➔ Sports: Another Major League Baseball team (St. Louis Cardinals) is having a COVID-19 outbreak, but the league is moving forward with its season on the fly and calling on players to batten down the hatches to limit the number of cases (The New York Times). … Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced late Sunday that he has tested positive for the virus as the number of players who have opted out continues to grow by the day (ESPN). … Finally, it was a rousing opening weekend for both the NBA and the NHL as the two leagues made their respective grand returns to play with expansive slates of games (The Associated Press).





And finally … NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who made history by launching into space from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade, splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast on Sunday ahead of Tropical Storm Isaias. It was NASA’s first landing in the Gulf in the 59-year history of crewed American space travel.


Behnken and Hurley, whose flight was the first to take place in a commercially built SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, began their return to Earth from the International Space Station on Saturday evening (NBC News).


The Associated Press: A landmark odyssey.


Trump tweeted his congratulations on Sunday.