The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Progress slow on coronavirus 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 this week: Monday, 154,860. Tuesday, 155,471.


The world’s confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 18 million.

Top Republican and Democratic negotiators made little progress on Monday toward a coronavirus relief package as they regrouped following the expiration of federal  unemployment benefits enacted in March to help millions of jobless Americans.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Initial jobless claims rise for 2nd week | Dow dips below 30K | Mnuchin draws fire for COVID-19 relief move | Manhattan DA appeals dismissal of Manafort charges Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE, White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.) met in the Speaker’s office once again on Monday and had what they described as their most productive meeting after a week of finding little common ground. The four negotiators met for more than two hours and kept the discussion largely focused on federal funding to support the reopening of schools and enhancement of food stamp benefits.


“We are really getting an understanding of each side’s position. And we’re making some progress on certain issues moving closer together,” said Schumer shortly after the meeting. “There are a lot of issues that are still outstanding. But I think there is a desire to get something done as soon as we can” (The Associated Press).


Mnuchin told reporters that the two sides got “a little bit” closer towards a larger package. 


“We’re open to a bigger package if we can reach an agreement,” Mnuchin said. Meetings are to resume today.


The Hill: Democratic leaders report “some progress” in talks with White House.


Despite the incremental momentum, pressure is expected to ratchet up in the coming days because a lapse in weekly $600 unemployment payments is expected to have immediate economic effects. The Senate is expected to engage in a floor battle on the subject as soon as today. 


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAs Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on Harris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (R-Ky.) and GOP leadership are eager to make Democrats go on the record as bipartisan talks appear far from a deal. But the votes could also highlight differences among Senate Republicans, who have struggled to agree on what to do about the now-expired benefit and have been all over the map on a number of issues related to a potential massive package. 


Following the meeting, Schumer indicated that while progress was made in other areas, none has been made to rectify the unemployment insurance issue. 


"They’re sticking to their position,” the New York Democrat said when asked if they made any headway on the topic. 


According to a new NPR/Ipsos poll released this morning, the public is soundly behind an extension of benefits. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said that they support an extension, with 65 percent saying that the federal government should take on additional debt to pass another relief package to give direct payments to all Americans. 


The Wall Street Journal: Democrats, White House upbeat after new talks on coronavirus aid bill.


Manu Raju, CNN: As nation grapples with crisis, McConnell and Schumer aren't negotiating — with each other.


The New York Times: With jobless aid expired, Trump sidelines himself in stimulus talks.


With the four negotiators struggling to reach a deal, President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE said on Monday that he is looking at stepping in where he can, including a halt to revived tenant evictions and to lower payroll taxes, which is one of the president’s leading ambitions. 


“A lot of people are going to be evicted, but I’m going to stop it because I’ll do it myself if I have to,” Trump said Monday at an event at the White House. “I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders, and we’re looking at that very seriously right now” (The Hill).


The Associated Press: Waves of evictions expected in many states after moratorium lapsed.


The Washington Post: Trump says he’s examining executive orders on stopping evictions, payroll taxes if he can’t reach a deal with Democrats.


The Hill: Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs.


The Washington Post: As Trump’s latest effort for new FBI headquarters falls flat, Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySpending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Trump, Pelosi barrel toward final border wall showdown On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds MORE (R-Ala.) moves parts of the bureau to Alabama.


New York Daily News: “Tell the truth”: New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for High Court's COVID-19 decision Vaccine skepticism emerges as early test for Biden MORE (D) lashes out at Trump for dropping the ball on the coronavirus.


> The Independent Restaurant Coalition is lobbying Congress with a new TV and online ad asking lawmakers to pass the Restaurants Act to create a $120 billion grant program to buoy small eateries, large independent restaurants and many jobs. The voiceover in the ad comes from the instantly recognizable Morgan Freeman.  





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.


CORONAVIRUS: State officials continued on Monday to wrestle with tough decisions about reopening schools against the backdrop of changing coronavirus infection rates and angst among parents, teachers and school administrators about what the fall term will bring.


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Monday used an executive order to nullify a Montgomery County edict that would have shuttered in-person learning at all non-public schools. His order was seen as a victory for religious and private schools in a largely liberal, Democratic county (The Washington Examiner).


Cuomo on Monday said parents will be the “ultimate decision makers” about whether they send their children to school this fall. The governor said he will decide later this week about whether to reopen New York schools, but he said it falls to parents to judge if they are comfortable sending their children back into classrooms. They won’t do it if they are uncertain, he said.


Although the nearly 700 school districts in New York submitted plans to the state last week, they signaled a range of adaptations and uncertainty as districts detailed online, in-person and hybrid approaches to instruction (Syracuse.com).


> National Guard: The president on Monday extended through the end of December federal funds for the state-based National Guard as part of the ongoing coronavirus response, but Trump reduced the funding to 75 percent reimbursement rather than 100 percent, according to a presidential memo, for states and territories other than Florida and Texas, which are experiencing dire outbreaks of COVID-19. 


Governors under the umbrella of the National Governors Association (which Hogan leads and Cuomo is about to begin chairing this month) on Monday asked the president to extend Guard funding, which would have run out on Aug. 21 for help in operating coronavirus testing sites as well as food and medical supply distribution points (The Hill).


California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomVaccine skepticism emerges as early test for Biden Mayor of Denver apologizes for holiday travel after advising residents to stay put California, Texas shatter single-day nationwide record for new coronavirus cases MORE (D) had some positive news to share about COVID-19 on Monday: Hospitalizations were down slightly (10 percent) over a 14-day period after spiking in the last month (ABC30). 


> World Health Organization: Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the leader of the global public health agency based in Geneva, tamped down expectations for a COVID-19 vaccine ever so slightly when he warned on Monday, "There’s no silver bullet at the moment, and there might never be" (The Hill).


> Surprise medical bills: COVID-19 has led to expensive hospital and physician bills in the United States that hit families unevenly, even for the same basic virus tests. The New York Times asked its readers to share their billing travails for a new in-depth investigative project. Read how you can share information HERE.


> Testing: The White House altered its own testing policy for staff members, mandating random COVID-19 screening going forward (Politico and The Hill).


> ‘New phase’ (rifts are contagious): Early on Monday, the president criticized Deborah Birx, the White House coordinator on the coronavirus task force, for her public comments over the weekend describing a “new phase” of COVID-19 that is “extraordinarily widespread” in urban and rural areas. She said her visits to 14 states underscored that many Americans are on the move this summer while not all heeding federal and state guidelines to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands, avoid crowds, and steer clear of crowded indoor spaces such as bars and restaurants.


Trump tweeted that Birx had criticized the administration’s progress against the coronavirus because Pelosi had been critical of Birx over the weekend. In a tweet, he called Birx “pathetic.” By evening, however, Trump told reporters Birx had been in the Oval Office with him, and he praised the federal infectious disease specialist and clinician. 


The president offered his own report card on the administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: “We have done very well,” he said. “We are doing very well.”  Critics of the president’s leadership and findings in public polls, however, suggest that the high U.S. death toll from COVID-19 and the surge in outbreaks this summer undercut Trump’s rosy assessment.


The Washington Post: Top virus official Birx is new target for Trump.


Trump’s metrics: The president said the total number of COVID-19 tests administered in the United States compared with other countries is evidence of doing “very well.” He said new outbreaks and rising infection rates in some states are “flare-ups” also experienced in other developed countries (The Hill).  


The New York Times: Anthony FauciAnthony FauciVaccine skepticism emerges as early test for Biden Trump encourages Americans to 'gather' in Thanksgiving proclamation despite coronavirus surge Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stepped into the fracas to support Birx’s weekend remarks about a “new phase” of community spread, which he called “insidious.”


> Rural America: The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports that Brewster, Wash., is an example of a rural and agricultural community deeply impacted by COVID-19. One-fifth of the community has been infected by the coronavirus. Across America, agricultural regions worry that migrant workers are especially vulnerable as the fall harvest season approaches. … Midwestern states, including Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma, which previously had low infection rates with the coronavirus, are feeling the severity of the contagion now. Midwestern and East Coast cities are expecting new surges in COVID-19 infections, particularly as college students return to campuses this month and in September (The Washington Post).





POLITICS: Bill Stepien, the president’s newly installed campaign manager, called for more than three scheduled debates between Trump and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation US records 2,300 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic rises with holidays MORE, and he said they should start weeks earlier than the agreed-upon dates in September and October.


Stepien said early voting kicks off in a number of states weeks before the first debate takes place on Sept. 29 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. In total, the Commission on Presidential Debates will host three presidential debates, along with one for vice presidential nominees. 


“We want more debates. We want debates starting sooner,”  Stepien said. “First debate is scheduled for Sept. 29. By that time, 16 states already will have voted. … That’s a concern to me. I want to see President Trump on the debate stage against Joe Biden.”


Among the states that will begin sending out absentee ballots before the end of September are North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan — four battlegrounds that will help sway the election. Team Trump believes debates present opportunities for Biden to commit gaffes, furnishing more potential ammo to use against the former VP in the coming months (The Hill). 


However, supporters of the president are not the only ones who are eager for debates to start. According to The Hill’s Alexander Bolton and Morgan Chalfant, Senate Democrats believe Biden should have no fears debating Trump even as Democratic operatives and analysts suggest the former VP would prosper if he skipped them altogether. 


“We’ve had presidential debates for a long time now, and it’s been a way for a lot of people around the nation to be able to see the candidates in action,” said Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (D-Mass.), who is on Biden’s shortlist of potential running mates. “I know that Joe Biden will show who he is, a man of both empathy and competence, and I’d like the American people to have a chance to see that.”


The emerging consensus from Democratic lawmakers is that Biden should debate Trump, but some senators think one or two debates would be sufficient. A Democratic senator who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, said Biden's team should proceed very cautiously and decide if it's truly in his advantage to square up against Trump. 


Taking the caution a step further, Joe Lockhart, a former Clinton White House press secretary, pointedly called for Biden to avoid debating the president at all costs. 


Elizabeth Drew, The New York Times: Let’s scrap the presidential debates.


The Hill: Poll: Biden leads Trump by 4 points in Ohio. 


Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal: Five China questions for candidate Biden.


The New York Times: Gettysburg? The Liberty Bell? Trump weighs Republican National Convention speech options.





> Primary night: Voters in five states will weigh in tonight in a number of key primary races, headlined by the Kansas Senate primary that Republicans believe could be a make-or-break contest in the GOP’s bid to maintain its Senate majority.


Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallThe Hill's Morning Report - Too close to call Marshall wins Kansas Senate race Live updates: Democrats fight to take control of the Senate MORE (R-Kan.) and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach are duking it out for the GOP nod to potentially replace retiring Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsTrump's controversial Fed nominee stalled after Senate setback Business groups scramble to forge ties amid race for House Agriculture chair Republicans hold on to competitive Kansas House seat MORE (R-Kan.) in the upper chamber, with establishment Republicans hoping that Marshall will pull out a win and give the party little to worry about in November if he prevails tonight. 


However, a win for Kobach, an immigration hard-liner who lost the general election for governor in 2018, could prove disastrous for the party in November, as his presence on the ballot gives Democrats hope of flipping an otherwise unflippable seat in three months. Adding to the party’s agita, Republicans are expecting a coin-flip contest, which might not even be called by the end of the night due to the number of mail-in ballots that have been cast.


The Hill: Five primary races to watch on Tuesday.


James Arkin & Ally Mutnick, Politico: Kansas set to decide Kobach’s fate — and possibly the Senate’s.


The Hill: Former President Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements.


The Washington Post: Trump leans into attacks on mail voting, GOP officials confront signs of Republican turnout crisis.

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! 


Trump is resurrecting the census’s horrific history, by Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Pressure grows on California governor to name Harris replacement MORE (D-Calif.) and Stacey Abrams, opinion contributors, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3i7oQdS


Democrats' silence on our summer of violence is a tactical blunder, by Andrew Stein, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/39UqxIH


We must bolster in-person voting, too, by Charles Stewart and Seth Flaxman, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2DtQnHi


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.


BIRTHDAYS: Obama is 59 today. The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Election Day has arrived Law enforcement braces for unrest after Election Day The Hill's 12:30 Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association -Trump enters debate week after NYT obtains his tax returns MORE also celebrates his natal day.


The House reconvenes for a brief pro forma session at 11 a.m.


The Senate will meet at 10 a.m.


The president participates in a signing ceremony for the Great American Outdoors Act at 10:30 a.m, and will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBiden faces challenges, opportunities in Middle East O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Israeli military instructed to prepare for Trump strike on Iran: report MORE at 12:45 p.m. He will also receive his intelligence briefing at 2 p.m.


HBO’s “The Swamp,” a documentary about Washington insiders, partisan politics and Congress, airs tonight 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) GaetzGaetz: Trump 'should pardon everyone' including himself to quash liberal 'bloodlust' Florida passes 850k coronavirus cases Florida GOP Rep. Mike Waltz tests positive for COVID-19 MORE of Florida, Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieCheney seeks to cool tensions with House conservatives House in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power Ron Paul hospitalized in Texas MORE of Kentucky and Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckOrganizations push congressional leaders to prioritize tech antitrust report The rhetoric of techlash: A source of clarity or confusion? Hillicon Valley: Congressional antitrust report rips tech firms | Facebook tightens ban on QAnon content | Social media groups urged to weed out disinformation targeting minority voters MORE of Colorado as well as Democratic Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE of California and John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesBottom line Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out Congress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe 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.


TikTok: Trump on Monday said he would like to see social media platform TikTok barred from the United States if Microsoft does not reach a purchase deal with the Chinese-owned ByteDance parent company by Sept. 15 (CNBC). China on Tuesday accused the United States of “outright bullying,” AFP reported. … The future of TikTok in the United States was thrown for a loop by a series of comments from Trump on Friday about potentially banning the company. It is not the first time a tech company with ties to China has been under the microscope and could spell a new and more secure future for TikTok (The Hill). … Microsoft’s talks to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations raise ire in China (The Wall Street Journal, subscription).


International: The Vatican said on Monday that the condition of former Pope Benedict XVI, 93, is “not particularly worrying” and that he is not in grave condition (CNN).


Air travel: A slow comeback for some U.S. airlines appears to be gaining confidence during the pandemic, accompanied by strict rules for mask-wearing in airports and in the air. The uptick in flight activity — 2.3 million passengers last weekend, up from 1.8 million in late June — has emerged during the traditional August travel season, which is anything but traditional this year (The Hill). 


Guns: The FBI conducted more than 3.63 million firearm background checks last month, the third highest monthly number on record. You guessed it: U.S. gun sales have surged during the pandemic (CNN).


Sports: The St. Louis Cardinals, the latest Major League Baseball team to deal with a coronavirus outbreak, had this week’s four-game series with the Detroit Tigers postponed after 13 members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week (ESPN). … MLB canceled the 2020 Field of Dreams game, which was set for Aug. 13 in Dyersville, Iowa, between the Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, logistics is the reason for the cancellation rather than COVID-19 (Des Moines Register). 


➔ Stormy weather: Isaias made landfall as a hurricane in the Carolinas overnight and weakened into a tropical storm that is expected this week to bring high winds and rain north along the mid-Atlantic and New England coastline, the National Hurricane Center reported (The Associated Press and NBC News). Damages in South Carolina (pictured) were primarily from flooding. 





And finally … Florida year after year has offered an abundance of news riches: an accused teenage Twitter hacker, hanging chads, mobsters and serial killers, orchid thieves, natural disasters, white-knuckle politics, international intrigue and all manner of public policy challenges.


And then there are the Burmese pythons. They are not native to Florida and are unwelcome because they slither with their constriction capabilities and 88 teeth into the rich ecosystem of the Everglades. The runaway or castoff pets reproduce and eat everything from alligators to dogs. They can grow to gargantuan proportions and are considered a danger to children.  


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission announced last week that the state removed 5,000 pythons from the Everglades with the help of experienced “python hunters” (The Associated Press). 


Five thousand.