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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association – Virus bill unlikely to pass this week

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday. 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. Wednesday, 156,830.


Worldwide confirmed coronavirus fatalities are 700,900.

House and Senate Democrats and White House negotiators said they made progress on Tuesday, swapping offers and making concessions in the first serious signs of an emerging stimulus measure as lawmakers prepare to leave Washington after next week for an August recess and rigorous campaign season.


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters that the two sides have an understanding as they push toward the ambitious goal of a deal by week’s end and ultimately bill passage next week. The new timeline comes after a week and a half of initially moribund meetings among Mnuchin, Pelosi, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). 


“We’re not at the point of being close to a deal, but we did try to agree to set a timeline,” said Mnuchin (pictured above). “We’re going to try to reach an overall agreement, if we can get one, by the end of this week, so that legislation could then pass next week.“ 


Pelosi added that the two sides “agree that we want to have an agreement.”


The Hill: Negotiators hit the gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts. 


The Wall Street Journal: White House coronavirus talks make progress in bridging gaps.


The Washington Post: White House, Democrats agree to try to reach a coronavirus relief deal on evictions, unemployment aid by end of this week.


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes, the two sides met for the eighth time since last Monday, this time for roughly 90 minutes, as urgency grows for lawmakers to strike a deal in expeditious fashion. After being miles apart on a number of issues at the start of the week, Schumer told reporters that the two sides are making concessions as they claw toward a potential resolution.  


“We really went down issue by issue by issue slogging through this. They made some concessions, which we appreciated. We made some concessions, which they appreciated,” Schumer said. “We’re still far away on a lot of the important issues but we’re continuing to go back.”


However, many sticking points remain between the four negotiators. Among them is still the overall price tag, with Pelosi setting the cost of a bill at $3.4 trillion — the same price as the HEROES Act, which the House passed in May. The bill was subsequently dismissed out of hand by Senate Republicans and the Democratic price tag remains a non-starter with GOP negotiators. 


“Let me be clear: We’re not going anywhere close to $3 trillion. That’s just ridiculous,” Mnuchin said after the meeting, with Republicans sticking to their $1 trillion price point (CNN).


The four negotiators are set to meet once again today, and are expected to take part in a separate meeting with the postmaster general as Democrats push for more funding over concerns that the Postal Service could be swamped by absentee ballots in November.


With negotiations under way, the Senate is expected to scrap the first week of its planned August recess and remain in Washington through next week (The Hill).


The renewed push for a deal also is expected to temporarily stave off any executive orders by the White House. Among the actions the White House said it was exploring: a delay in the collection of federal payroll taxes and an administrative approach to enhanced unemployment benefits.


“I may not have to sign [executive orders]. Progress is being made,President Trump told reporters at the White House.


The Hill: Democrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks.


The Associated Press: Endangered GOP senators are a driving force behind getting to a deal.


Yahoo! Money: Coronavirus stimulus: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says any Trump-Democrats deal works for him amid GOP disarray.





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: In the absence of a national testing strategy for COVID-19, governors formed a first-of-its-kind purchasing agreement they hope can make rapid-detection tests more accessible. The states are Maryland, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Louisiana and Massachusetts, plus North Carolina, which signed on Tuesday night. The governors, both Republicans and Democrats, said on Tuesday that additional states and cities may join and that talks have begun with one of the two companies approved by the Food and Drug Administration to sell point-of-care antigen tests that can detect the virus in less than 30 minutes.


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) negotiated the deal during the final days of his tenure as chairman of the National Governors Association, and his office said the Rockefeller Foundation is willing to act as the financing entity if needed (The Washington Post).


The Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports that few of the so-called rapid antigen tests have been approved by the FDA because they are typically less likely to detect small amounts of virus compared with the gold standard lab tests the United States has relied on for COVID-19.


But as demand climbs, those lab tests take longer to process, which prolongs the period between testing and results. The delays, described as days and in some cases weeks, render the tests essentially useless for outpatients. What rapid antigen tests lack in high sensitivity they make up for with speed and low cost.


> Vaccine news: Novavax on Tuesday announced its vaccine candidate produced promising immune response in the early-phase trial data (CNBC).


> New York tri-state + New England: New York, New Jersey and Connecticut added Rhode Island to the quarantine travel advisory list on Tuesday. … In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and the city’s health commissioner were at such loggerheads about the city’s pandemic response that the health commissioner quit (The New York Times).


> Schools: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said Tuesday that students in school districts that hold classes exclusively online without receiving state approval will not receive credit. The announcement comes one day after two Iowa school districts said they plan to defy the governor’s mandate that at least 50 percent of classes be held in person this fall. “Schools that choose not to return to school for at least 50 percent in-person instruction are not defying me. They are defying the law,” Reynolds said Tuesday during a press conference (Des Moines Register). 


> Georgia: Gwinnett County near Atlanta, which has the largest school district in the state and at least 260 employees currently off the job because of COVID-19 infections, on Tuesday announced a phased-in plan for reopening schools. The school district will start the term on Aug. 12 with all students receiving digital instruction. After that, the county will begin bringing in a limited number of grade levels at first and then add more grades on a staggered basis (WSB-TV2). … Atlanta Public Schools will postpone the first day of class until Aug. 24, two weeks later than the district initially planned. The school board this week voted unanimously for a delayed start, which officials said would give teachers and families more time to prepare for virtual instruction. The district previously said it would hold online-only lessons for at least the first nine weeks of the year, or until there is minimal or moderate spread of the coronavirus. The board also approved a change to allow the district to require students to wear masks while in school buildings (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).


> Mississippi: Gov. Tate Reeves (R) ordered that masks are now required in public settings statewide, school openings are delayed in eight Mississippi counties considered coronavirus hotspots, and Reeves ordered that all children and adults must wear masks in school settings (Mississippi Clarion Ledger). 


“I want to see college football,” Reeves said. “The best way for that to occur is for us all to realize that wearing a mask — as irritating as that can be — I promise I hate it more than anyone watching — is critical.”


More COVID-19 updates: White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien returned to work after self-isolation following his diagnosis with asymptomatic COVID-19 infection (The Hill). … Clorox CEO Benno Dorer says Clorox wipes, the popular pandemic cleaning product, will not be fully restocked until next year (The Washington Post). … A new study finds that a financial crisis looms for hundreds of colleges and universities, and not just because of the pandemic (NBC News).





POLITICS: Senate Republicans scored a massive win on Tuesday night as Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) defeated former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the state’s Senate primary, likely taking the state off the board of contested states in November in the GOP’s bid to keep its Senate majority (The Hill).


National Republicans were expecting a close race and potentially a long week ahead to count mail-in ballots. However, as of late Tuesday night, Marshall held an 11-point advantage (38 to 27 percent) lead over Kobach, who Republicans wanted no part of after he blew the state’s gubernatorial contest two years ago, raising fears that his presence as the nominee could imperil the party’s majority. Republicans can only afford to lose a net three seats if Trump wins reelection, and two if Biden wins.


“The significance of Doc Marshall’s win cannot be overstated,” said Josh Holmes, a top adviser to McConnell. “The music could’ve stopped for a Republican majority on Tuesday night.”


Marshall will face Democrat Barbara Bollier in the general election, with the winner replacing the retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).


The Hill: Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Kan.) loses Kansas primary to State Treasurer Jake LaTurner after voter fraud charges.


In the shocker of the night, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), a 10-term congressman, was upset by Cori Bush, a nurse and progressive activist, handing the progressives another big win this cycle and ending a political dynasty in St. Louis politics (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). 


Clay and his father, former Rep. Bill Clay (D-Mo.), represented the area since 1969. The loss, which comes two years after Clay defeated Bush by 20 points, makes Clay the seventh sitting member of Congress to lose renomination, and the third Democrat after Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Dan Lipinski (Ill.) (The Hill).


The Hill: Missouri votes for Medicaid expansion over governor’s objections.


The Washington Post: Six weeks late, winners are declared in the New York City primaries.


The Associated Press: “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) leads in Michigan primary.


The Washington Post: In a bad sign for fall, mail delays mar voting.


> Snail mail: The United States Postal Service is under intense partisan scrutiny from both Trump and Democratic lawmakers, who are warning the agency is ill-equipped to handle the tens of millions of mail ballots expected to be sent in for the November election. 


As The Hill’s Jonathan Easley writes, many states have moved to expand access to mail-in balloting in an effort to reduce in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, leading to growing concerns about the possibility that Postal Service delays could draw the vote count out for days or weeks past Election Day. There are fears that late, missing or disqualified mail ballots will lead to lawsuits and questions about the integrity of the election. 


“The ability of the U.S.P.S. to function knows no party, you can’t tell if the ballot is Republican or Democrat when it’s in an envelope,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, the president of the U.S. Vote Foundation. “We believe this is a bipartisan issue of great concern.”


The coronavirus pandemic has hampered post office operations and led to delays in mail delivery, adding to the already serious financial pressures on the Postal Service. Trump has been warning that Democratic efforts to expand access to mail voting will lead to chaos and delays. Democrats are accusing Trump of dismantling the Postal Service in an effort to make it more difficult to vote by mail.


The Hill: Trump shifts, encourages vote by mail — in Florida.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Biden faces balancing act.


Politico: “Never Trump” Republicans team with progressives to convert the president’s religious base.





> Golden State Democrats: Two prominent members of the California Congressional delegation are front-runners to become former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate, creating a divide among the state’s Democratic class over who to support for the position. 


As Amie Parnes writes, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the state’s former attorney general, has been viewed as the favorite to be Biden’s running mate for some time, but buzz has recently centered around Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus and a former state House leader.


The Hill: Bass honored US Communist Party leader as “friend and mentor” in 2017 remarks.


Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press: Biden campaign announces $280 million ad buy through fall.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


Trump’s election delay a red herring, by Reed Hundt and Jason Harrow, opinion contributors, The Hill.


The one thing Joe Biden should think about in a running mate, by Matt Bai, contributing columnist, The Washington Post. 


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 will meet Friday at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony at 10 a.m. from former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates as part of the panel’s probe into the underpinnings of the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, launched in 2016 during the Obama administration (The Hill). 


The president will meet with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) at 3 p.m. in the Oval Office.


Vice President Pence travels to Tampa, Fla., for a roundtable discussion at a women’s health clinic about the administration’s opposition to abortion. Pence will also speak about religious freedom at the 15-acre Starkey Road Baptist Church compound in Seminole, Fla., in Pinellas County. The vice president begins a reelection campaign tour seeking support from evangelical voters during a ticketed hotel event in Clearwater Beach, Fla., at 2:30 p.m. Those with tickets must agree in writing that “in attending the event, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, and waive, release, and discharge Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.” Pence returns to Washington this evening.


The National Governors Association convenes virtually for its annual summer meeting. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) becomes the chairman and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is expected to become vice chairman.


Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will be interviewed today by David Westin for Bloomberg’s “Balance of Power” TV program, which begins at noon.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a news conference at 10:30 a.m.


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


➔ International: Two massive explosions on Tuesday at a port in Beirut, Lebanon — felt as far away as Cyprus — killed at least 100 people, wounded more than 4,000 and left many unaccounted for, according to The Associated Press this morning, which reported the tallies are likely to rise. On Tuesday, blasts were described as the result of highly explosive materials in a warehouse that caught fire, but the exact cause was under investigation (The Washington Post). Health officials in Beirut warned that the explosions left a toxic cloud of nitrous oxide over the city and instructed residents to wear masks and stay indoors. … Trump at the White House was advised on Tuesday of the cataclysmic destruction, which was captured on video and shared on social media (Reuters). Trump later told reporters the event was an “attack,” offering no source for his conclusion. In Beirut, no evidence has emerged as of this morning of an attack. Pompeo extended U.S. condolences to the people of Lebanon for the “horrible tragedy” and offered American assistance on Tuesday, adding the United States awaited Lebanon’s conclusion about a cause.





TikTok: Apple on Tuesday denied an Axios report that the company has an interest in buying the popular TikTok app. Facebook previously expressed interest in buying, which went on to become TikTok, and Microsoft has confirmed interest in TikTok. Trump wants to ban TikTok over its ties to China and has given Microsoft in the United States until Sept. 15 to try to ink a deal. The president says the U.S. Treasury wants to take a cut of such a purchase, an unusual proposition that he called “fair” (USA Today).  


➔ ALERT: Children and acute flaccid myelitis: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday warned parents and clinicians that between August and November it expects to see more cases of a rare illness that causes permanent paralysis and respiratory failure in children, known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). Symptoms can include recent or current respiratory illness, fever, pain or numbness in limbs, difficulty walking, talking or swallowing, headache, back or neck pain, or facial weakness. Because damage can take place within hours, parents should immediately seek medical care if a child develops sudden arm or leg weakness. The government said it does not yet know how many deaths are connected to AFM, which is believed to be caused by viruses, adding that many children who develop the condition will have a permanent disability (The Hill).


And finally … Some people are just good at multitasking. Imagine combining a 100-mile ultramarathon race with a new role as a state Supreme Court justice. Who would even think of this?


Jill Karofsky did it all on Aug. 1. She ran an endurance race, took the oath as a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, and made sure that her offspring, Danny and Daphne, were there at the 35-mile mark to witness her swearing-in during a pause in her athletic achievement in Basco, Wis. It took the judge about 34 hours to finish, with plenty to think about along the route (The Associated Press).




Tags Andrew Cuomo Anthony Fauci Bill de Blasio Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Doug Ducey Eliot Engel Joe Biden Karen Bass Lacy Clay Mark Meadows Mike Pompeo Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Pat Roberts Rashida Tlaib Roger Marshall Sally Yates Steve Watkins Steven Mnuchin

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