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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!



Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 162,938. Tuesday, 163,465.

 

Global coronavirus cases top 20 million.



It was a quiet start to the week on Capitol Hill, with White House and Democratic negotiators remaining at a standstill in coronavirus relief negotiations as Republicans look to pressure the other side back to the table more than two weeks after talks started.

 

After days of chatter centered around unilateral action, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE directly inserted himself into the public back-and-forth with Democrats on Monday, tweeting an open invitation for 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.) to reach out. 

 

“So now Schumer and Pelosi want to meet to make a deal. Amazing how it all works, isn’t it,” Trump tweeted. “They know my phone number.”

 

However, Democratic leaders have shown no indication that they are prepared to blink as they sense that they hold the lion’s share of leverage in discussions. In remarks on the Senate floor, Schumer criticized the president’s executive actions, calling his order on evictions “all sizzle and no steak,” and continued to lay blame at his feet for the lack of a deal (The Associated Press).

 

“President Trump’s response to this crisis is a national and an international embarrassment. The president says, ‘It is what it is,’” Schumer said, referring to remarks Trump made in his headline-making interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan. “The president, his aides, his party in Congress are not even awake to what’s happening in our country. That is the reason why Senate Republicans delayed for four long months, and that is the reason why we’ve been unable to find agreement with the White House.”

 

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, Democrats are leery of litigation to challenge Trump’s efforts to reprogram federal relief funds to help unemployed workers when Congress is at an impasse over new legislation. In an election year, racing to court to try to halt Trump’s fallback of $400 a week is seen by many as politically unwise.  

 

With talks dormant, House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Hoyer on Trump election challenges: 'I think this borders on treason' Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview MORE (D-Md.) announced on Monday that the full House will not convene again until Sept. 14, adding another week to the month-long August recess (The Hill).

 

The Washington Post: Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBiden's Treasury pick will have lengthy to-do list on taxes On 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 MORE try to pressure Democrats back into negotiations on an economic relief bill. Pelosi, Schumer say they favor a legislative compromise. Prospects for any further negotiations were unclear on Monday.

 

Reuters: Relief bill talks stall as parties trade jibes. Trump would like to see Congress pass a bill with stimulus payments for individuals and school funding, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday. 

 

Adding to the issues, funding for state and local governments continues to crop up as a sticking point to reviving the ongoing coronavirus relief package discussions. Before talks collapsed late last week, the two sides remained far apart on how much additional aid they will accept as part of a larger package, with Democrats wanting $915 billion and Republicans offering $150 billion. 

 

Mnuchin — who believes resolving state aid and unemployment is a linchpin of a larger deal — on Monday called the Democratic request "absurd.” However, as The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports, Democrats warn that without a significant influx of new money, state and local governments will have to lay off workers and cut essential services in the middle of a pandemic. 

 

Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Monday that Trump’s stopgap offer to extend federal unemployment benefits of $400 per week on a cost-sharing basis with states through the Federal Emergency Management Agency could be administratively operational “in the next week or two.” The secretary said that “most of the states will be able to execute” within that time frame if they agree to participate as outlined in the president’s Saturday memorandum.

 

Yahoo Finance and Reuters: Wall Street analysts split over whether Trump’s executive actions are an incentive or disincentive for Congress to come together over what many investors initially anticipated would be a $1.5 trillion relief measure signed in August. 

 

The Associated Press: No federal relief leaves states, cities facing big deficits.

 

The Hill: Governors air frustrations with Trump on unemployment plans.

 

The Hill: Trump, who was briefly pulled from the Brady Press Briefing Room on Monday in response to an armed shooter outside the White House fence, says he is “seriously” considering a capital gains tax cut in the “upcoming few weeks.”

 

> Senate GOP investigations: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Wis.) on Monday subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray for documents but not testimony related to the origins of the 2016 Russia investigation. The senator’s first subpoena of the special congressional investigation is considered unusual in that Trump appointed Wray. Johnson, who is a Trump ally, outlined the aims of the investigation in a lengthy letter that refers to assumptions and hypotheses about federal and news media “activities that seek to undermine the president’s policies” (The Hill).

 

Less than three months before the presidential election, Johnson’s panel is investigating former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE and his son Hunter Biden to examine what the chairman calls “the appearance of profiteering off Vice President Biden’s official responsibilities” in Ukraine in 2014. Although the accusations against the Bidens have long been a favorite theme for Trump and conservatives, there has been no evidence of misconduct by Biden in Ukraine during his tenure as vice president.

 

Jonathan Turley, opinion: “Did the FBI mislead the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Steele Dossier? The media is not interested.”

 

 

 



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LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS: Biden is widely expected to make his vice presidential pick in the coming days before the Democratic National Convention — a move that will mark a key strategic decision with big implications for his campaign and his presidency if he wins the White House.

 

As Amie Parnes writes, the half-dozen top contenders all would offer different kinds of advantages for the former VP with key demographic groups and as advocates for a potential Biden administration. 

 

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisKamala Harris calls nurse on Thanksgiving to express gratitude in fight against COVID-19 Trump campaign loses appeal over Pennsylvania race The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE (D-Calif.) remains the odds-on favorite to get the nod, and confidants and longtime allies to Biden say she makes the most sense as a running mate during the campaign and a governing partner for him on Capitol Hill. 

 

“I think she remains a low-risk pick for him,” said one source who speaks to Biden. “She doesn’t have a lot of baggage, and she has relationships on the hill which could help him as president.”

 

Even with the clock set to strike midnight on the VP search, Democrats continue to push other candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks MORE (D-Mass.), the preferred choice among progressives. The New York Times reported Monday night that Biden’s pick is expected to be revealed midweek. 

 

Responding to a question during his press briefing on Monday night, Trump called former White House national security adviser Susan Rice a “potential liability” if she were selected by Biden to be his running mate. Trump repeated his factually unsupported view that former President Obama and Biden “spied on my campaign” using U.S. intelligence agencies and that Rice was among top officials who “knew about it.”

 

Annie Linskey, The Washington Post: Biden mulls his VP pick from his beach house, as Trump supporters dot the boardwalk.

 

Politico: “He better pick a Black woman”: Biden faces Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerPope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Oregon governor urges hosts to 'uninvite' guests MORE (D) backlash.

 

The Washington Post: Biden wins Sierra Club’s endorsement.

 

The Hill: Trump says he'll accept nomination from either White House or Gettysburg.

 

Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press: Analysis: Trump has a go-to solution, and it's more Trump.

 

> Primaries: Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarMeet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' MORE (D-Minn.) faces a tough primary battle tonight as she pushes to become the latest member of “the Squad” to survive a challenge from Attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, a well-funded opponent.

 

Melton-Meaux posted a $3 million second fundraising quarter and outraised Omar by a 6-to-1 margin — a difference that is rarely seen by a challenger, leading to speculation that he could pull off a shocking upset. However, liberal groups, Democratic House and Senate leaders, and Squad members have rallied behind the Minnesota progressive to try to help her win a second term.

 

The race comes after Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTrump will soon be out of office — but polarization isn't going anywhere Trump tweets Thanksgiving criticism of NFL QBs for kneeling Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' MORE (D-Mich.) both won primary contests against well-financed candidates. 

 

The Hill: QAnon supporter in Georgia heads into tight GOP runoff.

 

NPR: Two Georgia congressional districts set to hold GOP primary runoffs.

 

 

 

 

Elsewhere on the primary front, Wisconsin election officials are pushing to avoid a repeat of the chaotic April 7 elections, which became a symbol of the challenges the coronavirus pandemic poses to voting in 2020, when voters go to the polls tonight.

 

As Max Greenwood reports, state officials have already taken several steps to head off public health concerns surrounding the primaries. The Wisconsin Elections Commission issued clarifying guidelines in late July requiring poll workers and election observers to wear face coverings, with voters being asked to wash their hands both before and after they cast their ballots.

 

In Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, 168 polling stations with added safety equipment will be open — a major uptick from the handful open in April’s Democratic presidential primary contest, which led to hours-long lines and crowding where social distancing became unavoidable.

 

The Associated Press: Constraints gone, GOP ramps up effort to monitor voting.

 

The Hill: Lincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire.

 

> U.S. Census and congressional districts: Low response rates and a rushed in-person census count threaten the integrity of population figures gathered every 10 years. A dozen or more House seats are in play as states race to get their residents counted before time runs out (The Hill).  

 

> Health care and 2020: Trump on Monday explained that an executive order “in the not too distant future” affirming that Republicans support mandated health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, already law under the Affordable Care Act, would be “a signal to people” and a “very important statement” before the election (Axios).



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CORONAVIRUS: Nationwide, new cases of COVID-19 have now fallen for three straight weeks, although the United States still accounts for a quarter of the global total of 20 million cases. Last week’s U.S. improvement came largely from recent hot spots, a fact hailed by Trump in remarks to reporters on Monday. In a “fairly short period of time,” the president said of the pandemic, “we will be in very, very good shape in this country.” 

 

Asked about the 163,000 COVID-19 fatalities in the United States to date, Trump said the death toll would have been 1.5 million to 2 million people if he had not shut U.S. borders to China. “We’ve called it right,” he said.

 

Arizona’s confirmed cases of the coronavirus have plumbed by more than 48 percent in the last week, and on Sunday, the state reported fewer than 1,000 cases for the first time since June 29. Mississippi and Texas had the highest positive rates for the coronavirus in the country at 21 percent, compared with a nationwide rate of positive cases of 8 percent, according to The COVID Tracking Project (Reuters).

 

> Vaccines: Russia on Tuesday registered a coronavirus vaccine as effective for use with patients and President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinScarborough says he'll never return to Republican Party after GOP supported Trump Will Biden choose a values-based or transactional foreign policy? Russian vessel threatens to ram US warship in disputed waters in Sea of Japan MORE’s said one of his daughters was inoculated. News of the use of a vaccine before customary phase three trials with thousands of human subjects was greeted with international skepticism. Russian authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to receive the new vaccine (The Associated Press).

 

> Border hazard for U.S. travelers?: The administration is considering barring U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents from re-entering the United States if an official “reasonably believes” they were exposed to or may be infected with a communicable disease, including COVID-19 (The New York Times and Reuters).

 

> Sports: Speculation spread rampantly on Monday as the Big Ten and other Power Five conferences move toward potentially canceling the college football season in the fall due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. 

 

On Monday, ESPN and the Detroit Free Press reported that the Big Ten was on the verge of scrapping the fall sports season, with other conferences — including the Pac-12 — potentially following suit today.  However, a number of Big Ten coaches indicated their support to move ahead with a planned 2020 schedule, including Ohio State’s Ryan Day (school pictured below) and Penn State’s James Franklin. Nebraska head coach Scott Frost went so far as to open the door to playing a non-Big Ten schedule in 2020 in order to play (ESPN). 

 

Trump agreed, tweeting his desire to see teams move ahead with a fall season. 

 

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay,” Trump said while quote-tweeting Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. “Play College Football!” he added (The Hill).

 

ESPN: Sources: Mountain West to postpone fall sports season.

 

New York Post: Marcus Stroman becomes second New York Mets player to opt out of season. 

 

 

 

 

> Washington, D.C.: Twenty-nine high-risk states are on a list in the nation’s capital for 14-day self-quarantine requirements for visitors, with Delaware, Washington and Ohio removed on Monday and Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Minnesota added because of the coronavirus (WTOP).  

 

> South Dakota: The 80th annual 10-day rally for motorcycle enthusiasts in Sturgis, which began on Friday and ends on Aug. 16, is welcoming tens of thousands of visitors, many of whom tell reporters they are skeptical about COVID-19 or at peace with the risks, should the virus find them (The New York Times). Sixty percent of the 7,000 Sturgis residents, when surveyed, did not want to hold the event this year, but the city council voted for it anyway. The rally represents about $800 million in revenue for the state. In the past, the event attracted 500,000 people, but some organizers expect fewer attendees this year. Some health experts worry the mass gathering, where few wear masks and revelers eat, drink, socialize and work on their bikes in close proximity, could become a “superspreader” for transmission of the coronavirus (CNN).

 

 

 

 

Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero (D) tested positive for COVID-19 five days after coming in close contact with a relative who contracted the coronavirus (Pacific Daily News). 

 

Antonio Banderas, 60, tested positive for the coronavirus, he announced in Spanish on Instagram. The actor, producer and director, who suffered a heart attack in 2017, said he is convalescing while in isolation and celebrating his birthday (CNN). 



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

History’s lessons for Joe Biden, by Charles Lane, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3it5lMP 

 

Who is at risk if college football is played this fall? by Sheldon H. Jacobson, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/30I9KFQ 



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We support updated regulations to set clear rules and hold companies, including Facebook, accountable for:

 

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WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon in a pro forma session.

 

The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. for a pro forma session.

 

The president at 12:30 p.m. will host a telephone call with sheriffs from the Oval Office.

 

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 is traveling this week to the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria and Poland. 

 

INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live on Thursday hosts “Breaking Through: U.S. Businesses Powered By Global Exports.” Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenIt's time for Congress to act: Save jobs and stabilize the aerospace industry Democratic lawmaker calls for stronger focus on trade leverage to raise standards The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance MORE (D-Wash.), co-chairman of the congressional U.S.-China Working Group; former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez; and others will join a conversation moderated by The Hill's Steve Clemons. RSVP: https://bit.ly/3kjRWZl

 

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: Lebanon’s government on Monday stepped down in the wake of the Beirut port blasts last week that devastated the city and killed more than 200 people and left 300,000 homeless. Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he and his government were resigning as protesters demonstrated in the streets near parliament for a third straight day (pictured below). “May God protect Lebanon,” Diab said (The Associated Press). … Hong Kong: The Apple Daily tabloid in Hong Kong responded with defiance on Tuesday to the arrest of owner Jimmy Lai under a new national security law imposed by Beijing (Reuters). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday called Lai a “patriot” and said it is unlikely China will change its tough stance toward Hong Kong (Reuters).  … Trump on Monday said he will seek to postpone the annual Group of Seven (G-7) summit until after the election rather than host a virtual event in September. He said he would “invite certain people who are not in the G-7,” including Putin (CNN).

 

 

 

 

Urban unrest: In Chicago on Monday, hundreds of people swept through the Magnificent Mile and other parts of downtown while some smashed windows and looted stores after midnight, carrying shopping bags filled with merchandise and confronting police — at one point exchanging gunfire with officers, authorities said. At least 100 people were arrested. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her city “will just not tolerate it” (Chicago Tribune). … In Portland, Ore., demonstrations, which began after the death of George Floyd two and a half months ago, were declared a riot on Sunday night as people blocked roads and set dumpsters on fire (The Associated Press and KSBY). … A 22-year-old off-duty police officer was in critical condition on Monday with a gunshot to the neck after a Sunday mass shooting in Southeast Washington, D.C., during a neighborhood gathering at which 21 people were injured and one was killed. Police believe there were four shooters who collectively fired 100 rounds (WTOP).



THE CLOSER

And finally … Here is a nice coronavirus headline that originated in France. ... A bumper bonanza of flamingo offspring is nudging naturalists to ponder whether the absence of airplane traffic, noise and human activity during the pandemic helped the showy birds we recognize for their impossibly pink plumage.

 

More than 50,000 flamingos have amassed in the wetlands of southern France in the Camargue region, along with offspring sporting dusky juvenile coloring. The numbers of pink flamingos this year may be the highest since experts in France began keeping records 45 years ago, said Thierry Marmol, the guardian of the vast ecosystem.

 

France’s two months of strict confinement to contain the coronavirus may well be the reason, but it’s still too soon to confirm that the lockdown was a factor in what Marmol said is “one of the best four years of all time” for pink flamingos in the Salins.