The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence

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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 each morning this week: Monday, 162,938. Tuesday, 163,465. Wednesday, 164,537.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' Fauci predicts high schoolers will receive coronavirus vaccinations this fall Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE selected Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWhite House says Biden would prefer to not end filibuster Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package It will be Vice (or) President Harris against Gov. DeSantis in 2024 — bet on it MORE (D-Calif.) as his running mate, signaling his focus on diversity, experience and decadeslong ambition to win the White House.


I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden said in a text message to supporters and a subsequent tweet. 


The duo will speak together in Wilmington, Del., today and accept their party’s nominations at the Democratic National Convention beginning on Monday, with Harris appearing at a pared-down event in Milwaukee and Biden speaking to delegates virtually from the East Coast on Aug. 20 in a distanced concession to the coronavirus.


Harris, 55, who was the attorney general of California before her election to the Senate in 2016, is the third woman in U.S. history to be selected as a vice presidential running mate on a major-party presidential ticket and the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent. She endorsed Biden, 77, on March 8 after withdrawing from the Democratic presidential primary on Dec. 3. 


Biden tweeted on Tuesday that Harris worked “closely” with his late son, Beau, a former Delaware attorney general, when she held the AG job in Sacramento. “I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I'm proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign,” he wrote as part of an elaborately vetted and organized campaign rollout complete with a “Biden Harris” logo.


The Hill: Biden picks Harris for VP.


The Hill: How Biden decided on Harris. 


SFWeekly: Harris’s record in California.


Niall Stanage: Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris.


The Associated Press: Biden picks Kamala Harris as running mate, first Black woman.


The Hill: Former President Obama on Harris as VP: “Joe Biden nailed this decision.”


Harris’s supporters maneuvered for months to see her on the ticket with Biden. They imagine her in 2024 competing to be the Democratic nominee, Edward-Isaac Dovere reported in The Atlantic in June.


For Biden, who played the loyal and experienced No. 2 to the nation’s first Black president, the roles bend again to meet the political moment. Harris represents her party’s future. The former vice president, who is vying for the top job for a third time in 45 years, is already enshrined in the nation’s past.





While Biden and Democrats perceive the selection of Harris as a welcome opportunity in many ways, Republicans sensed a different political opening, dubbing her “Phony Kamala” in a rapid-release ad (The Hill). Shortly after, President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE appeared in the White House briefing room and insisted he had privately hoped Biden would select her.


“She was my No. 1 draft pick,” Trump said, adding that the senator “did very, very poorly in the primaries. … I was a little surprised that he picked her.”


“She was very, very nasty,” Trump said. “She was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden. She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden, and it’s hard to pick someone that’s that disrespectful” (The Hill).


The president revised his appraisal of Harris rendered just weeks ago when he described the senator as a potentially “fine choice” for the Democratic ticket (The Hill).


Other Republicans were quick to point out past derogatory comments by the California Democrat about Biden, including in April 2019 when Harris said she believed women to be credible who complained they felt uncomfortable after unwanted touching, often in public, by the garrulous former vice president. 


One date that will be circled on many calendars: Oct. 7. Harris will join Vice President Pence for the lone debate between the running mates.


“I'll see you in Salt Lake City,” Pence said during a rally in Mesa, Ariz., following the announcement (Fox News).


Because  the coronavirus has affected almost every aspect of campaigning since March, Harris’s involvement is expected to be different than that of her VP predecessors. Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  Overnight Defense: White House open to reforming war powers | Army base might house migrant children | Fauci scolds military on vaccine White House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push MORE (D-Va.), the Democratic vice presidential nominee four years ago, recalled in an interview with The Associated Press that he and his wife did nearly 1,000 events, fundraisers and media interviews in the 105 days he was on the campaign. Kaine, describing himself as a “road warrior,” said he visited 140 cities in 40 states — but noted this year the running mate could be expected to do even more, from the comfort of her home.


“The bad news is, it’s gonna be hard to go to 140 cities in 40 states. The good news is, I spent a lot of time in the air getting from one place to the next,” Kaine said. He estimated he did on average seven events a day during the campaign, but now that the vice-presidential pick can do them by Zoom, they might be able to do 15 or 20.


The Hill: Sarah Palin, former vice presidential candidate selected by the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGraham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Former Trump Defense chief Esper to join McCain Institute We need an independent 1/6 commission that the whole country can have confidence in MORE (R-Ariz.), offers Harris advice: “Don't get muzzled.”


The Hill: Here’s who could fill Harris’s Senate seat if she is elected vice president.


Earlier on Tuesday, the Democratic National Convention rolled out its list of speakers for the four-day confab that will take place in a fully virtual setting. Here’s a list of notable speakers for each night: 


Monday, Aug. 17: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' Progressives' majority delusions politically costly Sinema pushes back on criticism of her vote against minimum wage MORE (I-Vt.), former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  Hillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction FDA signals plan to address toxic elements in baby food MORE (D-Minn.) and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' Michelle Obama on conversations with her daughters: 'Me and Barack, we can't get a word in' Michelle Obama offers advice with release of young readers' edition of 'Becoming' memoir MORE.


Tuesday, Aug. 18: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin firm on support for filibuster, mulls making it 'a little bit more painful' to use Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE (D-N.Y.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressives' majority delusions politically costly Manchin: Every member of the Senate thinks minimum wage should increase Progressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks MORE (D-N.Y.), former President Clinton and former second lady Jill Biden.


Wednesday, Aug 19: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump White House associate tied to Proud Boys before riot via cell phone data Greene sounds off on GOP after Hill story 'Bloody Sunday' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis MORE (D-Calif.), former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGraham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Hillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction Jill Biden redefines role of first lady MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Philly city council calls on Biden to 'cancel all student loan debt' in first 100 days Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case MORE (D-Mass.), New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamMore states follow California's lead on vehicle emissions standards New Mexico fines two megachurches K each over packed Christmas Eve services CHC urges Biden to choose Latinos to head Education Department, SBA: report MORE, Harris and Obama.


Thursday, Aug. 20: Sen. Cory BookerCory Booker'Bloody Sunday' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis It's in America's best interest to lead global COVID-19 vaccine distribution ABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent MORE (D-N.J.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Senate begins marathon vote-a-rama before .9T COVID-19 relief passage The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote Biden turns focus to next priority with infrastructure talks MORE, Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthFDA signals plan to address toxic elements in baby food White House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Duckworth, Norton call for improved accessibility for the blind at FDR memorial MORE (D-Ill.), and Biden. 


The Hill: Democrats ramp up warnings of Russian election interference. 


NPR: Republican convention to mandate masks, track attendees' movements.


The Hill: Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan Omar Omar: 'Disappointing' that we're 'sending money to less people than the Trump administration' House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade MORE (D-Minn.) fends off primary challenge in Minnesota.


The Hill: QAnon backer Marjorie Taylor Greene wins Georgia GOP runoff. 


Reactions to Harris as running mate:

Dan Morain, opinion contributor, The Washington Post: America is about to see what smart Republicans saw in Kamala Harris years ago.


The Wall Street Journal editorial board: The Democrats choose Harris: Biden bows to the party’s requirements with the California senator.


Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post: The qualities that hampered Harris’s campaign could be the ones that make her the ideal running mate. 


Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg Opinion: Kamala Harris is now the Democratic mainstream.


Los Angeles Times editorial: Kamala Harris VP pick shows Biden isn’t afraid to have a strong woman at his side.





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CONGRESS: Once again, White House and Democratic negotiators made no progress toward ending the stalemate in talks toward a coronavirus relief package, prompting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) to urge the two sides to come back to the table and hammer out a deal. 


Since releasing the GOP’s coronavirus plan more than two weeks ago, McConnell has stayed on the sidelines and out of negotiations, leaving the White House to haggle for the GOP, which remains fractured on a possible deal. However, McConnell weighed in on Tuesday, appearing on Fox News, where he said that “the American people are sick of the stalemate,” as the two sides have not convened for discussions since Friday. 


“The stalemate needs to be ended. It doesn't make any difference who says let's get together again, but we ought to get together again,” McConnell said. “It's time to sit down and get a deal done,” he added (The Hill).


McConnell also laid blame at the feet of Democratic negotiators, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that their insistence that a deal include issues such as repealing the cap on the state and local tax deduction is standing in the way of reaching a deal.


We’re waiting for the Democrats to indicate some interest in getting an outcome. In the meantime, as all of you know, school’s about to resume, unemployment insurance plus-up has expired, and [the Paycheck Protection Program] is not able to function,” McConnell said. “There's a sense of urgency that the American people need us to address the situation. And so I think it's high time the Democrats indicated they were willing to talk rather than continuing to insist on things, for example, like tax breaks for rich people in blue states” (The Washington Post).


Schumer, however, panned McConnell and the GOP for the breakdown in negotiations. He noted that he and Pelosi asked Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinBiden cautious in making Trump tax returns decision Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsTrump attacks Karl Rove: 'A pompous fool with bad advice' How scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses MORE to meet in the middle on a package just north of $2 trillion, adding that the idea was rejected.


Pelosi also told The Washington Post’s Paul Kane that she has not had any communication with either Mnuchin or Meadows, adding that, “Our differences are vast.”


Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press: What’s keeping Washington from a virus deal, explained.


Bloomberg News: U.S. stimulus impasse could last to September, escalating risks.





> Social Security: The president is taking a political risk by moving unilaterally to suspend the payroll tax and vowing to make the relief permanent, grabbing on to what traditionally has been called the third rail of politics: the future of Social Security. 


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, for each month the payroll tax is suspended, it costs the Social Security Trust Fund $83 billion dollars, with the total eclipsing $1 trillion if the suspension lasts throughout 2021 — and Republicans are taking notice. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyWhite House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role MORE (R-Iowa) has warned that a payroll tax cut creates a “PR problem” for the GOP because it may be seen as raiding Social Security.


CORONAVIRUS: Younger, sicker, deadly: Public health experts and clinicians are seeing a rise in patients ages 25 to 44 with the coronavirus who are seriously ill. Nationally, the share of all deaths that occur in younger age groups remains small — 38 coronavirus deaths out of every 1,000 in July were attributed to younger people, but that is up from 22 per 1,000 in May. The coronavirus is becoming one of the leading causes of death for the age group, roughly comparable to the number of younger people who were murdered over the same time period in recent years (The New York Times).


Race is a factor, according to state data. Among people ages 25 to 44 in Florida, for example, African Americans make up 18 percent of the state’s population but account for 44 percent of deaths. Black Floridians older than 65 are dying at twice the rate of white residents, but among younger adults, the death rate is nearly three times as high.


> Vaccines: Science journalist Peter Coy reports in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine this week (“The Path to a Covid Vaccine”) that new tools have led to a profusion of creativity and potential pathways to a vaccine for the coronavirus. One approach to a cure would tell the body essentially to mass-produce its own vaccine from a segment of messenger ribonucleic acid from the virus. … Scientists are skeptical that Russia developed an effective, safe vaccine for COVID-19, as it asserted on Tuesday, while skipping the large human trial phase customarily required in pharmaceutical development (Reuters). First to get the vaccine in two weeks will be medics, Moscow said on Wednesday while dismissing the naysayers hesitant about safety (Reuters). … Mexico will conduct COVID-19 vaccine human trials for China and the United States and is weighing production there (Reuters).  … Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Tuesday that he expects to see a vaccine in December (The Guardian). The secretary, traveling in Taiwan, echoed Trump in blaming China for the spread of the novel coronavirus (CNN). 


> Texas: The state has surpassed 500,000 coronavirus cases in a population of nearly 30 million people. "The bottom line is Texans realized how dangerous COVID-19 can be," Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said while encouraging the use of masks and social distancing (CNN).


> March on Washington Aug. 28: A national commemoration of the 1963 civil rights March on Washington (the 2013 version is pictured below) is being reconfigured to comply with coronavirus protocols. The Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the organizers, will ask some participants to join satellite marches planned in states that are considered coronavirus hot spots (The Associated Press).





> Sports: On Tuesday, the Big Ten Conference disappointed legions of hopeful fans and announced the postponement of the 2020-2021 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten championships and tournaments, because of the pandemic. The Pac-12 soon followed and canceled its fall football season.


Five months after the first inkling of coronavirus cases in the United States led to the cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournament, the pandemic has impacted a sport that generates billions of dollars for the schools that compete in it. Despite pleas from players, coaches and Trump in recent days to play on, 40 percent of major college football teams decided to punt on a fall season (The Associated Press). ESPN compiled a conference-by-conference look at where things stand.

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! 


Back-to-school: The approach Congress should support, by Jodi Grant of the Afterschool Alliance, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/30LixXr


The revolt of the Republican strategists, by Ross Douthat, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3kBFgNu  


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The House meets at 2 p.m. on Friday in a pro forma session.


The Senate convenes at 11 a.m.


The president participates at 3 p.m. in a back-to-school event to be held in the library in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is an intriguing but little-used space for presidential happenings.


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoIt will be Vice (or) President Harris against Gov. DeSantis in 2024 — bet on it DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Pompeo not ruling out 2024 White House bid MORE traveled Monday to Pilsen in the Czech Republic, and has a busy schedule today in Prague (The Associated Press and the South China Morning Post). He headlines a morning discussion with the tech community, then a working lunch with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis. The two men hold a joint news conference in the afternoon, after which Pompeo plans to meet with U.S. Embassy staff and families. This afternoon, the secretary delivers a speech at the Czech Senate in Prague, which will be live streamed on the State Department website. At 3:25 p.m. local time, Pompeo tours St. Wenceslas Chapel inside St. Vitus Cathedral, after which he meets with Czech President Milos Zeman. The secretary will continue his travels this week in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Vienna, Austria, and Warsaw, Poland. Accompanying Pompeo is his wife, Susan.


Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports at 8:30 a.m. on U.S. consumer prices in July.


INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live on Thursday hosts “Breaking Through: U.S. Businesses Powered By Global Exports.” Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenLIVE COVERAGE: House votes to name Speaker COVID-19 is wild card as Pelosi faces tricky Speaker vote Sunday Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore tests positive for COVID-19 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.


International: Because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the United Kingdom is now officially in recession (BBC). Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanouskaya from Belarus revealed Tuesday that she fled the country, citing the safety of her children, following massive protests after leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in Sunday’s presidential election (Reuters).


Courts: A federal appeals court on Tuesday appeared unsympathetic to arguments that it should order a district court judge to dismiss criminal charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The full Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reheard oral arguments about how the Flynn case should proceed at the lower court after the Justice Department abruptly moved to withdraw its case against the former Trump adviser (The Hill).


Dogs are magnetic in ways we don’t see: A new study suggests dogs may have an additional — albeit hidden — sensory talent: a magnetic compass. The sense appears to allow them to use Earth’s magnetic field to calculate shortcuts in unfamiliar terrain.


The finding is a first in dogs, says Catherine Lohmann, a biologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who studies “magnetoreception” and navigation in turtles. She notes that dogs’ navigational abilities have been studied much less than those of migratory animals such as birds. “It’s an insight into how [dogs] build up their picture of space,” adds Richard Holland, a biologist at Bangor University who studies bird navigation. Read about dogs’ “scouting runs” mapped by scientists (Science Magazine).





And finally … The last Blockbuster location on the planet is in Bend, Ore., which is news to us. But even more noteworthy, it is something more than a remnant of VHS rental movie entertainment from the wayback world known as the 1990s. It’s an Airbnb. Kind of like the “Night at the Museum” trilogy but without the wise-cracking security guard. Bookings start Aug. 17, and details are HERE (Buzzfeed).