The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Markey defeats Kennedy; Trump lauds America’s enforcers in Wisconsin
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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 has the reins while Al Weaver is off this week. You can find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and please recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 183,068. Tuesday, 183,598. Wednesday, 184,689.
Today President Trump will visit North Carolina, a state he won in 2016, to talk about America’s military might and defenders of U.S. freedom.
On Tuesday, the president was in another battleground state, Wisconsin, to hail law enforcement in Kenosha (pictured above) while warning that, in his view, Democratic politicians leave America’s citizens vulnerable to violent mobs and “domestic terrorism.” By Labor Day, Pence, who also campaigned this week in swing-state Pennsylvania, will be in LaCrosse, Wis., and is expected to echo many of the Trump campaign’s MAGA themes (The Associated Press).
The loop through five or six key battleground states will continue as Trump and Pence work to mobilize their base of largely white, older and non-college-educated voters who pay close attention to the president’s messages about risks of “lawlessness” from outsiders and what he described this week as malevolent people plotting in the “dark shadows” of major cities.
Trump toured property damage in Kenosha on Tuesday while largely sidestepping the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old Black man shot in the back more than a week ago and still hospitalized. Hundreds of peaceful anti-Trump protesters congregated at the spot where Blake was shot seven times in the back (The New York Times).
Blake’s shooting on Aug. 23 set off days of demonstrations and renewed calls for investigations and policing reforms while Black Lives Matter protests continued in Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C., and other cities.
“We should talk about the kind of violence we’ve seen in Portland and here and in other places,” Trump said when asked by reporters about systemic racism, police killings and calls for racial justice.
The Hill: Trump announced the administration would provide roughly $1 million to support Kenosha law enforcement, nearly $4 million for local businesses affected by recent unrest and close to $13 million for statewide efforts to prosecute criminals.
The Associated Press: Trump visits Kenosha and calls violence “domestic terrorism” while reluctant to address racial justice.
The Associated Press analysis: Trump bets presidency on “law and order” theme.
BuzzFeed News: A Portland shooting victim, who died Saturday during competing protests between supporters of Black Lives Matter and conservative backers of law enforcement, was identified on Tuesday as 39-year-old Aaron Danielson, a resident of the city. Danielson appeared to have been at the protests with Patriot Prayer, a far-right pro-Trump group active in the Pacific Northwest. Police say they are still investigating and cannot say if the fatal shot to Danielson’s chest was politically motivated.
The New York Times’s Visual Investigations unit describes how the fatal shooting in Portland unfolded, using videos and images HERE.
The Washington Post: Upper Midwest emerges as most crucial Biden-Trump battleground.
> Cash dash: Democratic nominee Biden — who today will focus on the challenges of reopening schools during the pandemic (The Hill) — is expected to shatter records with more than $300 million raised in August for his campaign, surpassing previous monthly hauls by candidates of both parties. It is more, for instance, than Trump and Hillary Clinton raised in August 2016 — combined. In July, Trump and the Republican National Committee out-raised Biden and the Democrats, $165 million to $140 million. The Trump campaign has not announced its August fundraising total but has said it raised $76 million over the our-day GOP convention last week, slightly more than the $70 million the Biden campaign said it collected during the Democratic convention a week earlier (The New York Times).
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LEADING THE DAY
2020 POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Congressional incumbents swept races in the Massachusetts Democratic primary on Tuesday, with Sen. Edward Markey successfully rebranding himself as a progressive warrior to defeat Rep. Joe Kennedy III, while Rep. Richard Neal held his seat against a challenge from Alex Morse.
Markey, 74, who helped champion the Green New Deal with firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), called his win important for the future of the left wing of his party during a victory speech Tuesday delivered in his hometown of Malden, Mass. “It is a real reaffirmation of the need to have a movement, a progressive movement of young people demanding radical change, demanding justice,” he said (The Hill).
Kennedy’s loss in a race in which the competitors were largely in sync on policy raised questions about whether the storied family political dynasty that held the nation’s imagination for the better part of a century came to an end in 2020 (The Boston Globe, subscription). The defeat marked the first time in U.S. history that a Kennedy lost a congressional race in the state.
The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports how Markey, who at one point was assumed to be headed toward retirement, triumphed after Kennedy, 39, the grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, embarked with a double-digit lead in what became a bare-knuckles race that eventually cast him as an underdog.
CBS News: Markey wins.
The Associated Press: Markey defeats Kennedy III in Massachusetts’s Senate primary.
The Hill: Neal beats back a primary challenge from Morse in Massachusetts’s 1st Congressional District.
ABC News: Neal defends seat against progressive challenger.
The Hill: Rep. Seth Moulton fended off two primary challengers to win the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts’s 6th Congressional District on Tuesday. He’s favored to win reelection in November.
Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek special elections issue: There are at least nine types of voters who will decide the 2020 elections (including “shy Trumpers,” “double haters,” “swinging seniors” and Florida Latinos).
More politics news: An internal U.S. Postal Service audit faulted both the Postal Service and local elections offices for more than 1 million primary election ballots that were mailed to voters late, raising questions about trouble ahead as tens of millions of voters are expected to rely on sending their ballots by mail by Nov. 3 because of the pandemic (The New York Times). … Twitter removed an Aug. 12 video from a Trump tweet after a copyright complaint involving use of the song “Electric Avenue” by the president’s campaign (The Hill). … It remains unclear exactly why Trump went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with unscheduled haste and vague explanations in November. A new book by New York Times Washington correspondent Michael Schmidt reports that Vice President Pence was alerted to be on standby in case he had to temporarily assume the powers of the presidency (CNN). Trump on Tuesday denied on Twitter that he suffered from a series of mini-strokes (The Hill). However, no mainstream news outlets had reported he went to Walter Reed for suspected strokes (CNN).
More headlines: In Alaska, the demise of the state’s bipartisan House majority is in part due to national Republicans who invested a lot of money during the primaries to defeat some of their own members, even though the party has clear majorities in both legislative chambers (The Hill). … Some lobby groups representing industries such as financial services and oil and gas describe their worries about potential impacts next year, should Democrats have control of the White House and both chambers of Congress (The Hill). … At the same time, JPMorgan Chase & Co. says investors should prepare for rising odds that Trump wins a second term, even if the summer’s bets were on Biden (Bloomberg News). … Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) takes heat over her recent visit to a San Francisco hair salon (The Associated Press).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CONGRESS: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday told Congress that Trump backs more COVID-19 relief for struggling workers and businesses. With more urgency, he said he is ready to restart negotiations with Pelosi after weeks of stalemate.
Senate Republicans next week plan to bring to the floor a pared-down COVID-19 relief bill costing approximately $500 billion, but House Democrats have said that proposal falls far short of their compromise bid of $2.2 trillion and are expected to block it. Democrats and GOP negotiators are not expected to resume detailed talks in earnest until later this month (The Hill).
Mnuchin said Trump and fellow Republicans support provisions to approve funding for schools, COVID-19 testing, vaccine development and deployment, more loans to small businesses, continued enhanced unemployment benefits, child care, nutrition, agriculture, help for the Postal Service, and liability protection for universities, schools and businesses (The Hill). The list is designed to complement some of the Democrats’ priorities, although the specifics are far apart.
The Hill: Pelosi said on Tuesday that Democrats and the GOP “continue to have serious differences” on coronavirus relief.
The Hill: House Democrats flag nearly $3 billion in problematic small business relief.
Early in August, Trump walked away from the legislative discussions with Democrats and said his executive pen could implement some of his favored initiatives to help American workers, including a temporary cut in the payroll tax, which is by law paid jointly by employees and employers.
The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda reports that Trump’s payroll tax deferral period begins this month but few businesses are expected to participate in a plan that would boomerang against workers early next year when the relief must be repaid and the government’s largesse in effect reverts to a loan.
Under guidance issued by the IRS last week, employers have the option to stop withholding Social Security payroll taxes from paychecks from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 for employees who earn less than $4,000 on a biweekly basis. The money would then be collected by having businesses withhold catch-up taxes from workers’ paychecks in the first four months of 2021. The administration says the hole in the Social Security Trust Fund will be filled with general revenues, and it has dismissed criticism that unemployed Americans cannot benefit because they have no paycheck. Trump says if he’s reelected, he’ll work with Congress to do away with the payroll tax and make the relief permanent.
“This is like other tax deferrals that we gave, which were very helpful to people,” Mnuchin told the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “This is money in people’s pocket that they need now that is very important and very meaningful.” The secretary a few months ago was not a strong booster of Trump’s payroll tax idea because he said there were not enough votes for it in Congress.
Many employers are wary of Trump’s executive fallback. “It seems risky for employers, so I think they will shy away from it,” said Amie Kuntz, an Iowa-based CPA at RubinBrown LLP.
Payroll tax reductions for federal workers who meet the income threshold outlined by Trump in his Aug. 8 order will kick in by late September (Federal News Network).
IRS guidance for employers explaining the payroll tax changes ordered by the president appeared late last week HERE.
The Hill: The Trump administration on Tuesday issued a sweeping ban on rental housing evictions that tests the legal authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take action to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
Reuters: More Federal Reserve stimulus for the economy is needed “in coming months” to fight pandemic headwinds, Fed Governor Lael Brainard said on Tuesday. The timetable she outlined puts any Fed decision on further economic stimulus beyond the Nov. 3 elections, while acknowledging that the revised framework released last week by the central bank will begin to shape concrete decisions. … Richmond Federal Reserve President Tom Barkin told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the U.S. economy will need sustained support in a slowing labor-market recovery (Reuters).
CORONAVIRUS: New York City’s public school system, the largest in the country serving 1.1 million children, will delay the start of the school year by 10 days to try to avert a teachers’ strike and to give teachers, administrators and families more time to prepare for in-person instruction, which will begin Sept. 21 (The New York Times).
> Nursing homes: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) grew visibly emotional on Tuesday while announcing that his state will lift its ban on visitors at nursing homes ordered in March to try to curb COVID-19 infections at a time when people over 50 and especially over 80 were at the highest risk of life-threatening complications from the new coronavirus. Lifting restrictions on hugging and touching is part of ongoing debate and critics were quick to express concern over what they believe will be a patchwork approach among facilities statewide. It’s unclear how many of the state’s more than 4,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes will choose to open to visitors in any capacity (The Associated Press).
> Convalescent plasma does not improve COVID-19 survival: A panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health undercut an emergency authorization recently issued by the Food and Drug Administration, saying there is not enough evidence to recommend use of convalescent plasma for hospitalized coronavirus patients. It’s the latest clash about hyped, ineffective and dangerous coronavirus treatments or disputed guidance embraced within some parts of the government (Bloomberg News).
> Vaccine triage: A U.S. advisory panel released a draft plan on Tuesday proposing how to ration the first doses of any approved vaccine. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine proposed giving the first doses to high-risk health care workers and first responders. Initial supplies of any early vaccine are expected to be limited to up to 15 million people. Next on the priority list: older residents of nursing homes and other crowded facilities; people of all ages with health conditions that put them at significant danger; teachers and other school staff; workers in essential industries; and people living in homeless shelters, group homes, prisons and other facilities. Healthy children, young adults and everyone else would not get the first vaccinations but would be able to get them once supplies increase, according to the draft plan.
The panel of experts described “a moral imperative” to lessen the burden of COVID-19 on Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and suggested state and local authorities could target vulnerable neighborhoods using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (The Associated Press). The academies group is asking for public comments on the plan through Friday.
> U.S. vs. World Health Organization: The administration said on Tuesday the United States will not join the world health group’s COVID-19 global initiative to develop, manufacture and distribute an effective coronavirus vaccine. The decision represents a gamble by Trump — one that could threaten to leave the United States behind if the first viable vaccine candidate emerges from another country (The Hill).
> The people’s house: The coronavirus prompted the White House to bar tourists during a tumultuous period in which the grounds and residence also became fenced off against anti-Trump protesters. The first family more frequently hosted events that included select groups of visitors during an election year, such as the president’s South Lawn acceptance speech last week. But limited public White House tours are to resume beginning on Sept. 12 (The Associated Press and The Hill).
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What if the Supreme Court has to become involved in the election? by Lawrence Friedman, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3hPYiOh
The coming blue-city exodus, by Merrill Matthews, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2YW0SLq
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene at 10:30 a.m. on Friday for a pro forma session.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. on Friday for a pro forma session. The full Senate is scheduled to meet on Tuesday.
The president will travel to North Carolina to name Wilmington as a World War II Heritage City (an annual designation he created with the Pentagon last year) while aboard the battleship USS North Carolina (North State Journal).
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. (live streamed at www.state.gov).
➔ Administration: Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday announced new restrictions for secret applications made to judges under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for surveillance of political candidates or their aides. The changes are intended to make law enforcement officials more stringent in pursuing the type of surveillance conducted in 2016 on a former adviser to Trump’s campaign. The changes come in response to concerns long expressed by Trump and his allies, who protested irregularities found in FBI wiretap applications under FISA (The Washington Post and The Hill).
FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday said his agency had instituted FISA changes and welcomes the additional restrictions announced in writing by Barr. “The FBI has been working diligently to implement these corrective actions,” Wray said. “The additional reforms announced today, which we worked on closely with the Attorney General’s office, will build on the FBI’s efforts to bolster its compliance program.”
➔ Courts: A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday granted Trump’s request to delay Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from accessing his tax returns in connection with a criminal probe of his business practices. The unsigned order by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan was a victory for the president in his yearlong quest to block Vance (pictured below) from enforcing a grand jury subpoena to obtain copies of eight years of personal and corporate returns. Trump challenged an Aug. 20 decision by a U.S. district judge to let Vance obtain the returns from the president’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA (Yahoo News).
And finally … In the wild, word is out about the charms of a Safeway store in Kings Beach, Calif., at the north end of Lake Tahoe, apparently a popular stop for lumbering bears on the hunt for food. This week, it was the fresh produce display that attracted a furry thief, according to a customer’s video evidence. On Aug. 18, a bear — it could be the same one — made off with a bag of Tostitos from the same grocery store (CBSLocal).
Unfortunately for them, bears are bold when they lose their fear of humans and make a dash for snacks.
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