The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind – VP nominee Harris, VP Pence crisscross Wisconsin today
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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths this morning: 188,941.
Vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) will make her first campaign appearance in battleground Wisconsin at an event in Milwaukee today, while Vice President Mike Pence heads to western Wisconsin.
President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were in Kenosha, Wis., last week, appealing to voters in a swing state the president won by less than a percentage point in 2016.
Harris will tour an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training facility and speak with union members and Wisconsin labor leadership and then attend a campaign roundtable with Black Milwaukee business owners where she’ll focus on racial equity as a part of economic recovery.
The Associated Press: Harris makes her first campaign trip of the campaign, heading to Milwaukee today.
Jonathan Martin, The New York Times: What to watch as Harris, Pence campaign in battleground Wisconsin today.
The Hill: Biden’s campaign has increased outreach to Black voters in the battleground states “If we think about the swing states where Black voters turnout dropped off in 2016 — Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina —[Biden] needs Black turnout to increase back to or near Obama levels,” Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of left-leaning BlackPAC, told The Hill. “They certainly cannot be where they were in 2016.”
Biden, with help from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, will campaign in Harrisburg, Pa., today and Michigan on Wednesday, both states that helped Trump win in the Electoral College in 2016. Trump on Tuesday will be in North Carolina, then campaign in Michigan a day after Biden’s visit (Detroit Free Press). On Friday, both candidates will be in the same place for the first time when they travel to Shanksville, Pa., to commemorate the anniversary of Sept. 11.
On Sunday during a wide-ranging CNN interview, Harris said she believes Russian interference could cost the Democratic ticket the White House, when paired with Trump’s attacks on the credibility of the voting system.
“I am clear that Russia interfered in the election of president of the United States in 2016,” she said. “I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee. We have published detailed reports about exactly what we believe happened. And I do believe that there will be foreign interference in the 2020 election, and that Russia will be at the front of the line.”
The Hill: Election officials and businesses hope to face the threat of Russian interference in the U.S. election with far more knowledge and preparation than last time.
Addressing questions about a potential coronavirus vaccine, Harris told CNN she’s skeptical about the safety of any pharmaceutical cure that administration officials say may emerge before the November elections.
“I would not trust Donald Trump. It would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about,” the senator said (The Washington Post).
Biden’s campaign plans to intensify its strategy in the final two months of the campaign, ramping up the argument that Trump owns the pandemic response and record high unemployment facing the nation. During the all-important post Labor Day stretch, Biden will continue appearances in a handful of key states to make his arguments, The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports. “Our message is working,” said one Biden ally close to the campaign. “We are systematically addressing the biggest problems on people’s minds. “The polls are stable because the support is real.”
Politico: Harris is about to get the Trump treatment.
CNBC: The Biden campaign previews its election strategy for the fall.
The New York Times: Biden leads in the homestretch while Trump takes aim.
The New York Times: Biden’s language on China points to a drastic shift in thinking.
Democrats are bracing for potential chaos on Election Day, fearing that Trump’s unsubstantiated warnings about voter fraud and the expected influx of absentee ballots will lead to a bitter and protracted fight over the election’s results, The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports. Two events last week amplified those fears: warnings of a potential “red mirage” on Election Night, in which in-person vote tallies and mail-in ballots counted after Nov. 3 go to different candidates, and Trump’s recommendation twice last week that voters should “test” election security by trying to vote twice.
The Hill: Secretaries of state warned on Sunday that Election Day could definitely drag out this year before the next president is known.
> Debates: Trump and his campaign team are preparing for the first presidential debate Sept. 29, eyeing the one-on-one format with Biden as a prime opportunity to sway a potentially large number of voters (The Hill). … Trump began meeting with his debate team in July, and the key coaches are familiar from his 2016 campaign (Axios). … The Trump team plots how to bust Biden in the debates (Politico).
The Hill Sunday shows upshot: Stimulus, election preparations dominate.
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LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: Congress this week will return to Washington and begin talks to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government running until the beginning of December, and separately, Senate Republicans will float a $500 billion coronavirus relief bill they call “targeted,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.
The Republican relief package, if it clears the Senate, is not expected to become law but will provide political cover for the White House and GOP lawmakers as months of back-and-forth talks resume with House Democrats over the size and scope of a coronavirus bill.
“The president and I believe we should do more stimulus,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday” while mentioning $1 trillion as a ceiling. “We have about 7 and a half million jobs we need to get back until we’re back to where we were, and we want to help small businesses. We want to help businesses that are particularly impacted by this, and we’ll continue to work on proposed new legislation” (The Hill).
Mnuchin (pictured below with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows) said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want the short-term spending measure to be devoid of policy riders and extraneous provisions (Reuters).
But lawmakers will be sorely tempted to attach funding priorities to a must-pass measure that averts a partial government shutdown, which looms after Sept. 30 without legislative action. For example, House and Senate Republicans in states affected by Hurricane Laura are eager to add emergency disaster assistance funding to any bill headed to Trump’s desk (Insurance News Net and The Hill).
> State, local budgets: States are considering big cuts to spending on schools, vaccination programs and job-training. They are weighing tax hikes on millionaires, cigarettes and legalized marijuana, and pondering whether to borrow and draw from rainy day funds while trimming state employees’ pay. Those are all proposals under consideration to shore up distressed finances amid a sharp drop in tax revenue caused by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic (The Associated Press).
> Defense bill: The House and Senate are expected to begin negotiations in earnest on a massive defense policy bill, which Trump has threatened to veto over a provision that would require the Pentagon to rename military bases that are named after Confederate leaders. Staffers on the House and Senate Armed Services committees have started preliminary talks following passage in July of each chamber’s version of the $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act. The Hill reports five issues to watch.
MORE 2020 POLITICS: Recapping new polls this morning, Wisconsin likely voters favor Biden by 6 points in a CBS News-YouGov survey released on Sunday (The Hill). … Trump now leads Biden in Texas by 2 points — a toss-up contest as Biden’s slender lead evaporates in the Lone Star State among likely voters, according to a poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler (The Hill). … Nationally, Biden leads Trump by 10 points, according to the same CBS News-YouGov poll (The Hill). … On foreign policy, Americans support U.S. engagement in the world but in practice, they worry other countries take advantage of the United States, according to a detailed analysis of current public opinion surveys by journalist Bruce Stokes, an associate fellow with Chatham House.
> Trump’s base is shrinking: That’s a key finding of an analysis of how the U.S. electorate has changed since 2016, based on census data analyzed by the Brookings Institution and NPR HERE. Nationally, the president’s base has gone from 45 percent of eligible voters to 41 percent.
> Data disputes: With political aims, some leading Republicans would rather downplay the steep U.S. death toll from the coronavirus before Election Day. Although many public health experts believe the number of U.S. fatalities from COVID-19 is likely higher than reported by public health departments around the country, some conservatives discount the statistics, arguing the nation’s death toll is smaller than the nearly 189,000 people killed by the coronavirus to date. Trump and two GOP Senate candidates in tough races, incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who is a physician, tout a widely-debunked falsehood that fewer than 10,000 people have died from the virus in the United States. Meanwhile, fatalities attributed to the coronavirus hover around 1,000 per day (The Hill). Facebook recently removed a post by Marshall about COVID-19 death data because it was false (The Wichita Eagle).
> Congress & elections: Feeling more confident about taking back the Senate in November, Democratic lawmakers are haggling over a potential Biden agenda for 2021. Some push immigration reform, while others favor gun control and climate change (The Hill). … Trump looms large over campaigns for control of Congress (The Associated Press).
> Jacob Blake speaks: On Saturday, lawyers for the 29-year-old Black man shot by police in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 23 released a video message recorded from his hospital room. “Please, I’m telling you, change your lives out there,” Blake told well-wishers. He described his physical condition and pain after police bullets left him paralyzed when he was shot seven times in the back. The case, which sparked public outrage and demonstrations, is under federal investigation (CBS News).
> Early voting: Registered Democrats are outpacing Republicans in requests for mail-in ballots as key battleground states see a significant increase in requests. Early voting began Friday in the presidential election, with North Carolina becoming the first state to send out absentee ballots (NBC News).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CORONAVIRUS: Public health experts shudder during the pandemic when revelers let loose over three-day weekends. They expect the Labor Day holiday to be followed by new coronavirus outbreaks in the United States — if Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July are guides (The New York Times). In terms of daily case counts, the United States was in worse shape going into this holiday weekend than it was for Memorial Day. The nation now averages about 40,000 new confirmed cases per day, up from about 22,000 per day ahead of the end-of-May holiday weekend (The New York Times).
> Global worries: India has overtaken Brazil as the nation behind the United States with the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. India has reported at least 4.2 million cases and the virus continues to roar through major cities with no peak or relief in sight (Reuters).
> U.S. spread: Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that about 20 percent of the U.S. population could be “exposed” to the coronavirus by the end of the year, causing its spread to slow after considerable “death and disease along the way.” (To date, there have been 6.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the United States, a nation of 330 million people).
“The reality is that if we continue to see spread at the rate that we’re seeing it now — or something higher than what we’re seeing — by the end of the year, upwards of 20 percent of the population in the U.S. could have been exposed to this coronavirus,” Gottlieb said. “And we’re likely to see the virus itself start to slow down just because of the natural progression of the epidemic and the fact that we’re heading out of the winter into the spring and the summertime as we enter 2021. This could run its course in 2020, and as we get into 2021, start to slow down.”
Fatalities in the United States from the virus by Jan. 1 could exceed 410,000, according to a disease model by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The model takes into account evolving human behavior around the country, such as mask-wearing (CNN).
> Vaccine drama: Public fears that the FDA will bow to political pressure and clear a COVID-19 vaccine before it’s ready are rising. The president’s interference in public health matters has undercut faith in the U.S. vaccine approval system (The Hill). … For that reason, pharmaceutical companies competing in the race to develop effective vaccines against COVID-19 are expected this week to unveil a voluntary joint pledge about vaccine safety. It’s an unprecedented effort to reassure the public that the companies will not seek a premature approval of vaccines under pressure from the administration (The New York Times). … International intelligence missions to obtain vaccine research are intensifying as China and Russia expand their espionage efforts to steal work conducted by the United States at both research institutes and companies (The New York Times).
> Campus contagions: Where college and university students are congregating as campuses welcome students for the semester, COVID-19 follows. College towns are the newest front in the battle against the coronavirus, with cases of infection spiking around campuses from Texas to Iowa to North Carolina (The New York Times). … For example, within days of the University of Iowa’s reopening, students were complaining that they couldn’t get coronavirus tests or were bumping into people who were supposed to be in isolation. Undergraduates jammed sidewalks and downtown bars, masks hanging below their chins. Now, Iowa City is a full-blown pandemic hot spot — one of about 100 college communities around the United States where infections have spiked in recent weeks. Although the rate of infection has bent downward in the Northeast, it remains high across many states in the Midwest and South — and evidence suggests that students returning to big campuses are a major factor (The New York Times). … Northeastern University in Boston dismissed 11 students who recently gathered in a hotel room being used as dorm space because they violated the school’s COVID-19 policies. The university will not refund their tuition, marking one of the most severe punishments college students have faced for breaking pandemic rules. Experts frown on tossing college students out of school for pandemic violations because it does not solve the No. 1 challenge: “Using a punitive approach doesn’t address the problem, which is that students have unmet needs for social contacts. That’s not going to go away if you throw students off campus,” said Julia Marcus, a Harvard Medical School epidemiologist (The Washington Post).
The New York Times opinion by writer Krista Diamond: The strange grief of losing my sense of taste after COVID-19 infection. “The ability to taste was my connection to life before the coronavirus. And suddenly it was — and still is — gone.”
Science protections must be enforceable, by Jeff Ruch, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3jS4eqJ
Pennsylvania moves toward adopting a smart way to reduce election chaos, by The Washington Post editorial board. https://wapo.st/3jSRtwd
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
The Senate meets on Tuesday at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Brett Ludwig to be a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The president has no public events on Labor Day.
Vice President Pence will travel to La Crosse, Wis., to speak about the economy at Dairyland Power Cooperative at 11:30 a.m. He returns to Washington this evening (The Associated Press).
INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live hosts The Future of Education on Thursday for a two-part event (at 11 a.m. examining innovations in K-12 and at 1:30 p.m. discussing higher education). Can this moment serve as a catalyst to address persistent divides and inequities? Featuring former University of Miami President and former Health and Human Services Secretary Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.); Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and vice chairman of the House Republican Conference; Sal Khan of Khan Academy Inc. of California and many more experts. RSVP HERE.
➔ Economy: The U.S. recovery is slowing, even as the unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent in August, economists believe. More job cuts are ahead (NBC News). … Nearly two-thirds of restaurants in New York City may be out of business by January without some sort of government help, according to a new study (CNN). … Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during an NPR interview on Friday that recovery in the United States will take “years.” … The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda reports on five things to watch when it comes to payroll tax cuts ordered by Trump. One big idea: Few businesses are likely to participate. … The pandemic and Americans’ instinct to conserve cash have damaged the bottom line for charities that are trying to increase their fundraising to meet needs (The HIll).
➔ Lobbying for U.S. consumption: This year, the Consumer Brand Association found that some of its member companies, including Lysol and Clorox, unexpectedly rocketed to public attention as the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States. Bryan Zumwalt, the association’s executive vice president of public affairs, describes a tumultuous period for U.S. consumers and major corporate brands as well as his own association, which rebranded last year from the former Grocery Manufacturers Association (The Hill).
➔ Courts: U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif., issued a temporary restraining order late Saturday against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department halting a plan that would wind down by the end of September the government’s ongoing process of counting the population. The Commerce Department, which oversees the census process, is ordered to freeze its fast-track schedule until a court hearing takes place on Sept. 17. The concerns raised relate to potential undercounts of the population because of an abbreviated census schedule. The census, which takes place every 10 years, results in federal decisions about congressional district representation known as apportionment as well as the allocation of $1.5 trillion in federal funds to state and local governments. Koh’s temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October (The Associated Press).
And finally … Labor Day offbeat news, since readers with good sense are doing other things on this holiday and may have missed a few headlines:
- The mayor of Danbury, Conn., has accepted comedian John Oliver’s offer of $55,000 for Danbury charities in exchange for the city’s renaming of the local sewage plant in honor of the late-night funnyman. Mayor Mark Boughton (R) set one hurdle on Sunday as he milked a long-running schtick with Oliver that has nothing to do with anything except kooky entertainment. “We do have one very specific condition. You must come here to Danbury and be physically present when we cut the ribbon,” Boughton said in a Facebook video.
- “Trumptilla” boat parades, during which the president’s supporters display flags, banners and maximum MAGA enthusiasm, are all the rage in various bodies of USA water during the three-day holiday (Alabama.com). Trumptilla in Palm Beach, Fla., today at 11 a.m. boasts the participation of Donald Trump Jr. (The Palm Beach Post). A Saturday Trumptilla on Lake Travis in Texas resulted in at least four sunken boats and lots of water rescues (The New York Times).
- In central Japan, a sushi chef overcame sluggish demand for platters of his delicacies by creating a “Delivery Macho” service during the pandemic. He now uses shirtless, out-of-work bodybuilders to make sushi home deliveries. Currently a sensation on Twitter, the chef is reeling in 10 orders a day at a minimum charge of $66 per order (Reuters).
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