The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind – Prudent or ‘pathetic’? GOP senators plan to vote on coronavirus relief Thursday
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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 188,941. Tuesday, 189,215. Wednesday, 189,680.
Congress returned to Washington following the Labor Day holiday and picked up right where it left off last month: Haggling over a coronavirus relief package that has remained elusive, with each side accusing the other of not putting their best foot forward as the nation continues to suffer from COVID-19.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reconvened the upper chamber on Tuesday and immediately announced plans for the Senate to bring up a slimmed-down $500 billion relief package on Thursday. In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell pitched the bill as one that should garner bipartisan support as Americans “don’t need us to keep arguing over what might be perfect.”
“Today, the Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues. It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same,” McConnell said in a statement.
“Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation,” he added.
As The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports, the bill includes $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits through Dec. 27, another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding and liability protections from coronavirus-related lawsuits — a key provision for the GOP leader. It also includes $105 billion for schools and an additional $16 billion for coronavirus testing. The total cost of the bill is expected to be roughly half of what Senate Republicans proposed in July.
The Hill: McConnell works to lock down GOP votes for coronavirus bill.
Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press: GOP proposes “targeted” virus aid, but Dems say it is not enough.
The New York Times: Republicans push scaled-back stimulus plan as impasse on virus aid persists.
At best, the bill could pass the Senate, but is dead-on-arrival in the House as it was immediately dismissed by Democratic leaders. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) derided the package as “pathetic” and “fraudulent,” noting that three main sticking points remain outside of the overall price tag: funding for state and local governments, education and for “crushing the virus.”
“What they have is so meager that it insults the intelligence of the American people,” Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “It does not solve the problem and it is not — again, we know that we have to compromise. We know we have to negotiate in order to reach an agreement. We all want an agreement, make no mistake about that, but get serious. Get real, Mitch McConnell.”
Pelosi indicated that lawmakers are willing to work throughout September on a package, with Congress set to be in session as government funding is set to expire at the end of the month. However, she declined to commit to keeping lawmakers in Washington during the final weeks of the campaign.
Adding to the problems on Tuesday, the stock market closed Tuesday with heavy losses, due in large part to a sharp decline in technology shares that had boomed throughout the summer (The Hill).
CNBC: Dow drops 600 points as tech stocks fall again, Nasdaq down 10 percent in 3 days.
The Hill: McConnell tries to unify GOP.
Meanwhile, Pelosi said that while she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are hopeful to get a deal on a clean funding package to keep the government open until December, she awaits President Trump’s position. In previous negotiations, the president has waffled on government spending deals, and has yet to weigh in on the current situation.
“You are never confident about the president when you’re talking about veracity or truth. That is why it is a waste of time to even listen to what he says,” Pelosi said, noting that she and Mnuchin have both acknowledged support for a clean continuing resolution. “It only makes sense to do that and I feel quite certain we will get that done.”
“And if the president chooses to veto a continuing resolution — I would find it hard for him to do that,” Pelosi said. “But who knows?”
The Hill: The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday asked a federal appeals court to rehear the case involving its subpoena to Don McGahn, Trump’s former White House counsel. A panel of judges recently dismissed the lawsuit in a ruling that would essentially render House’s subpoenas legally unenforceable.
In case lawmakers are trying to calculate how large the federal boost to unemployment insurance that ended in July needs to be going forward, a new study finds that $200 per week, rather than the expired $600 per week for individuals in the CARES Act would hold American workers above the federal poverty line. Single-earner families would need an extra $400 per week, according to a report released this morning by the center-right American Action Forum and labor market policy data analyst Isabel Soto. Find the research HERE.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) late on Monday announced a new investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s ties to campaign donations to Trump and GOP candidates made by his former employees. Some former employees in DeJoy’s company say they acted as straw donors who were reimbursed by DeJoy through “bonuses.” DeJoy has denied any such wrongdoing during recent testimony to the House (The Hill), but the circumstances were described by his former employees to The Washington Post and The New York Times.
In agreement with Trump that an investigation may be in order, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters on Tuesday that allegations of campaign finance violations against DeJoy should be examined by law enforcement authorities. “It is potentially a criminal offense. The appropriate authorities need to look at it,” Cornyn said (CNN).
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LEADING THE DAY
2020 CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: In the wake of reports that the Trump campaign could be hitting turbulent financial waters, the president on Tuesday indicated he is willing to spend part of his fortune during the final stretch of the campaign to boost his chances against former Vice President Joe Biden.
Speaking to reporters before traveling to a pair of campaign events in Florida and North Carolina on Tuesday, Trump said that he is willing to invest his own money after his campaign has burned through a reported $800 million.
“If I have to, I would,” Trump said before leaving for Florida. “If we needed any more, I’d put it up personally, like I did in the primaries last time.”
“Whatever it takes,” Trump added regarding how much he’d spend. “We have to win.”
Trump’s remarks came a day after The New York Times reported that of the $1.1 billion the campaign raised between the start of 2019 and July, $800 million has already been spent, putting them behind the 8-ball as the Biden campaign raises prolific amounts of cash. In August, Biden and the Democratic National Committee raised $364 million — a single-month record.
The Trump campaign has not released its August financial totals (NPR).
The president’s comments came with only eight weeks left in the campaign as he and Biden ramp up public campaign appearances despite concerns about spread of the coronavirus.
As Morgan Chalfant and Jonathan Easley write, the candidates’ trips underscore the sense of urgency felt by both campaigns as the Nov. 3 elections near. Biden maintains a significant lead over Trump in national polling, but surveys in some swing states show a tightening race, presenting an opportunity for the incumbent president. The trips also bring the battlegrounds map into sharp relief, giving an indication of the states the campaigns believe will be most important in their paths to 270 electoral votes.
While Biden stayed off the stump on Tuesday, Trump made a pair of campaign stops in key battleground states, including in Florida — the state that could hold the keys to the next four years in the White House.
According to a new poll by NBC/Marist College, Trump and Biden are in a dead heat, with both pulling 48 percent in the survey among likely voters (The Hill). Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is slated to make her first appearance in the Sunshine State as part of the ticket on Thursday.
The Hill’s Campaign Report: Florida hangs in the balance.
The Washington Post: Trump campaigns in North Carolina, reverses on oil drilling in Florida.
Niall Stanage: The Memo: Harris moves to center stage.
FiveThirtyEight’s Tuesday forecast: Biden is favored to win the election.
While public polls show that Biden is entering the post-Labor Day sprint to November holding a substantial lead over the president, Democratic Party activists and operatives across the board have a looming sense of déjà vu hanging over their heads.
In interviews with The Hill’s Reid Wilson, Democratic operatives and staffers continue to voice suspicion over Biden’s lead, confident that something else will go wrong just as it did four years ago when Hillary Clinton’s advantage evaporated in the weeks leading up to Election Day. Many go so far as to compare their skepticism to a form of post-traumatic stress.
“It’s just PTSD,” said Steve Schale, a Florida Democratic strategist who runs a pro-Biden super PAC. “There’s nobody actually working on this race that feels overly confident at this point. There’s a long way to go.”
Bloomberg News: Biden to unveil offshoring plan as Trump’s edge on economy dims.
The Hill: Immigration advocates say they object to the addition of Cecilia Muñoz, a former Obama White House domestic policy senior adviser, to Biden’s transition team.
The Hill: Trump’s battles with the U.S. military raise risks for November.
The Hill: House Democrats’ campaign arm raises more than $22.6 million in August.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CORONAVIRUS: Nationally last week, new infections and deaths from the coronavirus in the United States remained on a downward trend for the seventh consecutive week, a Reuters analysis showed. Nevertheless, 17 states have seen cases rise for at least two weeks, according to a tally of state and county reports. The states include Missouri, North Dakota and Wisconsin, where between 10 percent and 18 percent of people tested had COVID-19.
> Vaccines: Nine drug companies on Tuesday issued a joint statement seeking to reassure the public about the safeguards and testing behind any coronavirus vaccine developed, approved by regulators and released to the public (The Hill). The unusual move is intended to accompany boasts by Trump that an effective cure could be available before Election Day. Hours later, a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical manufacturer, and the University of Oxford, which is now in human trials across the United States, was revealed to be on hold out of “an abundance of caution” because of an adverse reaction seen in a U.K. participant, who is expected to recover from unidentified complications (STAT news). The finding has impacted other AstraZeneca vaccine trials as well as clinical trials being conducted by other vaccine manufacturers, a source told STAT. Adding to intrigue in the competitive vaccine world, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla repeated on Tuesday that clinical trials by his company for a COVID-19 vaccine could be completed by the end of October (The Washington Times), thought to be an extremely rapid timeline.
> United Kingdom: Great Britain is experiencing new outbreaks of COVID-19 that concern Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a coronavirus survivor. Today, Johnson will ban all social gatherings involving more than six people in England and empower police to disperse groups and fine those in violation who are gathered indoors or outdoors beginning on Sept. 14. Parties held in pubs and restaurants will be hit by the new ban, although there are exceptions for funerals, weddings, organized sports and work (Bloomberg News).
> Economic impacts: A new survey released this morning examining how COVID-19 has affected households in some of the nation’s largest cities coast-to-coast finds that at least half of households studied in four major U.S. cities report serious financial problems triggered by the pandemic, and more than half report serious problems caring for their children. The poll released by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, finds that the pandemic impacts described in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston are falling heaviest on households with annual incomes below $100,000 and in Black and Latino families.
The Hill’s Niv Elis reports that the economic recovery from the pandemic appears different across income thresholds. The rich have sustained lighter economic damage, while America’s poor are becoming poorer. Increasingly, economists believe the chances of a V-shaped recovery, with a quick drop and equally quick bounce-back, are slim. Instead, they see diverging paths for the wealthiest and the most vulnerable, a recovery that would look more like a “K,” with the gap widening between the haves and have-nots.
Economists suggest that the ongoing hardships and the foot-dragging by the White House and Congress to provide new federal coronavirus relief funding could undermine Trump’s bid for a second term. The Hill’s Sylvan Lane writes that Trump’s time frame is narrowing to persuade uncommitted voters that an economic rebound is on its way — and that he deserves the credit.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
Make the Senate great again, by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/2F9MIiY
Voting by mail: Are we really playing with fire? by James D. Zirin, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3k1RcY2
An unlawful effort to end evictions, by Alan Morrison, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3idt3wS
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene on Friday at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session. The full House will return on Monday.
The Senate will convene at 10 a.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 receives his intelligence briefing at noon.
Vice President Pence will hold two campaign events to underscore the administration’s opposition to abortion at Cornerstone Ministries Church in Murrysville, Pa., and then campaign at 3 p.m. at PennEnergy Resources LLC in Freedom, Pa. He returns to Washington this evening.
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.
➔ Administration: The president is expected today to announce an additional U.S. troop drawdown from Iraq and is expected to make another announcement in the coming days about the military presence in Afghanistan, according to officials aboard Air Force One on Tuesday (Reuters). …Trump on Tuesday signed an order extending a ban on oil and gas drilling off the Florida coast to include Georgia and South Carolina as he campaigns for reelection. The president made the announcement while in Jupiter, Fla. (Reuters). … The Justice Department intervened in a defamation case brought against the president by E. Jean Carroll, who alleges Trump raped her more than two decades ago (The New York Times). …The United States seeks to decouple the U.S.-China economic relationship in the financial sector in addition to trade and technology, according to an administration report last month (Nikkei Asian Review). … The Census Bureau on Tuesday halted personnel layoffs in order to comply with a judge’s order ahead of a hearing this month to freeze any plans to end the census process early (The Hill).
➔ Burning: California has already set a record this year with nearly 2.3 million acres burned and the worst part of the wildfire season is just beginning. On Tuesday, daring helicopter rescues of trapped residents continued and a group of more than a dozen firefighters found themselves overtaken by wind-whipped flames in the Los Padres National Forest along the state’s central coast. Some firefighters and bulldozer operators suffered burns and smoke inhalation and three were hospitalized, one in critical condition. More than 14,000 firefighters are battling blazes in bone-dry California, which is experiencing days on end of high temperatures and unpredictable winds (The Associated Press).
➔ Policing: Rochester, N.Y., Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, 40, abruptly announced his retirement on Tuesday amid growing scrutiny over the city’s handling of the arrest in March and subsequent investigation into the death last spring of Daniel Prude. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren recently said Singletary misled her until August about Prude’s death, which she said she was told was caused by a PCP overdose but which a medical examiner ruled was the result of asphyxiation. Prude’s treatment by police was recorded by officer body cameras, copies of which were released to Prude’s family and lawyers under the Freedom of Information Act (Reuters and The Associated Press).
➔ Tech and higher education: Television host and correspondent Rita Cosby, chair of the Global Service Institute at Long Island University, recently teamed up to focus on promoting service opportunities through the launch of a fall speakers series and a Global Service app to encourage public service and volunteerism.
➔ Podcast wars: Add another item to former President Clinton’s résumé: Podcast host. The 42nd president is set to launch a podcast in early 2021 on iHeartMedia. The podcast will follow up on a previous one (titled “Why Am I Telling You This?”) the former president hosted for the Clinton Foundation last year. The foundation is also a partner in the new podcast (Deadline).
And finally … What is a glittering, celebrity-packed, pre-Oscars film festival in the era of COVID-19? In Telluride, Colo., it’s a canceled film festival, that’s what it is.
But everywhere else, apparently, the show must go on. Cinematic extravaganzas in Venice (pictured below with jury president Cate Blanchett), Toronto and New York are persevering, with a few masks covering marquee faces, fewer hip-to-hip poses and plenty of social distancing from the paparazzi. But the movies are a sliver of what they normally are. Most premieres in North America will be held digitally or at drive-ins, reports The Associated Press.
“A situation like this forces you to assess what is fundamental,” says Dennis Lim, director of programming for the New York Film Festival, which opens Sept. 17. “What do you really need for a festival to happen? You need films and you need audiences. It’s our job to select the films and put them in front of audiences in a meaningful way. If we can’t do that in a cinema, what can we do?”
Variety: Oscars announce new inclusion requirements for Best Picture eligibility by 2024.
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