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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Thankfully, it is Friday. 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 co-creators, and readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 194,081; Tuesday, 194,536; Wednesday, 195,942; Thursday, 196,802; Friday, 197,643.

Global cases of COVID-19 now exceed 30 million.

Washington’s debate about enacting additional help for Americans suffering during a pandemic and economic downturn has become a bit like Groundhog Day. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi: White House made 'unacceptable changes' to testing language during negotiations on coronavirus stimulus MORE (D-Calif.), after many weeks and 45 days before the presidential election, says she’s holding out for $2.2 trillion, while Republicans in Congress balk at spending more than about $800 billion because they think some of the trillions of dollars they already enacted have not been spent. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE is seesawing this week, much to his GOP colleagues’ dismay, by cheerleading for a more generous bipartisan approach while ruling nothing out. Or in. 

On the sidelines, at least 11 million Americans are unemployed. The coronavirus crisis continues. Small business and large ones, including major U.S. airlines, are beseeching the White House and lawmakers for additional assistance. Economists, investors and monetary policy stewards, most notably at the Federal Reserve, warn that the economic rebound experienced this summer is losing steam and more fiscal stimulus from Congress would be wise.

"The needs have only grown – some of the needs for small businesses, needs for restaurants, needs for transportation and the rest," Pelosi said in the Capitol on Thursday while Republicans accused her of playing politics  

The Hill: Pelosi: “Hard to see” Democrats supporting less than $2.2 trillion in coronavirus relief. 

In recent days, the White House signaled it was prepared to try to rekindle talks with congressional leaders after the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus released a $1.5 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, which was received warmly by the president and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSchumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pfizer could apply for US emergency use approval for coronavirus vaccine by late November Ted Cruz won't wear mask to speak to reporters at Capitol MORE

However, Democratic leaders have stuck to their guns in hopes of a larger deal despite Senate Republicans renewed support for a “skinny” $650 billion bill, which was supported by 52 of 53 conference members in a vote that failed last week. But they have pulled one ally to their side: the president, who advocated on Wednesday for Republicans to push for a “larger” bill. However, some Senate Republicans have warned the White House to back off that push as it will not be well received with the group. 

“The White House has been making some statements here recently that would never get hardly any Republicans in the United States Senate,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Barrett sidesteps Democratic questions amid high-stakes grilling Democrats warn of ObamaCare threat from Barrett, Trump MORE (R-Iowa) told Bloomberg TV’s David Westin. “This used to be the White House versus Pelosi up until about now. Now the president’s coming in and saying ‘we can maybe go to $1.5 trillion.’ He better be careful of that because I don’t think that bill could get through the United States Senate.” 

Speaking with reporters at the White House, Meadows indicated that he does not see the Problem Solvers Caucus proposal moving the needle to restart talks with Democrats, especially if Pelosi is unwilling to move off of her current price tag. 

"Based on conversations with some Democrat House  members yesterday, I'm not optimistic Speaker Pelosi is going to see this as an opportunity to actually have meaningful conversations,” Meadows said. “That's not a negotiation, that's an ultimatum." 

Erica Werner and Rachael Bade, The Washington Post: Trump moves closer to Pelosi in economic aid talks, and House Speaker must decide next move.

Reuters: Airline CEOs plead with White House to avert looming U.S. job cuts.

The New York Times: Unemployment claims dip, but layoffs remain a worry. 

CNN: Bipartisan negotiations over a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30 are not finished yet but moving in the right direction.  

Late Thursday night, the president took aim at Pelosi aboard Air Force One following his rally in Wisconsin. After speaking with the White House travel pool for 23 minutes, he put one quote on the record criticizing the Speaker for what he described as her desire to strip $30 billion in agricultural funding sought by Republicans from a coronavirus relief package.

“She doesn’t want to give farm aid to the farmers. She doesn’t want to give farmers any help,” the president said hours after he committed $13 billion for farmers in relief aid during the Wisconsin event (The Hill). 

More in Congress: Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 Cuomo signs legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York Trailing in polls, Trump campaign resurrects Hunter Biden attacks MORE (R-Wis.) is in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19, according to his spokesman. Johnson is the second Republican senator in a week, following Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), to choose precautionary isolation. Capito tested negative for the virus (The Hill).

 

 

 

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LEADING THE DAY

2020 POLITICS: Trump and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Undecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability MORE will spend today on the ground in Minnesota, a longtime Democratic stronghold where Republicans are itching to make gains despite recent polls showing the state may be an uphill climb for the GOP.

The president, who lost Minnesota to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Undecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw MORE in 2016 by 1.5 points, will rally supporters in Bemidji in the northern part of the state, while Biden will appear at a union training center and speak in Duluth to a crowd limited in size because of COVID-19 concerns (Newsweek).

According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, Biden leads in Minnesota by 10.2 points despite the Trump campaign’s continued effort to turn the tide in their direction in a state that has supported the Democratic nominee in every election since 1972. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate Democrats seek to alleviate public concern about some results not being available on election night Washington flooded with Women's March protesters ahead of Barrett confirmation vote Supreme Court battle turns into 2020 proxy war MORE (D-Minn.) told Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren this week that Republicans continue to push for the Land of 10,000 Lakes so they can go on offense somewhere. She predicted the GOP is chasing a mirage.

“I think one of the reasons that Republicans keep saying this, despite the polls, I get why they said it. I would, too, if I were them early on. They want to play offense somewhere,” Klobuchar told the host. “So they're like, ‘Oh, look at the bright, shiny objects of Minnesota and New Hampshire.’ But in fact, the polls keep telling the truth. And I think by the end, you're going to see the focus on some other states.”

The Hill: During a CNN town hall held in Scranton, Pa., on Thursday, Biden said he has benefited from white privilege. 

The Associated Press: Biden blasts Trump’s “criminal” virus response during town hall.

The Washington Post: Biden takes questions and criticizes Trump in drive-in town hall; Trump holds rally in Wis. 

Peter Baker, The New York Times: For Trump, it’s not the United States, it’s red and blue states.

The Associated Press: Trump heats up culture war in appeal to Wisconsin voters.

> The U.S. Postal Service is now barred from making operational changes that have been blamed for a slowdown in mail delivery after a federal judge on Thursday ruled in favor of 14 states that sought a temporary injunction. The Washington State judge said Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyPostal service reversing changes that slowed mail delivery The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden set for dueling town halls amid battleground blitz High-speed mail sorting machine reassembled in Maine MORE are “involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” that could disrupt the 2020 election (The Washington Post). The judge’s order is HERE

> FBI Director Christopher Wray testified on Thursday to the House Homeland Security Committee that Russia is interfering through social media in the U.S. election to “denigrate” Biden and favor Trump (CNN). 

> Twitter on Thursday placed a warning label on a Trump tweet, saying his post included potentially misleading information about the mail-in voting process. “Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to “voters”, or wherever, this year, the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want. Another election disaster yesterday. Stop Ballot Madness!,” Trump tweeted (Reuters). 

> Campaign ad spending: Trump and his campaign are trying to allay concerns about trailing Biden in television ads, reports The Washington Post. Trump allies continue to tell campaign advisers that they are being outspent on the air in key states. The president’s campaign must report its cash on hand for the end of August by Sunday’s regulatory deadline. 

> Trump vs. CDC: The president’s latest public brouhaha with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield has renewed the spotlight on the president’s distrust of experts and put the health agency in a compromising position.  

One day after Trump threw Redfield under the bus for testifying to Congress about vaccine distribution and masks and told the press that the CDC director was “confused” and mistaken, Meadows piled on, saying the director, who is a physician and virologist, was not familiar with federal planning for vaccine development and distribution (The Hill). As Brett Samuels and Nathaniel Weixel write, the episode marked another instance of the president undercutting public health professionals and officials in his own administration, and took place shortly after Biden said that while vaccines are to be trusted, the president cannot be. 

The Hill: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Calif.) says he trusts Trump over the CDC director on vaccine timing.

> Debates: Biden has one major goal when it comes to the upcoming presidential debates, according to The Hill’s Amie Parnes: He can’t let Trump get away with a single thing while they’re onstage.  

“Not one f------ thing,” said one longtime Biden aide. “He has to continue to build the contrast while holding Trump accountable for everything that has happened over the last few years. Voters, the aide said, want to see a fiery Biden calling out all the bullshit. … He needs to fire and not just fire back.” The first debate is scheduled Sept. 29.

Biden has said he will debate Trump as if he is a “fact-checker on the stage” but has also said he doesn’t want to get drawn into a “brawl” with the president (The Associated Press). 

The Hill: Biden's team says he views the contest against Trump as “Park Avenue vs. Scranton.” 

The Hill: Biden leads Trump by 4 points in a new Arizona poll.

The Hill: Biden promises Democratic senators he will help in battleground states. 

CNN: During a call with Senate Democrats on Thursday, Biden vowed to keep an aggressive campaign schedule.

Politico: Trump says a Harris vice presidency is “no way for a woman” to become president.

The New York Times: “A Promised Land,” former President Obama’s memoir about his presidency (actually just the first volume at 768 pages), comes out after the election on Nov. 17. The first U.S. printing will be 3 million copies. The 44th president along with former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden set for dueling town halls amid battleground blitz Obama to stump for Biden in final campaign stretch Celebs accept Michelle Obama's challenge to assemble a #VotingSquad MORE secured a joint book deal for their respective memoirs reported in 2017 to come with a $65 million advance from Penguin Random House. Michelle Obama’s blockbuster 2018 memoir, “Becoming,” sold more than 10 million copies within months of publication and this year was adapted as a Netflix documentary. 

 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION: The government’s law and order crackdown on urban protests, including through the Justice Department, has led to more than 300 arrests of demonstrators on suspicion of federal crimes since the death of George Floyd in May, according to an exclusive Associated Press analysis of data. 

The reporting shows that while many people have been accused of violent crimes such as arson for hurling Molotov cocktails, burning police cars and assault for injuring law enforcement, the accusations are not uniformly applied among those present at the time. That has contributed to criticism that at least some arrests are a politically motivated effort to stymie demonstrations around the country.  

During a private call last week with federal prosecutors across the country, according to AP, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Intelligence officials warned Trump that Giuliani was target of Russian influence campaign: report DOJ veteran says he's quitting over Barr's 'slavish obedience' to Trump MORE pushed prosecutors to bring federal charges whenever possible against protesters, keeping cases in federal jurisdiction instead of in state court. During the call, Barr raised the prospect that prosecutors could bring a number of potential charges in urban unrest cases, including the rarely used sedition statute, according to the officials familiar with the call. Charges of sedition are difficult to prove in court, according to legal experts.

Barr has focused on protest-related violence that appears targeted at law enforcement. He has publicly argued that the government seldom has reason to open sweeping investigations into the practices of police departments. Barr has said he does not believe there is systemic racism in police departments (The Associated Press). 

The Washington Post reported last week that Homeland Security tactical teams were dispatched this summer to quell protests in Washington. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement dodged rules against using charter flights to move personnel by stocking aircraft with immigrant detainees from Arizona and Florida on the pretext that tactical personnel had to relocate detainees from overcrowded facilities to Virginia, near Washington. The mobilization and use of “ICE Air” transfers came to light after dozens of detainees tested positive for COVID-19 once they were in Virginia and one person died.

Also in June, as protesters gathered in Washington’s Lafayette Square north of the White House, federal officials began to stockpile ammunition and seek devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within close range feel as if their skin was on fire. D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco told lawmakers in sworn testimony shared with The Washington Post this week that Defense Department officials sought crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones and had authorized the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory as protests roiled Washington. 

DeMarco’s information contradicts administration assertions that protesters on June 1 were violent, that the government did not use tear gas against demonstrators and that ample warning was given to the protesters to disperse, which is a requirement before police may lawfully act to clear a crowd. 

 



OPINION

A deal for coronavirus fiscal relief, by Alex Brill, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3myZ9Gb

New Fed approach takes inflation targeting more seriously, by Scott Sumner, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3iJhSMJ

 

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! 

 

 

SPONSORED CONTENT — ALPA

The CARES Act: Good for workers, good for America

 

 

Unions and airlines agree – a clean extension of the CARES Act Payroll Support Program will position the industry to support economic recovery and save hundreds of thousands of aviation jobs. Learn how.

 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon for a pro forma session. Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m., and will be interviewed at midday on Bloomberg TV’s “Balance of Power” with David Westin. 

The Senate will meet on Monday at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Edward Meyers to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. 

The president speaks at a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minn., at 6 p.m. CDT. 

The Vice President will campaign at 1 p.m. in Litchfield Park, Ariz. He is scheduled to participate in Phoenix in a LIBRE Initiative policy roundtable along with the group’s president, Daniel Garza, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Pence will also speak with military veterans. Pence will return to Washington this evening. 

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

PUERTO RICO: The administration today is expected to announce $10 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance to the island territory of Puerto Rico to rebuild its electrical grid three years after Hurricane Maria’s destruction, according to Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts The 2016 and 2020 Senate votes are about the same thing: constitutionalist judges Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nydia Velázquez. “While I certainly hope to see this money put to good use making Puerto Rico’s electrical system more resilient, these delays are unacceptable, and it is insulting to Puerto Ricans everywhere that the administration is so blatantly playing politics with this aid,” said Velázquez. She referred to the importance to Trump’s presidential bid of Latino votes in states such as Florida (New York Daily News). 

➔ CORONAVIRUS: New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioCitigroup executive to run for NYC mayor: report Treasury withheld nearly M from FDNY 9/11 health program New York theaters display banners urging governor to reopen cinemas MORE announced on Thursday a delay of schools resuming in-person teaching at New York City public schools. Instead of schools reopening on Monday, elementary schools are set to resume on Sept. 29, with middle and high schools doing so on Oct. 1 (The New York Times). … World Health Organization's Director for Europe Hans Kluge said that spiking rates of COVID-19 transmission should “serve as a wake-up call” across the European continent as the number of weekly recorded cases eclipsed 300,000 for the first time. “We have a very serious situation unfolding before us,” Kluge said on Thursday. “Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March” (Politico Europe).

 

 

> MORE Coronavirus: Pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer released reports of their vaccine trials. Moderna suggested it may need continued research in March and May before knowing if a potential vaccine is effective against COVID-19 (The New York Times). … The NFL revealed that all tests of players, coaches and team personnel from last Thursday’s Kansas City Chiefs-Houston Texans game came back negative (ESPN). However, the Kansas City Health Department reported that a fan who attended the game tested positive for COVID-19 the following day. The department directed 10 people seated nearby to quarantine after potential exposure to the virus (CNN). ... The CDC says it needs an additional $6 billion to distribute a coronavirus vaccine once approved. The agency publicly asked Congress on Wednesday for the “urgent” funds (The Hill). … Trump will not attend the United Nations General Assembly in person in New York next week. Because of the coronavirus, leaders will meet virtually or submit prerecorded addresses (The Hill). 

HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT: Wildfires in California and other western states have left behind the worst air quality in the world, greatly increasing the danger for people who suffer from asthma and other underlying health conditions. “At the levels of air pollution we're seeing in the Northwest now, it's a matter of concern for everyone,” said David Hill, a physician and volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association. “By itself, we’d be concerned, but with COVID circulating, having worse air quality might make it more likely for them to get infected” (The Hill). Wildfires have burned 5 million acres across the West and scientists are running out of names for Atlantic hurricanes. Nonetheless, while climate change is back in the headlines, voters and lawmakers may remain focused on numerous other worries (The Hill). 

STATE WATCH: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced a deal with legislative leaders on Thursday to increase state taxes on income over $1 million by nearly 2 percentage points, giving New Jersey one of the highest state tax rates on wealthy people in the country. The agreement also includes an annual rebate of as much as $500 for families making less than $150,000. Murphy said the tax increase is needed to plug a hole in state revenues hit hard by the pandemic (The New York Times). At least eight other states — including California, Massachusetts and New York — have considered proposals to increase taxes on high-income residents, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

THE CLOSER

And finally … Bravo to the winners of the Morning Report Quiz! Smart readers and savvy Googlers had no trouble spotting this week’s headlines related to climate change. 

Sweeping the contest’s four questions were: Donna Minter, Mitch Adams, Daniel Bachhuber, Mary Anne McEnery, J. Patrick White, Linda Banning, Cynthia Whittlesey, Chuck Schoenenberger, Patrick Kavanagh, Ki Harvey, Candi Cee, Gary Kalian, Robert Nordmeyer, John Donato, Mary Ellen Krohner, Robert Hanley, Pam Manges and Luther Berg. 

They knew that when Trump flew to California on Monday to speak with state officials about ongoing wildfires, his hosts spoke about climate change while the president recommended improved forest management.

Hurricane Sally, which made U.S. landfall on Wednesday, matched a record this week as one of five hurricanes swirling at the same time in the Atlantic Ocean. Many scientists believe extreme weather is evidence of climate change.  

Scientists also pointed to signs of global warming in the Arctic this week when a chunk of Greenland’s ice cap measuring 42 square miles broke off because of rapid melting. 

Describing changes in the Earth’s climate as scientifically “unambiguous,” Facebook this week announced it will create an information hub on its platform to provide “science-based information” about climate change