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A moment of silence at the White House for COVID-19 victims

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Tuesday! 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. 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 each morning this week: Monday, 498,901; Tuesday, 500,310. 

 

President BidenJoe BidenSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy MORE and Vice President Harris on Monday held a White House candle-lighting ceremony to mark 500,000 COVID-19 deaths. Biden said flags on federal property will be flown at half-staff for five days (CBS News).



For Neera TandenNeera TandenManchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' Manchin says he doesn't support DC statehood, election reform bills Manchin floats breaking up Biden's infrastructure proposal MORE, Biden’s outspoken progressive pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Monday’s pile-up of senators vowing to vote against her confirmation was not a good omen. 

 

Tanden’s nomination is near collapse, despite protestations from the White House and a promise by Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (D-N.Y.) to find enough votes to put the tart-tweeting president of the Center for American Progress in a new job that requires regular interaction with lawmakers and their staffs.

 

Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats hit crucial stretch as filibuster fight looms Biden's elitist work-family policy won't work for most families The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (D-W.Va.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (R-Maine), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanStrengthen CBP regulations to reduce opioid deaths House panel advances bipartisan retirement savings bill Democrats confront difficult prospects for midterms MORE (R-Ohio) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP braces for wild week with momentous vote GOP governor says Republican Party has to allow for differences Biden's elitist work-family policy won't work for most families MORE (R-Utah) have said they are “no” votes (Politico).  

 

Tanden’s odds of joining the Biden Cabinet fell apart largely because of her past statements, particularly on social media, in which she leveled partisan and often personal criticism at lawmakers in both parties. Republicans as well as Manchin question whether she would be able to bring the kind of “unity” that Biden has promised, regardless of her policy experience (The New York Times). 

 

Senior Democratic and GOP aides privately said they expect the administration to withdraw Tanden’s nomination, considering the lack of support in the Senate (The Washington Post). The White House is privately discussing backup plans (The Hill). CNN reports that Shalanda Young, nominated last month to be deputy director of OMB, is the leading candidate now to be nominated as director. Young, who was the first Black woman to serve as the staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, has strong relationships on Capitol Hill and no Twitter trail.

 

Democrats have accused Manchin and Republicans of bias and hypocrisy that Tanden is ineligible to direct the administration’s budget process because of her history of partisan commentary on social media, especially during the Trump years (Politico).

 

 

Neera Tanden

 

 

The Senate has confirmed about half of Biden’s Cabinet, although more nominees are making their way through the process, including Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandOne quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors DOJ faces big decision on home confinement DOJ proposes crackdown on 'ghost guns' following Biden pledge MORE, who on Monday began two days of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings as the president’s shoo-in choice to become attorney general. 

 

Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water | Watchdog questions adequacy of EPA standards for carcinogenic chemical emissions | Interior proposing revocation of Trump-era rollback on bird protections Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water Interior proposing revocation of Trump-era rollback on bird protections MORE (D-N.M.), who would be the first Native American to lead the Interior Department and the first Native American in the Cabinet, faces a tough confirmation hearing today during which deep divisions between the parties will be on display (The New York Times). 

 

A month after Biden's inauguration, bipartisanship he pledged to usher into Washington appears scarce in Congress, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports.

 

House Democrats are barreling this week toward passage of a nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that will attract scant Republican support before it moves to the Senate. There it will be buffeted by horse-trading to line up 50 Democratic votes for passage under a budget strategy that was constructed to sidestep Republican input and downplay opposition.

 

 

The White House Cabinet Room

 

 

Where Americans need help: Tenants are struggling amid a patchwork of state rental relief efforts. Some states such as Michigan have still not approved the federal aid for renters who are affected by job losses and COVID-19 because of partisan standoffs (Stateline). … Biden on Monday announced new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) changes that will help “mom and pop businesses,” he said. The PPP, which was created by the CARES Act last year, will on Wednesday open a 14-day application period exclusively for businesses with fewer than 20 employees who need loans to hang on. “American small businesses are hurting badly and they need help now,” the president said. Since the beginning of the pandemic, some 400,000 small businesses have closed in the United States (The Hill)





LEADING THE DAY

ADMINISTRATION: Garland, who is expected to be confirmed as attorney general as soon as next week, told senators that he wants to steer clear of politics at the Justice Department, eager to turn a page from Biden’s predecessor. 

 

He testified nearly five years after Senate Republicans blocked his Supreme Court nomination and pledged to confront domestic terrorism and racial inequalities while rebuilding the department (The Hill).

 

The Associated Press: The 68-year-old federal appeals court judge said the Justice Department must be politically independent. “I have grown pretty immune to any kind of pressure, other than the pressure to do what I think is the right thing, given the facts and the law. That is what I intend to do as the attorney general,” Garland said. “I don’t care who pressures me in whatever direction.”

 

 

Merrick Garland

 

 

More in Washington: Today, Biden will announce a U.S.-Canada Partnership Roadmap during a virtual meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauBiden to record video message for 'Vax Live' concert Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report Trudeau voices 'tremendous confidence' in AstraZeneca vaccine after first Canadian death linked to shot MORE. The roadmap includes shared goals dealing with the pandemic, economic prosperity and infrastructure investments, climate change, national and hemispheric defense and commitments to global alliances (CNN). … Tree planting is a big part of Rep. Bruce WestermanBruce Eugene WestermanThree questions about Biden's conservation goals Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water GOP lawmaker barricaded himself in bathroom with sword during Capitol riot MORE’s (R-Ark.), nature-based approach to climate change. He’s the new ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, but trees are unlikely to take root among Democrats as a primary fix for climate change (The Hill). … Texans expect to see Biden this week in response to the state’s recent power grid emergency. “The president is eager to go to Texas,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiRepublicans attack Biden agenda after disappointing jobs report Biden 'confident' meeting with Putin will take place soon Sinema urges Biden to take 'bold' action at border: 'This is a crisis' MORE says.

 

*****

 

CORONAVIRUS: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new guidelines on Monday saying that drug companies and vaccine developers no longer need to conduct lengthy trials to determine the efficacy of shots created to ward off COVID-19 variants. 

 

According to the new guidance, developers will not need large randomized control trials comparing it to a placebo, as they did in the creation of the original COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, as The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel writes, the FDA is recommending that companies submit data from small trials comparing a person's immune response to a vaccine that has already been authorized.

 

The new guidance will allow pharmaceutical companies to expedite the creation of booster shots and new shots to deal with emerging variants.

 

“We know the country is eager to return to a new normal and the emergence of the virus variants raises new concerns about the performance of these products. By issuing these guidances, we want the American public to know that we are using every tool in our toolbox to fight this pandemic, including pivoting as the virus adapts,” Janet Woodcock, the agency's acting commissioner, said in a statement. 

 

The Hill: Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20 million Americans by end of March.

 

Meanwhile, the ongoing effort to vaccinate Americans has spawned a new debate: whether the U.S. should start by giving individuals one dose of the two-dose vaccines even as coronavirus variants identified in Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil gain steam. 

 

As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan writes, the idea has gathered momentum among some medical experts, but has yet to be embraced by the White House, which argues the potential strategy is untested and could give birth to more variants, not to mention that it could erode confidence in the current batch of vaccines. 

 

The Atlantic: The U.S. COVID-19 strategy on vaccines seems to be comparatively superior to what’s happening in Europe.

 

Reuters: Teachers contribute to in-school COVID-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

 

 

A vaccine record card

 

 

> State Watch: New York and New Jersey on Monday rolled out a series of reopening plans as infection counts continue to fall across the nation.

 

In New York City, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' New York attorney general expanding Cuomo investigation: report Cuomo's communications director resigns MORE (D) gave movie theaters the green light to reopen at 25 percent capacity beginning on March 5, with no more than 50 people allowed inside at any given time. Venues outside New York City were allowed to reopen in October (Variety).

 

The news comes a week after Cuomo allowed the first batch of fans entry to sporting events at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. 

 

NBC New York: Cuomo sets NYC movie theater date as state kicks off huge reopening week; delayed vaccines arrive.

 

Across the Hudson River, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, and other stadiums and arenas in the Garden State will be allowed to reopen at 15 percent capacity. 

 

The Associated Press: Germany reopens some schools amid fears the pandemic may rebound. 

 

The Associated Press: U.K. unemployment rate rises for 6th straight month. 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: After five years, investigators will get Trump’s financial records, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a blow to the former president (The New York Times). 

 

The justices issued the order in the long-running dispute between Trump and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) without comment or noted dissents. 

 

“The work continues,” Vance tweeted in response. The court’s order comes in response to an emergency request filed to the Supreme Court by Trump in October, having already lost several rounds in the lower courts (The Hill).

 

Hours later, Trump responded by panning the decision as politically motivated, declaring that he will “fight on.” 

 

“The Supreme Court never should have let this ‘fishing expedition’ happen, but they did,” Trump said in a statement. “This is something which has never happened to a President before, it is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo” (The Hill).

 

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump faces deepening legal troubles.

 

The New York Times: Trump’s tax returns aren’t the only crucial records prosecutors will get.

 

> They’re running: Former aides to Trump are testing the waters for possible runs for political office, underscoring the former president’s lasting influence on a Republican Party that is searching for its identity more than a month after he left the White House. 

 

As The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports, Richard GrenellRichard GrenellCleveland businessman jumps into Ohio Senate race: Trump 'victories' need to be protected Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Juan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP MORE, the former acting director of national intelligence, is eyeing a bid to serve as chief executive of California if Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' Caitlyn Jenner says she favors path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants Why Caitlyn Jenner should not be dismissed MORE (D) is recalled next month, having received prodding from Fox News’s Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityMcConnell safe in power, despite Trump's wrath Poll: Americans consider Fox News, NYT, CNN, MSNBC 'mainstream media' Lindsey Graham: GOP can't 'move forward without President Trump' MORE

 

Katrina Pierson, a former Trump spokeswoman, says she’s been approached about running for the seat previously occupied by the late Rep. Ron WrightRon WrightUnsuccessful anti-Trump Republican candidate: GOP 'not living up to this moment' Democrats confront difficult prospects for midterms On The Trail: Texas underscores Democrats' struggle with voter turnout MORE (R-Texas). Additionally, Max Miller, a former White House aide from Ohio, is looking to primary Rep. Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezGOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Ohio GOP censures Republican lawmaker over Trump Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (R-Ohio), who was among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the ex-president. In Arkansas, Sarah HuckabeeSarah SandersAndrew Giuliani planning run for New York governor Trump appears at Sarah Huckabee Sanders campaign event Trump likely to form new super PAC MORE Sanders has already announced her bid to replace outgoing Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonGenetic material from 1993 killing revealed years after another man executed for crime, groups say Arkansas governor allows bill targeting critical race theory in state agencies to become law Pennsylvania gov says he'll veto ban on transgender athletes in women's sports MORE (R).

 

Politico: Trump taunts don't shake Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP braces for wild week with momentous vote GOP divided over expected Cheney ouster Sunday shows - White House COVID-19 response coordinator says US is 'turning the corner' MORE's (R-Ky.) hold on Senate GOP. 

 

The Hill: Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell safe in power, despite Trump's wrath Lindsey Graham: GOP can't 'move forward without President Trump' House to advance appropriations bills in June, July MORE (R-S.C.) says Trump joined a weekend meeting to talk about 2022 contests and strategy. 

 

The Associated Press: Dominion Voting Systems sues “MyPillow Guy” for $1.3 billion.

 

The Hill and The New York Times: Today Capitol Police officers are set for a grilling as part of a major oversight hearing focused on the Capitol riots and security breaches on Jan. 6. 

 

> Profile: When armed insurrectionists stormed the complex last month, Vidhya Ramalingam was not surprised. A day earlier, her company, Moonshot CVE, which monitors online extremism, set up a crisis team in response to a flood of indications that the long-scheduled pro-Trump rally could turn violent, reports The Hill’s Niv Elis.



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! 



OPINION

Republicans fear monger about regulation, but deregulation is what left Texas in the dark, by Catherine Rampell, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/37VJoU7 

 

Why Merrick Garland deserves to become the new attorney general, by Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinDOJ faces big decision on home confinement America's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel MORE (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3spa7QJ

 

Reparations: A Black existential crisis and supremacy for liberal whites, by Jason D. Hill, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3aJHvLN





WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 2 p.m.

 

The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Linda Thomas-GreenfieldLinda Thomas-GreenfieldHarris to tell UN members to prepare for next pandemic UN ambassador: America's ability to acknowledge its 'imperfections' is 'our strength' Sunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues MORE to become ambassador to the United Nations. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a confirmation hearing at 9:30 a.m. for Haaland. … The Judiciary Committee holds the second of two days of hearings to consider Garland’s nomination to be attorney general. … Members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Rules and Administration committees convene an oversight hearing at 10 a.m. to examine the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and security failures. … The Senate Intelligence Committee holds an oversight hearing at 2:30 p.m. to examine the SolarWinds breach of government databases, which has been blamed on Russia. … Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies about the economy and monetary policy during two days of testimony, beginning with the Senate Banking Committee at 10 a.m.

 

The president receives the President’s Daily Brief at 9:50 a.m. Biden at 1:15 p.m. conducts a roundtable with Black workers deemed essential during the pandemic, moderated by domestic policy adviser Susan RiceSusan RiceBiden's elitist work-family policy won't work for most families Biden set to flex clemency powers White House officials meet virtually with criminal justice reform advocates MORE. He will hold his first bilateral meeting (virtually) at 4 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room with Trudeau, attended by Vice President Harris, after which Biden will make a statement at 5:45 p.m. The president, vice president and U.S. Cabinet members, including Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenWarren says she'll run for reelection to Senate Republicans attack Biden agenda after disappointing jobs report On The Money: Five takeaways on a surprisingly poor jobs report | GOP targets jobless aid after lackluster April gain MORE, will also meet with their Canadian counterparts during a virtual discussion of bilateral and global issues.

   

The White House press briefing is scheduled at noon.

 

INVITATION to The Hill’s Virtually Live “Race and Justice Imperative” event on Thursday, Feb. 25, for two blocks of conversation beginning at 11:30 a.m. Participants from government, civil rights and social justice organizations who work to end systemic racism will include Martin Luther King III, Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden address to Congress will dominate busy week Maxine Waters: Judge in Chauvin trial who criticized her was 'angry' GOP, Democrats grapple with post-Chauvin trial world MORE (D-Calif.), Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeShining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy New signs of progress emerge on police reform Progressive lawmaker to introduce bill seeking more oversight of Israel assistance MORE (D-Calif.), Michael Eric Dyson, CNN commentator and Dream Corps founder Van Jones, and many others. Information and registration HERE.   

 

The Hill’s senior correspondent Amie Parnes and co-author Jonathan Allen of NBC News have written a political book to follow their 2017 best-seller, “Shattered.” Biden’s roller-coaster 2020 campaign and nail-biting victory against a crowded primary field and then former President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote One quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors MORE are revealed with deep reporting, analysis and new anecdotes in “Lucky,” which is in bookstores March 2 and available for pre-order with Penguin Random House HERE and on Amazon HERE.

 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube



ELSEWHERE

INTERNATIONAL: Luca Attanasio, 43, Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, was killed on Monday in an ambush attack in the east of the country after the United Nations (U.N.) convoy in which he was traveling came under fire. The convoy reportedly belonged to the U.N.'s World Food Programme. An Italian military police officer and a Congolese driver were also killed. The attack in North Kivu province is believed to have been an attempted kidnapping (BBC and Yahoo News). … New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin is the latest target of the Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinQueen's cousin and associate accused of 'secretly trading on their links' to Putin, monarchy for profit Putin warns of resurgence in Nazi beliefs on anniversary of WWII's end Biden 'confident' meeting with Putin will take place soon MORE and the Kremlin after a Russian newspaper reported allegations of assault against the NHL player in retaliation for his support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Panarin’s ex-coach told an outlet that he got into an altercation with an 18-year-old woman in 2011, which the Rangers called a “fabricated story” in a statement, adding that Panarin will take a leave of absence from the team. Last month, Panarin signaled his support for the Kremlin foe, saying “Freedom for Navalny” in an Instagram post (ESPN). 

 

CYBERSECURITY: The ongoing fallout from the recent massive Russian hacking incident that has become known as the SolarWinds breach will be in the spotlight on Capitol Hill this week, as multiple House and Senate panels examine the extent of what is likely the largest cyberattack in U.S. history (The Hill). … States have paid out billions in fraudulent unemployment benefits over the course of the pandemic as creaky governmental systems first created decades ago struggle to keep up with evolving digital technology and cyber hacks that expose millions of Social Security numbers to international criminals (The Hill).

 

 

Computer code is reflected in a user's eye

 

 

SUMMER ‘BEE’: The Scripps National Spelling Bee, which had to be canceled last year because of COVID-19, is being recast in a new format as a purely oral contest for 200 contenders. Instead of compressing the entire competition into a week — spellers often refer to Bee Week as a highlight of their young lives — the bee will be stretched over several weeks and take place semi virtually. The preliminary rounds will be held in mid-June, the semifinals on June 27 and the ESPN-televised finals on July 8, with in-person competition limited to a dozen contestants who will gather at Walt Disney World in Florida, Scripps announced on Monday (The Associated Press). Find out how to enter HERE.



THE CLOSER

And finally …  What’s old is still new, especially in the science of black holes. The late Stephen Hawking, the British theoretical physicist and author, once bet that the Cygnus X-1 system, discovered in 1964, did not include a black hole — but conceded his mistake in 1990 when scientists had broadly accepted that Cygnus X-1 contained the first known black hole in the universe.

 

Fast-forward to 2021, and new observations suggest that black hole is much bigger than previously thought, weighing 21 times as much as the sun. Why is that important? Because for a black hole that massive to exist in the Milky Way, its parent star must have shed less of its mass through stellar winds than initially thought, scientists say. How Cygnus-X1 became a black hole is now less certain. One other update: Cygnus X-1 is now calculated to be 7,200 light-years from Earth (Science News). 

 

 

A tweet discussing black holes