The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Forget about comity in Congress

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Storm clouds above the U.S. Capitol



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Thursday! 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 reported each morning this week: Monday, 534,889; Tuesday, 535,628. Wednesday, 536,914; Thursday, 538,087.

Clashes are roiling Congress this week, simmering in and between the parties and challenging political leaders who say they have the best interests of Americans in mind.


Wednesday brought a repeat of partisan skirmishes over border security and immigration policy and debate about whether the COVID-19 relief law worsens inflation, deficits, taxes — or all three. 


President BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Argentina launches 'Green Mondays' campaign to cut greenhouse gases On The Money: Federal judge vacates CDC's eviction moratorium | Biden says he's open to compromise on corporate tax rate | Treasury unsure of how long it can stave off default without debt limit hike MORE and Senate Democrats are going eight rounds with one another over axing the filibuster. Across the Capitol, conservative House Republicans want to jam Democrats and slow floor action over even the most mundane deliberations, testing the patience and powers of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyConservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  Kinzinger hits GOP on 'operation #coverupJan6' over Cheney ouster plot MORE (R-Calif.).


During a contentious hearing on Wednesday, Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee pressed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasBiden administration, Congress unite in effort to tackle ransomware attacks ICE deportations fall to record low in April: report Biden letting criminal aliens be released instead of deported; states sue MORE to explain Biden’s immigration policies. The secretary’s defense of the president’s intentions amid a surge of migrants at the U.S. border with Mexico did little to shore up Democrats’ chances of success with a pair of House immigration bills. 


Republicans said both the smaller package of bills House Democrats plan to review on Thursday and Biden’s comprehensive immigration bill would be non-starters until the border is secure (The Hill).


The Hill: Border surge scrambles Senate immigration debate.


The Associated Press: The House today appears likely to approve immigration bills despite headwinds. However, Senate divisions and GOP opposition pose an uphill battle. 


Biden this week continues to focus on the recently enacted COVID-19 relief law that on Wednesday began to deposit $1,400 and more into the bank accounts of millions of income-eligible Americans. On Friday, the president travels to Georgia, a state he won in November, to tout provisions of the bill he promised voters and then delivered with Democrats, including the Peach State’s two new senators.


The Treasury Department said it had electronically transferred 90 million direct payments totaling $242 billion after the stimulus law was passed last week, with more arriving soon.


The department said that the first crop of direct payments went out via direct deposit to taxpayers who provided that information on their tax returns in the last two years. More payments are set to go out in the coming weeks in the form of checks or direct deposit (The Associated Press). 


The payments come amid the White House’s bid to promote the law to Americans. Biden is expected to return to the road to do so next week with an appearance in Ohio to pump up the relief plan but also commemorate the 11th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (The Hill).


The Associated Press: Treasury says state tax cuts OK if separated from virus aid. 


CNBC: IRS postpones April 15 U.S. tax deadline to May 17. 



President Biden



In Congress, the internal dispute in Democratic circles surrounding the filibuster took a new turn when Biden added his voice to the discussion and threw his weight behind the “talking filibuster,” giving a boost to Democratic leaders in an effort to move moderate lawmakers off the fence (The Hill).  


However, it is unlikely that Biden’s comments will change the filibuster landscape as two Senate Democrats — Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money: Federal judge vacates CDC's eviction moratorium | Biden says he's open to compromise on corporate tax rate | Treasury unsure of how long it can stave off default without debt limit hike DC mayor admitted to Democratic governors group amid statehood fight Biden says he's open to compromise on corporate tax rate MORE (W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaDC mayor admitted to Democratic governors group amid statehood fight Biden visits local Mexican restaurant to highlight relief program Democrats fret over Biden spending MORE (Ariz.) — remain adamantly opposed to doing away with the 60-vote threshold for legislative items. 


Complicating the matter further, there are also a number of Senate Democrats who are lukewarm about doing away with the 60-vote requirement or even reverting to a “talking filibuster,” citing a number of reasons. Among them are what might happen when Republicans win back the chamber in the future and the feasibility of the “talking filibuster” (Politico). 


The Hill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won Biden: GOP in the midst of a 'mini-revolution' Ernst defends Cheney, calls for GOP unity MORE (R-Ky.): Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHow to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs On The Money: How demand is outstripping supply and hampering recovery | Montana pulls back jobless benefits | Yellen says higher rates may be necessary Senate Democrats announce B clean bus plan MORE (D-N.Y.) “yielding to the pressure of the hard left” on filibuster.


The Washington Post: Democrats seize on Biden’s embrace of changing the filibuster. 


CNN analysis: A “talking filibuster” isn’t going to solve the Senate’s problems. 


Vox: Manchin on Wednesday took an important filibuster reform off the table.  


Across the Capitol, House Republicans voted on Wednesday to reverse the conference policy on earmarks, allowing its members to now take advantage of the system despite years of panning the policy and decrying the “pork” in Washington (The Hill). 


Politico: “Behave like grown-ups”: Conservative rebellion boils over in House. 



Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)



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CORONAVIRUS: The United States is making a renewed effort to push students back into the classroom. It will spend $10 billion to test and screen for COVID-19 after many schools and pupils the challenges of virtual learning. 


The funds were part of the stimulus bill that Biden signed into law last week. According to The Wall Street Journal, the monies were set to go to testing, but it was unclear how much would be directed at reopening schools. The funds are expected to be allocated to state and local health departments by early April, according to the government.


“COVID-19 testing is critical to saving lives and restoring economic activity,” Norris Cochran, acting Health and Human Services secretary, said in a statement. 


Adding to the news for youths, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers | Moderna reports positive early results for booster shots against COVID-19 variants | Federal judge vacates CDC's eviction moratorium Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers Fauci: COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver should not be 'off the table' MORE, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Wednesday that children could start to receive COVID-19 vaccinations by late 2021 or early 2022. High school students are expected to be eligible to receive shots by the fall, with elementary school children likely receiving them early next year (The Hill). 


The Hill: Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaJill Biden a key figure in push to pitch White House plans Arkansas governor allows bill targeting critical race theory in state agencies to become law On The Money: McConnell rules out GOP support for Biden families plan | How COVID-19 relief bills may affect your taxes | Is the US heading for a housing bubble? MORE on Wednesday said vaccines will likely not be mandatory for teachers in order to reopen schools.


The Hill: All Massachusetts residents will be eligible for a vaccine on April 19. 


The Mercury News: A California variant of the coronavirus increases transmissibility and reduces effectiveness of vaccines and treatments that boost antibodies. The Centers for Disease Control has labeled the state’s strain a “variant of concern,” joining a designation shared by strains first identified in Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil.


The New York Times: Northeast states show evidence of a troubling trend. In New York and New Jersey, new coronavirus cases per capita are at least double the national average. New cases rates are raising concern in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut



A child walks to a school bus



> Global: The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a recommendation on Wednesday for nations to resume administering the AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after roughly a dozen countries halted its use because of concerns the drug could be correlated with blood clotting complications.


Germany, France and Italy were among countries that suspended use of the vaccine after some people who received the drug developed blood clots. Health regulators and the pharmaceutical giant believe the vaccine was not the cause. 


As The Hill’s Reid Wilson notes, AstraZeneca said it had reviewed data on the 17 million people who received the vaccine in Europe and the United Kingdom and discovered that fewer than 40 individuals developed blood clots. The WHO said the vaccine did not play a role in the 40 cases and blood clots are common in populations worldwide.


“Vaccination against COVID-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently. Venous thromboembolism is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally,” the WHO said. “At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue” (The Hill).


The EU’s top medical regulator is set to reveal results of its investigation of the vaccine later today, including a recommendation on future use (The Associated Press).


With use of the vaccine halted, Germany is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, indicating another looming wave of the virus there (The Hill). In France, government officials are expected to impose new restrictions in regions of the country, including Paris, to slow the spread of the virus (France 24).


The New York Times: Trust in AstraZeneca vaccine is shaken in Europe.


The Wall Street Journal: United Kingdom coronavirus strain might account for 25 percent to 30 percent of U.S. cases. 


The Associated Press: After vaccine freeze, European countries seek a quick thaw.


Reuters: COVID-19 sniffing dogs in Thailand (think airports) have 95 percent effective rate and are fast.


The Associated Press: Experts: Virus surge in Europe a cautionary tale for U.S.


The New York Times: Coronavirus reinfection within six months appears uncommon, according to new research. … Some Republicans in Congress say they decided not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because they contracted the disease and prefer to rely on antibodies triggered by infection (The Washington Post). Other Republicans in the House are vaccination holdouts (The Hill).


The Hill: Google blocked nearly 100 million misleading coronavirus ads in 2020.


ADMINISTRATION: Tensions are high as Biden Cabinet officials meet with Chinese counterparts in Alaska today in what is expected to be a chilly face-to-face event. Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenThe CROOK Act offers rare opportunity for bipartisanship on immigration Russia keeping 80K troops at border amid NATO exercise, US officials say India diplomat cancels in-person G-7 meetings over possible coronavirus exposure MORE (pictured below in Seoul on Wednesday) and national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanWill Biden provide strategic clarity or further ambiguity on Taiwan? State Department denies reports of prisoner swap with Iran North Korean official says Biden's comments on country are 'hostile policy' MORE are in Anchorage for what administration officials describe as a “one-off” meeting to “take stock.” Blinken set the stage for friction with his Wednesday announcement that the United States is sanctioning 24 Chinese officials while accusing Beijing of an effort to “unilaterally undermine Hong Kong’s electoral system” (The Hill).  


The Associated Press: The White House set low expectations for today’s China talks.


Blinken, speaking from Seoul on Wednesday, condemned killings of four women of Korean descent by a male gunman who was taken into custody near Atlanta on Tuesday. “We are horrified by this violence, which has no place in America or anywhere,” he said.


The Associated Press: While in Seoul, Blinken urged China to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.


USA Today: A 21-year-old suspect was officially charged after eight people were killed at three spas in Georgia, most of them Asian. The shooter denied the shootings were racially motivated.


In Washington, lawmakers spoke out Wednesday against the increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic, even as the overall number of hate crimes fell, The Hill’s Marty Johnson reports. … The House on Wednesday renewed the Violence Against Women Act, a law originally authored by Biden in 1994, but which lapsed in 2019.


Biden on Wednesday joined other political leaders in denouncing U.S. racial violence. “Whatever the motivation here, I know Asian Americans are very concerned. Because as you know I have been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple months, and I think it’s very, very troubling. But I am making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer. I’m waiting for an answer from — as the investigation proceeds — from the FBI and from the Justice Department. And I’ll have more to say when the investigation is completed,” he said (The New York Times).



US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (R) pose for photos



> Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia keeping 80K troops at border amid NATO exercise, US officials say The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report MORE will pay an unspecified “price” for meddling in U.S. elections, Biden said during part of an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The president said he made that clear to Putin during their first phone conversation this year (The New York Times).


> USTR: Katherine TaiKatherine TaiOvernight Health Care: Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers | Moderna reports positive early results for booster shots against COVID-19 variants | Federal judge vacates CDC's eviction moratorium Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers Overnight Health Care: Biden sets goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4 | White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states MORE, a longtime congressional staff lawyer, won Senate confirmation on Wednesday as the first woman of color to serve as the U.S. trade representative. The Senate approved her nomination 98-0, marking a rare consensus of support this year for one of Biden’s Cabinet-level picks (The Washington Post).


> Dog tales: The president’s rescue German shepherd Major is returning to the White House after a minor biting incident involving a security agent, Biden said during an interview that aired on Wednesday. He denied that his dog had been banished to Delaware and described Major as a “sweet dog” (The Associated Press).




POLITICS: Republicans are increasingly backing measures to ban transgender athletes from female sports teams, seizing on a social issue that resonates with conservatives but that civil rights groups and the LGBTQ community says is discriminatory, The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports


> 2024? Former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory MORE plans to address New Hampshire Republicans at a fundraiser March 29, boosting speculation he is laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign. His virtual appearance will also come just days after he travels to Iowa, which hosts the first caucuses in presidential nominating races. Pompeo hinted that he was considering a campaign in three years amid speculation that upward of two dozen Republicans could throw their hats into the ring in 2024. “I’m always up for a good fight,” Pompeo told Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier this month when asked if he was mulling a run. “I care deeply about America. You and I have been a part of the conservative movement for an awfully long time now. I aim to keep at it” (The Hill). 

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! 


A talking filibuster will not help Democrats as much as some might think, by Henry Olsen, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3cNanCV 


When sweatpants are epiphanies, by Frank Bruni, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3lxXCjp 


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The House meets at 10 a.m. McCarthy will hold his weekly press conference at 11:30 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nominations of Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraHHS, HUD team up to extend COVID-19 vaccine access in vulnerable communities We urgently need a COVID-level response to the US drug crisis FDA unveils plan to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars MORE to become Health and Human Services secretary and Marty WalshMarty WalshHillicon Valley: Trump's Facebook ban to stay in place, board rules | Facebook board's Trump decision pleases no one | Republicans float support for antitrust reform Biden administration rescinds Trump gig-worker rule Hillicon Valley: Experts unveil plan to combat ransomware attacks | Labor secretary weighs in on gig workers | Joe Rogan clarifies vaccine comments MORE to become Labor secretary. 


The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. They will receive a COVID-19 briefing at 1:15 p.m. Biden and Harris will receive an economic briefing at 2:15 p.m. The president will speak about COVID-19 vaccinations at 3:15 p.m. and Harris will join him in the East Room.


Harris will ceremonially swear in Deb HaalandDeb HaalandWe can't let sand mining threaten storm-buffering, natural infrastructure Haaland: Santorum's Native American comments 'unfortunate' Haaland: Government 'ready to solve' crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans MORE as Interior secretary at 10:30 a.m. She will meet with women labor leaders at 11:15 a.m. Harris will ceremonially swear in USTR Tai at 6:15 p.m.


Blinken and Sullivan will meet today in Anchorage, Alaska, with People’s Republic of China Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and State Councilor Wang Yi.


The White House press briefing takes place at 12:30 p.m. with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeHHS, HUD team up to extend COVID-19 vaccine access in vulnerable communities Iowa governor signs law allowing landlords to refuse Section 8 vouchers Ohio sets special election to replace retiring Rep. Steve Stivers MORE.


Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. reports on filings for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 13.


INVITATION: TODAY at 1:30 p.m. The Hill’s Virtually Live hosts “The Future of Modern Expeditionary Warfare” to discuss how the Navy and Marine Corps can maintain military readiness domestically and abroad. Featuring Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps; Reps. Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyHouse passes bill to prevent violence in health care workplaces We can't afford to lose one more nurse — passing workplace violence prevention bill would help Marine Corps commandant says China, Russia to pose biggest challenges for years MORE (D-Conn.), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, and Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanOvernight Defense: Iran talks set up balancing act for Biden | Pentagon on alert amid Russian saber rattling | Lawmakers urge Pentagon to be pickier about commanders' requests for more troops Battle heats up over Pentagon spending plans Marine Corps commandant says China, Russia to pose biggest challenges for years MORE (R-Va.), ranking member of the subcommittee; and Sinclair Harris, former commander (ret.), U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet. Registration 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


SCIENCE & EMBRYOS: Successful recent experiments conducted by scientists in Israel to grow mouse embryos in artificial wombs were intended to help understand how mammals develop and how gene mutations, nutrients and environmental conditions may affect a fetus. But the work could raise profound questions about whether other animals, even humans, should or could be cultured outside a living womb (The New York Times).


TAPPING THE BRAKES: Honda Motor Co. says that supply chain issues will force a halt to production at a majority of its U.S. and Canadian auto plants beginning next week. Production issues are hitting Honda plants in Ontario, Ohio, Alabama and Indiana. Honda said its Mexico operations have not announced any production changes. A microchip shortage, which has hit most global automakers, stems from a confluence of factors as carmakers, which shut plants for two months during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, compete with the sprawling consumer electronics industry for chip supplies. General Motors Co. has cut production at many plants and warned it could shave up to $2 billion from this year’s earnings (Reuters).


ALCOHOL: The last year brought faster changes to the nation's alcohol laws and regulations than at any time since the end of Prohibition. Politicians decided that expanded sales during the pandemic could help bars and restaurants survive. They also believed new barriers to access could lead to a popular revolt (The Hill). 



A liquor store



And finally …  ☘ It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by yesterday’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re eager for some smart guesses about American presidents and Ireland


Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers can take a bow with newsletter prominence on Friday.


Irish heritage is part of the biographies for how many U.S. presidents, according to historians? 


  1. 4
  2. 15
  3. 23
  4. 46


Who was the first president to visit Ireland while in office?


  1. Andrew Jackson
  2. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCensus results show White House doubling down on failure Gender politics hound GOP in Cheney drama Never underestimate Joe Biden MORE
  3. Teddy Roosevelt
  4. Ulysses S. Grant


The presidential library of which of these former presidents obtained the interior of an Irish pub from County Tipperary for its museum display? 


  1. Richard Nixon
  2. Ronald Reagan
  3. George H.W. Bush
  4. Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonNever underestimate Joe Biden Joe Biden demonstrates public health approach will solve America's ills McAuliffe rising again in Virginia MORE


In 1981, Congress’s Tip O’Neill, Patrick Moynihan and Ted Kennedy founded which group as a nod to strengthening ties between the United States and Ireland? 


  1. Shamrock Caucus
  2. Friends of Ireland Caucus
  3. Blarney Caucus
  4. Emerald Isle Caucus


Which former first lady had Irish roots? 


  1. Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. Jaqueline Kennedy
  3. Pat Nixon
  4. All of the above



Green water in White House fountain