The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes


The White House



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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 542,359; Tuesday, 542,949.

President BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE said his plan to tackle the coronavirus would “meet the moment.” The price tag was $1.9 trillion. Next up: a Biden “Build Back Better” plan that could cost $3 trillion. A package will include what proponents call “green infrastructure” and what detractors call a liberal to-do list crafted for midterm election appeal.


The New York Times reported details on Monday, including new investments in infrastructure and jobs to be financed in part through tax hikes on corporations and the rich. Biden, Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenRepublicans 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 Bad jobs report amplifies GOP cries to end 0 benefits boost MORE and other economic advisers have made no secret of the administration’s ambitions to forge ahead with economic measures that could narrow inequality, reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change and bolster American manufacturing, competitiveness and job creation. The price tag, the revenue offsets and how separate legislative pieces would move through Congress have not been decided. Administration advisers expect to meet with the president this week to review options.


The Hill: White House eyes sweeping $3 trillion spending proposal.


The president expects to deliver a joint address to Congress sometime this spring; it was initially on the calendar in February but was complicated by the pandemic and security concerns after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol (The Hill). Biden’s first budget blueprint also is pending. He could opt to offer a budget overview as part of his remarks to lawmakers, as has been done in the past.


Republicans in Congress who say they favor federal investments in infrastructure are unlikely to endorse tax hikes. Conservatives and some Senate centrists will balk at spending that balloons deficits and climate provisions that would curb petroleum, coal and natural gas, as well as most permanent increases in spending for federal safety net programs. The deficit exceeds $1 trillion and the debt level topples $28 trillion.


Among congressional Democrats, there may be reluctance to again tap the budget tool known as reconciliation — used to pass the American Rescue Plan Act this month with just 51 votes in the Senate.


The Biden plan is expected to include high-profile domestic policy priorities such as free community college, federal funding for universal prekindergarten, and a permanent expansion of the child tax credit, according to The Washington Post. The sprawling initiative follows weeks of uncertainty about Biden’s second big legislative effort and confusion among congressional lawmakers about the administration’s top priority, the Post points out.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAssaults on Roe v Wade increasing Trump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday warned against a “so-called infrastructure proposal that may actually be a Trojan horse for massive tax hikes and other job-killing left-wing policies.”


Biden campaigned on raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, as well as increasing taxes on wealthy investors and families making more than $400,000 a year. He is expected to propose to Congress the first major tax increases since 1993 (Bloomberg News). The public argument to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and major corporations cheers progressives but is already attracting pushback ahead of next year’s elections amid a vulnerable economic recovery.


CNBC: Business leaders engage the Biden administration on ways to pay for infrastructure.


The Associated Press: The president will be in Ohio today to promote reduced health insurance costs, the American Rescue Plan Act and the Affordable Care Act, which Biden dubbed a “big f---ing deal” 11 years ago.


The Hill A return to budgetary earmarks, revived in the House, divides Senate Republicans. But lawmakers in both parties believe earmarks could grease enthusiasm for proposed infrastructure investments they could then tout in their states and districts.



Heavy highway traffic



More administration: Biden administration officials have sought to deter the news media from capturing images of unaccompanied minors housed in federal detention facilities at the U.S. southern border, especially during a pandemic. Lawmakers in both parties, however, are headed to such facilities this week with reporters in tow. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (Texas) and 14 other GOP lawmakers will be there this week, and Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroDemocrats ask Biden to reverse employee policy on past marijuana use The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes Blinken to appear before Foreign Affairs Committee MORE (D-Texas) is requesting participation by colleagues for what he calls an “oversight” trip. Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) has already been there and shared with the news media his grim snapshots taken inside crowded facilities (Axios and The Associated Press). … The Senate confirmed Labor Secretary Marty WalshMarty WalshThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Hillicon 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 MORE on Monday by a vote of 68-29 (The Hill). He inherits an agency struggling with hurdles erected during the pandemic. Walsh is Boston’s former mayor and a former union leader and workplace safety and health advocates say they have a long list of issues they want to discuss with the secretary, reports The Hill’s Alex Gangitano. … The White House on Monday withdrew Elizabeth Klein, the president’s nominee to be deputy Interior secretary (Politico).


More in Congress: Statehood for the District of Columbia earned yet another hearing on Monday in the Democratic-controlled House to debate whether the predominantly Black and progressive federal city with a population of 714,000 should become the nation’s 51st state. Democrats plan to put a statehood bill up for a vote on the House floor before the summer. The bill, sponsored by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonBowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' Heated argument erupts after Rep. Mondaire Jones calls GOP objections to DC statehood 'racist trash' House approves bill to make DC a state MORE (D), is expected to pass for the second time since last year. Republicans say they remain opposed on constitutional grounds (The Hill and The Washington Post).


CORONAVIRUS: U.S. public health officials early today said AstraZeneca may have used “outdated information” in its vaccine clinical trial, leading to an incomplete view of its efficacy data. The Data Safety Monitoring Board cast new doubt on the drug’s effectiveness, its potential U.S. rollout and its development (The Associated Press and Reuters).


The Biden administration had initially hailed Monday’s news that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was 79 percent effective at preventing symptomatic illness and 100 percent effective versus severe disease that would require hospitalization in its U.S. clinical trial. 


Andy Slavitt, a White House COVID-19 adviser, told reporters on Monday that the results of the 35,000-individual trial are “encouraging,” setting the stage for the Food and Drug Administration to potentially approve a fourth vaccine by April. 


This morning’s concerns by the National Institutes of Health is another problem for the company, which was plagued in recent weeks by the concerns by some European nations that the jab causes blood clots, causing them to suspend using the shot.  European health regulators, the World Health Organization and the company all maintained in recent weeks that the shot was safe and that there was no connection between individuals receiving the vaccine and the clots, with many of those nation’s resuming the administration of the shots shortly after (Yahoo! News). 


Politico: Biden administration frets Johnson & Johnson may miss vaccine goal.


ABC News: Spain broadens use of AstraZeneca jab to adults under age 65. 


The Hill: Europeans' trust in AstraZeneca vaccine plunges after suspensions: poll.


The Wall Street Journal: Regeneron COVID-19 antibody drug reduced risk of hospitalization, death by 70 percent in late-stage trial.


Elsewhere on the vaccine front, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as White House continues to push vaccination effort Biden confronts limits of big government with COVID-19 Watch live: White House holds briefing with COVID-19 response team MORE, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed faith in the efficacy of Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine. Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBiden 'confident' meeting with Putin will take place soon Blinken: US stands with Ukraine in face of Russian aggression Russia keeping 80K troops at border amid NATO exercise, US officials say MORE is set to receive the shot later today (The Associated Press). 


“I’ve taken a look at some of the reports. It looks pretty good,” Fauci told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, adding that the jab is “quite effective” (Bloomberg News).


The Associated Press: Germany looks set to extend virus lockdown measures again.


Reuters: United Kingdom’s daily COVID-19 death toll falls to 17, a six-month low.


> State Watch: A cadre of states — New York, Tennessee, West Virginia and Arizona — on Monday announced that they are expanding eligibility for individuals to receive COVID-19 shots as the U.S. races to inoculate the country. 


New Yorkers aged 50 and older will be eligible to receive a vaccine starting on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo's communications director resigns The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Broadway to fully reopen in September MORE (D) announced in a statement. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced that adults age 55 and older, in addition to people who work in critical infrastructure industries, have the greenlight to receive a shot.


In West Virginia, Gov. Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all persons aged 16 and older are also now eligible to receive a vaccine, becoming the third state (along with Alaska and Mississippi) to open COVID-19 vaccinations up to all adults. Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyDetroit police chief planning GOP gubernatorial run against Whitmer Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Arizona governor to resume job-seeking requirements for unemployment benefits MORE (R) said on Monday that all of those 16 and older will be eligible at state-operated inoculation sites in various counties starting on Wednesday (The Hill).


The New York Times: New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de Blasio3 shot, including 1 child, in Times Square New York area will lift capacity restrictions May 19 NYC 24-hour subway service resumes May 17 MORE (D) ends remote work for 80,000 in signal to rest of city.


The Hill: Enemy within: Experts warn US not learning from past pandemic mistakes.


Reuters: U.S. air travelers top 1.5 million for first time since March 2020.


The Hill: Microsoft to begin reopening main office next week.


The Wall Street Journal: Cruise lines fear another lost summer.



Coronavirus model



POLITICS: A week after his threat of a “scorched earth” Senate if Democrats eliminate the legislative filibuster, McConnell ratcheted up his criticism and predicted the upper chamber will become a “nuclear winter” if it happens. 


“If they destroy the essence of the Senate, the legislative filibuster, they will find a Senate that will not function. It takes unanimous consent to turn the lights on here. And I think they would leave an angry 50 senators not interested in being cooperative on even the simplest things,” McConnell told the “Ruthless” podcast, whose hosts include Josh Holmes, a longtime McConnell adviser, in an interview set to air this morning (and shared with Morning Report). 


“So my point being, it may not be the panacea that they anticipate it would be. It could turn the Senate into sort of a nuclear winter,” McConnell said, adding that the Senate would not be a “sustainable place” afterwards.


The comments come amid a debate within the Senate Democratic Conference. Alterations to the filibuster will be tough to make as Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden'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 Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds Sinema urges Biden to take 'bold' action at border: 'This is a crisis' Bowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' MORE (D-Ariz.) remain vocal proponents of the 60-vote threshold.


Politico: Killing the filibuster becomes new “litmus test” for Democratic candidates.


> White House politics: The president is set to headline an end-of-the-week fundraiser for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance BottomsKeisha Lance BottomsAtlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says 'it is time to pass the baton on to someone else' Watch live: Atlanta mayor holds briefing after saying she won't run for reelection The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (D) (pictured below), marking his first since being inaugurated more than two months ago (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).  


The Hill: Democrats look to Georgia model ahead of 2022 Senate races.


The Kansas City Star: Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) announces bid to replace Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntBiden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate GOP attorneys general group in turmoil after Jan. 6 Trump rally MORE (R-Mo.).



Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms



> House elections, 2020 cont.: Moderate Democrats have a warning for party leadership: don’t meddle in the contested Iowa House race that would unseat Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) in favor of Democrat Rita Hart, who lost the November contest by six votes. 


Centrist members are cautioning that flipping a seat, even via a good-faith effort to reexamine the outcome in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, would set a dangerous precedent, as the race was certified by all required parties, with Miller-Meeks having been seated in January. 


“It strikes me as remarkably hypocritical and a dangerous precedent at a time we need to be repairing precedents,” one moderate Democrat told The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis


A second moderate House Democrat echoed the sentiment: “As painful as it was to lose this election by six votes, and although I sympathize with Rita Hart, the state certified these election results. Upending them at this point would only serve to further divide the country.”


The Hill: GOP campaign chief confident his party will win back House.


Jonathan Easley, The Hill: Trump ramps up activities, asserts power within GOP.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump battles to stay relevant.


Election corner: Rep. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes These House lawmakers aren't seeking reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Texas) announced on Monday that he will retire at the end of his term, marking a victim of redistricting as Texas Republicans get ready to redraw the maps ahead of 2022 (Axios). … Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceAtlanta Democrat announces bid for Georgia secretary of state Loeffler asks Georgia attorney general to investigate Raffensperger over 2020 election Heated argument erupts after Rep. Mondaire Jones calls GOP objections to DC statehood 'racist trash' MORE (R-Ga.), a Freedom Caucus member and noted supporter of former President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE, launched a bid to become the Georgia secretary of state on Monday. His announcement sets up a primary brouhaha against Brad Raffensperger (R), who clashed with Trump over efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in the state. Trump endorsed Hice shortly after the congressman announced his plans (The Hill). … Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Democrats warn Waters censure move opens floodgates Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee MORE (R-Ala.) formally kicked off his campaign for the open Alabama Senate seat on Monday to replace retiring Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Top Senate Democrat announces return of earmarks Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban MORE (R-Ala.) (The Hill). …  According to RealClearPolitics’s Philip Wegmann, Kay Coles James is stepping down from her perch as president of The Heritage Foundation. James took over atop the thinktank in 2018. … New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said on Monday that the state’s June primary elections will take place in-person (NorthJersey.com).

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The House meets at 11 a.m. 


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Shalanda Young to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.


The president and Vice President Harris receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden departs the White House at 1 p.m. for Columbus, Ohio, to speak about the American Rescue Plan Act and to mark the enactment more than a decade ago of the Affordable Care Act. The president at 4:10 p.m. will tour the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute in Columbus before returning to the White House this evening.  


The vice president will ceremonially swear in former ambassador William BurnsWilliam BurnsSenate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory US investigating possible 'Havana syndrome' attack near White House: CNN MORE as CIA director at 9:10 a.m. She will also swear in Walsh as Labor secretary at 5:25 p.m.


Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden 'confident' meeting with Putin will take place soon Blinken calls for Taiwan to join World Health Assembly in opposition to China US general warns China is actively seeking to set up an Atlantic naval base MORE is in Brussels. 


Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Yellen will testify at noon before the House Financial Services Committee about U.S. responses to the coronavirus and economic impacts. Live stream is HERE.


INVITATIONS: The Hill’s Virtually Live packs this week’s calendar with smart conversations about key issues! TODAY, join “Climate Under Threat” at 1:30 p.m. (registration HERE). Wednesday is “The Loss of Nature: A Global Threat,” at 1 p.m. (registration HERE). Thursday is “The COVID-19 Vaccine & the New Era of Manufacturing,” at 1 p.m. (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


INTERNATIONAL: Israel holds elections today for seats in the Knesset, and an Israeli pollster said 15 seats are in play in what will be a contest under high security when nearly a third of voters said last week they were undecided. Ahead of today’s turnout, Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE told his countrymen that Israel would “have no more lockdowns” following its successful vaccination campaign, which has seen over half of Israel’s population get COVID-19 shots. The prime minister during an interview last week defended Israel’s transfer of vaccines to the Palestinians. “We are one epidemiological unit. We transferred very few vaccines. This is a very important [move] that any responsible government would do,” he said (The Times of Israel).


COURTS: The Supreme Court said Monday that it will consider reinstating the death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 27, presenting Biden with an early test of his opposition to capital punishment. The justices agreed this fall to hear an appeal filed by the Trump administration, which carried out executions of 13 federal inmates in its final six months in office, including three in the last week of Trump’s term. Tsarnaev was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction and the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer in 2013. The initial prosecution and decision to seek a death sentence was made by the Obama administration when Biden was vice president. As president, Biden has pledged to seek an end to the federal death penalty, but he has not said how. If the justices reinstate Tsarnaev’s death sentence, nothing would force the new administration to schedule an execution date (The Associated Press).



Dzhokhar Tsarnaev



MURDER: Boulder, Colo., was the scene on Monday afternoon of the country’s latest mass shooting. Ten people died, including a police officer who was the first to arrive at the scene inside a grocery store. Authorities did not immediately identify a suspect who was taken into custody. Officials did not speculate about a motive and said an investigation involving local, state and federal agencies would take days. It’s the seventh mass killing this year in the United States, following the March 16 shooting that left eight people dead at three Atlanta-area massage parlors (The Associated Press).


And finally … The Sweet 16 is set. 


College basketball’s round of 32 wrapped up on Monday night, setting the stage for next weekend’s games that will feature higher seeds galore. Among those are an 8 seed (Loyola-Chicago), two 11 seeds (Syracuse and UCLA), a 12 seed (Oregon State) and only the second 15 seed in history to make the tournament’s third round (Oral Roberts). 


Of course, some heavy favorites remain, including Gonzaga, which easily defeated Norfolk State and Oklahoma in its first two games and is still the heavy betting favorite to win it all.


The Sweet 16 gets underway on Saturday (CBS Sports). 



A Creighton basketball player scores