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The Hill's Morning Report - Biden may find zero GOP support for jobs plan

The Hill's Morning Report - Biden may find zero GOP support for jobs plan
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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today 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. 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, 549,335; Tuesday, 550,036; Wednesday, 550,996; Thursday, 552,072; Friday, 553,138.

President BidenJoe BidenSuspect in FedEx shooting used two assault rifles he bought legally: police US, China say they are 'committed' to cooperating on climate change DC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is MORE’s $2.3 trillion plan to lead the United States into a more competitive, prosperous future is not the stuff of simple bumper stickers.

It’s about “jobs,” he said. And infrastructure.

And national security, China, research and development, and saving the planet from greenhouse gases. The son of a former car salesman, Biden said his plan could “win the future” with electric vehicles, and also reclaim the past with a revival of U.S. manufacturing and middle-class union wages. He wants companies to pay higher taxes and he envisions working-class families gaining ground with expanded federal benefits. 

For Biden and Democrats, a federal plan that is so sweeping it could reshape major sectors of the economy defies easy public salesmanship.    

Republicans skimmed an 80-page fact sheet created by the White House, appraised the president’s speech in Pennsylvania and leaped at the familiar political targets they plan to hit leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. Conservatives decried Biden’s proposal as a nonstarter, The Washington Post reported.

This is the biggest economic blunder of our lifetime,” said Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyBuchanan to seek top GOP position on Ways and Means Committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring On The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire MORE (Tex.), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. “As you’re trying to rebuild the economy from the biggest hit we’ve had in 90 years, why would you impose a massive tax hike on the very American businesses (that) you want to rehire workers?

In the meantime, the U.S. economic picture remains mixed. Analysts anticipate robust growth into 2022, but that expansion depends on throttling a deadly virus. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported a surprising spike in unemployment claims filed last week, suggesting that employers are still shedding workers even as the long-term employment trend shows improvement (CNBC). This morning, the Labor Department’s March jobs report is expected to show employers added 675,000 jobs, which would be the strongest monthly gain since the fall (The Wall Street Journal).

The White House will be challenged to find a core message and stick with it. At his first meeting with his full Cabinet on Thursday, Biden tapped secretaries Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegWhite House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Senate Republicans label Biden infrastructure plan a 'slush fund' MORE (Transportation), Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Congress returns; infrastructure takes center stage Sunday shows - Infrastructure dominates Senate Republican targets infrastructure package's effect on small business job creators MORE (Energy), Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeFudge on police shootings: Officers want to go home each night, and 'so do we' Julia Letlow sworn in as House member after winning election to replace late husband Working for lasting change MORE (Housing and Urban Development), Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoRepublican lawmakers reintroduce bill to ban TikTok on federal devices Hillicon Valley: Intel leaders push for breach notification law | Coinbase goes public House Republicans raise concerns about new Chinese tech companies MORE (Commerce) and Marty WalshMarty WalshUnions struggle to secure wins under Biden New Boston Mayor Kim Janey: 'We cannot go back to normal' on racial equity Biden taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA MORE (Labor) to help explain the jobs-infrastructure-revival plan (The Hill). 

His Cabinet lieutenants, Biden said, “will represent me in dealing with Congress, engage the public in selling the plan and help work out the details as we refine it and move forward.”

Biden previously tasked Vice President Harris to be his point person to oversee solutions for a surge of migrants, including children, at the U.S. southern border. 

The Associated Press: Biden’s “Jobs Cabinet” to sell infrastructure as GOP resists.

Ron KlainRon KlainGOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden White House 'horrified' by Indianapolis shooting Forgiving K in school loans would free 36 million student borrowers from debt: data MORE, the president’s chief of staff, said on Thursday during a Politico interview that the president is prepared to move ahead without Republican support if the two parties cannot reach a deal (The Hill). 

Klain said some Republicans he did not identify want to work with the administration, but he concedes there is “controversy about the pay-fors.” He said Biden would meet privately this month with groups of lawmakers to gauge their thinking. 

 

Chief of staff Ron Klain

 

Biden's gargantuan infrastructure proposal was designed to attract bipartisan support, especially from the public. The White House plan omits, at least for now, many of the social spending initiatives and tax-the-rich ideas floated by progressives in the House and Senate, although the president says he will explain another phase of his vision — the American Families Plan — in a separate speech in a few weeks, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports.  

The upshot: Securing any GOP Senate support is an uphill climb. Any conservative lawmakers who vote for a tax increase risk becoming political targets. Adding to the uncertainty are Democrats in both chambers, who are not on the same page.

Klain’s response: “We intend to deliver.”

Reuters analysis: Can Joe Biden recreate the U.S. economy he grew up with?

Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal: Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar gamble. 

 

Bridge collapsed

 

The Hill: Experts say they’re concerned the Biden plan would not add resources to protect the grid against cyberattacks in a time when electric infrastructure is increasingly being targeted.   

The Hill: A group of Republican lawmakers requested a Justice Department and Capitol Police briefing about Democrats’ claims that some Republicans provided “suspicious” Capitol tours ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 riot.

LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: The country is staring down a crucial stretch in the effort to corral the COVID-19 pandemic as it engages in an Olympic-style race to vaccinate Americans amid rising case totals that threaten a fourth wave.

The United States’s rapid administration of vaccines is giving the country a good backstop against the recent uptick in infections. More than 3 million Americans received shots on Thursday, with a seven-day average of 2.9 million doses per day. However, as The Hill’s Peter Sullivan writes, there is considerable risk in the short-term as infections are on the rise in the Northeast and in various U.S. hot spots. 

The surges are coming as governors, even those in Democratic-led states, are rolling back restrictions, despite the Biden administration recommending otherwise. The moves are a big concern especially as variants fuel the rise in new infections. 

For example, take Michigan, which has the highest per capita rate of new cases in the country. Hospitalizations have spiked from around 900 statewide at the beginning of March to almost 2,000 by the end of the month, according to data from the Covid Act Now tracking site. 

“If you’d asked me a month ago, I was really optimistic about where we are headed,” said Preeti Malani, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Michigan. But right now, she said, “Michigan’s numbers look terrible.”

The Hill: Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe dangers of pausing the J&J vaccine Sunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues CDC: Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose MORE on CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyFive global concerns for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause CDC: Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose Healing the deep wounds of racism, starting with our Black mothers and babies MORE’s COVID-19 warning: I don't know if I would have used “impending doom.” 

The Wall Street Journal: FDA authorizes first COVID-19 tests for repeat, at-home screening. 

On the vaccine push, there was more good news on Thursday from Pfizer and BioNTech. A day after they reported that their COVID-19 vaccine is extremely effective for children, the companies released new findings showing that the shot also works well against the South African variant. 

"These data also provide the first clinical results that a vaccine can effectively protect against currently circulating variants, a critical factor to reach herd immunity and end this pandemic for the global population,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO and co-founder. 

The new set of data from Pfizer and BioNTech’s phase three trial also shows that the shot has high levels of protection for at least six months. The exact length is not known, and only will be as time moves on. The companies are expected to apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) soon for full approval, having been granted emergency use authorization in early December (NBC News). 

The Associated Press: FDA authorizes two changes to Moderna’s vaccine to provide extra doses from each vial. 

The Hill: Biden tells faith leaders to “spread the word” about vaccines.  

Brett Samuels, The Hill: The White House asks governors for help with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

The Wall Street Journal: FDA probes cause of failed Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine batch.

The Hill: Hawaii considers vaccine passports for inter-island travel. 

> Sports: Thursday delivered high highs and low lows on the sports scene. 

The good news? Thursday was Opening Day for the baseball season (Editor’s note: thank goodness). The bad news? COVID-19 struck again as the Washington Nationals home opener against the New York Mets was postponed after three Nationals players tested positive for the virus. 

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters that a fourth player is also a “likely positive.” No players have been identified. The game will not be made up today, and it is unknown if the teams will take the field Saturday. First pitch is slated for 4:05 p.m. 

The game was the only affected by the virus to open the season. The only other game postponed (Baltimore Orioles versus Boston Red Sox) was due to inclement weather (ESPN).

 

Nationals Park



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: The situation involving Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzAlleged sex trafficking victim may be cooperating with feds in Matt Gaetz investigation, ex-girlfriend says Kinzinger: Republicans who join 'America First' caucus should be stripped of committees McCarthy: GOP not the party of 'nativist dog whistles' MORE (R-Fla.) took multiple turns on Thursday after reports emerged that investigators are looking into payments he made to women for sex and that he allegedly showed nude photos of women he slept with to lawmakers, including while on the House floor.

The New York Times reported on Thursday night that part of the Department of Justice’s investigation involves payments Gaetz made to women to have sex via payment apps, such as Apple Pay and the Cash App, or in cash. Tax collector Joel Greenberg, the other target of the probe, who allegedly met women on websites for dates in exchange for gifts and travel, introduced the women to Gaetz, according to the report. 

Citing messages and interviews, Greenberg and Gaetz directed the women to meet them at specific times and locales and laid out the amount of money for which they would be paid. The pair also would take ecstasy during the sexual encounters. Gaetz denied that he has paid for sex (The Hill).  

Earlier on Thursday, sources also told CNN that Gaetz showed off images of the women on his phone and talked openly about having sex with them. “It was a point of pride,” one source told the outlet of Gaetz’s bragging. 

The latest revelation comes days after news emerged that the Department of Justice is investigating him for his relationship with a 17-year-old and whether he broke interstate sex trafficking laws.  

The Associated Press: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote Biden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire MORE (D-Calif.): Remove Gaetz from committee if claims are true. 

> Georgia voting: GOP lawmakers in Georgia are feeling the heat as prominent companies and business executives have come out in vocal opposition to the new law signed by Gov. Brian KempBrian Kemp'Black Panther' director condemns Georgia voting law but says sequel will film in state Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia NBA names Obama alum to be director for social justice initiatives MORE (R) to impose new voting rights restrictions in the state.  

As The Hill’s Marty Johnson notes, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, two of the largest Georgia-based companies, joined a growing number of companies criticizing the omnibus law  this week following a wave of grassroots activists. The main argument of opponents: that the law targets Black and brown voters.  

Some Republicans believe the backlash from corporations could prompt problems for their party. According to Chuck Clay, a former GOP Georgia lawmaker and current political strategist, Georgia-based businesses are saying “we create Georgia, we're the biggest employers here and we're not satisfied.” 

“Do you want that? No. Does it hurt? Yes,” Clay said. “Does it have a long-term impact? That’s to be seen.”

Reid Wilson, The Hill: On The Trail: How marijuana went mainstream. 

The New York Times: Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoAnti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle Biden to tap Erika Moritsugu as new Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause MORE (D-Hawaii) wonders how some Republicans live with themselves.

The Hill: New Mexico state rep wins Democratic nomination for Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior says it isn't immediately reinstating coal leasing moratorium despite revoking Trump order | Haaland seeks to bolster environmental law targeted by Trump | Debate heats up over role of carbon offsets in Biden's 'net-zero' goal Haaland revokes a dozen Trump orders Haaland seeks to bolster environmental law targeted by Trump MORE's House seat. 

David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner: Republicans vying for Missouri Senate seat jockey for endorsement from former President TrumpDonald TrumpDC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is Biden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' Taylor Greene defends 'America First' effort, pushes back on critics MORE

The Washington Post: New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is investigating the personal records of Allen WeisselbergAllen Howard WeisselbergInvestigators seize documents from Trump executive's former daughter-in-law The Hill's Morning Report - Biden may find zero GOP support for jobs plan New York attorney general probes Trump Organization's CFO MORE, the longtime chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, and his family. 

> Fundraising roundup: The start of April not only means Opening Day of the baseball season. It also brings the first round of first quarter fundraising figures as political candidates try to show off their financial might, albeit in this early portion of the 2022 cycle.

On the Senate side, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), running for the Democratic nod to replace Sen. 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.), announced Thursday that he raised $3.9 million in the first three months of 2021. His campaign said that it received 140,000 contributions from more than 90,000 people. The average donation was $28.  

The Pennsylvania contest is viewed as the best Democratic chance to flip a GOP seat next year. Fetterman is considered a top-tier candidate to win the primary nomination (The Hill). 

In the House, Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerTaylor Greene defends 'America First' effort, pushes back on critics Republicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Freedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MORE (R-Ill.), staring down a pro-Trump challenge in his district that covers the area between Chicago and Peoria, Ill., raised $2.2 million and split the total evenly between his reelection bid and an anti-Trump PAC he formed earlier this year. 

The $1.1 million his campaign raised was nearly three times what it raked in during the same time period two years ago. His PAC, launched in January, has garnered more than 10,000 small dollar donors (The Hill). 

Bloomberg News: Rep. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertOvernight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J Greene, Boebert only lawmakers to vote against bone marrow transplant bill Juan Williams: The GOP is now the party of grifters and kooks MORE’s (R-Colo.) Democratic challenger raised $614,000 in 55 days.

 

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

Anti-Asian hate crimes, George Floyd trial: The world is watching how we handle racism, by Joseph R. DeTrani, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3wmR3oI 

How Nancy Reagan helped end the Cold War, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post (an excerpt from her new book, “The Triumph of Nancy Reagan”). https://wapo.st/2ObZXUS  

Woke and weak CEOs, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3mfAsOY

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets on Monday at noon for a pro forma session. No votes are expected until April 13. 

The Senate will hold a pro forma session on Monday at 2 p.m. and return for legislative business on April 12. 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. At 11 a.m., Biden will speak about the Labor Department’s March jobs report. At noon, Biden will depart for Camp David, where he will remain over the weekend. 

Harris is in Los Angeles and has no public schedule through Easter Sunday. 

The White House press briefing will take place at 12:30 p.m. and will include Labor Secretary Walsh. The administration’s COVID-19 response team will brief reporters at 11 a.m. 

Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on U.S. employment in March. The unemployment rate is expected to tick lower and analysts believe signs of robust hiring last month may indicate the pace of U.S. recovery is improving. 

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

COURTS: George Floyd was a drug user, his girlfriend recalled on Thursday while describing their opioid use during a Minneapolis trial. “Both Floyd and I, our story, it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back,” 45-year-old Courteney Ross said on Day Four of former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Defense lawyers for Chauvin argue he heeded his police training and that Floyd’s death last May was caused by Floyd’s illegal drug use (The Associated Press). … Chauvin’s former police supervisor on the day of Floyd’s death told the jury on Thursday that Chauvin should not have kneeled on Floyd’s neck after he stopped resisting (The Washington Post). The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s easing of local media ownership limits (The Associated Press).

STATE WATCH: Police say a California mass shooting this week that resulted in four deaths, including a 9-year-old boy, at an office complex was not a random rampage. The alleged shooter knew the victims and his motive may have involved personal or business relationships (The Associated Press).

MOVING IN: Harris will officially move into the Naval Observatory next week, according to Symone SandersSymone SandersHarris puts DC condo up for sale Harris in difficult starring role on border The Hill's Morning Report - Biden may find zero GOP support for jobs plan MORE, a Harris spokeswoman, after the completion of renovations to the vice presidential residence in Northwest Washington. Since Inauguration Day, Harris and second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffHarris moves into official residence after delay Harris puts DC condo up for sale The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, McConnell agree on vaccines, clash over infrastructure MORE have been living out of suitcases at Blair House, the president’s guest house (The Hill).

PRETTY IN PINK: The cherry blossoms in Washington reached peak bloom earlier than expected (DCist). Advice from Washington’s officialdom: Shun Tidal Basin crowds during the weekend and enjoy the virtual beauty with the BloomCam. Mask up if you make the pilgrimage or enjoy the view from a car.

 

Cherry blossoms



THE CLOSER

And finally … Congratulations to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners! 

Here’s who aced our latest puzzle, which dredged up news coverage about infrastructure, including about ports and a canal: John van Santen, Lesa Davis, Stewart Baker, Tom Miller, Trevor Zack, Michael Romage, Amanda Fisher, Terry Plaumer, Candi Cee, Tom Chabot, Chuck Shoenenberger, Mary Anne McEnery, Richard E. Baznik, Daniel Bachhuber, Ki Harvey, Judy Kulczycki, Chuck Ramsay, Shaun Donnelly, John Donato, Phil Kirstein, John David Paton, Dan Murphy, Allen Reishtein, Terry Pflaumer, Don Wiggins, Tim Burrack, Cliff Grulke, David Anderson, Luther Berg, Jeff Marston and Robert Nordmeyer. 

They knew the troubled cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days is named Ever Given.  

A Japanese corporation owns the Ever Given.

High winds and a sandstorm in Egypt were the principal reasons the gigantic container vessel got stuck in the canal, according to news accounts.  

Hugely expensive U.S. bottlenecks for cargo ships through ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., appeared in coverage by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times this week.

 

Ever Given