The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring

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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 562,066; Tuesday, 562,533; Wednesday, 563,446; Thursday, 564,402.

When in doubt, pause.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday postponed making a recommendation regarding the use of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) vaccine, deciding to take more time and gather more information about reports of rare blood clots. 


Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said they did not feel comfortable making a decision about whether to continue J&J vaccinations yet, because there was not enough evidence about the patients who experienced the serious, but rare, side effects. The CDC and Food and Drug Administration issued the pause in administering J&J shots on Tuesday. 


“I do not want to vote on this issue today,” said Beth Bell, a clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington and a voting member of the committee. “I just don’t feel we have enough information to make an evidence-based decision” (The Wall Street Journal).


Other members also advocated for the pause, noting that there are enough doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine to continue the rapid pace of inoculations. 


“I know there are many patients that have not been able to get vaccinated that need to get vaccinated, but we want to make sure these vaccines are safe,” said Sandra Fryhofer, a member of the American Medical Association’s board of trustees (CNBC).


Among the items the panel is hoping to figure out is who might be most at risk of incurring these incredibly rare blood clots, including the age and gender of recipients. Of the 6.8 million J&J shots that have been administered, there have been six reports — all in women aged between 18 and 48 — of the blood clots, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. 


As The Hill’s Nathanial Weixel writes, the committee did not set a date for a new meeting, but could do so within the next week to 10 days. The panel also has a regularly scheduled meeting set for May 5. 


The Wall Street Journal: J&J vaccine pause sparks scrambles across country.


The New York Times: With J&J vaccine on pause, the consequences could ripple worldwide.


Among the chief concerns of others on the committee remains vaccine hesitancy and what a lengthy pause could do to American confidence levels, and the polling backs up that thinking. According to a new Monmouth University poll released Wednesday, 21 percent said that they will not get a COVID-19 jab, a small drop from the 24 percent who said the same in Monmouth’s poll in March. Twelve percent said they will let other people get the vaccine first “to see how it goes” (The Hill).


Anthony FauciAnthony FauciCDC director: Vaccinated adolescents can remove masks outdoors at summer camps The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Overnight 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 MORE, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said early on Wednesday that the data emerging from the J&J shot is similar to what researchers see in AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which continues to experience issues abroad (The Hill). Denmark on Wednesday became the first country to entirely ditch use of the company’s shot (Reuters).



The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine



The Associated Press: Europe scrambles as J&J vaccine delay deals another blow. 


The Washington Post: Public health experts double down on vaccine education after J&J vaccine pause.


Ezekiel Emanuel, The New York Times: These people should be required to get vaccinated.


The Associated Press: European Union throws weight behind Pfizer-BioNTech and new technology.


At the state level, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Gov. Tony EversTony EversWisconsin Gov. rips Sidney Powell's lawsuit filled with factual errors in court filing Wisconsin passes law requiring schools teach students about Holocaust and other genocides First lady announces virtual guests for Biden's address to Congress MORE (D) did not have the authority to impose capacity limits on restaurants, bars or other businesses without the approval of the state legislature. 


The 5-4 ruling from the conservative-majority court found that Evers exceeded his authority last fall when he issued orders to limit indoor, public gatherings to 25 percent of a building’s or room’s capacity (The Hill).


ABC Norfolk: Two Virginia Zoo tigers test positive for COVID-19.



Signs promoting a COVID-19 vaccination site



President BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE on Wednesday laid out a plan for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 following two decades of war, more than 2,300 U.S. combat deaths and an estimated $1 trillion in costs.


“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” the president said in a speech from the Treaty Room of the White House, where former President George W. Bush announced the start of the Afghan invasion in 2001 (The Hill).


Biden said the United States accomplished its objective to “ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again,” but critics argue that removing the remaining 3,500 U.S. forces will leave the country vulnerable to the Taliban and extremists who seek to destabilize the region and perhaps plot to attack the United States abroad or in the homeland.



President Biden at Arlington National Cemetery



The president rebuffed the criticism. “I know there will be many who will loudly insist that diplomacy cannot succeed without a robust U.S. military presence to stand as leverage. We gave that argument a decade. It’s never proved effective,” Biden said. “Our diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way.” 


Biden, who believes there are more pressing challenges facing his administration, said the United States must focus on disrupting terror networks and operations across the globe, competing with China, strengthening international alliances and defeating the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan is in coordination with the withdrawal of nearly 10,000 NATO troops.


The Associated Press: Unconditional U.S. troop pullout, an uncertain Afghanistan and hopes for peace.


The Washington Post: For Afghanistan veterans, old feelings of frustration, futility, loss resurface.


The Hill: Biden spoke with Bush and former President Obama ahead of his announcement.


Reuters: The president also spoke on Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and they called on Russia to pull back troops from the Ukrainian border to de-escalate the situation in the region.


The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes that Biden’s GOP detractors confront the difficulty of arguing that the United States and allies will somehow be able to accomplish in 22, 23, or 24 years in Afghanistan what was not achieved in 20.



President Biden



The United States today is poised to impose sanctions on Russia for its hacking, uncovered last year, of at least nine U.S. government agencies as well as its interference in U.S. elections (Bloomberg News and The Associated Press). 


Another preoccupying international challenge in the early months of the administration is the significant surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border trekking through Central American countries and Mexico. Vice President Harris, who has been tasked by the president with leading a response to the situation at the border, convened a roundtable with experts on Wednesday and told reporters she will travel to Mexico and Guatemala soon to address what she called the “root causes” of migration (The Hill).


Studies for decades have reported that Central American migrants flee their countries for the United States for many reasons, including fear of gangs and crime, economic strife, inducements from traffickers, and the belief that they or their children can enter the United States without documentation under U.S. laws.


> Housing: State judges in Texas, Ohio and other states are defying a federally mandated pause on evictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the Justice Department has been faulted for not bringing a single prosecution in response to state judges who allow landlords to force tenants from their homes in response to unpaid rent during the COVID-19 crisis. A CDC moratorium halts evictions through June and imposes criminal penalties for violations of the temporary freeze (The Hill).


> Wages and workers: Unions and labor advocates with high hopes that Biden would help deliver on major priorities, such as raising wages and increasing worker power, have few victories ahead of the administration’s 100-day mark. Some progressive groups say Biden needs to fight harder for unions (The Hill).


> Abortion: The Biden administration moves to unwind Trump restrictions on federal family planning funds (Politico).


> White House: The president on Wednesday appointed Erika Moritsugu as deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, a new position (CBS News). She has served as general counsel to Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSu's track record make her an excellent pick for Labor Department post Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Senate panel advances Biden's Postal Service nominees MORE (D-Ill.) and for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee under former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden's first 100 days is stylistic 'antithesis' of Trump The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring MORE (D-Nev.). During the Obama administration, Moritsugu worked in senior positions handling legislative affairs for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


CONGRESS: 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.) is doing a one-two step these days as he urges Senate Democrats to team up with GOP colleagues on bipartisan legislation while keeping his eyes trained on potentially overturning the filibuster.


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, Schumer spoke at the Senate Democratic Conference’s weekly lunch at length about nailing down bipartisan priorities. However, the Democratic leader circulated information and materials laying out potential maneuvers and mechanisms to reform the legislative filibuster. 


“Schumer is just now laying out how we want to go forward,” said one Democratic senator. “Some members of the caucus, a considerable number, they want to understand the extent of Republican obstruction to justify any action taken on the filibuster.”


“All of this is about bringing the caucus back together so eventually 50 people in the room can reach a decision,” the senator added.


The Hill: Democrats get good news from the IRS chief about child tax credit payments.


The Hill: Senate confirms Gary GenslerGary GenslerPutting the SEC cops back on the Wall Street beat On The Money: US economy roars in first three months of 2021 | Jobless claims drop again | White House: No tax hikes for couples making less than 9K SEC enforcement chief resigns just days after taking job MORE to lead Securities and Exchange Commission.


NBC News: Democrats to introduce bill to expand Supreme Court from 9 to 13 justices. 


There was also a sliver of bipartisan news on Wednesday as the Senate voted 92 to 6 on a motion to proceed to start debate on an anti-Asian hate crimes bill. GOP Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union MORE (Ark.), 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), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Why isn't Washington defending American companies from foreign assaults? MORE (Mo.), Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallFauci vs. Rogan: White House works to stomp out misinformation Kris Kobach files paperwork to run for Kansas AG Kansas senator blames misinformation, bureaucrats for vaccine hesitancy MORE (Kansas), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE (Ky.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) voted against advancing the bill. 


“I'm so glad that our Republican colleagues have voted with us to proceed with this legislation. This was never intended as gotcha legislation. It was always intended as bipartisan legislation,” Schumer said after the vote (The Hill).


The Washington Post: U.S. Capitol Police officer cleared of wrongdoing in fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt during Capitol attack.


The Hill: Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico.


CNN: House committee votes to approve bill that would grant DC statehood.


The Hill: Race debate grips Congress.


The Hill: House panel approves bill to set up reparations commission.   


> Texas-size loss: Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyHouse panel advances bipartisan retirement savings bill GOP frustration with Liz Cheney 'at a boiling point' Lawmakers brace for bitter fight over Biden tax plan MORE (R-Texas), the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, announced Wednesday that he is retiring at the end of his term in office. 


Brady, a 13-term lawmaker who represents suburban Houston, was widely expected to depart at the end of 2022 as he is term-limited in his role as the top GOP member atop the committee charged with tax laws (The Texas Tribune). He is also considered one of the most influential members of the GOP conference.  


“During his 13 terms in Congress, and especially as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee, Kevin was responsible for the most important reforms for economic freedom in decades,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyLoyalty trumps policy in Stefanik's rise, Cheney's fall Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Likely Cheney successor appears on Bannon show to tout GOP unity MORE (R-Calif.) said in a statement, pointing to his involvement in writing the 2017 GOP tax law.




POLITICS: The nation’s 43rd president, who attended Biden’s inauguration and collaborated this year with Obama and former President Clinton to urge Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, says he wants to lobby fellow Republican lawmakers to take up immigration reform legislation.


It’s unclear whether members of the Republican Party who are tethered to Trump are keen to listen to Bush’s arguments. If anything, the politics are exponentially more difficult for conservative lawmakers than they were when he left office.


Bush (pictured at the Texas border in 2007) told CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell that failure during his presidency to enact an immigration overhaul is one of his biggest disappointments. 


I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do,” he said in an interview to be broadcast on “CBS Sunday Morning” and on CBS programs next week.


The pile-up of executive actions dealing with immigration policies with each succeeding president underscores the challenges, he said. “All that means is that Congress isn’t doing its job.”



Former President George W. Bush



The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports that Democratic lawmakers are braced for another round of protests to “defund the police,” a slogan that many believe harms the party and invites Republicans to wield it as a political weapon.


“I am done with those who condone government-funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed,” progressive Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibSix House Democrats ask Garland to review case of lawyer placed under house arrest over Chevron suit OSHA sends draft emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 to OMB review Imperative that Democrats figure out what went wrong in 2020 MORE (D-Mich.) tweeted on Monday in reaction to Sunday’s police killing of another Black man in Minnesota. Others warn that such rhetoric alienates too many voters. “It is the thing that I’m most worried about," veteran Democratic strategist James Carville said during “Conversations with Bill Kristol.” “This `defund the police’ was just a terrible drag on the Democratic party. It really was. Don’t kid yourself.”


In Missouri’s Senate race, disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens’s campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate GOP attorneys general group in turmoil after Jan. 6 Trump rally Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban MORE (R) worries Republicans. Fears Greitens could endanger their chances of holding an otherwise safe seat have sent them scrambling for options to prevent him from emerging as the clear favorite in the race, reports The Hill’s Max Greenwood.


Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R), who launched a Senate campaign last month, met with GOP leaders in Washington recently. Party operatives would like to recruit a handful of other Republicans to compete.


The Hill: Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyMcConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' Loyalty trumps policy in Stefanik's rise, Cheney's fall Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts MORE (R-Wyo.) says she would not support Trump in 2024, should he run for president. The frosty feelings are mutual: Trump world wants to knock her off in a primary next year.


The Hill: Trump mocks the election chances of Cheney and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Trump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan Trump drama divides GOP, muddling message MORE (R-Alaska). Both women backed the former president’s impeachment. 

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 post-filibuster world would be a nightmare for progressives, by Ronald Reich, former assistant attorney general and chief counsel to former Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Reid, Politico Magazine. https://politi.co/3wYIcd8 


China controls the International Olympic Committee and Olympic sponsors the way it governs its citizens: through fear, by Sally Jenkins, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3siq9LN 



FedEx made $1.2 BILLION in profits last year but paid NOTHING in federal income taxes. Now FedEx is trying to protect their tax breaks by lobbying against President Biden’s plan to create millions of jobs and rebuild America. Tell Congress: it’s time corporations like FedEx pay their fair share.


The House meets at noon. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (D-Calif.) will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. McCarthy’s weekly press conference will follow at 11:30 a.m.


The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. A group of nearly a dozen Senate Republicans will hold a press conference at 12:30 p.m. on infrastructure. 


The president and the vice president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. Biden and Harris will have lunch at 12:30 p.m. At 2 p.m., they will meet with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus executive committee in the Oval Office.


The White House press briefing will take place at 12:30 p.m.


Economic indicator: The Census Bureau at 8:30 a.m. reports on retail sales in March. Analysts expect to see a surge.


INVITATION TODAY to The Hill’s Virtually Live program “The Sustainability Imperative” continues today and Friday. Join notable experts, leaders and stakeholders for eye-opening daily discussions. Information is HERE.


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


POLICING, COURTS, CRIME: Kim Potter, the former police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright earlier this week, was charged with second-degree manslaughter, according to Washington County District Attorney Pete Orput (Minneapolis Star Tribune). The charge, according to Minnesota law, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine (Axios). … Day 13 in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin focused on defense testimony that the cause of George Floyd’s death was “undetermined” or not a direct result of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck in a prone position (The New York Times and The Associated Press). ... Bernie Madoff, the orchestrator of one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history, died at age 82 on Wednesday. Madoff infamously was the architect of a scheme that defrauded investors out of multi-billions before pleading guilty in 2009 and receiving a sentence of 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Madoff died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., roughly a year after his attorney asked for his release for health reasons (The Wall Street Journal). 


TECH: Facebook's plans to create an Instagram for kids is fueling new calls from advocates to crack down on digital advertising targeting children. YouTube has largely been the main platform for marketing aimed at children, with videos from so-called kidfluencers garnering millions of views, but Facebook’s plans are sparking new calls for action from lawmakers and advocates who say influencer marketing is a deceptive tactic to reach kids (The Hill).


Nation’s Capital: Green sprouts of Washington, D.C. power dinners are reappearing, though still with seating distance and masks. SPOTTED at a dinner at Cafe Milano on Wednesday night and billed as a bipartisan check-in before Biden's first address to Congress were Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' Bowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' It's Joe Manchin vs the progressives on infrastructure MORE (D-W.Va.) and his wife, Gayle Manchin, who is Biden's nominee to be federal co-chairwoman of the Appalachian Regional Commission; Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Florida's restrictive voting bill signed into law Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women Kinzinger hits GOP on 'operation #coverupJan6' over Cheney ouster plot MORE (R-Ill.) and his wife, Sofia Kinzinger; and Rep. Brad WenstrupBrad Robert WenstrupGOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring MORE (R-Ohio).


The Hill Chairman Jimmy Finkelstein and Editor at Large Steve Clemons hosted the dinner, which also included SHRM CEO Johnny Taylor, Fox News “Special Report” host Bret Baier, Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark, Center for International Private Enterprise Chairman Greg Lebedev, Siemens North America President and CEO Barbara Humpton, Motion Picture Association Chairman and CEO and former U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin, Financial Times U.S. Editor Edward Luce, The Hill Opinion Editor Frank Craig and media producer and strategist Tammy Haddad.


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by headlines this week, we’re eager for some smart guesses about endings and beginnings.


Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


Which former president launched an invasion that evolved into what was described this week as a “forever war”? 

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. Franklin Roosevelt
  3. George W. Bush
  4. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCensus results show White House doubling down on failure Gender politics hound GOP in Cheney drama Never underestimate Joe Biden MORE

What went public on Wednesday and was described in a New York Times headline as “a coming-out party”?

  1. Coinbase
  2. La Cage aux Folles restaurant chain
  3. New D.C. statehood law
  4. Ticketed display of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Salvator Mundi” aboard a Saudi crown prince’s yacht 

Which House member was sworn in this week to begin a congressional career while also marking a tragedy in his/her family?


  1. Mark KellyMark KellyBowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' Manchin says he doesn't support DC statehood, election reform bills Manchin, Sinema filibuster support scores political points back home, GOP poll shows MORE
  2. Julia Letlow
  3. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida QAnon site shutters after reports identifying developer Republicans head to runoff in GA-14 MORE
  4. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiOvernight 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 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring MORE


Prince Philip, 99, whose funeral takes place on Saturday, was described this week as “cheeky” by ______? 

  1. Queen Elizabeth II
  2. Prime Minister Boris Johnson
  3. Prince HarryPrince HarryOprah interview with Meghan, Prince Harry grew subscriptions for Paramount+ Meghan wins last copyright claim over letter to father Meghan announces children's book inspired by Prince Harry and Archie MORE
  4. Hugh Grant 


Britain's Prince Philip