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Police officers line up by the AFL-CIO building

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Thursday, Earth Day! 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, 567,217; Tuesday, 567,694; Wednesday, 568,470; Thursday, 569,402.



The House last month passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would make it easier to prosecute police officers for misconduct. President BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE endorsed the measure on Tuesday, and it has the backing of Rodney Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, who urged Washington to turn the bill into law following the historic murder conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.

 

NBC News: Here is what the House-passed policing act would do.

 

Congress is under new pressure to adopt policing reforms following Chauvin’s conviction on all counts for murder and manslaughter. A diverse jury needed only 10 and half hours to come to agreement. It has taken Congress a lot longer to decide how a federal law could help.

 

Chauvin’s conviction, heralded by Democrats and activists as a milestone in the quest for accountability and racial justice, immediately shifted attention from the courts to the 50-50 Senate, where initial police reform discussions following Floyd's death unraveled nearly a year ago (The Hill). 

 

Democrats believe Tuesday’s jury verdict provides legislative momentum. Negotiators say they hope to agree on bill language in a matter of weeks. 

 

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHelping students make informed decisions on college Police reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines MORE (S.C.), the sole Black Republican in the upper chamber, has been negotiating with Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy MORE (D-Calif.), the former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus and lead author of the House-passed bill, and Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Almost 20 advocacy groups team up to pressure Congress to pass health care bill for immigrants Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines MORE (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They describe their outlook as "cautiously optimistic" that a bipartisan agreement is possible, perhaps within a month.

 

The Hill: White House to give Congress space on police reform.

 

The New York Times: As lawmakers in Washington discuss police reform measures, GOP-led states are introducing punitive new measures governing protests (and in Oklahoma and Iowa, passing measures that absolve motorists who hit demonstrators in public streets).

 

The Washington Post: The video-chronicled death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teenager in Columbus, Ohio, who was shot and killed by a white police officer on Tuesday while allegedly wielding a knife during an altercation in a residential neighborhood, sparked protests for a second night.  

 

 

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (L) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

 

 

More in Congress: The House today is expected to pass legislation to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. If the bill is enacted, the nation’s capital and its 705,000 mostly Democratic residents would gain House and Senate representation and the state would have a new name. The legislation is unlikely to pass the 50-50 Senate, but former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is lobbying undecided senators to support it. Conservatives oppose the statehood drive, arguing it is a Democratic endeavor to add seats in the House and Senate (Forbes).

 

> The Senate today is expected to pass a hate crimes bill (The Hill). 

 

> Senate Republicans on Wednesday voted to retain a ban on earmarks under GOP caucus rules. They also adopted language requiring spending cuts along with increases in the nation’s borrowing authority. But, wait — the ban is largely for show and not enforceable. On paper, Senate Republicans are officially at odds with House Republicans and Democrats over earmarks, which are budgetary line items inserted in bills by lawmakers to benefit narrowly drawn projects and constituents (The Hill). 

 

The Washington Post: House Republicans take step to revive debt ceiling brawls with White House.

 

> Longtime proponents of raising the gas tax and more recent converts to a vehicle mileage tax are finding it increasingly unlikely that either of those possible revenue raisers will wind up in Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan. Why? Biden pledged not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000, which is what user fees would do (The Hill).

 

> Will the unpopular $10,000 deduction cap on state and local taxes, otherwise known as SALT, stay, or will it go? Residents of certain blue states (California, New Jersey, New York) hate the deductions limit enacted as part of the GOP tax bill in 2017, but that change in law is worth an estimated $600 billion to federal coffers over 10 years. Liberal groups and some prominent progressive lawmakers are now foot-dragging and want to keep the cap in place. Why? The whole issue creates intraparty friction at a time when Democrats want to link arms to pass major legislation, and they argue that repealing the cap would largely look like a tax boondoggle for high-income households. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda explains the gestalt of SALT.

 

> Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate House extends proxy voting to July On The Money: IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 | One-fourth of Americans took financial hits in 2020: Fed MORE (D-Calif.) backtracked this week and agreed to an even split between the party affiliations among members to be appointed to a proposed 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol. She briefed her conference on Monday. She initially wanted Democrats to hold a majority on the investigatory panel (CNN).

 

> The Senate on Wednesday narrowly voted to confirm Vanita Gupta (pictured below) as associate attorney general, the No. 3 position at the Justice Department. Gupta surmounted Republican criticism of her past liberal civil rights advocacy. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court takes case that could diminish Roe v. Wade | White House to send US-authorized vaccines overseas for first time Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization White House: Biden committed to codifying Roe v. Wade regardless of Miss. case MORE (R-Alaska) crossed the aisle to support Gupta, whose nomination cleared the Senate 51-49 (The Hill)

 

 

Vanita Gupta

 



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LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: Biden on Wednesday celebrated another milestone as the U.S. hit 200 million vaccinations in the 92 days since his inauguration, outpacing his most recent goal and dubbing it an “an incredible achievement” for the country. 

 

Biden had previously pushed for the total to be reached by the end of the month. The push comes amid a renewed effort by the administration to vaccinate young adults, noting that only 43 percent of working adults have received the jab so far. 

 

“Vaccines can save your own life, but they can also save your grandmother's life, your co-worker's life,” Biden said (The Hill).

 

However, the White House is already being forced to confront another issue as the rate of vaccinations has dipped substantially in recent days, as The Hill’s Justine Coleman notes. The U.S. peaked in early April, having administered 4.63 million shots, but has since seen a fraction of that number in recent days. On Tuesday, only 1.81 million doses were administered, with the seven-day average declining from a highpoint of 3.38 million per day to 3.02 million on Tuesday.

 

Administration officials acknowledged the challenge on Wednesday. White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE said the administration is trying to address “barriers” that stop people from getting vaccinated, including its proposed tax credit to employers who offer paid time off for workers to get and recover from the vaccine.

 

Politico: Biden world fears many vaccine skeptics may be unreachable. They're trying anyway.

 

Adding to the problems is the potential for unused doses of vaccines, especially as eligibility barriers have been lifted across the country. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates there are more than 60 million unused vaccines that have been delivered but not yet administered.

 

However, in a dose of good news, although vaccinations have dropped, so have cases across the country in the past week. According to The Washington Post’s tracker, the seven-day average has dropped by more than 8,000 cases from nearly 72,000 infections to more than 63,000 per day.

 

The Hill: Biden says he expects to share vaccine doses with Canada and other countries but not now.

 

Reuters: U.S. adds 116 countries to its “Do Not Travel” advisory list.

 

The Hill: United Kingdom COVID-19 variant 45 percent more transmissible, says new study from Israel.

 

 

President Biden

 

 

Elsewhere on the vaccine front, production of vaccines at the Emergent BioSolutions factory in Baltimore will remain on hold after an inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that the facility was dirty and did not follow regular quality control guidelines.

 

In a 13-page report, the FDA rattled off the problems emanating from the factory, including that staff didn’t follow proper manufacturing procedures and wasn’t trained properly. About 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) vaccine created at the facility had to be thrown out due to contamination or the mixing of materials, with regulators indicating that the total might even be higher (The New York Times). All eight million of the J&J shots that have been administered in the U.S. were made in Europe.

 

Emergent and J&J said that they are pushing to remedy the Baltimore location as quickly as possible (The Associated Press). As The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel and Peter Sullivan note, the situation at the plant could be a major roadblock for J&J to meet its goal of 100 million doses delivered to the U.S. by the end of next month.

 

However, there was positive J&J news: New data released by the company shows that its jab is effective against emerging variants (The Hill).

 

The Associated Press: New York: Vaccines available to all over 60 at walk-in sites.

 

The Hill: Vaccines offered protection from COVID-19 outbreak at Kentucky nursing home.

 

Reuters: European Union preparing legal case against AstraZeneca over vaccine shortfalls.

 

The Wall Street Journal: Pfizer identifies fake COVID-19 shots abroad as criminals exploit vaccine demand.

 

The Associated Press: Tokyo Games delay decision until June on fans — or no fans.

 

*****

 

ADMINISTRATION: The White House will showcase Earth Day today as a chance to revive global pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to cleaner energy and news jobs, with no time to waste to save the planet. Biden will host a virtual climate summit and pledge to halve the amount of U.S. coal and petroleum pollution by 2030, measured against levels in 2005. That’s nearly double the voluntary target the United States set at the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord (The Hill).

 

The Associated Press: The president aims for momentum to move the world’s worst polluters as the United States returns to the climate fight. Success for the president in the virtual summit of 40 invited leaders will be to make U.S. commitments believable enough to persuade other powers to make big changes of their own.

 

Despite partisan debate in the United States about man-made causes of heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other gases, the planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. The world’s leading scientists point to compelling evidence of rapid climate change that has been driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities (NASA).

 

The Associated Press: Misinformation, falsehoods and denial of climate change have adapted as scientific evidence increases, showing a warming planet due to man’s activities. 

 

Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE, who is no stranger to the climate debate in farm country, spoke in March to Bloomberg News about his department’s plans to promote initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases in the agricultural sector, which primarily are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

  

> The Hill’s Alex Gangitano this week interviewed Vilsack, who championed as a plus for rural America the administration’s infrastructure initiatives, including investments in broadband. “There’s a lot to like about the jobs plan for rural places," Vilsack said. He also touted lifting systemic barriers, support for Black farmers and help for pandemic-affected employers and employees involved in meat packing and supply chain businesses.

 

> Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary GenslerGary GenslerFinancial market transactions should not be taxed or restricted Putting 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 MORE has been urged by Democrats to stomp out what the party considers unsustainable financial market speculation. Known as a tough regulator, Gensler’s arrival at the SEC has Wall Street and its Republican allies on alert (The Hill).



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: As Democrats continue to raise the specter of plowing ahead on a massive infrastructure package via reconciliation, Biden told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus earlier this week he is open to passing an immigration package with only Democratic votes amid constant GOP messaging on the topic in recent weeks.

 

Since his inauguration, Biden has consistently received high approval ratings. However, immigration remains his one Achilles’ heel, evidenced by non-stop Republican criticism on the issue as GOP lawmakers know it is one that resonates with the base — and potentially one that will stick ahead of the 2022 midterms. 

 

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, Republicans are unlikely to work with Democrats to pass any bill to remedy the situation at the border, with some Democrats acknowledging in recent months that most of that work has to be done by the administration. However, it has prompted some Democrats to look into passing a bill to address immigration issues via reconciliation and without GOP cooperation. 

 

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Washington's fake debate on “bipartisanship.”

 

Meanwhile, progressives have other issues on their minds as they motor toward the 2022 midterms, namely taking out another high-profile New York Democrat for the third straight campaign cycle: Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyGOP downplays Jan. 6 violence: Like a 'normal tourist visit' GOP's Gosar defends Jan. 6 rioter, says she was 'executed' HuffPost reporter: DCCC will help Dems fend off progressive challengers to 'keep them happy' MORE (D-N.Y.). 

 

Justice Democrats are training their sights on ousting Maloney, the chairwoman  of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, who toppled a primary challenge by only 3.4 percentage points (3,200 votes) in 2020. As The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong write, the group is backing Rana Abdelhamid, who runs a non-profit designed to empower minority women, in a contest that will center on the debate surrounding the value of congressional experience, what is true progressivism and whether the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee should continue to blindly support incumbents in primaries.

 

On the GOP side, the North Carolina Senate primary is still in its infancy, but it is waiting on one person to decide whether she is in or out in the nascent race: Lara TrumpLara TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' Budd to run for Senate in NC Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign MORE.

 

Lara Trump, the wife of Eric TrumpEric TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden convenes world leaders for Earth Day The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform Lara Trump is wild card in North Carolina Senate race MORE and daughter-in-law of former President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE, is leading in polls of the race despite not having tipped her hand on a potential bid as of yet. According to a recent survey by Cygnal, a GOP polling firm, she leads with 32.4 percent support. As Julia Manchester reports, Lara Trump, a North Carolina native, stands to have a major effect on a race that is already jam-packed with some of the state’s biggest GOP figures, even though the Trump Organization, which her husband runs, remains under investigation.

 

“The biggest impact will be Lara Trump,” said Thomas Mills, founder and publisher of the North Carolina political blog PoliticsNC.com. “She’s a Trump, and that name carries quite a bit of weight in the GOP primary, but we don’t know how much.”

 

The Hill: Andrew Giuliani to meet with the 45th president before a potential New York gubernatorial campaign.

 

The Associated Press: Ohio Supreme Court takes voting machines case.

 

 

Lara Trump

 



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! 



OPINIONS

We are turning COVID-19 into a young person’s disease, by Sara Zhang, staff writer, The Atlantic. https://bit.ly/3awBfqh 

 

The anti-constitutional D.C. statehood pretense, by George F. Will, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2QmG5j1 



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WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. The House will vote on a measure that would make D.C. the 51st state, to be known as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, and provide equal representation in Congress. Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. Marking Earth Day, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will hear testimony at 10 a.m. from climate activist Greta Thunberg, 18, of Sweden.

 

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and resume debate on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation that would assign a point person at the Justice Department to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes, targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

 

The president and Vice President Harris will participate at 8 a.m. in a virtual, live-streamed summit session on climate with global leaders (40 were invited). At 10 a.m., Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief. At 10 a.m., Harris will convene a roundtable of foundation leaders from Central American countries. At 10:30 a.m., the president will return to the virtual climate summit for a second session. Biden and Harris will have lunch at noon. The president and vice president will receive an update from advisers on the coronavirus response team at 3:45 p.m. 

 

First lady Jill BidenJill BidenBiden, Harris release 2020 tax returns Washington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Here's why Joe Biden polls well, but Kamala Harris does not MORE, traveling in Window Rock, Ariz., will greet Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and First Lady Phefelia Nez at 5 p.m., then meet with Navajo women leaders. At 6 p.m. she will deliver a radio address to the Navajo Nation.

 

The White House press briefing will take place at 1:30 p.m., including John KerryJohn KerryBiden's climate policies: Adrift in economic and scientific fantasyland The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted Watch live: John Kerry testifies on climate change MORE, special envoy for climate, and Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water | Watchdog questions adequacy of EPA standards for carcinogenic chemical emissions | Interior proposing revocation of Trump-era rollback on bird protections Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water Feehery: Biden seems intent on repeating the same mistakes of Jimmy Carter MORE, national climate adviser.

 

Economic indicators: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on unemployment benefit claims filed in the week ending April 17. The National Association of Realtors will report at 10 a.m. on existing home sales in March.

 

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

INTERNATIONAL: Israel early today said it launched a missile attack on targets in Syria as retaliation against a missile that struck southern Israel. The incident, marking the most serious violence between Israel and Syria in years, pointed to likely Iranian involvement (The Associated Press). … Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTime for jaw-to-jaw with Moscow Hillicon Valley: Colonial pipeline is back online, but concerns remain | Uber, Lyft struggle with driver supply | Apple cuts controversial hire Menendez calls on Biden to support Armenia amid rising tensions with Azerbaijan MORE used an address to his countrymen on Wednesday to warn the West not to cross a red line. Amid protests in Russia and growing tensions abroad, Putin said Russia’s response would be “asymmetric, fast and tough” if the government is forced to defend its interests (The New York Times). … Protests in Russia began before Putin had finished speaking. At least 1,500 people were detained throughout the country (The Associated Press and The New York Times). … Imprisoned Putin critic Alexei Navalny, whose health has declined during weeks of a hunger strike, has attracted the world’s attention and inspired Russian protests. United Nations experts have called for Navalny’s “urgent medical evacuation.” The Kremlin is moving to outlaw Navalny’s organization, a decision that could result in the most intense wave of political repression since the Soviet era (The New York Times). … Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a law allowing the government to call up reservists for military service without announcing a mobilization, his office said Wednesday. The move comes amid a massive Russian troop buildup near Ukraine’s borders and a flareup of cease-fire violations in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014 (The Associated Press).

 

STATE WATCH: In Minnesota, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin plans to appeal his three-count conviction on Wednesday in the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin’s sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin in two months (The Hill). Jailed immediately at the conclusion of the trial on Wednesday, Chauvin is being kept apart from other inmates for his safety and in solitary confinement 23 hours a day (Fox News and The New York Times). … Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick Garland'Tiger King' seeking presidential pardon from Biden Capitol riot fuels debate over domestic terror laws Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo MORE on Wednesday announced the Justice Department is opening a sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis (The Associated Press and The Hill). … In North Carolina, a sheriff’s deputy in Elizabeth City on Wednesday morning shot and killed a Black man to whom he was serving a search warrant. The deputy is on administrative leave and the shooting is under investigation by the state (WAVY and The Associated Press). … In Illinois, ShotSpotter is the acoustic gunshot detection technology that drew Chicago police on March 29 to confront Adam Toledo, 13, before police shot and killed him within seconds of their arrival on the scene. Critics want tougher scrutiny of the ShotSpotter technology and its use in policing (The Hill).  



THE CLOSER

And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the 93rd Academy Awards, we’re eager for some smart guesses about the history of the Oscars.

 

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.

 

Frances McDormand (seen below), the favorite to take home the best actress Oscar for her performance in “Nomadland,” has won the award twice already. Which of the following actresses has not won multiple best actress awards?

  1. Sally Field
  2. Judi Dench
  3. Jodie Foster
  4. Hilary Swank

David Fincher, the director of best picture nominee “Mank,” previously won the same award for which film?

  1. “The Social Network”
  2. “Gone Girl”
  3. “Zodiac”
  4. None of the above

What was the first animated film to receive a best picture nomination? 

  1. “Toy Story”
  2. “Beauty and the Beast”
  3. “Up”
  4. “The Lion King”

Who has never won the Academy Award for best actor?

  1. Sean Penn
  2. Matthew McConaughey
  3. Matt Damon
  4. Kevin Spacey

 



 

Actor Frances McDormand