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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent BioSolutions – Biden sales pitch heads to Virginia and Louisiana

                    Presented by Emergent BioSolutions

The White House



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Monday. Hello May! And happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! 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 this morning: 577,045.


As of this morning, 44.3 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 31.6 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.

President Biden and his team are playing a long legislative game, albeit with a short time frame.


As weekend television talk shows revealed, the president’s efforts are at the starting point to secure another $4 trillion in spending for infrastructure and expanded government benefits, plus tax hikes, in perhaps two or more mammoth measures by the fall.


Front and center for the West Wing: selling details to the American people in key states, using television, radio and podcast interviews, ad campaigns, appearances by officials, and special outreach briefings organized for sub-sub-constituencies who back Democratic policies.


The president today will be in Yorktown, Va., talking about how his infrastructure and jobs plan would help schools. Later this week, he’ll be in New Orleans, a city that supported his presidential bid, but in a state, Louisiana, that voted 58 percent for former President Trump.


The Hill: Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy (R), a conservative who leads a Senate group’s efforts to reach a compromise with Democrats on infrastructure, told “Fox News Sunday” that lawmakers in each party remain at odds over billions of dollars in spending for various projects.


White House officials played defense on Sunday, advocating for Biden’s plans in the face of GOP opposition, while also suggesting that the president is pleased with behind-the-scenes “progress” he perceives in discussions with some senators. Biden and his advisers will continue to talk with those senators who are seeking a compromise, including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), according to the White House. Capito has said she is upbeat about conversations so far and Biden says he hopes to meet with her (CNN and The Wall Street Journal). 


Upshot: Biden allies say they’re seeking bipartisanship by a Memorial Day deadline, but the president has made no specific public commitments about accepting GOP recommendations. 


The Senate is not in Washington this week. Biden plans to sit down at the White House on May 12 with the Democratic and Republican leaders from the House and Senate.


The Hill: Bipartisanship? Biden wants it “if that is possible,” said White House messaging senior adviser Anita Dunn.


Biden’s aides and surrogates sidestepped questions on Sunday about legislative timetables, any decisions about how reconciliation will be used, how many bills Congress will ultimately consider for Biden’s American Jobs Plan and for the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, and how the White House envisions offsetting proposed tax hikes when powerful corporate and investor stakeholders say they will work to scuttle the plans Biden has unveiled.  


Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a centrist who favors a stripped-down, compromise infrastructure measure that would cost less than a third of what Biden’s is seeking with his $2.3 trillion proposal, said on Sunday that the president could get some GOP support if he reached for the scissors.   


“Well, at this point, I think now that the Republicans have put forth a reasonable offer, it’s up to the president to do a counteroffer to us,” Collins said, pointing to a $4 trillion investment sought by the president (The Hill).


“That’s the amount that we spent to win World War II,” Collins continued on CNN’s “State of the Union.”


“So this is an enormous package when you take both the traditional core infrastructure parts and the huge expansion of social programs that the president is advocating.”

The Hill: GOP lawmakers hammer Biden on infrastructure while the administration defends its spending plan.


The Hill: Sunday shows – Biden economic agenda dominates.


More in Congress: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) will announce on Tuesday morning that he’s running for governor for a third time in a crowded field, according to multiple news outlets (Florida The former governor, once a Republican, lost a Senate race in 2010 to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) after dropping out of the GOP primary to run as an independent. … Can Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) keep her position as House Republican Conference chair, or perhaps even her House seat, while battling Trump ahead of midterm contests that mean everything to her GOP colleagues? (The Hill). … “This is not a done deal,” says one House Democrat while advocating a narrow legislative pathway that could be bipartisan to lower prescription drug costs amid heavy opposition by the powerful pharmaceutical industry (The Associated Press). … Tax filing day is May 17. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda lends a hand with five things you need to know about the coronavirus relief laws and how they impact tax liabilities. … The House will not return to pre-pandemic operations until more lawmakers have been fully vaccinated, according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (The Hill).



The U.S. Capitol





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CORONAVIRUS: As the United States works to get more Americans vaccinated, particularly those who are hard to reach due to where they live or those reluctant to accept COVID-19 vaccines, the administration is working to stamp out sources of misinformation. 


Experts and trusted influencers are working to dispel concerns that cause people to feel hesitant, while also trying to turn back waves of myths and misinformation (The Hill). 


Here’s reporting that includes examples of how challenging this task is: 

The New York Times: Faith, freedom, fear: Rural America’s COVID-19 vaccine skeptics, and The Mercury News: Artists, barbers help defy vaccine myths for people of color.


State and local governments are experimenting with offering incentives and privileges for residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Last week, West Virginia said it would give those aged 16 to 35 who get the vaccine a $100 savings bond, and Connecticut launched #CTDrinksOnUs, a program offering a free drink to those who prove their vaccination. Public health and psychology experts said as long as the incentives are reasonable, it could be successful, reports The Hill’s Justine Coleman.


Ten million children could be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the fall if the Pfizer drug is approved for safe use in children, predicted former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb (CBS “Face the Nation” transcript and The Hill).



A COVID-19 vaccination



In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) today is promising a “major announcement” on easing restrictions imposed in the Garden State due to COVID-19. Murphy said on Twitter on Sunday that because COVID-19 metrics are “decisively trending in the right direction,” his 1 p.m. announcement will deal with “easing restrictions and ramping up our vaccinations” (The Associated Press).


In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Sunday extended a statewide mask mandate for another 30 days, but loosened face covering requirements for groups of people who are vaccinated against COVID-19. Under the new executive order, people gathering inside in groups of 10 or more are no longer required to wear masks if at least 80 percent of the group is vaccinated. People must show proof of vaccination, but the order does not elaborate on what proof is considered acceptable (The Associated Press).


In Iowa, state authorities are refusing nearly three-quarters of the vaccine doses available to the state from the federal government because demand for the shots remains weak. The Iowa Department of Public Health and Safety said on Saturday that the state asked the federal government to withhold 71 percent of the 105,300 vaccine doses that were available for the week of May 10. This is the second week in a row the state has asked the federal government to hold back part of its allocation of vaccine doses (The Des Moines Register and The Associated Press).


COVID-19 ABROAD: The Associated Press: Indian court urges government action as hospitals cry for help.


The Associated Press: The White House says U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will begin talks with the World Trade Organization this week about ways to overcome intellectual property issues that are keeping critically needed COVID-19 vaccines from being more widely distributed in poorer countries, including in India.


The United States is considering lifting vaccine patents with the World Trade Organization to boost distribution amid the crisis in India (The Washington Post).


The Associated Press: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to make gains in four recent state elections, according to preliminary voting trends released Sunday by the independent Election Commission, indicating his Hindu nationalist party’s political strength may be slipping as the country struggles to contain an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.


U.S. restrictions on travel from India go into effect on Tuesday (The Wall Street Journal).


POLITICS: Texas GOP: Susan Wright, whose husband Ron Wright in February became the first sitting member of Congress to die after being diagnosed with COVID-19, was the top vote-getter on Saturday in a crowded field of 23 candidates vying to represent the state’s 6th Congressional District (Reuters). Susan Wright and Jake Ellzey will face each other in a runoff in the race for the district. Wright had 19.2 percent of the votes cast, according to an Associated Press tally, while Ellzey had 13.8 percent (The Hill).  


The Hill: The Democratic National Committee raised $15.4 million in Biden’s first 100 days.


Trump’s brand of populism and enthusiasm for America’s culture wars sparked serious debate among members of his party, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is joined by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) in the new conservative war on corporate America. Republicans are in search of leadership from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who represent different visions for the party. There is a sense from some GOP lawmakers that the 2024 White House nominee is likely to come from outside Washington, and they think a governor might be the ticket. 


The New York Times: Biden’s expansive infrastructure plan hits close to home for McConnell.



A mask with a Texas logo





ADMINISTRATION: The United States on Sunday immediately denied a report by Iranian state-run television that some kind of deal had been reached for the Islamic Republic to release U.S. and British prisoners in exchange for Tehran receiving billions of dollars. Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “unfortunately, that report is untrue. There is no agreement to release these four Americans.” 


“We’re working very hard to get them released,” Klain said. “We raise this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time, but so far there’s no agreement.” 


Tehran holds four known Americans now in prison: Baquer and Siamak Namazi, environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi. Iran long has been accused of holding those with Western ties prisoners to be later used as bargaining chips in negotiations. Despite the American denials, there have been signs that a deal on prisoners may be in the works based on Iranian officials’ remarks in recent weeks (The Associated Press).


> On immigration, Biden’s first 100 days in office have exposed him to criticism from the right and left, both for the Trump administration policies he’s nixed as well as those he’s retained. While Biden immediately rescinded Trump’s Muslim ban and froze construction of the wall, he’s also dizzied spectators by going back and forth on whether to raise the cap on refugees allowed into the United States this year and has been relying heavily on a Trump-era law that allows swift deportation of migrants. Biden is now pushing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass reforms. The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch and Rafael Bernal report the slow pace of change has created a disconnect between Biden officials, many of whom were immigration advocates before joining the administration, and the advocacy community, which has sometimes reacted with disbelief at Biden’s perceived foot-dragging on immigration.


The Associated Press: The United States today announced it will begin this week reuniting four families separated at the Mexican border during the Trump administration, expanding the reunification efforts in weeks to come. Parents will return to the United States on humanitarian parole while authorities consider other longer-term forms of legal status, said Michelle Brane, executive director of the administration’s Family Reunification Task Force. The children are already in this country.


Biden’s decision to freeze funding for the wall along the southern border is not sitting well with Republican lawmakers. Upon taking office, Biden quickly followed through on campaign promises to stop building the wall, which was one of Trump’s most notable policies. Republicans say Biden’s freeze is illegal given that Congress appropriated $1.3 billion for the wall in December. The Government Accountability Office is investigating the claim, The Hill’s Niv Elis reports.



A portion of U.S.-Mexico border wall stands unfinished


The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


China’s debt trap diplomacy, by Brahma Chellaney, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The numbers tell a different story about the police killing of minors, by Conor Friedersdorf, analysis, The Atlantic.




At Emergent, we make things you never thought you’d need. A treatment to counteract an opioid overdose. Protection from anthrax, smallpox and botulism. And now, we’re in the fight against COVID-19. Learn more.


The House meets at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Members return to legislative work on May 11.


The Senate will hold a pro forma session at 12:45 p.m. 


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 8 a.m. Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Yorktown, Va., to visit an elementary school. They will leave for Chesapeake, Va., to visit Tidewater Community College’s HVAC workshop. They will both speak about the president’s investment plans for the economy, jobs and education at 1:30 p.m. before returning to the White House at 4 p.m.


Vice President Harris will ceremonially swear in Bill Nelson as NASA administrator at 9:50 a.m. Harris will repeat the swearing-in at 1:30 p.m for Samantha Power as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).


Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling in London today through Wednesday to attend the G-7 foreign and development ministers’ meeting.


INVITATION: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live event Wednesday during sessions that begin at 12:30 p.m., “Future of Healthcare: Bold Bets in Health.” Some of the experts featured: U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Anthony Fauci, director, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Katrina Armstrong, Massachusetts General Hospital department of medicine; Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and chairwoman of the Finance Committee Subcommittee on Health; and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Information is HERE.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


> INTERNATIONAL: North Korea warned on Sunday that the United States will face a grave situation if it continues to pursue its “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The statement, attributed to Kwon Jong Gun, head of the Foreign Ministry’s department of U.S. affairs, was released as the Biden administration is set to unveil a new strategy to deal with Pyongyang. The statement said Biden made a “big blunder” when he called North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs a security threat during his speech last week to Congress. Biden said he would work with allies to address the threats with “diplomacy and stern deterrence” (NPR). The White House says it is open to diplomacy with North Korea and leader Jim Jong Un. The president’s spokeswoman said the U.S. goal is complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. … Israel on Sunday observed a day of mourning following the deaths by crowd stampede of 45 people during a Jewish religious festival. Six of the dead were Americans. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised an investigation (Reuters). … In Afghanistan, a fuel tanker fire killed seven people and injured 14 on Sunday in Kabul, which suffered a blackout because of the inferno (The Hill and The Associated Press).


SUPREME COURT: As justices approach the end of the high court’s term, Justice Stephen Breyer‘s possible retirement remains a topic of speculation, reports The Hill’s John Kruzel. Court watchers are musing that Breyer, 83, who was nominated by former President Clinton (pictured below in 1994) may announce his departure in late June to clear the way for Biden and Senate Democrats to seat his replacement ahead of the court’s next term.



Stephen Breyer



ECONOMY & HOUSING: Is this country heading for another housing bubble? The Hill’s Sylvan Lane unpacks the answer to that question, and points out that home prices are rising at the fastest rate since the days just before the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Buyers go to great lengths these days to be able to purchase homes during a period of high prices and low inventory (and a pandemic).


STATE WATCH: The Hill’s Reid Wilson explains how states that are now flush with cash and debating how to spend surpluses were in considerably more dire fiscal circumstances just a year ago. … Lubbock, Texas, voters on Saturday by a large majority agreed to create the largest “sanctuary city for the unborn” in the Lone Star State, which could prompt a lawsuit over what opponents say is an unconstitutional ban on abortion. The vote occurred less than a year after Planned Parenthood opened a clinic in Lubbock. It is unclear when the ordinance will go into effect (The Texas Tribune). … There have been few tangible repercussions among the five states that have recently passed anti-transgender laws. It’s a contrast from North Carolina’s experience in 2016 while limiting bathroom use (The Associated Press). … In Washington, D.C., a stately National Christmas Tree near the Ellipse developed a fungus and was removed, just nine years after being planted. A replacement will go in the ground in the fall (The Washington Post). 


ANTITRUST: An antitrust trial between Epic Games and Apple, which kicks off today in California federal court, is expected to be closely watched in Washington as lawmakers and regulators crack down on the market power of Silicon Valley giants. Epic Games is suing Apple over allegations of anti-competitive behavior. Congress is weighing legislative action to revamp antitrust laws at a time when federal and state-led antitrust lawsuits are pending against other tech giants, including Facebook and Google (The Hill). 


And finally …   Off the coast of Panama City, Fla., in the placid waters of the Gulf of Mexico at night (seen below), astronauts from a SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience capsule splashed down on Sunday after safely returning through Earth’s atmosphere from the International Space Station. Aboard were NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. They had been in space for six months.


The private transport to and from the space station was a breakthrough for NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, becoming the first of what the space agency calls an operational mission (The New York Times).


In the meantime, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s unmanned Perseverance rover and Integrity, the 4-pound baby helicopter, remain busy on Mars (NPR). 


“The Ingenuity technology demonstration has been a resounding success,” associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement Friday. Ingenuity will therefore get more assignments. 


The objective of the rover is to examine rocks and soil found on the planet that could indicate if previous life existed there 3.5 billion years ago. The mission will take two Earth years, which comes out to a single year on Mars.


Catch up on some of the best images sent from Mars HERE.



The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft


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