Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent BioSolutions – House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal

President Biden speaks at White House
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                 Presented by Emergent BioSolutions

President Biden speaks at White House



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Wednesday, and Happy Cinco de Mayo! 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 as of each morning this week: Monday, 577,045; Tuesday, 577,523; Wednesday, 578,500.

President Biden on Tuesday updated his months-long effort to encourage Americans to treat July 4 as a kind of COVID-19 liberation opportunity among those who long for baseball and barbecues, parades and patriotism, and something approaching normal life.


The key to celebrating independence from the virus is a dose of vaccine by July, Biden said. He wants the United States to move closer to one-dose inoculation of at least 70 percent of adults, or about 160 million people (The Hill and The New York Times).


As of Tuesday, at least 56 percent of all U.S. adults had received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to available data.


“We’re going to keep at it,” the president said with a nod to Americans who remain hesitant. “At the end of the day, most people will be convinced by the fact that their failure to get a vaccine may cause other people to be sick and die.”


The administration also announced it is shifting its distribution of vaccine doses to reallocate supplies not ordered by some states to send to other states where demand is higher (The Washington Post and The Hill).


Biden is stepping gingerly to drive up the vaccination rate using carrots and inducements, aware that the range of fears, obstinacy, misinformation, mistrust and political leanings are tough to overcome between now and Independence Day as virus variants spread but infection and hospitalization rates drop. Many hundreds of Americans are still dying from the coronavirus each day — new daily reported deaths in the United States rose 4.2 percent in the last week — but millions of unvaccinated adults insist the risks of severe sickness or death are low. 


“Two of our vaccines were authorized under a prior administration, Republican administration,” the president said without mentioning former President Trump by name. “If we can continue to drive vaccinations up, and caseloads down, we’ll need our masks even less and less,” Biden added, emphasizing one plus that many fed-up mask-wearers take to heart.


The next stage of the COVID-19 vaccination program will be tougher, the president conceded, because each state’s early adopters with the easiest access to appointments and mass vaccination sites have likely already received one or more doses (The Hill).


The Associated Press: Pennsylvania will lift all COVID-19 restrictions on Memorial Day while retaining the state’s mask mandate. Capacity restrictions on bars, restaurants and other businesses as well as gathering limits for indoor and outdoor events will be lifted on May 31, meaning concert halls, sports stadiums and wedding venues could soon be packed for the first time since early 2020.


NBC News: Chicago sets its sights on fully reopening by July 4.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Biden moves into new phase of COVID-19 fight.


The Wall Street Journal: CVS Health Corp., a partner in the government’s vaccination program, says its rate of administering shots has fallen by 30 percent as the rollout slows because of persistent hesitancy. Like its rivals, CVS has begun offering walk-in and same-day appointments for injections in a bid to improve uptake.


“We have kind of passed the wave of people who really wanted to get it and who signed up,” CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch said. “There is a part of the population that says, ‘I’m only going to get it if it’s easy and convenient and if I happen to be in a place where I can get it.’ There are other populations where people are just afraid.”


Stepped-up education on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and improved access are needed to address both issues, she said.



A Baltimore Police Officer and a healthcare worker stand at the empty entrance to mass vaccination site



Paying for persuasion: Millions of Americans lined up for COVID-19 vaccinations early this year believing that being virus-free and alive was inducement enough to scramble for doses. They waited their turns, put up with inconvenience and frustration and said they were thrilled to get jabbed. Now some states are experimenting with offering $100 as an inducement to those who waited because of skepticism or have been delayed because of where they live or other impediments. Do monetary or other perks work? Apparently so, reports The New York Times.


The Hill: Washington, D.C., is offering free beer to residents who get a coronavirus vaccine. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Tuesday that individuals can get Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine and a beer from Solace Brewing Co., a craft brewery, on Thursday.


The Washington Post: Officials grapple with vaccine hesitancy among Latino evangelicals. Among that demographic’s worries: Will the technology allow authorities to keep tabs on immigrants? Religion also plays a significant role in vaccine hesitancy.


Pfizer says it will apply to the Food and Drug Administration in September to clear use of its vaccine in children ages 2 to 11. The company said it also plans to apply this month for full approval of the vaccine for use in people from ages 16 to 85. And it said it expected to have clinical trial data on the safety of its vaccine in pregnant women by early August (The New York Times).


The Associated Press: U.S. parents say they are excited about the prospect of virus shots for children. With school reopenings in mind, educators have already embraced vaccines for students 16 and up, with some scheduling vaccine clinics during school hours and dangling prize drawings and other incentives.


Big bet, big payoff for Pfizer: On Tuesday, Pfizer announced its COVID-19 vaccine produced $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of the company’s total. The company did not disclose its coronavirus vaccine profits, but it reiterated its previous prediction that its profit margins on the vaccine would be in the high 20 percent range. That would translate into roughly $900 million in pretax vaccine profits in the first quarter. Pfizer has been widely credited with developing an unproven technology that has saved lives. Other vaccine developers pledged to forgo profits from their breakthroughs during the pandemic (The New York Times).



Motorists make their way past a sign announcing "Pfizer Today" at vaccination site



International: Rising rates of coronavirus infections in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America pose a risk to the United States. The Biden administration has provided an initial down payment of $2 billion to the global COVID-19 vaccine alliance, shipped emergency materials to India to help stock up its vaccine-development, and “loaned” vaccines to Mexico and Canada. But shipping from the U.S. stockpile of vaccines to hard-hit countries such as Brazil and India has not occurred (The Hill).


Singapore tightens its COVID-19 curbs as overseas virus variants are detected (Reuters). 




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.


CONGRESS: The feud between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) escalated further on Tuesday as McCarthy said that he has “lost confidence” in Cheney as part of leadership. 


McCarthy’s comments came as part of an off-camera conversation with “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy and subsequently leaked to Axios


“I think she’s got real problems,” McCarthy told the host off-air before an appearance on the show. “I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence. … Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place.”


During the on-camera interview, McCarthy told Doocy that members of his caucus are “concerned” about the Wyoming Republican’s ability to carry out her job as chairwoman of the House GOP as the party becomes increasingly impatient with her anti-Trump stance. When asked about reports that Republicans are unhappy with Cheney in leadership because of her vote to impeach Trump, McCarthy said the concern is not her vote on impeachment but rather her ability to carry out the party’s message.”


“There’s no concern about how she voted on impeachment. That decision has been made. I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair — to carry out the message,” McCarthy said (The Hill).


With a vote on Cheney’s future likely to come up next week when the House returns to Washington from recess, The Hill’s Scott Wong reports that the GOP has a gender problem on its hands as the conference prepares to potentially oust the lone woman in leadership. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is considered the favorite for the position, with Punchbowl News reporting this morning that House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is backing her bid for the spot. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) also viewed as options for the spot. 


Stefanik in January objected to the presidential results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. Walorski voted to overturn the presidential results of Arizona and Pennsylvania. Wagner voted against the motions and Stefanik split her vote.


Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, removed his name from consideration on Tuesday, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall. 


Politico: Republicans jockey to replace Cheney as McCarthy moves to boot her.


The Associated Press: Cheney could be “toast” in fight with Trump over GOP future.


The Hill: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) defends Cheney: she “refuses to lie.” 



Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)



> Senate strategy: Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has done his best impersonation of the Flying Wallendas, keeping the liberal wing of the Senate Democratic Conference in line, while placating centrists en route to legislative action. 


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, Schumer has promised progress on liberal priorities such as gun control but has kept time on the Senate floor focused on bipartisan matters, including  the Water Resources Development Act and China competitiveness. 


The Senate Democratic leader has also encouraged colleagues to find GOP partners to move centrist legislation. However, he has directed most of his media efforts toward the liberal wing of the party, having appeared on MSNBC and with left-wing anchors to focus messaging efforts in that direction, especially amid talks on a gargantuan infrastructure spending bill.


Amie Parnes: Democrats fret over Biden spending.


Cristina Marcos, The Hill: Five takeaways on the House’s return to budget earmarks.


The Hill: GOP sees opportunity to knock Biden amid rising gas prices.


> Taxes: According to a new study, Biden’s plan to increase capital gains taxes from wealthy Americans will only hit a small number of taxpayers. Robert McClellan, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, told The Wall Street Journal that the Biden plan, which would raise the top capital gains rate from 23.8 percent to to 43.4 percent for those earning over $1 million, would only affect 2.7 percent of those who filed capital gains or losses. That group, however, accounted for 62 percent of capital gains, according to the report.


The Hill: Business groups target moderate Democrats on Biden tax plans.


POLITICS: Facebook’s independent advisory board at approximately 9 a.m. is expected to announce its ruling on the future of Trump’s banned account, potentially handing the former president a boost as he prepares for a possible third bid for the White House. 


Trump was banned from Facebook and Instagram (which Facebook owns) following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and months of his false and disproved assertions that he lost to Biden because of voter fraud. 


“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote of Trump’s indefinite suspension.


As The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Chris Mills Rodrigo explain, the decision will have far-reaching implications for Trump, who launched his own blog on Tuesday that will allow his followers and supporters to share his messages on social media platforms. 


The decision could open the door for other social media platforms to reinstate him, including YouTube, TikTok and Twitch, all of which suspended the former president while leaving open the possibility of his return. If Facebook’s ban continues, it could push other platforms to follow suit. 


The ruling could also launch a new push on Capitol Hill to deal with social media companies. If the ban remains, Republicans could renew efforts to deal with Section 230, a segment of a 1996 law that provides tech companies legal liability protections for content posted by third parties, amid complaints that the platforms are censoring conservatives. If it’s taken down, Democrats could accuse the social media giant of not taking enough action against hate speech and misinformation.


The Wall Street Journal explains the board’s process of decision making. 


The Associated Press: Facebook board’s Trump decision could have wider impacts. 


Politico: “It really f—s the other `24 wannabes”: How Facebook could give Trump a huge boost.


The New York Times: Rudy Giuliani’s legal bills are growing. His allies want Trump to pay them.



Facebook app logo displayed on phone



> Florida man: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) on Tuesday announced his bid for the Florida governorship, a position he once held as a Republican. Crist released videos critical of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), adding, “That’s why I’m running for governor.” The primary is scheduled for Aug. 23, 2022 (Tampa Bay Times).


The Hill: DeSantis schedules special election to replace late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) for January. 


The Washington Post: Democrats prepare for all-in Florida fight against rising GOP star DeSantis.


The Hill: Virginia GOP candidates for governor gear up for convention.




ADMINISTRATION: Biden said on Tuesday he hopes to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June when he travels to attend a Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, England, set for June 11-13, and then flies to Brussels to meet European Union leaders and attend a June 14 NATO summit. Biden proposed a summit to Putin in a phone call a few weeks ago and said Tuesday that the proposal is still under discussion (Reuters). 


> Pardons and commutations: Biden is preparing to use his clemency powers soon, according to sources familiar with talks underway between the president’s advisers and advocates who want to see Biden exercise mercy. The president faces a backlog of thousands of requests moving through a review process, The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant reports. Officials indicate Biden will not hold off until later in his term to issue pardons. 

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! 


American health depends on exporting COVID-19 vaccines, by Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Joseph S. Nye, opinion contributors, The Wall Street Journal. 


Liz Cheney’s biggest problem has nothing to do with Trump, by Henry Olsen, columnist, The Washington Post. 




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 on Friday at 10:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. Members return to legislative work on May 11.


The Senate will hold a pro forma session on Thursday at 4 p.m. 


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:50 a.m. Biden will deliver remarks about his administration’s implementation of the COVID-19 relief law at 2 p.m.


Vice President Harris will travel to Providence, R.I., for a 1 p.m. small business event. She will participate at 2:05 p.m. in a roundtable discussion with women business owners, accompanied by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. Harris will return to Washington this evening.


First lady Jill Biden travels to Salt Lake City and visits Glendale Middle School to promote her husband’s policy plans aimed at bolstering schools. Following her remarks, she will visit a vaccination clinic at Jordan Park in the city. Later today, the first lady will travel to Las Vegas and remain overnight. 


Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Allentown, Pa., for events today. 


The White House press briefing will take place at 12:30 p.m. The White House coronavirus response team will brief reporters at 11 a.m.


Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in London for the conclusion of the Group of Seven foreign and development ministers’ meeting. He then departs for meetings in Ukraine through Thursday (The Associated Press).


INVITATION: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live event TODAY during sessions that begin at 12:30 p.m. for “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; Katrina Armstrong, Massachusetts General Hospital department of medicine; Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chairwoman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health; and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Information is HERE.


The Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service and the White House Correspondents’ Association today host a virtual event beginning at 11:30 a.m. about “The Press, The Presidency, and Trust.” It features three panels of standout speakers, including former White House press secretaries. Join with registration HERE.


The Smithsonian Institution today launches a phased reopening of seven museums and the National Zoo. Opening its doors to visitors today will be the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. On Friday, watch for reopenings at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery. On May 21, visitors are welcome again at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., along with the National Museum of American History and the Washington location of the National Museum of the American Indian (CNN). 


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


INTERNATIONAL: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s deadline for forming a new Israeli government expired early today, with the country’s longest-serving prime minister having failed to break more than two years of political deadlock (Reuters). Netanyahu must decide which other political leader could succeed where he did not (CNN). … The U.S. policy coordinator for the Indo-Pacific on Tuesday appeared to reject calls for the United States to make a clear statement of its willingness to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, saying there were “significant downsides” to such an approach (Reuters).


POLICING & COURTS: Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday filed an appeal for a new trial following his conviction on all charges last month of murdering George Floyd. Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson filed the request alleging that Chauvin’s ability to have a fair trial was affected by pretrial publicity. The motion alleges that the court abused its discretion by denying the requests for a change in venue and a new trial. A jury found Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 2020 death (NBC News). … Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court of Appeals in Washington said in a filing on Monday that former Attorney General William Barr misled Congress and misled her in a dispute about advice he had received from top department officials about whether Trump should have been charged with obstructing the Russia investigation. She asserted Barr’s obfuscation was part of a pattern (The New York Times).  


TRANSPORTATION: Hyundai and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled several car models on Tuesday due to a risk of engine fires, urging individuals with affected vehicles to park outside. According to the NHTSA, certain Santa Fe Sport SUVs ranging from 2013-2015 are part of the recall, with some cars having issues including with the anti-lock brake system and brake fluid leaking into the engine, which can possibly cause a fire due to an electrical short (The Hill).


And finally … The wine was out of this world. The price defies gravity. Christie’s said Tuesday it is selling a bottle of French wine that spent more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station, reports The Associated Press.


The auction house thinks a wine connoisseur might pay as much as $1 million to own it. 


The Château Pétrus 2000, normally described by expert reviewers as “magical” and “perfect,” is one of 12 bottles sent into space in November 2019 by researchers exploring the potential for extraterrestrial agriculture. It returned 14 months later subtly altered, according to wine experts who sampled it at a tasting in France. Tim Tiptree, international director of Christie’s wine and spirits department, said the space-aged wine was “matured in a unique environment” of near zero gravity some 254 miles above Earth.  


The Shreveport Times: What you should know about wine that ages underwater and in space.



The bottle of Petrus that went into space


Tags Alcee Hastings Ann Wagner Anthony Fauci Antony Blinken Benjamin Netanyahu Brett Guthrie Charles Schumer Charlie Crist Debbie Stabenow Donald Trump Doug Emhoff Elise Stefanik Gina Raimondo Jackie Walorski Jill Biden Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Mark Zuckerberg Mitt Romney Muriel Bowser Ron DeSantis Rudy Giuliani Steve Scalise Vivek Murthy Vladimir Putin William Barr
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