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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Goldman Sachs – Biden backs Cuban protesters, assails ‘authoritarian regime’

People demonstrate during a protest against the Cuban government in Miami
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People demonstrate during a protest against the Cuban government in Miami



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday! 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 day this week: Monday, 607,156; Tuesday, 607,400. 

President Biden on Monday said the United States stands with the people of Cuba who demonstrated by the thousands over the weekend to protest declining economic conditions on the island, complicated by an “authoritarian regime” and the deadly spread of COVID-19.


Cuban authorities on Monday cracked down on protesters as President Miguel Diáz-Canel blamed the United States trade embargo for demonstrations in a country of 11 million people. The complaints on the streets focused on a lack of food, power, medicine and freedom. The protests, the largest since 1994 (seen below), drew attention to the plight of Cubans during a precarious period in which their economy contracted an estimated 11 percent amid the pandemic.


In a televised address, Diáz-Canel, who recently succeeded Raúl Castro as Cuba’s communist leader, blamed the dissent on the United States and what he called the “politics of economic asphyxiation” (The Hill). The Cuban government sought to cut off online communications and access to social media to try to reassert government control (The Associated Press).  


“The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights,” Biden said in a written statement. “Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.”


Cuban dissidents gathered in Miami on Monday and denied that Americans engineered the protests while urging U.S. support for the Cuban people (The Guardian).


The Wall Street Journal: The protests have nudged Cuba off Biden’s policy back burner. 


Also calling on the federal government to back the protesters are lawmakers from both parties who are sensitive to South Florida politics: Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), whose parents emigrated from Cuba, is running for reelection, and Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who also spoke out, is running for the Senate. Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D) called on Congress to increase $20 million requested by the Biden administration in its budget to promote Cuban democracy, human rights and the private sector. It’s the same amount appropriated since 2014 as the administration reviews Cuba policy and leaves in place tough sanctions imposed during the Trump era.


The New York Times: Biden calls anti-government protests in Cuba a “clarion call for freedom.”



A progovernment man holds a sign during a protest against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana



CORONAVIRUS: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to attach a new warning to doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine because of an association in data to a serious but rare autoimmune disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome. The administration is expected to announce the new warning as early as Tuesday, with European regulators likely following suit (The New York Times). 


About 100 preliminary reports of Guillain-Barré have been detected after the administration of 12.8 million doses of the one-shot vaccine in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cases, which have not been observed with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have largely been reported about two weeks after J&J vaccination and mostly in men, many aged 50 and older.


Despite the new warning, regulators maintain that the benefits of receiving the J&J shot continue to outweigh the risks of being affected by the rare disorder or contracting COVID-19 (The Washington Post). The FDA also has attached similar warnings to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but some health officials told the Times the warning about Johnson & Johnson was more serious.



Boxes with the U.S. donated Johnson & Johnson vaccine



> Variant trouble: After months of dwindling daily case totals, they are once again on the rise as the delta variant and other strains take hold in a number of Southern states, reminding Americans that the pandemic is by no means over despite the easing of restrictions across the country. 


As The Hill’s Justine Coleman reports, 41 states and the District of Columbia have documented an increase in average daily cases over the past two weeks. But nine in particular, including seven in the South, have seen cases at least double in that time period (The New York Times). In Los Angeles County alone, officials recorded more than 1,000 new cases for three consecutive days this week for the first time since March. Arkansas also reported more than 1,000 new cases for a third straight day on Friday. 


“The majority of states have large swaths of population that are still not protected,” said Amber D’Souza, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Overall, the U.S. is now averaging more than 19,000 new cases for the first time since the end of May, representing a 60 percent increase from just two weeks ago.


The Associated Press: Summer camps have been hit with COVID-19 outbreaks — are schools next? 


The Hill and The New York Times: The administration told Pfizer during a Monday meeting that more evidence is needed to determine whether COVID-19 booster shots are necessary. The federal recommendation will depend partly on data gathered about infections in vaccinated people that cause serious disease or hospitalization.


The Hill: World Health Organization (WHO) chief pushes back on Pfizer booster shot.


CNBC: Most fully vaccinated people who are infected with the delta variant are asymptomatic, WHO says.


The Hill: Utah governor apologizes for vaccine data error.


> International: French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered all healthcare workers to receive COVID-19 shots by Sept. 15 and mandated COVID-19 passes starting in August showing that individuals are protected from the virus in order for them to eat at restaurants or travel, among other activities. 


In order to obtain a pass, people must prove they are fully vaccinated, have recently recovered from the virus or have received a COVID-19 negative test result, allowing them to eat out, enter a shopping mall or hospital, or travel aboard a plane or train. As of Monday, 40 percent of the French population is fully inoculated (The Associated Press).


The Associated Press: France rushes to get vaccinated after president’s warning.


In Canada, the government is sending nearly 18 million AstraZeneca doses to low- and middle-income countries. Top officials said on Monday that the doses would be distributed via COVAX, the global vaccine sharing initiative, and were part of the Canadian government’s advance purchase agreement with the pharmaceutical company (CBC). 


Finally, Spain on Monday announced the reintroduction of COVID-19 restrictions as cases increase due to the delta variant, spurred largely by younger unvaccinated individuals.


Catalonia and Valencia, two Mediterranean coastal regions, are experiencing new virus outbreaks, leading officials to once again limit social gatherings to 10 people. The northern Asturias region went so far as to ban indoor bar and restaurant operations (The Associated Press).




CONGRESS: The Senate is struggling to break a stalemate over funding for the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP), even as the department faces a funding crunch fueled by the fallout from the Jan. 6 attack. 


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, just the prospect of furloughs across the USCP set off bipartisan alarm bells late last week, sparking fresh awareness of the situation that could take hold next month. However, divisions remain between the two sides, as Republicans want a more narrow bill aimed at police and National Guard funding.


The Associated Press: Are Jan. 6 rioters traitors? So far, criminal charges say no.


The Washington Post: “This is really fantastical”: Federal judge in Michigan presses Trump-allied lawyers on 2020 election fraud claims in sanctions hearing.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump pours gas on tribalism with Jan. 6 rewrite.


Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) unveiled a $3.7 billion bill on Monday that includes funds for the police and National Guard. However, the bill is more broad and includes monies for Afghans who helped the U.S. military, to fund the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack, and to fortify and protect the Capitol complex. The legislation is nearly double the $1.9 billion measure the House OK’d two months ago.


The Wall Street Journal: Democrats hone price tag for climate and antipoverty package. 


The New York Times: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), in an interview, says he trusts Biden and is confident a bipartisan infrastructure deal will prevail. 


Politico: GOP support for bipartisan infrastructure deal going wobbly.


POLITICS: Texas House Democrats fled the state in private planes on Monday bound for Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., in a dramatic move to try to halt passage of a voting restrictions bill by putting the state legislative session into limbo without a quorum. 


By leaving Austin, Democrats again denied the GOP majority a quorum barely a month after a walkout thwarted the first push for sweeping new voting restrictions, including outlawing 24-hour polling places, banning ballot drop boxes and empowering partisan poll watchers (The Texas Tribune). The decision by some Lone Star State Democratic lawmakers to hole up in Washington is aimed at ratcheting up pressure in the nation’s capital on Biden and Congress to act on voting at the federal level. Biden is set to deliver a major address on the issue today in Philadelphia (The Associated Press).


The Associated Press: In a long-awaited speech, Biden today will decry voting restrictions.


“He’ll lay out the moral case for why denying the right to vote is a form of suppression and a form of silencing. … He’ll also decry efforts to strip the right to vote as authoritarian and anti-American and stand up against the notion that politicians should be allowed to choose their voters or to subvert our system by replacing independent election authorities with partisan ones,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday, describing the current battle as “the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.” 


“This is an opportunity for him to make the case to the American people about how this is a fundamental right [and] what he will continue to do from the federal government,” she added. 


Reid Wilson, The Hill: Texas Democrats leave state to block election overhaul bill.


Among those who criticized the tactic by Texas Democrats was Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “It’s not very Texan. You stay and you fight — you don’t run away,” he said (CNN). 



Democratic lawmakers leave Texas on a plane



Hanna Trudo, The Hill: Democratic tensions simmer in House between left, center.


The Washington Post: Trump Organization removes indicted top finance officer Allen Weisselberg from leadership roles at dozens of subsidiaries.


> Morning Report exclusive: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), despite not being in-cycle until 2024 and in an off year, posted a massive $5 million haul in the second fundraising quarter, giving him $6.3 million in cash on hand in his Senate account.


Cruz’s second-quarter total — which is divided between his Senate account, a victory committee and his Jobs, Freedom, Security PAC — came from nearly 120,000 contributions from more than 89,000 donors. Ninety-eight percent of the donations were less than $100, with the average donation checking in at $37. It is the second quarter in a row where he has eclipsed the $5 million total. 


“Ted Cruz continues to see tremendous support from the people of Texas, not the woke corporate PACs who serve as the enforcers of the Democrat agenda,” Steve Guest, a Cruz spokesman, told the Morning Report. “Sen. Cruz is the foremost defender of liberty and is leading the charge against the radical Biden-Harris agenda that harms Texans and the American people.”


The total puts Cruz in the upper echelon of fundraisers for the past three months. Rubio posted a $4 million total in the second quarter, leading the pack for those up next year. Across the aisle, Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), two top targets of national Republicans, revealed $7 million and $6 million fundraising figures between April and June, respectively. 


The gargantuan fundraising total will only further chatter about a potential 2024 presidential bid by the Texas Republican.


> GOP problems: Republican leaders in Washington are reckoning with pro-Trump forces at home. 


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton notes, Sens. James Lankford (Okla) and James Inhofe (Okla.) both face censures from the Oklahoma Republican Party for not objecting to the certification of election results on Jan. 6. The issues are also being felt by those in the states full time, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is being primaried by former state GOP Chairman Allen West.


The Hill: Five takeaways from the CPAC conference in Dallas.


The Hill: Virginia county to test power of GOP culture wars at ballot box.

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An uprising of despair in Cuba, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board.


The Biden antitrust revolution, by John Cassidy, columnist, The New Yorker.


The House meets at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session. Members return for legislative business on Monday.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Uzra Zeya to be an under secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will travel to Philadelphia to deliver a speech at 2:50 p.m. about U.S. voting rights before returning to the White House this evening. 


Secretary of State Antony Blinken will deliver live streamed remarks at 5 p.m. to a summit about global emerging technology organized by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. At 8:30 p.m., the secretary will participate in a virtual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers.


Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. will report the U.S. consumer price index for June, which is expected to include another significant rise in prices.


INVITATIONS: The Hill’s Virtually Live TODAY at 1 p.m., “Small Business Recovery: Minneapolis,” featuring Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) and more. Information is HERE.


“The Future of Human Connectivity,” on Wednesday at 1 p.m., with Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Geoffrey Starks (D), San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) and more to discuss the future of an ultra connected world. Information is HERE.


“Revitalizing America’s Cities,” on Thursday at 1 p.m., with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D); Montgomery, Ala., Mayor Steven Reed (D); Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D); Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley (D); and more for a conversation about how microbusinesses could reenergize cities. 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: A senior U.S. delegation briefed Biden on Monday morning after spending Sunday on the ground in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The White House on Monday did not rule out sending U.S. troops to help Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, who was shot and killed at home in an alleged plot under investigation by Haitian police (The Miami Herald subscribers). … Looting and violence spread in South Africa Tuesday, triggered by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma (Reuters).


BOEING: The Federal Aviation Administration late on Monday said it found new manufacturing quality issues in some undelivered 787 Dreamliner aircraft that must be fixed before the planes are delivered. The discovery is likely to create delays (Reuters and Fox Business). 


ENVIRONMENT: The U.S. West suffered through the fourth consecutive day of scorching heat on Monday as wildfires burned in drought-stricken Oregon and electricity grids strained to supply power (Reuters and The Hill). … The fires, which threaten 10 Western states, were primarily burning in forests in northeastern California and southern Oregon, sending smoke across borders (The Associated Press). … Shifting topics from fire to fish: Please, please do not dump pet goldfish in lakes, ponds or bodies of water, city officials in Minnesota plead. The tiny orange fish in household aquariums, once in the wild, become invasive behemoths and wreak havoc on water quality and plant life (The Washington Post). 



A warning from the city of Burnside not to put pet goldfish in ponds and lakes



And finally …  Mars and Venus will appear from Earth to be optically joined today. The two planets on opposite sides of Earth’s orbit look as if they’re “kissing” in this week’s heavenly illusion — with the added advantage of a super-slim crescent Moon in the sky. Look up! The celestial sight is known as a “triple conjunction” (Science Times, Forbes). 



A hobby astronomer points his telescope at the yellow disk of the rising sun


Tags Allen Weisselberg Antony Blinken Emmanuel Macron Jacob Frey James Inhofe James Lankford Jen Psaki Joe Biden John Cornyn Marco Rubio Mark Kelly Patrick Leahy Raphael Warnock Rob Portman Stephanie Murphy Ted Cruz Val Demings
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