The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics

 

Police officers block a protester as they walk towards the hotel where International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach is staying for a demonstration in Tokyo

 

 

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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported today: 609,021.

 

As of this morning, 56 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 48.6 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.



Get ready for more coronavirus clashes this week — from the nation’s capital to Tokyo, where the delayed Summer Olympics begin on Friday amid protests, COVID-19 cases among athletes and empty bleachers.

 

President BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE is expected to field questions about the pandemic and other issues during a CNN town hall broadcast from Cincinnati on Wednesday, while first lady Jill BidenJill BidenUS athletes chant 'Dr. Biden' as first lady cheers swimmers Jill Biden watches Olympic basketball with France's Macron The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Tokyo Olympics kick off with 2020-style opening ceremony MORE is scheduled to represent the United States on Friday in Japan, where only 20 percent of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, as the Olympics get underway.

 

In the United States, confirmed coronavirus cases rose 140 percent in the past two weeks, particularly in regions where vaccination rates are low. There is a renewed debate in Washington about whether vaccinated people, who may be asymptomatic with rare “breakthrough” cases of the coronavirus, and unvaccinated people, who have the greatest risk of hospitalization and death, should all be required to wear masks indoors as the delta variant spreads in every state.

 

The Hill: Public health experts believe cases of the rampaging delta variant are undercounted in the United States because testing in the absence of serious illness is rare.

 

Two Americas — vaccinated and unvaccinated — face uncertainties about rising infections, health risks and mitigation strategies. Los Angeles County (pictured below) and Las Vegas say their respective requirements to wear masks indoors in public spaces are not punishment but prevention. Public health experts are of two minds. They worry that requiring vaccinated people to wear masks could backfire and leave the vaccine holdouts even less inclined to get doses (The Hill). Orange County, Fla., Mayor Jerry Demings, the Democratic spouse of Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Cuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats MORE (D-Fla.), who is running for the Senate, also urged unvaccinated and vaccinated residents to wear masks indoors while in public locations (The Hill).

 

 

Face mask signage is displayed as a transit passenger boards the Metro C Line, formerly Green Line, light rail train alongside the 105 Freeway during rush hour traffic in Los Angeles

 

 

Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics Surgeon general defends CDC lifting mask mandate MORE, who served during the previous administration, and current Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyBiden walks fine line with Fox News If you care about the First Amendment, this class action is for you COVID-19 misinformation is a public health hazard — we need to start treating it as such MORE (pictured below) disagree about current mask guidance. Murthy backs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which advises that communities can respond to specific infection rates and vaccinated individuals can decide on mask preferences indoors or outside. Adams says he regrets the government’s earliest instructions about masks in 2020, arguing the CDC’s decision to relax mask recommendations for fully vaccinated Americans is “premature” and “wrong” (The Hill).

 

Murthy focused his attention Sunday on unvaccinated people he hopes might be persuaded to get the jab after hearing about the delta variant’s rising risk of disease. “I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And while if you are vaccinated you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately that is not true if you are not vaccinated,” Murthy said during interviews on CNN’s “State of the Union” (The Hill) and “Fox News Sunday” (The Hill).

 

The Sunday Shows: Surgeon general in the spotlight as the delta variant spreads.

 

Arkansas leads states suffering through a surge of infections (The New York Times) and Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonArkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Huckabee Sanders vows not to impose mask, vaccine mandates if elected governor of Arkansas MORE, a Republican and chairman of the National Governors Association, is delivering straight-up advice to get vaccinated to occasionally hostile constituents (The Associated Press).

 

In Tokyo, the Olympic Village confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 among athletes over the weekend. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said last week there was “zero” risk of athletes passing on the virus to Japanese or other residents of the village. But that bold statement is already being tested (The Associated Press). Tokyo is experiencing Olympic protests, animosity and examples of xenophobia as 11,000 athletes prepare to compete (The Washington Post).

  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reversed his position on Sunday and said he would self-isolate after being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 contracted by U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid. The spread of COVID-19 while Johnson and his government are today lifting coronavirus restrictions is under tremendous scrutiny in Great Britain (Reuters). Johnson previously was hospitalized for COVID-19 and was vaccinated in March. … Doubts cloud England’s “Freedom Day” as restrictions are replaced with recommendations (The Associated Press).

 

 

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

 



LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: Fresh doubt was tossed over the immediate future of the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Sunday as two key Senate Republican negotiators criticized Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel MORE (D-N.Y.) for teeing up a procedural vote on it this week even though there is no legislative text yet.

 

Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries GOP centrists call on Schumer to delay infrastructure vote MORE (R-La.), a member of the group of 22 senators involved in discussions (pictured below), said on Sunday that he will not vote to start debate on the $1.2 trillion package without a nailed-down deal between the two sides. How to pay for the package is the most prominent hitch in discussions. 

 

“How can I vote for cloture when the bill isn't written?” Cassidy asked “Fox News Sunday.” host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBiden walks fine line with Fox News Aides who clashed with Giuliani intentionally gave him wrong time for Trump debate prep: book GOP says Schumer vote will fail MORE. “Unless you want program failure, unless Schumer doesn't want this to happen, you need a little bit more time to get it right.” 

 

“It can absolutely happen, but you need the pay-fors. … If we get the pay-fors, we can pass this,” Cassidy added (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Key Republican says proposed IRS enforcement offsets have been removed from the evolving infrastructure bill.

 

The Wall Street Journal: Infrastructure bill drops IRS funding, raising revenue pressure.

 

The Washington Post: Democrats, Republicans struggle to finish infrastructure proposal as key Senate deadline looms.

 

Meanwhile, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Key Biden ally OK with dropping transit from infrastructure package Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag MORE (R-Ohio), another top negotiator, described this week’s planned procedural vote set by Schumer for the Senate floor as an “arbitrary deadline” (Axios).

 

“We are still negotiating,” Portman told CNN's “State of the Union.” Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel MORE, with all due respect, is not writing the bill, nor is [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines Has Trump beaten the system? MORE [R-Ky.], by the way. So, that's why we shouldn't have an arbitrary deadline of Wednesday. We should bring the legislation forward when it's ready.”

 

The votes of the two Senate Republicans are crucial as 10 GOP senators will be needed to invoke cloture, assuming all 50 Senate Democrats vote to advance the bill. Wednesday’s vote also coincides with Schumer’s plan to advance the budget resolution that will serve as the basis for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal that will need to be passed with only Democratic votes. 

 

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (I-Vt.) seeks chance to put his stamp on government.

 

The Associated Press: Biden pledges appeal of “deeply disappointing” DACA ruling.

 

The Hill: Democrats seek to tackle climate change with import tax.

 

 

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

 

 

While the Senate plows ahead with the Biden agenda, GOP lawmakers are looking to take political advantage of rising inflation as they attempt to take back control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections. 

 

As The Hill’s Julia Manchester and Sylvan Lane write, Republicans have increasingly highlighted the fast-rising prices, and strategists believe the issue could resonate deeply with a broad range of voters while Democrats push ahead with plans to spend trillions more. However, that messaging tactic might not be long lasting, as many economists expect prices to cool off well before voters head to the polls.

 

The Hill: Biden seeks to prove his skeptics wrong.

 

The New York Times: Born of a crisis, remote voting in Congress has become a useful perk.

 

The Hill: Funding fight imperils National Guard operations.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: Democrats are kicking into high gear their midterm sales pitch and betting big that government spending will lay the groundwork for success at the ballot box in 2022 as they attempt to retain their congressional majorities. 

 

As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the party is attempting to message on two key Biden agenda priorities — the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law and the $4.1 trillion infrastructure and social spending package lawmakers are currently trying to pass — with a simple tagline: This wouldn’t be happening without Biden and Democrats in charge. 

 

“We’re learning the value of simplicity. … So we’re getting better, but we still have a tendency to want to explain the policy as if we’re in negotiations with each other as opposed to talking about the value to regular people,” said Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOn The Money: Stocks fall as COVID-19 fears rattle market | Schumer sets infrastructure showdown | Dems struggle to sell agenda The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics Democrats ramp up spending sales pitch MORE (D-Hawaii).

 

Dan Balz: Democrats are making headlines on voting rights, but little more to counter restrictive efforts by Republicans. 

 

Politico: Former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Bipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event MORE flatlines as 2024 field takes shape.

 

> Big money: The Hill’s Reid Wilson and Max Greenwood took a deep dive into the winners and losers of the second fundraising quarter, with Schumer leading the way for all candidates as he seeks a fifth term in the Senate next year.

 

Schumer raised $11.5 million between April and June and reported $27 million in the bank, surpassing all other senators and showing off his financial muscle. 

 

On the GOP side, Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Biden: Republicans who say Democrats want to defund the police are lying MORE (R-S.C.) took the cake. He raked in $9.6 million during the second quarter even though his bid for a second term in the upper chamber isn’t expected to yield a difficult challenge. The total is almost $3 million more than the South Carolina Republican raised and spent during his entire 2014 campaign.

 

Also putting in strong showings during the past three months are Sens. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockObamaCare 2.0 is a big funding deal Kaseya ransomware attack highlights cyber vulnerabilities of small businesses Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection MORE (D-Ga.), Mark KellyMark KellyBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Poll: Two-thirds of AZ Democratic voters back primary challenge to Sinema over filibuster The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics MORE (D-Ariz.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioBipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers MORE (R-Fla.), all of whom will likely face tough reelection campaigns next year. 

 

Roll Call: Four takeaways from Senate fundraising reports.

 

The Hill: Cuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats.

 

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump is diminished but hasn't faded.

 

The Washington Post: Texas Democrats don’t plan to go home yet. 

 

 

A stack of $100 bills

 

 

*****

 

ADMINISTRATION: A new executive order from Biden targeting anti-competitive business practices is expected to give a major boost to sustainability efforts in the agriculture industry, reports The Hill’s Saul Elbein.

 

> Afghanistan: “The Last Commander,“ describes Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, who withdrew the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan after two decades of war. Award-winning journalist and author James Kitfield, now a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress who covered the Iraq and Afghanistan troop deployments beginning in 2001, asked Miller if the war was worth it. How the general formulates an answer is more eye-opening than the answer itself. 

 

> State Department: Over the weekend, laments continued about a backlog until fall for U.S. passports and renewals. Schumer said he’s besieged by constituents who want delays addressed (SILive and CBSN New York). 

 

 

People wait to get their passport applications submitted at the United States passport agency office on July 6, 2007 in San Francisco

 



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! 



OPINION

How conservatives can reshape education, by Ross Douthat, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3ilamsB 

 

How the streaming wars are changing what you watch, by Peter Labuza, Los Angeles Times. https://lat.ms/3hNvHvB



WHERE AND WHEN

The House returns to work at 2 p.m. after a two-week break. Votes are scheduled after 6:30 p.m. 

 

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of Tiffany Cunningham to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Reuters).

 

The president and Vice President Harris (who had a “routine” Sunday medical checkup at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to the White House), will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office at 10 a.m. Biden will deliver remarks on the economy at 11 a.m. The president and the first lady will welcome Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein to the White House at 1:45 p.m. The first lady will host a tea with Queen Rania.

 

The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m.

 

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

DISASTERS & CLIMATE CHANGE: In Oregon, where wildfires rage, climate change is being met with skepticism (The Washington Post). In Montana, temperatures exceeded 100 degrees during an especially dry summer and the heat is building this week (WeatherNation). … In parched, scorched California wine country, the effects of climate change threaten to put wineries out of business. Smoke from wildfires miles away can penetrate the skins of grapes and change the crop (The New York Times). … Climate scientists warn the biblical floods that killed at least 188 people in Germany and other parts of Europe (Reuters), are the latest sign of the crises humanity will face in the years ahead while also cautioning that it is too soon to directly blame the July floods on climate change. They argue the science is clear that such disasters from extreme weather events could become more common. German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel (The Hill) and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, called for greater efforts to combat global warming (NBC News). … In Canada, farmers are bracing for another extreme heat wave as crops bake in the fields. The temperature this summer reached a record 115 degrees in one village in British Columbia (The Washington Post).

 

 

Search and rescue teams are seen on a flooded and damaged part of the highway (A1) on July 17, 2021 in Erftstadt, Germany

 

 

INTERNATIONAL: Private military-grade Israeli spyware, leased by NSO Group to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals, was used against the smartphones of journalists, activists and business executives, according to a global investigation conducted by The Washington Post and 16 media partners led by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories. The Israeli government is under scrutiny for permitting the company to do business with authoritarian regimes (The New York Times). … Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro left the hospital on Sunday after spending four days there for medical treatment. Bolsonaro was admitted on Thursday due to a chronic case of the hiccups and abdominal pain and is expected to undergo a diet to help him deal with his condition. He is expected to return to his presidential duties today (The Hill). 

 

SPORTS:️‍♂️Collin Morikawa won The Open Championship on Sunday, defeating Jordan Spieth by two strokes and winning his second major in the process. Morikawa, 24, finished at 15 under at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in the first Open Championship since 2019. Last year’s edition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic (ESPN). 



THE CLOSER

And finally, with sports in mind … White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden walks fine line with Fox News White House on Cleveland Indians' name change: 'We certainly support their change of name' US delegation departs Haiti after reports of gunshots at ex-president's funeral MORE threw the opening pitch at the Nationals game in Washington on Sunday, hurling the ball to its destination without a bounce (video) one day after a shooting outside the ballpark injured three people and suspended the team’s game against the San Diego Padres (WTOP). 

 

The team’s invitation to Psaki took note of “William & Mary Day,” honoring the 42-year-old press secretary’s Virginia alma mater (New York Post).

 

The Hill: DC Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserTwo shot outside of popular restaurants in DC, police still searching for suspects The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics DC mayor, Nationals issue joint statement against gun violence MORE (D) and the Nationals on Sunday issued a joint statement against gun violence.

 

 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki throws out the first pitch before a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals