Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Voting rights week for Democrats (again)

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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, 850,605; Tuesday, 851,730. 

 

U.S. fatalities from COVID-19 have risen more than 5 percent in one month, based on available data. As public health experts prepare for 1 million COVID-19 deaths, journalists and Boston University collaborated for a USA Today series that disclosed some counties in the South and the West that underreported the number of people dying from the coronavirus. 

The time to vote — or at least stage a real debate — is nigh for Senate Democrats, who are set to plow ahead in the coming days with what will be an unsuccessful bid to alter the filibuster and enact an overhaul of voting rights and elections. 

 

Fresh off the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the Senate will reconvene this afternoon as Democrats continue to weigh how to proceed on the issue in the hope of holding a vote on a bill in the coming days. What isn’t in doubt is how this will end: Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are against nixing the 60-vote requirement to end debate, effectively putting to bed any chance to pass the voting rights changes. 

 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking at a National Action Network event on Monday, acknowledged the arduous road that lies ahead. 

 

“I’m going to go down to Washington and we are going to debate voting rights. We are going to debate it, and, in the Senate, you know we need 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster … but since we only have 50 Democrats in our razor-thin majority, the only path forward on this important issue is to change the rules to bypass the filibuster,” Schumer said. “There are two Democrats who don’t want to make that happen. But the fight is not over, far from it” (The Hill).

 

The Washington Post: The left dreamed of remaking America. Now, it stares into the abyss as President Biden’s plans wither. 

 

Politico: Democrats stare down another failure to deliver for their base.

 

The Wall Street Journal: Schumer hits trouble after earlier wins in 50-50 Senate.

 

What is in doubt, however, is how the majority will proceed in the coming days knowing how this movie will likely end. As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, instead of holding a vote to end debate on the bill in question, Democrats say they could force Republicans to debate on the floor, make procedural objections and demand amendments to keep the bill from coming up for a final yes-or-no vote at a simple majority threshold.

 

“There are a couple of paths here. Do we go down the path and do a long debate until it’s done and then have a simple debate?” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters last week. “We wouldn’t need a rules change to pass the bill by simple majority if the debate is over. Theoretically, you do not need a rules change to pass a bill that’s on the floor. You just have to allow debate to occur.”

 

The downside for Senate Democrats is it’s a strategy that hasn’t been employed in recent memory and no one is quite sure how it would play out procedurally. Nonetheless, they believe Schumer is considering it. 

 

“Democrats don’t need 60 votes at all. They’re in 51-vote territory. They can move to table any amendments that Republicans offer to the bill,” James Wallner, a former Senate Republican aide and expert on Senate procedure, told The Hill.

 

Senate Democrats are set to plot out the coming days during a conference meeting at 5 p.m. (CNN).

 

The Washington Post: King’s family marches in D.C. for Senate action on voting rights bill.

 

The Hill: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggests filibuster supporters “dishonor” King’s legacy on voting rights.

 

 

 

 

 > More Congress: More than a year after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, threats targeting lawmakers have only increased as violent online speech surges. As The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch details, threats against members reached 9,600 during 2021, a new high.

 

The fears escalated last week as U.S. Capitol Police officers arrested a Michigan woman who they said showed up outside the department’s headquarters with multiple guns seeking to talk about the deadly Capitol riot.

 

The Hill: Hispanic Caucus lawmaker won’t attend meeting with Vice President Harris’s new aide.

A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK

Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations

Rochelle is one of many experts working on privacy at Facebook—to give you more control over your information.

 

Hear more from Rochelle on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet’s most pressing challenges, including federal privacy legislation.

LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: What scientists don’t know: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says it’s still an “open question” whether omicron spells the endgame for the COVID-19 pandemic (CNBC). … If people are fully vaccinated and boosted and test positive for COVID-19, likely the omicron variant, can they get infected with omicron more than once? Some physicians think the evidence they see with their patients points to yes. Scientists say they are studying omicron’s impact on memory cells (Vox). … Why is omicron so transmissible? Theories (and research) abound. “Can we catch omicron more easily through the air than other variants? I don’t think that’s known,” says Angie Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. “What is very clear is that you can catch it more easily, period” (NPR).  

 

Information: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky — criticized in some quarters for changing CDC guidance related to COVID-19 without traditionally definitive scientific studies and failing to clearly explain the government’s altered recommendations — is trying to improve COVID-19 messaging and data collection. Criticism of the methodical, slow-moving scientific culture inside the CDC preceded the pandemic and Walensky’s role as director (The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times). 

 

 

 

 

Infections: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, tested positive for COVID-19 (The Hill). … Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger also tested positive for the coronavirus (ABC News). … Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette (D) also announced her breakthrough case of COVID-19 (The Hill). … Maryland Democrat Rep. David Trone tested positive on Saturday (The Hill). … Hong Kong plans to euthanize 2,000 small animals including hamsters after an employee working at a pet store tested positive for the delta variant of COVID-19. Hong Kong is banning the sale of hamsters and the import of small mammals. Authorities acknowledged there is “no evidence” that pets transmit the coronavirus to humans (The Associated Press).

 

Jabs: A study in Israel found that a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine had limited impact on omicron. Increased antibodies from fourth shots did not prevent the spread of omicron in 270 medical workers and resulted in “limited” extra defense (The Associated Press). … One billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to poorer countries by the World Health Organization, it announced this week (The Hill). 

 

COVID-19 & politics: Ahead of the 2024 presidential contest, Republican governors who have taken tough positions during the pandemic are gaining attention. In Florida, the rise of GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has also captured former President Trump’s attention and not in an approving way (The Hill). 

 

◯‍◯‍◯‍◯‍◯ In China, spectator tickets for the Winter Olympics next month won’t be sold to the general public because of COVID-19 precautions (The Hill). As an alternative, the organizing committee will invite groups of spectators to witness the games in person. Those individuals, however, will have to “strictly abide by” COVID-19 protocols before, during and after all events “as pre-conditions for the safe and sound delivery of the Games.” 

 

Tennis star Novak Djokovic’s decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, a choice that led to his deportation from Melbourne ahead of Monday’s opening day of the Australian Open, may bar him from the French Open tennis championship May 22 to June 5. The French Sports Ministry on Monday said the current No. 1 men’s player cannot compete if he won’t get vaccinated, noting that the situation could change before the tournament draw in May (Yahoo Sports and The Associated Press). Djokovic landed back home in Serbia on Monday. He will be 35 on the opening day of the tournament at Stade Roland Garros in Paris.

 

 

 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION: Biden campaigned as a pro-labor candidate, but his struggles to deliver union-backed legislation in a narrowly divided Congress have agitated some in organized labor. The administration’s decision to decrease COVID-19 isolation guidelines and to rescind the government’s emergency temporary standard for health care worker protections also leaves the president at odds with some labor allies (The Hill). … The administration’s opposition to more economic lockdowns during the pandemic drew pushback from some unions (Newsweek). … Unionization rates in the United States have fallen over the past few decades, but several union organizing efforts were launched last year in response to pandemic working conditions, while labor leaders and unions continue pushing for labor law reforms and workers’ ability to organize unions and engage in collective bargaining. According to Uanionelections.org, 928 U.S. union elections in the private sector were held in the last year, with 592 resulting in a new union certification (The Guardian).  

 

The Hill’s Niall Stanage, in his latest Memo, explores whether Biden, a year after taking the reins of power from Trump, deserves all the blame he’s getting for continued national and political discord and division after pledging to build common ground. 

 

 

 

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

Biden’s year of hard lessons, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3qC17tq 

 

How COVID-19 widens the gap between Hong Kong and China, by Shuli Ren, columnist Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3roz93y 

A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK

Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations

Rochelle is one of many experts working on privacy at Facebook—to give you more control over your information.

 

Hear more from Rochelle on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet’s most pressing challenges, including federal privacy legislation.

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon.

 

The Senate convenes at noon and will consider voting rights and election reform legislation. 

 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. and a weekly economic briefing at 11:20 a.m. The vice president will join for the second briefing.

 

The White House press briefing is scheduled to take place at noon. Mitch Landrieu, who coordinates the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law, will join White House press secretary Jen Psaki at the podium.

 

INVITATION: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live discussion “The Future of Cities Summit” on Thursday at 1 p.m., featuring seven experienced mayors from six states. Information is HERE.

 

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: Russia recently evacuated embassy staff and families from Ukraine. What is Moscow up to? (The New York Times).In the wake of a gigantic volcano eruption on Saturday and reports of fatalities, structural damage, communications blackouts and thick layers of ash blanketing the Pacific island nation of Tonga, ​​New Zealand says it will deploy two Royal Navy ships on Tuesday. Getting there to offer assistance will take three days (CNN).

 

TECH: Amazon told customers Monday it is dropping its plan to stop accepting Visa cards issued in Great Britain, which was set to be implemented on Wednesday. The e-commerce giant said the decision has been halted as it works with Visa on a “potential solution” to solve a dispute over fees (The Hill).

 

“HE SAID WHAT?”: Chamath Palihapitiya, a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors, said on a podcast that “nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,” calling it a “very hard, ugly truth.” “Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line,” he said. The NBA has come under criticism for its business dealings in China. The Biden administration has sanctioned China over what critics call genocide of the predominately Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority (The Hill). The Warriors said in a statement that “his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization” (The Undefeated). California is home to more than a million Muslim Uyghurs in just two key urban centers in Southern California.

 

MEDIA: Britain said on Monday it would freeze funding for the BBC for two years and begin a debate on whether a universal license fee should continue in the modern television age (Reuters). U.K. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said on Sunday the BBC license fee will be abolished in 2027 -– and the broadcaster’s funding will be frozen for the next two years. The move will force the corporation to close services and reduce the number of employees. The decision is expected to prove popular with Conservative party members and supporters. Although the BBC had been braced for bad news for some time — Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to consider abolishing the license fee during the 2019 election campaign — one government insider said the announcement had not been anticipated on Sunday (The Guardian).

THE CLOSER

And finally …  Saudi Arabia, known for sand rather than snow, is competing in its first Olympic Games next month with Alpine skiers Salman Al-Howaish (slalom) and Fayik Abdi (giant slalom), who qualified for next month’s competition despite having no medal-winning record in the sport (Asharq Al-Awsat and Reuters).

 

There have been other Olympians with long odds: A Thai violinist competed in Alpine skiing at the 2014 winter games in Russia. The Jamaican bobsled team was an audience favorite during the team’s debut in 1988 in Calgary (a 2022 team has qualified for the Beijing Games) (ABC News). Great Britain’s first-ever Olympic ski jumper in 1988, Eddie the Eagle (officially Michael David Edwards), became famous for his thick spectacles, unique style and last-place finishes in two events. 

 

 

 

Morning Report