Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal

Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal
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Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinBiden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report MORE headlining The Hill's Advancing America's Economy Summit tomorrow Thursday, May 21, 2020 [Beginning at 11AM EST/ 8AM PST] ... REGISTER NOW!!!

TRUMP TAKES AIM AT STATES: President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE on Wednesday threatened to withhold federal funding to Michigan after its secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson (D), announced all of the state’s registered voters would receive applications for absentee ballots in the mail this year.

Trump at first falsely claimed that Benson sent ballots, and not ballot applications, to the state's registered voters and alleged that the step was done “illegally." The president threatened to withhold funding if the state did not reverse course, suggesting its move would encourage voter fraud.

Trump later also threatened to suspend federal funding to Nevada, which is holding a mail-in primary election, claiming the state was creating a "great Voter Fraud scenario" and allowing people to "cheat in elections."

“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

Trump copied acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsHow scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Kinzinger calls for people with info on Trump to come forward MORE and the Treasury Department on his tweet about Michigan and also copied Vought and the Treasury Department on the post about Nevada.

Benson responded to Trump's tweet, correcting him by saying that the state "sent applications, not ballots" and pointing out that Republican secretaries of state have done the same in other states.


Trump issued a new tweet hours later correctly saying that Michigan is sending "absentee ballot applications" ahead of the primary and general election but maintaining that the decision was done "illegally" and "without authorization." 

Trump has frequently voiced his opposition to expanding mail-in voting, leveling unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims that mail-in ballots are riddled with fraud and are “corrupt.”

While experts say there are higher levels of voter fraud in mail-in voting than in-person voting, they agree that overall cases of voter fraud are extremely rare.

Read more about vote-by-mail efforts here.

BROADBAND FOR ALL: A top federal regulator and a House Democrat said Wednesday that the government needs to help expand internet access to more households as the coronavirus pandemic exposes significant gaps in coverage.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted by The Hill, FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly (R) said that while many classrooms, doctor’s offices and workplaces have moved online, about 20 million Americans don’t have broadband.

“COVID-19 didn't bring this issue upon us, but it's made it more prominent,” O’Rielly said at The Vir{tech}tual World Ahead event, sponsored by Nokia.

O'Rielly told The Hill's Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons, who was moderating the event, that lack of equipment and affordability are the main obstacles for households who aren't able to log on.

Lawmaker weighs in: Rep. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneHillicon Valley: Chip order inbound | Biden asks for more time on WeChat | New IoT bill introduced Lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to allow for increased use of internet-connected devices New state privacy initiatives turn up heat on Congress MORE (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Women’s High Tech Caucus, also emphasized the need for connectivity, even for jobs that can’t be done online.

“The situation we're in across the country has really highlighted how critical it is that we provide technology access, and particularly broadband,” she said.

The first coronavirus relief package passed by Congress included $125 million for the Rural Utilities Service, but advocates and lawmakers say much more support is needed to close large gaps in connectivity.

Democratic lawmakers in both chambers have introduced legislation that would allocate resources for a fund at the FCC to disburse funds to schools and libraries to buy Wi-Fi hotspots, routers and internet-connected devices.

Read more about broadband expansion efforts here.

DEMS HAVE SOME QUESTIONS: A group of Democratic senators on Wednesday urged antitrust regulators to monitor Uber's potential acquisition of GrubHub and to launch an investigation if any deal goes through.


Multiple outlets reported last week that Uber, which operates Uber Eats, is in discussion to acquire GrubHub in a deal that would consolidate two of the biggest players in the meal delivery business.

"A merger of Uber Eats and Grubhub would combine two of the three largest food delivery application providers and raise serious competition issues in many markets around the country," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons.

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharOpen-ended antitrust is an innovation killer FBI, DHS and Pentagon officials to testify on Capitol riot Five big takeaways on the Capitol security hearings MORE (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust issues, Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPress: The big loser: The Republican Party Senate acquits Trump in 57-43 vote Trump lawyer irked after senators laugh at him MORE (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.) and Cory BookerCory BookerObama says reparations 'justified' Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D-N.J.) called on the regulators to launch an investigation if a deal is met "to ensure that competition is preserved."

The letter cites work from research firm Second Firm reviewing the food delivery market in April.

The analysis found DoorDash as the national food delivery leader, earning 45 percent of meal delivery sales last month.

GrubHub, at 23 percent, and Uber Eats, at 22 percent, were not far behind.

"The merger under negotiation would create a sector in which the top two players control 90 percent of sales," the lawmakers wrote.


Read more about their concerns here.

SAFE HARBOR: Republicans in both chambers introduced legislation Wednesday that would shield digital gig companies from lawsuits over worker classification when providing protective equipment or wage boosts during the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Helping Gig Economy Workers Act” establishes protections that have long been advocated by gig companies like Uber, Lyft and Instacart at a time when pressure for them to classify their workers as full employees has intensified.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Mike BraunMichael BraunThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Senate GOP ready to turn page on Trump MORE (R-Ind.) and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerKelly Loeffler's WNBA team sold after players' criticism Please, President Trump: Drop your quest for revenge and help the GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan MORE (R-Ga.) in the Senate and Rep. Carol MillerCarol Devine MillerSix ways to visualize a divided America House GOP campaign arm rolls out new leadership team READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-W.Va.) in the House.

“As Main Street Entrepreneur who has created hundreds of permanent jobs and have hired temporary contract workers, I know this legislation will let businesses like Uber, Lyft, and others provide COVID-19 assistance through financial assistance, cleaning materials, hand sanitizer, and other goods without being penalized for their goodwill,” Braun said in a statement.

“Bottom line: this commonsense bill will provide a safe harbor for businesses who want to help gig economy workers helping us during COVID-19.”

The protection would be in place until June 30, 2021, or until the current public health emergency is deemed to be over by officials.


Digital gig companies have exploded in popularity over the last decade all while classifying those who use the platforms for work as independent contractors who are not guaranteed basic protections like a minimum wage or a right to organize.

Read more about the bill here.

ALL GOOD: Tesla on Wednesday dropped a lawsuit against a California county that had barred the electric car company from reopening one of its factories.

The lawsuit, filed in early May against Alameda County, sought an injunction that would allow it to operate immediately, alleging the county violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

The Fremont, Calif., plant closed in March, shortly after Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Newsom'SNL' envisions Fauci as game show host, giving winners vaccines More states follow California's lead on vehicle emissions standards On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors MORE (D) issued a statewide stay-at-home order.

Earlier this month, California updated its guidance on manufacturing, allowing some factories to reopen but giving precedence to county-level restrictions.

Alameda County and five other Bay Area counties opted to keep factories closed.

Tesla then announced it would reopen the plant anyway and sued the county.

Read more here.

UPCOMING VOTE: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a vote this week on President Trump's nominee to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, despite an ongoing investigation. 

According to a schedule released by Committee Chairman Jim RischJim Elroy Risch11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' Biden to redirect .4M in aid to Myanmar, sanction key military figures Can Palestine matter again? MORE's (R-Idaho) office, the panel will vote on Michael Pack's nomination as part of a business meeting on Thursday. 

The decision to move forward with the nomination comes after Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden holds off punishing Saudi crown prince, despite US intel Senate confirms Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador The Memo: Biden bets big on immigration MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the committee, disclosed last week that Pack was under investigation by the D.C. attorney general's office. 

Asked about Menendez's disclosure, Risch referred questions to the Democratic senator. But Risch confirmed to The Hill that the attorney general's office had "communicated" with him. 

"I've turned it over to counsel, we'll deal with it. But certainly that doesn't disqualify him," Risch said. 

The committee had initially been scheduled to vote on Pack's nomination last week. But Risch postponed the meeting amid multiple requests from members to hold over items on its agenda.

Read more about the nomination here.

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