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Welcome to The Hills 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 daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 135,205. Tuesday, 135,615.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide exceed 13 million. The United States tops countries with more than 3.3 million cases of the coronavirus (61,000 new cases were announced on Monday).
The most populous state in the nation, rattled by doomsday public health projections tied to an ominous surge in coronavirus cases, opted on Monday to extend a ban on indoor dining and bar operations statewide and pull back on other business restarts (The Hill). An order by Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomThe fog of war Overnight Health Care: White House goes public with attacks on Fauci | Newsom orders California to shut down indoor activities, all bar operations | Federal judges block abortion ban laws in Tennessee, GeorgiaNewsom orders California to shut down indoor activities, all bar operationsMORE (D) clamps down on additional activities affecting at least 80 percent of Californias population, becoming a blunt weapon against rising infections, hospitalizations and fatalities.
Newsom named at least 30 counties where fitness centers, places of worship, offices for Non-Critical Sectors of the states economy, personal care services, hair salons, barber shops and malls must remain closed.
Were seeing an increase in the spread of the virus, so thats why its incumbent upon all of us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon until there is a vaccine or an effective therapy, Newsom said (San Francisco Examiner).
The Associated Press: We havent even begun to see the end of it yet, said Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTexas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilitiesOvernight Health Care: White House goes public with attacks on Fauci | Newsom orders California to shut down indoor activities, all bar operations | Federal judges block abortion ban laws in Tennessee, GeorgiaBiden campaign slams White House attacks on Fauci as ‘disgusting’MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a discussion with the dean of Stanford Universitys medical school on Monday. The virologist called for a step back in U.S. reopenings.
The California setback is a caution for the rest of the country because the state experienced the then-mysterious COVID-19 early this year and was hailed just weeks ago for its success in curbing new transmissions long enough to begin to reopen for business and plan for a new school year.
Although federal infectious disease advisers to President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it’s trafficking childrenStone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentenceFederal appeals court rules Trump admin can’t withhold federal grants from California sanctuary citiesMORE have vacillated about whether pauses or new shutdowns are recommended in some parts of the country, it is now clear that state and local officials, no matter how reluctant, are prepared to tell their constituents they have no better options to save them from infection than to halt commerce and curb indoor crowds.
In San Francisco, public health officials warn that disease models project rapid new spread and deaths if COVID-19 goes unchecked. About half of all residents infected in the city are Hispanic or Latino, officials said (ABC7 News).
The New York Times: Los Angeles and San Diego schools, Californias two largest public education districts, will go online-only in the fall.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner appealed to Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to let his city shutter operations for two weeks. On Monday, Turner tweeted,I do believe that we need a two-week shutdown, at the minimum of two weeks, and I have proposed this to the Governor so we can help blunt #COVID19 progression. If we can not have a shut down, then at least step back to states Phase I. This will allow us to reset and reassess.
Houston has reported 285,000 confirmed cases of infection to date and 28,000 active coronavirus cases this week. City officials describe COVID-19 as a crisis there (CBS News).
The New York Times: Texas may be forced to roll back more of its reopening plans.
In Florida, where more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases set records over the weekend and the states positivity rate in testing hit 20 percent last week, Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Argentum – All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15KFlorida records more than 15,000 new COVID-19 cases in one day, the highest single-day increase in any state Teachers union president casts doubt on schools reopening full-time MORE (R) conceded on Monday that the surge is from community transmission, not just more COVID-19 testing (The Associated Press).
DeSantis, a Trump ally whose state is scheduled to host the Republican National Convention in August, initially was slow to shut down his state and moved early to open it. At the outset, he did not bar throngs of beachgoers. He bucks the idea of a mask mandate and he vows that now reopened, Florida will stay that way.
The states rapidly increasing number of coronavirus infections is turning Miami into the epicenter of the pandemic, warned Florida International University epidemiologist Aileen Marty, who described the situation in her state on Monday as extremely grave.
> Masks: A Gallup poll released Monday finds that while a majority of Americans say they are always or very often wearing face coverings in public, it is women, Democrats and Northeasterners who are most likely to wear them as a precaution against the coronavirus (The Hill).
> World Health Organization (WHO) warning (again): Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction with COVID-19, warned WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.Worse and worse and worse was his assessment on Monday (Reuters).
> Antibodies, immunity and vaccine development: Patients who recover from coronavirus infections may lose their immunity to reinfection within months, according to research by Kings College London released on Monday. Experts say the findings could have a “significant” influence on how governments manage the pandemic and how researchers approach the development of potentially effective vaccines (AFP).
> Washington, D.C.: The District experienced no new fatalities from COVID-19 over a span of four days, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced with gratitude on Monday. However, cases of infection in the Washington metro region, which includes Virginia and Maryland, are on the rise, according to public health statistics (WTOP).
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LEADING THE DAY
CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Former Attorney General (AG) Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for TuesdaySessions fights for political life in Alabama runoffThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Argentum – All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15KMOREis fighting for his political life in tonights Senate primary runoff against Tommy Tuberville, taking on the role of underdog after repeated body blows from the president.
By all accounts, Sessions is trailing Tuberville, the former football coach at Auburn University, by an insurmountable margin heading into tonight. According to one GOP strategist, the former AG trails by double digits across the board in internal polls, with public surveys not giving him a much better shot.
“Jeff is trying to hit a double bank shot. You just don’t see how he doesn’t come up short, an Alabama Republican source said of Sessions, who has tried to overcome Trump with messaging on China and other topics without much luck. I just don’t see how it’s enough.
Meanwhile, the pressure from the White House has made it tough for Sessions to snag a second act in the Senate. On Monday night, Trump continued to pound away at his former top cop, retweeting a message to supporters from two nights earlier calling Sessions a disaster.
Jeff Sessions is a disaster who has let us all down. We dont want him back in Washington! Trump wrote.
As for Tuberville, the former coach has risen to front-runner status by keeping quiet, avoiding the press, going light on specifics and amplifying Trumps endorsement. Given multiple opportunities, Tuberville has declined to debate the former attorney general, including once by Fox News Sunday host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBattle over reopening schools heats upSunday shows – Spotlight shifts to reopening schoolsChris Wallace presses DeVos on threats to withhold funding from schools that don’t reopenMORE.
There’s an expression in politics: A candidate could go to a desert island and still win, and Tommy Tuberville might be the first candidate to test that theory, the Alabama GOP source said, calling Tuberville Teflon Tommy. He’s completely abdicated any sense of campaigning for a candidacy or platform. Hes been an invisible candidate for the past four months. He is testing that theory greatly.
Despite Sessionss uphill battle, one saving grace could be light turnout and the fact that other House runoffs include the district in South Alabama where Sessions hails from (The Hill).
Elaina Plott, The New York Times: Sessions, Tuberville close out Alabamas GOP Senate runoff.
Politico: 7 things to watch on Tuesday’s big primary day.
> Texas in 2020: Democrats angling for a Texas-sized upset as a new poll shows former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for TuesdayBiden campaign slams White House attacks on Fauci as ‘disgusting’Biden lets Trump be TrumpMOREleading in the Lone Star State by 5 points, giving the party its best chance to win the state since former President Carter did so 40 years ago.
A shocking poll commissioned by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler showed Biden leading the president by 5 points, beyond the polls margin of error.
Most believed in the pre-Trump era that Texas would be within reach well down the line due in large part to its growing Latino population. Now, some arent bothering to wait and believe it is time to strike, with Trumps and the GOPs poll numbers falling as the coronavirus pandemic deepens in the state. According to the poll, Texans disapprove of Trumps handling of the pandemic, 50 points to 44 points.
As Niall Stanage notes in his latest memo, a push to win Texas could backfire as mounting a serious effort there will carry a hefty price tag for Bidens campaign and the Democratic National Committee with zero guarantee of success.
The Hill: M.J. Hegar, Royce West to face off in bitter Texas Senate runoff.
The Washington Post: Texas Senate runoff asks whether what worked for Democrats in 2018 still works in 2020.
The Hill: Hispanic enthusiasm for election takes back seat to COVID-19, economy.
> Absentee & mail-in ballots: In the primary elections held so far this year, at least 65,000 absentee or mail-in ballots have been rejected because they arrived past the deadline, often through no fault of the voter, according to an NPR analysis. While the numbers are relatively small around 1 percent in most states such voter participation could prove crucial in close contests, especially elections in which many more voters are expected to cast absentee and mail-in ballots to avoid going to the polls during a pandemic.
Amie Parnes, The Hill: Biden seeks to take on Trump over economy.
The New York Times: GOP convention attendance is waning as the pandemic escalates.
NBC News: COVID-19, Florida’s governor could tank Trump’s renomination festivities.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
COURTS: Federal executions: The Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote cleared the way on Monday for the federal government to execute Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, in Arkansas following a series of court delays. Lees lawyers insisted the execution could not go forward after midnight under federal regulations, but the government is moving forward today to carry out the execution (The Associated Press). Hours before Lee was to be put to death on Monday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., temporarily blocked the Trump administration from resuming capital punishment following a 17-year hiatus (The Hill). Lee was convicted of killing three members of a family in 1996 along with an accomplice. On Monday, Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered a temporary injunction hours after a federal appeals court cleared the way for the inmates execution. She ruled the governments new execution protocol likely violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
> Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Monday requested a copy of Trumps order commuting his friend Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneStone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentenceThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for TuesdayBiden lets Trump be TrumpMORE’s prison sentence to ensure it includes not just his jail term but also his supervised release. Stone’s punishment on seven criminal counts included 40 months in jail, two years of supervised release and a $20,000 fine (The Hill).
> Temporary student visas: On Sunday, about 60 U.S. universities filed a legal brief supporting a lawsuit filed last week by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and by Monday, at least 200 universities told the court they supported the litigation (The Associated Press). The lawsuit seeks to block a Trump administration rule that bars foreign students from remaining in the country if educational institutions do not conduct classes in person this fall (Reuters). Seventeen states joined to sue the Trump administration on Monday over the education policy covering foreign students (The New York Times).
CONGRESS: Lawmakers say they have one more shot at enacting major legislation before the November elections, and a bill must move through Congress and head to Trump for his signature before the end of July. Because of a tight time frame, the complicated politics and the provisions in play, jockeying for another coronavirus relief bill with a price tag of between $1 trillion and $3.5 trillion is underway.
Republicans favor the lower price tag and insist on limited liability for businesses fearful of being sued because of COVID-19 infections, while Democrats already passed a gargantuan measure in the House and insist on extending generous federal unemployment insurance for all laid-off workers beyond July 31 (Politico).
Senate Democrats on Monday urged Congress to pass $25 billion in emergency funding for production and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. In addition to the development of the vaccine itself, a massive undertaking is required to manufacture millions of needed doses, ensure the supply of needles and syringes and distribute any cure nationwide (The Hill).
Small U.S. cities are begging lawmakers for federal funds to help patch together distressed budgets that reflect steep revenue cuts this year. CARES Act funding enacted in March went to cities with populations larger than 500,000 people, and less populous municipalities say they were left out (The Hill).
Some Republicans on Capitol Hill think Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMcConnell in talks with Mnuchin on next phase of coronavirus reliefOn The Money: Supreme Court upholds NY prosecutors’ access to Trump’s tax returns, rebuffs Congress | Trump complains of ‘political prosecution’ | Biden rebukes Trump, rolls out jobs plan Mnuchin: Next stimulus bill must cap jobless benefits at 100 percent of previous incomeMORE has been a too accommodating deal broker with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi70 progressive groups call for next Foreign Affairs chair to reflect ‘progressive realism’ House to vote next week on ridding Capitol of Confederate statuesEye on gavel, Wasserman Schultz proposes panel on racial inequality in spendingMORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerWells Fargo told employees to delete TikTok from work phones Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: ‘The most corrupt president in history’A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the governmentMORE (D-N.Y.) since the pandemic struck the United States last spring. Some conservative lawmakers imagine that White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Signs of a Trump, Fauci rift on displayMeadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: AxiosTrump wears mask during visit to Walter ReedMORE can drive a harder bargain as a negotiator paired with Mnuchin.
Observers remember the former North Carolina congressman who steered the hard-right Freedom Caucus as a bomb thrower rather than as a conciliator who favored bipartisan compromise. As a renegade, he led the House GOP charge to shut down the government for more than a month in 2018 and 2019 (The Washington Post and Politico). In 2018, he complained to The Hill about compromises necessary to gain Senate approval and irritated some of his colleagues by inaccurately predicting that if House Republicans lost the majority, as they eventually did that fall, it would not change a whole lot legislatively. What difference does a majority make? he said with a shrug (The Hill).
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hills reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
Listen to Fauci even if Trump doesnt. It could be the difference between life and death, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3gQYE6o
Democracy dies in darkness, but dont blame Trump, by Gerard Baker, editor at large, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/2Wdok5h
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets for a pro forma session on Thursday at noon and returns to legislative business on Monday. House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton Hoyer70 progressive groups call for next Foreign Affairs chair to reflect ‘progressive realism’ House to vote next week on ridding Capitol of Confederate statuesOvernight Defense: US formally rejects Beijing’s South China Sea claims | House set to consider defense policy bill next week | 57 injured as firefighters battle warship blazeMORE(D-Md.) announced that the House will take up the National Defense Authorization Act on Monday and Tuesday, with plans to consider legislation to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol and pass 11 of 12 appropriations bills by the end of July (excluding the homeland security funding bill) (The Hill).
The Senate meets on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. for a pro forma session.
The president meets with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: US formally rejects Beijing’s South China Sea claims | House set to consider defense policy bill next week | 57 injured as firefighters battle warship blazePompeo formally rejects Beijing’s claims in South China SeaWells Fargo told employees to delete TikTok from work phones MOREat 3 p.m.
Vice President Pence will travel to Baton Rouge to meet with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose ‘bailouts’ of states in new adsHow will American cities avoid economic catastrophe?Why drug costs for older Americans should be capped in pandemic’s wakeMORE and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE, both Republicans, about efforts to combat COVID-19. Pence will also be accompanied by members of the House from the state. He will headline a roundtable discussion at Louisiana State University about plans for the fall semester and sports programs. Pence will hold a press availability in the afternoon and return to Washington in the evening.
Economic indicator: The Bureau of Economic Analysis will report consumer prices in June at 8:30 a.m.
INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live talks with Pompeo on Wednesday at 11 a.m. about New Threats, New Defense: The Future of National Security. Interviewer: Editor-in-Chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Chris Christie says Trump team wasn’t aggressive enough early in COVID-19 crisis; Tensions between White House, Fauci boil overThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Argentum – All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15KThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic responseMORE.RSVP HERE.
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International: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she cannot guarantee that other European countries will strike a stimulus deal during a two-day summit on Friday and Saturday. The proposals, made by European Council President Charles Michel, include a long-term European Union budget of $1.18 trillion and a recovery fund of $850 billion for economies that have been hardest hit by the novel coronavirus (Reuters).
Lobbying from the inside: A trade group devoted to promoting U.S.-made gun silencers had been unable to overturn a ban enacted by the State Department on sales of such devices to private foreign buyers because the government sought to protect U.S. troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The industry succeeded in getting the ban lifted last week after lobbyist Michael Williams went to work inside the White House as a lawyer (The New York Times).
Sports & COVID: Organizers canceled the Chicago Marathon scheduled for Oct. 11 due to concerns over the novel coronavirus. The event was the latest nixed for endurance runners, following a decision to cancel the New York City Marathon in November. The Boston Marathon was held virtually instead (The Hill). The PGA Tour announced Monday it will host fanless events for the remainder of the 2020 season. The tour had hoped to allow spectators at the Wyndham Championship, the final regular-season event, in mid-August but decided against it out of an abundance of caution (Sky Sports). The NFL unveiled a new mouth shield under helmet face guards for players to wear to combat COVID-19. There is no mandate that players wear the innovation designed by Oakley, but the shield will be distributed to all NFL teams in the next week as they gear up for training camp at the end of the month (ESPN).
And finally Nostalgia is pricey when its pristine. A Super Mario Bros. video game (unopened from 1985) sold at auction last week for $114,000. The coveted version of the game purchased by an anonymous buyer set a new record at a Dallas auction and was part of a collection of video games from the 1980s and 1990s that sold to various bidders for nearly $700,000 (The Associated Press).
Flashback: In 1985, former President Reagan was in the White House, The Cosby Show was the top-rated TV entertainment, Bill Gates made Windows the industry standard before he was 30 and car phones were the size of bricks.
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