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Welcome to The Hills Morning Report. It is Thursday. 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 this week: Monday, 154,860. Tuesday, 155,471. Wednesday, 156,830. Thursday, 158,256.
The White House and top Democratic negotiators continue to make little headway toward a massive coronavirus relief bill ahead of a self-imposed Friday deadline to hash out an accord.
For the ninth time since the beginning of last week, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline loomsOn The Money: White House warns there’s likely no deal with no agreement by Friday | More generous unemployment benefits lead to better jobs: study | 167K workers added to private payrolls in JulySkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus dealMORE, White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline loomsTrump dismisses legal questions on GOP nomination speech at White HouseOvernight Defense: Esper says ‘most believe’ Beirut explosion was accident, contradicting Trump | Trump later says ‘nobody knows yet’ what happened in Lebanon | 61-year-old reservist ID’d as fourth military COVID-19 deathMORE, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probeNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline loomsTop federal official says more details coming on foreign election interference MORE(D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGroup of GOP senators back more money for airlines to pay workersGOP super PAC launching August ad blitzSchiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid packageMORE(D-N.Y.) met on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Once again, talks yielded scant progress.
“I can just tell you that there are no top-line numbers that have been agreed to. We continue to be, you know, trillions of dollars apart in terms of what Democrats and Republicans hopefully will ultimately compromise on,” Meadows told reporters.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but how long that tunnel is remains to be seen, Pelosi said.
For weeks, the opposing sides have remained fixated on their respective price tags. House Democrats have stuck to the $3.4 trillion total they passed in the HEROES Act in May, while Republicans want a bill capped at $1 trillion. Mnuchin told reporters following the meeting that the negotiators need to see “some real compromise on some of the big issues.”
“If we can reach a compromise on these big issues, I think everything else will fall into place. If we can’t reach an agreement on these mitigations, then I don’t see us coming to an overall deal,” Mnuchin said.
As The Hills Jordain Carney writes, plenty of big issues are unresolved, including the $600 per week enhanced unemployment benefits that expired last week. Federal funding for state and local governments is another ONE. Republicans have offered some flexibility tied to the $150 billion already appropriated by Congress. Republicans and President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the ‘Secretary of Failure’ Pence: Chief Justice Roberts ‘has been a disappointment to conservatives’Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MOREalso want liability protection for COVID-19 infections written into law. That issue remains a red line for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline loomsStates begin removing Capitol’s Confederate statues on their ownSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus dealMORE(R-Ky.).
The Associated Press: Capitol negotiators still stuck, still trying on virus aid.
The Washington Post: Trump threatens executive actions as coronavirus relief deal remains elusive on Capitol Hill.
Carl Hulse, The New York Times: In stimulus talks, McConnell is outside the room and in a tight spot.
The Hill: McConnell goes hands-off on bill.
As leverage, Democrats are leaning on the political pressure Republicans are feeling in an election year from unemployed Americans, businesses, economists and financial markets to act generously and quickly as families continue to struggle with two crises at once. Fridays federal jobs report for July is expected to show that the revival of jobs has ebbed since June.
Meadows and Mnuchin are using as their pry bar Trumps repeated but vague vows to go around Congress to restore some unemployment benefits, revive an eviction moratorium and impose a term-limited suspension of the payroll tax.
As Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels report, Trump, akin to his recent predecessors, favors an expansive view of executive power, especially during divided government. Trump, who met in the Oval Office with Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association – Virus bill unlikely to pass this weekMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in ArizonaTrump may have power, but he still has no plan to fight the pandemicMORE (R), may be bluffing about some actions he vows to take under the Constitution, but he is poised to announce executive orders in the coming weeks that will add to his campaign checklist of what he touts as promises kept, sources tell The Hill.
The Hill: Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal.
The Washington Post: Trump sees new executive powers springing from an unlikely source: one of his defeats at the Supreme Court.
The New York Times: Liability shield a stumbling block as lawmakers debate relief.
More news from Capitol Hill:Former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesYates spars with GOP at testy hearingRead: Sally Yates testimonyTrump knocks Sally Yates ahead of congressional testimonyMOREsparred with Republicans during a testy Senate hearing on Wednesday about the Russia investigation launched in 2016 (The Hill). Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisIllinois Republican tests positive for coronavirusThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at warHouse Democrats target Midwestern GOP seatsMORE(R-Ill.) announced on Wednesday that he is in self-quarantine with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
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LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: Even as U.S. infections and fatalities from COVID-19 continue to climb, testing is declining, a worrisome trend that researchers believe may be the result of frustration and impatience Americans feel about the hassles of getting tested and the long waits to find out the results. An Associated Press analysis found that the number of tests per day fell 3.6 percent over the past two weeks to 750,000, with the count decreasing in 22 states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Iowa, where the percentages of positive tests are high and continuing to climb, an indicator that the virus is still spreading uncontrolled (The Associated Press).
> Florida: The Sunshine State set new, grim records on Wednesday, exceeding 500,000 COVID-19 infections to date with a surge in single-day hospitalizations. Wednesdays one-day death toll was 225, fewer than the July 31 record of 257 fatalities over a 24-hour period (WFLA).
> North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that his state will put its phased reopening plans on pause for five weeks with existing restrictions in an effort to use caution as students head back to school (WBTV).
The Hills Reid Wilson reports that as the United States approaches 5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, evidence suggests the summer surge may be cresting.
> Schools: Chicago announced its public schools will begin the new year with virtual instruction, leaving New York City as the only major school system moving to in-person learning (The Chicago Sun-Times and The New York Times). In Gotham, Democratic Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOvernight Health Care: Fauci says family has faced threats | Moderna to charge to a dose for its vaccine | NYC adding checkpoints to enforce quarantineNew York City adding ‘key entry point’ checkpoints to enforce quarantineThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association – Virus bill unlikely to pass this weekMOREs push to open schools meets with some resistance, including from Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo to serve as National Association of Governors chairNew York City adding ‘key entry point’ checkpoints to enforce quarantineIconic NY columnist Pete Hamill diesMORE (D), and the whole world is watching (The New York Times).
> Higher education: A Yale University student is suing for a tuition refund, one of more than a dozen suits filed against higher learning institutions across the country in recent months by students frustrated by the closure of campuses. Complaining about the inferiority of the online educational experience, Jonathan Michel said he paid $27,750 in tuition for the spring 2020 semester and was suing on behalf of members of his class who did not receive the full value of the services for which they paid (Hartford Courant and The New York Times).
> Vaccine: National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony FauciAnthony FauciCNN’s Burnett presses Navarro on hydroxychloroquine in combative interview: ‘You’re an economist, not a scientist’ Overnight Health Care: Fauci says family has faced threats | Moderna to charge to a dose for its vaccine | NYC adding checkpoints to enforce quarantineFauci says family has faced threats, harassment amid pandemicMORE told Bloomberg TV on Wednesday that ultimately if you really want to put the nail in the coffin of an outbreak you have to have a vaccine. He acknowledged that each individuals appraisal of disease risk depends on their demographics, rendering voluntary precautions tough to maintain. Weve got to all pull together, he repeated.
Fauci said worldwide competition to be first to develop effective vaccines will not undermine safety (Bloomberg News). Even a vaccine that is 50 percent to 60 percent effective against COVID-19 would be value added during the COVID-19 pandemic in combination with preventative behavioral precautions, he said. It is possible a vaccine may be effective against the virus for just months, which would still be OK because it could bridge people through at least a season of the contagion, possibly followed by booster shots, Fauci added. Research trials for new coronavirus treatments to reduce the severity of infections are underway, he added.
> Misinformation crackdown by social media platforms: Twitter and Facebook penalized Trumps campaign account for what the companies determined to be coronavirus misinformation in a video clip in which the president said children are almost immune to COVID-19. Children are not immune to infection by the coronavirus. Research studies indicate children contract the virus and can transmit it to other people, but children under the age of five appear to exhibit milder symptoms, even if their viral load of the coronavirus is as high or higher than adults and older children (The Washington Post).
> U.S. coronavirus mortality rate: More than 1,000 people a day are dying from COVID-19 in this country. Among the 20 countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, the United States has the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people, ranking behind the United Kingdom, Peru and Chile. To downplay the impact of the pandemic, Trump asserts that the United States, with 330 million people, has one of the lowest worldwide COVID-19 mortality rates, a data point that is misleading (Time).
FactCheck.org reported that as of Tuesday, the U.S. had a mortality rate of 47.5 per 100,000 people, but Australia, Japan and South Korea all have mortality rates of less than 1 person per 100,000, according to Johns Hopkins.
In an interview with Axios broadcast on Monday, Trump objected to focusing on deaths as a proportion of the population, pointing instead to deaths as a proportion of total cases. You have to go by the cases, he said, claiming that the statistic showed the U.S. is lower than Europe.
The United States has a case-fatality rate of 3.3 percent, lower than many countries in Europe, including France, Spain and Germany. But there are also many countries with lower rates than the United States, including Australia (1.2 percent), Japan (2.5 percent), Israel (0.7 percent) and South Korea (2.1 percent).
That measure shows how deadly the disease has been for those who have been identified as infected, but looking at deaths per 100,000 population shows how the disease has affected the total population of a country.
> Immigrant children: More than 2,000 unaccompanied migrant children seeking entry to the United States have been expelled since March and returned to their home countries under an emergency declaration enacted by the administration, which cites COVID-19 in refusing to provide them with statutory protections under federal anti-trafficking and asylum laws. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have refused to answer most questions about how the agencies treat roughly 70,000 adults and children expelled under the administrations emergency declaration issued in March (The Associated Press).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probeTrump outraises Biden in July, surpasses billion for the cycleDuckworth: Republican coronavirus package would ‘gut’ Americans With Disabilities ActMOREannounced on Wednesday that he will no longer travel to Milwaukee to accept the Democratic presidential nomination, and will instead do so in a speech from Wilmington, Del.
The decision, coupled with the cancellation of the GOP conventions festivities in Jacksonville, Fla., means that the 2020 conventions will be effectively shuttered. The official nominating portion of the Democratic convention will be held virtually, while only GOP delegates will convene in Charlotte, N.C., to officially nominate the president.
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClintons top five vice presidential picksGovernment social programs: Triumph of hope over evidenceLabors ‘wasteful spending and mismanagement at Workers CompMORE said in a statement on Wednesday. We followed the science, listened to the doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives. That’s the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves (The Hill).
Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday, Trump said that he will probably deliver his nomination speech from the White House a possibility that was met with skepticism among some top Republicans.
Is that even legal? Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump dismisses legal questions on GOP nomination speech at White HouseGOP senator on Trump accepting nomination at White House: ‘Is that even legal?’Trump says he’s considering White House as venue for GOP nomination acceptance speechMORE (R-S.D.) asked when reporters asked about the possibility of Trump delivering his speech from the White House grounds. I assume thats not something that you could do. I assume theres some Hatch Act issues or something. I dont know the answer to that, and I havent heard him say that, but I think anything to do with federal property would seem to me to be problematic (The Hill).
The conversation surrounding the conventions came as the two sides released July fundraising totals, with the Trump side outraising Bidens campaign by $25 million ($165 million to $140 million) and hitting a major milestone as it eclipsed the $1 billion mark for the cycle (The Hill).
However, there were bright spots in the fundraising totals for the Biden campaign, specifically that the two sides are now nearly tied in cash on hand as Trumps team has $300 million compared to $295 million for Biden. The Trump campaign held a $187 million advantage only four months ago, which has been almost completely erased (The New York Times).
The Hill: Trump says there is no legal prohibition against an acceptance speech from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The Associated Press: Biden on cognitive test: Why the hell would I take a test?
Niall Stanage: The Memo: Campaigns gird for rush of early voting.
The Hill: Trump’s pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat.
> Senate primary: A vicious GOP primary in Tennessee to replace retiring Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill’s Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mountsChamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelectionMORE (R) is headed for a close finish on Thursday as Bill Hagerty, who has the support of the president, attempts to hold off Manny Sethi, a trauma surgeon who has won the backing of Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill’s Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux Ted Cruz bashes Oprah for ‘lecture’ on race: ‘What utter, racist BS’Senate Democrats prepare seven-figure spending spree in TexasMORE(R-Texas) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill’s Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux A plan to empower parents, increase education options as an uncertain school year loomsMultiple lawmakers self-quarantine after exposure to GohmertMORE (R-Ky.).
As The Hills Jonathan Easley writes, the two Tennessee Republicans have embraced Trump as the leader of the Republican Party, with the winner almost certain to replace Alexander, a top McConnell ally and a longtime figure in Tennessee politics. However, the race has grown into a blood feud in recent weeks as attacks in each direction continue to escalate, with the candidates litigating everything from political donations made by their spouses to where they went to school.
Its probably the ugliest primary in Tennessee in a while, but 2014 wasnt sugar and spice, said one Tennessee GOP operative, referring to Alexanders primary win over Joe Carr. Its been an ugly process.
Hagerty at one point appeared to be on a glide path to the nomination after locking down Trump’s support early on, having held a substantial lead in polls as recently as late June. However, the race has tightened, although Hagerty remains the slight favorite.
Hagerty just has the right message that Tennessee Republican primary voters want, the operative added. That is he is going to be a loyal soldier in Trumps army.
Elaina Plott, The New York Times: Tennessee Republicans, once moderate and genteel, turn toxic in the Trump era.
The Hill: Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibThe Hill’s Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux Progressives soaring after big primary night’Absolutely incredible’: Ocasio-Cortez congratulates Cori Bush on upset victory over Lacy Clay MORE (D-Mich.) wins her Michigan Democratic primary.
The Hill: Republicans fear disaster in November.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to share The Hills reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
Why did Lebanon let a bomb-in-waiting sit in a warehouse for six years? by Fasal Itani, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3a3RzgH
A California way to help the unemployed, even if Washington wont, by David L. Ulin, opinion contributor, The Los Angeles Times. https://lat.ms/2PuYJRE
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Unions and airlines agree: a clean extension of the CARES Act will position the airline industry to support economic recovery. Learn why.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will meet Friday at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. The Senate Homeland Security Committee at 10 a.m. hears testimony from acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfDC delegate demands answers from Secret Service about treatment of two Black moms on MallCuccinelli says DHS to change camouflage uniforms of federal agents used in PortlandHouse Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS’s involvement in response to protestsMORE about the involvement of his departments law enforcement personnel with nationwide protests.
The president will travel to Ohio to speak about the economy in Cleveland at 1:15 p.m. He will fly to Clyde, Ohio, to tour a Whirlpool manufacturing plant at 2:45 p.m., followed by a speech there at 3:15 p.m. Trump will fly to Bratenahl, Ohio, to meet with supporters at Shoreby Yacht Club at 6 p.m., followed by a campaign fundraising committee reception at 6:30 p.m. The president will fly from Ohio to his home in Bedminster, N.J., tonight.
Economic indicator: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on jobless claims for the week ending Aug. 1. Analysts are particularly interested to see if continuing claims in addition to new filings are high, which would be unwelcome news for the U.S. economy and those unemployed (USA Today). Fridays employment report for July will be closely watched; in June, the unemployment rate improved from a painful pandemic peak, dropping to 11.1 percent, but there are signs that recovery in U.S. employment has slowed since June. The employment picture hovers over Capitol Hill this week as negotiators try to reach a compromise to pass new COVID-19 relief legislation.
Hill.TVs Rising program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.
International: Lebanons Health Ministry said on Wednesday that deadly blasts at Beiruts port on Tuesday killed 135 people and injured about 5,000 others. Investigators have focused on possible negligence in the storage for six years of 2,750 tons of a highly explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer inside a waterfront warehouse. The government ordered the house arrest of several port officials. The Port of Beirut and customs office is known as one of the most corrupt and lucrative institutions in Lebanon where various factions and politicians, including Hezbollah, hold sway. Although Trump said Wednesday he had heard theories of both accidental negligence and intentional attacks and that nobody knows yet, a senior U.S. Defense Department official and member of the U.S. intelligence community said there were no indications the explosions were the result of an attack by either a nation state or proxy forces (The Associated Press).
Wall Street: Access to easy, quick, fee-free trading has lured millions of inexperienced investors into a gamified trading environment and raises questions about consumer protections and the impact on financial markets. The risks: a stock market bubble and potential bust (The Hill).
Tech: Instagram launched a direct competitor to short-form video app TikTok in 50 countries Wednesday amid antitrust scrutiny. Reels, which is available within Instagram on iOS and Android, lets users edit together 15-second clips with music. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will now include Reels in its Explore page, allowing users to scroll through them vertically, much like TikTok’s for you page (The Hill).
Sports: The University of Connecticut became the first Division I school to suspend its football program and cancel its 2020 season due to COVID-19. UConns athletic director, David Benedict, said the safety challenges created by the virus put an unacceptable level of risk on the student athletes (ESPN). The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced on Wednesday that the Division III fall championships have been canceled for the 2020-2021 season, pointing to “the COVID-19 pandemic and related administrative and financial challenges. The cancellations affect football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, women’s volleyball and men’s water polo (ESPN).
And finally Its Thursday, which means its time for this weeks Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the upcoming anniversary of former President Nixons resignation, were eager for some smart guesses about the 36th president.
Email your responses to email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org, and please add Quiz to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
During his resignation speech on Aug. 8, 1974, which of these sentences did Nixon utter?
- God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America.
- May God’s grace be with you in all the days ahead.
- This, more than anything, is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the presidency.
- Vice President Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour in this office.
In addition to Nixon, how many other vice presidents in U.S. history were elected president while not being an incumbent?
How much was Nixon paid to take part in a series of conversations with British journalist David Frost in 1977?
- $1 million
The film All the Presidents Men about Nixon and the Watergate scandal did NOT capture which statuette at the 49th Academy Awards in 1977?
- Best adapted screenplay
- Best supporting actor
- Best actor
- Best sound