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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Negotiators signal relief bill stuck, not dead

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Hello Monday! 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 as of Monday morning: 162,938.


The United States reports more than twice the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections as India, a democracy with 1.4 billion people that ranks third behind the United States and Brazil in the number of infections.

President Trump didn’t satisfy either party with his quartet of administrative and executive actions signed on Saturday and intended to fill a void created by Capitol Hill negotiators who have thus far failed to agree how to help millions of Americans who have no jobs, incomes or safety nets during a pandemic.


On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled their willingness to return to the bargaining table this week (Reuters). Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told NBC News that Democrats whittled a proposed price tag down to “the range of $2 trillion” from $3.4 trillion, while Republicans want $1 trillion. “We’ve asked them to come up a trillion [dollars],” Durbin added.


Bloomberg News: Mnuchin rejects Pelosi’s offer to come down $1 trillion as a “non-starter.”


The president’s actions, announced at his country club in New Jersey, were immediately described by legal and legislative experts as ineffective and administratively cumbersome substitutes for extensions of law that could immediately revive federal unemployment benefits that expired last month, suspend rental evictions during the pandemic and offer relief to people with mounting college loan debts.


The actions offered no lifeline to state and local governments, whose budgets are in shambles, or small businesses that remain desperate to weather the crisis and stay open. And they offered no help to jittery school systems, which the president continues to argue should open for in-person instruction.


Trump was also faulted for ordering a temporary halt to the collection of payroll taxes that support Social Security and Medicare. The president has for months tried to cut payroll taxes, which in his calculus would benefit Americans who are still working. The president asked Congress to enact the change in relief legislation but was rejected by both parties. Under the new executive policy Trump unveiled, employers can suspend a portion of the tax, but employees would have to come up with the money to repay it next year.


Trump assured Americans that his unilateral actions “will take care of pretty much this entire situation,” an assertion countered by legal analysts. “It’s a Band-Aid on an open wound,” University of Chicago Law School professor Daniel Hemel told The Washington Post on Sunday, expanding on his tweets


Trump “can do it, legally, but to provide real lasting relief he needs help from Congress — and if anything, he made that less likely,” he said. “Most of us won’t see more money in our paychecks, and the millions of families on unemployment will still be in crisis come September.”


The next steps rest with Congress and the courts — and the coronavirus. 


One threshold question over the weekend began with the Constitution. Article 1 says: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”


The Hill: Mnuchin: Democrats will “have a lot of explaining to do” if they want to challenge Trump orders in court.


Jim Tankersley, The New York Times analysis: Trump’s memo seeking to repurpose other federal money to essentially create a temporary $400-a-week bonus unemployment payment in place of the $600 per week that expired is expected to be challenged in court and is unlikely to deliver additional cash to laid-off workers anytime soon.


The Washington Post: Trump’s four most recent executive actions explained. The president’s reliance on his presidential pen is a familiar pattern after running up against roadblocks with Congress (The Washington Post). 


The president’s orders sparked confusion among unemployed Americans, state officials and businesses — and even Trump advisers, who were not all in lockstep on Sunday, report The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Associated Press.


The Hill: States and companies are increasingly launching their own efforts to bail out workers.


The Daily Beast: GOP lawmakers prefer that Trump stay out of relief bill talks because he has a record of complicating and prolonging the process.


The Associated Press: For the pandemic jobless, the only real certainty is uncertainty.


The Hill’s roundup of Sunday talk shows: Trump’s coronavirus executive orders reverberate.





It’s time for updated internet regulations to prevent election interference


We’ve more than tripled our security and safety teams to 35,000 people, added 5-step political ad verification and partnered with security researchers, other tech companies and law enforcement to combat foreign election interference.


What’s next? We support updated internet regulations.


POLITICS: The political world continues to wait as former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate ahead of next week’s Democratic National Convention while jockeying continues among Democrats for the spot.


The Hill’s Amie Parnes recaps the latest ups and downs for each candidate ahead of the expected announcement. Among those on helium watch are Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who remains among the favorites for the position, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), who is back on the rise.


Whitmer met with Biden on Aug. 2 to discuss the VP position and has found herself climbing up the VP standings after she became caught in a political storm back home during the opening months of the COVID-19 pandemic (The Hill). 


“Not surprised she’s in the mix,” one Biden confidant said of Whitmer. “He likes her. Always has.”


Also high on Biden’s list are Susan Rice, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).


“One of the most interesting things is watching it all play out,” said a source close to one of the contenders. “No one knows exactly where they are.”


The Washington Post: Biden’s campaign braces for sexism over his VP pick. Women’s groups join staffers to blunt the expected attacks.





The speculation over the VP pick is coinciding with a couple of rough moments for the former vice president, who was forced to apologize after he suggested that the black community is politically monolithic and had an odd confrontation with a news anchor over whether he has taken a cognitive test. 


As Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo, Biden supporters insist these were comparatively minor kerfuffles compared to many of the things Trump says. However, the remarks have caused unease among some Democrats as less than less than three months stand between them and Election Day. 


The Hill: Trump, Biden tactical battle intensifies. 


The New York Times: The wallets of Wall Street are with Joe Biden, if not the hearts.


Axios: Inside Trump’s debate prep (the Trump campaign views the three scheduled debates as crucial inflection points before Nov. 3).


> Official events turn political: The president has long blurred the lines between campaigning and governing, but he is taking those occurrences to a new level as he is unable to hold his trademarked campaign rallies and increasingly turns to White House events for his political edge. 


As The Hill’s Brett Samuels reports, in recent weeks, Trump has used official White House events in a number of battleground states to give campaign speeches before audiences filled with supporters. In Florida, he addressed and greeted supporters on the tarmac before giving a campaign-focused address in Ohio that was supposed to highlight the economic recovery.


Political scientists and advisers to the president argue he has little choice but to try to get on the road in any way, shape or form to generate enthusiasm and boost his reelection hopes.


The Hill: Poll: Biden leads Trump in battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.


Lauren Gambino, The Guardian: Trump and the suburbs: Is he out of tune with America’s increasingly diverse voters?


Reid Wilson, The Hill: On The Trail: Vice President Pence’s knives come out.


> Stimulus stumbles: With Republicans entering the stretch run of their bid to retain the Senate majority, the ongoing coronavirus relief negotiations are creating problems as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hopes for a deal. 


A number of states with Senate contests are facing major economic challenges due to COVID-19, including Iowa, Maine and North Carolina — home to three of the biggest races on the 2020 map. 


As Alexander Bolton notes, these battleground states are attempting to navigate budgetary shortfalls that could lead to a wave of state and local government layoffs in the fall, eating into overall economic growth much like it did during the Great Recession.


CORONAVIRUS: Get ready. In about two weeks, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in this country will jump from 5 million cases reported as of Sunday to a staggering 6 million if the pace of contagion is unchecked. U.S. cases have doubled since late June, peaking on July 17 with 76,491 cases reported in a single day (The Washington Post).


> Children infected: As schools reopen and parents and academic administrators agonize about the health and safety of students, a new report finds that nearly 100,000 children became infected with COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July alone. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association jointly found in a data study that at least 338,000 children have been infected since the pandemic began, meaning more than a quarter were infected just in the two weeks studied last month.


More than seven out of 10 infections were from states in the South and West, according to the report, which relied on data from 49 states along with Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. The tally could be higher because the report did not include complete data from Texas and information from parts of New York State outside of New York City.


Missouri, Oklahoma, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho and Montana were among the states with the highest percent increase of child infections during that period (The New York Times).


> California became the third U.S. state to report more than 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus. At least 10,189 people have died from the virus in the state. Only New York and New Jersey have reported more deaths since outbreaks began.


> Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, on Sunday warned Americans against seeing coronavirus tests as unreliable days after he received a false positive result before a scheduled meeting with Trump last week (CNN).   


“I think what people should not take away from my experience [is] that testing is not reliable or doesn’t work,” DeWine said on “State of the Union.” DeWine said the antigen test he took on Thursday that yielded a false positive result “should be looked at as a screening test” and that the PCR test, which he said more than 1.3 million Ohioans have taken, “is very, very, very reliable.” 


The antigen tests are fairly new. And the companies that are coming out with them, quite frankly, have the burden of showing, you know, how good they are,” he said. “Could they be used in some situations? Yeah, they could be, but you have to understand going in that you can get the false positives, like happened in my case, or you can get the false negatives.”


The Washington Post: Ohio governor’s false positive troubles health experts who are mindful of pandemic deniers.


> New Zealand: Significant success in controlling COVID-19 in the Pacific Island nation of 5 million people may be turning to complacency among the populace, which worries officials. New Zealanders have returned to normal life, but authorities are concerned that people are now refusing testing, not using the government contact tracing apps, and ignoring basic hygiene rules in the face of a widespread impression that New Zealand is the safest place in the world when it comes to the pandemic. In nations with similar hard-won success in attacking the coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreaks inevitably recurred (Reuters). 




ADMINISTRATION: Iran and arms embargo: The Trump administration’s Iran strategy will face a key test this week as the United States calls a vote at the United Nation on its resolution to extend an arms embargo against Tehran (pictured below with missile replicas). If the resolution fails, the Trump administration has threatened to invoke snapback sanctions, which supporters of the Iran nuclear deal fear will be the agreement’s death knell. The moves also risk further alienating the United States from its allies (The Hill)


> Lebanon: Trump on Sunday joined a virtual international conference with Lebanese leaders and pledged U.S. assistance and urged Lebanon to conduct a transparent investigation of last week’s devastating blasts at the Beirut port, according to the White House. World donors attach strings to an offer of $300 million in aid (The Associated Press). French President Emmanuel Macron pushed world leaders to expedite aid in all forms to Lebanon after more than 150 people were killed and more than 6,000 were injured. In a call organized by Macron and the United Nations, more than 30 international leaders and government officials agreed to hasten support (The New York Times). On Friday, Trump announced that the United States sent medical supplies, food and water to Lebanon (The Associated Press). Lebanon was on the brink of economic collapse before the mass destruction that killed hundreds and injured thousands (The Hill).


Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner opinion: Will Lebanon suffer a political explosion?


> Federal Communications Commission (FCC) & Puerto Rico: In the wake of the first tropical storm of the season, the island’s population struggles to rebuild its telecommunications network after Hurricane María almost three years ago. This year’s hurricane season has arrived and a breakdown in communications remains a worry. The FCC is due to auction off slots to access a $1 billion fund to rebuild telecom infrastructure, but local business leaders in Puerto Rico say they are edged out of competition by rules favoring legacy carriers (The Hill).


> Trade punishments: Trump made two major trade decisions last week, reimposing aluminum tariffs on Canada and blocking the use of two China-based apps. Trade watchers worry that Trump’s renewed aggressive posturing ahead of the election will damage an economy already reeling from the pandemic (The Hill). … Canada called Trump’s tariffs “ludicrous” (Bloomberg News). … A petition to reprimand China for illegally trading species could ultimately bar imports of any wildlife from China into the United States amid a heightened evaluation of the risks they may pose for future pandemics. A petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups asks the Interior Department to go after China through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species treaty (The Hill). 


> Justice Department: Findings from an investigation ordered by Attorney General William Barr to examine the origins of the government’s probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election could emerge by Sept. 4, before Labor Day. U.S. Attorney John Durham has been conducting the probe for months, and if he announces before Nov. 3 any criminal indictments or plea agreements involving former officials or releases a report documenting corruption, such actions could influence voters (RealClearInvestigations). … Inside Trump’s battles with U.S. intelligence agencies (The New York Times Magazine investigation).




The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


Don’t let COVID and the flu team up to pound America. A priority should be developing antiviral drugs that can be given early, by Scott Gottlieb, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal. 


I am the CEO of Uber. Gig workers deserve better. We support laws that would make flexibility and benefits possible, by Dara Khosrowshahi, opinion contributor, The New York Times.


Facebook supports updated internet regulations


We support updated regulations to set clear rules and hold companies, including Facebook, accountable for:


— Combating foreign election interference
— Protecting people’s privacy
— Enabling safe and easy data portability between platforms


Read our proposal for updated internet regulations.


The House meets Tuesday at noon in a pro forma session.


The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. in a pro forma session. 


The president has lunch with Pence at 12:30 p.m. He will also receive his intelligence briefing at 2 p.m. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live on Thursday hosts “Breaking Through: U.S. Businesses Powered By Global Exports.” Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), co-chairman of the congressional U.S.-China Working Group; former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez; and others will join a conversation moderated by The Hill’s Steve Clemons. RSVP:


International: Hong Kong authorities arrested media tycoon Jimmy Lai on Monday and accused him of violating the national security law, marking the first time the law has been used to target dissent in the news media and press freedom. Next Digital, Lai’s media company which operates Apple Daily, a pro-democracy publication that is critical of China’s Communist Party, was searched by officers, who carted away boxes they said is evidence of wrongdoing (The Associated Press). The news came ahead of China’s imposition of sanctions on 11 Americans, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), with the Chinese foreign ministry saying that they have “behaved egregiously” on Hong Kong issues (Reuters). … Afghanistan released 400 “hard-core” Taliban prisoners as the two sides move toward peace talks after two decades of war. The release will complete the Afghan government’s pledge to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners and comes as talks between the two sides will kick off in Doha this week (Reuters).


Sports: Collin Morikawa, 23, took home the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco on Sunday, shooting -13 and a final round 64 for his first major title in only his second appearance at a major tournament. Morikawa sewed up the title when he drove the green on the 16th hole, a par 4, to within 7-feet for an eagle — a shot that will go down in major championship lore (ESPN). … Another MLB series was postponed as the St. Louis Cardinals-Pittsburgh Pirates series scheduled for Aug. 11-12 was bumped due to COVID-19. In total, nine Cardinals players have tested positive for the virus. The team has not played since July 29 (ESPN). 


➔ Golden mask: The most decorated and expensive mask has arrived. An Israeli jewelry company is creating an 18-karat white gold, diamond-encrusted face mask that carries a $1.5 million price tag — purportedly the most expensive one in the world. According to Isaac Levy, a designer and owner of the Yvel company, the mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds and fitted with top-rated N99 filters at the buyer’s request. The mask is to be completed by the end of the year (The Associated Press).





And finally … NASA said last week it plans to remove offensive names from planets and other heavenly bodies. Under new rules, the “Eskimo Nebula,” discovered in 1787 by William Herschel and pictured below, will be referred to as NGC 2392. The previously identified “Siamese Twins,” also known as the Butterfly Galaxies, discovered by Herschel in 1784, will be known as NGC 4567 and NGC 4568.


For some observers, the move away from colonial-era names is overdue. For others, NASA exhibited an excess of political correctness (New York Post).




Tags Dick Durbin Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Emmanuel Macron Gretchen Whitmer Joe Biden John Durham Josh Hawley Karen Bass Marco Rubio Mike DeWine Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Pat Toomey Rick Larsen Steven Mnuchin Tammy Duckworth Ted Cruz Tom Cotton William Barr

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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