The Hill’s Morning Report – Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is 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 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 today: 609,021.


As of this morning, 56 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 48.6 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.

Get ready for more coronavirus clashes this week — from the nation’s capital to Tokyo, where the delayed Summer Olympics begin on Friday amid protests, COVID-19 cases among athletes and empty bleachers.


President BidenJoe BidenGraham says he'd ‘leave town' to stop .5T spending plan Afghan ambassador, diplomats withdrawn from Islamabad Biden seeks to prove his skeptics wrong MORE is expected to field questions about the pandemic and other issues during a CNN town hall broadcast from Cincinnati on Wednesday, while first lady Jill BidenJill BidenBiden calls for voting rights passage on anniversary of John Lewis's death Biden meets with Merkel in German leader's last official trip to Washington The Hill's 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Merkel visits the White House before stepping down MORE is scheduled to represent the United States on Friday in Japan, where only 20 percent of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, as the Olympics get underway.


In the United States, confirmed coronavirus cases rose 140 percent in the past two weeks, particularly in regions where vaccination rates are low. There is a renewed debate in Washington about whether vaccinated people, who may be asymptomatic with rare “breakthrough” cases of the coronavirus, and unvaccinated people, who have the greatest risk of hospitalization and death, should all be required to wear masks indoors as the delta variant spreads in every state.


The Hill: Public health experts believe cases of the rampaging delta variant are undercounted in the United States because testing in the absence of serious illness is rare.


Two Americas — vaccinated and unvaccinated — face uncertainties about rising infections, health risks and mitigation strategies. Los Angeles County (pictured below) and Las Vegas say their respective requirements to wear masks indoors in public spaces are not punishment but prevention. Public health experts are of two minds. They worry that requiring vaccinated people to wear masks could backfire and leave the vaccine holdouts even less inclined to get doses (The Hill). Orange County, Fla., Mayor Jerry Demings, the Democratic spouse of Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsCuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Haiti Caucus: Forging path out of crisis will not be quick, but necessary to avoid false ‘democracy' MORE (D-Fla.), who is running for the Senate, also urged unvaccinated and vaccinated residents to wear masks indoors while in public locations (The Hill).





Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsSurgeon general defends CDC lifting mask mandate Former surgeon general says CDC guidance on masks ‘premature' and ‘wrong' Photos of the Week: Therapy dog, Surfside memorial and Chinese dancers MORE, who served during the previous administration, and current Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyKlobuchar urges limits on protections for Big Tech Sunday shows – Surgeon general in the spotlight as delta variant spreads Surgeon general: No ‘value' to locking people up over marijuana use MORE (pictured below) disagree about current mask guidance. Murthy backs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which advises that communities can respond to specific infection rates and vaccinated individuals can decide on mask preferences indoors or outside. Adams says he regrets the government’s earliest instructions about masks in 2020, arguing the CDC’s decision to relax mask recommendations for fully vaccinated Americans is “premature” and “wrong” (The Hill).


Murthy focused his attention Sunday on unvaccinated people he hopes might be persuaded to get the jab after hearing about the delta variant’s rising risk of disease. “I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And while if you are vaccinated you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately that is not true if you are not vaccinated,” Murthy said during interviews on CNN’s “State of the Union” (The Hill) and “Fox News Sunday” (The Hill).


The Sunday Shows: Surgeon general in the spotlight as the delta variant spreads.


Arkansas leads states suffering through a surge of infections (The New York Times) and Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonArkansas doctor: Patients have told me they wish they got COVID-19 vaccine The Hill's Morning Report – Presented by Goldman Sachs – Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Arkansas sees biggest increase in COVID-19 cases in five months MORE, a Republican and chairman of the National Governors Association, is delivering straight-up advice to get vaccinated to occasionally hostile constituents (The Associated Press).


In Tokyo, the Olympic Village confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 among athletes over the weekend. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said last week there was “zero” risk of athletes passing on the virus to Japanese or other residents of the village. But that bold statement is already being tested (The Associated Press). Tokyo is experiencing Olympic protests, animosity and examples of xenophobia as 11,000 athletes prepare to compete (The Washington Post).


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reversed his position on Sunday and said he would self-isolate after being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 contracted by U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid. The spread of COVID-19 while Johnson and his government are today lifting coronavirus restrictions is under tremendous scrutiny in Great Britain (Reuters). Johnson previously was hospitalized for COVID-19 and was vaccinated in March. … Doubts cloud England’s “Freedom Day” as restrictions are replaced with recommendations (The Associated Press).





CONGRESS: Fresh doubt was tossed over the immediate future of the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Sunday as two key Senate Republican negotiators criticized Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPortman rips ‘arbitrary deadline of Wednesday' on infrastructure Senate Republican says he can't vote to open debate on infrastructure bill before he sees text Biden calls for voting rights passage on anniversary of John Lewis's death MORE (D-N.Y.) for teeing up a procedural vote on it this week even though there is no legislative text yet.


Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidySunday shows – Surgeon general in the spotlight as delta variant spreads Senate Republican says he can't vote to open debate on infrastructure bill before he sees text Sunday shows preview: Feds slam social media over COVID-19 misinformation MORE (R-La.), a member of the group of 22 senators involved in discussions (pictured below), said on Sunday that he will not vote to start debate on the $1.2 trillion package without a nailed-down deal between the two sides. How to pay for the package is the most prominent hitch in discussions. 


“How can I vote for cloture when the bill isn't written?” Cassidy asked “Fox News Sunday.” host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceSenate Republican says he can't vote to open debate on infrastructure bill before he sees text Surgeon general ‘concerned about what we're seeing' as COVID-19 cases surge Defense official: Troop withdrawal doesn't mean US has lost leverage against Taliban MORE. “Unless you want program failure, unless Schumer doesn't want this to happen, you need a little bit more time to get it right.” 


“It can absolutely happen, but you need the pay-fors. … If we get the pay-fors, we can pass this,” Cassidy added (The Hill).


The Hill: Key Republican says proposed IRS enforcement offsets have been removed from the evolving infrastructure bill.


The Wall Street Journal: Infrastructure bill drops IRS funding, raising revenue pressure.


The Washington Post: Democrats, Republicans struggle to finish infrastructure proposal as key Senate deadline looms.


Meanwhile, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSunday shows – Surgeon general in the spotlight as delta variant spreads Portman rips ‘arbitrary deadline of Wednesday' on infrastructure Key Republican says no IRS pay-fors in infrastructure bill MORE (R-Ohio), another top negotiator, described this week’s planned procedural vote set by Schumer for the Senate floor as an “arbitrary deadline” (Axios).


“We are still negotiating,” Portman told CNN's “State of the Union.” Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerPortman rips ‘arbitrary deadline of Wednesday' on infrastructure Senate Republican says he can't vote to open debate on infrastructure bill before he sees text Biden calls for voting rights passage on anniversary of John Lewis's death MORE, with all due respect, is not writing the bill, nor is [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKlobuchar: If Breyer is going to retire from Supreme Court, it should be sooner rather than later Portman rips ‘arbitrary deadline of Wednesday' on infrastructure The Memo: Trump is diminished but hasn't faded MORE [R-Ky.], by the way. So, that's why we shouldn't have an arbitrary deadline of Wednesday. We should bring the legislation forward when it's ready.”


The votes of the two Senate Republicans are crucial as 10 GOP senators will be needed to invoke cloture, assuming all 50 Senate Democrats vote to advance the bill. Wednesday’s vote also coincides with Schumer’s plan to advance the budget resolution that will serve as the basis for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal that will need to be passed with only Democratic votes. 


Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden seeks to prove his skeptics wrong Progressive fighting turns personal on internal call over antitrust bills Sanders seeks chance to put his stamp on government MORE (I-Vt.) seeks chance to put his stamp on government.


The Associated Press: Biden pledges appeal of “deeply disappointing” DACA ruling.


The Hill: Democrats seek to tackle climate change with import tax.





While the Senate plows ahead with the Biden agenda, GOP lawmakers are looking to take political advantage of rising inflation as they attempt to take back control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections. 


As The Hill’s Julia Manchester and Sylvan Lane write, Republicans have increasingly highlighted the fast-rising prices, and strategists believe the issue could resonate deeply with a broad range of voters while Democrats push ahead with plans to spend trillions more. However, that messaging tactic might not be long lasting, as many economists expect prices to cool off well before voters head to the polls.


The Hill: Biden seeks to prove his skeptics wrong.


The New York Times: Born of a crisis, remote voting in Congress has become a useful perk.


The Hill: Funding fight imperils National Guard operations.


POLITICS: Democrats are kicking into high gear their midterm sales pitch and betting big that government spending will lay the groundwork for success at the ballot box in 2022 as they attempt to retain their congressional majorities. 


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the party is attempting to message on two key Biden agenda priorities — the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law and the $4.1 trillion infrastructure and social spending package lawmakers are currently trying to pass — with a simple tagline: This wouldn’t be happening without Biden and Democrats in charge. 


“We’re learning the value of simplicity. … So we’re getting better, but we still have a tendency to want to explain the policy as if we’re in negotiations with each other as opposed to talking about the value to regular people,” said Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel Schatz‘If I was going to do a coup' becomes viral Trump punchline Progressives should know a financial transaction tax would hurt average Americans Bipartisan senators ask CDC, TSA when they will update mask guidance for travelers MORE (D-Hawaii).


Dan Balz: Democrats are making headlines on voting rights, but little more to counter restrictive efforts by Republicans. 


Politico: Former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence refused to leave Capitol during riot: book How Trump can win again: Become the calm, moderate candidate Trump to Pence on Jan. 6: ‘You don't have the courage' MORE flatlines as 2024 field takes shape.


> Big money: The Hill’s Reid Wilson and Max Greenwood took a deep dive into the winners and losers of the second fundraising quarter, with Schumer leading the way for all candidates as he seeks a fifth term in the Senate next year.


Schumer raised $11.5 million between April and June and reported $27 million in the bank, surpassing all other senators and showing off his financial muscle. 


On the GOP side, Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottThe Memo: Trump is diminished but hasn't faded The Hill's 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Manchin on board with spending deal Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up MORE (R-S.C.) took the cake. He raked in $9.6 million during the second quarter even though his bid for a second term in the upper chamber isn’t expected to yield a difficult challenge. The total is almost $3 million more than the South Carolina Republican raised and spent during his entire 2014 campaign.


Also putting in strong showings during the past three months are Sens. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockKlobuchar, Stacey Abrams to team up on voting rights event Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Number of nonwhite Democratic Senate staffers ticks up from 2020 MORE (D-Ga.), Mark KellyMark KellySchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Equilibrium/ Sustainability — The gentler side of Shark Week Senate committee advances bipartisan energy infrastructure bill  MORE (D-Ariz.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Memo: Trump is diminished but hasn't faded Cuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats Florida's Crist urges Biden to provide direct federal aid to Cuban people MORE (R-Fla.), all of whom will likely face tough reelection campaigns next year. 


Roll Call: Four takeaways from Senate fundraising reports.


The Hill: Cuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump is diminished but hasn't faded.


The Washington Post: Texas Democrats don’t plan to go home yet. 







ADMINISTRATION: A new executive order from Biden targeting anti-competitive business practices is expected to give a major boost to sustainability efforts in the agriculture industry, reports The Hill’s Saul Elbein.


> Afghanistan: “The Last Commander,“ describes Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, who withdrew the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan after two decades of war. Award-winning journalist and author James Kitfield, now a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress who covered the Iraq and Afghanistan troop deployments beginning in 2001, asked Miller if the war was worth it. How the general formulates an answer is more eye-opening than the answer itself. 


> State Department: Over the weekend, laments continued about a backlog until fall for U.S. passports and renewals. Schumer said he’s besieged by constituents who want delays addressed (SILive and CBSN New York). 




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! 


How conservatives can reshape education, by Ross Douthat, columnist, The New York Times. 


How the streaming wars are changing what you watch, by Peter Labuza, Los Angeles Times.


The House returns to work at 2 p.m. after a two-week break. Votes are scheduled after 6:30 p.m. 


The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of Tiffany Cunningham to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Reuters).


The president and Vice President Harris (who had a “routine” Sunday medical checkup at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to the White House), will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office at 10 a.m. Biden will deliver remarks on the economy at 11 a.m. The president and the first lady will welcome Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein to the White House at 1:45 p.m. The first lady will host a tea with Queen Rania.


The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 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


DISASTERS & CLIMATE CHANGE: In Oregon, where wildfires rage, climate change is being met with skepticism (The Washington Post). In Montana, temperatures exceeded 100 degrees during an especially dry summer and the heat is building this week (WeatherNation). … In parched, scorched California wine country, the effects of climate change threaten to put wineries out of business. Smoke from wildfires miles away can penetrate the skins of grapes and change the crop (The New York Times). … Climate scientists warn the biblical floods that killed at least 188 people in Germany and other parts of Europe (Reuters), are the latest sign of the crises humanity will face in the years ahead while also cautioning that it is too soon to directly blame the July floods on climate change. They argue the science is clear that such disasters from extreme weather events could become more common. German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel (The Hill) and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, called for greater efforts to combat global warming (NBC News). … In Canada, farmers are bracing for another extreme heat wave as crops bake in the fields. The temperature this summer reached a record 115 degrees in one village in British Columbia (The Washington Post).





INTERNATIONAL: Private military-grade Israeli spyware, leased by NSO Group to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals, was used against the smartphones of journalists, activists and business executives, according to a global investigation conducted by The Washington Post and 16 media partners led by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories. The Israeli government is under scrutiny for permitting the company to do business with authoritarian regimes (The New York Times). … Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro left the hospital on Sunday after spending four days there for medical treatment. Bolsonaro was admitted on Thursday due to a chronic case of the hiccups and abdominal pain and is expected to undergo a diet to help him deal with his condition. He is expected to return to his presidential duties today (The Hill). 


SPORTS:️‍♂️Collin Morikawa won The Open Championship on Sunday, defeating Jordan Spieth by two strokes and winning his second major in the process. Morikawa, 24, finished at 15 under at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in the first Open Championship since 2019. Last year’s edition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic (ESPN). 


And finally, with sports in mind … White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden seeks to prove his skeptics wrong Feds step up pressure on social media over false COVID-19 claims Hypocritical Psaki leads chilling effort to flag ‘misinformation' MORE threw the opening pitch at the Nationals game in Washington on Sunday, hurling the ball to its destination without a bounce (video) one day after a shooting outside the ballpark injured three people and suspended the team’s game against the San Diego Padres (WTOP). 


The team’s invitation to Psaki took note of “William & Mary Day,” honoring the 42-year-old press secretary’s Virginia alma mater (New York Post).


The Hill: DC Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserDC mayor, Nationals issue joint statement against gun violence Hillicon Valley: Facebook petitions for FTC chair's recusal in antitrust case | Olivia Rodrigo teams with White House to push for vaccines on social media | Twitter removing ‘Fleets' function in August Gunshot detection firm ShotSpotter expands with new DC office MORE (D) and the Nationals on Sunday issued a joint statement against gun violence.




#Hills #Morning #Report #Surging #COVID19 #infections #loom #Olympics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *