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On the roster: Schumer predicts bailout deal today - Trump targets regulations for corona repeal - More southern states move to gradual opening - Biden gets money boost but still trails massively - A very strog showing nonetheless
SCHUMER PREDICTS BAILOUT DEAL TODAY
WaPo: “Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday that lawmakers and the White House have reached a nearly $500 billion deal to replenish a small business lending program that had been overwhelmed with applicants impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation would also boost spending on hospitals and testing. ‘We have a deal and I believe we’ll pass it today,’ Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on CNN. The legislation would come on top of a record $2 trillion coronavirus rescue law Congress passed late last month, which created a $349 billion small business forgivable loan program aimed at keeping workers on payroll. The small business initiative ran out of money last week amid overwhelming demand as the economy cratered and millions were laid off. However, a Senate GOP leadership aide cautioned that a deal was close but not yet completed as it awaited final sign-off from Republican leaders. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations.”
Dispute over corona testing said to be key - NYT: “A dispute between Democrats and the White House over how to handle coronavirus testing emerged on Monday as one of the most significant sticking points as negotiators struggled to finalize a nearly $500 billion bipartisan agreement to replenish a loan program for small businesses and provide more funding for hospitals and testing. Democrats are pushing to include a requirement in the measure, which is likely to include $25 billion for testing, that the Trump administration establish a national testing strategy, a move the president and Republicans have resisted, insisting on leaving those decisions to each state. The impasse hindering the latest round of federal aid to respond to the coronavirus pandemic reflects a broader disagreement over how to handle testing, a crucial element of the government response on which the Trump administration has been roundly criticized for falling short. President Trump and members of his team have boasted repeatedly about the amount of testing available and pressured governors to accelerate testing in their states.”
House expected to vote on proxy voting, rule changes Thursday - Roll Call: “The House is expected to vote as soon as Thursday on a major, but temporary, change to the chamber's voting rules to allow for proxy voting as travel and large gatherings continue to pose public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers are expected to have to return to Washington this week to vote on an update to coronavirus pandemic aid for small businesses, and House leaders plan to use the session to also approve an emergency proxy-voting procedure in response to the health crisis. The change would allow an absent lawmaker to designate a colleague to vote on House floor matters on their behalf. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., announced late Monday night that if the Senate passes the small-business aid in their Tuesday pro forma session, the House could meet as soon as Thursday at 10 a.m., when a proxy-voting resolution may be brought for a vote.”
THE RULEBOOK: NO MATTER HOW THIN YOU SLICE IT
“The INFINITE DIVISIBILITY of matter, or, in other words, the INFINITE divisibility of a FINITE thing, extending even to the minutest atom, is a point agreed among geometricians, though not less incomprehensible to common-sense than any of those mysteries in religion, against which the batteries of infidelity have been so industriously leveled.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31
TIME OUT: BUMP IN THE NIGHT
Nature: “Gravitational-wave astronomers have for the first time detected a collision between two black holes of substantially different masses – opening up a new vista on astrophysics and on the physics of gravity. The event offers the first unmistakable evidence from these faint space-time ripples that at least one black hole was spinning before merging, giving astronomers rare insight into a key property of these dark objects. ‘It’s an exceptional event,’ said Maya Fishbach, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago in Illinois. Similar mergers on which data have been published all took place between black holes with roughly equal masses, so this new one dramatically upsets that pattern, she says. The collision was detected last year, and was unveiled on 18 April by Fishbach and her collaborators at a virtual meeting of the American Physical Society, held entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
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TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 46 percent
Average disapproval: 49.2 percent
Net Score: -3.2 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 0.2 points
[Average includes: NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; Fox News: 49% approve - 49% disapprove; Monmouth University: 46% approve - 49% disapprove; CNBC: 46% approve - 43% disapprove.]
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TRUMP TARGETS REGULATIONS FOR CORONA REPEAL
WaPo: “Senior White House and Trump administration officials are planning to launch a sweeping effort in the coming days to repeal or suspend federal regulations affecting businesses, with the expected executive action seen by advisers as a way to boost an economy facing its worst shock in generations, two people familiar with the internal planning said. The White House-driven initiative is expected to center on suspending federal regulations for small businesses and expanding an existing administration program that requires agencies to revoke two regulations for every new one they issue, the two people said. While the plan remains in flux, changes could affect environmental policy, labor policy, workplace safety and health care, among other areas. The White House is also likely to seek to make permanent some temporary regulations issued by agencies over the past few weeks to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Trump to bar foreign workers, a move he says will help economy - WSJ: “President Trump said he plans to sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the U.S., saying he was doing so to protect American jobs as the novel coronavirus has taken a sharp toll on the economy. ... Administration officials said the order wouldn’t make substantial changes to current U.S. policy. Even without an executive order, the administration has already all but ceased nearly every form of immigration. Most visa processing has been halted, meaning almost no one can apply for a visa to visit or move to the U.S. Visa interviews and citizenship ceremonies have been postponed and the refugee program paused, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported. Migrants caught crossing the border are now immediately expelled once they are found.”
MORE SOUTHERN STATES MOVE TO GRADUAL OPENING
NYT: “Residents of Georgia will be allowed on Friday to return to the gym and get haircuts, pedicures, massages and tattoos. Next Monday, they can dine again in restaurants and go to the movies. With that announcement, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Monday joined officials in other states who are moving ahead with plans to relax restrictions intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus, despite signs that the outbreak is just beginning to strike some parts of the country. In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee said on Monday that he was not extending his “safer-at-home” order that is set to expire on April 30. … In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, said on Monday that department stores and some other retail businesses that had previously been deemed nonessential would be allowed to reopen on Tuesday, but they must abide by social distancing guidelines. People will also be able to gain access to public beaches on Tuesday.”
Iowa deploys National Guard to help meatpackers - Bloomberg: “Hundreds of National Guard personnel are being activated in Iowa as coronavirus sweeps through meat-processing plants in a state that accounts for about a third of U.S. pork supply. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said 250 National Guard members have been moved to full-time federal duty status and could help with testing and contact tracing for workers at plants operated by Tyson Foods Inc. and National Beef Packing Co. Activating guard soldiers is the latest attempt to contain the disease, which has forced a growing number of slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants to slow or halt operations. The disruptions are stoking concerns for eventual fresh-meat shortages in grocery stores as well leaving some farmers without a market for their animals. That’s pushing down prices for hogs and cattle, while making meat more expensive. Wholesale pork posted its biggest three-day gain in six years.”
Most Americans expect quarantine to last until summer - WaPo: “A majority say it could be June or later before it will be safe for larger gatherings to take place again, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll. Most Americans – 54 percent – give the president negative marks for his handling of the outbreak in this country and offer mixed reviews for the federal government as a whole. By contrast, 72 percent of Americans give positive ratings to the governors of their states for the way they have dealt with the crisis, with workers also rating their employers positively.”
BIDEN GETS MONEY BOOST BUT STILL TRAILS MASSIVELY
NYT: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the Democratic Party could raise almost $1 million every single day between now and November, and he would still barely catch up to what President Trump and the Republican Party had in the bank at the start of April — let alone what Mr. Trump will have by Election Day. New fund-raising figures released late Monday show the depth of the financial hole in which Mr. Biden finds himself at the start of the general election campaign: The presumptive Democratic nominee and his party are nearly $187 million behind the Republican National Committee and Mr. Trump, who has spent the last three years stockpiling his huge war chest. The sheer size of Mr. Trump’s early advantage creates a unique set of financial and political pressures for Mr. Biden. He must find ways to both expand his appeal to small online contributors and attract huge seven- and eight-figure checks to the outside super PACs supporting him — all while sheltered in his Delaware home because of the coronavirus.”
Lauds Michelle Obama but downplays veep talk - KDKA: “Joe Biden says he would take Michelle Obama to be his running mate for the 2020 presidential election. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told KDKA’s Jon Delano that the former first lady would be a strong addition as VP if he thought she would accept the nomination. ‘I’d take her in a heartbeat,’ Biden said on Monday. ‘She’s brilliant. She knows the way around. She is a really fine woman. The Obamas are great friends.’ ‘I don’t think she has any desire to live near the White House again,’ Biden added. Biden did say it is still early in the process of selecting a vice president. ‘In terms of who to pick, we’re just beginning the process,’ Biden told KDKA. ‘We’ll shortly name the committee to review this and begin to look through the backgrounds of the various potential nominees. And that’s just getting underway.’”
Where’s the surgeon general? - Politico
Netanyahu reaches power-sharing agreement - The Jerusalem Post
“Our parks are closed down, so a lot of our parks staff, they patrol around just to make sure people aren't in there with contact sports and things. She went over to tell him that it was closed, and it was Tom Brady.” – Tampa, Fla. Mayor Jane Castor talking about how the three-time NFL most valuable player who recently took $25 million a year to go to the long-suffering Buccaneers got booted from a city park.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Thank you Mr. Stirewalt for the excellent analysis of the recent events in Brazil. I am Brazilian by birth and American by choice. All my extended family is still there and subjected to the whims of a wannabe dictator. I have very strong (negative) feelings about populist governments, either catering to the right or to the left, North or South of the Equator. You can only imagine how it pains me to see the Republic there transformed into the bananas it is frequently thought to be. Thank you for your continuous centered reporting. As your other reader said, it is a highlight of my afternoons.” – Walter Bonomo, Mooresvile, N.C.
[Ed. note: Well, we are very pleased to be part of your day, Mr. Bonomo! I’m also glad my try at international analysis passed muster with an expert. I didn’t want to bore readers who come here for domestic politics, but it can sometimes be helpful to Americans to look abroad and understand just how fortunate we are. We rightly bemoan the pernicious weakening of the institutions that protect our liberties in a republic and the bipartisan rise of enthusiastic numbskullism in American politics. But boy do we have it good here. We forget that Brazil, a country of 210 million people with the world’s 8th largest economy, only established its current federal republic in 1988. The guardrails against tyranny are weak to nonexistent. Americans can love, live, work, invest, build and create with confidence because our system is designed to keep men like Jair Bolsonaro, who are with us in every time, place and society, from becoming our oppressors. We have dallied with authoritarianism several times in our history, but our strong republican institutions have provided us time to think things through and (mostly) return to the wisdom of Mr. Madison’s marvelous machine. But as your fellow native Brazilian Paulo Coelho wrote: “Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.” I hope thinking about the plights of less fortunate nations will help us to not ignore our blessings. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers. Obrigado e que Deus abençoe.]
“Just finished ‘Front Row at the Trump Show’ by Jonathan Carl, a reporter who has covered Trump for 25 years. It seemed to me to be fairly even-handed and naturally concerned about a free press and preservation of the truth. Carl points out that Trump has always been a ‘serial exaggerator’ and that disregard for the truth comes from both extremes, even in the media. Here’s my question: What is the alternative to Trump in 2020? Joe Biden appears to be the Democratic nominee but what will be more revealing is who he chooses to be his vice-presidential nominee because that person - or an unelected chief of staff - will be in charge. I am a moderate/conservative mid-60’s retired Republican woman. There are very few choices this year (and in general) for someone like me. Further, I am convinced that there are MANY other voters like me on both sides of the aisle.” – Patricia Chartrand, Coeur d‘Alene, Idaho & Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
[Ed. note: You’ve really plucked the tightrope Biden is walking with his campaign, Ms. Chartrand. There are lots and lots of Americans like you who might be very pleased to vote for a moderate, caretaker government led by Biden. He could send strong signals to these voters not just with a vice-presidential pick but by surrounding himself with surrogates and advisers who telegraph a message of competency and centrism. But he’s also got a party with a lot of upset radical members who feel that they got stuck with just what they didn’t want: a candidate just like the one who would appeal to moderate Republicans, independents, suburban families, etc. If Biden doesn’t smooch their backsides to a sufficient degree, not only might they stay home, but, more damaging, it would feed a narrative of Democratic disarray that would undercut the very concept of calm competency that Biden would be trying to portray. I’ll spare you my millionth jeremiad against the way our primary system works, but Biden certainly finds himself on a high wire without a net. The challenge for him is to time his pivot from party conciliation to electoral outreach. I haven’t yet finished Jon’s book, but I certainly agree that he’s made a sincere effort to write something balanced and thoughtful.]
“Your comment in [Monday’s] Halftime Report rang a bell with me. I've long advocated putting our senators and representatives on per diem rather than a salary, the rate being set at a level sufficient to meet ordinary expenses - maybe equal to what federal employees receive when on temporary duty in DC. Couple that with your dormitory and maybe, just maybe, we could get 'em back to what the Founders envisioned: citizen legislators who meet to do the public's business, then return home to their real jobs/professions. Yes, I know, there are many for whom this would represent a real hardship, but I can't believe that a salary in the neighborhood of $200K can be justified, given the general lack of productivity demonstrated by our self-anointed aristocracy.” – Bob Melson, El Paso, Texas
[Ed. note: Very interesting, Mr. Melson! But there’s no perfect solution. If subsistence funds were all that the job provided we would doubtless see an increase in the practice in which businesses, public institutions and their influence peddlers provide make-work jobs for members of Congress and their spouses. That’s just one way that lawmakers can legally feather their nests while in office, so it is quite possible to keep a member of Congress on your payroll. But I’ve long ago given up on the idea of ever having an ethically pure legislature. Instead, I think we should focus on efforts toward transparency (full reporting of income, etc.), rules reform (smaller staff, more members, kick out cameras, dorm life) and maybe even a constitutional amendment for term limits. Whatever we do, American voters have a bipartisan interest in rescuing Congress from the hole it has dug for itself in the past 50 years.]
“A number of years ago, I recommended that Bolling AFB become the required housing for Members of Congress and their families. Fashioning a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, kitchen, dining room, den and patio, with a security safe office only for the use of the member/senator, from the base housing, barracks and other structures would praise equality. Trams or buses would run round the clock to deliver them to and from work. The Officers, NCO and enlisted clubs could be transitioned to nice restaurants and bars. The Commissary and Exchange would be transitioned to a reasonable grocery store and shopping plaza. The gates would be guarded by capitol police and entry would be restricted to the families, approved staff members and pre-arranged guests. Do I really think any of this will be done. Not in my lifetime, but that does not necessarily make it a bad suggestion.” – Tom Winter Lt. Col. USMC (Ret), Steele, Mo.
[Ed. note: Colonel, what you’ve described sounds almost like a minimum-security prison. That could ease the adjustment for members who are convicted of crimes much easier!]
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A VERY STROG SHOWING NONETHELESS
Boston Globe: “[Lindsay Devers] a 30-something nurse anesthetist at Massachusetts General Hospital, thought she had mapped everything out perfectly for her debut marathon. She had trained for five months leading up to the race’s postponement, the first in its 124-year history, and wasn’t ready to wait until the rescheduled date in September to cross the finish line. She had heard the requests to stay off the 26.2-mile course, but finishing that final stretch down Boylston Street was still on her mind. So, she got creative. …Devers designed a … route that began in the Boston Common and circled through the streets of Back Bay. The circuitous path ended at the marathon’s finish line and would spell, ‘Boston Strong,’ in her app’s GPS. Well, that was the plan at least. Once Devers checked her phone, she realized she had made a mistake… ‘Boston Strog,’ Devers laughed. ‘I’m an idiot.’ … Devers still plans to run the Boston Marathon in September as a member of the fundraising team for … a local non-profit…”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“And we should be encouraged to remember that the promiscuous dispensation of clemency is not a sign of political liberality. It is instead one of those valuable, identifying marks of tyranny. Like winning an election with a perfect score.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Jan. 8, 1987.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.