TODAY IS SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI’S80TH birthday, and the emergency coronavirus bill — all 880 pages of the behemoth — has landed on the House’s doorstep after a late-night, unanimous vote, 96-0. NYT A1, for the history books
FOUR REPUBLICAN SENATORS — Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah and John Thune of South Dakota — did not vote. Thune, the second-ranking Senate Republican, was sick and went back to South Dakota “out of an abundance of caution” on a charter flight with a member of his police detail, his spokesman said. He wore a mask on the flight.
THE BILL WAS DELAYED AT THE LAST MINUTE because Senate Minority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER wanted the terms of all loans made to businesses made public every seven days, according to aides in both parties.
POLITICO TALKS TO THE MAIN PLAYERS … SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL: “It’s a proud moment for the Senate. We responded to the way the American people are acting among themselves by helping each other and putting whatever past grievances they have behind and trying to work together to get this behind us.”
SCHUMER: “It’s one of the most major pieces of legislation we’ve done. I guess there are only a few other moments, I suppose. Obamacare. But otherwise you can’t think of something so major since the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson …”
NYT’S ERIC LIPTON and KEN VOGEL: “Fine Print of Stimulus Bill Contains Special Deals for Industries”: “Restaurants and retailers will get a tweak to federal tax law they have been seeking for more than a year that could save them $15 billion. Community banks are being granted their long-held wish of being freed to reduce the amount of capital they have to hold in reserve. And for-profit colleges will be able to keep federal loan money from students who drop out because of the coronavirus.”
WAPO’S ERICA WERNER, MIKE DEBONIS and PAUL KANE: “The bill also contains a grab bag of provisions that in some cases seem to range far afield from the coronavirus pandemic, including $13 million for Howard University, $25 million for Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Senate aides said those allocations and others were justified to help the institutions prepare for and respond to the coronavirus outbreak.”
CROSS ONE OFF THE PHASE FOUR LIST … THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE — which is going broke — got $10 billion in this bill.
THE SENATE’S next scheduled vote is April 20, but MCCONNELL noted from the floor Wednesday night that the chamber had to be “nimble” if it needs to come back into session before then. He said he would give senators 24 hours’ notice.
NOW, THE HOUSE … Majority Leader STENY HOYER announced that the House will consider this bill FRIDAY MORNING at 9 a.m.: “In order to protect the safety of Members and staff and prevent further spread of COVID-19 through Members’ travel, the Republican Leader and I expect that the House vote on final passage will be done by voice vote. Members who want to come to the House Floor to debate this bill will be able to do so.”
PELOSI gaggled Wednesday afternoon, and laid out how she saw the process going once she got the bill (these gaggles are now pooled because of social distancing). PELOSI said she would like to see “a good debate on the floor” about this bill.
— PELOSI spoke about the voice vote procedure — where lawmakers shout “aye” or “nay” on the floor. Any one lawmaker could then ask for a recorded vote, which would force the chamber back into session. But if that happens, the leadership will likely move to change the rules to allow for “proxy voting,” a system in which a small group of lawmakers votes on behalf of a much larger group on the floor.
HERE’S WHAT PELOSI told PAUL KANE about that in the pooled gaggle: “If somebody calls for a recorded vote, and once they know we have options [to pass the bill], they probably won’t call for it.”
ANALYSIS … WAPO’S HEATHER LONG: “The $2 trillion relief bill is massive but it won’t prevent a recession”: “The good news is the majority of the money is going to laid-off workers, small business owners, hospitals and state and local governments. The bad news is it won’t be enough to stop a recession. And it’s an open question whether the nation can avoid an economic depression, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 1930s.”
AMERICA, 2020 — “13 Deaths in a Day: An ‘Apocalyptic’ Coronavirus Surge at an N.Y.C. Hospital,” by NYT’s Michael Rothfeld, Somini Sengupta, Joseph Goldstein and Brian Rosenthal: “Elmhurst, a 545-bed public hospital in Queens, has begun transferring patients not suffering from coronavirus to other hospitals as it moves toward becoming dedicated entirely to the outbreak. Doctors and nurses have struggled to make do with a few dozen ventilators. Calls over a loudspeaker of ‘Team 700,’ the code for when a patient is on the verge of death, come several times a shift. Some have died inside the emergency room while waiting for a bed.
“A refrigerated truck has been stationed outside to hold the bodies of the dead. Over the past 24 hours, New York City’s public hospital system said in a statement, 13 people at Elmhurst had died.” NYT … Video from inside the hospital
Good Thursday morning.
FED CHAIRMAN JAY POWELL will be on the “Today” show on NBC at 7 a.m. SAVANNAH GUTHRIE will interview him.
SHADOWBOXING … ALEX ISENSTADT: “Infighting erupts in Trumpworld as coronavirus attacks mount”: “Donald Trump is getting hammered by millions of dollars in Democratic campaign ads depicting his response to the coronavirus as negligent and inept. But the main super PAC backing his reelection has been silent in response — and Trump’s political advisers are not happy about it.
“In interviews, more than a half-dozen White House aides, campaign officials and other Trump allies said they felt deserted by the group, America First Action, openly questioning why it’s leaving Trump exposed on the airwaves at the most vulnerable moment of his presidency.
“‘There is a major vacuum on the political front right now, with the White House focused on coronavirus response and the campaign, rightly so, echoing the White House,’ said Chris LaCivita, who as chief strategist of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth orchestrated the 2004 John Kerry takedown. ‘With attacks coming from all over, the simple question is: Where the hell is the president’s air cover?’” POLITICO
SCOOP … DAN DIAMOND and NAHAL TOOSI: “Trump team failed to follow NSC’s pandemic playbook”: “The Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus — a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk. But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government should’ve begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago.
“‘Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?’ the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. ‘If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?’
“The strategies are among hundreds of tactics and key policy decisions laid out in a 69-page National Security Council playbook on fighting pandemics, which POLITICO is detailing for the first time. Other recommendations include that the government move swiftly to fully detect potential outbreaks, secure supplemental funding and consider invoking the Defense Production Act — all steps in which the Trump administration lagged behind the timeline laid out in the playbook.” POLITICO
“Eligible homeowners would be able to defer mortgage payments for at least three months and perhaps longer if they suffer hardship due to the pandemic. Any late payments would not be reported to credit agencies. Newsom said the mortgage relief package was negotiated with four of the nation’s largest banks — Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, CitiBank and J.P. Morgan Chase — as well as 200 state-chartered banks and credit unions.”
— REMINDER: U.S. JOBLESS numbers will be out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.
BERNIE WANTS TO STICK IT OUT — “‘He is still in’: Bernie could remain in race through June,” by Holly Otterbein and David Siders: “Since his staff announced last week that he is reassessing his campaign, Bernie Sanders has not yet definitively said whether he is still running. But he’s given every indication he’s pressing forward — and perhaps remaining in the presidential race for months to come.
“Despite Joe Biden’s nearly insurmountable delegate lead, the Sanders campaign said he plans to participate in an April debate, if one happens. His team has held volunteer organizing calls in the past week in New York and Pennsylvania, which are planning to hold their primaries perhaps as late as June. And his campaign is also touting that it is ramping up staff in New York, which a senior aide said is ‘a sign that he is still in.’
“Sanders, who hasn’t aired ads or fundraised since losing badly in the March 17 primaries, could still very well call things off. But one thing is certain: He’s not acting like a candidate who’s finished with the primary.” POLITICO
JOHNNY MAC STRIKES AGAIN — “White House abruptly transfers DHS official amid loyalty purge,” by Daniel Lippman: “The White House removed a top public affairs official at the Department of Homeland Security in a move that shocked many in the department as it takes a lead role in handling the coronavirus pandemic … Heather Swift, who was DHS’s deputy assistant secretary of public affairs, was abruptly pushed out of her position on Friday after the Presidential Personnel Office raised questions about her loyalty to President Donald Trump …
“The personnel office may have discovered some old social media postings that officials there did not like … though POLITICO was unable to find any examples of posts the Trump administration might find objectionable. Swift, who has not yet left the department, is moving to a top communications job at the National Endowment for the Arts.” POLITICO
— WHITE HOUSE DEPARTURE LOUNGE: Justin Bis is leaving the White House, where he was special assistant to the president and associate director of presidential personnel, according to two administration officials familiar with the matter. He did not respond to a request for comment on his next step.
DIPLOMACY IN ACTION — “U.S. insisting that the U.N. call out Chinese origins of coronavirus,” by NBC’s Josh Lederman: “The Trump administration is pushing the U.N. Security Council to call attention to the Chinese origins of the coronavirus, four diplomats posted to the United Nations told NBC News, triggering a stalemate as the global body seeks to cobble together a response to the pandemic.
“Talks among U.N. Security Council nations over a joint declaration or resolution on the coronavirus have stalled over U.S. insistence that it explicitly state that the virus originated in Wuhan, China, as well as exactly when it started there. China’s diplomats are enraged according to the diplomats, even as they seek to put their own language into the statement praising China’s efforts to contain the virus.” NBC
BACKSTORY … AP’S JILL COLVIN and ELANA SCHOR: “President Donald Trump’s ‘beautiful’ idea to reopen the U.S. economy by Easter Sunday and pack church pews that day was dreamed up during a conference call among business leaders desperate to get the country back up and running. …
“Though it’s unclear exactly when the idea made its way to Trump or whether others in his orbit had pegged the date as well — one official said they had heard the idea mentioned multiple times around the Oval Office — by late Sunday, Trump was publicly siding with such thinking, tweeting: ‘WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.’ On Monday, he said he was considering easing his administration’s recommendations that Americans largely stay home within weeks, not months. And on Tuesday, he formally endorsed the idea of an Easter goalpost during a Fox News Channel virtual town hall.” AP
N.Y. MAG’S GABE DEBENEDETTI: “Joe Biden Is Spending His Time in the Coronavirus Bunker Thinking a Lot About His VP”: “[N]ot one of the top Biden associates I spoke with in the last week had much doubt where he would ultimately focus a lot of his eventual vetting: his former rivals Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar. Realistically, a congressman close to the Biden inner circle predicted, no matter what happens, ‘the final five will include those three.’
“Keeping in mind his own experience and his age, the former veep, 77, has always insisted to friends that his running mate must be ready to be president. But people close to him say he has recently become increasingly explicit that he may be choosing his own replacement, and that the candidates’ competence is now likely to be front and center in his considerations.” New York
MEANWHILE, IN MISSISSIPPI — “Governor Orders Limited Gatherings, Declares Most Businesses ‘Essential,’ Supersedes Local Safety Efforts,” by the Jackson Free Press’ Nick Judin: “Gov. Tate Reeves signed an executive order early this evening superseding a patchwork of local bans on public gatherings in Mississippi and other heightened restrictions that several municipalities across the state have ordered or considered in the wake of COVID-19’s spread inside Mississippi. The state reached 320 official cases today, up 300 percent since 80 known cases on Friday.
“The order seems to declare that most types of businesses in Mississippi are ‘essential’ and thus exempt from social-distancing requirements suggested in the order.” Jackson Free Press
IN MEMORIAM — “Richard Reeves, Columnist and Author on Presidents, Dies at 83,” by NYT’s David Stout: “Mr. Reeves, who was a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, wrote more than a dozen books and, from 1979 to 2014, a syndicated column that appeared in more than 100 newspapers. He was also a familiar face on public affairs programs on PBS.
“As an author, Mr. Reeves was in particular an insightful and unsparing student of the American presidency, producing well-received portraits of John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.” NYT
TRANSITIONS — Josh Lipsky is now director of programs and policy at the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program. He previously was senior comms adviser at the IMF and speechwriter to Christine Lagarde, and is an Obama White House and State Department alum. … Janet Montesi is now deputy press secretary at FEMA. She previously was special assistant to former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. …
… Jimmy Walsh is now deputy government relations director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. He most recently was a professional staff member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and adviser to ranking member Michael McCaul (R-Texas). … Bob Martin is joining Chris Christie’s Christie 55 Solutions as a managing director. He previously was Christie’s commissioner of environmental protection in New Jersey.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Rayna V. Farrell, VP of comms at the Business Roundtable, and Adam Farrell, a project manager for the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, on Sunday welcomed Jay Joseph Farrell. He came in at 7 lbs, 15 oz. Pic
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY:Vivian Yee, NYT Middle East correspondent. A trend she thinks doesn’t get enough attention: “This gets plenty of attention in Middle East circles, but seems worth giving a boost: American policy has favored sanctions over military intervention in Syria — which, by the way, is experiencing its worst humanitarian catastrophe of the war as the Syrian government and Russia retake Idlib Province chunk by chunk — but there are many questions about whether there’s anything to be gained from further broad sanctions on the Syrian government, which has never changed its behavior, or if they’re just making life even harder for Syrians who have already been through nine years of war and economic collapse.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 8-0 … acting OMB Director Russ Vought is 44 (h/t wife Mary) … Bob Woodward, WaPo associate editor, is 77 … former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is 9-0 … Jon Huntsman, who’s running for Utah governor again, is 6-0 … Margaret Brennan, moderator of CBS’ “Face the Nation” and CBS News senior foreign affairs correspondent … Matt Lira … Larry Page is 47 … former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is 67 … Kelli Ritter … former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is 53 … James Gelfand … Letty Burgin … Doug Deason is 58 … Jenny Kaplan … FP1 Strategies’ Chandler Hudson Bair … Caroline Darmody … Joe Sangirardi … Dan Caldwell of Concerned Veterans for America and Stand Together … Sarah Iyere … Katie (Hughes) Janov … Kate Lee …
… Michael Waxman, CEO of Waxman Strategies … Amanda House, director of video at Breitbart … Miriam Warren, VP at DCI Group … Caren Street … William Hague is 59 … CBS’ Kira Kleaveland … Kevin Zeithaml is 27 … Chris Rovzar, editorial director of Bloomberg Pursuits … Nancy Snyderman … Pamela Pulkownik … Michael Kirby, managing editor at FedNet … FDIC’s Edward Garnett III … Nelson Reyneri … Carlos Mark Vera, founder of Pay Our Interns, is 26 (h/t Nihal Krishan) … Melanie Roussell Newman, SVP of comms and culture at Planned Parenthood … Lori D’Orazio … Phil Chui is 3-0 … Stacy Rastauskas … Twitter’s Lexi Neaman … Rachel Milkovich … Melissa Toufanian … Patricia Weems Gaston … Bill Lucey … Bob McDevitt … Michael Sean Comerford … Lisa Quigley