WELL, HERE WE ARE AGAIN.
FOR THE SECOND TIME IN TWO DAYS, SENATE DEMOCRATS voted against a procedural motion on a multitrillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill — this time with the stock market open and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down several hundred points on the day. The vote was 49-46.
SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER said today that he is in negotiations with Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN and the TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, and blamed Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL for holding the procedural vote arbitrarily before a compromise was reached.
MCCONNELL, though, has pointed out — rightly — that the Senate Democrats could indeed vote for the procedural motion, which would limit debate, and continue to negotiate on the overall package. But SCHUMER has continued to hold Senate Democrats together, which some of his allies say gives them maximum leverage to fix what they want fixed in the bill. SCHUMER has said that once he has a deal with MNUCHIN, he will speed up proceedings on the Senate floor.
FOR MUCH OF THE EARLY AFTERNOON, tensions ran high on the Senate floor as Republicans and Democrats jousted over the politics of the delay and the underlying policy in the coronavirus bill. DEMOCRATS have said they disagree with the structure of the $500 billion fund aimed at aiding corporations affected by the pandemic.
THE REST OF THE DAY is expected to include the same shuttle negotiations between MNUCHIN and SCHUMER and MNUCHIN and MCCONNELL. It does appear that a deal will come together at some point — if you believe the negotiators.
IMPORTANT SIGN OF PROGRESS: SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-Ohio) said from the floor he spent two hours with MNUCHIN today.
WHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN WATCHING THIS DRAMA, according to several seasoned Democratic hands: Democrats believe it to be absolutely crucial to their politics and policy objectives to ensure that the $500 billion bailout fund has adequate controls. After 2008, the Democratic base is guided by the philosophy that rich people in finance and corporate America got away with murder during the financial crisis. Speaker NANCY PELOSI and SCHUMER being seen fighting here is crucial, in some Democrats’ minds, to be able to sell whatever they come up to the base of their party.
OF COURSE, REPUBLICANS believe Democrats are holding up an entire package for a set of narrow issues, at the expense of the economy as a whole.
NEW … AN INDUSTRY SOURCE sends these UNITED AIRLINES numbers along, showing the depth of the problems domestic carriers face, and how desperately airlines need this bill.
— LAST YEAR, on the next-to-last Sunday in March, United flew 419,000 passengers at a load factor of 91%. YESTERDAY, United flew 64,000 domestic passengers at 24%. Last Sunday — March 15 — United flew 233,000. They lost 169,000 passengers from last week to this week.
WHY MESS WITH A CLASSIC? — “GOP dusts off anti-Pelosi playbook as stimulus negotiations drag on,” by Heather Caygle, Melanie Zanona and Kyle Cheney: “As Senate leaders struggled to reach a deal Monday morning, Republicans continued to scapegoat Pelosi, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blasting the speaker during an early appearance on Fox News and accusing Pelosi of trying to blackmail Republicans with a wish-list of demands. Senior GOP aides were also shopping around Pelosi attack lines under the cloak of anonymity Monday morning.
“For most congressional Republicans, the blame-Pelosi playbook is a familiar comfort — an easy go-to as party leaders wrestle for the upper hand in negotiations.” POLITICO
NOTABLE: SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.): “I totally support the idea of remote voting so the Senate can continue to operate during this crisis. We should make this change before the Senate leaves town.” … Sen. KEVIN CRAMER (R-N.D.) is also on board. … Sen. ED MARKEY (D-Mass.) also said on MSNBC he would be in favor. More from Sarah Ferris
— THIS DISCUSSION will probably wait, Senate Republicans say.
NEW … IT WASN’T JUST THE SENATE GYM … SEN. RAND PAUL got dinged over the weekend for going to the Senate gym after he had been tested (but hadn’t gotten the results yet) for the coronavirus. The Kentucky Republican also played golf Thursday at the tony ROBERT TRENT JONES GOLF CLUB outside of Washington with veteran lobbyist Pat Raffaniello, according to an email sent out to trustees by the club’s general manager Eric Rhodes.
“Mr. Raffaniello and the caddie that played golf with Senator Paul that day have been notified of their need to self-quarantine for the next 14 days, which means they are forbidden to come to the club,” Rhodes wrote, noting that the entire clubhouse would be disinfected Monday morning.
“We had numerous board members at the club today and discussion was had about this incident and how comfortable everyone was with maintaining operations beginning Tuesday march 23 following the steps outlined above,” Rhodes wrote. “All agreed to stay the course.” Most recent statement from Paul
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR’S (D-Minn.) husband has tested positive, and is now on oxygen with pneumonia in the hospital. Medium post
FED TO THE RESCUE? … NYT: “The Fed Goes All-In With New, Unlimited Bond-Buying Plan,” by Jeanna Smialek: “The Federal Reserve said it would buy as much government-backed debt as needed to soothe fraught markets and unrolled a series of programs meant to shore up both large and small businesses, unveiling a whatever-it-takes effort to cushion the brutal economic blow of coronavirus. …
“The central bank, which restarted its massive bond-buying program eight days ago, said it would expand it well beyond the $700 billion in Treasury and $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities that it had initially placed on those purchases. Instead, officials will buy bonds ‘in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning.’ That includes buying government-backed debt tied to commercial real estate.
“The expanded program is a nod to the fact that crucial markets at the center of the financial system have struggled to function in spite of the Fed’s buying to date. The central bank will also try to bolster the corporate bond market, which has been under pressure as companies shut down in the face of the virus. The Fed said it would unveil a program intended to help companies continue to fund themselves and enable the trading of corporate debt in the secondary market. The point, according to the release, is ‘to support credit to large employers.’
“The Fed is also resurrecting a program from the 2008 financial crisis, called the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility or TALF, that encouraged loans to small businesses and households. And it unveiled a new program, the Main Street Business Lending Program, saying that it would ‘support lending to eligible small-and-medium sized businesses,’ but giving few details as to how.”
Good Monday afternoon. TODAY is the 10-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law.
SPORTS BLINK — “IOC member says that 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed due to coronavirus pandemic,” by USA Today’s Christine Brennan
BOEING HITS PAUSE — “Boeing plans two-week shutdown of factories in Seattle area because of coronavirus,” by CNBC’s Leslie Josephs: “The company’s move to suspend its production at its facilities in the Puget Sound area comes as Washington State, where most of Boeing’s production is centered, is in a state of emergency. Several Boeing employees have tested positive for COVID-19.” CNBC
NOW AMTRAK’S IN TROUBLE — “Hit by Coronavirus, Amtrak Banks on Billion-Dollar Bailout to Stay Afloat,” by WSJ’s Ted Mann: “Business closures, stay-at-home orders and fear has led to plunging ridership, leading Amtrak to halt its Acela service linking Washington, D.C. and Boston on Sunday. The railroad now sits on the brink of financial calamity, just four months after Amtrak chief executive Richard Anderson said the railroad was on track to run an operating profit for the first time in its 50-year history.
“A review of dozens of internal company documents and recordings of conference calls offers a glimpse into the internal workings of the railroad as it addresses the crisis. Mr. Anderson first hinted that the company was preparing to pull the Acela out of service Friday on a companywide telephone town hall. ‘There’s really no one riding the Acela,’ Mr. Anderson said of Amtrak’s most popular service. ‘There’s no point,’ he said, ‘operating empty trains.’”
BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Four more governors announce new restrictions to curb coronavirus,” by Caitlin Orysko: “Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts and Wisconsin all announced new measures.”
SCENES FROM SOCIAL DISTANCING — “The Great Empty: Photographs by The New York Times”
THE VIEW FROM THE WHITE HOUSE, via NYT’s Maggie Haberman and David Sanger: “[A]t the White House, in recent days, there has been a growing sentiment that medical experts were allowed to set policy that has hurt the economy, and there has been a push to find ways to let people start returning to work. Some Republican lawmakers have also pleaded with the White House to find ways to restart the economy, as financial markets continue to slide and job losses for April could be in the millions. …
“Mr. Trump has become frustrated with Dr. Fauci’s blunt approach at the briefing lectern, which often contradicts things the president has just said, according to two people familiar with the dynamic. Mr. Trump knows that Dr. Fauci is seen as credible with a large swath of the public and with journalists, and so he has given him more leeway to contradict him than he has other officials.” NYT
THE VIEW FROM WALL STREET — “Villains of 2008 try to be the saviors of 2020,” by Zach Warmbrodt: “America’s banks are entering the most severe global crisis since 2008 as a pillar of strength in the economy, and that’s giving them a powerful lever to press Congress to relax regulations to keep credit flowing. It’s a stunning turn of events after a decade in which banks found their political standing in Washington severely tarnished …
“With stronger balance sheets and layers of new oversight imposed since the last crisis, the banks are now touting a ‘we’re here to help’ message — which some delivered personally to President Donald Trump at the White House earlier this month. … The effort is bearing fruit. … But the lobbying push is also facing resistance from lawmakers who say they’re concerned about the longer-term consequences to the financial system.” POLITICO
THE VIEW FROM MAIN STREET — “Small Businesses Seek a Crisis Lifeline Beyond Loans,” by NYT’s Stacy Cowley and Tiffany Hsu: “[T]he main federal lifeline offered so far — low-interest disaster loans — is unappealing to many people running on thin margins and leery of taking on debt they can’t afford to repay. …
“Borrowers who own their homes often risk losing the property if they can’t repay what they borrowed. Terms like that spook business owners, especially now, when there is little clarity around when and how the coronavirus pandemic will subside, and whether mom-and-pop shops will ever recover.” NYT
— “Small businesses, slammed by coronavirus, plead for quick help,” by Victoria Guida
BILL BARR INTERVIEW — “Barr Strives to Keep Justice Moving Amid Coronavirus Crisis: Federal courts are reducing operations, prisons are grappling with infections and criminal cases have stalled as prosecutors work from home,” by WSJ’s Sadie Gurman
THE LATEST RESEARCH — “Coronavirus Outbreaks Could Become Seasonal Woe, Some Researchers Suggest,” by WSJ’s Robert Lee Hotz: “As Covid-19 circles the globe, the most severe outbreaks so far clustered in areas of cool, dry seasonal weather, according to four independent research groups in the U.S., Australia and China that analyzed how temperature and humidity affect the coronavirus that causes the disease.
“If their conclusions are borne out, sweltering summer months ahead might offer a lull in new cases across the heavily populated temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, they said. Even so, several of the scientists predicted that the disease would resurge in autumn, when cooler temperatures and low humidity again favor survival and transmission of the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus responsible for the illness.” WSJ
NYT’S SABRINA TAVERNISE and RICHARD OPPEL JR.: “Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear For Their Safety”: “As the coronavirus upends American life, Chinese-Americans face a double threat. Not only are they grappling like everyone else with how to avoid the virus itself, they are also contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks. Other Asians-Americans — with families from Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and other places — are facing threats, too, lumped together with Chinese-Americans by a bigotry that does not know the difference.
“In interviews over the past week, nearly two dozen Asian-Americans across the country said they were afraid — to go grocery shopping, to travel alone on subways or buses, to let their children go outside. Many described being yelled at in public — a sudden spasm of hate that is reminiscent of the kind faced by Muslim-Americans after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” NYT
PRIVACY FILES — “As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets,” by NYT’s Natasha Singer and Choe Sang-Hun: “Health and law enforcement authorities are understandably eager to employ every tool at their disposal to try to hinder the virus — even as the surveillance efforts threaten to alter the precarious balance between public safety and personal privacy on a global scale. Yet ratcheting up surveillance to combat the pandemic now could permanently open the doors to more invasive forms of snooping later.” NYT
FOLKS ARE STILL VOTING! — “Sanders wins Democrats Abroad primary,” by Zach Montellaro: “Sanders won just under 58 percent of the vote, which included just under 40,000 Americans living abroad, and Sanders will be awarded nine delegates to the national convention over the summer, according to the release from the group. Biden won 23 percent of the vote and will take home four delegates.” POLITICO
— WSJ: “Joe Biden Looks to Build Digital Capabilities Amid Pandemic,” by Emily Glazer: “Mr. Biden’s operation is looking to bring on new staff with expertise in digital advertising, social-media content and programming, people familiar with the matter said. It is also in talks with technology vendors about how to best boost its virtual and digital engagement with supporters, volunteers and donors, they said. …
“The Biden campaign has talked with tech vendors as it evaluates digital platforms to connect with its volunteers, donors or supporters in lieu of in-person events, people familiar with the talks said. It is hoping to mostly use other companies’ platforms since the campaign doesn’t have time to build new customized tools … The campaign is also trying to reach different types of voters, especially younger people, as it shifts toward competing in the general election.” WSJ
— MARC CAPUTO: “Biden to Trump: Start acting like ‘a wartime president’: The former veep held his first coronavirus shadow briefing.”
NO ONE HOME AT THE FEC … “As Campaigns Move Online, America’s Chief Watchdog Isn’t Following,” by Nancy Scola: “As this change has transformed politics over the past several years, and quickly accelerated in recent weeks, one national player has been noticeably silent: The United States Federal Election Commission. … The agency is largely bound by law last updated in 2002, back when targeted cable ads were still the cutting edge of political advertising.
“The last time the FEC updated its rules to address online advertising was in 2006, before Facebook had opened to the general public. More recently it has been paralyzed by an internal argument about whether its mandate should, or shouldn’t, extend further into online campaigning. At the moment, the FEC is unable to update its rules even if it wanted to … Critics increasingly worry about a political world far outpacing its legal watchdog.” POLITICO Magazine
ATTACK THE BLOCK — “Appeals court won’t review Trump Twitter case,” by Leah Nylen: “An appeals court declined today to review its previous decision that President Donald Trump can’t block critics on Twitter, over the objections of two judges appointed by Trump. … DOJ can still appeal to the Supreme Court.” POLITICO
AFTERNOON READ — THE NEW YORKER’S SUSAN GLASSER: “The Trials of a Never Trump Republican: The lifelong conservative Sarah Longwell has been hoping for the president’s downfall, but he has proved immune to every scandal. Will the coronavirus pandemic be any different?”
TRANSITION — H.K. Park is now managing director at the Crumpton Group. He previously was a VP at the Cohen Group.
BOOK CLUB — Dey Street Books has acquired NBC reporter Ali Vitali’s “And Then There Were None: Why the Glass Ceiling Is Still Intact After 2020.” It’s billed as “an examination of how, with the 2020 Democratic field populated by more female presidential candidates than ever before — not to mention high-profile female campaign strategists and female journalists — and women increasingly taking their outrage to the ballot box in down-ballot races, there is still resistance to a woman in the White House.”