Presented by Facebook 

Welcome to The Hills Morning Report.Back by popular demand, today is Friday (March Madness edition)!  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 each morning this week: Monday, 534,889; Tuesday, 535,628. Wednesday, 536,914; Thursday, 538,087; Friday, 539,698.

The Biden administration made a pair of key revelations on Thursday as part of the battle against COVID-19, announcing that the national effort to administer 100 million shots will be met today and that the U.S. will loan part of its stockpile to neighboring countries.

President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Forget about comity in CongressBorder surge scrambles Senate immigration debateGOP looks to measures barring trans athletes to rally votersMOREcelebrated a small victory on Thursday afternoon, saying that the push to administer 100 million shots will be met today, his 58th day in office far eclipsing the original goal of 100 million shots in 100 days. 

Behind this 100 million shots are millions of lives changed when people receive that dose of hope, Biden said from the East Room, adding that number is just the floor. We will not stop until we beat this pandemic.

According to Bloomberg Newss vaccine tracker, the U.S. is averaging 2.5 million shots per day over the past week, including 2.7 million that individuals received on Thursday alone.

The vaccination effort on the administrations part was not limited to those in the U.S. as the White House announced that it will loan 4 million doses of the vaccine by AstraZeneca and Oxford University to Canada and Mexico. According to White House press secretary JenPsaki, Canada will receive 2.5 million doses of the vaccine, while Mexico receives 1.5 million. She added that the U.S. has 7 million releasable doses of AstraZeneca vaccine overall, adding that the administration could share those with other countries.

Our first priority remains vaccinating the U.S. population, but the reality is the pandemic knows no borders, Psaki told reporters. Ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is mission critical to ending the pandemic (The Hill). 

The AstraZeneca shot has not yet been approved for use in the U.S., but has been greenlighted by the World Health Organization and is in use in both nations, which have continued to use the shot despite reports of side effects in some recipients. However, health regulators in Europe maintained on Thursday that the vaccine is safe after roughly a dozen nations suspended its use.  

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, citing results of an investigation by the European health regulator, a finding that officials hope will allay concerns of the public after reports of potential side effects (more on this below) (The New York Times).

> Confirmations: Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Forget about comity in CongressThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden faces GOP’s immigration and filibuster offensiveCalifornia sues nursing home chain over alleged Medicare ‘manipulation’MORE, the former California attorney general and congressman, was confirmed on Thursday to serve as Health and Human Services secretary. The Senate narrowly confirmed him, 50-49. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBorder surge scrambles Senate immigration debateBusiness groups seek PPP extension as March deadline loomsRepublicans pan talk of raising taxes to pay for infrastructure billMORE (R-Maine) was the only Republican to support his nomination (The Hill). 

The upper chamber also confirmed William BurnsWilliam BurnsCOVID-19 one year later: We need to help the EU before China does Cruz puts hold on Biden’s CIA nomineeCIA formed task force to address suspected microwave attacksMORE, a longtime diplomat, to serve as CIA director on Thursday. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThank you for your service, now start respecting the ConstitutionThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden faces GOP’s immigration and filibuster offensiveA number of Republican lawmakers are saying no to COVID-19 vaccinesMORE(R-Texas) lifted his hold on Burnss nomination earlier Thursday, with his confirmation taking place shortly after by voice vote (The Hill). 

Administration happenings

The Washington Post: Biden expected to nominate former Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Divided House on full displayFlorida Democrats mired in division, debt ahead of 2022Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressivesMORE (D-Fla.) to be NASA administrator.

> Atlanta shooting: The administration on Thursday ordered flags at the White House, public buildings, military locations and embassies to fly at half-staff to honor the victims of shootings at separate Asian-owned spas in the greater Atlanta area, which left eight people dead. The proclamation remains in effect until Monday evening (The Hill).

As The Hills Scott Wong and Mike Lillis write, the deadly shooting reverberated around Capitol Hill on Thursday as lawmakers were left angry and frustrated in its wake. It was especially evident during a Thursday hearing focused on discrimination and violence against Asians in which Rep. Grace MengGrace MengLawmakers warn of surge in violence against Asian Americans after Georgia shootingsSchumer, Gillibrand call on Cuomo to resignHow two controversies collided for CuomoMORE (D-N.Y.) criticized House Republicans present for using anti-Asian rhetoric like Wuhan virus to discuss COVID-19, and for bringing up the southwest border and Black Lives Matter protests.

Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want. But you dont have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids, said Meng, a Chinese American who represents the heavily Asian neighborhood of Flushing.

Niall Stanage: The Memo: America faces long war with extremism.

The New York Times: Asian-American lawmakers call out racist language: I am not a virus.

The Hill: Advocates demand transparency in Biden migrant facilities.

A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK

It’s time to update internet regulations 

The internet has changed a lot in the 25 years since lawmakers last passed comprehensive internet regulations. Its time for an update.

See how were making progress on key issues and why we support updated regulations to set clear rules for addressing todays toughest challenges.

LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: The United Kingdom officially announced on Thursday that it will continue to administer AstraZenecas COVID-19 shot after a British health regulator reaffirmed confidence in the vaccine. 

Great Britains top pharmaceutical regulatory agency revealed that it did not find evidence that the vaccine is responsible for blood clots reported in a few people who received the shot in some European countries. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said that the benefits of receiving the vaccine still outweigh the extremely small risk involved.  

Our thorough and careful review, alongside the critical assessment of leading, independent scientists, shows that there is no evidence that that blood clots in veins is occurring more than would be expected in the absence of vaccination, for either vaccine, said June Raine, chief executive of the regulatory agency, in a statement (The Hill). 

Roughly a dozen nations have suspended use of the vaccine, but those are changing after health officials have given the OK. Italy reversed course on Thursday, with Germany doing so on Friday. Both countries are resuming inoculating individuals today (The Wall Street Journal).

The Associated Press: Europe pause of AstraZeneca sends ripple of doubt elsewhere.

Elsewhere on the vaccine front, Johnson & Johnson has moved into production of vaccines to boost protection against variants of COVID-19. Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky added that they might be needed if its current vaccines effectiveness reduces over time.

We have to be prepared, Gorsky said. We should prepare for the worst and hope for the best (The Wall Street Journal).

The Hill: Weekly jobless claims rise slightly to 770K as U.S. marks one year of recession.

The Kansas City Star: All adult Missourians can get COVID vaccine beginning April 9, Gov. Mike Parson (R) says.

> Entertainment: AMC Theatres announced on Thursday that 98 percent of its locations will be open today after roughly 40 percent of its California locations including all of its theaters in Los Angeles and San Diego county reopen after being shut down for most of the past year. 

The companylost over $4.6 billion in 2020 due to theaters being shuttered (The Hill).

> Sports: The NBA said on Thursday that rules will be relaxed for fully vaccinated players, including fewer mandated COVID-19 point-of-care tests and the elimination of quarantines after coming into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. Players and coaches will also be able to enjoy aspects of pre-pandemic life, including meals at restaurants and have visitors at their homes or at hotels while on the road (The Associated Press). 

New York Post: Yankees, Mets will have fans at games for Opening Day.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CONGRESS/ADMINISTRATION: The House on Thursday passed legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers as part of a piecemeal approach to immigration reform as Bidens comprehensive effort is unlikely to come to fruition. 

As The Hills Rebecca Beitsch writes, the Dream and Promise Act would provide certainty to undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children whose ability to go to school, get work and even remain in the country has hung in the balance from administration to administration. In total, the bill would naturalize nearly 4.5 million people. 

The bill passed, 228-197, as the entire House Democratic Caucus was joined by nine Republicans Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoRepublicans, please save your partyDemocrats snipe on policy, GOP brawls over TrumpSix ways to visualize a divided AmericaMORE (Calif.), Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonLawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attackHouse Republicans vote to support earmarksOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Haaland to lead Interior | House Republicans pitch nuclear, natural gas as ‘cleaner’ energy future | Congress investigating ‘clean coal’ tax credit | SEC to weigh requiring further climate disclosures to investorsMORE(Mich.), Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Dan NewhouseDaniel (Dan) Milton NewhouseDemocrats, Republicans recommend more input, detail on Biden conservation goalsRepublicans, please save your partySix ways to visualize a divided AmericaMORE (Wash.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHouse passes bill to renew Violence Against Women ActWatch live: Pelosi discuses Violence Against Women ActThis week: Democrats eye next step after coronavirus relief bill win MORE(Pa.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithThe eight Republicans who voted to tighten background checks on gunsHouse approves bills tightening background checks on gunsPro-union bill passes House, setting up lobbying battle in SenateMORE (N.J.), Carlos Gimenez (Fla.) and Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartBiden grants temporary legal status to thousands of Venezuelans in USFlorida Republicans push Biden to implement Trump order on VenezuelaHere are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality ActMORE(Fla.). 

> Filibuster: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCambridge city officials pass resolution calling on Biden to cancel student loan debt Progressives celebrate historic Haaland voteCongress investigating ‘clean coal’ tax creditMORE (D-Mass.) took the debate surrounding the filibuster a step further on Thursday and argued that it has racist roots and should be abolished on those grounds. 

The filibuster … was designed to give the South the ability to veto any effective civil rights legislation or anti-lynching legislation, Warren told Axios. The filibuster has deep roots in racism, and it should not be permitted to serve that function, or to create a veto for the minority. In a democracy, it’s majority rules. 

The comments were instantly criticized as being hypocritical. Scott Sloofman, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Forget about comity in CongressExclusive: GOP officials offer support for Vanita GuptaKentucky legislature limits governor’s Senate appointment powerMORE(R-Ky.), noted that Warren has employed use of the filibuster in the past, including last year (The Hill).  

> Foreign policy:It was a frosty first day of talks between the U.S. and China in Alaska on Thursday as the two sides broke from planned talking points to engage in a war of words and accuse each other of human rights abuses in the first public face-to-face meeting between the two geopolitical foes.

The meeting between Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Forget about comity in CongressOvernight Defense: Biden casts doubt on Afghanistan withdrawal by May | US-China tensions high ahead of first meeting of Biden administration | Minorities underrepresented in military academy nominationsUS-China tensions run high ahead of critical meetingMORE, national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Forget about comity in CongressOvernight Defense: Biden casts doubt on Afghanistan withdrawal by May | US-China tensions high ahead of first meeting of Biden administration | Minorities underrepresented in military academy nominationsOfficials urge Biden to appoint cyber leaders after SolarWinds, Microsoft hacksMORE and Chinese diplomats had low expectations to begin with, but even those couldnt be met as U.S. officials immediately complained that the Chinese was breaking with the format agreed to for the three-day summit. According to The New York Times, Yang Jiechi, Chinas top diplomat, accused the U.S. of taking a condescending approach to the discussions and that the U.S. should worry about its own human rights situation before criticizing Chinas. 

Blinken fired back, saying that the U.S. at least learns from its mistakes over the course of history rather than erasing it from memory. 

The meeting was supposed to be an attempt for the two sides to come together on shared goals, including on the North Korean weapons systems and limiting Irans nuclear program. Talks are expected to continue through Saturday.

CNN: U.S. and China trade barbs after Blinken warns of need to respect global order or face a more violent world.

Amie Parnes, The Hill: Former President Clinton leaves big influence on Team Biden.

> Environmental rule: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rulemaking issued during the Trump years is opposed by the Biden administration based on numerous concerns now under review within the Council on Environmental Quality, according to a brief filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. Government lawyers urged the court to remand the controversial rule without vacating it, meaning it would remain in effect until the council takes further action (Bloomberg Law).

OPINION

All thats known about the 2024 elections are the unknowns, by Jonathan Bernstein, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3bZVDRJ 

Fairfax, enough is enough: Open schools full-time, by Rory Cooper, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3s2xvn0 

A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK

Facebook supports updated internet regulations 

Its been 25 years since comprehensive internet regulations passed. But a lot has changed since 1996.

See how were taking action and why we support updated regulations to address todays challenges protecting privacy, fighting misinformation, reforming Section 230, and more.

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress honors Capitol Police with Congressional Gold MedalsHave Biden and the Democrats already hit their high water mark?Watch live: Pelosi discuses Violence Against Women ActMORE(D-Calif.) holds her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. 

TheSenate convenes on Monday at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the nominations of Marty WalshMarty WalshThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Forget about comity in CongressThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Split screen: Biden sells stimulus; GOP highlights borderBiden’s infrastructure plan needs input from cities and regionsMORE to become Labor secretary. 

The president and Vice President Harris will receive the Presidents Daily Brief at 10 a.m., and will subsequently travel to Georgia to promote the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law. They will visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 2:15 p.m., and meet with Asian American leaders in Georgia at 3:45 p.m. Biden will deliver remarks at 4:40 p.m. The president will depart for Camp David afterwards.

The White Houses COVID-19 response team will hold a press briefing at 12:30 p.m.

Hill.TVs Rising program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube. 

ELSEWHERE

POLITICS: Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksLaurence Tribe: President or not, Trump can be made to pay for the Jan. 6 insurrectionJayapal asks for ethics investigation into Boebert, Gosar, BrooksSenate GOP faces retirement brain drainMORE(R-Ala.) teased a likely bid for Senate on Thursday and is expected to formally announce a campaign to replace outgoing Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyConservative group rips Toomey as ‘RINO,’ underscoring GOP’s shiftOvernight Defense: Top GOP senators demand answers on extended Guard deployment, Capitol fencing | Guard costs estimated at 1M | House panel to take up 2002 war authorization repealTop GOP senators: Capitol Police failing to justify beefed-up securityMORE(R-Ala.) on Monday. Brooks is being advised by Stephen MillerStephen MillerDemocrats move smaller immigration bills while eyeing broad overhaulStephen Miller weighs in on royal controversyHouse plans for immigration bills add uncertainty on Biden proposalMORE (The Hill). Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) is laying the groundwork to jump into the states open Senate race. The winner will replace retiring Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrConservative group rips Toomey as ‘RINO,’ underscoring GOP’s shiftTrump makes appearance at Mar-a-Lago dog rescue fundraiserSenate confirms Michael Regan as EPA chiefMORE(R-N.C.) (The Hill).

 TV RIGHTS: The NFL announced on Thursday new 11-year media rights deal that will move Thursday Night Football to Amazon Prime (except for in-market viewers) in 2023 and nearly double the value of the previous rights agreement. As part of the agreements, ESPN will also move into the Super Bowl rotation as it will play host to Super Bowls LXI (2026) and LXV (2030). The new deals also include fresh agreements to keep Sunday afternoon games on Fox and CBS, Sunday Night Football on NBC, and Monday Night Football on ESPN. However, there is no word on the future of NFL Sunday Ticket, which has long been affiliated with AT&T/DirecTV. ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitarosaid that the company has had exploratory conversations about acquiring it (The Associated Press).

THE CLOSER

And finally   Congratulations to this weeks Morning Report Quiz winners who knew some trivia about American presidents and Ireland. 

Here are the savvy Googlers who aced at least four of five questions: Phil Kirstein, Richard Baznik, Daniel Bachhuber,Chuck Schoenenberger, Ki Harvey, Patrick Kavanagh,Pam Manges, Judy Kulczycki, Michel Romage, Lesa Davis, Trevor Zack, Harold P. Grimes, Luther Berg and John Donato. 

They knew that historians have determined that 23 U.S. presidents had or have (in Bidens case) Irish heritage. 

Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to visit Ireland, but not while in office. Readers who knew that or selected Grant as a choice among listed options received a bonus point this week. 

Ronald Reagans presidential library and museum displaysthe interior of a County Tipperary pub, which he visited while in Ireland in 1984.

Tip ONeill, Patrick Moynihan and Ted Kennedy founded the Friends of Ireland Caucus in Congress in 1981.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy and Pat Nixon were among former first ladies with Irish roots, thus the correct response was all of the above. 

#OTD in 1984, President Reagan visited Ballyporeen, Ireland, his ancestral home. Well, the Reagans roamed to America, but now we’re back. https://t.co/VKA7XuG7m7pic.twitter.com/NpseYXCDFv

Presidential Trivia (@triviapotus) June 3, 2020

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: [email protected] and [email protected] We invite you to share The Hills reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!