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September 14, 2020

What to expect in Washington (September 14)

President Trump is slated to head to California today (September 14) to survey wildfire damage after campaigning over the weekend in Nevada, a state he lost in 2016, but not by a lot, and the campaign sees an opportunity for a pickup. Democratic nominee Joe Biden had no public events over the weekend, but Symone Sanders, a Biden campaign senior adviser, said on ABC News on Sunday that the candidate will be in Florida and Minnesota this week and, "We'll have some things that we'll be announcing."

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $100 million to help Biden win in Florida, a battleground state, in part because President Trump has pledged to spend his own money on the campaign.

An analysis in the Saturday Wall Street Journal observed that the "presidential campaign agenda has been bouncing around among three big topics: coronavirus, the economy and racial discord," and last week was focused on the pandemic given suggestions President Trump had played down the coronavirus's seriousness in his public remarks.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday had President Trump's approval for his handling of COVID-19 at 35%, compared to 65% who disapprove.

Democrats continued to criticize the Administration's response to the pandemic. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), a Biden ally, said on Fox over the weekend, "We should be out of this by now. We should have dealt with this in February, March, April, and we could have been in the position of many other countries right now who are having a much different recovery."

Former rival Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said on MSNBC on Sunday that "Joe has some pretty strong positions on the economy, and I think we should be talking about that more than we have."

A Washington Post editorial on Biden's tax plans, including his recent focus on offshoring, said his proposals as a whole "represent not confiscatory socialism but an effort to undo the least defensible giveaways in the 2017 tax cuts passed by a GOP Congress and signed by President Trump, while preserving parts of that law that broadened the tax base." The recent focus on offshoring, however, would add complexity, and the "proposed surtax on foreign manufacturing, however, seems to deny the reality of global supply chains. Americans certainly wouldn't like it if, say, Germany penalized BMW for exporting cars from South Carolina. The surtax applies to U.S.-owned call centers or services overseas 'where jobs could have been located in the United States.' Meeting that amorphous standard will" be tough, the editorial said.

Post-election planning is being done by some Senate Democrats and former aides toward encouraging an end to the Senate filibuster if Biden wins the presidency and the party controls the Senate, NBC News reported. Advocates include former President Obama and former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, who thinks Democrats will be in control in Washington and said, "If President Biden wants to get things done, he can't play around with the filibuster." The report said, "Veteran party operatives, activist groups and supportive senators are coordinating message and strategy to dial up the pressure to quickly end the 60-vote threshold early next year, fearing that preservation of the rule will enable Republicans to kill Joe Biden's legislative agenda … They're consolidating that effort under a coalition called Fix Our Senate run by Eli Zupnick, a former communications director for No. 3 Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash."


Not much new to report on gridlocked bipartisan coronavirus talks. The House is back this week and some Senate Republicans and others are betting that dissatisfaction over pre-election inaction on the issue expressed by House Democrats could kickstart a deal. Lawmakers will also be discussing a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government beyond September 30. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has set up votes on 8 District Court Judge nominations for this week.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was on Fox Sunday Morning Futures and mentioned his proposal in the Republican targeted bill brought up for an unsuccessful procedural vote in the Senate last week, which provides "$5 billion of federal tax credits for contributions to scholarship granting organizations that give scholarships for K-12 education … So that, if you're a mom at home and you're not — your kids aren't getting educated, you can get a scholarship to find a school that will give an education to your kids. And it's an injection of new cash. And I have got to tell you, I'm sorry to say, Republicans were united, supported my school choice legislation. Every single Democrat voted against it."

Health care

On Sunday afternoon, the White House released a new executive order aimed at lowering drug prices by linking them to the cost of the same drugs in other nations. The policy expands upon a July 24 drug pricing order that President Trump has been teasing for months, which requires drugmakers to offer their medicines to Medicare at the same prices they do in other countries — a so-called most-favored-nation policy. Whereas the earlier order (which was never publicly released) would only have applied to Part B drugs administered in doctor's offices, the order released Sunday also applies to Part D drugs sold in pharmacies.


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Washington Council Ernst & Young
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