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Wake Up To Politics - April 21, 2020

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, April 21, 2020. 196 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Trump to suspend all immigration to U.S.

President Donald Trump announced late Monday night that he plans to suspend all immigration to the United States, a move which he said would protect the nation from the coronavirus pandemic.

"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!" the president wrote on Twitter just after 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

Trump has long made curbing immigration a centerpiece of his political platform, but halting all legal immigration to the U.S. would go farther than he has ever sought to before. According to the Washington Post, an executive order to "suspend nearly all immigration under the rationale of preventing the spread of infection by foreigners arriving from abroad" is being drafted and could be signed by the president as soon as today. Such an order would almost certainly face immediate legal challenges.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the order is "expected to include exceptions for migrant farmworkers, who make up about a 10th of the workforce on U.S. farms, and health-care workers, particularly those helping treat coronavirus patients" and will likely not address "the removal of immigrants already in the U.S. or the visa renewal process."

While the move will likely excite the president's base, it is expected to bring few changes to U.S. policies already in place due to the pandemic: "Even without an executive order, the administration has already all but ceased nearly every form of immigration," the Journal noted. "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."

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, Trump has also restricted entry into the United States by foreign nationals from China and several European countries, and halted nonessential travel from Canada and Mexico.

Coroanvirus outbreak: The latest

States begin reopening: "The governors of Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina on Monday afternoon announced new plans to bring their states' economies closer to full force amid signs the coronavirus outbreak is slowing."

"Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said certain businesses, including gyms and hair salons, can reopen beginning this Friday. Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee confirmed his state's stay-at-home order, previously extended to April 30, will end that day. And, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said businesses previously deemed nonessential — department stores, flea markets, florists, bookstores and music shops — could reopen their doors." (Fox News)

--- A Washington Post/University of Maryland poll released this morning found that 65% of Americans say they expect it won't be safe to attend gatherings of 10 or more people until the end of June or later.

Negotiators near deal on small business funding: Lawmakers hope to vote as soon as today on an agreement replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative that aims to provide loans to small businesses struggling amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"We have, I believe, come to terms on the principles of the legislation, which is a good thing, but it’s always in the fine print," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told CNN on Monday. "And so now we’re down to fine print, but I feel very optimistic and hopeful that we’ll come to a conclusion."

The deal is expected to include $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (another fund for small businesses), $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for coronavirus testing. In total, the legislation will cost nearly $500 billion; it will be the fourth coronavirus-related measure passed by Congress, bringing the price tag of these packages to almost $3 trillion.  

If an agreement is finalized today, the Senate is expected to pass it by unanimous consent in a pro forma session this afternoon. The House would then vote on the package Thursday; a recorded vote will probably be required, although the chamber is expected to greenlight a proposal that will allow remote voting by proxy.

--- Meanwhile: Many large companies have faced widespread outrage after they received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, intended for small businesses, before funds quickly ran out. One of them, Steak Shack, announced Monday night that it would give its $10 million loan back.

Oil prices turn negative: "Something bizarre happened in the oil markets on Monday: Prices fell so much that some traders paid buyers to take oil off their hands."

"The price of the main U.S. oil benchmark fell more than $50 a barrel to end the day about $30 below zero, the first time oil prices have ever turned negative. Such an eye-popping slide is the result of a quirk in the oil market, but it underscores the industry’s disarray as the coronavirus pandemic decimates the world economy." (New York Times)

Latest stats: As of 8 a.m. Eastern Time, almost 2.5 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 170,000 people have died from the virus worldwide.

In the United States, 787,960 infections of the virus and 42,364 deaths have been confirmed.

The Rundown

Kim Jong Un's health in question: The U.S. is monitoring intelligence that suggests North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, 36, is in "grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery," CNN reported Monday night.

Other media outlets confirmed the network's reporting, although South Korea's presidential office said Kim "appeared to be handling state affairs as usual and that it had no information about rumors regarding his health," according to the Associated Press.

Latest fundraising reports: "Joe Biden raised $46.7 million in March, his campaign announced Monday, notching his best fundraising month of the campaign — and besting President Donald Trump — as he took control of the Democratic primary."

"The fundraising, prompted by Biden's strong win in South Carolina's primary on the last day of February and a cascade of Super Tuesday victories, amounted to more than half of what Biden had raised in the entire campaign prior to that month. Biden raised just over $88 million from the second quarter of 2019 through the end of February." (Politico)

While Biden may have outraised Trump last month, he enters the general election significantly outmatched in financial resources. "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 New York Times reports.

--- Put in other words, as noted by the Times: Biden and the Democratic National Committee could raise almost $1 million every single day between and November, and they would still barely catch up to what Trump and the Republican National Committee had in the bank at the beginning of this month — let alone what the GOP will have by Election Day.

--- One more nugget: A campaign finance report filed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday brought the total spent by the businessman on his presidential campaign to a record-shattering $1.2 billion. Bloomberg's short-lived bid for the Democratic nomination lasted 104 days, netting him 55 delegates and a single win: the caucuses in American Samoa.

Veepstakes heating up: "[Joe Biden's] campaign is expected to launch its formal process for vetting candidates soon, perhaps as early as this week. He is assembling a team to investigate potential candidates’ personal, financial and political backgrounds — a closet-rummaging exercise to avoid surprise skeletons."

. . . "Biden has been talking for months — since long before he was the presumptive nominee — about what he is looking for in a running mate and name-dropping people he considered qualified for the job." (Los Angeles Times)

--- Some of the top names in contention (in approximate order of how seriously they are reportedly being considered): California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. (Biden has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate.)

--- One wildcard: Some Democrats are pushing for Biden to tap former First Lady Michelle Obama for his VP. "I'd take her in a heartbeat," Biden told the CBS News affiliate in Pittsburgh on Monday, while adding that he doesn't think "she has any desire to live near the White House again."


President Donald Trump will meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) in the Oval Office at 4 p.m.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force will hold a press briefing at 5 p.m.

The Senate will meet for a pro forma session at 4 p.m.

The House will meet for a pro forma session at 10:30 a.m.

The Supreme Court has no conferences or arguments scheduled.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will participate in a virtual fundraiser.

*All times Eastern

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