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D.C. Memo: Everything is canceled

COVID-19 response; Omar challenger has email list from DCCC-linked firm; Trump’s FEC appointment; and more.

photo of donald trump speaking
President Donald Trump addressed the American people last night to offer policy solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The D.C. Memo is a weekly recap of Washington political news, journalism, and opinion, delivered with an eye toward what matters for Minnesota. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, coronavirus takes center stage, Collin Peterson is running (again), and Sen. Klobuchar’s back in the Senate. Let’s get on with this.


Every facet of the news cycle has been enveloped by coverage of the coronavirus (or COVID-19). Sports? Two Utah Jazz players have tested positive for the virus. Hollywood? Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for the virus.

After weeks of dismissing the seriousness of the situation, President Donald Trump addressed the American people last night to offer policy solutions. But in doing so, he botched the explanation for several of them: When he said travel and cargo from Europe would be banned, he actually meant only travel (excluding U.S. citizens, green card holders, and their families). And when he said insurance companies would cover copays for testing and treatment for the virus, he actually only meant testing.

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While Congress is working to pass legislation to tackle the virus head on, some Minnesotans in Congress are using what authority they have to address the crisis. For example, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota’s Fifth, drafted a bill that would keep free and reduced school lunches available even with school closures. Read more at MinnPost.

Back in Minnesota, MinnPost’s Peter Callaghan gives us a read on how the state legislature is responding: The 2020 Minnesota legislative session is becoming all about coronavirus, all the time

Ilhan Omar’s challenger kept DCCC-linked firm’s email list

For the Intercept, Aída Chávez reports that one of Omar’s primary challengers, Antone Melton-Meaux, worked with a firm linked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The problem: the DCCC said they would blacklist any firm working to help primary other Democrats.

Easy as FEC

Since September of 2019, the Federal Election Commission has lacked a quorum. That means that any critical campaign finance decisions cannot be made. To remedy this, the Senate is pushing forward President Trump’s nominee: James Trainor, a lawyer and prominent pro-Trump advocate. The committee is made up of a balance between Democrats and Republicans, but should Trainor be appointed, it will consist of two Republicans, one independent, and one Democrat. In making the appointment, the McConnell-led Senate is also doing away with the norm of appointing both a Democrat and a Republican at the same time.

“Abandoning bipartisan norms and pushing forward a controversial nominee is not the way to do it. Moving forward in this way does more harm than good,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the ranking member on the Senate Rules Committee.

Collin Peterson is running for re-election

Or as the Hutchison Leader put it: Rep. Collin Peterson enters packed race for his house seat. Peterson has been dodging questions for the last year about whether or not he’d run again. Peterson has been in office since 1991 and is the powerful chair of the House Agriculture Committee.

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Peterson, who represents Minnesota’s Seventh, is running against a large group of Republican challengers, including the House Republican favorite, former Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach; and Dave Hughes, who challenged Peterson last cycle.

In 2014, Peterson said that because Republicans “made me mad” by suggesting he retire, he would keep running until 2020.

By the numbers

  • 1,000,000,000,000: Rep. Pete Stauber of Minnesota’s Eighth is a co-sponsor of the Trillion Trees Act, which aims to plant a trillion trees by 2050 to offset the carbon output of logging. “For many Minnesotans, these jobs are not just an occupation, they are a way of life,” Stauber said at a rally for the bill. The bill is opposed by more than 95 environmental organizations, like the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, who say the bill “will dramatically increase logging and contradicts the best available science.”
  • 5: The number of COVID-19 tests taken in the U.S. per million people. In South Korea, where they are having success with containment, 3,692 tests per million people have been taken.
  • 3: The number of days until the next Democratic debate. Joe Biden is currently leading the race for delegates, but with an increasingly narrow path to victory, Sen. Bernie Sanders still intends to challenge Biden on issues important to young people.

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In other news

Quote of the week

“Couldn’t think of a better way to end my candidacy than join the ticket,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said at a rally for Joe Biden, before correcting herself.

What I’m reading

Tina Vasquez, Ethan Fauré, and Nathaniel Hoffman for OurPrism: News outlets must stop running white nationalist propaganda

For years, news outlets have used quotes and information from the Center for Immigration Studies. But the innocuous sounding think tank is actually a front for white nationalist propaganda and its founder was a publicly a white nationalist. The authors here have a good point: either don’t quote the Center for Immigration Studies or identify it plainly: it’s a white nationalist think tank.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.