The Morning Shift
— Economic growth is approaching its levels during the late 1990s — but its distribution is more unequal.
— Former Vice President Joe Biden’s treatment of Anita Hill back in 1991 isn’t helping his campaign.
— Customs and Border Protection bought 5,000 fingerprint scanners to collect biometric data from foreign nationals.
Driving the Day
GROWING GDP… AND INEQUALITY: The Commerce Department’s first-quarter growth estimate showed the economy “expanded at a strong 3.2 percent rate in the first three months of the year, much better than expected for a period marked by an ugly government shutdown,” POLITICO’s Ben White and Victoria Guida report.
The Washington Post’s Heather Long reports that some are comparing current growth to the late-1990’s boom. But while Gallup polling recently found that half of Americans rated the economy as “excellent” or “good” (some of the highest confidence levels since 2001), there are still significant differences from those tech boom years. “Inequality is higher now, and the government is far more constricted in its ability to act if a downturn hits,” Long writes. More from Long here.
THE HILL BIDEN MAY DIE ON: Before former Vice President Joe Biden announced last week, he called Anita Hill, the law professor who in 1991 accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her when he was her boss at the EEOC, to “express his his regret for what she endured” during the hearings, according to his campaign. Biden, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, did not apologize, because “I’m not sorry in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate,” he explained Friday. On Saturday The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, who co-authored Strange Justice, the definitive account of the 1991 episode, noted that Biden’s “half-hearted condolence call to Hill, and his subsequent statements … have reignited rather than quelled the controversy.”
“Hill was transformed into a symbol and catalyst for the #MeToo movement in support of sexual-harassment victims, decades before it had a name,” Mayer writes. Biden “set many of ‘the rules’ that damaged Hill and determined the overall fairness of the process.” Most notably, Biden barred testimony from corroborating witnesses (including a woman named Angela Wright who had complaints similar to Hill’s), instead releasing copies of their depositions in the wee hours. Hill told the New York Times last week that she didn’t consider Biden’s conduct disqualifying, but that she won’t support his bid for president unless he takes greater responsibility for his actions, which, she said, “set the stage” for the treatment of Christine Blasey Ford during last year’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. More from the Mayer hereand the New York Times here.
DEMS WORK UNION VOTERS: In a second major union event attended by a large portion of the 2020 Democratic field, Sen. Kamala Harris told a labor audience in Las Vegas Saturday that she’d be willing call up the CEO of McDonald’s to demand better wages, The Washington Post’s Annie Linskey reports. “You can’t go around talking about the golden arches as a symbol of the best of America when you are not conducting yourself in the best way in terms of supporting the best of America,” she said. McDonald’s recently announced that it would no longer fight minimum-wage increases at the federal, state, or local level.
Six Democratic presidential candidates showcased their policy platforms at the National Forum on Wages and Working People, convened by the SEIU and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who discussed her proposal to allow workers to elect 40 percent of large corporate boards, won the event’s only standing ovation, according to Linskey. Warren was also a crowd pleaser at the NABTU legislative conference earlier this month. POLITICO’s Ian Kullgren reported “The crowd of mostly white, older construction workers cheered louder for her than most of the white male candidates.” More from the Post here.
On the Hill
THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT IS BACK: A House judiciary panel will tomorrow hold its first hearing in 36 years on the Equal Rights Amendment, a constitutional amendment that would guarantee legal equality to all Americans regardless of gender. Congress passed the amendment back in 1972, but constitutional amendments must be ratified by three-quarters of the states, and only 35 of the necessary 38 greenlit the ERA before its 1982 ratification deadline. The hearing tomorrow will consider Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)’s bill to restart the ratification process, H.J.Res.35, and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)’s legislation to revoke the 1982 deadline, H.J.Res.38. In March, 2020 Democratic contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the ERA in the Senate. More on the hearing here.
ENERGY INDUSTRY FACES MISCONDUCT: In one of “the first public allegations of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era involving the energy industry,” Whiting Petroleum says it’s standing by its chief executive Brad Holly, who was accused of sexual misconduct and harassment at his previous employer, Anadarko Petroleum, Christopher Matthews reports for The Wall Street Journal. Tina Tchen,the head of law firm Buckley LLP’s Chicago office, told the Journal that the #MeToo era has “elevated companies’ handling of accusations of sexual misconduct to an enterprise risk.” How, she asks, do you perform “proper due diligence as you’re hiring an employee, and what kind of information can a former employer that’s conducted an investigation give?” More here.
Happening This Week
A BUSY WEEK ON THE HILL: There’s a lot going on this week. Here’s what you need to know:
Appropriations: On Tuesday, 9 a.m. in 2359 Rayburn, the House appropriations subcommittee on homeland security will review DHS’ budget proposal for FY 2020. Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary, and Chip Fulghum, acting undersecretary for management, will testify. At 4 p.m. Tuesday in 2358-C Rayburn the House labor appropriations panel will mark up the Labor Department’s FY 2020 budget.
On Thursday at 10 a.m. in SD-124 one Senate appropriations panel will review DOL’s FY 2020 budget for DOL while another Senate appropriations panel in SD-138 examines DHS’ FY 2020 budget. Find more info on that here.
House Homeland Security Committee: On Tuesday, at 10 a.m., in 310 Cannon, the panel will hold a hearing on the impact of the Trump administration’s immigration policies on border communities. On Wednesday at 10 a.m., in 310 Cannon, it will examine the recent exodus of top officials from DHS. Gene Dodaro of GAO and John Roth, the former DHS IG will testify.
House Education and Labor: Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will testify May 1 at a hearing about DOL’s “policies and priorities.” More here.
Census: At 10 a.m. Tuesday, a House appropriations panel will hold a hearing on preparation of the 2020 census. Expect lawmakers to grill government witnesses on the Trump administration’s attempt to include a question about citizenship. The Supreme Court last week heard arguments on the matter. More on the hearing here.
— “Google worker activists accuse company of retaliation at ‘town hall’” from The Guardian
— “Biden Says He’s the Workers’ Candidate, But He Has Worked To Cut Medicare and Social Security,” In These Times
— “After layoffs, BuzzFeed CEO focuses on growing revenue, diversifying,” from The Los Angeles Times
— Opinion: “Two women led a protest at Google. Is Google retaliating against them now?” from The Washington Post
— “Women Did Everything Right. Then Work Got ‘Greedy.’” from The New York Times
— “Trump on border: ‘It’s like Disneyland now’” from POLITICO
— “Stung by Trump’s Trade Wars, Wisconsin’s Milk Farmers Face Extinction,” from The New York Times