The Hill's Morning Report - US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall




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Hurricane Dorian continued to slam the Bahamas early Tuesday morning as it made its slow-moving crawl north along the Atlantic and threatened to affect the U.S. coastline late Tuesday morning after days of devastation on the Bahamanian islands, leaving at least five dead and severely flooding the area.


As of early Tuesday, Dorian’s top sustained winds had fallen to 120 mph, making it a Category 3 hurricane only hours after it was considered at Category 5 storm. However, it had not moved much in nearly 24 hours. According to The Associated Press, it was centered only 25 miles northeast of Freeport — almost the same distance from the Bahamanian city as it was 20 hours prior, with winds extending out 45 mph in some directions. 


“Devastating winds and storm surge will continue to affect Grand Bahama Island for several more hours. Everyone there should remain in shelter,” the National Hurricane Center said in their update at 5 a.m. “Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are expected along portions of the Florida east coast and the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina, regardless of the exact track of Dorian’s center. Water levels could begin to rise well in advance of the arrival of strong winds.” 


The Center added that Dorian’s current path would take it “dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday.”


Since making landfall, Hurricane Dorian has inflicted major damage on the Bahamas, with a vast majority of the damage hitting the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas. According to reports, the islands were hit with so much wind and water that authorities called on residents to find floatation devices and hammer their way out of their attics if needed.


The total extent of the devastation on the islands will not be known until the storm passes entirely. However, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged (Reuters


“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said of the five deaths, adding that the devastation the islands have endured is “unprecedented and extensive.” 


As of Monday evening, Dorian had been affecting the Bahamas for roughly 36 hours, moving only 70 miles in a 24 hour period. 


As the Miami Herald wrote Monday evening: 


“Forecasters predict Dorian will turn in the next day or so near Palm Beach County and weaken as it travels up the coast, with about an 80 mile buffer between the eye wall and the packed shore. The storm has hurricane force winds extending 45 miles in either direction from the center, with tropical storm force winds stretching 150 miles each way.


“‘It is still possible for the hurricane to deviate from this forecast, and move very near or over the coast,’ the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. ‘Users are reminded not to focus on the exact forecast track. In addition, Dorian’s wind field is predicted to expand, which would bring hurricane-force winds closer to the east coast of Florida even if the track does change.’”


The U.S. prepared for the storm in recent days by evacuating over a million people from the coastlines in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.


In Florida, residents from parts of nine counties were evacuated, including from Duval County, home to Jacksonville, and Palm Beach County, the home of Mar-a-lago. In South Carolina, a mandatory evacuation of the entire coastline took hold on Monday evening. The evacuation covers about 830,000 individuals. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp (R) ordered evacuations in six coastal counties, including 150,000 residents of Savannah (Reuters). 


It has also caused some major U.S. airports to close in the area. Orlando International Airport announced it would halt all commercial flights starting at 2 a.m. on Tuesday. 



Additionally, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced a state of emergency as the storm is lined up to affect Virginia’s southeastern coastline by Thursday.





CONGRESS: After more than a month away, Congress is readying its return to Washington next week to continue discussions about potential gun violence legislation in the aftermath of three mass shootings — two in Texas, one in Ohio — since lawmakers bolted town.


As Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report, while lawmakers on both sides are talking about what could possibly be done, much of the ballgame comes down to what President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Trump's troop pull back in Syria a 'grave strategic mistake' Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump insists Turkey wants cease-fire | Fighting continues in Syrian town | Pentagon chief headed to Mideast | Mattis responds to criticism from Trump TSA head rules himself out for top DHS job   MORE (R-Ky.) will support, with Democrats skeptical at best and pessimistic at worst over how the pair will proceed in the coming weeks. 


“I don't have any confidence that the Senate will do anything remotely related to guns,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonDemocrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Hillicon Valley: Democrats seize on whistleblower complaint to push for election security | Google taps GOP Senate aide to lead lobbying | Warren calls for congressional tech office Democrats seize on whistleblower report to push for election security MORE (D-Miss.) said in an interview. “They are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA.”


In the past, Trump has indicated his support for expanding background checks and other gun control measures, before backing off entirely shortly thereafter. Since the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump has said that background checks need to be looked at, which he has also discussed with Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyPelosi, Schumer hit 'flailing' Trump over 'sham ceasefire' deal Romney slams ceasefire deal, calls Trump's Syria move 'a bloodstain' in US history Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics MORE (D-Conn.) in an opening round of talks. 


As for McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2020, he has a long history of opposing more restrictive gun legislation, although he indicated he would be open to potential bills when Congress reconvenes next week, including on “red flag” legislation. 


Adding to the argument for gun control advocates is the latest mass shooting in West Texas where seven were killed and 25 were injured after a gunman went on a rampage in Odessa and Midland. However, speaking at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters, Trump once again backtracked on background checks, saying the main issue remains mental illness. 


The Wall Street Journal: As Texas deals with recent violence, looser gun laws in state take effect.


The Washington Post: Democrats press Trump, GOP to tighten gun controls after Odessa mass shooting.


The Wall Street Journal: As 2020 race intensifies, Democrats step up offensive against Mitch McConnell.





Elsewhere, Congress has myriad issues to deal with when they return outside of guns, as Jordain Carney previews. Among the big topics to watch over the coming weeks is government funding. Congress has until Oct. 1 to fund the government or punt the fight into fiscal 2020 with a short-term spending measure that would temporarily extend current spending levels, giving lawmakers just 13 working days to avoid a second funding lapse this year.


The path to funding the government for the next fiscal year without needing a continuing resolution is tough given that the Senate did not pass any funding bills due to talks toward a two-year budget deal that was struck in July. 


Another issue to watch is impeachment. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement Top Democrat holds moment of silence for Cummings at hearing Barr to speak at Notre Dame law school on Friday MORE (D-N.Y.) is set to continue his fight into the fall with the president, including a new round of subpoenas for former administration and campaign officials to get testimony. 


As of Monday night, 132 lawmakers support opening an impeachment inquiry, with 20 saying Trump should be straight-up impeached. Some Democrats hope the new round of subpoenas and possible testimony will boost the pro-impeachment crowd. 


Democrats in swing districts that pushed the party into the majority in November are still holding out their support for impeachment of any kind. As Cristina Marcos reports, only 13 of the 55 Democrats on the House GOP campaign arm’s 2020 target list publicly back an impeachment inquiry. Additionally, of the 31 House Democrats in districts carried by President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE in 2016, only two support an inquiry: Reps. Chris PappasChristopher (Chris) Charles PappasPelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry Lawmakers beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition The Hill's Morning Report - US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall MORE (N.H.) and Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodHouse Dems introduce bill to fight social media disinformation House passes bill to revamp medical screenings for migrants at border The Hill's 12:30 Report: All eyes on Pelosi as calls for impeachment grow MORE (Ill.).   


In recent weeks, Impeachment advocates have been pressing Democratic Reps. Conor Lamb (Pa.), Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster No Labels' fight against partisanship The Hill's Morning Report - US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall MORE (N.J.), Andy Kim (N.J.), Colin Allred (Texas), Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillHouse Dems introduce bill to fight social media disinformation CNN faces backlash for video highlighting white congresswomen as impeachment leaders GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows MORE (N.J.) and others representing swing districts at events back home, but so far none of them have come out in favor of impeachment, giving Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCummings to lie in state at the Capitol House Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union —Dem wants more changes to Pelosi drug pricing bill | Ebola outbreak wanes, but funding lags | Johnson & Johnson recalls batch of baby powder after asbestos traces found MORE (D-Calif.) leverage as she continues to make her case against impeachment.


The Washington Post: Congressional Democrats plan to launch inquiry into Trump’s alleged role in scheme to silence affair accusations.




POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: With Labor Day in the rearview mirror, Monday marked exactly five months until the Iowa caucuses and kicked off a new season in the push for the Democratic presidential nomination.


As Niall Stanage writes, Democrats will hold their third debate on Sept. 12 in Houston, but the post-Labor Day period is expected to bring more noise to the airwaves in early states as candidates begin buying airtime in a push to get their message out. Only two candidates — former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump knocks Romney as 'Democrat secret asset' in new video Giuliani asked State Dept. to grant visa for ex-Ukraine official at center of Biden allegations: report Perry won't comply with subpoena in impeachment inquiry MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris campaign releases web video highlighting opposition to death penalty Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money MORE (D-Calif.) — have run TV ads in Iowa, with more likely to follow suit in the coming weeks. 


The increase of TV ads comes at a time when voters become more focused on the race as it heats up in earnest. Additionally, the field has already started to winnow, as four campaigns closed up shop in the final weeks of August. 


“The field is about where I would have expected it to be. It has sifted itself out,” said Karen Finney, a Democratic operative who served as a senior spokeswoman for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review Trump campaign to hold rallies in Mississippi, Kentucky Biden struggles to reverse fall MORE’s 2016 campaign. She is unaffiliated with any candidate this cycle. 


Another major question centers around Biden, who has shown himself to be more durable than some anticipated in the race, and how he campaigns in the coming weeks and months. Since his campaign launch in late April, Biden’s poll numbers have remained relatively static, sitting around 30 percent nationally and holding a double digit lead over his closest competitor. That has left Democrats wondering how to knock him off his perch, especially as his repeated gaffes have hardly had any effect. 


As The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer writes


“That resilience has created a challenge for many of the former vice president’s rivals as the summer comes to a close. Their routes to the nomination depend on winning over current Biden supporters, but his staying power has yet to offer a lasting opportunity to chip away.  


“In response, top advisers to many of his rivals have counseled that the only path forward they see is to continue to cast their candidates as younger, more transformative or more energetic change agents, figure out how to maintain their spot on the debate stage, and hope that the mercurial history of Iowa and New Hampshire voters repeats itself, torpedoing Biden’s bid as they have not.”


Mark Leibovich, The New York Times: Does Joe Biden want to be doing this?


Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal: Democrats can’t afford to leave moderates behind.


The New York Times: 2020 Democrats demand gun control, but differ on tactics.





> Climate change: With Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOvernight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate John Kerry calls out lack of climate questions at debate CNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate MORE dropping his bid for the Democratic presidential nod, 2020 contenders are readying to make their pitch as the climate change candidate. Candidates will have the chance to fight for Inslee’s former mantle on Wednesday during a seven-hour town hall hosted by CNN, as Miranda Green and Rebecca Beitsch note


“There is definitely now an opening with Inslee not in the race anymore for someone to really step up and kind of be the loudest voice on climate,” said Craig Auster of the League of Conservation voters. “What we want to see is plans that match what the science is telling us needs to happen, in terms of the pace and scale.”


The Hill: Ethanol fight divides key groups in Trump's base.


McClatchy: “Flip the switch:” Stuck in polls, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money Biden struggles to reverse fall MORE plans to beef up campaign staff. 


The Wall Street Journal: Democrats labor to stem flow of union voters to Trump.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: He’s only been on the job for three months and hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate, but Ken Cuccinelli has quickly become one of the main players in the Trump administration, particularly as he becomes the point person for its immigration agenda since taking over as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 


Cuccinelli, who previously served as Virginia attorney general and lost a gubernatorial bid in 2013, has been at the forefront of the administration’s immigration efforts as USCIS rolled out three high profile policies in August, each of which clamped down on certain benefits for those born abroad and sparked controversy.  


USCIS ended its deferred action program that prevented immigrants from being deported while they or their relatives received critical medical treatment, with the agency noting that it receives about 1,000 deferred action requests every year. In mid-August, the administration announced its public charge rule, which will make it more difficult for an immigrant to obtain a green card if they rely on social safety net programs. Most recently, USCIS briefly caused a stir last week when it announced changes to how Americans stationed overseas can transmit citizenship to their children (The Hill).


> Iran: Despite the door opening momentarily toward diplomacy with the Iranians, supporters and detractors of taking the diplomatic approach believe it is unlikely that Trump will sit down with Tehran as tensions remain high between the two nations. 


French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronMacron urges EU to condemn Turkish invasion of Syria US should support, but also prod, Ukraine Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill MORE tried to nudge Trump toward meeting with Iran and seemed to dial down the tension between the two sides, with Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both saying they’d be willing to talk. Both, however, backtracked shortly thereafter, with Trump mocking Iran days later over a failed satellite launch.  


However, some still are holding out hope the two sides can de-escalate tensions in the near future. Macron indicated at the Group of Seven meeting last week that he hoped the two sides would meet “in the next few weeks,” likely at the looming United Nations General Assembly in September. However, some experts believe a meeting this soon would be a mistake (The Hill).


“High-level summit diplomacy for its own sake is definitely a bad idea, and it plays into Iran’s strategy of incentivizing premature diplomacy, and that diplomacy only rewards Iran for coming to the table as opposed to rewarding Iran for a genuine change in behavior,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “And if the administration does that, again, it would be replicating the same exact mistake of the previous administration.” 

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Trump has done nothing to win back the voters who deserted him, by Michael Gerson, columnist, The Washington Post. 


No one cares about Joe Biden's gaffes except media and politicos, by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Holly Shulman, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party and former New Hampshire communications director with Obama for America, to discuss weekend campaign stops in the by Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally On The Money: Supreme Court takes up challenge to CFPB | Warren's surge brings scrutiny to wealth tax | Senators eye curbs on Trump emergency powers MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally On The Money: Supreme Court takes up challenge to CFPB | Warren's surge brings scrutiny to wealth tax | Senators eye curbs on Trump emergency powers Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money MORE (I-Vt.), and the upcoming New Hampshire Democratic convention; Belén Sisa, the Latino press secretary with Sanders’s campaign, to talk about Sanders and the 2020 Latino vote; and Kyle Kulinski, host of “The Kyle Kulinski Show,” to react to the news of the day. Find Hill.TV programming at or on YouTube at 10 a.m.


The House and Senate return to Washington on Sept. 9. 


The president meets with Secretary of Defense Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump insists Turkey wants cease-fire | Fighting continues in Syrian town | Pentagon chief headed to Mideast | Mattis responds to criticism from Trump NATO ministers need to have difficult conversations to keep everyone honest Pentagon chief to travel to Middle East amid Syria cease-fire MORE at 3:30 p.m.


Vice President Pence will have lunch with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Dr. Michael Barrett in Dublin at 11:55 a.m. local time. Pence and Varadkar will hold a bilateral meeting at 1 p.m., before delivering joint remarks at 1:45 p.m. Pence will participate in a roundtable with U.S.-Ireland business leaders at 2:30 p.m., and depart Dublin for Shannon, Ireland, at 4:45 p.m. 


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoEx-Watergate prosecutor says evidence in impeachment inquiry 'clearly' points to Trump Pompeo rejects idea that the United States abandoned Kurds Mike Pompeo's Faustian bargain MORE is in Brussels for meetings with senior European leaders. He will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at 7:30 a.m. local time, Belgian Prime Minister and European Council President-elect Charles Michel at 8:35 a.m., European Parliament President David Sassoli at 9:50 a.m., and acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell at 4:00 p.m. 


White House senior adviser Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpCareer State official warned about Biden's son: report Trump speaks with NASA astronauts on all-female spacewalk Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' MORE travels to Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay today through Sept. 6 to promote the economic empowerment of women in developing countries (The Associated Press).


California boat fire: At least 25 individuals are dead and 9 remain missing after a fire engulfed and sank a boat near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday. According to Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll, five others have been found but not recovered due to unsafe conditions under the boat, and that they will continue to search for those who are not accounted for. “You couldn’t ask for a worse situation,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference on Monday. (The Associated Press). 


State Watch: Lorena Gonzalez, 47, a former labor organizer who represents parts of San Diego in the California Assembly, is the driving force behind a bill that would force companies such as Uber and Lyft to treat app-based workers as employees, setting off a battle that could make its way to the voting booth next year. According to policy and economic analysts, The proposal could cost some tech companies billions of dollars in benefits and salaries they would have to begin paying as the workers are considered independent contractors (The Hill).


Brexit: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that he is planning for a  general election on Oct. 14 if he loses a crucial vote over a no-deal Brexit in Parliament this week. His warning came as he battles with lawmakers who are pushing legislation to delay the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union until Jan. 31 unless he strikes a deal with them by mid-October. Johnson’s remarks came in a prepared statement outside No. 10 Downing St., in which he called on conservative members of Parliament to not tie his hands in negotiations, adding that the U.K. will be leaving with or without a deal on Oct. 31 (Bloomberg). 




And finally … a high-school girl’s work to bring a new bingo machine to a retirement home for veterans in Washington, D.C., seems to have paid off. 


Sarah Barclay Kershner Nordlinger, a junior at Washington-Liberty High School and a resident of Arlington, Va., started a GoFundMe to raise $8,000 to purchase a new bingo machine for the Armed Forces Retirement Home, and buy soil and tools to allow residents to tend to their gardens. The retirement center houses about 280 veterans between the ages of 60 and 100.


When the story was highlighted in The Washington Post on Aug. 27, Nordlinger had raised roughly $1,700. Since the story ran, she has raised nearly $10,000, bringing her total to $11,317 as of Monday evening. Bravo to Sarah!