The Hill's Morning Report — The wall problem confronting Dems and the latest on Dorian

The Hill's Morning Report — The wall problem confronting Dems and the latest on Dorian
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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Thursday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Al Weaver is holding down the fort for the week while Alexis Simendinger is on vacation. Find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and CLICK HERE to subscribe!


Hurricane Dorian regained strength overnight as it creeps up the U.S. coastline, becoming a Category 3 storm once again as it started to batter the Carolinas, leaving tens of thousands without power already as the area deals with “life-threatening” storm surge and flash flooding. 

“Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds are expected along portions of the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina, and portions of southeast Virginia and the southern Chesapeake Bay, regardless of the exact track of Dorian’s center,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a Thursday morning update. “Water levels could rise well in advance of the arrival of strong winds … Flash flooding will become increasingly likely across the eastern Carolinas. There is a high risk of flash flooding over coastal sections of the Carolinas where life-threatening flash flooding is expected.” 

According to the NHC, Dorian is expected to move close to the South Carolina coast through the day before moving “near or over” the coast of North Carolina tonight and Friday. Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph, with higher gusts expected.

The Associated Press reported early Thursday that in South Carolina, over 20,700 in Charleston County and over 6,800 in Beaufort County were already without power. In a Wednesday press release, Duke Energy said it expected the storm to cause 700,000 outages in the Carolinas and that it brought in resources from across 23 states and Canada to respond “as soon as it was safe to do so.”

In total, over 800,000 South Carolina residents were ordered to evacuate and Charleston Airport closed on Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of the storm. 

In the Bahamas, the death toll rose to 20 as residents returned to survey the devastation left behind by the slow-moving hurricane that wreaked havoc there for more than a day and a half, with the possibility high that more casualties will be announced in the coming days. Of the 20 deaths, 17 were reported in the Abacos and three were reported in Grand Bahama (The Washington Post).

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a press conference. “We can expect more deaths to be recorded. This is just preliminary information.”

Reports suggest that of the 400,000 Bahamas residents, tens of thousands will need help getting back on their feet in the form of food and other support tools (Reuters). 

The Bahamian government sent hundreds of first responders, marines, doctors, nurses and other workers across the islands as they try to help victims with their recovery and examine what work needs to be done in the future (The Associated Press). 

“Right now there are just a lot of unknowns,” Parliament member Iram Lewis said. “We need help.”


Throughout the day, President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE tweeted about the looming threat of Hurricane Dorian on the U.S., including an appearance in the Oval Office where it appeared he was using a manually altered chart showing the storm to be heading in the direction of Alabama, which is not in the pathway of the storm. 

Trump told reporters later in the day that he didn’t know anything about the changed map, but was adamant that original forecasts called for Alabama to be impacted by the hurricane.   

“We got lucky in Florida. Very, very lucky indeed," Trump told reporters. "We had actually, our original chart was that it was going to be hitting Florida directly” (The Hill).

Politico: Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Senators call for answers from US firm over reported use of forced Uyghur labor in China MORE (R-Fla.), Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter Nikki Haley gets lifetime post on Clemson Board of Trustees First senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid MORE (R-S.C.) ask Trump to waive visa requirements for Bahamians.



CONGRESS: Democrats officially have themselves a wall problem.

In the wake of news that Trump is diverting $3.6 billion in military funds to build a border wall, Democrats are running short on possible legislative responses after a federal judge gave the Trump administration the go-ahead to use emergency powers to make use of the funding.

Pressing the issue runs the risk of derailing government funding legislation that Congress needs to pass by Oct. 1 to avert another shutdown. While Democrats have vowed not to backfill the military construction accounts being tapped by the Pentagon for wall construction, standing firm would give the president an opening to blame them for reduced funding for military projects. And Democrats know that trying to add stringent language about the wall to any funding bills this month could increase the odds of another shutdown (The Hill).

> Guns: As members of Congress seek a legislative solution following three mass shootings, major corporations are filling the void and have taken it upon themselves to halt the sale of some guns and large amounts of ammunition.

Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, introduced new gun policies, saying it would no longer sell certain types of ammunition and requesting that customers do not openly carry guns in its stores, a move that earned a response from the National Rifle Association. Kroger, another mega-retailer, quickly followed Walmart’s lead and urged its customers against open carrying at the grocery chain.  

The two recent moves follow one from Dick's Sporting Goods, which stopped gun sales in 17 percent of its stores. Pro-gun critics warned that the sporting goods giant would face a boycott from gun enthusiasts. However, the retailer reported better than expected earnings last week. 

Anti-gun groups are now setting their sights higher. SumOfUs, a progressive group, is pressuring Visa to report excessive, erratic gun and ammo purchases to the FBI. However, Visa's CEO says the company won’t play ball and will not regulate what consumers can and cannot buy (The Hill).

The Associated Press: Texas governor resists calls for quick votes after shooting.

The Hill: Former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid calls on Democrats to plow forward on immigration Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada The Memo: Biden's horizon is clouded by doubt MORE (D-Nev.) predicts Senate will nix legislative filibuster. 

The Hill: Push on “surprise” medical bills hits new roadblocks.



> Retirements: Rep. Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerProtecting the fundamental right of all Americans to have access to the voting booth Republicans compare Ron Johnson to Joe McCarthy: NYT GOP puts pressure on Pelosi over Swalwell MORE (R-Wis.), the second most senior House member after Rep. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungHouse passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers Alaska tribal groups race to spend COVID-19 relief money WHIP LIST: How House Democrats, Republicans say they'll vote on infrastructure bill MORE (R-Alaska), announced Wednesday that he will retire from Congress at the end of his term and exit after 42 years in the lower chamber. 

Sensenbrenner is the 16th Republican set to leave the House by the end of the term. He is also the second Wisconsin Republican to announce their exit from the House, after Rep. Sean DuffySean DuffyTrump pushing ex-Rep. Duffy to run for Wisconsin governor Fox News signs book deal with HarperCollins First lady's press secretary calls on Rachel Campos Duffy, Fox News to apologize for host's comments MORE revealed that he will resign his House seat on Sept. 23 to focus on his family and prepare to welcome his ninth child in October.

“When I began my public service in 1968, I said I would know when it was time to step back. After careful consideration, I have determined at the completion of this term, my 21st term in Congress, it will be that time," Sensenbrenner said in a statement (The Hill).

On the Democratic side, Rep. Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisOvernight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military's eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia The Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation MORE (Calif.) announced Wednesday that she will not seek reelection for her congressional seat in 2020. Davis, 75, has represented San Diego since winning her seat in 2000.  

California’s 53rd Congressional District is likely to remain in Democratic control. She is the fourth Democrat to announce that they will not run for reelection along with Reps. David Loebsack (Iowa), José Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who is running for the Senate (The Hill).  


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: A new poll in Wisconsin, a key 2020 swing state, shows a pair of Democratic presidential candidates leading the president in general election matchups.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege The No Surprises Act:  a bill long overdue MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats face critical 72 hours Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Manchin nixes Medicare expansion Manchin shutting down Sanders on Medicare expansion MORE (I-Vt.) hold solid leads over Trump in hypothetical general election matchups, according to a new Marquette University Law School poll released on Wednesday. Biden leads Trump by a 9-point margin (51 percent to 42 percent), while Sanders leads by 4 points (48 percent to 44 percent). Trump also is tied with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats face critical 72 hours The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal This week: Democrats aim to unlock Biden economic, infrastructure package MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech Biden's safe-space CNN town hall attracts small audience, as poll numbers plummet MORE (D-Calif.). 

In the Wisconsin Democratic primary, Biden also holds a lead, with 28 percent naming him as their first choice. Sanders sits in second with 20 percent, with Warren in third at 17 percent.  

Sanders won Wisconsin the 2016 Democratic primary race with 56 percent of the vote (The Hill).

The Washington Post: Biden mocks gaffes to Stephen ColbertStephen Tyrone ColbertFox's Bret Baier: Jan. 6 was a 'dark day' for US 'similar to what we saw in 1876' Fox's Gutfeld mocks late night hosts for planned 'climate night' Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central unveil two new animated political satires MORE: “The reason I came on the Jimmy KimmelJames (Jimmy) Christian KimmelOvernight Health Care — Presented by The National Council for Mental Wellbeing — FDA panel advises Moderna booster shot for high-risk people Lady Gaga, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Julia Louis-Dreyfus among stars calling on entertainment CEOs to back action on climate change Fox's Gutfeld mocks late night hosts for planned 'climate night' MORE show is …”

Gabby Orr, Politico: Trump’s fall: More rallies, more promises, more Dem attacks.



> 2020 exit?: The Democratic presidential field could be dwindling once again in the coming weeks ahead of the October debate.

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNYPD union sues city over vaccine mandate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Hochul gets early boost as NY gubernatorial race takes shape MORE (D) indicated Wednesday that if he does not qualify for the series of debates on Oct. 15 and 16, he will likely shutter his bid for the Democratic nomination. If he misses the October debate, it will be the second in a row he has been absent from after failing to qualify for the Sept. 12 affair in Houston.

“I think the logical thing to say is I’m going to go and try and make the October debates and if I can, that’s a good reason to keep going forward, and if I can’t, I think it’s really tough to conceive of continuing,” de Blasio said. 

10 Democratic presidential candidates are slated to participate in the Sept. 12 debate after hitting polling and fundraising requirements laid out by the Democratic National Committee. Four Democratic candidates ended their bids in the weeks leading up to the deadline to qualify for the September debate, knowing they would be on the outside looking in. 

The same polling and fundraising prerequisites apply for the October debate, meaning multiple candidates who did not qualify for the September debate could be included then. Among them are Tom SteyerTom SteyerYouth voting organization launches M registration effort in key battlegrounds Overnight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline MORE and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe perfect Democratic running mate for DeSantis? Progressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for 'problematic' crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition MORE (D-Hawaii), who both reached the fundraising criteria but need one poll and two polls with 2 percent support, respectively, to qualify (The New York Times). 

The New York Times: 5 Takeaways from the Democrats’ climate town hall.

Elsewhere in the 2020 universe Scarlett Johansson announced Wednesday that she is supporting Warren for the 2020 Democratic nod. In an interview, she argued that Warren is a candidate who is “thoughtful and progressive but realistic” (The Hollywood Reporter) …  Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner announced Wednesday that he is dropping his Senate bid and will primary Rep. Steve WatkinsSteven (Steve) Charles WatkinsOn The Trail: GOP's tyranny of the minority House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit Republicans hold on to competitive Kansas House seat MORE (R-Kan.) for his House seat. Former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) called on LaTurner to run against Watkins as rumors swirl about his possible resignation, which Watkins has refuted repeatedly (The Hill).


ADMINISTRATION: Vice President Pence’s office is seeking to contain the backlash to his decision to stay at a property owned by the president during a two-day visit to Ireland. 

The typically conflict averse Pence set off Democrats and ethics watchdogs by staying for two nights at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, despite it being on the opposite side of the island from Dublin, where he met with Irish leaders on Tuesday. 

The vice president’s office attempted to distance Trump from the decision-making process surrounding the stay, but the move alarmed critics already convinced Trump has used the presidency to bolster his business. However, Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, told reporters on the trip that Trump suggested they stay at his hotel, with the VP’s press office backtracking later (The Hill).

As for Trump, he said that he had “no involvement” in Pence’s stay at the hotel in Doonbeg.

"I had no involvement, other than it’s a great place," Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

"I heard he was going there, but it wasn’t my idea for Mike to go there," he said. "Mike went there because his family’s there. That’s my understanding of it."

The Associated Press: Peaceful Iceland amazed by weapons for Pence’s security. 

The Hill: China, U.S. agree to meet in October for trade talks.



> Opioids: The Trump administration is awarding state and local governments nearly $2 billion in grants in a renewed push fight the ongoing opioid crisis.  

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the grants will come in just north of $1.8 billion in funding secured from Congress last year. The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration is granting $932 million to states and some U.S. territories to help provide treatment and help with recovery on the local level.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is spending $900 million over three years to help state and local governments better track overdose data. In the first year, $301 million will be spent in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

“These funds will be delivered to the communities where their help is most needed,” Trump said on Wednesday. 

“So many lives are stopped cold by drugs,” Trump said. “Whether it’s death or just a ruined life. In many cases you have just a ruined life because of drugs. They never recover” (USA Today).

Elsewhere in the administration … Former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE is planning to write a book about his time in the White House but not before the president leaves office. According to a report, Kelly told Trump he would hold his plan to release a book as long as the president didn’t train his fire on him (CNN).

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!



Enemy missiles are a mounting worry — so why isn't Washington reacting? By Stephen Blank, opinion contributor, The Hill. 

Joe Biden's record — not his gaffes — is dooming his campaign, by Max Burns, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Anthony ScaramucciAnthony ScaramucciAnti-Trump Republicans endorsing vulnerable Democrats to prevent GOP takeover 'Only the Rich Can Play' documents how Republican program to help the poor didn't Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE, founder of SkyBridge Capital and former White House communications director, on how he’s flipped his support against the president; Corey LewandowskiCorey LewandowskiNew Trump super PAC formed after accusations of misconduct The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats still at odds over Biden agenda Noem severs ties with Lewandowski after harassment allegations surface MORE, former campaign manager for Trump, to discuss his possible New Hampshire Senate bid; and Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, to react to CNN’s climate change town hall. 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 General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra at 1:45 p.m. He will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West at 4:30 p.m.

Pence is in London and will participate in a bilateral meeting with Boris Johnson at 12:45 p.m. local time. Pence and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceMcCarthy, Ducey speak at Pence fundraiser: report Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Pence refused to leave Capitol during riot: book MORE will attend the Lord Mayor’s International Trade Dinner at 6:55 p.m., and will depart London to fly back to Washington at 9 p.m. 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe The CIA's next mission: Strategic competition with China and Russia Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll MORE will meet with Guatemalan President-elect Alejandro Giammattei at the State Department at 1 p.m. 

The Hill hosts the next installment in the Leadership in Action series next Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 1777 F Street NW. We will be joined by Reps. Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterTrump endorses Hershel Walker for Georgia Senate seat Herschel Walker's entrance shakes up Georgia Senate race Herschel Walker files paperwork to run for Senate in Georgia MORE (R-Ga.), John Curtis (R-Utah) and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellWhich proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Democrats see light at end of tunnel on Biden agenda MORE (D-Mich.) to take the political pulse of the country's young voters and discuss what issues matter most as we approach the 2020 cycle. RSVP HERE.


Brexit: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dealt yet another blow Wednesday as Parliament blocked his push to set a new election in mid-October as they continue to block his efforts to execute Brexit without a deal on Oct. 31. Johnson fell more than 130 votes short of triggering an election that would allow him to repeal the bill interfering with his plan to execute Brexit at the end of October (Reuters).  

Hong Kong: Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam said Thursday that she was not pressured by mainland China into withdrawing an extradition bill that had sparked protests across the territory, and that it was her attempt to lower tensions. Protesters still have a list of other demands and have vowed to continue their demonstrations, though the extradition bill was the driving force behind the protests that started in June. Lam, however, says that her government will not and cannot accede to the other demands laid out by the protesters (The Associated Press).

Vatican: Pope FrancisPope FrancisBiden hopes for deal on economic agenda before Europe trip Pope urges countries to stop returning migrants to 'concentration camps' in Libya Retired pope says he hopes to soon join friends in 'the afterlife' MORE said on Wednesday that it is an “honor” to be criticized by conservative Catholics in the U.S. while on a lengthy flight from Rome to Maputo, Mozambique, as he kicks off  a week-long tour of Africa.   

“For me it's an honor they attack me, the Americans,” Francis told a French journalist when he was handed a book by the same journalist titled “Comment L'Amérique Veut Changer de Pape” or “How America Wants to Change the Pope.” Included in the book are criticisms from conservative Catholics against Francis over his past remarks on immigration and climate change (CBS News).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by tonight’s kickoff of the NFL season, we’re eager for some smart guesses about NFL history and current events

Email your responses to, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday. 

The New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl title in February with their defeat of the Los Angeles Rams. How many Super Bowls has New England appeared in overall? 

  1.     7
  2.     9
  3.     11
  4.     12


The Chicago Bears unveiled a statue outside Soldier Field on Tuesday of which former legendary player ahead of their Thursday opener versus the Green Bay Packers? 

  1.     Walter Payton
  2.     Gale Sayers
  3.     Mike Ditka 
  4.     Jay Cutler


The Dallas Cowboys announced Wednesday that they reached a contract extension with which key player and NFL rushing champion ahead of Week 1?

  1.     Amari Cooper
  2.     Dak Prescott
  3.     Melvin Gordon
  4.     Ezekiel Elliott


New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the only player to win six Super Bowl rings. Who is the only other NFL player to have won five Super Bowl rings?

  1.     Charles Haley
  2.     Lynn Swann
  3.     Adam Vinatieri
  4.     Jerry Rice