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 John TrumpBiden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked by platform's pre-election blackout Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' Harris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden 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 RubioWisconsin GOP says hackers stole .3M Hillicon Valley: Big Tech hearing the most partisan yet | Rubio warns about foreign election interference | Trump campaign site briefly hacked Rubio warns that election interference may ramp up around Election Day MORE (R-Fla.), Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottFrom HBCUs to Capitol Hill: How Congress can play an important role Democrats unveil bill to reduce police violence against people with mental illness Liberals should embrace Trump's Supreme Court nominee 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 ReidMcConnell and Schumer's relationship shredded after court brawl The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg 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 SensenbrennerHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats Scott Fitzgerald wins Wisconsin GOP primary to replace Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner MORE (R-Wis.), the second most senior House member after Rep. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungAlaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Democrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Coordinated federal leadership is needed for recovery of US travel and tourism 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 DuffyCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Bottom line McCarthy blasts Pelosi's comments on Trump's weight 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 BidenHarris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden Florida heat sends a dozen Trump rally attendees to hospital Harris more often the target of online misinformation than Pence: report MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states Oct. 29: Where Trump and Biden will be campaigning 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 WarrenWarren has expressed interest in being Biden's Treasury secretary: report The Democrats' 50 state strategy never reached rural America What a Biden administration should look like MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden Harris more often the target of online misinformation than Pence: report Maya Rudolph says she loves playing Kamala Harris on SNL: 'Feels like being on the side of the good guys' 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 ColbertColbert says Trump is why he doesn't play satirical conservative character anymore McConnell and Schumer's relationship shredded after court brawl Late-night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE: “The reason I came on the Jimmy KimmelJames (Jimmy) Christian KimmelJimmy Kimmel makes emotional plea to 'vote with your heart' while sharing update on son Fauci, Black Lives Matter founders included on Time's 100 Most Influential People list Kimmel-hosted Emmy Awards attract all-time low 6.1M viewers: 'Well, we set a record' 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 BlasioOn The Money: Trump makes a late pitch on the economy | US economy records record GDP gains after historic COVID-19 drop | Pelosi eyes big COVID-19 deal in lame duck De Blasio mum on whether he'll block sale of Mets to controversial investor De Blasio says New Yorkers should avoid holiday travel: 'It's sad. It's very sad' 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 SteyerLate donor surges push election spending projections to new heights New voters surge to the polls Trump leads Biden in Texas by 4 points: poll MORE and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHarris faces biggest moment in spotlight yet Ocasio-Cortez slams Tulsi Gabbard for amplifying ballot harvesting video Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Netflix over 'Cuties' film 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 WatkinsEthics panel opens probe into Rep. Watkins after voter fraud charges The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Virus bill unlikely to pass this week 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: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. 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. https://bit.ly/2k3tNMo 

Joe Biden's record — not his gaffes — is dooming his campaign, by Max Burns, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2lCmThG


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Anthony ScaramucciAnthony ScaramucciScaramucci says Trump has united country: 'It just happens to be against him' Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 John Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report MORE, founder of SkyBridge Capital and former White House communications director, on how he’s flipped his support against the president; Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiPence travel questioned after aides test positive Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to positive tests among Pence aides 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 http://thehill.com/hilltv 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 PenceThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - White House plans for another in-person Barrett event Pence's 'body man' among aides who tested positive for coronavirus: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by the Walton Family Foundation — Sights and sounds from the final debate 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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo's wife and son made personal requests of State Dept staff: report Pompeo: US citizens born in Jerusalem can now list Israel on passports The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states 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 CarterBipartisan lawmakers call for overhauling medical supply chains The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day Overnight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy MORE (R-Ga.), John Curtis (R-Utah) and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellCedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins Pelosi, Mnuchin continue COVID-19 talks amid dwindling odds for deal Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair 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 FrancisVatican condemns knife attack at French church: 'Terrorism and violence can never be accepted' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden search for undecided voters in final stretch Pope Francis names first Black US cardinal, Wilton Gregory 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 aweaver@thehill.com, 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