The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump, Biden battle over vaccine, economy; Congress returns

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It’s Tuesday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators and readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 188,941. Tuesday, 189,215.

Lawmakers are bracing for a tumultuous post-Labor Day stretch as they start returning to Washington today and political gridlock complicates nearly every effort, with the November elections standing only 56 days away.


The Senate is set to reconvene today, while the House is expected to return in full next week. However, their return is unlikely to change much as a deal on a coronavirus relief package remains well out of reach and lawmakers have retreated into their political bunkers to ride out the remaining eight weeks until Election Day.


On Monday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE laid those complications bare as he held a news conference from the North Portico — a rare location — to launch blistering attacks against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter Trump narrows Biden's lead in Pennsylvania: poll Florida breaks first-day early voting record with 350K ballots cast MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter As VP Kamala Harris could be a powerful voice for women's retirement security The clock is ticking and Trump is still taking a shellacking MORE (D-Calif.), claiming that they would “collapse” the economy if elected. He also criticized them for engaging in “anti-vaccine rhetoric” (The Hill).


“Contrary to all of the lies, Biden wants to surrender our country to the virus,” Trump said during the 46-minute press conference. “He wants to surrender our families to the violent left-wing mob, and he wants to surrender our jobs to China. Our jobs and economic well-being.”


“Biden doesn’t have a clue,” he said, adding at one point that the former VP is “stupid.” “You know he doesn’t have a clue. In prime time he wasn’t good, and now it is not prime time.”


As Trump spoke, Biden appeared in Lancaster, Pa., — one of two Labor Day stops — and told reporters that he would get a vaccine tomorrow if public health experts deem it safe and effective. However, he continued to criticize the president for politicizing the approval process. 


“One of the problems with playing with politics is he’s said so many things that aren’t true, I’m worried if we do have a really good vaccine, people are going to be reluctant to take it,” Biden said. “He’s undermining public confidence. But pray God, we have it — if I could get a vaccine tomorrow, I’d do it. If it cost me the election, I’d do it. We need a vaccine and we need it now” (CBS News).


The Associated Press: Trump, Biden spar over economy, workers in Labor Day blitz.


The Hill: Biden vows to be “strongest labor president you've ever had.”


Tim Alberta: Blowout for Biden or narrow win for Trump?


The Washington Post: Trump says he’s open to investigation of Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyPostal service reversing changes that slowed mail delivery The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden set for dueling town halls amid battleground blitz High-speed mail sorting machine reassembled in Maine MORE’s campaign fundraising.


The presence of the campaign has also helped to derail negotiations toward another massive COVID-19 relief package, which have been largely dormant for nearly a month after talks broke down due to its potential size and scope. Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP blocks Schumer effort to adjourn Senate until after election GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerTrump to lift Sudan terror sponsor designation Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts The 2016 and 2020 Senate votes are about the same thing: constitutionalist judges MORE (D-N.Y.), want any package to eclipse $2 trillion, while White House negotiators have refused to budge north of $1.3 trillion. 


When asked why he hasn’t invited Pelosi and Schumer to the White House in an attempt to nail down a deal to inject more stimulus into the economy — which Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinGOP blocks Schumer effort to adjourn Senate until after election GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal On The Money: Sides tiptoe towards a COVID deal, but breakthrough appears distant | Expiring benefits raise stakes of stimulus talks | Stocks fade with eyes on Capitol MORE still believes is necessary, Trump indicated that the idea is futile. 


“They don’t want to make a deal because they think it’s good for politics if they don’t make a deal. ...  I know who I’m dealing with. I don’t need to meet with them to be turned down,” Trump said. 


When a reporter followed up asking why Trump doesn’t take the high road and invite them, he responded: “I am taking the high road. I’m taking the high road by not seeing them. If I thought it would make a difference, I would do it in a minute.”


With the upper chamber back in session, Senate Republicans are expected to move toward a $500 billion targeted package as soon as this week. Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoHillicon Valley: Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives | Amazon says over 19,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 | Democrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference GOP senators call on Trump to oppose nationalizing 5G Energy innovation bill can deliver jobs and climate progress MORE (R-Wyo.), a member of GOP leadership, said over the weekend that they expect opposition from Democratic leaders on the slimmed down bill (The Washington Post).


One potential headache that is seemingly in the rearview mirror as Congress returns is a potential government shutdown. Over the weekend, Mnuchin and Pelosi announced a deal to pass a clean funding bill to keep the government open until December at the current levels. 


Worth noting: Trump himself has not yet weighed in on whether he supports a clean funding package, and nothing is final until he says so. There are 22 days until the government runs out of funding.


The Hill: Discord over state and local funds plagues coronavirus talks.


Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Emboldened Democrats haggle over 2021 agenda.


Politico: Trump says Pentagon chiefs are accommodating weapons makers.






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2020 CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: In a development few saw coming months ago, the Trump campaign is suddenly facing a potential cash crunch, having already spent $800 million of the $1.1 billion raised dating back to the start of 2019 with less than two months until Election Day. 


The New York Times detailed the massive spending the campaign has taken on, with nearly half of the $800 million spent going toward fundraising operations. What the campaign spent early on has taken its toll in some ways, forcing the campaign to roll back major ad expenditures during August. 


During the two weeks of the national party conventions, Trump’s team spent only $4.8 million compared to $35.9 million by the Biden campaign. The Trump campaign also spent more than $100 million on ads pre-conventions, with new campaign manager Bill Stepien trying to get the team’s finances in order for the final stretch run. 


“The most important thing I do every day is pay attention to the budget,” Stepien told the outlet.


Steve Peoples, The Associated Press: How long can Trump ride “law and order?”


> Battleground wars: With Biden appearing in the Keystone State on Monday, the vice presidential nominees held dueling events in Wisconsin as the Biden campaign has escalated its travel across battleground states. 


Harris made her first stop as part of the ticket in Wisconsin on Monday, appearing for events with union workers and Black business owners. However, in her most notable stop, she met with the family of Jacob Blake, with Blake joining the conversation via phone from his hospital bed. According to Benjamin Crump, Blake’s attorney, Harris told Blake that she was “proud” of him. 


“Sen. Harris had an inspirational and uplifting one-hour visit with Jacob Blake, Jr. and his family today. She spoke individually with each family member about how they were handling the trauma and urged them to take care of their physical and mental health. In a moving moment, Jacob Jr. told Sen. Harris that he was proud of her, and the senator told Jacob that she was also proud of him and how he is working through his pain,” Crump said in a statement. 


Harris will follow up the Wisconsin trip with her first appearance in Florida on Thursday, with a stop planned in Miami.


The Washington Post: Kamala Harris visits Milwaukee for her first in-person campaign event.





As for the vice president, he delivered remarks to supporters in La Crosse, Wis., and criticized Biden for not condemning antifa and for not coming out strong enough against the riots in Kenosha, Wis., following the Blake shooting. 


"For months, all Joe Biden talked about was peaceful protesters. Last week, after three months of silence he spoke out against violence in every form it takes. But right after he said that, he criticized law enforcement and he never condemned antifa. He never called out his campaign staff or his running mate for raising money to bail out violent criminals,” Pence said.


Hours later, Biden appeared for interviews with local TV stations in Central Pennsylvania telling WGAL-8 that he “absolutely” condemns antifa and “violence no matter who it is.” 


The former vice president also took a shot at the president’s physical fitness while defending attacks from the Trump campaign that he’s “lost a step.”


"Look at how [Trump] steps and look at how I step. Watch how I run up ramps and how he stumbles down ramps, OK?" Biden told ABC-27


Dave Weigel, The Washington Post: The seven political states of Pennsylvania.


The New York Times: Pence and Harris vie for Wisconsin as Trump vents from the White House.


CORONAVIRUS: The COVID-19 summer, for all intents and purposes, ended as the Labor Day weekend came and went, with major annual gatherings across the country being moving to a virtual setting or nixed completely, and public health officials fretting about another post-holiday spike in cases could be on deck. 


As The Associated Press noted, college football stadiums across the country were largely empty as the start of the season went off with a whimper, and Labor Day parades across the country were canceled to stem the spread of the virus. 


The Hill: FDA moves on vaccines spark political worries.


The Associated Press: Bold hopes for virus antibody tests still unfulfilled.





> Lobbying: Families and households are not the only ones facing COVID-19 induced financial constraints as charities struggle to make up for the billions of dollars in lost revenue as Americans conserve cash during uncertain times. 


As The Hill’s Alex Gangitano reports, charity organizations have lost billions in revenue during the pandemic, making the sector one of many to seek support from Congress at a time when negotiations over another COVID-19 relief package show little sign of a breakthrough. 


Traditional methods of fundraising for charities — concerts, festivals and galas — have all been canceled or significantly scaled back due to public health concerns. Nonprofits and charitable organizations are now looking ahead to the holiday giving season in hopes of donations to make up for shortfalls over much of the year.


“Volunteers are essential to our efforts during the holidays — Red Kettles, the Angel Tree program, and food distribution — so we are working hard to train and protect those individuals so that we can continue to provide for the most vulnerable Americans. Without those volunteers, our commitment to meeting needs could be compromised,” said Kenneth G. Hodder, national commander of The Salvation Army in the United States. 


The Hill: Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic.


Daily Beast: Workers reveal Disney is covering up its COVID cases.

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! 


The tax cut for the rich that Democrats love, by Richard V. Reeves and Christopher Pulliam, opinion contributors, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2Gz42yd 


Dad, please get a COVID-19 shot, by Marc Siegel, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3h8Tzq7 



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The House will convene at 9:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. The House Financial Service Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion holds a virtual hearing at noon with witnesses from federal regulatory agencies to discuss expanding the inclusion of women and minorities. The full House will return on Monday. 


The Senate meets at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Brett Ludwig to be a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. 


The president delivers remarks about the environment in Jupiter, Fla. At 7 p.m., Trump holds a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, N.C., at the Smith Reynolds Regional Airport and returns to Washington tonight.  


INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live hosts The Future of Education on Thursday for a two-part event (at 11 a.m. examining innovations in K-12 and at 1:30 p.m. discussing higher education). Can this moment serve as a catalyst to address persistent divides and inequities? Featuring former University of Miami President and former Health and Human Services Secretary Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna Shalala'Nodding Woman' behind Trump at town hall is former House candidate Shalala corrects Spicer on HIPAA: 'I should know, I wrote it' Calls for COVID-19 tests at Capitol grow after Trump tests positive MORE (D-Fla.); Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerWant to prevent Democrat destruction? Save our Senate Joe Biden has long forgotten North Carolina: Today's visit is too late Mike Johnson to run for vice chairman of House GOP conference MORE (R-N.C.), a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and vice chairman of the House Republican Conference; Sal Khan of Khan Academy Inc. of California and many more experts. RSVP HERE


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


 International: Alexei Navalny, a top opposition voice to Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinSafeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt DOJ: Russian hackers targeted 2018 Olympics, French elections Putin stands with Belarus's dictator — we should stand by its people MORE, was taken out of an induced coma on Monday and has seen his condition improve more than two weeks after being poisoned. According to the Charité clinic in Berlin, Navalny has responded to voices and is being weaned off mechanical ventilation, but it remains too early to know the long-term impact of his situation. Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent akin to Novichok on Aug. 20. The Kremlin on Monday vehemently denied any involvement in Navalny’s poisoning (AFP). … Eight individuals were convicted and sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in the death of the late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The eight people were part of the more than dozen Saudi agents who were sent to the nation’s consulate in Istanbul to carry out the murder in October 2018. According to The Washington Post, the unnamed individuals received prison terms ranging from seven to 20 years (The Hill). 


Tech: Disney saw a massive jump in subscribers for its streaming platform, Disney+, over the weekend after its unusual rollout of “Mulan,” which was set to be released in March and was subsequently pushed back due to COVID-19. While the app costs $7 per month, downloading the movie on the platform costs an additional $29.99 — a technique Disney has yet to attempt. The movie was only released to theaters in countries where the app is unavailable. Driven by the movie, spending on the app jumped 193% compared with the previous week (Bloomberg News). 


➔ Wildfires: California finds itself fighting a multi-pronged battle against three major wildfires that have ravaged parts of the state, with a fourth growing quickly, especially across parts of Northern California. As of Tuesday morning, 2 million acres have been burned across the state this year, with  firefighters having trouble containing multiple blazes that are currently raging, with a heat wave and dry winds in recent days creating even more problems. The situation also forced PG&E, San Francisco-based power provider, to start turning off power in “high fire-threat” areas, with the outages impacting 172,000 customers in 22 counties. PG&E called the move a safety measure due to the weather conditions (Reuters).





And finally … Major League Baseball is set to honor one of its legends again. Similar to how MLB treats Jackie Robinson Day in April, the league is allowing all Puerto Rican players to don No. 21 in honor of Roberto Clemente as the league celebrates his impact on baseball. 


On Wednesday, all MLB teams will announce their nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is handed out during the World Series to the player “who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field” (MLB.com). Additionally, all Pittsburgh Pirates players will also wear the No. 21 to honor one of the best players in the team’s history. 


Clemente was killed in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972 as he attempted to bring supplies to Nicaragua in response to an earthquake (The Associated Press).