The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Monday! 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 today are expected to exceed 200,000, a statistic initially considered shocking when projected early this year. Total fatalities this morning: 199,512. (The Associated Press).

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE, moving with speed as Americans in some states begin voting ahead of Nov. 3, vowed to nominate a woman this week to succeed Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgFauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Biden owes us an answer on court-packing MORE, the liberal icon who served for 27 years on the Supreme Court before her death on Friday at age 87. Bolstering Trump’s decision to act without “delay,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi gives White House 48-hour deadline for coronavirus stimulus deal MORE (R-Ky.) said the president’s nominee will come to the floor in the GOP-controlled Senate, although he has not said when. 


Two Senate Republicans, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Collins PAC donated hundreds of dollars to two candidates who support QAnon Republicans increasingly seek distance from Trump MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiClimate change — Trump's golden opportunity The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump combative, Biden earnest during distanced TV duel Romney says he'll vote to put Barrett on Supreme Court MORE (Alaska), say they oppose acting on a nomination before Election Day, and Democratic lawmakers and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Undecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability MORE strongly object to the president’s haste to install a Republican to succeed Ginsburg, affectionately nicknamed “The Notorious RBG” and known as a progressive champion of rights for women, minorities, the LBGTQ community and the survival of the embattled Affordable Care Act.


McConnell faces an election-year situation without precedent and without rules beyond the Constitution. The wily tactician who has made a conservative overhaul of the judiciary a personal mission, has a major juggling act on his hands. 


The Hill: McConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight.


With announcements by Collins and Murkowski, the GOP leader can lose only one more member of the GOP conference. Eyes turned to a trio of key lawmakers: Republican Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Memo: Trump's second-term chances fade Romney slams Trump for refusing to denounce QAnon on national television Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump's Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy MORE (Utah), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Democratic super PAC pulls remaining ads from Colorado Senate race Exclusive: Poll shows Affordable Care Act challenge a liability for McConnell at home MORE (Colo.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Barrett sidesteps Democratic questions amid high-stakes grilling Democrats warn of ObamaCare threat from Barrett, Trump MORE (Iowa).


Romney, a thorn in the side of the president, has yet to comment on a future nominee despite Democratic hopes that he would quickly join the sentiment of Collins and Murkowski. A Romney spokeswoman told The New York Times that he will not take any stand until the GOP conference meets. That is expected on Tuesday. 


Gardner, one of the most endangered senators up for reelection this fall, sidestepped a potential timeline during a local television interview on Saturday. Grassley has yet to weigh in beyond his stated praise for the late justice. However, when asked in July what advice he would give Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw RNC chairwoman: Republicans should realize distancing themselves from Trump 'is hurting themselves in the long run' Latest Mnuchin-Pelosi call produces 'encouraging news on testing' for stimulus package MORE (R-S.C.), his successor as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the longtime Iowa Republican said he would not support moving forward with a nomination close to an election. 


“I would have to tell him that I wouldn’t have a hearing,” said Grassley, 87, who has not announced reelection plans for 2022.


Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press: Graham’s challenge: Fill a court seat and save his own.


The GOP leader also began to rally colleagues to his side on Sunday. Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderBaldwin calls for Senate hearing on CDC response to meatpacking plant coronavirus outbreak The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Big week: Barrett hearings, Trump returns to blitz campaign trail Trump claims he is 'immune' from coronavirus, defends federal response MORE (R-Tenn.), a key McConnell ally who is retiring at year’s end, announced in a statement that “no one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican President’s Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year” (The Hill).


McConnell, who on Friday asked GOP senators to keep their “powder dry,” has timing on his mind. He has not indicated whether he is considering a confirmation vote before or after Election Day, a decision that will depend on where his conference stands — and on Trump’s choice for the bench.


Adding to the complications, McConnell could be down one vote midway through a lame duck session. In Arizona, if Democrat Mark Kelly defeats Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Republicans increasingly seek distance from Trump Democratic super PAC pulls remaining ads from Colorado Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.), he would be seated on Nov. 30 because the contest is a special election to fill the final two years of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump digs in on conspiracy theory over bin Laden raid At 97, Bob Dole is still fighting for his country Leadership matters: President's words and actions show he is unfit to lead our nation MORE’s (R-Ariz.) term. McSally said on Friday that she agrees that the Senate should move ahead on a nominee.


The Hill: Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day.


The Washington Post: Who Trump might pick for the Supreme Court, including Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa.


The Associated Press: A complete list of Trump’s possible Supreme Court nominees.





Across the aisle, Senate Democrats, limited in their ability to mechanically alter any nomination or process in the upper chamber, have launched an all out messaging war in an attempt to attract two more Senate Republicans to the position favoring a delay until after the election. 


On Sunday night, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOcasio-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 Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking MORE (D-N.Y.) accused McConnell of “blatant, nasty hypocrisy” with his decision to move forward despite holding up a vote on the nomination of Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Biden keeps both sides guessing on court packing Biden town hall questioner worked as speechwriter in Obama administration: report MORE four years ago following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He reiterated that all options are “on the table,” including ending the legislative filibuster to add seats to the Supreme Court — known as court-packing — if Democrats retake the upper chamber in November.


Senate Democrats are looking to the House for some help in slowing down the process. Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi: White House made 'unacceptable changes' to testing language during negotiations on coronavirus stimulus MORE (D-Calif.) threw gas on the fire, leaving open the possibility when asked whether House Democrats might try to move to impeach the president again or impeach Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Intelligence officials warned Trump that Giuliani was target of Russian influence campaign: report DOJ veteran says he's quitting over Barr's 'slavish obedience' to Trump MORE as a way to stall the Supreme Court nomination proceedings in the Senate.


“We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now,” Pelosi replied (The Hill). 


CNN: Pelosi says she will not leverage a government shutdown to avoid a Senate vote on a court seat.


NBC News: Democrats face limited options to stop Trump from replacing Ginsburg. 


The Washington Post analysis: Why is it that McConnell intends to confirm a new Supreme Court justice now, when he would not in 2016? He says the Senate and the presidency are held by the same party now, which wasn’t the case when there was a vacancy in the last year of Obama’s presidency.


The Associated Press: What is the upcoming process in the Senate, and who are the senators to watch?


The New York Times: The shadow of Garland hangs over the next Supreme Court fight.





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2020 ELECTION AND SUPREME COURT: For months, political analysts have wondered aloud if there would be an October surprise that could drastically alter the 2020 election. While Ginsburg’s death took place in September, the development certainly qualifies as autumn upheaval. The fight to fill the vacancy sharpens the divisions in this year’s presidential contest as well as down-ballot races across the country.


Biden made his first in-person speech since Ginsburg’s death on Sunday and delivered an appeal to the “handful” of Republicans who will decide on any nomination to follow their conscience and allow the election winner to fill the seat. 


“Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Sen. McConnell have created,” Biden said. “Don’t go there. Hold your constitutional duty, your conscience. Let the people speak. Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.”


Biden also pointed to the GOP’s handling of the court following the death of Scalia four years ago, saying Republicans cannot “unring a bell.”


The former vice president, however, added that he will not release a list of potential nominees to replace the late icon of the court despite GOP calls for him to do so, which have only escalated since her death. 


“It’s a game to them, a play to gin up emotions and anger,” Biden said. Among the others reasons for not releasing a list, Biden pointed to “unrelenting personal attacks” anyone up for consideration would face and said their presence on any list would influence their work on the bench (The Hill). 


According to a poll released on Sunday, a majority of voters share the view of Biden and Democrats on the issue. In a new Reuters-Ipsos survey, 62 percent of Americans said they believe Ginsburg’s seat should be filled by the winner in November — including 8 out of 10 Democrats, and 5 in 10 Republicans. Twenty-three percent disagreed, with the rest saying they were not sure. 


NBC News: Ginsburg’s death throws chaotic presidential year into greater turmoil.


The Associated Press: How Ginsburg’s death could reshape the presidential campaign.


The Associated Press: Ginsburg’s death puts Roe v. Wade on the ballot in November.


Politico: From elation to apprehension: The right wrangles over a court litmus test.


Since Friday, an issue Biden, a former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, ducked is court packing, a concept of expansion that some Democrats have floated if Trump and McConnell move to fill the Ginsburg vacancy and Democrats next year gain control of the Senate. 


During the Democratic primary Biden said he opposed the idea of adding justices to the nine on the Supreme Court, saying Democrats would “live to rue that day” and the high court would “lose all credibility” (Politico). 





The New York Times: Biden’s court vacancy plan: increased talk of health care and the pandemic.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: Democrats break fundraising records after Ginsburg's death. 


The Associated Press: Biden today will campaign in Manitowoc, Wis., a city about 80 miles north of Milwaukee. It’s his second visit to Wisconsin in two weeks.


The Washington Post: Biden entered September with $466 million, the campaign said — outpacing Trump.





MORE SUPREME COURT: With eight sitting justices divided along ideological lines until a new justice is sworn in, any Supreme Court rulings that split 4-4 revert to the rulings of lower courts. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Changing suburbs threaten GOP hold on Texas Hillicon Valley: Trump refuses to condemn QAnon | Twitter revises its policy, lets users share disputed article | Google sees foreign cyber threats MORE (R-Texas) argued over the weekend that the court’s vacancy should be filled before Nov. 3 as a safeguard should there be a disputed election result between Trump and Biden that winds up before the high court, as was the case in 2000. 


The president has publicly asserted without evidence that mail-in voting could “rig” the election against him, and he says his campaign has legal teams ready to challenge the process and perhaps the results, which may not be known on election night if millions of mailed ballots are still being counted.


Analysts believe emergency election-related legal petitions are likely to come to the Supreme Court before the election as well as after Nov. 3 (USA Today).


The court announced last week that justices will hear cases by telephone with live audio beginning with the new term on Oct. 5 as a continued COVID-19 precaution against in-person oral arguments (CNN). On the docket days after the election is a challenge to the 2010 Affordable Care Act brought by GOP-led states and backed by the Trump administration seeking to eliminate ObamaCare (SCOTUSblog).


The Washington Post: At the Supreme Court, Ginsburg’s courtroom chair on Sunday was draped in black wool crepe, a tradition dating to at least 1873.


The New York Times: Funeral and memorial arrangements for Ginsburg have not been officially announced by the Supreme Court, although the late justice will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with Martin Ginsburg, her husband who died in 2010.


The Associated Press: Ginsburg’s impact on women spanned age groups, backgrounds.  


The Associated Press: Family, work and opera filled Ginsburg’s final summer.


YouTube: Flashback with humor to that time Stephen ColbertStephen Tyrone ColbertLast hurrah for the establishment media Nationals' Racing Presidents deliver 'Federal Employee of the Year' award to Fauci Colbert implores Pelosi to update 'weaponry' in SCOTUS fight: 'Trump has a literal heat ray' MORE worked out with Ginsburg in her gym in 2018.


WATCH: C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb in 2009 joined Ginsburg in her memorabilia- and art-filled Supreme Court office for an interview (37 minutes).




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! 


Will Republicans’ rank hypocrisy hinder their rush to replace Ginsburg? by Albert Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3cecpey


Yes, expect fireworks. But we’ll get a Supreme Court confirmation, by Hugh Hewitt, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2ZVJgzQ 


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The House meets at noon.


The Senate will meet at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Edward Meyers to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.


The president will travel to Ohio to campaign during an event in Dayton and a rally in Swanton.  


INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live hosts two events this week:




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


Iran: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo warns any arms sales to Iran will result in sanctions as embargo expires Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of missile strike that killed at least 13 MORE and the State Department on Saturday said “snapback” U.S. sanctions against Iran had been reimposed, a move announced ahead of the United Nations General Assembly this month and 30 days after the administration notified the international community of its policy to return to a stance with Tehran that fully rejects the nuclear deal negotiated in 2015 by the Obama administration (The Associated Press). … Ahead of the U.S. elections, Trump has vowed to enforce the sanctions, although a majority of the Security Council rejects U.S. authority to act unilaterally. As The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel reports, the Trump administration risks an escalation of tensions with Iran and increasing isolation on the world stage. 


Coronavirus: The United States is grappling today with grief as it passes an astonishing milestone of more than 200,000 people killed by COVID-19, with no end in sight (Reuters). ... France, Spain and Israel are among nations experiencing sharp increases in COVID-19 infections and deaths (The Hill and The Washington Post). ... In Iowa, Des Moines schools could see the school year stretch into next summer over a protracted dispute between the school district and Gov. Kim Reynolds (R). A battle involves Reynolds’s order for public schools statewide to convene half of all classes in person instead of online due to the novel coronavirus. Des Moines school officials voted last week to violate the governor’s order (The Associated Press). … Rep. Jahana HayesJahana HayesMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test Connecticut congresswoman's town hall Zoom bombed in racist attack GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Conn.) announced Sunday that she tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine for 14 days. She was tested after one of her staff members tested positive for the virus on Saturday (The Associated Press). 


Tech: Trump gave his blessing “in concept” on Saturday for the sale of video app TikTok to Oracle. Chinese parent company ByteDance would continue to be majority owner of TikTok under the agreement Trump said he approved, according to a source interviewed by CNN. That contradicts the president’s assertion that TikTok would be "totally controlled" by Walmart and Oracle, which will have up to a 20 percent share in TikTok, CNN reported. Trump, who has objected to Chinese tech ownership because of national security concerns, said "the security will be 100 percent. They'll be using separate clouds and very, very powerful security” (CNN).


Cities: Kansas City, Mo., is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States without a street named after Martin Luther King Jr. A proposal expected to be voted on by local lawmakers in the coming weeks could change that (The Hill). 


➔ Emmys: Actress Regina King, who won a fourth career Emmy on Sunday for her role on HBO's "Watchmen," paid tribute to Breonna Taylor with a T-shirt message, "Say her name," under a pink jacket during the virtually produced show. (Taylor was shot and killed in her home by Louisville, Ky., police officers in March.) Also wearing a Taylor shirt as she accepted an Emmy was best supporting actress winner Uzo Aduba, who won for her performance in "Mrs. America" (The Hill). … And the awards went to… Canada’s “Schitt’s Creek” and HBO’s “Succession,” two television standouts that topped Sunday’s Emmy Awards (The Associated Press). … AP reviewed the “Pandemmys” program HERE


And finally … In Washington last week, a new memorial to former President Eisenhower was dedicated during a rainy evening ceremony that some readers may have missed. The Eisenhower Memorial, honoring the 34th president and his achievements as World War II commander of the Allied invasion of Western Europe, opened to the public on Friday in a four-acre park across from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (The Washington Post). The memorial, described as “stunning, especially at night,” was designed by architect Frank Gehry with years of input from the Eisenhower family (The Washington Post).


Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP's campaign arm releases first ad targeting Bollier in Kansas The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden hit campaign trail in Florida National Republicans will spend to defend Kansas Senate seat MORE (R-Kan.) delivered an address, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered a prerecorded tribute.