The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, GOP allies prepare for SCOTUS nomination this week

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is 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 each morning this week: Monday, 199,512; Tuesday, 199,884.  

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief LGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress MORE (R-Ky.) moved with speed and bravado on Monday to name a conservative female nominee to the Supreme Court by the end of the week and suggest that GOP senators are mobilized to vote on her nomination before Election Day.


“When you have the Senate, when you have the votes, you can sort of do what you want as long as you have it,” the president told Fox News on Monday.


McConnell on Monday assembled enough support in his conference to begin proceedings to fill the vacancy before Nov. 3 (The Hill). 


The New York Times: Republican senators line up to back Trump on the court fight. A vote before Election Day would be the fastest contested Supreme Court confirmation in modern history.


In an atmosphere laden with revisionary rationales, McConnell assured his colleagues that the Senate has “more than enough time” to complete confirmation hearings and hold a floor vote in short order (in the modern era, the Supreme Court confirmation process has averaged about 70 days).


"The historical precedent is overwhelming, and it runs in one direction. If our Democratic colleagues want to claim they are outraged, they can only be outraged at the plain facts of American history," McConnell said on the floor.


The Hill reports that the Kentucky Republican, who helped steer conservative Associate Justices Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court's Pennsylvania mail ballot ruling tees up test for Barrett 51 percent want Barrett seated on Supreme Court: poll Supreme Court denies GOP bid to block extended mail ballot due date in Pennsylvania MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court's Pennsylvania mail ballot ruling tees up test for Barrett Lindsey Graham says two women confronted him in airport over Barrett 51 percent want Barrett seated on Supreme Court: poll MORE to seats on the Supreme Court during Trump’s tenure, has not publicly said when he expects a Senate confirmation vote to occur.


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocratic Senate campaign arm outraises GOP counterpart in September Hug or heresy? The left's attack on Dianne Feinstein is a sad sign of our times Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (R-S.C.), who is in a tough reelection contest, said Monday that he changed his mind after saying in 2016 that a vacancy on the Supreme Court in an election year should wait until after ballots are counted. During a campaign event in North Charleston, S.C., on Monday, Graham said the Supreme Court battle could help boost his chances of defeating Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.


“I don’t know what it is about me and moments and lightning, but lightning has struck again,” Graham said of his Judiciary Committee role (The State and The Associated Press).


Graham told Fox News Monday night, "We've got the votes to confirm Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg's replacement before the election. We're going to move forward in the committee. We're going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election" (The Hill).


The Hill: Senate GOP brushes back accusations of hypocrisy in Supreme Court fight.


McConnell is up for reelection, and stocking federal courts with conservative jurists has been a personal legacy goal. He has not hesitated to tell anyone who asked this year that Republicans, who control the White House and the Senate, would seek to fill any Supreme Court vacancy, whenever it occurred. 


Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate to vote Monday to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court Cunningham, Tillis locked in tight race in North Carolina: poll 51 percent want Barrett seated on Supreme Court: poll MORE (R-Maine), who angered people in her state with her vote to confirm Kavanaugh, is battling to win another term after serving in the Senate since 1997. Collins and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate to vote Monday to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court Senate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court This week: Clock ticks on chance for coronavirus deal MORE (R-Alaska) announced this week that they oppose casting a vote on a nominee to the high court before Nov. 3.


However, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Republicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Barrett sidesteps Democratic questions amid high-stakes grilling MORE (R-Iowa), who preceded Graham as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Monday he will support McConnell and Graham — and the president.


“Over the years, and as recently as July, I’ve consistently said that taking up and evaluating a nominee in 2020 would be a decision for the current chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate Majority Leader,” Grassley said in a statement. “Both have confirmed their intentions to move forward, so that’s what will happen. Once the hearings are underway, it’s my responsibility to evaluate the nominee on the merits, just as I always have.”


The Associated Press: Grassley supports GOP push for Trump court pick.


The Hill: Ginsburg will lie in state in the Capitol on Friday, the first woman and second Supreme Court justice to be so honored, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate MORE (D-Calif.) announced on Monday.


The Hill: At the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday, Ginsburg will lie in repose. Her burial at Arlington National Cemetery will take place next week in a private ceremony.


Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyPoll: Trump, Biden tied in Georgia McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate Trump tells Fox he wants bigger relief deal as Pelosi's deadline nears MORE (R-Utah), a frequent Trump critic, said he would state his position today. Colorado Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerCunningham, Tillis locked in tight race in North Carolina: poll Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Democratic super PAC pulls remaining ads from Colorado Senate race MORE, a vulnerable Republican in a tough reelection contest, on Monday announced he will support moving ahead with election-year proceedings to consider a Trump nominee (The Hill).


Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears MORE (W.Va.), the only Democrat who voted to confirm Kavanaugh, says he’s siding with lawmakers in his own party who say the Senate shouldn’t vote on a Supreme Court nominee before Election Day.


Trump, meanwhile, said he will announce his choice to succeed Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday (The Hill), noting his list of potential female candidates had narrowed to five. He expects to speak with several potential picks this week (CNBC) and he met on Monday at the White House with Amy Coney Barrett (CBS News and The Associated Press). Barrett, 48, a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is a leading contender for the nomination.


The Associated Press: Top contenders for Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.


The New York Post: Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoOvernight Health Care: NIH chief: Trump has not met with task force in 'quite some time' | CDC reports 300,000 more deaths than expected this year | UK to start challenge trials for vaccine Cuomo: Travel within Tri-State area should be avoided due to COVID-19 spike California plans to review coronavirus vaccine independently MORE (D) said on Monday that New York state will erect a statue honoring Ginsburg, perhaps in Brooklyn Bridge Park in view of the Statue of Liberty. 


The Hill: What becomes of the Affordable Care Act? Justices are scheduled to weigh another challenge to the 2010 law, with oral arguments scheduled in November.





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2020 ELECTIONS: The emerging battle over who should fill the Supreme Court vacancy is tossing a massive wrench into the battle for the Senate majority as Democrats go on offense against Republicans with only five weeks until Election Day. 


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the nascent battle is setting up as a wildcard that campaigns are already using as get-out-the-vote mechanisms and as a fundraising boon as part of the final push for support. 


Several GOP senators are using the issue to contrast themselves with challengers, but Democrats say the issue could drag down Republicans in battleground races. 


Each party believes a Supreme Court confirmation battle will mobilize base voters in a deeply divided country in which the vast majority of voters say they have made up their minds, at least in the presidential contest.


“I think you’re looking at a fairly combustible situation here, where it’s going to be something unlike what we’ve seen in American politics,” one GOP official said about the final stretch before Nov. 3.


The Hill: Conservative group launches $22 million campaign urging GOP senators to “act quickly” to fill the Supreme Court seat.


The New York Times: How Ginsburg’s death has reshaped the money race for Senate Democrats.


In Maine, Collins faces her toughest reelection fight as she continues to trail Democrat Sara Gideon. According to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll released on Monday, she polls behind her Democratic challenger by 5 points (46 to 41 percent). Part of the survey took place after news of Ginsburg’s death. The poll was conducted from Sept. 17 to Sept. 20. 


“I think what's at play here is to have one set of rules that we consistently follow, and the precedent that has been established by the way that the Garland nomination was handled, which I disagreed with at the time,” Collins told reporters on Monday.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight. 


The Hill: During his Ohio rally on Monday night, Trump put a Supreme Court fight front and center to chants of “Fill that seat.”





On the presidential side, Ginsburg’s death has refocused the Trump campaign, offering the president a new message to seize upon in the final weeks of his 2020 fight against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE.


As Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels write, the focus of the 2020 campaign has for months been the president's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 200,000 people in the U.S., and the resulting economic downturn that has put millions out of work. 


However, allies believe the urgency of a Supreme Court opening could rally conservatives who may have been wavering and give the president a message to focus on in the closing weeks, just as it did four years ago in the months following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.


Maria Cardona: With court pick fight, Democrats find their galvanizing issue.


The Washington Post: Biden’s moderation contrasts with Democratic rage as court fight looms.


Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes, The Hill: Joe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country.


Reuters/Ipsos poll: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, a close race in Pennsylvania.


This week, Trump will take his message to supporters in at least three battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Florida, having appeared on Monday at a pair of events in Ohio. Biden campaigned on Monday in Wisconsin and is expected to appear in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.


The Washington Post: Trump, Biden head to battleground states as court drama plays out in Washington.


Detroit Free Press: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTrump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally Overnight Defense: US, Russia closer on nuclear treaty extension after Moscow accepts warhead freeze | Khashoggi's fiancee sues Saudi crown prince | Biden nets hundreds more national security endorsements Democrats make gains in Georgia Senate races: poll MORE (D-Calif.) to visit Michigan on Tuesday.


The Associated Press: Trump’s Ohio suburb slide signals peril in industrial north.


CONGRESS: House Democrats rolled out a clean government spending bill nine days before the Sept. 30 deadline that would fund it through mid-December and avert a partial government shutdown. 


The bill unveiled by Democrats would fund the government until Dec. 11. However, Democrats announced the bill absent any deal with GOP lawmakers, with the House likely to pass a short-term spending measure by the end of the week to allow the Senate to pass it before next Wednesday’s expiration of federal funding.


“We continue to believe that the Congress should complete its work by passing full appropriations bills by December, which the House has already done,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We must continue to work to reach agreement on a coronavirus relief package that meets the health and economic needs of the American people.”


However, shortly after the bill was released, Republicans cried foul, as it does not include $30 billion to refill the Commodity Credit Corporation, an assistance program for farmers that is opposed by Democrats. McConnell said in a statement that the legislation “shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need.” Grassley tweeted that Democrats should be “ashamed for leaving our farmers in the lurch.”


A senior administration official told The Hill that it's unlikely that Trump will sign the funding bill should it pass both chambers without the provision (The Hill).


As CNN notes, time is running short to pass any bill because there are only four legislative days left on the calendar before the Sept. 30 deadline. Congress will hold a memorial for Ginsburg on Friday and will be out of Washington on Monday and Tuesday for Yom Kippur. 


The Associated Press: Democrats unveiling temporary funding bill to avert shutdown.


The Washington Post: House, Senate on collision course over government funding as shutdown looms in nine days.


The Hill: Congressional Budget Office report: $900 billion a year needed to stabilize post-crisis debt.




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! 


Hypocrisy and constitutional etiquette, by George F. Will, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3mIg9tC 


Voting GOP means voting against health care, by Paul Krugman, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/343sGPV 


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The House meets at 9 a.m. The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security at 11 a.m. will hear testimony from Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, on the status of a U.S.-Taliban peace accord.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Edward Meyers to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.


The president has a primarily non-public schedule today at the White House before leaving this evening to hold a campaign rally at 7 p.m. in Pittsburgh, Pa.


The vice president will headline a campaign event this afternoon at a hangar at the Gilford, N.H., airport.


The COVID-19 Memorial Project between 8 and 9 a.m. will complete the installation of 20,000 U.S. flags on the National Mall to commemorate the deaths of more than 200,000 people in the U.S. from the coronavirus. Placed by volunteers, the flags are to remain in place through sunset on Wednesday. 


INVITATION: On Wednesday, The Hill Virtually Live hosts “Work Redefined,” with sessions at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., where employers, economists, innovators, policymakers and futurists discuss what lies ahead for America’s workforce and economy. Guests include Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), co-chair of the House Future of Work Caucus; Rep. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksBipartisan lawmakers call for broadband expansion to eliminate inequities The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, GOP allies prepare for SCOTUS nomination this week MORE (R-Ind.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler (D). 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.


Coronavirus: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday pulled revised guidance from its website that had said airborne transmission was thought to be the main way COVID-19 spreads, saying it was “posted in error.” The change came three days after the new guidance was quietly published on Friday. “CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19),” the CDC wrote. “Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted” (The Hill). … Here’s why many scientists believe COVID-19 can be airborne, or aerosolized (The New York Times). ... In Great Britain, British officials are expected to roll out a new wave of restrictions as infections and deaths continue to spike across the country from the novel coronavirus. According to “Good Morning Britain” host Piers Morgan, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce Tuesday that pubs across the United Kingdom must close by 10 p.m. in an effort to slow the spread of the virus (The Associated Press). … The Taj Mahal monument in India reopened Monday, having been closed for six months due to COVID-19. The monument welcomed its first visitors India struggles to get a hold of the virus. Between Sunday and Monday, India recorded 86,961 new coronavirus cases, according to Reuters (The Hill).


International: Alexei Navalny said on Monday that the nerve agent Novichok was found “in and on” his body and demanded that Russia return to him the clothes he was wearing on Aug. 20 in Siberia when he fell into a coma. The opposition leader to Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe foreign policy canyon between Americans over China Russia ready to freeze nuclear warheads in exchange for New START extension Safeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt MORE called his clothing “a crucial piece of evidence” as he continues to recuperate in Berlin (The Associated Press). … Italians came out in large numbers on Monday to take part in a referendum vote to cut the number of seats in parliament by one-third despite COVID-19 and intense hygiene measures at the polls. Turnout showed that nearly 60 to 75 percent of eligible voters voted in various parts of the country (The Associated Press).


District Watch: Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserFederal court rules DC church can resume services outdoors despite city restrictions DC-area health officials urge COVID-19 testing for anyone at White House event DC reports highest single-day rise in coronavirus cases since June MORE (D) announced Monday that the District is investing $4 million as part of a program to help businesses offering outdoor dining adapt to winter conditions. The program will provide grant recipients $6,000 to assist with winterizing outdoor dining spaces. The funds can be used for items including tents, heaters, propane, lighting and furniture, according to the mayor’s office (The Hill). 


And finally … Scientists report the Earth’s rarest diamonds, such as the 45.52 carat Hope Diamond, pictured below at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History, are made of carbon from a newly discovered, ancient reservoir hidden in the planet’s lower mantle, about 435 miles beneath the surface. 


The chemical clues suggest a previously unknown limit to how deep Earth’s carbon cycle extends. Rare, superdeep diamonds can help scientists understand changes to the planet’s climate over eons, according to researchers, noting that diamonds form at different depths before making their way to the surface where they are unearthed — and prized (Science News).