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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Thankfully, it is Friday! 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; Wednesday, 200,814; Thursday, 201,910; Friday, 202,819.

Lawmakers in both parties pushed back Thursday against 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’s refusal this week to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the presidential contest to 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

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.) tweeted his response without referencing Trump, who for months has argued without evidence that mass mail-in voting will be “rigged” and subject to fraud. The president tells his supporters to request absentee ballots or vote in-person. He has also suggested they vote twice, which is illegal.

“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792,” McConnell wrote. He did not respond when asked what might happen if Trump loses and refuses to step down (NBC News). 

Other Republicans who issued similar statements included Sen. 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) and Sen. 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), who is in a precarious reelection battle. Romney wasted no time before tweeting his rebuke following Trump’s evening remarks on Wednesday: “Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable,” the Utah senator wrote. 

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, Trump’s refusal to dismiss the idea that he might contest election results for weeks after ballots are tallied put Senate Republicans on the defensive. Democrats, reeling from the death of 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, pounced on Trump's comments as an opening to regain some political momentum and mobilize Democrats and some of the small percentage of voters who say they are undecided.

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.) commended McConnell for issuing his statement. “That was a real change," she added.  

The Associated Press: Despite Trump attacks, both parties vow orderly election. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Senate Democrats seek to alleviate public concern about some results not being available on election night Georgia senator mocks Harris's name before Trump rally: 'Kamala-mala-mala, I don't know' MORE (I-Vt.), delivering his first major speech since losing the Democratic primary, addressed his progressive supporters from an empty hall at George Washington University and warned them about what he sees at stake. 

"This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden," said Sanders, who is backing the former vice president with an urgent call to arms in the final six weeks of the contest. "This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win" (USA Today). 

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, asked by reporters to explain Trump’s intentions, said several times that “the president will accept the results of a free and fair election. He will accept the will of the American people.” She did not elaborate on whether the president believes a contest in which he loses in the Electoral College after millions of mailed ballots have been tallied can be, in his estimation, “free and fair.”

CNN: A list of times the president has said he won’t accept election results or won’t leave office if he loses.

CBS News: How the 2020 campaign is being waged in the courts.

Axios: The apocalypse scenario.

Fox News: Trump campaign bracing for a legal battle over the election, forming “coalition” of lawyers. 

The Guardian: Biden assembles an army of attorneys for a post-election legal fight.

Bloomberg TV, Thursday interview with Ben Ginsberg, former national counsel to the campaigns of former President George W. Bush and Romney:  

“If you were to bet on history, which is always a good bet, then it’s likely there will be a winner on election night. You’ll know that if Joe Biden is winning Florida or Donald Trump is winning the three states Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Undecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw MORE won narrowly [in 2016], which were New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada. And if that occurs on election night, then you may not know the winner in every state, but the pattern is pretty clear in the country as a whole.  

“If those `tells’ don’t happen on election night, then you have to deal with the fact that there are so many more absentee ballots in some of the key states, like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, that won’t get results for a week, two weeks, maybe three weeks. Once that happens, that’s when the recount process under state law is allowed to commence, so that pushes the timetables back, if there are close elections, way past where we started in Florida [in 2000]. 

“The deadlock-in-the-Electoral College scenario is the least likely, I think, but again, not impossible. We’re talking about it more this year, and the more discussion there is, especially by a president of the United States, about elections being rigged or about the votes being cast being fraudulent, it increases the chances there won’t be a clear winner in the Electoral College, that there will be competing slates. … Really, almost everything depends on the two candidates and their rhetoric and what they say about this, and what they tell to their supporters and how they react.”  [Video time stamp 23:37]

 



 

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LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: The White House and Democratic negotiators indicated Thursday that talks are on the verge of resuming on another coronavirus relief package after weeks of circling each other and inaction after breaking off discussions in early August.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSchumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi: White House made 'unacceptable changes' to testing language during negotiations on coronavirus stimulus Mnuchin joins Israeli delegation in Bahrain to formally normalize relations MORE told the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday that he and Pelosi have agreed to restart negotiations on a new package nearly two months after talks stalled out in early August. 

“I've probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the [continuing resolution],” Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee during a hearing alongside Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell. “And we've agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act.” 

Pelosi also confirmed that negotiations are expected to resume, telling reporters: “We'll be hopefully soon to the table with them."  

The comments from the pair of negotiators come amid a months-long deadlock over a fifth coronavirus relief package, which has stalled over the inability for the two sides to agree on the size and scope of a potential deal. Pelosi and House Democrats have maintained that any deal must be north of $2 trillion, with the White House and Republicans capping a package at $1.3 trillion (The Hill). 

As The Hill’s Mike Lillis writes, Pelosi is pushing ahead with the Democratic effort with or without agreement from the White House or Republicans and asked her committee heads to draft a new Democratic relief package. The hope is to bring the bill — which is expected to be in the range of $2.2 trillion, according to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Kudlow confident that Trump can 'round up' Senate GOP behind coronavirus relief deal | US deficit spikes to record .1T Top Democrat: Tax credit expansions must be in next coronavirus relief package Treasury withheld nearly M from FDNY 9/11 health program MORE (D-Mass.) — to the floor next week if a bipartisan deal is not struck in the interim. 

“The contours are all there; I think it's about [a] time frame and all of that,” Neal said Thursday. “The Ways and Means Committee wrote most of it to begin with … so we're just going to revisit a lot of it.”

The Hill: Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid. 

The Washington Post: Pelosi abruptly shifts course, restarts relief push amid signs economy is straining. 

Market Watch: Powell says lack of fiscal package adds to downside risk. 

Yahoo Finance: Jobless claims: Another 870,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims last week.

Congress is also set to approve a clean government spending bill next week as the Senate prepares to take up the package and pass it shortly before the Wednesday night deadline and avert a partial government shutdown.

Senate Republicans are expected to hold a vote on final passage of the continuing resolution (CR) on Tuesday evening or Wednesday, which would keep the government funded through Dec. 11. The House passed the bipartisan bill on Tuesday evening. 

”I just heard on the floor a minute ago from the staff that we’re going to come back Tuesday evening and vote on the CR," said Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: GOP cool to White House's .6T coronavirus price tag | Company layoffs mount as pandemic heads into fall | Initial jobless claims drop to 837,000 GOP cool to White House's .6T coronavirus price tag The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election MORE (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee (The Hill). 

 

 

> Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerGovernment efforts to 'fix' social media bias overlooks the destruction of our discourse The Section 230 fight Congress should be having Americans want to serve — it's up to us to give them the chance MORE (R-Miss.) says his panel will issue subpoenas to the chief executives of Twitter Inc., Alphabet Inc's Google and Facebook Inc. if they do not agree to testify at a hearing on Oct. 1. The hearing will discuss a legal immunity known as Section 230 that technology companies have when it comes to liability over content posted by users (Reuters). 

The Hill: Trump's push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress. 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

2020 POLITICS & ELECTIONS: The president is attempting to shore up his stance on pre-existing medical conditions, a key campaign issue, even as he continues to support a lawsuit seeking to overturn those protections in ObamaCare and Democrats continue to use health insurance coverage as a cornerstone campaign issue, especially during the pandemic.

As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan details, the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act has gained increased attention after Ginsburg’s death. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Nov. 10.  Democrats pan Trump consistently over his push to “repeal and replace” the 2010 law. The president on Thursday signed a largely symbolic executive order focused on showing his support for mandated insurance coverage for pre-existing health conditions, one of the most popular provisions of ObamaCare across parties. Trump boasted of lowering insurance premiums and drug prices while opposing surprise medical bills.   

“The historic action I am taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions,” Trump said during a speech in North Carolina, a key swing state. “So we're making that official. 

Trump said in August he would unveil a health care plan before the election. The White House said his “vision” speech on Thursday was that plan.  

The Hill: Pelosi slams Trump’s executive order on pre-existing conditions: “It isn’t worth the paper it’s signed on.”

The Washington Post: Trump looks for ways to win over voters on health care after failing to deliver on promises. 

The Washington Post: Trump settles for rebranding rather than repealing ObamaCare.

The Hill: Tightening polls in key swing states raise pressure on Biden.

Florida Times-Union: Trump makes “law and order” a centerpiece of his Thursday rally in Florida.

The Associated Press: Biden’s low-key campaign style worries some Democrats. 

NBC News analysis: Biden campaigns to win, as Trump maneuvers to hold power. 

 

 

> House fight: Democrats who are pining to turn Texas blue are aiming high as they make a play to defeat Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawChanging suburbs threaten GOP hold on Texas Biden, Democrats see late opportunity in Texas Dan Crenshaw releases Hollywood-type action movie trailer MORE (R-Texas), hoping his district could be a bellwether in their effort to flip the Lone Star State. 

Crenshaw’s seat in the 2nd District is one of several in Texas that Democrats are contesting this cycle, and the party has grown bullish that the high-profile freshman Republican could be knocked off on Nov. 3. However, as The Hill’s Tal Axelrod writes in a story that will publish later this morning, while several other Democratic House contenders are either competing for open seats or in districts with lesser-known incumbents, the party could face trouble in its bid to defeat Crenshaw, considered a rising star in the party and among the most impressive in his class of lawmakers. 

Democrats have put their weight behind Sima Ladjevardian, a prominent attorney with a compelling life story, as they push to flip the suburban Houston district. 

The New York Times: Women favor Biden, according to poll results in red states. 

Close races in Georgia, Iowa and Texas show Trump’s vulnerability and suggest that Biden has assembled a formidable coalition, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.

The Hill: 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.), speaking of his campaign: “I’m getting killed financially.” 

The Hill: Disinformation, QAnon efforts targeting Latino voters ramp up ahead of presidential election. 

AARP: COVID-19 threatens voting in nursing homes as election approaches.

OPINION

The truth About people of praise, by Peggy Noonan, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/302F3KL 

Trump’s TikTok deal would only make the problem worse, by Josh Rogin, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2HvXukD  

COVID-19 facts obscured by the politics of fear, by Marc Siegel, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/33VJsjH 

 

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! 

 

 

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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet for a pro forma session at 9 a.m. The full House is out of session on Monday for Yom Kippur and will return Tuesday. 

The Senate convenes on Monday at 2:45 p.m. for a pro forma session. 

The U.S. Capitol: The casket of Justice Ginsburg will lie in state in Statuary Hall today,  making her the first woman to receive such an honor. Because of precautions tied to the coronavirus, the ceremony inside the Capitol will be for invited guests only (The New York Times). 

The president will campaign today in three states and Washington, D.C. Starting in Doral, Fla., Trump will participate in a roundtable at 11 a.m. focused on wooing Latino voters. Trump will fly from Miami to Atlanta and speak about economic opportunities for Blacks at 2:40 p.m. in Cobb Galleria Centre. The president will fly from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., to participate in a fundraiser with supporters at Trump International Hotel at 6:45 p.m. Trump will then fly from Washington to Newport News, Va., to headline a rally at 9 p.m. (The Washington Post), and return to the nation’s capital. … On Saturday at 5 p.m. in the Rose Garden, Trump will announce his nominee to the Supreme Court. At 7 p.m. on Saturday, the president will hold a campaign rally in Middletown, Pa., at the Harrisburg airport.

Economic indicator: The Census Bureau will report at 8:30 a.m. on U.S. durable goods in August. Analysts expect gains for the fourth consecutive month.

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

ELSEWHERE

COURTS: A federal judge in California late on Thursday said the once-every-10-years U.S. Census, which has not been completed, must continue through the end of October and cannot end this month as the administration had sought. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in California ruled that a shortened schedule would likely yield inaccurate results (The Associated Press).  

STATE WATCH: In Kentucky, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer pleaded for calm a day after peaceful protests in his city turned violent and a gunman shot and wounded two police officers after a decision not to prosecute Kentucky police officers for killing Breonna Taylor in March. Activists took to the streets and vowed to press on for racial justice and police reforms after a grand jury Wednesday decided not to bring homicide charges against the officers who burst into Taylor’s apartment during a drug investigation gone wrong (The Associated Press). … A state public health official in Virginia on Thursday sought to stop Trump’s planned campaign rally for 4,000 supporters in the state tonight because the gathering violates Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) coronavirus executive order against gatherings of that size. The effort was unlikely to stop or alter the rally, which like many hosted by the Trump campaign both outdoors and indoors does not heed social distancing or mask-wearing requirements (The Associated Press). 

CORONAVIRUS: The number of newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus are rising once again in the U.S., building a new crescendo of disease that is likely to exceed earlier waves of infection in a pandemic. With U.S. schools back in session and the weather cooling, cases have begun to rise in recent weeks as the U.S. averages about 40,000 new cases a day over the past week, increased from 34,000 cases a day earlier this month (The Hill). … Great Britain announced a new program on Thursday to boost the financial situation of workers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to stop layoffs. Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Britain’s top treasury official, rolled out a plan to lawmakers on Thursday to subsidize wages for workers who have had their hours slashed by the pandemic in an attempt to prop up the economy. The new initiative would replace a furlough worker program that expires next month (The Associated Press). … SinoVac, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, said Thursday that it’s coronavirus vaccine should be ready for worldwide distribution in early 2021 for distribution, and is expected to apply to the Food and Drug Administration to sell CoronaVac if it passes the final round of testing. The news comes despite the U.S. common practice of blocking sales of Chinese vaccines due to strict regulations (The Associated Press). 

➔ Outer space: NASA reported that an asteroid roughly the size of a school bus whizzed by Earth early Thursday morning, traveling from about 13,000 miles away over the Pacific Ocean. Scientists said it posed no danger because of its “tiny” size and distance from an already stressed-out planet (The Hill). 

THE CLOSER

And finally … Bravo to the winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Relying on savvy guesses or perhaps expert Googling, readers knew their history about the late Justice Ginsburg and her life.  

Puzzle masters who aced this week’s quiz with at least four correct answers: Eric Chapman, Lori Benso, Mary Anne McEnery, Paul Blumstein, J. Patrick White, Donna Nackers, Daniel Bachhuber, Candi Cee, Patrick Kavanagh, Pam Manges, John Donato, Mike Roberts, Terry Pflaumer, Mark Neuman-Scott and Phil Kirstein. 

They knew that the Supreme Court welcomed eight Jewish justices to date. Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman on the high court. 

Justice Felix Frankfurter rejected Ginsburg from a clerkship in 1960 because of her gender. 

Ginsburg served alongside 15 fellow justices during her 27 years on the Supreme Court. 

In 2013, she became the first high court justice to officiate a same-sex wedding. Ginsburg performed the ceremony for Michael Widomski and David Hagedorn, who left a photograph of their marriage with the justice at the court on Sunday (photo below). 

Write-in bonus answer: Ginsburg’s “Notorious R.B.G.” nickname was a spoof on the moniker of rapper “Notorious B.I.G” (also known as Biggie Smalls or Biggie).