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The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Goldman Sachs – Pelosi, Mnuchin push stimulus talks forward, McConnell applies brakes

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday! Thirteen days until Election Day. 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, 219,674; Tuesday, 220,133; Wednesday, 221,076.

Tuesday’s deadline to potentially reach a deal on a coronavirus relief package before Election Day came and went without an accord, but negotiators agreed that they are on the march to finding a possible resolution and will continue talks in the coming days. 


Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, pressed to find a way forward on a preelection deal, talked once again on Tuesday and indicated that they see daylight toward reaching an agreement, with the two sides moving closer to one another on key aspects they’ve been haggling over for three months. According to Drew Hammill, a spokesman for the Speaker, the two spoke for 45 minutes, with the conversation providing “more clarity and common ground as they move closer to an agreement.”


“Today’s deadline enabled the Speaker and Secretary to see that decisions could be reached and language could be exchanged, demonstrating that both sides are serious about finding a compromise,” Hammill said in a statement. “On several open questions, the Speaker and the Secretary called for the committee chairs to work to resolve differences about funding levels and language.”


Hammill added that the two will continue discussions on Wednesday afternoon after Mnuchin returns from the Middle East, where he was leading the U.S.-Israeli delegation to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. 


Appearing on Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, Pelosi said that the two sides still have to bridge the divide on two issues: funding for state and local governments and liability protection, which has been the key issue for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in any bill.  


In the most recent proposals, the White House offered $300 billion in funds for state and local governments, compared to $436 billion in the Democratic offer. On the liability issue, Pelosi argued that the issue “is something that is not coronavirus centric,” but noted that there is “a balance that can be struck” on the topic in an eventual bill.


“I am optimistic because I do think we have a shared value, not many, but a shared value that, finally, they want to crush the virus,” Pelosi told Bloomberg’s David Westin. “And that has been a change from even over the weekend when they put forth language that wasn’t respectful of what we needed to do from the standpoint of science to crush the virus.”


“We all want to get an agreement because people need it and it’s urgent, and our economy needs it,” she continued. “We’re on a path. You have to be optimistic. As the secretary and I say to each other, if we didn’t believe we could get this done, why would we even be talking to each other?”





For months, discussions between the White House and Democratic negotiators have yielded little except more discussions, with leaders on both sides repeatedly casting doubt on the possibility of agreeing on a comprehensive package. Adding to the problems, Senate Republicans remain largely steadfast in their opposition to a deal in the neighborhood of $2 trillion.


On Tuesday, though, McConnell signaled that if President Trump backs a deal that reaches the Senate, it will receive a vote. The GOP leader previously said over the weekend that the Senate would consider a potential agreement but had stopped short of explicitly saying an agreement would get a vote. 


“If a presidentially supported bill clears the House at some point we’ll bring it to the floor,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. The Kentucky Republican did not, however, commit to a vote in the next 13 days before the November election (The Hill).


Nevertheless, the GOP leader still has his reservations. According to The Washington Post, McConnell has privately urged the White House against striking a deal before the election, arguing that Democrats are negotiating in bad faith and that it would disrupt the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 


Mike Lillis & Scott Wong, The Hill: Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief.


The Associated Press: Pandemic relief talks inch ahead, but McConnell is resistant.


The increased urgency on the part of both sides of the negotiating table comes as those in economic circles continue to clamor for a deal as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the U.S. 


Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said on Tuesday he is “reasonably confident” the U.S. economic recovery will maintain momentum into next year, but that without more fiscal stimulus the recovery could stall and more job losses could become permanent (Reuters). 


In New York, 1.5 million people cannot afford food, making food pantries their lifeline (The New York Times).


For the first time in 50 years, workers older than 55 are experiencing higher unemployment rates than midcareer workers since the onset of the pandemic, according to a study released on Tuesday by the New School university in New York. The study found that 1.4 million workers over 55 lost their jobs since April and remain unemployed half a year later. In every recession since the 1970s, older workers had persistently lower unemployment rates than midcareer workers — partly because of seniority benefits and protections that are increasingly scarce (The Associated Press).





Addendum: The Senate will vote on Monday on Barrett’s nomination to become an associate justice on the Supreme Court (The Hill). … Barrett served for nearly three years on the trustee board of Christian Trinity Schools Inc., which effectively barred admission to students with same-sex parents and discouraged hiring gay and lesbian teachers (The Associated Press). … Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Tuesday he intends to run for his party’s No. 2 spot if Democrats retake the majority in November, appearing to take himself out of the running to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee (The Hill).

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Trump lashed out again on Tuesday at real and perceived adversaries, repeating a pattern his campaign advisers worry is popular with his core base and exhausting for many Americans who still intend to vote in the next 13 days. He is unlikely to be in a better mood today when former President Obama makes his first campaign appearance for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at events in Philadelphia.


Obama, who delivered a searing indictment of Trump during the Democratic National Convention, will rail against the 45th president and urge Americans to vote, especially in battleground Pennsylvania, for the Biden-Harris ticket, reports The Hill’s Amie Parnes. “President Obama understands more intensely than anyone what’s at stake this election as Donald Trump has systematically attacked his legacy every day since taking office nearly four years ago,” Democratic strategist Joel Payne said.


Obama is expected to participate in a drive-in rally at the South Philadelphia sports complex and appear at one other event (CBS3Philly).


“He knows what motivates Joe, what inspires him, why he’s running for office, to bring our country together, to make sure we build back better than we were before, and I don’t think there’s anybody in a better position to … speak on behalf of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris than President Obama,” said Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s former White House lieutenant and an adviser to Biden’s campaign.





Trump began his day with a “Fox & Friends” interview during which he repeated his accusations that Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, should be investigated by the Justice Department for what the president insists are past misdeeds that put the Democratic presidential nominee in a bad light before the election.


There is no evidence of criminal activity by Hunter Biden, and some Republicans say they are increasingly frustrated that Trump’s focus on unsubstantiated wrongdoing diverts from what should be a closing argument to voters about the GOP agenda during a second term, including plans for the economy and responses to the coronavirus crisis.


“We have got to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends,” citing a controversial New York Post report about Hunter Biden’s business dealings six years ago (The Hill).


Trump called on Attorney General William Barr to “appoint somebody” to handle the matter, backing a group of House Republicans who have asked Barr to appoint a special prosecutor (The Hill).


The Hill: GOP pollster Frank Luntz on Tuesday blasted Trump’s campaign performance as “the worst campaign I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been watching them since 1980. They’re on the wrong issues. They’re on the wrong message.” Luntz said Trump’s focus on the former vice president’s son was a mistake during a pandemic and economic downturn: “Hunter Biden does not help put food on the table. Hunter Biden does not help anyone get a job. Hunter Biden does not provide health care or solve COVID. And Donald Trump spends all of his time focused on that and nobody cares.”


The New York Times: The Biden campaign entered October with a commanding financial advantage, according to new filings. Heading into the final full month of the campaign, Biden had $177 million in the bank compared to only $63 million for the Trump campaign — a nearly three-to-one advantage. Meanwhile, The Associated Press details how the Trump campaign burned through $1 billion, putting the GOP nominee at a cash disadvantage in the final weeks of his bid for a second term HERE.


The Hill: Republicans urge Trump to focus on policy rather than personal fights.


CNN: On Tuesday afternoon during a White House taping of a “60 Minutes” preelection interview to air on CBS on Sunday, Trump abruptly ended the back and forth with Lesley Stahl after 45 minutes and declined to complete a planned segment with Vice President Pence. The president, unhappy with Stahl’s questions and asserting that his opponent gets favorable news coverage, later threatened on Twitter to release a White House tape of the interview (The Washington Post). Trump’s behavior and comments will attract a curious audience for the oldest and most-watched news magazine program on television. 


During an evening rally in Erie, Pa., on Tuesday, Trump lamented that he had to visit northwest Pennsylvania for a rally, saying that he wouldn’t have done so if it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic. 


“Before the plague came in, I had it made. I wasn’t coming to Erie. I have to be honest. There was no way I was coming. I didn’t have to,” he told attendees. “We had this thing won, we were so far up, we had the greatest economy ever, greatest jobs, greatest everything, and then we got hit with the plague and I had to go back to work. Hello, Erie, can I please have your vote?” (The Washington Post).


He will campaign in Gastonia, N.C., tonight before debating Biden for a second and final time on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.


First lady Melania Trump had been scheduled to accompany the president on Tuesday to the Keystone State before canceling due to a “lingering cough” resulting from her recent infection with COVID-19, her spokeswoman said (The Hill).


Poll watch: Trump and Biden appear to be in a dead heat in North Carolina, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News survey (Trump won in 2016 by nearly 4 points). … Biden leads Trump nationally by 9 points, according to a New York Times-Siena College poll. … The former vice president narrowly leads the incumbent president in Wisconsin and Arizona, according to a CBS News tracker poll. (In 2016, Trump was the first GOP presidential nominee to win Wisconsin since 1984. Trump won Arizona by 3.5 points four years ago.) 


MORE POLITICS: Republicans are scrambling to shore up their conservative base in Georgia amid rising fears within the party that the state’s status as a GOP stronghold is at risk of slipping away as it turns into a preeminent battleground state this year. 


As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, the concerns in the Peach State do not pertain only to the president’s grueling fight for the state’s 16 electoral votes in next month’s election.  Georgia also has two toss-up Senate contests on the map this fall, with recent polling showing that Democratic candidates in those races — Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock — are gaining ground.


In an effort to repeat his 2016 win in the state, Trump appeared in Macon, Ga., on Friday to rally his base supporters, though political watchers are alarmed that the state could flip blue for the first time since 1992.


The Hill: Democrats in the Senate seem unlikely to move against Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, who is the target of frustration among some progressives. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters he conferred with Feinstein, but he declined to comment on her Judiciary role. “I had a long and serious talk with Sen. Feinstein. That’s all I’m going to say,” Schumer said (The Hill). 


The Hill: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants to review ActBlue’s source of small-dollar contributions.


> House fight: The battle for control of the House is being fought across the broadest playing field in a decade, as The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports. According to advertising data, Democrats and Republicans are playing in 61 districts around the country, including in some districts where neither side has had a chance in recent years.


> Beware QAnon: In an era in which nearly every eligible voter has easy access to massive amounts of factual, well researched and well sourced information, false and fictitious conspiracy theories circulating about satanic pedophiles allegedly battled in secret by Trump and allegedly backed by Biden are embraced by a significant percentage of the president’s supporters. Yahoo News reports that 50 percent of the president’s backers believe QAnon misinformation, according to a new survey. … Conservative Latino male voters anecdotally cited fears of a fictional left-wing pedophile ring during Monday’s The Daily podcast, which reported on voters in Arizona (The New York Times). … With encouragement from the president, GOP voters have propelled QAnon out of 2017’s 4chan website murk and into mainstream campaigns (The New York Times). … California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D): “What I learned when QAnon came for me” (The New York Times opinion). … A ban on QAnon misinformation by TikTok has not been airtight (Media Matters). … Facebook continues to ban right-wing militant organizations including QAnon, but the banned groups continue to organize and run pages on the platform (BuzzFeed).    


The Associated Press: A voter registration push in battleground states is viewed by Republicans as a bright spot for the party.


The Washington Post: GOP voters outnumber Democratic voters in Florida on first day of in-person voting. 


The Hill: Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican National Committee fundraiser, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent after he was charged earlier this month.




The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


Trump’s attack on the debate commission is an attack on the election itself, by former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), opinion contributor, The Washington Post. 


COVID-19 vaccine barriers: Efficacy, availability and acceptability, by Richard P. Wenzel, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


The House is out of Washington until after the election.


The Senate will convene at noon.


The president headlines a campaign rally in Gastonia, N.C., at 7 p.m.


Vice President Pence delivers remarks at campaign rallies in Portsmouth, N.H., at 1:30 p.m., and Cincinnati at 6 p.m.


Biden-Harris campaign events: Biden is off the trail in advance of Thursday’s presidential debate. Harris will headline a morning event in Asheville, N.C., and deliver an evening speech in Charlotte, N.C., to promote early voting. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EDT at Rising on YouTube


TECH: In the most aggressive federal move against tech giants in decades, the Justice Department on Tuesday filed a long-anticipated antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet-owned Google, accusing the world’s largest search engine of abusing its monopoly power (The New York Times and The Hill). The Times digs into the government’s complaint HERE





CORONAVIRUS: Vaccines: Governors and state health officials are pleading with the Trump administration for clarity and more funding as they scramble to develop comprehensive plans to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine, The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel reports. State public health officials say they need at least $8 billion in funding to help with distribution, and the bipartisan leaders of the National Governors Association have asked for a meeting with the White House.


In the United Kingdom, researchers at Imperial College London, backed by British government funding, said on Tuesday that they plan to deliberately infect healthy volunteers with the coronavirus early next year as part of the world’s first effort to study how people immunized with different vaccines respond to controlled exposure to the virus (The Washington Post).


> Outbreaks: COVID-19 killed 10 people after infecting all residents in one Kansas nursing home (CNN). … Students at the University of Michigan are now under an emergency order to stay at home through Nov. 3 amid a surge in COVID-19 infections. Cases of the coronavirus among students account for 60 percent of all those diagnosed locally (CNN).


> Restrictions: California’s plan to allow some outdoor sports stadiums to reopen met with backlash on Tuesday, as county officials declared that the venues should stay shut because of concerns about transmission of COVID-19. Disney executives are frustrated by a Tuesday announcement that requires a countywide coronavirus positivity rate of less than 2 percent before large theme parks can reopen, but applies less stringent standards to smaller parks (The Washington Post).


INTERNATIONAL:  In Lagos, Nigeria — which on Tuesday was under curfew after two weeks of demonstrations against police brutality and at least 15 deaths — protesters were met with a bloody crackdown by government forces. Soldiers opened fire on civilians (Reuters). … At least 545 children who were separated from their parents by the Trump administration in 2017 at the southern border remain lost to their deported parents, according to lawyers working to locate parents in Central America, the American Civil Liberties Union told a judge on Tuesday. About two-thirds of the 1,000-plus parents separated from their children under a 2017 pilot program were deported before a federal judge ordered they be found (NBC News).   


SPORTS: The Los Angeles Dodgers took home Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3. The Dodgers were fueled by Clayton Kershaw, who put aside his postseason struggles to toss six innings of one-run baseball, having retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced while Los Angeles seeks its first World Series title in 32 years. Los Angeles outfielder Mookie Betts became the second player with a home run and two stolen bases in a World Series game since former Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley in 2008 (ESPN). 

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And finally … Invention knows no age limits, especially during a race to save lives during a pandemic. 


A 14-year-old girl from Frisco, Texas, won a $25,000 prize in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to defeat the COVID-19 virus. 


Anika Chebrolu won for using an in-silico methodology for drug discovery that she explored in eighth grade to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the novel coronavirus (CNN).


“My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts,” she said. “How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts.”


When Anika isn’t in a lab or working toward her goal of becoming a doctor or researcher, she trains for the Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam, which she has been practicing for eight years.




Tags Amy Coney Barrett Charles Schumer Dianne Feinstein Dick Durbin Donald Trump Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Melania Trump Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin Valerie Jarrett William Barr

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