The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Georgia election day is finally here; Trump hopes Pence 'comes through for us' to overturn results

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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. 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, 351,590; Tuesday, 353,621.

The eyes of the nation are on Georgia tonight as a pair of Senate runoff contests are set to go down to the wire and will determine the Senate majority and the course of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. 


The races between former Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Georgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' MORE (R-Ga.) and Democrat Jon Ossoff, and Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Herschel Walker skips Georgia's GOP convention Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock MORE (R-Ga.) and Democrat Raphael Warnock will serve as the final electoral word of the 2020 election and the final opportunity for the GOP to provide a check on the Biden presidency. 


In the final day of campaigning, President TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE and Biden each rallied their bases behind their preferred candidates, providing a split screen of the two party leaders and giving the candidates one last chance to turn their base voters out to the polls (The Associated Press). 


“Tomorrow, each of you is going to vote in one of the most important runoff elections in the history of our country,” Trump told supporters in Dalton, Ga., to open his address. “It’s a biggie. Our country is depending on you. The whole world is watching the people of Georgia tomorrow.” 


In the roughly 30 hours between Trump’s appearance and Sunday’s report about the explosive phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Republicans were on edge about the president’s appearance on Monday night and whether he would help or hurt get-out-the-vote operations. However, he left Republicans satisfied with the rambling 81-minute speech.


“I actually think the president helped. He did what I was hoping he was going to do tonight. … He made the case [for Loeffler and Perdue],” said Eric Tanenblatt, a top GOP fundraiser in Georgia and a former chief of staff to then-Gov. Sonny PerdueSonny PerdueThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Georgia election day is finally here; Trump hopes Pence 'comes through for us' to overturn results Civil war between MAGA, GOP establishment could hand Dems total control Trump administration races to finish environmental rules, actions MORE (R). “He clearly is the most popular Republican in the state and he's got a fired up group of voters in Northwest Georgia. ... Mission accomplished and I think it will have the effect that it will need to have.” 


According to the latest polls, Perdue and Loeffler are in statistical ties with Ossoff and Warnock. 


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump imperils GOP's chances in Georgia.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Trump and Biden square off in Georgia on eve of epic Senate runoffs.


Politico: Trump's efforts to overturn election, rescue Senate majority collide in Georgia.


The Hill: Pundit predictions: Who is going to win in Georgia?


Trump’s rally came hours after Biden appealed to voters in Atlanta to back Ossoff and Warnock and to hand Democrats 50 votes in the Senate to flip the chamber. He also used the opportunity to bash the president for his preoccupation with November’s election outcome rather than redoubling COVID-19 vaccination efforts across the country.


“The president spends more time whining and complaining than doing something about the problem,” Biden said, referring to the lackluster distribution of vaccines. “I don’t know why he still wants the job. He doesn’t want to do the work.”


The New York Times: As Georgians prepare to vote, Trump interference draws rebuke.


The Hill: Trump's final push for Georgia runoff dominated by personal grievances.





Among the pressing questions heading into tonight surrounds when to expect the results after the November election took days to count due to the counting of mail-in and absentee ballots. As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, expect a redux of that situation in the Senate contests as Georgia election workers won’t be able to begin tallying ballots until polls close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. 


However, the president’s impact on the race cannot be understated as he has made himself the elephant in the room throughout the past two months since his electoral defeat. In that time, he has routinely engaged in public tussles with Raffensperger and GOP Gov. Brian KempBrian KempNorth Carolina county reverses course, ends coke machine ban MLB All-Star game to stay in Denver, judge rules MLB calls lawsuit over All-Star Game 'political theatrics' MORE. Trump has encouraged Republican senators to tie their futures to him. The Georgia contests now hinge on base turnout. 


“Everything is just so bizarre. In a traditional environment, I'd feel fairly confident,” Josh Holmes, a top adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell shoots down Manchin's voting compromise Environmental groups urge congressional leaders to leave climate provisions in infrastructure package Loeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run MORE (R-Ky.), told the Morning Report on the state of the race. “This really is a shirts and skins exercise in many ways. … It's going to be a really close election. That's the way Georgia's going to be for a while.”


“This is a trying week. We're all hopeful we can get to the end of it without too much damage,” Holmes added.


Heading into tonight, GOP sources say they are facing a deficit of at least 5 points with the early vote they are hopeful to make up for with a massive election day turnout. 


The Hill: Wall Street zeros in on Georgia runoffs.





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ELECTORAL FIGHT: The looming brawl over Congress’s count and certification of the Electoral College continues to consume Washington as the president highlighted the role of Vice President Pence, who will preside over the count. 


During the Georgia rally, Trump put Pence on blast, saying that he hopes the vice president “comes through for us” as he discussed efforts to overturn the presidential election results. 


“I hope that Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Nikki Haley warns Republicans on China: 'If they take Taiwan, it's all over' The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters MORE comes through for us, I have to tell you. I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president comes through for us. He’s a great guy,” Trump said. 


“Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.” Trump continued. “Nah, Mike is a great guy. He’s a wonderful man and a smart man and a man that I like a lot.” 


Trump did not expand on what he wants Pence to do. The comments came during a prolonged commentary on the election during which the president incorrectly claimed he won “in a landslide” in an election “rigged” against him (The Hill).


The Associated Press: Loyal soldier Pence torn between Trump, Constitution.


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, the certification is also taking its toll on Capitol Hill as the call has put Republican lawmakers on the defensive and put a damper on an insurgent GOP bid to challenge the results of electoral votes in key states. That effort suffered blows in recent days as Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Court fines baker 0 for refusing to make gender transition cake Nikki Haley warns Republicans on China: 'If they take Taiwan, it's all over' MORE (R-Ark.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic Graham, Whitehouse: Global transition to renewables would help national security Hillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals MORE (R-S.C.) and Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office GOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Trump dismisses climate change, calls on Biden to fire joint chiefs MORE (R-N.D.), a cadre of prominent conservatives and Trump allies, signaled they would oppose the contestation of electoral votes.


The Hill: Trump warns Cotton after senator says he won't object to Biden certification. 





Across the aisle, Democrats are calling for a criminal investigation into Trump as he’s set to leave the White House in 15 days. However, Biden has indicated he does not favor federal investigations of Trump after he leaves office despite some Democrats arguing that the Raffensperger call crossed a red line. 


CNN: House Republicans rush to Trump's defense over Georgia call as Democrats prep censure resolution.


The Associated Press: Many more in the GOP are rejecting Trump’s bid to undo his defeat. 


The Hill: Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.): Trump’s Georgia call “a new low in this whole futile and sorry episode.”


While Trump gears up for Wednesday, the actions of recent weeks are Exhibit A that the president’s power is waning as he prepares to leave the presidency, with Republicans growing increasingly willing to confront him on policy matters and dispute his false assertions about voter fraud. 


As The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels write, the GOP-controlled Senate has overridden Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, rebuffing the president’s complaints about the legislation in the first and likely only veto override of his presidency. McConnell has made little effort to pass a bill for a round of $2,000 stimulus checks, which Trump clamored for as he complained about the package that tied government spending to coronavirus relief funds. 


According to ABC News, Trump has become increasingly isolated in his final days as he trains his focus on Wednesday’s machinations, which will go nowhere and cement Biden as the next president. However, his support to contest the election grew on Monday as Loeffler announced that she will join the group of Republicans backing the effort, bringing that total to 13 senators (The Hill).


The Hill: Trump's Georgia call triggers debate on criminal penalties.


The Hill: Republican infighting on election intensifies.


Complicating Wednesday, thousands of Trump supporters are expected to converge on the nation’s capital to protest the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. At least four groups have submitted permits to the National Park Service for demonstrations, prompting D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserWhite House to host large outdoor gathering for July 4 DC board votes to lift last COVID-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants Hogan announces Maryland will close mass vaccination sites, shift to local clinics MORE (D) to urge city residents to stay home and to avoid counter-protests (The Hill).


NBC Washington: D.C. businesses board up in preparation for Wednesday's protests.


CONGRESS: The House on Monday adopted new rules to govern the 117th Congress that will extend remote voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, protect whistleblowers and limit the minority’s ability to amend legislation on the floor. 


As The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke and Cristina Marcos write, lawmakers had a limited ability to use the changes implemented last year to accommodate attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic and could only cast votes in the new session of Congress that began on Sunday if they were physically present in the chamber. The new set of rules were adopted in a 217-206 party-line vote.


The package also included language that would make significant changes to the motion to recommit (MTR), a procedural tool used by the minority party to alter bills at the eleventh hour on the floor. Instead of amending legislation ahead of the final vote, bills would be sent back to committee for more consideration.


Among the other changes included, a compromise will now allow the House Budget Committee chair to eliminate the pay-as-you-go budgetary rule which requires offsets for deficit-increasing legislation — on bills related to health or economic relief related to the pandemic or combating global warming. Another alteration mandates the use of gender-neutral language in the House rules, including pronouns and references to familial relationships like father, son, mother or daughter. 


“We made this change for the sake of inclusion, not exclusion,” House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said.


The Hill: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) concludes congressional prayer with “amen and awoman.”


Reid Wilson, The Hill: Washington state neighbors underscore internal Democratic tensions.







CORONAVIRUS: Moderna on Monday revealed that it will increase production of its COVID-19 vaccine, upping the planned total for the year from 500 million doses to 600 million doses, and will allocate resources to hopefully produce 1 billion vaccine doses in total this year, the company announced on Monday.


By the end of the first quarter of 2021, the company anticipates roughly 100 million doses to be available for Americans, with 200 million doses total available by the second quarter (The Hill).


> Virus worries: Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerProgressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill House narrowly approves .9B Capitol security bill after 'squad' drama GOP urges members to vote against Capitol security bill MORE (R-Texas), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, announced Monday that she tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the 49th member of Congress to do so. Granger was on the House floor on Sunday for opening day of the 117th Congress and was seen interacting with members throughout (The Hill).


> Vaccine dosing: The Food and Drug Administration on Monday said vaccine dosing strategies that change the 21 or 28 days recommended between shots or the amount of vaccine in each shot in an effort to stretch scarce supplies and possibly get more people inoculated faster are not on the table because there is no science backing such modifications. In the United States, vaccine supplies are not the immediate issue. The problem is reliance on a strained health care delivery system to administer COVID-19 vaccine doses that have been distributed nationwide (The Associated Press).


> State Watch: Chicago Public Schools is slated to resume in-person learning next week and plans to bring students back in tiers over the coming weeks. Preschool and some special education students can return next week, but also have the option to continue with remote learning, while K-8 students can resume in-person learning on Feb. 1. No date has been set for high school students (The Associated Press).


> International: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that Great Britain will enter a new lockdown until mid-February in an effort to slow the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus that has taken off in a “frustrating and alarming way” across the country. 


“As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” Johnson said in an address to the nation on Monday night. 


Starting today, in-person learning is suspended at all levels except for vulnerable students and children of essential workers.




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! 


Trump is playing an Orwellian numbers game, by Charles Lane, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3bfmiu5 


An awesome spectacle of dishonesty and opportunism, by Gerard Baker, editor-at-large, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3hJFd0Z  


The House meets at noon. 


The Senate will convene on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.


The president has no public schedule.


Vice President Pence will lead a coronavirus task force meeting at 2:15 p.m.


Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' Biden's plan for Central American kids is no substitute for asylum State Department bans Guatemalan lawmaker from entering US MORE will meet with transition advisers.


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


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NEW ADMINISTRATION: Security experts are hopeful that former Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryBudowsky: President Biden for the Nobel Peace Prize Bishops to debate banning communion for president In Europe, Biden seeks to reassert U.S. climate leadership MORE will use his upcoming special envoy role on the National Security Council (NSC) in the Biden administration to focus not just on emissions reductions, but also on security risks (The Hill). 


TECH: Google workers’ decision to form a union initially only representing a small fraction of the company’s massive workforce offers an interesting framework for potential organizing at other Silicon Valley giants (The Hill).


➔ SPORTS: The NCAA announced on Monday that the entire 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will take place in Indiana, with most games occurring at venues in Indianapolis, due to the novel coronavirus. The 68-team field will be revealed on March 14, with the tournament starting that week. According to the NCAA, games will be played at locations including Lucas Oil Stadium (home of Indianapolis Colts), Bankers Life Coliseum (home of Indiana Pacers), and on the campuses of Butler University, Purdue University and the University of Indiana at Bloomington (ESPN).





And finally … talk about a stroke of luck. David MacMillan, a law student, walked into his local Giant in Northeast Washington, D.C., to get his groceries, and walked out inoculated against COVID-19 following a surprise inquiry from a pharmacy worker.


“She turned to us and was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got two doses of the vaccine and I’m going to have to throw them away if I don’t give them to somebody. We close in 10 minutes. Do you want the Moderna vaccine?” said MacMillan, who otherwise would have been months down the tiered list of those prioritized to receive the vaccine in January in the nation’s capital.


So, a word to the wise: If you walk into your local pharmacy around closing time, you might get lucky! (NBC Washington).