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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 628,503; Tuesday, 629,411; Wednesday, 630,816.
President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Biden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE on Tuesday decided that the risk of terror attacks in Afghanistan is high enough that round-the-clock evacuations from Kabul must wind down before Aug. 31, a determination that set off a frantic scramble by people who fear the U.S. military and allies will leave thousands behind to suffer the fate of Taliban rule.
The president had been reluctant to extend the timeline he set, arguing this week that the pace of evacuations would increase and could accomplish U.S. goals to extract Americans as well as Afghan translators, interpreters and relatives. The Taliban rejected the idea of an extended timetable, and the Islamist militants began blocking Afghan access to the Kabul airport (The New York Times).
The president’s decision, which requires U.S. forces to be out of Afghanistan by Tuesday, means allied evacuations must wrap up this week.
“The sooner we can finish, the better,” Biden said Tuesday following a video conference with leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations, which backed the United States during the 20-year war. “Each day of operations brings a risk to our troops. But the completion by Aug. 31 depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport,” he said (The Washington Post).
U.S. officials are reluctant to estimate how many people are still trying to flee in the days left for the withdrawal operations. They believe that thousands of Americans remain in Afghanistan, including some far outside the capital, without a safe or fast way to get to the airport. Tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. government over the past 20 years and are eligible for special visas remain desperate for rescue (The New York Times).
The Associated Press: G-7 leaders could not sway Biden to delay the Afghanistan exodus. “We will go on right up until the last moment that we can,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had openly lobbied to keep the airport presence after Aug. 31.
The president accepted a Pentagon assessment that evacuations can be completed by the deadline he set. As backup, he requested contingency plans in case more time is needed, the White House said in a statement (The Hill).
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (pictured below) said chaos at the Kabul airport posed a danger and routes were being closed to Afghan citizens to prevent people from joining the crowds.
“The road that ends at the Kabul airport has been blocked,” Mujahid said. “Foreigners can go through it, but Afghans are not allowed to take the road.”
Members of Congress from both parties pressed the administration to extend the deadline, concerned that more time is needed and fearful that the U.S. withdrawal of troops has triggered a humanitarian crisis that will leave thousands of people trapped in Kabul without protection (The Hill).
“There has been and remains an overwhelming bipartisan consensus that this cannot be done by Aug. 31,” Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiOn The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Ethics watchdog finds 'substantial' evidence Rep. Malinowski failed to disclose stocks US Chamber targets more House Democrats with ads opposing .5T bill MORE (D-N.J.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who served as a senior State Department official during the Obama administration, said following a classified briefing for House lawmakers.
Reps. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonHow lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation GOP lawmaker says he did not threaten US Embassy staff in Tajikistan House panel approves B boost for defense budget MORE (D-Mass.) and Peter MeijerPeter MeijerThe 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (R-Mich.) returned from Kabul after an unauthorized journey they kept secret until after leaving Afghanistan (The Associated Press). In a statement describing their mission as “oversight,” they predicted the U.S. military will be forced to leave people behind because of conditions on the ground, the time squeeze and Taliban rule.
“We came into this visit wanting, like most veterans, to push the president to extend the August 31st deadline,” they said on Tuesday. “After talking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time, even by September 11. Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban.”
The Associated Press: At-risk Afghans fearing Taliban hunker down, wait to leave.
The Hill: White House tries to shore up its narrative about the Afghanistan withdrawal.
The administration says about 76,000 people have departed Afghanistan since the end of July (71,000 since Aug. 14) aboard U.S. military aircraft as well as commercial and chartered flights, many to intermediary countries for processing before resettlement. In the United States, hundreds of humanitarian organizations and private donors and companies are lending assistance to try to get Afghans past the Taliban blockades, through the airport mayhem and out — and to help families once they are evacuated.
NPR: How to help Afghan refugees in the Washington, D.C., area.
CBS News: Which Afghan refugees are being resettled in the United States and how are they being processed?
Bloomberg News: The administration told aid groups to be prepared to help resettle as many as 50,000 Afghan refugees.
The Wall Street Journal: Airbnb, through its nonprofit arm, is offering to fund and place 20,000 Afghan refugees in temporary housing.
What does Kabul airport look like from the ground? The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense posted an interesting photo gallery HERE.
Arash Azizzada, contributor, The New York Times: “The Afghan people have been all but abandoned to their fate. Despite its promises to evacuate thousands of at-risk Afghans who assisted the United States, the Biden administration has effectively left the job to Afghan-American community organizers, operating from overseas with minimal resources.”
Michael Gerson, The Washington Post: “We know exactly what is going to happen to the women and girls of Afghanistan — what indignities, cruelties and violence will be visited upon them. … Support it or not, Biden’s ruthless realism deserves to be buried on some forgotten day, not associated with the compassion, courage and selflessness shown by Americans on 9/11.”
A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK
Internet regulations are as outdated as dial-up
Facebook supports updated regulations, including four areas where lawmakers can make quick progress:
– Reforming Section 230
– Preventing foreign interference of our elections
– Passing federal privacy law
– Setting rules that allow people to safely transfer data between services
LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: House Democrats on Tuesday came together to allow lawmakers to start work on a $3.5 trillion social spending package after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats scramble to reach deal on taxes On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters MORE (D-Calif.) and a group of 10 moderate House Democrats reached a deal to bring up the bipartisan infrastructure package in roughly a month’s time.
The House voted 220 to 212 along party lines to vote through a rule that gives the green light to begin work on the reconciliation package and requires the lower chamber to bring up the $1 trillion bipartisan bill by Sept. 27. The Tuesday vote finally came together after talks between Democratic leaders and the group of moderates, led by Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerModerates split over climate plans in Democrats' spending package Bleak midterm outlook shadows bitter Democratic battle Democrats downplay deadlines on Biden's broad spending plan MORE (D-N.J.), bled into Tuesday after intense hand-wringing by party leaders and the White House to ensure the cornerstone item of Biden’s agenda did not get gummed up.
“It remains for us to work together, work with the Senate, to write a bill that preserves the privilege of 51 votes in the Senate. So we must work together to do that in a way that passes the House and passes the Senate. And we must do so expeditiously,” Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of the vote.
However, Pelosi downplayed the intra-party disagreement, arguing that it was part of the run-of-the-mill process her party is staring down in the coming weeks. At one point, she declined to label the accord she reached with the centrists a “deal.”
However, as The Hill’s Scott Wong and Cristina Marcos write, the negotiations of this week are but a small example of what Democrats are facing in the coming weeks as they attempt to project a united front in the push to pass the two bills that could total more than $4 trillion overall.
House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDemocrats at odds with Manchin over child tax credit provision The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden, Democrats dig into legislative specifics Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE (D-Ky.) said that writing the legislative text for some components of the spending plan, including changes to Medicare benefits, will be “relatively easy to do,” as those programs already exist. But for policies that don’t, such as a new universal child care program,doing so will be much more challenging.
“You have nothing structurally to use to implement it,” Yarmuth said. “So those are going to be much more difficult to do.”
While they didn't get an immediate vote, the moderate Democrats received a significant concession. Pelosi recently indicated she wants to pass both the bipartisan measure and the yet-to-be-crafted $3.5 trillion bill by Oct. 1. Passing such an enormous piece of legislation with the House's slim majority would be challenging in 37 days even if Congress were in session the entire time. However, the full House isn't scheduled to return until Sept. 20, calling into question how quickly the chamber will be able to act.
Progressive lawmakers know this and are already threatening to not support the bipartisan offering unless the $3.5 trillion package is at least close to passing the lower chamber by Sept. 27. However, there will be some GOP support for that bill as Republicans in the Problem Solvers Caucus favor the Senate-passed legislation.
As part of the deal, Pelosi vowed to rally support for the bipartisan bill. In a statement, the Speaker notably said she had consulted with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazio'Design-build' contracts key to infrastructure success EPA closer to unveiling plan for tackling 'forever chemicals' Congress sends 30-day highway funding patch to Biden after infrastructure stalls MORE (D-Ore.), who has made no bones about his tepid enthusiasm for the Senate measure.
Key question: If the Senate bill passes the House in late September and is signed into law, will moderate Democrats in both chambers — who have publicly balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag — vote yes and put that bill over the top? Those Democrats have not publicly committed to do that.
The New York Times: Democrats scrounge for votes to pass $3.5 trillion budget plan.
Politico: House advances $3.5 trillion budget, ending stalemate between Pelosi and centrists.
The Hill: Biden hands GOP rare unity moment in post-Trump era.
Elsewhere, the House also approved the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in a party-line vote 219 to 212. The bill will now move over to the Senate, which is out of session until mid-September and highly unlikely to advance the bill to the president’s desk as 60 votes are required for passage (The Hill).
CORONAVIRUS: The delta variant continues to spread across the country, but signs from across the Atlantic are showing that booster doses are doing just that: boosting individual protection against COVID-19.
In Israel, the troublesome variant began hitting its population in June. On July 30, Israel began administering booster shots to individuals 60 and over (having expanded that eligibility to those 30 and over on Thursday), and the decision is already paying dividends, as the rate of disease spread has fallen dramatically in recent days, although case totals overall have yet to dip downward. Israel has doled out more than 1 million third doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine to those 60 and older as of Tuesday (Reuters).
The U.S. is set to start handing out booster shots in less than a month, with the first batch going to health care workers, nursing home residents and older Americans.
The Washington Post: Biden receives inconclusive intelligence report on COVID-19 origins.
> Vaccine doses for children: National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said on Tuesday that he does not expect a vaccine to be fully approved for use on children aged 5 to 11 until the end of the year.
Collins indicated to NPR that Pfizer’s jab could be approved for emergency use for youngsters by October, as the company is set to submit its trial data by the end of September, but said full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is further off.
“I've got to be honest, I don't see the approval for kids — 5 to 11 — coming much before the end of 2021,” Collins told NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
Both Pfizer and Moderna are continuing to collect that data and are trying to figure out if children should receive a vaccination dose that is smaller than what is being administered to adults.
The Wall Street Journal: Some parents push to give COVID-19 vaccine to children under 12, against government guidance.
> Stay out of hospitals. Get vaccinated: Between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, what are the comparative risks of COVID-19 infections that result in hospitalizations? Research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be admitted to a hospital when infected with COVID-19 (CNBC).
CBS News: Some hesitant Americans get COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer gets full FDA approval: “There's really no running away from it anymore.”
NBC News: NRA cancels annual meeting in Texas due to COVID-19.
> Vaccine requirements: Fresh off full FDA approval, vaccine mandates continued to roll in on Tuesday, including in the Sunshine State, as Walt Disney World is requiring union employees to get the jab or face termination.
Local 362, an affiliate of the Services Trade Council Union, announced an agreement with the park under which employees will have to show proof of vaccination by Oct. 22. Employees with a disability, medical condition or “sincerely held religious beliefs” can seek an accommodation through a negotiated process (The Hill).
Elsewhere in the South, Louisiana State University on Tuesday announced that it will require proof of vaccination for fans to attend the school’s football games at Tiger Stadium this fall and that all students must receive their first dose by Sept. 10 (The Athletic).
Louisiana has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, with a number of Southern states sharing that distinction (Bloomberg News).
The Associated Press: Arkansas says no ICU beds available for coronavirus patients.
The Washington Post: CVS Health, other companies mandate coronavirus shots after FDA grants full approval.
The Associated Press: Masks to be required in Oregon’s outdoor public settings.
The New York Times: Hawaii’s governor discourages travelers from visiting as virus rates surge in the state.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
ADMINISTRATION: Vice President Harris delivered a sharp rebuke to China for its incursions in the South China Sea during a speech in Singapore on Tuesday in which she also affirmed the United States will support allies in the region. “We know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea,” she said. “Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations” (The Associated Press).
The vice president took aim at China again while in Vietnam, the last leg of her Southeast Asia trip. "Let me affirm that the United States Navy will maintain a strong presence in the South China Sea and will continue to challenge Beijing's bullying and excessive maritime claims," she said, adding the Biden administration supports sending Vietnam an additional U.S. Coast Guard cutter to help defend its security interests.
Harris’s departure from Singapore to Hanoi on Tuesday was delayed by what the State Department called “a possible anomalous health incident,” which is a phrase used by the government in the past to describe mysterious Havana syndrome health effects. The vice president’s spokeswoman said Harris was “well” and “fine” (CNN).
“Earlier this evening, the Vice President's traveling delegation was delayed from departing Singapore because the Vice President's office was made aware of a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi, Vietnam. After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the Vice President's trip,” said Rachael Chen, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, in a statement.
Harris announced the United States is immediately sending 1 million more Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam, bringing the total number of doses donated to date to 6 million (The Associated Press).
> The Hill: The government has banned the use of pesticide chlorpyrifos, which harms children, but recent lawsuits brought by parents say the chemical hangs around and leaves behind continued health risks.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
Yes, fully vaccinated workforces could safely forgo mask mandates, by Carlos del Rio, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3yfoxW7
Time for the excuses to end and for vaccine mandates to begin, by Will Sutton, staff columnist, The Times-Picayune. https://bit.ly/3mvYRlU
A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK
Why Facebook supports reforming Section 230
The internet has changed a lot in the last 25 years — the last time comprehensive internet regulations were passed.
Facebook supports updated regulations — like reforming Section 230, to set standards for the way larger tech companies enforce rules about content.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will meet on Friday at 10 a.m. Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 9 a.m.
The Senate convenes for a 9 a.m. pro forma session on Friday. Senators are expected back in Washington Sept. 13.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will meet with his national security team at 10 a.m. to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. The president will also discuss cybersecurity with private sector stakeholders (The Washington Post).
The vice president held a courtesy call in Hanoi with Võ Thị Ánh Xuân, vice president of Vietnam, and then a bilateral meeting with President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. The vice president held a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính. Harris spoke at a health security engagement event to launch with Vietnam the CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office. Harris participated in a lease-signing event for the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.
Second gentleman Douglas EmhoffDoug EmhoffThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations — Global supply chain bottleneck worries for U.S. economy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Biden: We will fix nation's problems The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - New front in mandate wars; debt bill heads to Biden MORE viewed closing competitions at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, where he led the U.S. delegation. He met Wednesday with Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi, and he greeted Japan Sports Agency Commissioner Koji Murofushi. Emhoff departed Japan today bound for the United States, with a visit to Honolulu included.
The White House press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m.
➔ POLITICS: Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, 59, promoted into politics by former President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE, is now running for a Georgia Senate seat as a Republican against Democrat Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockSenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents On The Money — Democrats eye tough choices as deadline looms Warnock pushes Medicaid expansion as equity issue amid Democrats' health care battle MORE in next year’s election (The Associated Press and NBC News).
➔ FEDERAL RESERVE: Foes and fans of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell want to know if Biden will reappoint him or replace him before his term is set to end in February, The Hill’s Sylvan Lane reports. Powell, a Republican with deep roots in the financial sector, has endeared himself to influential liberal economists and lawmakers with his embrace of an employment-first approach to inflation. But a prominent coalition of progressive activist groups feel differently.
➔ GINKGO TIME MACHINE: The fossilized leaves of ginkgo trees create more than a lovely, fan-shaped impression when they’re 100 million years old. The thin sheet of organic matter may be key to understanding the ancient climate system — and the possible future of our warming planet, according to scientists. “The reason scientists look back in the past is to understand what’s coming in the future,” said Kevin Anchukaitis, a climate researcher at the University of Arizona (The Associated Press).
And finally … RIP: Charlie Watts, longtime drummer for the Rolling Stones who said he never had a lesson, died at age 80, his publicist announced on Tuesday. According to Bernard Doherty, Watts’s publicist, the drumming legend “passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.” A cause of death was not disclosed (The Associated Press).