Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Monday, Labor 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. 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 as of this morning: 648,472.
As of this morning, 62.3 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 53 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.
The Biden agenda came under increased scrutiny on Sunday as White House officials maintained that they will proceed as planned despite warnings from Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Biden seeks to quell concerns over climate proposals MORE (D-W.Va.) over a possible $3.5 trillion spending package ahead of a jam-packed stretch later this month.
A pair of top officials — White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary MORE and senior adviser Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondBiden to meet with business leaders amid debt ceiling pressure campaign on GOP Bottom line The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats to scale back agenda MORE — projected optimism during separate Sunday show appearances that Democrats will be successful in advancing the gargantuan proposal, but acknowledged the challenges facing them, namely from the West Virginia centrist.
Klain argued that he considers Manchin to be “very persuadable,” saying that the package “adds nothing to the debt” due to tax increases on wealthier Americans and other provisions. Richmond, a former Louisiana congressman, downplayed the latest trouble spot for the party, adding that Democrats are “full steam ahead” on the massive spending effort.
“Sen. Manchin is a valued partner. We're going to continue to work with him,” Richmond said during an appearance on ABC's “This Week.”
“But we're also going to continue to push our agenda. And part of this ... is just the sausage-making process at the end. It just happens. And this is happening in public view,” Richmond added. “But it's not abnormal for this to happen in the legislative process. And we're still full steam ahead on trying to get our legislation passed” (The Hill).
Comments from the pair come days after Manchin called for party leaders to take a “pause” in their push to pass the reconciliation bill and raised additional questions about its current price tag. The support of Manchin is crucial to passing the bill, as all 50 Senate Democrats will need to be on board to do so.
Naomi Jagoda, The Hill: Five tax issues to watch as Democrats craft $3.5 trillion bill.
The New York Times: Back on the trail, Senate Budget Committee Chairmen Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Study finds Pfizer vaccine almost 91 percent effective for 5 to 11 year olds The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE (I-Vt.) campaigns for a legislative legacy
The Hill: GOP hopes spending traps derail President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE’s agenda.
The Sunday Shows: Biden domestic agenda, Texas abortion law dominate.
The optimism comes ahead of a perilous week for the U.S. More than 9 million Americans are set to lose unemployment benefits, with millions more seeing their weekly incomes fall as a number of federal jobless aid programs expire in the coming days.
As The Hill’s Sylvan Lane details, three programs covering a combined 12.1 million people end today without action from either the White House or Congress. Twenty-six states pulled out of at least some of those programs earlier this summer as businesses struggled to fill a record 9 million job openings. In addition, another 3.9 million Americans receiving extended aid will see their $300 weekly supplement expire starting today.
That development comes on the heels of the disappointing August jobs report released on Friday that showed a major slowdown in hiring due in large part to the delta variant.
The Hill: GOP seeks to keep spotlight on Afghanistan as Dems advance Biden's $3.5 trillion spending plan.
The Hill: Congress braces for spending fights amid threat of government shutdown.
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
AFGHANISTAN: Klain on Sunday said that there are “around” 100 Americans left in Afghanistan amid reports that the Taliban is not allowing planes to take off from an airport in northern Afghanistan.
“We're in touch with all of them who we've identified on a regular basis,” Klain told CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that he is “hopeful” that Qatar will be able to resume air travel out of Kabul and to get those Americans on some of those flights.
Klain told host Dana BashDana BashThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - White House tackles how to vaccinate children ages 5+ Manchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 MORE that the administration is also in “close communication” with sources in the region in hopes of getting Afghans who have applied for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) out of the country safely.
“I know some are coming out by land,” he added. “We are continuing to work on efforts to get them out by air as well. We're going to continue to move those SIVs out of the country” (Politico).
The remarks were made amid conflicting reports out of the region. According to The Associated Press, the Taliban had stopped a number of planes at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport containing Afghans attempting to flee the nation from taking off for days, with one source indicating that many onboard did not have passports or visas.
However, Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulPentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability Mike Siegel: Potential McConaughey candidacy a 'sideshow' in Texas governor race Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' MORE (Texas), the top GOP member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the planes have sat there “for the last couple of days,” but have been unable to leave despite approval from the State Department.
“In fact we have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport, six airplanes, with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul told “Fox News Sunday.”
The Associated Press: Taliban say they took Panjshir, last holdout Afghan province.
The Hill: Domestic flights resume at Kabul airport.
The Wall Street Journal: Inside Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan: warnings, doubts but little change.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is facing a challenge as it attempts to help Afghans settle in parts of the country after escaping and fleeing their home country in recent weeks ahead of the American deadline to pull out.
As Christine Mui writes, thousands of those evacuated who worked with American troops have landed in the U.S. with their families, often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, creating resettlement issues, headlined by uncertainty surrounding the SIV process, a short supply of affordable permanent housing and high demand for social services. In total, nine nonprofit organizations are contracted with the State Department to place refugees with local affiliates.
“Normally, we would have up to a couple of weeks’ notice before people would arrive, which gives our local colleagues an opportunity to find housing, to equip the housing, to mobilize the local community to support the new arrivals and to put everything in order,” said Erol Kekic, senior vice president of the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service.
The Washington Post: Afghan resettlement raises the question: Who is coming to the U.S.?
The New York Times: Americans stretch across political divides to welcome Afghan refugees.
POLITICS: The Biden administration’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision to leave standing the Texas “heartbeat” law and the renewed effort in the state to tighten voting laws has frustrated activists as Democrats look to gin up supporters ahead of key elections this fall and the 2022 midterms.
In the face of the Texas two-step, the administration responded by saying the next step is up to Congress. But that reaction has upset supporters on the far left who wish that included a push for more radical changes, including eliminating the filibuster or expanding the Supreme Court, neither of which Biden has indicated support for in the past (The Hill).
Some Democrats have not been as hesitant. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Biden holds meetings to resurrect his spending plan MORE (D-Minn.) told “State of the Union” that the 60-vote threshold in the upper chamber should be scrapped in order to codify Roe v. Wade into law.
“We just will get nowhere if we keep this filibuster in place,” Klobuchar said (The Hill).
The Hill: Klain: Administration will find ways to protect constitutional rights of women in Texas.
The Hill: Supreme Court's abortion ruling amplifies progressives' call for reform.
Democrats have another emerging fear on the abortion front after the court’s Texas ruling: copycat legislation in other states.
As The Hill’s Justine Coleman writes, politicians in Florida, Arkansas and South Dakota have already committed to at least considering implementing a version of the Lone Star State’s law in their states. However, the situation has left anti-abortion activists with a choice to make in the coming weeks: whether to act now based on the Texas legislation or wait for the justices to rule on a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks in the coming months.
“What they did in Texas was interesting, but I haven't really been able to look at enough about it,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisArizona attorney general asks for restraining order to block federal vaccine mandate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters MORE (R) told reporters last week. “They've basically done this through private right of action. So it's a little bit different than how a lot of these debates have gone. So we'll have to look. I'm gonna look more significantly at it.”
Alex Gangitano, The Hill: Abortion rights groups want Biden to use bully pulpit after Texas law.
Politico Magazine: “A Private Matter”: Biden’s very public clash with his own church.
The Hill: GOP senator on Texas abortion law: Supreme Court will “swat it away” when “it comes to them in an appropriate manner.”
The Washington Post: Republican wins on abortion, voting and guns cap their banner 2021, with Democratic goals in “dire” danger despite Washington power.
> Sunshine politics: Democrats are getting skittish in Florida as a number of national party donors are waiting on the sidelines and have yet to decide whether to invest funds in taking on DeSantis or Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Senators call for answers from US firm over reported use of forced Uyghur labor in China MORE (R-Fla.) in next year’s midterm contests.
As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, Florida Democrats suffered some of the worst defeats of any state party in the country last year, losing five seats in the GOP-controlled state House and two U.S. House seats that they had managed to flip two years earlier. Adding to the problems, former President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE defeated Biden there by 3.3 points, cutting into the Democratic margins in strongholds such as Miami-Dade County.
“Democrats are being far more scrutinizing of Florida and the state of politics there,” one Democratic donor told The Hill. “We’ve suffered from a Charlie Brown syndrome in the state, where the football gets pulled out from under us, so I think we have to look at that with more scrutiny.”
Reid Wilson, The Hill: Virginia races offer an early preview of Democrats' midterm challenges.
Niall Stanage: The Memo: Attacks on democracy seep down to school boards, election offices.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CORONAVIRUS: Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 booster vaccine is expected to be approved in the next two weeks, with other jabs receiving the green light in the following weeks.
Fauci told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Moderna’s shot will likely not get approved by the Food and Drug Administration in time for the Sept. 20 target, which the administration has recommended for all fully vaccinated individuals (The Hill).
The continued chatter around booster shots comes as fears from the virus are on the rise. According to a poll released Sunday by The Washington Post and ABC News, 47 percent of adults say they have a high or moderate risk of getting sick from COVID-19, an uptick from 29 percent in June. Forty-five percent of respondents responded that they are not too worried or not at all worried (The Hill).
The Wall Street Journal: Child COVID-19 cases rise in states where schools opened earliest.
Bloomberg News: One vaccine makes more antibodies than another. Does it matter?
The Hill: Kentucky governor says COVID-19 situation is “dire.”
> Nursing squeeze: The vaccine mandate by the Biden administration is creating headaches for nursing homes, as the already severe staffing crisis is expected to worsen in the coming months.
The administration’s directive, which will officially be outlined later this month, will force all nursing home staffers to be vaccinated, or else the facility will lose federal funding. Although the proposal is light on specifics, the dire situation could become worse, as workers could quit rather than get vaccinated, leaving facilities understaffed. As The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel reports, health officials are being pressed to broaden the requirement to the entire health sector, but hospitals are pushing back on that possibility.
Labor Day is a celebration of solidarity — and freedom, by E.J. Dionne Jr., columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3DRWArp
Afghanistan’s fall is 9/11’s latest unlearned lesson, by Max Hastings, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3h52dZr
Why Facebook supports updated internet privacy regulations
Protecting privacy means something different than it did in 1996 — the last time comprehensive internet regulations were passed.
We’ve introduced tools like Privacy Checkup that help people control their information. Now we need updated regulations to set consistent data protection standards.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will meet on Tuesday at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session. The full House will not be active until Sept. 20.
The Senate convenes on Tuesday at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session. Senators are expected back in Washington on Sept. 13.
The president will depart Wilmington, Del., and return to the White House tonight.
➔ INTERNATIONAL: Two leading opposition figures in Belarus were sentenced to lengthy prison terms on Monday, marking a continuation of President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on dissent. Maria Kolesnikova and Maxim Znak, both leading members of the opposition Coordination Council, were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison, respectively, after being found guilty of three charges, including conspiring to seize power (The Associated Press). The rulings came down a day after a Polish lawmaker said that a second Belarusian athlete has been granted a humanitarian visa in the nation. Olga Safronova, Belarusian dressage rider who was barred from going to the Tokyo Olympics this summer after criticizing state authorities, is expected to compete on the Polish equestrian squad, having moved after making comments critical of Lukashenko’s regime while in Poland at a competition (The Associated Press). … Organizers of Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen Square memorial vigil said Sunday they won’t cooperate with police despite threats of fines and imprisonment of its members. Authorities said they notified the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China in August that it was under investigation for working with foreign interests as part of the ongoing crackdown by China’s Communist Party (The Hill).
➔ MEDIA: From the gridiron to the morning news battle, Nate Burleson is ready for his breakout moment in the news business as the former NFL player starts this week as co-host of “CBS Mornings,” the network’s reformatted morning affairs program. Burleson isn’t a journalist by trade and has not worked as an anchor before, putting the former athlete in uncharted waters after spending years working as an analyst with the NFL Network and CBS Sports after his playing career ended. The reimagined show kicks off on Tuesday (The Hill).
And finally … Tokyo’s saga with the Olympic Games ended on Saturday as the closing ceremony of the Paralympics took place. The U.S. finished third in the medal count with 104 total (including 37 golds), with China taking the cake and pulling in 207 total medals (96 golds).
As The Associated Press notes, the closing ceremony was titled “Harmonious Cacophony,” with the event involving both able-bodied actors and those with disabilities. Organizers described the closing confab’s theme as a “world inspired by the Paralympics, one where differences shine.”