The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to reboot COVID-19 plan

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 President Joe Biden departs the White House



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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths each morning this week: Monday, 648,472; Tuesday, 649,003; Wednesday, 650,532.

Eight months into his term, 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 on Thursday will outline a six-prong plan to curb the delta variant and increase the number of Americans who are vaccinated, the White House said on Tuesday. 


White House spokeswoman Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden injects new momentum into filibuster fight White House: Biden drove by border on 2008 campaign trip Red Cross says Afghan humanitarian crisis too big for aid groups to handle alone MORE told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One that he will lay out the new strategy “working across the public and private sectors to help continue to get the pandemic under control.


However, it remains to be seen what exactly he lays out beyond his previously announced plans. Biden has already announced vaccination requirements for public sector employees, including 2.1 million federal workers and 1.3 million active service military members. He has previously indicated that he is unable to institute a national vaccination mandate despite his repeated calls (Reuters).


“Yes, that's — that's true,” Psaki said, referring to Biden’s inability to issue a national mandate (ABC News).  


Biden’s to-be-announced plan comes amid some good news on the COVID-19 front. On Tuesday, the U.S. hit the 75 percent threshold of American adults who have received at least one vaccine dose, according to Cyrus Shahpar, the White House’s COVID-19 data director. The latest stats by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also show that 64.3 percent of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated. 


“As the President has said since day 1, his administration will pull every lever to get the pandemic under control,” one official said in a statement to reporters (The Hill).


Biden declined to get into specifics when asked by reporters after landing at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday night. 


Axios: Businesses grapple with vax mandates and COVID policies.


The Hill: Surgeon general says success in pandemic “does not equal no cases.” 


The Wall Street Journal: Schools use COVID-19 tests to keep students out of quarantine. 


The latest chatter and figures are taking place in the foreground of the ongoing discussion surrounding booster shots, which are set to start being distributed in less than two weeks. However, major questions remain surrounding how they will be doled out and who will be on the receiving end of those shots. 


First of all, as Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says it's recommended to get same vaccine for COVID-19 boosters The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Timken rolls out six-figure ad campaign, hits Fauci MORE, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indicated on Sunday, Moderna’s booster shot will not yet be authorized by the planned Sept. 20 date, with only Pfizer’s jab set to be. However, who the shots will be administered to remains a major open question. 


As The Associated Press notes, the vaccines still do a good job at preventing severe disease and death, even though protection against milder infections has dropped over time. 


Jesse Goodman, a former Food and Drug Administration vaccine chief currently with Georgetown University, told the AP that the question of moving to boosters “becomes a judgment.” 


“And is that urgent or do we have time for the data to come in?” Goodman asked. 


Those questions also arrive as the U.S. eclipsed 40 million cases, including more than 4 million in the past month (The Hill).


The Washington Post: As experts debate boosters, vaccinated people are calling their own shots.


Axios: The vaccines are still the pandemic's endgame.


The Associated Press: Seattle Seahawks, Sounders, Kraken to require proof of vaccination.



A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine



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


ADMINISTRATION: Biden on Tuesday pointed to severe weather tied to climate change while touring parts of New Jersey and New York City to survey the extensive destruction from the remnants of Hurricane Ida last week in the Northeast (The Hill). At least 60 people died as a result of flash flooding, high winds and tornadoes. 


“Climate change is here. We’re living through it now,” the president said during a meeting with New Jersey leaders before meeting with residents as they stood in front of their damaged homes and sodden belongings. “I think we're at one of those inflection points where we either act or we're going to be in real, real trouble, our kids are going to be in real trouble.” 


The White House urged Congress to approve at least $10 billion in supplemental emergency funding to be spent on recovery efforts in states affected by Hurricane Ida and its aftermath. The storm first made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi.


Iowa Capital Dispatch: The White House wants Congress overall to approve at least $24 billion, and likely more, including $14 billion for recovery related to extreme weather beyond Ida’s destruction. Administration officials said on Tuesday that 1 in 3 Americans live in counties struck by a weather-related disaster during the last three months. Iowa’s congressional delegation has been pushing for more federal aid for victims of the derecho storm in August 2020. The hurricane-like winds caused $11 billion in damage across the Midwest and destroyed 850,000 acres of crops.


The Washington Post: White House asks Congress to approve emergency funds for disaster relief, Afghan resettlement, plus avoiding a government shutdown beginning Oct. 1.


> Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress Syria's challenge to Tony Blinken's conscience MORE's trip to Qatar (seen below), where he arrived Monday and was joined by Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Navy probe reveals disastrous ship fire response MORE on Tuesday, is part of a larger "thank you" tour that today will include meetings for Blinken in Germany. Both countries were key to the U.S. effort to execute the largest airlift in American military history, evacuating about 125,000 people from Kabul. Both countries are hosting intense diplomacy about Afghanistan (CNN).


The Wall Street Journal: The U.S. is working with the Taliban on flying the remaining Americans out of Afghanistan. The administration sees safe passage as a first step toward rolling back sanctions on the Taliban-led government.


Reuters: Afghanistan’s new interior minister is on the U.S. sanctions list. … New Afghanistan Interior Minister Siraj Haqqani has a $5 million bounty on his head as a leader of a terrorist group (


In the United States, Republicans are critical and Democrats are frustrated about the administration’s ongoing handling of remaining Americans and thousands of Afghan allies who would like to leave Taliban-controlled Afghanistan but have been caught up in confusion over visas, passports and documentation the Taliban will accept before departure. Advocates and teams of evacuation facilitators insist the administration is failing to help or at times hindering efforts to get people out. The administration is emphasizing diplomacy in a country with an evolving Islamist government and no U.S. military presence (The Hill).


The Associated Press: Evacuees plead for action: “We are in some kind of jail,” said one Afghan woman gathered with others in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.


Reuters: Blinken in Doha denied on Tuesday that Taliban fighters are blocking Americans from leaving Mazar-i-Sharif. “We are not aware of anyone being held on an aircraft or any hostage like situation in Mazar-i-Sharif,” he said. The Taliban upheld a commitment in at least one instance this week with a family that was able to leave through an overland route, Blinken added.



US Secretary of State Antony Blinken



> First lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount MORE returned to in-person instruction on Tuesday at Northern Virginia Community College, where she teaches English and writing. She spoke last month during an interview with Good Housekeeping about teaching remotely compared with instruction in a classroom. “I learned a lot, and some of those lessons I’ll take forward to future years of teaching,” she said while commending her students (The Associated Press).




POLITICS: The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports that experts point to heaps of disinformation flowing through social media channels ahead of California’s recall election on Sept. 14 in which Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Ivory poaching changes evolution of elephants California regulator proposes ban on oil drilling near schools, hospitals, homes Biden says he would tap National Guard to help with supply chain issues MORE (D) (pictured below) finds himself in a touch-and-go contest with a week left. Biden is expected to campaign for Newsom early next week before election Tuesday.



California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a rally



> 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, who frequently lobs broad hints about his intention in 2024 to run again for president, continues to put his thumb on the scale for candidates he favors (to thwart those he opposes) in next year’s races. Michigan was Tuesday’s example. Trump endorsed state Rep. Steve Carra in a primary bid to unseat Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonThe 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, a Republican from southwest Michigan first elected to the House in 1986. Upton voted to impeach Trump in January after the insurrection at the Capitol. He hasn't said if he'll seek reelection next year, but he's been raising money for a potential campaign.


The Carra endorsement is a boon for the conservative first-term state lawmaker who led the push in the Michigan legislature for an audit of the 2020 election results, an idea championed by Trump (The Detroit News).


In Wyoming, Trump wants to see his perceived nemesis, Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney'You're a joke': Greene clashes with Cheney, Raskin on House floor The 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Cheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member MORE, defeated in the Republican primary. He helped recruit and is poised to endorse Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman, who lost a bid for governor in 2018, Politico reports. In a final step before officially announcing her campaign later this week, Hageman resigned Tuesday as one of Wyoming’s members of the Republican National Committee.


Des Moines Register: Trump will hold a rally Oct. 9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. The former president handily won the state in 2016 and 2020.


The Hill: The former president booked an appearance on Sept. 11. It’s at a Hollywood, Fla., casino boxing match.


The Hill: Trump holds a rally Sept. 25 in Perry, Ga.


Politico: For 2024, Trump is building a “turnkey” campaign operation.


> The North Carolina Republican Senate primary is set to be an early barometer of Trump’s role as an influencer. The former president in June issued a surprise endorsement of Rep. Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Democrats look to make debt ceiling a winning issue Veteran, author launches US Senate campaign in North Carolina MORE, giving the conservative lawmaker a boost in what appears to be a three-way GOP primary with former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerWe are all paying for DeSantis' defiance of the First Amendment Democrats look to make debt ceiling a winning issue Veteran, author launches US Senate campaign in North Carolina MORE. The outcome for McCrory will test Trump’s sway. Trump is trying to elevate a House backbencher with low statewide name recognition over McCrory, who is less ideologically affiliated with Trump and better known statewide (The Hill).


> In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who considers himself a Trump supporter while also harboring ambitions for higher office, is running for reelection next year. He garnered headlines on Tuesday when he signed into law an elections bill that includes voting restrictions applauded by Republicans and condemned by Democrats nationwide. Civil rights groups on Tuesday immediately filed suit under the First and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution and under two sections of the Voting Rights Act (The Hill and Reuters).


> And speaking of Texas, the state’s controversial new law that made abortion after six weeks of pregnancy illegal with no exceptions for rape or incest has roiled the U.S. business community, turning some companies into outspoken public critics while other influential firms remain silent (The Hill, Vox and CNN). Ride-hailing platforms Uber and Lyft vowed to cover legal fees for drivers who may get sued under the law if they transport a woman for an abortion, an action now vulnerable to expensive potential lawsuits filed by anyone in Texas.


Dating platforms Match and Bumble also announced available relief funds for people affected by the state law. “Bumble is women-founded and women-led, and from day one we've stood up for the most vulnerable. We'll keep fighting against regressive laws,” Bumble tweeted. John Gibson, CEO of video game developer Tripwire Interactive, stepped down Monday after tweeting that he was “proud” of the Supreme Court for allowing the Texas law to stand (The Verge). 


This year through June, more than 19,000 Texas residents terminated pregnancies, including an 11-year-old girl, according to the state’s public health statistics


CONGRESS: Top Democrats on Tuesday pushed back against 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’s (D-W.Va.) call for party leaders to implement a “pause” in the push to pass and implement their $3.5 trillion spending plan that represents the hallmark of the Biden agenda.


Early on Tuesday, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiJudge to hear Trump's case against Jan. 6 committee in November Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech GOP lawmaker calls for Meghan, Harry to lose royal titles over paid leave push MORE (D-Calif.) questioned the West Virginia centrist’s comments from last week and showed no signs of interest in rolling back the mammoth size of the package.


“Obviously, I don't agree,” Pelosi told CNN when asked about Manchin's comments. “The number is the number, $3.5 [trillion], we can't go above that.” 


When asked about the likelihood that she will have to roll back the package’s size, Pelosi asked, “Why?” 


“You have to go talk to the Senate about that, but we're going to pay for as much of it as possible,” Pelosi said when a reporter noted the opposition by Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBiden injects new momentum into filibuster fight On The Money — Democrats confident cuts won't water down bill Sinema's office outlines opposition to tax rate hikes MORE (D-Ariz.) to the overall price tag.



Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) outside the Capitol



Later in the day, Biden told reporters that he is “comfortable proceeding the way we’ve proceeded so far” on the proposal.


“Joe at the end has always been there. He's always been with me. I think we can work something out,” Biden added when asked if he has talked to Manchin.


However, there were further indications on Tuesday night that Manchin might not be, especially at the much-discussed $3.5 trillion price point. Sources familiar with the situation told Axios that Manchin has indicated he would back $1.5 trillion in the reconciliation package.


House and Senate committees have only a week to write the legislation on how to spend up to that $3.5 trillion figure, all-the-while coming up with $1.5 trillion in new taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations to offset that cost. 


The Washington Post: Democrats gird for battle over budget with the bulk of their agenda on the line.


Bloomberg News: Biden bets on economic-plan win as Democrats struggle to deliver.


The latest push-and-pull between party leaders and centrist members comes only days before senators are set to return to Washington for an end-of-the-month sprint. As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, coming weeks will also be crucial for Biden, who will have to exert a lot of political muscle in order to get the cornerstone of his agenda to the finish line.


As Bolton notes, since lawmakers broke for the August recess, the wind shifted over Afghanistan and the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant, leaving Democrats with less political momentum and no room for legislative failure.


The Hill: White House pitches House Democrats on messaging for $3.5 trillion spending plan.


Bloomberg News: White House begins debt ceiling push With Congress briefings.


CNN: GOP pressure to block bipartisan infrastructure bill builds in the House.


CNBC: Democrats eye reforms to Trump tax break for businesses as part of $3.5 trillion spending plan.


> Profile: Rep. Cori Bush, the first-term Democrat from Missouri who has quickly become a progressive standout, describes her life as one of constant learning. 


It’s an education that has taken her from the streets of Ferguson, Mo., to the steps of the Capitol, where she slept outside for days demanding that Congress pass legislation to extend an eviction moratorium. As The Hill’s Marty Johnson reports, one of Bush’s first educational courses was from her father, who has served as both a local alderman and mayor. 


“I grew up in a home where my dad was always teaching us about civil rights,” Bush told The Hill. “He always helped me to see [that] your skin color does not make you less than anyone … you are a leader, he instilled that in me from as early as I can remember, but I didn’t understand it yet. I didn't understand what he meant until I was out there on those streets.”


The Hill: The House Ethics Committee publicly acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that it is examining whether 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.), one of the most vulnerable Democrats heading into next year's midterms, violated ethics rules and federal law.


The Hill: The Capitol Police are bracing for a Sept. 18 Washington rally among defenders of the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

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! 


Vaccines versus COVID-19: The great immunity debate, by Faye Flam, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. 


Afghanistan won’t doom Democrats in 2022. But it has left a wound, by David Byler, columnist, The Washington Post. 


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.


The House will meet on Friday at 11:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. The full House will not convene until Sept. 20.


The Senate meets on Thursday at noon for a pro forma session. Senators are expected back in Washington on Sept. 13.


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. He will give an East Room remarks paying tribute to unions at 11:20 a.m. In the afternoon, the president will get a briefing from the administration’s COVID-19 response team.


Vice President Harris departs for California to campaign at 12:40 p.m. local time in San Leandro near Oakland on behalf of the governor before a Tuesday recall election. Roughly two hours later, she will fly back to Washington, D.C.


Blinken is in Ramstein, Germany, to see Afghan evacuees awaiting transport and housed at the U.S. air base there. He is scheduled to join a virtual meeting with counterparts from 20 nations to discuss Afghanistan.


Austin is in Bahrain (Reuters).


The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 2 p.m., accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE and Brian DeeseBrian DeeseWhite House weighing steps to address gas shortages Environmental activists' email blast disrupted White House communications over two days: report Sinema in Arizona as Democrats try to get spending-infrastructure deal MORE, director of the White House National Economic Council. 


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


INTERNATIONAL: The U.S. Geological Survey said a 7.0 magnitude quake struck 11 miles northeast of the Pacific resort city of Acapulco in Mexico Tuesday night. It was felt by residents of Mexico City, the capital, more than 230 miles away (The Washington Post). At least one person was reported killed by a falling post (The Associated Press). … Mexico’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, a victory for women’s rights advocates (Reuters). … The Taliban on Tuesday named an all-male caretaker Cabinet in Afghanistan reminiscent of the Islamist group’s past. Interim Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund once led the Taliban government in Kabul during the last years of its rule. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (pictured below), who steered talks with the Trump administration and signed a deal that led to America’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan, will be one of two deputies to Akhund. No timetable was described for the interim government. The Islamist militants apparently rejected urging from the international community to diversify members of the government beyond core Taliban (The Associated Press).



The leader of the Taliban negotiating team Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar



U.S. ECONOMY: The Hill’s Sylvan Lane reports on some leading questions about the current state of the economy, while The Hill’s Niall Stanage in his latest Memo explores what some analysts see as a cloudy horizon for U.S. growth, job creation, and pandemic risks during a new school year and the potential implications for Biden’s presidency. … The Wall Street Journal reports on a September slowdown just as an economic takeoff had been expected.  


TECH: Apple announced it will roll out a new line of iPhones, a new Apple Watch and other items during a streaming-only event on Sept. 14 (The Verge and Axios).


And finally … Does in-store shopping have a rich future? Perhaps in some parts of the world.


An experimental shop called Carrefour City+ in a cavernous Dubai mall is the latest addition to a vision for retail automation. Picture hundreds of store cameras in the ceiling watching customers’ every move, sensors on every shelf and rack, a phone app to gain entry, no human cashiers, merchandise all grab and go, and an electronic receipt the minute buyers step outside with purchases.


Major retailers worldwide are combining machine learning software and artificial intelligence in a push to cut labor costs, do away with the irritation of long lines and gather critical data about shopping behavior. Carrefour City+ thinks it offers a different kind of tech-based consumer experience (The Associated Press).


CNBC: Amazon brings its cashierless technology to two Whole Foods stores set to open next year.



Retail giant Carrefour launched an automated cashier-less store in Dubai.