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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Democrats face headwinds on $3.5 trillion plan, debt ceiling

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) answers a reporter's question
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                               Presented by Facebook

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) answers a reporter's question



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! 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 each morning this week: Monday, 648,472; Tuesday, 649,003; Wednesday, 650,532; Thursday, 652,675.

Democratic leaders in Washington are wrapped in a tangle of objections, rejections and time constraints as they try to move major legislation that would spend more than $4 trillion and raise taxes while eyeing separate risks of a U.S. default or a government shutdown.


As The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis write, the next two and a half weeks represents a make-or-break stretch for the party in power as it races to enact President Biden’s top domestic priority. House committees are moving swiftly to write portions of the bill by the Sept. 15 deadline set by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), with the hope of bringing it to the floor by Sept. 27. 


However, there are many complications. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) hold more than enough leverage to derail the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion package of social policy initiatives and tax hikes. According to a recent report, Manchin privately favors a trimmed-down $1.5 trillion bill.


“We will have our negotiations. This is a sort of a compressed challenge because people need help right away, and we will get the job done,” Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday when asked if a bill under the current price tag could pass the House. 


“I don’t know what the number will be. We are marking at $3.5 trillion. We’re not going above that. I think rather than talking about the cost — because we will pay for more than half, maybe all of the legislation,” Pelosi continued. “So the cost for the future will be much lower than any $3.5 [trillion].”


Manchin’s desire to trim away $2 trillion in proposed spending infuriates House Democrats, particularly progressives, as well as senators such as Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who began with a roughly $6 trillion plan that was quickly sliced nearly in half by colleagues. It remains the case that for any measure to become law, Manchin and Sinema retain significant leverage through any final votes. 


The Associated Press: Top Dems leave door open to trimming Biden’s $3.5 trillion price tag.


The Washington Post: Democrats confront numerous hurdles as they work to advance the $3.5 trillion economic package.


Axios: Poll: Americans favor Manchin’s “strategic pause.”


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, Manchin’s comments in recent weeks have sent Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) scrambling to save the gargantuan proposal and not let the overall price tag slip much below the $3 trillion total.


“There are some in my caucus who believe $3.5 trillion is too much. There are some in my caucus who believe it’s too little,” Schumer said on a press call Wednesday morning. “I can tell you this: In reconciliation we’re all going to come together to get something big done, and, second, it’s our intention to have every part of the Biden plan in a big and robust way.”


Bloomberg News: Democratic divisions endanger scope of Biden’s economic plan. 


The Hill: Ways and Means to begin marking up a $3.5 trillion package.


The issues surrounding Democratic leaders are by no means exclusive to the reconciliation bill, as they are also staring down a possible fight with Republicans in order to raise the debt ceiling next month. On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Pelosi in a letter that the department will exhaust its powers for preventing a default at an unspecified time in October. 


“Once all available measures and cash on hand are fully exhausted, the United States of America would be unable to meet its obligations for the first time in our history,” Yellen wrote (Bloomberg News).


Pelosi told reporters that raising the debt ceiling will not be included in the reconciliation package, a possibility raised by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after indicating that Republicans will not provide votes to increase the nation’s borrowing authority. She did not specify what larger legislative vehicle, if any, Democratic leaders will tap to move the controversial measure amid threats of noncooperation from GOP leaders (The Hill). 


The Wall Street Journal: Yellen says Treasury could exhaust cash-conservation measures in October.


As The Hill’s Sylvan Lane and Jordain Carney point out, the U.S. has never defaulted on the national debt, and allowing a default is unthinkable, but it is not entirely clear how Biden and Democratic leaders will navigate the issue. Lawmakers already have a full plate of matters to deal with between the reconciliation bill and the push to fund the government by the end of the month.


The Hill: Capitol Police to brief congressional leaders on rally backing Jan. 6 rioters.


The Associated Press: Police planning to reinstall Capitol fence ahead of rally.



Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen



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


CORONAVIRUS: This evening, Biden will take another turn at cajoling, lauding and pleading with Americans to take seriously the infectious delta version of COVID-19 and the opportunity to get first, second and soon third doses of vaccines to be able to work, attend school, travel, eat out, enjoy sports and, best of all, avoid hospital ICUs this fall and winter.


The school year in many states has become something of a science experiment in which new infections send hundreds of young students in some school systems into quarantine before they’ve gotten past the early chapters in new textbooks. 


Seeking to restore some of the goodwill he nurtured while managing the government’s pandemic response before he stumbled into another surge of COVID-19 and the much-criticized U.S. pullout from Afghanistan last month, the president tonight is expected to highlight six “new steps,” including initiatives tied to vaccine mandates and safety in schools, according to the White House. 


CNN reported that the president’s speech will emphasize mandates that have decreased the number of unvaccinated Americans, protections for vaccinated individuals including through booster doses, the importance of keeping U.S. schools open this fall with increased COVID-19 testing and masking, patient care and treatment needs in hospitals and continued federal funding during the pandemic.


The government previously said it does not have the federal authority to mandate vaccinations in schools, but it has encouraged colleges, universities, private employers, and state and local officials to go that route. Biden previously touted as national models the federal vaccine mandates in some agencies and the U.S. military.


The New York Times: In his speech, Biden is expected to push for broad COVID-19 vaccine mandates.


The administration this month had initially envisioned a program for booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines beginning on Sept. 20 — on the theory that vaccine-created immunity wanes in individuals over a relatively short time, especially among the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. The administration’s booster dose promotion has been criticized as confusing, premature, globally inequitable and not backed by sufficient clinical evidence, according to naysayers inside the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and among some U.S. public health experts.


The Hill’s Peter Sullivan and Amie Parnes report the many cross currents Biden and his pandemic response team are navigating as the country experiences the latest surge of COVID-19 infections, which many Americans had hoped were a thing of the past. Hospital beds in many states are filled with unvaccinated patients sick with the delta variant, including children and babies. States report shortages of physicians, nurses and hospital workers. The U.S. is recording roughly 150,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, and about 1,500 fatalities a day, up from an average of 300 deaths each day just a few months ago.


Biden, like many officials, worries about the spread of the virus during the new school year, the cumulative economic impact of virus variants that never entirely disappear, and regions of the country where the unvaccinated remain too numerous. 


Axios: In the past two weeks, COVID-19 infection rates held steady but hospitalizations rose and the seven-day rolling average of fatalities climbed 29 percent.


Vaccine hesitancy has persisted in many communities, along with public (and partisan) hostility toward vaccine requirements, resistance to tests and behavioral precautions, and outright brawls at school board meetings, in governors’ mansions and in courthouses over who has the authority to mandate or ban vaccinations, masks and other requirements during a public health crisis.



President Biden speaks about vaccines



The Wall Street Journal: A delta wave peaks in some states while others brace for what’s next.


The Hill: Global COVID-19 vaccine deliveries will fall 30 percent, according to an estimate from COVAX, the international cooperative that provides vaccine doses to poor countries. Under the most likely forecast, COVAX between January and February would reach 2 billion doses available for delivery.


State, city developments: The return to in-person work for New York state employees has been postponed more than a month to October (Spectrum News 1). … New mask rules are in place for New York state-owned buildings (NY State of Politics). … Thirty Chicago businesses received citations for violating the city’s indoor mask mandate (Chicago Tribune and Eater Chicago). … Idaho hospital patients are in hallways amid a surge of COVID-19 infections and rationed care (Yahoo News).




AFGHANISTAN: One day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was unaware of efforts by the Taliban to block chartered flights trying to depart with evacuees out of Mazar-e-Sharif, he assailed the Taliban for doing just that. Blinken said during a press conference Wednesday at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany that the U.S. government has “made clear” to the Taliban that “these charters need to be able to depart,” despite objections from the Taliban that evacuees do not have proper documents to depart.


“Those flights need to be able to leave, and the United States government, State Department — we are doing everything we can to help make that happen,” he said. “Those flights need to move. I pointed out some of the complications that are there, but those flights need to move” (Fox News).


The administration this week invited widespread criticism from lawmakers, refugee advocates and humanitarian organizations that its efforts at diplomacy with the Taliban have created confusion and are harming rather than helping specific Americans and Afghan allies who are still trying to leave Afghanistan by air and land. 


“While there are limits to what we can do without personnel on the ground, without an airport with normal security procedures in place, we are working to do everything in our power to support those flights, and to get them off the ground. That’s what we’ve done. That’s what we will continue to do,” Blinken said.


Axios: Biden hired attorney and former U.S. Ambassador Lee Wolosky, who advised former President Obama on unsuccessful efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, to lead on legal issues tied to the resettlement of Afghan evacuees. 


CNN: Small crowds of Afghan women in Kabul who have protested in the streets have been dispersed by Taliban fighters wielding sticks and whips, according to some video evidence. The fighters also lashed a number of journalists who covered a demonstration, according to witnesses and social media accounts.



Afghan women take part in an anti-Pakistan protest near the Pakistan embassy in Kabul



More administration headlines: The Justice Department is preparing to sue Texas over its restrictive abortion law, perhaps filing today (The Wall Street Journal). … Biden asked 18 appointees to military academy boards who were named by his predecessor to resign by Wednesday evening, or be fired. Some refused (The Associated Press). … The administration plans tougher measures aimed at meatpacking companies it says are responsible for high meat prices in stores (Reuters).      


POLITICS: The Democratic cavalry is descending on California in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ahead of next week’s recall election, headlined by Vice President Harris’s appearance in her home state on Wednesday in an attempt to boost the embattled incumbent Democrat. 


“We want in our leaders someone like Gavin Newsom who always speaks the truth on behalf of all the people,” Harris said during a rally in the Oakland suburbs.


At one point, Harris compared Newsom to his Texas counterpart, Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who she accused of “arrogantly” discounting the concerns of rape survivors while signing a new Texas law rendering illegal terminations of pregnancies after six weeks (Sacramento Bee).


Adding to the heft behind Newsom, Biden is expected to stump for him next week ahead of the Tuesday election. His campaign also rolled out a new television ad featuring Obama (Politico).


The Associated Press: California recall brings Harris home to support Newsom.



Vice President Harris appears at a rally in support of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)



> Lone Star latest: Abbott on Tuesday called state lawmakers back to Austin to hold a third special legislative session of 2021, with an eye on tackling a number of key political items starting on Sept. 20. 


As the Austin American-Statesman writes, legislators will attempt to redraw the state’s congressional map, with Texas set to gain two seats due to the 2020 census. In addition, Abbott is calling on lawmakers to manage three key political touchstone issues: limiting participation of transgender student athletes in youth sports, banning vaccine mandates and allocating $16 billion in COVID-19 relief funds.


The Washington Post: Texas school districts mask up following COVID-19 deaths of two middle school teachers.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: Red states eye Texas abortion law as new model.


Meanwhile, Abbott’s maneuvers closely resemble those of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). As The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes, the two continue to stridently oppose COVID-19 mandates and have backed restrictions on voting rights and abortion in an attempt to appeal to conservatives and show command of their respective states. 


The Associated Press: Florida judge rules state cannot enforce a ban on public school mask mandates.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump strives to stay relevant.


Axios: House GOP campaign arm dumps New York retreat, adds Trump headliner.


Bloomberg News: Trump sidelines rivals, keeps cash by playing coy on 2024. 

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! 


If the GOP succeeds in destroying Roe v. Wade, how will it handle the fallout? by Megan McArdle, columnist, The Washington Post. 


What I’m waiting to hear from Elizabeth Holmes in court, by Timothy L. O’Brien, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. 


Why Facebook supports the DETER Act


Communication around elections has changed a lot in the last 25 years — the last time comprehensive internet regulations were passed.


That’s why Facebook supports updated internet regulations — like the DETER Act, to help protect election integrity against foreign interference.


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 at noon for a pro forma session. Senators are expected back in Washington on Monday.


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:30 a.m. Biden will deliver remarks on the delta variant and COVID-19 vaccinations at 5 p.m.


The vice president will deliver remarks during the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue at 11 a.m. Harris will also meet at 3:30 p.m. with stakeholders and advocates who oppose Texas’s new abortion law.


Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will speak to the City Club of Cleveland virtually at 2:30 p.m. about the administration’s agenda as it relates to the U.S. business community. ​​


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is in Kuwait, where he spoke to reporters about the risks of al-Qaeda trying to regenerate after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan (The Associated Press).


Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci will take questions from parents, educators and students at 1 p.m. EDT as part of a New York Times event for subscribers. Find information about reservations HERE.


Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on claims for unemployment benefits filed in the week ending Sept. 4. 


The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m. 


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


BACK TO THE BENCH: The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that justices will return to in-person oral arguments as the new session begins next month. The courtroom will be closed to the general public as a pandemic precaution, but live audio of the proceedings will be available (The Hill).


STATE WATCH: Virginia workers on Wednesday removed a statue of Robert E. Lee, which stood for 131 years in Richmond. It had become an unwelcome symbol of the state’s slave-owning, Confederate past, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and other officials joined cheering  crowds to watch its removal (The Washington Post). 



A statue of Robert E. Lee is removed in Richmond



FEDERAL RESERVE: Economist Joseph Stiglitz, an influential Nobel Prize winner and senior Democratic adviser, said in an interview that Biden should not reappoint Jerome Powell to the nation’s central bank. Powell’s term as chairman expires in February, and Stiglitz believes the president should reimagine the Fed in service of his goals, Reuters reported.


SPORTS: The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday barred North Korea from participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because it refused to send athletes to the Summer Games in Tokyo in July (The Associated Press). 


ENVIRONMENT: Disabled people are among those disproportionately affected by climate change as a percentage of the population. They run the risk of being overlooked by policy makers (The Hill). … Drought in California, coupled with population growth, is accelerating the need for energy-intensive water projects, which have the effect of driving up greenhouse gas emissions and thwarting the pace of statewide decarbonization efforts, according to a new study (The Hill). … Solar energy has the potential to supply up to 40 percent of the nation’s electricity within 15 years — a ten-fold increase over current solar output but one that would require massive changes in U.S. policy and billions of dollars in federal investment to modernize the nation’s electric grid, according to an Energy Department report (The Associated Press).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by tonight’s kickoff game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys, we’re eager for some smart guesses about the NFL.


Email your responses to and/or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the season with how many returning starters (maximum of 22) from their Super Bowl-winning roster in February?

  1. 16
  2. 18
  3. 20
  4. 22

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns to the Green Bay Packers this season after a drama filled offseason that included ____?

  1. Acting in a movie alongside fiancee Shailene Woodley
  2. Auditioning to become “Jeopardy!” host
  3. Buying an ownership stake in the Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Shaving his head

How many NFL teams are planning to start the season without home games at 100 percent capacity due to COVID-19? 

  1. One
  2. Three
  3. Five
  4. Zero

Washington Football Team co-owner and co-CEO Tanya Snyder recently confirmed that the team is considering at least eight nicknames for the franchise starting in the 2022 season. Which of the following is not reportedly one of the options?  

  1. RedHogs
  2. Redwolves
  3. Warriors
  4. Washington Football Team



A general view of the official NFL ball


Tags Anthony Fauci Antony Blinken Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Charles Schumer Gavin Newsom Gina Raimondo Janet Yellen Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Lloyd Austin Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Ron DeSantis
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