The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden travels west as Washington troubles mount

                Presented by National Industries for the Blind

President Joe Biden speaks during a briefing at the National Interagency Fire Center



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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths each morning this week: Monday, 659,975; Tuesday, 662,131. 

President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE, facing a pileup of trouble in Washington, is on the first western trip of his presidency hoping to drum up support for a $3.5 trillion spending plan that may not survive naysayers within his own party, let alone critiques from across the aisle.


In the nation’s capital, some lawmakers are uncomfortable with the president’s mandate affecting millions of workers who have resisted COVID-19 vaccines, deeply unhappy about Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and wary of the trajectory of Biden’s call for more than $4 trillion in two mammoth measures that would invest in traditional infrastructure and everything from health care and education to climate change and a higher tax burden for America’s wealthy. 


On Monday, Biden’s embattled secretary of State during a blistering House hearing defended the administration’s rocky withdrawal last month from Afghanistan, including the apparent fact that Americans and thousands of Afghan allies were not evacuated in time. 


In addition, an Afghan aid worker, Zemari Ahmadi, and children in a car may have been killed in a U.S. drone strike in a Kabul neighborhood after being mistaken by the United States for ISIS. The Pentagon on Monday continued to defend the targeting following a New York Times investigation that called the Aug. 29 strike into question using security video, witness interviews in Kabul, satellite imagery, blast analysis and forensics. 


Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenFive things to watch as Biden heads to the UN Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability Majority of voters disapprove of execution of Afghanistan withdrawal: poll MORE, who today will repeat his various defenses, this time to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there was no evidence that Afghanistan would have stabilized had U.S. military forces remained, and that there was no way to predict the Afghan government’s collapse as the Taliban advanced (The New York Times).


Biden’s recent decision to use a federal rule to compel U.S. workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — or face weekly testing — if they work for companies with more than 100 employees brought out demonstrators Monday in solidly red Boise, Idaho, adding to a domestic image of a president struggling to improve a vulnerable narrative. 


Biden will be in Denver today, and he stopped at Boise’s National Interagency Fire Center en route to California on Monday to tout infrastructure and his favored $3.5 trillion spending plan, which he says can help battle wildfires, drought and extreme weather in the West, blamed on climate change. 


Even some of my less believing friends are all of a sudden having an altar call,” Biden said of skeptics who have sought to downplay a warming planet. “They’re seeing the Lord.”


More than 1,000 Idaho protesters turned out to register their objections to coronavirus mandates and other issues at the instigation of prominent national Republicans before Biden arrived.


The Associated Press: Out West, Biden points to wildfires to push for big spending.


In Long Beach, Calif., on Monday, the president stumped for Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomBiden administration launches new national initiative to fight homelessness Equity is key to resilience — three ways make it a priority Juan Williams: Shame on the anti-mandate Republicans MORE (D) on the eve of an expensive recall election that was initially more competitive than Democrats imagined. The unhappiness with the governor was prompted by the pandemic and Newsom’s handling of mask requirements and other COVID-19 precautions. “We need science, we need courage, we need leadership. We need Gavin Newsom,” Biden said from a stage decorated with enormous marquee lights that spelled “vote no.” 



The Hill: Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda. 


The Hill: On Capitol Hill, Blinken was grilled about last month’s Afghanistan withdrawal, a 20-year war and the Taliban’s future.


Reuters: Taliban deny their deputy prime minister, Mullah Baradar, died in a shootout with rivals.


In Geneva on Monday, developed nations and other big donors reacted to emergency appeals from the United Nations (U.N.) to contribute millions of dollars for Afghanistan. But donors worry about Taliban rule even as they agonize over famine and the threat of economic catastrophe in Afghanistan (The Associated Press). 


The U.N., along with partners, seeks $606 million for the rest of the year to help 11 million people in Afghanistan. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-GreenfieldLinda Thomas-GreenfieldBiden falters in pledge to strengthen US alliances Republicans press Biden administration to maintain sanctions against Taliban The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden travels west as Washington troubles mount MORE said the Biden administration was “committed to providing humanitarian assistance” for and supporting Afghans, and would add $64 million in new assistance for U.N. and partner organizations, bringing the U.S. total for Afghanistan to $330 million in this fiscal year.


The Hill: Biden will address the U.N. General Assembly a week from today, in person.



US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appears on a television screen as he testifies virtually






CONGRESS: The U.S. Capitol Police on Monday announced that the fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol will return later this week ahead of Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally by supporters of former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE.


Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger told reporters that the fence will go up temporarily ahead of the rally near the Capitol, which will protest the treatment of the hundreds of people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riot.


“The fence will go up a day or two before, and if everything goes well it will come down very soon after,” Manger told reporters in the Capitol (The Hill).


Capitol Police added in a statement that it is “aware of concerning online chatter” ahead of the rally and urged those “thinking about causing trouble” to keep away from the area on Saturday. 


The latest development came only hours after the Capitol Police arrested a California man near the Democratic National Committee headquarters after finding a bayonet and machete in his car. Donald Craighead, 44, was arrested for possession of prohibited weapons after an officer pulled him over and found the weapons in his truck. The Dodge Dakota pickup truck also had a swastika and other white supremacists symbols painted on it (The Hill).



An American flag flies on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol



> Democratic squabbles: Senate Democrats returned to town Monday as questions persist over the future of their proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan and tensions simmer between centrists and progressives.


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the pounding headaches Democrats are enduring come during a time crunch for the party, with members on the eve of a self-imposed deadline to finish drafting the proposal by Wednesday and have it on the House floor by the end of the month — two timelines that have sparked pushback from moderates. 


Democratic leaders cannot lose a single vote in the upper chamber, leaving them with no wiggle room to enact the wide-ranging plan that would be the cornerstone of the Biden agenda. 


“It's our chance to square off, seeing one another eyeball to eyeball, and try to work out our differences,” Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  Biden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters on Monday (Roll Call).


The Wall Street Journal: White House works to keep moderate Democrats’ backing for agenda as GOP focuses on inflation.


While much of the focus is centered on the demands of Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior —Pfizer: COVID-19 vaccine safe for young kids MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaDemocrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (D-Ariz.), they are not alone in having concerns from the centrist wing. Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Senate backers of new voting rights bill push for swift passage The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Polls open in California as Newsom fights for job MORE (D-Mont.) told reporters on Monday that he wants “100 percent” of the bill to be paid for, meaning Democrats will need to come up with at least another $600 billion in offsets if they are to meet the plan’s $3.5 trillion price tag and win his vote.  


“I’m going to be looking at a couple things: Where the money is being coming from, how it’s being raised and then how it’s being utilized moving forward. We have a lot of work to do,” Tester said (The Hill).


Politico: Democrats confront their Manchin and Sinema dilemma.


Naomi Jagoda, The Hill: House Democrats take step back from Biden on tax hikes.


The Washington Post: With a big tax-hike push, Democrats aim to tackle the enormous gains of the nation’s top 1 percent.


The Hill: Manchin balks at key climate provision in spending bill.




POLITICS: Californians will decide Newsom’s future later today, with the incumbent governor the favorite to beat back a recall attempt spurred on by his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic


The ballot features two questions: whether Newsom should be recalled as the state’s chief executive and, if so, who should replace him. Larry Elder, a longtime conservative radio host, has emerged as the top prospect to succeed Newsom if the recall effort is successful.


The Hill’s Max Greenwood previews tonight’s contest and takes a look at five things to watch, including voter turnout in the nation’s most populous state. Polling has consistently shown that the recall is likely to fail. According to FiveThirtyEight’s average, 57.5 percent oppose recalling Newsom, compared with 40.8 percent who want to. While that looks like good news, turnout remains a big unknown, as the contest is taking place in September of an off year. 


Also under a microscope: does the Democratic strategy in California pay off? For weeks, Newsom and his allies have sought to cast the recall race as a power grab by the GOP, all the while making the race a referendum on a GOP led by Trump. Newsom has also been the beneficiary of campaign appearances by key Democrats, including Biden and Vice President Harris. Former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBill Maher, Isiah Thomas score over the NFL's playing of 'Black national anthem' Democrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE also cut ads for the embattled governor. 


The president, during a campaign appearance with Newsom on Monday night, repeated a message the governor has deployed for weeks: “Voting no will be protecting California from Trump," Biden said. "You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you get Donald Trump," Biden said. “Don't take anything for granted." 


The president defended Newsom’s policy response to COVID-19, hailing his willingness to side with expert health recommendations rather than public resistance to masks and restrictions to mitigate the spread of the virus.


“We need science, we need courage, we need leadership. We need Gavin Newsom,” Biden told the crowd. “Just look at the hypocrisy. The same governors attacking me and your governor for COVID-19 mandates are in states with some of the strictest vaccine mandates for children in the whole country. ...For these Republican governors it isn’t about public health, it’s about politics,” Biden continued. 


Niall Stanage: California recall exposes the limit of Trump's GOP.


The New York Times: Higher approval, a new electorate and no Arnold Schwarzenegger. This isn’t 2003. 


Reid Wilson, The Hill: California Democrats ponder reforms amid Newsom recall effort.



California Governor Gavin Newsom greets US President Joe Biden (R) at Sacramento Mather Airport



> White House v. GOP governors: Republican governors have emerged as some of Biden’s most consistent foils during his opening months in office, with a brewing fight over vaccine mandates shaping up to be the next battleground. 


As The Hill’s Brett Samuels writes, the president has embraced the clash with GOP state leaders, believing there is public support for his stance. 


“I think [Biden] has played this just right,” said Jesse Lee, a senior adviser for communications at the progressive think tank Center for American Progress. “I think he and the American people have actually been aligned that it was the right thing to do to encourage people in a positive manner to get vaccinated until you couldn’t reach many people that way. Then you have to take a harder line.”


The Hill: Three in five American adults, according to a new poll, support Biden’s vaccine requirement for businesses.


CORONAVIRUS: Businesses are scrambling to develop systems to verify vaccination status after the president’s vaccination requirement for companies and firms with 100 or more workers. 


Many businesses that have already mandated vaccines have used an honor system approach, while others have bought into vaccine verification programs. Still, questions remain. As The Hill’s Karl Evers-Hillstrom notes, the White House has not yet said how businesses should verify proof of vaccination or whether the government will cover the cost of doing so, making employers hesitant on how to move forward.  


Meanwhile, mandates in the private sector have started to show results. Delta Air Lines announced that 4,000 unvaccinated employees got inoculated following the company’s decision to add a $200 monthly surcharge to its health care plan for employees who did not get jabbed. 


Henry Ting, Delta’s chief health officer, said that almost 20 percent of the 20,000 unvaccinated Delta employees opted to get inoculated after the directive was issued on Aug. 25. He added that the company has not seen any turnover or resignations in response (The Hill).


The Washington Post: Booster shots not needed for general population at this time, group of scientists says. 


The Wall Street Journal: COVID-19 deaths in delta surge trend younger in U.S.


Des Moines Register: Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools.


The Washington Post: Delta variant tests back-to-school plans, infecting kids, forcing closures.



Travelers gather outside the Delta Air Lines departures level at Los Angeles International Airport


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! 


George W. Bush reminds us that Republicans once believed in democracy, by Dana Milbank, columnist, The Washington Post. 


COVID-19 confusion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by Marty Makary, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal. 





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


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. resumes consideration of the nomination of James Kvaal to be under secretary of Education.


The president will hold a “Build Back Better” event in Denver at 3:30 p.m. local time before returning to Washington late tonight.


The vice president will participate in a fundraiser for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) (WRIC). 


The secretary of State testifies at 10 a.m. to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. 


First lady Jill BidenJill BidenFirst Lady visits schools to discuss COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden travels west as Washington troubles mount MORE will deliver pre-taped remarks at a virtual Hiring Our Heroes Remote Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone event at 4 p.m. She will speak at 8 p.m. at a 50th anniversary concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.


Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. reports on U.S. consumer prices in August.


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


INTERNATIONAL: North Korea says it launched newly developed long-range cruise missiles. In the tests that took place on Saturday and Sunday, the missiles flew more than two hours, circled and hit targets 932 miles away, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. The latest tests showed that North Korea continued to improve its arsenal of missiles while nuclear disarmament talks with the U.S. remained stalled. Under U.N. sanctions, North Korea can develop cruise missiles but not ballistic missiles (Bloomberg News and The New York Times). … In Great Britain, the government today delayed implementation of post-Brexit trade controls (Reuters).


#MeToo: Current and former Team USA gymnasts, including Simone Biles, are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the FBI’s investigation of former team trainer Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to prison in 2018 in connection with years of sexual abuse involving the program. The panel shared that Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols will testify. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Christopher Wray will also give testimony (The Hill).


TECH: A federal court ruling last week in a case involving allegations of anti-competitive conduct against Apple is likely to open the door to more lawsuits against the tech giant and put more pressure on Congress to take legislative action (The Hill).


ENERGY & EQUITY: California grid limitations could exacerbate the existing racial inequities tied to solar energy integration, a new study has found (The Hill).


And finally … Yep, we are here to remind you that there are 102 days until Christmas. Economic analysts point to continued supply chain problems that suggest U.S. consumers may want to begin shopping now for prized toys, tech gizmos and gifts likely to be popular this year — if they happen to be dependent on imports, container ships across oceans or scarce computer chips.


Money: Why you should start your holiday shopping now.


CNN Business: The shipping crisis is getting worse. Here’s what that means for holiday shopping.


CNN Perspectives: Supply chain problems will affect your holiday shopping.



Packages from Amazon sent by relatives pile up under the photographer's Christmas tree