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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths each morning this week: Monday, 659,975; Tuesday, 662,131; Wednesday, 663,936; Thursday, 666,618; Friday, 670,009.
Washington is on edge ahead of Saturday’s planned pro-Trump rally in support of those who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, with security increased throughout the Capitol complex to avoid a repeat of the deadly incident.
Highlighting the security boost, the black fence surrounding the Capitol was reerected on Thursday more than two months after the initial one finally came down after being up for more than six months. Despite the precautions, most do not expect the new rally to devolve into the same level of chaos as Jan. 6, with security officials coming under heavy pressure to make sure there is not a repeat.
“It looks like the authorities, especially the Capitol Police, have been taken aback by how unprepared they were on Jan. 6. So now they're coming back over-prepared,” Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonIlhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Supreme Court declines to hear dispute over DC representation in Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows MORE (D-D.C.) told The Hill in an interview, lamented the “unsightly” fence.
“I can understand that the authorities want to make a show of force. And because this is the first such demonstration since Jan. 6, I can excuse it, so long as it doesn't become a habit,” Norton said.
As The Hill’s Cristina Marcos notes, there is good news as members of Congress will not be in town as they wrap up the August recess before returning next week. No lawmakers are expected to attend the event.
Organizers have also sought to calm fears about a repeat of Jan. 6, telling attendees not to wear pro-Trump clothing and to act peacefully. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE tried to fan the flames on Thursday by offering sympathy for those charged with participating in the fateful attack that resulted in him getting impeached for a second time.
“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said in a statement. “In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!” (The Hill).
In a separate interview, the former president labeled the “Justice for J6” event a “setup.”
“On Saturday, that’s a setup,” Trump told the Federalist. “If people don’t show up they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s a lack of spirit.’ And if people do show up they’ll be harassed” (Politico).
The Associated Press: Organizer of Saturday rally looks to rewrite Jan. 6 history.
The Hill: Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case MORE (R-S.C.): Police need “to take a firm line” with Sept. 18 rally attendees.
NBC News: Rep. Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezThe 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Colin Powell's example to the GOP — and to America MORE (R-Ohio), one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach the 45th president after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, will not seek reelection in 2022, he announced on Thursday.
> Reconciling reconciliation: President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE on Thursday spoke virtually with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters Buttigieg aims to use Tucker Carlson flap to spotlight paternity leave Judge to hear Trump's case against Jan. 6 committee in November MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration with Sinema rises Schumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race Guns Down America's leader says Biden 'has simply not done enough' on gun control MORE (D-N.Y.) to discuss the status of the party’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan as they gear up for a rough-and-tumble road to enacting a key portion of the Biden agenda (The Hill).
As The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong write, while the party wrapped up drafting the proposal this week, the tough part will kick off when lawmakers return on Monday and Democrats try to limit their defections in the House and win the support of key centrists in the Senate.
Clashes over the past week have centered on tax increases and prescription drug pricing, among other items, raising new questions about whether House leaders have the requisite support to pass the bill with a three-vote cushion. While Pelosi has a long track record of keeping her caucus together on tough votes, this one could prove more difficult when all is said and done.
“Let’s stay united in our quest to reach our goal and honor our values,” Pelosi wrote to Democrats this week.
The Associated Press: Budget bill reopens moderate vs. progressive divide for Democrats.
Bloomberg News: Biden agenda at risk of delays as Democrats squabble.
The drug pricing issue highlighted the challenges facing the party in the coming weeks. As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan notes, three moderate House Democrats broke with the party, with the trouble-spot remaining one of the thorniest issues left to resolve. The pharmaceutical industry is attempting to flex its muscle in the debate, having launched a seven-figure ad campaign against the measure earlier this week even though changes to the bill will likely be needed to emerge from both chambers.
The Hill: Biden goes after top 1 percent in defending tax hikes.
The Washington Post: At an economic inflection point, Biden leans into expansive, populist agenda.
The Hill: Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State.
LEADING THE DAY
ADMINISTRATION: Biden’s gleeful message to Europe earlier this year — that “America is back” — was intended to signal the promise of collaboration and a shift away from the foreign policy roller coaster of the Trump administration. But the bonhomie appeared to curdle over the summer, The Associated Press reports.
France (President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronBiden speaks with Macron, Harris to meet with French president in Paris French ambassador to Australia blasts sub deal with US: 'Way you treat your allies does resonate' America's subplot and Europe caught in the undertow MORE pictured in June, below) railed that it was betrayed and not consulted beforehand about a nuclear submarine deal announced on Wednesday with Australia, calling it a “regrettable decision.” French officials in Washington on Thursday angrily canceled a gala at their Washington embassy that had been imagined as a celebration of the long alliance between France and the United States (The New York Times). … 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 attempted to soothe France on Thursday with assurances that U.S. partnerships across the Atlantic and the Pacific are strong (The Wall Street Journal).
The U.S. anticipated that China would object to the U.S.-Australia-U.K. partnership to provide sophisticated, stealthy and nuclear powered submarines to Australia. At a news briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the trilateral pact “seriously undermined regional peace and stability, exacerbated the arms race and undermined international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.” Zhao added that any regional alliance “should not target or harm the interests of third parties” (NBC News).
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday rejected Chinese criticism of his country’s new submarine alliance with the United States, saying Australia wants to boost peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. “Everything we’ve done with the United States is consistent with the partnerships and relationships and alliances we’ve already had with the United States,” he added (The Associated Press).
> Taxing the rich: Biden on Thursday used White House remarks to endorse House and Senate proposals that would increase taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations and invest more federal resources at the Internal Revenue Service to beef up enforcement of tax laws. The president said the top 1 percent of filers evade about $160 billion in taxes owed each year.
“They play by a different set of rules,” Biden said of the wealthiest Americans, offering a reprise of his 2020 campaign stump speeches. “They’re often not employees themselves so the IRS can’t see what they make and can’t tell what they’re cheating. That’s how many of the top one percent pay virtually nothing,” he said.
“I’m not out to punish anyone, I’m a capitalist. If you can make a million or a billion dollars, that’s great. God bless you,” Biden added. “All I’m asking is you pay your fair share, pay your fair share, just like middle class folks do,” he said (The Hill).
The president’s promotion of his Build Back Better agenda comes as Democrats are struggling to pass a $3.5 trillion spending package without Republicans through budget reconciliation, along with a separate $1 trillion Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure measure.
Biden pointed to the ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay, which has risen more than fifteen-fold in the past five decades. And in a year when millions of Americans struggled to pay rent and put food on the table amid historic levels of unemployment, Biden said the combined net worth of the world’s wealthiest people grew by an estimated $1.8 trillion.
The House Ways and Means Committee this week voted to advance the tax portion of the $3.5 trillion social safety net bill. The plan would raise the top corporate tax rate by 5.5 percentage points and the top individual tax rate by 2.6 percentage points, respectively. If enacted as written, the new federal corporate income tax rate would be 26.5 percent and the new top individual income tax bracket would be 39.6 percent. The proposal also includes a 3 percent surcharge on individual income above $5 million and a capital gains tax of 25 percent (CNBC).
NPR, Ron Elving: The Democratic push to tax the rich is more than 40 years in the making. Recent polling has generally found the public supportive of higher taxes on "corporations and the wealthy." At the same time, news outlets have reported with vivid details that mega-corporations and ultra-rich individuals pay little or nothing in federal taxes.
> Tax avoidance update: The hottest tax break for the rich is a middle-class retirement account (Bloomberg News). Tech billionaire Peter Thiel has a reported $5 billion stashed away in a Roth individual retirement account as a tax-free piggy bank (ProPublica).
> Immigration: The U.S. Border Patrol said on Thursday that more than 9,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, were being held in a temporary staging area under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas as agents worked to process them. The government is dealing with a surge in migration across the Rio Grande this week that has overwhelmed the authorities and caused significant delays in processing the arrivals (The New York Times).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CORONAVIRUS: A Food and Drug Administration’s panel of outside advisers meets today to consider whether to recommend a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Americans older than 15. Investors appear to believe the answer will be yes.
A similar meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled on Wednesday. Decisions about widespread booster shots with the Moderna vaccine won’t be far behind.
In briefing papers for the Friday panel, FDA scientists noted that the primary COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly protective against the severe virus symptoms that could lead to hospitalization and death. Pfizer’s filings argue for boosters by pointing to observational studies that show waning protection against infection among the vaccinated. And since August, the Biden administration has been making arrangements to distribute booster doses, perhaps beginning next week (Barron’s).
The New York Times: Study of COVID-19 booster shots fans debate about long-term benefits of recharged immunity and the research data from Israel.
> Long-haul COVID-19: The National Institutes of Health announced a major study of patients who continue to suffer, sometimes for months after the acute stages of their COVID-19 infections abate, according to NIH Director Francis Collins. He said on Wednesday that a study of the large scale planned would customarily take the government three or four years to organize with researchers, but the pace has been sped up because of the health effects observed in patients. The NIH plans to award $470 million to 30 research teams across the country. The project will be based out of New York University's Langone Medical Center, which was one of the first centers to study and treat long COVID-19 patients (CNN and WebMD).
The Associated Press: In the United States, childhood obesity has been increasing for decades. Predictably, the problem worsened for many children and teenagers during the pandemic, according to a CDC study. Home-centered lifestyles without school and other activities appeared to aggravate the nation’s long standing obesity epidemic. In turn, obesity can put people at risk for more severe illness after coronavirus infection.
> Idaho on Thursday said it was activating a system to ration hospital care amid a COVID-19 surge (The Hill).
> Those in U.S. nursing homes least likely to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are the aides who provide direct care to residents, according to a new study. The findings are “alarming and reason for pause,” said Brian McGarry, a health researcher at the University of Rochester and one of the authors of the analysis, which appeared in a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine on Thursday. What makes a difference in upping employee vaccinations? Facility leadership and culture, plus mandates (The New York Times).
> Campus: Louisiana State University is removing 78 students for not following its vaccine rules, including providing proof of vaccination by Sept. 10 (The Associated Press).
> The World Health Organization on Friday called on all countries to meet goals of vaccinating at least 40 percent of their respective populations by the end of 2021 and 70 percent by the middle of 2022. Ahead of next week’s U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, the organization is focused on vaccine equity in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. “Seventy-three percent of all doses have been administered in just 10 countries,” the organization said in a statement.
> Italy is extending its health-pass requirement to cover most workers, both public and private. It is the first country in Europe to require coronavirus vaccination certificates so widely. “It’s an extraordinary endeavor,” Italy’s public administration minister, Renato Brunetta, said Thursday night. “It’s all the human capital in the country” (The New York Times).
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Traitor or tabloid? Should Gen. Milley be court martialed, or Bob Woodward? by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3zhuthC
The stolen-election myth has become an albatross for the GOP, by Rich Lowry, contributing editor, Politico Magazine. https://politi.co/3kdDqEm
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will meet at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session. The full House will not convene until Monday.
The Senate convenes on Monday at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Veronica Rossman to be a U.S. circuit judge with the 10th Circuit.
The president reconvenes the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate at 8:39 a.m. in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s auditorium. Biden receives the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. The president departs at 12:20 p.m. to spend the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskySunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters GOP leaders escalate battle against COVID-19 vaccine mandates Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Study finds Pfizer vaccine almost 91 percent effective for 5 to 11 year olds MORE speaks at 8:30 a.m. during Stanford University’s virtual event, “Responding to a Global Pandemic.” Information is HERE.
The White House coronavirus response team will brief the news media at 11:45 a.m.
➔ THANKS, OBAMA: Former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGlasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal Obama gives fiery speech for McAuliffe: 'Don't sit this one out' Obama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe MORE on Thursday endorsed Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauCanada's Trudeau apologizes for vacation on first Truth and Reconciliation Day Unvaccinated Canadian government workers to be placed on unpaid leave Canada marks first 'National Day of Truth and Reconciliation' MORE for a second term in office ahead of a tough reelection contest on Monday. Obama, who once had family ties in Canada and enthused that Toronto reminded him of Chicago, called Trudeau “an effective leader” and a “strong voice” for democracy on Thursday (The Hill).
➔ JEOPARDY! THE SEQUEL: Hosts for the remainder of the year on the syndicated game show will be Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings, Sony Pictures Television announced on Thursday, following the departure of Mike Richards, who was briefly named host and executive producer amid a cloud of controversy (CNN).
➔ ECONOMY: Ford Motor Company announced on Thursday that it was adding a total of 450 jobs among three facilities in Michigan to produce the F-150, an all-electric pickup truck. The automobile giant said that it plans to invest an additional $250 million on top of the newly-created jobs for the production of the vehicle, which the company says has 150,000 reservations to date (The Hill).
And finally … Congratulations to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners!
Here’s who aced our puzzle this week about things in the sky: Candi Cee, Amanda Fisher, Mike Axelrod, Michel Romage, Jaina Mehta, Lou Tisler, Tom Chabot, Ki Harvey, Mary Anne McEnery, Paul Harris, Patrick Kavanagh, Richard Baznik, Rick Pilonhome, Mark Roeddiger, Joseph Webster, John van Santen, John N Dziennik Jr., Stewart Baker, Steve James, Marina Fanning, Robert Nordmeyer, Luther Berg, John Donato and Randall Patrick.
They knew that on Wednesday, the Dragon capsule of a SpaceX rocket took four tourists into space for a first-of-its-kind, three-day journey.
North Korea this week said it propelled a cruise missile into the atmosphere.
Smoke from Western wildfires is contributing to vivid sunrises and sunsets mentioned in reports this week from Texas to New England.