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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Alibaba – Democrats return to disappointment on immigration

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Monday! 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: 673,765. 


As of this morning, 63.8 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 54.6 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.

Democrats return to work today after the Senate parliamentarian dashed their hopes of bundling immigration reform into President Biden’s ambitious $3.5 trillion social policy agenda.


Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough said in her decision Sunday that the Democrats’ plan to provide 8 million greencards was “by any standard a broad, new immigration policy,” and was not fit to pass through the budget reconciliation process.


Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), who led the Democrats’ immigration effort, said the “fight for immigration reform will continue.” But what that will look like is unclear.


Democrats are also uncertain about plans to vote on a big infrastructure bill next week, unclear if that $3.5 trillion package will have to shrink to get a shot at becoming law and anxious over a showdown with Senate Republicans over the debt ceiling that could lead to a shutdown next week.


In other words, to quote a Senate Democrat interviewed by The Hill’s Jordain Carney, the outlook for the fall on Capitol Hill is akin to a “Rubik’s Cube on steroids.”   


On Sunday, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may delay an infrastructure vote she promised moderate Democrats by Sept. 27. A separate $3.5 trillion spending and tax bill may not move anywhere without reducing its girth, they added (The Hill).


The upcoming battle over a total price tag, the sequencing of bills and use of budget reconciliation with only Democratic votes to propel Biden’s agenda guarantees a long, fraught autumn at a juncture when Democrats worry they will run out of time and support ahead of the midterm elections.


Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday turned aside questions about whether the bill he helped write would drop below $3.5 trillion, which he said “is much too low,” considering his initial call for $6 trillion in spending for health care, education, child care and climate policies over the next decade. “Right now what we are doing is we are engaging with the House and the Senate. It is a complicated proposal,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “A compromise has already been made.”


The Associated Press and The Washington Post: Democrats push to retool some health care programs for millions of Americans.


Sanders said his bet is on support from voters and advocates who he says favor the ambitious bill and will influence Congress accordingly. He declined to comment on pushback from moderate colleagues who insist they will not vote for $3.5 trillion in new spending, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). 


I expect, because of the pressure of the American people, we’re going to come together again and do what has to be done,” Sanders said. “We’re going to win it.” 


Axios: Manchin is privately telling some people he wants to “pause” the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion measure until 2022. Such a delay could imperil the measure as well as the separate House infrastructure bill. 


The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda reports that the House Ways and Means Committee last week opted to shrink some of the tax increases Biden originally proposed, and abandon other presidential proposals altogether, opening up additional Democratic frictions.


Across the Capitol, Democrats are eyeing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has a different game in play. The Washington Post’s Paul Kane reports that McConnell, for political purposes, has invented his own rules about a potential U.S. default this fall. 


McConnell says he wants to keep the voting records of GOP candidates in 2022 free of issues dealing with Congress’s need to raise the country’s authority to borrow to pay for obligations already in law. Democrats plan to attach a debt-ceiling hike, which the Treasury Department says is necessary by October, to a measure to keep the government funded into a new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. 


If Republicans block that measure because of the debt question, the government could shut down the next day. McConnell’s machinations often lead to weeks or months of battling Democrats over the hypocrisy of his decisions but that’s an area where he is comfortable, Kane writes. 


The Wall Street Journal: Democrats press ahead with debt-limit vote amid standoff with the GOP.


McConnell in August set out to cast Senate Democrats as so eager to adopt Sanders’ “socialist shopping list” that they were willing to move without Republicans. He said they sought to leave “our kids and grandkids with a massive bill. They deserve to have total ownership of that decision.” 


In 2011, 2012 and 2013, however, McConnell thought differently about his role in ironing out partisan impasses in order to avert default and keep the government funded and operating. In 2018, former Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) took to the floor to hail his Kentucky colleague and friend for collaborating with Democrats, including then-Vice President Biden, to resolve past debt-ceiling and funding emergencies. Alexander said he cribbed the list of accomplishments he read into the Senate record from McConnell’s own account of highlights of his years as majority leader.


How did McConnell characterize staving off default and reaching across the aisle? As “concrete legislative results for the American people,” Alexander said admiringly three years ago.


The Hill: A debt ceiling explainer.



Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell



More in Congress: The pharmaceutical industry is on the verge of defeating Democrats’ bill to allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices, a top priority for drugmakers. The number of House Democrats expressing misgivings about the bill is in the double digits, and several Democratic senators would not vote for the measure in its current form, according to industry lobbyists (The Hill). … New York Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) on Saturday announced was diagnosed and treated for leukemia last year and is in remission. Zeldin’s diagnosis had not been disclosed before the weekend, even as he announced his intentions to run for New York governor (The Hill).



As the retail industry undergoes seismic shifts, U.S. small businesses use Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms to reach 900 million consumers in China, finding growth for their businesses and communities.


CORONAVIRUS: A stark feature of the nation’s COVID-19 response is how many Americans are willing to substitute personal choice for the latest scientific and medical advice during a public health crisis, in part because of confusion and government mistrust and in large measure because many Americans place excessive faith in their personal definitions of individual rights.


Some examples: 


Vaccine-hesitant Americans who are deeply skeptical about COVID-19 vaccines, even if licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, are clamoring for monoclonal antibody treatments (which are no less experimental than Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines), a choice that bewilders doctors (The New York Times). And let’s not forget individuals who opted to play doctor with the dewormer ivermectin under the mistaken belief that it can prevent or cure infection with the coronavirus (NPR).


Well before the latest scientific data could be studied by experts about the necessity and effectiveness of so-called booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines, tens of thousands of Americans showed up at pharmacies without consulting doctors to secure additional doses, often mixing rather than matching vaccines, a practice the World Health Organization this summer advised individuals not to choose on their own


On the flip side of anti-vaccination parenting, adults who are in a hurry to see their children inoculated against COVID-19 are not waiting for U.S. government approval before jabbing those younger than 12 (approval for children ages 5 to 11 could come in October, infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday). Some parents decide to lie to get their 10- and 11-year-olds vaccinated if the preteens can pass for 12 (The Atlantic).


Some Republican politicians and many parents in parts of the country have decided that mask-wearing by students, teachers and administrators is a personal choice and must not be required, even when detailed scientific studies since 2020 have established that contracting COVID-19 in crowded, indoor settings such as schools is a real and present danger. The mask debate is inexplicable to me,Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I can’t explain it. I can’t defend it. … I understand people’s general questions and concerns about a novel medical product, but a mask is such a simple intervention. It’s not going to cause you any harm. It’s just an act of, you know, community responsibility. It’s an act of respect.



A woman walks past a sign announcing the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in use at a mobile vaccine clinic



The FDA is expected to render its long-awaited decision on booster vaccine doses this week, reports The New York Times. Federal experts appearing on television on Sunday endorsed an FDA advisory panel’s Friday guidance that additional doses at the moment are fine for the elderly and certain adults with compromised immune systems, and some workers in at-risk occupations. Officials said the FDA continued to evaluate scientific data from other countries, including Israel, as well as U.S. data. “The story is not over,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.


NBC News: Biden faces booster plan blowback at home and abroad. 


The Hill: Sunday shows – boosters in the spotlight.


Public health specialists worry that coronavirus vaccine requirements could inspire activists to oppose other state and federal requirements and guidance for routine public health inoculations, often impacting children, The Hill’s Justine Coleman reports. The hypothesis is that misinformation and political agitation about personal freedoms could contribute to new outbreaks of preventable diseases, including measles and mumps, if Americans refuse routine vaccines required under state laws


$ COVID-19 medical bills: Some major insurance companies that reported billions of dollars in profits in 2020 and declared they would cover 100 percent of COVID-19 costs began charging coronavirus patients for care in January, often when patients became infected who were not yet eligible to queue up for vaccines. 


Under insurance contracts, COVID-19 hospitalizations on average cost $29,000, or $156,000 for a patient with oxygen levels so low that they require a ventilator and ICU treatment, according to data from FAIR Health. The costs to patients of COVID-19 care fall unevenly across medical facilities, various insurance plans and state lines. Vermont and New Mexico mandate that insurance companies cover 100 percent of COVID-19 treatment, but they are exceptions. Many COVID-19 patients in America who need hospital care and have private insurance now face crushing and confusing business-as-usual medical billing, often with co-pays, deductibles and out-of-network charges they say they cannot afford (Kaiser Family Foundation survey data and The Washington Post).


Fauci has said he would be supportive of a U.S. vaccine mandate for air travel, but the White House has said a new policy is not forthcoming. Any mandate impacting international and domestic air travel would be fiercely opposed by Republicans and the travel industry and compound criticism of the president and the administration (The Hill).



Anthony Fauci



POLITICS: Former President Trump and his allies are expanding their political activities across the map, asserting influence within the Republican Party before next year’s elections. Trump wields GOP primary endorsements and holds sway that unlocks campaign support. He also plans to barnstorm Georgia and Iowa in coming weeks, making himself the face of the Republican Party (The Hill). 


The 45th president, in conversations with senators and allies, is casting about for a challenger to depose McConnell, whom he sees as influential but insufficiently deferential as the Senate’s longest-serving Republican leader, The Wall Street Journal reports. 


As a weekend rally near the U.S. Capitol in support of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists demonstrated, Trump’s backers, whether in Washington or gathered regionally or online, are regrouping and remain wedded to a myth that massive election fraud in 2020 cost Trump the White House.


The former president continues to peddle disproven fraud falsehoods, an effort that impacts some of next year’s midterm contests and GOP primaries this year, putting some Republicans in an awkward spot. One example: Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin broke with Trump this week over whether Democrats would try to steal his state’s gubernatorial election (The Hill).


Niall Stanage, The Memo: Never Trumpers sink into gloom as Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), a critic of the former president, opts not to seek reelection.  



Donald Trump casts a shadow as he speaks



The Hill: Democrats are persuaded that a winning campaign theme for them next year will be a focus on tough COVID-19 restrictions in response to the pandemic as a way to draw sharp contrasts with Republican elected officials.


The New York Times: Another Democratic campaign theme: abortion rights.


> Governors’ races: The Hill’s Julia Manchester has an update on the Virginia contest between former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and former businessman Youngkin. … Texas: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s right turn is deflating GOP rivals but his positions could open a door to possible challengers in 2022, including Democrat Beto O’Rourke and Matthew McConaughey, according to the findings of one new poll (Dallas Morning News and The Hill). … Axios reported that O’Rourke is gearing up for a political comeback and assessing a run for governor. … The anti-Trump Lincoln Project is slamming Abbott in new political advertising, but the governor is seen as on track for reelection (Fort Worth News-Telegram).


More politics: Election workers: Democrats on Capitol Hill are renewing calls to pass legislation that would ratchet up criminal penalties against those who threaten violence against election workers (The Hill). … Poll workers, who have found themselves harassed and harangued by extremists and threatened with firing by politicians, now have their own legal defense network (an unexpected perk) (The New York Times). … Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) came under media scrutiny for a plane ticket paid for by the committee to France for what appeared on Instagram to be part of a vacation (The New York Post). 





ADMINISTRATION: Federal authorities over the weekend accelerated the removal of some of the thousands of Haitian migrants moving through Mexico to cross into Texas, including flying hundreds back to Haiti and moving others to immigrant processing facilities (Reuters). 


The government flew Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland on Sunday and tried blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico in a massive show of force that signaled the beginning of what could be one of America’s swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades, The Associated Press reported


More than 320 migrants arrived in Port-au-Prince on three flights, and Haiti said six flights were expected on Tuesday. In all, U.S. authorities moved to expel many of the more 12,000 migrants camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.


Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in a Saturday tweet called the administration’s actions “inhumane” as Haiti faces a humanitarian crisis compounded by natural disasters and political uncertainty (Newsweek).



Haitian migrants, part of a group of over 10,000 people staying in an encampment on the US side of the border, cross the Rio Grande river



Biden will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, presenting openings to ease strains with allied nations, recast partnerships and lay out a U.S. foreign policy agenda that some officials hope can surmount, or at least patch over, recent clashes (The Associated Press).


The Associated Press: As leaders reconvene at the United Nations, climate and COVID-19 are center stage.


The Hill: Biden falters in pledge to strengthen U.S. alliances.


> The Associated Press: A U.S. nuclear submarine deal with Australia announced last week infuriated France, which lost some defense contracts and fumed that it was “betrayed.” The disagreement triggered tough exchanges between Australia and the administration of French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as between officials in Paris and Washington. Biden asked to speak with Macron by phone. That conversation is expected “in the coming days.” … France on Sunday canceled a defense meeting with the United Kingdom over the submarine row (Reuters).


> The Pentagon’s concession on Friday that a U.S. drone strike that killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan was a mistake and involved no terrorists further strains the U.S. reputation abroad, confidence in U.S. intelligence and Biden’s overall standing at home (The Associated Press). 


> U.S. auto safety investigators have opened a new probe into 30 million vehicles built by nearly two dozen automakers with potentially defective Takata air bag inflators, according to a Sunday report by Reuters.


> White House: Heading toward his ninth month as president, Biden has long been known in Washington for his bluntness, his back-slapping charm and sometimes his impatience, not always with positive results. He is as inclined to skip the subtleties with antagonists such as President Putin and with longtime Senate friends on both sides of the aisle. Former American presidents, including the intellectual John Adams, the Rough Rider Theodore Roosevelt and the reality TV-trained Trump, also were described by contemporaries as blunt-spoken and at times overly candid. The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Morgan Chalfant explore an important question: Biden billed himself as a master negotiator in a polarized era with the judgment, experience and personal traits to bring people together for outcomes that benefit the United States. How is that working out?  


The Hill and Reuters: Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Biden fell asleep during an August meeting with his successor, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

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! 


There’s a reason Putin keeps winning, by Ilya Yablokov, guest essay, The New York Times.


Moral perfection can wait: Justin Trudeau’s reelection bid forces the left to ask whether it prioritizes policy victories or ideological purity, by Omer Aziz, ideas contributor, The Atlantic.



As the retail industry undergoes seismic shifts, U.S. small businesses use Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms to reach 900 million consumers in China, finding growth for their businesses and communities.


The House returns to work after a summer break at 2 p.m. 


The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Margaret Strickland to be a U.S. district judge for the District of New Mexico.


The president at 11 a.m. departs Rehoboth Beach, Del., for the White House. At 12:30 p.m., Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office. The president will depart the White House for New York City in the afternoon. He is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Manhattan with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting Tuesday. Biden will remain in New York overnight.


Vice President Harris will host a reception at her official residence at 4 p.m. for the Congressional Black Caucus’s 50th anniversary.


Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Milford, Mass., to tout the administration’s Build Back Better agenda.


The White House press briefing will take place 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.


STATE WATCH: Can Alaska diversify its economy? The nation’s most dysfunctional legislature is on the brink of a massive overhaul of its financial future. It involves the tacit recognition that the oil and gas money that has made Alaska the picture of fiscal health isn’t going to last forever (The Hill). … In Texas, physician Alan Braid said he violated his state’s tough new abortion law on Sept. 6 by terminating a patient’s pregnancy in her first trimester, beyond the law’s six-week cutoff. In an opinion article published by The Washington Post, Braid explained why he performed the procedure.


CHILD CARE: Workers who complain of abysmal pay are quitting their child care jobs in droves, a red flag for the U.S. economy as the trend exacerbates long-running shortages. Child care workers are finding higher pay as bank tellers, retail clerks and as administrative assistants (The Washington Post). … The average annual cost of infant day care in Washington, D.C., is $24,000, exceeding comparative costs in all states, according to Lending Tree (WTOP).


EMMY AWARDS: Sunday’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards show was a triumphant night for streaming services: Netflix chalked up victories with “The Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit,” Apple TV+ won with “Ted Lasso” and HBO Max with “Hacks.” 


“The Crown” won awards for best drama, direction and writing, and swept the drama acting awards: Olivia Colman was named best actress for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II, Josh O’Connor best actor for his Prince Charles, Gillian Anderson best supporting actress for playing Margaret Thatcher, and Tobias Menzies for his Prince Philip.


HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” claimed three out of the four acting categories for a limited series, with Kate Winslet taking the best lead actress role for her performance as a small-town detective investigating a gruesome murder of a teenage mother. Ewan McGregor was named best lead actor in a limited series for the Netflix show “Halston.” (The New York Times). 


Thanks to “The Crown” and “Gambit,” Netflix won more Emmys than any other network or platform for the first time ever, with 44 total awards (Variety). 


And finally … Many thousands of Americans spent part of their COVID-19 lockdowns perfecting the art of sourdough bread baking. Instagram and Twitter continue to display creatively fashioned loaves popping out of humble ovens everywhere. Is food art? For sale at the ballyhooed Art Basel show in Switzerland is a large peaked-roof house made of sourdough loaves, a creation that tests that question. 


Seriously (Bloomberg News).



If this giant house made of bread sells, it will be a pretty good test of whether the art world's return is fully baked


Tags Anthony Fauci Anthony Gonzalez Benjamin Netanyahu Bernie Sanders Dick Durbin Donald Trump Emmanuel Macron Greg Abbott Ilhan Omar Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Yarmuth Justin Trudeau Kyrsten Sinema Lamar Alexander Lee Zeldin Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi
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