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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Alibaba – House Democrats plagued by Biden agenda troubles

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) and U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) and U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD)



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday, the first day of autumn! 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 each morning this week: Monday, 673,765; Tuesday, 676,092; Wednesday, 678,502.

Divisions in the House Democratic Caucus were on full display Tuesday as progressives threatened to tank a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill next week if the party’s reconciliation package is not complete, leading President Biden to convene meetings with lawmakers today at the White House to smooth over tensions. 


Earlier on Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting attempted to keep all members on board. But that hope was short-lived and the future of the Biden agenda came into question as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters following a lengthy meeting with Pelosi that roughly half of her 95-member group is prepared to vote against the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal if the Speaker sticks to her plan to vote on it by Monday without a complete reconciliation bill. 


“Our vote for the BIF has to happen in tandem with or after the reconciliation vote,” Jayapal (seen below) told reporters, using the acronym for the bipartisan infrastructure framework, predicting that no vote will ultimately take place. “I don’t think the Speaker is going to bring up a bill that is going to fail.” 


Last month, Pelosi promised moderate members a vote on the bipartisan proposal by Monday to win their support for greenlighting the reconciliation process. However, the chances of Democrats passing the massive $3.5 trillion spending bill by then are slim to none, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) calling for a pause in the process and several centrist members airing concerns about the size of the blueprint. 



Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) waks towards reporters



Tuesday’s troubles also spawned a series of meetings between Biden, Democratic leaders and rank-and-file members later today in a renewed effort to implement the president’s agenda, a source familiar told the Morning Report. According to PBS News, one of those sit-downs will feature Biden, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).


“Six days is an eternity in this place,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told the Democratic caucus earlier on Tuesday, referring to the planned Monday vote on the infrastructure bill. “We are going to get this done, we always do” (Politico).


Mike Lillis and Scott Wong, The Hill: Democrats seek to cool simmering tensions.


The New York Times: The fate of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill remains unclear as Biden prepares to meet with Democrats.


The Washington Post: More centrist Democrats question size and scope of $3.5 trillion economic package.


The non-stop issues came as House Democrats passed a stop-gap government spending bill, 220-211, to fund programs through Dec. 3 and raise the debt ceiling (The Hill). But naturally, that vote only came together after hours of sudden drama as progressives forced Democratic leaders to scrap a provision that would provide $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system (The Hill).


The development dismayed a number of moderate lawmakers and those who represent swing districts. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a former Defense Department and CIA official, accused some progressives of being ignorant regarding the Iron Dome, saying that their opposition was simply a way of targeting Israel.


“Iron Dome is a purely *defensive* system — it protects civilians when hundreds of rockets are shot at population centers. Whatever your views on the Israeli-Pal conflict, using a system that just saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives as a political chit is problematic,” Slotkin tweeted. “To target Iron Dome now means the issue isn’t a genuine concern over the system, but rather the desire to attack something – anything – related to the State of Israel; it’s devoid of substance and irresponsible”


A spokesperson for House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told The Hill that funding for the Iron Dome will instead be included in the annual defense funding bill later this year.


The Hill: Pressure builds on Democratic leadership over HBCU funding.


Meanwhile, the debt ceiling fight continues to unify Senate Republicans, with lawmakers warning Democrats that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not blink despite Tuesday night’s vote to raise the nation’s borrowing authority. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, Democrats are trying to squeeze the Kentucky Republican by tying a debt hike to the short-term funding bill only days before a government shutdown. Yet, McConnell has remained steadfast, according to GOP senators, and has shown zero appetite to help out the majority party.


The Wall Street Journal: Debt-limit suspension passes House, faces standoff in Senate.


Axios: The Democrats’ debt dilemma.


The Hill: McConnell, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) introduce a government funding bill without the debt ceiling issue.


Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tries to help former President Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet.



Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) answers questions at the U.S. Capitol




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.


ADMINISTRATION: Biden used his first speech as president to the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday to make his case that the United States remains a reliable international partner following four years of his predecessor’s “America first” foreign policy. 


We’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy, of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world,” Biden said. 


The president summoned the world’s nations to forcefully address the festering global issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human rights abuses. He decried military conflict and insisted the U.S. is not seeking “a new Cold War” with China. Biden did not address criticism from allies about the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last month and a recent diplomatic tempest with France over submarines (The Associated Press).


Niall Stanage, The Memo: Biden seeks to reassure aggrieved allies.


The Associated Press: Top U.S. intelligence officials told a Senate panel on Tuesday that the Taliban victory in Afghanistan could embolden U.S.-based extremists at the same time that the FBI is confronting increasing threats from individuals motivated by racial and political grievances.


CNN: Another U.S. case of “Havana syndrome” was reported in September inside the CIA. … Secretary of State Antony Blinken met this month with diplomats who suffered syndrome effects and say they are frustrated about continued skepticism tied to reported attacks (NBC News).



President Joe Biden addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York



> The Department of Homeland Security was denounced this week by irate Democrats, including Vice President Harris, the White House press secretary, the Speaker, the Senate majority leader and rank-and-file House lawmakers over aggressive federal tactics used against Haitian asylum seekers amassed at the border in Del Rio, Texas. On the flip side, Republicans in Congress have taken the department and the president to task for immigration policies they see as a border “crisis” posing threats to U.S. security. 


On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who flew on Monday to Del Rio to publicly champion the expulsion of thousands of migrants, including Haitians, backpedaled once he returned to Washington (seen below). Reacting to widespread condemnation of images of Haitians fleeing border agents who rode on horseback and appeared to use reins or whips to prevent men carrying food from crossing the border, Mayorkas told senators at a hearing that such tactics “horrified” him (The Hill). An internal investigation is underway.


NAACP President Derrick Johnson demanded a meeting with Biden to discuss the situation and called the treatment of the Haitian migrants “utterly sickening” (The Associated Press).   


Schumer urged the president on Tuesday to halt the deportation of thousands of Haitian migrants, saying the decision to turn them away in Mexico or fly them to Haiti, where some have not lived for a decade or more, “defies common sense” (Politico). “We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws. We must allow asylum-seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and be afforded due process,” he said.


The Associated Press: Two anonymous federal officials challenge the administration’s account that Haitian migrants are being deported from the Texas border out of the country, saying many are being released into the United States after Border Patrol processing, including through El Paso, Laredo and Tucson, Ariz., with notices to appear at immigration offices within 60 days.



Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas





CORONAVIRUS: Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday released data showing that a booster dose to its one-shot coronavirus vaccine provides a strong immune response months after people ages 18 to 55 received a first dose. The study results have not been peer-reviewed. The company said it is now in talks with regulators, including the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, regarding using booster doses of its vaccine (The Associated Press).



A vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine



> “Soul-crushing”: Months ago, U.S. deaths from COVID-19 had dropped into the hundreds per day. Now the daily number is up to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since March. The U.S. was stunned in December when it saw 3,000 deaths a day. But that was when almost no one was vaccinated. Now, nearly 64 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And yet, average deaths per day, which lag behind shifts in infection rates, have climbed 40 percent over the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of vaccine-eligible Americans who have yet to get a shot has been estimated at more than 70 million (The Associated Press).


> Rapid tests: COVID-19 at-home test kits endorsed by the White House remain hard to find in the United States. The tests have already disappeared from pharmacy shelves and manufacturers warn it will take them weeks to ramp up production after scaling it back amid plummeting demand over the summer. The United States has yet to successfully manage its COVID-19 testing arsenal, which the government says is needed to quickly crush outbreaks in schools, workplaces and communities (The Associated Press).


POLITICS: Democrats confront an increasingly bleak political outlook in battleground Florida ahead of next year’s midterm elections, The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports. The party’s long-held voter registration advantage over Republicans has shrunk. The state Democratic Party is being outpaced by the Florida GOP in fundraising. Republican-led redistricting will hurt Democrats, as will a controversial new election law pushed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to analysts.


> VIPs, endorsements, money: Former President George W. Bush will headline his first fundraiser of the 2022 midterms for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) next month in Dallas, according to an invitation obtained by The Wall Street Journal. … Republicans on Tuesday reported a cash advantage as both parties raked in millions of dollars last month (The Hill).


> Latinos are a rising percentage of the U.S. population, an important voting bloc, not monolithic in their views or their heritage, and Americans don’t know who they are, says Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), commenting on a new government report released on Tuesday about the underrepresentation of Latinos in Hollywood and in the news industry (The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Associated Press). 


> Redistricting: In Oregon, Democrats are finalizing a plan to dramatically gerrymander the state’s congressional districts. If they get their way, they will hold five of the Beaver State’s six seats in the House, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a former Portland city councilmember who has represented Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District since 1996, would represent a district that stretches all the way to Bend, Ore., 175 miles to the southeast, reports The Hill’s Reid Wilson.


> Georgia: Trump will share his rally stage on Saturday in Perry, Ga., with a trio of conservative candidates running for statewide office, including former NFL player Herschel Walker, who has thus far been low key while seeking to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) (The Hill).


> Lawsuit: Trump on Tuesday sued his niece, Mary Trump, and The New York Times over a 2018 news story about his family’s wealth and tax practices that was partly based on confidential documents she provided to the newspaper’s reporters. Trump’s lawsuit, filed in state court in New York, seeks $100 million in damages. He accuses his niece of breaching a settlement agreement by disclosing tax records she received in a dispute over family patriarch Fred Trump’s estate. Mary Trump identified herself in a book published last year as the source of the documents provided to the Times (The Associated Press).

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! 


Leaderless Republicans rush headlong toward default, by Dana Milbank, columnist, The Washington Post.


The enormity of Manchin’s skinny H.R. 1 bill. If you trim a bad voting bill, you end up with … a bad voting bill, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board.



Radha Beauty, a small business from Aurora, Ohio, found a new growth opportunity by using Alibaba’s online platforms to sell to the Chinese market. Now Radha is experiencing record sales.


The House convenes at 10 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of Lily Batchelder to be an assistant secretary of the Treasury. … The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution holds a 10 a.m. hearing on the Voting Rights Act and “discriminatory abuses.” … McConnell will hold a press conference in the Capitol at noon to talk about the debt ceiling.


The president hosts a virtual global COVID-19 summit from the White House at 11 a.m. (The Washington Post). The president will hold a series of meetings today with House and Senate Democrats to hear their legislative perspectives. 


The vice president will lead a session of the president’s global COVID-19 summit at 1:30 p.m. It will be live streamed. Harris will meet Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema at 5:15 p.m. in her White House office.


The Federal Reserve will issue a statement at the conclusion of its two-day meeting at 2 p.m. and Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Analysts are alert to any central bank signals that its easy-money policies could begin to be scaled back in November.


Economic indicator: The National Association of Realtors at 10 a.m. reports on existing home sales in August.


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


INVITATIONS: The Hill’s Virtually Live TODAY at 1 p.m. hosts “Upskilling for Today and Tomorrow” about the rise of remote work, with Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) and a panel of leading CEOs. Information is HERE.


The Hill’s Virtually Live THURSDAY at 1 p.m. hosts a Small Business Summit with policymakers, small-business owners and economic experts as well as lawmakers and officials including Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee; Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.), member of the Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development; and the Small Business Administration’s Mark Madrid. Information is HERE.


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


INTERNATIONAL: China, a major backer of the global coal industry, will no longer build coal-fired power plants abroad, according to President Xi Jinping, who spoke Tuesday at the United Nations in a pre-recorded speech. ​​“China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy,” he said (The Hill). … The Taliban named an ambassador to the United Nations and asked to speak to the General Assembly this week (Reuters). … Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told the annual U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday in a pre-recorded address that his country wants a resumption of nuclear talks with world powers to lead to the removal of U.S. sanctions (Reuters). … Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s snap election resulted in victory for a third stint in office on Monday, but his Liberal Party failed in its bid to secure a majority in Parliament. Trudeau nevertheless leads a strong minority government that is unlikely to be toppled by the opposition (The Associated Press). 



A newspaper shows a cover photo of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau



TECH: In a dramatic shift in policy, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg approved a plan this year to use his company’s influential news feed to try to burnish the reputation of Facebook with self-created, promotional information (The New York Times). … Google employees are criticizing the removal of a voting app associated with Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, just as the country’s parliamentary elections start. On Friday, Google and Apple removed the Smart Voting app that advocated for anti-government candidates after the companies received threats of fines and criminal persecution by the Russian government, with internal Google forums criticizing the company for bowing down to Russia’s demands (The Hill). 


ECONOMY: On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit to block a alliance between JetBlue and American Airlines, arguing it would be a de facto merger in an industry in which four airlines control more than 80 percent of domestic U.S. air travel (The Hill). … America is facing a critical shortage of an often overlooked commodity, one that helps communities function and one that poses serious problems if it goes unaddressed: school bus drivers. Some states are taking drastic action (The Hill).


And finally …  We pause this newsletter for a public service announcement. It’s autumn. Dig out those sweaters, yard rakes, soup recipes and umbrellas (The Washington Post). 



Autumn leaves are seen on the sidewalk


Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Antony Blinken Ben Cardin Charles Schumer Donald Trump Earl Blumenauer Elissa Slotkin Hakeem Jeffries Jared Polis Joaquin Castro Joe Biden Joe Manchin Justin Trudeau Lindsey Graham Liz Cheney Mark Zuckerberg Mary Trump Mike Braun Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Pramila Jayapal Raphael Warnock Richard Shelby Ron DeSantis Rosa DeLauro Steny Hoyer

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