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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Alibaba – Democrats still at odds over Biden agenda

Speaker Pelosi
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Speaker Pelosi

  

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday, the first day of October ! 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 reported each morning this week: Monday, 688,033; Tuesday, 690,434; Wednesday, 693,055; Thursday, 695,116; Friday, 697,848.

House members are expected to meet today after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided late on Thursday that her fractious caucus would not vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill after all. This week could end where it began: in legislative limbo with one exception. Congress managed, with President Biden’s signature on a bill, to keep the government funded for two more months.  

Democrats’ impasse over a proposed $3.5 trillion social policy measure that some moderates would like to shrink remained unresolved after hours of top-level meetings and negotiations on Thursday (The Hill). Some Democrats saw glimmers of progress, while others were downbeat.  

“We’re not there yet,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki conceded in a late-night statement following a day in which Biden unsuccessfully sought House Democratic consensus. “A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever,” she added.   

Progressive members held firm on their promise to spike a vote on the bipartisan proposal if it reached the floor, forcing Pelosi to backtrack with her plans.  

“If I had to bet, I would say there’s not going to be a vote tonight,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, had predicted to CNN on Thursday night. “There’s just not the votes there.” 

The Washington Post: House Democrats delay planned vote on $1 trillion infrastructure bill amid dispute between party moderates and liberals. 

The Associated Press: Despite setback, Democrats try to save Biden $3.5 trillion plan.

The nixed vote occurred despite optimism from centrist members earlier in the day. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) had said during a Thursday interview that he was “1,000 percent” sure not only that the vote would take place, but that a $1 trillion bipartisan bill for roads, bridges and broadband would pass — a prediction that was not to be.

“My only regret is that I didn’t bet money on Monday about how this week would play out,” one House Democrat quipped to the Morning Report on Thursday night.  

Earlier in the day, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) (pictured below) finally named his price, indicating that he would not support a package north of $1.5 trillion. While Manchin laid that out for Senate Majority Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in July, the rest of the Senate Democratic Conference had been left in the dark until Thursday (The Hill). 

“Oh no, of course not. … I just saw it today,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told The Hill when asked if she had seen Manchin’s memo back in July. She described his price tag as “pretty sad.” 

The Hill: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) joins Manchin to oppose $3.5 trillion spending target. 

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Manchin throws down gauntlet with progressives. 

Politico: Democrats grit their teeth after Manchin lists demands. 

 

Sen. Joe Manchin

 

So, what’s next for Congressional Democrats? The House will not convene until 9:30 a.m., at the earliest, with uncertainty about a renewed push. Democratic leaders said they remained confident more discussions can result in passage of the traditional infrastructure measure plus a package of social policy spending and climate provisions, in some form.  

“You might be surprised but people are feeling pretty upbeat,” the House Democrat continued. “Ultimately most people expect we will pass both bills. Because we all know we really have no other choice.” 

However, as The Hill’s Hanna Trudo reports, mistrust has become pervasive within the House Democratic Caucus, with progressives and centrists accusing one another of essentially sabotaging Biden’s agenda.

The two factions have grown more irritated by the day, and that was never more apparent than on Thursday. At one point, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a longtime Democratic member, noted that others in the progressive wing have not had extensive careers crafting legislation. 

“I don’t want to suggest the progressives are wrong. They have good attitudes and good instincts and good goals. But they haven’t been legislators, most of them, for a very long period of time and a lot of them have been activists and try to get things in other ways,” Cohen said. “I’ve been a legislator for 44 years, I’ve got cars, my car is older than quite a few of the progressives.”

The Hill: Schumer feels heat to get Manchin and Sinema on board. 

 

Capitol building

 

 

A MESSAGE FROM ALIBABA

 

 

Emily’s Chocolates and Nuts — a family-owned business in Fife, WA — used Alibaba to expand globally. Now, Emily’s sells to over 900 million Chinese consumers on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms.

 

 

LEADING THE DAY

MORE CONGRESS: Congress avoided embarrassment on one front on Thursday as lawmakers passed a short-term spending bill to fund the government through Dec. 3.

Senators voted 65-35 to avert a shutdown risk today and also provide emergency dollars for disaster relief and Afghan refugee relocation (The Hill). Shortly after, the House voted 254-175 to send the bill to the president’s desk (The Hill) and he signed it into law.

Last week, the House passed the same bill along party lines, but with a provision that suspended the debt limit until mid-December of next year. As promised, Senate Republicans blocked that bill on Monday over their insistence that they will not vote to increase the nation’s borrowing authority.  

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said earlier in the week that lawmakers have until Oct. 18 to take action before a potential default on the nation’s credit. 

The Washington Post: The Senate narrowly rejected an amendment by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) attached to a stopgap spending measure that would have cut U.S. assistance to Afghan refugees. His proposal fell short by one vote. 

The continuing fight over the debt ceiling (along with the intra-party battle over reconciliation) has sparked a new discussion over the Democratic inability to abolish the filibuster. 

As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the battle over the nation’s borrowing limit comes after months where Democrats have been unable to pass anything on a number of priorities via bipartisan discussions, including police reform, voting rights and background checks. 

The Hill: Yellen calls for “very destructive” legislative debt limit requirement to be abolished.

Rebecca Beitsch and Rafael Bernal, The Hill: Democrats grasping at straws on immigration.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION: Ahead of the holiday season, U.S. mail delivery will cost more for even less speed. Today, the Postal Service will slow down some mail delivery as part of a controversial 10-year plan to improve cost-effectiveness (CNN and NPR). 

 

Mail crates

 

IRS: More than half of America’s 100 wealthiest people use tax laws and special trusts to avoid estate taxes (ProPublica). 

Flood control: Parts of official Washington, D.C., are so vulnerable to expensive and damaging floods during extreme downpours close to the Potomac River, there’s now a levee system near 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, not far from the Washington Monument. DCist reports on Wednesday’s annual practice session to install 27 removable aluminum panels designed to keep floodwaters away from $14 billion in real estate. How long did the installation take? Ninety minutes, plus travel time, in clear weather.   

******* 

POLITICS: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) cut ties with political adviser Corey Lewandowski in response to allegations he made unwanted sexual advances toward a woman at a weekend fundraising event, Politico reported on Thursday. Lewandowski had been a top adviser to Noem, introducing her to major Republican Party donors and power brokers around the country. Noem is seen as a potential candidate for president in 2024. A Trump-affiliated super PAC parted company with Lewandowski on Wednesday and he lost another client on Thursday: Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster. Noem and Herbster were both in attendance at the Las Vegas GOP fundraiser at which Lewandowski was accused of making lewd advances toward donor Trashelle Odom. 

The Hill: Former Vice President Pence said Thursday he’s spoken to former President Trump “about a dozen times” since the inauguration. Pence is widely seen as preparing a future campaign for the White House. On a conservative podcast, he defended his Jan. 6 role to record Electoral College ballots, a process Trump contested. “Obviously, it was a difficult day in January,” Pence said. “It was a dark day at our Capitol building. We’ve moved past it. We finished the work, and I can tell you honestly my focus is entirely on the future, and I believe that future is bright.”

The New York Times Sway podcast: Andrew Yang failed in bids for the White House and mayor of New York City. Now he’s back with a new party called “Forward.”  

The New Yorker: How bad is Biden’s slump? Political consultants weigh in.

The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports that the Virginia gubernatorial election in November, for which early voting began Sept. 17, may come down to a turnout contest in which participants vote their party. Pollsters who have surveyed the state say Virginia could hold clues to the nation’s stark partisan divides heading into the 2022 midterms. Vying to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D) are candidates Terry McAuliffe (D) and Republican Glenn Youngkin (who is on the right, below). 

 

Virginia governor debate

 

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

 

OPINION

The Democrats’ agenda is right. But the strategy’s all wrong, by Michael Gerson, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2Y433Po 

The Democrats’ last best shot to kill the filibuster, by Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic. https://bit.ly/3AZWDiP

 

A MESSAGE FROM ALIBABA

 

 

Small companies across the U.S. like Antica Farmacista, Nuria and Radha Beauty are using Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms to sell to China, finding new areas of growth for their businesses and communities.

 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet subject to the call of the chair, but no earlier than 9:30 a.m.  

The Senate convenes at noon and resumes consideration of the nomination of Paloma Adams-Allen to be deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. 

The president receives the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. 

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m. The administration’s coronavirus response team is expected to brief the news media at 11 a.m.  

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Economic Analysis at 8:30 a.m. reports on consumer spending in August.

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

ELSEWHERE

CARPE DIEM: Former President Jimmy Carter is 97 today. Happy natal day! 

CORONAVIRUS: Primetta Giacopini, 105, was born during a pandemic and died during this one. The Associated Press has a must-read about her tumultuous life. Don’t miss it. 

➔ STATE, CITY WATCH: “MiamiCoin” made the Florida city $7 million so far, and cryptocurrency could replace taxes as the city’s leading source of revenue (The Washington Post). … In Texas, the state’s restrictive abortion bill is back in federal court today (The Associated Press). … California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a law Thursday allowing ownership of a prime beachfront property to be transferred to heirs of a couple who built a resort for Black people in the early 1900s but were stripped of the land by local officials. The legislation begins the process of returning what was once known as Bruce’s Beach in the city of Manhattan Beach, which has been owned by Los Angeles County. Two parcels were purchased in 1912 by Willa and Charles Bruce, who built the first West Coast resort for Black people at a time when segregation barred them from many beaches. It included a lodge, cafe, dance hall and dressing tents. Manhattan Beach City Council used eminent domain to take the land from the Bruces in the 1920s, purportedly for use as a park. The county has outlined steps needed to move forward with the transfer, including assessing the value of the parcels and trying to find a means to lessen the tax burden on the heirs (The Associated Press).

 

California beachfront property returned to Black family

 

➔ SUPREME COURT: Justices said Thursday the court will consider an intended challenge set up in 2018 by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to a law limiting post-election political contributions to repay a candidate’s loan to his campaign. The Federal Election Commission asked the court to take the case (The Washington Post). … Conservative Justice Samuel Alito on Thursday criticized some politicians and the news media while defending the Supreme Court’s rulings made without oral arguments or full briefings. In a speech at the University of Notre Dame, Alito said, “The catchy and sinister term ‘shadow docket’ has been used to portray the court as having been captured by a dangerous cabal that resorts to sneaky and improper methods to get its ways. This portrayal feeds unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution” (The Associated Press and Politico).

THE CLOSER

And finally … Kudos to this week’s Morning Report Quiz masters! We have nothing but commendations for readers who sorted through a Washington week of name calling

Celebrating as victors amid the venom: Richard Baznik, Patrick Kavanagh, Ki Harvey, Mary Anne McEnery, Patricia Swank, Lou Tisler, Daniel Bachhuber, Michel Romage, Tom Miller, David Bond, Eric C. Bauman, Candi Cee, Lesa Davis, Pam Manges, Joseph Webster, Mark Roeddiger, Luther Berg, John Donato, Sue Kahil, Randall S. Patrick, Tim Burrack, John Hayden and Steve James.   

They knew that during a Tuesday debate, Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate McAuliffe accused his Republican opponent of being “bought and paid for by Donald Trump.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) accused Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during a Senate hearing on Tuesday of being “a dangerous man” because of his central bank policies. She said she will vote against his renomination, should Biden want him to stay.  

Trump son-in-law and former senior adviser Jared Kushner (seen below) is dubbed “the Slim Reaper” by former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham in her forthcoming account about 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., hitting stores next week.  

In the just-released book, “Peril,” by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismisses Trump during a chat with a fellow GOP senator as “a fading brand. Retired. OTTB as they say in Kentucky — off-the-track Thoroughbred.”

 

Jared Kushner
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