The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats to scale back agenda

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The U.S. Capitol



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: Monday, 701,170. 

What is the goal of President BidenJoe BidenWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Jayapal says tuition-free community college 'probably won't' be in spending plan Jan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt MORE’s legislative wish list, tangled beneath Democrats’ infighting about policies, price tags, power brokers and endless arm-twisting about legislative procedures? 


To many Americans, Washington appears to be struggling with just about everything it’s tasked to do. Democrats’ stated ambition — proving that government is a force for good — is, to say the least as October begins, an untidy message (The Associated Press analysis). Biden on Tuesday will resume selling his overall legislative vision, this time in Howell, Mich., in a county that overwhelmingly backed former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE in the 2020 election. WHMI radio reported that Biden will visit an Operating Engineers union facility there.


The president and his advisers spent Friday and the weekend claiming optimism that Democrats will eventually enact major new spending for roads, bridges, airports, ports and broadband, perhaps $550 billion spread over many years, as well as federal support worth between $1.5 trillion and $3.5 trillion over a decade to improve benefits for children, college students, seniors, health care coverage, and to help rescue a warming planet. 


A consensus among top leaders is that $3.5 trillion for the grab-bag of policies Biden proposed in the spring will never get enough Senate Democratic votes. The dynamic for moderate Democrats also is complicated because new spending relies on raising taxes ahead of midterm elections. 


The next round of horse trading is focused on what gets removed without blowing up a path to Biden’s desk. 


Across-the-board shrinkage is seen by some analysts as economically unwise. Surgical excisions pick winners and losers, never easy in an environment short on compromise. 


The Wall Street Journal: Democrats weigh cutting programs or reducing scope to trim a $3.5 trillion bill. 


The Washington Post: White House confronts grueling choices as it debates major cuts to the Biden economic plan.


Senior West Wing adviser Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondBiden to meet with business leaders amid debt ceiling pressure campaign on GOP Bottom line The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats to scale back agenda MORE (pictured below) said during a Fox News appearance on Sunday that the president ultimately expects to pass both an infrastructure and reconciliation spending package. “We know what we’re doing,” he assured the audience (The Hill). "People will be disappointed. People will not get everything they want, that is the art of legislating, but the goal here is to get both bills, and we’re going to fight until we get both bills," he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” (Reuters).


The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant reports that some Biden allies on Capitol Hill imagine that Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Progressives see budget deal getting close after Biden meeting Democrats at odds with Manchin over child tax credit provision MORE (W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Progressives see budget deal getting close after Biden meeting On The Money — It all comes down to Bernie and Joe MORE (Ariz.) will find their respective paths to get on board while their colleagues try to beat back a Republican narrative that the majority party is fixated on a left-wing “tax and spend” agenda. 


They want to cool the temperature, especially as news coverage over the weekend turned to examining motives, whether understood or opaque, among the power players. Holdout Sinema is described by some of her colleagues as ideologically inconsistent, even when it comes to policies that affect her state (The Hill), while House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Jayapal says tuition-free community college 'probably won't' be in spending plan Progressives see budget deal getting close after Biden meeting MORE (D-Wash.) wields sufficient clout to declare Sunday on CNN that $3.5 trillion may be too high, but $1.5 trillion backed by Manchin is “not going to happen” (The Hill).   


Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing Fixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates MORE (D-Calif.), who has adjusted her legislative strategy and timetable numerous times as she wrestles with her caucus’s moderates and liberals, said on Friday she now aims for a vote on a bipartisan infrastructure vote more than a month after her most recent commitment, which was Sept. 27.


Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates Beware the tea party of the left Bottom line MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Sunday his goal is to get the two separate measures done in the next month (Reuters). 


Biden told lawmakers he has no timetable. ​​"It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter whether it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks. We’re gonna get it done," he said Friday. 



Cedric Richmond and President Biden



More in Congress: CBS’s “60 Minutes” reported on Sunday, according to whistleblower Frances Haugen, that Facebook contributed to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection by relaxing its security safeguards soon after Election Day last year and has not been truthful with the public and investors about efforts to eradicate hate, violence and misinformation from its platforms. Facebook refuted some assertions in the report and said blaming the platform for actions on Jan. 6 was “wrong.” Haugen will testify on Tuesday before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. … Fossil fuel issues are a point of friction between West Virginia coal advocate Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Democratic colleagues, who want to see Congress seize an opening for tough climate change policies (The Hill). 


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POLITICS: Refugees: The administration is on track to resettle the lowest number of refugees in the history of the U.S. program, a stark contrast with Biden’s campaign promises to resettle as many as 125,000 people a year. The administration resettled 7,637 refugees by the end of August (The Hill). Aware of pro-immigration groups’ political expectations, Biden today in taped remarks will address participants at the annual National Immigrant Integration Conference in Las Vegas. 


> Polls: Biden has lost support among independent voters, a key group that helped catapult him to the White House. Their changed appraisal of the president appears to be tied to legislative gridlock on Capitol Hill, the chaotic withdrawal of U.S.troops from Afghanistan in August and the pandemic. The president’s approval among independents fell to 37 percent, the lowest it has been since he took office, according to Gallup. "Independents are seeing … lack of results and a lot of consternation on Capitol Hill," Democratic strategist Mike Morey said (The Hill). 


> Election security: Officials say the biggest threat facing U.S. elections isn't Russian hacking or domestic voter fraud but disinformation and misinformation increasingly undermining the public’s perception of voting security and creating hazards for state officials who know their business (The Hill). … Idaho is an example. Election administrators serving Republican Secretary of State Lawrence Denney said last week they visited two counties to conduct hand recounts of the 2020 presidential contest results after hearing from worried readers of a website linked to MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, a Trump supporter who is widely discredited for spreading easily disprovable misinformation. Results in two counties: Trump gained 10 ballots, chalked up to human error. Biden’s ballot counts remained unchanged from the first go-round (The Hill).  


> Map restraint?: Although many states have yet to begin fashioning their redistricting maps, Republicans in states where they control all the levers of government appear to be playing a cautious game. When Texas Republicans rolled out a proposal for congressional district lines that would likely give their party a nearly 2-to-1 edge for the next decade, a similar thought struck both Democrats and anti-gerrymandering advocates: It could have been worse, reports The Hill’s Reid Wilson.  


> Campaigns and portents: The Virginia governor’s race is seen by many Democrats as a bellwether for next year’s midterm elections, potentially a referendum on Biden’s first two years in office (The Hill). … In Minneapolis, a city synonymous with police abuse, national Democrats are nervous about what’s ahead as urban dwellers are asked to vote to replace their police department. The state’s best-known progressives — Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Is Wall Street serving its own interests by supporting China's? Democrats step up pressure on Biden on student loan forgiveness MORE and Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats to scale back agenda Minnesota AG ups charges against ex-police officer in shooting of Daunte Wright Trump campaign, RNC refund donors another .8 million in 2021: NYT MORE — support the plan, which would replace the police department with a new Department of Public Safety. Minnesota Democrats Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Biden holds meetings to resurrect his spending plan Senate Democrats ask for details on threats against election workers On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE and Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzMinnesota Gov. Walz launches reelection bid Minnesota to offer 0 gift cards, scholarships as vaccine incentives to kids Three suspects arrested in fatal St. Paul bar shooting MORE are among those who are opposed (The Associated Press). 



Demonstrators march against racism and police brutality and to defund the Minneapolis Police Department



CORONAVIRUS: In the United States, people who survived COVID-19 infections and have had trouble fully recovering or ridding themselves of serious side effects are desperate for government help. They want lawmakers at the state and federal levels to dedicate targeted funding for those who suffer lasting medical damage of all kinds, reports The Hill’s Justine Coleman. The grassroots, nonpartisan group COVID Survivors for Change launched a week of action on Friday with delegations from all 50 states.


> Merck pill + vaccination: On Sunday, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciMore than 40 Texas hospitals face ICU bed shortages FDA mulling to allow 'mix and match' COVID-19 vaccine booster shots: report The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Remembrances flow in after Powell's death MORE said the 70 million Americans who are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the first time should get the shot as soon as possible, even if they are tempted to wait for a Merck antiviral pill, molnupiravir, as a potential weapon against COVID-19. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union” (The New York Times). 



Merck's COVID-19 pill



> Regional vaccination rates: The five states with the highest percentage of a fully vaccinated population are all in New England, with Vermont leading, followed by Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. New Hampshire is 10th. According to The Associated Press, full vaccination rates across the six New England states range from a high of 69.4 percent in Vermont to 61.5 percent in New Hampshire. Despite the relatively high vaccination rates — the U.S. as a whole is averaging 55.5 percent — there are still hundreds of thousands of people across the New England region who remain unvaccinated and vulnerable to infection.


> Vaccine mandates: Biden is pushing companies “as far-reaching as United Airlines to Tyson’s Foods” to get ahead of his pending federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, urging them to issue their own workplace requirements rather than wait for a federal emergency rule. Some companies, however, worry that employees will quit rather than comply. “Economists from across the board agree that requirements will help in our recovery,” a White House official countered (The Hill). … In the NBA, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is the face of a vocal minority of anti-vaccine players. The NBA will withhold salaries from players who do not play because their unvaccinated status does not allow them to participate under local ordinances. That could cost Irving half his $34 million salary for Brooklyn’s home games alone (The Hill). 

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Humiliation of the House moderates, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board.


Don’t be afraid of the election audits — they may be our only ticket out of this mess, by Benjamin L. Ginsberg, opinion contributor, The Washington Post.


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The House is out until Oct. 19 for votes but convenes at 9 a.m. for committee work. 


The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Jonathan Meyer to be general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security. A final confirmation vote is expected.


The president returns to the White House at 10:30 a.m. from Wilmington, Del. Biden speaks at 11:15 a.m. in the State Dining Room about the need for Congress to raise the debt ceiling.


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


Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenUS, Brazil discuss ways to slow migration Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden, Democrats dig into legislative specifics MORE travels to Paris for a diplomatic challenge or two at the ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday and Wednesday (The New York Times).


The Economist hosts “Sustainability Week: Countdown to COP26” through Wednesday with a roster of speakers. Bill Gates delivered keynote remarks at 4 a.m. EDT. Information HERE.


The Vatican, United Kingdom and Italy today host “Faith and Science: Towards COP26,” a meeting of world religious leaders and scientists to forge a common stand on the environment to "raise ambitions" for what can be achieved at next month's U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (The Associated Press). 


INVITATIONS: The Hill’s Virtually Live events this week include “The New Role of Telehealth” on TUESDAY at 1 p.m. (information HERE), and “Changing the Odds: The Hill’s Cancer Summit” on WEDNESDAY at 1 p.m. (information HERE).


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


SUPREME COURT: Buckle up: “Extraordinarily controversial” is the phrase The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes used to summarize the justices’ new term beginning today, which will weigh reproductive rights (and fetal science), guns, religious rights and possibly race. One case looms largest: the clash over a Mississippi abortion restriction that directly challenges Roe v. Wade (The Hill). And there’s more ahead (The Hill). Oral arguments in-person begin at 10 a.m. in Mississippi v. Tennessee, dealing with apportionment of groundwater resources. Justices will hear arguments at 11 a.m. in Wooden v. United States, a case that turns on criminal procedure law. … Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLocked and Loaded: Supreme Court is ready for a showdown on the Second Amendment Why Latinos need Supreme Court reform Feehery: A Republican Congress is needed to fight left's slide to autocracy MORE tested positive without symptoms for COVID-19 last week, despite being fully vaccinated since January. He will participate remotely from home (CNN).


INTERNATIONAL: The United States plans to launch new trade talks with China while maintaining Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine TaiKatherine TaiBiden holds Trump's line when it comes to China Is Biden creeping toward a trade strategy? Is Wall Street serving its own interests by supporting China's? MORE will argue today during a speech that China distorts markets (The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post). … Japan’s parliament on Monday elected Fumio Kishida, a former moderate turned hawk, as prime minister (The Associated Press). ... China’s communist party is tightening political control over the country’s internet giants to carry out a campaign by President Xi Jinping. Chinese officials recognize the campaign imposes an economic cost but are unwilling to challenge the president, The Associated Press reports. … North Korea resumed using phone and fax hotlines with South Korea on Monday that had been silent for more than a year (The Associated Press). ... China flew 16 war planes over waters south of Taiwan on Sunday. The State Department expressed concern about the provocation (The Associated Press). … North Korea on Sunday warned the U.N. Security Council against criticizing its missile program (The Associated Press). … The Roman Catholic Church in France had in its ranks 3,000 pedophiles out of 115,000 priests and religious officials over the past 70 years, according to an independent commission that will publish its findings on Tuesday (Reuters).


STATE WATCH: South Dakota “rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy,” according to The Washington Post’s Sunday investigative report published in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. World coverage of elite’s, and even royalty’s undisclosed use of safe harbors to avoid taxation prompted global reactions. “Pandora Papers” describes global tax havens and billions of dollars in hidden wealth drawn from records from 14 separate financial-services entities operating in notorious tax haven countries and territories. The files detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts, more than double the number identified in the Panama Papers. … One of the largest oil spills in recent Southern California history fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews worked on Sunday to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands. The oil slick originated from a broken pipeline connected to an offshore oil platform known as Elly (The Associated Press). Residents, businesses and environmentalists question whether the response time was too slow following the disaster (The Associated Press). … In Alaska, people living in remote communities along the Yukon River are desperate because there are no salmon for them to catch ahead of winter. Many believe climate change is playing a role as the river and the Bering Sea warm, altering the food chain in ways that aren’t yet fully understood. Commercial trawling operations have compounded global warming’s effects on one of North America’s longest rivers (The Associated Press).  



Fishers haul in nets with salmon



And finally … The United States has some deep, sugary divisions in this country when it comes to candy corn. The owner of Brach's (Ferrara Candy Company), the No. 1 producer of the sweet treat, decided to research where sales abound for the Halloween favorite (triangular yellow, orange and white kernels). Where does candy corn fly off store shelves? California, Texas, Florida, New York and Michigan — with Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Indiana filling out the rest of the company’s Top 10 list. Also in the Top 20: Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Arizona, Minnesota, Mississippi, Kentucky and Washington


In contrast, the five states most hesitant about candy corn’s haunting presence: Alabama, Hawaii, Nebraska, Vermont and Wisconsin (People).



Candy corn