Presented by Altria
Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! 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, 713,350; Tuesday, 714,060; Wednesday, 716,479; Thursday, 719,530.
The word “transitory” covers just about every White House conversation about policy and political roadblocks President Biden is navigating these days.
Administration economists assure the public that rising inflation is fleeting and impermanent. The Consumer Price Index jumped 5.4 percent in September, more than expected, which complicates West Wing and Federal Reserve narratives (The Hill).
Gasoline prices have soared, along with food and housing costs. Millions of Americans are quitting jobs, switching careers and moving elsewhere based on beliefs that wages are rising, or perhaps may never rise. COVID-19 is still a pandemic, the delta variant was a surprise, as was the public resistance in many states to free and effective vaccines.
Temporary trouble? For how long? “It’s going to take a little time,” Biden said at the White House on Wednesday.
Efforts by the administration and Congress to tackle overwhelmed ports and infrastructure needs, energy sources and housing and education costs are in limbo. Like many presidents before him, Biden resorts to jawboning U.S. companies, governors, airlines, labor unions, petroleum producers, allies abroad and vaccine manufacturers.
The administration is scrambling to alleviate supply chain pressures it says are temporary, to the extent it can. Administration officials brokered a deal to move the Port of Los Angeles toward 24/7 operations, joining the port in Long Beach, which is already operating around the clock. UPS, Walmart and FedEx, among a list of companies, say they will operate during more off-peak hours to try to alleviate bottlenecks for access to products and parts (The New York Times and The Hill).
The Hill: What you need to know about the bottlenecks.
”If the private sector doesn’t step up, we’re going to call them out and ask them to act,” the president said on Wednesday, “because our goal is not only to get through this immediate bottleneck, but to address the longstanding weaknesses in our transportation supply chain that this pandemic has exposed.”
The Associated Press: Winter heating bills are set to jump as inflation hits home.
Los Angeles Times analysis: Biden wants to save Christmas. He may not be able to.
“There’s not an off-the-shelf playbook for this kind of situation. I think they’re figuring it out as they go,” said economist Jason FurmanJason FurmanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Biden: We will fix nation's problems White House scrambles to avert supply chain crisis The Fed needs to articulate its framework for inflation MORE, a former top adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama (The Washington Post).
Even the COVID-19 booster-shot plan Biden believed months ago would roll out with some certainty has become complicated. An expert panel of the Food and Drug Administration will meet today and Friday to discuss the effectiveness in clinical trials of booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA approved Pfizer booster doses last month.
The FDA said on Wednesday that a second booster dose of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine is likely beneficial, although the scientific data is limited (The Washington Post).
In a briefing document released ahead of an advisory panel meeting this week, the FDA said it relied heavily on studies conducted by Johnson & Johnson and could not independently confirm many of the findings because data from the trials were not submitted in time (The Hill). The FDA is even wrestling with the question of optimal timing for boosters among those who received Johnson & Johnson’s single dose vaccine (The Associated Press).
According to a National Institutes of Health study released on Wednesday, “mix and match” doses are now deemed effective to ward off serious infection, meaning COVID-19 doses from different manufacturers can be safely combined (NBC News).
Plowing ahead into more coronavirus debate, the White House on Tuesday told states to prepare to vaccinate millions of children between the ages of 5 and 11 against COVID-19 in the coming weeks. “Parents are going to want to go and ask their doctor questions, ask their pediatrician questions, better understand the safety, the efficacy of the vaccine,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Buttigieg hits back after parental leave criticism: 'Really strange' Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE said (The Hill).
The New York Times: Embracing vaccines in greater numbers: Black Americans.
And, in another example of the impermanence of improvisational policies, hospitals are now questioning the risk-benefit equation of isolating critically ill COVID-19 patients from their concerned, grieving relatives. That, too, may change (The Associated Press).
Altria’s companies are leading the way in moving adult smokers away from cigarettes – by taking action to transition millions towards potentially less harmful choices. Learn how at Altria.com.
LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: Amid increasing pressure from progressive members and activists, Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinMajor climate program likely to be nixed from spending package: reports Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Biden gets personal while pitching agenda The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations - US opens to vaccinated visitors as FDA panel discusses boosters MORE (D-Ariz.) have an outpouring of support from an unlikely source: Senate Republicans.
For months, the two centrist Democrats have been vocal about rising inflation, an issue that has become topic non grata across wide swaths of the party that hoped to enact a $3.5 trillion social spending package on top of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
In response, they have been embraced by some in the minority party, as The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. The GOP has also offered words of support for Sinema after activists followed her into a bathroom at Arizona State University (where she teaches) and after others threatened to birddog her at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
Manchin and Sinema also played a role in the surprise short-term debt deal struck last week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights MORE (R-Ky.) told colleagues that one of the reasons he cut the deal with Senate Democrats was to take pressure off the two senators, who are holdouts within their party against calls to change the filibuster rule.
The New York Times: As budget bill hangs in limbo, Sinema heads to Europe.
Politico: “We’re going to make her life unpleasant”: Activists aren’t finished with Sinema.
Across the Democratic tent, progressives are trying to limit their losses as Democratic leaders examine how to chop down the reconciliation bill from the $3.5 trillion price point. As The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda and Scott Wong write, the lawmakers are pushing to make sure the package reflects their goals as much as possible and are urging leadership not to scrap entire programs. Instead, they prefer the duration of funding be slashed to give them a chance to succeed.
Among those issues under the microscope is climate change as the issue divides the two wings of the party. For example, Manchin and several Texas Democrats have raised concerns about the package’s proposed measure aimed at shifting the country towards clean energy and away from fossil fuels. Sinema and others remain open to those provisions, but are not sold on other aspects, with many party divides coming down along regional lines (The Hill).
The New York Times: Which of these four family policies deserves top priority?
Niall Stanage: The Memo: Troubles pile up for Biden.
The Hill: Former Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) dies at 92.
> Jan. 6: The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol made two key moves on Wednesday, having interviewed former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and issuing a subpoena for acting Civil Division Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark as focus intensifies on actions at the Department of Justice leading up to the deadly riot.
Rosen met with the panel on Wednesday over the pressure heaped on him by former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE and his loyalists in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election. According to reports, Rosen resisted involving the Justice Department to probe potential election issues, going so far as to threaten to resign on Jan. 3 (The Hill).
As for Clark, the committee issued a subpoena over his calls for the Department of Justice to investigate the election fraud claims.
“The Select Committee’s investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” the committee wrote in its letter.
As The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch notes, Clark was at the center of a Senate Judiciary Committee report last week detailing Trump’s pressure campaign on the Department of Justice. At one point, Clark informed his superiors at the department that Trump was prepared to install him as acting attorney general following frustration with Rosen and others who resisted involving the department in Trump’s election battles.
The Washington Post: Jan. 6 committee preparing to aggressively enforce subpoenas, targets former Trump DOJ official.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Trump raised eyebrows across the GOP scene on Wednesday, declaring in a statement that Republican voters “will not be voting” in the 2022 midterm elections or the 2024 contests if lawmakers do not work to change election laws between now and then.
“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ‘24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do,” Trump said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
The comments sent a shiver down the spines of Republicans of all stripes, especially after comments of a similar ilk suppressed GOP turnout ahead of the Georgia Senate runoffs on Jan. 5, handing the two seats and control of the upper chamber to Democrats.
“Republicans may have invited Trump to live as master of their hearts, but hopefully they’re blocking his voting advice from their heads,” one GOP strategist told the Morning Report. “Because if we get fewer votes than Democrats next November, we won’t win.”
The news also frustrated those who deal with voters day-to-day. When sent the statement, one Republican who will be on a ballot next year expressed pure exasperation.
“F---ing hell. It's just unreal,” the Republican candidate told the Morning Report, adding that at least 75 percent of voters bring up election fraud at stops along the campaign trail.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: In Georgia, Herschel Walker cancels fundraiser with supporter who had swastika in her Twitter profile.
> Money concerns: Democratic strategists are growing increasingly frustrated that a handful of candidates seeking to oust GOP incumbents in deep red states and districts are sucking up valuable resources that could be used with greater effectiveness to boost candidates in more competitive races.
As The Hill’s Hanna Trudo and Max Greenwood report, some analysts are questioning some Democratic candidates’ motivations to run with just over a year to go before the midterms.
“Are they running for self-serving purposes because they have nothing to lose? Or are they running because they really have something at stake in their community and they want to change that?” said Michael Ceraso, a progressive operative who worked on Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan Briahna Joy Gray: Proposals favored by Black voters 'first at the chopping block' in spending talks MORE’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign.
> 2021 watch: Former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden administration breaks down climate finance roadmap Pelosi hilariously scolds media for not 'selling' .5T spending bill: 'Do a better job' MORE is set to return to the campaign trail in the coming weeks to boost New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) (pictured below) ahead of the Nov. 2 election.
The Hill’s Reid Wilson and Amie Parnes first reported on Wednesday that the former president was planning to make an appearance with the incumbent governor, who is squaring off with GOP nominee Jack Ciattarelli. The rally is set for Oct. 23, the same day Obama is set to rally for former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in Richmond (The Hill).
The Hill: Trump calls into rally to hype Glenn Youngkin, teases possible campaign event for GOP nominee.
MORE ADMINISTRATION: Biden’s commission established to study Supreme Court reform ideas, such as increasing the number of justices and limiting their lifetime terms, will issue its preliminary recommendations today. The commission co-chairs are Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel and New York University School of Law professor, and Cristina Rodriguez, former deputy assistant attorney general and a Yale Law School professor (Reuters).
> Iran: Officials representing the United States and Israel said on Wednesday in Washington that the two nations are exploring a “Plan B” for dealing with Iran if the Islamic Republic does not return in good faith to negotiations to salvage the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. What those other options may be was not immediately clear. Israel has never been a party to the international nuclear accord negotiated with Tehran by the Obama administration and subsequently rejected by Trump (The Associated Press).
> Social Security beneficiaries will see a 5.9 percent cost of living boost in their checks next year because of rising inflation. It’s the largest annual increase in 39 years (The Associated Press).
> Warming planet: U.S. climate envoy John KerryJohn KerryOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space 12 top U.S. officials to join Biden at major climate conference MORE said in an interview with The Associated Press that a global gathering in Scotland next month at which nations will commit to environmental targets for petroleum and coal emissions considered necessary to reduce greenhouse gases may miss the mark. “By the time Glasgow’s over, we’re going to know who is doing their fair share, and who isn’t,” he said, referring to the conference known as COP26. The goal is to lock in commitments to cut greenhouse gases in time to limit the Earth’s warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius). The planet has already warmed nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since nations set that target in Paris in 2015. Scientists warn the damage is irreversible and headed to catastrophic levels absent major reductions in emissions.
The Wall Street Journal: Transitions to oil from higher priced natural gas and coal are on the upswing, a trend that could add half a million barrels a day to global demand, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
On vaccine mandates, businesses should mess with Texas, by Mark Gongloff, editor, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3DC8HI2
What New Jersey's gubernatorial contest tells us about the political landscape, by Al Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3mOx3Yl
Altria’s companies are leading the way in moving adult smokers away from cigarettes – by taking action to transition millions towards potentially less harmful choices. Learn how at Altria.com.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House resumed its recess until next week. It meets next for a pro forma session on Friday at noon.
The Senate meets at 5 p.m. for a pro forma session.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. The administration’s coronavirus response team will brief Biden and Vice President Harris at 10:30 a.m. Biden will deliver remarks at 11:30 a.m. about COVID-19 and the U.S. vaccine program. The president and vice president will have lunch at 12:15 p.m. Biden will host a bilateral meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in the Oval Office.
The Vice President will participate in a virtual town hall at 10 a.m. about benefits aimed at families and women included in pending legislation in Congress. Harris and second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations — Global supply chain bottleneck worries for U.S. economy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Biden: We will fix nation's problems The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - New front in mandate wars; debt bill heads to Biden MORE will depart Washington at 5:35 p.m. for Los Angeles, where they will spend the weekend.
Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenBiden's IRS proposal could mark the end of privacy in banking Climate crisis: The house is on fire, will banking regulators break the glass? Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push MORE today will host the eighth meeting of the U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership with Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve. They’ll be joined by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of India and Governor Shaktikanta Das of the Reserve Bank of India.
The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m.
Economic indicator: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on filings for unemployment benefits in the week ending Oct. 9.
INVITATIONS: The Hill’s Virtually Live TODAY hosts lawmakers and experts at 1 p.m., for the “Diversity and Inclusion Summit.” Registration is HERE.
➔ COURTS: The Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared ready to reinstate the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As The Hill’s John Kruzel writes, the court’s more conservative justices seemed receptive to the Justice Department’s argument that a lower court erred when it vacated the death sentence Tsarnaev received after being found guilty of perpetrating the 2013 attack. A decision by the court is expected in June.
➔ FACEBOOK: Reuters reported on Wednesday that the social media behemoth will change its rules about attacks on public figures on its platform. The company will treat activists and journalists as “involuntary” public figures, which increases Facebook protections against harassment and bullying targeted at these groups.
➔ WAND WORKSHOP: Who doesn’t need a little fine-tuning with their wizarding wand techniques? Harry Potter aficionados are marking 20 years of fandom during a London workshop event that began on Wednesday with an installation of nine giant magic wands (Reuters). Flashback: “The wand chooses the wizard.”
And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by high-flying entertainment, we’re eager for some smart guesses about celebrities who soared into headlines this week.
Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
In a final turn as James Bond, on what conveyance does actor Daniel Craig travel aloft (courtesy of a stunt specialist) in the new film, “No Way to Die”?
- Triumph Scrambler motorcycle
- Hot air balloon
- Jetpack (Bell rocket belt)
- Parasol wing glider
To what destination did “Star Trek” star William Shatner, 90, fly on Wednesday?
- Las Vegas Comic Con event
- Edge of outer space
- Los Angeles recording studio
- New York set of “SNL”
A Russian actress, director and cosmonaut will return this weekend after filming a movie drama titled “Challenge” at which exotic film location?
- Aeroflot passenger jet
- Mount Elbrus
- International Space Station
- Kosmos 2550 satellite
DC Comics announced this week that which frequent flier will soon be presented as bisexual?