Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday! TGIF! 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; Friday, 721,567.
Former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE and at least one ally say they won’t cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — defiance that members of the panel believe is criminal contempt of Congress.
The House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack will vote Tuesday on whether to hold former Trump White House adviser Stephen Bannon in contempt for refusing by a Thursday deadline to comply with the panel’s subpoena for documents and a deposition.
If approved next week, criminal charges would go to the full House for approval and eventually could make their way to the Justice Department for enforcement. The committee says it means business and no one is above the law. The result, however, could reveal a weak hand in Congress to enforce compliance with subpoenas under unique circumstances.
The battle to gather evidence behind the organization of a pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6 and to identify those who abetted an attack on Congress’s official tally of Trump’s Electoral College loss is shaping up to be a test of the statutory and constitutional powers of three branches of government, as well as the rights of a former president who in January lost the legal shields he once wielded.
“Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the Select Committee and is instead hiding behind the former President's insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke,” Democratic Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonJan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth Rules committee mulls contempt vote for Trump DOJ official Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee MORE, who chairs the committee, said in a statement on Thursday (The Hill, NBC News, CNN).
Bannon rebuffed the investigators, and former White House aide Dan Scavino was only recently located and served with a subpoena. Former White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsKevin McCarthy is hostage to the GOP's 'exotic wing' Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth Holding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role MORE and Trump ally and former Defense Department official Kash Patel, each also served with subpoenas, were said to be “engaging” with the committee ahead of the panel’s deadlines this week (NPR, The Washington Post).
Trump, through a statement and his lawyer, has indicated he intends to invoke executive privilege in the Jan. 6 probe. The former president said last month that he would “fight the Subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds, for the good of our Country” (The Associated Press). Biden, who can assert executive privilege with Congress, has said he will not do so in relation to Trump’s documents (The Associated Press).
> The Senate on Wednesday will vote on election reform legislation, which would require states to have automatic voter registration and restore voting rights to some felons. It would prohibit partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts and give all voters access to a minimum of 15 early voting days and same-day registration, while making Election Day a federal holiday. Democratic Senate advocates are not expected to overcome a filibuster (The Hill).
> Democrats’ Build Back Better reconciliation measure remains in limbo in Congress as both the House and Senate return to work next week. House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics soon: report Pressure grows to remove Boebert from committees Lawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' MORE (D-Calif.), who agrees with Senate Democrats and the president that the measure will be whittled down to approximately $2 trillion from $3.5 trillion, continues to work with her caucus on what to cut. On Thursday she talked about provisions that should stay: policies to curb climate change. “This is our moment. We cannot — we don't have any more time to wait,” she said at a news conference in San Francisco (The Hill).
In a statement on Thursday, Biden pointed to the latest data showing “historic economic recovery” and what he called strong job growth while he also urged Congress to help him enact legislation to “strengthen the foundations of our economy, revitalize our middle class, and position America to compete and win for decades to come.”
The Hill: As part of the pending Democratic agenda, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersCrypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Powell, Yellen say they underestimated inflation and supply snarls The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back MORE (D-Calif.) is trying to protect a proposal to provide down payment assistance to first-generation homebuyers, as well as other housing measures that she says are at risk of landing on the cutting room floor.
The Hill: Details of Biden’s economic agenda are unclear to many voters, according to a new poll.
The Hill: Biden’s negotiating skills with Senate Democrats over his agenda are put to the test.
> Booster boost: A key Food and Drug Administration panel of health experts on Thursday issued a unanimous recommendation for a booster shot of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for a large portion of the U.S. population.
Members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 19-0 to recommend booster shots for individuals over 65, between the ages of 18 and 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 and those at risk of serious COVID-19 because of their jobs or living situations. The authorization mirrors the group who got the OK to receive Pfizer’s booster shot last month.
However, one of the only differences lies in the dosage given to recipients. For its shot, Moderna has proposed giving people a half-dose of the vaccine for a booster at least six months after full vaccination instead of a third full dose. As The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel notes, Moderna’s data shows that its current two-shot vaccine remains 93 percent effective in preventing all virus-related illness, and 98 percent protective against severe cases of COVID-19 more than five months after initial vaccination.
The Hill: FDA advisory panel scheduled to discuss Merck COVID-19 antiviral pill.
Alex Gangitano, The Hill: Big businesses are siding against Texas in a mandate fight.
The Hill: Biden commits 17 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses to African Union.
The New York Times: Italy today imposed a sweeping law covering all public and private workers requiring them to show in a COVID-19 “Green Pass” proof of vaccination, or recent negative swab test or recovery from coronavirus infection. Without it, employees are required to take unpaid leave. The mandate, designed to improve vaccination rates, is enforced by employers and carries the threat of fines.
The Washington Post: Sydney says it will scrap its quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travelers.
Reuters: South Africa’s health minister says teens ages 12 to 17 will begin to be inoculated next week, each with a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
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
WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Former President Clinton, 75, was hospitalized Tuesday at the University of California Irvine Medical Center with a non-COVID-19 condition after feeling fatigued (The Los Angeles Times). He was described late Thursday as “on the mend,” according to a spokeswoman and a Fox News source, who said, "It was diagnosed as a urological infection which morphed into a broader infection. As you can see in his statement from his doctors, the prognosis is good and they hope to have him home soon. He’s up and about, joking and charming the hospital staff." Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE visited the president late Thursday and was seen leaving the hospital early Friday.
> Biden’s commission to study possible Supreme Court reforms described “considerable” risks if the high court is expanded beyond nine justices, including risks to the court’s legitimacy, according to a Thursday discussion draft. Members of the commission are set to discuss materials today and a final report to the president is expected in about a month. The report to Biden is not expected to contain recommendations for specific changes (The Hill).
> A long delay by the administration to nominate a commissioner to lead the FDA has worried Democrats and public health advocates and been a point of Republican political criticism on Capitol Hill. The Washington Post reported the White House, seeking a qualified candidate who can win Senate confirmation, focused on Robert Califf, a cardiologist, who was FDA commissioner for less than a year in 2016. Politico reports Califf is Biden’s likely choice.
> Biden, the second Catholic U.S. president, will meet with Pope FrancisPope FrancisPope on Europe's migrant crisis: 'stop this shipwreck of civilization' Pope calls on young people to protect environment The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Gosar censured as GOP drama heightens MORE at the Vatican while in Europe to attend the Group of 20 summit in Rome Oct. 30-31. Biden will then head to Scotland for the COP26 global climate change summit that takes place Oct. 31-Nov. 12 (Politico).
> Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandNevada governor apologizes for state's role in indigenous schools The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE this week highlighted the Biden administration’s commitment to massively expanding the offshore wind industry while also supporting commercial fishing, two industries pitted against one another (The Hill). … The administration supports wind farms along nearly the entire U.S. coastline (The New York Times and The Hill).
> In a new 40-page report released today, the administration heeded Biden’s call in the spring to analyze how extreme heat, flooding, storms, wildfires and broader adjustments to address climate change could affect the world’s largest economy. The report describes government-wide plans to protect the financial, insurance and housing markets and the savings of American families. It covers the mortgage process, stock market disclosures, retirement plans, federal procurement and government budgeting so the country could price in the risks being created by climate change (The Associated Press).
> The United States will rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council as a member in 2022, reversing the Trump administration’s 2018 decision to withdraw. The Biden State Department announced in February that the U.S. would return to the council as an observer. The council is often criticized for its election of members who hold the worst records for human rights violations and for a disproportionate focus on condemning Israel for alleged human rights abuses (The Hill).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Glenn Youngkin, the GOP nominee in the Virginia gubernatorial contest, issued a rebuke to conservative activists in the state for standing to salute a flag at an event on Wednesday that was allegedly flown at the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“I wasn’t involved and so I don’t know,” said Youngkin, who was not present at the rally. “But if that is the case, then we shouldn’t pledge allegiance to that flag. And oh by the way, I’ve been so clear, there is no place for violence — none, none — in America today.”
In a subsequent statement issued, Youngkin added that it is “weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6.”
As The Hill’s Julia Manchester notes, the “Take Back Virginia” rally in Glen Allen featured a handful of prominent right-wing figures, including Bannon and Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, who attended the rally in Washington on Jan. 6.
The tentacles from the rally also extended elsewhere as Youngkin declined to say on Thursday whether he wants Trump to campaign for him in the final weeks before the Nov. 2 election. Trump had indicated the night before that he would entertain the possibility.
“The person that’s going to be campaigning here for the next two-and-half weeks is Glenn Youngkin. I am on the ballot,” he told reporters (NBC News).
The Washington Post: Trump asserts his dominance inside GOP, pushing Republicans to embrace his false claims of fraud.
The New York Times: Terry McAuliffe’s other obstacle in Virginia race: Democrats’ apathy.
> Abortion politics: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday night allowed Texas's “heartbeat” abortion law to remain in place, issuing a 2-1 ruling after the court had reinstated the law last week.
In a four-sentence ruling, Judge James C. Ho, a Trump appointee, and Judge Catharina Haynes, a nominee of former President George W. Bush, supported leaving the ban in place. Judge Carl E. Stewart, a Clinton nominee, dissented. It did not give a reasoning for the ruling.
The newest ruling will allow the law to be in effect while the case makes its way through the court system, including a potential challenge at the Supreme Court. The law is the most restrictive abortion ban in the U.S., prohibiting all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which usually occurs around six weeks (The Hill).
> Congressional district maps: Redistricting commissions across the country were intended to take partisanship out of the one-every-decade effort. Instead, as The Hill’s Reid Wilson details, the process has become one of chaos, infighting and charges of bad faith.
In Michigan, a commission tried to pass newly-drawn maps while some commissioners were out of the room. And in Virginia, the Democratic co-chair stormed out of a meeting. To put it mildly, the process is not working out as anyone had hoped.
The New York Times: EMILY’s List endorses Gov. Kathy HochulKathy HochulThese are the states where the omicron variant has been identified Omicron coronavirus variant found in at least 10 states Five omicron cases detected in New York MORE (D).
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Vaccine resisters sacrificing their jobs are not heroes, by Michael Gerson, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2YNsjud
Democrats devour Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaIRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Green groups spend big to promote climate policy MORE, by Kimberley A. Strassel, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3j5f3rv
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 returns to work in Washington next week. Today it meets for a pro forma session at noon.
The Senate meets on Monday at 3 p.m.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will travel to Hartford, Conn., to promote his legislative agenda for child care at 1:45 p.m. The president will speak in support of his friend, former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), at the dedication of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., at 4 p.m. Biden will return to the White House by 7 p.m.
The Vice President is in Los Angeles for the weekend.
Economic indicator: The Census Bureau at 8:30 a.m. will report on retail sales in September.
➔ NEWSPAPERS IN CROSSHAIRS: “The Men Who Are Killing America's Newspapers,” by The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins, reports on the secretive hedge fund, Alden Global Capital, and its co-founders, Randall Smith and Heath Freeman, who control more than 200 U.S. newspapers using a business strategy summarized as “gut the staff, sell the real estate, and jack up subscription prices while turning out a steadily worse product, indifferent to the subscribers … in order to wring out as much cash as possible.” … In Georgia, journalism students are trying to save a 148-year-old weekly community newspaper, The Oglethorpe Echo (Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Editor & Publisher). … In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson (R) called a reporter a “hacker” while vowing an investigation of the journalist after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discovered a flaw in a state website that allowed access to teachers’ Social Security numbers and paused publication to give the state agency time on Tuesday to repair the flaw (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri Independent).
➔ SUPREME COURT: Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud The Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion MORE on Wednesday during an event at New York University School of Law explained that the court’s format for oral arguments changed in part after studies emerged showing that female justices on the court were interrupted more often by male justices. She also said that diversity of professional experience among justices is important on the court. She noted that when Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg Women of Leadership Award given to Queen Elizabeth What's that you smell in the Supreme Court? The Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion MORE died last year, “we lost our only civil rights lawyer” and no other justice currently has "been in the trenches" on civil rights, immigration or environmental law. "I do worry that the authorities who are selecting judges are not paying enough attention to that kind of diversity, as well," said Sotomayor, (seen below), who was nominated by former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden on Bob Dole: 'among the greatest of the Greatest Generation' Moving beyond the era of American exceptionalism The bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns MORE in 2009. She said she works to hire law clerks with diverse backgrounds and selects her audiences carefully to spread her message (CNN). … Taking aim at Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoNeil Gorsuch's terrifying paragraph Five revealing quotes from Supreme Court abortion case The Supreme Court's criminal justice blind spot MORE, Senate Judiciary Committee member Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure MORE (D-R.I.) on Thursday in an op-ed said the conservative justice had “fouled your nest, not us,” reacting to Alito’s recent remarks at Notre Dame Law School defending the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” rulings (The Hill).
➔ MORE COURTS: A federal grand jury in Texas on Thursday indicted former Boeing Co. pilot Mark Forkner, 49, for allegedly deceiving federal regulators during the plane maker’s development of the 737 MAX before two of the jets crashed, the Justice Department said (The Wall Street Journal). … Lili Bernard, who has accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping her, filed a new lawsuit in New Jersey. The lawsuit has been filed in accordance with a New Jersey law that allows sexual abuse survivors to have a two-year window to bring their civil claims against alleged abusers to court, no matter when the abuse occurred (The Hill). … Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeAndrew McCabe's settlement with the Department of Justice is a signal to John Durham Trump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE won back his full pension as part of a settlement of his 2019 lawsuit arising from his firing during the Trump administration more than three years ago, his lawyers announced Thursday. As part of the settlement, the federal government agreed to rescind and vacate McCabe’s firing, deem him as having retired in good standing, restore his full retirement pension and record him as having been employed continuously between 1996 until his actual retirement day (The Associated Press).
And finally … Bravo to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners! They came up with the right guesses, or perhaps expert Googling, about celebrities who soared into headlines this week.
Here are the victorious puzzlers: Jack Barshay, Amanda Fisher, Larry Gibbs, Candi Cee, Jonathan Berck, John Donato, Jaina Mehta, Patrick Kavanagh, Daniel Bachhuber, Richard Baznik, Lou Tisler, Ki Harvey, Joan Domingues, Mark Roeddiger, Sharon Banitt, SteveJames36, Enzo De Palma, Luther Berg, Cliff Grulke, and Pam Manges.
They knew that in his final performance as James Bond, actor Daniel Craig (through a stunt double) gained altitude on a Triumph Scrambler motorcycle in the new film, “No Time to Die” (stunt rehearsal video in Italy HERE). (Tricky question! Bond flies in a fictional folding, submersible glider in the new movie, but not a parasol glider.)
By now, we all know that “Star Trek” star William Shatner, 90, on Wednesday blasted off and landed after riding to the edge of outer space aboard a Blue Origin rocket.
A Russian actress, director and cosmonaut will return on Saturday after filming a movie drama titled “Challenge” aboard the International Space Station.
DC Comics announced this week that frequent flier Superman will soon be presented as bisexual.