The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Build Back Better items on chopping block

 

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A busy week ahead for Congress

 

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: 724,317.  

As of this morning, 65.8 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 56.8 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.

Lawmakers are returning to Washington to face a crucial two-week stretch to trim a social spending bill to about $2 trillion and try again to turn President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE’s agenda into law.  

Democrats remain in limbo in Congress, eager to enact big changes before next year’s midterms but tied in regional and ideological knots over two separate measures that the party decided would be sequenced together. Approval of $1 trillion for roads, bridges, ports and broadband remains in limbo until progressives and moderates iron out their separate differences over budget priorities that can attract sufficient Democratic votes in the Senate, as well as a narrow majority in the House. 

“I’m convinced we’re going to get it done,” Biden said on Friday during a speech in Hartford, Conn. “We’re not going to get $3.5 trillion. We’ll get less than that, but we’re going to get it. And we’re going to come back and get the rest.” 

Among provisions reportedly on the chopping block is $150 billion included to push for increased use of clean energy sources by utilities, a program that is opposed by Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE (D-W.Va.) (The New York Times). A push by progressives to lower the cost of prescription drugs via negotiations with Medicare has also drawn the ire of Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Spending bill faces Senate scramble Republicans raise concerns over Biden's nominee for ambassador to Germany MORE (D-N.J.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBiden should seek some ideological diversity Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Pence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin MORE (D-Ariz.) and a group of centrist House Democrats, threatening its inclusion in a final proposal (The Wall Street Journal).  

As The Hill’s Cristina Marcos writes, the effort to cut from the bill is a tortuous one for Democratic leaders, who have little (in the House) to no (in the Senate) wiggle room to force the reconciliation bill through. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (D-Calif.) has floated the possibility of keeping the lion’s share of issues included but cutting down on the number of years to fund them in an effort to shave down the top-line figure, which remains up in the air. 

While no agreement on a multi-trillion-dollar package is expected by the end of the month, there is an urgency to get something done, as the short-term extension of highway funding expires on Oct. 31. And as the old adage has it, Congress works best on deadlines.

The Associated Press: Crunch time: Biden faces critical two weeks for his agenda. 

NBC News: In Build Back Better fight, progressives have to give a lot to get a little. 

CNN: Democrats' dilemma: How to keep health care expansion in their big spending bill. 

 

Sen. Joe Manchin

 

Meanwhile, there is an electoral impetus to pass the larger reconciliation bill as Democrats argue not only that their push is good policy but also that it will be politically beneficial. As lawmakers put it to The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong, the programs will aid millions of children and families, employees, and students, putting the GOP in a tough spot as it tries to kill off these programs.  

“Many of us believe that once families have access to childcare, once employees have access to paid family leave, once we begin certain programs, that it will be very challenging for Republicans to cut them off — just as it was challenging for them to end the ACA,” said Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarUS to restart 'Remain in Mexico' program following court order Historic immigration reform included in House-passed spending bill Democrats call on Biden to sanction climate change contributors MORE (D-Texas). 

The Wall Street Journal: Democrats bet on raising taxes on the wealthy, big businesses. 

Brett Samuels, The Hill: Pressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks.

Passing the two bills will also give Democrats something to show for their first year as the party in power, giving them a selling point during a time of political tumult for the party. Just over a year out from the midterm elections, Republicans are favored to retake control of the lower chamber, as the White House has faced myriad challenges, including the delta variant, fast-rising inflation and an economic slowdown. Those headwinds have top Democrats pessimistic about their chances to retain power. 

​​“To be blunt, I’m not feeling good about where we are,” one senior Democratic congressional aide told The Hill’s Max Greenwood. “Look, it was never going to be easy or anything. It was always kind of contingent on what got done. I just think we’re starting to see how fragile this is.”

Politico: Democrats find their unifying goal: “Put points on the board.” 

Jim Tankersley, The New York Times: Biden’s plans raise questions about what the U.S. can afford not to do.

The Washington Post: D.C. Metro system suspends more than half of its rail cars after investigators uncover safety problems. 

More in Congress: Can Democrats make headway on student loan forgiveness? That’s a question lawmakers are asking as they press Biden to act on the issue. Though Biden has ruled out forgiving massive sums, he has opened the door to smaller debt forgiveness with income requirements (The Hill). … Senate Republicans are signaling they will help secure Jerome Powell a second term atop the Federal Reserve if he's renominated to the position amid rising opposition from progressives. Powell will need GOP help to get through the Finance Committee and in a final floor vote, with multiple Senate Republicans indicating they will give him a hand (The Hill).

A MESSAGE FROM UBER

Meet Fallon. Delivering with Uber Eats helps her pay for college.


Fallon chooses Uber because, unlike most other gigs, she can control her hours and spend more time focusing on her future. Similar to Fallon, 86% of drivers need flexibility in order to drive. Watch her story.

LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: This week, Biden’s detailed vaccine mandate rule covering private employers could emerge from rulemaking review at the Office of Management and Budget to become instructions for millions of U.S. workers. The official release of the rule, anticipated and supported by many companies, will set off a new round of objections, including from Republicans, that the president has overstepped his authority over the safety of private-sector workplaces during a pandemic.

The draft requirements known as “COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard rulemaking,” written by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, entered a final stage of regulatory scrutiny at OMB’s regulatory affairs office on Tuesday (NBC News). Biden has said his mandate will require employees at firms with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing as a fallback.

The administration expects the rule, which Biden previewed on Sept. 9, to land in court. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisHaley hits the stump in South Carolina Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills A sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor MORE, among other GOP governors, has vowed to seek judicial intervention to block it (Fox News). 

Republican Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Boebert and Omar fight leaves GOP scrambling GOP governor says McCarthy should condemn Boebert's anti-Muslim remarks MORE of Arkansas said on Sunday that he backs requirements set by employers to require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but not state and federal mandates for vaccinations. “Let me make it clear that when I say I don't believe we ought to be engaging in mandates, I'm speaking of the government mandates, whether it's a federal government mandate or a state government mandate,” Hutchinson said (The Hill). The term-limited Hutchinson will leave office after next year’s election in a state hit hard by COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and fatalities.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci to appear on Fox Business Friday for rare interview on the network Hawaii reports its first omicron case Glenn Greenwald discusses criticism of Fauci overseeing 'medically unjustifiable' experiments on dogs MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the goal of persuading or requiring more of the 66 million Americans who are unvaccinated to get jabbed as soon as possible is to ward off a possible fifth surge of COVID-19 infections (The Hill). Fauci said police officers who refuse to be vaccinated should consider it a part of their role as first responders and public safety personnel. … Police are resisting vaccine requirements (The New York Times). … A judge ordered John Catanzara Jr., the head of Chicago’s police union, to stop urging officers on social media to defy a requirement as of last Friday to report their COVID-19 vaccination status (Bloomberg News).

Speaking to ABC’s “This Week,” Fauci said the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine likely should have been a two-dose inoculation, similar to the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines approved by the government. The Food and Drug Administration’s expert advisory panel last week voted unanimously to recommend a booster dose for those who received the Johnson & Johnson shot because data shows the effectiveness in adults wanes over time. The government has approved a third, or booster, dose of Pfizer vaccine for those 65 and older, people with compromised immune systems, and employees at higher risk of transmission (The Hill). 

Looking ahead to autumn and winter holidays, Fauci reassured Americans who hope to gather with relatives this year. “I believe strongly that, particularly in the vaccinated people, if you’re vaccinated and your family members are vaccinated, those who are eligible — that is obviously very young children are not yet eligible — that you can enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy Halloween, trick-or-treating and certainly Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with your family,” Fauci told ABC News (The Hill). 

The New York Times: COVID-19 infection statistics in colder states offer a clue that the delta variant of the coronavirus is finding people as they move indoors as the season changes.

 

Anthony Fauci

 

Niall Stanage, The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government. 

> Travelers coming to the United States with mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines approved in this country will be allowed entry. The White House said U.S. travel restrictions will be lifted Nov. 8 for fully vaccinated international travelers, a policy that will in part require foreign travelers to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight. According to a Friday update to guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals will be considered fully vaccinated if they receive vaccines fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration or by the World Health Organization, including combinations of such shots (The Washington Post). 

The Associated Press: Japan’s daily coronavirus infection rate has dropped dramatically. No one is quite sure why.

***** 

POLITICS: Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), only weeks out from a nip and tuck, high-stakes election, is taking a tougher line with his fellow party-members in nearby Washington as Biden’s poll numbers have faltered in recent months and his agenda has stalled.

As The Hill’s Julia Manchester details, McAuliffe, who is seeking his second term in the Richmond governor’s mansion, repeatedly called on Democrats and Republicans to work in unison on matters as Democrats struggle to pass their mammoth spending blueprint. At one point, the Democratic nominee told reporters on Thursday he was “frustrated” as he watched the process.  

“I guess this is the difference as a governor,” McAuliffe said. “I’m very proud I got 70 plus percent of my bills passed from a Republican legislature.”

“The inaction on Capitol Hill today is so damaging,” he continued. “Do your job. Quit talking. Quit preening around the press. Get in a room, figure out what has to get done and get it done.”  

As of Sunday evening, the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls showed McAuliffe with a 2.2-point lead over GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin, who has been gaining with independent voters. Some Democrats believe the former governor’s tougher approach toward Washington is a tacit sign that Democrats in the commonwealth are worried the dysfunction in the capital could drag them down in November's gubernatorial race.  

“The issue is Virginians may be less enthusiastic about this election because they’re waiting for Washington to act,” said Virginia state Sen. Barbara Favola (D), who represents a district in Northern Virginia. 

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda.

The Associated Press: Top Democrats woo Black voters in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPolitics must accept the reality of multiracial America and disavow racial backlash To empower parents, reinvent schools Senate race in Ohio poses crucial test for Democrats MORE is coming to Richmond this week to campaign for McAuliffe. 

The Hill: Hutchinson: Relitigating 2020 “recipe for disaster” in midterms. 

 

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe

 

> 2022 watch: House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthTexas Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announces retirement at end of term Dems brace for score on massive Biden bill Midterm gloom grows for Democrats MORE’s (D-Ky.) decision to depart Congress has kicked off a key period on Capitol Hill that opens up a crucial period for lawmakers: Retirement season. 

The time frame, stretching from Labor Day to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when members spend weeks at home with family and friends, will have an outsize impact on the political cycle, but the reasons vary for those who decide to depart. Headlining those: political headwinds, redistricting, age, private sector paychecks and the possibility of serving in the minority. 

No matter, the period will help shape the 2022 contests.  

“It makes logical sense. You’re at home in the district. You’re hanging out with family and friends you grew up with,” John Lapp, a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told The Hill’s Reid Wilson. “There’s a circadian rhythm to this.”  

Josh Kraushaar, National Journal: Lessons learned from the latest fundraising reports. 

The Hill: GOP's embrace of Trump's false claims creates new perils.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION: Expect questions at the White House today about this: The Chinese foreign ministry on Monday denied that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in July, as reported by the Financial Times. Beijing said it was actually a space vehicle (Reuters and Fox News). Quoting five people familiar with the matter, the Financial Times reported on Saturday that China had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that flew through space, circling the globe before cruising down toward its target, which it missed by about two dozen miles. 

> U.S. supply chain bottlenecks could last into 2022, Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron Pressed on 2024, Buttigieg says 'we are squarely focused on the job at hand' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE told CNN on Sunday (The Hill). 

Economists and analysts are beginning to revise their concepts of “transitory” conditions during the pandemic. Shortages of goods and global delays between manufacturers and consumers increase prices, which show up as inflation. The Federal Reserve’s Powell told lawmakers last month that the supply-side constraints on the economy have, “in some cases, gotten worse,” adding that “we need those supply blockages to alleviate, to abate before inflation can come down” (The Washington Post). 

> The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda reports why Republicans in Congress and banks object to the Biden administration’s proposal to increase the information the IRS receives about accounts of $600 or more held by financial institutions. 

> The Hill’s Laura Kelly writes that some human rights advocates and Middle East specialists question Biden’s pledge to get tough with “pariah” Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

> On immigration policy, the administration’s decision to lift travel restrictions with Mexico are expected to lead to debate about Title 42, which the Biden administration has used to return hundreds of thousands of migrants, including those fleeing persecution. Advocates would like to see the end of swift expulsion of undocumented migrants at the border absent the opportunity first to seek asylum (The Hill). … Since March 2020, U.S. authorities along the border with Mexico have used the public health authority known as Title 42 to rapidly expel migrants more than 1,163,000 times without allowing them to see an immigration judge or an asylum officer, Customs and Border Protection figures show (CBS News). 

> White House: Biden has carved out a communications strategy as president that includes a limited number of one-on-one news media interviews and many more prepared speeches and remarks focused on the agenda he is trying to champion (The Hill). Biden frequently responds to reporters’ questions during brief exchanges, but how the public consumes news and the pace and platforms for reporting have changed how Oval Office occupants target their audiences and seize openings to explain their decisions. “He has done very few interviews, preferring instead to take a question here and there,” said political scientist and scholar Martha Joynt Kumar, the author of books and articles about presidential communications and transitions. “Presidents choose settings where they are comfortable and that suit their goals and interests,” she added. For example, Biden gave 12 interviews through Sept. 30, according to Kumar’s detailed statistics. In the same period at the outset of former President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE’s first year, he gave 72 interviews. Obama, who favored the interview format with certain national correspondents and even local TV journalists in key markets, granted 129 in his first eight months, according to Kumar, professor emerita at Towson University and director of the White House Transition Project.

 

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

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill MORE (D-Wash.) won’t let the Biden presidency fail, by Michelle Goldberg, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3mVA1tW 

Big labor and the supply shortage, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3BU4Plb

A MESSAGE FROM UBER

Meet Fallon. Delivering with Uber Eats helps her pay for college.


Fallon chooses Uber because, unlike most other gigs, she can control her hours and spend more time focusing on her future. Similar to Fallon, 86% of drivers need flexibility in order to drive. Watch her story.

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

The Senate meets at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of Christine O’Hearn to be a U.S. district judge in New Jersey. 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. 

Vice President Harris, who spent the weekend in Los Angeles, will travel to Las Vegas to tour Lake Mead. She will deliver remarks on climate change and the “Build Back Better” agenda at 12:05 p.m. PST. 

First lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Bidens to attend Kennedy Center Honors following Trumps' absence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's pre-debate COVID-19 test sparks criticism MORE at 2:30 p.m. will host the Council of Chief State School Officers' 2020 and 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year honors for approximately 100 teachers at an event on the South Lawn.

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

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

RECOVERING: Former President Clinton, 75, was back home in New York on Sunday after being treated for five days at a California hospital for a urological infection unrelated to COVID-19 that went to his bloodstream. Clinton’s “fever and white blood cell count are normalized, and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics,” Alpesh Amin said in a Sunday statement shared on Twitter by a Clinton spokesman. Biden spoke with the former president before his hospital discharge (The Associated Press).

REFLECTIONS: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, now living in Washington state at age 78, criticized Biden on CBS News’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday for the way in which the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, while offering some measured praise for the administration’s recent nuclear submarine deal with the United Kingdom and Australia aimed at China’s power in the western Pacific. Asked by Anderson Cooper if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan against China’s aggression, Gates said the Biden administration should focus on two key strategies: “One is deterrence, strengthening our own military presence in the region. And the second piece of the strategy is to strengthen Taiwan's ability to defend itself.” Gates — a Republican who has worked with both parties and eight presidents, served as director of central intelligence and as a university president — said he hopes Trump does not run again.   

KIDNAPPED & MORE: A missionary group including 16 Americans and one Canadian, five of them children, was kidnapped in Haiti on Saturday while on a trip to an orphanage, the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries group said on Sunday (Reuters and The Associated Press). Their whereabouts are unknown and Haitians are reeling with the impunity of such crime (The New York Times). The gang suspected of kidnapping the missionaries, known as 400 Mawozo, is known as among Haiti’s most dangerous (The New York Times). ... Two Americans were detained but not arrested by police on Sunday in Greece after staging a protest against the Winter Olympics to be hosted by China in Beijing Feb. 4-20, 2022 (The Associated Press). 

➔ ASTEROID SWARMS: NASA on Saturday launched a deep-space robotic probe named Lucy toward clusters of asteroids along Jupiter’s orbital path. They’re known as the Trojan swarms, and they represent the final unexplored regions of asteroids in the solar system. The spacecraft will seek to answer questions about the origins of the solar system, how the planets migrated to their current orbits and how life might have emerged on Earth. After a six-year trip, Lucy will fly close to seven Trojan asteroids through 2033, completing wild circuits of the sun (The New York Times).

THE CLOSER

And finally … Everyone by now knows that COVID-19 is a “zoonotic” disease, a pathogen that likely leaped initially from an animal to humans and is now a risk to some animals in captivity in zoos around the world, likely because human caretakers are unwitting carriers of the coronavirus into the animal kingdom.

COVID-19 recently took the life of Ekundu, a 13-year-old male lion, Honolulu officials announced over the weekend, and sickened Moxy, a 12-year-old female lion at the Hawaii zoo. Both lions tested positive for the virus (KHON2). The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., recently inoculated some animals, including primates, against COVID-19 after an outbreak nearly killed Shera, the zoo’s 16-year-old African lion. Nine of the national zoo’s lions and tigers contracted the highly transmissible coronavirus last month, likely from an asymptomatic caretaker, in one of the larger outbreaks at a U.S. zoo. The Atlanta zoo reported last month that 18 of its 20 western lowland gorillas may have contracted the virus. Gorillas have also been infected at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, with evidence of respiratory illness. Tigers have tested positive at zoos in Norfolk and the Bronx. And early this month, the Agriculture Department announced that a bearcat and a fishing cat at a zoo in Illinois had the virus (The Washington Post).  

The vaccine used at the National Zoo was developed specifically for animals by Michigan-based veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis, which said in a press release over the summer that its shots were authorized on a “case-by-case basis by the United States Department of Agriculture” for an array of zoo animals, but said the shots are “not needed in pets or livestock at this time” (Fox News).

 

Lions at the National Zoo