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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Uber – Democrats optimistic after Biden meetings

President Joe Biden returns to the Oval Office after delivering remarks
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President Joe Biden returns to the Oval Office after delivering remarks



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 724,317; Tuesday, 726,201; Wednesday, 728,296.

Happy birthday, Vice President Harris! 

Meetings, meetings and more meetings. That’s what was on the docket Tuesday for President Biden and lawmakers of all stripes as they plow ahead in search of a path forward for the administration’s “Build Back Better” agenda.


Biden on Tuesday hosted a slew of sit-downs with top Democrats at the White House, headlined by two separate discussions with progressive and moderate members. Although a deal remains out of reach at the moment, lawmakers seemed to agree on one thing: that the party needs to reach a deal on a framework on a massive social spending package by the end of the week.


“Universally, there was a desire to get this done by the end of this week,” one Senate Democrat told The Hill’s Alexander Bolton.


Tuesday’s meetings also finally brought some clarity regarding what will likely be excluded or downsized in a final package, which is expected to be worth in the neighborhood of $1.9 trillion, with the final price potentially checking in around $1.75 trillion (The Washington Post).


Biden reportedly told progressive lawmakers that tuition-free community college isn’t expected to be included, and that the child tax credit is expected to be extended for only one additional year and will be means-tested, much to the chagrin of Democrats who considered the provision a priority.  Also out of the bill is the Clean Electricity Performance Program, which is designed to slash utility emissions. 


The president also said that funding homecare for senior citizens and disabled individuals will be cut to less than $250 billion from the planned $400 billion total (CNN). Adding to the troubles for progressives, Manchin and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) shot down the chances of a carbon tax, which would effectively place a fee on carbon dioxide and methane emissions, making it into a final bill. 


“We’re not — the carbon tax is not on the board at all right now,” Manchin told reporters (The Hill).


The Hill: Democrats at odds with Manchin over child tax credit provision.


The New York Times: Democrats, scaling back budget bill, press for compromise by week’s end.


There was some better news for progressives, though. According to Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who participated in the Oval Office meeting, a Medicare expansion to include dental, vision and hearing benefits will remain in the bill, representing an expansion of ObamaCare benefits. Also in the bill is funding in some form for childcare, universal preschool, paid family leave and eldercare.


The Wall Street Journal: Democrats step up efforts to trim social policy and climate package.


Politico: Dems scramble for climate Plan C as Manchin dashes their dreams.



House progressives at the White House



Nevertheless, progressives came away from Tuesday optimistic that an accord on a framework could be struck in the coming days. Democrats have marked Oct. 31 on their calendars as a self-imposed deadline to get a final deal. 


“I felt that we’re closer to a deal than I’ve ever felt before. I felt the president was engaged in the details of the negotiation in a way he hasn’t been before,” Khanna said (The Hill).


Biden also held another series of meetings with Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) (pictured below), a move that appeared to pay off right away. Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill that he will continue his discussions with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and that Sinema and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will also take part in an effort to motor toward an agreement. 


Politico: Biden bets his agenda on the inside game. 


The Hill: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.): Democrats “committed” to Oct. 31 timeline for Biden’s agenda.


The heightened effort by Democrats coincides with their struggle to break through with the voting electorate. As part of the process, lawmakers are hoping to use the opportunity in the coming weeks to explain the benefits of the pending legislation after non-stop haggling over the price tag. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the inability to easily and quickly explain their policies is a struggle that has haunted Democrats back to former President Obama’s time in office.


The Hill: Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks.


Amie Parnes, The Hill: Vice president takes central role in climate fight.



U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) speaks during a United States Senate Committee on Finance hearing



More in Congress: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday for allegedly concealing information and making false statements to authorities who were investigating illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign. The GOP lawmaker was charged with one count of scheming to conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Fortenberry maintained his innocence (The Hill). The Jan. 6 select committee voted Tuesday to refer Stephen Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal charges, teeing up a full House vote to hold Bannon in contempt for defying a congressional subpoena (The Hill).… Rahm Emanuel will be in the hot seat today as he faces senators for a confirmation hearing to serve as U.S. ambassador to Japan. The hearing will give progressives the chance to criticize and question his record while serving as mayor of Chicago, which includes his handling of a police shooting that garnered headlines (The Hill).


Meet Gary, a retired veteran with a VA disability pension.

Driving with Uber allows him to compensate for overspending his budget. Gary values Uber’s flexibility: “Whenever my budget is on track, it allows me to step out and enjoy life on my terms.” Watch his story.


CORONAVIRUS: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, 61, tested positive for COVID-19, reporting mild symptoms on Tuesday. He is fully vaccinated and is self-isolating (NBC News). … Fox News’s Neil Cavuto also tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, despite being vaccinated. Cavuto is battling multiple sclerosis. “Had I not been vaccinated, and with all my medical issues, this would be a far more dire situation,” he said in a statement. “It’s not, because I did and I’m surviving this because I did” (The Hill).


> Mandates: The Supreme Court on Tuesday let stand a vaccine requirement for Maine health care workers, rebuffing a challenge from a group of Maine hospital employees who sought to block a vaccine requirement announced in August by Gov. Janet Mills (D). The statewide mandate, which applies to workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other health facilities, is set to take effect next week (The Hill). … In New York City today, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) plans to order that all municipal workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29 or risk losing their jobs — with no option for a coronavirus testing alternative (The Wall Street Journal).


> Children: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine among 12- to 18-year-olds is 93 percent effective at lessening risks of hospitalizations, according to government data (The Hill).


> Pregnancy: Women who were pregnant and unvaccinated when they contracted COVID-19 (and survived) are sharing their stories in an attempt to persuade pregnant women to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their babies (The Associated Press).


> Some progressive economists believe the millions of Americans who exited the workforce at the onset of the pandemic and have remained on the sidelines may be collectively pointing to a new worker-centric economy and even the byproduct of an effective national pandemic response (The Hill).


> Scientists who have studied the delta variant’s rise this year and the recent downward slope of U.S. infections warn against complacency in the United States. The world has not seen the last variant of the coronavirus. Most mutations may be harmful to viruses, but COVID-19 has proved to be unpredictable. “Evolutionary space is vast for this virus,” said Bette Korber, a theoretical biologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “Nature is very creative,” said Eric Lander, White House science adviser. “I think the key for us is to be prepared for whatever happens” (The Washington Post).


> Southwest Airlines on Tuesday dropped its plan to place unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave. Workers can now stay on the payroll until their petitions for vaccine exemptions are decided, and those petitions are due from employees by Nov. 24. The airline faces a Dec. 8 federal deadline to ensure all its employees are vaccinated if it seeks to continue its government contracts (The Hill). 



A Southwest Airlines employee helps a passenger to check in



> Dewormer medication ivermectin has been debunked by the Food and Drug Administration and physicians as an effective treatment or preventative for COVID-19. Nonetheless, Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican practicing anesthesiologist, said on a recent radio call-in program that he has prescribed it for patients (The Washington Post)


POLITICS: If he has said it once, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will say it another 1,000 times: His party should focus on the future rather than “rehash” former President Trump’s defeat in 2020. “We need to be talking about the future, not the past,” he told reporters again on Tuesday. “It’s my hope that the 2022 election will be a referendum on the performance of the current administration” (The Hill).


In McConnell’s view, attention lavished on Trump’s grievances is an unforced error — a distraction for Republicans who should want to regain power by hammering on Democrats’ vulnerabilities, not their own. 


“One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” McConnell said in May, adding, “We’re confronted with severe challenges from a new administration, and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that’s 100 percent of my focus.”



Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)



> The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports on Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s efforts to attract Latino and Hispanic voters in a Virginia race that ends in 13 days, and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe’s VIP lineup of surrogates helping him mobilize Black voters. Obama will campaign for McAuliffe on Friday in Richmond. … The Washington Post reports that Youngkin has been a prolific contributor to GOP campaigns.


> Nevada: The Battle Born State, also known as the Silver State, holds a key to Senate control. The Hill’s Reid Wilson reveals plans among Democratic and Republican outside groups to launch major advertising offensives there.


> Fiona Hill, former White House national security and Russia expert, talked with The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant about Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the state of U.S. democracy and her new book, “There Is Nothing for You Here.”   

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


How big a deal is Fed Chairman Powell’s million-dollar stock trade? by John Authers, Bloomberg Opinion.


Why is raising a child in the United States so hard? by Spencer Bokat-Lindell, staff editor and opinion contributor, The New York Times.


Meet Gary, a retired veteran with a VA disability pension.

Driving with Uber allows him to compensate for overspending his budget. Gary values Uber’s flexibility: “Whenever my budget is on track, it allows me to step out and enjoy life on my terms.” Watch his story.


The House convenes at 10 a.m.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. At 1:45 p.m., if the Senate agrees to end debate, the Senate may proceed to the nomination of Catherine Lhamon to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, and a motion to proceed to the Freedom to Vote Act.


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will fly to Pennsylvania to promote his legislative agenda, including infrastructure investments, during an event at 5:15 p.m. at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton. He will return to the White House tonight.


The vice president will host a roundtable at 11:35 a.m. with workers to discuss the benefits of union organizing and collective bargaining. She will be joined by Labor Secretary Martin Walsh and Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja.


First lady Jill Biden will speak at 9:30 a.m. to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s National Summit on Adult Literacy in Washington, D.C. She will travel to New York City and visit a local public school at 3:30 p.m. 


The White House coronavirus response team will brief reporters at 8:45 a.m.


The National Press Club hosts its annual gala dinner in person and virtually at 7 p.m. featuring remarks by NBC News anchor Lester Holt, who will receive this year’s Fourth Estate Award (appearing live in New York).  


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


HAITI: A powerful crime gang that kidnapped a group of 17 American and Canadian missionaries in Haiti over the weekend has asked for $1 million each for release of hostages, a top Haitian official told CNN on Tuesday. The FBI is on the ground in Haiti assisting in the investigation but is not leading the ongoing negotiations with the captors. Among the hostages are five children, the youngest just 8 months old (CNN).


URBAN HOMICIDES: It’s no secret that violent crime is on the rise in the United States, while overall crime is down, but what are the proposed solutions? Homicide rates in cities in 2021 are shocking to the public and alarming to officials. Portland, Ore., recorded 67 homicides as of the end of September, a record. Fingers pointed toward: gangs (The Associated Press). … Cleveland homicides are up 24 percent from 2020. Blamed: guns (WKYC3). … Washington, D.C., homicides are up 9 percent from 2021, totaling 173, according to the city’s crime data as of Tuesday. … Chicago has recorded 784 homicides so far this year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times tracker. To put that in context, 770 total homicides in 2020 set a Chicago record, up 50 percent from 2019. 


HEARING AIDS: The FDA on Tuesday approved the purchase of hearing aids without prescriptions (The Hill). In the United States, 15 million people have hearing deficits. Medicare does not cover hearing aids, and many private insurance policies limit coverage. Average out-of-pocket costs are more than $5,000 per pair (The Washington Post). 



Hearing aids



DISTRICT WATCH: Metrorail this week took all 748 of its 7000-series railcars out of service pending further inspections, adding that they will not be brought back unless all safety concerns are alleviated. Reduced service is expected to continue until Sunday, at least, following a rough week for Washington’s metro region commuters (The Hill and WTOP).


And finally … the Crusaders are alive and well. Well, their weapons are (somehow). 


A scuba diver taking in the waters off Israel’s Carmel coast recently discovered a sword, which experts believe dates back more than 900 years to the Crusades. Shlomi Katzin stumbled across the meter-long sword as part of a trove of artifacts that had been uncovered by sea waves and undercurrents. 


“The iron sword has been preserved in perfect condition and is a beautiful and rare find,” Nir Distelfeld, inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit, said in a statement (The Hill).



Diver finds 900-year-old Crusader sword


Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Andy Harris Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Bill de Blasio Charles Schumer Donald Trump Eric Lander Janet Mills Jeff Fortenberry Jill Biden Joe Biden Jon Tester Kyrsten Sinema Mitch McConnell Ro Khanna Steny Hoyer Vladimir Putin
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