The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount

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The sun rises behind the U.S. Capitol Building



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 reported each morning this week: Monday, 724,317; Tuesday, 726,201; Wednesday, 728,296; Thursday, 731,265.

President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE took his sale of the Build Back Better agenda on the road on Wednesday as congressional Democrats push to strike a deal on the social spending package by the end of the week amid continuing questions surrounding how to pay for it. 


Biden on Wednesday appeared in his hometown of Scranton, Pa. to sell the blueprint’s planned overhaul of health care, climate, education and tax policy, having argued that Democrats are in a good spot to get it over the finish line despite the up-and-down nature of talks. He also seemed to acknowledge that the size of the legislation will be scaled back in order to get a deal done. 


“This has been declared dead on arrival from the moment I introduced it, but I think we’re going to surprise them because I think people are beginning to figure out what’s at stake,” Biden said at Scranton’s Electric City Trolley Museum. “These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency” (The Associated Press).


The Philadelphia Inquirer: Back home in Scranton on Wednesday, Biden plugged a scaled-back, $2 trillion plan to revive the country.


The Hill: Biden champions economic plan as Democrats scale back ambitions.


However, Biden’s optimism comes as yet another stumbling block has appeared before legislators. According to The Wall Street Journal, Sen. 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 (D-Ariz.) has told lobbyists that she opposes the Democratic effort to raise marginal rates for businesses, high-income individuals or capital gains, forcing negotiators back to the drawing board to figure out how to fund the multi trillion-dollar package.


The current iteration of the reconciliation bill is likely to cost around $2 trillion over a decade, meaning that the lack of tax increases creates a massive void for Democrats hoping to fully fund the proposal. As the Journal notes, the House’s corporate tax increase was expected to raise $540 billion, while hikes on ordinary income and capital gains would bring in nearly $300 billion.


In its place, Biden administration officials are floating a form of a wealth tax as a substitute, not dissimilar from a proposal long supported by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE (D-Mass.) (The Washington Post).


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Cuts to big bill vex Democrats. 


The Washington Post: What does Sinema want in Democrats’ social spending bill? Here’s what we know, from a total price tag, to proposed tax hikes, to program specifics.


The New York Times: The Democrats have a lot of cutting to do.


Politico: Dems toil to save SALT following last-minute scare.



President Joe Biden speaks at an event at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton



Nevertheless, Democrats remained optimistic about their chances of striking a deal by week’s end.


“I think it’s very possible,” 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.) told reporters on Wednesday morning after a meeting with her Democratic colleagues, their first since the beginning of the month (The Washington Post).


As The Hill’s Mike Lillis notes, despite months of negotiations that have pitted almost every side against each other at some point, lawmakers are sensing that they are on the precipice of a breakthrough. In particular, Democrats have praised Biden's new assertiveness in the process as they seem set on scaling back the largesse of the package in exchange for putting a W on the board. 


“The president is being very clear about the direction we’re going in, where he wants to go, and it’s that kind of leadership that’s going to get us to the finish line,” said Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The omicron threat and Biden's plan to beat it Dearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps MORE (D-Mich.), a liberal who met with Biden this week.


Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Under pressure, Democrats cut back spending.


The Washington Post: Biden abruptly accelerates his involvement in agenda talks.


The Hill: Proposals to reform supports for parents face chopping block.


The Hill: Powerful Democrats push back on one-year extension of child tax credit.


Elsewhere in the upper chamber, Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinTrump haunts Biden vaccine mandate in courts IRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks MORE (D-W.Va.) made it abundantly clear that he has no intention of ditching the Democratic Party after a report indicated that he has floated the possibility. 


“Bulls---,” Manchin told reporters shortly after the report emerged. I have no control over the rumors” (The Hill). Manchin in 2019 said Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE (Ky.) has tried to get him to become a Republican "many times." He said it could never happen because of where he stands on taxes and health care. The same year, Manchin endorsed Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Real relief from high gas prices The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron MORE (R-Maine) for reelection. 


The Hill: Democrats look for plan B on filibuster.


Peter Sullivan, The Hill: Democrats jostle over health care priorities for scaled-back package.


More in Congress: The feud between Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyKevin McCarthy is hostage to the GOP's 'exotic wing' Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth Prosecutors say North Carolina woman deserves prison for bringing 14-year-old to Capitol riot MORE (R-Wyo.) (pictured below) and 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 has intensified as she has become the most prominent anti-Trump voice in the party; Democrats are praising Cheney, who faces a tough primary next year. She said she now believes the 45th president was “personally involved in the planning and execution of the Capitol riot that led to five deaths and dozens of injured police officers, The Hill’s Scott Wong reports


The House will vote today on whether to hold former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for not complying with a subpoena from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Separate from debates about executive privilege and enforcing the will of Congress, the committee’s probe puts a spotlight on the central role Bannon may have played in organizing rally goers and any coordination he may have had with the Trump White House and the former president as Trump sought to challenge the Electoral College certification of Biden as president-elect (The Hill).



Rep. Liz Cheney [R-WY] speaks as the US congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack at the Capitol



More headlines: Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked Democrats’ Freedom to Vote election reform bill. With a vote of 49-51, the measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Next steps by Democrats are unclear (The Hill). … Rahm Emanuel, nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Japan, faced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday amid objections to his confirmation by some Democrats over his handling while mayor of Chicago of the police killing of a Black teenager in 2014. Emanuel responded to questions about his response to the killing and said if confirmed, he would use the diplomatic post in Japan to counter China (The New York Times). … With major legislation slowly moving through Washington in 2021, K Street lobby firms reaped many millions of dollars during the first three quarters of the year (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: The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, adding to the government’s previous approval of Pfizer boosters for certain segments of the adult population


The FDA also approved mixing doses of available vaccines as boosters, noting the effectiveness and safety of all three. The federal regulatory agency did not recommend any one vaccine over another as an extra dose. It also remained silent on whether it is preferable to stick with the same vaccine manufacturer when possible, which has been the advice offered by some physicians (The New York Times and The Hill). 


The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel reports that state officials are pondering the logistical hurdles in administering booster doses to many of the people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The single-dose J&J shot was appealing to use in homeless populations and among migrant workers, but those individuals will be difficult to reach for second doses. 



A vial of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19



> The White House on Wednesday also unveiled a strategy to ensure that sufficient supplies of vaccines will be available and accessible to millions of U.S. youngsters ages 5 to 11 as soon as the FDA approves COVID-19 inoculations for younger children, possibly within weeks (The Associated Press).


> What does COVID-19, a virus, have in common with tuberculosis (TB), a bacterium? Scientists this week reported in a new finding that TB, like the coronavirus, is spread when infected people simply breathe and the pathogen circulates as an aerosol (The New York Times).


POLITICS: Trump on Wednesday announced the upcoming launch of his own social media network called TRUTH Social following his lockout from Facebook until at least 2023 and a permanent ban from Twitter announced in January (The Hill).


“I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech. We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable,” Trump said in a statement that established he is not silenced.


Instead of Twitter missives, Trump has been relegated to blasting out numerous statements via email per day ever since his ban from the platform in January. Earlier this month, Trump asked a federal judge to force Twitter into reinstating his account.


The Wall Street Journal: Trump Media and Technology Group plans to go public via SPAC.


> Empire State of Mind: New York 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) is grabbing an early lead in the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary as would-be competitors start to nip at her heels in a race that could become indicative of the direction of the party as a whole. 


As The Hill’s Tal Axelrod details, Hochul (pictured below), who took over the governor’s mansion in Albany after former Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo's firing from CNN came amid allegation of sexual misconduct: report Chris Cuomo: 'This is not how I want my time at CNN to end' Chris Cuomo terminated by CNN over efforts to help brother MORE’s (D) resignation over sexual harassment claims in August, is the only candidate thus far to declare her bid. However, state Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThese are the states where the omicron variant has been identified Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Biden's winter COVID-19 strategy Five omicron cases detected in New York MORE have all hinted they’re mulling the contest — and all would bring their own constituencies to fuel potential campaigns against Hochul.


“There are rumored announcements within the next couple of weeks, and I think that’s what everyone’s looking out for. But the longer the sitting governor has the field to herself, I think it makes it a little bit harder for others who also want to jump in. Which is not to say that if they do, they will not run very, very vigorous challenges,” said Jon Reinish, New York-based Democratic strategist.



New York Gov. Kathy Hochul



> 2021 watch: 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 cut an ad on behalf of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ahead of his looming appearance on the campaign trail on Saturday and weeks out from the state’s gubernatorial contest.


“Virginia, you have a lot of responsibility this year. Not only are you choosing your next governor, but you’re also making a statement about what direction we’re headed in as a country,” Obama says in the ad, which was first reported on by The Hill. “I know Terry McAuliffe and I can tell you: As governor, no one worked harder for their state.”


Obama is set to appear on the stump for McAuliffe in Richmond on Saturday. He will also headline an event in Newark, N.J. for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D). 


The Hill: McAuliffe, GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin tied less than two weeks out from Virginia's Election Day: poll.


The Hill: Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe.

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! 


The $2 trillion is phony, too. Biden is bowing to the left again by keeping new entitlements and disguising their costs, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board.


Americans simply don't want the costs of Biden's Build Back Better bill, by Alfredo Ortiz, opinion contributor, The Hill.


“I forgot to press send,” by Gail Collins, The New York Times columnist.


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. and is scheduled to vote on whether to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress for failure to comply with a select committee’s subpoena. … Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyPressure grows to remove Boebert from committees Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill News reporting in an age of rampant mendacity MORE (R-Calif.) will speak to the press at 11:30 a.m. … Pelosi is expected to participate in a 9 a.m. press event on Capitol Hill hosted by ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality. … The House Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. will conduct oversight of the Justice Department and hear testimony from Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandSouth Carolina nurse charged for allegedly making fake vaccine cards DOJ launches civil rights probe into police department in New York suburb Appeals court grapples with DOJ effort to shield Trump from E. Jean Carroll suit MORE.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Tana Lin to be a U.S. district judge for the Western District of Washington.


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will speak at 11:55 a.m. at the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication. Biden and first lady Jill BidenJill BidenWhite House holiday decorations available for 360 tour via Google Street View The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE will arrive in Baltimore at 7:05 p.m. for the president’s town hall broadcast by CNN at 8 p.m. The president and first lady will return to the White House at 10:30 p.m.


Vice President Harris will speak along with the president this morning at the MLK Jr. Memorial dedication anniversary event in Washington. She will campaign at 6:40 p.m. for McAuliffe for governor at a voter mobilization event in Dumfries, Va.  


The White House press briefing is scheduled at 2 p.m.


Economic indicators: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. reports on filings for unemployment benefits in the week ending Oct. 16. The National Association of Realtors reports at 10 a.m. on existing home sales in September. 


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


SPACE: After relying on other countries to launch its satellites since the early 1990s, South Korea on Thursday launched a domestically created space rocket in an attempt to become the 10th nation to send a satellite into space with its own technology (The Associated Press).


JUSTICE: Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty to all charges related to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead in 2018. Cruz, now 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts each of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder before a circuit judge in Broward County, Fla. Prosecutors have indicated they still intend to seek the death penalty (The Hill).


HUMAN RIGHTS: The European Parliament on Wednesday awarded imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, considered Europe’s top human rights commendation. Other recipients have included Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai. “He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinUkraine rejects claims that it violated Belarus air space Ernst on Russian buildup on Ukraine border: 'We must prepare for the worst' Biden cannot allow his domestic fumbles to transfer to the world stage MORE’s regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life,” European Parliament President David Sassoli said. “Today’s prize recognizes his immense bravery and we reiterate our call for his immediate release” (The Washington Post).


➔ MEDICAL SCIENCE: In what could be a breakthrough for patients who face long waits for available organs for transplant, research surgeons in New York last month temporarily attached a pig kidney to a brain-dead, deceased human, after which the organ functioned for 54 hours without rejection (The Associated Press and The New York Times). 



Scientists have temporarily attached a pig’s kidney to a human body



And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the craziness of the past week from coast to coast, we’re eager for some smart guesses about newsy current events.


Email your responses to and/or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


On the Hollywood front, what did pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon do in the past week that put them in headlines? 


  1. Double date, featuring Jennifer Lopez
  2. Co-star in a movie for first time in two-plus decades
  3. Attend a Red Sox playoff game
  4. Appear in a commercial with Tom Brady


What is the NBA doing to commemorate its 75th anniversary season?


  1. Playing first week of games in old arenas 
  2. Universal throwback uniforms
  3. Revealing a list of best basketball players in history 
  4. None of the above


Why did Paris Hilton appear on Capitol Hill this week?


  1. Promoting “Simple Life 2”
  2. Pushing legislation to help fund hotels
  3. Advocate for reforms to troubled teen care programs
  4. Kosmos 2550 satellite


The vice president and the first lady each traveled around the country this week. In what city did neither make an appearance?


  1. Las Vegas
  2. New York City
  3. Columbia, S.C. 
  4. Milwaukee


Actress and model Paris Hilton speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol