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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Uber – Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat

Sen. Joe Manchin
Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite


Presented by Uber


Sen. Joe Manchin


Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday! 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; Friday, 733,218.

Tell us if you’ve heard this story before: Democrats are unlikely to strike a framework deal on President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda this week as divisions between centrist Democrats and progressives continue to plague negotiations and threaten to derail them entirely. 

The latest eruption on Capitol Hill emerged on Thursday between Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), two of the most important figures in the ongoing debate who have recently held a number of one-on-one meetings to figure out a path forward in talks. According to Axios, Manchin on Thursday told the Senate Budget Committee chairman that he could live without passing the massive social-spending proposal in its entirety.  

“I’m comfortable with zero,” Manchin said, using his thumb and index finger to signify “zero.” Multiple Senate Democrats recounted the scene in the report.  

“Joe said, ‘I’m comfortable with nothing.’ Bernie said, ‘We need to do three-and-a-half (trillion dollars),’” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said of the meeting. “The truth is both of them are in different spots.”

Politico: “Bulls—”: How a Manchin-Bernie blowup helped unstick Democrats’ agenda. 

The Wall Street Journal: Democratic voters want Biden’s big spending deal—and they’re getting impatient.

The episode exemplifies the issues that have repeatedly held the party back from enacting Biden’s agenda. For weeks, Manchin has said he believes that Democrats should wait until 2022 to pass any bill via reconciliation and instead allow the $1.9 trillion enacted in March in the most recent COVID-19 relief package and the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package take hold.  

“This is not going to happen anytime soon, guys,” Manchin told reporters Thursday afternoon. “There’s a lot of work to do, everybody’s working hard, everybody’s communicating, working hard. A lot of meetings going on.”  

When asked if the talks will drag past today, Manchin added, “I believe so, yes” (The Hill). 

Hours later, Biden said at a Baltimore town hall event hosted by CNN, I do think I’ll get a deal.” 

Senate Democrats insist there is progress on a framework agreement, which Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are seeking. 

The Associated Press: White House, Dems hurriedly reworking $2 trillion Biden plan.

The Hill: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is open to scrapping key components of the Democrats’ spending package. 

The Washington Post: Democrats brace for cuts to paid leave program as they whittle Biden economic package. 

The president opened the CNN televised town hall on an optimistic note, saying he thought that Democrats were close to a deal on a tax-and-spending package that would cover many parts of his economic proposals. Biden promised that middle-class families will not have to pay more than 7 percent of their income for child care with his plan to ensure a child tax credit. He also said his original proposal to provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for most Americans has been trimmed to four weeks (The Hill). 

The president described Arizona’s Sinema as “smart as the devil,” and voiced confidence that Manchin would ultimately come around to supporting a major budget bill supported by Democrats. He called the West Virginia moderate a friend. 

The Washington Post: Biden says Medicare expansion to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits is “a reach.” He blamed Manchin, but talked up a possible fallback voucher option worth $800 for dental costs. Manchin is also opposed to the administration’s proposed clean electricity program, but Biden denied that the entirety of the policy’s aims are gone from the pending framework as negotiations continue. 

The president also floated his “guess” that gasoline prices will remain high into 2022. “I don’t have a near-term answer,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, arguing that oil producers in the Middle East are to blame. Biden argues the long-term solution is to shift the United States away from petroleum dependency to alternative energy sources. 

The president also said he would consider deploying National Guard troops to drive trucks to help alleviate U.S. supply chain problems if enough drivers cannot be found to speed the transfer of bottlenecks at key ports and freight warehouses. 

Biden told the audience that if he supported a push to jettison the Senate filibuster now, he’d lose three much-needed votes for his agenda. He said he generally supports the 60-vote threshold, but would entertain in the future abandoning the filibuster for voting rights legislation, raising the debt ceiling “and maybe more.” Such exemptions would be opposed by filibuster advocates as a slippery slope for Senate rules and tradition. 


President Biden town hall


The president’s public salesmanship is taking place as Democrats scramble to figure out how to fund a bill with major social policy spending that is expected to have a price tag of around $2 trillion. For months, the White House and Democratic leaders have maintained that the bill will not add to the deficit and debt, but how to fulfill that pledge remains in question. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) opposes a number of proposed tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, a fact Biden acknowledged Thursday night on CNN (Yahoo News).

As The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda reports, some lawmakers believe Sinema is ultimately interested in getting to “yes” on an overall deal. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said Thursday after speaking with Sinema that she backs items such as renewable energy incentives, the child tax credit and paid family and medical leave. 

Sinema appears to be open to alternatives to tax rates to raise revenue. A source familiar with Sinema’s thinking told news outlets Thursday that the senator has agreed to proposals on wealthy individuals, corporations, international and tax enforcement that could raise enough revenue to pay for a package of the size that is currently being discussed. 

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Democratic frustration with Sinema rises. 

Amie Parnes and Morgan Chalfant, The Hill: Democrats brush off political risks of paring down a spending package. 

CNBC: Jobless claims fall again as enhanced pandemic benefits fade away. 

The Hill: Which proposals will survive in the Democrats’ spending plan? 

More in Congress: The House on Thursday voted to hold former President Trump’s adviser, Stephen Bannon, in contempt of Congress after Bannon defied a subpoena from the special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, leaving the Justice Department to weigh whether to try to enforce the will of lawmakers. Nine House Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in voting to challenge Bannon’s actions (The Hill). 

The Hill: Here are the 9 Republicans who broke with their party to support the contempt finding. 

After Pelosi certifies the vote in writing, the criminal referral will be forwarded to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., which will then decide whether to press charges. A conviction could mean up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000. According to legal scholars, in congressional history no criminal charges have been filed in cases in which executive privilege, which Trump is claiming, was asserted (NBC News). 

Attorney General Merrick Garland, who testified before a combative House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, said the Bannon contempt referral will be decided based “on the facts and the law.” Lawmakers from both parties peppered Garland with a wide range of questions during the oversight hearing, and the attorney general responded that his department is focused on threats of violence against school administrators, teachers, staff, members of Congress and police. “We are worried about that across the board,” he said (CNN).

> Republicans’ success in blocking a Senate effort on Wednesday to begin floor debate on Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act frustrates Black activists and others who view the election reform legislation as among Biden’s most significant campaign pledges. Next steps remain unclear (The Hill). 


Capitol Riot




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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has the final say about approval of COVID-19 vaccines, late on Thursday signed off on booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, opening the door to their availability as extra doses beginning today.  

The CDC’s advisory panel earlier in the day concurred with the Food and Drug Administration, which determined on Wednesday that Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe to administer as extra doses. Pfizer has already received the green light from the government for third shots. The government approved mixing doses from different manufacturers, if necessary. 

“These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. 

“The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe — as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating delta variant,” Walensky said (The Hill).  

Starting six months past their last Pfizer vaccination, people are urged to get a booster if they’re 65 or older, nursing home residents, or at least 50 years old and at increased risk of severe disease because of health problems. Boosters also were allowed, but not urged, for adults of any age at increased risk of infection because of health problems or their jobs or living conditions. That includes health care workers, teachers and people in jails or homeless shelters.

Moderna’s extra jab will come at half the dose of the original two shots. As for recipients of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, of which there are 15 million in the United States, a COVID-19 booster is recommended for everyone at least two months after their vaccination. That’s because the J&J vaccine hasn’t proved as protective as the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer options (The Associated Press). 

The Mercury News: What you should know about mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. 

Separately, researchers found 109 cases of symptomatic COVID-19 infections among study subjects who received a placebo shot, compared with five cases in people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccine, resulting in 95.6 percent efficacy, according to the manufacturers (The Wall Street Journal). The study was carried out while the highly transmissible delta variant was prevalent, the companies said, suggesting the booster helps protect against the contagious strain. 

Passages: An invitation-only memorial service to honor former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died on Monday from complications of COVID-19, is scheduled Nov. 5 at Washington National Cathedral (The Associated Press).


POLITICS: Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will appear alongside a pair of Democratic heavy hitters in the coming days as Biden is set to campaign on his behalf early next week only days after former President Obama stumps for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee on Saturday.  

Biden will headline a campaign event for McAuliffe in Arlington, Va., to boost turnout in heavily Democratic Northern Virginia just a week out from Election Day. This is Biden’s second appearance on the trail for the former governor, who served from 2014 until 2018. He is only the second former governor since the Civil War to seek a second term in the office (The Washington Post). 

Obama is set to campaign for the longtime Democratic figure in Richmond on Saturday. It’s part of a two-stop day for the former president, who will also make a stop in Newark, N.J., to campaign for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ahead of the other high-profile election on Nov. 2.  

The New York Times: The irony in GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin’s push for early voting in Virginia

The Hill: Murphy’s lead narrows to 6 points in New Jersey governor’s race: poll.

Tom LoBionco, Vanity Fair: “He’s making real money for the first time in his life”: Former Vice President Mike Pence is already cashing in on his potential 2024 run.


President Biden with former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe


> Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said on Thursday he will call a special session of the legislature in Tallahassee to consider bills to block vaccine mandates in an effort to enact what he calls employer protections. DeSantis is among conservative governors with ambitions for higher office who are battling the Biden administration over federal mandates covering certain employees who must get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing. Earlier this month he announced that he planned to sue over the vaccination requirements (The Hill).  

Reid Wilson, The Hill: Pandemic leads to sharp drop in school enrollment.

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!



Ending the growing threat of homemade guns, by Bloomberg Opinion editors. ​​ 

Americans hate ‘big government’ until they experience the benefits, by Democratic pollster Brad Bannon, opinion contributor, 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.



The House convenes at 9 a.m.  

The Senate meets on Monday at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Jia Cobb to be a U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden departs the White House at 8 p.m. to fly to Wilmington, Del., to spend the weekend. 

Vice President Harris will depart for New York City this morning to speak at 12:20 p.m. at Northeast Bronx YMCA about Democrats’ pending legislative agenda and to promote policies that would impact families. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will also deliver remarks. The vice president will fly back to the nation’s capital at 3:25 p.m.   

The White House press briefing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.

INVITATION: The Hill’s Virtually Live next week hosts a three-day event, “A More Perfect Union” Festival, beginning TUESDAY at 11:30 a.m. EDT, featuring thought-provoking conversations with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, White House chief of staff Ron Klain, West Virginia Sen. Manchin, NIH’s Anthony Fauci, John Bolton, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), filmmaker Michael Moore and others. Information is HERE

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


U.S. ROCKET FAILURE: The Pentagon’s hypersonic weapon programs suffered a setback on Thursday when a booster rocket carrying a hypersonic weapon failed, people briefed on the test result said (Reuters and CNN). The Defense Department is racing against China and Russia in a program that has had two failures this year. Traveling at Mach 5 or faster, hypersonic weapons are difficult to detect, posing a challenge to missile defense systems. Hypersonic missiles can travel at a lower trajectory than high-arcing ballistic missiles, which can be easily detectable. Hypersonics can also maneuver and evade missile defense systems. 

SPORTS: The NBA once again has a China problem. Tencent, a Chinese broadcaster and partner of the NBA, is no longer showing Boston Celtics games (past or present) on its streaming service after center Enes Kanter called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “dictator” and expressed support for Tibetan independence. It is unclear how long the blackout of Celtics games would last. Kanter donned shoes on Wednesday night reading “Free Tibet,” while issuing a lengthy post on Twitter in support of the nation. The NBA’s issues with China have gone on for more than two years since Daryl Morey (then the Houston Rockets general manager) issued words of support for Hong Kong (The Associated Press).  

➔ TINY COIN, BIG MONEY: A rare shilling coin minted in Boston in 1652 and discovered in a candy box with other old coins in the United Kingdom will be auctioned in London on Nov. 26. Only 40 of the coins were ever made, and the discovery is expected to sell to collectors for the equivalent of about $300,000 (The Associated Press).


Rare coin found



And finally … A round of applause for this week’s Morning Report Quiz jedis, who knew all about the latest news happenings and headlines from the week that was.  

MR would like to raise a Friday glass to these quiz champs: Mary Anne McEnery, Joseph Webster, Terry Pflaumer, John Donato, Candi See, Steve James and Pam Manges.  

They knew that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon co-starred in a movie for the first time in two-plus decades. “The Last Duel,” Ridley Scott’s (also seen below) film now in theaters landed 24 years after the two actors famously hit the big screen in “Good Will Hunting.” 

To commemorate its 75th anniversary season, the NBA this week rolled out a list of the best 75 players in league history

Famed socialite Paris Hilton got the attention of the Capitol Hill press corps by advocating for reforms to troubled teen care programs.

Finally, Harris and first lady Jill Biden’s criss-crossing the country landed them in many places, but not Milwaukee.


Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
Tags Anthony Fauci Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Biden agenda Biden Town Hall Cathy McMorris Rodgers Charles Schumer Climate change Colin Powell COVID-19 Deb Haaland Donald Trump Infrastructure Jill Biden Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Bolton Jon Tester Kyrsten Sinema Merrick Garland Mike Pence Morning Report Nancy Pelosi Reconciliation Richard Neal Rochelle Walensky Ron DeSantis Ron Klain spending bill Vaccine Xavier Becerra

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