The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats insist budget consensus close as talks drag on

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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 each morning this week: Monday, 735,941; Tuesday, 737,321; Wednesday, 738,883.

As in golf, it’s a bit like Moving Day on Capitol Hill, as key negotiators say they’re hopeful a deal on a massive social spending package could be reached today ahead of Democrats’ self-imposed deadline to show progress, any progress, before 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 flies to Europe on Thursday.


Despite the optimism, top Democrats indicated that there is still work to be done on a number of topics in order to get the proposal over the finish line with both centrists and progressives. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerProgressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan Collins says she supports legislation putting Roe v. Wade protections into law Biden should seek some ideological diversity MORE (D-N.Y.) indicated that negotiators still haven’t reached a deal on language to expand Medicare benefits and lower the price of prescription drugs, two major pieces of their agenda, but still believes an agreement is within striking distance.


“I believe a final deal is within reach,” Schumer said (The Hill). 


Schumer also signaled that members are much closer to agreement on “robust” climate provisions (The Hill). There was also movement on how to pay for the package, as Sen. 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.) threw her weight behind a proposal for a minimum tax on corporate profits.


“This proposal represents a commonsense step toward ensuring that highly profitable corporations — which sometimes can avoid the current corporate tax rate — pay a reasonable minimum tax on their profits, just as everyday Arizonans and Arizona small businesses do,” Sinema, who also met with Biden on Tuesday evening, said in a statement (The Hill).


Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Senate Democrats haggle as deal comes into focus. 


The Associated Press: Half its original size, Biden’s big plan in race to finish.


Politico: White House enters “hand-to-hand” combat stage of negotiations.


According to a group of senators, a 15 percent minimum tax would be applied to corporate profits reported on financial statements. Nearly 200 billion-dollar companies would be subject to the tax.


The Hill and The Associated Press: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill Democrats push tax credits to bolster clean energy Five reasons for concern about Democrats' drug price control plan MORE (D-Ore.) released a billionaires tax proposal on unrealized gains from assets and a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations, which could help offset the price tag of the Democrats’ spending plan. “I’ve always felt that success was giving everybody in America the chance to get ahead, and what we’re dealing with here are flagrant loopholes in the tax code,” Wyden told reporters on Tuesday. “They’re legal, but I’m going to close them.”


The Wall Street Journal: How the billionaires income tax would work.


Democrats have been racing to reach a deal by the time Biden departs for Rome this week but key lawmakers warned that talks remained delicate.


“Right now, it’s so tenuous. Everything is so tenuous,” 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.) told reporters when asked for updates on a number of topics (HuffPost).


Jordain Carney, The Hill: As clock ticks down, Manchin is the vote to get on spending plan.


The Washington Post analysis: Manchin has eagerly and thoroughly sought to shape Biden’s agenda, becoming a one-man pivot point for an all-Democratic government and a self-styled emergency brake on what he has increasingly characterized as a liberal agenda run amok.


The New York Times: Manchin Is in the middle, with Biden’s agenda in the balance.


The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision Symone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year Briahna Joy Gray says Chris Cuomo will return to CNN following scandal MORE (I-Vt.) draws red lines on Medicare expansion, drug pricing plan in spending bill. 



Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to the Economic Club



While things appear to be progressing in the Senate, the same cannot be said for those across the Capitol, as Democratic leaders are unsure whether a framework deal on the mammoth social spending package is good enough to unlock the votes of progressive lawmakers to pass the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package this week. 


As The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report, Democratic leaders were hopeful to hold the vote this week in a bid to boost the party’s gubernatorial nominees in Virginia and New Jersey in Tuesday’s elections. However, that possibility was torpedoed by 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.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who told reporters that progressive members will oppose the bill until a final version of the multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation proposal is completed and voted on.


“Let’s vote both of them out at the same time, and I would even be willing to vote the BIF and then three hours later the reconciliation bill as long as we have full agreement from everybody — everyone on the House side, everyone on the Senate side,” Jayapal (pictured below) said following an hour-long meeting with 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.), referring to the oft-used acronym for the bipartisan infrastructure framework.


Pelosi disagreed, telling reporters that she “thinks it is” enough to satisfy lawmakers (CNN). Adding to the calculus, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is in a dead heat with GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin, and handing the party a win on the bipartisan bill could do a world of good in a number of areas, they argue. 


“A Congress that can get something done is going to make you feel better about where the country's going. A Democratic president who’s successful makes you win,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). “I think Terry could live without it. But of course it would help.”


The bottom line: A Senate outline of an agreement among Democrats on the Build Back Better agenda is one thing, but getting to a vote in the House on infrastructure is an entirely different matter. Just because the first part happens, don’t expect the second to follow. Progressives want to wait — and they have the votes. 


The Hill: Progressives scramble to save top priorities from chopping block.


The Associated Press: Many progressives grudgingly accepting smaller economic bill.


The Hill: Business groups, sensing victory, keep up pressure over tax hikes.


The Hill: Paid family leave proposal at risk.



Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus



Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations


Jack is one of 40,000 people working on safety and security issues at Facebook.


Hear more from Jack on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet’s most pressing challenges, including reforming Section 230 to set clear guidelines for all large tech companies.


CORONAVIRUS: Independent advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday endorsed the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech for children ages 5 to 11. The experts’ decision now goes to the agency for official approval and to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a public health recommendation, expected within days (The Washington Post).


The advisory committee found that the benefits of the shot outweighed the risks of a rare cardiac side effect and voted 17 to 0 with one abstention to back the vaccine for young children, a group that numbers 28 million. COVID-19 has killed 94 children in the U.S., and thousands have been hospitalized with the infection.


The Hill: BioNTech, which expects to work with Pfizer next year to produce 4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine for administration around the globe, plans to open an mRNA vaccine manufacturing plant in Rwanda next year.


> Mandates: The administration’s pending rule calling on large businesses to require vaccines or COVID-19 testing among employees may be postponed until after the holidays — if some business groups get their way. They fear the federal vaccine requirement will contribute to large numbers of worker resignations during a period in which companies are trying to fill thousands of vacancies in the next few months. Public health officials believe the fears may be overblown, and they say the vaccine requirement will move the nation closer to ending the pandemic (The Hill). … In most Massachusetts public schools, a mask mandate is being extended to Jan. 15. A few schools have so far met the 80 percent vaccination requirement that enables local authorities to lift the mask mandate inside (NBC Boston).


> Flashback: Deborah BirxDeborah BirxFeehery: The honest contrarian Documents reveal new details of Trump political interference in COVID-19 response The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats insist budget consensus close as talks drag on MORE, former infectious diseases adviser to the White House at the outset of the pandemic, told Congress this month that 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 and his top West Wing advisers prioritized campaigning in 2020 over recommended coronavirus mitigation efforts (The Hill). Trump, former first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpBidens to attend Kennedy Center Honors following Trumps' absence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden's message on the 'omicron' variant Jill Biden unveils traditional White House holiday décor MORE, and several top aides, Secret Service agents and White House visitors contracted COVID-19. Birx said the Trump team’s resistance to promoting basic mitigation techniques resulted in more than 100,000 avoidable deaths. "I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range," said Birx, who was not retained by the Biden White House and opted to retire.



In this March 20, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump listens as White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks



POLITICS: Biden on Tuesday night rallied Virginians on behalf of McAuliffe and attempted to tether Youngkin to Trump, going so far as to mock him for not having the former president come campaign for him ahead of next week’s election and likening the gubernatorial nominee to Capitol rioters.


"What's he trying to hide?” Biden said, referring to Youngkin not campaigning alongside Trump, who has endorsed him but has been kept at arm's length. “Is he embarrassed?"


“I ran against Donald Trump, and Terry is running against an acolyte of Donald Trump,” Biden said. “He doesn’t like to talk about it very much now, but to win the Republican nomination, he embraced Donald Trump,” Biden said of Youngkin. 


The president also labeled the GOP pair as extreme. However, he took a not-so-veiled shot at Youngkin in the process, saying that extremism “can come in a smile and a fleece vest.” Youngkin routinely wears a fleece vest at campaign events (The Hill). 


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Biden faces double crunch in Virginia and in Congress.



President Joe Biden, right, reacts after speaking at a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe



Biden’s appearance with McAuliffe comes at a critical juncture in the campaign, with the two candidates effectively tied in recent polls. It also took place amid massive spending on both sides. Through Oct. 21, the two candidates have raised $117 million, a sum that shatters totals in the state’s previous gubernatorial races.


Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 21, Youngkin’s campaign raised $15.4 million, including a $3.5 million personal loan from the candidate, and his campaign spent $11 million. McAuliffe posted a $12.9 million haul during the same period, spending $18.8 million over that stretch.


Heading into the final days, Youngkin, a wealthy former private equity executive who has contributed more than $20 million of his fortune into the race, has the financial advantage. The GOP nominee had $7.9 million in the bank as of Oct. 21. McAuliffe had $1.9 million (The Associated Press). 


Both campaigns are beneficiaries of big spending from outside groups. As The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes, the Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC has launched six-figure ad campaigns to support McAuliffe. Across the aisle, Women Speak Out Virginia, a partner of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, launched a $1.4 million effort to boost Youngkin.  


Advocacy groups from other issue areas to racial justice, business and education have also backed a candidate in the race, hoping to boost their own issue areas. 


Politico: Herschel Walker gets Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight House sets up Senate shutdown showdown Biden says he doesn't believe a government shutdown will happen MORE's (R-Ky.) blessing in Georgia.

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! 


On taxes, the Democrats’ plan looks a lot like the Trump plan, by Charles Lane, columnist, The Washington Post. 


Yes, you’ll want to vaccinate your kids against COVID-19. An expert explains why, Lee Savio Beers, opinion contributor, The New York Times. 


Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations


Jack is one of 40,000 people working on safety and security issues at Facebook.


Hear more from Jack on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet’s most pressing challenges, including reforming Section 230 to set clear guidelines for all large tech companies.


The House convenes at noon.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Omar Williams to be a U.S. district judge for the District of Connecticut.


The president will participate virtually at 8:30 a.m. in the annual East Asia Summit, which brings together members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other countries from the Indo-Pacific region. Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:45 a.m.  


The first lady and second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Biden and Harris host 'family' Hanukkah celebration with more than 150 guests Bidens to attend Kennedy Center Honors following Trumps' absence MORE will attend a Senate Spouses Luncheon at the Library of Congress at noon.


Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — Quick vote on defense bill blocked again Kremlin claims Ukraine may try to win back rebel-controlled regions by force Blinken: Iran actions risk collapse of new talks MORE at 11:30 a.m. speaks to the department’s Foreign Service Institution about modernizing American diplomacy to meet the foreign policy challenges of the 21st century.


Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandThe Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion House progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Garland orders DOJ to prioritize violence on airplanes MORE will testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee during its oversight of the Justice Department at 10 a.m.


The White House daily briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m. The administration’s COVID-19 response team will brief journalists at 2:30 p.m.


INVITATION: The Hill’s Virtually Live hosts “A More Perfect Union” Festival through THURSDAY at 11:30 a.m. EDT, featuring thought-provoking conversations today with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance BottomsKeisha Lance BottomsAtlanta mayor back in her Thanksgiving 'lane' after mac and cheese roasting Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland dies at 79 Atlanta mayor's race advances to runoff MORE; AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler; Ellen Ochoa, a former NASA astronaut who became director of the Johnson Space Center in 2013; and many 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.


TECH & CHILDREN: A bipartisan group of fed-up senators told executives from YouTube, Snap (parent of Snapchat) and TikTok during a three-hour hearing on Tuesday that they fear the companies’ software has steered young people toward inappropriate posts, mishandled consumer data and did not do enough to spot dangerous content. Members of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security repeatedly said their staffs were able to access disturbing content — including posts related to self-harm, drugs and pornography — inside the companies’ products, sometimes while logged in as a teenage user. During a time in which Facebook is in regulatory and legislative crosshairs in Washington, senators repeatedly tried to prod the tech companies to commit to more transparency for researchers to investigate the health and safety of their platforms as well as support for elements of potential privacy legislation (The New York Times). YouTube, Snap and TikTok sought throughout the hearing to distance themselves from Facebook (The Hill).


CYBER INCIDENTS: Gas stations in Iran were hit by a massive cyberattack on Tuesday, causing long lines and short tempers. No perpetrator claimed responsibility. Speculation circulated that the United States was behind it (The Jerusalem Post). … Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi today did not assign blame but said the cyberattack was designed to get “people angry by creating disorder and disruption” (The Associated Press). … North Korea, starved for cash because of global sanctions, reportedly considered a brazen bank hack last year after pulling off such a caper in 2016. Hackers suspected of working for the North Korean government appear to have hacked into the computer networks of an Indonesian bank in an apparent attempt to pull off a megaheist to fund regime goals (The Daily Beast). 


CLIMATE SUMMIT: Global leaders in Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nations environmental conference beginning on Sunday face at least three thorny and unresolved issues: financial support for developing countries, curbs on methane emissions and rules that govern climate treaty commitments in the 2015 Paris Agreement (The Hill).


COMPOUND INTEREST: A rare specimen of the world’s first Penny Black postage stamp, introduced into circulation 181 years ago, is expected to sell for upward of $11 million at auction in London on Dec. 7. The adhesive stamp features a profile of Queen Victoria and is attached to a document dated April 10, 1840, from the archive of British postal service reformer Robert Wallace, a Scottish politician. There are two other examples of perfect, ungummed Penny Blacks from the first printing, both in the collection of the British Postal Museum (ABC News). It is “unequivocally the most important piece of philatelic history to exist,” Sotheby’s said.



First penny black stamp could fetch up to £6m at auction



And finally … ⚾ The World Series is officially underway, and the Atlanta Braves have the advantage after defeating the Houston Astros in Game 1, 6-2. 


Jorge Soler popped a home run on the first at-bat of the game, setting the stage for Atlanta to win their first World Series game in 25 years since Greg Maddux defeated the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the 1996 fall classic. 


The Astros will look to tie the series at one game apiece tonight. First pitch is at 8:09 p.m. EST. (And if Houston doesn’t do so, look out for the trash cans) (ESPN). 



Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler hits a home run