Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Political earthquake rocks Virginia; New Jersey too close to call

Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin arrives to speak at an election night party
Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

                            Presented by ExxonMobil

Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin arrives to speak at an election night party



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, 745,836; Tuesday, 747,033; Wednesday, 748,621.

National Republicans could not have dreamed of a more commanding night as conservative Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial contest that notched record-shattering turnout. The GOP racked up a clean sweep of Virginia’s statewide contests on Tuesday and in the process dealt a significant blow to President Biden and his party ahead of next year’s midterms. 


Adding to the bad news for the party in power, what was supposed to be a relatively easy reelection bid for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) (pictured below) turned into anything but. The incumbent’s race with GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli is too close to call this morning. Before press time, Ciattarelli was leading by nearly 1,200 votes (49.65 percent to 49.6 percent). 



New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks to supporters during an election night party



Youngkin, the former executive of the Carlyle Group, defeated the former governor who once chaired the Democratic National Committee by 50.7 percent to 48.6 percent with more than 95 percent of the ballots tallied. The Associated Press called the race today at 12:37 a.m. 


By late Tuesday, a political narrative began to harden that in race after race, and in key ballot questions, voters sent a pointed message: progressives do not represent their views. That message was at the heart of GOP campaigns this year, and it will continue to shape how the party out of power in the House and Senate strategizes to try to sweep Democrats aside a year from now.


Biden, who campaigned as a centrist and has governed to the left, faces tough choices in trying to chart a winning path between increasingly frustrated factions of the Democratic Party. His claims to be a peacemaker, savvy negotiator, alliance builder and problem solver have not been persuasive, according to polls showing majority disapproval of his performance as president.


Hours before polls closed and before departing a climate summit in Scotland, Biden predicted Democratic victories in Virginia and New Jersey and dismissed suggestions that Election Night results were reflections on his presidency. “I’ve not seen any evidence that, whether or not I am doing well or poorly, whether or not I’ve got my agenda passed or not, is going to have any real impact on winning and losing,” he told reporters. 


In Virginia, the Republican nominee, who bludgeoned McAuliffe’s campaign with attacks focused on education and the economy, limited the Democrat’s vote totals in the suburbs and in some Democratic strongholds. Youngkin ran up support in rural parts of what is today a purple state en route to his clear victory in the first major post-2020 test of Biden’s political might.


“Let’s climb that hill together,” Youngkin said In his victory speech shortly after 1 a.m. “Let’s reinvigorate our future, let’s reinvigorate this amazing commonwealth of Virginia. Together, together, together, together we can build a new day, a new day for Virginians where yes, we soar and we never settle,” he told supporters (The Hill).


Hours earlier, McAuliffe (seen below) declined to concede the race, telling supporters in McLean, Va., “we’re going to continue to count votes because every single Virginian matters,” (The Hill).



Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe prepares to speak at an election night party



The Hill: Former President Trump, who endorsed Youngkin, took a victory lap behind the candidates’ voter turnout.


The Washington Post: Trump and Youngkin spoke by phone throughout the campaign, even as Youngkin publicly appeared to keep his distance from the former president.


In addition to Youngkin’s win, Republicans also scored a number of key results in the state. Republican Winsome Sears defeated Democrat Haya Ayala to become the first Black lieutenant governor in state history. Jason Miyares defeated two-term incumbent state Attorney General Mark Herring (D) to take over as Virginia’s top cop. Putting a cherry on the sundae, the party also flipped at least five seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and are on the verge of winning a sixth, which would hand the GOP a majority in the chamber (The Hill).


The Virginia results instantly reverberated across the political sphere, especially on Capitol Hill as Democratic lawmakers have yet to reach a deal on the Build Back Better agenda. After months of finger-pointing between progressives and centrists, Democrats are left to wonder what impact Youngkin’s victory will have as talks close in on the finish line. 


“I don’t know. Do some of my skittish colleagues freak out and go south? Possible. Do some of my colleagues suddenly wake up and say, ‘S—, we better pass these two bills no matter what!’ Possible,” one House Democrat told the Morning Report. “I do think the overwhelming majority of my Dem colleagues get it: there’s no plausible alternative for us than passing both bills.”


The big night also buoyed the already-high spirits of Republicans a year out from the 2022 midterm elections, giving them proof that winning back the suburbs is possible, especially without Trump at the top of the ticket. At the moment, the GOP is only five seats shy of retaking the majority in the House, and needs just one seat to break the 50-50 deadlock in the upper chamber despite a more challenging map.


Youngkin’s win also gave hope to Republicans who are more lukewarm about Trump’s influence on the party. The business executive won the state GOP convention despite not being the most Trump-y candidate and keeping the former president at arms length throughout the general election campaign, even though he endorsed him.


“Youngkin’s victory in Virginia should serve as a wake up call to Democrats everywhere that an epic wave is on the way,” one GOP strategist told the Morning Report. “We’re looking at the sort of wave that could sweep a wide variety of Republicans into office.” 


A majority of Virginia voters said before Election Day that they had an unfavorable view of Trump, but Youngkin fared better, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters. About half said they had a favorable opinion of the Republican candidate. The economy ranked as the top issue facing Virginia, with the coronavirus pandemic and education trailing. Virginia voters split in their opinion of Biden’s performance in the White House.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Five takeaways from a grim night for Democrats. 


The Associated Press: Bad omens for Democrats.


The Washington Post: Reeling Democrats see threats to House and Senate control as Republicans crack their 2020 coalition.


More politics: Michelle Wu took home the Boston mayoral race, defeating Annissa Essaibi-George to become the first non-white male to helm the city in history (The Boston Globe).  … Democrat and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams is mayor-elect in New York City (The New York Times). … Minneapolis voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to replace police with a new Department of Public Safety (The Associated Press). … New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) last week filed paperwork to potentially run for governor, according to Monday reports (CBSlocal).


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CONGRESS: Democratic lawmakers inched closer to a deal on Biden’s Build Back Better agenda on Tuesday as negotiators forged compromises, or were close to doing so, on two key provisions.


Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that Democrats reached an accord designed to lower prescription drug prices. Although the agreement does not go as far as initial proposals, it is seen as progress after years of debate. The pharmaceutical industry immediately assailed the specifics on Tuesday, saying the proposal “threatens innovation and makes a broken health care system even worse.” 


As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan details, the deal would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices in limited instances, prevent drug companies from raising prices faster than inflation and cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare at $2,000 per year. The majority party was forced to roll back its initial blueprint over concerns from centrists, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), that it would have harmed innovation from drug companies to develop new treatments.


“It’s not everything we all wanted. Many of us would have wanted to go much further, but it’s a big step in helping the American people deal with the price of drugs,” Schumer told reporters on Tuesday (The Hill).


The Hill: Biden says Manchin will support a final version of the Democratic spending bill.


Politico: Dems aim to squeeze immigration into the pending social spending bill — without a legislative path to citizenship.


The Hill: Hispanic Democrats at odds on immigration as deal nears. 



Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talk about the need for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act



Democrats also say they’re moving closer a deal on a five-year repeal of the cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. A Democratic aide and a Democratic lawmaker familiar with the discussions told The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda that members are looking at repealing the $10,000 cap through 2025 and offsetting the cost of doing so by imposing the cap in subsequent years. 


Repeal of the deduction cap enacted in 2017 as part of the GOP tax reform law has been a top priority for lawmakers in New York and New Jersey, two high-tax states. 


“Today’s news is encouraging for a SALT cap repeal to be included in the final reconciliation package,” Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) said in a statement. “We will continue to work with House and Senate leadership to ensure the cap on the SALT deduction is repealed. No SALT, no deal. No SALT, no dice.”


House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) told reporters earlier in the day that SALT discussions were ongoing, with details resting largely with Schumer. However, news of the five-year repeal went off with a thud as some lawmakers consider the current plan a tax break for millionaires. 


“My guess is the majority of Americans with a net worth of $50 (million) to $300 million would get a tax cut under the Build Back Better plan with a full repeal of SALT,” said Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under former President Obama


“The bill would do more for the super-rich than it does for climate change, child care or preschool. That’s obscene,” he continued, adding that some billionaires would even get a net tax cut from the combo of the Build Back Better plan and the SALT repeal.


The Hill: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): Proposed five-year SALT cap repeal “beyond unacceptable.”


CNN: Tax the rich? Maybe not. Democrats’ spending plan could be a tax cut for the rich, budget watchdog finds.


MarketWatch: “Sunset shenanigans”? Restoring an uncapped state and local tax deduction allows filers to reduce their federal tax burden by the amount they pay in state and local taxes. Many say it benefits only the highest-income earners, which besides being bad policy is also expensive, costing about $90 billion a year.


The Hill: Moderate Democrats press for an official budget office analysis of proposed legislation before a vote on the Biden package.


The Hill: Foreign automakers mount push against electric vehicle tax credit.




ADMINISTRATION: Biden, who claimed historic progress in the international effort to combat climate change, on Tuesday questioned how China can lead as one of the world’s economic powers without fully immersing itself in the climate talks that world leaders wrapped up over two days. The United Nations climate conference known as COP26 continues in Glasgow through Nov. 12 (MarketWatch and The Hill).


President Xi Jinping of China, representing the largest national emitter of greenhouse gases, opted to address the summit with a written statement. Limiting other interactions and discussions was a “big mistake,” Biden said during a press conference before returning to the White House. “What value added are they (China) providing? They lost an ability to influence people around the world.”


“The same way, I would argue, with regard to Russia,” Biden continued. Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose state-run natural gas operation is seen as a key supplier to help remedy the lingering energy crisis in Europe and Asia, was not present in Scotland.


The U.S. “showed up and by showing up we’ve had a profound impact on the way I think the rest of the world was looking at the United States,” Biden said. 



President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit



> Suicide & guns: The White House announced a plan to reduce the risk of guns used in suicide through awareness and training campaigns and new regulations to increase the availability of gun storage products. In this country in 2019, firearms were the most common method used in suicide deaths, accounting for nearly 24,000 fatalities, or a little over half of all suicide deaths, according to federal health statistics.


The administration plan calls for federal agencies, including the Defense Department, Homeland Security, the Justice Department, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and the Department of Transportation’s emergency medical services office to create public awareness campaigns to encourage safer storage of guns and training for counselors, crisis responders and others. The effort calls for the Justice Department to finalize a regulation first proposed in 2016 that would require stores that sell firearms to also offer secure gun storage and safety devices (The Associated Press).


> Trade: Biden’s recent agreement with the European Union to lift steel tariffs is the administration’s first concrete step toward a significant shift in trade policy. The president wants to form a united front with allies to tackle China’s economic influence. At the same time, Biden faces pressures from key constituencies not to unwind all of Trump’s protectionist policies (The Hill).


CORONAVIRUS: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accepted the views of independent vaccine experts on Tuesday as they endorsed Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine doses for children ages 5 to 11, saying pediatric doses are safe and will protect youngsters from harmful illness, should they become infected. As a result, 28 million children are eligible for inoculations (The Hill).


The decision by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was followed by the expected recommendation late Tuesday from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who hours earlier indicated her enthusiasm for vaccinating young children against the coronavirus, noting the impact of the pandemic on children’s lives and the serious health risks of the virus, even in children (NBC News and CNN).


We have been asking when we will be able to expand this protection to our younger children,” she said in opening comments to the agency’s vaccine experts.


The Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave its blessing to inoculate children ages 5 to 11 based on clinical trial data. The CDC’s recommendation will allow clinicians, pharmacies and other health care providers to start giving the shots as early as today. The vaccination effort is expected to be fully running by next week, said Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, at a news conference on Monday.


The Biden administration said it has purchased enough vaccine doses to give shots to all of the country’s 28 million children ages 5 to 11 years old and has been working with state and local leaders to be ready to distribute the vaccines.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies



> POTUS safety: White House officials say they’re taking all possible precautions to keep Biden free from COVID-19, following news that the president’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, tested positive for an apparent breakthrough infection. Biden, 78, who is fully vaccinated and recently received a Pfizer booster shot, is tested for the coronavirus at least every two weeks as a safety precaution and was tested on Saturday for his travels to Italy and Scotland, now concluded. He arrived back at the White House early this morning. His spokespeople decline to say how many Biden aides have tested positive for COVID-19 (The Hill). “We know there will be breakthrough cases, but as this incident shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild,” Psaki told reporters in July (The Washington Post).


> Mandates: Some first responders are balking at requirements by local governments that they get vaccinated against COVID-19. In New York City, firefighters used a “sickout” last week to defy a vaccination deadline. They have been accused of neglecting their oath and endangering the safety of city residents by refusing to be inoculated during a global pandemic as a requirement of their jobs. The Hill’s Justine Coleman reports that “sickout” protests could spread to other cities, a prospect that worries officials. 

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! 


Virginia proves it: Democrats are slipping with the voters who gave them victory in 2020, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post. 


Can Eric Adams halt New York City’s decline? By Jason Riley, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. 


Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have to control the future, by The Washington Post editorial board.



The House convenes at noon.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Robert Luis Santos to be director of the census.


The president returned to the White House from Scotland at 1:06 a.m. He will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 1 p.m. with Vice President Harris.


The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day meeting with a written statement at 2 p.m. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will answer reporters’ questions at 2:30 p.m.


The White House coronavirus response team will brief journalists at 1:45 p.m.  


INVITATION: The Hill’s Virtually Live on THURSDAY at noon hosts “Diabetes Technology: Disparities, Access & Equity,” featuring patient advocate Patti LaBelle; Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), chairwoman of the House Diabetes Caucus; Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), the Diabetes Caucus vice chairman; and top medical experts. 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: Facebook’s rebrand to Meta hit a snag with discovery that an Arizona-based tech company in August began to trademark its name, Meta PC. The founders of the smaller Meta are willing to resolve the issue for a price: $20 million (TMZ). … Facebook in a blog post on Tuesday announced plans to shut down its decade-old facial recognition system this month, deleting the face scan data of more than 1 billion users and effectively eliminating a feature that has fueled privacy concerns, government investigations, a class-action lawsuit and regulatory woes (The New York Times). … Yahoo Inc. on Tuesday said it pulled out of China, citing an increasingly “challenging business and legal environment” there (The Associated Press). … Elon Musk said late Monday on Twitter that Tesla has not signed a contract with Hertz more than a week after the car rental firm announced a massive deal with the electric carmaker. The deal garnered extensive attention and trading. Musk’s latest detail halted a stock rally (The New York Times and Reuters).



Tesla CEO Elon Musk departs from the justice center in Wilmington, Del.



COURTS: The Supreme Court today weighs a challenge to the New York State concealed-weapons permit law (The Wall Street Journal).In California, Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson sided with drug manufacturers and issued a tentative ruling this week that said local governments had not proved that pharmaceutical companies used deceptive marketing to increase unnecessary opioid prescriptions and create a public nuisance. Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Clara counties and the city of Oakland are seeking billions of dollars to cover their costs from the nation’s opioid epidemic (The Associated Press).


COLD CASES IN THE PERMAFROST: A warming planet and melting permafrost have exposed ancient clues about man and even preserved mammoths across the continents. The New York Times has seven fascinating images HERE of items that have emerged, preserved from once-frozen graves. When contemporary searches began, “the finds were mainly Iron Age and medieval, from 500 to 1,500 years ago, but as the melting widens, ever older periods of history are being exposed. `We have now melted back to the Stone Age in some places, with pieces as old as six millenniums,’” Lars Holger Pilo, director of Norway’s state-funded Glacier Archaeology Program, told the Times. “We are speeding back in time.”  


And finally … ⚾ After a 26-year drought, the Atlanta Braves are world champions, defeating the Houston Astros, 7-0, in six games. 


Atlanta was led by starting pitcher Max Fried, who fired six shutout innings of four hit baseball, and Jorge Soler, who took home World Series MVP honors after hammering three home runs in the series, including a third inning three-run blast over the train tracks in left field to give the Braves the lead for good.


The Braves victory also brings sad news as the baseball season is over. However, it could be worse: the season could be over, AND the Houston Astros could be the champs. No trash cans to save them this time around.



Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Will Smith and catcher Travis d'Arnaud celebrate


Tags Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Bill de Blasio Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Diana DeGette Donald Trump Elon Musk Jason Furman Jeff Zients Jen Psaki Joe Biden John Lewis Josh Gottheimer Kurt Schrader Kyrsten Sinema Mark Zuckerberg Mike Kelly Mikie Sherrill Richard Neal Rochelle Walensky Scott Peters Vladimir Putin
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