Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Democrats ask what went wrong on Election Day

The dome of the U.S. Capitol is reflected on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Washington
Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin

                            Presented by ExxonMobil

The dome of the U.S. Capitol is reflected on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Washington



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 each morning this week: Monday, 745,836; Tuesday, 747,033; Wednesday, 748,621; Thursday, 750,430.

After Tuesday’s election results, Democrats say they’re queasy. Republican Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial victory in Virginia and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s unexpectedly narrow squeaker in New Jersey have launched a thousand theories.   


Was it the hangover of President Biden’s sinking job approval nationwide? The confusing clashes between progressives and moderates over legislation in Washington? Are voters fed up with the economy, the pandemic and angst about their children and schools?


Should House Democratic leaders race to put a bipartisan infrastructure bill on the floor to try to change the conversation? Is the progressive agenda too extreme to sell in the suburbs, among female voters, older voters and independents, or too pared-back by now to motivate party stalwarts to vote after last year’s rosy pledges?


The Hill, Reid Wilson: Democrats feel new urgency on Biden agenda after Virginia rout.


The New York Times: Democrats sound the alarm for 2022.


Biden, who returned from Europe early Wednesday to a reeling Democratic Party, told reporters he wished his sprawling social policy agenda had cleared Congress before Election Day, when Democrat Terry McAuliffe, for whom Biden campaigned, lost his gubernatorial race in Virginia by more than 2 points, and Republican Jack Ciattarelli nearly defeated the incumbent New Jersey governor on Democratic turf.


“I think it should have passed before Election Day,” the president said, referring to his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better agenda, which has become smaller over many months while still in limbo. “But I’m not sure that I would be able to have changed the number of very conservative folks who turned out in the red districts who were Trump voters, but maybe, maybe,” he added.


Reminded that he was elected by 10 points in Virginia a year ago, Biden pointed to a distinction with a difference. “I was running against Donald Trump,” he said (The Hill).


The Associated Press analysis: After tough election, Biden dismisses danger signs.


Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was urged by some pundits on Wednesday to knock heads in her caucus to swiftly pass the pending $1 trillion infrastructure package, supported by both parties. Her approach on Wednesday was to dig in again to try to move the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion spending agenda for middle-class families, but with paid family and medical leave back in as well as a state and local tax deduction sought by voters in high-tax Democratic states including New Jersey, New York and California.


The Washington Post, Paul Kane: Congressional Democrats say passing their agenda is the only path forward. History says that might not matter for 2022.


The Wall Street Journal: House Democrats add paid leave, state and local tax deduction.


The Hill: House outlines immigration provisions in the latest Build Back Better package. 


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), exulting in Tuesday’s favorable outcome for his party, predicted that Republicans could flip 60 House seats next year (The Hill).  


“If you’re a Democrat and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you’re in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe, he said.


NBC News, The Hill and The Hill: Youngkin’s win in blue Virginia offers elated Republicans a 2022 road map.


The New York Times, Lisa Lerer: Rough election night for Democrats exposes the party’s weakness. 


National Journal, Josh Kraushaar: Progressive fantasies hit political reality in Virginia.


The Washington Post, Dan Balz: A sobering reality hits Democrats after election losses.


The Associated Press: Divided Democrats call for a new strategy after disaster in Virginia.


The Hill, Niall Stanage: In contrast with Trump in 2020, Youngkin (pictured below) performed strongly on Tuesday among women voters, younger voters and independents. He may have been the first prominent GOP figure to succeed with a post-Trump strategy.



Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin speaks at an election night party



One of the GOP’s big takeaways from Tuesday’s victories was that education remains a motivating issue among voters, including for Republican candidates.  


As The Hill’s Julia Manchester points out, Youngkin made education the hallmark issue of his campaign, focusing intently on parental rights in the ongoing battle against school boards, especially in Loudoun County. Education-related issues also appear to have played a role in the Garden State’s gubernatorial race and Ciattarelli’s unexpected nip-tuck race against Murphy. 


The political ramifications were also clear as day on Capitol Hill, as House Democrats are plowing ahead without buy-in from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and are gearing up to pass both the Build Back Better legislation and the bipartisan infrastructure package by the end of the week. 


Instead of waiting on Manchin to OK the massive social spending package, Pelosi and House Democrats are tired of waiting and are instead putting pressure on him to make a decision by putting it on the floor this week. In addition, Pelosi added back into the bill four weeks of permanent paid family and medical leave back in the proposal, which Manchin has notably declined to support (The Hill). 


“We’re gonna get ‘em done,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), a Pelosi ally, said of the pair of bills after leaving a 90-minute closed-door Democratic caucus meeting. “I think we’re together. I think there’s been a lot of progress. We’re gonna get it done.”


The Hill: Democrats hit panic button after Virginia collapse.



Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.,



Carbon capture and storage. One way we’re helping reduce emissions.

Industry and power generation account for nearly two-thirds of global CO2 emissions. At ExxonMobil, we’re collaborating on some of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage projects to help reduce these emissions at scale.


CONGRESS: House Democrats’ decision to pile pressure on Manchin came hours after the centrist Democrat argued that the “unbelievable” GOP victories in the backyard of Capitol Hill validated his concerns about inflation and moving too expeditiously to pass the reconciliation package. 


Manchin said that Youngkin’s victory also underscores the need for the House to pass the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which progressives are holding up. 


“It’s unbelievable to see what went on in Virginia and not just from the governor’s race but all the way down that ticket a good bit of change has happened,” Manchin said. “You can read so much into all of that last night. I think it should be a call to all of us have to be more attentive to the people back home.”


“I’ve been saying this for many, many months, people have concerns, people are concerned,” he said, repeating his concerns about federal spending boosting inflation and hurting constituents back home in West Virginia and other rural areas. “And for us to go down a path that we’ve been going and trying to accelerate it and it has been slowed down – I think we need to take our time and do it right” (The Hill).


The Hill: Manchin says he won’t vote to overrule Senate parliamentarian.


Politico: Dems vow to plow forward on Biden agenda, even after election faceplants.


The News Journal: Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) comes out in favor of nixing filibuster to deal with voting rights.



Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVa., who has been a key holdout on President Joe Biden's ambitious domestic package, is surrounded by reporters



Elsewhere on the Build Back Better front, the recently-struck deal to lower prescription drug prices is coming under heavy criticism from the pharmaceutical industry, which was dealt a rare loss after centrist members agreed to a compromise package. 


The accord 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. However, the pharmaceutical industry panned the proposal, arguing that it harms innovation and the ability of drug companies to develop new treatments. 


As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan notes, the actual changes might not ultimately seem so draconian, as centrists were able to nix some of the more grandiose changes, leading to questions about just how much will actually change from the measure.   


The Hill: Trump, Jan. 6 panel lawyers head to court in executive privilege fight.




ADMINISTRATION: China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal and may have 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of the decade as it aims to surpass U.S. global influence by the middle of the 21st century, according to a major Pentagon report released on Wednesday (CNN).  


> Immigration: Biden on Wednesday denied his administration is considering paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to each migrant separated from their family under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy. “That’s not gonna happen,” Biden told reporters when asked about the reported plan. The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that the administration was contemplating a payment of roughly $450,000 per person for separated migrant parents and children. Multiple news outlets later confirmed the Journal’s reporting (The Hill).


> Kabul drone strike: A Pentagon investigation into an Aug. 29 U.S. drone strike that mistakenly killed 10 Afghan civilians, including children, did not find evidence of criminal negligence or violation of law, the Defense Department announced on Wednesday. The botched operation was the result of “execution errors combined with confirmation bias and communication breakdowns,” the Air Force inspector general said. The full report is classified to protect sources and methods. There will be no disciplinary action for any personnel involved in the strike. Pentagon officials initially said they were “confident” the operation “disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat” to Kabul’s airport. At the time, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the drone bombing in a residential neighborhood as a “righteous strike” (Yahoo News and The Associated Press). Subsequent reporting, especially by The New York Times, hastened a public concession at the Pentagon that the drone strike was a mistake. The U.S. government previously said it will pay the Afghan victims’ families as “condolence” (NPR).


CORONAVIRUS: The president on Wednesday urged parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 (The Hill). The Food and Drug Administration last week and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week determined that vaccine doses for children from ages 5 to 11 are safe and effective, in addition to the approval already given for young people ages 12 to 18. Biden called children’s eligibility for jabs ​“a giant step forward to further accelerate our path out of this pandemic.” Although some parents remain hesitant to get their children inoculated against the coronavirus because of rare side effects, Biden focused on parents eager to line their children up for the shots. “For parents all over this country, this is a day of relief and celebration,” he said.


> Mandates: There is no federal vaccine policy likely to stir controversy more than the publication, possibly as early as today, of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation requiring workers at large companies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly virus testing in the interest of a safe workplace. The federal requirement will cover an estimated 80 million people. Biden’s mandate has been generally welcomed by many employers, but will likely end up in court almost immediately (ABC News and The Washington Post). “We don’t know what they’re looking at. It’s a black box,” said one industry official involved in recent discussions with the administration. 


> Infections: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) tested positive on Wednesday for COVID-19 in Glasgow, Scotland, after being fully vaccinated. He is quarantined in a hotel room and is doing “well,” his staff announced on Twitter (The Hill). … Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is unvaccinated against the coronavirus, tested positive for COVID-19, which means he will not play on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Under NFL protocol, Rogers must quarantine for at least 10 days (CNN).


> Abroad: Germany on Thursday reported a record number of COVID-19 infections, nearly 34,000 in a single day. The previous record was in December 2020 as the pandemic began. Infections among children are skyrocketing and intensive care units in hospitals are filling  with COVID-19 patients (The Associated Press).  

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! 


Youngkin clears a path to victory for 2022, by Karl Rove, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. 


Virginia Democrats get caught in the Biden undertow, by James Hohmann, columnist, The Washington Post. 



The House convenes at 10 a.m. Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Robert Santos to be director of the U.S. Census Bureau.


The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m.


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


INVITATION: The Hill’s Virtually Live TODAY 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.


 SUPREME COURT: Justices during oral arguments on Wednesday seemed wary of a New York law that strictly limits the carrying of guns outside the home. It’s the first major Second Amendment clash in more than a decade, reports The Hill’s John Kruzel. The conservative-majority court posed sharp questions about the constitutionality of the New York regulation, which gives government officials broad discretion over the issuing of licenses to carry a concealed firearm.



Eric Chais Swann, 19, of Chesterfield, Va., holds his newly purchased shotgun while sporting a holstered weapon



 FEDERAL RESERVE: The nation’s central bank on Wednesday said it will begin trimming its monthly bond purchases this month, with plans to end them in 2022. The Fed held to its belief that high inflation would prove “transitory” and likely not require a fast rise in interest rates (Reuters and The Hill). 


INTERNATIONAL: The United States and Iran plan to restart international discussions on Nov. 29 about a possible return to the Obama-era nuclear deal. The U.S. delegation to the Vienna talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will be led by Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley. The announcement marks the first forward progress on continuing indirect discussions between Washington and Tehran after previous negotiations fell apart in June (The Hill).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Digging our way out of this week’s Election Day headlines, we’re eager for some smart guesses about Virginia politics and political figures.


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.


In Virginia’s rich political history, which of the following political figures never ran for president?

  1. John Warner
  2. Jim Webb
  3. Harry F. Byrd
  4. Jim Gilmore


Which of the following statements is NOT true about Sen. Tim Kaine?

  1. Attended the University of Missouri
  2. Served as Virginia’s lieutenant governor
  3. Frequently plays the trumpet
  4. Was the first Catholic governor of Virginia


How many former governors of Virginia have also served as United States senators? 

  1. 4
  2. 6
  3. 10
  4. 14


When Thomas Jefferson died, who replaced him as rector at the University of Virginia (which he founded)?

  1. James Monroe
  2. Andrew Jackson
  3. James Madison 
  4. John Quincy Adams 



Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe gestures as he speaks in front of the flag of Virginia


Tags Biden Diana DeGette Donald Trump Eric Garcetti Glenn Youngkin Gregory Meeks Joe Biden Joe Manchin Karl Rove Kevin McCarthy Mark Milley Mike Kelly Nancy Pelosi Terry McAuliffe Tim Kaine Tom Carper

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video