The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Will Biden’s big bill pass the House this week?
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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths this morning: 763,092.
As of this morning, 68.1 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 58.7 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.
Democratic lawmakers return to Washington staring down a crucial week as the future of the Build Back Better agenda hangs in the balance and a new poll shows that President Biden is as unpopular as ever ahead of today’s bipartisan infrastructure package signing ceremony.
With the $1 trillion infrastructure bill over and done with, House Democrats this week are hoping to pass the $1.75 trillion social spending package, giving the party a much-needed jolt at a time when it needs it most. According to a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, only 41 percent of respondents approve of Biden’s work in office 10 months in, compared to 53 percent who disapprove. The approval figure is down from 50 percent in June and 44 percent in September.
Compounding the problem is an issue Biden has dealt with for months on Capitol HIll: trouble from his left flank. Only 80 percent of Democrats view Biden’s actions as positive. That figure is down from 94 percent in June, with barely 4 in 10 strongly approving of Biden’s actions today.
According to the survey, the GOP advantage less than a year out from the 2022 midterms is massive. Among registered voters, 51 percent would support a generic GOP candidate, compared to only 41 percent for the Democrat.
Thankfully for Biden’s sake, moderate House Democrats — who fretted for weeks over the lack of a score of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office — are not expected to be a problem this week, as they have been largely assuaged on two fronts. Portions of the bill have received scores over the past week, in addition to passage of the bipartisan bill.
The Wall Street Journal: Democrats try to heal rifts, pass spending bill.
Amie Parnes and Morgan Chalfant, The Hill: White House tries to pivot messaging on economy.
The Washington Post: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) strives to deliver an agenda that has divided her caucus, testing her power.
The Hill: This week: House aims to pass Biden spending bill as time runs out.
As The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis note, advancing the massive package will also help clear the deck for House lawmakers ahead of the Thanksgiving recess and the looming challenge of funding the government past early December and raising the debt ceiling soon after.
However, an uncertain future awaits across the Capitol hallways. For months, Biden has struggled mightily to bring Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on board to support the multi-trillion-dollar proposal, and he remains the preeminent obstacle to getting the legislation to the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.
The West Virginia centrist has consistently been among the only Democrats to openly worry about rising inflation across the country, having argued in the past that the majority party should hold off dealing with the reconciliation bill until 2022. The White House, however, is trying to combat that thinking. Top administration officials made the case on Sunday that the gargantuan bill is necessary in order to fend off rising prices, which have hampered Biden’s economic argument.
“Inflation is high right now, and it is affecting consumers in their pocketbook and also in their outlook for the economy. But those concerns underscore why it’s so important that we move forward on the Build Back Better legislation,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told CNN on Sunday. “This, more than anything, will go at the cost that Americans face” (The Hill).
Sunday Shows: Biden officials craft inflation message.
The Hill: Congress barrels toward end-of-year pileup.
The Wall Street Journal: Biden names former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) to lead roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
The Hill: Fed official: Inflation will likely see “higher readings” before numbers “start to taper off.”
Inflation is by no means the only issue keeping Manchin from tossing his weight behind the $1.75 trillion proposal. As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, the Senate Democrat is also opposed to a provision that would tax methane. The fee was expected to be slashed from the bill, but Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) pushed to keep it in. However, any item viewed as a penalty against natural gas producers is going to be a problem for Manchin.
Booting the tax from the package would also be a blow for Biden, who pledged two weeks ago at the climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, to cut methane emissions by 2030.
Despite the potential stumbling blocks, top Democrats remain optimistic the reconciliation bill will become law by Christmas, giving them roughly a month to get it done before the holiday recess.
The Hill: Biden spending bill slips in Senate after House delays.
Naomi Jagoda, The Hill: Inflation poses new challenges for progressives.
The Hill: Inflation raises focus on Biden Federal Reserve pick.
> World stage: Biden later tonight will take part in a highly anticipated virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping amid rising tensions between the two countries.
The discussion, which marks the first bilateral meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office, is expected to cover a range of issues, headlined by Taiwan, human rights and climate change (The Hill). However, officials have indicated that this will not be a largely choreographed meeting as many bilateral discussions are.
“This is not about seeking specific deliverables or outcomes,” one administration official told CNBC on Friday. “This is about setting the terms of an effective competition where we are in the position to defend our values and interests and those of our allies and partners.”
The Associated Press: A complicated relationship: Biden, Xi prepare for meeting.
A MESSAGE FROM EXXONMOBIL
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LEADING THE DAY
MORE CONGRESS: Former President Trump won a narrow legal victory to prevent the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack from securing records related to the insurrection. However, whether that leads to a lasting judicial win in a few weeks remains an open question.
As The Hill’s Harper Neidig notes, Trump’s lawyers must persuade appeals judges and, potentially the Supreme Court, of a novel concept: that executive privilege covers the documents and information the committee is trying to obtain even after he has left office. Experts are skeptical that the courts will ultimately side with him.
“The select committee is investigating an attack on Congress and is seeking relevant documents, and even if the former president can assert executive privilege, he must certainly lose when, one, the documents are so important and, two, the current president wants them to be turned over,” said Laurent Sacharoff, a University of Arkansas law professor who has studied executive privilege claims from former presidents.
“Congress’s need for the information both as a practical matter and as a structural matter, that they’re an equal branch of government that’s protecting literally its own existence, would outweigh any assertion of executive privilege even by a sitting president in my view,” he added.
The battle also marks the latest instance where the Trump era is asking the higher courts to answer legal questions about executive privilege and congressional oversight that have yet to be determined.
The delay is also giving court watchers a sense of déjà vu. During his presidency, Trump was routinely able to exploit legal processes to stymie lawsuits, hamper investigators and avoid accountability.
“This is a tried-and-true strategy for Trump, before, during, and now after his presidency,” said Steven D. Schwinn, a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago Law School. “He seems skilled at this, and I don’t think his raw drag-out-the-litigation skill is any less salient now that he’s not the president anymore” (The Hill)
Elsewhere in the investigation, the committee is caught in a brouhaha with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who is increasingly under the microscope of investigators as they attempt to close the walls in on him.
Last week, the panel unveiled 16 new subpoenas, with a number of them directed at those who worked closely with the former chief of staff in the White House. The committee is now threatening to do to Meadows what it did late last week to Stephen Bannon: hold him in contempt of Congress and wave the threat of prison time in his face after he skipped a scheduled deposition on Friday.
“Mr. Meadows’s actions today — choosing to defy the law — will force the Select Committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, on Friday.
According to The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch, the Meadows-centric tension is coming as the panel pushes to uncover his involvement in Trump’s election efforts at the Department of Justice, the “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House and in Georgia, where Trump pressured the secretary of state to “find” 11,780 more votes.
The Hill: Jan. 6 probe threatens fragile relationship between Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence.
ABC News: Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) refuses to condemn Trump comments on “hang Mike Pence” chant.
The Hill: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) faces increasing odds of censure on House floor.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Is another Trump impeachment supporter going to bite the dust? The wait is on for that answer, as Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) indicated on Sunday that he is unsure whether he will seek reelection next year.
Upton said during a Sunday show appearance that he has not decided, with redistricting playing a central role, as the Wolverine State’s maps have yet to be determined.
“Well, we don’t know what our districts look like yet,” Upton said. “We’re in the midst of looking at maps. Michigan loses a seat. We will evaluate everything probably before the end of the year in terms of making our own decision. We have never made a decision more than a year out.”
Reid Wilson, The Hill: GOP sees advantage as redistricting hits half-way point.
The Hill: Americans are participating in redistricting like never before.
The Intercept: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could snuff out a potential primary contest to replace Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Leahy may announce reelection or retirement plans at a 10 a.m. press conference from the Vermont State House in Montpellier, Vt.
Of the 10 House Republicans who supported Trump’s impeachment following the Jan. 6 insurrection, two have already decided not to run: Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) (The Hill).
Meanwhile, Republicans are growing increasingly confident that the former president won’t be the dominant force in the party’s effort to win back both congressional chambers next year. As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, Republicans are by no means disillusioned and know Trump holds plenty of sway, but the Virginia gubernatorial result has given some of the party faithful hope that the road to fresh majorities will depend more on issues such as education and the economy, a strategy that could complicate any effort by Democrats to cast the midterms as another referendum on Trump.
Niall Stanage: The Memo: Kyle Rittenhouse trial exposes deep U.S. divide.
The Hill: GOP looks to expand state legislature candidate tracking program ahead of midterms.
The Wall Street Journal: Trumps selling prized Washington, D.C., hotel for $375 million.
CORONAVIRUS: Parts of the U.S. are experiencing rising case totals, leading some states to move ahead with plans to give booster shots to anyone who wants one despite the current guidance from health authorities.
As The Hill’s Nathanial Weixel writes, three states — California, Colorado and New Mexico — are pushing individuals to get boosted as soon as possible despite the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In California and Colorado, only 34 percent and 45 percent of those 65 and older have gotten booster shots, respectively.
“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you to go out and get it,” California Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said during a press conference. New Mexico also opened boosters to all adults on Friday amid a surge in cases that has overwhelmed hospitals in the state.
According to the CDC, those who should get a booster are those over age 65, anyone at high risk because of where they live or work, and those with an underlying medical condition.
The Hill: Surgeon general warns of uptick in COVID-19 cases as cold weather arrives.
The Hill: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) frustrated with “convoluted messaging” by CDC and Food and Drug Administration.
> Restrictions: Austria on Sunday issued a nationwide lockdown order for unvaccinated individuals, representing an unprecedented move as the nation battles a new rise in COVID-19 cases.
The lockdown, which will initially last for 10 days, bars unvaccinated people from leaving their homes outside of completing everyday tasks such as going to work, to the grocery store or for a walk. The order applies to those 12 and older, as anyone younger is not able to get vaccinated yet in the country. About 2 million of the nation’s 8.9 million people are unvaccinated.
“It’s our job as the government of Austria to protect the people,” Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters.
Austria has one of Europe’s lowest vaccination rates, with only 65 percent of the population being fully vaccinated (The Associated Press).
CNBC: India opens its doors to quarantine-free travel for tourists from 99 countries.
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A Coke and a genocide, by Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3FjKR4P
Can Reaganism rise again? By Ross Douthat, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3FiP9sS
A MESSAGE FROM EXXONMOBIL
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 2 p.m.
The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of Graham Steele to be an assistant secretary of the Treasury.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will take part in a Tribal Nations Summit to commemorate national Native American Heritage Month at 11:20 a.m., and the signing ceremony for the bipartisan infrastructure package at 3 p.m. The president’s virtual meeting with Xi will take place at 7:45 p.m.
Vice President Harris will appear at the bipartisan infrastructure bill signing ceremony and deliver remarks. She will also virtually speak about voting rights at the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition Principals meeting at 5 p.m.
The White House press briefing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
INVITATIONS: The Hill’s Virtually Live on TUESDAY at 1 p.m. hosts “Modernizing Diabetes Care,” featuring discussions with Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), experts and medical professionals. The Hill’s Steve Clemons will moderate the discussion. Information is HERE. On WEDNESDAY, join the “Future of Healthcare Summit,” with registration HERE.
Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.
➔ FIRST AMENDMENT: Bill Richardson, the former diplomat and governor of New Mexico, announced this morning that Danny Fenster, an American journalist who has been imprisoned in Myanmar since May, has been released to his family. Richardson made the announcement in a statement after negotiating directly with General Min Aung Hlaing, the head of Myanmar’s military and the nation’s leader. Fenster, the managing editor of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was sentenced to 11 years of hard labor on Friday for immigration and journalism related crimes (The Washington Post).
➔ GOD SAVE THE QUEEN: Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday skipped the Remembrance Day service, a tribute to British personnel who died during the war, due to a sprained back. Buckingham Palace announced on Sunday that the 95-year-old queen would miss the highly anticipated event because of her recent injury. The event was slated to be her first public appearance since she spent a rare night in the hospital on Oct. 21 for “preliminary investigations” (The Hill).
➔ INTERNATIONAL: Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son and heir apparent of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, announced Sunday his candidacy for next month’s presidential election in the country. The announcement marked his first public appearance in years, having been captured in 2011 and subsequently imprisoned until his release in 2017. Seif al-Islam Gadhafi is wanted by the International Criminal Court on crimes against humanity charges in connection with the 2011 uprising (The Associated Press). … Mako Komuro (pictured below), formerly known as Princess Mako, departed Japan for New York on Sunday after giving up her royal status to marry Kei Komuro, a commoner, following years of intense speculation surrounding their relationship. She lost her royal status because Imperial House Law in the country allows for only males to ascend to the throne (The Associated Press).
And finally … A story to warm the heart.
Abraham Olagbegi, a 13-year-old youngster, learned last year that he was born with a rare blood disorder and was in need of a bone marrow transplant. Roughly a year later, he received the transplant, and it was successful. Subsequently, he also qualified for the Make-A-Wish program and decided that instead of meeting a famous movie star or athlete, he would do something that would affect many more people.
“I remember we were coming home from one of his doctor appointments and he said, ‘Mom, I thought about it, and I really want to feed the homeless,’” said his mother, Miriam Olagbegi. “I said, ‘Are you sure Abraham? You could do a lot. … You sure you don’t want a PlayStation?’”
Abraham said no to the gaming system, and starting in September, Make-A-Wish started to help feed the homeless once a month in his native Mississippi (CBS News).
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