Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Biden hails infrastructure law, talks with China’s Xi

President Joe Biden signs the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act"
Associated Press/Evan Vucci

                               Presented by ExxonMobil

President Joe Biden signs the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act"



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday! 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, 763,092; Tuesday, 764,365.

President Biden and Democrats are attempting to execute something that has eluded them for months: a drama-free week.


Part one of that mission was completed Monday as Biden, surrounded by Democratic lawmakers (and some Republicans), signed the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package into law. His signature put a bow on the months-long push-and-pull effort, which included multiple pleas to House Democrats and weeks of talks over the summer to bring Republicans on board (The Hill).


The president hailed improvements the bipartisan legislation will bring across the country as “infrastructure week,” once a running joke nationally, became law.


“My message to the American people is this: America is moving again and your life is going to change for the better,” Biden said in prepared remarks, highlighting provisions for replacing lead pipes, implementing broadband and improving public transit.


As The Hill’s Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant note, Biden was joined on the South Lawn by hundreds of federal, state and local lawmakers, headlined by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who both delivered remarks, and Democratic leaders. 


In an attempt to capitalize on the political win, Biden is taking his good news on the road today and will deliver remarks pumping up the infrastructure law in New Hampshire. But whether one good day for the Biden administration will be followed by others remains an open question, and it will likely be answered in the party’s push to pass the multi trillion-dollar Build Back Better agenda.


Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in remarks at the White House on Monday that the $1.75 trillion proposal “hopefully” will be passed this week in the lower chamber, with Democratic leaders receiving positive news on that front. The Congressional Budget Office on Monday announced that it expects to release a score of the gargantuan bill by the end of the week. 


The news buoys the chances that the legislation will get across the finish line according to Pelosi’s timeline, as centrist Democrats have demanded an estimate from the congressional scorekeeper before any vote is held (The Hill).


As The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis write, the bipartisan bill becoming codified, coupled with progress on the party’s massive social spending proposal, comes at a key time for Biden. Since taking office, the president has seen his approval rating stumble precipitously and has taken a hit due to rising inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to create issues for the U.S. 


The Wall Street Journal: ​​What’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill? From Amtrak to roads to water systems.


Reuters: U.S. Senate leader will add China tech bill to defense measure.


While things are looking up in the House’s effort to pass the reconciliation bill, its future in the Senate remains murky as lawmakers brace for debate on it to keep them in town well into December. 


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes, the timeline for the legislation’s passage has slipped a number of times, but Democrats say they want to get it done this year even if it slips into Christmas or up against the end of the year, threatening the annual holiday recess. 


The Senate is already dealing with the annual National Defense Authorization Act before Thanksgiving, meaning consideration of the Democratic-only package will slip until December, with Schumer warning weekend work and late nights will be needed.


The New York Times: Biden got his bipartisan win. Now, reality sets in.


Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal: Revolutionary change or practical help? Democrats struggle with the difference.


The Washington Post: Biden has underestimated problems facing the country — and Democrats fear that has become a political problem.


Elsewhere in the upper chamber, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that he will retire at the end of his term and will sidestep seeking a ninth term in office next fall.


“It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter who will carry on this work for our great state. It’s time to come home,” Leahy told reporters at the Vermont State House on Monday morning.


The president pro tempore, who is third in the presidential line of succession, informed Biden, a longtime colleague of his, in a call over the weekend (The Washington Post).  


His decision also creates an open Democratic seat on the 2022 map, but it is widely expected to remain in the party’s grasp. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), the state’s at-large member, is likely the favorite if he decides to vie for it. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) influence is also expected to weigh heavily on who replaces Leahy, who is the longest-serving member of the Senate who is currently in office.


Leahy’s retirement, coupled with that of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, means that the top two spots on the panel’s leadership will turn over in 2023. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are next in line to lead the committee on each side of the aisle.


The Hill: Leahy retirement shakes up Vermont politics.


Politico: Why governors keep snubbing the Senate.


Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Midterm gloom grows for Democrats.



Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., gestures as he concludes a news conference



> U.S. and China: A much anticipated discussion virtually between Biden and President Xi Jinping of China on Monday resulted in no breakthroughs during three and a half hours, although the leaders of the world’s two largest economies pledged improved cooperation. Topics of conversation: human rights, Taiwan and trade, according to the White House, plus “strategic issues,” possibly related to nuclear programs but not publicly detailed. With Taiwan in mind, Xi warned Biden and the United States that a strategy of working with separate alliances or blocs against China would “inevitably bring disaster to the world.” Both men were accompanied by senior aides — Biden in the Roosevelt Room at the White House and the Chinese inside a chamber in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Biden was accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, among other officials (The New York Times and The Washington Post). … China on Tuesday hailed the talks between the two countries as constructive and candid (The Associated Press).



President Joe Biden meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White Hous



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POLITICS: Combative and defiant on Monday, Stephen Bannon, once a White House adviser to former President Trump, appeared before a judge in preparation for entering a plea on Thursday while facing criminal contempt charges for noncompliance with a subpoena from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol (The Associated Press and The Hill).


Bannon, 67, voluntarily turned himself in to the FBI after being indicted for contempt after refusing to appear for a congressional deposition and balking at a subpoena to supply documents requested by Congress.


Outside court, Bannon (seen below) told a gathered crowd including journalists that he was “going on the offense” against the attorney general, the Speaker and the president. “This is going to be a misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden,” he said.


Members of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot have interviewed more than 150 witnesses and want sworn testimony and documents from Trump’s West Wing and outside advisers to better understand direct and indirect ties between the former president and those who organized protests seeking to halt Congress’s certification of states’ Electoral College votes. Trump lost the Electoral College to Biden, 232 to 306.


Bannon, who calls the Biden presidency an “illegitimate regime” and urges Trump supporters to “never give up, never give in,” and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman, are viewed as key witnesses. Meadows and Trump, like Bannon, are waging time-consuming legal battles to try to block or slow the committee’s efforts through the Justice Department to enforce its subpoenas.


The Hill: Meadows “between a rock and a hard space” with Trump, Jan. 6 committee. 



Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives at the FBI Washington Field Office



Former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, once a congressman from Texas who lost a Senate bid in 2018, is preparing to run next year for governor, with the Democrat’s announcement expected within weeks, Axios reported.


As The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo, such a race would be seen as a marquee face-off to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who wants to win reelection amid talk that he could be a presidential contender in 2024 if Trump does not run. O’Rourke, once seen as an ascendant Democratic star who was for a brief time favorably compared with former President Obama, badly needs a political win. Since O’Rourke was in Congress, Texas has been rattled by COVID-19, border challenges and illegal immigration, debates about voting rights, and a controversial state abortion law.



Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, right, poses for a photograph with a supporter



The New York Times and The Hill: House Republicans gain edge in 2022 as gerrymandered congressional district maps emerge.


The Hill: In political circles, analysts wonder if online hate speech and misogyny will dissuade qualified women from seeking political office or getting involved in public service at all levels if doing so risks political targeting and brutal online affronts. Critics point to what they see as tech giants’ tolerance of, even appetite for, clashes, insults and online attacks aimed at women in ways not experienced by male peers.


ADMINISTRATION: White House officials quickly rushed to Vice President Harris’s defense after CNN sources cast new doubt on the vice president’s much-critiqued standing in the Biden administration, report The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Morgan Chalfant. 


The president and vice president hugged for the cameras during Monday’s South Lawn bill-signing ceremony to celebrate enactment of a significant bipartisan infrastructure measure. The White House announced that Harris will visit Columbus, Ohio — the capital of a swing state — on Friday to promote the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Biden is traveling this week to New Hampshire and Michigan to promote his agenda. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday described the vice president as “a valuable member of our team.” 


CNN, citing a consensus among sources, reported that there is a hardening view that Harris’s staff has repeatedly failed her and left her exposed and that family members have informal sway. Even some who have been asked for advice lament Harris’s overly cautious tendencies and staff problems, which have been a feature of every office she’s held, from San Francisco district attorney to senator.


Politico: Biden-successor chatter grows and Harris isn’t scaring off anyone. 


The Hill: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday unveiled the final draft of its first “National Recycling Strategy” to achieve a 50 percent nationwide recycling rate by 2030. The most recent EPA recycling rate, reported in 2018, was 32.1 percent.




CORONAVIRUS: Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Monday that relatives who are vaccinated can “feel good about enjoying a typical” Thanksgiving and Christmas this year after COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the holidays last year.


The top administration COVID-19 adviser noted that the U.S.’s daily case totals are increasing but argued that fully vaccinated individuals should feel comfortable gathering together over the next month and a half for holiday events. 


“If you get vaccinated and your family’s vaccinated, you can feel good about enjoying a typical Thanksgiving, Christmas with your family and close friends,” Fauci said during a Bipartisan Policy Center event. “When you go to indoor congregate settings, go the extra mile, be safe, wear a mask. … But when you are with your family at home, goodness, enjoy it with your parents, your children, your grandparents. There’s no reason not to do that” (The Hill).


Meanwhile, the administration made a fresh pitch for parents to vaccinate their children against the virus on Monday as first lady Jill Biden visited Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to promote the campaign.


The first lady argued that while the decision is up to parents, the jab is the best way to protect children. 


“From the day you held your sweet, fragile, little baby for the first time, you have made the choice, again and again, to keep your child safe. Getting your kids the COVID-19 vaccine is your choice, too. Make the decision to protect your children with the same vaccine that has already saved millions of lives,” she wrote in an op-ed


“Parenthood and worrying go hand-in-hand. It’s what we do. I can’t promise you that the dangers of the world will become any less frightening,” she said. “With this vaccine, however, we can help take care of at least one of those worries. A big one” (The Hill).


The Washington Post: GOP lawmakers in Florida aren’t all in as governor opposes vaccine mandates.


Politico: Moderna nears deal to pledge more vaccines to lower-income countries.


The Hill: Biotech group head juggles COVID-19 and drug pricing push.



U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, Dr. Jim Versalovic and first lady Jill Biden visit with kids before they receive their COVID-19 vaccines


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! 


Biden can whip inflation and Build Back Better at the same time, by Jason Furman, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal. 


Kyle Rittenhouse and the adults in the room, by the Chicago Tribune editorial board.



The House meets at 10 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination 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 travel to North Woodstock, N.H., to speak at 2:25 p.m. about the bipartisan infrastructure law. He will return to Washington this evening. 


The vice president will deliver remarks at the Tribal Nations Summit at 4:40 p.m.


INVITATIONS: The Hill’s Virtually Live TODAY 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 or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.


U.S. ECONOMY: Inflation is hammering restaurants just as customers resume dining out. The price of produce, meat, and even equipment such as heat lamps and ovens has skyrocketed, saddling restaurants with extraordinary costs. Restaurant groups are highlighting those issues in meetings with lawmakers as they make a last-minute push for additional pandemic relief (The Hill).  … What’s behind the current shortages of goods? U.S. consumers are buying so much stuff (The Associated Press). … The Federal Reserve is being urged by some influential analysts and economists to pick up the pace of rolling back on stimulus because of rising inflation (Bloomberg News).


DUCK, DUCK, SPACE JUNK: The seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station were at risk on Monday and may remain on alert for space junk for the next few days, forcing them to seek shelter in their docked capsules and disrupting their work. The U.S. Space Command said it was tracking a field of too-close orbiting debris, the apparent result of a satellite breakup. The Space Command said it was working with NASA and the State Department (The Associated Press). 



This photo provided by NASA shows the International Space Station with Earth's horizon as a backdrop



And finally … At only 7 years old, Ji-Young is making history as the first Asian American muppet on “Sesame Street.”  The Korean American character has two passions: her electric guitar and skateboarding. She will formally be introduced this month in “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special,” The Associated Press reports


Celebrities Simu Liu, Padma Lakshmi and Naomi Osaka will join the special Thanksgiving Day program on HBO Max, “Sesame Street” social media platforms and on local PBS stations.



"Sesame Street" is welcoming its first ever Asian American muppet


Tags Anthony Fauci Antony Blinken Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Beto O'Rourke Donald Trump Greg Abbott Janet Yellen Jason Furman Jen Psaki Jill Biden Joe Biden Kyrsten Sinema Mark Meadows Merrick Garland Michael Burgess Nancy Pelosi Patrick Leahy Patty Murray Peter Welch Richard Shelby Rob Portman Steve Bannon Susan Collins

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