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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, 763,092; Tuesday, 764,365; Wednesday, 765,913; Thursday, 767,435.
Republicans may be in the minority, but their share of the news is in the majority these days as one of their members earned a rare congressional censure on Wednesday and internal divisions remain in full display.
Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.), one of the most extreme members of the House GOP, became only the 24th person in the lower chamber’s history to be censured after he posted on Twitter an anime cartoon featuring violence against President BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezLouisiana Democrat running for US Senate smokes marijuana in campaign ad Lawmakers coming under increased threats — sometimes from one another Maryland Democrat announces positive COVID-19 test MORE (D-N.Y.). The House voted 223-207-1 on the censure resolution, stripping him of his posts on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee in the process.
Two Republicans — Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness MORE (Wyo.) and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Republican rep who voted to impeach Trump running for reelection MORE (Ill.) — voted with every Democrat on the censure. Rep. David JoyceDavid JoyceLouisiana Democrat running for US Senate smokes marijuana in campaign ad The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Gosar censured as GOP drama heightens The Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows MORE (R-Ohio) voted present, pointing to his membership on the House Ethics Committee as the reason.
The far-right lawmaker was forced to stand in the center of the House floor as the resolution was read aloud, creating a scene not seen in the chamber for more than a decade. Former Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) was the last member to be censured.
Politico: GOP can't escape “self-inflicted injuries” as they fight to reclaim House.
Niall Stanage: The Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows.
As The Hill’s Cristina Marcos reports, Democratic leaders had held off on allowing censure votes on other GOP members earlier this year for a variety of reasons. However, the anime video was considered a bridge too far, especially considering that threats on lawmakers have risen in each of the past four years.
“What is so hard about saying that this is wrong? This is not about me. This is not about Rep. Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a floor speech before the vote, blasting Gosar’s claim that the video was meant to be “symbolic” of the debate over immigration (The Hill).
While some Republicans criticized the anime clip, they sided against the censure vote, arguing that the move set bad precedent.
The Hill: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTwo-thirds of Americans support banning lawmakers from trading stocks: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Watch: Lawmakers, activists, family members call for voting rights legislation on MLK day MORE (D-Calif.) on Gosar punishment: “It's an emergency.”
Ben Jacobs, New York Magazine: It took mock killing AOC for Gosar to finally get punished.
Aaron Blake, The Washington Post: The GOP’s bad defense of Gosar.
Elsewhere in GOP news, former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE on Wednesday took another whack at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellNAACP president presses senators on voting rights: 'You will decide who defines America' Sununu says he skipped Senate bid to avoid being 'roadblock' to Biden for two years 'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act MORE (R-Ky.), labeling him “Old Broken Crow,” “stupid” and a “fool” and accusing him of “incompetence” in a long, tangled statement. The former president expressed his displeasure over GOP votes to raise the debt limit last month and for the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law (The Hill).
Trump’s complaints come amid chatter within the House GOP calling for committee posts to be removed for the 13 members who voted to send the infrastructure package to Biden’s desk nearly two weeks ago. As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, such calls are alarming Senate Republicans, who believe Trump is the main reason for the internal backlash.
On the legislative side, the House is “likely” to vote on the $1.75 trillion social spending package on Friday, Pelosi told Democratic lawmakers as they await a score from the Congressional Budget Office. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealJudge dismisses Trump suit to block Congress from getting tax returns Child tax credit expiration adds pressure for Democrats It's time for Congress to close the carried interest loophole MORE (D-Mass.) remained hopeful that the score could arrive today.
“The fulcrum is just waiting for the CBO score, which has been suggested that could be maybe tomorrow,” Neal said. “We're on the precipice” (The Hill).
However, inflation remains an issue standing between the Build Back Better agenda and Biden’s signature. Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenate Democrats eye talking filibuster NAACP president presses senators on voting rights: 'You will decide who defines America' Schumer tees up showdown on voting rights, filibuster MORE (D-W.Va.), whose positions on Biden’s pending social spending agenda could scuttle the effort this year, says he wants to meet with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to discuss rising U.S. inflation, adding that his staff is working to schedule it (The Hill).
There was also movement toward potentially raising the debt ceiling on Thursday as Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Kelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Hundreds attend mass funeral for victims of Bronx apartment building fire MORE (D-N.Y.) and McConnell began discussing a path forward, two sources told The Hill.
“There are discussions ... that are at least initially underway on that. We’ll see where it lands,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform How a nice-guy South Dakota senator fell into a Trump storm Democrats: Don't reject GOP offer to fix electoral count law MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican. “I’m hoping there will be some progress there.”
News of the leaders’ discussions followed Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet YellenOn the Money — Yellen highlights wealth gap in MLK speech Yellen: US has 'much more work' to close racial wealth gap The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE’s announcement that her department anticipates default after Dec. 15 if lawmakers do not raise the nation’s borrowing authority, which Congress accomplished in October for a temporary period.
The Hill: Senate advances defense bill after delay.
The Hill: Schumer strikes deal with House, dropping push to link China, defense bills.
Axios: Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharApple warns antitrust legislation could expose Americans to malware Big Tech critics launch new project Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE (D-Minn.) says she remains cancer-free after treatment for breast cancer.
North Carolina Public Radio: Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldDemocrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Democrats confront rising retirements as difficult year ends Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 MORE (D-N.C.) will not run for reelection in 2022.
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LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will not enforce the government’s vaccine mandate covering employees at large private companies while legal challenges are ongoing. Citing pending litigation, the agency within the Labor Department on Wednesday said it will suspend enforcement pending the judicial outcome. The government’s regulation has a Jan. 4 effective date (The Hill).
In Florida on Wednesday, Republicans in the state Senate approved legislation now headed to GOP Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems barrel towards voting rights vote with no outcome The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Trump-DeSantis tensions ratchet up MORE’s desk to limit (with five exemptions) any vaccination mandates for public and private employers in the Sunshine State. The bill supported by the governor in a special session called to deal with coronavirus mandates would also forbid employers in the Florida government and public education sector from mandating COVID-19 vaccines (The Hill).
Meanwhile, Disney Cruise Line, headquartered in Florida, announced on Wednesday it will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all passengers ages 5 and older beginning on Jan. 13. Passengers younger than 5 will need to show negative coronavirus test results before boarding. The new requirements cover U.S. and international passengers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a conditional sailing order for cruise ships in place until at least Jan. 15 (The Hill).
> Booster news: Moderna on Wednesday resubmitted paperwork with the Food and Drug Administration for booster approval of its COVID-19 dose in adults (CNBC). … More states, including Minnesota, Maine and Kansas, are moving ahead this week with plans to authorize COVID-19 booster doses for all adults who are fully vaccinated and received their second dose at least six months ago (The Hill).
> Antiviral treatment: AstraZeneca announced it created an effective antibody cocktail drug to prevent severe cases of COVID-19 infection, seen as of particular use to patients who do not respond well to vaccines. It cuts serious effects from infection by 88 percent if given in the first three days (Reuters).
> Pandemic decision making: COVID-19 infections are climbing in many states, along with hospitalizations. It’s happening at the same time that leading public health officials are encouraging fully vaccinated Americans to celebrate the holidays together, travel and even feel comfortable if they want to go maskless in some indoor settings. Are Americans “learning to live with COVID-19” in a world that offers perks to the vaccinated and clear risks to the unvaccinated? The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports on this winter’s debate about the wisdom and risks in communities that are dropping restrictions and precautions ahead of winter.
> Abroad: Ireland has a high vaccination rate against COVID-19, but it reimposed restrictions on pubs and nightclubs this week because the infection rate is rising (The Hill). … As part of a deal with the United States, Canada and Mexico today will pledge to send millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to other nations (The Hill).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
ADMINISTRATION: Biden viewed a New Hampshire bridge on Tuesday and drove an electric Hummer in Detroit on Wednesday (below) while other top officials are fanning out to also promote the new infrastructure law and Democrats’ agenda, making appearances where incumbents in the party nervously hope to win reelection next year with some deliverables in hand. Skillfully explaining to the public what’s in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan law, which arguably took years to enact, is seen as essential for the party in power (The Hill).
One example: A $50 million slice of the infrastructure law is intended to help nonprofit organizations and religious institutions become more energy efficient, reports The Hill’s Sharon Udasin. “Having a green project can spur other developments in the community, and a church or synagogue is well placed to have that bully pulpit and expand the roots of what's a relatively modest $50 million program,” said Stephan Kline, associate vice president for public policy at the Jewish Federations of North America.
> Gulf drilling: The new administration may favor a rapid shift away from fossil fuels for environmental reasons, but near-term increases in energy prices that hit American consumers have nudged Biden and his team to favor domestic supplies of petroleum and natural gas. Simultaneously, environmental advocates were irate on Wednesday when the administration auctioned millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling, its first lease sale since Biden took office, after a court rejected a federal moratorium. Critics say the government should have modified its leasing pause to satisfy the courts or waited for judicial appeals to play out (The Hill).
The Wall Street Journal: Biden on Wednesday asked the independent Federal Trade Commission to examine oil and gas companies’ role in high gasoline prices.
> Regulating banks: Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency faces Senate Banking Committee questioning this morning amid a bitter backlash about her nomination to oversee financial institutions. Saule Omarova has been criticized by conservatives for unconventional proposals as a Cornell University law professor, while Democrats accuse Republicans of leaning on racism and McCarthyism to oppose the president’s pick. Just one Democratic defection on the committee would likely end her nomination. Even a single “nay” vote from a Democrat on the panel could doom her appointment (CNBC and The Hill).
POLITICS: Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to criminal contempt charges after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
A federal grand jury indicted the former Breitbart News chief on Friday on two counts: one for failing to appear for an Oct. 14 deposition before the panel and another for refusing to provide documents. Bannon’s lawyers filed a motion to waive the expected arraignment later today and to enter the not guilty plea, pending approval from the judge.
A conviction would bring serious penalties for Bannon. Each count carries between 30 days and one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $100,000 (The Hill).
Bannon is not the only Trump World figure on the panel’s radar. Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel GOP Rep. Katko, who voted to impeach Trump, won't run for reelection MORE (D-Miss.) told reporters earlier this week a final warning was going out to former White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsLaura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 Tucker Carlson extends influence on GOP Jan. 6 panel asks McCarthy to cooperate MORE that he needs to show up for a deposition or face a referral of his own to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress.
Elsewhere on the Jan. 6 front, Jacob Chansley, the defendant known as the “QAnon Shaman,” was sentenced on Wednesday to more than three years in federal prison. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington, D.C., sentenced Chansley to 41 months in prison after the “shaman” pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of an official proceeding related to his conduct in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Prosecutors were requesting 51 months in prison, with Chansley having asked for a sentence below the federal guidelines recommendations. However, Lamberth denied him, saying that his conduct was so egregious that he could not “justify a downward departure” (The Hill).
> 2024 watch: Should Biden run for reelection? That’s a question being asked by Democrats as the president’s poll numbers continue to crater and the outlook for the midterm elections becomes increasingly bleak.
As The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Hanna Trudo write, speculation has only increased as problems have piled up, including the botched troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing slog to get Biden’s agenda through Congress. The president’s sagging job approval has only put those talks into overdrive, with some Democrats wondering what 2024 could look like with a different nominee.
“Electability was the No. 1 issue in the last election — it was why Joe Biden won the primary. There’s going to be a contingent out there that believes that, ‘Oh, it’s Trump again this time around, we have to have Biden again,’ ” said one Democratic aide who worked on a presidential campaign last cycle. “But if Biden’s approval rating stays where it is, if we have a rough midterm cycle, if he can’t deliver on his entire agenda — is he still considered the most electable candidate?”
> Holy Communion: The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States backed away from a direct conflict with Biden on Wednesday, approving a new document on the sacrament of the Eucharist that does not mention the president or any politicians by name, but refers to a duty among lay leaders to “serve the human family by upholding human life and dignity” (The Boston Globe and The New York Times). Pope FrancisPope FrancisTop Vatican official, aide test positive for COVID-19 NY mayor revises Bronx apartment fire death toll down to 17 Pope sends condolences to victims of 'devastating' Bronx fire MORE has not officially weighed in, but he maintains a warm relationship with Biden, who attends Mass regularly. Following an October meeting at the Vatican with the pope, Biden told reporters the pope called him a “good Catholic” and said he should continue receiving communion. The president, who supports abortion as a constitutional right, received communion at St. Patrick’s Church in Rome the next day.
Reid Wilson, The Hill: Nevada lawmakers approve maps giving edge to Democrats.
Politico: Redistricting squeezes two Democratic rising stars in Georgia.
The Hill: GOP primary in New Hampshire House race draws national spotlight.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Weighing a primary challenge, former Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueAbrams treads carefully in relationship with Biden Stacey Abrams's shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations Kemp pads out campaign war chest ahead of tough reelection bid MORE (R-Ga.) suggests Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempAbrams treads carefully in relationship with Biden Four states declare states of emergency ahead of weekend snowstorm Stacey Abrams's shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations MORE (R) “caved” in 2020.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
The decline of Congress, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. “Mr. Gosar, a Republican, illustrates the decline of Congress in profile.” https://on.wsj.com/3wWLy0G
Two birds, one stone: Closing the digital divide and facing down Mark ZuckerbergMark ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — States probe the tech giants Executives personally signed off on Facebook-Google ad collusion plot, states claim States push forward with Facebook antitrust case, reportedly probe VR unit MORE, by Bhaskar Chakravorti, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3cpvFXc
A MESSAGE FROM EXXONMOBIL
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 9 a.m. Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. from the Capitol.
The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of the National Defense Authorization Act.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. Biden at 9:45 a.m. will speak while signing bills in the State Dining Room, including “Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021,” “Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support Counseling Act or the COPS Counseling Act,” and “Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act.” He will participate at 1:15 p.m. in a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauCanadians warned against travel to Ukraine Canada to allow unvaccinated Canadian truckers to enter from US Montreal limiting gatherings in homes to six people MORE, followed by a 3 p.m. bilateral meeting with Mexican President Manuel López Obrador. The three North American leaders will hold a summit at 4:45 p.m. in the East Room.
Vice President Harris will appear today on ABC’s “Good Morning America” after being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos.
Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on filings for unemployment benefits in the week ending Nov. 13. Analysts expect to see continued improvement in employment (The Wall Street Journal).
The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1:45 p.m.
➔ FLIGHT FRIGHT: Airlines are gearing up for the busiest weekend of travel since the start of the pandemic, hoping to avoid widespread flight delays and cancellations that plagued customers in recent months. Thanksgiving is a key test for carriers whose operations have been disrupted by staffing shortages, technical difficulties and unruly passengers (The Hill).
➔ OPIOID FATALITIES: More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the U.S. during the 12-month period ending April 2021, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is a new record and represents a nearly 29 percent increase over the year before. Opioids accounted for nearly 75,000 deaths through April, and synthetic opioids specifically, such as fentanyl, killed 64,000 people (The Hill).
➔ WINGED & WELCOME: From the depths of an all-time low last year, the population of beautiful orange-and-black Western monarch butterflies appears to be rebounding, based on the number showing up to spend the winter along California’s central coast. The insects are often an indicator of ecosystem health. The Western monarch butterfly population has declined by more than 99 percent from the millions that overwintered in California in the 1980s. One reason? The destruction of their milkweed habitat along their migratory route as housing expanded into their territory and use of pesticides and herbicides increased (The Associated Press).
And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by a powerhouse week-plus in the music industry, headlined by Taylor SwiftTaylor Alison SwiftHillicon Valley — Progressives put pressure on Google The Hill's 12:30 Report: Israel testing fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Pelosi takes victory lap after breaking months-long standoff MORE’s re-release of “Red” and the release of Adele’s new album, “30,” on Friday, we’re eager for some smart guesses about tunes, albums and artists in the news.
Email your responses to email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
Which Adele song became the first in the U.S. to sell more than 1 million digital copies within the first week of its release?
- “Easy on Me”
- “Rolling in the Deep”
In Taylor Swift’s hit song “All Too Well,” what item belonging to the female protagonist winds up in her lover’s drawer?
- Car keys
What director is on the verge of releasing a three-part documentary on The Beatles, detailing their work on the “Let It Be” album in 1970?
- Paul McCartney
- Peter Jackson
- Steven Spielberg
- James Cameron
In an interview this year, who did Adele say caused her 9-year-old son’s jaw to drop during a recent concert?
- Taylor Swift
- Justin Timberlake
- Maggie Rogers
- Ed Sheeran