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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Uber – Senate debt limit drama ends; Trump legal troubles rise

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Associated Press


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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday! 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, 788,364; Tuesday, 789,745; Wednesday, 791,514; Thursday, 793,228; Friday, 794,648.

After weeks of backroom dealing, the Senate is on the verge of averting a debt ceiling crisis, putting a partisan clash over the nation’s borrowing authority to the sidelines through the 2022 midterms (The Hill).

Heading into Thursday, the main question on Capitol Hill was how many Senate Republicans would follow the lead of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to advance a deal he negotiated to set up a one-time exemption to the filibuster on raising the debt ceiling. Ultimately, 14 did, with the Senate voting 64-36 to end debate on the bill.  

List of the 14 Senate Republicans: Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), John Cornyn (Texas), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Thom Tillis (N.C.), John Thune (S.D.), Roger Wicker (Miss.) and McConnell.

Later in the evening, the Senate voted 59-35 to seal the deal. The vote paves the way for Congress to formally raise the debt ceiling early next week by as much as $2.5 trillion by a simple majority vote and avoid a national default (The New York Times).   

For days, GOP leaders battled conservatives in a bid to push through the deal as Senate Republicans had zero appetite to deliver any votes on a final debt limit vote. The deal, negotiated by McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), sparked fresh divisions within the GOP conference, according to The Hill’s Jordain Carney, with members grumbling about the bill at multiple closed-door lunches this week.  

“This idea puts all of us in a box, and I don’t appreciate it. And I won’t forget it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a top ally of former President Trump, said during one of the lunches. “I like you. Sen. McConnell has been a great Republican leader … but this has been a moment where I want to be on the record to say, ‘I don’t like this.’ ” 

The bill raises the debt ceiling through the 2022 midterms, clearing one potential pre-election issue for both parties.  

Carl Hulse, The New York Times: Divide over debt limit shows pragmatic Republicans are dwindling. 

There was also big news away from Capitol Hill as a three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Trump’s lawyers’ arguments that the former president could invoke executive privilege claims to stop the transfer of documents to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

“On the record before us, former President Trump has provided no basis for this court to override President Biden’s judgment and the agreement and accommodations worked out between the Political Branches over these documents,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote in a 68-page opinion. 

“Both Branches agree that there is a unique legislative need for these documents and that they are directly relevant to the Committee’s inquiry into an attack on the Legislative Branch and its constitutional role in the peaceful transfer of power,” she continued (The Hill). 

The panel gave the former president 14 days to ask the Supreme Court to review the decision before the National Archives could begin turning over the records to the committee. A Trump spokeswoman confirmed that he would take the case to the Supreme Court.  

The bad news for the former president was not limited to the nation’s capital on Thursday as New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is seeking Trump’s deposition on Jan. 7 in an ongoing civil probe examining his business practices (The Washington Post and The Associated Press). A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is conducting a parallel criminal investigation into Trump’s business dealings, said Thursday that the interview request to the former president “is not part of the criminal investigation.”  

Trump could try to block James’s unusual plan to subpoena him. If the attorney general finds evidence of wrongdoing in the civil inquiry, she could file a lawsuit against the former president, but she could not file criminal charges (The New York Times). 

The Hill: James (pictured below) ends her brief bid to challenge New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D). 

The Hill: Next week the House plans to vote on a measure that would hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee. 

CNN: Jan. 6 committee obtains Meadows texts, emails communicating with a “wide range” of people while the attack was underway. 

Politico: Lawyer: Capitol Police whistleblowers face retaliation. 

CNN: Former Trump administration official Kash Patel meets with the Jan. 6 committee.


Attorney General Letitia James



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CONGRESS: Lawmakers honored former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) on Thursday as he became the 33rd American to lie in state under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. 

Dole’s casket arrived at the Capitol just before 10 a.m., with his wife, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), and his daughter, Robin Dole, watching from the steps of the building as his casket was carried up the stairs to the building.

Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle paid tribute to Dole, a World War II veteran who subsequently served in the Senate for 30 years, including two stints as Senate Majority Leader. President Biden, who served alongside Dole in the upper chamber for 23 years, lionized the late senator as a “giant of our history.”

“Bob and I, like many of us here, we disagreed on a number of things, but not on any of the fundamental things,” Biden said. “We still found a way to work together. We genuinely respected one another as colleagues, as fellow Americans.”  

The president, saying Dole “deserves the final word,” read a portion of a column the late senator penned that was published after his death, where he urged Americans to overcome their political divisions and rediscover the country’s role as a “beacon of hope” for the world.  

“America has lost one of our greatest patriots,” Biden said of Dole. “We may follow his wisdom, I hope, and his timeless truth. But the truth of the matter is, as divided as we are, the only way forward for democracy is unity. Consensus. The only way. … May we follow his wisdom and his timeless truth and reach consensus on the basic fundamental principles we all agree on” (The Hill). 

Lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda is an honor usually reserved to bestow final salutes to titans in U.S. politics and governance. President George H.W. Bush, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) are recent examples. 


Bob Dole funeral


> BBB trouble: Senate Democrats say Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has made it clear to them via what they say are stalling tactics that the centrist lawmaker has no desire to vote on the party’s massive social spending package before Christmas, a stated goal of Schumer’s.  

According to The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, 49 members of the Senate Democratic caucus are prepared to support a “motion to proceed” vote on the Build Back Better Act before Christmas if Schumer were to schedule one, but Manchin remains the question mark.  

While Democratic negotiators acknowledge there are still issues to iron out, including on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap and the continued backlog of work at the parliamentarian’s office, they maintain that everything could be hammered out by Christmas — if Manchin was an “aye” vote.  

“We know we have 49 votes,” one senator told The Hill. “We have 49 people, all we need is Manchin.” 

The Wall Street Journal: IRS is about to send December’s child tax credit payment. January’s depends on Congress. 


CORONAVIRUS: The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized a COVID-19 Pfizer booster for 16- and 17-year-olds (The Hill) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed suit hours later with its approval (The Hill). 


Students in high school


Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC on Wednesday that a fourth vaccine dose may eventually be needed (The Hill). Vaccine makers are racing to update COVID-19 shots to respond to the newest variant, omicron, even before scientists know for certain that such modifications are needed (The Associated Press).

Bloomberg News: The hunt is on for a single shot to defeat omicron and all coronaviruses. 

Omicron appears to be highly transmissible, including in congregant settings. Anecdotally, the new variant led to outbreaks last month among fully vaccinated attendees at a New York convention and at a wedding attended by Kaiser healthcare workers in Wisconsin (SF Gate). Those outbreaks are being examined.  

Fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but suffering mild symptoms of illness, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday that he decided to get tested and learned he had contracted the coronavirus (ABC News).

In South Korea, a ferocious surge of COVID-19 in a country where 81 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated but only 10 percent obtained booster doses to date propelled the government to administer third doses just three months after second shots beginning next week. For a third day on Friday, South Korea experienced more than 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 infection, straining hospitals (The Associated Press).


ADMINISTRATION: High-stakes discussions Thursday between Biden, Ukraine’s president and NATO allies continued to focus on deterring Russia from invading Ukraine, but also on preparations, should President Vladimir Putin opt for aggression rather than diplomacy. Turning the narrative around, Russian officials on Thursday sought to paint Ukraine as the aggressor and Russia as the injured party. 

Reuters: Russia keeps tensions high while waiting for the next Biden move. 

Biden said on Thursday that the United States and Russian teams had been in constant contact this week and that he hoped the White House would today announce arrangements for future high-level meetings among Russia and at least four major NATO allies. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said such talks were necessary (The Washington Post). 

Biden spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (photo below), and later with a group of Eastern European NATO member countries clearly anxious about Moscow’s massing of troops along the border with neighbor Ukraine. 

The Hill: U.S. reassures Ukraine of support amid standoff with Russia. 

Bloomberg News reported that NATO allies in Eastern Europe were irate about Biden’s outreach to Putin. Officials in Poland and other eastern and central NATO countries privately bristled at Biden’s description of seeking an “accommodation” with Russia, worrying that any trade-off could increase the danger they face from an expansionist Russia, according to The Guardian.

An unclassified U.S. intelligence analysis, reported last week by The Washington Post, said the Kremlin is making plans for an invasion that could come early next year and include as many as 175,000 forces. Russia denies it. Biden warned Putin of substantial U.S. economic sanctions if Moscow moves against Ukraine.

Separately today, Biden will close a two-day virtual Summit for Democracy with a focus on election integrity, countering authoritarian regimes and bolstering independent media (The Associated Press). On Thursday, the president joined more than 100 participants, including Taiwan, to kick off the discussion sessions. Taking aim at autocracies such as China, Biden defended democracies as fragile, essential and in need of constant tending. “Unity, consensus — the only way,” he said (The Associated Press). 


President Biden on a cal with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy


The Hill: Biden’s job approval numbers are barely above 40 percent as he faces headwinds from voters, rising consumer prices, Republicans, congressional Democrats, the courts, international players and a wily coronavirus responsible for a fourth surge of infections. Inside the West Wing, aides assert they’ve identified an age-old culprit: the press.  

The Hill: The Federal Emergency Management Agency put climate change back in its strategic plan after it was dropped by the Trump team.  


POLITICS: Former Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) is staying in the North Carolina Senate race, for now.  

Walker told The Associated Press on Thursday that he will take the next couple of weeks to consider whether he should stick in the Senate race to replace Burr or drop down to run in the state’s newly-drawn 7th Congressional District around Greensboro, N.C.  

Trump has urged the former House member to do so, having already endorsed Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) over him and former Gov. Pat McCrory (R).  

“This has to be something in my heart, and I don’t know that it’s there yet,” Walker said. “I’m willing to consider it” (The Hill). 

Politico: “Trump-hater” vs. “Washington insider”: N.C. Republicans squabble over Senate seat. 

The Wall Street Journal: Judge allows lawsuits challenging Georgia’s voting rules to move forward.

Axios: Trump blasts former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for disloyalty: “F— him.” 

> Gasoline offensive: Democratic strategists are calling on the White House to go on offense in the coming weeks and take credit for the likely upcoming decline in gas prices, citing administration actions as the reason.  

High gas prices have helped contribute to Biden’s stumbling approval ratings, with the administration taking several steps to assuage the pain at the pump in recent weeks, including the release of supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over Thanksgiving week. According to experts, gas prices could fall by nearly 25 cents per gallon, with the U.S. Energy and Information Administration predicting that prices will fall below $3 a gallon next year. 

“We need to talk, in specifics, about what Biden and Democrats are doing to help people lower costs,” Vale told The Hill’s Zack Budryk. “A family’s costs can’t just be looked at in isolation, so [Democrats should] also remind folks what we’re doing for non-energy related costs.” 

Reid Wilson, The Hill: Democrats decry gerrymandering — unless they control the maps.

The Washington Post: New York City becomes the largest U.S. municipality to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.


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!



The Jan. 6 committee needs to get louder. Much louder, by Eugene Robinson, columnist, The Washington Post.  

Biden’s diplomacy with Putin is dangerous, by Eli Lake, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion.



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The House meets Monday at 12:30 p.m. 

The Senate convenes Monday at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Samantha Elliott to be a U.S. district judge for the District of New Hampshire. 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. He and first lady Jill Biden, and Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend a memorial service for Dole at Washington National Cathedral at 11 a.m. The president will deliver closing remarks at the Summit for Democracy at 1:45 p.m. He will depart for Wilmington, Del., with the first lady, arriving at 6:40 p.m. Biden will appear at 11:35 p.m. on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

The vice president and Emhoff will welcome a group of elementary school students at 4:15 p.m. to the Naval Observatory for an outdoor holiday celebration.  

The first lady will visit Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va., at 3 p.m. to participate in a Toys for Tots drive with military families.  

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. will release a report on consumer prices in November. Analysts expect to see evidence that U.S. inflation hit a nearly four-decade high. 

The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. 

INVITATION to The Hill’s Virtually Live event TODAY at 10 a.m. ET, “Rare Diseases: A Conversation on Value Assessments,” featuring Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) with researchers, clinicians and advocates. 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.


SURE BET: U.S. casinos won record money this year ($44.15 billion), according to figures released Thursday by the American Gaming Association. The bonanza reported to date, which will climb, does not include tribal casinos (The Associated Press). Americans, according to the data, really, really like to bet on sports. 

ECONOMY: The administration on Thursday sought to brace Americans for the news expected again this morning that inflation remains high (Reuters). 

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: The anti-abortion movement prepares for a future without Roe (Q&A with Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser) (The New Yorker).

➔ IRAQ: The United States will keep 2,500 troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, told The Associated Press in an interview on Thursday. McKenzie warned that he expects increasing attacks on U.S. and Iraqi personnel by Iranian-backed militias determined to get U.S. forces out.


And finally … It’s time to give our Morning Report Quiz experts a long-lasting standing ovation for their knowledge of some Army-Navy game history, with the 122nd game set to kick off in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday (3:30 p.m.). (For those inclined, Army is a 7.5 point favorite. 34.5 is the point total many will keep an eye on). 

Morning Report is here to sing praises for these puzzle winners: David Gattie, Mary Anne McEnery, Ron Golden, Ki Harvey, Amanda Fisher, Sari Wisch, Jonathan Scheff, Steve James, Pam Manges and John Donato.  

They knew that JFK Stadium was the Philadelphia venue that has hosted the game more than any other in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Ronald Reagan is one of the few presidents dating back to World War II not to attend the game. 

The U.S. Military Academy and the Naval Academy have produced five Heisman Trophy winners. 

Finally, the Army-Navy game has been held in a non-East Coast city twice (At Chicago’s Soldier Field in 1926, and at the Rose Bowl in 1983). 


Army vs. Navy game
Tags Anna Eshoo appeals court Benjamin Netanyahu Biden agenda Brett Guthrie Charles Schumer COVID-19 Debt limit Donald Trump Doug Emhoff Jan. 6 commission Jill Biden Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Barrasso John Cornyn John Lewis John McCain John Thune Joni Ernst Kathy Hochul Larry Bucshon Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Mark Meadows Mark Walker Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Morning Report Richard Burr Rob Portman Roger Wicker Roy Blunt Shelley Moore Capito Susan Collins Ted Budd Thom Tillis Vladimir Putin

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