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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Charter Communications – Manchin not ready yet; Meadows texts unveiled

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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, 797,348; Tuesday, 798,710.

President Biden and Senate Democrats have themselves a Joe Manchin problem as they ratchet up their attempts to win his support for the Build Back Better agenda in order to pass it by their self-imposed Christmas deadline.


The efforts to reel Manchin in reached a new level on Monday as he and Biden spoke by phone. The senator told reporters he and the president shared “a nice conversation” in which he “engaged” with his former Senate colleague. 


According to Manchin, he and Biden “were just talking” about “different iterations” of the package, leaving open the possibility that the West Virginia centrist, courted by all sides for months, might back the nearly $2 trillion social spending and climate bill by Christmas. He has been arguing, however, to wait until 2022 to get a better handle on rising U.S. inflation.


“They will continue to talk over the coming days,” the statement said. 


Earlier Monday, Manchin was not bashful about his misgivings. He repeated his anxieties about inflation; a new record on Friday raised fresh doubts, he said. So do the estimated costs over 10 years. 


“It’s real, it’s not transitory. It’s alarming. It’s going up, not down,” Manchin said of inflation. “And I think that should be something we’re concerned about. And geopolitical fallout,” Manchin said, referring to Russia’s buildup on the Ukrainian border. 


“These are all concerns. … The unknown right now is very, very great,” he added (The Hill).


Ongoing talks with Manchin — who has not only declined to support the bill, but has not given the OK to start debate on it either — has become a constant source of frustration for his Senate Democratic colleagues, with many of them desperate to get the multi trillion-dollar legislation over the finish line. 


“We’ve got to close this,” one Senate Democrat told The Hill.


Politico: Manchin keeps Democrats guessing on their megabill.


The Associated Press: Democrats should curb the cost of their $2 trillion social and environment bill by choosing their top priorities, Manchin told reporters on Monday. He criticized Democrats’ decision to make many of the measure’s initiatives temporary to limit the bill’s price tag. Manchin said his party should pick its “highest priorities” and have each last the full 10-year life of the bill while keeping its overall cost below $2 trillion, a combination that seems unworkable at this point.


Adding to consternation among Democrats are the ongoing talks with the Senate parliamentarian. That office must clear multiple legislative provisions under budget reconciliation rules, including immigration-related language, or they get deleted, as The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes.


The Washington Post: Congress on verge of raising debt ceiling. But Republicans warn Biden: the next debt limit increase won’t be so easy.


The Associated Press: Senators on Monday urged Medicare to flex its power and slash back a planned premium hike next year. 


> Jan. 6 latest: The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol unveiled a number of text messages sent to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows from Donald Trump Jr. and several top Fox News hosts and pundits begging him to get former President Trump to stop the violence (The Hill). 


The messages, which Meadows submitted to the panel, included those from Trump’s eldest son, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, who were pressing Meadows to convince the ex-president to intervene during the opening moments of the siege. 


“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP,” Trump Jr. texted Meadows as the attack was underway. 


“I’m pushing it hard. I agree,” Meadows responded. 


Across the administration, Trump officials on Jan. 6 pleaded for Meadows to persuade Trump to intervene. Messages read: “Someone is going to get killed” and “POTUS needs to calm this shit down.” 



Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows



But while Trump stayed silent, his eldest son reached out again to Meadows, according to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chairwoman of the panel, who read aloud the series of texts during a Monday night hearing. 


“We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” Trump Jr. texted.


Concurrently, the troika of Fox News hosts urged action from the president via Meadows, arguing that Trump was hurting his legacy if he didn’t. 


“Mark, president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ingraham texted.


The messages were revealed ahead of Monday evening’s vote to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress in response to his refusal to cooperate further with the investigation. The full House is expected to pass the resolution later tonight, largely along party lines (The Hill).


The New York Times: Fox News hosts sent texts to Meadows urging Trump to act as Jan. 6 attack unfolded.


NBC News: White House official allegedly said National Guard troops would protect Trump supporters Jan. 6.


Roll Call: Senate allows small public tours to resume in the Capitol. 



Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection



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CORONAVIRUS: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said on Monday that nearly 80 percent of the first 43 people confirmed to be infected in the United States with omicron between Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 were fully vaccinated. And about a third of those vaccinated people, or 14 of 34 individuals, had received a booster shot. Sixteen percent of those confirmed to be infected with omicron had been infected with COVID-19 earlier. In the group, there was just one hospitalization and no deaths to date.


Walensky told ABC News during a Monday interview that milestones for progress climbing out of the pandemic will need to be drastically fewer daily deaths from COVID-19 and fewer hospitalizations. Both of those data points are headed in the wrong direction in the United States right now. On the plus side, early data about booster doses suggests they are effective in reducing the threat of serious omicron infections in fully vaccinated people and those with booster doses, she said.


The Washington Post: The first major private study conducted in South Africa since the discovery of the new variant affirms that omicron is more resistant to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine administered in Africa, but causes less severe illness that would require hospitalization following infection. 


The Associated Press: One year of vaccines: Many lives saved, many needlessly lost.


Hospitals in several states are sagging under the triple punch of a winter COVID-19 surge, omicron’s spread and staff shortages, forcing New Hampshire and Maine to call out the National Guard for help. Indiana made a similar request. Massachusetts told hospitals to reduce elective procedures, while Maryland directed hospitals to update emergency plans. The seven-day hospitalization average has been climbing (The Hill).


Requirements: California will revive its indoor mask mandate beginning on Wednesday as infections soar (The Associated Press). … Philadelphia will implement a requirement beginning Jan. 3 to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter bars and restaurants (CBS Local and The Philadelphia Inquirer). … Attendance at sporting and other events at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia will require proof of vaccination (The Philadelphia Inquirer). … The Supreme Court on Monday declined to block the vaccine mandate affecting healthcare workers in New York. The state’s requirement has no religious exemption (Axios). … Some major hospital systems including HCA Healthcare Inc. and Tenet have abandoned vaccine mandates for staff because of labor shortages (The Wall Street Journal). 



Shown are COVID-19 vaccination record cards



Fatalities: One of every 100 Americans over age 65 has perished from COVID-19 — three-quarters of the U.S. death toll since the pandemic began. Even with a high vaccination rate among the elderly, the fatality statistics have mounted in the past two months. More than 1,200 people a day are dying in the United States from COVID-19, most of them 65 or older, according to the CDC (The New York Times). … At least one omicron-infected patient died in the United Kingdom, a first there, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday (CNBC).


POLITICS: Trump has tried to turn Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) into a political talking point for months, and on Monday, one pro-Trump Senate candidate listened. 


Kelly Tshibaka, who is challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in the Last Frontier’s Senate contest, said on Monday that if she wins, she will not back McConnell as party leader. Tshibaka, the former state administration commissioner, accused the longtime GOP leader of submitting to and assisting the Biden administration. 


“Mitch McConnell has repeatedly bailed out Joe Biden, giving him gifts of Senate votes, which are the only things keeping the Biden administration on life support,” Tshibaka said. “As an example, after rescuing Biden with the last debt ceiling increase, McConnell said he would never do it again. But he just did, and he had Lisa Murkowski’s help in doing so.” 


“The actions of McConnell and Murkowski on the debt ceiling show that it’s the political elites pitted against real Americans. When I defeat Murkowski and become Alaska’s next U.S. Senator, I will not support Mitch McConnell as leader. It’s time for new, America First leadership in the Senate,” Tshibaka said.


McConnell has long been a boogeyman for conservatives taking part in primary challenges against sitting GOP members or establishment favorites. However, he remains popular with most segments of the Senate GOP conference, including some of the most strident pro-Trump members. Tshibaka’s announcement is the second by a top primary candidate rebuking McConnell, following the path of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R). 


Trump is backing Tshibaka because Murkowski voted to convict him at the conclusion of his second impeachment trial. Alaska does not hold traditional Senate primaries, and will instead hold a nonpartisan blanket primary in August, with the top four vote-getters regardless of party advancing to the general election contest in November. Voters will use ranked-choice voting to determine the winner (The Hill).


The Hill: Republicans fret over Trump’s influence in Missouri Senate race.


CNN: GOP leaders seek to fend off Trump endorsement as far-right Republican eyes Illinois primary bid.


The Hill: GOP election objectors rake in corporate cash.


CNBC: The “Dr. Oz Show” was canceled by Sony Pictures as Mehmet Oz seeks a Senate seat in Pennsylvania. 


The Hill: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has family political roots in Baltimore, endorsed Tom Perez, former Democratic National Committee chairman and former Labor Secretary, in his bid to be governor of Maryland. 




ADMINISTRATION: Biden wants to meet some of the many Americans who survived deadly tornadoes in Kentucky but lost loved ones, their homes and jobs. He will travel to Fort Campbell, Ky., on Wednesday to receive an on-the-ground storm briefing and make his way to Mayfield and Dawson Springs, Ky., to survey tornado damage. Disaster survivors can apply to the government for assistance at or call 1-800-621-FEMA for help (The Hill). 


The administration began working Friday and early Saturday with state and local officials to unleash federal assistance to the affected communities to support recovery and emergency response, cleanup, food, water and emergency housing, the White House said, noting that Biden continued to pledge any federal backup requested. An estimated 750,000 customers were without power on Saturday. Biden issued disaster declarations on Monday for Tennessee and Illinois, following his weekend declaration for Kentucky.


The Hill’s Niall Stanage in his latest Memo writes that the president’s response to the extraordinary December disaster in six Midwestern and Southern states puts his empathy to the test and presents an opening to point up federal capabilities in times of emergency.



A framed photo of Martha Thomas lies among the debris of her destroyed home



The tornadoes across states killed at least 88 people, at least 74 of them in Kentucky, where more than 100 people were still missing on Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said, noting that the number of fatalities is expected to rise (NBC News). Eight workers in a Kentucky candle factory were killed (Reuters).


“With this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives,” the governor said.


The Washington Post: Record-breaking tornadoes and the devastation, by the numbers. 


At least six people died at an Amazon distribution facility in Edwardsville, Ill., putting a spotlight on Amazon’s restrictive policies and bolstering critics’ accusations that the company doesn’t prioritize worker safety (The Hill). … The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate safety protocols at the partially collapsed Amazon plant (Bloomberg News and CNBC).


The Associated Press: Parts of Kentucky slammed by the twisters face a long recovery.


More administration news: Biden’s bungled choice of Saule Omarova, a former nominee to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency who withdrew under Senate criticism, is undermining his agenda, according to advocates for tougher bank oversight (The Hill). … First lady Jill Biden, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Wednesday will visit Wisconsin to promote coronavirus vaccines and meet with victims and first responders of the Waukesha parade attack last month (The Hill). … The State Department announced on Monday that 900 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from Afghanistan are being relocated within the United States (The Hill). … Vice President Harris on Monday announced new public-private investments to spur business opportunities in Central America. The White House said Harris secured $1.2 billion in commitments since May (The Hill). 

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is paving his path to the White House on the backs of vulnerable immigrant children, by Catherine Rampell, columnist, The Washington Post.


A demand for workers, $8 hourly wage: What we know about the Mayfield candle factory, The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader editorial.



We believe internet access for all means opportunity for everyone. That’s why we’re investing billions to extend our network to reach those who need it most.


The House meets at noon.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.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 and the vice president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:05 a.m. Biden, the first lady, the vice president and Emhoff will attend a Washington holiday celebration for the Democratic National Committee at 6:15 p.m. Biden and Harris are scheduled to speak.


The vice president and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at 11:30 a.m. will describe new federal funding to increase lending to minority-owned businesses and low-income communities (Reuters).


The Federal Reserve today begins a two-day meeting, its last of 2021 and a session intensely watched because of the 40-year record high in U.S. inflation and continued spread of at least two key variants of COVID-19.


The White House press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.


INTERNATIONAL: Russia said on Monday it may deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe in response to what it sees as NATO’s plans to do the same (Reuters). Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s RIA news agency in an interview that Moscow would have to take the step if NATO refused to engage with it on preventing such an escalation. Ryabkov referred to “indirect indications” that NATO was moving closer to redeploying intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF), which in Europe were banned under a 1987 treaty.


COURT: USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee agreed to a $380 million settlement with the hundreds of victims of longtime team physician Larry Nassar, marking the largest settlement for a sexual abuse case in history. Olympic stars including Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney (pictured below on Capitol Hill) are among the claimants (The Hill).



United States gymnasts from left, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols



NEWS MEDIA: Chris Wallace’s surprise departure from “Fox News Sunday” has shaken up the Washington, D.C., media landscape and prompted new questions about the direction of Fox News (The Hill). … Time magazine made Elon Musk its Person of the Year. Public criticism was instantaneous (The Hill).


And finally … Hollywood mostly shrugged.


The Hollywood Foreign Press Association went ahead on Monday to announce Golden Globe nominees for film and television awards, despite a skeptical entertainment industry. The Globe awards have lost a televised awards show and celebrity TV fanfare. Snoop Dogg read the nominees behind sunglasses and a red hat during a YouTube livestream (The Associated Press). 


The association is still trying to recover from a dramatic comeuppance last year as well as the blowback from this year’s Los Angeles Times investigation describing self-dealing and ethical lapses by association leaders and members. 



Snoop Dogg poses following the nominations event for 79th annual Golden Globe Awards


Tags Boris Johnson Chris Wallace Donald Trump Doug Emhoff Dr. Oz Elon Musk Janet Yellen Jill Biden Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kimberly Guilfoyle Laura Ingraham Lisa Murkowski Liz Cheney Mark Meadows Mehmet Oz Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Rochelle Walensky Ron DeSantis Sean Hannity Tom Perez Vivek Murthy

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