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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 BidenFlorida Republicans vote to limit vaccine mandates Bill honoring 13 service members killed in Afghanistan heads to Biden’s desk Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon vows more airstrike transparency MORE and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezGosar’s brother commends Ocasio-Cortez, calls brother ‘dangerous’ The Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Hackers tied to Iran targeting critical sectors 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 CheneyGosar’s brother commends Ocasio-Cortez, calls brother ‘dangerous’ The Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows House votes to censure Gosar and boot him from committees MORE (Wyo.) and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerGosar’s brother commends Ocasio-Cortez, calls brother ‘dangerous’ The Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows House votes to censure Gosar and boot him from committees MORE (Ill.) — voted with every Democrat on the censure. Rep. David JoyceDavid JoyceThe Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows House votes to censure Gosar and boot him from committees Jarring GOP divisions come back into spotlight 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 PelosiSenate advances defense bill after delay On The Money — Biden puts oil industry on notice Schumer strikes deal with House, dropping push to link China, defense bills 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 TrumpOn The Money — Biden puts oil industry on notice The Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows Cleveland’s MLB team officially changing name to Guardians on Friday MORE on Wednesday took another whack at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer, McConnell talk on debt ceiling On The Money — Biden puts oil industry on notice Trump gives McConnell insult-filled ultimatum on Biden agenda 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 NealOn The Money — Biden puts oil industry on notice Democrats see Friday vote as likely for Biden bill Federal judge questions Democrats’ effort to obtain Trump tax returns 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 ManchinSchumer, McConnell talk on debt ceiling On The Money — Biden puts oil industry on notice Trump gives McConnell insult-filled ultimatum on Biden agenda 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 SchumerSchumer: Emissions reductions ‘not sufficient’ without meeting White House environmental justice standard Senators’ personal office staffers to get top security clearance: report Bottom line 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 ThuneOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon vows more airstrike transparency Schumer, McConnell talk on debt ceiling Senate GOP threatens to block defense bill 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 Louise YellenSchumer, McConnell talk on debt ceiling The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — House prepares to debate BBB The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – House Democrats eye big vote on Biden measure 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 KlobucharEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Native solar startups see business as activism Religious institutions say infrastructure funds will help model sustainability Klobuchar announces she’s cancer-free MORE (D-Minn.) says she remains cancer-free after treatment for breast cancer.
North Carolina Public Radio: Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldDemocratic Rep. Butterfield won’t seek reelection: report Democrats expect to pass .75T Biden package this week North Carolina legislature approves new US House map MORE (D-N.C.) will not run for reelection in 2022.
A MESSAGE FROM EXXONMOBIL
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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 DeSantisFlorida Republicans vote to limit vaccine mandates DeSantis to offer new correctional officers bonus up to ,000 The Memo: Abbott vs. O’Rourke contest will echo nationwide 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 ThompsonBannon to plead not guilty to contempt charges The Memo: Democrats may rue pursuit of Bannon Trump allies target Katko over infrastructure vote MORE (D-Miss.) told reporters earlier this week a final warning was going out to former White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsBannon to plead not guilty to contempt charges The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Biden hails infrastructure law, talks with China’s Xi Meadows ‘between a rock and a hard space’ with Trump, Jan. 6 panel 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 FrancisEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Native solar startups see business as activism Religious institutions say infrastructure funds will help model sustainability Bishops’s debated document on communion does not single out Biden 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 PerduePerdue on possible run for Georgia governor: ‘I’m concerned about the state of our state’ Kemp makes pitch to conservatives, independents in new campaign ad Senate GOP worries Trump could derail bid for majority MORE (R-Ga.) suggests Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempPerdue on possible run for Georgia governor: ‘I’m concerned about the state of our state’ Kemp makes pitch to conservatives, independents in new campaign ad Republicans see Trump weakening as Democratic talking point 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 ZuckerbergTwo birds, one stone: Closing the digital divide and facing down Mark Zuckerberg Ohio sues Facebook parent company over investor losses Prince Harry says he warned Twitter’s Dorsey about Jan. 6 riot 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 TrudeauOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon vows more airstrike transparency Death toll expected to rise in Canada amid massive floods and landslides Canadian air force aiding with evacuations in flood-stricken British Columbia 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 SwiftOvernight Health Care — Presented by Emergent Biosolutions — 2.6M children vaccinated in first two weeks The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — House prepares to debate BBB ‘Hallie Jackson Now’ ready for take two 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