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The Hill’s Morning Report — Clashes and crashes: Senate, Jan. 6 panel, outer space

The Hill logo The Hill 9/27/2022 Alexis Simendinger
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The Senate’s task of keeping the government funded beginning with a test vote tonight has transformed a centrist’s policy battle into a nail-biting skirmish involving — what else? — partisan one upmanship.

Senators on both sides of the aisle expect the government to keep the lights on after Friday and most likely into mid-December. The question is whose ox is gored along the way.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his leadership team on Monday urged GOP colleagues to vote against language that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to add to a stopgap spending bill before the Friday deadline as repayment to his West Virginia Democratic Senate colleague Joe Manchin, who made it possible in August for Democrats’ sprawling Inflation Reduction Act to become law. 

McConnell’s active opposition is an ominous sign since Manchin doesn’t have enough backers in his own party for his favored reforms, which he says would help the energy industry expedite federal construction permits. Without 10-20 Republican votes, which he did not appear to have on Monday, Manchin’s efforts will fall short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Schumer, who engineered the legislative gamble, could end up with an embarrassing and time-consuming setback (The Hill).

It would appear the senior senator from West Virginia traded his vote on a massive liberal boondoggle in exchange for nothing, McConnell said last week while encouraging Manchin to throw his support to an alternative bill sponsored by West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

If Manchin’s permitting measure fails during a test vote along with the underlying government funding resolution, both chambers in Congress are jammed against a funding deadline just weeks ahead of the midterm elections. Schumer would need the cooperation of all 99 Senate colleagues to regroup with a fallback option — a vote on a stripped-down spending alternative, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports.

Politico: McConnell works to box out Manchin.

The Hill: Here are five things to know about Congress’ spending showdown. 

The Hill: Eighteen state attorneys general, all Republicans, on Monday called on the Senate to oppose Manchin’s permitting reform bill.

Related Articles

The Hill: Here are five House Republicans poised to expand their sway on key committees if their party is in the majority next year. 

Politico: Lawmakers are expected to deliver fresh military and economic assistance for Ukraine, perhaps $12 billion, as part of a continuing resolution.

Defense News: A bipartisan group of 10 senators on Monday said they want to include the Pentagon’s request for a critical munitions acquisition fund in the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate is likely to vote in October on the fiscal 2023 measure, with a conference committee expected between the House and Senate after the Nov. 8 elections. 

LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & INVESTIGATIONS

As the Jan. 6 House select committee approaches the last stages of hearings and evidence collection, investigators face an enormous challenge, write The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Rebecca Beitsch. The committee must synthesize a massive amount of evidence and testimony, packaging it into a clear and concise narrative that will prove persuasive with voters — and help Democrats in the midterms.

“There’s such a huge avalanche of information that it becomes difficult towards the end to decide what we’re going to use in a particular context,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told The Hill.

The committee is set to hold what will likely be one of its last hearings at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that while the committee is not disclosing what the hearing’s focus will be, “I think it’ll be potentially more sweeping than some of the other hearings.” 

“It will tell the story about a key element of Donald Trump’s plot to overturn the election,” Schiff added. “And the public will certainly learn things it hasn’t seen before, but it will also understand information it already has in a different context by seeing how it relates to other elements of this plot.”

As the committee prepares to write its final report, two key voices are missing: former President Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, both of whom haven’t given interviews to the panel.

And there’s another complicating factor, write The Hill’s Mychael Schnell and Rebecca Beitsch, former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), who worked as an adviser to the Jan. 6 select committee until April and is releasing an unauthorized book about his experience today. 

Riggleman said someone at the White House placed a late-afternoon call to a Capitol rioter while the attack was still underway.

“You get a real ‘aha!’ moment when you see that the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter’s phone while it’s happening,” he said.

Committee members swiftly pushed back after Riggleman’s unsanctioned interview and are downplaying his knowledge of the panel’s operation and the significance of the call.

“I don’t know what Mr. Riggleman is doing, really,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), told CNN during a Sunday interview. “I only saw him a few times when he was on the staff, and he did leave. So, you know, he does not know what happened after April, and a lot has happened in our investigation.”

CNN: The Jan. 6 committee returns with another public hearing this week. Here’s what you need to know.

The Hill: Riggleman: “After I criticized Trump, my mom texted me, `I’m sorry you were ever elected.’”

USA Today: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.): Jan. 6 committee received approximately 800,000 pages from the Secret Service.

The Washington Post: Jan. 6 committee hearing will use clips from a documentary about former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

Investigators last week subpoenaed Wisconsin’s House Speaker Robin Vos (R) to testify about a July phone call with Trumpafter state courts blocked the use of some absentee ballot dropboxes. Vos on Monday filed an emergency lawsuit to block the subpoena (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and CNN).

Cheney, the Jan. 6 committee vice chairwoman, says she will no longer be a Republican if Trump wins the 2024 presidential nomination. Her Saturday remarks are fueling rumors of an independent presidential run, writes The Hill’s Julia Manchester. While the outgoing congresswoman lost her primary to her Trump-backed opponent in August, her break with the party’s MAGA wing has made her the leader of the GOP’s anti-Trump movement.

Abortion access is a key topic in governor’s races across the country, Politico reports, after this summer’s overturning of Roe v. Wade placed the issue firmly back in states’ hands. Democrats are capitalizing on the moment, spending big to remind voters of the stakes in November, while Republicans are trying their best to change the topic.

Politico: Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022.

Politico: GOP readies political heartburn for an FBI it won’t defund.

A new Marist poll in Pennsylvania released this morning found that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), competing for a Senate seat against Republican Mehmet Oz, has a 10-point lead, 51-41, among registered voters statewide, which narrows to 7 points (51-44) among those who say they definitely plan to vote. Fetterman’s backers (70 percent) are more likely than Oz’s backers (58 percent) to express a strong commitment to their candidate, according to the poll.

In the Pennsylvania governor’s race, Democrat Josh Shapiro leads Republican Doug Mastriano by double-digits among registered voters. Shapiro also has a strong advantage among those who say they definitely plan to vote. The Marist survey conducted Sept. 19-22 has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

STATE WATCH

🌀 Hurricane Ian this morning is a Category 3 storm that lashed Cuba’s western tip, led to the evacuation of 50,000 island residents under authorities’ orders, and is heading toward Florida’s west coast, where it could become a Category 4 storm by early Wednesday, according to forecasts (NBC News and Bloomberg). 

“Significant wind and storm surge impacts occurring over western Cuba,” the National Hurricane Center reported at 5 a.m. ET.

Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared as of Monday to be among the most likely Florida targets for possible high winds, rain and storm surge — possibly the first direct hit by a major hurricane in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties since 1921. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday urged some residents near the Gulf Coast to voluntarily move inland or evacuate, saying, “Safety is paramount. There is going to be damage.”

Politico: DeSantis faces the true test of any Florida governor.

Biden over the weekend approved an emergency declaration across the Sunshine State, allowing for preemptive federal resources and coordination of disaster relief efforts among local, state and federal authorities, The Hill’s Brett Samuels reports. The president was scheduled to travel to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando this week but postponed his events because of the storm.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Monday declared a public health emergency in Florida ahead of the hurricane, which gives the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services beneficiaries and their health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility to meet emergency response and health needs. “We stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support,” he added. The department says it pre-positioned two 15-person Health and Medical Task Force teams from its National Disaster Medical System to assist in Florida.

NBC News: For Biden, Florida becomes the elephant in the campaign room.

ADMINISTRATION

💵 The Inflation Reduction Act’s new 15 percent corporate minimum tax would affect only 78 companies across the country, according to new research from the University of North Carolina Tax Center. The tax, which targets companies that earn $1 billion or more annually, goes into effect in January. Researchers predict it would hit e-commerce giant Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway, billionaire Warren Buffett’s holding company, the hardest (CNBC).

✈️ President Biden on Monday said he wants airlines, cellular companies, banks and other consumer-facing businesses to lower high prices and what he called burdensome fees on “middle-class families,” adding a warning for petroleum and gas companies. “My message is simple,” he said during a White House event with members of his Cabinet. “Bring down the prices you’re charging at the pump. Do it now. Not a month from now. Do it now.” The president credited Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for pressuring commercial airlines to disclose fees added to ticket prices at the outset that wind up increasing the costs of travel, such as baggage, seat selection, cancellation and rebooking fees. “They cancel on you and you have to pay a fee to rebook. C’mon man,” Biden said. “No really. It’s simply not fair. It’s not fair” (CNBC).

🥩 The administration on Monday proposed new regulations to strengthen competition rules in poultry and livestock markets aimed at protecting farmers and ranchers in dealing with the companies that process their products. Long-simmering grievances over the domination of meat and poultry markets by a few giant companies have exploded into the broader political debate as rising meat prices played an outsize role in surging inflation this past year (Reuters).

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides told The Hill’s Laura Kelly that his main mission in the region is to “keep the waters calm.” Another view is that Nides is tasked with protecting the president’s policies and the Democratic Party’s relationship with Israel. “I got one North Star, keep this a democratic, Jewish state. Anything that falls within that category I’m in, I’m in,” Nides said during an interview.

OPINION

■ Manchin’s permitting bill has a poison pill, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board, https://on.wsj.com/3rbjNQ6 

■ Where are all our post-COVID-19 patients? by Daniela Lamas, guest essayist, The New York Times, https://nyti.ms/3LJomdQ

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon on Wednesday.

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of a motion to proceed to the legislative vehicle for a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government into December.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:30 a.m. Biden will speak at 1:15 p.m. during a Rose Garden event focused on healthcare costs and Medicare and Social Security.  

Vice President Harris today is in Tokyo where she will meet with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo at 10:30 a.m. JST. (The vice president plans to travel on Thursday to the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, according to the White House.) Harris will meet at 11:30 a.m. JST with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. The vice president at 2 p.m. JST will lead the U.S. delegation at the state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was murdered in July during a campaign speech. She will tour the Zojoji Temple at 3:50 p.m. JST and meet with U.S. Embassy staff and families in the evening at The Okura Tokyo. Later, the vice president will lead the U.S. delegation in a receiving line at the Akasaka Palace following the funeral for Abe.  

Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets at 10 a.m. with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the State Department. They will hold a joint press conference at 11:15 a.m. The secretary meets at 1 p.m. with Tajikistan Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin.

First lady Jill Biden at 4:30 p.m. will welcome to the White House a group of National Student Poets selected this year as part of an annual program. The young poets chosen this year are from New York City, Milwaukee, Charleston, S.C., Santa Fe, N.M., and Bellevue, Wash. 

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at noon accompanied byFederal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.

🖥 Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.

ELSEWHERE

PANDEMIC & HEALTH 

New York City has confirmed four deaths linked to cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. The city’s health department reported eight cases total at an Upper West Side nursing home, but has not yet confirmed the source of the infection. Legionella bacteria spread primarily through mist and contaminated water; the disease is not transmissible from person to person (West Side Rag and The New York Times).

The Atlantic: Long COVID-19 has forced a reckoning for one of medicine’s most neglected diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome

The Washington Post: Five things about COVID-19 we still don’t understand at our peril.

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,056,789. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 348, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

INTERNATIONAL

Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Russian citizenship to fugitive Edward Snowden on Monday. Snowden, 39, the former U.S. intelligence contractor who disclosed mass surveillance techniques to news organizations and is wanted in the United States on espionage charges, has been living in Russia for nine years and said two years ago that he sought citizenship as a practical step to give his family more freedom to cross borders (The New York Times).

Meanwhile, Kremlin officials said Monday that Russia had not decided whether to seal its borders to stop draft-eligible citizens from fleeing. Putin last week gave the order to call up more than 300,000 reservists in an escalation of the war with Ukraine. Flights out of the country have been selling out and cars clog border checkpoints as Russians seek to avoid the draft (Reuters).

The New York Times: Putin expected to annex parts of Ukraine soon as referendums end.

The Wall Street Journal: Two Russian military recruitment centers were attacked Monday as fighting-age Russian men seek to flee the country rather than be called up to fight in Ukraine.

HOUSING

Remote work drove more than 60 percent of the pandemic housing and rent price surge, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and University of California, San Diego. They found that the shift will likely drive future cost increases and inflation if remote work becomes more permanent, as anticipated (Bloomberg).

The Wall Street Journal: Rents drop for first time in two years after climbing to records. 

The New York Times: Whatever happened to the starter home?

The Wall Street Journal: The U.S. is running short on land for housing.

THE CLOSER

And finally … Kaboom! NASA’s experimental mission to travel 7 million miles from Earth to smash into an unsuspecting asteroid was pronounced a success Monday night.

On time and on target, the space agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft slammed into asteroid Dimorphos at more than 14,000 miles per hour with the aim of nudging or pulverizing the target.

While the asteroid posed no threat to Earth, the mission was a test of technology that could protect the planet from an oncoming space rock in the future (The New York Times, The Hill and Space.com). Telescopes around the world and in space aimed at the same point in the sky to capture the spectacle. Though the impact was immediately obvious — Dart’s radio signal abruptly ceased — it will take days or even weeks to determine how much the asteroid’s path was changed.

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