The Hill’s Morning Report – Rough September for McCarthy, Biden
The new week in Washington begins just like the last: A mess.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said his conference made “progress” Sunday to try to avert a government shutdown, but the proposed month-long stopgap spending unveiled hours later was in trouble from the get-go. McCarthy still isn’t sure he can protect his job. And GOP colleagues, particularly in the upper chamber, think an impeachment inquiry aimed at President Biden might backfire.
A proposed 30-day temporary funding measure supported by two GOP factions of McCarthy’s conference faces an uphill battle getting through the slim House GOP majority this week (The Hill). GOP lawmakers objected in enough numbers Sunday night to undercut the plan’s momentum.
In the other party, Democrats are wringing their hands about Biden’s age, public uncertainties about Vice President Kamala Harris, challenges getting political traction with “Bidenomics” plus former President Trump’s proven talent for supersizing opponents’ vulnerabilities. Democrats, eyeing the 2024 math, concede that mistakes, misinformation and unpredictable events could cost the party control of the Senate and the White House next year.
Add to the mix a costly United Auto Workers strike, which Biden predicted wouldn’t happen, but which he embraced on Friday when it did. There are rising anxieties among consumers about their own debt and the country’s, and continued tensions abroad. As U.S. voter confidence wobbles, along with definitions of political civility, the Constitution is tested.
“When mainstream politicians of the left or the right tolerate, condone, protect extremists on the right or left, democracies get into trouble,” political scientist Steven Livitsky, coauthor of the new book, “Tyranny of the Minority,” told the PBS NewsHour on Thursday.
3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY
▪ Tens of thousands of protesters, including members of Congress, demonstrated in New York City on Sunday to end fossil fuels, urging Biden to stop approving new oil and gas projects, phase out current ones and declare a climate emergency using executive powers.
▪ An old West Virginia steel mill is now a green-energy powerhouse.
▪ The trials of Aurora, Colo.: A city’s deep divide over policing.
LEADING THE DAY
McCarthy on Sunday asserted that “good progress” was made during his weekend talks with GOP colleagues about avoiding a potential government shutdown (The Hill).
“I’m trying to get that to move forward to stop — make sure that the Republicans aren’t stopping us from being able to get our work done before the 30th,” he told Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
MCCARTHY WOULD LIKE TO BRING a short-term spending bill to the floor this week crafted by leaders in the Main Street Caucus and House Freedom Caucus. But its details are a problem for some House Republicans and won’t satisfy the Senate Democratic majority or gain Biden’s signature. In that scenario, a shutdown still looms.
The measure would fund the government through Oct. 31, keeping the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs at current spending levels while cutting the rest of discretionary spending by 8 percent. It would include a conservative border security bill, minus provisions that require E-Verify. As described to members on Sunday, the measure does not include disaster relief funds or funding for Ukraine, as requested by the White House.
THE HOUSE RULES committee expects to take up the legislation today, with a target of Wednesday for a House floor vote on a Pentagon appropriations bill, then a Thursday vote on the weekend’s stopgap spending proposal.
CNN: House Republicans finalize deal on short-term spending bill, but major hurdles remain to avoid a shutdown.
INTENT ON KEEPING HIS SPEAKERSHIP, McCarthy on Sunday warned that if GOP colleagues move to oust him with a motion to vacate, as some have discussed, “Biden gets what he wants” (The Hill) and gains power.
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a persistent McCarthy critic, is not the only lawmaker openly talking about whether the Speakership should go to another (unnamed, undetermined) member. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), during a Sunday ABC News interview, did not rule out supporting an unprecedented motion to remove McCarthy.
“I’m one of those members who were made certain promises,” Mace said. “I’ve worked on women’s issues. I’ve worked on issues you know, related to gun violence, that I feel are very important. And you know, it’s fallen on deaf ears. And if I, if I give a handshake to someone, I expect them to follow through.” She added that “everything is on the table” when it comes to McCarthy’s future role (The Hill).
▪ The Washington Post, Dan Balz: McCarthy turns impeachment into political score-settling.
▪ Politico: McCarthy won’t commit to timing on subpoena for Hunter Biden.
McCarthy tried to placate House conservatives with an impeachment inquiry because some are eager to paint Hunter Biden as engaging in business with foreign companies with the help of his father when he was vice president. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the president. The younger Biden is now under indictment for an unrelated felony gun charge dating back to 2018.
SENATE REPUBLICANS cast a wary gaze at McCarthy’s impeachment warmup moves, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. Some warn impeachment is a “political loser” ahead of the 2024 elections. Others say GOP assertions of two-tiered justice for Hunter Biden are harder to make because of his indictment last week. If he goes to trial and is convicted of lying about his drug use when he applied to purchase a handgun, which he possessed for 11 days, the president’s son faces a possible 10-year prison sentence.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Biden’s rough September.
▪ The Hill: With the Biden impeachment ignited, Democrats mull strategy.
▪ The New York Times: Top Democrats’ bullishness on Biden 2024 collides with voters’ worries.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene at noon.
The Senate will meet at 3 p.m.
The president is in New York City ahead of this week’s U.N. General Assembly meeting. He will headline two Democratic fundraisers in the Big Apple.
Vice President Harris is in Washington and has no public schedule.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in New York City through Friday for the U.N. General Assembly gathering. This morning, he will host a working breakfast with Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers and meet with President Rashad al-Alimi of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council. At noon, the secretary speaks at a ministerial meeting about resettlement. He’ll speak about artificial intelligence tied to accelerating sustainable development during an afternoon event. Blinken will meet with China’s Vice President Han Zheng at 2:30 p.m. The secretary will speak at an event dealing with synthetic drugs and public health. Blinken will address a ministerial meeting about Atlantic cooperation, then meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, followed by a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko. Blinken will join a Group of Seven working dinner at 8 p.m. in New York.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will be in New York City today through Thursday. She joins former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting for a fireside chat at 2:30 p.m. Yellen speaks about food security at 5:30 p.m. during a meeting of the World Economic Forum.
First lady Jill Biden is in New York City where she will meet with the Alliance of Spouses of Heads of States and Representatives, an organization of Latin American first spouses. Tonight she will join the president for a campaign reception in New York.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
The Senate is tilting red and the House is tilting blue, Axios reports in an analysis of current conditions: “The possibility of a split congressional decision in 2024, with the Senate flipping to Republicans and the House turning over to Democrats, is looking increasingly likely.” Republicans need to flip two Senate seats. Democrats need to flip a net five House seats.
A LEADERSHIP VACUUM: Retiring Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) will likely be replaced by a fellow Republican in his deep-red state, but that candidate is unlikely to fill a more unique role — the unofficial leader of the Republican anti-Trump movement. The Hill’s Al Weaver reports Romney’s impending exit from political life is dealing a significant blow to the movement, which faces an uncertain future that features precious little influence in high-level offices and the potential return of Trump to the White House. Top anti-Trump figures believe Romney’s post cannot be filled and his exit will set the movement back even further.
TRUMP DENIED encouraging the GOP’s effort to impeach Biden after reports that he secretly met with House Republicans to discuss the topic. The alleged meeting was said to have taken place before McCarthy announced a formal impeachment inquiry. Trump told “Meet The Press’s” Kristen Welker in an interview aired Sunday that he didn’t “have to talk” to anyone about supporting the inquiry because “they’re more proactive than I am.”
Still, Trump is looming large over the impeachment effort. The way the former president’s first impeachment played out has already been used as a cudgel by critics of GOP efforts to pursue an impeachment inquiry into Biden (The Hill).
▪ Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he supports a government shutdown if conservatives don’t get an “appropriate deal.”
▪ Trump ruled out seeking a third term if he wins one more White House term in 2024.
▪ Trump on NBC criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on an abortion ban while largely evading questions about the topic.
▪ On his way to the golf course, former Sen. Bob Corker (R) told Politico why the Senate has become miserable for politicians seeking bipartisan work.
▪ Meet Garret Zielger, the scorched earth activist trying to take down Hunter Biden.
▪ While party leaders have rallied behind Biden’s re-election bid, one top Democratic strategist told The New York Times, “The voters don’t want this, and that’s in poll after poll after poll.”
The United Auto Workers strike against the Detroit Three automakers — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — entered its fourth day today with no immediate resolution on the horizon. The strike marks the first time the UAW has gone on strike against all three automakers simultaneously. The union resumed talks with GM on Sunday, and will do so with Stellantis and Ford on today (Reuters and NPR). UAW President Shawn Fain told MSNBC on Sunday that progress in the talks has been slow.
“I don’t really want to say we’re closer,” he said. “It’s a shame that the companies didn’t take our advice and get down to business from the beginning of bargaining back in mid-July.”
Fain on Sunday rejected a public offer by Jeep parent company Stellantis to boost pay 21 percent over four years. About 12,700 UAW members, who make up roughly 8 percent of the union’s autoworkers, went on strike, demanding pay increases and more-equal treatment and benefits for temporary workers, who have seen their pay lag behind full-time workers for years (The Washington Post).
▪ Detroit Free Press: Here is what Detroit automakers have to give the UAW to get a deal, experts say.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: How UAW tossed its old playbook and pursued a surprise-attack strike strategy.
▪ Vox: The UAW’s big asks, unusual strike strategy, and what this all means for you.
▪ Politico: Republicans are testing whether they can widen the Democratic Party rift exposed by the UAW strike as they try to reclaim the Senate and the White House.
THE STRIKE POSES A KEY TEST for Biden, who has repeatedly framed himself as the most pro-labor president in history. Biden, who is running for reelection with a dismal approval rating, has worked to secure political support from blue-collar workers. But his pro-union bona fides and claims of U.S. manufacturing success are at stake with the strike, which his administration tried and failed to prevent (The Hill). Fain said his union’s endorsement still has to be “earned” by Biden (USA Today).
THE ADMINISTRATION WILL DEPLOY White House adviser Gene Sperling and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to Detroit “early in the week” to support talks between the union and auto companies. Su and Sperling’s goal was not to serve as mediators or intervene but to “help support the negotiations in any way the parties feel is constructive,” a White House official told NBC News.
The Hill: The auto workers strike brings issues with electric vehicles to the fore.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta over the weekend. Both sides held “candid, substantive and constructive” talks during multiple meetings, according to separate statements from the White House and the Chinese foreign ministry published on Sunday. Sullivan’s meeting with Wang was the latest in a series of high-level conversations between U.S. and Chinese officials that could lay the groundwork for a meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year (Reuters).
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday to discuss the war in his country. Watch the full interview HERE.
World leaders will meet at the United Nations this week in the shadow of geopolitical tensions — largely fueled by the war in Ukraine — as Russia and China try to win over developing countries ahead of the United States and Europe. Russia’s war in Ukraine will again be a focus of the annual gathering in New York. Zelensky will attend in person for the first time since the conflict started (Reuters and The Associated Press). A question that remains: With Ukraine once again the U.N.’s focus, how much time will there be for other global priorities? (The Associated Press).
U.N. MEETINGS TO WATCH:
▪ Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose controversial judicial reform resulted in widespread protests and criticism (The Guardian).
▪ Biden and his Middle Eastern counterparts. One potential topic? An ambitious peace deal the Biden team is pushing that includes the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia (Politico).
▪ Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who may attend the General Assembly — and everyone he encounters, from representatives of countries who haven’t taken sides in the Ukraine war, to Zelensky himself, should they cross paths (CTV News).
▪ Zelensky and Biden, who will meet at the White House later this week, as well as Zelensky and U.S. Senators, slated to speak with Zelensky on Thursday as House Republicans are preparing to block a Biden administration request for $24 billion in emergency Ukraine war funds (Bloomberg News).
?️ WISCONSIN Republicans are considering impeaching newly elected liberal state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz over comments she made as a candidate about redistricting and for receiving donations from the state Democratic Party. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) announced last week the formation of an impeachment criteria panel as Republicans weigh ousting Protasiewicz, whose win in April established a 4-3 liberal majority on the court (The Associated Press). The Hill’s Caroline Vakil breaks down five things to know about the potential impeachment effort.
⚡ IN CALIFORNIA, officials are criticized for prolonging the lifespans of natural gas and nuclear facilities despite the state’s pledges to shift to cleaner energy. The Hill’s Sharon Udasin writes lawmakers argue the moves are part of a critical balancing act between California’s ambitious renewable energy goals and the need to keep homes heated and powered, but scientists and environmental advocates believe it’s unnecessary.
? SHARPEN YOUR PENCILS. As The Hill’s Lexi Lonas reports, millions of U.S. students have returned to classrooms — but not without some hiccups.
■ The most interesting element of the Hunter Biden indictment, by David French, columnist, The New York Times.
■ All the president’s henchmen, by James D. Zirin, opinion contributor, The Hill.
And finally … ? Today is National Cheeseburger Day, a celebration of an inspired culinary mashup, whether you eat meat or not. Burger chains are cooking up inflation-fighting deals for hungry consumers, NBC’s “Today” reports. From national chains beginning with Applebee’s and ending at Wendy’s and White Castle, there are cheesy deals online, on apps and in restaurants, for one day or through the week, for burgers with cheese or without, with two patties, or fries — for 50 cents (McDonald’s), $1 (Krystal) and even one free BOGO Single Cheese Slider per customer (White Castle).
To borrow from the late Jimmy Buffett’s 1978 hit:
I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well, good God Almighty, which way do I steer?