- Joe Biden advocated for Covid-19 vaccination requirements, calling on more business owners to enact them. Speaking in Illinois, he said: “vaccination requirements are good for the economy”.
- The Senate approved a deal to raise the debt limit for a few weeks. The agreement between Democrats and Republicans would increase the borrowing limit by $480bn, sufficient to avoid default keep debt payments up until 3 December.
- A former special envoy to Haiti told lawmakers that they must rethink deportation policies. Former envoy Daniel Foote, who resigned last month over what he said was “inhumane” and “counterproductive” treatment of Haitian migrants, told the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee that “deportation in the short term is not going to make Haiti more stable”.
- The Senate judiciary committee released an interim report on Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure the justice department into overturning the 2020 presidential election. The report stated that Trump repeatedly asked the DOJ to falsely claim the election was stolen and declare the election “corrupt”, among other findings.
- The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack issued new subpoenas to allies of Trump. This third round of subpoenas reflects the committee’s interest in unveiling the Trump White House’s involvement in planning the 6 January insurrection.
– Maanvi Singh and Vivian Ho
Senate approves temporary debt ceiling deal
The Senate voted 50-48, passing an agreement to raise the federal debt limit by $480b through early December. The bill will now go to the House for a vote.
This short-term deal will avert what would have been a historic default, but does little to solve the bigger standoff between Democrats and Republicans over the debt ceiling.
Senate advances deal to raise debt limit till early December
The temporary agreement between Democrats and Republicans would increase the borrowing limit by $480bn, sufficient to avoid default keep debt payments up until 3 December. The Senate voted 61-38 to advance the deal to a vote, overcoming filibuster.
If it passes the Senate, the House will likely come back from recess to vote on the deal as well.
But the agreement negotiated between Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer doesn’t do much to resolve the larger dispute between the two parties. McConnell wants Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process to raise the debt limit without Republican support. Schumer and Democrats say that just allows Republicans to avoid taking responsibility for debts that have already been accrued.
The Senate is voting on whether to break a filibuster and advance a short-term debt ceiling deal between Republicans and Democrats.
Here’s the deal on the debt limit deal negotiated between Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer:
Alaska hospitals make wrenching decisions as they begin to ration care
Melody Schreiber reports:
Rural areas across the United States are in crisis as Covid-19 overwhelms some hospitals, but the situation is especially dire in Alaska, which has the highest US rate of Covid cases and recently turned to emergency measures to allow the rationing of healthcare at 20 medical centers across the state.
Alaska’s health system, stretched by enormous distances and limited resources, was precarious before the pandemic hit, and now remote communities are worried they will have nowhere to send their sickest patients.
One in 84 people in Alaska was diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last week of September alone. On Monday, the state reported 2,290 cases and one death over the course of three days. Less than two-thirds of eligible Alaskans are fully vaccinated, and the entire state is on high alert for significant spread of the coronavirus.
The surge comes as Alaskan leaders and communities are sharply divided on issues like masks and vaccinations, and health workers are burned out and bullied.
Nancy Pelosi has indicated that she might have the House return to DC from recess next week to vote on suspending the debt limit.
In letter to House Democrats, she said: “We have also been working to protect the full faith and credit of the United States. At this writing, the Senate is engaged in hours of debate that will lead to a vote to lift the debt ceiling.”
“Hopefully that will occur and if it is necessary for members to return early, leader [Steny] Hoyer will give sufficient notice,” she said.
Senate GOP whip John Thune has indicated to reporters that the debt limit bill will pass in the Senate tonight with at least 10 Republican votes to end filibuster.
More than 140,000 US children lost a parent or caregiver to Covid, study finds
Shirley L Smith reports for the Guardian:
While the US has been engulfed in a heated battle to prevent people from contracting and dying from Covid-19, another pandemic has been raging behind closed doors among children who have lost one or both parents, or their caregivers, to Covid.
A new study, published on Thursday in the journal Pediatrics, estimated that from April 2020 through 30 June this year, more than 140,000 children under the age of 18 lost their mother, father, or grandparent who provided their housing, basic needs and daily care to the disease.
The study reveals that Covid is not only disproportionately killing adults from communities of color, but the children in these communities are bearing the brunt of the aftershock of this “hidden pandemic”, said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Nida), which co-funded the study.
Although people of racial and ethnic minority groups make up 39% of the US population, the study shows about 65% of children who lost a primary caregiver are minority Hispanic, Black, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native. Thirty-five per cent are white.
“The death of a parental figure is an enormous loss that can reshape a child’s life,” Volkow said. But researchers say the needs of these children have been largely overlooked.
“Compared to white children, American Indian/Alaska Native children were 4.5 times more likely to lose a parent or grandparent caregiver, Black children were 2.4 times more likely, and Hispanic children were 1.8 times more likely,” Nida said.
The study was a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Imperial College London, Harvard University, Oxford University and the University of Cape Town. Researchers used mortality, fertility, and census data to estimate Covid-associated orphanhood, which they define as the death of one or both parents, or the death of a custodial or co-residing grandparent who was primarily responsible for caring for a child or lived in the same household as the parent and assisted in caring for the child.
A former special envoy to Haiti who resigned last month over what he said was “inhumane” and “counterproductive” treatment of Haitian migrants, told lawmakers today that they must rethink deportation policy.
“Deportation in the short term is not going to make Haiti more stable. In fact, it’s going to make it worse,” former envoy Daniel Foote told a briefing for the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
Foote said he was not told about the deportation of thousands of Haitians who arrived at the US-Mexico border, and found out through media coverage. “Nobody asked me about the deportations. I found out about it on the news just like the rest of us,” he said.
A country reeling from an earthquake that killed more than 2,000, in the midst of political upheaval after the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse, “our own diplomats cannot leave our compound in Port-au-Prince without armed guard,” Foote said. Deporting migrants back to the country is “not the answer right now,” he said. “Haiti is too dangerous.”
Trump asked former aides to not comply with House select committee
Yesterday, the Guardian revealed that the aides are on board.
In a letter, an attorney for the former president reportedly asked Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, Steve Bannon and Dan Scavino not to comply with subpoenas from the House select committee on the insurrection. The four former Trump aides were asked to turn over documents and appear for interviews with investigators.
Trump’s legal team argued that the records and testimony were protected by “the executive and other privileges, including among others the presidential communications, deliberative process, and attorney-client privileges,” according to reporters from the Post and Politico, who reviewed the document. “President Trump is prepared to defend these fundamental privileges in court,” the letter said.
As the Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reported yesterday:
The move to defy the subpoenas would mark the first major investigative hurdle faced by the select committee and threatens to touch off an extended legal battle as the former president pushes some of his most senior aides to undercut the inquiry.
All four Trump aides targeted by the select committee – Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, strategist Steve Bannon and defense department aide Kash Patel – are expected to resist the orders because Trump is preparing to direct them to do so, the source said.
The select committee had issued the subpoenas under the threat of criminal prosecution in the event of non-compliance, warning that the penalty for defying a congressional subpoena would be far graver under the Biden administration than during the Trump presidency.
Today so far
- Joe Biden spoke in Illinois to advocate for Covid-19 vaccination requirements, calling on more business owners to enact them.
- The Senate laid down the ground rules around today’s debate on the deal to extend the debt limit by $480bn through 3 December. Debate is now underway, with a cloture vote expected to take place soon.
- Daniel Foote, the former special envoy for Haiti, spoke before the House foreign affairs committee about his abrupt resignation last month over what he called the Biden administration’s “inhumane” mass deportation of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers.
Back in Washington, the debate around the debt limit deal has begun.
Joe Biden said since mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for active-duty military, the Department of Defense has reported that the vaccination rate has gone from 67% to 97%.
“Here’s the deal: these requirements are already proving that they work,” Biden said. “Starting in July, when I announced the first vaccination requirement for the federal government, about 95 million eligible Americans were unvaccinated. Today, we reduced that number to 67 million eligible Americans who are unvaccinated.”
In his speech about Covid-19 vaccination requirements in Illinois, Joe Biden noted that the labor department would soon issue the mandate requiring that all employees working with more than 100 people must either be vaccinated or face testing once a week.
He did not provide a timeline for when that would be, but this vaccination requirement “will cover 100 million Americans, about two-thirds of all the people who work in America”, Biden said.
Biden: the unvaccinated "put our economy at risk"
In Illinois, Joe Biden spoke about the need for Covid-19 vaccine requirements, calling on more employers to enact them. He acknowledged that though it “wasn’t my first instinct” to require vaccines, “these requirements work”.
“We know there is no other way to beat the pandemic than to get the vast majority of people vaccinated,” Biden said. Now, “more people are getting vaccinated and more lives are getting saved”.
He made a point to appeal to the business community he was addressing, noting that “vaccination requirements are good for the economy”. He quoted one economist as saying vaccination requirements were “the most power economic stimulus ever enacted.”
“The unvaccinated put our economy at risk,” he said. “People are reluctant to go out. Even in places where there are no restrictions in going to restaurants and gyms and movie theaters, people are not going. They’re worried they’re going to get sick.”
Meanwhile, back in Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has announced the rules of engagement around the debt limit bill:
Joe Biden is in Illinois to speak about the importance of Covid-19 vaccine requirements.
More to come.
Daniel Foote, the former special envoy for Haiti, is speaking before the House foreign affairs committee.
Foote resigned in September after just two months in the role, in protest at what he called the Biden administration’s “inhumane” mass deportation of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers to what he said was a highly dangerous “collapsed state”.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer may have a deal with minority leader Mitch McConnell on extending the debt limit through 3 December, but it may be a bit of a bumpy road to get there.
Senator Joe Manchin spent the morning meeting with Joe Biden at the White House.
There are a number of issues that Manchin and the president have to discuss. First and foremost is the reconciliation bill, aka the “human infrastructure” bill, aka the Build Back Better plan, aka that lynchpin in the Biden legislative agenda that is known by many names.
If you all would think back to this summer, this originally ambitious, $3.5tn package focusing on social services and environmental measures was introduced after months of bipartisan negotiations resulted in the $1.2tn infrastructure bill. Republicans were not happy - they already negotiated down the infrastructure package quite a bit, and they felt that the size of the reconciliation bill was unreasonable.
Centrist Democrats Manchin and senator Kyrsten Sinema agreed with the Republicans, and have been standing firm on the issue ever since.
The progressives of the party believe the package was fine was it was $3.5tn and should be voted alongside the infrastructure bill to give it a better chance of passing. Republicans, meanwhile, were pretty upset at the idea of the infrastructure deal being connected to the reconciliation bill.
The latest reports were that Biden is proposing bringing the package down to $1.9tn to $2.2tn, while representative Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is countering with $2.5tn to $2.9tn.
Manchin, on the other hand, has been saying that $1.5tn - this after he said Biden applauded him for not ruling out the $1.9tn to $2.2tn range.
The White House, per principal deputy press sec Karine Jean-Pierre, is clearly relieved but underwhelmed by Republicans’ grudging deal on a temporary fix for the debt ceiling and federal government funding.
Jean-Pierre spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One as they accompanied Joe Biden on a trip to Chicago just now, in the traditional media “gaggle”.
“This is a positive step forward but we shouldn’t be in this position,” she said.
She also dismissed “partisan games” that have kept many from Wall Street to Washington to wherever on the edge of their seat this week as the US president warned, variously, of “a meteor” headed towards the US economy or Republicans playing “Russian roulette” with same if there wasn’t a bipartisan agreement asap this month.
Today so far
- Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer accepted the deal offered by minority leader Mitch McConnell to raise the debt limit by $480bn through 3 December - the same day the federal government runs out of funding. Schumer introduced a cloture vote soon after announcing that he was accepting the deal.
- Immediately after Schumer announced the deal on extending the debt limit, the Dow went up 530 points.
- The Senate judiciary committee released an interim report on Donald Trump and his efforts to pressure the justice department into overturning the 2020 presidential election. The report stated that Trump repeatedly asked the DOJ to falsely claim the election was stolen and declare the election “corrupt”, among other findings.
- In connection to the report, senator Dick Durbin is now asking the Washington DC Bar to open an investigation into Trump ally Jeffrey Clark.
- Divisions within the Democratic Party continue to deepen over the reconciliation bill, with senator Bernie Sanders declining to sign a letter of support for senator Kyrsten Sinema if it didn’t include language sniping at her for position on the legislation.
Covid restrictions have been setting off fueling a surge in recall efforts across the country, at every level of government.
In California, governor Gavin Newsom handily defeated a recall attempt last month, while opponents of the first socialist on the city council of Seattle in nearly a century have qualified for an election in December.
Read more here:
Axios is reporting that senator Bernie Sanders asked that his name not be included in a joint statement condemning last weekend’s protests against senator Kyrsten Sinema at Arizona State University, where she is a lecturer.
Activists with Living United for Change in Arizona had followed Sinema into a bathroom, urging her to pass the $3.5tn reconciliation bill that she is holding up in negotiations. The group later said they wouldn’t have had to resort to such tactics if the senator would meet with her constituents. “She’s been completely inaccessible,” the group tweeted.
According to Axios, Sanders’ team had asked that the statement be edited to include the preface, “While we hope Senator Sinema will change her position on prescription drug reform and support a major [budget] reconciliation bill...”
Booker’s aides did not accept the edit, and Sanders asked that he not be included in the statement that was signed senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and senators Dick Durbin, Mark Warner, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Manchin, Amy Klobuchar and Catherine Cortez-Masto.
Progressives in the party like Sanders have been butting heads with centrists Sinema and Machin, who are siding with Republicans in believing that the reconciliation bill is too large. Yesterday, he took both Manchin and Sinema to task on the issue, saying Manchin and Sinema won’t say specifically what they want.
It appears junior senator Cory Booker is bringing a little extra pep to the assignment as he presides over the Senate chamber:
Now almost a full year later, Republicans in several states are still continuing their partisan reviews of the 2020 election results
“They have slight differences tactically, but they all share the same strategic goals, which are primarily to continue to sow doubt about the integrity of American elections overall,” said David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, and an election administration expert who has denounced the reviews. “I don’t know that there’s a word to describe how concerning it is.”
Read more here:
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is moving forward with a cloture vote on the deal he cut with minority leader Mitch McConnell on extending the debt limit by $480bn to 3 December.
Returning to the Senate judiciary committee report on Donald Trump and his efforts to pressure the Justice Department into overturning the 2020 presidential election, senator Dick Durbin is now asking the Washington DC Bar to open an investigation into Trump ally Jeffrey Clark.
Here are some more details on the deal to extend the debt limit through December:
It’s been a tense week of back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans, bluffs on the filibuster, rebukes from the White House and scary words thrown like “economic catastrophe”.
It may seem like all is well now with this deal and the Dow immediately up 530 points. But December is not as far away as we’d like to think it is. And within really just a few short weeks, we’ll be doing this all over again.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has taken the floor now to throw some jabs at the Democrats over the deal to extend the debt limit through early December:
Reminder that much of the purpose behind the efforts of the Republicans to block the Democrats on the debt ceiling via filibuster was to sow chaos, especially around the issue on the Democrats’ domestic spending. The Biden administration has two crucial - and pricey - pieces of legislation before Congress at the moment, the $1.2tn bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5tn reconciliation “human infrastructure” bill. Republicans repeatedly pointed at those two bills as proof that spending was out of control and reasons why they couldn’t support raising the debt limit - even though funding for these bills have nothing to do with the national debt.
If you thought they were exaggerating with the words “economic catastrophe,” they really weren’t: within minutes of Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announcing that he had reached a deal with minority leader Mitch McConnell to extend the debt limit until early December, the Dow went up 530 points.
Senate reaches agreement on debt ceiling
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announced just now that there is an agreement between him and minority leader Mitch McConnell on suspending the debt limit through early December.
Leaders on Capitol Hill were in discussions past midnight over raising the debt limit and avoiding economic catastrophe.
To recap: Congress must vote to raise the country’s debt ceiling, our artificially imposed borrowing limit, by 18 October, or risk the US defaulting on its debts for the first time in its history. Defaulting on our debts means “salaries to service members will stop. Benefits to veterans will stop, and much more,” Joe Biden said yesterday.
“A failure to raise the debt limit will undermine the safety of the United States’ treasury securities, threaten reserve status of the dollar as a world currency that the world relies on, downgrade America’s credit rating and result in a rise in interest rates for families talking about mortgages, auto loans, credit cards,” he continued.
Democrats could raise the debt limit with a simple majority vote, which they have, but Republicans have twice used the filibuster to block their efforts - it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.
Republicans want Democrats to raise the debt limit “on their own” via budget reconciliation, a lengthy and complicated process ironically meant to make legislation easier to pass in the Senate - and one that would also stymie the Biden legislative agenda. Congress can at most only consider three budget reconciliation bills a year - one has already gone to the Covid bill this year, and with the “human infrastructure” reconciliation bill and voting rights still ahead, Democrats rightfully want to reserve this tactic for their heavier legislation.
So Democrats decided to bluff, with Biden pulling an about-face on his stance on changing the filibuster rules and senator Chris Coons teasing that they possibly had 50 votes to do so. Centrist Democrat senator Joe Manchin pretty much immediately killed that lie, saying his stance on the filibuster hadn’t changed, but soon after, senate minority leader Mitch McConnell came forward with the smallest of concessions.
McConnell proposed either a short-term, fixed-amount raise of the debt ceiling, to December, or an expedited budget reconciliation process.
Leadership spent the rest of the night in meetings discussing these deals, and that brings us to now.
Some Democrats are saying that these proposals are still not enough: McConnell would still be asking for budget reconciliation in December and Democrats absolutely do not want that.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday said while discussions were still ongoing, there was a clear solution in that Republicans could just stop using the filibuster to block the Democrats and allow them to raise the debt ceiling on their own without budget reconciliation.
“We could get this done today,” she said. “We don’t need to kick the can. We don’t need to go through a cumbersome process that every day brings additional risks.”
Senator Chuck Grassley also released the GOP version of the report on Donald Trump and his attempts to use the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In this report, Grassley claimed that “the available facts and evidence show that President Trump listened to his senior DOJ and White House advisors at every step of the fact pattern presented by this investigation and that he did not weaponize DOJ for his personal or campaign purposes.”
“President Trump’s focus was on ‘legitimate complaints’ and ‘reports of crimes,’” the GOP report states. “President Trump was inundated with information about election fraud allegations and witnesses testified that they believe he was wrongly informed by some people within his circle. However, when presented with the opportunity to order DOJ to take certain actions that would have been against the advice and recommendations of his senior counsel, such as terminating Rosen and sending Clark’s letter, the President did not take those actions.”
Senate releases report on Trump trying to use DoJ to overturn election results
Hello, live blog readers. Happy almost-Friday.
The Senate judiciary committee released today an interim report on Donald Trump and his efforts to pressure the justice department into overturning the 2020 presidential election.
Some key findings:
- Trump repeatedly asked DoJ leadership to endorse his false claim that the election was stolen and declare the election “corrupt”.
- White House chief of staff Mark Meadows asked acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to initiate election fraud investigations on multiple occasions – a violation of longstanding restrictions on communications between the White House and the justice department about specific law enforcement matters.
- Trump ally Jeffrey Bossert Clark told Rosen he would decline Trump’s potential offer to install him as acting attorney general if Rosen agreed to publicly announce that the DoJ was investigating election fraud and tell key swing state legislatures they should appoint alternate slates of electors following certification of the popular vote.
- Trump forced the resignation of US attorney Byung Jin (“BJay”) Pak, whom he believed was not doing enough to address false claims of election fraud in Georgia, and then went outside the line of succession to appoint someone he believed he “do something” about his election fraud claims.
- In addition to Trump White House officials, outside Trump allies with ties to the “Stop the Steal” movement and the 6 January attack on the US Capitol also pressured the DoJ to help overturn the election results.
- By pursuing false claims of election fraud before votes were certified, the justice department deviated from a longstanding practice meant to avoid inserting the justice department itself as an issue in the election.
For the full report, click here.