Republican governors in Texas, Florida and Arizona continue to accuse President Biden and his administration of creating an “immigration crisis,” while Democratic lawmakers and mayors on Sunday returned fire with accusations of “shameful” exploitation of migrants as political props 50 days before the midterm elections.
What became clear over the weekend was that GOP Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Doug Ducey of Arizona are not inclined to halt the use of buses or chartered planes to ship migrants to liberal locales as a tool to taunt Democrats under a national media spotlight. Assertions remain potent with the GOP base that the southern border is unsafe and insecure, and that immigrants are drug cartel criminals who enter illegally and tap public benefits.
▪ Fox News: Fifty additional migrants arrived at Vice President Harris’s official residence on Saturday. Texas sent six more buses of migrants to New York.
▪ Vice: Harris, in a Friday interview, described GOP governors’ actions as “dereliction of duty.”
In response, Democrats continued to pitch pro-immigration messages to voters, promised shelter and services for migrants and their families under the law, and wielded pointed condemnations of red-state governors for refusing to sync up transports in advance with states and major cities to which migrants, including children, are being relocated, often far from court-ordered hearing locations.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) on Sunday called on Abbott and DeSantis to work with major city mayors and administrations.
“I traveled to Washington last week, spoke with [Democrats] Sen. [Charles] Schumer, Sen. [Kirsten] Gillibrand and other lawmakers and sat down with the Biden administration to talk about — how do we coordinate?” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Their goal is to make sure that we get resources and coordination that’s needed.”
“These migrants and asylum-seekers are not coming to any particular city. They’re coming to America. This is an American crisis that we need to face,” Adams said.
Biden argues that his administration has a system in place for safely handling migrants at the southern border, but he accused Republicans of blocking federal plans while also opposing legislative reform proposals that for decades have faltered in Congress. The United States will see more than 2 million migrants enter the country this year.
“We understand that we have work to do,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday. “We understand that. And we have been doing the work to do that.”
▪ Axios: Cabinet heads and White House officials met on Friday to discuss a range of pressing immigration issues — including “litigation options” to respond to GOP governors.
▪ NPR: Critics say transporting migrants from Texas to Massachusetts was political. Was it legal?
Here’s what else we’re watching this week:
Today: The president and first lady Jill Biden this morning are attending the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II at London’s Westminster Abbey among the largest gathering of global leaders and elected officials in many decades. The Bidens also paid their respects to her majesty on Sunday in Westminster Hall (The Hill).
Tuesday: Federal Judge Raymond Dearie, the new special master selected to weigh documents for potential executive privilege drawn from the cartons of materials in the possession of former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago and seized by the FBI, has scheduled a Tuesday meeting in the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse with Trump’s legal team and the representatives from the Justice Department. Dearie faces a Nov. 30 deadline to complete his review. The department on Friday appealed part of a Florida judge’s ruling laying out Dearie’s task (The Hill).
Wednesday: Biden will address the U.N. General Assembly in New York City during a gathering expected to be dominated by Russia’s war with Ukraine (The Hill). The White House wants the president’s U.N. speech to frame the war in the context of larger global tests for democracies and autocracies, Politico reported. … Biden also will meet during the U.N. gathering with Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss. Their tentatively planned first bilateral session was moved to New York instead of London (The Guardian).
Also on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to conclude a two-day meeting with another inflation-fighting (and markets roiling) hike in interest rates, predicted to be a third-straight 75-basis-point increase (Yahoo Finance). The government also will report data about August sales of existing homes, expected to show a slowdown because of rising mortgage rates.
▪ Bloomberg News: Fed seen raising to 4 percent in 2022 and signaling higher for longer.
▪ The Hill: Who is Dearie, the special master in the Trump case?
▪ Axios: Team Trump perceives Dearie as an FBI skeptic.
LEADING THE DAY
➤ POLITICS & INVESTIGATIONS
Anything can happen in politics in 50 days, right? We are marking off the calendar until Election Day, which will determine if there’s divided government next year, if a president with upside-down job approval ratings and navigating sky-high inflation can nudge members of his party to victory, and if a former president under multiple investigations and personally delighted to be in the news will be a net plus for the GOP, even when not on any ballot.
The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports that Democrats are riding a wave of enthusiasm, while Republicans are looking to rebound from a grueling primary season and recast the fight for control of Congress as a referendum on Biden and his party.
Josh Kraushaar, Axios: Democrats’ midterm reality check. The elevation of weak Senate candidates is the biggest political challenge for Republicans in the home stretch.
Senate Democrats are braced for the possibility of a Republican majority in the House next year. The new majority would block any Biden momentum, investigate Democrats and the White House and help lay the groundwork for the 2024 presidential election, they predict.
If Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is elected by his colleagues to be Speaker, some Democrats say they anticipate gridlock, possible partial government shutdowns and even default of the country’s authority to borrow to meet obligations. McCarthy will be in Pittsburgh today to lay out a midterm communications plan for Republican House candidates — a gossamer version of his party’s 1994 Contract with America, which the California conservative has reframed as a “Commitment to America.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) says he’s worried about attempts by allies of former President Trump to undermine the traditional political neutrality of the U.S. military. Other Democrats say they hope there will be narrow areas of common ground where both parties could conceivably collaborate, reports The Hill’s Alexander Bolton.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who threw his party into a tailspin last week when he unveiled a bill that would nationalize abortion restrictions with a proposed cutoff at 15 weeks of pregnancy, continued to defend his position during a Sunday interview on Fox News. Democrats have thanked Graham for unintentionally providing material for progressive campaign ads that seek to argue Republicans are extremists who will take aim at stripping away constitutional rights, one by one.
“I will not sit on the sidelines and watch this nation become China when it comes to aborting babies up to the moment of birth,” the senator said. “I reject that. I will continue to introduce legislation at the national level setting a minimum standard at 15 weeks.”
On Thursday, Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman pressed Republican candidate Mehmet Oz to take a position on Graham’s ban, while incumbent New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) warned that her GOP opponent Don Bolduc and congressional Republicans would push for a nationwide ban on terminating pregnancies, if elected. Democrats point to victories on a ballot initiative vote in Kansas and recent polling to assert that most Americans back Roe v. Wade rather than a patchwork of restrictive laws dealing with abortion and access to reproductive services across the states.
The Hill: Swing-state Republicans on defense over Graham’s abortion ban.
Members of the House Jan. 6 investigative committee are planning at least one more public hearing, possibly on Sept. 28, and are racing to craft a legislative proposal before the end of the year aimed at safeguarding elections and preventing insurrections, based on evidence uncovered about the events of the 2020 election — before, during and after.
“We have some minor factual loose ends to wrap up, but then really what we need to do is to make our sweeping legislative recommendations about what needs to be done to fortify America against coups and insurrections and political violence in the future,” said committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) (The Hill).
▪ Politico: Why the Jan. 6 panel is keeping its distance from the Justice Department’s Trump probes.
▪ Axios: Members say their final report will likely come afterthe election but that late September and October will “push out” information before the November elections.
▪ The Associated Press: Biden warns U.S. democracy is threatened, but how can he as president save it?
Policies to reckon with political misinformation, as crafted by social media companies, are weak ahead of the Nov. 8 contests, according to a new report released today (The Hill). Researchers with New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights fault Meta, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok.
▪ The Associated Press: Trump openly embraces, amplifies QAnon conspiracy theories.
▪ The New York Times: Trump in Ohio on Saturday appeared to embrace QAnon by including a particular song during a rally playlist. The music was all but identical to a song called “Wwg1wga” — an abbreviation for the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.” The extremist group’s adherents have falsely asserted that Trump as president was locked in a war against satanic, child-trafficking liberals and Democrats.
Worries about chaos and possible violence after Nov. 8, election challenges and refusals to concede losses, are prompted by midterm conservative candidates, Trump’s continued apocalyptic rhetoric and extremist groups eager to challenge democracy by definition and practice.
🗳 Here are six midterm Republican candidates in battleground states who say they will refuse to accept election results if they lose (The New York Times). … In a survey by The Washington Post of 19 of the most closely watched statewide races in the country, the contrast between Republican and Democratic candidates was stark. While seven GOP nominees committed to accepting the outcomes in their contests, 12 either refused to commit or declined to respond. On the Democratic side, 18 said they would accept the outcome and one did not respond to the Post’s survey.
Tensions are rising among lawmakers who are frustrated about being kept in the dark as Democratic leaders strategize how to pass an energy deal struck with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — and avoid a government shutdown in the process.
As The Hill’s Aris Folley and Rachel Frazin report, Democratic leadership wants to use a must-pass stopgap spending bill by Sept. 30 to advance Manchin’s proposal. Roughly two weeks ahead of the funding deadline, negotiations remain opaque.
“We don’t know what it is. They haven’t released the text, they don’t give us the detailed explanation,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told The Hill last week. “So, I don’t know how you could ask people to vote for something they don’t know what it is.”
Only a broad outline of Manchin’s bill has been released so far, leaving lawmakers on both sides of the aisle unhappy. Some Democrats — such as Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — are publicly calling for a clean bill without Manchin’s additions (The Hill).
“The bill includes setting maximum timelines for the environmental review process for energy projects, which advocates say could undercut the analysis required for a project’s approval and weaken community involvement,” according to The Hill.
▪ Bloomberg: Manchin says he may need 20 GOP votes for his energy-permitting plan.
▪ Politico: To fight, or not to fight? Progressive caucus warily eyes Manchin’s energy deal.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday delivered remarks in Armenia, expressing support for the country in the wake of deadly clashes with its neighbor, Azerbaijan (CNBC).
Pelosi strongly condemned “illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan” and said the violence threatened the possibility of a peace agreement between the nations. The escalating violence stems from a decades-long standoff over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated mostly by native Armenians.
Both sides last Wednesday agreed to a cease-fire, days before Pelosi’s arrival in Armenia (The Hill).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
Biden says the COVID-19 pandemic is over in the United States, adds that he intends to seek a second term but has not made a firm decision, and warns Russian President Vladimir Putin “don’t” if he is pondering the use of chemical or tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
During a CBS “60 Minutes” interview recorded last week and timed to grab some of the Sunday night football viewing audience, the president said he hasn’t made a “firm decision” about seeking reelection in 2024 and will reassess after the midterm elections.
“Look, my intention, as I said, to begin with is that I would run again,” Biden told CBS’s Scott Pelley. “But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.”
Ahead of a major speech the president plans to give this week at the United Nations, Biden said Putin should reconsider use of nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine. “Don’t. Don’t,” the president said, when asked about such concerns, widely discussed in European capitals, at the Pentagon and among intelligence agencies. “You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II,” he added.
The president declined to discuss what a U.S. response would be, saying only that it would be “consequential.”
“They’ll become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been,” Biden said. “And depending on the extent of what they do will determine what response would occur.”
Biden asserted during the interview that the “pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over,” he repeated.
▪ CNN: Biden to CBS: “The pandemic is over.”
▪ NPR: Biden says the COVID-19 pandemic is over. This is what the data tells us.
No federal infectious disease expert has asserted that the ongoing pandemic, at least in the United States, is over as the government continues to try to persuade Americans to get vaccinated, boosted and to voluntarily use precautions against the highly transmissible BA.5 version of omicron. More than 1 million people in this country have died from infections with the coronavirus.
▪ The Hill: Biden says he intends to run in 2024, has not made a “firm decision.”
▪ NBC News reported that the Biden political team is putting together a reelection effort still in early stages, but with plans to use DNC funds and with built-in flexibility if the president opts not to seek a second term.
▪ The Hill: Biden says he intends to run. Democrats still have their doubts.
▪ CBS News: Biden tells CBS that U.S. troops would defend Taiwan, but White House says this is not official U.S. policy.
▪ USA Today: Biden says he doesn’t know what national secrets are contained in federal documents found by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago.
■ Ukraine war shows the U.S. military isn’t ready for war with China, by Hal Brands, Bloomberg Opinion columnist.https://bloom.bg/3UkB1I9
■ The real midterm election stakes, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3dlNieT
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at noon.
The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Florence Pan to be a circuit judge for the D.C. Circuit.
The president this morningis attending a funeral for Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey, along with the first lady. The Bidens will depart London at 2:25 p.m. BST to return to the White House by 5:05 p.m. EST.
The vice president at 5:40 p.m. in her office will ceremonially administer the oath of office to Yohannes Abraham to be U.S. ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will speak in Washington at 9 a.m. at the STC Advocacy Summit focused on early childhood education and child hunger. He will join a virtual roundtable with administration officials at 11:30 a.m. aimed at the Latino community to discuss mental health.
The Clinton Global Initiative conference today and Tuesday in New York City is scheduled to include international, federal, state and local officials as speakers, including: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Gary Gensler andBaltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D).
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday promised there would be no letup in the counteroffensive that has reclaimed cities and towns across the country from Russian troops even as shelling continued across much of Ukraine (The Associated Press).
“Maybe now it seems to some of you that after a series of victories we have a certain lull,” Zelensky told the nation in his nightly video address. “But this is not a lull. This is preparation for the next series. … Because Ukraine must be free — all of it.”
Among the successful counteroffensives are attacks in the northeastern part of the country that have pushed the war directly onto Putin’s doorstep as Ukrainian artillery strikes hit military targets in Russia (The Washington Post).
“On Saturday, a new round of strikes hit the Belgorod region in Western Russia, killing at least one person and wounding two,” according to the Post. “On Friday, Ukraine reportedly struck the base of the Russian 3rd Motorized Rifle Division near Valuyki, just nine miles north of the Russia-Ukraine border.”
Russia has blamed the attacks on Ukrainian forces, but the government in Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for them.
▪ The Washington Post: “Look, these are our boys”: Ukrainian troops drive Russian tanks on new front line.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Russia expands attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine after battlefield losses.
▪ The New York Times: Ukrainian officials try to build support to hold Russia accountable for alleged war crimes.
▪ The New York Times: Ukraine’s counteroffensive forces face mobilized inmates and private military forces fighting for Russia and drones supplied to Russia by Iran. There is no evidence of a mass withdrawal of Russian forces in the east and south.
▪ Reuters: Russia’s Foreign Ministry today said it is ready for talks with the United States about a prisoner swap, but scolded U.S. embassy representatives in Moscow.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan of Turkey says he is targeting membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Eurasian political, economic and security organization representing China, India, Iran, Russia, Pakistan and several former Soviet bloc states (Reuters).
Turkey would be the first NATO member to join the organization. Erdoǧan’s announcement followed talks in Uzbekistan last week, where he spoke with leaders including Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Bloomberg).
“Our relationship with these countries will be moved to a much different position with this step,” Erdoǧan said, according to Turkish media.
▪ Reuters: A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit southeastern Taiwan on Sunday, leading to building collapse.
➤ POX, PANDEMIC & HEALTH
Monkeypox cases are declining in many areas of the country, making it harder for the administration to sell lawmakers on the urgency of its $4.5 billion funding request, writes The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel. The GOP says the White House already has more than enough funding, and some Democrats acknowledge the declining case numbers of the virus. That, combined with the administration’s initially halting response to the disease, have complicated efforts on Capitol Hill to justify additional funding.
But experts and public health advocates warn about the consequences of underfunding public health.
“It appears that we haven’t learned anything … controlling outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics require a sustained effort over a lengthy period of time,” said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If we’re truly going to understand what happened and how to continue to prevent the spread of this virus, we have to put the resources in place to do so.”
🦠Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) on Sunday announced that she tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms and is working remotely (The Hill).
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,053,420. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 391, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
➤ STATE & TERRITORY WATCH
Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday after knocking out power on the island, forcing rescues and evacuations and creating flash flood conditions (The Associated Press).
“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi (D).
The storm arrived on the island’s southwestern coast, near Punta Tocon, at 3:20 p.m. local time on Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center, which warned that the Dominican Republic also should expect “catastrophic flooding” from the storm.
With flash flood warnings in effect across Puerto Rico, an island with more than 3 million residents, experts predicted up to 30 inches of rain (The Washington Post). The National Hurricane Center this morning reported the storm had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. The center predicted Fiona could become a major hurricane by Wednesday, meaning a Category 3 or stronger storm with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or higher.
As floodwaters rose, hundreds of people were evacuated across the island. Hurricane Fiona washed away a bridge in the mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. Fiona struck just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria (The Associated Press).
“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?’” Danny Hernández, a San Juan worker who planned on waiting out the storm with his family in Mayaguez, told The Associated Press.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Sunday announced on Twitter that her department’s Response Organization had been activated, and responders were deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“We’re working with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], local officials, and authorities to monitor #Fiona outages and will assist with restoration efforts as it becomes safe to do so,” Granholm tweeted.
Separately in headlines across the country, state attorneys general are leading efforts to crack down on the power of big technology firms, The Hill’s Rebecca Klar reports. California last week announced an antitrust lawsuit against e-commerce giant Amazon (The New York Times) and a Texas-led coalition is taking on Google with an antitrust lawsuit focused on the company’s ad dominance (The Hill).
And finally … A beloved Hollywood icon is getting a facelift beginning today. A sign recognized around the world that has long proclaimed both a Los Angeles industry and the dazzle of cinema fantasies is getting a fresh paint job to celebrate its centennial, its first sprucing-up since 2012.
Over the course of eight weeks, a crew of 10 workers will apply almost 400 gallons of white paint to the 45-foot tall sign, which originally said, “Hollywoodland,” the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
“The sign is the pride of Los Angeles and we are excited for fans all around the world to see this makeover for a very special 100th anniversary,” said Jeff Zarrinnam, chair of the Hollywood Sign Trust (Los Angeles Daily News).