Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden wins Arizona, confers with Dem leaders; Trump tweets

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday the 13th! What could go wrong, especially in 2020? 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, and 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 reported each morning this week: Monday, 237,584; Tuesday, 238,251; Wednesday, 239,638; Thursday, 241,800; Friday, 242,430.

President-elect Joe Biden won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes on Thursday night, according to the state’s ballot count and projections by all the major news outlets, cementing his presidential victory and further pressuring President Trump to concede the race (The New York Times and CNN).  

Biden and Democratic leaders spoke on Thursday about trying to pass a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill next month, even as Trump showed no signs of giving up his legal challenges while Biden prepares to occupy the White House. 

The president-elect, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) conferred about a stimulus measure that has for months gone nowhere in talks with GOP leaders, but which may look more urgent as the COVID-19 crisis worsens and new daily records for infections lead the headlines nationally. Ambitions for an accord next month face high hurdles as the two parties and both chambers remain divided over policy and price tags.

Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that Democrats continue to push for a stimulus bill in excess of $2 trillion, with that stance only being hardened since last week’s election. 

“It has been our position all along to crush the virus,” Pelosi said during a joint press conference alongside Schumer when asked if her position is the same as before Election Day. “We’re at the same place. Even more-so.” 

On the GOP side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is steering talks for Republicans, continues to call for a “targeted” COVID-19 package of roughly $500 billion, which the Senate voted to support twice before Nov. 3. 

“I gather [Pelosi] and the Democratic leader in the Senate still are looking at something dramatically larger. That’s not a place I think we’re willing to go,” McConnell told reporters on Thursday. “But I do think there needs to be another package. Hopefully we can get past the impasse we’ve had now for four or five months and get serious” (The Hill). 

The Kentucky senator’s approach was dismissed out of hand by Democrats. During the press conference, Schumer referred to McConnell’s proposed plan as “emaciated,” with the gulf between both sides as wide as it’s ever been. One Senate GOP aide told the Morning Report that it remains “unlikely” that a deal will be reached.  

However, that hasn’t stopped some on each side of the aisle from chiming in. Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (Ill.) called for leaders to “do what we can achieve now” and arrive at a workable compromise (The Washington Post). Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) added that he spoke to Pelosi about a stimulus package on Wednesday, but was not overly optimistic about striking an accord. 

“They might not get a stimulus. They want a lot more than we’ll give,” Shelby said (Politico). 



Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, said in an interview Thursday on MSNBC, that Biden and McConnell have not spoken in the days since the election. “I think Senator McConnell still seems to be insisting somehow that President Trump won the election. He didn’t,” Klain said.  

Biden’s adviser also affirmed that the president-elect on Jan. 20, after taking the oath of office, will sign a “stack” of executive orders, including action to protect Dreamers, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, reversing some of Trump’s environmental rollbacks “and fixing some of the flaws in the Affordable Care Act that the Trump administration has imposed. … He is going to begin to implement his COVID plan on day one. He’s going to send to Congress immigration reform legislation on day one. We have a very, very, very busy first day planned. That’s what the voters voted for.”

As Biden’s transition speeds toward its second week, the former vice president says he will name additional senior White House aides to join him in Washington in January and identify before Thanksgiving some of the Cabinet appointees he will ask the Senate to swiftly confirm. 

Trump’s refusal to concede the race has left Biden shut out of intelligence briefings and requests to the FBI to conduct full background checks on those he’d like to formally nominate in January while agencies and departments wait for the General Services Administration to acknowledge the winner of the presidential contest. 

Klain called the GSA position “unreasonable” and said the delay “will have an impact. We’re in a COVID crisis. Right now, there are officials inside the Department of Health and Human Services who are busy planning a vaccination campaign for the months of February and March, when Joe Biden will be president. And so, the sooner we can get our transition experts into meetings with the folks who are planning the vaccination campaign, the more seamless the transition from a Biden presidency to a Trump presidency can be,” he told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.

Under increasing pressure to explain why Biden should not immediately receive national security briefings from the Trump administration to prepare while the nation faces multiple crises, including the pandemic, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) agreed he should. Also in that camp are Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) (The Hill). 

Klain (pictured below in the Oval Office with President Obama) praised Lankford and other senators for speaking up. He argued that Biden “is entitled, under the statute, to get those kinds of briefings. And, hopefully, they will be forthcoming very soon.”

The Hill: Klain’s position with the president-elect “matches the moment,” according to former colleagues who spoke with The Hill’s Reid Wilson. Organized, easy going, experienced in three branches of government, law and the private sector, Klain previously steered the implementation of federal recovery funds and managed a multi-agency response to the Ebola crisis. Like Biden, Klain, 59, values relationships and cooperation to resolve complex political and policy challenges.

The Hill: Biden, who is Catholic, and Pope Francis discussed the climate crisis and “shared beliefs” on Thursday by phone. 




CORONAVIRUS: Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday that a national lockdown is not inevitable and believes the United States could make it through the winter without one if “we can just hang in there” until the vaccines arrive. 

“The cavalry is coming here,” Fauci told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Vaccines are going to have a major positive impact.”

The nation’s foremost epidemiologist’s comments were a silver lining in a continued dark period for the country as case totals continue to rise. On Thursday, more than 153,000 in the U.S. tested positive for the virus, marking the ninth straight day of 100,000-plus cases and a fifth straight day of rising case totals. It is also the first time infections have eclipsed 150,000 (The Hill). 

However, that hasn’t stopped some parts of the country from moving ahead with lockdowns of their own. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) announced a 30-day stay-at-home order advisory starting Monday in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, saying that the city has reached a “critical point” (The Hill).  

Bloomberg News: Fauci says an end to the pandemic is in sight, thanks to vaccines. 

The Associated Press: Virus surge: Schools abandon classes, states retreat. 

The Hill: Minnesota to offer free at-home tests amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Reuters: Australian COVID-19 vaccine candidate produces antibody response in early tests.

The New York Times: How Pfizer plans to deliver its vaccine (it’s complicated). Success will hinge on an untested network of governments, companies and health workers. If an analysis planned for next week confirms the vaccine’s safety, the company is likely to ask the Food and Drug Administration this month for emergency authorization to distribute its vaccine. In that case, limited doses will most likely be shipped to large hospitals and pharmacies to be provided to health care workers and other vulnerable groups. But the specifics of how that will work are hazy at best.



Meanwhile, new COVID-19 cases with ties to Trump’s orbit continued to climb on Thursday, with three more coming to light. Corey Lewandowski, an adviser to the president, Jeff Miller, a top adviser to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Richard Walters, the chief of staff at the Republican National Committee, all tested positive for the virus.  

Lewandowski and Miller were both at the election night event at the White House. In the ten days since the event, a number of individuals close to the White House have tested positive, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson (The Hill).

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the dean of the House, also tested positive for the virus on Thursday. Young, 87, said in a tweet that he is “feeling strong” and is working from his home in Alaska (The Hill).

The Hill: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) is in quarantine after his wife tested positive for COVID-19 after some traveling. 

CNN: Justice Samuel Alito raises religious liberty concerns about COVID restrictions and same-sex marriage ruling.

AARP: Nursing home cases skyrocket in 12 states where COVID-19 is surging.

Reuters: COVID-19 fatality rate down 30 percent since April, study finds.




POLITICS: Biden is the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Arizona since President Bill Clinton in 1996, underscoring the demographic and political shifts in what had once been a reliably red state.

Where the presidential election count stands this morning:

  • Arizona: Biden is now projected to be the winner with a lead of 11,434 votes, 49.41 percent to 49.07 percent;
  • Georgia: Biden is ahead by 14,116 votes, 49.52 percent to 49.24 percent;
  • North Carolina: Trump is ahead by 71,399 votes, 49.91 percent to 48.62 percent.

Trump has gone a full week without public comments beyond his Twitter feed, an unusual retreat for a usually voluble president while he contests election results and aggressively raises funds for a new leadership PAC.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday said the president has stepped out of the spotlight while legal challenges play out (The Hill).

The Associated Press: Trump, focused on the election aftermath, has been silent as the coronavirus surges.

While Trump stews over his loss, there are signs other agencies were prepared for a change-up, in part following customary protocol. The Secret Service and the Federal Aviation Administration beefed up security around Biden, his home and where he holds events in Wilmington, Del., without commenting on his electoral vote status (Business Insider). 

> Fundraising: The president’s new leadership PAC called Save America was advertised to donors as a legal defense fund to battle what Trump says without evidence is election fraud. In reality, money is divvied up now in a way that can also benefit Trump by paying personal expenses that his campaign could not legally cover. “This is a slush fund. That’s the bottom line,” Paul S. Ryan, a longtime campaign finance attorney with the good government group Common Cause, told The Associated Press. “Trump may just continue to string out this meritless litigation in order to fleece his own supporters of their money and use it in the coming years to pad his own lifestyle while teasing a 2024 candidacy.  

The Hill: In the category of time management, the administration’s left-to-do environmental wish list before January includes finalizing plans to allow drilling in the Arctic and off the coasts, lifting protections for endangered species and migratory birds, and controlling the range of studies that can inform U.S. government policy choices.

> Senate – Georgia: Graham says he is working in coordination with McConnell and the Republican Party to donate $1 million from his campaign to help colleagues in a pair of Georgia Senate races that will determine which party holds the majority next year.

On Fox News, Graham instructed donors where they could send contributions while also challenging all Senate Republicans to direct campaign cash to runoffs for seats held by Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia. Graham said Vice President Pence will travel to Georgia next week to campaign for the incumbent senators. 

Graham, who won his reelection bid this month, said the GOP’s “WinRed” fund is also raising cash for the Jan. 5 runoffs in the Peach State. WinRed PAC raised $1 billion over 15 months, it said in October. Campaign finance website reports where some of the money went. 

The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the Perdue and Loeffler campaigns have raked in a combined $32 million this week as they prepare for Jan. 5. 



Former President Obama has been doing a lot of talking. Fresh off the campaign trail and celebrating the success of the Biden-Harris ticket and enthusiastic voter turnout, he’s also working to promote his latest memoir, “A Promised Land,” which debuts on Tuesday. Interviews with the 44th president will appear on CBS News beginning on Sunday. He also talked with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, during an interview to appear on Monday. The Atlantic published an “adapted and updated” excerpt of Obama’s book HERE.


MORE CONGRESS: Pelosi is facing the prospect of leading a historically thin House majority where the progressive and centrist factions are taking turns bashing one another publicly as the former vice president preaches unity ahead of taking office.

In the week since Election Day, progressives have accused centrists of taking the base for granted, while front-line lawmakers and centrists pan progressives for being the main reason for House Democratic losses over the past week and a half. Specifically, centrists have pointed to left-wing calls to “defund the police” and other monikers that landed in GOP attack ads, as The Hill’s Cristina Marcos and Mike Lillis note

As for the president-elect, he is trying to project an air of calm and unity despite Trump and the GOP’s refusal to acknowledge the election results. However, the honeymoon period for Biden is expected to be short-lived as he will have little wiggle room in a House Democratic majority that is fractured.  

Politico: Inside the House Democrats’ post-election reckoning.

Paul Kane: House Democrats’ down-ballot leadership races offer a look at a post-Pelosi future.

The Hill: McCarthy on new members who have backed QAnon: “Give them an opportunity.”

Roll Call: Secure remote voting possible for the House, but opposition remains.

The Hill: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) says Congress could pass a retirement savings bill this year.

> Senate bind: 2021 will be the first time in more than 50 years where a new president will have to contend with the Senate being controlled by the other party during his first 100 days, raising questions about what kind of Cabinet and other executive branch officials the former vice president will be able to get confirmed.  

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, the GOP controlled the Senate during former President Obama’s final two years in office and allowed some of his nominees through, but those confirmation processes were notably slow. Republicans will have to determine how much leeway to give Biden. Two key examples are under the microscope: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who could earn nominations to become Treasury and Labor secretaries. However, whether Republicans allow Biden to plow ahead with those possible nominations remains an open question. 

The Associated Press: “She knows Maine”: How Sen. Susan Collins (R) defied Democrats.


The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 



Biden should think twice before he rescinds the Trump travel ban, by Nolan Rappaport, opinion contributor, The Hill. 

Republicans should be defending Georgia’s election process, by Trey Grayson, opinion contributor, The New York Times.


The House meets at 2 p.m. on Monday.  

The Senate will meet Monday at 3 p.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Kristi Johnson to be a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The president will receive an update on Operation Warp Speed (vaccine development) at noon.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak and take questions at 11:45 a.m. at an event hosted in McLean, Va., by the Council for National Policy. Later today, the secretary will begin a trip until Nov. 23 that will take him to France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. 

President-elect Biden is at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and will confer with some of his transition advisers today. 

Virtual Event Announcement: Thursday, Nov. 19

The Hill’s Diversity & Inclusion Summit

Sessions begin at 11 a.m. ET

Nearly 250 years after its founding, America is more diverse than ever before. Yet significant barriers to justice, equal opportunity and inclusion for all still exist for many Black, Hispanic, LGBT and minority Americans. What will it take for diversity, inclusion and equity to become more than just buzzwords? At this moment of national reflection, join The Hill for a conversation with change makers and stakeholders to discuss the active steps that policymakers and citizens should take toward meaningful change. RSVP now for event reminders.

OPEN to nominations! The Hill’s annual Top Lobbyists lists will be published in December. The selection process is explained HERE.  

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube.


ECONOMY: The government reported on Thursday that 723,000 workers filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, the latest sign of the economy’s struggle to dig out from the damage done by the coronavirus pandemic. “Technically it looks like we’re in a recovery,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton, “but we’re still so much in the hole” (The New York Times).

FUTURE FOCUSED: The leading contender to be Biden’s Defense secretary is Michele Flournoy, 59, a respected policy wonk who held the No. 3 civilian Pentagon job during the Obama years. If nominated and confirmed, she’d be the first woman to lead the Pentagon. She has called for greater investment in emerging technologies and believes China is the United States’ biggest competitor. Progressive critics, however, view Flournoy as emblematic of past foreign policy failures (The Hill). … Biden is expected to act swiftly to roll back some of Trump’s conservative changes to sexual and reproductive health programs, including one that resulted in hundreds of thousands fewer people receiving care through a federal family planning program (The Hill). … Biden will have limited sway to influence the economy if the Senate is narrowly controlled by Republicans who disagree with his policies. His economic agenda on issues such as trade, regulation and emergency spending may rely on his executive muscle rather than legislation (The Hill).

PEACEKEEPERS KILLED: In Egypt, six Americans who were part of a peacekeeping force known as Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) were killed on Thursday in a helicopter crash, along with a Czech and a French member of the force. One American survived what was described as an accident (NBC News). 

➔ TECH: The rising popularity of alternative social media app Parler is raising concerns over the spread of misinformation and potentials for radicalizing users. The app has been boosted by conservatives, surging since Election Day, as Republicans amp up allegations of anti-conservative bias from social media giants Twitter and Facebook (The Hill).


And finally … Congratulations to the winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz, which explored some of history about White House pets (the Biden family German shepherds, Major and Champ, are in the news this week). 

With dogged mastery, here are The Hill’s puzzle champs: Patrick Kavanagh, Daniel Bachhuber, Mary Anne McEnery, Candi Cee, Donna Nackers, Phil Kirstein, Lori Benso, John Donato, Pam Manges, Eric Chapman, Donna Minter, Luther Berg and Dylan Dombroski. 

They knew that Quentin Roosevelt, young son of former President Teddy Roosevelt, once brought his calico pony named Algonquin up the White House elevator to amuse his sick brother, Archie. 

The Obamas added Bo and later Sunny to their family while living in the White House. Portuguese water dogs, which have many attributes, are not big shedders (daughter Malia Obama has allergies). 

Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush were amused when their Scottish terrier, Barney, became famous thanks to the White House “Barney cam,” which at the outset attracted 24 million online views in the earliest days of web videos.

In 1960, then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev surprised former President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy with a gift of a mixed-breed puppy, Pushinka, born to “Strelka,” a Soviet research dog sent into space aboard Sputnik 5. With a cute ball of fur, Krushchev slyly played up the early days of Russian dominance in space. 


Tags 2020 election Anthony Fauci Ben Carson Bernie Sanders Bill Clinton chief of staff Chuck Grassley Chuck Schumer Corey Lewandowski Coronavirus David Perdue Don Young Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren James Lankford Jeff Miller Joe Biden Kelly Loeffler Kevin McCarthy Lindsey Graham Lori Lightfoot Mark Meadows Mike Pompeo Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Morning Report Nancy Pelosi Pope Francis President-elect Richard Neal Richard Shelby Rob Portman Samuel Alito Susan Collins White House

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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