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President Biden predicted a few weeks ago that the United Auto Workers would not strike three major auto manufacturers. He was wrong.
The UAW began what it called a stand-up strike early on Sept. 15 with initial walk-offs at a portion of Ford’s Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Stellantis’s Jeep complex in Toledo, Ohio, and General Motors’ commercial truck plant in Wentzville, Mo., near St. Louis.
Biden, who identifies himself as the most pro-union president in history, initially showed no inclination that he would publicly take sides between the auto companies and the demands of workers.
TODAY, HE’LL JOIN A PICKET LINE in Wayne County, Mich., abandoning any appearance of neutrality in a fight over the future of the American middle class, U.S. manufacturing and perhaps the future of electric vehicles. It could have outsize repercussions in next year’s presidential election — and for the economy.
Last year, Biden told union workers gathered in Philadelphia that they helped propel his long political career.
“You’re a gigantic reason why I’m standing here, standing here today as your president,” he told members of the AFL-CIO in 2022. “I really mean it. I owe you. From the very beginning of my running for office, back when I was a kid, it was labor, the unions. Made a difference.”
Biden wants the UAW’s endorsement along with other union backing he’s received during his bid for reelection. UAW President Shawn Fain, who has harshly criticized former President Trump, invited Biden to come to Michigan.
Trump was already scheduled on Wednesday to speak to auto workers in Detroit while also ducking a GOP presidential debate taking place in California. He argues he has union workers’ interests at heart, but his term as president left many with misgivings.
When the UAW staged a six-week strike against GM in 2019, Trump mostly stayed silent, even as his administration dangled the possibility he might take workers’ side (Politico).
The former president wants to reclaim the loyalty of blue-collar union workers in Michigan and elsewhere who helped him defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Biden defeated Trump in 2020 in part because union households shifted toward Democrats in key districts and states.
The Washington Post: The difference between the Biden and Trump visits to Michigan.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE WE’RE WATCHING this morning: terms of a Hollywood deal to end the Writers Guild strike (which has yet to be voted on) and what happens next, House GOP chaos as moderates imagine ways to try to avert a shutdown, plus Capitol drama as an indicted New Jersey senator vows to fight to clear his name on bribery charges, even as fellow Democrats publicly urge him to step down.
LEADING THE DAY
With five days remaining until a possible government shutdown, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and his allies are heading toward their next big gamble in the spending crisis, but it’s still not clear they have the votes. House GOP leaders will try to move forward on four spending bills today that are full of conservative policy priorities, but would do nothing to avert a shutdown (Roll Call, The Washington Post and Politico).
ACROSS THE AISLE COOPERATION: A small but significant number of moderate GOP lawmakers are plotting a path toward potentially working with Democrats to combat a shutdown, The Hill’s Emily Brooks and Mychael Schnell report. At least two Republicans — Reps. Mike Lawler (N.Y.) and Don Bacon (Neb.) — have expressed an openness to joining Democrats in signing a discharge petition, a mechanism to force a vote on a funding measure against the wishes of the Speaker.
Meanwhile, the bipartisan Problem Solvers’ Caucus released a framework for short-term stopgap last week, and members of the Republican Governance Group and New Democrat Coalition, two more centrist groups, have also been in touch about a way to keep the government open, including through a continuing resolution, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Five Republicans would need to join their party’s leaders in order to force action with Democrats.
AVIATION ASSISTANCE: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has called the House’s proposed short-term resolution a “total non-starter” in the Senate. Preempting the lower chamber, Schumer said last week he was setting up a path for the Senate to advance a House-passed bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration that could serve as a vehicle for an overall short-term funding extension (CBS News). At the center of the Senate funding debate: funding for Ukraine, as senators of both parties are debating whether to include new military assistance in any stopgap spending bill (The New York Times and Roll Call).
CREDIT WOES: Ratings agency Moody’s said on Monday that a government shutdown would be “credit negative” as it would highlight the weakness of U.S. institutional and governance strength compared to other top-rated governments, even though its economic impact will likely be short-lived (Reuters).
“A shutdown would be credit negative for the US sovereign,” Moody’s, which has a triple-A rating for the U.S. government, said in a statement. “In particular, it would demonstrate the significant constraints that intensifying political polarization put on fiscal policy making at a time of declining fiscal strength, driven by widening fiscal deficits and deteriorating debt affordability.”
UNDER PRESSURE: A defiant Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) pushed back Monday on calls from some fellow Democrats to resign just days after he and his wife were charged with bribery. “I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” Menendez said at a news conference, adding, “The allegations leveled against me are just that — allegations.”
Menendez, who is serving his third full term in the Senate, was indicted last Thursday by federal prosecutors who laid out an elaborate case involving secret payments funneled through an American-based businessman and tracing back to favors the senator allegedly performed on behalf of the Egyptian government. The senator has faced corruption allegations before, but in 2017, a jury hearing his case deadlocked, ending the proceedings and allowing him to continue his political career.
NO SUCH LUCK this time around, as Menendez is widely facing calls to resign (Politico). With the allegations swirling, Menendez has suddenly become a wildcard in the 2024 battle for control of the Senate as New Jersey could become a battleground state unless he resigns before the November election. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports Democratic Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) is challenging the veteran three-term senator in next year’s Democratic primary and other New Jersey Democrats have called for him to step down. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday ruled out running for Senate, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee is now on the hunt for a viable candidate to take on Menendez.
© The Associated Press / Andres Kudacki | Indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Monday said he will fight bribery charges.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
🎤 GOP LINEUP: Tomorrow’s second Republican presidential debate will take place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. It will air at 9 p.m. EDT. The Hill has information about how to tune in HERE and The New York Times reports on seven expected participants. Candidates needed to reach at least 3 percent either in two national polls or in a combination of one national poll and two state-wide polls to participate, as well as secure support from at least 50,000 individual campaign donors and sign a pledge to support the eventual 2024 Republican nominee.
ONE KEY ABSENCE? Trump will be skipping the debate and instead is scheduled to speak in Detroit (The Hill).
Republicans are bracing for the impact Trump could have on House races this cycle as it looks increasingly likely he will be the party’s presidential nominee. As The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports, many Republicans blamed Trump last cycle for Republicans’ lackluster performance in what was supposed to be a red wave year. This time around Republican primary voters are falling in line behind Trump but fears persist that he could drive away moderate and independent voters.
Meanwhile, independent voters are drifting away from Biden’s candidacy. Independent voters reported 36 percent approval of Biden in a NBC News poll and 3 in 5 Democratic-leaning independents in a Washington Post- ABC News poll said they want a nominee other than Biden next year. The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Julia Mueller write that if there’s a rematch with Trump next year, Biden will need to motivate independent and swing voters to back his reelection bid.
▪ Trump campaigned in South Carolina Monday, including inside a gun store, during which he smiled and posed with a Glock handgun. His spokesperson later clarified that the former president did not buy the weapon, although on social media Trump claimed he had.
▪ Trump and Republican Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) suggested that outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Army Gen. Mark Milley is a traitor who deserves to be executed. The former president’s social media broadside over the weekend has not gone down well with Democrats. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said advocating Milley’s execution should be disqualifying for any candidate for public office. “I’m saddened to hear that a former president would say that, just another argument why he should never have been in the White House and should never be there again,” she told MSNBC during an interview.
▪ Among likely voters, there are 26 percent who are considered “persuadable,” or up for grabs in a potential general election between Biden and Trump, The Wall Street Journal reports, describing issues that might swing their choices.
▪ North Carolina expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the 40th state to do so, and Biden on Monday hailed Gov. Roy Cooper (D-N.C.) for helping as many as 600,000 people gain access to health coverage beginning in December.
▪ The early missteps of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hobbled his GOP presidential bid, Reuters reports.
▪ DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will debate each other on Nov. 30 on Fox News with Sean Hannity as host.
▪ Here’s how to watch the second GOP presidential primary debate on Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT. It will have three moderators and be broadcast on Fox Business.
▪ Biden has attracted several Democratic primary challengers and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) said Monday he continues to mull becoming another. He called such a bid “a steep slope.”
▪ Trump is the headliner and DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) and Vivek Ramaswamy also will speak during the California Republican Party fall convention, scheduled Friday and Saturday in Anaheim, California.
▪ Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd told NewsNation’s “NewsNation Now” program on Monday, “The problem that I have with Donald Trump is, is Donald Trump’s not running for president to make America great again, he’s running for president to stay out of prison.” Nexstar Media is the parent company of NewsNation and The Hill.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House convenes at noon.
The Senate meets at 3 p.m.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. Biden will fly to Wayne County, Mich., to join a UAW picket line at noon and speak with auto workers. Biden will travel to Santa Clara County, Calif., for a fundraiser in Atherton, Calif., at 6:30 p.m. PT. The president will remain overnight in San Francisco and spend several days in California and Arizona for events and fundraisers (The Hill).
Vice President Harris will travel to Atlanta to continue her college outreach tour with students from Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University and Morris Brown College, four historically Black colleges and universities. She will be part of a moderated conversation at Morehouse College at 1:20 p.m. Harris will speak at 3:15 p.m. at a campaign reception in Atlanta and return to Washington.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet at 11 a.m. with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor. He will speak at 1:30 p.m. during an event to unveil the official State Department portrait of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Blinken will meet at the department at 5 p.m. with Marshall Island, Micronesia and Palau leaders.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will participate at 2:30 p.m. in a roundtable discussion during a summit of the U.S.-Pacific Island Forum in Washington.
© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | The Supreme Court on Monday.
The Supreme Court justices will gather behind closed doors Tuesday for their first conference back in Washington since leaving for the court’s summer recess, The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld reports. At the so-called “long conference,” the justices will weigh whether to take up hundreds of cases that have piled up over the summer, and history indicates they will go on to reject nearly all of them. But the ritual also notably comes as scrutiny grows over the court’s ethics standards, a subject the justices have acknowledged discussing during their private meetings. Multiple justices over the summer expressed hope that the nine can soon reach an agreement of some sort, and the conference marks their first formal meeting together since June.
“THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF CONDUCT”: Justice Elena Kagan said during a speech last week that she hopes colleagues will adopt an ethics “code of conduct.” New ethics rules would “go far in persuading other people that we were adhering to the highest standards of conduct,” Kagan said Friday at Notre Dame Law School. “I hope we can make progress.”
While Kagan did not mention any justice by name, her suggestion came the same day that ProPublica published a new story about Justice Clarence Thomas’s relationship with wealthy donors who have the potential of business before the court — this time concerning the Koch brothers, philanthropists who have spent millions on behalf of various conservative causes. Thomas had previously come under scrutiny for his relationship with conservative billionaire donor Harlan Crow.
The administration awarded more than $1.4 billion to projects that improve railway safety and boost capacity, with roughly $1 billion of the money coming from the 2021 infrastructure law to fund 70 projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C. After a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed and caught fire in East Palestine, Ohio, in February, railroad safety has become a key concern nationwide (The Associated Press).
“These projects will make American rail safer, more reliable, and more resilient, delivering tangible benefits to dozens of communities where railroads are located, and strengthening supply chains for the entire country,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
FREE TRADE SKEPTICS: The U.S. has turned sharply against free trade over the past two decades, shifting from an era in which members and presidents of both parties generally embraced one free-trade pact after another to one in which the forces of globalization are widely criticized, if not condemned. Trump’s recent campaign pledge to enact a general tariff of 10 percent on imported goods to the U.S. is only the latest arrow into the free-trade consensus, which has sputtered now under successive presidential administrations.
The Hill’s Tobias Burns examines how the U.S. attitude toward free trade changed so drastically.
The Biden administration announced a $2 billion loan to Poland Monday, a hub for weapons going into Ukraine, to support the country’s defense modernization. The State Department said in a statement that Poland is a “stalwart” ally of the U.S. whose “security is vital to the collective defense” of NATO ’s eastern flank, and that such funding is reserved for Washington’s most important security partners (The Associated Press).
Ukraine’s military said Monday that it had killed the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in a missile attack last week in Sevastopol that, if confirmed, would be among the most damaging for the Russian Navy since the sinking of the fleet’s flagship last year (The New York Times).
After decades of going it alone in security issues, Finns are finding that life in a large alliance is complex, expensive and deeply political.
With just two months left before the annual U.N. Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28, leaders from the United Nations, the International Energy Agency and the climate summit itself are pushing for the U.S. and China to strike a deal about confronting global warming. They see the collaboration as key to jump-starting the international community’s lagging effort to limit rising world temperatures, which scientists say are contributing to more deadly fires, floods and storms (The Washington Post).
▪ The Associated Press: Biden told Pacific islands leaders that he hears their warnings about climate change and will act.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Saudi Arabia agrees to broader U.N. Atomic Agency oversight.
▪ Reuters: The U.S. calls on on Azerbaijan to safeguard Armenians as thousands flee the defeated breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
© The Associated Press / Czarek Sokolowski | Ukrainian and Polish flags in front of a building housing Russian diplomats in Warsaw in 2022.
■ Another government shutdown would accomplish nothing, by the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board.
■ The media’s coddling of Sen. John Fetterman looks pretty embarrassing right about now, by Becket Adams, opinion contributor, The Hill.
© The Associated Press / Keegan Barber, NASA | Scientists perform preliminary checks on the sample return capsule from NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission in the Utah desert on Sunday.
And finally … NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission will start the scientific analysis of asteroid rocks and dust gathered from deep space three years ago (enough to fill a coffee cup) and brought to Earth over the weekend. NASA scientists hope that the 250 grams of grit can tell earthlings about a time when the sun and planets were forming about 4.5 billion years ago.
A quarter of the sample from asteroid Bennu will be given to a group of more than 200 researchers from 38 institutions, including the University of Manchester and London’s Natural History Museum. The contents of a sample cartridge that landed in the Utah desert went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, where the material will be curated and described within six months and shared with scientists who request smidgens of the asteroid for research around the globe.
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