IN THE HOUSE: The House is in recess and has no votes scheduled until November 16.
ON THE SENATE FLOOR: The Senate is in session and has two procedural votes planned on Covid-related legislation. The first is Tuesday on a measure to provide $257.64 billion in funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and to make a handful of changes to the program. The second vote, which will be Wednesday, is on a package similar to a proposal the Senate failed to advance September 10, providing about $500 billion for schools, unemployment benefits, and vaccine development and distribution. Neither measure will garner the 60 votes needed to advance.
COVID-19 PACKAGE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke again late yesterday making this one of the longest negotiations (90 days and counting?) we've ever witnessed in Washington. Pelosi says a deal needs to be reached by the end of today if it is to have any chance of being enacted before the elections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said if an agreement is reached, he will bring it to the floor for a vote. Another top Republican in the Senate cast doubt on whether said deal could garner the 13 Republican votes needed to break a filibuster - particularly if that deal eclipses the $2T price tag which is a must to get Pelosi's support. The betting is that there will be no breakthrough before today's “deadline.”
HOUSE LEADERSHIP RACES: House Democrats will hold their caucus leadership elections on November 18 and 19 and contested committee chairmanship elections the week of November 30. The top three leadership posts now held by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn are uncontested as is the Caucus Chairmanship held by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. There are only two contested leadership races at this time: Assistant Speaker, now held by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who is running for the Senate, and Caucus Vice Chair, which is opening up because the current Vice Chair, Rep. Katherine Clark, is running for Assistant Speaker.
Rep. Clark (MA) is competing against two other candidates to be Assistant Speaker – Reps. Tony Cardenas (CA) and David Cicilline (RI). Three candidates are also vying to be Caucus Vice Chair – Reps. Pete Aguilar (CA), Robin Kelly (IL), and Deb Haaland (NM).
At the committee level, Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey is retiring, and Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel lost his primary race. The three candidates in the race to head the Appropriations Committee are Reps. Rosa DeLauro (CT), Marcy Kaptur (OH), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL). There are also three candidates hoping to take the gavel at Foreign Affairs – Reps. Brad Sherman (CA), Greg Meeks (NY), and Joaquin Castro (TX).
Selection of committee chairs (or ranking members if the Democrats were in the minority) is a two-step process. First, the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, whose membership is dominated by the Speaker, votes to choose new chairs. The next step is a vote by the full Democratic caucus. While the caucus usually approves the recommendations of the Steering and Policy Committee, that is not always the case. Most recently, in November 2014, the caucus voted 100-90 to choose Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ) as ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee rather than Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA), who was the choice of the Steering and Policy Committee. We're watching this space closely as these chairs will play a critical role in determining the direction legislation takes in the next Congress.
FY 2021 APPROPRIATIONS: While the House has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began October 1 (all except Homeland Security and Legislative Branch), the Senate Appropriations Committee has not marked up any of its bills. However, the Senate’s measures have been written and the legislative language is getting a final review. The expectation is that the committee will not schedule any markup sessions but rather will post its bills online in the next week or two. This, then, will create a public placeholder for the Senate position in conference negotiations with the House.
The outlook is dim for a final agreement between the two chambers before the current continuing resolution expires December 11, and the results of the elections will, no doubt, influence congressional actions after November 3. There is a school of thought that if Trump is re-elected, Congress will wrap up the FY 2021 appropriations bills this year. On the other hand, many Democrats believe that if Joe Biden wins the presidency, Congress will punt final spending decisions until next year by passing a CR until March.
COMMITTEE ACTION OF NOTE:
- Wednesday, October 21
- Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing to examine VA MISSION Act, focusing on assessing progress implementing Title I.
- Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing to examine passenger and freight rail, focusing on the current status of the rail network and the track ahead.
- Thursday, October 22
- Senate Judiciary Committee Business Meeting to consider judicial nominations. The Committee will vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
- 14 days until Election Day.
- 2 days until the final Presidential debate.
Debates: The final presidential debate will take place Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT in Nashville. Moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, the 90-minute debate will focus on six topics – fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership. The format will be almost identical to the first debate with the Commission on Presidential Debates issuing a ruling that the candidate's mics would be shut off should one candidate interrupt the other - something it said it would consider after the chaotic first debate.
Fundraising: President Trump and the Republican National Committee had their best fundraising month yet in September, raising a combined $247.8 million. That mark still fell short of the Democratic National Committee and Joe Biden’s monthly total of a record $383 million. Biden’s campaign said last week that they are on track to raise another $234 million before Election Day. The cash influx has allowed Biden to outspend Trump on TV by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
Early Voting: Over 29 million voters have already voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project, amounting to 21% of 2016’s total turnout. It is expected that some 50% of Americans will cast their ballot before Election Day – 32% by mail or absentee and 20% at an early voting location, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Of the early voters, 67% are Biden supporters; of the 45% who say they intend to vote in person, almost two-thirds are Trump supporters.
Join Hedgeye Potomac's Chief Political Strategist JT Taylor and Legal Policy Analyst Paul Glenchur for a rundown of the risks of post-election uncertainty following the voting on Election Day 2020. Given the political dynamic resulting from the pandemic, a number of changes could create election disputes reminiscent of the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision. We'll also take look at key legal issues in battleground states - including disputes that could force intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wednesday, October 21 at 12:30pm
Participating Dialing Instructions:
Confirmation Number: 13712050
Uncertainty and anxiety hang heavy across the political realm with races for the White House, Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives coming down to the wire while Donald Trump continues to barnstorm battleground states in the midst of a pandemic and flashbacks of 2016 haunt Democrat's dreams.
With two weeks to go, many races are tightening up and a few are breaking out and polls are all over the map - literally and figuratively. Many election handicappers believe Democrats are poised to expand their majority in the House, with Republicans playing defense to keep their majority in the Senate; and Joe Biden holding onto a consistent and sizeable nationally and slimmer within-the-margin leads in the critical battleground states. With a record 25 million people (and counting ) already casting their votes early, Election 2020 now comes down to three things: turnout, turnout and - turnout.
The political landscape is riddled with minefields for both Republicans and Democrats which is why we asked David Wasserman - one of the nation’s top election analysts for the Cook Political Report - to weigh in on the key variables that will determine who controls the corridors of power in Washington on Nov 4.
Monday, October 26 at 10:00am
Participating Dialing Instructions
Confirmation Number: 13712038
CLICK HERE for event details (includes video link, materials link & dial-in).
David Wasserman is House Editor for The Cook Political Report, where he is responsible for analyzing U.S. House Races and is recognized as one of the nation's top election forecasters. Founded in 1984, The Cook Political Report provides analyses of Presidential, U.S. Senate, House and gubernatorial races. The New York Times has called the Report "a newsletter both parties regard as authoritative."
Nate Silver of ESPN's FiveThirtyEight.com has written: "Wasserman's knowledge of the nooks and crannies of political geography can make him seem like a local," and the Los Angeles Times has called David a "whip-smart" and "scrupulously nonpartisan" analyst whose "numbers nerd-dom was foretold at a young age."
In 2016, David drew praise for his accurate pre-election analysis, including his piece "How Trump Could Win the White House While Losing the Popular Vote," written two months before Election Day. Chuck Todd, host of NBC's Meet the Press, recently called David "pretty much the only person you need to follow on Election Night."
David's election commentary has been cited in numerous top publications including Politico, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and RealClearPolitics.com. He has served as an analyst for the NBC News Election Night Decision Desk in 2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, and 2008, and has appeared on NBC Nightly News, C-SPAN Washington Journal, CNN, and NPR.
David is a frequent contributor to FiveThirtyEight.com and NBCNews.com. In 2018, his groundbreaking interactive collaboration with FiveThirtyEight, the "Atlas of Redistricting" took top prize for News Data App of the Year at the Global Editors Network's Data Journalism Awards. In 2014, Twitter awarded David "Best of Twitter" honors for his real-time election coverage.
An enthusiast for data and maps, David served as a contributing writer for both the 2016 and 2014 editions of the Almanac of American Politics. A frequent speaker and guest lecturer, David has shared his insights into the latest political trends with audiences at Harvard's Institute of Politics, the Dole Institute of Politics, and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics among others.
Prior to joining The Cook Political Report in June 2007, David served for three years as House Editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, a widely respected political analysis newsletter and website founded by renowned Prof. Larry J. Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. In that role, David led the publication to correctly predict Democrats would score a gain of 29 House seats in November 2006.
A native of New Jersey, David holds a B.A. in Government with distinction from the University of Virginia and was awarded the 2006 Emmerich-Wright Outstanding Thesis prize for his study of congressional redistricting standards.