Morning Report — What message did Tuesday’s voters send?
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Tuesday’s off-year elections produced victories for Democrats, encouraging leaders in both parties to size up the political landscape in 2024.
In Kentucky, the Democratic governor won reelection. Voters in Ohio decisively backed abortion rights by putting protections in the state constitution. And in Virginia, Democrats maintained control of the state Senate, thwarting the ambition of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to consolidate conservative sway over the legislature. Youngkin had campaigned to ban abortion in the Commonwealth after 15 weeks.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) won reelection after fending off a Republican challenger, who was backed by former President Trump. Beshear, with strong job approval while leading a red state, defeated state Attorney General Daniel Cameron (The Hill and NBC News).
“Tonight, Kentucky made a choice, a choice not to move to the right or to the left, but to move forward,” Beshear said in his victory speech. “Our neighbors aren’t just Democrats. They’re not just Republicans. They’re not just independents. Every single person is a child of God and they are all our neighbors.”
Beshear’s reelection in a state President Biden lost by 26 percentage points in 2020 was due in part to the unique brand he has built in Kentucky. Democrats vowed to study his success ahead of next year’s presidential race, searching for a blueprint in competitive races.
Abortion on Tuesday remained a potent mobilizer among voters reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave restrictions up to the states. To date, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont have either affirmed abortion access or turned back attempts to undermine it. This year, the support from Ohio voters for abortion rights could be a preview for 2024.
In the Buckeye State, the constitutional amendment known as Issue 1 — the Right to Reproductive Freedom — protects access to abortion up until fetal viability, with exceptions for the life and health of the patient beyond that point. Passage and enshrinement in the state constitution is a major win for Democrats and abortion rights advocates in a state that has been trending to the right for decades. Biden touted Ohio’s decision Tuesday night.
“Tonight, Americans once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms — and democracy won,” Biden said in a statement.
▪ The Hill: Five takeaways from a winning election night for Democrats.
▪ WHIO TV: Voter turnout in Ohio was on par with last year’s midterm elections, according to the secretary of state.
▪ The Philadelphia Inquirer: Despite a history-making mayoral race in Philadelphia and important new state Supreme Court choice, Pennsylvania voter turnout was low Tuesday.
In Virginia — a swing state led by a Republican governor who is being urged within his party to keep his eyes on the White House prize — the outcome Tuesday was a GOP disappointment. Democrats resoundingly rejected Youngkin’s (R) efforts to take control of the General Assembly, in part with a political vow to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. Virginia voters flipped the House of Delegates to Democratic control and preserved a blue majority in the state Senate, according to Decision Desk HQ.
Virginia is the only Southern state that has not restricted access to abortion since last year’s Supreme Court decision, The Washington Post noted. Democrats ran hard on raising fears of Republican bans, promising to protect Virginia’s law allowing abortion through the second trimester (about 26 weeks) and in the third trimester if three doctors agree it is necessary.
Tuesday’s political reckoning nationwide included GOP victories, most prominently in Republican-dominated Mississippi, where voters reelected Gov. Tate Reeves over Democratic challenger Brandon Presley (The Hill).
3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY:
▪ Ohio voters on Tuesday made the state the 24th to legalize recreational marijuana.
▪ Democrats successfully flipped a seat in New Jersey’s General Assembly in a conservative district that has not elected a Democratic legislator in three decades.
▪ In the 2023 off-year contests, Democrats outspent Republicans in most of the country by Election Day.
LEADING THE DAY
Five Republican presidential candidates who made the cut will take the stage tonight in Miami for the third, and less crowded, GOP debate. Former President Trump will skip the event for the third straight time, instead holding a rally about 15 miles away. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina qualified for the event, hosted live by NBC News. Here’s how to watch from 8-10 p.m. ET.
The Hill’s Jared Gans flags five things to watch tonight, from whether Haley can cement her spot as Trump’s main contender, to the role the Israel-Hamas war may play in the discussion.
ONE RIVALRY TO WATCH: Haley and DeSantis, who want to solidify their respective positions and become their party’s main alternative to Trump. Haley knocked DeSantis from his second-place perch in recent polls and sparks resulted. In a memo released Tuesday, DeSantis’s campaign said Haley and the other presidential candidates are playing the part of “spoiler” (The Hill).
“Every dollar the Pro-Haley community collects or spends should also be listed as an “in-kind” contribution on Trump’s campaign FEC reports,” the campaign wrote.
In a separate memo, Haley’s campaign referred to DeSantis as “a sinking ship” and argued that the former South Carolina governor who served in the Trump administration is “rising.”
The Hill: In a new campaign ad, Haley called DeSantis a liar, referring to his fracking and offshore drilling positions.
▪ Senate Democrats told The Hill they expect Trump’s poll numbers to worsen against Biden as the former president’s criminal cases proceed during the election year.
▪ Here is Democrats’ dilemma: Biden’s agenda is popular but he is not.
▪ Biden’s reelection campaign team is critical of the way the news media are covering recent bleak poll numbers in key states for the incumbent one year out. A Tuesday memo to reporters complained, “There have been eight polls in the past three weeks showing President Biden leading or tied with Donald Trump.”
▪ Ramaswamy, reacting to Ohio voters’ support for abortion rights on Tuesday, said in an interview with CNN that conservatives should adjust their messaging and “really ought to embrace … greater sexual responsibility for men codified in the law in an era of genetic paternity tests.”
© The Associated Press / Stephanie Scarbrough | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the Capitol on Oct. 24.
With nine days remaining until a possible government shutdown, every day brings a new funding plan in Congress. House Republicans entered a closed-door meeting Tuesday hoping to find some consensus; instead, they came out more confused.
One idea is a two-step “ladder” stopgap spending bill that would fund part of the government until Dec. 7 and the rest until January, to encourage passage of regular appropriations bills. Another idea is to pass a simpler spending patch until January that includes conservative policies and stipulations (The Hill and Politico).
Republicans have signaled that new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) will get more leeway on a stopgap than former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was ousted in part over objections to how he handled the funding of the federal government. But the divisions also suggest Johnson, just like McCarthy, could have trouble unifying 217 Republicans around one plan.
“This Speaker hasn’t had, you know, eight months or whatever it is to figure it out,” said Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), who was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy. “I do think that there’s an appetite in leadership now to think outside the box and be unconventional.”
But if Republicans can’t agree on either of those options, Johnson said Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate could jam the House GOP with its own major spending bill (The Hill).
AFTER REPUBLICAN SENATORS released a sweeping set of U.S. border security proposals as a condition for sending more aid to Ukraine on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he told Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that including border security in the measure was key to its passage in the Senate.
“I think it will be difficult to get the package across the floor in the Senate without a credible border solution,” he said.
Biden last month sent Congress a $105 billion request for aid to Ukraine and Israel that sought $14 billion for managing the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. But Republicans have said the White House proposals do not have enough teeth, and have pushed border policy changes to be linked with aid for Israel and Ukraine (The Associated Press).
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Senate Republicans say they all want to find a solution to his blanket blockade since February on more than 400 military promotions while making a conservative point about his opposition to Pentagon travel reimbursements that cover abortion services. Tuberville does not want to concede without a win. The senators confront a deadline of sorts, The Hill’s Al Weaver reports, because they want to avoid a vote next week on a rule change that would allow the chamber to pass the promotions despite Tuberville’s objections. Most Republicans would prefer to sidestep a clash over Senate adjustments to procedures that are put in place and then removed. The aversion is to setting precedents that can boomerang in unpredictable ways in the future. In this case, the workaround was crafted by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).
“Even though it doesn’t formally create a precedent, it does create a precedent at a time when we’ve given up so much,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said. “Part of it is because Congress has ceded authority, and part of it is congressional dysfunction has allowed the executive branch to do whatever they want.”
▪ The Hill: Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) warned Senate GOP leaders Tuesday not to circumvent Tuberville’s holds on Pentagon appointees, warning it would be a “mistake” for them to support a Democratic resolution to change Senate procedure.
▪ Politico: How Sinema is moving to defuse Tuberville’s military blockade.
FREE SPEECH OR SOMETHING ELSE? The House on Tuesday voted 234-188 to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Minn.), the only Palestinian American in Congress, accusing her of calling for the destruction of Israel, an assertion she has denied. Twenty two Democrats joined all but four Republicans in voting to formally rebuke Tlaib for her comments (NPR).
The measure, which accuses Tlaib of “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel,” is the second attempt to formally punish Tlaib over her comments about the war. It is rare for a member of Congress to be censured, which amounts to a public rebuke one step below expulsion. Before June, the House had censured members just 24 times in the chamber’s history (The New York Times).
▪ The Hill: Testimony before a Senate panel from a Meta whistleblower is renewing a legislative push for a bipartisan online safety bill aimed at protecting children by regulating Meta and other social media giants.
▪ CNN: Meta executives ignored the damaging impact Instagram had on teens, a former Meta employee, now whistleblower, told Congress.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 9 a.m.
The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. The Senate Appropriations Committee at 9 a.m. will hear from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 11:30 a.m. in the Oval Office.
Vice President Harris will be part of the President’s Daily Brief along with the president at 11:30 a.m. She will host a roundtable discussion at 2:05 p.m. with climate change leaders and at 4 p.m., will celebrate Diwali at the Naval Observatory with invited guests. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Tokyo with another full schedule, beginning with a diplomatic breakfast, the first session and second sessions of the Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meetings and a working lunch. Blinken will meet at 1:30 p.m. with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly before afternoon G7 sessions. In the evening, the secretary will take questions from the news media.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen flies this morning to San Francisco for meetings today and Friday with Chinese Premier He Lifeng ahead of the annual Asia Pacific Economic forum, during which Biden is expected to hold a separate bilateral sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (APEC begins Saturday in California.)
First lady Jill Biden will travel this morning to Augusta, Ga., to tour a workforce hub as part of the administration’s economic investments in jobs. She’ll meet with officials and stakeholders during an event before flying to Pittsburgh. She’ll repeat the workforce hub tour effort with Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su at Hazelwood Green in Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. Departing from Pennsylvania, the first lady will fly to New York City to speak at a reelection campaign event at 6 p.m.
The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m. and will include John Kirby, White House national security spokesperson.
© The Associated Press / Mark Schiefelbein | Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) at a rally about guns and domestic violence Tuesday at the Supreme Court.
Justices on Tuesday appeared to lean toward upholding a federal law that makes it a crime for people under domestic violence restraining orders to possess guns. A ruling is expected in June.
A Texas man challenged his conviction under the law after being indicted on a gun charge when police searched his home and found a rifle and a pistol, although he was under a restraining order after he dragged his girlfriend through a parking lot, threatened to shoot her and attempted to shoot a witness. The accused participated in a series of five shootings, according to court records.
Justices in both ideological camps questioned the Biden administration’s argument that the statute is constitutional because Congress can disarm people who are not “law-abiding, responsible citizens.” Several suggested using an alternative dangerousness standard to resolve the case.
DANGEROUS: “You don’t have any doubt that your client is a dangerous person, do you?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked lawyer J. Matthew Wright, who presented the case on behalf of his client, Zackey Rahimi. When Wright said it depends on what Roberts meant by dangerous, the chief justice shot back, “Well, it means someone who’s shooting, you know, at people. That’s a good start.”
CONFUSION: The case is the first in which the justices are applying their new Second Amendment test established last year in NYSRPA v. Bruen, in which the six conservative justices ruled gun laws must be consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.
Under Bruen, lower courts have struck down a dizzying array of gun laws after finding the government had not shown sufficient historical underpinnings. Some judges have expressed confusion with the new test, and the case before the justices could provide lower courts with additional guidance.
Ivanka Trump is expected to take the stand today as the New York attorney general’s final witness in its far-reaching fraud case against her father and family’s business. Trump’s daughter, once described by his Deutsche Bank banker as the family business empire’s “heir apparent,” has all-but disappeared from the limelight since her father left office. As The Hill’s Ella Lee reports, when Trump lost the 2020 election, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, relocated their family from Washington to Miami and largely distanced themselves from her father’s lasting political aspirations.
But today, her past life as a Trump Organization executive could be put under a microscope as lawyers for the state of New York question her over her role connecting her father with Deutsche Bank’s personal wealth management team and the valuation of her New York apartment, which lawyers say was priced by the Trump Organization at two and a half times the rate she was offered it. Ivanka Trump was once a party in New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D) lawsuit, but a state appeals court dismissed her from the case in June.
▪ CNN analysis: Trump’s day in court paints a dark preview of the national ordeal ahead.
▪ The Washington Post analysis: Four things we learned from Trump’s testimony in the New York fraud trial.
▪ Reuters: Trump’s free speech defense may fall short in election subversion trial.
© The Associated Press / Adel Hana | Palestinians evacuated survivors on Tuesday after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.
Heading into a second month of war, Israel’s strikes against Hamas have tightened a circle around Gaza City, yet fundamental questions remain unanswered.
What is the extent of Israel’s plan to “eradicate” Hamas? How long would that goal take? What comes after war? How will more than 1 million displaced, starving, sick, unemployed and grief-ravaged Palestinians recover their lives? What are the downsides of Israel playing a role for an “indefinite period” to govern Gaza, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested, considering the guaranteed opposition among Palestinian civilians in Gaza and potential repercussions elsewhere in the Middle East?
White House spokesperson Kirby on Tuesday said the Biden administration is having active discussions with Israeli counterparts about what “post-conflict Gaza ought to look like,” including governance (The Washington Post).
Biden maintains his position that a reoccupation by Israeli forces of Gaza “is not the right thing to do,” Kirby said during a White House briefing, adding, “We’ll let them speak to their intentions.”
“One thing there’s absolutely no daylight on,” he said, “is Hamas can’t be part of that equation.”
Biden, on a Monday phone call with Netanyahu, asked the Israeli prime minister to support a three-day pause in the fighting if Hamas would agree to release 10-15 hostages and account for remaining captives the militant group holds in Gaza, Axios reported on Tuesday. The proposal is being discussed among the U.S., Israel and Qatar, which is an intermediary communications channel to Hamas.
The Hill: Israel faces a daunting fight in Gaza City.
© The Associated Press / European Space Agency via AP | European Space Agency telescope Euclid’s view of a galaxy named IC 342.
And finally … 🌌 Galaxies far, far away just got a little bit closer. On Tuesday, the European Space Agency shared the first images from the robotic Euclid telescope in space. Euclid — which was launched in July — is on a quest to map a third of the extragalactic sky and to reveal how the mysterious influences of dark matter and dark energy have shaped the structure of the universe (The New York Times).
“I’m just overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the data,” Michael Seiffert, a cosmologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is a member of the Euclid mission, told the Times. “The ability to have really sharp images cover a wide field at the same time is just really astounding.”
In other intergalactic news, scientists have discovered the oldest black hole yet, a cosmic beast formed a mere 470 million years after the Big Bang (The Associated Press).
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