POLITICO Playbook: Republicans face the prospect of more House losses

THE UNDERTOLD STORY in Washington right now is how KEVIN MCCARTHY’S House Republican minority is likely to thin quite significantly after this election. STEVE SHEPARD, our election guru, has moved a few Republican incumbents’ seats toward Democrats in his forecast: Reps. ANNE WAGNER in the St. Louis burbs, JIM HAGEDORN in Minnesota and STEVE CHABOT in the Cincinnati area.

OUR OVER/UNDER is Republicans taking a net loss of seven seats. DAVE WASSERMAN of the Cook Political Report pegged the losses at between five and 15 seats.

HERE’S A QUESTION TO PONDER: Who in Republican leadership takes the fall if Republicans lose as many as 10 seats?

SHEPARD has also put JOE BIDEN over 270 electoral votes, which would, of course, hand him the presidency. Steve’s analysis

— ZACH MONTELLARO and DAVID SIDERS: “How Biden could end 2020 on election night — and why Trump’s path is unlikely”

HAPPENING THIS MORNING — AMY CONEY BARRETT’S Supreme Court confirmation hearing begins at 9 a.m. Indiana GOP Sens. MIKE BRAUN and TODD YOUNG will introduce her to the committee, and Notre Dame’s PATRICIA O’HARA will also speak. Senators will give opening statements — some will be in the room, others will be remote.

— THERE ARE 22 MEMBERS of the committee, and they’ll all get 10 minutes to make an opening statement. YOUNG and BRAUN won’t introduce BARRETT until the afternoon. BARRETT will likely give her statement in the mid- to late afternoon.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK … STATE HOUSE LEADERS in all 50 states have written a letter to Senate and Judiciary Committee leadership urging Barrett’s confirmation. The letter BOSTON GLOBE: “Baker, Sununu do not sign GOP governors’ letter supporting Coney Barrett nomination to Supreme Court”

NEW POLL — WAPO’S SCOTT CLEMENT and EMILY SUSKIN: “A slight majority of American voters oppose the Senate holding confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that begin Monday, though opposition has eased since President Trump announced his choice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

“The national poll finds 44 percent of registered voters say the U.S. Senate should hold hearings and vote on Barrett’s nomination, while 52 percent say filling this Supreme Court seat should be left to the winner of the presidential election and a Senate vote next year. Support for leaving the decision to the next president is down from 57 percent in a Post-ABC poll last month that asked whether the Senate should confirm Trump’s nominee, who had not yet been named.”

VERY, VERY DEEP DIVE … NYT, A1: “Rooted in Faith, Representing a New Conservatism: Amy Coney Barrett’s Path to a Court Pick,” by Elisabeth Dias, Rebecca Ruiz in South Bend, Ind., and Sharon LaFraniere in New Orleans

— NYT’S CARL HULSE on Sen. KAMALA HARRIS’ (D-Calif.) role as a member of the Judiciary panel and how it presents a big stage and risk for the VP candidate.

— WAPO’S SEUNG MIN KIM on strategy: “Democratic senators, realizing that their most potent weapon against Barrett is a sustained attack on how the appeals court judge may rule on the Affordable Care Act, have crafted a strategy narrowly centered on health care and efforts to paint Republicans as recklessly rushing to confirm Barrett as the pandemic continues to consume the nation.”

— THE BOSTON GLOBE’S JESS BIDGOOD on GOP Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM from Central, S.C. … AP: “Graham’s last stand? Senator leads Barrett court hearings,” by Laurie Kellman

FRONTS … N.Y. POST with a photo of BARRETT: “FEARLESS” … South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate JAIME HARRISON made the NYT front

Happy Monday. Excuse the late send — but it’s a federal holiday, so we’re trying to catch up on some rest. Playbook PM is off today, but will return Tuesday.

BIG PICTURE … AP’S JONATHAN LEMIRE, ZEKE MILLER and JILL COLVIN: “Trump’s task: Resetting campaign that GOP fears is slipping”: “President Donald Trump is running out of time to recover from a series of self-inflicted setbacks that have rattled his base of support and triggered alarm among Republicans who fear the White House is on the verge of being lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

“The one-two punch of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis and his widely panned debate performance also has Republicans worried they could lose control of the Senate. With just over three weeks until Election Day, Senate races in some reliably red states, including South Carolina and Kansas, are competitive, aided by a surge in Democratic fundraising that has put both the Republican Party and Trump’s own campaign at an unexpected financial disadvantage.”

— JAMES ARKIN and ELENA SCHNEIDER: “‘Green tsunami’: Inside Senate Republicans’ financial freak-out”: “In mid-April, senior advisers to a dozen Republican senators gathered on the second floor of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s offices, where NRSC executive director Kevin McLaughlin detailed the stark online fundraising disparities that led to eight GOP incumbents getting outraised by Democrats in the first three months of 2020.

“McLaughlin concluded his presentation with a dire warning: If campaigns didn’t improve their digital fundraising dramatically, they’d have no way to counter a ‘green tsunami’ of Democratic spending in the fall, according to three people familiar with the meeting. Six months later, the green tsunami is here. And it’s threatening to wipe out the Republican Senate majority.”

A NEW STIMULUS STRATEGY — “Meadows and Mnuchin urge repurposing PPP money amid stimulus wrangling,” by Connor O’Brien: “Top Trump administration officials are calling on lawmakers to pass legislation to redirect unused funding from a small-business lifeline, the latest salvo in a week of twists and turns in talks between the White House and congressional leaders on a new round of coronavirus stimulus.

“‘Now is the time for us to come together and immediately vote on a bill to allow us to spend the unused Paycheck Protection Program funds while we continue to work toward a comprehensive package,’ White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote in a letter on Sunday to members of the House and Senate. ‘The all-or-nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people.’”

— MEADOWS and Washington’s most eager man, MNUCHIN, have made pleas like this before.

WHAT JARED AND AVI ARE READING … NYT’S DAVID HALBFINGER in Jerusalem, BEN HUBBARD in Beirut and FARNAZ FASSIHI: “For Trump, Defying Mideast Truisms Produced Breakthroughs and Backfires”: “He moved the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, breaking with those who said it would ignite the Muslim world. He withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and ordered the killing of a top Iranian general, defying those who said those moves would lead to war. He brokered treaties between Israel and two Arab states, disproving those who said such deals could only follow the creation of a Palestinian state. …

“In an interview, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser on Middle East policy, said the administration sought to create a ‘core stability’ in the Middle East, in part by promoting Israel’s acceptance by Arab states, which he argued would keep terrorism at bay, reduce the risks to American soldiers and costs to its taxpayers, and put the region ‘on a pathway to a more stable place.’ The president, he said, ‘took a pragmatic approach, which was to state the goals that we want to go to — set the North Star — and then work very hard to move things toward them.’”

THE PRESIDENT’S MONDAY: THE PRESIDENT will fly to Sanford, Fla., at 4:55 p.m., and will speak at a rally at 7 p.m. At 8:20 p.m., he’ll head back to Washington. He’s scheduled back into Andrews at 10:10 and will get to the White House at 10:30 p.m.

— ON THE TRAIL … BIDEN will go to Toledo and Cincinnati. VP MIKE PENCE will fly to Columbus for an event at 12:30 p.m. before returning to D.C.

NYT’S DAVID SANGER and WILLIAM BROAD: “Trump’s Virus Treatment Revives Questions About Unchecked Nuclear Authority”: “President Trump’s long rants and seemingly erratic behavior last week — which some doctors believe might have been fueled by his use of dexamethasone, a steroid, to treat Covid-19 — renewed a long-simmering debate among national security experts about whether it is time to retire one of the early inventions of the Cold War: the unchecked authority of the president to launch nuclear weapons.”

HMM — “States struggle to avert massive fraud in pandemic unemployment relief programs,” by Katy Murphy and Rebecca Rainey: “The Secret Service and Labor Department have been warning states for months that criminal networks are trying to steal billions of dollars in federal pandemic unemployment aid. But the overburdened and antiquated state systems that send out the checks have been unable to stop a lot of the fraud.

“Using huge databases of stolen personal information, cybercriminals based everywhere from Nigeria to London have pocketed an estimated $8 billion meant for people forced out of work due to the coronavirus so far, the Labor Department’s inspector general told states last month. The IG predicts that $26 billion in the federal aid programs alone eventually could be lost to fraud. The system is easy to breach because Congress allowed applicants to receive some payments before providing documents verifying their identities as lawmakers rushed to pump relief into the economy back in March.

“Despite the warnings, the federal government largely left it to states to detect which applications are fake. But state workforce agencies, stymied by decades-old IT systems and flooded with applications, have been ill-equipped to find and prevent the fraud, which appears to be far more extensive than the usual attempts to bilk government programs. Now states are asking for help.” POLITICO

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Central Europe buckles under coronavirus strain,” by Jan Cienski and Lili Bayer in Warsaw: “Central Europe was barely touched in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s doing much worse now — something that threatens to overwhelm the medical systems of many of the EU’s poorer member countries.

“In the spring, countries like Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and others in the region clamped down hard and fast — slamming shut borders, locking up their populations, shutting down schools, restaurants, bars and most shops. As a result, infections were significantly lower than in Western Europe. Slovakia was even compared with New Zealand as an example for the rest of the world to follow.

“But a looser summer combined with a reopening of schools, plus some mixed messaging from politicians, has helped spark a huge surge in infections.” POLITICO

MARKETWATCH — “How Investors Are Trading November’s Election,” by WSJ’s Amrith Ramkumar: “With market volatility rising ahead of November’s U.S. presidential and Congressional elections, investors are parsing what polls and policy proposals mean for everything from energy stocks to shares of private-prison operators.

“This anxiety is already showing up in the moves of assets that investors use to protect portfolios and wager on volatility like futures contracts tied to the Cboe Volatility Index, a gauge of expected stock swings. It is also driving moves in sectors that investors believe would benefit from control of the White House and Congress by one party or the other. Wall Street typically uses these sectors or other assets that would be impacted by different policies to build broad election baskets associated with each political party. Analysts then gauge the performance of those baskets over time to create probability forecasts of who they expect to win in November.” WSJ

MEDIAWATCH — SEAN DUFFY, a former GOP representative from Wisconsin, is now a Fox News contributor.

— TALKER: NYT’S BEN SMITH: “An Arrest in Canada Casts a Shadow on a New York Times Star, and The Times”

Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].

ENGAGED — Will Henrichs, an associate travel manager in the White House Travel Office, proposed to Jessica Skaggs, deputy press secretary for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Friday, with both their families waiting behind the scenes. They met at Liberty University in fall 2016 and started dating in D.C. in fall 2018. Pic Another pic

BIRTHDAYS: “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace is 73 … Lara Trump is 38 … NYT’s Michael Barbaro is 41 … Glen Bolger, partner at Public Opinion Strategies … Jorge Guajardo, senior director at McLarty Associates … Kate Nocera … BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray … former Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is 69 … former Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) is 57 … Lauren Blanchard, national correspondent at Fox News, is 31 … NPR’s Jack Speer … Jamie Hennigan, VP of comms at the National Association of Manufacturers … Will Jennings … Debbie Berkowitz of the National Employment Law Project (h/t Jon Haber) … Collin Berglund … WSJ’s Gary Rosen … Alastair Fitzpayne … Jessica Skaggs, deputy press secretary for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (h/t Lauren Blair Aronson) … former U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral, now at the Inter-American Development Bank … The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke … U.S. Ambassador to Italy Lew Eisenberg is 78 … Chris Nagel … Emily Beyer …

… Eric Wilson of Bullpen Strategy Group and Startup Caucus … Tanya Bradsher (h/t Ben Chang) … Bloomberg’s Anna Edney … Andrea Washington … Chelsea Welch … DHS’ Elizabeth Ray … Matthew J. Shuman … Joshua Hone of Column … Amber Lyons … Simon Limage … David Oleksak … Megan Cheney … Fendy Mesy … former Michigan Gov. John Engler is 72 … Kevin Bruce of Fieldwood Energy is 42 … former Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah) is 88 … Matt Bernstein … Lawren Mills … Giuseppe Lanzone (h/t wife Fran) … Andi Ball … Chris Coffey, head of the New York practice for Tusk Strategies and Tusk Ventures … Leslie Carbone … Jack Detsch … Lauren Cavataro … Christopher Kirchhoff … Francis Thomas, senior adviser at Impact Delta … Thomas Bowman … Patsy Woods Martin … Google’s Jennifer Zeidman Bloch … Matt Flavin is 41 … Liz Dawson … Kenneth Ahn … David Yepsen … Ted Mondale … Rebecca Mason (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

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