A new front

Balance of Power
Bloomberg

The race for control of the White House and Congress has been rocked by a depth charge with six weeks to go.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death has injected a fresh element into a presidential contest that had centered on President Donald Trump's coronavirus response and the pandemic's toll on the economy.

As Justin Sink and Jennifer Epstein report, Trump's plans to name a replacement for Ginsburg this week offer challenger Joe Biden the chance to galvanize Democrats, while providing the president a fresh focus on the culture wars over abortion and other issues that he's waged for four years.

Trump's eagerness for quick confirmation of a new justice also thrusts the battle for control of the Senate — in Republican hands for the past six years — into the spotlight. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's need to protect his most vulnerable members could temper the speed of a Senate confirmation vote.

The vacancy has raised questions about how an eight-person court might handle a 4-4 tie on a contested election result and about the legitimacy of a newly installed Trump pick ruling on that matter.

And it's prompted new uncertainty about the fate of the Affordable Care Act as the landmark health-care law heads to a third high court showdown.

A flood of Democratic fundraising this weekend suggests Biden stands to gain more politically, as it underscores the contest's stakes for liberal voters who had been reluctant to endorse his centrist candidacy.

Biden, already leading in national and many battleground-state polls, now has a chance to extend his advantage with younger and female voters who viewed Ginsburg as an icon. But Trump in turn has a fresh opportunity to animate conservative loyalists.

Kathleen Hunter 

A mourner holds up a sign at a makeshift memorial for Ginsburg outside of the Supreme Court on Sept. 19. 

Photographer: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg

Trump has largely winnowed a list of dozens of potential replacements down to a pair of front-runners : appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa.

Tell us how we're doing or what we're missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

Global Headlines

Falling short | After threatening a ban on TikTok's app unless China handed over control of the company — along with its algorithms and data and made a payment to the U.S. — Trump signed off on a deal that does almost none of that. Nick Wadhams and Shelly Banjo explain that ByteDance, a Chinese company, remains in control, and skeptics say the president's direct involvement and his acceptance of a deal brokered by an ally — Oracle founder Larry Ellison — reeks of political interference.

Campaign 2020

There are 43 days until the election. Here's the latest on the race for control of the White House and Congress.

Biden started September with a $466 million mountain of cash, topping Trump by $141 million and reversing the GOP's financial advantage in just four months.

Other developments:

Sign up to receive daily election updates as a direct mobile notification on Twitter. Simply click on this link and like the tweet.

Taiwan fly-bys | China is increasingly sending warplanes across the Taiwan Strait's median line — a buffer zone the U.S. established to prevent conflict — as Beijing seeks to deter Washington and Taipei from deepening ties. Chinese aircraft breached the boundary twice last week as U.S. Undersecretary of State Keith Krach visited the island. If the message wasn't clear enough, the Chinese air force separately released a video showing its bombers making a simulated strike on Guam.

Critical moment | Britain's chief medical officer will tell Prime Minister Boris Johnson today that the U.K. is at a "critical point" in the pandemic, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan is expected to recommend tightened rules for the capital. Across Europe, the virus has started spreading in older populations again as the region faces another wave of infections.

People sit at a temporary outdoor seating area in Soho, London on Sept. 19.

Photographer: Hollie Adams/Getty Images Europe

At a crossroads | Hong Kong's opposition lawmakers have a decision to make: whether to quit or remain in office in the wake of China's move to delay parliamentary elections originally scheduled for this month. Radical activists say staying on would legitimize Beijing's decision, while moderates fear surrendering their biggest platform. As Kari Lindberg and Iain Marlow explain, the split highlights the bleak outlook for an opposition weathering China's crackdown.

UN gridlock | Biodiversity being destroyed, accelerating climate change, war and famine: As the United Nations turns 75, the world body keeps churning out increasingly grim reports on the global threats. But as David Wainer reports, this week's annual General Assembly, which will be held virtually, comes at a particularly difficult time, when the pandemic is deepening poverty and spreading nationalism is challenging the UN's core ideals.

What to Watch This Week 

  • European Union foreign ministers will today discuss the disputed election in Belarus, with Cyprus holding up plans for measures against Belarusian officials as it demands expanded sanctions against Turkey over its energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are set to be grilled tomorrow by lawmakers on the need for more stimulus to shore up the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus slump.
  • Polls close today in Italian regional elections that could weaken Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's coalition as it struggles to pull the country out of the worst recession in living memory.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called the 2015 Iran nuclear deal "silly" yesterday and chided European governments that oppose a U.S. bid to reimpose UN sanctions on Tehran.
  • Ethiopian opposition leader and media mogul Jawar Mohammed and 23 others may appear in court today on terrorism charges.

Thanks to all who responded to our pop quiz Friday and congratulations to Alan France, who was first to correctly name Bahrain as the country that joined the United Arab Emirates in signing accords last week establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.

And finally ... The U.S. government is lagging behind the likes of Germany and Australia in protecting meatpacking workers from Covid-19. Washington has only imposed voluntary safety measures to contain infections, and federal citations against major meat processors have resulted in fines of less than $16,000, decried as paltry by worker advocates.

A Smithfield Foods pork processing facility in Milan, Missouri.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

 

 

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