Good morning and welcome to the first day of fall. Let the pumpkin spice whatever commence without shame. Send tips (of course, we'll protect your anonymity): earlytips@washpost.com. Thanks for waking up with us. 

🚨: “Former president Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit against the New York Times, three of its reporters, and his niece — claiming they hatched an ‘insidious plot’ to obtain his private records for a story about his tax history,” the Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani and Harry Siegel first reported

  • “The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Dutchess County, New York, by attorney Alina Habba, alleges that the newspaper convinced Mary L. Trump to ‘smuggle records out of her attorney’s office and turn them over to the New York Times’ despite her having signed a confidentiality agreement in 2001 after settling a contentious legal battle over the will” of Fred Trump Sr., Donald Trump’s father and Mary Trump’s grandfather. 
  • According to the lawsuit, Donald Trump suffered at least $100 million in damages.

On the Hill

Pelosi's best hope to save the White House agenda is Biden himself

Can Biden break the logjam?

The deal that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last month struck with moderate Democrats to keep the two bills at the heart of President Biden's agenda moving is close to failing.

Pelosi and her lieutenants have a decision to make: Will she break her pledge to the moderates to hold a vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that's already cleared the Senate by Sept. 27? Or will she plow ahead with the vote even though progressives have pledged to oppose it until the House and the Senate have passed a still-unfinished multitrillion-dollar spending bill?

The speaker is in a real bind. But those who know her best think she'll prevail.

“Never bet against Speaker Pelosi,” Blake Androff, a former Pelosi aide who's now a lobbyist, wrote in an email to The Early. “She is usually several steps ahead of those on the other end of the negotiating table.”

Another former Pelosi aide turned lobbyist, Nadeam Elshami, said he'd been advising clients the party would find a way forward.

“At the end of the day there’s too much at stake here for Democrats,” he said.

Maybe. But members are already getting pretty heated as the rift between moderates and progressive Democrats appears to be growing wider.

Asked what would happen if Pelosi delayed the Sept. 27 vote on the infrastructure deal, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a moderate from a swing district, heatedly told reporters, Then the trust issue that exists between members will now expand to a trust issue between members and leadership.”

Enter Biden, who's hosting multiple meetings today at the White House with House Democrats spanning the ideological spectrum, in an effort to save his economic agenda.

The meetings will also include Democratic senators, our Seung Min Kim reports, along with Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Threading the needle 

The White House has already been working to shepherd both bills through Congress. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Louisa Terrell, the White House legislative affairs director, met Tuesday with members of the New Democrat Coalition.

The lawmakers made the case for four top priorities, according to someone in the room who spoke on the condition of anonymity: extending the beefed up child tax credit through at least 2025; cutting carbon “emissions as much and as quickly as possible”; lowering health care costs and investing in “persistently distressed communities.”

But divisions between progressive and moderate Democrats on policy, which flared last week when three moderates voted with Republicans to derail Democrats' prescription drug plan, have been subsumed at least temporarily by increasingly bitter fights over whether to pass the infrastructure bill before the reconciliation package comes together.

Some moderates insist progressives don't have the votes to block the bill if it comes to the floor on Monday. And Pelosi has not indicated that she plans on postponing the vote — at least not yet. 

“I'm optimistic we'll have the votes on Monday,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) told us in-between evening votes. 

But progressives maintain they're not bluffing.

“Try us,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the Congressional Progressive Caucus's chair, told Jackie after her two-hour meeting with Pelosi. “I got more than half of the caucus who feels very strongly we're going to deliver the entirety of the president's agenda to the president.” 

It's a numbers game 

It's tough to know how many progressives Pelosi can afford to lose if she does bring the infrastructure bill up for a vote next week until there's more clarity around how many Republicans may back it. While at least a few have indicated they're “yeses,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said he's still trying to pin down a firmer whip count.

“The number doesn’t exist, because there are a lot of people that legitimately don’t know what they’re going to do,” he told reporters.

TL; DR: “The bill is going to pass at one point in time. One way, or the other,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Forbes's Andrew Solender. 

One step forward, two steps back

The House last night passed a bill to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1 and raise the debt ceiling through December 2022. But that doesn't change much as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has declared the Senate GOP won't act to raise the debt ceiling at all.

T-minus two weeks: “The United States is careening toward an urgent financial crisis starting in less than two weeks, as a political standoff on Capitol Hill threatens to shutter the government during a pandemic, delay hurricane aid to millions of Americans and thrust Washington to the precipice of defaulting on its debt,” our colleague Tony Romm reports.

  • The big picture: “No recent fight in the halls of Congress has quite carried the same stakes as this one, coming at a time when Washington continues to grapple with rising coronavirus infections and the deadly consequences of a fast-warming planet. Biden himself has warned about the ‘catastrophic’ effects of inaction with key deadlines looming.”
  • Doomed: “The party-line outcome foreshadowed its doomed prospects in the Senate, where Republicans have pledged to oppose it, threatening to leave Congress with little time to resolve a set of disputes that could destabilize global markets.”

Financial consequences: The United States will plunge into an “immediate recession,” and lose $15 trillion in household wealth and 6 million jobs if Congress fails to suspend the federal borrowing limit and defaults on its debt, our colleague Jeff Stein reports. 

The unemployment rate will skyrocket to 9 percent, from 5 percent, and the value of the U.S. dollar will decline over time. These financial crises, compounded with lasting damage from the coronavirus pandemic, could wreak greater havoc on the economy. 

Here are the deadlines (one more time): 

  • Sept. 30 — The government will run out of money.
  • Sometime in October — The government will breach its debt ceiling.

On K Street

U.S. Chamber targets swing Democrats in new ad campaign

New this morning: Our colleague Tony Romm, who has been all over all of the moving budgetary parts on Capitol Hill, passes along a new six-figure ad campaign that will today be launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. 

The initial round of paid advertising claiming the reconciliation bill poses a “significant threat to the American economy” will run in swing districts represented by Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.), according to a release. 

  • “The bill is an existential threat to America’s fragile economic recovery and future prosperity,” said Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark in a statement. “We will not find durable or practical solutions in one massive bill that is equivalent to more than twice the combined budgets of all 50 states. The success of the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations provides a much better model for how Congress should proceed in addressing America’s problems.”

Related: “Fewer than one third of Iowans approve of the job Joe Biden is doing as president, a steep drop from earlier this year,” the Des Moines Register/ Mediacom Iowa Poll showed yesterday morning. “On the economy, 32% of Iowans approve and 62% disapprove; on criminal justice, 28% approve and 54% disapprove; and on immigration, 25% approve and 67% disapprove.” 

The Media

What we’re reading: 

Viral

‘Kindergarten changes a person’

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.