PLAYBOOK EXCLUSIVE … HOUSE MINORITY WHIP STENY HOYER’S VISION FOR THE MAJORITY … IMMEDIATE PASSAGE OF ETHICS PACKAGE … The Maryland Democrat is giving a speech on government reform at Union Station today where he plans to lay out a package for how Democrats should clean up Washington: “To regain that trust, our response must be vigorous and innovative. Campaign finance reform, voting reform, and ethics reform, alongside new rules to improve how Congress works – all of these items should be packaged into one reform bill and addressed in the opening days of the next Congress, should Democrats be entrusted with the House majority.”

— THIS IS JUST LIKE 2006, when Democrats rode a wave of corruption to the majority, and then passed legislation to try to clean the Hill up. This time around, polls consistently show that voters are disgusted with what they consider a Washington in absolute crisis. So the narrative that Democrats are trying to push — that they are the savior riding into town to clean it up — could be a quite salient message. EXPECT THAT ethics and good government will be a major part of a potential Democratic majority.

ON A PRACTICAL LEVEL, it’s tough to see Democrats and SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY.) agreeing on any of these items if Dems get the House and Republicans keep the Senate. But Dems can pass a House ethics package that would change the chamber’s rules if they get into the majority — and that will have impact.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — CONNECTICUT DEMOCRATIC REP. JIM HIMES is contributing $1 million to the DCCC, Red to Blue and Frontline candidates. This is in addition to the $310,000 the New Democrat Coalition chair has already contributed in DCCC dues.

Good Wednesday morning. OH CANADA! POLITICO PRO CANADA is launching today — focused on the twists and turns of the Canada-U.S. trade talks and policy discussions in tech, health care, ag, energy and more. Learn more

— SABRINA RODRIGUEZ and LAUREN GARDNER: “Trump vs. Trudeau: How they can save NAFTA if they stop sniping”: “One of the world’s most stable partnerships will undergo a historic stress test over the coming days, pulled to the brink by differences involving cheese, court systems, and political egos.

“It took more than 120 years to build a Canada-United States free-trade pact after the last one collapsed, following the Civil War. But now NAFTA is in danger, and will only be saved if U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can get past the personal insults and animosity they’ve displayed publicly for one another and find common ground.

“There is certainly a path to a deal. Trudeau would have to give ground on dairy, and Trump would have to agree to keep a binding arbitration system for disputes that the United States has long detested. POLITICO

SPOTTED: Bob Dole lunching at Tosca Tuesday.

THERE ARE JUST SEVEN LEGISLATIVE DAYS for Congress and PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP to avoid a government shutdown.

HURRICANE COMING …

— WAPO’S CAPITAL WEATHER GANG: “Hurricane Florence charges toward Carolinas with ‘potential for unbelievable damage’”: “Large and dangerous, Hurricane Florence is drawing ever closer the coast of the Carolinas, where it threatens to become the most intense storm to strike the region in at least 25 years, since Hugo. The Category 4 storm is likely to produce ‘catastrophic’ flooding in the eastern Carolinas as well as destructive winds. Forecasts generally project Florence to make landfall in southeast North Carolina on Friday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, where it is poised to slow to a crawl and unload disastrous amounts of rain.

“‘This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast, and that’s saying a lot given the impacts we’ve seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew,’ wrote the meteorologist on duty for the National Weather Service office serving Wilmington, N.C. ‘I can’t emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm.’” WaPo

— TO KEEP IN MIND … “More Than 2,000 Puerto Ricans Applied For Funeral Assistance After Hurricane Maria. FEMA Approved Just 75,” by BuzzFeed’s Nidhi Prakash: “FEMA approved just 3% of applications for funeral assistance from more than 2,000 Puerto Rican families who lost loved ones after Hurricane Maria, according to a letter the agency head wrote to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In response to an earlier letter from Warren, Brock Long, director of FEMA, wrote on Aug. 14 that as of July 30, his agency had received 2,431 requests for funeral assistance from Puerto Ricans related to the hurricane — they approved just 75 of them, meaning 97% have either been rejected or have not received a decision almost a year after Maria hit the island.” BuzzFeed

STOP US IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS BEFORE … WAPO’S SEAN SULLIVAN: “‘Shipwreck’: GOP grows fearful about losing Senate as candidates struggle, Trump support tumbles”: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday sounded some of the most doubtful notes of Trump’s presidency that Republicans will keep the upper chamber of Congress, telling reporters, ‘I hope when the smoke clears, we’ll still have a majority.’

“His comments came as Republican strategists and officials fretted over a fresh round of private polling on the Senate races, while public polls registered further erosion in Americans’ approval of Trump. ‘Shipwreck’ was how one leading strategist described the situation, adding an expletive to underscore the severity of the party’s problems.” WaPo

— A14, NYT: “In Texas, Ted Cruz Has ‘a Dogfight on His Hands,’ Some Republicans Admit,” by Manny Fernandez in Houston and Mitchell Ferman in McAllen, Texas: “‘When there’s extreme anger and hatred on the other side, don’t respond in kind,’ Mr. Cruz told the audience beneath the glittering chandeliers. ‘Have fun. Be a joyful warrior.’

“He recalled encountering a Twitter handle, ‘Ted Cruz ate my son.’ ‘I was really tempted to tweet, ‘He was delicious,’” he said. Mr. Cruz’s Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso congressman, has been making the talk-show rounds, out-raising Mr. Cruz and reviving the long-suffering spirits of Democrats in one of the reddest states in America. Polls show the two locked in one of the tightest midterm races in the country.” NYT

— TO WIT: Senate Leadership Fund, the GOP super PAC, reported the following buy yesterday: $1.8 million in ads against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), nearly $1.4 million to boost Mike Braun in Indiana, $1.1 million against Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, $1 million against Rep. Jacky Rosen in Nevada and $668,078 against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

BACK IN THE GAME … “George W. Bush to fundraise for GOP candidates,” by Alex Isenstadt: “Former President George W. Bush is hitting the fundraising circuit for a handful of Republican House and Senate candidates, joining the party’s push to maintain its congressional majorities. Bush has maintained a low profile since leaving office in 2009. Yet as the midterm campaign season enters its final weeks and the party braces for the prospect of a Trump-fueled wave, Bush — who has been critical of the president — is putting his muscle behind Republicans in heated races.

“Bush’s tour will begin Wednesday morning, when he holds a closed-door event in Fort Worth, Texas, for GOP Rep. Will Hurd, a second-term congressman who faces the hurdle of seeking reelection in a West Texas district that President Donald Trump lost in 2016.

“Then, on Friday, Bush will travel to Florida to hold a pair of events for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is in a pitched battle for a Senate seat. One of the fundraisers will benefit New Republican, a pro-Scott super PAC. Bush will return to the circuit next week, when he headlines a Sept. 19 fundraiser in Fort Worth for North Dakota Senate hopeful Kevin Cramer. The following day, Bush will hold a Dallas fundraiser for Texas Rep. Pete Sessions.” POLITICO

2018 WATCH — BRENT GRIFFITHS: “Bernie Sanders’ son trounced in New Hampshire primary”

THE ‘CHAOS’ ELECTION … POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL — QUINT FORGEY: “Poll: More say Trump running chaotic White House after Woodward book, op-ed”

CONFIRMATION WATCH — “The last-ditch effort to stop Kavanaugh,” by Elana Schor and Burgess Everett: “Brett Kavanaugh avoided glaring missteps — and most tough Democratic questions — at his confirmation hearings. But that’s not stopping the Supreme Court nominee’s liberal critics from unleashing new ads and grass-roots campaigns in one last shot at derailing him.

“Their goal is to keep pressure on the dwindling number of senators still undecided on President Donald Trump’s high court pick. Abortion-rights groups are playing a key role: Planned Parenthood Action Fund is unleashing a new six-figure ad buy in Maine urging GOP Sen. Susan Collins to vote no, while NARAL Pro-Choice America is up with new ads hitting Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), an early Kavanaugh backer fighting for his political life in a swing state.” POLITICO

— WSJ OP-ED: “You can’t bribe Susan Collins”

— WOMEN RULE PODCAST: ANNA spoke with SEIU’S MARY KAY HENRY and the AFL-CIO’S LIZ SHULER on how labor is attacking Kavanaugh’s confirmation — using its Obamacare playbook. Listen and subscribe

REPLACING MCGAHN — “Trump Leans Toward Emmet Flood as Next White House Counsel,” by WSJ’s Peter Nicholas and Mike Bender: “President Trump is leaning toward Emmet Flood as the next White House counsel, but West Wing officials have urged Mr. Trump not to rush the pick, according to people familiar with the matter.

“Mr. Trump told associates over the weekend that he wants Mr. Flood, currently serving as White House special counsel, to succeed Don McGahn … Mr. McGahn is planning to leave his role as top White House attorney after the Senate acts on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

“Mr. Flood wants autonomy to hire his own staff and freedom to restructure the office as he sees fit, according to people familiar with the matter. One person characterized Mr. Flood’s wishes for the office as: ‘I want to be able to run the show.’” WSJ

FLIP WATCH: WAPO’S TOM HAMBURGER, DEVLIN BARTLETT and SPENCER HU: “Manafort in talks with prosecutors about possible plea, according to people familiar with the discussions”: “Days before in-person jury ­selection is set to begin in his second trial, President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in talks with the special counsel’s office about a possible plea deal, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

“The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to ­describe the conversations, cautioned that the negotiations may not result in a deal with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is prosecuting Manafort for alleged money laundering and lobbying violations.

“But the discussions indicate a possible shift in strategy for Manafort, who earlier this year chose to go to trial in Virginia, only to be convicted last month in Alexandria federal court on eight counts of bank and tax fraud.” WaPo

IMPORTANT STORY — “In an Increasingly Diverse House, Aides Remain Remarkably White,” by NYT’s Nick Fandos: “House aides write federal policy and multitrillion-dollar budgets, oversee the administration of government and shape the public’s view of Congress, but the top staff members of the House of Representatives are far less racially diverse than the country itself — or even the lawmakers who employ them.

“Just 13.7 percent of top staff members in the House are people of color, according to researchers at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a nonpartisan Washington think tank that promotes racial diversity in government. That compares with 38 percent of the country as a whole, and 23 percent of the House. Of the 40 top Democratic and Republican aides who lead the staffs of House committees, the panels at the center of nearly all congressional legislation and oversight, only six are nonwhite.” NYT

— WHY IT MATTERS: “The implications of the House’s employment mix are farther reaching. The House cultivates talent for the White House and executive branch, the Senate, governorships, lobbying firms and policy shops across the country, so the makeup of House staff has an effect far beyond one side of the Capitol.

“By and large, that House farm team — defined in the study as chiefs of staff, legislative or policy directors, communications directors, and committee staff directors — continues to be constituted mostly of white Americans, even as the House becomes more diverse. (The study did not specifically study the gender or sexual identity of top staff.)”

NEW NEIGHBORS? … WAPO’S JONATHAN O’CONNELL and ROBERT MCCARTNEY: “Bezos, Amazon board visiting Washington, but no headquarters announcement planned”: “Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos and the company’s board of directors are arriving in Washington in advance of a series of high-profile appearances for Bezos, amid intense anticipation among local officials and executives about when the Internet giant might announce the location of its second headquarters.

“The company says no announcement will be forthcoming on this trip. But four people close to the company’s board of directors say the board members are coming to Washington. It is unclear whether the board is holding a formal meeting; Amazon has booked the Renwick Gallery for a 40-person dinner Tuesday night, according to a museum spokesman. The museum did not provide details about the event or who would be attending. Amazon declined to comment. …

“On Thursday evening, Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, will sit for an interview hosted by the Economic Club of Washington, prompting 1,550 people — more than twice the club’s typical crowd — to register to attend.

“Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), all of whom have locations in the running for the 50,000 headquarters jobs, are expected to attend, according to the group.” WaPo

TRUMP’S WEDNESDAY — The president is having lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He will deliver Congressional Medal of Honor Society reception remarks in the evening before heading to a roundtable discussion and dinner with supporters at a private residence.

HAPPENING NEXT THURSDAY — Join ANNA and JAKE for a special Playbook Elections event in Ohio on Sept. 20 to discuss how the 2018 midterm elections are shaping up. RSVP

“POLITICO/AARP poll: Brown leads Renacci in Ohio Senate race”

AT THE DEPT. OF ED … “Trump administration adopts new definition of anti-Semitism in schools,” by Michael Stratford: “The Trump administration is changing how the Education Department investigates allegations of discrimination against Jewish students, backing an approach that is favored by pro-Israel groups but that critics worry will stifle free speech on campus.

“The policy change was outlined in a letter last month by Kenneth Marcus, who leads the department’s Office for Civil Rights, in which he re-opened a 2011 investigation into Rutgers University in connection with alleged discrimination against Jewish students. The letter was obtained by POLITICO.

“Marcus wrote in the letter that the Education Department, in its investigations into discrimination, would adopt the ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism that is ‘widely used by governmental agencies’ including the State Department.” POLITICO

LOBBYIST FULL EMPLOYMENT ACT … WSJ’S BRODY MULLINS and ANDREW DUEHREN: “U.S. Businesses Ramp Up Lobbying Against Trump’s Tariffs”: “From California apple growers to Maine lobstermen, businesses are joining forces to try to persuade President Trump that tariffs are hurting U.S. industries. On Wednesday, organizations representing thousands of companies in industries including retailing, toy manufacturing, farming and technology plan to announce they are cooperating on a lobbying campaign called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland to oppose tariffs on imports. …

“As of June 30, nearly 450 entities employed lobbyists on trade issues — up from about 160 at the start of the year and about 100 when Mr. Trump took office, according to lobbying-disclosure reports compiled by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.” WSJ

TRUMP INC. — LORRAINE WOELLERT, “Trump doesn’t drink booze. D.C. weighs whether to let him serve it”: “Donald Trump is president, but is he fit to run a bar? A Washington, D.C., liquor board will consider that question Wednesday after a group of city residents complained that the owner of the Trump International Hotel fails the ‘good character’ test required of anyone who wants to sell wine, beer or spirits in the city. In their grievance to the city’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board, the group presented a litany of what they say are Trump’s moral failures, calling him a liar, a fraudster and a racist who associates with criminals.” POLITICO

MEDIAWATCH … NYT’S FRANK BRUNI is launching a weekly newsletter, which will hit inboxes today at noon. “The first one … will reflect on Donald Trump’s visit to The Times right after the election, when there was still hope, and whether we should care about Cynthia Nixon’s bagel,” Bruni told us. The newsletter homepage

SPOTTED: Mitch McConnell at DCA … Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on the Acela to D.C. yesterday. Former New York Gov. George Pataki was also on the train … Bradley Cooper, Jack DeGioia and Carol Melton having dinner together last night at Cafe Milano … Chris Cuomo at Milos in midtown Manhattan … Howard Dean on Tuesday getting on the Metro at Union Station.

SPOTTED last night at a reception at the British ambassador’s residence to recognize the 400th anniversary of representative democracy in America which takes place in 2019: Prince Edward, British Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Abby Blunt, Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.), Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, George Allen, former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), Alan Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell, Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall, Portuguese Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital, Lonnie Bunch, Josh Dawsey, Mike Allen, Phil Rucker, Jonathan Swan, Alice Lloyd, Andrew Beaujon and Ashley Parker and Mike Bender.

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Rick Parnell.

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Ethan Klapper, senior audience development editor at Yahoo News. A trend he thinks deserves more attention: “I’ve always been into the world of aviation and airlines, and folks should know there’s a pretty severe pilot shortage in the U.S. right now. There are a number of causes for it, and airlines have been taking steps to rectify the problem, but with pilots mandated to retire at 65, we could be in a world where the supply of pilots isn’t meeting the demand of scheduled flights. This CNN news analysis provides a good overview.” Playbook Plus Q&A

BIRTHDAYS: Matt Lewis, senior columnist at The Daily Beast and CNN political commentator … Jill Jackson (hat tip: Caitlin Conant) … Andrea DiVito of “Fox News Sunday” … POLITICO’s Ben Schreckinger and Walt Houseknecht … Don Fowler, former DNC chairman, is 83 … former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is 79 … Greg Wetstone … Dave Willett … Johnny Enterline of the Sierra Club … Natalie Raps, an MBA candidate at Wharton School and SKDKnickerbocker alum … Andrew Whalen … Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) is 58 … Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.) is 35 … former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, now the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, is 62 … Ed Moy, former director of the U.S. Mint, is 61 … Maria Harris Roumel … Desiree Sayle … Max D’Onofrio, press secretary for Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) … Emily Lampkin … Liz Wroe of Senate HELP … Melissa Schulman, SVP of gov’t and public affairs at CVS Health …

… former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), now the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, is 59 (h/t Colin Reed) … Brett Thompson, partner at Banner Public Affairs … NYT’s Kim Severson … Bush 43 alum Bryan Langley (h/t Ed Cash) … Derek Robertson … VOA’s John Lippman … Alex Botting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce … Pam Stevens … Peter Robbio, SVP at CRC … Zach Pohl … Paul Kanan (h/ts Sam Newton) … Fox News alum Jim Angle … Fred Schuster … Jason Stverak … James Faeh … Khan Shoieb … Edelman’s Gavin Mathis and Mariana Cotlear … Jason O’Malley … Amazon’s Allison Marshall … Joseph Voss … Anne Johnson … lawyer Matthew Wald … Erin Hood … Russel Wade … Chip Ward is 65 … Bill Hayden … Ali Siciliano, who recently welcomed Maggie with her husband Stuart — pic … Allison Ramiller … Nate Yohannes of Microsoft … Jill Alper … Alexandra Simbana (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)