The fourth one to be exact. Last night, Republicans in the lower chamber picked Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) over four other candidates to give it the old college try at earning the speakership. Johnson replaces Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who lasted a grand total of four hours as the GOP’s nominee for speaker. Emmer threw in the towel after former President Trump and 26 House Republicans said they wouldn’t back him — some calling Emmer out over supporting gay marriage and certifying the 2020 election. Now, Johnson's bid is expected to go before the House floor today to see if he can do what no other recent nominee could: get 217 votes.
What are his chances?
With 221 Republicans in the House, Johnson can only afford to lose four GOP votes. He’s a relatively little-known lawmaker, but an outspoken Trump ally. He supported the former president during his impeachments and voted against certifying the 2020 election. Still, it’s unclear if Johnson can unify Republican moderates, the hard-right, and those still pining for former House Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). In fact, one other idea that’s reportedly been thrown around: McCarthy taking back the reins as speaker and assigning Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of the House Freedom Caucus as ‘assistant speaker.’ It comes as Republicans could be getting desperate to fill the job post after three weeks of back and forth.
House Republicans’ dysfunction has been on full display. Since McCarthy’s ouster, they’ve rejected three nominees — opting to leave the lower chamber at a standstill at a time when the US is facing a funding deadline and multiple crises abroad.
House Democrats Signaled They Could Help the GOP, But There's a Catch
Calls for a Cease-fire
Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN joined many calling for an immediate cease-fire. Since Hamas killed more than 1,400 people on October 7th, Israel has responded with an unprecedented number of airstrikes, while Hamas and militant groups in Gaza have continued to launch rockets — thousands each, according to the IDF. More than 5,700 Palestinians have been killed, according to Palestinian health officials. Now, Israel’s siege on Gaza’s access to food, fuel, and water has pushed the strip to the brink. Twelve out of 35 hospitals have been forced to shut down, according to the WHO. Other hospitals are at risk. The UN said fuel is expected to run out tonight.
Israel has so far rejected calls for a cease-fire, prioritizing its military goal of ending Hamas. The approach comes in contrast to 2021, when Israel and Hamas agreed to a mutual cease-fire after 11 days of fighting. Now, Israeli officials reportedly say any pause could give Hamas time to regroup — one reason they’re preventing fuel from entering the strip. Israel is also apparently resisting Hamas’s call for a pause in exchange for an estimated 220 hostages. Instead, it has reportedly delayed a ground invasion to see if mediators like Qatar and Egypt can secure their release. The Biden admin is backing Israel up, demanding the release of hostages as a precondition for any cease-fire. But yesterday, it echoed calls for a “humanitarian pause.”
A pause could come in hours, days or months. One thing is clear: the death toll in the latest Israel-Hamas war has surpassed all of its previous wars since 2008. Any playbook the two had on hostage negotiations or cease-fires may be thrown out the window as each sees this latest bout of fighting as an existential threat and a matter of survival.
Who wants to unfollow Meta....
Dozens of states. Yesterday, 33 state attorneys general sued Meta for violating consumer protection laws and posing a threat to children and teens’ mental health in exchange for dollar bills. The bipartisan group alleges Meta “designed and deployed” harmful features on Instagram to keep minors hooked — like infinite scrolling and never-ending alerts. The lawsuit also accuses Meta of lying about IG being suitable for minors. Almost every teen in America has said they use social media. Now, this lawsuit brings the total number of states suing the tech giant to 41 states plus DC. Meta said it’s “disappointed” that the AGs opted for a suit instead of sliding into their DMs first. As for what the states want, that could look like Meta making changes to its business practices and paying victims back for any financial losses.
What’s feeling not so itty bitty…
Bitcoin. Yesterday, its price jumped above $35,000 for the first time in a year and a half. It's the closest Bitcoin has come to reaching levels from its glory days, when its value topped more than $63,000 in 2021. The crypto’s resurgence comes as investors expect the approval and listing of Bitcoin ETFs, or exchange-traded funds — a kind of investment fund that Americans have thrown at least $4 trillion into. Now, Bitcoin could soon move from the world of unregulated exchanges like FTX and into the mainstream market — renewing interest in crypto.
Where reproductive health is top of mind…
Georgia. Yesterday, the state’s Supreme Court upheld a six-week abortion ban, after rejecting a challenge that argued the law was unconstitutional. That doesn't mean it is case closed. A lower court now has to weigh in on whether Georgia’s constitution protects a right to privacy, and whether that right includes abortion. Meanwhile, one study found that the 33 states that kept abortion legal saw nearly 117,000 more abortions — a 14% increase year-over-year. The increase comes from patients traveling from states with bans or restrictions — and comes as some states like Texas are looking to ban travel for abortions.
…Oh and speaking of the Peach State, yesterday, former President Trump’s campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty in Georgia’s 2020 election interference case. She’s the fourth defendant to enter a plea deal out of the 19 originally charged.
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