Will the Real Speaker Please Stand Up?
There’s a new Congress coming through. And it’s still unclear who’ll run things.
Tell me more.
Today, the new Congress starts with a Republican majority in the House. First up on its to-do list: vote for a House speaker. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is looking for the 218 votes he needs to get his hands on the gavel. But over the weekend, at least nine hardline Republicans said they’re still not backing McCarthy. That’s despite offering potential concessions over the weekend, like making it easier to give him the boot and ensuring conservatives are better repped on committees. It’s a problem for McCarthy, since Republicans only have a 222-213 majority. In other words, he may only have four Republican votes to lose.
Congress keeps voting until someone meets the threshold. There’s no clear alternative to McCarthy — including his only challenger so far, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ). But some GOP lawmakers have signaled that they’d work with Dems to choose a more moderate speaker, like Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). And Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) could also be another contender. If Republicans fail to get a speaker on first try it would mark the first time that’s happened since the 1920s. Meanwhile, there’s one more Republican wild card in the mix for 2023.
George Santos. Today, the congressman-elect is scheduled to be sworn in. That’s despite federal and state criminal investigations and, most recently, revived fraud charges in Brazil, reportedly over a stolen checkbook. Santos won New York's 3rd Congressional District seat in New York, flipping it red. But he’s been in the spotlight for weeks after lying about everything in his background from his education to past jobs. Now, he’s facing bipartisan pressure to resign — despite Republicans’ thin majority.
Republicans have been waiting for control of a congressional chamber. Now, they have plans to use that majority for everything from investigations of Hunter Biden to the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. But to take action, they first need to get their House in order...something today’s speakership vote will put to the test.
What’s acknowledging losses…
Russia. Yesterday, the Kremlin said a Ukrainian missile strike killed 63 troops. The attack marked one of the deadliest by Ukrainian forces since the war began last year. And apparently involved four rockets fired from US-made launchers targeting barracks in the Russian-occupied eastern Donetsk region. Kremlin officials are calling it “a massive blow.” Kyiv — which has since claimed responsibility — says it’s still assessing the death toll. The news comes as the region approaches the one-year anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s large-scale invasion next month.
Wat-er people adding to their New Year’s resolutions, yet again...
Drink more water. Yesterday, the National Institutes of Health waded in. An NIH study included over 11,000 participants — and researchers tracked their sodium levels for over 30 years. Turns out, adults that seemed to have less water intake were more likely to develop chronic conditions like heart and lung disease. They were also less likely to show signs of advanced aging or die at a younger age. It comes as the study’s authors say about half of people worldwide don’t meet recommendations for daily total water intake — which can also be upped with other fluids like juices or veggies and fruits with high water content. But before you buy a massive, inspirational water bottle, keep in mind: these links are associated...not proven. The study’s authors say more research is needed to prove a magical number of glasses will slow aging and prevent disease. At the very least, this may be a good reminder to drink when you’re feeling thirsty. Bladder safe than sorry.
Who’s making an appearance in court…
The suspect in the University of Idaho killings. Today, Bryan Kohberger is set to waive his extradition hearing in a Pennsylvania court. The 28-year-old graduate student was arrested last week for allegedly stabbing four college students to death in November. Kohberger — who was allegedly linked to the murders through DNA — says he’s “eager to be exonerated.” Meanwhile, his family says they’re praying for the victims' families while also trying to “promote his presumption of innocence.” If and when the suspect does return to Idaho, he faces four counts of first-degree murder.
Who people are wishing well...
Damar Hamlin. Last night, the Buffalo Bills safety was taken to the hospital after taking a hit during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He suffered from cardiac arrest and CPR was administered on the field. The NFL postponed the game. Hamlin remains in critical condition. Meanwhile, a toy drive for children that he organized has now seen a massive bump in donations.
Whose heart will go on (even if her fans won’t let it go)…
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