News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Speaker of the House, Abortion Pills, and Bad Bunny

Members-elect of the 118th Congress leave the House Chamber after three ballots failed to elect a new Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023
January 4, 2023

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The Story

The House is facing unprecedented times.

What’s going on?

For the first time in exactly 100 years, a House speaker nominee failed to get the votes. Yesterday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tried not once, not twice, but three times to take the gavel…and failed. Reminder: Republicans only have a 222-213 majority, so McCarthy only had four Republican votes to lose. Nineteen GOP colleagues opted to back other candidates, including Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and then Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). One potential reason? The concessions McCarthy's already made — including making it easier to vote out a speaker — aren't enough. Now, McCarthy’s saying there might be a “battle on the floor” as Republican hardliners don’t think McCarthy is the man for the job.

So where does that leave things?

The House will keep voting until a candidate gets all 218 votes. But that could take a while. McCarthy could become Speaker of the House with less than the threshold if some members vote ‘present’ or are absent. And waaay back in 1856, it took two months and over 130 ballots for the House to elect its speaker. In the meantime, things in Congress are basically at a standstill. The House can’t swear in new members, set rules to govern itself, consider new legislation, or create committee assignments. 


McCarthy’s loss could be a preview of what the next two years may look like: infighting and gridlock.

And Also...This

What you might find at your pharmacy soon…

Abortion pills. Yesterday, the FDA changed its rules to allow certified pharmacies to provide abortion pills with a prescription. Ever since SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, many have worried that abortion pills could face restrictions. Especially as Red states move to limit or ban abortion access. But the Justice Dept recently said the US Postal Service can deliver the abortion drugs — something the Biden admin believes could help protect abortion access. Abortion pills like mifepristone, authorized by the FDA to end pregnancies up to 10 weeks, are used in more than half of pregnancy terminations in the US. And could only be distributed by a certified health care provider. Now, pharmacies can decide whether to provide the pills — either in-person or via mail order. CVS and Walgreens said they are reviewing the updated requirements from the FDA. TBD what kind of legal challenges could arise. Meanwhile, anti-abortion advocates say the decision proves the White House “values abortion industry profits” over “women’s safety and unborn children’s lives.”

What’s got some parents saying ‘told you so’...

This social media study. Yesterday, a new study — reportedly among the first — looked at how social media use could impact brain looking at brain scans. Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill looked at brain scans from a group of nearly 170 sixth- and seventh-grade students. Those who checked their social media accounts more often showed brain activity that indicated they had become more hypersensitive to social rewards, including peer feedback and Facebook likes. Those who weren’t scrolling as often didn’t care as much. But the authors of the study warn that the data just gives them insight into the trajectory of the kids’ brain changes. It doesn’t explain the magnitude or if these changes are helpful or harmful.

P.S. Here are some tips on how to keep your social media use in check.

Who’s apparently facing threats…

Sara Khadem. Yesterday, one of Iran’s top chess players reportedly arrived in Spain after being warned not to return to her country. Last week, Khadem played in a tournament in Kazakhstan without Iran's mandatory hijab. Many viewed the move as potentially pulling a page out of climber Elnaz Rekabi and Iranian soccer players' playbook. They've also taken a stance at public sporting events in apparent acts of solidarity with the thousands of Iranians who have been calling for leadership change and women’s rights. But now, Khadem is apparently avoiding returning home to Iran where she could face deadly repercussions. 

What's trying to get out of the doghouse...

Southwest Airlines. Yesterday, the airline gave out 25,000 frequent-flier points to passengers affected by its holiday travel meltdown. Think: over 15,000 canceled flights and luggage that’s still lost. The points — which are worth more than $300 — are in addition to reimbursements and refunds. The airline's CEO called it a "gesture of goodwill." But the airline’s still facing at least one lawsuit and a federal investigation.

Who’s giving us all the ‘90s feels…

Chilli and Matthew Lawrence.

Why it’s an especially “Wednesday” Wednesday...

We don’t know what’s happening with season 2.

Who didn’t want a selfie…

Bad Bunny.

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