News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Congress, Lockerbie, and “The White Lotus”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
December 12, 2022

What on Earth Is Going on in Congress?

The Story

Two people are dominating headlines on the Hill.

Who are we talking about?

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Here’s what's happening in...

The Senate…Last week, Sinema woke up and chose to leave the Democratic Party. In 2018, the Arizona centrist became the Senate’s first openly bisexual senator. And has since voted along the party line 93% of the time — on everything from impeaching former President Trump to passing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package. But she and fellow moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) like to make Democrats work for it. And have regularly held up their priorities on things like raising tax rates and filibuster changes. Now, the independent says she “never fit neatly into any party box.” And that going independent is “true to who I am and how I operate.” But there could be a strategic benefit. Her seat’s up in 2024. And skipping out on the Democratic primary allows her to miss a challenge from progressive Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). Sinema says this isn’t about that. And that the announcement won't change how she votes. Next up: Dems have to choose between supporting a renegade Sinema in 2024...or a primary challenger that could split the vote and hand her seat to a Republican.

The House…It’s looking harder and harder for McCarthy to get the 218 votes he needs to become House speaker. Last week, seven House Republicans laid out their list of requirements for the role that could be a no-go for McCarthy — things like making it easier to remove a Speaker and reducing spending. It comes after a handful of Republicans already said they won’t back him because he’s not far-right enough for them. Problem for McCarthy who needs majority approval from the full House chamber…not just the party in control to get the job. If neither McCarthy — nor his opponent Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) — get the 218 votes on January 3rd, some GOP lawmakers have signaled that they’d work with Dems to choose a more moderate speaker.


Tight margins in both chambers of Congress show Americans are as divided as ever. And that lack of wiggle room is now giving centrists and rogue party members all the fuel they need to negotiate for what they want. Because as we learned it in “Game of Thrones,” chaos is a ladder.

And Also...This

Which story is one step closer to answers...

Lockerbie. Yesterday, more than 30 years after the attack, the Justice Dept said it took one of the suspects into custody. In December of 1988, a Libyan man and two others placed a bomb in Pan Am Flight 103, causing it to explode over Lockerbie, Scotland. 270 people were killed — including 190 Americans, making it the deadliest terror attack in the UK and the second deadliest for Americans to date. In 2020, the US acted on intelligence to charge a former intel official known as Mas’ud for his role in the attack. Now, two years later, the US has extradited him — and he will make his initial court appearance in DC. One of the other suspects has passed away and another has been acquitted of all charges.

Why we’re saying ‘and then there were four’...

The World Cup. This week, the tournament heads to the semifinals. Tomorrow, it's Argentina vs Croatia. Followed by France vs Morocco the next day. With Argentina still in the running, Lionel Messi has a chance at boosting his rep as the world’s greatest with his first-ever World Cup W. All that, despite a tense standoff in the match with the Netherlands. But many are also rooting for Morocco, which just became the first African country to make it to the semifinals after defeating Portugal 1-0 and with it, Cristiano Ronaldo. Meanwhile, tributes poured in for Grant Wahl. On Friday, the 49-year-old American died of unknown causes while covering the Argentina v. Netherlands game. The Soccer journalist had been detained (briefly) for trying to enter a match while wearing a rainbow T-shirt in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community weeks before his death. US Soccer said it was “heartbroken” and his wife said she was “in complete shock.”

What’s spreading its wings…

Twitter Blue. Today, the social media platform is set to launch its subscription plan that will allow anyone willing to pay $8 a month (or $11 a month for iPhone users) to get that sweet blue checkmark on their profile. Twitter CEO Elon Musk could be charging iPhone users a heftier price tag, to cover an apparent 30% commission Apple charges on some in-app purchases. It comes as he and Apple CEO Tim Cook have butted heads over the threat of Apple removing Twitter from its App Store. The delayed update follows last month’s botched revamp of the verification service that saw Doja Cat become ‘Fart’ and a verified account posing as Eli Lilly tweeted that insulin was free. Meanwhile, Musk is using his role as the head of one of the top social media platforms to call for the prosecution of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

While “The White Lotus” is closed for the season…

We’ll always have the theme song

While Steve Aoki’s shooting for the moon...

Artemis I’s back from it.

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