“House Republican leaders are now betting they can come up with 218 GOP votes for the FY2024 defense authorization bill after essentially ending any hope of a bipartisan deal with Democrats,” Punchbowl News reports.
“Speaker Kevin McCarthy is giving the House Freedom Caucus and other conservative hardliners what they’ve demanded all week — dozens of ‘culture war’ amendment votes on the $886 billion NDAA package. Conservatives threatened to derail the defense-authorization bill unless they got these votes.”
“The House will take up these amendments today in what promises to be a long and bitterly partisan slugfest.”
Politico: “Republicans are gambling that allowing a bunch of contentious partisan amendments on the floor will keep conservatives in check, but will ultimately get voted down so Dems won’t oppose the bill.”
Politico: “McCarthy and his leadership team returned to Washington this week planning to tee up the GOP’s biggest must-pass bills of the year, only to slam into a wall of resistance from familiar antagonists on the right. The speaker’s first problem is urgent: A small band of ultraconservatives, mainly in the House Freedom Caucus, has turned a routine Pentagon policy bill into a major headache for party leaders as they press for contentious votes on abortion, LGBTQ troops and affirmative action.”
“That drama isn’t over yet, with the right’s ever-growing slate of demands increasingly likely to delay final votes on the bill until next week, and its ultimate passage still a question mark. But conservatives are plotting other problems to come for McCarthy, who has precious little floor time left and an entire government to try to fund before current cash expires on Sept. 30.”
“Some right-flank Republicans are now holding up McCarthy’s plan to pass a heap of spending bills this month, even creating an abortion-related holdup on the usually less-controversial bill that funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and military personnel.”
“Hard-line conservatives have once again thrown the House of Representatives into chaos, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy is once again struggling to appease the same people who nearly denied him the job just six months ago,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“McCarthy has tried to project calm in the face of the hardliners’ latest demands. He’s managed to weather the House’s roiling crises so far without losing his job or triggering a U.S. debt default. And after enduring the public embarrassment of his 15-ballot fight to become speaker and a recent Freedom Caucus tantrum over his debt-ceiling deal with President Biden, he seems resigned to the mayhem.”
Said McCarthy: “This just seems like another week in Congress. I’ll get through it, we’ll figure it out as we go.”
“The mystery of who brought cocaine into the White House remains unsolved. The Secret Service investigation has concluded with no usable forensic or video evidence to identify the individual responsible,” NBC News reports.
“The U.S. Secret Service on Thursday will give a classified briefing to members and staff of the Republican-led House Oversight Committee on the cocaine found in the White House West Wing earlier this month,” ABC News reports.
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) was caught editing his own Wikipedia profile, the Daily Beast reports. “The longtime GOP operative was a prolific editor of his own Wikipedia content. Lawler made 26 changes in total—which earned him a warning from site administrators that he was violating policy by editing his own content, and then an outright ban when Lawler did not heed the warning.”
“Ray Epps, the man at the center of a widespread conspiracy theory about the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing Fox News and its former host Tucker Carlson of defamation for promoting a ‘fantastical story’ that Mr. Epps was an undercover government agent who instigated the violence at the Capitol as a way to disparage then-President Trump and his supporters,” the New York Times reports.
“Farmers Insurance informed the state it was dropping home, auto and umbrella policies across Florida, potentially affecting tens of thousands of people,” the Miami Herald reports.
“It’s the fourth company to leave the Florida market in the last year — most citing rising risks from hurricanes.”
“Mercenaries of the Wagner Group are completing the handover of their weapons to the Russian military, a move that follows the private army’s brief rebellion last month that challenged the Kremlin’s authority,” the AP reports.
“A high-profile Russian general in command of forces in occupied southern Ukraine said he was dismissed from his post after accusing the defense ministry of betraying Russian soldiers by not providing sufficient support,” CNN reports.
Hours after Russian paramilitary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin began a short-lived march on Moscow, the country’s domestic security service detained several high-ranking military officers, including Gen. Sergei Surovikin, head of aerospace forces,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Surovikin, known as General Armageddon for bombing campaigns he waged in Syria, is being held and interrogated in Moscow.”
Russia is planning to build 25 new prison colonies and six detention centers in occupied areas of Ukraine, the AP reports. Most have no status under Russian law.
A Russian lawmaker says that Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who vanished from public view after he was accused of having advance knowledge of last month’s violent Wagner Group uprising, is “resting” and “not available” right now.
“Fresh off being kicked out from the House Freedom Caucus for being too close to leadership, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is fundraising with Speaker Kevin McCarthy later today,” Punchbowl News reports.
“It’s a fascinating example of the increasingly close relationship between McCarthy and Greene, who has turned from a thorn in the side of GOP leadership to one of McCarthy’s closest allies.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) told CNN that she no longer considers herself a member of the House Freedom Caucus. Said Greene: “I enjoy being a free agent a lot better. I’m interested in getting accomplishments done, not doing things just to disrupt and fight leadership. And that’s a major difference.”
When asked why she still hasn’t returned calls from anyone from the group, Greene said it’s because “I don’t care.”
Gabriel Sherman: “The tragic irony is that Nauta’s loyalty to Trump seems born from the service ethos he learned in the military. Even though Nauta retired from the Navy in 2021 and now works for a civilian former president, he allegedly followed Trump’s orders to move boxes as if Trump were still the commander in chief.”
Politico: “A White House that has bet Biden’s political future on the economy’s resilience — so much so that they’re branding it with the president’s name — got the latest encouraging sign Wednesday that its strategy is paying off, with new data showing a sharper than expected slowdown in consumer costs.”
“The measure is a major reversal of fortune for Biden, after two years battling soaring inflation and accusations his agenda had contributed to the pain. But it’s just the latest in a string of economic developments that’s bolstered the administration’s confidence it can set the U.S. on a glide path without first plunging it into a downturn.”
Playbook: “Top Biden advisers are reluctant to be seen as taking a full victory lap. Even as they hit the road touting ‘Bidenomics,’ they have their eyes to three big potential storms on the horizon: (1) the mass resumption of student loan payments coming this fall; (2) a likely government shutdown later this year; and (3) the possibility that additional interest rate hikes could still push the economy into a downturn.”
“The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved a birth control pill to be sold without a prescription for the first time in the United States, a milestone that could significantly expand access to contraception,” the New York Times reports.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CNN that Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) holds on hundreds of senior military nominations are a “national security issue.” Said Austin: “This is a national security issue. It’s a readiness issue. And, we shouldn’t kid ourselves. I think any member of the Senate Armed Services Committee knows that.”
“Democrats’ push to force the Supreme Court to adopt stronger ethics rules could get a bit of a test run today,” the Washington Post reports. “Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is expected to bring up a proposal today at a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting that would use Congress’s power of the purse to pressure the Supreme Court to adopt a ‘code of ethics.’”
Washington Post: “Scientists say there is no question that this cacophony was caused by climate change — or that it will continue to intensify as the planet warms. Research shows that human greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from burning fossil fuels, have raised Earth’s temperature by about 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Unless humanity radically transforms the way people travel, generate energy and produce food, the global average temperature is on track to increase by more than 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit), according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — unleashing catastrophes that will make this year’s disasters seem mild.”
“The only question, scientists say, is when the alarms will finally be loud enough to make people wake up.”
Meanwhile, a study in Nature Medicine finds that more than 61,000 people died because of last year’s brutal summer heat waves across Europe.
“President Joe Biden is closing out a five-day trip to Europe on Thursday standing alongside Nordic leaders in an effort to show NATO’s expanding power and influence against a burgeoning Russia,” the AP reports.
“The brief stop in the shoreline Finnish capital is the coda to a Biden tour that was carefully sketched to highlight the growth of the military alliance that the president says has fortified itself since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Finland joined as NATO’s newest member earlier this year, an entry that effectively doubled the alliance’s border with Russia.”
New abortion restrictions are driving academics out of some U.S. states — and keeping others from coming, Science reports.
“MyPillow is auctioning off hundreds of pieces of equipment and subleasing manufacturing space after several shopping networks and major retailers took the company’s products off shelves,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
“Major retailers such as Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and Slumberland Furniture all said they will no longer sell MyPillow products as CEO Mike Lindell continues to falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.”
Catherine Rampell: “Slowly but surely, President Biden is repairing the U.S. health-care system, reversing Trump-era sabotage and ensuring millions more Americans get access to affordable coverage.”
“The latest of these efforts came on Friday, in a little-noticed but significant decision to protect Americans from junk health insurance.”
Sudan is on the brink of a “full-scale civil war” that could destabilize the entire region, after an airstrike on a residential area killed about two dozen civilians, The Guardian reports.
“After nearly three months of war between Sudan’s rival generals, the airstrike is the latest incident to provoke outrage. At least 3,000 people have been killed and 6,000 wounded in the conflict, survivors have reported a wave of sexual violence and witnesses have spoken of ethnically targeted killings. There has been widespread looting, and the UN warned of possible crimes against humanity in the Darfur region.”
“The Biden administration’s full-court press on climate change cooperation with Beijing could hinge on climate envoy John Kerry’s upcoming visit to China,” Axios reports.
“The U.S. and China are the world’s top two emitters of planet-warming greenhouse gases. Climate action between them could help to achieve global climate goals and pave the way for smoother negotiations at the COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates later this year.”
“North Korea accused U.S. spy planes of violating its air space and threatened to shoot them down, ramping up tensions just before NATO leaders meet this week in Lithuania for their annual summit,” Bloomberg reports.
“Saudi Arabia has deposited $2 billion into Pakistan’s central bank, the government said Tuesday, a much-needed financial boost ahead of a critical meeting of the International Monetary Fund on the new bailout package for the cash-strapped South Asian country,” the AP reports.
A massive physical fight broke out in Kosovo’s legislature as Prime Minister Albin Kurti gave a speech, Radio Free Europe reports.
A severed human finger was mailed to the residence of French President Emmanuel Macron, Valeurs Actuelles reports.