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Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has an autumn to-do list that faces more deadly traps than the average Hollywood action flick.
As President Biden likes to say, “Not a joke.”
The traps have been set by the Speaker’s House Republican colleagues. The Sept. 30 deadline is set by statute. If McCarthy looks for help in the form of votes from House Democrats to temporarily prevent a government shutdown, his GOP colleagues may fire him. If he doesn’t bow to the renegades on the right, whose demands on budgeting clash with McCarthy’s reality, they may try to oust him. If he undercuts House Republicans in swing districts Biden won in 2020, his party could lose its majority next year — and he’s toast.
If McCarthy expects help from Republicans in the Senate minority, he will not find it. They are operating in a different space when it comes to appropriations, as well as House GOP calls to impeach Biden and the political risks if Republicans shutter the government.
The Washington Post, analysis: Republican vs. Republican: Senate seeks to wrest control of the budget from the House, including on Ukraine aid.
“We’re talking about a small minority who want to control the conference,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Politico, adding that Republicans “should support Kevin” on a short-term spending measure, perhaps through November, to stave off a shutdown.
The Speaker’s moves so far:
▪ Buy time (prepare lawmakers for a stopgap spending bill designed to get past Sept. 30 so discussions can continue).
▪ Distract (nudge House Republicans to pass defense and homeland security spending measures in the next two weeks, which McCarthy claims would strengthen his bargaining room with the Senate).
▪ Remind (after years of wailing about the need for regular order, argue it doesn’t look good if House Republicans can’t move spending bills).
▪ Negotiate (bypassing the GOP majority in his conference, McCarthy is playing along with a right-wing impeachment inquiry aimed at calling Biden a crook, but sans evidence. Does it square with his past opposition to Democratic-led impeachments of former President Trump? No. Has he opened a door to Freedom Caucus firebrands who want to force one or more votes by their colleagues to launch an impeachment inquiry? Yes).
Senate Republicans believe their House colleagues lack evidence for impeachment and have other options, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. “Since they got the majority, they got the chairmen of the various committees, they could do all of that now without going to a formal inquiry,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. “Members of the House don’t really care what I think. All I can tell you, it’s unlikely to be successful in the Senate,” he added. “Rather than doing something they know is unlikely to end the way they would like, maybe they want to emphasize other things.”
▪ The Hill: 5 pressing questions McCarthy faces as the House reconvenes.
▪ Punchbowl News: McCarthy and House GOP leaders have scheduled a closed-door meeting Thursday and the Speaker is expected to say an impeachment inquiry into Biden and Hunter Biden is “the next logical step.”
▪ Time: McCarthy may lack votes for an impeachment inquiry, but Trump’s allies have a plan to get them.
▪ The Associated Press: McCarthy juggles a government shutdown and a Biden impeachment inquiry as the House returns for fall.
❎ With his narrow majority, McCarthy has GOP attendance challenges, Punchbowl News points out, noting that Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) is leaving office at the end of this week. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) is receiving chemotherapy for multiple myeloma. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) may be pleading guilty to federal charges, which would force him out of the House. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) had hip surgery last month. Also absent from the Capitol this week because of positive COVID-19 tests: Democrats Rep. Ritchie Torres (N.Y.) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) (The Hill).
👉 3 Things to Know Today:
▪ 💉COVID-19 vaccines effective against a variant and its cousins are expected to roll out this week after approval by the Food and Drug Administration and signoff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The government touts updated shots as akin to annual immunizations, such as for flu (NBC News and The Hill).
▪ The Hill’s Special Report: Capitol Hill staff members keep the pulse of the legislative branch beating (The Hill). Meet 25 whose work you’ve probably seen but whose names you might not know.
▪ U.S. poverty is up. A new Census Bureau report expected today will detail the impact as federal safety net programs phased out as the pandemic emergency ended (The Hill).
LEADING THE DAY
© The Associated Press / Yuki Iwamura | Vice President Harris, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) at Monday’s commemoration ceremony in New York City on the anniversary of 9/11.
Vice President Harris is moving closer to center stage as the 2024 campaign heats up. Harris has given two major on-camera interviews within the past week, to The Associated Press and CBS News — a departure from habit for a vice president who is typically reticent with the media. The White House also announced last week that Harris would go on a college tour that will take her to “around a dozen campuses in at least seven states” over the next month. Visits to Hampton College, Va., North Carolina A&T in Greensboro and Atlanta’s Morehouse College — all historically Black colleges and universities — are already scheduled.
But even as Harris ups her profile, she must contend with the fact that she has long been an inviting target for Republicans, and those attacks are sure to intensify in the months ahead. In The Memo, The Hill’s Niall Stanage examines five questions swirling around the vice president — from her low approval ratings to whether she can energize key demographic groups, including Black voters and women.
▪ The Washington Post: How Americans feel about Harris becoming president.
▪ The Hill: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) slams Harris as “impeachment insurance” for Biden.
THE WHITE HOUSE IS LASHING OUT at the media’s fixation on Biden’s age and ability to do the job, seeking to go on offense on an issue that polls suggest is a vulnerability in the president’s reelection campaign. In a series of social media posts, aides took direct aim at media posts on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and headlines that took aim at the 80-year-old president’s age or stamina, suggesting it was a lazy narrative that ignored Biden’s marathon trip in Asia over the last five days (The Hill).
MAP MANIA: Redistricting challenges in states across the country are roiling the battle for the House majority ahead of 2024. States including North Carolina, Alabama and New York are either expected to see changes to their maps or are in the midst of litigation over potential new lines, The Hill’s Caroline Vakil reports. Given Republicans’ narrow hold over the House majority, experts agree redistricting cases will play a critical role in determining who controls the lower chamber next cycle.
2024 roundup: Rising political violence is here to stay through the 2024 election, warn experts in extremism and law enforcement (The Hill). … Former Rep. Mike Rogers’s (R-Mich.) decision to jump in the Michigan Senate race and the potential entry of GOP candidates in states featuring incumbent Democrats are giving the GOP a shot in the arm as they look to make waves in races outside of the three preeminent states on the 2024 map (The Hill). … Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential candidate and onetime New York City mayoral hopeful, has had talks with centrist third party organization No Labels about its third-party presidential bid (Politico). … Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a popular Republican with national ambitions, is trying to help his party take full control of state government in crucial legislative races this year (The New York Times).
➤ TRUMP WORLD
Former President Trump on Monday formally demanded the recusal of federal Judge Tanya Chutkan, arguing through his lawyers that she has made prejudicial comments about him during trials involving accused Jan. 6 attackers at the Capitol. Chutkan was randomly assigned to handle the government’s prosecution of Trump tied to the efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
It isn’t the first time Trump has attacked the judges overseeing his criminal cases. He previously unsuccessfully sought the recusal of the judge overseeing his hush money criminal case in New York, and Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Chutkan and other judges on Truth Social (The Hill and NBC News).
The New York Times: Manhattan judge may be open to moving Trump’s trial date as cases mount.
Meanwhile, the early defense strategies being pursued by Trump and his 18 co-defendants in Georgia are quickly complicating prosecutors’ aim to go to trial next month. District Attorney Fani Willis (D) is attempting to keep all of the co-defendants together for a singular trial beginning Oct. 23, but several legal maneuvers already underway pose deep challenges to Willis’s goal, which legal experts have called extraordinarily ambitious (The Hill).
Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday filed an emergency appeal following his unsuccessful effort last week to have his criminal case in Georgia moved from state to federal court. He is now seeking an urgent ruling before any potential verdict can be rendered in state court (USA Today). Meadows has pleaded not guilty. He’s charged with racketeering and with soliciting Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to violate his oath of office during a call Jan. 2, 2021, when Trump asked him to “find” enough votes to win the state.
© The Associated Press / John Bazemore | District Attorney Fani Willis (D) is prosecuting former President Trump and 18 co-defendants for racketeering in a Georgia election subversion case.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia amid Western concerns that he will provide military support for President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. After decades of complicated, hot-and-cold relations, the two countries have drawn closer since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The bond has been driven by Putin’s need for war supplies and Kim’s efforts to boost his partnerships with traditional allies Moscow and Beijing as he tries to break out of diplomatic isolation (The Associated Press).
Ukraine, meanwhile, claimed more gains along the front line on Monday, after President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged the slow pace of the counteroffensive against Russia while renewing pleas for sustained military and humanitarian aid from allies. Zelensky said Sunday his country “waited too long” to launch the counteroffensive, indicating that Kyiv’s Western allies kept it waiting with weapons deliveries (The Hill).
People in Morocco slept in the streets for a third straight night as soldiers and international aid teams in trucks and helicopters began to fan into remote mountain towns hit hardest by an earthquake that has killed more than 2,800. The United Nations estimated that 300,000 people were affected by Friday night’s magnitude 6.8 quake. While some foreign search-and-rescue teams arrived on Sunday as an aftershock rattled Morocco, other aid teams poised to deploy grew frustrated waiting for the government to officially request assistance. Morocco’s government has only accepted aid requests from four countries — Britain, Spain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — amid numerous offers (The Associated Press).
“We know there is a great urgency to save people and dig under the remains of buildings,” said Arnaud Fraisse, founder of Rescuers Without Borders, who had a team stuck in Paris waiting for the green light. “There are people dying under the rubble, and we cannot do anything to save them.”
© The Associated Press / Mosa’ab Elshamy | In Morocco, British rescue teams set up in the town of Amizmiz, near Marrakech, to assist with international earthquake response.
■ Trump’s aide Mark Meadows faces a huge legal setback. It should worry both of them, by Harry Litman, columnist and “Talking Feds” podcast host, Los Angeles Times.
■ Why Glenn Youngkin, the GOP’s best option, won’t run for president, by Douglas E. Schoen and Carly Cooperman, opinion contributors, The Hill.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene at noon.
The Senate will meet at 10 a.m.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m.
The vice president is in Washington and has no public events.
First lady Jill Biden will host 2023 Praemium Imperiale laureates at the White House with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who introduced the tribute at the White House in 1994. The event celebrates global arts prize winners chosen by the Japan Art Association for lifetime achievement; 2023 winners are announced today.
© The Associated Press / Mahmoud Bakkar | Golden coffin that once held the mummy of Nedjemankh, a priest in the Ptolemaic Period some 2,000 years ago, at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo in 2019.
And finally … ⚱️ Have you ever wondered what mummies smelled like?
The answer is “the scent of the eternity,” at least according to one group of researchers who have recreated a scent used in the mummification of an elite Egyptian woman circa 1450 B.C. Because information on the exact recipes used during mummifications is rare, the researchers turned to residues in the now-empty urns that contained the preserved organs of Senetnay, a noblewoman who cared for a pharaoh.
Using mass spectrometry, they studied the remaining traces of the balm that scented and preserved her organs during the mummification process. Research published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests the balms used were complex, and contained the resins of a pine-related plant the researchers believe was larch, resin from Pistacia or dammar trees, and degradation products from what may have been animal fats and plant oils. Beeswax and bitumen were also used in the balms (The Washington Post).
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