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House Republicans tee up a Speaker floor vote
Plus: The Senate’s Israel agenda, previews of key Senate committee hearings, and Biden to travel to Lauren Boebert’s district to promote a law she voted against.
THE MAIN EVENT
The House is expected to vote on Tuesday to elect a new speaker exactly two weeks after eight Republicans joined all Democrats in a move triggered by conservative Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) to remove Rep. KEVIN McCARTHY (R-Calif.) from the position.
Since McCarthy’s ouster, the House has been paralyzed and unable to pass legislation to fund the government beyond next month, reauthorize the farm bill, provide additional aid to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s invasion, and assist Israel in its response to a terrorist attack from Hamas last week.
Rep. JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, won the nomination for speaker last Friday in a secret ballot election. But 81 of his colleagues voted for Rep. AUSTIN SCOTT (R-Ga.), who entered the race hours before the vote and did not campaign for the position.
Even worse for Jordan: 55 House Republicans said they wouldn’t support Jordan on the floor in a separate vote on Friday leaving him far short of the 217 votes required to claim the speaker’s gavel. (He can only lose four votes on the floor with full attendance.)
Jordan wasn’t the conference’s first choice though. House Republicans nominated Majority Leader STEVE SCALISE (R-La.) to succeed McCarthy last Wednesday. But the number-two House Republican withdrew his nomination after it became clear he didn’t have the votes to win the speakership. Scalise, who is receiving treatment for blood cancer, said he will stay on as majority leader.
For their part, House Democrats have fashioned themselves as the adults in the room focused on collaboration, not chaos.
House Minority Leader HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.) told NBC News’s KRISTEN WELKER that informal conversations about entering a governing coalition with House Republicans to produce Democratic votes for a GOP speaker in exchange for reforms to marginalize the handful of conservatives who currently run the House are underway behind the scenes. But my reporting says we’re still a long way away from this being a serious consideration.
“Our Republican colleagues have a simple choice,” Jeffries said. “They can either double or triple down on the chaos, dysfunction, and extremism, or let’s have a real conversation about changing the rules of the House so it can work in the best interests of the American people.”
In public, Jeffries and his top deputies have characterized Jordan as an insurrectionist with out-of-step policy positions who’s unfit to lead the House.
House Minority Whip KATHERINE CLARK (D-Mass.) said on Friday that by choosing Jordan, House Republicans are ultimately choosing to appease former President DONALD TRUMP, who endorsed Jordan the week before.
“Pause and think about who they are rallying around: Jim Jordan’s own colleagues have called him a ‘legislative terrorist,’” Clark said while pointing to votes for anti-abortion policies and against funding the government, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and certifying the 2020 presidential election. “He has used his committee gavel to advance right-wing conspiracies while undermining the very institution that he serves. And he will inflict even more harm if he is allowed to have the speaker’s gavel.”
Jordan and his allies spent the weekend attempting to shore up support ahead of Tuesday’s vote. But even if he’s made any progress between then and now, he’s still expected to face double-digit defections on the floor. The thinking among Team Jordan is that the pressure of a public vote will be enough to flip some naysayers and suss out who to target for concessions in exchange for their vote.
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The Senate returns with Israel top of mind
On the other side of the Capitol, senators will return after a recess to begin formalizing the congressional response to the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.
The Senate will receive an all-senators classified briefing on the situation in Israel this Wednesday from senior Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN and Secretary of Defense LLOYD AUSTIN.
Sens. BEN CARDIN (D-Md.) and JIM RISCH (R-Idaho)—the top leaders on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—announced they would offer a resolution expressing support for Israel this week as well. It’s unclear when the measure will receive floor consideration. Spokespeople for Cardin did not respond to a request for comment.
The Committee will also hold a confirmation hearing for JACK LEW, former Treasury Secretary and White House Chief of Staff and President JOE BIDEN’s nominee to be US ambassador to Israel.
Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.) told NBC’s Welker that he would be leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel and Saudi Arabia in the coming days.
“The drive to peace and normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel continues,” Graham said. “If Hamas is destroyed, Israel is safer and the pathway to peace between the Palestinians in the world gets wider.”
Graham also expressed cautious optimism that “Iran’s goal to destroy the peace process between Israel and Saudi Arabia will fail.”
Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.) cut a CODEL to China short to return to the US to meet with Jewish New Yorkers and sit for Shabbat dinner with his family before leading a separate CODEL to Israel. Schumer was joined by Sens. MITT ROMNEY (R-Utah), BILL CASSIDY (R-La.), JACKY ROSEN (D-Nev.), and MARK KELLY (D-Ariz.).
The senators met with families of the victims of the attack and with Israeli leaders to learn about what the country needs to defend itself from Hamas. And while in Tel Aviv, the delegation was rushed to a shelter to wait out rockets sent by Hamas.
President Biden appointed former Ambassador DAVID SATTERFIELD to lead the diplomatic response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including facilitating the provision of life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people and promoting the safety of civilians, in coordination with the United Nations and US partners.
The State Department announced on Sunday that 30 Americans have been killed in the Hamas attacks and that 13 Americans remain unaccounted for, two fewer than previously disclosed by the administration.
Biden to visit Boebert country
EDITOR’S NOTE: The White House announced this trip was postponed as this newsletter was headed to press. “The president will remain at the White House to participate in national security meetings,” a White House official said.
President Biden will travel to Colorado this afternoon to visit the largest wind tower manufacturer in the world as part of the latest leg of his Investing in America tour promoting Bidenomics.
The manufacturer—CS Wind—is located in Pueblo, a city at the base of the Rocky Mountains and inside the congressional district of Rep. LAUREN BOEBERT, one of the president’s most unrelenting critics.
CS Wind recently announced an operations expansion that would create 850 new jobs as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act, a law Boebert voted against, has called a “massive failure,” “dangerous for America,” and pushed to be repealed.
“President Biden made a commitment that he would be president for all Americans, regardless of political party, and he’s kept that promise,” a White House official said in an email. “The Biden-Harris administration will continue to deliver for workers and families in Colorado’s Third District and across the country—even if extreme MAGA congressional Republicans put politics ahead of jobs and opportunities created by Bidenomics.
A spokesperson for Boebert did not respond to a request for comment.
Boebert was elected to Congress in 2020 and quickly brandished a reputation as a far-right firebrand in the vein of former President DONALD TRUMP. She barely won reelection in 2022, defeating businessman and moderate Democrat ADAM FRISCH by 546 votes out of 327,000 in the closest race of the midterm cycle.
Frisch, who supports abortion rights and clean energy policies along with oil and gas drilling but opposed Biden’s student debt relief plan, is challenging Boebert for the same seat in 2024. The former Aspen city councilman raised almost $3.4 million in the most recent filing quarter to Boebert’s $808,000.
Last month, Boebert ignited controversy when she and a male companion were removed by security from a performance of the musical Beetlejuice in a Denver theater after she caused a disturbance by vaping, singing, and recording the performance. The congresswoman initially denied that she was a disruption but later apologized following the release of surveillance video footage which showed Boebert’s companion, whom she says she stopped seeing after learning he was a Democrat, fondling her breasts and Boebert grabbing his genitalia while they were in their seats.
Related: “Boebert spent campaign cash at Beetlejuice boyfriend’s bar” (Jessica Piper and Sam Stein / Politico)
Top Senate panel to probe Medicare Advantage
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing this Wednesday on cracking down on deceptive practices and improving senior experiences in annual enrollment for Medicare Advantage, which provides coverage through private health insurance companies approved to participate in the Medicare program.
The hearing will come days after the start of the annual enrollment period, which began on Sunday.
Medicare, along with Social Security, is expected to be a hot-button issue on the campaign trail as Democrats promote new and expanded benefits to the program under the Inflation Reduction Act and accuse Republicans of proposing harmful cuts through the program while pushing for deeper tax cuts for wealthy individuals and rich corporations.
Beginning next year, seniors and Part D enrollees will have their out-of-pocket drug costs capped at about $3,500. (Part D is Medicare’s prescription drug benefit). Low-income seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in the Low-Income Subsidy program will receive no deductible, no premium, and fixed lower copayments for certain medications. The IRA has already capped the price of insulin at $35 per month and made recommended vaccines free for enrollees.
“I’m proud that congressional Democrats and I were able to deliver these cost savings for millions of seniors and families, while every single Republican in Congress voted to keep health care costs high, even for their constituents,” President Biden said in a statement on Sunday. “Medicare is a lifeline for millions of seniors, and I will continue to fight to lower health care costs and protect Medicare for generations to come.”
Open enrollment for Medicare ends on December 7.
Senate to examine college sports and NIL
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday to look into the future of college sports within the context of name, image, and likeness.
NIL is the term used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to refer to the identifiable qualities that make a student-athlete unique.
Sens. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) and TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-Ala.) introduced a bill in July that would establish a NIL national standard. The legislation would prohibit NIL agreements that involve alcohol, drugs, or conflict with existing school and conference licenses and require students to ask permission to use existing intellectual property.
NIL contracts would have to follow a uniform standard and be disclosed within 30 days and agents would have to register with a regulating body. The bill would also guarantee health insurance for sports-related injuries for uninsured student-athletes for eight years at four-year institutions.
Additionally, the Manchin-Tuberville bill reforms the NCAA transfer portal, a 2018 tool that allows student-athletes to enter their name in an online database to declare their desire to transfer to another school. Some big-name coaches including Alabama’s NICK SABAN feel like the portal makes it hard for college programs to manage their rosters. The legislation would require student-athletes to complete their first three years of academic eligibility before allowing them to transfer without penalty. This provision would suck for student-athletes.
Manchin is a former college football player and Tuberville coached college football before his election to the Senate.
Football accounts for more than 40 percent of all NIL activities, according to Student-Athlete Insights. And women’s basketball is the fastest-growing sport in NIL right now with deals up 171 percent since 2022. Men’s basketball is second hottest up 61 percent in the same time span. Softball and baseball players get the most NIL deals after football and men’s and women’s basketball.
The top three categories in 2023 are apparel/footwear, tech, and quick-serve restaurants. Health care is also trending up but there were relatively few deals in this sector in 2022.
Social media was almost 80 percent percent of NIL activity in 2022. IG was the number-one platform on which student-athletes promoted brands followed by TikTok. X, formerly known as Twitter, is somewhat of a graveyard when it comes to today’s college students though.
WH to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
The White House will host a reception in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Wednesday.
“Latino history is American history,” President Biden said in a presidential proclamation last month to kick off the annual recognition of the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the US. “It is a story of hard work, family, faith, pride, and possibility, and it is proof that there is nothing we cannot do when we do it together.”
The Biden administration has an extensive record of expanding economic opportunity for Latinos.
2.5 million Latinos are enrolled in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act—an increase of more than 50 percent since 2020. The expanded Child Tax Credit child poverty by over 40 percent among Latinos to the lowest rate on record. And investments in community colleges, Pell Grants, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions have helped more Latinos access higher education. (Vice President KAMALA HARRIS will travel to Northern Arizona University—an HSI in Flagstaff—on Tuesday for the ninth stop of her nationwide college tour.)
The administration has also provided funding for new infrastructure and clean energy projects and upgrading their transportation in Puerto Rico to support the island’s economic recovery and development. On his first day in office, President Biden proposed a comprehensive immigration plan to secure the southern border while building a fair, orderly, and humane process for migration that keeps families together and protects workers from exploitation. The plan also includes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, temporary status holders, and farm workers.
The president also has four Latino cabinet members: Health and Human Services Secretary XAVIER BECERRA, Education Secretary MIGUEL CARDONA, Homeland Security Secretary ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, and Small Business Administration Administrator ISABELLA GUZMAN.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman PETE AGUILAR, the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, penned an op-ed in Univision with Senate Majority Leader Schumer last week on the party’s commitment to uplifting the Latino community beyond Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Now more than ever, Democrats in Congress recognize that the future of America depends on the success of Latino communities across the country. If the United States is to truly be a beacon of hope, everyone in this country must be given the opportunity to achieve their version of the American Dream.,” Aguilar and Schumer wrote. “That’s why Democrats will keep working to grow our economy, pass real immigration reform, build safer communities, and uphold a woman’s fundamental right to choose. That’s what Latino families care about and what we’re fighting for.”