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Will Speaker Johnson partner with Dems without House conservatives losing their minds?
Troy Carter, Louisiana’s only congressional Democrat, said the new House speaker committed to leading with a spirit of inclusivity. Democrats aren’t holding their breath, though.
First Things First
WOWZERS • The economy grew by a remarkable 4.9 percent in the third quarter, a huge increase since the end of 2021 and a significant surge from Q2, which saw a 2.1 percent bump.
TRAGEDY IN LEWISTON • Schools and city buildings are closed as police search for ROBERT CARD, a 40-year-old person of interest in connection with three mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine, that killed at least 18 people and injured at least another 13 at a local bowling alley and bar on Wednesday night.
Lewiston, Maine’s second-largest city, is the hometown of Rep. JARED GOLDEN (D), who said he was horrified by the shootings.
“Our hearts break for those who are affected,” Golden said in a statement last night.
Sen. ANGUS KING (I) said in a separate statement he would travel to Lewiston to support the city in any way that he can.
President JOE BIDEN called Golden, King, Sen. SUSAN COLLINS (R), and Gov. JANET MILLS (D) individually about the shootings and offered full federal support as the city recovers.
Collins expressed her appreciation for the support Maine has received from across the country, including the call from the president offering assistance. • Stay up to date with the latest developments • Read Biden’s statement and presidential proclamation
SPEAKER JOHNSON: THE DEM FACTOR • Moments after Rep. MIKE JOHNSON (R-La.) was sworn in as the 56th speaker, many of the same House Republicans who unanimously elected the relatively unknown for vice chair of the conference filed out of the chamber down the outside steps to back Johnson as he made his first remarks to the press as the person two heartbeats away from the presidency.
The pressing issues of the nation, the dwindling legislative calendar, Johnson’s learning curve and a well-coordinated Democratic opposition campaign will almost ensure Johnson will have a brief honeymoon. And you can bet there will be plenty of ink spilled in the days, weeks and months ahead on how the House GOP will try to recover from three weeks of
But the more pressing interest is how Johnson will work across the aisle to pass a mix of must-pass legislation and emergency funding requests, given his slim House majority and that Democrats control the Senate and White House.
Rep. TROY CARTER, the only Democratic member of Louisiana’s congressional delegation, told me on Wednesday that, despite their ideological differences, he and Johnson have a genuine friendship that dates back to their time in the Louisiana legislature.
Carter said he spoke with Johnson the night before the election and that the new speaker committed to leading with an inclusive spirit that invites everyone to participate in the democratic process, not just Republicans.
Johnson’s anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ track record and attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election on behalf of former President DONALD TRUMP have inspired little confidence among other Democrats.
“Speaker Johnson and the House Republicans will have a choice,” House Minority Leader HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Thursday morning. “Are they going to double down on the chaos, triple down on the dysfunction and quadruple down on their extremism or are they going to partner with us in a bipartisan way?”
Carter said he isn’t viewing the new speaker through rose-colored glasses either.
“I think the country will be watching,” he added. “We certainly will be holding him accountable with a great cautious optimism that we're able to move forward in a fashion of moving the agenda forward, recognizing that bipartisan is not a bad word.”
Rep. JULIA LETLOW, a Louisiana Republican whose district neighbors Johnson’s, was unsurprisingly generous in her praise of the 51-year-old new speaker.
“I think you'll find in him a person with a really strong faith, and that means that you treat everyone with respect,” she said to me before the speaker election. “So I'm very encouraged that he'll be able to work across the aisle.”
And while Rep. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-S.D.) doesn’t share a deep personal relationship with his namesake, he did point to Speaker Johnson’s co-founding of the bipartisan Congressional Civility Caucus in 2017 as an example of his capacity to disagree without being disagreeable.
“That is not something very many members will spend capital on in these halls, is preaching the importance of civility,” South Dakota’s Johnson said. “I bring that up because that is at his heart who Mike Johnson is, and although being in leadership has meant that he spent that capital in some other areas in the last nine months, it's still at the heart of who he is.”
Related: “A speaker without enemies—for now” (Russell Berman / The Atlantic) • “Don’t know who Mike Johnson is? Neither do Senate Republicans.” by Grace Segars
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Jackson launches NC AG bid after being gerrymandered out of district
JEFF JACKSON, a first-term House Democrat from North Carolina, announced this morning that he would run to be the state’s top law enforcement t official after Republicans in the Tar Heel State passed new congressional maps on Wednesday that could flip his seat in 2024, along with those of two or three other House Democrats.
“I’ve been officially drawn out of my congressional district by a small group of politicians,” Jackson said in a post featuring his announcement video. “It’s blatant corruption, but I’ve got news for them: I’m running for attorney general, and I’m going to use that job to fight political corruption.”
Rep. DON DAVIS, another first-term North Carolina Democrat who will now be forced to run in a competitive district, said the gerrymandered map was unfortunate but not unsurprising.
“You can take experts who had been watching North Carolina’s redistricting process to the most amateur and people who don’t really follow this stuff, and everybody forecasted the same thing,” Davis told me. “And that is clearly when you often see political parties in the majority, those lawmakers would tend to do things to help their candidates.”
Opponents of the North Carolina map say it unjustly dilutes the power of Black and brown voters. Supporters of the aggressive gerrymander said Republicans are entitled to do so because they control both chambers. Some note Democrats gerrymandered the state’s district in their favor when they were in the majority.
Davis added that constituents like those who live in his rural northeastern North Carolina district are the ones who suffer the most from the political back-and-forth.
“People are hurting. People feel left out. They feel that their elected officials often in Raleigh and in DC don’t care about them and they’re forgotten,” he said. “What we lose sight of is this is about the people. I’ve been fighting for this part of the state for a long time—I fight just as hard for Republicans and independents as I do for Democrats. And I’ll continue to fight.”
Related: “Republicans are about to win their war against democracy” (Matt Ford / TNR)
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Tlaib faces censure resolution from MTG
One of the most controversial House conservatives made a move on Thursday morning to publicly condemn the only Palestinian-American member of Congress.
Rep. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) filed a resolution to censure Rep. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-Mich.) for her criticism of Israel.
Because the motion is considered privileged, it must be brought to the floor for a vote by next week. The resolution could deepen the fissures between pro-Israel moderates and pro-Palestinian progressives.
The resolution accuses Tlaib of antisemitic activity and sympathizing with terrorist organizations for her criticism of the Israeli government and US military aid to Israel.
It also claims Tlaib led an insurrection at the Capitol last week for speaking to protestors at an anti-war demonstration outside of a House office building last week. (More than 300 people were arrested for gathering in a restricted area inside the building; three others were charged with assaulting a police officer.)
The Georgia congresswoman has been one of the fiercest defenders of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which resulted in multiple deaths, injuries to over 140 members of law enforcement, and millions of dollars in damages to the Capitol complex.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Tlaib referred me to a tweet from Rep. CORI BUSH (D-Mo.) last week that denounced any action to censure Tlaib.
“These Islamophobic [and] racist efforts are an attempt to discredit her perspective [and] scare those courageously speaking up for Palestinian human rights,” Bush wrote. “Solidarity with my sister-in-service.”
A spokesperson for Bush confirmed this morning the congresswoman stood by her words.
Bush is leading a resolution calling on the Biden administration to declare a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine.
Hakeem Jeffries said Greene’s resolution is the latest example of the House GOP’s misplaced priorities.
“House Democrats are going to continue to focus on issues like inflation, and affordability, and the cost of food, and creating better paying jobs and making sure that we bring economic opportunity to every single neighborhood and town throughout America,” he said to reporters. “Clearly, House Republicans continue to be driven by the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, [Rep.] GEORGE SANTOS [(R-N.Y.)], [Rep.] JIM JORDAN [(R-Ohio)], and others and they do not have the best interests of the American people at heart.”
Rep. BECCA BALINT (D-Vt.) introduced a separate censure resolution against Greene in July for alleged racist, homophobic, transphobic and antisemitic remarks and espousing conspiracy theories.
Jeffries indicated he wouldn’t block Democrats from forcing a vote on the Balint resolution if the House votes to censure Tlaib.
“I think that if the House decides that they want to go down this road in terms of censure, that should probably be at the top of the list.”
In the House’s first vote following the election of Speaker Johnson, 412 members voted for a resolution affirming support for Israel. One Republican voted against it and six Democrats voted present. Nine Democrats, including Tlaib and Bush, voted against it.
➟ The HOUSE this morning voted on a series of amendments to the 2024 Energy and Water appropriations bill.
➟ The SENATE this morning voted against an amendment to a trio of funding bills that would ban “earmarks,” or small grants to programs and projects in states and congressional districts and against a measure that would remove congressionally unauthorized US armed forces from Niger.
Senators also unanimously voted this morning for a resolution condemning Hamas and condemning antisemitic student activities on American college campuses.
The Senate is currently voting to overturn an Agriculture Department regulation against anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
Sens. Schumer and McConnell and a group of bipartisan senators this morning held a photo op with Prime Minister ANTHONY ALBANESE at the Capitol.
Schumer also held a photo op this afternoon with families of hostages held by Hamas.
➟ Vice President KAMALA HARRIS and Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN hosted a luncheon this afternoon for Albanese and his partner JODIE HAYDON at the State Department. Second Gentleman DOUG EMHOFF attended. President Biden hosted Albanese and Haydon for an official state dinner at the White House on Wednesday evening.
➟ Biden received his daily intelligence briefing this morning. Vice President Harris attended.
➟ The House will vote at approximately 3:15 p.m. on final passage of the Energy and Water bill.
➟ Vice President Harris at 5 p.m. will ceremonially swear in the President's Advisory Commission on Advancing Education, Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans in the White House Indian Treaty Room.
Read All About It
“The far-right has a new big lie: Claiming to support Palestine” by Kiera Butler: “White nationalists with a racist agenda trying to curry favor by peddling vile forms of antisemitic trash.”
“Don’t blame media for the fog of war” by Peter Kafka: “Elon Musk and the other platform owners aren’t entirely to blame for misinformation around the Israel-Hamas conflict.”
“We’re lucky Biden’s in charge” by Michael McFaul: “Everyone’s looking to Washington for leadership in the Middle East.”
“How is this guy winning in Kentucky?” by David Faris: “A Democratic governor seems like he’s about to get reelected in the very red state.”
“Fossil fuel demand is predicted to peak by 2030. Oil giants are betting against it.” by Kate Aronoff: “Why Chevron and Exxon are doubling down on fossil fuels, despite what the international Energy Agency says about our renewable future.”
“The absurd lawsuit that could bankrupt Planned Parenthood” by Melissa Gira Grant: “An anti-abortion activist and Texas’s attorney general have teamed up to try to force the organization out of the state—and now an anti-abortion judge has advanced their cause.”
“It’s the most important tech trial in years. All the juicy stuff is happening in secret.” by Scott Nover: “Why a big chunk of the most important tech trial in years is happening behind closed doors.”
“Why Apple’s weather app is so bad” by Alex Abad-Santos: “Your local meteorologist is always going to be more accurate than a weather app.”
“You can learn to be photogenic” by Michael Waters: “Hollywood invented the idea that some people naturally look better on camera. Don’t believe it.”
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