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For weeks Speaker Kevin McCarthy couldn’t find a microphone he didn’t like. But faced with a revolt on his right flank, the California Republican is suddenly silent.
On Thursday, McCarthy gave the slip to reporters, who’ve been hanging on every turn in his fight with ultra-conservatives over his deal with President Joe Biden to avert a US debt default.
An aide told the assembled reporters on the Capitol’s second floor the speaker left and wasn’t coming back. The crowd dispersed, only for McCarthy to emerge from a downstairs exit several minutes later.
“I think we’re making a lot of progress,” McCarthy said as he brusquely walked away from two reporters who spotted him.
The camera-friendly speaker’s attempt at a stealth getaway is the latest sign of trouble for McCarthy, who won the gavel in January after 15 rounds of voting.
Eleven dissident Republicans on Tuesday used a procedural vote on a GOP-backed bill to blockade the House floor. By Wednesday night, McCarthy, unable to quell the rebellion, dismissed lawmakers for the week.
The embarrassing episode raises questions about the fate of an expected Ukraine aid package later this year and spending bills to keep the government running past Sept. 30 — all of which will require compromise with Democrats that will further divide his party.
“House leadership couldn’t hold the line. Now we hold the floor,” tweeted one of the defiant rebels, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), on Wednesday.
Gaetz and other conservatives said McCarthy abandoned many of their demands in the debt deal. Some accused leadership of strong-arming Republicans into voting for the deal, and McCarthy of backtracking on promises he made to win the gavel in January.
Talks between McCarthy, who said he was “blindsided,” and the dissidents continued into Thursday with no resolution.
House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who has been involved in the discussions, had little to say Thursday.
“Different members have different concerns,” Perry said, as he left the speaker’s suite of offices. Perry wasn’t one of the 11 dissidents, but most are members of his caucus. Billy House and Steven T. Dennis follow the latest in the split.
- The House and Senate are scheduled to return Monday.
- The president and first lady depart the White House at 10 a.m. to travel to Elm City, North Carolina.
- At 1:10 p.m., the president and first lady tour Nash Community College. At 1:30 p.m., they take part in a discussion about career-connected learning and workforce training programs.
- At 4:15 p.m., the president and first lady meet with service members and their families, and deliver remarks at a Joining Forces event in Fort Liberty, North Carolina.
- The president and first lady return to the White House at 9:45 p.m.
Happening on the Hill
Progressive lawmakers and activists are again imploring Biden to declare a climate emergency, citing the thick blanket of smoke from Canadian wildfires now shrouding D.C. and swaths of the Eastern seaboard.
- The blanket of heavily polluted air is likely to last until Tuesday, even as levels in New York City showed improvement. Read more
House lawmakers plan to release two major government funding bills next week and resume markups after the recently enacted debt limit deal set spending caps for fiscal 2024.
Politics & Probes
The indictment brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith against Donald Trump over his refusal to return classified documents found at his Florida home marks the culmination of a two-year effort to figure out what government documents went with the former president when he left the White House — and whether any crimes were committed.
- Meanwhile, Trump embarks on another White House run while facing a slew of legal troubles. The cases could pose distractions and produce unflattering revelations — not to mention adverse verdicts — that no presidential candidate would welcome. Read more.
The 2024 campaign for control of the House was jolted by Thursday’s Supreme Court decision against a map that limited the ability of Black voters in Alabama to elect their preferred candidates. The decision paves the way for fairer maps to be adopted in Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia, which would likely add one additional Black-majority district in each of the three states,” according to an analysis from Democracy Docket.
Around the Administration
Binance.US is being cut off from its banking partners in the fallout from a SEC lawsuit against the cryptocurrency exchange. In an email to customers, the platform said its payment and banking partners have signaled an intent to pause US dollar fiat channels as early as June 13.
High-profile retirements at the Department of Homeland Security present new challenges for the agency as it navigates evolving border policies and persistent criticism from political foes.
The Biden administration named Polly Trottenberg, a top Transportation Department official, as acting chief of the FAA while the agency searches for a permanent replacement.
United Airlines warned Thursday that expanding the number of long-distance flights available at Washington Reagan National Airport would increase passenger delays and congestion.
The Pentagon is set to announce as early as today a long-term arms package for Ukraine heavy on air defense munitions valued at more than $2 billion, according to administration officials.
Ukraine’s new NATO-standard tanks and fighting vehicles are appearing in battlefield images as military analysts said Kyiv’s long-awaited counteroffensive is underway.
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