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General view of the US Department of the Treasury in Washington, DC.

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

US debt ceiling looms over a House divided

The US government surpassed its debt ceiling early Thursday, prompting the US Treasury Department to implement a series of temporary emergency measures to avoid a US government default. What does this mean and why does it matter?

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Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bangs the gavel for the first time after being elected the 55th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in a late night 15th round of voting on January 7, 2023.

Reuters

Bruised McCarthy finally sworn in as House speaker

After four days and 15 rounds of voting, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has finally been elected and sworn in as speaker of the House of Representatives, one of the most influential posts in the US government. Heading into Friday evening’s first vote, there were still six holdout Republicans: Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Bob Good (R-Va.), and Matthew M. Rosendale (R-Mont.). After a series of desperate backdoor negotiations, the 14th round saw Boebert and Gaetz vote as “present,” leaving McCarthy one vote shy of the gavel. Frustrations visibly boiled over in the chamber, and lawmakers finally elected McCarthy in the 15th round, with six voting as “present.” The humiliating last few days have demonstrated McCarthy’s limited sway over an unruly Republican caucus, and he was forced to make significant concessions, including agreeing to a provision that would allow a single lawmaker to bring to the floor a vote of no confidence against him at any time. The GOP stalwart had long resisted giving the ragtag of anti-establishment holdouts this sort of power but was forced to acquiesce.

Speaker Vote Mess Sows How Ungovernable US House Is | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Speaker vote mess shows how ungovernable US House is

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC shares his perspective on US politics.

What are the implications of the House failing to elect a speaker this week?

Well, I'm down here at the US Capitol where Kevin McCarthy has failed on multiple ballots this week to receive the 218 votes that he needs to become House speaker. And if you're a political junkie, this is really your week. You've got multiple ballots, warring political factions, you've got backroom deals. But the reality is the implications of this in the real world aren't that great. It's a historical anomaly, hasn't happened for over 100 years, but the House wasn't going to pass that much meaningful legislation this year anyway. So a delay in organizing doesn't matter all that much. And whoever the speaker is, they're probably going to end up being pretty weak and any legislation they do achieve will just be either ignored or rejected by the Democrats who control the Senate.

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US House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) attends a press conference in Washington, DC.

REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

What We’re Watching: McCarthy in trouble, Lula 2.0, global recession fears

Dramatic US House speaker election

Who will replace Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as the next speaker of the US House of Representatives? Good question. As members of the 118th Congress are scheduled to be sworn in on Tuesday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is still short of the votes necessary to lead the chamber. Even after making a major concession to his GOP critics by allowing them to fire him at any time, a handful of far-right Republicans remain publicly opposed to his speakership. If McCarthy doesn't get at least 218 votes on the first ballot, the lawmakers will continue voting until someone gets a majority. Keep in mind that the speaker sets the legislative agenda and decides which bills make it to the floor, so whoever gets the gig will hold a lot of sway at a time when Republicans aim to use their slim House majority to investigate the Biden administration and stymie the White House on anything from funding the government to continuing US aid for Ukraine.

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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wields the gavel as she presides over the first impeachment of President Donald Trump.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

What We’re Watching: Pelosi’s farewell, #RIPTwitter, Malaysian vote, Iranian rage, UK austerity

Pelosi takes a final bow

Nancy Pelosi is standing down as leader of the Democratic Party in the US House, but she’ll remain in Congress as a representative of San Francisco. She was both the first woman to serve in the ultra-powerful role of House Speaker and a hate figure for many on the right. Pelosi’s personal toughness, Herculean fundraising prowess, and ability to hold together the typically fractious Democratic Party in the House will remain her legacy for Democrats. For Republicans, seeing her pass the gavel to one of their own in January will mark a moment of triumph in an otherwise disappointing midterm performance. In announcing her plans, Pelosi noted that “the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.” At a moment when both parties are led by politicians of advancing age, that’s a big step – and a trend we’ll be watching closely as a new Congress takes shape and the next race for the White House begins. Eurasia Group US Managing Director Jon Lieber says his bet is on 52-year-old Hakeem Jeffries taking the Democratic reins. If Jeffries gets the job, he'll make history as the first Black politician to lead a party in Congress.

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"Red Wave" Coming in US Midterms | Quick Take | GZERO Media

"Red wave" coming in US midterms

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. A Quick take to get you started on your week, and of course, we are looking forward, if that's the right term, to tomorrow's midterm elections in the United States. Increasingly a time of political dysfunction and tension and polarization and conflict, and tomorrow will certainly be no different.

First of all, in terms of outcomes, almost always in the United States, the party that is not in power, that doesn't occupy the presidency, picks up seats in the midterms. Tomorrow should be no different. Biden's approval ratings are not incredibly poor, but certainly low. View of the economy, which is the top indicator that most people say they are voting on, is quite negative, and expectations are negative going forward, even though the US isn't quite in a recession.

That means that the Republicans will easily win the House. I don't think that there's any need to question predictions around that front. It's more whether it's 15 seats or whether it's 30 seats, how much of a wave it actually looks like. Some believe that it's easier to govern if there's a 30-seat swing, because that will mean that the Republicans will be less beholden to relatively extreme members of their caucus.

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Ari Winkleman

Will a GOP House speaker be able to control an unruly caucus?

The US Senate race could go either way, but most pundits and polls point to the House of Representatives turning red after Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to flip that chamber, and they are on track to do just that, and then some. Indeed, most polls suggest a double-digit gain for the GOP – not a red wave per se but still a sizable win.

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Gabriella Turrisi

After a good summer, Dems look to midterms with new hope

US midterm elections tend to be bad for the party in the White House.

Held at the halfway point of a presidential term, they have become a favored occasion for Americans to lodge a vote of protest over the problems of the day. Record-high inflation and surveys showing that 70% of voters think the country is on the “wrong track” had created the expectation of a particularly severe backlash against President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party this November.

Republicans need to pick up only four seats to gain control of the 435-member House of Representatives. More Democrats are running in districts won by former President Donald Trump in 2020 than Republicans in districts won by Biden, and redistricting has created more Republican-friendly districts than two years ago.

In the Senate, Democrats are defending seats in four of the states Biden won by the narrowest margins in 2020, creating pick-up opportunities that would allow Republicans to take a clear majority in what is today an evenly divided Senate (with Vice President Kamala Harris wielding a tie-breaking vote).

But despite these strong structural factors, signs of strength for Democrats have emerged in recent months.

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