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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 7, known as the “stop woke act,” in Florida, on April 22, 2022.

Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/TNS/ABACAPRESS.COM

As Black History Month begins today in the US, the country’s latest culture war battle is about … Black history.

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US Cannot Issue New Debt Until Congress Acts To Raise Debt Limit | GZERO Media

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

What does it mean that the US has hit its borrowing limit?

Well, the US this week hit its statutorily created debt limit, meaning that because of all the money that it borrowed during the course of the pandemic and the fact that it's borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars a year spending more than it takes in tax revenues, it hit its $31.5 trillion debt limit, which means that the US is now in a situation that it cannot issue new debt until Congress acts to raise the debt limit. However, Congress does not want to raise the debt limit, and there are a couple episodes during 2011 and 2013 where Congress came very, very close to the date where it would've potentially defaulted for the first time ever by not making payments to creditors.

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Five Concessions McCarthy Made to Become House Speaker | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

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

What did Kevin McCarthy have to promise to become the Speaker of the House?

Now Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy survived a modern record of 15 votes to become speaker of the House earlier this week. He had to make some compromises to get there. Here are the top five changes to House rules that Kevin McCarthy agreed to in order to win the speakership.

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US job growth slows for a fifth straight month, but labor market remains strong.

Reuters

Jobs report: US labor market remains strong

The Fed’s interest rate hikes, designed to battle inflation, have slowed US job growth for a fifth straight month. The American economy added 223,000 jobs in December, well below last year's peak of 714,000 in February but still above expectations of around 200,000. The December numbers put the monthly average for 2022 at 375,000. A slowdown has been in effect since last August, but the labor market is still hot: 4.5 million jobs were created last year, the second highest since 1940. Such resilience likely means more interest rate hikes are to be expected. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate hit a historic low of 3.5%. The leisure and hospitality industry saw the biggest job gains, followed by healthcare and construction, while retail, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing saw the least. President Joe Biden said the historic job gains are giving American families more “breathing room” amid the “cost-of-living squeeze.”

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

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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U.S. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reacts to the cheers of his Republican colleagues.

Reuters

The House speaker fiasco: Day 2

Another day, another letdown for Kevin McCarthy. For a second consecutive day, the Republican stalwart again failed to clinch enough votes from his own caucus to become House speaker, one of the most powerful jobs in US government. After six rounds of voting over two days – and a late-night team huddle on Wednesday in which McCarthy said he was willing to make significant concessions – 20 anti-establishment Republicans still refused to cast their ballot for McCarthy. Though they have some different demands, the broad consensus is that McCarthy is a creature of the swamp, slavish to special interests. What’s more, former President Donald Trump reportedly called on the group of detractors – a ragtag of his most ardent devotees – to “knock it off.” But the group shows no signs of backing down – for now – going so far as to say that Trump should have instead called on McCarthy to withdraw. Resolving the stalemate could still take days or weeks, and whoever prevails will emerge a weak leader with limited ability to control an unruly caucus. The last few days, however, have been a boon for President Joe Biden and the Democrats. Even Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican of the QAnon variety, has distanced herself from some far-right members of the GOP by supporting McCarthy’s bid. She said on Wednesday that the current House speaker fiasco “makes the Republican Party look totally inadequate and not prepared to run the country.”

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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Reuters

Traditionally, the first day of a newly elected Congress is filled with pomp and circumstance. Children wearing little suits and frilly dresses accompany their parents to the House floor where a new class of lawmakers is sworn in.

But the first day of the 118th Congress was not very joyous for one man in particular: Kevin McCarthy. In an embarrassing series of events, the leader of the House GOP failed to secure a majority of votes – 218 – needed to become House speaker. After three rounds of voting, 20 Republican holdouts still refused to budge, backing candidates not named McCarthy for the role. What’s more, McCarthy actually shed a vote in subsequent ballots.

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