1/ House Republicans, despite being in the majority, were unable to elect a speaker – again – as Kevin McCarthy lost his 4th, 5th, and 6th bids for the gavel. A day after McCarthy lost his first three votes for speaker, Trump urged Republicans to vote for McCarthy, warning them to “NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.” Biden, meanwhile, called the House Republicans’ inability to elect a speaker “embarrassing,” saying it’s “not a good look” for the country, but also “not my problem.” McCarthy received 201 votes in all three votes today, short of the 218 typically needed to win, as 20 conservative Republicans instead supported Byron Donalds. Yesterday, the group supported Jim Jordan. The Democrats, meanwhile, have remained united behind their leader, Hakeem Jeffries, who will make history as the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress whenever the House elects a new speaker and 118th Congress convenes. The House adjourned until 8 p.m. Eastern to allow more time for Republicans to negotiate with the holdouts. A seventh vote could take place when lawmakers return tonight. The Speaker of the House is second in the U.S. presidential line of succession, after the vice president. (Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg / Politico)

  • Behind the humiliation of Kevin McCarthy. “The GOP has gone from being a disciplined party of limited government to a party of anti-government protest to, now, a party of performative verbiage.” (New Yorker)

  • House shitshow has a message for America: GOP can’t govern and doesn’t want to. “As Kevin McCarthy reaps the whirlwind, let’s hope voters understand this chaos was never really about Donald Trump.” (Salon)

  • Kevin McCarthy’s loyalty to Trump got him nothing. “The once-presumptive House leader has been through three embarrassing rounds of voting, with more to come.” (The Atlantic)

  • “Circular firing squad” derails GOP in new Congress. “Senate Republicans see chaos across the Capitol as an ominous sign as the party tries to regroup for 2024.” (Politico)

2/ The FDA expanded access to the abortion pill mifepristone, allowing brick-and-mortar and mail-order pharmacies to stock and dispense the drug. For more than 20 years, mifepristone could only be dispensed by a few mail-order pharmacies or specialty offices and clinics. Under the new policy, patients will still need a prescription, but now any pharmacy that agrees to accept those prescriptions and become a certified provider can dispense the pills in its stores and by mail order, depending on their state’s laws. However, more than a dozen states have near-total abortion bans or restrictions that would make it illegal or difficult for pharmacies to provide abortion pills. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA temporarily suspended its long-standing requirement that women pick up the medicine in person, and later permanently lifted the in-person requirement altogether. (New York Times / Politico / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The WHO warned that the coronavirus Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 “is the most transmissible form of Omicron to date.” XBB.1.5 was first detected in the U.S. and went from being present in 4% of sequenced cases U.S. to 40% in just a few weeks – it’s most common variant circulating in the country. XBB.1.5 has since spread to at least 29 countries. (Politico / CNN / CNBC)