Day 721: "Damage assessment."
1/ House Republicans pushed through a rules package for the new Congress over concerns about the concessions Kevin McCarthy made to 20 far-right conservatives in order to secure his job. The rules packages passed 220-213, with one Republican joining the Democrats in unified opposition. Aside from the standard rules on decorum, the package includes a provision allowing lawmakers to reduce or eliminate federal agency programs, and reduce the salaries of individual federal employees. Another rule, known as “cut-go,” would require any new spending to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget. While Democrats opposed the rules, they were more concerned about what other “back-room deals” McCarthy had agreed to in exchange for votes from the House Freedom Caucus. Meanwhile, a “secret three-page addendum” that only some House Republicans have see contains “the most controversial concessions” that McCarthy made to secure the speaker’s gavel. Anyway, after adopting rules, House Republicans used their first legislative vote on repealing more than $70 billion — or nearly 90% — in new funding for the IRS to customer service, taxpayer assistance, and criminal investigations. The bill, however, is unlikely to pass the Senate. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Axios)
2/ In effort to equate it to the 320 classified documents the FBI seized from Trump’s residence, House Republicans requested a national security “damage assessment” of the 10 potentially classified documents found in Biden’s private office from his time as vice president. The Biden documents, which included intelligence memos and briefing materials on Ukraine, Iran, and the UK, were found on Nov. 2, 2022, in a “locked closet” in his Washington office space. The National Archives took custody of the documents the next day, and Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago to investigate the matter. In contrast, Trump refused to turn over hundreds of classified documents to the National Archives for months, which led to the Archives referring the matter to the Justice Department, which led to the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, where 33 boxes and containers were removed that are now under investigation by the Justice Department. Some of the documents found at Mar-a-Lago had some of the country’s highest security classification markings. Nevertheless, incoming House Intelligence Chair Mike Turner sent a request to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, claiming that Biden’s retention of the documents, dated between 2013 and 2016, put him in “potential violation of laws protecting national security, including the Espionage Act and Presidential Records Act.” (Politico / Associated Press / CNN)
3/ Two House Democrats filed an official complaint with the House Committee on Ethics about George Santos, saying he misled voters about “his ethnicity, his religion, his education, and his employment and professional history, among other things.” Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman requested that the bipartisan committee investigate whether Santos, who admitted to lying about his background, broke the law when he filed “complete and accurate” financial disclosures. Separately, the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Santos had run a “straw donor campaign” that helped him evade campaign finance limits. Republicans, meanwhile, have largely been silent on the matter, saying it was being addressed “internally.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)
4/ Former Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in jail for multiple tax crimes he committed at the company over more than 15 years. Weisselberg pleaded guilty last August to 15 felonies in a deal with prosecutors, which required him to testify truthfully at the trial of the Trump Organization, pay $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties, and waive any right to appeal. Weisselberg will leave the firm after he completes his sentence. He will still receive his $500,000 annual bonus. (Bloomberg / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
5/ The Education Department proposed new federal student loan payment rules that would reduce the monthly bills for some borrowers and completely pause payments for others. Under the proposal, borrowers who make less than roughly $30,600 annually (or a family of four who makes less than about $62,400) wouldn’t have to make monthly payments on their federal student loans. The changes would also cut monthly payments in half for borrowers who make more than those annual amounts. The Biden administration estimates that the new income-driven repayment plan would save borrowers nearly $2,000 a year. (NPR / CNBC / Axios / Wall Street Journal)
6/ The last eight years were the eight warmest on record. The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported that 2022 was the fifth-warmest year on record. Europe, meanwhile, had its hottest summer ever in 2022. The world is now 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than pre-industrial levels. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, most countries agreed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. (New York Times / CNN / Reuters)
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