Happy Wednesday! We’d like to apologize to both you and Sen. Mitt Romney for the very unfortunate typo in yesterday’s TMD. Declan, our editor, went to the optometrist later in the day and—we swear, we are not making this up—found out his prescription was 50 percent weaker than it needed to be. Once his new glasses arrive in 7-to-10 business days, you can expect there to never be another error in this newsletter ever again.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- A projectile struck a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, killing hundreds of civilians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Hamas blamed the destruction on an Israeli airstrike, and that unverified allegation was quickly picked up by several major media outlets, including the New York Times. Shortly after the explosion, however, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) asserted that the blast was caused by a rocket misfired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group associated with Hamas, and offered additional evidence of their claim with video footage and radar information. President Joe Biden backed the Israelis’ claim in a visit to Tel Aviv earlier this morning, telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “Based on what I have seen, it was done by the other team, not you.” If the Hamas-reported death count is accurate, the hospital explosion would represent the second-deadliest event in the war, after Hamas’ initial attack on Israel. It also sparked massive protests in the West Bank, at Israeli embassies in Jordan and Turkey, and at the U.S. embassy in Lebanon. Hezbollah, the terrorist organization based in Lebanon and threatening a second front to Israel’s north, has called for a day of “unprecedented anger” on Wednesday—coinciding with Biden’s visit to Israel.*
- King Abdullah II of Jordan announced Tuesday at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Jordan—and likely Egypt—would not accept refugees from Gaza, arguing the situation “has to be handled within Gaza and the West Bank.” Citing the deadly hospital explosion in Gaza, Jordan’s foreign minister also announced that Biden’s upcoming trip to the nation—planned for later this week, after his meeting with Israel—had been called off. A Biden administration official said the decision to cancel the meeting in Jordan—which would have included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as Abdullah—was “mutual.”
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday the U.S. and Israel have agreed on a plan to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza without fear that money will fall into terrorist hands. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers urged the Biden administration to hold Iran “fully accountable” for its role in Hamas’ attack on Israel and the ongoing war. “We urge the administration to take all necessary steps to cut off Iranian funding sources,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter signed by 63 Democrats and 50 Republicans.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed Tuesday that U.S.-provided army tactical missile systems (ATACMS) were used to strike Russian helicopters and military airports in what some Russian military bloggers have called “one of the most serious blows” of the war. The missiles were secretly shipped to Ukraine in the last few weeks after nearly a year of debate among U.S. lawmakers and internally within the Biden administration, who feared the weapons could escalate the conflict.
- India’s five-member Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the legalization of same-sex marriage on Tuesday, stating instead that the issue should be addressed by the Indian Parliament. “This court can’t make law. It can only interpret it and give effect to it,” said India’s Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, who also urged lawmakers to protect members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination.
- House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan failed to win a majority in the first round of voting for the next speaker of the House on Tuesday, with 20 Republicans voting for someone else. House Democrats voted in lockstep for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, leading to a vote count of 212 for Jeffries and 200 for Jordan as both nominees fell short of the 217 vote threshold to become speaker. Another round of voting is expected to begin later this morning.
- Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett appeared to endorse establishing an ethics code for the highest court on Monday evening at an event hosted by the University of Minnesota Law School. “It would be a good idea for us to do it,” said Barrett, “particularly so that we can communicate to the public exactly what it is that we are doing in a clearer way.” The court has faced intense scrutiny from lawmakers and the public after revelations of justices’ undisclosed gifts and trips came to light earlier this year.
The Team in Tatters
When GOP Rep. Jake Ellzey of Texas named Rep. Mike Garcia of California, his former wingman from their time as U.S. Navy aviators, as his pick to be speaker of the House on Tuesday, Garcia shot him a look—and who can blame him? Although Ellzey had asked Garcia’s permission beforehand, Garcia’s friend had just put him up for what has to be one of the worst jobs in America.*
“[Dirty Jobs host] Mike Rowe would not want to do this job on his TV show,” Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado told CNN’s Dana Bash Tuesday. “This is a terrible job.” That’s why Buck voted for House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, he deadpanned: “I don’t like Tom Emmer.”
One of the few members who does want the job, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, tried and failed to grab the gavel Tuesday. Despite a steady drumbeat of votes flipped from “no”—and in one case “hell no”—to “yes” and optimistic statements from Team Jordan, the floor vote Tuesday was an ignominious defeat for the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) co-founder, who heard 20 members of his own conference call other people’s names.