Leaders Step Back from the Brink After Missile Lands in Poland

Happy Thursday! This time next week, we’ll be lacing up our shoes for the neighborhood Turkey Bowl/and or Turkey Trot and running some durability tests on the elastic in our waistbands. 🍂🦃🥧

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Network election desks projected Wednesday that Rep. Mike Garcia will hold onto his seat in California’s 27th congressional district, giving Republicans 218 seats in the House of Representatives and officially ensuring the GOP will take control of the chamber come January. Six races in California, Colorado, and Alaska have not yet been called.
  • Senate Republicans voted 37-10-1 on Wednesday to retain Sen. Mitch McConnell as the leader of their conference, handily rejecting a challenge from Rick Scott, the junior senator from Florida. “I’m not going anywhere,” McConnell said, acknowledging he was “pretty proud” of the outcome. GOP senators also voted Wednesday to reelect Sen. John Thune of South Dakota as minority whip and Sen. John Barrasso as conference chair, and elect Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joni Ernst as vice conference chair and policy chair, respectively. Scott will be replaced as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee by Sen. Steve Daines.
  • The Senate voted 62-37 on Wednesday to invoke cloture on the Respect for Marriage Act, with 12 Republicans voting with all 50 Democrats to advance the legislation that would require state and federal governments to continue recognizing same-sex and interracial marriages even if the Supreme Court overturns precedent supporting those unions—as some believe it might after this summer’s Dobbs decision. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law after the Senate officially passes it later this week.
  • Iran sentenced three unidentified protesters to death on Wednesday, underscoring concerns that the regime will resort to widespread executions—like those carried out in the 1980s—to suppress months-long demonstrations over the September death in custody of Mahsa Amini, detained for allegedly violating the country’s religious dress code. Nearly 16,000 protesters have reportedly been detained thus far, and about 1,000 indicted. Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based humanitarian group, estimates Iranian security forces have killed at least 342 protesters.
  • NASA successfully launched its Space Launch System on Wednesday, putting an uncrewed Orion capsule en route to the Moon as part of the Artemis I program. The launch—which was delayed multiple times over the past few months—is the agency’s initial step toward sending U.S. astronauts to the Moon for the first time in decades.
  • The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that U.S. retail sales rose 1.3 percent month-over-month in October after holding steady in September. The data indicated consumers are continuing to spend online, in stores, and at restaurants despite inflationary pressures, all but ensuring the Federal Reserve will continue its aggressive tightening cycle. The statistic is not adjusted for inflation, so higher prices likely accounted for some of the increase.

False Alarm in Poland

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. (Photo by John Thys / AFP via Getty Images.)

If it seemed a little breezier outside than normal yesterday, you can chalk it up to world leaders across the globe letting out a collective sigh of relief. World War III is not upon us yet.  

National security officials were sent into a frenzy Tuesday afternoon, when unconfirmed reports began circulating of unknown projectiles striking a village in southeastern Poland and killing two people. The Associated Press confirming the incident less than an hour later—and adding that the “unknown projectiles” were in fact Russian missiles—sent the panic into overdrive. “Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine has now put our NATO allies at risk,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “We have an obligation to protect our NATO allies, and the world will be looking to the United States for strength and leadership.”

Thankfully, decisionmakers were not operating solely on information from the Associated Press.

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