Strolling Toward a Shutdown

Happy Friday! We’ve got some bittersweet personnel news to report, as today is Esther’s last day with TMD. As bummed as we are to be saying goodbye to a colleague and a friend, we’ll be rooting for her as she pursues her dream of joining the State Department as a foreign service officer.

Thanks for all your hard work, Esther—we’ll make sure your appreciation for Taylor Swift, the Federal Reserve, and the great state of Maine lives on.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • President Joe Biden is meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol today at Camp David, the first time since 2015 a president has received world leaders at the Maryland retreat. The trilateral summit is indicative of the warming relations between Tokyo and Seoul, united against the shared threats of China and North Korea. The leaders are expected to announce increased intelligence-sharing about threats like North Korean missiles and establish a three-way crisis hotline, as well as regular joint military exercises.
  • The Biden administration approved the transfer of training materials for F-16 fighter jets to Denmark so Ukrainian pilots can train on the American jets. The administration also gave assurances to Denmark and the Netherlands that the U.S. will “expedite” approval of the transfer of the jets themselves to Ukraine. However, Kyiv does not expect them to arrive in time to aid the current counteroffensive, which according to U.S. intelligence obtained by the Washington Post, will likely fail to meet its objective of reaching the southeastern city of Melitopol and severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea.
  • Israeli officials said Thursday that the U.S. granted approval for them to sell the Arrow 3 air-defense missile system to Germany in a $3.5 billion deal, the largest arms deal in Israeli history. Germany will make the purchase as part of the European Sky Shield—a multilateral effort to set up a ballistic missile defense shield in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • President Biden announced Thursday that White House Counsel Stuart Delery will leave his post in the coming weeks after holding the job for a little more than a year. Delery was a key architect of the administration’s student loan forgiveness plan struck down by the Supreme Court, and has spent much of this year responding to congressional investigations. Biden has not yet named Delery’s replacement.
  • Prosecutors charged a Texas woman with threatening to kill the judge overseeing special counsel Jack Smith’s case against former President Donald Trump regarding efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The woman called Judge Tanya Chutkan’s chambers and left a voicemail threatening to kill her if Trump isn’t reelected, according to the criminal complaint. The caller also threatened to kill Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, all Democrats in D.C., and all people in the LGBTQ community. Meanwhile, the Fulton CountySheriff’s Office said Thursday it was investigating online threats made against some of the grand jurors who voted to indict former Trump and 18 co-defendants earlier this week in Georgia. The names of all of the grand jurors were released as part of the 98-page indictment, as is required by Georgia law—in most states and in the federal system, grand jurors remain anonymous
  • Wildfires in Canada’s Northwest Territories have prompted the evacuation of Yellowknife, the province’s capital, in recent days, with authorities ordering 20,000 residents to leave their homes by Friday. Most of Canada’s 1,000 wildfires are burning out of control, and smoke from the blazes has once again threatened to blanket regions stretching from the Midwest to New York with poor air quality this weekend.
  • Sixty-three people are presumed dead after a migrant boat was discovered this week adrift off the coast of West Africa near Cape Verde. Authorities rescued 38 people from the vessel, but 56 people were missing since the boat began its voyage from Senegal more than a month ago, and seven bodies were recovered from the boat. Cape Verde lies along a migrant route to the Canary Islands—a Spanish-controlled territory seen as a pathway to migrating to Europe.

Shutdown Looming?

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters outside the Speakers Balcony at the U.S. Capitol Building on July 25, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters outside the Speakers Balcony at the U.S. Capitol Building on July 25, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

With Congress increasingly unable to see through even the most rudimentary of tasks without a ruckus (even electing a speaker is a tall task these days), we know it can feel like political doomsayers prophesy a government shutdown every year. But with only six weeks to go until the end of the current fiscal year—and Congress on August recess until after Labor Day—it’s becoming harder and harder each day to picture any other outcome.

When the House returns to Washington on September 5, members have a long few weeks ahead of them: Speaker Kevin McCarthy has vowed to pass all 12 individual spending bills through committee, a feat Congress hasn’t achieved on time since 1977. In the 45 years since, Congress has opted instead for omnibus spending packages, packaging together all the smaller bills for easier passage. To earn the support of some Republican holdouts earlier this year, however, McCarthy promised a return to regular order.
The transition has been a little choppy. The Senate has gotten all 12 of its bills through committee markups, but none of those has been taken up yet on the floor, while the House has gotten 10 of its bills through committee and thus far passed one, approving the military construction and VA bill last month along party lines.

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