The Debt Ceiling Clock Ticks On

Happy Friday! Neuralink—the company founded by Elon Musk to implant chips in humans’ brains—announced yesterday it had received FDA approval to begin clinically studying the technology in humans for the first time.

Good thing Ron DeSantis didn’t try to launch his campaign on that platform!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled unanimously in favor of 94-year-old Geraldine Tyler, whose home was seized and sold for a profit by a Minnesota county in 2016 to settle a small tax debt. “The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the unanimous opinion, which dealt a blow to the controversial practice often referred to as “home equity theft.”
  • Also on Thursday, the court ruled 5-4 to restrict the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce federal clean water protections, particularly in the nation’s wetlands and other waterways.
  • A 75-year-old Michigan man who in September shot an 84-year-old woman canvassing at his home for Right to Life, a pro-life organization, was handed down a sentence of 100 hours of community service and 12 months probation on Tuesday after pleading no contest to the assault. The woman, Joan Jacobson, survived the attack but received hospital treatment for a shoulder wound.
  • Oath Keepers founder and leader Stewart Rhodes—convicted in November on a number of charges, including seditious conspiracy, for his role instigating the January 6 riots and seeking to disrupt the transfer of power—was sentenced on Thursday to 18 years in prison, the longest such term of any January 6 defendant thus far. The head of the Oath Keepers’ Florida chapter, Kelly Meggs, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
  • Investigators looking into Donald Trump’s handling of classified material since leaving the White House have reportedly learned that the former president and his aides carried out a “dress rehearsal” for moving sensitive documents around Mar-a-Lago, and that boxes of paper were moved by two Trump employees one day before FBI agents and Justice Department officials traveled to the Florida estate to retrieve the material. The actions, if verified, could justify an obstruction charge—and Trump’s lawyers have reportedly warned him to brace for an indictment this year.
  • The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday formally approved Pfizer’s Paxlovid oral antiviral treatment for adults who contract COVID-19 and are at high risk for severe infections. The drug has been authorized for emergency use since late 2021, but now has full approval.
  • After weeks of speculation, Republican Pennsylvania state lawmaker Doug Mastriano—who was at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro by 15 percentage points in 2022’s gubernatorial race—announced Thursday he will not run for Senate next year. The news likely clears a path for hedge fund executive and Army veteran Dave McCormick, who ran for Senate in 2022 but lost to Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Republican primary.
  • In Arizona, Karrin Taylor Robson—a businesswoman who lost to Kari Lake in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary last year—announced Thursday she will not mount a Senate bid in 2024. A spokesman for Lake told Dispatch Politics earlier this month he is “99 percent sure” she will enter the race for independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat in the coming months.
  • The Department of Labor reported Thursday that initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—increased by 4,000 week-over-week to a seasonally-adjusted 229,000 claims last week.

X-Date Draws Nearer

President Joe Biden meets with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the Oval Office of the White House. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden meets with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the Oval Office of the White House. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Negotiating over the fiscal fate of the country can cause tensions to run high. “When you’re in meetings like this, look, let’s be honest, there have been a few f-bombs that have been thrown,” said Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, a chief Republican negotiator in debt ceiling talks with Democrats and a known-prankster. “And I think that humor takes the edge off of that.”  

Graves may need some compelling antics to get a deal over the finish line.

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