The (Very Recent) Past is Prologue

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed Thursday to implement daily four-hour “pauses” in fighting in parts of northern Gaza to allow for humanitarian aid to enter and civilians to evacuate. The agreement came after several days of pressure from the White House, with President Joe Biden expressing frustration that it’d “taken a little longer than [he had] hoped” for Netanyahu to implement the plan—though National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said these “pauses” were just the “first step” in wider humanitarian accommodations. Meanwhile, the heads of U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies—the CIA and Mossad—met with the Qatari prime minister in Doha on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a deal with Hamas to free 12 hostages, including six Americans, in exchange for a three- or four-day ceasefire and some limited fuel shipments. 
  • Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa announced on Thursday that he would dissolve the nation’s parliament in December and schedule elections for March 2024, after the sudden and unexpected resignation of Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa earlier this week. De Sousa said he will only dissolve parliament after the final vote on the country’s budget in late November, and that Costa—who resigned amidst an investigation over allegations of corruption—will remain as a “caretaker” prime minister until a new leader is elected. 
  • A former conservative politician in Spain, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, was shot in the face on Thursday afternoon outside his home in Madrid before the masked assailants reportedly drove away on a black motorbike. The bullet passed through his jaw and the wound is not life-threatening, the hospital treating Vidal-Quadras said Thursday. The motive for the attack is not yet clear, and the attempted assassins have not yet been found. 
  • Detroit police announced on Wednesday that they have a suspect in custody connected to the murder of Samatha Woll—president of her Detroit synagogue and a former staffer for Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan—who was found stabbed multiple times outside her home last month. Local police have not released the identity of the suspect nor have they indicated whether Woll’s killing was a hate crime—so far, police have not suggested any possible motives for the murder.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA), which manages federal properties, selected Greenbelt, Maryland—northeast of Washington, D.C.—as the site of the new FBI national headquarters to replace the crumbling J. Edgar Hoover building in downtown D.C. The long-awaited decision was met with uncharacteristically blunt criticism from FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said his agency had concerns about the “fairness and transparency” of the selection process and suggested a top GSA decision-maker had a conflict of interest. GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan pushed back on Wray’s criticism. “GSA and FBI teams have spent countless hours working closely together over many months,” she said. “So we’re disappointed that the FBI Director is now making inaccurate claims directed at our agency, our employees, and our site selection plan and process.”
  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced on Thursday he would not run for re-election in 2024, a blow to Democrats’ chances of holding onto his Senate seat in ruby-red West Virginia. In his announcement, the moderate Democrat laid out his future plans, stoking political speculation. “What I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together,” he tweeted. Manchin has been floated as a potential third-party presidential candidate. 
  • NewsNation will host the fourth GOP presidential primary debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on December 6, the network announced Thursday. Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly will moderate the event alongside NewsNation anchor Elizabeth Vargas and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon. The Republican National Committee has increased the threshold for participation in this debate, requiring candidates to be polling at 6 percent—up from 4 percent in the third debate—in at least two national polls or at that same threshold in one national poll and two polls in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina. They must also have 80,000 unique donors, with at least 200 donors in each of 20 or more states. 

House GOP’s Groundhog Day 

House Speaker Mike Johnson during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on November 2, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The government will run out of money in seven days. House leadership tried and failed this week to pass individual appropriations bills and is struggling to unite the Republican conference around a short-term spending measure to avert a government shutdown. Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing a stopgap of its own, and the speaker of the House faces the prospect of relying on Democratic votes to fund the government. 

Sound familiar?

Speaker Mike Johnson, barely two weeks into his new gig, finds himself in much the same position as his predecessor Kevin McCarthy was back in September. Sure, Johnson has made fewer enemies on Capitol Hill than McCarthy (so far) and there don’t appear to be any hardline GOP members threatening his speakership (yet), but the new speaker is facing the same challenge of uniting a disparate conference around a spending plan with only days to spare. 

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