10 Things in Politics: McConnell defies Trump on the debt ceiling

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10 THINGS IN POLITICS YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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Here's what we're talking about:

With Phil Rosen.


Mitch McConnell

1. FROM THE HALLS OF CONGRESS: Washington's latest drama is almost over — kind of. Senators moved last night to extend the debt limit to last until December, ending weeks of brinksmanship as top CEOs and administration officials begged lawmakers to act. The Senate vote sparked its own saga, with an agitated former President Donald Trump, annoyed conservatives, and some gleeful Democrats. Key disagreements very much remain, meaning this is more of a to-be-continued kind of ending.

Here's where things stand:

Mitch McConnell and top leaders had to squeeze their fellow Republicans: McConnell summoned his colleagues for a tense meeting before the vote as they discussed the party's strategy, Politico reports. Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters afterward that "it was a mistake to offer this deal." In the end, the GOP mustered 11 votes, one more than necessary to give Democrats the necessary 60 votes so they could end debate and pass the two-month fix on their own. Many Republicans didn't seem to care that Trump was also opposed to the deal.

  • McConnell is still pressing Democrats: He previously said the extension was meant only to give Democrats more time to raise the debt ceiling for the longer term by themselves through the special budget process known as reconciliation. Democrats continue to insist they won't do that. (Now you see why this is far from over.)

Republicans were also furious at how Democrats responded: "There's a time to be graceful and there's a time to be combative. That was a time for grace and common ground," Sen. Mitt Romney, who did not vote to help Democrats, said of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's blistering speech after the vote. Schumer chided Republicans for pushing things to this point.

  • Centrist Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin was also not pleased, per Politico's Burgess Everett:

Joe Manchin

The House is expected to send the extension to President Joe Biden's desk next week.


2. Not everyone is buying Rep. Matt Gaetz's new image: The family-man depiction is a notable shift for the 39-year-old Florida congressman, who is the subject of a federal sex-trafficking investigation that centers on allegations he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. "It's somewhere between look-over-here magic-trick stuff and maybe pretending" the investigation isn't happening, a Republican who worked with Gaetz in Florida told Insider. Read more about how Florida political insiders see Gaetz's marriage as "image management" by the congressman.


3. US Marines are said to be training troops in Taiwan: The Wall Street Journal reports that the trainings have taken place for at least a year amid concerns about China. The force is said to includes about two dozen special operators and support troops working with ground-force units and an unspecified number of Marines working with Taiwan's maritime units. The Pentagon didn't confirm the report but did comment on what it called "the current threat posed by the People's Republic of China."


4. Trump lawyer is urging former top aides to stonewall Capitol riot inquiry: A letter from the Trump legal team instructs former advisors and aides not to comply with subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, Politico reports. Trump's team cited executive privilege and what it called the "outrageously broad" nature of the requests as reasons for its objection to any testimony. The Washington Post reports that Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland who serves on the riot panel, threatened contempt charges for those failing to comply with the committee's requests. It's unclear whether top officials like the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will now refuse to cooperate with the investigation.


5. Tesla HQ is moving to Texas: ​​CEO Elon Musk stressed that while Tesla's home base was moving to Austin from Palo Alto, the company wasn't leaving California altogether. Signs of such a move have abounded, including Musk's public frustration with California's pandemic-related restrictions. Musk also cited the lack of affordable housing and long commutes as reasons for his decision. More on the news.


6. Trump claims Haitians seeking to enter the US "probably have AIDS": The former president lashed out against Haitian migrants seeking to enter the US, saying that hundreds of thousands of them were "flowing in." The Post reported in 2018, of course, that Trump privately called Haiti a "shithole" country when discussing the protection of immigrants. His latest remarks echo his widely criticized past comments.


7. Texas abortion clinics spring into action after a favorable ruling: Representatives from Whole Woman's Health, a national abortion provider with four abortion clinics in Texas, told reporters that they and several other providers had already begun to perform previously prohibited abortion procedures after the roughly six-week deadline presented by the law. A federal judge this week temporarily blocked Texas' law, which functions as a near-complete ban on abortions. The state is appealing. The abortion clinics are still taking major risks and could be opening themselves up to future penalties.


8. Matthew McConaughey breaks silence on whether he'll run for office: The Academy Award winner told The New York Times that he's still undecided about whether he'd challenge Gov. Greg Abbott, adding that many had told him "politics is a bag of rats." McConaughey did take public positions on some issues for the first time, deeming the state's abortion law "juvenile in its implementation." More from the interview, including how McConaughey responded to a jab from Beto O'Rourke.


9. Eighteen former NBA players are accused of massive medical fraud: Authorities allege that the group defrauded the NBA's health and welfare benefit plan with nearly $4 million in fraudulent claims. According to court filings, players in question include the former Memphis Grizzlies defensive star Tony Allen, the league journeyman Sebastian Telfair, and the former Celtics center Glen "Big Baby" Davis. More details from the indictment.


Princess Keisha and Prince Kunle at their home in London.

10. Nigeria's Prince Kunle and Princess Keisha left royal life years before Harry and Meghan: Prince Kunle told Insider he turned down the opportunity to be king of the Arigbabuowo ruling house, and now he lives in London with his wife. The couple have no plans of returning to royal life, and Kunle said he made the move to preserve his family's freedom. Get the inside scoop on the once royal couple.


Today's trivia question: Here's another Bond-related question to mark the US release of "No Time to Die." In "Skyfall," a replica of a masterpiece painting is shown. The real painting was stolen a few years before the movie's release. Which artist painted the original? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

That's all for now. Have a wonderful weekend!

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