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U.S. News Roundup

U.S. News Roundup- January 10, 2023

2023-01-10
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Dear friends,

After testing for one year, we formally introduce a new weekly on U.S. domestic issues — the U.S. News Roundup. By preparing this material, we want to provide our readers with an overview of the top concerns of the American people. This newsletter will include not only news events but also background information, as well as typical opinions toward them.

We hope you will enjoy the reading and share the Roundup with your friends if you find it helpful. You can change your email preferences anytime here or via the link at the bottom of each CUSEF email.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Thank you very much!

Until next time,

Wendy Weng, Research Director, CUSEF

Congress

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) became the 55th speaker of the House after 15 rounds of voting, ending a historic five-day battle for the post.


Why it matters: McCarthy’s speakership came after he gave major concessions to the far-right Republicans, suggesting that the next two years in office would be difficult for him.

What’s happening: A speaker needs a simple majority of the votes cast in the House to win the post. Assuming all the 435 Representatives cast their votes, the threshold would be 218. With vacancies in the chamber and people not voting for any candidate, the threshold is lower.

  • McCarthy only got 200 to 203 votes out of 434 in the 11 rounds of voting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Twenty far-right Republicans opposed McCarthy’s bid for House speaker. Most of them are election deniers and have former President Donald Trump endorsements in the 2022 midterm elections. Their main demands are to pass rules to weaken the speaker’s power, along with others like spending cuts and border policies.
  • After promising major concessions to the far-right Republicans, McCarthy won the support of some conservative lawmakers, with 213, 214, and 216 votes out of 432 on the 12th, 13th, and 14th ballots.
  • By the 15th round of voting on Saturday, McCarthy was elected to the post with 216 votes as 428 Representatives cast their votes. Six hardline conservatives, Lauren Boebert (CO), Matt Gaetz (FL), Andy Biggs (AZ), Eli Crane (AZ), Bob Good (VA), and Matt Rosendale (MT), presented but did not vote for any candidate.
  • After McCarthy was elected, hundreds of members elected to the House finally swore in, seating the 118th Congress. Republicans are considering the House rules package, which are expected to include some of McCarthy’s concessions, such as allowing a single lawmaker to call for a vote to remove the speaker at any time.

Opinions: Observers noted the continuation of the stalemate showed divisions within the Republicans.

  • Others believed that some of McCarthy’s concessions would make the House struggle to perform its most basic business in the next two years.

Border crisis

President Joe Biden unveiled a new immigration policy, modifying a Trump-era order based on Title 42.

Why it matters: On Thursday, the Biden administration announced its most aggressive effort yet to address as the immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border hit a record number in 2022.

What’s happening: Under the new rules, up to 30,000 individuals per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela will be admitted through a parole program if they have qualified sponsors and “pass vetting and background checks.”

  • It is a major expansion of the previous parole process, which accepted only Venezuelans and limited the total number to 24,000.
  • However, the administration will deny asylum to migrants from those four countries who try to enter the U.S. without authorization and will quickly expel them to Mexico.
  • This was considered as the administration expanded its use of the Title 42 public health order, which allows border officials to quickly expel millions of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border for public health reasons. The policy previously applied mainly to migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela.

Opinions: Observers pointed out that the new measure was “a political shift to the center” for Biden as immigration became an increasingly difficult political issue for him. Republicans said he had not done enough to stop illegal border crossings, while Democrats criticized the President for continuing Title 42.

Latest development: President Joe Biden visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday for the first time since taking office amid bipartisan criticism of his immigration policies.

Abortion

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed retail pharmacies to offer abortion pills in the U.S. for the first time.

Why it matters: The regulatory change could expand access to medical abortions as the Biden administration vowed to protect abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

What’s happening: Mifepristone is the first of two pills to be used in the medication abortion regimen, which had previously been dispensed to patients only through clinics, doctors, or some mail-order pharmacies.

  • Under the FDA’s new rules, patients will still need prescriptions from certified prescribers, but any pharmacy that agrees to accept those prescriptions and adheres to certain requirements can dispense the pills directly to patients or by mail.
  • The agency’s action lifted the requirement for patients to obtain mifepristone in person from a healthcare provider, expanding access to abortion pills.

The big picture: However, in 18 states, abortion bans or restrictions would make it illegal or difficult for pharmacies to offer abortion pills.

  • With the pressure from two sides, retail pharmacies, especially the pharmacy chains, will have to weigh whether to provide the pill and determine where they can offer it.

Hotspots in the field

  • Amazon’s layoffs will impact more than 18,000 employees. It is the largest number of reductions in the last few months by a big tech company to cut back on spending because of economic uncertainty.
  • U.S. News & World Report is revising some elements of its law school rankings amid a boycott by a group of top law schools, including Yale and Harvard Law Schools.

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