Three weeks ago, conservative Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., was defeated by GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy in their party’s private, internal vote for speaker of the House.
On Tuesday, Biggs said he’s launching yet another challenge to McCarthy for speaker — this time in the public vote on the House floor set for Jan. 3.
“I’m running for Speaker to break the establishment,” Biggs tweeted, linking to an op-ed in the conservative Daily Caller outlining his opposition to McCarthy. “Kevin McCarthy was created by, elevated by, and maintained by the establishment.”
The point of Biggs’s second bid for speaker in as many months is not to win the coveted gavel — the former leader of the far-right House Freedom Caucus has zero chance of winning over moderate Republicans who have clashed with his group in the past.
Instead, Biggs is aiming to give his colleagues an alternative to vote for on the House floor and to deny McCarthy the 218 GOP votes he needs to secure the speaker’s gavel during the first vote of the new Congress next month.
“People are thrilled that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reign of Leftist extremism is ending. The question is whether we will be treated to the status quo that will move us along the same path, though perhaps more slowly,” Biggs wrote in his op-ed. “Will we elect an establishment Republican as the speaker — think Paul Ryan, or in this case, Ryan’s right-hand man, Kevin McCarthy.”
Republicans flipped control of the lower chamber in the November midterms, but because they will hold just a razor-thin margin over the Democrats, McCarthy can only afford to lose four GOP votes during the Jan. 3 roll call.
Democrats are expected to back their own leader for speaker, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and five conservative lawmakers are already on record saying they will not vote for McCarthy under any circumstance.
A McCarthy spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But allies to the California Republican have vowed that McCarthy will take the fight to the House floor rather than quit his quest to be speaker like he did in 2015, when the same group of conservative rabble-rousers threatened his first speaker bid.
If Biggs and other conservatives can successfully block McCarthy from 218 votes — more than half of the total 435 seats in the chamber — it could throw the House into complete chaos. Because House business is essentially at a standstill until lawmakers elect a speaker, members will need to vote again and again until someone secures a simple majority of the votes.
The last time a speaker vote went multiple ballots was exactly a century ago. During a two-month stretch before the Civil War, the House was deadlocked on a choice for speaker, eventually holding 133 votes before settling on Rep. Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts.
Some moderate GOP McCarthy allies say it would never reach that point. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told NBC News last month that to avoid potential chaos he would be willing to cross the aisle and team up with Democrats to elect a consensus moderate GOP speaker.
Bacon repeated his threat to conservative “cowboys” during an appearance on C-SPAN on Tuesday, saying they “divide the team, weaken the team” at a time Republicans need to be unified.
“I’m one of the folks who are playing hardball back. We’re not going to be held hostage by a small number of people that’s going to hurt the team,” Bacon said. “So we’re going to stand up to this.”
In his op-ed Tuesday, Biggs attacked McCarthy for his talks with the White House for a year-end spending package that would “bloat our national debt and extend until next October.” By striking a deal before Republicans assume the House majority in January, Biggs argued, “Leader McCarthy is about to eviscerate our leverage for the balance of the Biden presidency.”
A past chairman of the Donald Trump-aligned Freedom Caucus, Biggs also knocked McCarthy for proposing a resolution to censure the former president for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and for initially defending then-GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., after she voted to impeach Trump.
McCarthy later called on Cheney to resign from leadership and backed her Trump-endorsed primary challenger, Harriet Hageman, who ousted Cheney in the GOP primary in August.
“Here we have an establishment candidate for speaker of the House who circulated a censure resolution of Trump and protected Liz Cheney when the majority of the Republicans wanted to remove her as their leader,” Biggs wrote of McCarthy. “It wasn’t until she personally embarrassed him that McCarthy supported her dismissal.”
Another Freedom Caucus member and McCarthy foe, Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., has said it’s time for Republicans to turn the page on McCarthy and move on to other candidates.
“It’s in the best interest of the Congress and the country for [colleagues] to come out publicly to illustrate or demonstrate that he’s not going to be speaker,” Good told reporters. “He doesn’t have the votes to get to 218; he’s not going to get to 218.
“The number of public hard ‘no’ votes is going to just continue to increase,” he said.
দুর্দান্ত জয়ে ফাইনাল নিশ্চিত হওয়ার পরে, ‘এগিয়ে যাও আর্জেন্টিনা, হৃদয় নিংড়ানো ভালোবাসা’ মেসির স্ত্রী
আর্জেন্টিনা সেমিফাইনালে ওঠার পরও এমন একটা ছবি পোস্ট করেছিলেন আন্তোনেলা রোকুজ্জো। তিন সন্তানকে নিয়ে হাসিখুশি একটা ছবি নিজের ইনস্টাগ্রাম অ্যাকাউন্টে পোস্ট করে লেখেন,‘সেমিতে! এগিয়ে যাও আর্জেন্টিনা, হৃদয় নিংড়ানো ভালোবাসা।’ কাতার বিশ্বকাপজুড়েই এমন সব ছবি পোস্ট করেছেন রোকুজ্জো। মাঠে তাঁর জীবনসঙ্গী লিওনেল মেসি লড়াই করেন আর্জেন্টিনার জন্য।
আর রোকুজ্জো আর্জেন্টিনার জার্সি পরে গ্যালারি থেকে সমর্থন দেন তাঁর দেশ আর্জেন্টিনাকে, মেসিকে। কাল রাতে আর্জেন্টিনা ফাইনালে ওঠার পরও এমন একটি পোস্ট করেন রোকুজ্জো। লুসাইল
স্টেডিয়ামে কাল রাতে সেমিফাইনালে ক্রোয়েশিয়াকে ৩–০ গোলে হারিয়ে ফাইনালে ওঠে আর্জেন্টিনা। নিজে একটি গোল করার পাশাপাশি হুলিয়ান আলভারেজকে দিয়েও গোল করান মেসি।
আর জোড়া গোল করেন আলভারেজ। দুর্দান্ত এই জয়ের পর মনের আনন্দ আর ধরে রাখতে পারেননি রোকুজ্জো। তিন সন্তান থিয়াগো, মাতেও ও চিরোকে নিয়ে লুসাইলের গ্যালারিতে একটি ছবি তোলেন।
সেই ছবি ইনস্টাগ্রামে পোস্ট করে রোকুজ্জো লিখেছেন, ‘এই আনন্দ ভাষায় প্রকাশ করতে পারব না। কারণ, কেউ তা বুঝবেন না। এগিয়ে যাও আর্জেন্টিনা, এগিয়ে যাও মেসি।’ কাতার বিশ্বকাপে এ পর্যন্ত ৫ গোল করেছেন মেসি। গোল বানিয়েও দিয়েছেন। আর্জেন্টিনার ফাইনালে ওঠায় তাঁর অবদান এক কথায় অনবদ্য।
কাল রাতে ফাইনালে ওঠার পর পরিবারকেও স্মরণ করেছেন এই তারকা, ‘পরিবারের কথা মনে পড়ছে। তারা সব সময় পাশে ছিল। ভালো ও খারাপ—দুই রকম সময়ই পার করেছি। তবে এখনকার সময়টা উপভোগের।’ রোজারিওতে জন্ম নেওয়া রোকুজ্জোর সঙ্গে মেসির প্রথম দেখা ১৯৯৬ সালে। তাঁর কাজিন ও ফুটবলার লুকাস স্কাগলিয়া মেসির শৈশবের বন্ধু। স্কাগলিয়ার মাধ্যমেই রোকুজ্জোর সঙ্গে পরিচয় ঘটে মেসির।
২০০৭ সালে রোকুজ্জোর খুব কাছের এক বন্ধু গাড়ি দুর্ঘটনায় মারা যাওয়ার পর তাঁকে মানসিকভাবে সমর্থন দিতে বার্সেলোনা থেকে আর্জেন্টিনায় ফিরে যান মেসি। সেখান থেকে ফেরার পর প্রণয়ে জড়িয়ে পড়েন দুজন। ২০০৯ সালের জানুয়ারিতে এক সাক্ষাৎকারে মেসি প্রথম স্বীকার করেন, রোকুজ্জোর সঙ্গে তাঁর প্রেমের সম্পর্ক চলছে। ২০১৭ সালে রোজারিওতে বিয়ের পিঁড়িতে বসেন দুজন।
Jan. 6 committee chair expects panel to issue criminal referrals to DOJ
The chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., expects the panel to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, he told reporters Tuesday.
“We have made decisions on criminal referrals,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the panel has yet to formalize its decision. He also declined to say which individuals would be subject to the referrals or how many he expects the panel to make.
Thompson later told reporters that he thinks there is “general agreement” on the panel that referrals will be issued.
“But we’re not there yet,” he said. “I wish I could tell you one, two, three, four but that’s all still being discussed.”
In a statement to NBC News, a spokesperson for the committee said it “has determined that referrals to outside entities should be considered as a final part of its work,” and that it will make “decisions about specifics in the days ahead.”
Committee members previously signaled the possibility of sending multiple criminal referrals to the Justice Department involving former President Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results based on evidence they’ve uncovered investigating the events surrounding the attack on the Capitol.
Last July, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the vice chair and one of two Republicans on the panel, told ABC News that the committee would make a decision about whether to alert the Justice Department to possible crimes it has uncovered.
“The Justice Department doesn’t have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral, and there could be more than one criminal referral,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” in July.
Cheney pointed to one of the committee’s public hearings in June that featured explosive testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, former top aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. In her testimony, Hutchinson detailed outbursts of rage from Trump as he urged his supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, which included demanding his aides get rid of magnetometers near the White House before he addressed a “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse.
“It’s very chilling, and I think we will, you know, continue to present to the American people what we found,” Cheney said at the time, referring to details Hutchinson shared in her testimony.
The panel has been conflicted over whether to refer its findings to the Justice Department. Thompson told reporters in June that “we do not have authority” when asked whether the panel ruled out potential criminal charges for the former president.
The panel voted unanimously to subpoena Trump during its ninth public hearing, its last before the November midterm election. It subpoenaed Trump for any communications he may have had regarding extremist groups involved in the Capitol attack and any attempts in the past year to contact witnesses testifying before the committee.
The former president sued the committee last month in an effort to block the subpoena, arguing that the panel lacked the constitutional authority to issue it. Trump’s lawyers also argued that the subpoena’s purpose is “partisan, not legislative — to punish President Trump, and to score political points.”
Trump’s lawsuit came days before he announced his 2024 presidential bid.
Service members kicked out of the U.S. military for refusing Covid vaccine could be allowed to rejoin, officials say
Service members who were kicked out of the U.S. military for refusing the Covid vaccine could be allowed back in uniform if the vaccine mandate is lifted, according to two U.S. military and two senior defense officials.
On Tuesday, the House and Senate released language to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that requires the Pentagon to lift the mandate. The NDAA, the annual spending bill that funds the military, must be passed before the end of the year, and Democratic leaders let Republicans include the language in order to ensure its passage.
Pentagon leaders are now discussing whether service members who were separated can rejoin if the NDAA is signed into law, the four officials said. They said requests to rejoin will likely be handled on a case-by-case basis, but if a service member left under good circumstances — meaning they did not leave via an “other than honorable” discharge — they may be allowed to sign back up.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered in August 2021 that all active-duty National Guard and Reserve service members be vaccinated for Covid or face separation. The NDAA language directs Austin to rescind his order. It is very unusual for Congress to intervene and overturn a standing lawful order, two senior defense officials said, noting they could not immediately recall any precedent.
After Austin issued his mandate, thousands of active-duty service members were separated for refusing the Covid vaccine. (Members of the National Guard who refused the vaccine were not allowed to participate in drills or training, meaning they lost pay and were marked absent without cause.)
In many cases, the official reason for separation was failing to follow a lawful order. But if an enlisted service member who was separated has no other bar to re-enlistment, still meets the age and fitness standards and wants to rejoin, they could now be allowed back in in the mandate is repealed, said one U.S. military and one defense official. The officials said the enlisted service member may not be able to get back in at the same pay grade or rank, but that will be a case-by-case decision.
Officers will likely be held to a different standard, the two officials said. If they left for failing to obey a lawful order, even if it is no longer a lawful order, they may not be allowed to reinstate their commissions.
Pentagon leaders are concerned about how this change will impact military readiness going forward, according to two senior defense officials, both of whom are not confident the majority of troops will continue to get vaccinated without the mandate.
Service members often live and work in close quarters like ships and barracks, making infectious diseases more worrisome. The lack of a vaccine mandate will likely impact deployability and readiness for troops, the officials said. Not only will illness make some troops nondeployable, they said, but some countries won’t admit people who refuse to be vaccinated, so unvaccinated troops cannot necessarily participate in exercises or be stationed overseas.
On Wednesday, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh declined to provide specifics about how revoking the mandate could impact troops and operations in the future, including whether unvaccinated troops will be deemed deployable. “We don’t comment on pending legislation,” she said, adding that she would not get into “hypotheticals.” Secretary Austin supports keeping the vaccine mandate, she said, and when pressed she said repealing the vaccine will impact readiness.
Singh said that 691 service members, DOD civilians and dependents have died from Covid.
The vast majority of active-duty service members are now vaccinated — only about 2% have not received both doses of the vaccine — but ending the mandate will mean new recruits will not need to get the vaccine.
Some U.S. military officials are also concerned this case could provide a roadmap for disgruntled troops on how to protest in the future, according to the two senior officials. If there is a politically charged issue, they now have proof that they can lobby their members of Congress and get a lawful order overturned, even if military leaders and the Secretary of Defense disagree.
Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., a longtime opponent of the vaccine mandate, said, “While this repeal will bring relief to many in our U.S. Armed Forces, we must go further to re-enlist those who were discharged for not taking the vaccine and hold the Biden administration accountable for this damaging, politically targeted ploy at the expense of America’s heroes.”