Sunday, 19 May 2024

A Big Day for the Debt Ceiling

Can House Republicans behave as the members of a well-functioning political party would? Or are they still the same party that has cycled through one House leader after another over the past decade, unable to find one who can unite various factions?

The past few days of debt-ceiling talks have brought conflicting signals. And Republicans don’t have much more time to choose a path: To avoid a default that many economists believe would be extremely damaging, Congress probably needs to act within the next several days.

For much of the past several weeks, House Republicans have looked decidedly functional. In April, they passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling that included deep spending cuts and was akin to an initial offer in a negotiation. This weekend, Republican leaders finalized a compromise with President Biden in which each side got some of what it wanted. The compromise bill looked to be on course to pass — even as conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats criticized aspects of it.

Yesterday, however, the compromise seemed to be at risk of coming apart because of Republican infighting. “Not one Republican should vote for this bill,” Representative Chip Roy of Texas, an influential ultraconservative, said yesterday afternoon.

Another hard-right Republican, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, was even harsher about his party’s leader, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and the compromise deal that McCarthy negotiated. “I’m fed up with the lies,” Bishop said. “I’m fed up with the lack of courage, the cowardice.” Some outside conservative groups, like the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation, have also criticized the compromise.

It remains unclear whether these complaints are mostly performative or whether they threaten the bill’s prospects. McCarthy continued to express optimism yesterday that the bill would pass, and the House Rules Committee gave him a procedural victory by voting to allow the full House to debate it today.

If the bill passes, all this back and forth will be relatively unimportant, and the outcome will still be a victory for McCarthy, albeit a messy one. But it is also a reminder of the chaos that is now a regular part of Republican Party politics. By comparison, congressional Democrats have been much more unified over the past 15 years and able to pass further-reaching legislation — on health care, the climate and other issues.

If a debt-ceiling bill fails and the government defaults on its obligations, the country could be facing a whole new level of turmoil. Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, has estimated that the government could run out of borrowing authority on Monday.

“I think it is probably going to pass, but there is obviously a lot of Republican unrest,” Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington correspondent, told me last night. “Still rocky times ahead.”

The latest

McCarthy needs to round up more votes to pass the bill.

Chip Roy is the spending expert who’s leading the hard right’s demands for budget cuts.

What else is in the deal? The end of the student loan repayment holiday, a potential rollback of scientific research funding and a green light for a bitterly contested oil pipeline.



Drones downed over Moscow brought the war closer to many ordinary Russians.

A failed North Korean satellite launch triggered an evacuation alert in Seoul, spreading panic then frustration.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, owed his re-election in part to an ardent following among conservative, religious women.

Dozens of NATO peacekeepers were injured in clashes with ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo.

Post-Brexit rule changes threaten Ireland’s fishing industry.


Ron DeSantis kicked off his presidential campaign with a rally in Iowa, telling supporters he would fight “malignant ideology” and “impose” their will in Washington.

Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who accused Biden of sexual assault, moved to Russia and said she was seeking citizenship there.

After a string of police shootings in New Jersey, one killing led the state attorney general to seize control of a police department.


Tankers carrying Russian oil use sophisticated technology to lie about where they are, probably violating U.S. sanctions.

How dirty is that gas stove? Scientists in 10 cities are tracking pollution in homes.

Other Big Stories

The disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes reported to prison to begin her 11-year sentence for fraud.

The Sacklers, the owners of Purdue Pharma, will receive full immunity from all civil legal claims over its prescription opioids business.

The James Beard awards, are investigating chefs to weed out potentially problematic nominees, but the process has pitfalls of its own.

Rosalynn Carter, the wife of President Jimmy Carter, has dementia.

Officials in Iowa paused plans to demolish a building that collapsed over the weekend after finding a resident still inside.


Neutrality prevents both sides of a conflict from hindering humanitarian aid, Mirjana Spoljaric, the Red Cross president, writes.

North Korea analysts speculate about whether Kim Jong-un’s 10-year-old daughter will be his heir. The country’s rigid gender barriers work against her, Chun Su-jin writes.

Here are columns by Ezra Klein on the debt ceiling and Bret Stephens on Turkey’s election.


Art of craft: Each guitar he makes has a sound of its own.

Venice canals: How the city solved the mystery of the green water.

Moments of gratitude: Medical students honor people who donate their bodies to science.

Water filters: How much can they do?

Tech for kids: Use smartwatches and phones designed for children and the best apps for limiting screen time.

Home safety: Protect your home while you’re on vacation.

Cleanup: Pick the right shovel.

Advice from Wirecutter: Find a good mattress for under $500.

Lives Lived: Robin Wagner designed sets for more than 50 of Broadway’s most celebrated productions, including “Hair,” “A Chorus Line” and “Angels in America.” He died at 89.


Stepping away: Bob Myers, considered the architect of the Warriors dynasty, is leaving the franchise.

Inside a breakup: The new Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed frustration about his departure from Green Bay.

Compensation anxiety: Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn’t have a problem with making players employees, but he worries it will only increase disparities in college football.


Total immersion

Jeremy Strong is famous for playing Kendall Roy in “Succession.” He’s also famous for his approach to acting, which GQ has described as “intense to the point of mania and delusion.” He said he tried to shed his own identity to play the part. He wore Kendall’s clothes and practiced self-doubt and the art of overcompensation.

Over four seasons, playing Kendall, a troubled, morally bankrupt son of a billionaire, exhausted him. “Somebody once said that actors are emotional athletes,” Strong told The Times. “And this show has been like a decathlon for me.”

Read more about his experience playing Kendall.


What to Cook

Make Turkish eggs with yogurt for breakfast.


Go to the subway platform to see the best performances.

What to Read

“Kairos,” set in Cold War Berlin, tells the story of an affair.

What to Do

Try a pottery workshop. They’re filling up with people who want to connect with others instead of screens.

Now Time to Play

Here are today’s Spelling Bee and yesterday’s answers. The Morning will no longer include the previous day’s pangrams, which will continue to be available to subscribers here above each day’s puzzle.

And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

Here’s today’s front page.

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David Leonhardt writes The Morning, The Times’s flagship daily newsletter. He has previously been an Op-Ed columnist, Washington bureau chief, co-host of “The Argument” podcast, founding editor of The Upshot section and a staff writer for The Times Magazine. In 2011, he received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. @DLeonhardt Facebook

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