Friday, May 26, 2023

5/26 WAKE-UP CALL: Debt Deadline Looms, With No Deal

U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy are closing in on a deal that would raise the government's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling for two years while capping spending on most items, a U.S. official told Reuters. The deal, which is not final, would increase funding for discretionary spending on military and veterans while essentially holding non-defense discretionary spending at current year levels, the official said, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about internal discussions. The White House is considering scaling back its plan to boost funding at the Internal Revenue Service to hire more auditors and target wealthy Americans, the official said.

The final deal would specify the total amount the government could spend on discretionary programs like housing and education, according to a person familiar with the talks, but not break that down into individual categories. The two sides are just $70 billion apart on a total figure that would be well over $1 trillion, according to another source.

➤LAWMAKERS TAKE THE HOLIDAY OFF:  House Democrats tore into Republicans for returning to their districts on Thursday even as debt negotiations are still ongoing, but President Biden himself has not canceled his travel plans for the weekend.  Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Thursday knocked Republicans for skipping town before a deal is done.  House Republican leaders announced Thursday that they were sending members home for Memorial Day – but instructed them to be prepared to return to D.C. on 24-hours notice in the event of a breakthrough. House Democrats, too, are getting out of town - though not all of them are happy about it. 

Meanwhile the White House on Thursday defended Biden's expected travel plans  just one week before the so-called X deadline when Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen has said the U.S. could default on its bills - June 1.  'What I can say is that the President can deal with this issue anywhere he is,' White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. 

Stewart Rhodes
➤EXTREMIST GETS 18-YEARS:  Oath Keepers extremist group founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison for orchestrating a weekslong plot that culminated in his followers attacking the U.S. Capitol in a bid to keep President Joe Biden out of the White House after winning the 2020 election. Rhodes, 58, is the first person convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack to receive his punishment, and his sentence is the longest handed down so far in the hundreds of Capitol riot cases.

It’s another milestone for the Justice Department’s sprawling Jan. 6 investigation, which has led to seditious conspiracy convictions against the top leaders of two far-right extremist groups authorities say came to Washington prepared to fight to keep President Donald Trump in power at all costs.

POLL SHOWS TRUMP WITH BIG LEAD IN IOWA: A new poll from Emerson College shows former President Donald Trump leading other Republican presidential candidates by a huge margin in Iowa. The poll among likely Republican voters in the Iowa Caucus shows Trump with 62 percent of the vote, followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with 20 percent. No other candidate made it to double digits.

➤DeSANTIS ROAD WARRIOR: The Florida governor will make speeches and hold chats in a four-day swing across 12 cities and towns from May 30 to June 2, his campaign said. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' fledgling presidential campaign was looking to push forward on Thursday after a troubled online launch event drew mockery from his rivals and renewed doubts about his viability as a national candidate. DeSantis plans to barnstorm the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina next week in his first series of public events since joining the 2024 race for the Republican nomination on Wednesday.

DeSantis has more than $80 million in his Florida officeholder account, according to Florida records, giving the Republican governor a sizable advantage in his newly announced campaign for the White House. His campaign is expecting to move most of that money into a DeSantis PAC called Never Back Down, giving him at least $200 million to take on former President Donald Trump in 2024.

Ron DeSantis said yet another example of the liberal double-standard is the lack of media gush over his wife and Florida first lady Casey DeSantis. 'If she were a Democrat, she'd be on every fashion magazine,' the Florida governor insisted in a radio interview after launching his presidential bid on Wednesday. Many see Casey as the force behind her husband's rise on the political scene - with some strategists saying her star power is helping DeSantis overcome some of his more unlikable quirks.

President Biden
➤JOE, DON'T DO IT!: President Joe Biden’s bid for a second term begins with a wide advantage over his declared opponents for the Democratic nomination, but he faces headwinds among the overall public from declining favorability and a widespread view that his reelection would be more negative than positive for the country, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Just a third of Americans say that Biden winning in 2024 would be a step forward or a triumph for the country (33%). At the same time, the survey finds a decline in favorable views of Biden over the past six months, from 42% in December to 35% now. And results from the same poll released earlier this week showed Biden’s approval rating for handling the presidency at 40%, among the lowest for any first-term president since Dwight Eisenhower at this point in their term. Within his own party, 60% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they back Biden for the top of next year’s Democratic ticket, 20% favor activist and lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and 8% back author Marianne Williamson. Another 8% say they would support an unnamed “someone else.”

➤MERCENARIES HAND BAKHMUT TO RUSSIANS: Russian paramilitary group Wagner said it has begun handing over the city of Bakhmut to regular Russian troops Thursday, a move that marked an end to a bloody offensive that flattened the eastern Ukrainian city in nine months of fighting. Wagner released a video of its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, strolling through the city’s rubble, telling troops to pack up and ready themselves for a respite from fighting so they can replenish and rearm.

“From the first of June we’ll be gone, we’ll relax and get ready to receive new orders,” he said. He told his troops to leave behind ammunition for the regular army, which will now be tasked with defending the city. With Bakhmut under Russian control, Moscow’s forces inside Ukraine are now expected to steel themselves for a long-awaited offensive by Ukrainian forces aimed at taking back occupied land.

➤TARGET SHOPPERS FUME: Target shoppers fuming over the retailer’s LGBTQ merchandise — including “tuck-friendly” swimwear — have stormed some stores to tear down Pride signs, badger workers and even leave a case of Bud Light alongside the offending items. The Minneapolis-based chain — which has lost $9 billion in the last week following boycott calls over LGBTQ-friendly kids clothing — has announced it will remove some of the offending items partly due to their workers’ safety fears. The online fury spilling over into the aisles includes one MAGA hat-wearing provocateur who was filmed ripping down a “#TakePride” sign from a clothing rack of LGBTQ apparel.

➤SUPREME COURT LIMITS STATES’ RIGHTS TO SEIZE PROPERTY: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that state and local governments cannot seize the homes of people who owe property taxes and then keep the proceeds beyond the amount owed. The victor in this case is a 94-year-old woman whose home in Minnesota was seized for nonpayment of $15,000 in property taxes. The county foreclosed on her home, sold it at auction for $40,000, and kept the entire proceeds. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said: “The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more.”

➤ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY POWERS ARE SHRUNK: The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate to regulate the “waters of the United States” does not extend to all of its wetlands. The case centered on a proposal to develop land in the Idaho panhandle, but the ruling has national implications. It limits the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate wetlands to those that have a “continuous surface connection” to a larger body of water.
Graduates of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore got a surprise at their graduation ceremony: the commencement address was given by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Speaking on a livestream from Ukraine, Zelensky told the graduates: “Time is the most valuable resource on the planet. Some people realize this sooner and these are the lucky ones. Others realize it too late, when they lose someone or something.”

🏀NBA CELTICS 110 HEAT 97: Boston Celtics blow out the Miami Heat 110-97 for a second consecutive game as they chase NBA history... after FOUR players score over 20 points in Game 5 rout at TD Garden Jaylen Brown & Jayson Tatum had 21pts, Marcus Smart: 23 & Derrick White: 24. Boston has now avoided elimination in back-to-back games ahead of G6 in MIA .

⚾MLB METS WIN:  Pete Alonso hits major league-leading 19th home run as Mets dismantle Cubs 10-1, while Blue Jays call for team meeting after losing ways continue with 6-3 defeat by Blue Jays. Rougned Odor hit a two-out three-run homer off Hunter Harvey the ninth inning. The Mets improved to 12-0 when their starting pitcher goes at least six innings 

⚾MLB RAYS 6, BLUE JAYS 3: Zach Eflin joined a special group with his latest win. Eflin became major leagues' third seven-game winner as Tampa Bay beat struggling Alek Manoah and Toronto 6-3 as the Rays took three of four from the Blue Jays. Eflin (7-1) allowed one run and six hits in seven innings as the major league-leading Rays (37-15) stole seven bases for the second time this season and improved to 24-5 at home. He joined teammate Shane McClanahan (8-0) and Minnesota's Joe Ryan (7-1) as the big leagues' winningest pitchers.

⚾MLB ORIOLES SWEEP YANKEES: Kyle Gibson allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings, as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Yankees 3-1 to take two of three games from New York. Anthony Santander had three hits, including an RBI single in the fifth off Clarke Schmidt (2-5). Austin Hays hit a two-run double in the eighth against Clay Holmes, a drive off the top of the right-field wall. Gibson (6-3) entered 1-6 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 outings against the Yankees. He allowed a first-pitch single to Gleyber Torres leading off the first and a single to Willie Calhoun leading off the seventh. Gibson worked around four walks and struck out three, getting 13 outs from ground balls.

⚾BOONE TOSSED EARLY: The manager was ejected for the second time in four games — and third time in the last 10 — in a 3-1 loss to the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.  Boone was tossed by home-plate umpire Edwin Moscoso for arguing balls and strikes in the middle of the third inning, with Statcast showing at least several pitches by Clarke Schmidt that were called balls were in the strike zone.  “I should not have been thrown out of that game,’’ Boone said.  The manager said he was surprised by the ejection and he was more upset by that — and Moscoso’s “dismissive” behavior — than the calls themselves. 


  • Rays 6 Blue Jays 3
  • Braves 8 Phillies 5
  • Cardinals 2 Reds 1
  • Padres 8 Nationals 6
  • Tigers 7 White Sox 2
  • Giants 5 Brewers 0
  • Mariners 3 Athletics 2
🏈RAIDERS’ GAROPPOLO RECOVERING FROM SURGERY: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo underwent foot surgery in March, shortly after moving from the San Francisco 49ers to the Las Vegas Raiders, according to a report from The Athletic. He had fractured his foot in December during a game against the Miami Dolphins. Niners doctors determined that he didn’t need surgery. Raiders doctors thought otherwise. There’s some hope that he’ll be ready for training camp in July.

🏈PATRIOTS CAUGHT BREAKING THE RULES AGAIN: The New England Patriots have been forced to cancel two days of practice as a penalty for violating offseason rules, according to a report from ESPN. The league has punished the team in the past at least twice, for infractions known as Spygate and Deflategate. This time, team management was found to have illegally videotaped a New York Jets coach’s hand signals on the sidelines during a game.

🏎BIG WEEKEND FOR MOTOR SPORTS: This Sunday will be the biggest day of the year for motor sports, with the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, North Carolina, all scheduled. It’s the 107th year for the Indy 500, which will air on NBC and Universo and live-stream on Peacock.

➤FORECAST OUT FOR HURRICANE SEASON: NOAA forecasters predict a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season over the next six months, with 12 to 17 large storms. Some of those are expected to become hurricanes.  The large storms have winds of 39 mph or higher. Of those, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday that they expect five to nine to become hurricanes, which have winds of 74 mph or higher. As many as four could be a Category 3 hurricane or higher, meaning winds above 111 mph.  NOAA forecasters said it has a 70% confidence in its ranges. 

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