The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness
The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

House GOP, Dems take two roads to curb leadership fights

The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1978, Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D-Calif.), and four others were killed in Jonestown, Guyana, by members of the Peoples Temple. Rep. Jackie Speier, then an aide to Ryan, was shot five times. The cult proceeded to commit a mass murder and suicide that claimed the lives of more than 900 of its members.

The big idea

House GOP, Dems take two roads to curb leadership fights

With the House of Representatives narrowly in GOP hands come January, Republicans and Democrats are seemingly using two different strategies to keep the process of picking leaders in the coming Congress turn into damaging internal conflicts. One, both, or neither may work.

  • Democrats have embraced a hand-off strategy that seems designed to ensure continuity, even as the party embraces a generational changing of the guard that will see a new crop of leaders who are at least three decades younger than their predecessors.
  • Republicans have shoveled concessions at their hard-right members in an effort to avoid a mutiny that might endanger, and would certainly weaken, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who remains the odds-on favorite for the speakership come January.

On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the only woman to be second in line for the presidency, said she would not be her party’s leader in the new Congress, saying “the hour’s come for a new generation to lead.”

“Shortly after her announcement, it became clear that a new generation of Democrats was stepping in to take the torch,” Marianna Sotomayor and Paul Kane reported in this deeply researched look at Pelosi’s time as the most consequential modern speaker.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, announced a bid today for House minority leader. If elected, the 52-year-old would be the first Black person to lead a party in Congress. He “has long been seen as a potential heir when Pelosi stepped down,” Marianna and Paul wrote.

  • Reps. Katherine M. Clark (Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (Calif.), who will seek the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, respectively. Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.) would stay on as assistant leader, a position that used to be third in line, but will now be fourth in the leadership structure.
  • Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) “announced he would not seek reelection to leadership and endorsed Jeffries for the top spot,” Marianna and Paul reported.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Democrats’ Progressive Caucus, had been whispered in the Capitol as a possible contender for one of the top jobs. In her statement on Pelosi stepping down, she did not announce a bid for leadership. On Friday, she announced she would seek her current job again.

The McCarthy method

On the Republican side, things look a little dicier. McCarthy easily carried the internal party selection of a speaker this week, winning a 188-31 vote. But he’ll need 218 “ayes” in early January, at a time when the GOP may only have 222 or 223 seats.

My colleague Michael Kranish chronicled McCarthy’s rise in this excellent portrait that zeroes in on how the current House minority leader has worked “to unify his caucus even if that meant embracing [former president Donald] Trump’s election falsehoods and supporting the ouster of his onetime loyal deputy, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, after she voted to impeach Trump.”

And that may be why the first big announcements from Republicans this week were not about traditional party goals like lower taxes or industry-friendly deregulation but investigations into President Biden, his administration, and in particular his son Hunter.

It’s the red-meat approach. The House GOP had previewed it in January 2022 with promises of using committee chair powers to open probes into Hunter Biden’s finances, and the White House’s policies on the border, or the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Over at NPR, Deirdre Walsh and Ximena Bustillo wrote up Thursday’s news conference by the likely Republican chairs of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, Rep. James Comer (Ky.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), who promised all manner of investigations.

“Full steam ahead,” Comer said, according to Deirdre and Ximena, who noted the congressman leveled a lot of charges of wrongdoing at the Bidens but did not provide evidence.

At the Washington Free Beacon, Adam Kredo spoke to the incoming chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, who also promised a range of investigations into the Biden administration.

Possibly on the list, according to Kredo: The origins of the coronavirus pandemic, errors during the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the administration’s dealings with China.

As they proceed, it’s worth noting how McCarthy has described congressional investigations in the past, notably the probes into the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. post in Benghazi, Libya, when future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

At the time, McCarthy’s conservative bona fides were under attack. So he bragged that the GOP-led investigations had damaged Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

What’s happening now

Jeffries announces bid for House Democratic leader that would make history

Today, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries announced a bid for House Democratic leader in a generational shift that would make history. If elected by fellow House Democrats — as expected — the 52-year-old New Yorker would be the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress,” John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro report.

More: Who is Hakeem Jeffries?

Saudi crown prince immune from Khashoggi killing lawsuit, U.S. says

“The Biden administration has determined that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the CIA has held responsible for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, is immune from a civil lawsuit filed in the United States by Khashoggi’s fiance and a human rights organization he founded,” Karen DeYoung reports.

Prosecutor uses Stewart Rhodes’s words to close Oath Keepers trial

“Closing arguments began Friday morning in the seditious conspiracy trial of Rhodes and four associates of the extremist group he founded, capping the highest-profile prosecution to arise from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol,” Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman report.

Katherine Clark to announce bid to be number two in House Democratic leadership

“Clark’s move is part of Democrats’ desire to quickly establish a new set of leaders after having the same three members at the top — Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) — for 16 years,” Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

North Korea fires suspected intercontinental ballistic missile

North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile Friday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, as tensions between Pyongyang and Washington escalated further amid U.S. efforts to strengthen coordination with its allies in Seoul and Tokyo,” Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

In rural America, the crisis of disappearing reproductive care steals lives

The nation is in a maternal mortality and morbidity crisis that grows year after year and is particularly acute in rural communities, where it is normal for the nearest hospital to be a long drive away and poverty is too often prevalent,” Akilah Johnson reports.

  • “Each year, tens of thousands of people experience unexpected pregnancy complications — cardiovascular issues, hypertension, diabetes — and about 700 die, making pregnancy and childbirth among the leading causes of death for teenage girls and women 15 to 44 years old.”
  • Black women are three times as likely to die as a result of pregnancy as White women, and Native American women are more than twice as likely to die, disparities that persist regardless of income, education and other socioeconomic factors.”

A look at Pelosi’s two decades in leadership

“Her decision to not seek reelection as the top Democrat in Congress’s lower chamber marks the culmination of a political career widely seen as setting the standard for wielding political power. Historians largely agree that Pelosi redefined the speakership, and she made history climbing the ranks of Democratic leadership, becoming the first woman to be second in line to the presidency — twice,” Marianna Sotomayor and Paul Kane report.

… and beyond

'You’ve gotta have a war every five or 10 years’

“It’s not every day that a senator quotes a famous mob movie to describe the state of his political party after a week of infighting,Politico’s Burgess Everett reports.

You’ve gotta have a war every five or 10 years to get rid of the bad blood,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said, paraphrasing a line from “The Godfather” to paint a picture of Senate Republicans. “And then you start over.”

Why Jerome Powell could be the most important person in Washington between now and 2024

“Even from a cynical Wall Street perspective, there are two upcoming challenges that policymakers will need to address decisively: the expiration of the debt ceiling and the threat (and perhaps the reality) of a recession. In both cases, the House Republicans seem likely to sit on their hands, hoping that a bad economy will help them in 2024. The onus to get something done, though, will fall on the Biden White House, and a Washington policymaker who doesn’t face party-political constraints: Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve,” the New Yorker’s John Cassidy writes.

The Biden agenda

U.S.-China economic ties continue to fray, despite Biden-Xi meeting

“Business groups applauded Biden and Xi for stepping back from open confrontation and said planned follow-up meetings between senior U.S. and Chinese officials could herald further improvement. But, at least for now, the relationship between the world’s two largest economies seems stuck midway between rupture and rapprochement,” David J. Lynch reports.

Inside the White House’s months of prep-work for a GOP investigative onslaught

“While President Joe Biden and Democrats campaigned to preserve their congressional majorities, a small team of attorneys, communications strategists and legislative specialists have spent the past few months holed up in Washington preparing  for the alternative, two administration officials said,” CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Priscilla Alvarez, Jeremy Herb, Sean Lyngaas, Zachary Cohen and Kylie Atwood report.

  • “The preparations, largely run out of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House, are among the earliest and most comprehensive by any administration ahead of a midterm election and highlight how far-reaching and aggressive Republican investigations are expected to be.”

Biden administration to make it easier to dismiss student loans in bankruptcy

“The Biden administration on Thursday released new guidelines that will make it easier for economically distressed student loan borrowers to discharge their student debt in bankruptcy proceedings,” the Wall Street Journal’s Gabriel T. Rubin reports.

How Republican control of the House came into focus, visualized

“Republicans have regained control of the U.S. House following eight days of vote counting. The determination of who would get a majority took four days longer than it took to call the presidential election in 2020,Adrian Blanco reports.

Hot on the left

Lake refuses to concede in Arizona governor’s race she lost

“Refusing to concede, Kari Lake, the defeated Republican candidate for Arizona governor, said Thursday she is assembling lawyers and collecting evidence of voters having trouble casting ballots on Election Day as she considers her next move,” the AP’s Jonathan J. Cooper reports.

Lake, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, traveled to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Thursday, her campaign spokesman told The Associated Press. The Washington Post first reported that she attended a luncheon held by the America First Policy Institute, an advocacy group created by former Trump advisers.”

Hot on the right

Will Trump’s former faith advisers back his 2024 candidacy?

“When Trump announced yet another White House bid from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Nov. 15, 2022, he did so with a speech devoid of overt religious references. It was unclear if the event included an invocation, and while some of Trump’s stalwart evangelical supporters were seen milling about the resort’s carpeted floors Tuesday evening — namely, conservative commentator Eric Metaxas, pastor Mark Burns and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell — many of the former president’s longtime religious defenders were nowhere to be seen,” Jack Jenkins writes.

“Instead, most have remained silent about his new campaign, while others have hinted at allegiances to other potential 2024 presidential contenders such as [Mike] Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.”

Today in Washington

At 1:30 p.m., Biden will meet with business and labor leaders. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen will also attend.

In closing

A wedding at the White House? This weekend won’t be the first or last.

“When presidential granddaughter Naomi King Biden and Peter George Heermann Neal get married on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday, they will join a short list of couples, including presidential children, nieces and friends, and one president (Grover Cleveland), whose wedding days were celebrated in a residence that is a cultural icon,” Jura Koncius and Roxanne Roberts report.

More: What to know about Naomi Biden’s White House wedding

Thanks for reading. See you next week.