Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 17, 2022

Republicans take control of the House, marriage equality bill clears key Senate hurdle, and more

1

Republicans take control of the House

Republicans took their 218th House seat, enough to take control of the chamber with a thin majority and split power in Washington, The Associated Press projected Wednesday. In the race that put the GOP over the top, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) beat a challenge by Democrat Christy Smith in a California district President Biden carried easily in 2020. Republicans only needed to flip five seats to win back control of the House, which they narrowly managed to do despite falling short of the "red wave" they once expected. Democrats held onto their majority in the Senate, where they have 50 seats to the Republicans' 49, with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) facing GOP challenger Herschel Walker in a December runoff.

2

Senate overcomes filibuster threat to advance marriage equality bill

The Senate voted Wednesday to advance a bill seeking to allow federal protection for same-sex marriage. Twelve Republicans voted with every Democrat in the 62-37 vote, indicating that the legislation had enough support to avoid a filibuster and pass by the end of the week. Supporters said the marriage-equality bill would provide relief to same-sex and mixed-race couples who fear they could lose their rights. "This legislation unites Americans," said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), the only senator who identifies as a lesbian. Several Republicans decided to support the legislation after Baldwin, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and several other senators proposed an amendment addressing religious freedom. The House would have to pass the bill again with the religious-freedom provisions added.

3

NATO says Russia probably didn't fire missile that killed 2 in Poland

Poland and NATO said Wednesday that the missile that landed on Polish territory, killing two people near the Ukraine border, was probably not launched by Russia, but was likely a Ukrainian air defense missile fired in response to a series of Russian missile strikes across Ukraine. "We have no evidence at the moment that it was a rocket launched by Russian forces," Polish President Andrzej Duda told reporters. "However, there are many indications that it was a missile that was used by Ukraine's antimissile defense." World leaders said the accident was not Kyiv's fault, because it fired the missile to defend itself against Russian cruise missile attacks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his military commanders assured him it was "not our missile."

4

University of Virginia cancels last home football game after 3 players murdered

The University of Virginia on Wednesday canceled the Cavaliers' final home football game of the season after three players — Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D'Sean Perry — were killed, and two other students were wounded in a shooting on a bus that had returned to campus from a field trip. The suspect, student and former football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., made his first court appearance and was denied bond on Wednesday. UVA student Ryan Lynch told CNN affiliate KYW-TV she was on the bus, and saw Jones push one of the players. Lynch said Jones pushed Davis and "was like 'You guys are always messing with me'... but it was very bizarre because they didn't talk to him the whole trip."

5

Mitch McConnell beats Rick Scott in GOP Senate leadership vote

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won a secret-ballot election to stay on as the Republican leader in the Senate, surviving a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). McConnell said he was "pretty proud" of the 37-10-1 victory. It was the first time anyone challenged him in his 15 years as leader of the GOP conference. He is now on track to become the longest-serving Senate party leader in the nation's history. "I don't own this job. Anybody who wants to run for it can feel free to do so," McConnell said. "I'm not in any way offended by having an opponent or having a few votes in opposition." 

6

Karen Bass becomes 1st woman elected mayor of L.A.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) defeated billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso in the Los Angeles mayor's race, The Associated Press projected Wednesday. Bass, 69, will be the first woman and only the second Black person to serve as mayor of the California city in its 241-year history. A former nurse, she was speaker of the California Assembly before moving to Congress, where she was elected to six terms. Bass led with 53.1 percent to Caruso's 46.9 percent with more than 70 percent of the vote counted. Caruso, a 63-year-old former member of the Los Angeles Police Commission, was known across the city for building upscale shopping centers like The Grove. He spent $100 million of his own fortune on his campaign.

7

Wrong-way driver hits group of L.A. sheriff's recruits

A driver plowed a vehicle into a group of Los Angeles County sheriff's cadets who were running near a training academy in Whittier, California, injuring 25 of the recruits, five of them critically. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the injuries ranged from head trauma to "loss of limb." Authorities said the recruits typically run in group formation behind a vehicle, although it wasn't immediately clear whether they were wearing high-visibility clothing. The small SUV reportedly was traveling the wrong way, and the 22-year-old driver, who didn't appear to slow down, was detained. "It made me just sick when I heard [about] it," Supervisor Janice Hahn told KABC-TV. "I'm just hoping and praying that they all come through it."

8

Russia agrees to extend Ukraine grain deal

Russia has agreed to renew the deal that has allowed the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday. The U.N. announcement sent grain prices falling, with wheat and corn prices down 1.7 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet that the extension was a "key decision in the global fight against the food crisis." The deal had been set to expire this weekend. Moscow hasn't made a public statement about the status of the agreement, which Turkey helped negotiate after Russia's invasion of Ukraine left the country's grains trapped at ports, driving up food prices around the world.

9

Musk gives Twitter employees ultimatum

Elon Musk on Wednesday told Twitter employees to commit to a new "hardcore" version of the social media company or quit with severance pay. The email, which The Washington Post obtained, gave workers an icon to click and gave them until Thursday to say whether they would stick around as Musk transformed Twitter into a more engineer-driven platform. "This will mean working long hours at high intensity," he said. Members of Twitter's Trust and Safety team tasked with blocking hate speech and misinformation were debating whether to resign en masse, the Post reported, citing three current employees speaking anonymously. Musk said Wednesday he would eventually hire someone else to run Twitter, which he acquired last month.

10

Centenarian who danced with Obamas dies at 113

Virginia McLaurin, who danced with the Obamas in the White House at age 106, has died, The New York Times reported Wednesday. McLaurin died peacefully Monday at age 113, after receiving hospice care in Maryland, according to her family and Deborah Menkart, a friend who helped arrange the White House visit with then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. McLaurin, the daughter of Black sharecroppers, had been living in Washington, D.C., for decades when she was invited to a Black History Month reception at the White House. McLaurin clapped her hands in joy when she met the Obamas, saying she was "so happy" to see a Black couple occupying the White House, and telling the Obamas they "made my day."

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