Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 7, 2023

Kevin McCarthy elected House speaker following raucous debate proceedings, Tensions boil over between Republicans on House floor as stalemate ends, and more

1

Kevin McCarthy elected House speaker following raucous debate proceedings

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected speaker of the House just past midnight on Saturday morning on the 15th ballot, following a period of raucous and even physically charged debate between the GOP's House majority and a group of Republican holdouts. While the week-long process to elect a speaker seemed to cast doubt on the ability of the GOP to effectively govern in Congress, McCarthy remained optimistic, telling the gathered House members, "Now the hard work begins." The new speaker also pledged to begin investigations into President Biden and the Democrats, promising to issue subpoenas where necessary. However, the historic 14-ballot failure for McCarthy, unseen for over a century, notably puts a shadow over his speakership.

2

Tensions boil over between Republicans on House floor as stalemate ends

Following the 14th round of ballots, in which Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had still been unable to get himself elected speaker, tempers appeared to flare on the House floor between warring factions of Republicans. After the votes were cast, and it was determined that McCarthy had not yet garnered enough tallies to be elected, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), a staunch ally of McCarthy, was seen on video angrily approaching Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of the notable GOP holdouts against the Californian. Rogers had to be physically restrained by fellow lawmakers as he walked up to Gaetz, with the two appearing to get into a heated argument as tensions reached a boiling point. 

3

Biden honors Jan. 6 police officers on 2-year anniversary of attack

President Biden on Friday marked the 2-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol with a ceremony at the White House. During the proceedings, Biden honored a slate of police officers, election workers, and local officials who had worked to uphold democracy amidst the unprecedented assault on the nation's headquarters. "America owes you, owes you all — I really mean this — a debt, a debt of gratitude," Biden said. "One we can never fully repay unless we live up to what you did." The president also awarded those in attendance with the Presidential Citizens Medal, one of the country's highest civilian honors. 

4

George Santos sworn into Congress as investigations, calls to resign continue

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) was sworn into Congress early Saturday morning following the election of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The 34-year-old Santos has made international headlines amidst revelations that he had fabricated large portions of his resume and information about his personal life, later admitting that he had lied about numerous details during his campaign. Even as he was sworn in, it appeared that Santos was very much a lone wolf among the GOP, with many in the party not wanting to be associated with him. Strong calls for his resignation, particularly among Democrats, have continued, as has an investigation into alleged criminal activity that he undertook when living in Brazil. 

5

Virginia teacher shot and wounded by 6-year-old in classroom

A schoolteacher was shot and wounded on Friday by a six-year-old during an altercation in a first-grade classroom, police officials in the city of Newport News, Virginia said. Law enforcement said that the teacher, an unidentified woman in her 30s, was taken to the hospital with a life-threatening gunshot wound and remains in critical condition. Police Chief Steve Drew said the shooting, which took place at Richneck Elementary School, did not appear to be accidental, though it was unclear why the suspect decided to shoot his teacher. Drew added that he wanted to know how the handgun used could have ended up in the possession of a six-year-old child, and said an investigation was underway. 

6

Iran executes two more protesters accused of killing security official

Iranian officials on Saturday executed a pair of men that had been accused of killing a member of the nation's security forces during the ongoing protests that followed the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The two men, identified by the state-run IRNA news agency as Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, were described as "principal perpetrators of the crime that led to the unjust martyrdom [of the security officer]." Karami and Hosseini had previously been convicted of the crime in court, though it should be noted that Iran has been reportedly holding sham trials for many of the accused. This marks the latest in a series of executed dissidents accused of assaulting Iranian security forces. 

7

McDonald’s planning job cuts and company reorganization, CEO says

McDonald's is planning a slate of job cuts amidst an effort to reorganize its company, the restaurant chain's CEO, Chris Kempczinski, told employees Friday. "We will evaluate roles and staffing levels in parts of the organization and there will be difficult discussions and decisions ahead," Kempczinski wrote in a memo. "Certain initiatives will be de-prioritized or stopped altogether. This will help us move faster as an organization, while reducing our global costs and freeing up resources to invest in our growth." The CEO noted that the layoffs were not a cost-cutting measure, but an effort to help the company run more efficiently. McDonald's is also planning a large slate of new restaurants to be opened throughout 2023, Kempczinski said. 

8

Dodgers cut ties with Trevor Bauer following suspension for domestic violence allegations

The Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday officially cut ties with starting pitcher Trevor Bauer amidst ongoing sexual assault and domestic violence allegations. The former Cy Young Award winner was previously handed an unheard-of 324-game suspension — a full two-year ban from baseball. While an independent arbitrator trimmed the suspension nearly in half, this ruling allowed the Dodgers to open a 14-day window in which they could choose to cancel Bauer's contract. Los Angeles decided to part ways with their former star, though they still owe the pitcher a $22.5 million salary from the final year of his contract. "The Dodgers organization believes that allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence should be thoroughly investigated," the team said in a statement. 

9

Bills’ Damar Hamlin has breathing tube removed, begins talking as recovery continues

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on Friday had his breathing tube removed and was able to begin talking with his family and teammates. Hamlin, 24, fell victim to a freak accident during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals last week when a collision with another player stopped his heart. While CPR was administered on the field, and medics were able to revive him, Hamlin remained in critical condition as concern brewed over his cognitive and physical state. However, he began to show signs of improvement later in the week, and was reportedly aware of what had happened to him. Teams around the NFL continue to honor Hamlin as he works toward a full recovery. 

10

Mega Millions jackpot passes $1 billion after no winner is drawn

For those feeling lucky, the Mega Millions lottery is once again poised to change someone's life, as the jackpot ballooned to $1.1 billion, passing the billion-dollar mark after no winners were pulled from Friday night's drawing. The next drawing will take place this coming Tuesday. Nobody has won the Mega Millions jackpot since this past October, when people in California and Florida split a $502 million prize, game officials said. The jackpot has been growing ever since. If someone were to win the top prize, it would be the third-largest haul in Mega Millions history. However, the odds of winning this jackpot are just one in 302.6 million, a figure that doesn't seem to allow for much luck.

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