Your daily analysis of trending topics in state government. The snark is nonpartisan.
A separate section just for Matt Gaetz
I tried to open with the least political story of the bunch, but even that one is … kind of political, forcing me to scrap my extremely witty apolitical intro for, well, this. (You’re welcome.) (I am a professional writer!) Still, it’s the only story that does not use terms like “libs” or “parents’ rights,” so it will remain in the coveted first space. Congratulations, New Hampshire! You’ve made it!
So there's that
The federal government remains open (for now), thanks mostly to congressional Democrats, who stepped in Saturday to pass a temporary funding plan after it became clear that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) would not be able to wrangle his unruly caucus in time to avert a shutdown. The plan will fund the government at its current levels through Nov. 17 but does not allocate funding for military and humanitarian efforts in Ukraine in concession to far-right Republicans, most of whom voted against it anyway, our D.C. bureau reported.
To the 2%: WHY?
The stalemate comes just four months after the last time House Republicans threatened to throw the country into turmoil. That debacle ended after prolonged and painful negotiations between McCarthy and President Joe Biden produced a compromise spending plan to fund the federal government through the next fiscal year. This month, far-right House lawmakers reneged on that agreement, seeking additional spending cuts that are anathema to Biden, Democratic lawmakers and a good portion of congressional Republicans. And those demands keep changing, leaving legislative leaders (including McCarthy, whose entire job consists of reconciling these situations before they spill into public view) confused about what, exactly, might end the standoff.
Life in limbo
It’s been well over a year since a federal agency accidentally ignited what would become the biggest wildfire of 2022 in the continental United States. Most of the people who lost everything to the blaze still haven’t seen a dime from a compensation fund approved by Congress last winter.
Perpetual spooky season
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 77-19 to advance a continuing resolution that would fund the government through Nov. 17 and direct billions of dollars to both Ukraine and U.S. disaster relief efforts, which is nice except that it’s not clear if the proposal will clear the chamber in time to avert a shutdown and because the Senate is, for once, not the problem. The problem is the House, by which I mean the problem is, as usual, Kevin McCarthy, our D.C. bureau reported.
I ALREADY SAID NO
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rebuffed Alabama Republicans for the second time in three months, denying their latest attempt to use a gerrymandered congressional map that includes only one majority-Black district. The court issued its edict via two one-sentence orders, dismissing without explanation an emergency request from lawmakers to block lower court rulings invalidating the maps. There were no noted dissenting votes, the Alabama Reflector reported.
It also, occasionally, has a cruel sense of irony, as the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe knows all too well. Members of the tribe live in century-old adobe homes in what’s now known as Death Valley National Park, where Hurricane Hilary dumped 2.2 inches of rainfall in a single day, nearly eclipsing the park’s annual precipitation average and shattering the area’s previous one-day record of 1.70 inches. The deluge flooded the perimeter of the tribe’s village, leaving residents trapped on an island of dry land for two days before park officials constructed an emergency road, the Nevada Current reported.
Literally anywhere other than the embroidered jacket
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and his wife Nadine were indicted Friday on federal bribery charges over allegedly accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” — including literal bars of gold — to flex his political muscle on behalf of the Egyptian government and a trio of New Jersey businessmen. The indictment is the second for Menendez, who was acquitted in a 2017 corruption trial after the jury deadlocked, the New Jersey Monitor reported.
The good, the bad, the Trump
A psychiatric hospital in Oregon on Wednesday announced changes to its transportation policies after an “extremely dangerous” patient escaped and careened down the interstate in a state-owned van on his first day at the facility. The changes were mandated by a federal inspector who investigated the incident and found that vehicles and transport protocols at the Oregon State Hospital posed an “immediate” threat of injury or death, the Oregon Capital Chronicle reported.
I KNOW IT EXISTS
Let’s start with a quick primer on the Electronic Registration Information Center, both because it is pretty wonky and because I cannot refer to my own previous explanation so I, too, need a refresher. The group, known as ERIC, is a nonprofit organization that was launched in 2012 by election officials from seven states — red and blue — with the goal of improving the accuracy of voter registration rolls, improving outreach, and reducing the likelihood of illegal voting. Broadly, the program works by comparing a state’s voter registration records and motor vehicle data to death records and change of address databases, then compiling a report with any overlaps. It’s effective, and historically popular — at its peak, the group counted 31 states as members.
The days are long but the years are also very long
I don’t really know what day it is, which is fine — time marches on, but the political idiocy stays the same. (Or maybe it gets worse. I honestly can’t tell anymore.) (I’m pretty sure it’s Monday.)