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In today’s edition: Israel and Hamas extend their truce but the prospect of an Israeli operation in ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
sunny Washington
sunny Atlanta
sunny Tel Aviv
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November 28, 2023


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Today in D.C.
  1. Truce extension
  2. Border talks make progress
  3. Dems will move to expel Santos
  4. George Santos succession
  5. GOP senators’ ACA repeal skepticism
  6. Rosalynn Carter remembered

PDB: Argentina president-elect Milei’s meetings in the U.S.

Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony tonight … Senate Dems met with IDF officials … WSJ: Aid groups say Gaza in ‘chaos’

— edited by Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann and Morgan Chalfant


Truce extended but southern Gaza campaign looms

REUTERS / Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The four-day truce between Israel and Hamas that was set to end Monday is getting an extension. In a deal brokered by Qatar and Egypt, the White House says the terrorist group will return another 20 hostages over the next two days. On Monday, 11 hostages were released by Hamas, all of them Israeli women and children. No additional Americans have yet been released, but U.S. officials are hopeful that the extension of the pause in fighting could see more freed. The U.S. is also “taking full advantage of the pause in fighting to increase the amount of humanitarian aid moving into Gaza,” President Biden said in a statement. On Tuesday, the first of three U.S. military relief flights containing medical supplies, food, and winter garments will land in Egypt for the U.N. to move into Gaza, a senior administration official said.

The White House wants to see the pause extended further to allow for more hostage releases, but it’s unclear how long it will last. Israel wants to press forward with its military campaign, with plans to target southern Gaza next. The White House has stressed to the Israelis that its campaign against the south must avoid significantly displacing civilians, a second official said. “You cannot have the sort of scale of displacement that took place in the north replicated in the south. It will be beyond disruptive. It will be beyond the capacity of any humanitarian support network,” the official said. “It can’t happen.”

Morgan Chalfant


Senators get closer to an asylum deal

Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Senate’s high-stakes border enforcement talks are making more progress, says one key negotiator. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. told reporters Monday that lawmakers are getting closer to an agreement to tighten requirements for asylum applicants, which could lead to fewer individuals crossing the southern border. But there’s still significant disagreement over another potential make-or-break issue: Putting new limits on parole rules that allow migrants to enter the country temporarily while their cases are pending. “It’s not like the Democrats are completely against it, but drafting it and getting something that makes sense and satisfies Republicans is difficult,” Tillis said, according to Politico. Republicans have demanded major changes to border policy as a condition for approving new military aid to Ukraine. While the discussions are taking place in the Senate, House Speaker Mike Johnson sounded optimistic about the direction of talks Monday. “There’s been a lot of thoughtful negotiation ongoing on that,” he said. “I think most of our Senate colleagues realize that those two things [Ukraine and border security] move together.” One sign talks might be getting more serious: Punchbowl News reports this morning that the bipartisan group of senators spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this past weekend.


Democrats to force vote on expelling Santos

REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz

The House is about to get one step closer to potentially giving Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. the boot. Two Democrats — Reps. Robert Garcia, D-Calif. and Dan Goldman, D-N.Y. — are planning to pull the trigger today on a procedural move that will force a vote on whether to expel the Long Islander before the end of the week. However, it’s not entirely clear that there are enough votes to send Santos packing; a new sign of resistance emerged Monday, when Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La. circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter excoriating the House Ethics Committee’s recent report that accused the recently indicted congressman of stealing from his own campaign. In it, Higgins voiced “serious concerns” about how the inquiry was handled and urged members to “carefully consider” the precedent they would set by removing Santos from his seat (the ethics panel’s investigations have not led to expulsions in the past.) Still, Garcia expressed confidence in his effort, and said he had discussed it with GOP freshmen from New York who’d previously tried to expel Santos. “I agree with very little of what the Republican freshmen want to do for the country, but on this issue, we agree,” Garcia said.

Kadia Goba


The race to replace George Santos features two Jewish child refugees

REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz

As Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., stares down his possible final week in the House, the race to succeed him is heating up. His departure would trigger a special election, with the local party committees choosing the nominees. Former state senator Anna Kaplan, a Democrat, has raised $1 million since announcing her run in May, her campaign told Semafor. “I am running because, after being represented by a fraud and extremist like George Santos, New Yorkers want to be represented by an honest member of Congress who will protect womens’ reproductive freedom and pass common sense gun laws, just as I did in the New York State Senate,” Kaplan said in a statement. But she faces a tough fight on the Democratic side from Tom Suozzi, who previously represented the district and ran for governor in 2022. On the other side of the aisle, Mazi Melesa Pilip, a Jewish Nassau County legislator who was born in Ethiopia, airlifted to Israel as a child, and who served in the military there, is seen as an increasingly intriguing option, according to multiple Republicans familiar with party discussions. Both Pilip and Kaplan, who was born to a Jewish family in Iran and came to America as a 13-year old refugee, have emphasized their personal experiences confronting antisemitism (Santos has been accused of faking Holocaust survivor grandparents). Other potential GOP picks include retired NYPD detective Mike Sapraicone and former J.P. Morgan exec and Afghanistan veteran Kellen Curry. Democrats shouldn’t assume it will be a walk in the park: The migrant crisis continues to be a drag on the party in the area.

— Kadia Goba


GOP senators sound cool on ACA repeal after Trump comments

REUTERS / Julia Nikhinson

Donald Trump says he wants to take another shot at repealing Obamacare, but some Republican senators are saying not so fast, Joseph Zeballos-Roig reports. “I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of three Republicans who voted in 2017 against partially eliminating the Affordable Care Act, told reporters on Monday. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio told Semafor that key parts of the law, such as its protections for patients with preexisting conditions, were “broadly popular” and that he didn’t think “there’s any effort to change them.” It’s not surprising that Republicans would want to avoid a repeat of its failed 2017 repeal push, which consumed months of energy and helped sink the party in the following year’s midterms. But not every Republican is ruling it out: Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas called the ACA “a fraud committed on the American people” and told Semafor he’d be interested in hearing Trump’s plan. And even if they aren’t up for wholesale repeal, some Republicans sound up for potential reforms. “Clearly the program could be improved, and I’m always open to improvement,” Collins said.


Washington flocks to Georgia for Carter service

John Bazemore / Pool via REUTERS

Every living current and former first lady will be in Atlanta today to celebrate the life of former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who passed away last week at the age of 96. According to the Carter Center, the “tribute service” will be held at a church on the campus of Emory University. President Biden, Vice President Harris, former President Bill Clinton, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp are all among the expected attendees. Former President Jimmy Carter, who himself entered hospice in February, is also planning on attending the service for his wife of 77 years. The Carters’ daughter, grandson, and great-grandchildren will all perform readings, while the former first lady’s longtime aide Kathryn Cade and broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff are due to give tributes, according to the Carter Center. A funeral will take place Wednesday in Plains, Ga. at Maranatha Baptist Church, where Jimmy Carter used to teach Sunday school, after which the former first lady will be buried at their home in a private ceremony.

Morgan Chalfant

Live Journalism

Dec 5 | Principals Live with Mathias Döpfner | Virtual
Join Semafor’s Founding Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons and Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner for a virtual conversation about the role of trade in autocracies. Döpfner’s latest book, The Trade Trap, argues that free trade has strengthened dictators while undermining a rules-based world order. RSVP to get the link to watch.

Dec 7 | Finding Common Ground on AI: A Bicoastal Exchange | Washington, D.C.
The East and West Coasts are talking about the future differently: On one coast, there is a mix of optimism and fear that AI will become too powerful and one day threaten humanity. On the other, AI is viewed as the latest tech invention that threatens to upend society. While Silicon Valley is reimagining a world with generative AI at the center, Washington is looking to reign it in. RSVP to join us in Washington D.C.

Dec 13 | The State of Made in America | Washington, D.C.
On Dec. 13, Join Semafor’s editors for a convening of the top voices and policy practitioners across government, labor, business and beyond to explore critical and timely debates around how manufacturing capacity, supply chain production, and trade policies are changing the American and global economy. RSVP to join us in Washington D.C.


Beltway Newsletters

Punchbowl News: Senior Israel Defense Forces officials briefed Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill on Monday, as a growing number of Democrats express concerns about Israel’s military operation in Gaza. The “candid” meeting was organized by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. and the Israeli embassy and “focused on the operational aspects and objectives of Israel’s war against Hamas.”

Playbook: Hunter Biden, facing indictments and congressional investigations, has shifted his defense strategy, “directly taking on his adversaries with lawsuits and a PR campaign that includes op-eds in big media outlets.” The more aggressive approach has put off some in the White House.

The Early 202: The Biden administration and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are trying to pick up the pace of confirming new judges, which has fallen behind that of the Trump administration: The Senate has confirmed 154 judges during President Biden’s term, compared with 164 by this point in Donald Trump’s tenure.

Axios: CIA Director Bill Burns is meeting with his counterpart from Israel’s Mossad, David Barnea, and Qatar’s prime minister in Doha today to talk about further extensions of the truce between Israel and Hamas.

White House

  • After President Biden stops in Georgia, he’ll continue on to Colorado for a trip to GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert’s district that was rescheduled from earlier this fall.
  • Argentine President-elect Javier Milei is visiting Washington, where he’ll sit down with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and senior Treasury officials on Tuesday. A Treasury spokesperson said the meeting will be focused on Milei’s economic priorities (he’s promised to put his country through “shock therapy” and replace its currency with the U.S. dollar). The self-described “anarcho-capitalist” is also set to discuss his country’s ever-troubled debts with IMF officials. We assume that will be less fun than his Monday lunch with former President Bill Clinton. One person Milei won’t be meeting with: Biden, who is on domestic travel. (Meanwhile, a planned visit by Trump to Buenos Aires is now unlikely to happen.)


  • House Speaker Mike Johnson will hold a swearing-in ceremony for Celeste Maloy this evening. Maloy, a Republican, will replace former GOP Rep. Chris Stewart representing Utah’s 2nd congressional district.
  • The House Rules Committee will meet today at 4 p.m. to take up border security legislation.
  • Members of the Republican Study Committee will hear from the inspectors general at the State Department, Pentagon, and USAID about Ukraine funding during a lunch on Wednesday.
  • The liberal group MoveOn is flying a giant balloon that’s supposed to look like embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. over Capitol Hill today.
  • Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Ben Cardin, D-Md. doesn’t believe there should be conditions placed on aid to Israel.

Foreign Policy

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed back to Israel, his third trip to the country since the war with Hamas. He is also stopping in the West Bank and the United Arab Emirates.
  • The House select committee on China is still getting some bipartisan work done despite deep divisions in Congress, releasing a memo to raise concerns about China’s overseas influence efforts known as United Front Work.

Outside the Beltway

A 48-year-old Burlington man was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of three Palestinian students in the Vermont town. The victims were hospitalized with their injuries.


  • Gasoline prices have declined for 60 straight days.
  • Inflation might be easing, but it’s still rearing its ugly head. It costs a family $119.27 to purchase the same goods and services that could have been bought for $100 pre-pandemic, according to a Bloomberg analysis.
  • Fast-fashion giant Shein filed confidentially for a U.S. initial public offering.


  • Idaho asked the Supreme Court to allow a law to take effect that would impose close to a complete ban on abortions in the state.
  • Attorneys for former President Trump asked a federal judge in D.C. for permission to force prosecutors participating in his Jan. 6 trial to produce information about the federal government’s response to threats to the 2020 election, a sign he will revisit his unfounded election fraud claims. — Washington Post


A large majority of Americans (85%) and Germans (77%) view the relationship between the two countries positively, according to new polling from the Pew Research Center and Germany’s Körber Stiftung. But although most Americans see Germans as a partner on a range of key issues, including the war in Ukraine and dealing with China, Germans are somewhat more skeptical about America as a partner on certain issues, like China (47%) and climate protection (29%).

Big Read

Mike Podhorzer, the former political director at the AFL-CIO, makes the case at his Substack that President Biden’s polling woes are overblown. “The last three presidents — including one who was twenty years younger and another thirty years younger than Biden at the same point in their presidencies — spent all, or nearly all, of their terms in office underwater,” Podhorzer writes. He also notes that Biden is faring well relative to other world leaders who have governed through the post-pandemic recovery period.


Stories that are being largely ignored by either left-leaning or right-leaning outlets, according to data from our partners at Ground News.

What the Left isn’t reading: The U.S. Border Patrol’s sector in Tucson, Ariz. said it was temporarily reducing staffing on social media to free up personnel to address a surge in migrants.

What the Right isn’t reading: An aide to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lay dying in the hallway outside DeSantis’ office for over 20 minutes before someone saw him and tried to help, according to newly released records.

Principals Team

Editors: Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann, Morgan Chalfant

Editor-at-Large: Steve Clemons

Reporters: Kadia Goba, Joseph Zeballos-Roig, Shelby Talcott, David Weigel

One Good Text

James Fallows was the chief speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter. Photo credit: Steven Ascher / HBO.

Hot on Semafor

  • Influential members of the country’s largest journalist union are resisting calls to release a statement supporting a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • President Biden’s campaign is eagerly planning new attacks on Donald Trump over Obamacare.
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