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In today’s edition: The House rules giving individual members more power, the truth between Israel a͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
thunderstorms Washington
sunny Tel Aviv
sunny Sacramento
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December 1, 2023


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Today in D.C.
  1. How MTG forces votes
  2. Trump’s Gen Z pitch
  3. Truce ends in Gaza
  4. DeSantis vs. Newsom
  5. Senate wrestles over migrant parole
  6. WaPo staffers plan walkout

PDB: Judge says Montana’s TikTok ban likely violates Constitution

Harris leaves for COP28 … Santos faces ouster … Ukraine blows up railway in Siberia connecting Russia, China

— edited by Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann and Morgan Chalfant


In the new House, anyone can control the floor

REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz

In this Congress, there are no backbenchers. Rogue House members have found ways to constantly force votes on censures, expulsions, and even toppling a speaker, Semafor’s Kadia Goba reports. Key to the trend: The use of “privileged” resolutions that allow just one lawmaker to bypass leadership with certain measures that require a vote within two days. On Thursday alone, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. threatened to bring up a privileged impeachment resolution against Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the second time in three weeks while the House debated the third privileged expulsion resolution against Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. this year. Greene, who also forced a recent censure vote against Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., told reporters she studied up on the practice after she was kicked off her committees by Democrats in 2021 and was looking for other ways to make her voice heard. “I learned recorded votes are extremely important,” Greene said. But a backlash is brewing as some members complain it’s yet another example of attention-seeking members sowing chaos, with some critics speculating that the House may eventually change its rules in response. “Everyone has opened up a Pandora’s box,” Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas said. “When does it end?”


Rappers and UFC fights: Inside Trump’s plan to win Gen Z

Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY Sports

Donald Trump’s campaign is well aware of the polls showing President Biden losing Gen Z support — and they’re working on plans to capitalize on it, Semafor’s Shelby Talcott reports. Trump has already popped up at UFC fights, college football games, and a frat house as part of the effort, while appearing on some unconventional podcasts with younger followings. The campaign sees his pop culture inroads as an especially promising way to convince skeptical under-30 voters to give him a look. “President Trump has all sorts of celebrities and famous people that are promoting his presidency, are saying positive things about him — people that you might not expect for a Republican presidential candidate: You look at Kodak Black, you look at what Lil Wayne has said, you look at Lil Pump, you look at Sexyy Red. You look at Jorge Masvidal, you look at Jelly Roll,” a senior Trump advisor said. Democrats say they’re confident that youth voter discontent won’t ultimately translate to support for Trump, whose MAGA message has had little appeal to them in recent elections. But turnout matters, and there may be several third-party options to peel off protest votes. “To the extent that the Trump campaign could convince younger voters that it doesn’t really matter who wins, that’s clearly a win for the Republicans,” Republican strategist Alex Conant said.


Truce ends in Gaza as U.S. urges Israel to protect civilians

REUTERS / Amir Cohen

Israel and Hamas have resumed fighting in Gaza, ending a truce that saw dozens of hostages released and that the U.S. had hoped to extend. The Israel Defense Forces said Hamas “violated the operational pause” and that Israel had resumed combat operations. The news came hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on his fourth trip to Tel Aviv, said the Biden administration was pressing Israel to set up safe zones in Gaza and take other steps to reduce civilian harm before targeting the south. He asked that “that there be a clear plan in place that puts a premium on protecting civilians as well as sustaining and building on the humanitarian assistance that is getting into Gaza” and said Israeli officials “agreed with that approach.” Meanwhile, the Israeli government will come under more scrutiny for its failure to prevent the Oct. 7 attack due to a bombshell report from the New York Times that, more than a year ago, Israeli officials obtained a 40-page document outlining Hamas’ battle plan but “dismissed the plan as aspirational.”


What went down in the DeSantis/Newsom debate

REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage

Ron DeSantis got what his campaign wanted from the “Great Red vs. Blue State Debate” against Gavin Newsom: 90 minutes to show a Fox News audience how he’d debate Joe Biden. Newsom got what he wanted, too, mocking DeSantis as a right-wing opportunist who was about to lose the Republican primary. “When are you going to drop out and give Nikki Haley a shot to win?” Newsom asked DeSantis, late in the 90-minute, no-audience, Sean Hannity-hosted debate. The stakes were low, though DeSantis had spent weeks raising them. On the trail, he’d said he was debating Newsom because Democrats might dump Biden from the ticket. Hannity displayed a chart of interstate migration to bolster DeSantis’ point that Americans were fleeing California; DeSantis dangled a print-out map of fecal matter sightings on the streets of San Francisco. “They basically legalized retail theft,” DeSantis said. Newsom veered between defending his state, championing “Bidenomics,” and portraying Florida under DeSantis as a haven for gun murder and bigotry where thousands had died needlessly from COVID. “I don’t like the way you demean people,” said Newsom. “I don’t like the way you demean the LGBTQ community. I don’t like the way you demean and humiliate people you disagree with, Ron.”

— David Weigel

For more on the DeSantis-Newsom debate, read David Weigel’s newsletter Americana later today.


The issue that could tank the Senate’s border talks

REUTERS / Jose Luis Gonzalez

“It’s stuck. Bad.” That’s how Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. described the state of the Senate’s high stakes negotiations over border policy on Thursday. As Semafor’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig writes, Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked at the moment over how to reform what’s known as “parole authority,” a legal tool the Biden administration has leaned on to aid warzone refugees and manage the massive daily flow of migrants at the southern border. Under longstanding U.S. law, the Department of Homeland Security is allowed to temporarily admit migrants who lack visas for either “humanitarian reasons” or a “significant public benefit.” Biden has wielded that executive power to create a pathway to the U.S. for large numbers of Ukrainians and Afghans, and set up what it sees as more orderly alternatives to the dangerous trek to the U.S.-Mexico border by central and South American asylum-seekers. One program aimed at Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians is expected to give 360,000 people entry to the U.S. by the end of 2023. But that effort, along with others, has come under fire from Republicans, who’ve accused Biden of abusing his authority to wave hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals into the U.S. “I’m not asking for H.R. 2,” Graham told reporters, referring to the House GOP’s party-line border bill. “But I want parole to be changed.”


Washington Post staffers plan walkout over contract talks

Robert Miller / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Several hundred Washington Post staffers are planning a one-day walkout that may take place as early as next week. People familiar with the matter told Semafor that the employee union has secured at least 640 pledges to stay home from work next week in protest of what the union says is the company’s refusal to bargain over a new contract in good faith. The union has said it wants to secure 700 signatures in order to green light a work stoppage, which also comes as the company has promised what could be over 100 layoffs later this year if staff do not agree to buyouts. Post employees wouldn’t be the first major newspaper staff to walk off the job for a day: Late last year, New York Times staff refused to work for a day as part of their contract bargaining with the paper’s management.

— Max Tani

Editor’s note: A earlier version of this item incorrectly identified when the New York Times staff held a one-day walkout.

Live Journalism

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: House Republican leadership is “flying blind” into the vote on expelling Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. later this morning, having not whipped the vote. Multiple members of leadership also haven’t said how they will vote, including Speaker Mike Johnson, but House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. said he would oppose the expulsion.

Playbook: “You can read through the B.S. And believe me, you know, anybody who thinks that there are secrets in this town, there are not,” Scalise said about disparaging information allegedly spread about him during his run for the speakership.

The Early 202: “People increasingly think it’s over. It’s a dumpster fire,” one person close to Ron DeSantis said of his 2024 bid in a story on his campaign’s problems six weeks out from the Iowa caucuses.

White House

  • President Biden issued a notably short statement on the death of Henry Kissinger, describing the former diplomat as someone with whom he often “strongly” disagreed but who possessed “fierce intellect and profound strategic focus.”
  • Angola became the third African country to sign onto the Artemis Accords, a non-binding agreement on safe space exploration. The announcement came as Biden met with Angolan President João Lourenço.


  • In an interview with Semafor’s Kadia Goba, Rep. Brandon Williams, R-N.Y. and his wife defended his conduct after a Syracuse student news outlet published a video of him threatening a former staffer with obscenities at a holiday event at the Spy Museum Thursday night. “You fuck with my family, I’ll end every relationship that you have!” Williams says in the 24-second recording to a stone-faced man, who insists he has not “done anything.” Williams said he confronted two former aides over “incredibly vile” comments made about his wife and daughter earlier. The staffer shown in the footage told Semafor they had never made disparaging remarks.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee advanced a bill designed to relieve double taxation of Taiwanese businesses operating in the U.S. and American companies operating in Taiwan in a resounding 40-0 vote.
  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. saved Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa from choking to death at a lunch. Somehow, this meant owning the libs: “Can’t help but choke on the woke policies Dems are forcing down our throats,” Ernst tweeted.
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson wrote a forward for a book published by a Louisiana politics blogger in 2022 that “spread baseless and discredited conspiracy theories and used derogatory homophobic insults.” — CNN
  • Ninety Democrats joined most House Republicans in voting to pass a bill that would permanently freeze $6 billion in funds that Iran gained access to as part of a prisoner swap deal earlier this year.
  • Comedian Dave Chapelle took a tour of the Capitol and met with the Congressional Black Caucus. Reps. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla. and Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. snagged a selfie with him.
Twitter / Anna Paulina Luna

Outside the Beltway

The Florida Republican Party chairman is being criminally investigated over sexual battery allegations.


  • Montana’s ban on TikTok won’t go into effect in January after a federal judge blocked it in order to allow a lawsuit filed by the social media company to play out. The ban “likely violates the First Amendment,” the judge said.
  • Donald Trump will again be limited in what he can say about court staff involved in his New York civil fraud trial, after an appeals court reinstated the narrow gag order.


  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters “the signs are very good” that the economy will manage a soft landing after Thursday showed inflation continued to slow. A key stat: Over the last 6 months, the Fed’s preferred measure of prices has increased at just a 2.5% annual rate.
  • Why is inflation losing steam anyway? The White House Council of Economic Advisers is out with an interesting post arguing that 80% of the decline can be explained by “supply chains in some form.” We asked CEA Chair Jared Bernstein what that meant for the economy going forward. His answer: “Forecasters tell us there is likely more disinflation in the pipeline and that’s consistent with our work.”
  • European Union members are “so worried” about the prospect of another Donald Trump term that they are considering making concessions to the Biden administration in a fight over steel imports so the dispute doesn’t boost the former president’s election prospects. — Bloomberg

National Security

The inspector general of the General Services Administration told lawmakers it is investigating the selection process that led to Maryland being chosen as the site of the new FBI building, potentially prolonging an already dragged-out fight.


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 state of Texas sued Pfizer, accusing the company of making “unsupported claims” about its COVID-19 vaccine.

What the Right isn’t reading: A former employee at Donald Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J. filed a lawsuit against the club alleging she was sexually harassed by her boss and forced to sign an NDA by Trump lawyer Alina Habba.

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

Gerry Connolly is a Democratic representative from Virginia. He shared his criticism of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who died this week at the age of 100, on X.

Hot on Semafor

  • Communities in Kenya are protesting against forceful evictions from their homes which they blame on government deals to ramp up the sale of carbon credits.
  • With an estimated 70,000 attendees, COP 28 will be twice as large as any previous climate summit. A small handful will shape the outcome and the narrative.
  • Sports buyer 777 Partners faces a Justice Department investigation from the federal prosecutor who won a conviction against Sam Bankman-Fried.