The TAKE with Rick Klein
If there's a sweet spot between the "never Kevin" and "only Kevin" forces among House Republicans, it's not likely to reward GOP leader Kevin McCarthy for helping Democrats get things done in the finals days of the current Congress.
So it is that McCarthy's internal GOP campaign for House speaker is colliding with year-end goals, including some that Democrats share with other Republicans on Capitol Hill. That could come at the expense of legislating this year and well beyond -- and brings an early and telling clash with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McCarthy has been working, in public and in private, to hold up a spending package that would avert a government shutdown and carry the status quo into what he hopes will be his speakership, starting in January.
The House on Wednesday night bought itself a week to finalize a larger spending deal, with an extension passing with the support of nine Republicans and the unanimous backing of Democrats.
McCarthy had called out the Senate for putting a final spending bill in the hands of two retiring legislators. That includes Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the vice chairman of the chamber's Appropriations Committee, who is working with McConnell's blessing to get the best deal Republicans can under the circumstances.
McCarthy on Wednesday said it was an "inappropriate question" when asked about the trouble he is having in getting 218 House votes and becoming the speaker next month. But that's the biggest question lingering out of last month's midterm elections, and the difference between what McCarthy says he wants to happen and what he actually wants matters in how it ends up being answered.
"Business as usual" may not be popular, particularly in a conference still in the minority but about to take over the majority. But it's how things get done, as any would-be House speaker knows.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is calling on state lawmakers to end the utilization of runoff elections.
"Georgia is one of the only states in the country with a General Election Runoff," Raffensperger, the state's top elections official, said in a statement on Wednesday. "We're also one of the only states that always seems to have a runoff. I'm calling on the General Assembly to visit the topic of the General Election Runoff and consider reforms."
Critics of runoffs have highlighted the multimillion-dollar price tag of these elections -- calling them wasteful. The secretary of state also pointed to tight deadlines and the newly abbreviated four-week period between each Election Day and the subsequent runoff as reasons to do away with the system.
"No one wants to be dealing with politics in the middle of their family holiday," Raffensperger said.
Another reason that the system has garnered criticism: its racist history. The brainchild of a segregationist legislator in 1964, the runoffs in Georgia were intended to dilute the influence of Black voters because they would help prevent a Black candidate from winning a race with less than 50% if the field included multiple white candidates who split the other votes.
Raffensperger's call comes a little more than a week after two Black candidates competed in the state's Senate runoff, with Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock winning his reelection effort against Republican Hershel Walker. The only other state that holds runoffs in general elections is Louisiana.
The TIP with Hannah Demissie
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has confirmed he is weighing a 2024 presidential run, said this week that a third presidential bid from former President Donald Trump would be the "worst scenario" for Republicans.
During an interview with the Associated Press published Tuesday, Hutchinson said that he plans to decide early next year whether or not to run for the White House.
Hutchinson's comments are the latest examples of conservatives not automatically falling in line behind another presidential run by Trump, the GOP's most prominent member, especially following the midterm elections where Republicans did not perform well relative to expectations.
Senate Minority Leader McConnell separately indicated to reporters this week that he felt Trump shared the blame for the party's failure in key races this election cycle. McConnell suggested on Tuesday that Trump's mistake was involving himself in primary races and endorsing candidates who were not strong enough to win their general elections.
"Look at Arizona and New Hampshire and the challenging situation Georgia, as well … I do think we have an opportunity to relearn one more time that we have to have quality candidates to win," McConnell said.
"Our ability to control a primary outcome was quite limited in 2022 because the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in these primaries. So, my view was, do the best you can with the cards you're dealt," he said.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Start Here" begins Thursday morning with a look at the Independence, Missouri, school district's decision to move to a four-day week. We're joined by the school superintendent. Then ABC's Tom Soufi Burridge has an exclusive interview with a U.S. national rescued from Russian-occupied land in Ukraine. And, ABC's Eva Pilgrim reports on the challenges of creating sustainable feminine products. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
- President Joe Biden will continue his involvement at the U.S.- Africa summit, taking part in sessions starting at 11:15 a.m. ET before attending a closed-door photo with other leaders. He heads to Wilmington, Delaware, at 8:30 p.m. ET.
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