OnPolitics: House votes to hold Meadows in contempt

Amy Nakamura
USA TODAY
Then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows listens Oct. 21, 2020, as President Donald Trump holds a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns in Gastonia, N.C.

Happy Wednesday, OnPolitics readers!

Earlier today, President Joe Biden arrived in tornado-ravaged Kentucky, ready to lend a sympathetic ear and the assistance of the federal government.

“I’m here to listen," Biden said after taking an aerial tour of the damage in Mayfield, one of the hardest hit communities. "I think the vast majority of Americans know what you’ve been through just looking on the television.”

Mayhem in Mayfield: Kentucky bore the brunt of the storms from this past weekend, with the death toll standing at 75 people as of Wednesday and more than 100 still unaccounted for in the state.

It's Amy with today's top stories.

House votes to hold Meadows in contempt

The House voted late Tuesday to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt for defying a subpoena from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

The House voted 222-208 on the measure, which also urged the Justice Department to prosecute Meadows criminally for contempt. He would become the second aide to former President Donald Trump facing charges, after political strategist Steve Bannon.

Biden said he has not seen all of Meadows' text messages showing Trump's son Don Jr. and others urging Meadows to get Trump to intervene on Jan. 6, but the president told reporters Wednesday he approved of the House vote.

"It seems to me it's worthy of being held in contempt," Biden said as he left the White House to tour storm damage in Kentucky.

Team Trump vs. Congress:The vote is just the latest clash between a former Trump administration official and the committee, as Meadows and other members of Trump's inner circle defy the committee's subpoenas, arguing executive privilege protects them from sharing what they know.

“He changed his mind and told us to pound sand. He didn’t even show up," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the committee chairman. “He has no credible excuse for stonewalling the Select Committee’s investigation."

Real quick: stories you need to read

  • $770 million in defense spending: The Senate passed a crucial defense spending bill Wednesday to fund national defense programs and set the policy agenda at the Department of Defense. Here's what did and didn't make it into the bill.
  • Cuomo crisis: New York's ethics watchdog agency on Tuesday ordered former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repay to the state the proceeds he received from his $5 million book deal last year to write about his response to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • DeSantis wants to ban CRT: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday unveiled a bill aimed against critical race theory called the "Stop WOKE Act." 
  • "Enough is enough": The House approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that would establish a special envoy position at the State Department to monitor and combat Islamophobia worldwide, following harmful comments made by her colleague Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

Congress passes bill to raise debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion

Congress early Wednesday voted to raise the nation's debt limit by $2.5 trillion, officially staving off default and the economic peril that would come if the U.S. were unable to pay its bills.

The House passed the legislation in a vote of 221-209, hours after the Senate approved the measure in a 50-49 party-line vote. The bill now heads to Biden's desk for signature.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday the increase is enough to last into 2023, which would allow Congress to avoid any more fights over the debt ceiling until after the 2022 midterm elections.

A sprint to the finish line: Lawmakers managed to get the measure passed just in time to avoid an economic scare. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers she estimated the United States would reach its debt ceiling by Wednesday.

If lawmakers didn't address the debt limit by then, the U.S. would have defaulted on its debts for the first time, which could lead to a global recession, Treasury Department officials and experts said.

The legislation was made possible by an agreement between Senate and House leaders to establish a one-time fast-track process to pass the measure in the Senate without threat of GOP interference or other procedural hurdles.

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