First Thing: Debt ceiling deal clears first hurdle and advances for debate | US news

Good morning.

The bipartisan debt ceiling deal brokered by Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy passed an important hurdle yesterday evening, advancing to the full House of Representatives for debate and an expected vote on passage on Wednesday even amid opposition from far-right Republicans.

Earlier in the day, McCarthy, the Republican speaker of the US House, had said supporting the debt ceiling deal would be “easy” for his party and it was likely to pass through Congress despite one prominent rightwinger’s verdict that the proposed agreement is a “turd sandwich”.

The House rules committee voted 7-6 to allow debate by the full chamber, with two committee Republicans bucking party leadership and opposing the bill. Their opposition underscored the need for Democrats to help pass the measure in the House, which is controlled by Republicans with a narrow majority.

But amid loud denunciations from the Republican right and also from closer to the centre, McCarthy said he was not worried the agreement would fail, or that it would threaten his hold on the speaker’s gavel.

  • What has been said about the deal? Members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus have balked at the deal. Chip Roy of Texas, who in January played a key role in securing the speakership for McCarthy after 15 rounds of voting, amid a rightwing rebellion, had perhaps the most pungent response. He said the debt ceiling deal was a “turd sandwich”, because it did not include spending cuts demanded by the hard right.

  • What else has been said? Another rightwing firebrand, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, said he “anticipate[d] voting for” the bill, having said: “I think it’s important to keep in mind the debt limit bill itself does not spend money.” But comparative moderate, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, resorted to personal abuse of Biden when she tweeted: “Washington is broken. Republicans got outsmarted by a president who can’t find his pants. I’m voting no on the debt ceiling debacle because playing the DC game isn’t worth selling out our kids and grandkids.”

Tara Reade, who accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, defects to Russia

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Tara Reade: ‘To my Russian brothers and sisters, I’m sorry right now that American elites are choosing to have such an aggressive stance.’ Photograph: Donald Thompson/AP

Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer who in 2020 accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, said yesterday she had defected to Russia.

“I’m still kind of in a daze a bit but I feel very good,” Reade told Sputnik, a Russian press outlet supportive of Vladimir Putin, while sitting with Maria Butina, a convicted Russian agent jailed in the US but now a member of parliament in Russia. “I feel very surrounded by protection and safety.”

Reade recently considered testifying before US House Republicans seeking to use committees to attack Biden and his family.

The decision to defect to Russia, she told Sputnik, “was very difficult. I’m not an impulsive person. I really take my time and sort of analyse data points.

“And from what I could see based on the cases and based on what was happening and sort of the push for them to not want me to testify, I felt that while [the 2024] election is gearing up and there’s so much at stake, I’m almost better off here and just being safe. My dream is to live in both places, but it may be that I only live in this place and that’s OK.”

  • Who is Reade and what did she say Biden did? Now 59, Reade was a staffer for Biden when he was a US senator from Delaware. In 2020, as Biden ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, she claimed that in 1993, in a Senate corridor, he pushed her against a wall and assaulted her. Biden has repeatedly denied the accusation.

Donald Trump reiterates pledge to scrap birthright US citizenship

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Donald Trump has repeatedly said he will end birthright citizenship but failed to do so during four years in the White House. Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

Speaking 125 years after the US supreme court settled the issue of birthright citizenship, the former president Donald Trump pledged once again to end it.

If elected back to the White House next year, Trump said in a video posted to social media on Tuesday that on his first day in office he would sign an executive order to ensure the children of undocumented migrants “will not receive automatic US citizenship”.

Recycling offensive anti-migrant claims, Trump also said his order would “choke off a major incentive for continued illegal immigration, deter more migrants from coming and encourage many of the aliens Joe Biden has unlawfully let into our country to go”.

Birthright citizenship is included in the 14th amendment to the US constitution, which was passed by the Senate in 1866 and ratified two years later. The relevant passage says: “All persons born or naturalised in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”

  • Could Trump succeed in his plan if he were elected again? Experts predicted during his time as president, and predict now, that any attempt to remove birthright citizenship by executive order would face immediate challenge and swift defeat. Writing in 2018, the Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe said the proposal would have “no chance of surviving review, even by the judges and justices the president has appointed”.

In other news …

People in Kyiv walk near cars damaged by fragments of a downed Russian Kamikaze drone.Pin
People in Kyiv walk near cars damaged by fragments of a downed Russian Kamikaze drone. Photograph: Sergei Chuzavkov/Sopa Images/Shutterstock
  • A day after Russia accused Ukraine of sending drones to attack buildings in Moscow, the governor of Russia’s Krasnodar region said a drone was the likely cause of a fire that broke out at the Afipsky oil refinery. The White House has said it is still gathering information about yesterday’s strike on Moscow but could not condone attacks inside Russia.

  • An Arby’s manager “beat her hands bloody trying to escape or get someone’s attention” before she died locked inside a freezer at one of the fast-food chain’s restaurants in Louisiana, according to court records. The detail is contained in a lawsuit filed by family members of Nguyet Le, 63, against Arby’s and the owner of the store.

  • A Chinese fighter pilot performed an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” near an American surveillance aircraft operating over the South China Sea last week, according to the US military. The incident comes at a time of already heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.

  • Three adventurers planning to live for up to 60 days on the islet of Rockall in the north Atlantic have arrived on the isolated rock and begun broadcasting to radio hams around the world. After defying rough seas to reach the rock, they hope to beat the 45-day record in two month’s time.

  • North Korea’s first spy satellite launch has ended in failure after its second stage malfunctioned, the country’s state media has said, with the regime vowing to conduct another launch soon. The projectile plunged into the sea, after briefly sparking emergency warnings in South Korea and Japan.

Stat of the day: Delta Air Lines faces lawsuit over $1bn carbon neutrality claim

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 747 in flightPin
The case argues that there is a market premium for green products and that Delta has profited from a misleading environmental claim. Photograph: Jetlinerimages/Getty Images

Delta Air Lines is facing a lawsuit over its $1bn carbon neutrality claim, which plaintiffs say is “false and misleading” as it relies on offsets that do little to mitigate global heating. In February 2020, the US carrier announced plans to go carbon neutral, pledging $1bn to mitigate all greenhouse gas emissions from its business worldwide over the next decade. It included plans to purchase carbon credits generated from conserving rainforest, wetlands and grasslands along with decreasing the use of jet fuel and increasing plane efficiency. The new legal action, filed in California on Tuesday, targets Delta’s statement that it is “the world’s first carbon-neutral airline”, a claim it has made in adverts, LinkedIn posts, in-flight napkins and comments by company executives, according to the lawsuit.

Don’t miss this: ‘People wanted to believe the fairytale’ – the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and chief executive of Theranos.Pin
Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and chief executive of Theranos. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP

Elizabeth Holmes has begun her prison sentence, in a remarkable fall for a startup founder who had become known far outside Silicon Valley. Holmes, 39, who had once promised to revolutionize the medical world, was convicted in January 2022 on four counts of defrauding investors in her blood-testing company, Theranos. For years, the company operated in stealth mode. But by 2013, it started attracting widespread attention and Holmes became a media darling, easily recognizable with her distinctive blond hair, black turtlenecks and husky voice.

“Here was a photogenic, telegenic young woman posing as the female Steve Jobs,” Margaret O’Mara, a historian of Silicon Valley who holds a professorship at the University of Washington, said before Holmes’s trial. “It was an incredibly alluring narrative that everyone wanted to believe.”

Climate check: For some US residents, it is now impossible to get home insurance because of the climate crisis

A house burns on Platina Road as a wildfire sweeps CaliforniaPin
The rising incidence of wildfires means many Californians can no longer insure their property. Photograph: Ethan Swope/AP

Insurance company documents aren’t exactly renowned for being riveting reading. This week, however, State Farm, the largest insurance firm in the US by premium volume, released a surprising update: it has stopped accepting new homeowner insurance applications in California. The company said the decision was based on the heightened risk of natural disasters, such as wildfires, along with huge increases in construction costs.

“A state with a population of nearly 40 million suddenly having its home insurance options curtailed because insurance companies know that extreme weather is only getting worse and more expensive? If this doesn’t serve as a wake-up call about the climate crisis, I don’t know what will,” writes Arwa Mahdawi.

Last Thing: Rare white bison born in Wyoming is first in park’s 32-year history

The two-year-old white bison and her recently born calf.Pin
The two-year-old white bison and her recently born calf. Photograph: Bear River state park

Staffers at the Bear River state park in south-west Wyoming welcomed four brown bison calves this spring and thought the birthing season was finished. But this month, as staff visited the animals’ pasture, they saw a “little white ball of fluff”, the park superintendent, Tyfani Sager, said. One of Bear River’s two white heifers had given birth to a white calf, the first in the park’s 32-year history, Sager said. The mother’s name is Wyoming Hope. Staff suspect the father is a bull named Snort. White bison are extremely rare throughout the American west and are considered sacred to many Native American tribes. Bear River’s white buffalo contain Charolais cattle DNA, which gives them their distinctive snowy fur. The genetic makeup makes them rare but not as unusual as albino bison, which only occur in about one in 10 million births.

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