Mitch McConnell re-elected as Senate Republican leader as party awaits final House results – live – The Guardian US

From 2h ago

McConnell re-elected as Republican Senate leader

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Mitch McConnell has as expected beaten a challenge for the leadership of the Republican party in the Senate, the Washington Post reports.

As the Post puts it, the Kentucky senator “turned back a challenge from Senator Rick Scott of Florida, after the party failed to pick up seats in the chamber in the midterm elections [last week].

“Some senators sought unsuccessfully to delay the vote to give them more time to assess the GOP’s dismal performance. McConnell has led Senate Republicans since 2007. Scott helmed the campaign committee tasked with electing more Republicans.”

What the Post pleasingly calls “machinations” among Senate Republicans echo those in the House, where yesterday Kevin McCarthy survived a challenge to be the Republican nominee for speaker, should as is overwhelmingly likely the GOP take control of that chamber.

McCarthy will have a lot more to do in that instance, needing 218 votes but facing a restive far-right wing of an increasingly far-right party, some of whom, such as Matt Gaetz of Florida, have said they won’t support him whatever concessions he offers.

Of course, this is politics so that could change in a moment. One thing not changing for the moment is McConnell’s grip on Senate Republicans. He won Wednesday’s vote 37-10.

As Punchbowl News put it this morning, before the Scott vote, “the 80-year-old McConnell is on the verge of breaking the late Democratic Montana senator Mike Mansfield’s record for the longest-serving party leader in Senate history.

McConnell will reach that milestone in January. McConnell is acutely aware of this record – and his place in Senate history. Yet McConnell and his allies hoped he would be doing it as majority leader, especially with a very favorable Senate map heading into this cycle.”

By January McConnell and the rest of us will know if he will operate for the next two years in a 50-50 Senate, controlled by Kamala Harris as vice-president, or a 51-49 Senate in Democrats’ favour. The Georgia runoff between the Trump-backed Republican Herschel Walker and the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, will take place on 6 December.

Updated at 13.56 EST

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Mitch McConnell has as expected beaten a challenge for the leadership of the Republican party in the Senate, the Washington Post reports.

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As the Post puts it, the Kentucky senator “turned back a challenge from Senator Rick Scott of Florida, after the party failed to pick up seats in the chamber in the midterm elections [last week].

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“Some senators sought unsuccessfully to delay the vote to give them more time to assess the GOP’s dismal performance. McConnell has led Senate Republicans since 2007. Scott helmed the campaign committee tasked with electing more Republicans.”

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What the Post pleasingly calls “machinations” among Senate Republicans echo those in the House, where yesterday Kevin McCarthy survived a challenge to be the Republican nominee for speaker, should as is overwhelmingly likely the GOP take control of that chamber.

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McCarthy will have a lot more to do in that instance, needing 218 votes but facing a restive far-right wing of an increasingly far-right party, some of whom, such as Matt Gaetz of Florida, have said they won’t support him whatever concessions he offers.

","elementId":"8e9a68f7-0033-4e09-94b8-00e3ccd03ff7"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Of course, this is politics so that could change in a moment. One thing not changing for the moment is McConnell’s grip on Senate Republicans. He won Wednesday’s vote 37-10.

","elementId":"67cb0d52-f734-453f-b1a6-5fbb8b651caf"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

As Punchbowl News put it this morning, before the Scott vote, “the 80-year-old McConnell is on the verge of breaking the late Democratic Montana senator Mike Mansfield’s record for the longest-serving party leader in Senate history.

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\n

McConnell will reach that milestone in January. McConnell is acutely aware of this record – and his place in Senate history. Yet McConnell and his allies hoped he would be doing it as majority leader, especially with a very favorable Senate map heading into this cycle.”

\n

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By January McConnell and the rest of us will know if he will operate for the next two years in a 50-50 Senate, controlled by Kamala Harris as vice-president, or a 51-49 Senate in Democrats’ favour. The Georgia runoff between the Trump-backed Republican Herschel Walker and the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, will take place on 6 December.

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Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail, although it is most certainly not 2015. The former president’s announcement last night is being greeted with skepticism by several Republicans, some of whom worked with him, while his daughter Ivanka Trump has opted to stay out of politics this time around. In Washington, Republicans are waiting to learn if they won control of the House, while the Senate is teeing up a vote on a bill to ensure same-sex marriages continue.

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Here’s what else is happening today:

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    \n

  • Georgia’s Senate race is a “toss-up,” the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato says. The contest between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker goes to voters on 6 December.

  • \n

  • The 14th amendment bars Trump from holding office again because of his actions on January 6, a Democratic congressman argues.

  • \n

  • The New York Post roasted Trump’s campaign announcement, in another sign the Murdochs may be abandoning the ex-president.

  • \n

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The Senate is expected to vote today on the Respect for Marriage Act codifying the right of same-sex couples to marry, after the legislation appeared to receive enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster.

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The bill already passed the Democratic-controlled house with the votes of 47 Republicans, but it’s been an open question whether enough GOP lawmakers would vote for the measure in the Senate. Axios reports that North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis is optimistic about its passage:

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GOP Sen. Thom Tillis on Respect for Marriage Act cloture vote this afternoon: “I feel that we have the votes to pass.” https://t.co/2jLgoM2nnq

&mdash; Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) November 16, 2022

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The ability for same-sex couples to marry was created by the 2015 supreme court case Obergefell v Hodges. In June, rightwing justice Clarence Thomas suggested that precedent could be revisited by the court, which is now firmly in the grips of conservative justices. That lead to the push to enact a law that would ensure people of the same gender are allowed to marry, even if Obergefell is overturned.

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A Democratic congressman is proposing legislation that would keep Donald Trump from returning to the White House on the grounds that he violated the 14th amendment by inciting insurrection against the United States.

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In a letter to colleagues obtained by the Guardian, Rhode Island’s David Cicilline pointed to the amendment’s language barring people from serving as public officials in the United States who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

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“This language in our Constitution clearly intended to bar insurrectionists from holding high office in the United States,” Cicilline writes in the letter released before Trump’s announcement last night that he’d stand for president again in the 2024 election.

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“Given the proof – demonstrated through the January 6th Committee Hearings, the 2021 impeachment trial, and other reporting – that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6th with the intention of overturning the lawful 2020 election results, I have drafted legislation that would prevent Donald Trump from holding public office again under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

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In the letter, Cicilline invites lawmakers to cosponsor the legislation. The congressman does not appear to have introduced the bill yet.

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Good morning, US politics blog readers. Believe it or not, we still don’t know which party will lead the House of Representatives for the next two years, but odds are, it’ll be the Republicans. They’re one seat away from taking back the majority in the chamber, and it’s possible ballot counting could wrap up today in one of the outstanding races trending their direction. We’ll let you know as soon as that happens. Meanwhile, expect to hear even more than usual about Donald Trump – last night he made his long-expected announcement of another run for the White House in 2024.

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Here’s what else is happening today:

","elementId":"2d9f50b9-9511-4959-96bc-08b368ee76cc"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

    \n

  • The Senate is set to vote to advance a bill codifying the ability for same-sex couple to marry, in response to signals from the conservative-led supreme court that they could revisit their precedent establishing the right.

  • \n

  • Mike Pence will appear at a CNN event this evening at 9pm eastern time, where he’ll no doubt face questions about his fraught relationship with Trump and whether the former vice-president plans to run for the White House in 2024.

  • \n

  • George W Bush was expected to interview Volodymyr Zelenskiy at 9am eastern time, but the Ukrainian president’s participation is now tentative due to Russia’s missile assault on the country on Tuesday.

  • \n

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Key events

Mike Pence has continued his campaign of mild-mannered condemnation of Donald Trump, this time in an interview with the Associated Press.

Close readers of this blog will note that Pence was on Fox News this morning, where he signaled little enthusiasm for Trump’s return to the campaign trail. If you’re wondering why the former vice-president is doing so many interviews, it’s because he just released a book about his time serving as Trump’s deputy, and also is thought to be considering his own presidential run.

Anyway, back to the interview with the AP. In it, Pence reiterates his feeling that the Republicans can find a better nominee than Trump:

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Former Vice President Mike Pence, in an @AP interview, shared his reaction to Donald Trump's 2024 reelection bid.

&quot;I have a genuine sense that the American people are looking for new leadership,&quot; he said. pic.twitter.com/c9Yqy8f8dr

&mdash; The Associated Press (@AP) November 16, 2022

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Former Vice President Mike Pence, in an @AP interview, shared his reaction to Donald Trump’s 2024 reelection bid.

“I have a genuine sense that the American people are looking for new leadership,” he said. pic.twitter.com/c9Yqy8f8dr

— The Associated Press (@AP) November 16, 2022

He also reflects on his experience during the January 6 attack, when Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol while Pence was inside:

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Former Vice President Mike Pence criticized President Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

&quot;The president's words were reckless, and they endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol building,&quot; he said. #TheAPInterview pic.twitter.com/kAGQiit0Fm

&mdash; The Associated Press (@AP) November 16, 2022

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Former Vice President Mike Pence criticized President Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

“The president’s words were reckless, and they endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol building,” he said. #TheAPInterview pic.twitter.com/kAGQiit0Fm

— The Associated Press (@AP) November 16, 2022

An Illinois man who pled guilty to assaulting a police officer and a journalist during the January 6 insurrection is now facing felony murder charges after allegedly killing a woman in a wrong-way crash, the Associated Press reports.

Shane Jason Woods was to be sentenced on 13 January of next year after pleading guilty to ramming a Capitol police officer into a bicycle barricade and tackling a reporter during the assault by Donald Trump’s supporters nearly two years ago.

On 8 November, prosecutors allege Woods drove his pickup truck onto the wrong lane of an Illinois interstate and crashed into oncoming traffic, killing a 35-year-old woman from North Carolina.

Here’s more from the AP:

Woods has been indicted on felony counts of first-degree murder, aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and aggravated fleeing and eluding a peace officer and is being held in Sangamon County Jail, according to a press release from the county’s state’s attorney’s office. Woods’ bond is set at $2 million, but the county filed a petition to deny bail.

“The evidence will show the Defendant made numerous statements before and after the fatal collision on Interstate 55 which establish his intent to enter upon the highway for the purpose of striking another vehicle,” the petition said.

The sentence for first-degree murder in Illinois is 20 years to life in state prison.

It was not immediately clear who is representing Woods in the case. Dwight Crawley, Woods’ defense attorney for the U.S. Capitol riot case, did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

Kevin McCarthy granted Donald Trump a boon in the weeks after the January 6 insurrection, standing beside him at his Mar-a-Lago club in a visit that made clear Trump still had the support of Republicans in Congress.

One might think McCarthy would be quick to endorse him, now that Trump is running for the White House again. NBC News reports that is apparently not the case:

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House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy did not respond when asked by @scottwongDC if he was prepared to endorse former President Trump. Listen: pic.twitter.com/NtI6byNUKz

&mdash; Kyle Stewart (@KyleAlexStewart) November 16, 2022

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Another former Donald Trump official has made his displeasure with the ex-president’s run for office known.

While he doesn’t mention him by name, Mike Pompeo, who served as secretary of state from 2018 until the end of Trump’s term and is thought to be considering his own campaign for the White House, tweeted this out today:

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We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood.

&mdash; Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) November 16, 2022

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We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood.

— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) November 16, 2022

Pompeo’s use of the word “victimhood” is telling. In his announcement speech last night, Trump at one point said, “I’m a victim”:

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&quot;I'm a victim. I will tell you. I'm a victim&quot; — Trump pic.twitter.com/ietvHhTG2c

&mdash; Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 16, 2022

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Rick Scott has reacted to his loss after failing to unseat Mitch McConnell as the Republican leader in the Senate.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era in the Senate Republican Conference,” the Florida lawmakers says in a statement that mostly sticks to boilerplate rhetoric common the GOP.

“Although the results of today’s elections weren’t what we hoped for, this is far from the end of our fight to Make Washington Work,” he said, before turning his attention to Joe Biden and his “reckless government spending and the devastating inflation Democrats have caused.”

“I could not be more grateful for the support I’ve received from many of my colleagues and from Americans across our great country. I never thought for a moment that this fight would be easy, but I’m optimistic that, together, Republicans can rescue America with the principles that unite us against the dangerous path Democrats have set it on,” Scott concludes.

Could Donald Trump actually win the Republican nomination in 2024? The prevailing wisdom, today at least, is probably not. Our columnist Lloyd Green, however, warns anyone reveling in Trump’s difficulties not to be so sure…

“For the moment, Ron DeSantis has the wind at his back. He is a sitting governor who won re-election by nearly 20 points. Along the way, he absorbed Trump’s message and adopted parts of his mien – without being labeled unhinged.

“Yet even if DeSantis emerges as the nominee, victory could be pyrrhic. If past is prelude, Trump could label his own defeat the product of a rigged system and invite his loyalists to sit out the general election. After he lost the Iowa caucus in 2016, he did just that. He blamed his second-place finish there on what he called cheating by Ted Cruz.

“‘You know, at the end of the day I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night,’ DeSantis insisted as the clock ticked down to Trump’s announcement. The governor is expected to announce his candidacy early next year. Others may well join the fray.

“Whether the Department of Justice indicts Trump is the great unanswered question. Hours before the announcement, Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, took the witness stand in the criminal case against the company.

“The game is on.”

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

The House rules committee heard testimony today about the prospect of sitting a delegate from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma – a US government promise unfulfilled for nearly 200 years.

The principle chief of the 440,000-member Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin, was among those to testify. He is behind the attempt to seat Kimberly Teehee, a former adviser to Barack Obama.

As described by the Associated Press, “the tribe’s right to a delegate is detailed in the Treaty of New Echota, signed in 1835, which provided the legal basis for the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from its ancestral homelands east of the Mississippi river and led to the Trail of Tears, but it has never been exercised. A separate treaty in 1866 affirmed this right.”

As described by the National Parks Service, the Trail of Tears involved “the forced westward migration of American Indian tribes from the south and south-east”, resulting in “4,000 Cherokee deaths on the way to present-day Oklahoma”.

In Congress today, Hoskin said: “The Cherokee Nation has in fact adhered to our obligations under these treaties. I’m here to ask the United States to do the same.”

The AP continues: “Hoskin also suggested Teehee could be seated this year by way of either a resolution or change in statute. The committee chairman, the Massachusetts Democrat James McGovern, and other members supported the idea. McGovern said:

This can and should be done as quickly as possible. The history of this country is a history of broken promise after broken promise to Native American communities. This cannot be another broken promise.

“McGovern said he has been contacted by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Delaware Nation, both of which have treaties with the US government that call for representation in Congress. McGovern also noted there are two other federally recognized bands of Cherokee Indians that argue they should be considered successors to the 1835 treaty: the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians based in North Carolina.

“Members of the committee seemed to be in agreement that any delegate from the Cherokee Nation would be similar to delegates from the District of Columbia, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. These delegates are assigned to committees and can submit amendments to bills, but cannot vote for final passage of bills. Puerto Rico is represented by a non-voting resident commissioner who is elected every four years.”

McConnell re-elected as Republican Senate leader

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Mitch McConnell has as expected beaten a challenge for the leadership of the Republican party in the Senate, the Washington Post reports.

As the Post puts it, the Kentucky senator “turned back a challenge from Senator Rick Scott of Florida, after the party failed to pick up seats in the chamber in the midterm elections [last week].

“Some senators sought unsuccessfully to delay the vote to give them more time to assess the GOP’s dismal performance. McConnell has led Senate Republicans since 2007. Scott helmed the campaign committee tasked with electing more Republicans.”

What the Post pleasingly calls “machinations” among Senate Republicans echo those in the House, where yesterday Kevin McCarthy survived a challenge to be the Republican nominee for speaker, should as is overwhelmingly likely the GOP take control of that chamber.

McCarthy will have a lot more to do in that instance, needing 218 votes but facing a restive far-right wing of an increasingly far-right party, some of whom, such as Matt Gaetz of Florida, have said they won’t support him whatever concessions he offers.

Of course, this is politics so that could change in a moment. One thing not changing for the moment is McConnell’s grip on Senate Republicans. He won Wednesday’s vote 37-10.

As Punchbowl News put it this morning, before the Scott vote, “the 80-year-old McConnell is on the verge of breaking the late Democratic Montana senator Mike Mansfield’s record for the longest-serving party leader in Senate history.

McConnell will reach that milestone in January. McConnell is acutely aware of this record – and his place in Senate history. Yet McConnell and his allies hoped he would be doing it as majority leader, especially with a very favorable Senate map heading into this cycle.”

By January McConnell and the rest of us will know if he will operate for the next two years in a 50-50 Senate, controlled by Kamala Harris as vice-president, or a 51-49 Senate in Democrats’ favour. The Georgia runoff between the Trump-backed Republican Herschel Walker and the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, will take place on 6 December.

Updated at 13.56 EST

The day so far

Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail, although it is most certainly not 2015. The former president’s announcement last night is being greeted with skepticism by several Republicans, some of whom worked with him, while his daughter Ivanka Trump has opted to stay out of politics this time around. In Washington, Republicans are waiting to learn if they won control of the House, while the Senate is teeing up a vote on a bill to ensure same-sex marriages continue.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • Georgia’s Senate race is a “toss-up,” the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato says. The contest between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker goes to voters on 6 December.

  • The 14th amendment bars Trump from holding office again because of his actions on January 6, a Democratic congressman argues.

  • The New York Post roasted Trump’s campaign announcement, in another sign the Murdochs may be abandoning the ex-president.

How exactly would the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) work? Slate has the answers in this illuminating piece.

The bill is a two-pronged attempt to preserve existing same-sex marriages and allow new couples of the same gender to continue to marry, even if the supreme court overturns Obergefell v Hodges.

The proposal first does that by getting rid of a federal law targeting same-sex couples, according to Slate:

What the RFMA does not do is “codify” Obergefell, as many media outlets have inaccurately reported. So it’s worth delving into the details to understand precisely how this landmark legislation operates. Keep in mind that its central provisions will only become relevant if the Supreme Court overturns its marriage equality decisions. The RFMA will benefit same-sex couples if, and only if, SCOTUS overrules the right to equal marriage.

Start with the easy part: The RFMA repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. It replaces DOMA with a requirement that the federal government recognize any marriage that was “valid in the place where entered into.” So if a same-sex couple obtains a valid marriage license from any state, the federal government must recognize their union.

The second part of the bill requires states to recognize same-sex marriage licenses even if they – in a post-Obergefell world – decide not to issue them:

Turn now to the second prong of the bill: Its requirement that every state recognize a valid same-sex marriage. It’s this provision that has upset some progressives, because it does not go as far as Obergefell. In that decision, the Supreme Court directed every state to license same-sex marriages—that is, to issue a marriage certificate to same-sex couples. The RFMA does not codify this component of Obergefell. Instead, it directs every state to recognize every same-sex marriage that “is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into.”

So the RFMA does not force Texas to issue a marriage certificate to a same-sex couple. But it does force Texas to recognize a marriage certificate issued to a same-sex couple by New Mexico. In a post-Obergefell world, a same-sex couple in Texas could drive to New Mexico, obtain a certificate, and force Texas to respect their marriage like any other.

This legislation doesn’t just address same-sex couples, but also interracial marriages, which were prohibited in parts of the United States before a 1967 supreme court decision. The RFMA would ensure those continue to be allowed as well:

Finally, the bill applies equally to same-sex marriages and interracial marriages. Since no states have expressed interest in reviving anti-miscegenation laws, this component is also largely symbolic. But it does protect interracial couples if the Supreme Court were to overturn Loving v. Virginia, which was rooted in the same constitutional principles as Obergefell.

Senate set for vote on same-sex marriage bill

The Senate is expected to vote today on the Respect for Marriage Act codifying the right of same-sex couples to marry, after the legislation appeared to receive enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster.

The bill already passed the Democratic-controlled house with the votes of 47 Republicans, but it’s been an open question whether enough GOP lawmakers would vote for the measure in the Senate. Axios reports that North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis is optimistic about its passage:

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GOP Sen. Thom Tillis on Respect for Marriage Act cloture vote this afternoon: “I feel that we have the votes to pass.” https://t.co/2jLgoM2nnq

&mdash; Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) November 16, 2022

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GOP Sen. Thom Tillis on Respect for Marriage Act cloture vote this afternoon: “I feel that we have the votes to pass.” https://t.co/2jLgoM2nnq

— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) November 16, 2022

The ability for same-sex couples to marry was created by the 2015 supreme court case Obergefell v Hodges. In June, rightwing justice Clarence Thomas suggested that precedent could be revisited by the court, which is now firmly in the grips of conservative justices. That lead to the push to enact a law that would ensure people of the same gender are allowed to marry, even if Obergefell is overturned.

Donald Trump’s presidential announcement may have fueled talk of 2024, but keep in mind that the 2022 election season isn’t over yet.

Ballots are still being counted in House races, while Georgia still needs to vote in the runoff for its Senate seat. The election won’t decide the control of the chamber – that’s already guaranteed to Democrats – but the 6 December polls will give Joe Biden’s allies an opportunity to boost their margins in the Senate, should Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock win another term. If he’s ousted by Republican challenger Herschel Walker, the GOP will have an even better shot at taking back control in 2024, when several Democratic senators considered vulnerable are up for reelection.

University of Virginia polling guru Larry Sabato has released a new analysis of the race, moving it into the “toss-up” column from its previous “leans Republican” rating given before last week’s elections. Beyond just helping Democrats with their task of keeping the chamber in 2024, Sabato notes that having an extra seat will allow them to run the Senate more smoothly, since they’ll have an outright majority, rather than a 50-50 split with Vice-President Kamala Harris breaking ties. That has implications for committee business, as well as approving judges and other executive nominees – which will likely become even more of a priority for the Senate’s Democratic leadership if the GOP takes the House.

If you want to read more of Sabato’s thoughts, the link is here.

Updated at 12.20 EST

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