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McConnell cuts deal with Democrats on new plan to avoid default

Jacob Scott

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The new legislation, if passed in the House and advanced with 60 votes in the Senate, would create a temporary fast-track process to allow Senate Democrats to act on their own to increase the debt limit with 51 votes. The legislation outlines that Congress would have to specify the exact dollar amount of a new national debt limit — likely north of $30 trillion. The fast-track process would expire after January 15.

The House will vote on Tuesday to pass the legislation to set up the debt limit process, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced.

The legislative gymnastics to avoid a default underscore how Republicans in particular are eager to avoid both an economic calamity and the backlash for casting a politically toxic vote of raising the borrowing limit.

Since 60 votes are needed to break a filibuster in the 50-50 Senate, 10 GOP votes ultimately are needed to advance any new legislation. McConnell believes that Republicans would be more willing to vote to create a new process on the debt ceiling, rather than raise the debt limit itself, but he’s facing pushback from some of his colleagues who believe he’s giving in too quickly to Democrats.

“I don’t think there will be 10 Republican votes to allow the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling,” said GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

McConnell’s deal-making amounts to a sharp shift from his posture in the last standoff, when he insisted that Democrats raise the debt ceiling by using the time-consuming budget reconciliation process. After Democrats refused, the GOP leader ultimately proposed a short-term deal to raise the borrowing limit for about two months and later informed President Joe Biden he wouldn’t be getting Republican cooperation in the next standoff.

But with Republican fortunes on the rise in the 2022 midterms, the wily GOP leader is far more eager to litigate the Biden agenda than potentially provoke a default that could cause a voter revolt at the polls.

While the new process would be quicker than the use of reconciliation, it still sets up a complex multi-step effort.

Under the plan, both the House and Senate would first have to pass the bill to create the one-time process that allows Senate Democrats to act alone on the debt limit. After that, the House and Senate would then have to take a second set of votes to actually increase the debt limit.

The new legislation, which will be taken up by the House first, will be folded into a more popular bill to prevent cuts to Medicare — making the fast-track process bill easier to swallow.

The new process would ensure the debt ceiling legislation cannot be amended and would be immediately considered by the Senate. Debate would be limited to 10 hours. Once approved, the debt limit hike would be sent to the House.

McConnell predicted on Tuesday that there will be enough GOP support to pass the bill in the Senate.

“I’m confident this particular procedure coupled with the avoidance of Medicare cuts will achieve enough Republican support to clear the 60-vote threshold,” he said.

McConnell also pushed back on the idea that by brokering a debt limit deal to stave off default with Democrats he has reversed his earlier position of saying that Republicans would not help Democrats deal with the issue.

“The red line is intact. The red line is that you have a simple majority, party-line vote on the debt ceiling. That’s exactly where we will end up,” he said.

Senate Republicans react to debt limit deal

Key Senate Republicans signaled Tuesday they would support the proposal, backed by McConnell, to create an expedited legislative process by which Democrats could raise the debt ceiling without GOP votes.

McConnell briefed his leadership team in the Capitol at noon and several emerged saying they would likely back the deal, even after some had expressed reluctance to the emerging idea on Monday.

They pointed to the plan’s inclusion of three of their top priorities on the issue: It would require Democrats to approve a specific dollar amount increase on their own, it would allow fast consideration on the floor, and it would prevent a damaging default.

Republican Whip John Thune of South Dakota signaled he backs the approach and argued it would ensure Democrats have to “own this massive increase in the debt that’s going to accommodate all the new spending they want to do.”

“The majority party has to deliver the votes to raise the debt and the Democrats know that and they’re willing to do it,” Thune said. “They want to own this massive increase in the debt that’s going to accommodate all the new spending they want to do and … we think that’s a perfectly appropriate way to handle this.”

“I’m going to support having the Democrats raise the debt ceiling without any Republican votes,” said Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican of Texas who panned the plan on Monday before he had been fully briefed on it. “It accomplishes the goal of having Democrats raise the debt ceiling be held politically accountable for racking up more debt.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican of Missouri, who was also skeptical of the proposal on Monday indicated he would likely vote for the plan.

“We’ll see what the members say, I would expect to be able to be for it,” he said.

Blunt said he was thought it was smart to move the debt measure off the National Defense Authorization Act, where leaders initially planned to attach it, because Republicans who want to back the defense bill might have voted “no” because it included the debt language.

One member of GOP leadership appeared more skeptical of the proposal, a view that may be shared by many rank-and-file Republicans.

Asked if she would back the idea, Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican of Iowa said: “We’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”

GOP Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho said that he has “concerns” about the debt limit plan, but would not detail what they are or say how he would vote.

This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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