Morning Headlines: 11/15/23
House Passes Spending Bill
House lawmakers, on a vote of 336 to 95, passed a two-part stopgap spending bill yesterday that would extend government funding into 2024. The passage comes ahead of a Friday deadline when current funding for federal agencies is due to expire. The measure now heads to the Senate, which is expected to send it to President Joe Biden's desk by the end of the week.
The short-term extension, known as a continuing resolution and proposed by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R, LA-4), won the support of Democrats but didn't receive backing from the House Freedom Caucus. The bill doesn't include spending cuts or major policy changes.
The stopgap measure splits government spending for federal agencies into two groups. Funding for the first group, which includes veterans' benefits, housing, transportation, agriculture, and energy and water programs, will run through Jan. 19, while funding for the second group, which includes the defense department and other remaining programs, will run through Feb. 2.
Separately, in other Capitol news, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R, FL-1) filed a formal ethics complaint against former speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) after Rep. Tim Burchett (R, TN-2) accused McCarthy of elbowing him in the back.
Los Angeles Highway Fire
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced yesterday that damage from a fire beneath Interstate 10 in downtown Los Angeles Saturday would close a 2-mile section of the highway for three to five weeks during repairs. Fire investigators said Monday the blaze was likely the result of arson, though no suspects have been identified.
The 8-acre fire destroyed parked cars and pallet stacks and weakened roughly 100 concrete columns supporting the freeway where it intersects Alameda Street in south LA (see photos). Construction company Apex Development, currently in litigation with the city, held an expired lease to store its materials beneath the highway, a common practice; Apex also had sublet the area to at least five other entities. Over a dozen homeless people were evacuated from the area Saturday. No injuries were reported.
The stretch serves roughly 300,000 daily commuters and two of the highest-volume ports in the country. See charts explaining LA's notorious traffic here.
Indian Workers Trapped
Rescue efforts continue in India as 40 workers remain trapped in an under-construction tunnel that partially collapsed four days ago in the mountainous Uttarakhand state. The cause of the collapse is under investigation. The workers are reportedly safe and receiving oxygen and water via a pipe. The workers are stranded about 500 feet into a large section of a nearly three-mile highway tunnel. After failing to create an access route due to falling debris, rescuers have begun boring horizontally to insert a steel escape pipe measuring nearly 3 feet in diameter into the cavern, which the workers will be able to crawl out through. The timeline for the rescue remains uncertain. See updates here. The tunnel is part of the Char Dham highway project, a federal government project connecting key Hindu pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand. The project has faced criticism and raised environmental concerns in the earthquake-prone Himalayan region.