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You’re shifting gears to head into the weekend, so here’s a rundown of the top five political stories worth remembering this week.
The past week had a healthy dose of good news for once, with the big exception of the ongoing war in the Middle East. As Israeli defense forces push further into Gaza, the civilian death toll continues to rise and the Biden administration continues its efforts to prevent a broader conflict from breaking out.
In California, meanwhile, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a positive face-to-face meeting for the first time in a year. There was also good economic news on inflation, and Congress averted a government shutdown for the second time in two months.
With the Thanksgiving holiday, next week promises to be quieter in Washington, though we will continue to keep you updated on the conflicts overseas in the Middle East and Ukraine.
Israel takes control of main hospital in Gaza
· The Israeli Defense Forces took control of Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital on Wednesday, nearly three weeks after Israel sent ground troops into the Gaza Strip. As of Thursday, allies are still awaiting substantial proof from Israel that Hamas had been using the hospital as a base for military operations.
· Israel has long claimed Hamas uses civilian infrastructure to shield itself from IDF bomb strike, and has said this is why the casualties from their bombing of Gaza have been so high.
· International support for Israel’s military response to Hamas’s deadly Oct. 7 attack is flagging. The U.S. government did not block a vote at the United Nations on Wednesday calling for a days-long pause in the fighting to allow civilians to leave and aid to get into Gaza.
Congress avoids a shutdown, again
· New House Speaker Mike Johnson did the same thing that got former Speaker Kevin McCarthy tossed out of the job six weeks ago, relying on Democrats to pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
· The bill, which funds some parts of the federal government until Jan. 19 and others through Feb. 2, passed 336-to-95, but 93 House Republicans voted against it.
· House Republicans gave Johnson a pass this time because he’s new but signaled that his honeymoon is now over.
Biden and Xi attempt a reset
· President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met face-to-face in Woodside, Calif., on Wednesday, on the sidelines of a summit of Asian-Pacific government leaders in San Francisco. It was the first time they have talked in person in about a year.
· The two leaders both made comments intended to calm growing concerns about fraying U.S.-China relations, and the meetings produced a handful of minor policy agreements.
· The U.S. and China restored direct military communications. This routine practice was suspended by Beijing over a year ago after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, a self-governing island that China believes is rightfully part of its country.
· The Associated Press: Pandas, fentanyl and Taiwan — takeaways from Biden’s long-awaited meeting with Xi
· Agence France-Press: Biden, Xi restore military ties despite 'dictator' comment
The Republican presidential field continues to shrink
· The number of Republican candidates for president is down to just five people polling above 1 percent after Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina suspended his campaign last weekend.
· At this same point in 2016, the last time there wasn’t an incumbent president running, there were 10 candidates polling above 1 percent.
· Former President Donald Trump continues to hold a huge polling lead over the others, reaching almost to an average of 60%. The battle for second place is between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Report shows U.S. inflation is slowing
· Consumer price increases are slowing more than economists had expected, a government report out this week showed.
· The report eases pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again, which could lower the cost of borrowing for U.S. consumers.
· Inflation and broader economic trends have been a stiff political headwind for President Biden’s reelection hopes.