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Morning news brief

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Lawmakers have left Washington and will not be back until September.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

At which point the country will once again have just a few weeks to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown. And some hard-line House Republicans say the party should be willing to do just that.

INSKEEP: For example, Congressman Bob Good of Virginia speaking outside the Capitol this week.

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BOB GOOD: What would happen if Republicans for once stared down the Democrats and were the ones who refused to cave and to betray the American people and the trust they put in us when they gave us the majority so we don't fear a government shutdown?

INSKEEP: NPR political correspondent Susan Davis is covering this. Sue, good morning.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: I feel we need to clarify this for people because Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden finalized a budget deal just last month, didn't they?

DAVIS: They absolutely did. They reached a bipartisan agreement in order to avoid a debt default, and part of that deal was to set government spending targets for the next two years with the intent of avoiding a government shutdown. Biden signed that bill into law back in early June, but it really angered the right wing of the speaker's party. And within days, McCarthy backed away from the terms of the deal. He said the House would pass their annual 12 spending bills at lower levels than they had agreed to in the deal, and that is exactly what they've done.

The problem, Steve - and there's a lot of problems - is that the Senate has done the exact opposite. They upheld the terms of the deal. By yesterday, they had passed all 12 of their bills out of committee. They passed them with near-unanimous support from Democrats and Republicans, and they didn't include any controversial add-ons, often referred to as poison pills on Capitol Hill, in their bills that they will also have to negotiate with the House in the fall.

INSKEEP: Oh, wait, did the House then add a bunch of poison pills in addition to lower spending?

DAVIS: A lot of them, and in all 12 bills. And that's part of what's going to make this round of shutdown negotiations so complicated. It's not just a disagreement about how much money to spend. There's something called the, quote, "Anti-Woke Caucus" in the House. There's about two dozen Republicans in it. And they lobbied really hard to put policy riders in the appropriations bills to eliminate any money for things that they say promote far-left ideology on race and gender.

One example of this - they requested eliminating $3 million in funding for the Congressional Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and they were successful. Republicans stripped that money from their bill. There's also a lot of abortion-related provisions in many bills that are going to be very contentious to negotiate with Democrats. In a House bill that they passed just yesterday, Republicans are trying to block a Biden rule that would expand abortion access for those seeking care through the VA, the Veterans Administration.

There's also been a lot of really personal, contentious moments among lawmakers during the process of passing these bills. Just last week at a hearing, Republicans moved to eliminate funding for three LGBTQ centers that were located in three Democrats' congressional districts. That move prompted Wisconsin Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan - he is openly gay himself - to accuse Republicans of anti-gay bigotry. But Republicans ultimately were successful in removing those provisions from the bill.

INSKEEP: I'm thinking about the complexities here. McCarthy, because his majority is so narrow, may need some Democrats to go along, which means he would have to get rid of some of these provisions. But he also has some people in his own caucus who may want him out of his job.

DAVIS: He's backed himself into a very difficult negotiating position. He's going to both have to try to not shut down the government to make his moderate members look reasonable and like they can govern and win reelection. He's got to keep his conservatives happy so they don't try to throw him out. And he's got to try to pass a bill that can pass both a Democratic Senate and be signed by President Biden into law. It's a really difficult position, and that's why no one I spoke to this week was confident that a shutdown could be avoided in late September.

INSKEEP: Just a reminder - McCarthy really wanted this job. It's a job he wanted. Susan, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

DAVIS: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: NPR's Susan Davis.

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INSKEEP: In some cases, this summer's extreme heat is deadly.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, soaring summer temperatures have led to increases in heat exhaustion and also heatstroke, which is more serious and potentially fatal. Ambulance crews, hospitals and emergency rooms are all dealing with how that heat is taking a toll on human bodies.

INSKEEP: Drew Hawkins is with the Gulf States Newsroom. He's based in New Orleans. Good morning.

DREW HAWKINS, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How hot is it in New Orleans now?

HAWKINS: Well, honestly, there's really no other way to say it. It's not just hot. It is hot-hot. You know, we're no strangers to the heat down here, but this is a whole new thing. You can't be outside for most of the day. The streets in the French Quarter are empty. Kids can't go to playgrounds. You basically have a few hours in the morning, and then you're stuck inside with the AC until the evening. I mean, our dogs - we don't even take our dogs out on the levee until the sun goes down, which is very much to their chagrin.

But the thing is, this heat is not just uncomfortable. It's actually dangerous, like you said. For the last couple of weeks, the city has had to set up cooling stations in public buildings like libraries and rec centers so people can take shelter from the heat. And one ER doctor that I spoke to said he's already seen people die because of the heat.

INSKEEP: What are you hearing from EMTs, paramedics, the people driving ambulances around?

HAWKINS: Well, what stands out to me is the scariest thing, which is just how quickly this can happen. If you're in temperatures that are over 100 degrees, you can start experiencing a condition called hyperthermia sometimes within 30 minutes. And that's what happens when your internal temperature gets too high. And the first stage is heat exhaustion. And that comes with symptoms like heavy sweating, dizziness and maybe a headache. But if you can get out of the heat and into some AC, you usually won't have any problems. But if you don't, you can move into the next stage, heatstroke, and that's when things really become dangerous. Here's how Lieutenant Carriere with the New Orleans EMS describes what happens to your body.

TITUS CARRIERE: Once you move to heatstroke, your body stops compensating. You stop sweating. You're hot, you're dry, and your organs are basically, like, frying themselves from the inside out.

INSKEEP: How do they treat that?

HAWKINS: So it starts really as soon as first responders get to you. They're going to stick you in an ambulance with the AC blasting. They're going to remove your clothing. They're going to cover you with ice packs. And once you get to the ER, they'll also probably use ice there as well. The main thing here is to get your temperature down as soon as possible, ideally below 100 degrees, so you're in the safe zone. And I visited the emergency room at the University Medical Center, which is the city's largest hospital. And this year, they said they're treating more heat-related patients than ever before. While I was there, I talked to Dr. Jeffrey Elder. He's in charge of emergency medicine.

JEFFREY ELDER: Typically what we'll actually do is actually on the stretcher, we'll kind of use some of the sheets as kind of a barrier. And while they're on the stretcher, we'll just put the ice on them right then and there.

HAWKINS: And Steve, at other hospitals, they're actually putting patients inside body bags, which I know sounds a little bit morbid, but if you think about it, they're kind of perfect. They're made to fit a human body, and you can really just pack them full of ice because they're waterproof.

INSKEEP: Wow. That's an image that's going to stay with me the rest of the day. How does your experience in New Orleans compare with the rest of the country?

HAWKINS: So, unfortunately, you know, the CDC told me that what we're seeing here isn't an anomaly at all. Extreme heat events like heat waves and the recent heat dome are likely to become more frequent and intense in the future. And for us in New Orleans, more heat also means more hurricanes, and that can cause a whole host of other problems and even more strain on hospitals. So whether it's storms or just relentless heat, cities are going to have to really think about their health infrastructure.

INSKEEP: Drew Hawkins in New Orleans, thanks so much. Stay safe.

HAWKINS: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

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INSKEEP: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defending a vote that increased the power of his governing coalition.

MARTÍNEZ: The parliament, or Knesset, removed a check on the legislature. Now, until now, the country's Supreme Court has been able to reject appointments or laws it considers unreasonable. Well, no more. The parliament voted away that power. And Benjamin Netanyahu argues it's a victory for the will of the majority.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I don't think this is so much a left-right division - divide in the sense of settlers and so on. It's really the question of who makes the decision in a democracy.

MARTÍNEZ: Protesters have said for months that weakening the court, in fact, threatens democracy. Now, amid that protest, Netanyahu spoke with Steve. So, Steve, what makes this such a big deal?

INSKEEP: It's that the court is the main check on the legislature. You think about the system in Israel. Unlike the United States, the executive, the prime minister and the legislature of the Knesset - they're basically the same thing. So the court is what's there to stand in its way for checks and balances. Nobody is supposed to have unlimited power in a democracy, and now judges have one less tool, although they're still powerful. We should be clear. Netanyahu is arguing there should be more room for majority rule, another facet of democracy, and he insists this change is minor. We're going to listen to a good chunk of our conversation to hear the way that Netanyahu's majority might use their new power. Let's listen.

NETANYAHU: Now that we've passed it and we have the votes to continue legislating, maybe now we'll be able to get some buy-in from the opposition. And I'm prepared to do that. We can find a middle ground, and we should do it.

INSKEEP: I understand what you're saying, that you cast this as a minor change, but it was a check on your power that did, in fact check things that you wanted to do in the very recent past. For example, Aryeh Deri was someone who you appointed to the government who was rejected by the Supreme Court because he'd been convicted of tax fraud. So now that that check on your power is gone, will you reappoint him?

NETANYAHU: Well, the court didn't strike Deri's appointment down because it's illegal. It's a political question, and political questions are solved in elections.

INSKEEP: They said it was unreasonable. Right.

NETANYAHU: Yeah, they said it's unreasonable, but they didn't say - it's not on grounds of any illegality, but on a ground of unreasonableness. We just had an election, and Deri was elected by a large - I mean, like, almost half a million voters who thought it was reasonable. So obviously...

INSKEEP: We were told that as part of his sentencing that he committed not to return to politics. And there he was, returning to politics. I could see a court finding that unreasonable.

NETANYAHU: Yeah, but that's not the legal argument. If you want to say it, they have 100 ways of saying it. They can say it's a conflict of interest. They can say - they still have a lot of checks. They can say this is undue process. You don't strike down an appointment simply by saying that it's basically subjectively unreasonable. You don't have that power.

INSKEEP: Will you reappoint him then?

NETANYAHU: Well, you know, it depends what happens, of course, with the legislation. We have to see. But if it stands, you know, I expect it to happen.

MARTÍNEZ: If it stands. So what does he mean by if it stands?

INSKEEP: Well, the Supreme Court could reject this limitation on its own power. But if it stands, he's ready to move forward, bring that guy into the government, disregarding continued opposition and warnings of threats to the country's stability and even its national security.

MARTÍNEZ: I know Netanyahu has that corruption trial ongoing. I mean, could he use that extra power to end that?

INSKEEP: It would seem that he could, but he denies that. Let's listen.

NETANYAHU: Only one request - that we have live television coverage of the trial, and I'll tell you, not merely because it's the best show in town, but because it lets the truth come out.

INSKEEP: I think you're saying that you don't think that you need to fire the attorney general to win the trial. Is that what you're saying?

NETANYAHU: I'm saying it's not on the table, and it won't happen. We have a trial. We have judges. They'll decide.

INSKEEP: So, A, the trial goes ahead, and so do his efforts at changing the judiciary. Netanyahu says he's made fewer changes than he wanted, but he's determined to move forward with others and wants to negotiate with protesters, a story we'll continue covering.

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MARTÍNEZ: And one more thing - as we wait to see whether Donald Trump will face another indictment in a case involving efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, new charges and a third defendant have been announced in a separate case involving the former president and his handling of classified documents.

INSKEEP: Yeah, everybody was waiting for an indictment on the one case and then heard instead of an update to the indictment on another case. Trump and two employees are accused of trying to keep surveillance video away from investigators. The Trump campaign has responded to this added part of the indictment with a statement describing the indictment as an attempt to harass him. Stream NPR or your local station from your mobile phone for the latest developments. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
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