Thursday Briefing: What’s Next After McCarthy’s Downfall

The ousting of Kevin McCarthy from the role of House Speaker was a historic first that left an entire branch of the U.S. government paralyzed, putting its legislative work on hold until a successor is chosen.

The rush to fill the post is underway after McCarthy’s removal on Tuesday, setting the stage for a bruising struggle among some of the most conservative Republican leaders. Representative Jim Jordan, a close ally of Donald Trump, and Representative Steve Scalise, currently the No. 2 House Republican, announced that they would run. Here’s a look at the next steps.

With a G.O.P. base increasingly hungry for confrontation and refusing to be governed, McCarthy found himself out of step. He practiced almost abject obeisance to the far right, granting concession after concession in order to become speaker, then went back on promises that proved impossible to accomplish in a divided government.

The vacancy at the top of the House is creating mounting concerns at the Capitol and the White House about the fate of spending legislation — including hoped-for funding for Ukraine. A deadline is looming: The government will shut down in mid-November unless a new funding measure is adopted.

President Biden addressed chaos, calling on lawmakers to change the “poisonous atmosphere in Washington.”

Thailand is in the grip of soul-searching over its gun culture after the deadly shooting Tuesday by a 14-year-old at the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok.

The tragedy, which left two people dead and five injured, was Thailand’s third high-profile shooting spree in nearly four years. The nation has one of the highest rates of gun ownership and gun homicide in Southeast Asia.

Thailand has strict laws intended to regulate the millions of firearms in circulation, but the head of a risk-assessment firm told The Times that a lack of enforcement makes regulation “nonexistent.”

State officials and law enforcement officers can buy an unlimited number of guns from the government at a steep discount, leading to a thriving black market. Of Thailand’s 7.2 million privately owed guns, only six million are registered.

The Catholic Church convened a major assembly of bishops yesterday at the Vatican. These multiyear gatherings are generally used to discuss specific issues to better guide the church.

This synod could represent the culmination of Pope Francis’ papacy, and lay the groundwork for change on issues like married priests and gay unions. In what some consider a momentous innovation, Francis invited lay people, including women, to take part and vote in the meeting. Conservative bishops held their own gathering in opposition on Tuesday.

Francis also issued a major new document yesterday that urgently calls to save a planet near “the breaking point.”

Liu Yiqian, a former Shanghai taxi driver who got rich through big bets on Chinese real estate and pharmaceutical stocks, made headlines in 2014 and 2015 by paying top prices for paintings and antiquities.

In 2014, Liu paid a record $36.3 million for an ancient Chinese porcelain cup. He paid $170.4 million for Modigliani’s risqué “Nu Couché” painting a year later. One museum was not enough to display the collection he amassed with his wife, so they built two more.

Now, the couple is sending 40 artworks for auction by Sotheby’s this evening in Hong Kong, which the house estimates will take in between $95 million and $135 million. The reason for the auction is unclear, but it does come at a time of economic strife in China.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin

P.S. Matina Stevis-Gridneff wrote about her reporting on a group of asylum seekers who were killed in the wildfires in Greece.

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