Kamala Harris to castigate Trump in Florida speech as state’s strict abortion ban takes effect – live | US Congress

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Harris in Florida to castigate Trump as state’s strict abortion ban goes into effect

Kamala Harris is traveling to Florida this afternoon to train voters’ ire on Donald Trump as the state’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy goes into effect.

“Today at the stroke of midnight, another Trump abortion ban went into effect here in Florida,” the vice-president will say in a speech in Jacksonville.

“This ban applies to many women before they even know they are pregnant – which tells us the extremists who wrote this ban don’t even know how a woman’s body works. Or they just don’t care.”

Joe Biden’s re-election campaign hopes to benefit from voters’ concerns over abortion bans, which the supreme court made possible with its 2022 ruling overturning Roe v Wade. Trump appointed three of the five conservative justices who signed onto that decision.

Florida was once considered a swing state, but Democrats have struggled there in recent years, and the state voted for Trump in past two presidential elections. The Biden campaign says it hopes to win Florida again, aided by a measure set to be on the November ballot that would protect access to abortion up to around 24 weeks of pregnancy, and when necessary to protect a woman’s health. Here’s more on that:

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A showdown is set to take place next week between Republican House speaker Mike Johnson and far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is leading a charge to remove him as the chamber’s leader over his collaboration with Democrats. But, unlike the last time something like this happened, Democratic leaders say they will oppose Greene’s motion to vacate, and there are already signs that rank-and-file lawmakers will follow along. As for Greene, she only has two others on board with her ouster attempt – not exactly resounding numbers. We’ll see if anything changes in the days to come. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris is set to speak at 2.45pm in Jacksonville, Florida, and blame Donald Trump for the state’s strict abortion ban, which went into effect today. We plan to cover that live.

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Here’s what else has happened today so far:

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  • Johnson issued a brief response to Greene’s push to remove him as speaker, warning that it was “wrong for the country”.

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  • The aftershocks from a violent night on college campuses continue to reverberate, with the University of California, Los Angeles, canceling classes following an attack by counter-protesters on a pro-Palestinian encampment. Follow our live blog for more.

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  • Louisiana might not get another majority-Black congressional district after all, further complicating Democrats’ hopes of retaking the House majority in November.

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Earlier this morning, Joe Biden hammered Donald Trump as Florida’s strict abortion ban went into effect, saying the former president “ripped away the rights and freedom of women in America”.

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“There is one person responsible for this nightmare: Donald Trump. Trump brags about overturning Roe v Wade, making extreme bans like Florida’s possible, saying his plan is working ‘brilliantly’. He thinks it’s brilliant that more than 4 million women in Florida, and more than one in three women in America, can’t get access to the care they need,” the president said in a statement released through his re-election campaign.

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“Trump is worried the voters will hold him accountable for the cruelty and chaos he created. He’s right. Trump ripped away the rights and freedom of women in America. This November, voters are going to teach him a valuable lesson: don’t mess with the women of America.”

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Kamala Harris is traveling to Florida this afternoon to train voters’ ire on Donald Trump as the state’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy goes into effect.

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“Today at the stroke of midnight, another Trump abortion ban went into effect here in Florida,” the vice-president will say in a speech in Jacksonville.

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“This ban applies to many women before they even know they are pregnant – which tells us the extremists who wrote this ban don’t even know how a woman’s body works. Or they just don’t care.”

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Joe Biden’s re-election campaign hopes to benefit from voters’ concerns over abortion bans, which the supreme court made possible with its 2022 ruling overturning Roe v Wade. Trump appointed three of the five conservative justices who signed onto that decision.

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Florida was once considered a swing state, but Democrats have struggled there in recent years, and the state voted for Trump in past two presidential elections. The Biden campaign says it hopes to win Florida again, aided by a measure set to be on the November ballot that would protect access to abortion up to around 24 weeks of pregnancy, and when necessary to protect a woman’s health. Here’s more on that:

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The top three Democratic lawmakers in the House, including minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, say they will not support far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to boot her fellow Republican, Mike Johnson, from the speaker’s post.

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The next question is whether other Democrats will go along with them. Leadership’s position can be influential on lawmakers, but it’s ultimately up to each member of Congress to decide. In the days to come, we can expect to hear from various House representatives about where they fall on this issue.

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Fox News reports that Jamaal Bowman, a progressive Democrat from New York, says he is no fan of Johnson, but nonetheless plans to reject Greene’s motion to vacate when it comes up for a vote:

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A) From colleague Ryan Schmelz. Dem NY Rep Bowman on Greene's effort to throw out Johnson: I think, Leader Jeffries decision to table as it relates to stabilizing the chamber and the institution is very important because at some point, we need to get back to governing.

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 1, 2024

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B) Bowman: Speaker Johnson, he's dangerous. He's an election denier, he’s a fundamentalists, and he's not the leadership this country needs…but I’m going to be in alignment with Leader Jeffries

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 1, 2024

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The mechanism in the House of Representatives to remove the speaker from his leadership post is called the motion to vacate.

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The chamber’s current rules allow any one member, Democrat or Republican, to introduce the motion. If it is introduced as a “privileged” resolution, the House must consider it at some point, although it could be delayed with procedural votes.

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It only needs a simple majority to pass.

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The procedure was last used to remove Johnson’s predecessor Kevin McCarthy just six months ago – the only time in US history a House speaker has been ousted.

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In a brief statement released shortly after Republican representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie finished their press conference in which they announced they would attempt to remove Mike Johnson from his leadership post next week, the speaker issued a brief statement about their plans:

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This motion is wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country.

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After a lengthy denunciation of Mike Johnson, Majorie Taylor Greene said she will call for a vote on her motion to remove him as speaker of the House next week.

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“Next week, I am going to be calling this motion to vacate, absolutely calling it,” Greene said.

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She indicated she thought the vote would hurt vulnerable Democrats:

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I can’t wait to see Democrats go out and support a Republican speaker, and have to go home to their primaries and have to run for Congress again, having supported our Republican speaker, a Christian conservative, I think that’ll play well. I’m excited about it.

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And also be a pain for Republicans she disagrees with:

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[I] also can’t wait to see my Republican conference show their cards and show who we are. Because voters deserve it. Is the Republican party … have they finally learned their lesson? Have they finally heard the message from voters back at home? Are they willing to actually fight? Are they going to just keep going along to get along? Because it’s really easy to do that in Washington DC.

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In the below tweet, Thomas Massie, one of two other House representatives known to be backing Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to vacate, accuses speaker Mike Johnson of belonging to the “uniparty”:

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.@RepMTG and I will hold a press conference tomorrow at the Capitol triangle. Hakeem Jeffries endorsed Mike Johnson to remain as Speaker today. We will discuss how this affects the Motion to Vacate the #uniparty Speaker. pic.twitter.com/2e1Fxapi3K

— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 30, 2024

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Uniparty is a term that has become popular on the far right to describe Republicans working with Democrats – the allegation being that the two parties are essentially the same. Lawmakers like Massie would prefer that Johnson hold fast and reject compromises with Democrats, like the foreign aid bill that funded Ukraine’s defense, or the government funding legislation enacted in March that Greene seized on to begin her push to remove Johnson as speaker.

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Of course, there would have been consequences to holding up those two bills that could have harmed the GOP overall. If the government funding bills did not pass, Washington would have shut down, while if Ukraine did not receive more support, Russia could have made further battlefield gains. That could blow back on Republicans, particularly lawmakers in vulnerable seats – a group that does not include Greene or Massie.

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Massie goes on to accuse Johnson of receiving the endorsement of Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic minority leader. Here’s more from him:

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Why does Hakeem Jeffries want Mike Johnson as Speaker?

DEMS WANT:

*nothing done on the border
*no conservative policy victories
*more money for Ukraine
*a Dem majority in November
*expanded DOJ, FBI
*no budget cuts

Hakeem knows Mike can deliver all of these things as Speaker. pic.twitter.com/NGpd1YfghR

— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 30, 2024

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Good morning, US politics blog readers. We’re kicking the day off with a press conference from far-right Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who yesterday suffered a serious setback in her campaign to remove Mike Johnson as speaker of the House. The chamber’s top Democrats announced that they would oppose Greene’s effort, a reversal from just a few months ago, when the party was more than happy to lend its votes to the GOP insurgency that booted Kevin McCarthy from the speaker’s chair. But even before Democrats moved to protect Johnson – a staunch conservative who has lately worked with the minority party to pass bills dealing with foreign aid, government spending and a controversial surveillance law – Greene only had two known co-signers of her motion to vacate the speaker’s chair, which isn’t much. She yesterday accused Johnson of making a “slimy back room deal” for Democratic support, and hinted she might put her motion up for a vote anyway. The speaker, meanwhile, has said little about the drama.

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Greene’s press conference is scheduled for 9am ET outside the Capitol, and the Georgia lawmaker will be joined by Thomas Massie, one of her two colleagues supporting the effort. We’ll tell you what they have to say.

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Here’s what else is going on:

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  • Florida’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy – when many women do not yet realize they are yet pregnant – goes into effect today, and Kamala Harris is traveling to Jacksonville for a 2.45pm speech on the administration’s fight to protect reproductive rights.

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  • Protests against Israel continue at college campuses nationwide, with police clearing demonstrators from Columbia University last night, and clashes breaking out at the University of California, Los Angeles. Follow our live blog for more.

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  • Joe Biden announced his administration had canceled $6.1b in debt for students who attended the Arts Institutes, a for-profit college accused of fraud.

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Key events

Arizona Democrats are expected to make a final push to repeal the state’s near-total abortion ban, which dates back to 1864.

The Guardian and agencies report:

Fourteen Democrats in the state senate are hoping to pick up at least two Republican votes to win final approval for a bill repealing the ban, which narrowly cleared the Arizona house last week and is expected to be signed by the Democratic governor.

The near-total ban, which predates Arizona’s statehood, permits abortions only to save the patient’s life – and provides no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest. The law had been on the books since 1864, but had been blocked since the US supreme court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion nationwide.

In a ruling last month, however, the Arizona supreme court suggested that following the US supreme court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v Wade, doctors could be prosecuted under the civil war-era law. Under the law, anyone who assists in an abortion can be sentenced to two to five years in prison.

For the full story, click here:

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The day so far

A showdown is set to take place next week between Republican House speaker Mike Johnson and far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is leading a charge to remove him as the chamber’s leader over his collaboration with Democrats. But, unlike the last time something like this happened, Democratic leaders say they will oppose Greene’s motion to vacate, and there are already signs that rank-and-file lawmakers will follow along. As for Greene, she only has two others on board with her ouster attempt – not exactly resounding numbers. We’ll see if anything changes in the days to come. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris is set to speak at 2.45pm in Jacksonville, Florida, and blame Donald Trump for the state’s strict abortion ban, which went into effect today. We plan to cover that live.

Here’s what else has happened today so far:

  • Johnson issued a brief response to Greene’s push to remove him as speaker, warning that it was “wrong for the country”.

  • The aftershocks from a violent night on college campuses continue to reverberate, with the University of California, Los Angeles, canceling classes following an attack by counter-protesters on a pro-Palestinian encampment. Follow our live blog for more.

  • Louisiana might not get another majority-Black congressional district after all, further complicating Democrats’ hopes of retaking the House majority in November.

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‘There is one person responsible for this nightmare: Donald Trump,’ Biden says as Florida abortion ban takes effect

Earlier this morning, Joe Biden hammered Donald Trump as Florida’s strict abortion ban went into effect, saying the former president “ripped away the rights and freedom of women in America”.

“There is one person responsible for this nightmare: Donald Trump. Trump brags about overturning Roe v Wade, making extreme bans like Florida’s possible, saying his plan is working ‘brilliantly’. He thinks it’s brilliant that more than 4 million women in Florida, and more than one in three women in America, can’t get access to the care they need,” the president said in a statement released through his re-election campaign.

“Trump is worried the voters will hold him accountable for the cruelty and chaos he created. He’s right. Trump ripped away the rights and freedom of women in America. This November, voters are going to teach him a valuable lesson: don’t mess with the women of America.”

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Harris in Florida to castigate Trump as state’s strict abortion ban goes into effect

Kamala Harris is traveling to Florida this afternoon to train voters’ ire on Donald Trump as the state’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy goes into effect.

“Today at the stroke of midnight, another Trump abortion ban went into effect here in Florida,” the vice-president will say in a speech in Jacksonville.

“This ban applies to many women before they even know they are pregnant – which tells us the extremists who wrote this ban don’t even know how a woman’s body works. Or they just don’t care.”

Joe Biden’s re-election campaign hopes to benefit from voters’ concerns over abortion bans, which the supreme court made possible with its 2022 ruling overturning Roe v Wade. Trump appointed three of the five conservative justices who signed onto that decision.

Florida was once considered a swing state, but Democrats have struggled there in recent years, and the state voted for Trump in past two presidential elections. The Biden campaign says it hopes to win Florida again, aided by a measure set to be on the November ballot that would protect access to abortion up to around 24 weeks of pregnancy, and when necessary to protect a woman’s health. Here’s more on that:

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Signs emerge rank-and-file Democrats will not support Greene’s ouster attempt at Johnson

The top three Democratic lawmakers in the House, including minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, say they will not support far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to boot her fellow Republican, Mike Johnson, from the speaker’s post.

The next question is whether other Democrats will go along with them. Leadership’s position can be influential on lawmakers, but it’s ultimately up to each member of Congress to decide. In the days to come, we can expect to hear from various House representatives about where they fall on this issue.

Fox News reports that Jamaal Bowman, a progressive Democrat from New York, says he is no fan of Johnson, but nonetheless plans to reject Greene’s motion to vacate when it comes up for a vote:

A) From colleague Ryan Schmelz. Dem NY Rep Bowman on Greene's effort to throw out Johnson: I think, Leader Jeffries decision to table as it relates to stabilizing the chamber and the institution is very important because at some point, we need to get back to governing.

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 1, 2024

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A) From colleague Ryan Schmelz. Dem NY Rep Bowman on Greene’s effort to throw out Johnson: I think, Leader Jeffries decision to table as it relates to stabilizing the chamber and the institution is very important because at some point, we need to get back to governing.

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 1, 2024

B) Bowman: Speaker Johnson, he's dangerous. He's an election denier, he’s a fundamentalists, and he's not the leadership this country needs…but I’m going to be in alignment with Leader Jeffries

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 1, 2024

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B) Bowman: Speaker Johnson, he’s dangerous. He’s an election denier, he’s a fundamentalists, and he’s not the leadership this country needs…but I’m going to be in alignment with Leader Jeffries

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 1, 2024

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Here’s more from the Guardian’s Joan E Greve on far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s vow earlier this morning to force a vote next week on removing Mike Johnson as House speaker. As things stand right now, it does not seem to have the support to succeed:

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene announced on Wednesday that she would move to force a vote next week on removing her fellow Republican Mike Johnson as House speaker, even though the measure appears certain to fail.

“I think the American people need to see a recorded vote,” Greene said at a press conference. “And so next week, I am going to be calling this motion to vacate – absolutely calling it. I can’t wait to see Democrats go out and support a Republican speaker and have to go home to their primaries and have to run for Congress again.”

The news came one day after House Democratic leaders issued a statement indicating they would vote to table, or kill, Greene’s motion to vacate if it came up for a vote. In the statement, Democratic leaders cited Johnson’s successful effort to shepherd a foreign aid package through the House last month to justify blocking Greene’s motion.

“At this moment, upon completion of our national security work, the time has come to turn the page on this chapter of pro-Putin Republican obstruction,” the leaders said. “We will vote to table Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to vacate the chair. If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed.”

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Control of the House will also be up for grabs in the November election, and a crucial aspect in determining which party has the advantage is how congressional district lines are drawn at the state level. Under a judge’s ruling, Louisiana was set to get a second Black-majority district, likely giving Democrats the advantage, but the Associated Press reports an appeals court has just forbidden that map from going into effect:

A new congressional map giving Louisiana a second majority-Black House district was rejected on Tuesday by a panel of three federal judges, fueling new uncertainty about district boundaries as the state prepares for fall congressional elections.

The 2-1 ruling forbids the use of a map drawn up in January by the legislature after a different federal judge blocked a map from 2022. The earlier map maintained a single Black-majority district and five mostly white districts, in a state with a population that is about one-third Black.

“We will of course be seeking supreme court review,” the state attorney general, Liz Murrill, said on social media. “The jurisprudence and litigation involving redistricting has made it impossible to not have federal judges drawing maps. It’s not right and they need to fix it.”

The governor, Jeff Landry, and Murrill had backed the new map in a January legislative session after a different federal judge threw out a map with only one mostly Black district.

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, chaired by former attorney general Eric Holder, said backers of the new map will probably seek an emergency order from the supreme court to keep the new map in place while appeals are pursued.

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The nationwide protests at college campuses were sparked by Israel’s invasion of Gaza in response to Hamas’s 7 October attack. But as the Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt reports, all signs point to them emerging as significant issue for Joe Biden as he pursues re-election in November:

The policies of Joe Biden and Democrats towards Israel, which have prompted thousands of students across the country to protest, could affect the youth vote for Biden and hurt his re-election chances, experts have warned, in what is already expected to be a tight election.

Thousands of students at universities across the US have joined with pro-Palestine rallies and, most recently, encampments, as Israel’s war in Gaza has killed more than 34,000 people.

Some of the protests began as a call to encourage universities to ditch investments in companies that provide weapons and equipment to the Israeli military. But as the Biden administration has continued to largely support Israel, the president has increasingly become a focus of criticism from young people. Polling shows that young Americans’ support for Biden has been chipped away since 2020.

With Biden narrowly trailing Trump in several key swing states, it’s a voting bloc the president can ill afford to lose.

“The real threat to Biden is that younger voters, especially college-educated voters, won’t turn out for him in the election,” said Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of history of education at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I wouldn’t expect that the protesters on campuses today are going to vote for Trump, almost none of them will. That’s not the danger here. The danger is much simpler: that they simply won’t vote.”

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In addition to the police’s dispersal of protesters at Columbia University, yesterday saw violent clashes break out at the University of California, Los Angeles, involving pro-Israel counterprotesters.

We have a separate live blog following the latest in the demonstrations, which you can read here:

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Police moved in yesterday evening to clear a Columbia University building that had been taken over by protesters, making dozens of arrests. Here’s what happened at the college that has become a flashpoint for the nationwide wave of protests against Israel, from the Guardian’s Diana Ramirez-Simon, Jonathan Yerushalmy, Edward Helmore and Erum Salam:

Dozens of students have been arrested after hundreds of New York City police officers entered Columbia University on Tuesday night to clear out an academic building that had been taken over as part of a pro-Palestinian protest.

Live video images showed police in riot gear marching on the campus in upper Manhattan, the focal point of nationwide student protests opposing Israel’s war in Gaza. Police used an armoured vehicle with a bridging mechanism to gain entry to the second floor of the building.

Officers said they used flash-bangs to disperse the crowd, but denied using teargas as part of the operation.

Before long, officers were seen leading protesters handcuffed with zip ties to a line of police buses waiting outside campus gates. An NYPD spokesman, Carlos Nieves, said he had no immediate reports of any injuries following the arrests.

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Punchbowl News reports that the House oversight committee will be paying a visit to George Washington University in Washington DC to see the encampment set up by pro-Palestinian protesters:

NEW from me and @maxpcohen:

Members of the House Oversight Committee will be heading to @GWtweets this afternoon to view the encampment there.

COMER signaled he'll probe why MPD has not cleared the encampment, as GW has requested.

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 1, 2024

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NEW from me and @maxpcohen:

Members of the House Oversight Committee will be heading to @GWtweets this afternoon to view the encampment there.

COMER signaled he’ll probe why MPD has not cleared the encampment, as GW has requested.

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 1, 2024

The visit by the GOP-led committee, which has spent much of the past nearly year and a half investigating the Biden administration, comes as Republicans turn up the heat on administrators of universities where protests against Israel’s invasion of Gaza are taking place.

Just a few minutes ago, Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican who is a high-ranking member of House leadership, called on the trustees of Columbia University, one of the campuses at the center of the protest wave, to remove Minouche Shafik as president, citing the recent storming of a university property by demonstrators:

This violence is a direct result of the appeasement policies president Minouche Shafik has used to address antisemitism on campus. President Shafik has allowed campus to be taken by mob rule, and she must immediately be removed so this occupation can be met with swift and overwhelming response to retake campus, restore order and protect Jewish students.

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How does the speaker of the House lose his job?

The mechanism in the House of Representatives to remove the speaker from his leadership post is called the motion to vacate.

The chamber’s current rules allow any one member, Democrat or Republican, to introduce the motion. If it is introduced as a “privileged” resolution, the House must consider it at some point, although it could be delayed with procedural votes.

It only needs a simple majority to pass.

The procedure was last used to remove Johnson’s predecessor Kevin McCarthy just six months ago – the only time in US history a House speaker has been ousted.

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Johnson says ouster attempt ‘wrong for the country’

In a brief statement released shortly after Republican representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie finished their press conference in which they announced they would attempt to remove Mike Johnson from his leadership post next week, the speaker issued a brief statement about their plans:

This motion is wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country.

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