5 things for December 15: Paul Ryan, tax overhaul, net neutrality
It’s true. Christmas music does turn some people into Grinches. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. Paul Ryan
Is House Speaker Paul Ryan about to walk away from Congress? Some of his close friends told CNN that Ryan’s been having soul-searching conversations about his future, and that he might leave after the 2018 midterm elections. He’s this close to reaching his long-term goal of passing an overhaul of the US tax system (more on that in second), so if that happens, next year may be as good a time as any to leave. Ryan denied the reports and called President Donald Trump (those two haven’t always gotten along) to reassure him that he was staying.
2. Tax overhaul
The GOP announced a deal on its tax bill that the House and Senate will vote on next week, but it may not be a done deal just yet, because several senators still aren’t 100% behind it. Florida’s Marco Rubio says he won’t vote for the bill unless he can get an increase in the child tax credit. Tennessee’s Bob Corker, who voted against the Senate’s version of the bill, probably is not voting yes on this one. Jeff Flake, a senator from Arizona and Trump critic, hasn’t said how he’ll vote. Susan Collins of Maine wants assurances that she’ll get the health care items she was promised before she votes yes. Another complicating factor: the health of Sens. John McCain and Thad Cochran. Both missed votes this week, although they’re expected to be in the chamber to vote for the tax bill, which could happen as early as Monday. Remember, Republicans can only afford to lose two Senate votes and pass this thing.
3. Net neutrality
Net neutrality is no more, so what happens now? The repeal could change how you are billed for your internet services. For example, T-Mobile has been criticized for effectively making it cheaper for its customers to stream Netflix and HBO videos. That puts Hulu and other streaming services at a disadvantage. The end of net neutrality means those type of practices might spread to other companies. And there are worries that up and coming companies — like, say, the next Netflix — would suffer if they have to strike deals with providers and pay up to have their content delivered faster.
4. Sexual harassment
Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker behind the “Super Size Me” documentary and the CNN show “Inside Man,” is stepping down as CEO of his production company after he posted a social media confession saying he’s “part of the problem.” Spurlock spoke of a sexual encounter with a woman in college that he considered to be consensual but she thought was rape. He also said he called a former female assistant degrading names in the office.
Meanwhile, ABC has pulled “The Great American Baking Show” after a judge on the program, pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, was accused by several women of harassment and abuse. And the New York Police Department has started an investigation into rape allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons. Legendary director Steven Spielberg says he’s shocked, but not surprised, by the wave of sexual harassment stories coming out of Hollywood.
5. Rohingya crisis
At least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month of attacks by Myanmar’s military. The grim number comes from an aid group that interviewed thousands of Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh. The refugees were asked how many family members had they lost to the violence. The aid agency’s death toll is much higher than official estimates from Myanmar’s government, which numbers the dead in the hundreds. More than half a million of the Rohingya Muslim minority, considered the world’s most persecuted people, have fled Myanmar into Bangladesh since a military crackdown began in late August. The attacks are seen by many as ethnic cleansing.
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