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In our news wrap Thursday, the South is finally expecting relief after an ice storm that's disrupted travel and claimed at least 10 lives this week, House Republicans voted to oust Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Pentagon said it's tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the continental U.S.
Good evening. It's good to be with you.
The South is finally expecting relief tonight, after an ice storm that's disrupted travel and claimed at least 10 lives this week. Forecasters say warmer weather is moving in.
But, for thousands in Texas, it can't come fast enough. Several hundred thousand customers have been waiting for the power to come back. And many more have been laboring to break up the ice.
Meanwhile, an arctic cold front is heading for New England. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu warned today of killer windchills.
Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH):
These temperatures can truly become life-threatening in a very short amount of time. At night-30 degrees, hypothermia can set in, in just 10 minutes. And we know it's going to be even colder than that across the entire state.
In fact, the National Weather Service says those windchills could dip below minus-50 degrees tomorrow, and wind speeds could top 100 miles an hour.
House Republicans voted to oust Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar today from the Foreign Affairs Committee. It was a party-line vote. Democrats said it was retaliation after they booted two Republicans from committees in 2021 for incendiary statements. The Somali-born Omar said she was singled out for her race and religion.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN):
I am Muslim. I am an immigrant and, interestingly, from Africa. Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy?
Republicans cited Omar's past criticism of Israel that drew complaints of antisemitism. She later apologized.
But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy also pointed to accusations that she played down the September 11 attacks in remarks from 2019.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):
She said on 9/11, on 9/11, as a member of Congress, as an individual sitting on Foreign Affairs, something happened that day.
What does that say to other people around the world? What does that say to what does that say to somebody else who wants to create another 9/11 in America? I'm sorry. It's not right. We were right in our action, and she can serve on other committees.
McCarthy had already blocked California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from rejoining the House Intelligence Committee.
The Pentagon says tonight it's tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the continental U.S. It was spotted Wednesday in the stratosphere over Billings, Montana. Defense leaders say they opted not to shoot it down because debris might hit someone on the ground. They say this type of thing has happened before, but this balloon is lingering longer.
In the Middle East, calm returned to Israel and Gaza today after an exchange of fire overnight. The Israeli military said it launched airstrikes against militant weapons sites in Gaza hours after intercepting a rocket fire from Gaza. Neither side reported casualties.
Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed his promise today to win the war in Ukraine. He spoke 80 years after the Soviet Union defeated the Nazis at Stalingrad. Putin marked the anniversary of World War II during ceremonies in the city, now known as Volgograd. And he blasted Germany for confronting Russia again by arming Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin, Russian President (through translator):
It's incredible, but it's a fact. We are once again being threatened with German Leopard tanks with crosses on them. Those who draw European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia, those who are betting they will defeat Russia on the battlefield clearly don't understand that modern war with Russia will be quite different for them.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged visiting European leaders to impose more crippling sanctions on Russia.
Pope Francis urged the youth of Congo today to shun violence and corruption as he wrapped up a three-day visit to the Central African nation. The pope arrived to cheering, chanting crowds at a stadium in the capital, Kinshasa. Those in the audience praised his words and his visit.
Mamie Yanzuambe, Attendee (through translator):
We are absolutely delighted. Everything has to change because he came to bring light to our country, the Congo. Now we will have the peace of Christ in our hearts and in the whole world.
The pope's next stop is South Sudan.
Back in this country, there's word that nearly 1,000 migrant children separated from parents at the border during the Trump years still have not been reunited. The Department of Homeland Security says more than 3,900 children were affected overall. A Biden administration task force is working to reunify them. It says new families are still coming forward.
And, on Wall Street, tech stocks led much of the market higher after Facebook's parent, Meta, surged more than 23 percent. The blue-chip heavy Dow Jones industrial average lost 39 points to close at 34054. But the Nasdaq jumped 384 points, 3 percent. And the S&P 500 was up 1.5 percent.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": Representative Chip Roy discusses the agenda of the new Republican majority in the House; the Democratic Party wrangles over rearranging its presidential primary calendar; actors Ben Platt and Noah Galvin discuss their new mockumentary about theater camp; plus much more.
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