House Majority Leader Steve Scalise to run for speakership: 5 Things podcast

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise to run for speakership: 5 Things podcast


Taylor Wilson
 USA TODAY

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise will run for the speakership after Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s ousting. USA TODAY Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page looks at what could still happen in the final 100 days before the Iowa caucuses. Another 125,000 student loan borrowers will have $9 billion in debt erased. USA TODAY Congress, Campaigns, and Democracy Reporter Rachel Looker explains why there’s a shortage of school psychologists. The U.S. women’s gymnastics team has won a seventh straight world title.

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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below.  This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson, and this is 5 Things you need to know, Thursday the 5th of October 2023.

Today, Congressman Steve Scalise will run for the Speakership. Plus, we look at what could still change between now and January’s Iowa caucuses. And there’s a shortage of counselors in schools.

Republican House Majority leader, Steve Scalise, has announced that he’s entering the race to succeed ousted former Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy. The Louisiana Republican was already expected to make a bid for the Speakership, given his position as the number two ranking House Republican, and he did as much in a letter to GOP colleagues yesterday. Scalise wrote, “Now is not the time to slow down.” He also said that the party must heal wounds after a division that led to McCarthy’s ouster earlier this week. Scalise, along with other lawmakers seeking the Speakership, including Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan, met with Texas’s House Republican delegation at a luncheon yesterday. Scalise made the formal announcement following the event. A Speaker election is expected to be held next week.

Saturday marks 100 days until the Iowa caucuses. All signs for now point to a Biden versus Trump rematch for the 2024 presidential election. But as USA Today Washington Bureau Chief, Susan Page, told me, a lot could still happen between now and then to change that. Susan, thanks for hopping on 5 Things.

Susan Page:

Always great to be with you.

Taylor Wilson:

In your piece, you outlined a number of things that could upend the presidential landscape before then. Susan, let’s start with the courtroom. It’s no secret that former President Donald Trump faces a slew of legal issues. What’s on tap for him between now and then?

Susan Page:

Well, just this past week, we’ve been watching him attend some of the hearings at that New York courtroom for his civil trial on charges of real estate fraud. And we’ve got another trial opening, a criminal trial later this month in Georgia for two of his co-defendants on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election. And courtrooms are a little like newspapers, in that you can’t always predict what’s going to happen or be included in the next day. There could be testimony, there could be evidence given that shakes the narrative that Trump has laid out to his supporters that he is just the victim of a political vendetta. That’s something certainly to watch.

Taylor Wilson:

Meanwhile, Republicans have launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Susan, how might this play out in the coming months, also amid legal issues for his son Hunter Biden?

Susan Page:

The impeachment hearing got off to a bumpy start when two of the Republican’s own witnesses said there wasn’t enough evidence to bring impeachment charges. However, that is the evidence that Republican investigators hope to uncover. And meanwhile, Hunter Biden, the President’s son, got an unwelcome distinction. This week he was in a courtroom in Delaware where he pleaded not guilty to federal charges of violating gun laws. He is the first child of a sitting President to face criminal charges.

Taylor Wilson:

Abortion, of course, is at the forefront of American politics these days. How could that factor in the buildup to Iowa?

Susan Page:

Yeah, 100 days to the Iowa caucuses, and Iowa is a state where evangelical Christians are a potent political force. Abortion has been an important issue in Iowa for decades. And Donald Trump has recently outlined something less than the hardest of lines against abortion. He said he would negotiate with supporters of abortion access to try to reach a compromise that both sides might like. And he also said it was a terrible mistake for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to sign a six-week abortion ban. That is something that anti-abortion activists didn’t want to hear. And we’ll see if that politically rebounds against Trump.

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Taylor Wilson:

Susan, these are older candidates. How might their age or health play a role?

Susan Page:

Yeah, the oldest candidates. Biden is 80. Trump is 77. We saw last June when President Biden slipped on a sandbag on a stage at the US Air Force Academy. He fell down, popped right back up. But man, we have seen that video footage over and over again. And it reinforces, I think, concern about Biden’s age in particular, so the White House has been very concerned about avoiding a repeat of that fall. With both these men and their ages, I think the state of their health is something that has the potential to take voters’ notice.

Taylor Wilson:

And we know Trump remains a front-runner for the Republican nomination, but how might the GOP feel, tighten or widen, over the next few months?

Susan Page:

Yeah, one or the other. Well, it’s possible that some of the candidates are going to end up dropping out if they can’t raise money, if they don’t make the stage for the third debate in Miami in November. Those are things to watch, but it also could get bigger. Some Republican donors are encouraging the Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, to consider being an added starter in the presidential race, with the idea that he might take up the position that Ron DeSantis seems to have lost to be the main credible alternative to Donald Trump. So we’ll see if the field gets smaller or maybe a little bigger.

Taylor Wilson:

All right. Susan Page, great insight as always. We’ll be counting down the days. Thanks so much.

Susan Page:

Thank you.

Taylor Wilson:

Another 125,000 student loan borrowers will have $9 billion in debt erased, according to an announcement from the Biden administration yesterday. The borrowers were already eligible for cancellation through various programs. Forgiveness applies for some who worked for at least a decade in eligible public service fields, like teaching or the military. It also applies to tens of thousands of people on income-driven repayment plans that link payments to wages and forgive balances after two decades or more when they reach the threshold of payments for forgiveness. And there was forgiveness for thousands more who have permanent disabilities. The move comes as student loan payments return for millions of borrowers after a more than three year hiatus during the pandemic.

There’s a shortage of counselors and social workers in schools. I spoke with USA Today Congress, Campaigns, and Democracy Reporter, Rachel Looker, to learn more. Rachel, welcome back to the show.

Rachel Looker:

Thanks for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

Rachel, just how big of a shortage is this, and how many students need these services?

Rachel Looker:

It’s a pretty significant shortage. And just to give you one example for school psychologists specifically, the National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of one school psychologist per every 500 students. But the nationwide average is a one school psychologist for every 1200 students. So, more than double the recommended ratio. And this is an issue that we’ve seen occurring even worse in rural areas that have fewer access to different resources or ability to recruit school psychologists or school counselors.

Students really need these services. The CDC found that one in five children have some type of diagnosable mental health disorder. And in my reporting, I found that a lot of these children don’t really receive services at all. And of those that do, a good chunk of them access these services in schools where they’re spending most of their days and they’re around teachers and others who are watching them for large periods of time.

Taylor Wilson:

And why have these shortages gotten so severe?

Rachel Looker:

So there’s really two issues that can be the answer for why this issue has become such of a problem. The first is just a lack of permanent funding, and the second is the high cost of higher education programs for prospective mental health providers. It’s really not an easy path to become a school psychologist. They have to get their doctorate, they have to get an internship, which in many cases they don’t get paid for. Or if they do get paid, it’s a very, very little amount. And it makes it challenging because a student could be paying for grad school tuition, their living expenses, if they have to move to intern at a certain school district. They’re paying for all of these things without really getting an income to help support themselves.

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Another problem with a lack of permanent funding. So, there are a lot of grants that help in this area, but experts told me that those grants really don’t address the long-term problem of solving these shortages and there needs to be more permanent solutions, like recurring training programs or requiring paid internships for prospective school counselors or psychologists.

Taylor Wilson:

Yeah. I want to talk a little bit more about the solutions here, Rachel. What do experts recommend when it comes to school counselors, and what solutions have schools tried to tackle this shortage?

Rachel Looker:

I was able to visit a school in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Derry Township School District, where I was able to meet with the school psychologist there and the superintendent. At that school, their ratio is closer to one to 1,000, which still is more than double the recommended ratio. But this school district has been really working to find some best practices and some innovative solutions to try to combat a few of the things that they’re doing.

They’ve contracted with an outside agency where they can provide school-based outpatient therapy for their students. They also set up, after COVID, a concierge service that can help connect students to mental health providers out of the school. And even the school psychologist I spoke to is trying different methods. He is a big fan of this multi-tiered system of support, which is like a framework that school psychologists can follow and really be intentional with how they help students and use the resources that they have to the best of their ability.

Taylor Wilson:

What are lawmakers doing to find solutions on this, and what do experts want to see on the legislative level?

Rachel Looker:

So, experts want permanent funding. That is the big push. And a lot of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing for this in the House and Senate. One example, Senator Raphael Warnock from Georgia, he co-introduced the Advancing Student Services in Schools Today, or ASSIST Act, earlier in the beginning of the summer. And this legislation would help schools increase the number of mental health professionals by using Medicaid funds.

There’s been similar bills that compare to Warnock’s. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, she introduced the Mental Health Excellence in Schools Act earlier this year. In this example, the legislation would authorize the Education Department to partner with higher education institutions to help cover grad programs for students. So really trying to combat the pipeline problem with this issue. And this is legislation that has support, again, from both sides of the aisle in the House as well.

Taylor Wilson:

Rachel Looker, great insight as always. Thanks so much.

Rachel Looker:

Thanks for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

Simone Biles has led the US Women’s Gymnastics Team to a seventh straight world title. The championship sets a record, breaking a tie with China’s men who won six from 2003 to 2014. The US women have now won every team title since 2011. The team gold also marked the 33rd medal at the World Championships and Olympics for Simone Biles. That ties Belarusian male gymnast, Vitaly Scherbo, for the most by any gymnast ever.

And tune in today at 4:00 PM Eastern for a special 5 Things featuring USA Today Health Reporter, Karen Weintraub, on the silent epidemic affecting one in 10 Americans, diabetes. We’ve known how to prevent it for decades now. So why are the numbers still ticking up? Stay tuned to find out.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. If you liked the show, please subscribe and leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. And if you have any comments, you can reach us at [email protected]. I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA Today.

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