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Forecast podcast: Republicans pick new House Speaker as budget concerns loom

House Speaker Mike Johnson stands and speaks at the formal podium in the House of Representatives. Behind him are the stripes from a large American flag.

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Joe Veyera discuss new U.S. House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., plus more on China hosting a security forum, local elections in the Philippines, post-electoral wrangling in Guatemala and President Biden meeting with multiple leaders from across the Western Hemisphere for a migration summit..

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These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode includes writing from Factal editors Sophie Perryer, Vivian Wang, Matthew Hipolito, Jeff Landset and Jaime Calle Moreno. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is October 26th.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got a new U.S. House Speaker, China hosting a security forum, local elections in the Philippines, post-electoral wrangling in Guatemala and President Biden meeting with multiple leaders from across the Western Hemisphere for a migration summit. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

U.S. House speaker fight

Information compiled by Joe Veyera

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll check in on the US House speaker situation. For more on that I’ve got the lead for our Americas desk, Joe Veyera.

JIMMY: Hi, Joe.

JOE: Hi, Jimmy. Good to be back.

JIMMY: Glad you’re here. You know, we’d planned to discuss the House Speaker race, but it looks like someone’s crossed the finish line, I guess?

JOE: Yes, our long national nightmare is over after four-term Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana was able to unite the GOP caucus on Wednesday after failed bids from Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan and Tom Emmer. With such a narrow majority, any candidate could only afford to lose four Republican votes, which proved to be a major stumbling block for prospective speakers. But Johnson saw zero defections with one absence. Johnson is also someone that has generally avoided the spotlight in Congress, but some may recognize his name from leading the amicus brief that was signed by more than 100 House Republicans supporting a Texas lawsuit that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election in four key swing states.

JIMMY: Can you talk a little bit about how we got here? You know, the House of Representatives has – well, had been – without a speaker for how long exactly?

JOE: Well, we’ve only got a few minutes, but to try and condense the past three weeks as much as possible, this began when Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz filed a motion to vacate after Kevin McCarthy worked with Democrats to pass a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown. Gaetz and seven of his Republican colleagues joined Democrats in ousting McCarthy and setting off this whirlwind of GOP infighting. As I mentioned, Johnson was actually the fourth candidate to become speaker nominee, and trying to thread the needle to get both moderates and the hardliners on board was a tall task to say the least, but he proved inoffensive enough to both factions.

JIMMY: Now, the political infighting and spectacle of all this is getting a lot of attention, but there are bigger implications from all this as well. Can you talk a little bit about some of the things that are on the line here?

JOE: Yeah, so the aforementioned continuing resolution that led to McCarthy’s demise only funded the government through mid-November, so the House is immediately tasked with avoiding a shutdown in the coming weeks, either through another stopgap measure or all 12 appropriation bills. Additional aid for both Ukraine and Israel are awaiting House action as well as a new Farm Bill, reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, and passing the National Defense Authorization Act. They’ve got a lot on their plate over the next few weeks.

JIMMY: Well, considering all that, what do you think folks should be watching for next then?

JOE: So without a speaker, the House couldn’t conduct its business in a sheer logistical sense. Now the question is, can they govern, because the biggest issue that faced McCarthy still exists: a very narrow majority. To get anything passed, you need either near-unanimous Republican support or bipartisan backing, and as we head into an election year, every vote these members take is going to be under the microscope as challengers look for ways to attack incumbents, especially in swing districts.

JIMMY: Well, Joe, we’ll pause there for today, but as always, thank you for your time and your insight. Maybe you’ll be back in November to talk about a government shutdown. Maybe not. I guess we’ll see.

JOE: We’ve got another House speaker race coming, I’m sure of it.

JIMMY: [laughs] Thanks. Take care.

China hosts Xiangshan security forum

Information compiled by Vivian Wang

JIMMY: China will hold an international security forum in Beijing starting Sunday. The forum will feature delegations from more than 90 countries including the United States and Australia.

This year’s Xiangshan Forum will be China’s first since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in 2020. 

Now, the event comes amid both increased regional tensions and shifting relations for China and its diplomatic partners. Those tensions include recent flares between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea, and thawing relations with Australia.

Analysts will be watching the forum for signs of who China has chosen to replace the country’s very recently ousted defense minister.

Philippines local elections

Information compiled by Matthew Hipolito

JIMMY: On Monday, voters in the Philippines will select the leaders and councils of more than 42,000 barangays – that’s the country’s smallest administrative unit. 

Authorities are bracing for potential bloodshed though, with 242 barangays placed under a red alert due to security concerns. A further 47 barangays are under federal control.

During the previous polls in 2018, more than 30 people were killed in election-related violence. At least eight people, including two incumbent politicians, have already been killed ahead of Monday’s vote.

In an effort to reduce the number of incidents, Filipino police have established firearms checkpoints close to polling stations. 

These local polls will also give authorities an insight into security challenges during the 2025 general election, when voting will take place on a wider scale across the country.

Court order to block suspension of Guatemalan president-elect’s party ends

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: A court-ordered suspension of Guatemala’s Movimiento Semilla party is due to end on Tuesday, although this brings little certainty for the country’s presidential transition.

After a surprise victory in the first round of the elections back in June, the Semilla party’s presidential candidate Bernardo Arévalo advanced to the runoff election in August. 

Prior to the second round, the Semilla party faced challenges from both a right-wing coalition and Guatemala’s attorney general, both of whom claimed the party had committed acts of misconduct. 

The allegations against Semilla were eventually overturned and Arévalo went on to win the second round of voting.

However, Arévalo has not yet been able to form a government due to both the political wrangling and deadly protests over his election.

While the presidential transition period ends on Tuesday, meaning Arévalo and his party could take office, it’s not clear whether this will happen. 

The party could face further challenges from the right-wing coalition, from the electoral authorities or from the attorney general

Biden to host leaders from the Western Hemisphere for summit on migration

Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno

JIMMY: Next Friday, President Biden will host 11 leaders from across the Western Hemisphere. They’ll meet for an inaugural summit of the Americans Partnership for Economic Prosperity, also known as APEP. 

APEP was established in 2022 as a forum for discussion of regional migration and economic development. 

The summit will occur two weeks after the Biden administration reached a deal to lift some sanctions on Venezuela, in response to President Maduro’s government reaching a 2024 election deal with the opposition.

Venezuelan migration to the U.S. border has increased significantly in recent years, as the population flees the effects of a decade-long economic and political crisis.

The summit will also serve as a bellwether for the reception of President Biden’s liberalized legal migration policies in the nations they predominantly affect.

With immigration likely to be a banner issue during the 2024 presidential election in the U.S., President Biden will no doubt be seeking to emphasize the successes of his policies to counteract Republican criticism during the campaign. 

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode included writing from Factal editors Sophie Perryer, Vivian Wang, Matthew Hipolito, Jeff Landset and Jaime Calle Moreno. Our interview featured editor Joe Veyera and the podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2023 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, won enough votes Wednesday to be elected speaker of the U.S. House, ending a three-week vacancy after Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the chair. (Photo: CSPAN)

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