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Morning news brief

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

For the first time in a century, the U.S. House began a congressional term without a speaker.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

More than 90% of House Republicans have favored Kevin McCarthy for that job. The California lawmaker has worked toward his turn for years, but a few lawmakers rebelled enough to cause the clerk to say this three times yesterday.

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CHERYL JOHNSON: No persons having received a majority of the whole number of votes cast by surname, a speaker has not been elected.

INSKEEP: McCarthy did not even receive as many votes as Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader who received around 203.

SCHMITZ: He'll try again today with the outcome no more certain than yesterday. NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales joins us now. Hey, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hey there.

SCHMITZ: Republicans adjourned the House after McCarthy lost that third ballot. What happens now?

GRISALES: The chamber is set to convene at noon today for more votes, but Republicans met overnight to try to hash out a way forward. But just like yesterday, there seems to be still plenty of division and little room for error. McCarthy can lose only four members of his conference, assuming everyone is there, to win the speakership. And he's lost much more than that, and his opposition seems to be growing. Some McCarthy supporters, such as Texas Representative Pete Sessions, said these losing rounds for McCarthy cannot go on forever.

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PETE SESSIONS: Even though both sides are dug in, trust me, I think somebody is going to have to say this is starting to look bad. I mean, the good of the party, the good of the majority is what we should be about.

GRISALES: And we should note no business in the House can move forward, no members can be sworn in, until a speaker is elected.

SCHMITZ: Wow. So what's keeping that from happening?

GRISALES: Although most Republicans support McCarthy, a conservative fringe has opposed him for years, and it even cost him an earlier speakership bid. And it seems they will not change their mind or their votes. McCarthy had already threatened to go multiple ballots if needed, but that seems to be having the opposite effect now. He lost 19 defectors in the first round, and by the last, that number grew to 20 with Florida Republican Byron Daniels (ph). These defectors voted for Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan instead. McCarthy has been defiant about this lack of needed support, telling reporters his defectors will eventually fold, and this fight is not about him.

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KEVIN MCCARTHY: This isn't about me. This is about the conference, 'cause the members who are holding out is what they want something for their personal selves. If anybody wants to earn something, committee slots or others, you go through the conference. You don't get it by leveraging it.

GRISALES: So he's saying these defectors who've asked for more concessions - for House rules, for example, to be adjusted - that they can't negotiate this way on the floor, and he thinks members will tire out over these ballots and give him the win. But it may not be a winning argument. Scott Perry, one of these defectors, said McCarthy's trying to order them into voting for him by threatening to take away committee assignments. And Perry said he does not take orders from anyone.

SCHMITZ: So what's going to happen today?

GRISALES: We'll see if there's a deal that - some sort of breakthrough here with these negotiations. Ken Buck of Colorado, who voted for McCarthy, said it's worth keeping an eye now on the more senior members of the party to see if they start to pull their support.

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KEN BUCK: You know who the cardinals are. You know who the chairs are. You know who the people that have been here 12, 14 years - when those folks decide that it's been long enough and we don't have any white smoke, they're going to start looking elsewhere.

GRISALES: He thinks some have already told McCarthy they'll hang with him for a few more rounds, but eventually that welcome mat will be taken away.

SCHMITZ: That's NPR's Claudia Grisales. Claudia, thank you.

GRISALES: Thank you much.

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SCHMITZ: Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital after he collapsed during Monday night's NFL game.

INSKEEP: People held a vigil last night outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Amen, amen.

INSKEEP: Fans also gathered at Highmark Stadium, which is the home venue of the Buffalo Bills, Hamlin's team. Hamlin tumbled down after he made a tackle during Monday night's game as people across the country watched on TV.

SCHMITZ: Ann Thompson of WVXU in Cincinnati has been covering this story. Ann, do we have any new information about Hamlin's condition this morning?

ANN THOMPSON, BYLINE: We don't know much beyond the fact that he suffered a cardiac arrest following the hit. Crews did CPR to restore his heartbeat. The hospital sedated him and intubated him, meaning he has a breathing tube and is on a ventilator - all this so doctors can do a battery of tests. Hamlin's friend and marketing representative, Jordon Rooney, has said the hospital is doing those tests and seeing how he recovers. The UC Medical Center hasn't held a news conference or issued a statement, and we don't know when that might happen.

SCHMITZ: So Hamlin's family issued a statement thanking supporters during what they called a challenging time. What kind of reaction has there been there in Cincinnati?

THOMPSON: There has been an outpouring of support. Even people who don't follow football have had something to say, wanting the Hamlin family to know they're thinking of him. The city has been lit up in the Bills colors. Dave Busch, who attended the game, said the collapse was eerie and shows how dangerous the game can be.

DAVE BUSCH: In sports, everyone looks at the contracts and how much these professional athletes are getting paid and things like that, but they don't understand the other side of it. And this is when you see the other side, unfortunately, which is the dark side of this game.

THOMPSON: Don Byrd, who had watched the game at home, was out eating lunch with his nephew at a sports bar. He said he was really shaken up when he saw Hamlin drop to the ground.

DON BYRD: God bless him. I hope all's well with him, you know? I mean, who would have thunk, a routine play?

THOMPSON: And his nephew, 11-year-old Jeremiah Engel, said he was glad to see the teams come together.

JEREMIAH ENGEL: And it just shows that on screen they may, like, act like they hate each other, but really, they're actually - might be good friends in real life.

THOMPSON: And people nationwide have come together donating money for Hamlin's Chasing M's Foundation, donating nearly $6 million for a toy drive. The goal was 2,500.

SCHMITZ: Wow. There's so many people trying to process this. You know, the NFL announced that the Bengals-Bills game would not be rescheduled this week. Obviously, whether a game should be played again or not pales in comparison to the importance of Hamlin's condition. But for the NFL, where does this leave the rest of the season and the playoffs?

THOMPSON: Yes. So in the Bills-Bengals game, they were playing for first round bye and home-field advantage. The NFL has said that the game is not going to be played this week, but at this point fans seem more interested in the health of Damar Hamlin. And as you had mentioned, they have been holding vigils outside the hospital.

SCHMITZ: That's Ann Thompson of member station WVXU in Cincinnati. Ann, thank you.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

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SCHMITZ: Any day now, the first cries of a newborn baby will mark a milestone for India. The United Nations says it is about to overtake China as the world's most populous country.

INSKEEP: The next generation of Indians is likely to be more healthy, more literate and more urban than their parents and grandparents. So what does India's growth mean for them and for everyone else?

SCHMITZ: We go now to NPR's Lauren Frayer, who is based in Mumbai, to talk about this massive demographic change for Asia and the world. Good morning, Lauren.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Good morning, Rob.

SCHMITZ: So how big is India, and when will its population surpass China's?

FRAYER: So this actually may have happened already because we haven't had a census here in India since 2011. But the United Nations says both China and India closed out 2022 with about 1.4 billion people each. Now, while China's population has stabilized and is set to shrink, India's is still growing and is growing pretty fast. More babies are born in India each year than anywhere else in the world. And more of them are born in cities than ever before, places like Mumbai, where I live - population upwards of 25 million.

SCHMITZ: Wow.

FRAYER: The future is big Asian megacities like this one with their bases of, you know, booming technology, constant construction and growth. China is home to many of those cities, but increasingly, India is too.

SCHMITZ: And I want you to tell me more about that. Tell us more about India's next generation. How will their lives differ from those of the previous generations?

FRAYER: So I went to meet a member of the next Indian generation, a baby in Mumbai, who is really representative of India's future. His name is Vehant Singh. And here's what he had to say.

VEHANT SINGH: (Crying).

FRAYER: So he's 1 month old.

SCHMITZ: Vehant seems thrilled to meet you.

FRAYER: (Laughter) Very articulate. But Vehant is first in his family to be born in an urban hospital rather than at home. His parents migrated here to Mumbai from rural Uttar Pradesh, India's largest state in the north. In Mumbai, their son is more likely to survive to adulthood. He's more likely to become literate, more likely to become educated, more likely to travel for work or for pleasure, more likely to speak multiple languages in this polyglot city, Mumbai. And he's also likely to have fewer siblings than any generation before him. I asked his mother - her name is Naina Agrahari; she's 24 - how many kids she wants to have.

NAINA AGRAHARI: One is enough. I don't want a second baby.

FRAYER: So she and her husband want a small family. They come from families where their parents and grandparents had five, six, seven kids each. So India's population is growing, but its growth is also slowing, and it's becoming more sustainable. And that's a good thing because fast population growth comes with real challenges - smog, inadequate infrastructure and economic inequality.

SCHMITZ: And Lauren, I know that personally because I covered China for a decade, and China's leaders often saw its massive population as a big burden. So for a country like India, is population growth a good thing, or is it a problem?

FRAYER: It's really both. I spoke with the India representative for the United Nations Population Fund. Her name is Andrea Wojnar, and she says Indians are living longer. It has a bigger population because of advances in health care and medicine. And that's a good thing - also economically.

ANDREA WOJNAR: Because as a youthful country with the largest number of young people anywhere in the world, there's a huge potential to tap into and to enjoy greater economic growth and development.

FRAYER: So she's talking about India's demographic dividend. It has this huge workforce. For many years that was China's strength. Now it's India's turn. Now, the prosperity of this new generation of Indians will depend on how quickly this country can create jobs, build infrastructure and manage welfare for such a huge population.

SCHMITZ: That's NPR's Lauren Frayer. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.