What to know before the GOP debate and a repeat offender suspected in CEO’s death: Morning Rundown

Seven Republican presidential candidates will convene for the second primary debate. Police in Baltimore search for a suspect in the death of a 26-year-old tech CEO. And a Vermont town known for its fall foliage closes roads to leaf peepers.  

Here’s what to know today.

What to watch for in the second GOP debate

Will Vivek Ramaswamy steal the show again? Will Ron DeSantis be more aggressive? Can Nikki Haley keep her momentum going?

These questions and more will likely be answered during tonight’s second Republican presidential primary debate — a contest that, much like the first one last month, has the feel of a fight for second place. Former President Donald Trump is the far-and-away front-runner for the Republican nomination but will not be participating.

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Given the debate’s location at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California, our politics team expects to hear discussion about whether the party still has room for Reagan’s vision. Reagan-era Republicans cut taxes and barriers to free trade, fought to limit abortion rights and advocated for foreign intervention and steep military spending. Those issues have been caught in a tug-of-war in recent years as the party debates policies touching on global trade, culture wars, and the war in Ukraine.

Here’s what else to watch for this evening.

House Republicans get some momentum in shutdown talks

House Republicans voted yesterday to open debate on a package of spending bills that would fund the departments of Defense, Homeland, Security and Agriculture, as well as the State Department and foreign operations, after two failed votes last week. While a federal shutdown is still likely, Speaker Kevin McCarthy believes that if he can rally his troops behind the four appropriations bills, he can put Republicans in a better negotiating position with congressional Democrats and the White House.

Meanwhile, Senate leaders released a short-term funding bill yesterday that would keep money flowing until Nov. 17 and give Congress more time to reach a larger agreement. McCarthy said he also plans to bring a short-term funding bill to the House floor, even though a number of conservatives in his conference have vowed to vote it down.

As Congress continues its funding debates, here’s everything you need to know ahead of a shutdown and, in the event of a shutdown, what happens to Social Security and other federal programs.

The FTC’s ongoing offensive against Amazon

The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. government’s primary business regulator, sued Amazon yesterday, alleging it has used its market power to pressure sellers to agree to its terms and warp the prices of goods. As a result, consumers are paying higher prices, FTC chair Lina Khan said.

The lawsuit is just the latest in a string of legal complaints against the company filed under the Biden administration. There have been two settlements this year: one involving Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistants and another involving employees at security camera company Ring. Plus, there’s a pending lawsuit over Prime memberships.

Death of 26-year-old tech CEO prompts Baltimore manhunt

Police in Baltimore are searching for a repeat violent offender suspected in the death of Pava LaPere, a 26-year-old tech CEO who was found dead on Monday at an apartment with apparent signs of blunt-force trauma. A warrant for Jason Billingsley on first-degree murder and additional charges was issued yesterday, and officials warned that he should be considered armed and dangerous. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said Billingsley, who is registered as a “tier 3” sex offender in Maryland, should not have been free.

Pav LaPere. (pavamarie via Instagram)

LaPere’s accomplishments as the head of EcoMap Technologies earned her a spot on the Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list. Her family remembered her as a “driven” and “creative” woman who “made an impact in every endeavor she undertook and on every life she touched.”

Sen. Bob Menendez to be arraigned

Sen. Bob Menendez is scheduled to appear today before a federal judge in New York to formally respond to corruption charges alleging that he and his wife used his influence to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. His wife, Nadine, and two co-defendants are also scheduled to be arraigned this morning. Menendez, who has denied any wrongdoing, is expected to plead not guilty

Since the indictment was unsealed on Friday, two dozen fellow Senate Democrats have called for Menendez to resign. Cory Booker, a fellow New Jersey senator and Menendez’s longtime friend, is one of them. But some Latino lawmakers have remained notably silent, neither defending nor criticizing Menendez, who is considered a strong ally for Hispanics.

Meanwhile, an FBI probe is being conducted to determine whether Egypt’s intelligence services might have been involved in the alleged bribery scheme, sources familiar with the matter said.

Vermont town closes roads to tourists

As the fall season sets in and leaves change colors, a Vermont town is closing its roads to the public. The select board of Pomfret voted to close two roads to non-residents until mid-October and cut off access to Sleepy Hollow Farm, pictured below, citing an overwhelming number of influencers and leaf-peeping tourists.

A GoFundMe campaign created by some in the community claims visitors have “damaged roads, had accidents, required towing out of ditches, trampled gardens, defecated on private property, parked in fields and driveways, and verbally assaulted residents.”

Sleepy Hollow Farm in Vermont. (Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Today’s Talker: The Hollywood writers strike…

… has come to an end after the Writers Guild of America approved a tentative deal with studios. The three-year “minimum basic agreement” with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers increases pay minimums and would provide bonuses to residuals based on viewership for streaming. Here’s what else the deal entails.

Politics in Brief

Trump ruling: Donald Trump committed repeated acts of fraud for years by lying to banks and insurers about the value of his assets, a New York judge ruled. Yesterday’s ruling in the state attorney general’s $250 million lawsuit allows a civil trial to begin next week.

President Joe Biden at the picket line with the United Auto Workers members outside a General Motors plant in Belleville, Mich., on Sept. 26, 2023. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images)

Autoworkers strike: President Joe Biden made history as the first sitting president to appear on a picket line after he visited autoworkers in Michigan who are striking for higher wages and cost-of-living increases.

Tell-all book: Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed she saw Mark Meadows burning papers in a fireplace during her time working as his assistant in her new book that was released yesterday.

Dog bite: President Joe Biden’s dog Commander was involved in his 11th reported biting incident in the past year.

LGBTQ politics: A federal judge struck down a Texas law that LGBTQ advocates feared would ban drag shows in the state and imprison performers.

Staff Pick: Wild horses and burros at risk of slaughter

Did you know that the same law that established the right for wild horses and burros to roam freely on public land also tasked the Bureau of Land Management with caring for the population, even if that means removing excess animals? But wild horse advocates fear the government’s program is steering horses to get slaughtered.  — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

In Case You Missed It

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Area rugs and wall-to-wall carpets cozy up your space and feel soft, but they tend to trap more dirt than hard floors. Experts dish the dirt on what to look for in a quality carpet cleaner and recommend their favorite upright and handheld machines for removing dirt and stains.

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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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