Mar 30, 2023 - Podcasts

The U.S. Senate reasserts its war authority

More than 20 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Senate voted on Wednesday to repeal the war authorization that allows the office of the President to invade that country without the approval of Congress.

  • Plus, the FDA approves over-the-counter sale of Narcan.
  • And, how baseball looks different this Opening Day.

Guests: Axios' Hans Nichols and Jeff Tracy.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Alexandra Botti, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Fonda Mwangi and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Thursday, March 30th.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Today on the show: the FDA approves over-the-counter sales of Narcan. Plus, how baseball looks different this Opening Day. But first, today’s One Big Thing, the Senate reasserts its war authority.

Senate reasserts its war authority

NIALA: More than 20 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Senate voted yesterday to repeal the war authorization that currently allows the Office of the President to invade that country without the approval of Congress.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: The United States, Iraq, the entire world has changed dramatically since 2002, and it's time the laws on the books catch up with those changes.

NIALA: That Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking on the floor of the Senate yesterday, the repeal was part of a broader Senate effort to reassert authority when it comes to the U.S. invading other countries.

Here to explain more about why this matters is Axios’ Politics Reporter Hans Nichols. Hey Hans.


NIALA: Hans, why is this such a big deal?

HANS: It’s sort of a symbolic, clawing back of powers by Congress away from the White House. Now, it'd be more symbolic if the White House weren't sort of eagerly agreeing to seed them. And that's what's interesting here is that the two, you know, war powers resolutions, or you know, authorization of use of military force. They are you know, pretty much old, pretty much outdated, and they're not really being actively used. So it was easy in a way for Joe Biden to say, go ahead and take them away. That said, we still need to see what the House does and does Kevin McCarthy bring it to the floor for a vote.

NIALA: Can you remind us why Congress gave over the power of war to the President in the first place?

HANS: You know, it's just easier. I mean, I remember that 2002 vote when the country was, you know, getting prepared to go to Iraq, and it was a dicey vote, right? It divided the Democratic party. There were deep concerns about the quality of intelligence, the imminence of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, but ultimately that passed. And then you saw that that was sort of the umbrella authorization for 20 years of conflict. There are a lot of other ways that the White House through the president's inherent authority can order strikes and that isn't going away. And you know the way the country is right now whether or not you have a Democratic or Republican president. If there is a real threat or a real attack on America, the assumption is that the president has the executive power to respond quickly, swiftly, and here's where it gets a little dicey, but that is proportionately.

And uh, that's just the first response. Now, whether or not there's something more sustained or an actual invasion, uh, that's when you probably need to have congressional, if not a nod, an actual authorization.

NIALA: Why now? Is the timing of this related to what's happening in Ukraine?

HANS: Yeah, you know, look, Democrats and particularly progressives have been pushing for this for several years now. Uh, they have a better majority in the Senate. It does seem as though that there are fewer hawks in the Republican party and so that allowed you to get, you know, the more than 60 votes. So to me the, the, the real sort of litmus test will be in the Republican party in the House, just cuz it's just, it's more immediate, it's a better barometer. And so, you know, I'll be really curious to see if this does come to the floor, how many House Republicans will vote to repeal it? That's gonna tell us just where the Republican base is on the idea of projecting American force overseas.

NIALA: What else are you watching for?

HAN : Iran. I mean, the, the backdrop to all this is Iran, and that's what Republicans, especially Hawk Republicans in the Senate wanna make it about. They wanna focus on the threat from Iran and they wanna make sure that the President has the tools and in some ways the push and sort of the rhetorical air support, if I'm not mixing too many metaphors there, if military force is ever warranted in Iran. We don't know how close they are to a nuclear weapon, and we don't know what their intentions are with that nuclear weapon.

NIALA: Hans Nichols covers the Biden administration for Axios. Thanks, Hans.

HANS: Thanks for having me.

The FDA approves over-the-counter sales of Narcan

NIALA: The FDA yesterday approved the over-the-counter sale of Narcan, the nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses.

Narcan is expected to be available over the counter in big-box chains, vending machines, supermarkets and gas stations, starting late this summer. This will be the first opioid overdose drug to be sold over-the-counter.

Most states do already have a standing order that can let people circumvent a prescription requirement – but, as the Axios health team reports – stigma can be a barrier, and not all pharmacies stock Narcan.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf says he is encouraging the manufacturer to make accessibility of Narcan a priority by selling it at “an affordable price.” But it is unclear how much the Narcan maker Emergent BioSolutions will charge.

Health experts say the over-the-counter sale of Narcan could help slow a crisis that is taking more than 100,000 lives a year.

After the break, new rules on how baseball will be played.


How baseball looks different this Opening Day

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo.

It's opening day for Major League Baseball, and with it comes some changes to the on field rules that includes a pitch clock to speed up games that are lasting more than three hours on average. Axios’ Jeff Tracy has been following the story and he's here to catch us up quick.

Jeff, can you first help me understand what exactly this pitch clock is?

JEFF: As you mentioned, games have been, uh, you know, lasting three hours for the last almost decade at this point. It's just been growing and growing for decades and MLB wanted to do something about it. So, uh, basically, pitchers have to really get the ball out quickly. They have, uh, 15 seconds, between getting the ball back and actually delivering if there's no man on base, 20 seconds, if there is a man on base, and the batter also has to be ready, by the time that clock hits eight. So it is gonna really look rapid fire. And it'll be really interesting to see throughout the season.

NIALA: Jeff, what are the other changes this season?

JEFF: Um, so there's three other changes besides the pitch clock. First, pitchers have a limited number of pickoff attempts, only two per at bat when there's a man on if if they try a third time and it's unsuccessful, the runner gets the next base. Second, the bases are bigger. They used to be 15 square inches and now they're 18 square inches, so expect to see quite a few more stolen bases. And finally, there is a ban on defensive shifting. Now all four infielders have to be on the infield dirt and you have to have two on either side of second base.

NIALA: How have players reacted so far to these changes then?

JEFF: Most are okay with it. Actually some are pretty excited about it, particularly on the pitching side. Uh, you know, Max Scherzer, the ACE for the Mets, he had a little bit of fun in one of his spring training starts, really trying to sort of push the boundaries on what he could get away with. Didn't always work and I'm sure there's gonna be, uh, some other instances of that happening.

Scherzer really thinks that this is actually going to give pitchers a little bit more control and power over and at bat. They can really dictate the pace in a way that they haven't been able to before. And again, that'll just be something that we're gonna see over these next few weeks, months as players adjust to this very new different rule.

NIALA: How else did we see these differences in spring training then?

JEFF: I mean, the biggest thing is just sheer time. As you mentioned again, it was over three hours a game. Uh, last year in the regular season, uh, the average nine inning game was three hours and three minutes. Last year during spring training, uh, three hours in one minute. Throughout this spring training, it was two hours and 35 minutes. That's 26 minutes less per game, a huge percentage of game time. You add that up over 162 games over a season, that's 70 total hours less of baseball being played, which is huge for a number of reasons.

Um, three days almost worth of time that players no longer have to be standing on their feet. That could help with injuries throughout the season. This is a long, long campaign. And then of course there's the fans, sitting and watching a game, whether in the ballpark or at home, for three plus hours and again, that's the average. This is gonna take some getting used to, but it could actually, maybe even working to getting some more fans into the game um, more people could tune in.

NIALA: Jeff. So for people who've been baseball fans for a really long time, how fundamentally do you think these things will change the experience of watching baseball?

JEFF: Honestly, pretty substantially. We have grown accustomed to seeing batters step out of the box and adjust their batting gloves and do a little, you know, routine drawing in the dirt and clicking their heels and they literally don't have time to do that anymore. It has to be done in 15 seconds, you know, as I said, you're going to feel that on an inning to inning basis. And it's gonna change the standings and it could impact the playoff race and the rules of the rules. You know, MLB could certainly revisit these rules. They have that power. But right now we're gonna have to get used to that.

NIALA: Well, certainly everyone is used to having outrage over the calls no matter what happened. Right, Jeff?

JEFF: Oh, absolutely.

NIALA: Axios’ Sports Jeff Tracy, thank you very much.

JEFF: Thank you.

NIALA: That’s it for us today! You can reach our team at podcasts at axios dot com or you can text me at (202) 918-4893.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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