I always talk to scholars before they sit down to write a story for us. I like to discuss the shape of the story and what the most important ideas are to stress in it. Every once in a while, the scholar will throw in a surprising idea or comment … and that’s when things get interesting.

So yesterday afternoon, I was talking to political scientist Matt Harris, whom I’d asked to write a breaking news story about the House vote on the debt ceiling bill, due to be held that evening. I told Harris I was most interested in the fact that while the Democratic left and GOP right had gotten a lot of news coverage about their unhappiness with the bill, the bill’s passage likely hung on what lawmakers in the political center did.

Harris laughed. He told me he’d been talking with a friend about the debt ceiling negotiations and mentioned that there were incentives for centrists in Congress to cobble together a deal. And his friend was surprised: “Do we actually have centrists in Congress?”

Bingo! “There’s your lead,” I said, referring to the beginning of a news story. Which is exactly how Harris brings readers into his crisp analysis of the House vote, which took place in an institution in which, he writes, “the middle may be shrinking, but it still exists, and it is critical in a closely divided Congress.”

Naomi Schalit

Democracy Editor

The U.S. Capitol, where on May 31, 2023, the House passed a debt limit deal on a bipartisan vote. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

House approval of debt ceiling deal a triumph of the political center

Matt Harris, Park University

The news media spent a lot of time reporting on how much progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans didn’t like the debt ceiling deal. But centrists had enough votes to pass it in the House.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, left, meets with President Joe Biden to discuss the debt limit in the White House on May 22, 2023. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Voters want compromise in Congress – so why the brinkmanship over the debt ceiling?

Laurel Harbridge-Yong, Northwestern University

Brinkmanship means coming to the edge of potential default on the US debt ceiling. Are lawmakers negotiating the debt limit representing the wishes and interests of their voters?

Russian security forces take measures near a damaged site following a drone strike on May 30, 2023. Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Drone strikes hit Moscow and Kyiv – in the growing world of drone warfare, anything goes when it comes to international law

Tara Sonenshine, Tufts University

As drone strikes become a more routine part of warfare, a set of rules or standards that can help determine how they are used in warfare is needed, writes a former US diplomat.

The Supreme Court just shriveled federal protection for wetlands, leaving many of these valuable ecosystems at risk

Albert C. Lin, University of California, Davis

In Sackett v. EPA, a suit filed by two homeowners who filled in wetlands on their property, the Supreme Court has drastically narrowed the definition of which wetlands qualify for federal protection.

I study migrants traveling through Mexico to the US, and saw how they follow news of dangers – but are not deterred

Angel Alfonso Escamilla García, Cornell University

A fire killed 38 migrants in a Mexico detention facility in March 2023. A sociologist’s conversations with migrants show that they had a common response to this news – a deep sense of grief.

What Erdoğan’s reelection means for Turkey’s political system, economy and foreign policy

Ahmet T. Kuru, San Diego State University

Long-term Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was reelected with 52% of the vote. Will he push the country further down an autocratic, anti-West path?

The US signs a military deal with Papua New Guinea – here’s what both countries have to gain from the agreement

Michael A. Allen, Boise State University; Carla Martinez Machain, University at Buffalo; Michael E. Flynn, Kansas State University

Papua New Guinea’s relative proximity to both China and Australia could give the US a military advantage in the Pacific region.

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