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Feinstein offers frustrated Dems a compromise
Despite growing calls for her to step aside, the 89-year-old California senator asked Democratic leadership to temporarily replace her so a key committee can get on with its work.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
In the nearly two weeks Congress has been in recess, the news cycle has delivered a relentless stream of storylines during what’s thought to be the calm before the storm of the pre-summer legislative cram session.
Former president Donald Trump was indicted in New York City on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection to allegations he paid hush money to a sex worker ahead of the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about an encounter they had years earlier.
Three students and three adults were killed in a Nashville school shooting that placed America’s gun violence crisis and lawmakers’ unwillingness to take meaningful action to address it front and center. And on Monday, at least five more people were killed in a mass shooting at a bank by a disgruntled former employee.
After the Nashville shooting, Tennessee state legislators gave three state representatives — including two Black twentysomethings — a national platform by expelling the Black members for leading a protest in support of stronger gun violence prevention measures. Both have been reappointed to their seats in what has been an utter embarrassment for Tennessee Republicans.
A federal judge in Texas issued a ruling to ban one of the drugs used for medication abortion, a decision that’s once again galvanized the reproductive justice movement and put Republicans on defense when they would rather talk about inflation, crime, immigration … or TikTok.
The US government has been in damage control the past week as it attempts to contain the fallout from a catastrophic leak of classified documents that has revealed American national security secrets about the war in Ukraine, spy agencies in the Middle East, and intelligence on China and Africa.
The latest: And now a campaign that’s been brewing for months to force Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein from a seat the 89-year-old already said she’s stepping down from at the end of her term next year reached a turning point on Wednesday.
Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California became the first sitting member of Congress to explicitly and publicly call on Feinstein to resign.
“We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties,” Khanna, a leading voice in the progressive movement said in a tweet. “Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.”
Khanna, who also is the co-chair for Rep. Barbara Lee in her underdog bid to replace Feinstein in 2024, was quickly joined by Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota:
Senator Feinstein is a remarkable American whose contributions to our country are immeasurable. But I believe it’s now a dereliction of duty to remain in the Senate and a dereliction of duty for those who agree to remain quiet.
“Absolutely,” a former Democratic aide said to Supercreator when asked if it was appropriate for House members to call for Feinstein, the oldest sitting US senator and member of Congress, to resign. “She must go.”
How we got here: Frustration has been building among Democrats as they’ve been unable to perform the one task they can achieve without Republican support — confirming judges to the federal bench — because Feinstein has been in California the past couple of months recovering from shingles.
Feinstein sits on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, unlike Sen. John Fetterman who is expected to return to the Senate next week after spending two months receiving inpatient care for severe depression, so her absence has ground the committee to a halt. There are 14 judges who have received committee hearings but haven’t received votes to advance to the full Senate for confirmation because the Judiciary is evenly split without Feinstein, which means Democrats would need help from Senate Republicans.
And after a series of news reports this week about how her absence has stalled the Judiciary Committee and an online uprising calling for her to step aside, it felt like only a matter of time before Feinstein had to make a choice.
Feinstein’s response: In a statement, said indicated she has no intention to resign but did ask Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to appoint a temporary replacement to the Judiciary Committee until she’s back.
Feinstein said she has been working from home in San Francisco and planned to return to the Senate once her medical team cleared her to travel.
She said that she originally intended to return last month but has experience complications from her diagnosis.
“Per Sen. Feinstein’s wishes, Majority Leader Schumer will ask the Senate next week to allow another Democratic Senator to temporarily serve on the Judiciary Committee,” a spokesperson for Majority Leader Schumer said in a statement.
What’s next: It’s likely Senate Democrats will be unable to appoint a replacement to the committee without approval from all senators, which would fast-track the process, or a handful of Republicans to help clear the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.
A Senate Democratic aide did not respond to a text from Supercreator seeking clarification.
As I mentioned, Congress has been gone from Washington the entire month and Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Democrat, has been sidelined in Kentucky since last month while recovering from a concussion and fractured rib he suffered during a fall.
We should have more clarity about the path ahead early next week.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your weekday morning guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Thursday, April 13.
IN THE KNOW
Appeals court issues narrow ruling on medication abortion
A federal US appeals court ruled late Wednesday ruled that the initial FDA approval of the abortion pill mifepristone could remain in effect for use up to seven weeks of pregnancy while the Biden administration appeals a decision from a federal judge in Texas to ban the drug from the market altogether. The court also ruled that mifepristone will no longer be available by mail during the appeals process.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters this morning from Ireland where President Joe Biden is traveling that the administration would continue to fight the decision in court. The case is expected to go to the Supreme Court.
The White House on Wednesday announced a series of new actions the Biden administration will take as it attempts to protect patient privacy in the wake of a Texas federal judge’s decision last week to ban mifepristone, a drug used for medication abortion.
A group of dozens of pharmaceutical stakeholders, including companies and company executives across the United States, filed a “friend of the court” brief on the same day challenging the decision, according to a White House official.
The executives argued the decision would have a ripple effect beyond medication abortion that would extend across the FDA’s program for drugs intended to treat serious and life-threatening diseases and conditions.
Meanwhile, all 23 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday sent a letter to Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgersand Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie to request an immediate hearing on the decision, which is likely to go unfulfilled as Republicans control the committee.
Schumer, Warnock ask DOJ to probe if TN legislators violated TN lawmakers’ constitutional rights
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it to investigate whether the actions of the Tennessee state legislature violated the constitutional rights of Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, the two Black state lawmakers who were expelled after leading a protest against gun violence on the statehouse floor.
“We cannot allow states to cite minor procedural violations as prefectural excuses to remove democratically elected representatives, especially when these expulsions may have been at least partially on the basis of race,” the lawmakers wrote. “Allowing such behavior sets a dangerous — and undemocratic — precedent.”
The letter was addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland from whom they requested a response to the letter by Friday, April 28.
Matthew Brown at The Washington Post was the first to report the letter.
Jones was unanimously reappointed to his seat on Monday without missing a day of session. Pearson was reinstated Wednesday afternoon.
The two leaders will run in separate special elections to remain in their seats for the full term they were originally elected.
Housing costs overshadow cooling inflation in March
Inflation cooled in March as prices rose 0.1 percent, down three-tenths of a percentage point from February. Prices were up last month five percent over the past year, the smallest year-over-year increase since May 2021.
But housing costs continue to overshadow declines in other areas. This may give the Federal Reserve pause as it considers whether to slow down its aggressive interest rate hikes, which some economists say could jeopardize the “soft landing” the Fed hopes to achieve by slowing down the economy while preventing a recession.
While energy prices declined and the cost of food stayed flat, the cost of housing, rent and hotels all increased. Auto insurance and airline fares also increased while inflation for medical care and used cars and trucks went down.
Last October President Joe Biden called his administration’s work on solving the housing crisis the “most important thing” it can do to lower costs for working people but addressing the affordable housing shortage has proven to be a tall task despite the White House’s best intentions.
Cy Richardson, senior vice president for programs at the National Urban League, told Supercreator last year that the housing crisis has been exacerbated by a number of institutional headwinds and blockage points, including appraisal bias, inaccessibility to downpayment assistance and credit-score discrimination.
Despite the mixed inflation data, the White House pointed to other recent data points to prove its economic agenda is working, including a recent jobs report that showed unemployment remains near 50-year lows and at a record low for Black people.
Scott awkwardly sidesteps the most potent issue in politics right now
Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina on Wednesday launched an exploratory committee to whether he should set up an official campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. And if his performance is any indication, Scott will have a tough time dislodging former President Donald Trump from his perch as the Republican Party’s leader or attracting independent voters who feel as though the GOP has swung too far to the right.
Case in point: Scott had four chances yesterday to state whether he supports a national abortion ban like the one Sen. Lindsey Graham, his colleague from South Carolina, proposed after the Dobbs decision last summer that would prohibit abortion after 15 weeks.
Instead, he simply restated that he was 100 percent against abortion, which one has to do nothing but look at his voting record to see. And he falsely claimed Democrats support “late-term abortions well into the third trimester, some even suggesting that we should have abortion up until the day of birth.”
Abortion is currently the most potent issue in politics right now. And as a candidate, the best way to get reporters to stop asking you questions you don’t want to answer is to articulate a clear position that inspires confidence within the coalition you’re trying to build. In that sense, Scott still has some work to do.
This is why folks speculate that Scott’s run for the top spot is actually an audition to be vice president for whoever wins the nomination. The assumption is that Scott’s identify as the kind of a Black Republican that’s congenial enough for white people to feel safe supporting would show that the GOP can be #diverse too.
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EYE ON THE WORLD
North Korea tests another long-range nuclear missile, the 12th of 2023
North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in the latest escalation of its testing program that has the world wondering if the country’s government is simply being provocative or actually preparing for an actual attack.
The White House condemned North Korea for the test and confirmed President Biden and his national security team are assessing the situation with US allies and partners. The administration said it would take all necessary measures to make sure the US is safe and to defend South Korea and Japan, two key allies in the region.
“This launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement. “This action demonstrations that [North Korea] continues to prioritize its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs over the well-being of its people.”
And while Watson said the door to diplomacy hasn’t closed, North Korea has to chill with the missile tests and restore stability to the region.
This launch was North Korea’s 12th of the year so far and follows a record-breaking 2022 that saw the country launch 68 tests — 10 times more than in 2021.
BY THE NUMBERS
The estimated number of people who were unable to receive a legal abortion in their home state after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade between July and December 2022, according to new data from WeCount, a research initiative by the Society of Family Planning.
Of those people, 48,830 were in states with total abortion bans and 22,680 people’s home states — including Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio and Indiana — had restricted abortion access. The state-level abortion restrictions explain why the overall number of abortions fell while the number of abortions increased in many states that offer legal access to care.
All times Eastern:
President Biden met with President Michael Higgins of Ireland and participated in a tree planting ceremony and ringing of the Peace Bell (6:15 a.m.). He will later meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland (8 a.m.), attend a youth Gaelic sports demonstration (8:40 a.m.), speak to the Houses of the Oireachtas (10:45 a.m.) and attend a banquet dinner (2 p.m.).
Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will speak and welcome wounded warriors, their caregivers and families to the White House as part of the annual Soldier Ride (11 a.m.). Harris will later speak to close out the Biden administration’s “Investing in America” tour and announce nearly $300 million in funding to repair bridges across the county (3:30 p.m.)
The House and Senate are out.
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