The trouble with Ron DeSantis, according to one of his fiercest critics
“I believe he’s going to see as he goes on the campaign trail that this is going to be a stain on his candidacy,” state Sen. Shevrin Jones says days after the governor signed a six-week abortion ban.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Congress is back in Washington today after a two-week recess with a litany of issues to address and a ravenous press corps itching to ask lawmakers about them.
At the top of the list, of course, is abortion rights.
The Supreme Court on Friday blocked two lower court decisions to restrict nationwide access to medication abortion with mifepristone until Wednesday at midnight.
The administrative stay was a response to a request from the Biden administration to prevent a ruling from an appeals court that would have reduced the window during which mifepristone can be used from 10 to seven weeks and repealed a pandemic-era policy that made the drug available by mail.
Why DeSantis signed FL’s new ban behind closed doors: The decision came a day after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida returned to the state from his shadow presidential campaign to sign an unpopular six-week abortion ban before heading back on the road ahead of a potential announcement of his candidacy for the Republican nomination.
The ban effectively ends Florida’s extended status as a safe haven for abortion care for pregnant people across the Deep South and will now force them to travel farther north to end their pregnancy — an undue burden for low-income, Black and brown, immigrant and LGBTQ+ people.
As Supercreator reported on Friday, DeSantis signed the bill in the dark of night with no local press coverage — an encore of another clandestine bill signing earlier this month that will allow Florida residents to carry guns almost anywhere without a state permit after July 1 except for airports, courthouses and other government buildings.
Supercreator checked in on Saturday morning with Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones of Florida (no relation to Michael) to get a sense of the vibes in the Sunshine State and what it says about DeSantis that he signed the abortion ban with such little fanfare.
“The fact that he signed this bill late at night while he thought people weren’t watching goes to show you how unpopular this type of legislation is. He’s not speaking about it because it doesn’t poll well,” Jones said. “People want to have autonomy over their bodies and I believe the governor is going to see as he goes on the campaign trail that this is going to be a stain on his candidacy.”
A few more interesting tidbits from the Jones convo:
DeSantis is most dangerous to historically excluded communities: “Marginalized oeoole are not safe under his leadership. For the past four years, all we have seen is him punching down on people who can’t fend for themselves, against the immigrant community, against the Black community. It is this constant punch-down on these communities.”
It’s not just Democrats frustrated with DeSantis: “When it comes to DeSantis, it’s his way or no way at all. And his own party, they’re frustrated because they can’t govern like they want to because they have to check in with the governor’s office. That’s not how people should govern. You can’t be the governor, the Senate president, the Speaker of the House, the chief justice all at the same time. You’re the governor — you’re not God.”
The far-right knows its on borrowed time: “This is about power and them recognizing their power slipping away. When you feel your power slipping away, what do you do? Everything you can to maintain it and you do everything you can to try to put things in place to where it’s hard to change.”
Politicians won’t save you: “Politicians aren’t going to solve these problems. This is going to be a ground-up change that we are going to see. I think people are tired of it — and that goes for Democrats and Republicans. The issues that we are dealing with in this country are far too great for us to be spending time and energy on culture wars.
See also: “Ron DeSantis May Be Getting the Earliest “Campaign Reboot” Coverage in History” (Ben Mathis-Lilley / Slate)
The briefs came rollin’ in: More than 250 members of Congress on Friday sent a “friend of the court” brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Biden administration’s appeal of the two decisions.
The lawmakers argued that the district court and appeals court rulings have no basis in law, pose serious health risks to pregnant patients, and threaten FDA’s Congressionally-mandated drug approval process
The brief was signed by every Senate Democrat except Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia plus the three independent senators who caucus with the Democrats and 203 House Democrats.
The brief follows one congressional Democrats sent to the Fifth Circuit ahead of its decision to narrow the district court’s ruling.
A group of dozens of pharmaceutical companies and executives filed a separate brief with the Supreme Court in support of the FDA’s independent process to review and approve drugs. And the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) filed one that contends Congress vested the FDA with the authority to make safety and effectiveness determinations that rely on the expertise of the agency.
Biden weighs in: President Biden told reporters on Saturday morning that the court’s decision to overrule the FDA’s approval of mifepristone is “outrageous” and “out of their domain. But we’ll see what happens.”
Harris surprises abortion rights supporters: Vice President Kamala Harris made a surprise visit to the Women’s March in Los Angeles outside City Hall where she spoke for six minutes to stand in solidarity with abortion rights advocates and activists.
“This is a moment that history will show required each of us, based on our collective love of our country to stand up for, and fight for, to protect our ideals,” Harris said to the crowd. “That’s what this moment is.”
House Dems introduce new pro-abortion-rights resolution: Democratic Reps. Jasmine Crockett of Texas, Angie Craig of Minnesota and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey on Friday introduced a new resolution that to protect doctor-prescribed access to mifepristone and support telemedicine across state lines so doctors can prescribe this medication wherever women are in need of health care.
In particular, the resolution affirms that access to mifepristone does not violate federal law and that it is essential to protecting the fundamental right to abortion care.
The resolution is unlikely to be brought to the floor by the Republican-controlled House.
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IN THE KNOW
McCarthy heads to NYSE for debt limit speech
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy this morning will speak to the New York Stock Exchange on the debt limit in an attempt to inspire the financial markets to pressure the White House into negotiating with House Republicans.
“President Ronald Reagan spoke at the New York Stock Exchange in 1985 to share his vision for American prosperity,” McCarthy wrote in a tweet on Sunday evening. “[This morning], I will do the same, with a speech at the @NYSE to outline the urgent need for a responsible debt ceiling increase.”
President Biden was asked this weekend when he got back from Ireland if he planned to speak with McCarthy in the coming weeks on the debt ceiling. The president stuck to his familiar pre-condition: Republicans have to show him their budget first.
“We agreed early on I’d lay down a budget, which I did on March 9th, and he’d lay down a budget,” Biden said. “I don’t know what we’re negotiating if I don’t know what they want, what they’re going to do.”
The debt limit and the federal budget are two separate issues. The first must be raised to cover spending that’s already occurred; the second determines how much money will be invested in government programs for the upcoming fiscal year.
House Republicans want to tie a debt limit increase to cuts to the federal budget. But they’ve been unable to reach a consensus on a proposal that can pass given their slim four-seat majority.
Ahead of the speech, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates accused McCarthy of holding hostage the full faith and credit of the US, threatening the economy and hardworking Americans’ retirement.
A speech isn’t a plan,” Bates said. “But it’s clear that extreme MAGA Republicans’ wish lists will impose devastating cuts on hardworking families, send manufacturing overseas, take health care and food assistance away from millions of people, and increase energy costs — all while adding trillions to the debt with tax cuts skewed to the super-wealthy and corporations.”
Dems call for official investigation into Justice Thomas
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia sent a letter to the Judicial Conference, the national policymaking body for the federal courts, for it to refer Justice Clarence Thomas to the Justice Department for an investigation into media reports of noncompliance with financial disclosure requirements.
The request follows two bombshell stories from ProPublica this month that found Thomas and his wife accepted luxury trips from Republican megadonor Harlan Crowworth as much as $500,000 and Crow purchased several properties from Thomas in 2014. Thomas did not disclose the sales on his financial disclosure forms.
Gallego takes Q1 fundraising victory lap
Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona and candidate for US Senate said Kyrsten Sinema, the independent senator he’s running to replace, doesn’t have the resources to be competitive in 2024 if she decides to run.
Sinema reported $2.7 million in her first quarter as an independent after switching from the Democratic Party, with nearly a third of those contributions coming from private equity, according to an analysis from Gallego’s campaign. Gallego, as Supercreator reported earlier this month, raised $3.7 million in Q1.
“At the end of the day: This seat is not going to be bought by a few rich guys on Wall Street,” Gallego said in a statement. “It’s going to be won with the support of regular, everyday Arizonans — and I’m proud to have them in my corner.”
Sinema has demonstrated capable fundraising chops in the past and was a key player in several major bills President Biden signed into law last Congress and herself is a capable fundraiser. But due to her support of the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, she’s also seen as a barrier to some of the Democrats’ key priorities, including voting rights, an expanded social safety net and a stricter corporate tax code.
If Sinema runs for reelection, some Democrats are worried she and Gallego could split the Democratic and independent vote and provide a path to victory for Republicans in the swing state.
Related: Gallego also called for the reinstatement of the Child Tax Credit, which provided monthly payments of $250 to $300 per child for six months, cut child poverty almost in half and improved maternal health before it expired at the end of 2021.
Sinema rejected the credit from what became the Inflation Reduction Act while protecting the carried interest loophole, which critics say benefits hedge fund donors.
Gallego’s demand came after Krista Ruffini, a professor and economist at Georgetown University, published a report showing the positive impact benefit had on infant health.
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EYE ON THE WORLD
Biden taps a Kennedy to lead delegation to Belfast
The White House announced President Biden selected former Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts and current Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs to lead a presidential delegation to Belfast today through Wednesday for the 25th Anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
The agreement marked the end of three decades of civil war in Northern Island.
Biden returned from a week-long visit to Ireland this weekend where he told reporters the US can “change the way things occur on the continent” while mentioning the economic opportunities in technology and cybersecurity.
Kennedy — whose grandfather was former US Senator and US Attorney General Robert Kennedy and granduncle was former President John Kennedy — will be joined by US Ambassador Jane Hartley, Claire D. Cronin, US Ambassador to Ireland and Dr. Amanda Sloat, Senior Director for Europe at the National Security Council.
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of days since Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who is scheduled to return to the Senate this afternoon, checked himself into Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland to receive treatment for clinical depression following a stroke last year during his Senate campaign. His advocacy for mental health has inspired other lawmakers to share their experiences while his attendance will give Senate Democrats an additional vote as they continue to navigate Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California’s prolonged absence due to shingles.
See more: “Sen. John Fetterman to return to the Senate tonight after six-week hospitalization” (Julia Terruso / Philadelphia Inquirer) … “Washington used to abhor talking about mental health. No more.” (Myah Ward / Politico) … “Fetterman back to Capitol Hill with swing voter support” (Isaac Avilucea / Axios)
All times Eastern:
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9:30 a.m.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will speak about affordable child care in the Rose Garden.
Wednesday: Biden will travel to Maryland to speak about the economy.
Thursday: The president will convene the fourth virtual leader-level meeting of the Major Economies on Energy and Climate and host President Gustavo Petro of Columbia for a bilateral meeting at the White House.
Friday: Biden will travel to Camp David for the weekend.
Vice President Harris will tape an episode of the Jennifer Hudson Show at 5:15 p.m. She will also tour and speak at a non-profit organization in Los Angeles on clean energy at 7:05 p.m.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will welcome Kishida Yuko, spouse of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan to the White House and host a luncheon before the two participate in a tree planting ceremony of a new cherry tree on the White House South Grounds.
The House is in at 12 p.m. with three scheduled votes postponed to 6:30 p.m.
The Senate is in at 3 p.m. A procedural vote is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to advance the nomination of Radha Iyengar Plumb to be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Timothy Noah on why remote work sucks … Heather Souvaine Horn on why climate journalists hate Earth Day … Jenny Powers on outsourcing her orgasm … Amil Niazi on the TikTok taxonomy of motherhood … Michael Dannenberg on why getting rid of legacy preferences in college admissions isn't enough … Jack Hamilton on why this is the most unpredictable NBA playoffs in ages … Gabriel Debenedetti on how Democrats started winning Wisconsin again … Rebecca Leber on why early heat waves are the worst … Miles Bryan on the real reason prices aren't coming down … Li Zhouon why Mitch McConnell's return to the Senate matters
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