6 min read

What to watch this week

The main issues driving the week ahead, from a major abortion case to a trial with Fox News.
What to watch this week
(Josh Ellie)

Good morning! It’s Monday, April 17, 2023. The 2024 elections are 568 days away.

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What to watch this week, from abortion to the Fox News trial

At the Supreme Court... The abortion pill mifepristone is set to remain available at least until the end of the day on Wednesday, after Justice Samuel Alito paused a lower court ruling that would have imposed restrictions on access to the drug.

Each justice handles emergency petitions for a specific appellate court; this one went to Alito because he oversees the Fifth Circuit, which made the ruling. All nine justices will now decide whether to keep mifepristone available on a temporary basis, while the case continues to work its way through the courts.

In the House... Debt ceiling politics are back. After an extended pause in the negotiations — it’s been more than two months since President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s only meeting of the year — McCarthy is poised to outline his opening offer this morning.

Although McCarthy will not release a full budget proposal, as Biden has repeatedly called for, he is expected to unveil for the first time his conditions for raising the debt limit in a speech at the New York Stock Exchange.

Here’s a preview of the plan, courtesy of the Washington Post:

“The emerging GOP framework could raise the debt ceiling into 2024, covering roughly $2 trillion in spending, according to three people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations about a fluid process. In exchange, that proposal would reduce spending at federal health-care, education, science and labor agencies to levels adopted in the 2022 fiscal year, amounting potentially to a roughly $130 billion cut. Those agencies also would be subject to new spending caps, which would limit future budget increases to around 1 percent over the next decade, the sources said.”
“Republicans further hope to use the legislation to roll back Biden’s recent student debt cancellation plan, recover unspent coronavirus aid funds and advance legislation to pave the way for more oil and gas drilling. And GOP leaders hope to introduce new work requirements for low-income Americans who receive federal aid, including those enrolled in the food stamp and Medicaid health-insurance programs.”

Such a proposal is expected to fall flat among Democrats — but it’s also causing grumblings among Republicans. According to Politico, Senate Republicans aren’t thrilled about proposing new work restrictions for the food stamps program. “We’re going to live in reality over here,” one Senate GOP aid said, scoffing at the idea.

Per Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the U.S. could enter into an economically default as soon as June 5 if the debt ceiling is not raised.

In the Senate... Lawmakers are abuzz about the possibility that Senate Republicans might not allow Democrats to replace California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the chamber’s Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein, 89, offered to step off the panel to mollify critics (including some House Democrats) demanding she resign as she continues to miss key votes while recovering shingles back home in California. But membership of Senate committees are set by resolutions that need to be voted on by the full Senate, and Republicans are loath to do anything to help Democrats confirm more judicial nominees.

Here’s one Republican, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, flatly ruling out support for a resolution subbing out Feinstein:

Per NBC News, Republicans are expected to demand concessions in exchange for allowing Feinstein to leave the panel, possibly including “an agreement about which particular senator would replace Feinstein and a specific discussion about which judges the panel would be willing to let through.”

Any resolution changing the Judiciary Committee membership will likely have to meet a 60-vote threshold, meaning 10 Republican votes will be required.

In the media: The highly anticipated trial for Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News was set to begin this morning, but the judge announced last night that proceedings won’t start until tomorrow.

No explanation was offered for the delay, but the Wall Street Journal reports that it was because Fox is making a last-minute push to settle the case outside of court.

Dominion is seeking $1.6 billion in damages for alleged financial harm to its business incurred by Fox hosts and guests spreading false claims about the voting-machine company helping rig the 2020 presidential election.

Discovery in the case has already turned up several embarrassing revelations for Fox, including texts from Rupert Murdoch and other executives shedding doubt on the election fraud claims their own hosts were amplifying on the air. A trial, potentially featuring testimony from the likes of Murdoch and Tucker Carlson, would likely only bring more embarrassment, even if it were to end in a legal victory.

On the campaign trail: Donald Trump had a good weekend. Why do I say that? A few reasons:

  1. One potential rival for the Republican presidential nomination (his former secretary of state Mike Pompeo) bowed out of the race, while it was reported that another (Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin) is passing on a run.
  2. One of the few candidates who has announced a competing White House bid, Nikki Haley, received a slew of negative headlines after it was revealed that she vastly overstated her fundraising haul. (FEC reports showed that she double-counted certain sums to say she raised $11 million, when the real number was $8.3 million.)
  3. Trump’s own first-quarter fundraising wasn’t great ($14.5 million, half his $30 million haul from Q1 2019) but it appears his money machine picked up significantly after his indictment. Aides told Politico that Trump brought in almost the same amount ($15.4 million) in just the two weeks after being criminally charged.
  4. The former president continues to rack up congressional endorsements, while his rivals struggle to do so (despite initial reporting that GOP lawmakers would be hesitant to embrace Trump for a third time). Tennessee Sens. Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn announced their support for Trump yesterday and today, respectively.  
  5. He was much better received than Mike Pence at the NRA convention in Indianapolis, the ex-VP’s home state. Trump received a “standing ovation that spanned more than two minutes,” per the Washington Post, while Pence “was met with a mix of applause and loud boos.”

White House: President Biden — freshly back from Ireland, perhaps against his better instincts — has nothing on his public schedule. Vice President Kamala Harris is in Los Angeles; she will tape an appearance on the “Jennifer Hudson Show” and deliver remarks on investments in clean energy.

Congress: The House GOP is descending on New York City. Not only will House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveil his long-awaited debt ceiling plan in a speech at the New York Stock Exchange, but the House Judiciary Committee is also holding a field hearing on violent crime in Manhattan, a session aimed at Trump-indicting district attorney Alvin Bragg.

Supreme Court: The justices will hear a pair of immigration cases and a case on securities law involving Slack.

Here’s something uplifting: Vernon Jackson, a barber in Cincinatti, opens up his shop every week on his day off to cut hair for children with special needs.

Per CBS News, “Jackson said having an empty shop helps some children who are sensitive to new environments and sounds. His goal is to help the children get acclimated to the barber shop so they can feel comfortable coming in when other employees and clients are there.”

Jackson, who has been giving the haircuts since 2021, offers them completely for free. Watch the full story:

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