Day: April 3, 2019

Background Briefing: April 3, 2019


McConnell Goes Nuclear for the Third Time in Six Years

We begin with Mitch McConnell invoking the “nuclear option” in the senate today following his failure yesterday to get 60 votes to change the rules so that non-Cabinet level executive and district court nominations would only have to face two hours of debate rather than the thirty hours it now takes before a confirmation vote. Lena Zwarensteyn, the fair courts campaign director at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights joins us to discuss the third time in six years that the Senate Republicans have used this tactic to thwart opposition by the minority by changing Senate procedures to get around the filibuster. Although nobody should be surprised by Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s bare-knuckle tactics since he blocked Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court and essentially stole the seat that Gorsuch now fills, it does mean that Trump, who has been appointing judges at a record pace, can now move even faster. And in case the power of federal district judges has gone unnoticed, a far-right Republican district judge in Texas alone was able to block the Affordable Care Act which has opened the way for the Trump Administration to try to have Obamacare killed by partisan majorities Trump has installed on the higher courts.


The Head of NATO’s Meetings and Why the Public Needs the Mueller Report

Then we speak with Heather Hurlburt, the Director of the New Models of Policy Change project at the New America Foundation’s Political Reform Program.  She joins us to discuss her articles at New York Magazine, “Hiding the Full Mueller Report Is Another Gift to Vladimir Putin” and “If NATO is Going to Survive Trump, and Other Threats, It Must Adapt.” And we assess the meeting the head of NATO had with Trump yesterday and his address to Congress today, as well as make the case that the contents of Mueller’s report on Russia’s election meddling need to be made public so we can protect American democracy going forward.


An Emboldened Maduro Strips Guaidó’s Parliamentary Immunity

Then finally we look into moves by an apparently emboldened Maduro who has stripped Venezuela’s alternative leader Guaido of parliamentary immunity and get an update from Alejandro Velasco, a professor at New York University and a historian of modern Latin America who is the author of “Barrio Rising: Urban Popular Politics and the Making of Modern Venezuela”. We discuss how life for the country’s beleaguered citizens is becoming unbearable as they are caught in an outside game, trapped between the hawks in the Trump Administration whose only strategy is to add more pain to the punishment the Venezuelan people are enduring, and Russia and China who are propping up Maduro in the hope of collecting on the debts they are owed.