Headlines: July 11, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:28 — 7.7MB)
Donald Trump’s administration says the President plans to announce executive action on including the question of citizenship to the 2020 US Census. Trump, who hosted a so-called “social media summit” at the White House on Thursday said he planned to make his announcement on the Census in the Rose Garden after the summit. Attorney General William Barr will join the President. Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a vote in the House next week on holding Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Contempt of Congress for refusing to testify. When asked whether she thought Trump could simply place the question on the census through an Executive Order Pelosi replied, “I don’t know.” The President is moving into uncharted territory by taking unilateral action after being turned down in his quest for citizenship information by the Supreme Court. On Thursday in a series of tweets he joked about remaining in office (here and here) for “six years, or maybe 10 or 14 (just kidding).”
A Guatemalan woman testified before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Wednesday and recounted in detail the loss of her 19-month old daughter who contracted a fatal lung infection while in government detention. Yazmin Juárez explained the harsh conditions under which she and her daughter were held and the pain of losing her. She had filed a $60 million lawsuit against the government last year. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts spoke to Juárez during the hearing addressing an immigrant mother who lost her child at a hearing on Wednesday. In other immigration news, U.S. Customs and Border Protection official announced that the number of children in detention has dropped to 200, down from about 2,500 in May. However news emerged on Thursday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was planning on starting mass arrests of undocumented immigrants and their families living in the US this Sunday. President Trump had already issued the threat of mass arrests some weeks ago but then postponed the action. ICE is planning to round up, detain, and deport whole families and have a list of at least 2,000 people.
The White House is pushing Congress to pass a budget deal and raise the debt ceiling within a few weeks. The announcement came days after a report showing that the Treasury would be running out of money far sooner than expected due to a drop in tax revenues. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as Republican lawmakers to urge them to pass a bill but Pelosi has said that raising the debt limit should be part of a 2-year budget bill. Members of Congress leave for a summer break in just a few weeks and it appears unlikely a bill will be agreed upon and passed by then.
Meanwhile Pelosi is doubling down on criticism from younger women of color in Congress whose popularity she recently dismissed in a New York Times interview. On Thursday during her weekly press conference Pelosi simply said, “I’m not going to be discussing it any further.” On Wednesday Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told the Washington Post how she felt about Pelosi, saying, “the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.” Earlier on Wednesday Pelosi had reportedly chastised Ocasio-Cortez and others behind closed doors, saying, “You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just okay.” The public spat captures the internal battle playing out between the older, whiter, establishment wing of the Democratic Party versus the younger, more diverse and more progressive wing of the party.
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday issued a number of subpoenas to a list of witnesses that were cited in Robert Mueller Jr’s report on election wrongdoing in 2016. The subpoenas come about a week before Mueller himself is set to testify. The subpoenas are designed to explore charges of the President obstructing justice. According to the New York Times, the requests have been sent to, “Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general; Rod J. Rosenstein, his deputy who appointed Mr. Mueller, the special counsel; John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; and Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager,” among others.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday published an exclusive report on the embattled California utilities company PG&E and its role in last year’s devastating fires. The paper acquired documents via the Freedom of Information Act and found that, “the company has long been aware that parts of its 18,500-mile transmission system have reached the end of their useful lives.” Additionally, “Even before November’s deadly fire [in the town of Paradise], the documents show, the company knew that 49 of the steel towers that carry the electrical line that failed needed to be replaced entirely.” California’s legislators are set to pass a major bill pushed by governor Gavin Newsom that would provide financial aid to the victims of fires sparked by power lines, and would offer bankruptcy protection to PG&E. The bill is being rushed through the legislature and it has now emerged that at least $10 billion of the $21 billion price tag would be borne by the utility company’s consumers.
The FBI arrested two of officials in Puerto Rico’s government on Wednesday over charges of corruption. Julia Keleher and Ángela Ávila-Marrero were both arrested for conspiring to hand out government contracts to favored businesses in what authorities described as a “corrupt bidding process.”
A massive tropical storm is forming in the Gulf of Mexico and expected to head toward the state of Louisiana this Saturday as a hurricane. Tropical Storm Barry is expected to drench the state with at least 20 inches of rain and hit parts of Mississippi as well. Meanwhile the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report on Wednesday predicting flooding in about 40 parts of the US this year because of changing climate and an unusual El Nino weather system. The lead author of the study, William Sweet said, “The future is already here, a floodier future.” According to AP, “The report predicted that annual flood records will be broken again next year and for years and decades to come from sea-level rise.”
And finally in international news Iran Revolutionary Guard says it did not try to intercept or capture a British tanker on Wednesday. Reuters reported that a news outlet in Iran said, “Five boats believed to belong to the Guards approached a British oil tanker in the Gulf on Wednesday and asked it to stop in Iranian waters close by but withdrew after a British warship warned them.” Iran had announced last week that it would retaliate against Britain for seizing one of its oil tankers in Gibraltar over apparent violations of sanctions on Syria. US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook in an interview with Al Jazeera this week said that the Trump administration wants a new nuclear deal with Iran, one that is ratified by the US Senate. Trump has withdrawn the US from a hard won nuclear deal negotiated under the Obama administration in 2015.