Another Shutdown Looms Thanks To Far-Right Conservatives | Crooked Media
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February 27, 2024
What A Day
Another Shutdown Looms Thanks To Far-Right Conservatives

In This Episode

  • Yet another government shutdown looms and lawmakers have until Friday night to avert it. Here’s what’s holding them up this time: House Republicans have refused to support a spending deal that doesn’t cover some of their extremist priorities, like the reversal of a federal rule that broadens access to abortion medication. House Speaker Mike Johnson has said he’s committed to avoiding a shutdown, but we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.
  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments about a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, which enable rapid firing when added to semi-automatic weapons. The bump stock owner who brought the case argues that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives doesn’t have the authority to outlaw bump stocks, and that bump stocks shouldn’t be classified as “machine guns.”
  • And in headlines: Hamas and Israel are far less optimistic than Joe Biden about the near-term possibility of a ceasefire, Starbucks agreed to start bargaining talks with the Starbucks Workers Union, and Macy’s is closing 150 stores.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Wednesday, February 28th. I’m Tre’vell Andersen. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day where we will soon be eating all of our Wendy’s meals at off peak hours only because the chain is introducing surge pricing. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, the Wendy’s CEO revealed that the price of our Frosties could soon rise in fall based on hourly demand. And sir, this is not Uber, this is a Wendy’s. What is you doing? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely no. [music break] 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On the show, what to watch for in today’s Supreme Court hearing about the ban on bump stocks for guns. Plus Israel and Hamas now signal that they are not getting closer to a cease fire deal. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But first, there are three days left until a partial government shutdown. And as of now, lawmakers have yet to reach a deal to avert it. And the clock starts now, since the House returns today after a ten day long break. If this feels like deja vu, you are not wrong at all. Back in January, Congress went down to the wire and passed a short term funding bill that set two separate deadlines one on March 1st and one on March 8th, to pass a series of spending deals for the year. But apparently the 40 some days that they have had in between have not yet been enough. Congressional leaders have until the end of the night Friday to get this all figured out. And as of yesterday, they seemed optimistic about averting a partial shutdown, which is definitely progress. But still, there is not a plan. . 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. And we’ve established, especially on this show, how disruptive and harmful government shutdowns can be. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What has kept lawmakers from striking a deal this time to avoid that? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Very simply, it’s because of House Republicans. Hard right Republicans have refused to support a spending deal that doesn’t write in some of their wackadoodle priorities, including reversing a federal rule that broadens access to abortion medication and restricting the Department of Veterans Affairs from flagging certain veterans and federal background checks to buy guns. The margins in the Republican held House are increasingly thin, so there’s really not a lot of room for this increasingly vocal and increasingly combative wing of the party to do what they do without holding up everybody else. And again, if this is all seeming like deja vu, it’s because this same group of ultra right wing conservatives have been the reason the government has been brought to the brink of total or partial shutdown three times in the past six months alone. These people, who famously have achieved nothing, worked incredibly hard to shut down our government every chance that they get. It is literally the only thing they seem to care about. It is wild, and their colleagues really aren’t happy about it. Democratic-ish Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, of all people, told CNN, quote, “I swear to God, it is sinful what is going on and the games that are being played right now with the American people.” 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Look at me and Joe Manchin agreeing on something for once.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously, like house Republicans will bring everyone else together, apparently. [laughter] But during a private meeting with the president and other congressional leaders yesterday, Republican House speaker Mike Johnson actually committed to avoiding a shutdown. Take a listen to him speaking to reporters afterwards. 

 

[clip of Mike Johnson] We’re very optimistic at the hope that the other leaders came out here and told you the same. We believe that we can get to agreement on these issues and prevent a government shutdown, and that’s our first responsibility. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That commitment is certainly fueling the optimism that I mentioned earlier. But still, despite what Johnson says, this isn’t a done deal yet, and we will be very anxiously awaiting updates as we approach this deadline. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: For sure. Now, what else can you tell us about that White House meeting with the president? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: In addition to pushing Johnson to get his caucus together to keep the government open, a big part of that meeting between President Biden, Speaker Johnson and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle was focused on getting aid to Ukraine. It was described as particularly heated. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters afterwards that it was one of the most intense meetings he has ever experienced in the Oval Office. So far, Johnson has refused to take up the $95 billion aid package that the Senate passed earlier this month for Israel and Ukraine in the House. But he came under intense pressure to do so from Biden and Democratic leaders, as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Johnson told reporters afterwards that the country’s first priority is the border, meaning that his party’s first priority is the border. But he is, quote, “actively pursuing and investigating all the various options when it comes to passing aid for Ukraine.” So it remains to be seen what exactly that means. Will he bring it up for a vote? Will he not? We will be watching. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Thanks for that, Priyanka. Now on to a story in the ongoing fight for gun control. Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about a Trump era ban on bump stocks, which, according to the FBI, are devices that can alter semiautomatic weapons so they fire up to 1000 rounds of ammunition in 11 minutes, which is exactly what happened in a mass shooting back in October of 2017. That’s when nearly 60 people were killed and roughly 500 others were wounded during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Vegas. The gunman in that mass shooting, which was one of the deadliest in US history, had set up shop from the 32nd floor of a hotel across the street, and he used a bump stock, which essentially turned his semi-automatic weapons into machine guns. In response, then President Trump directed then attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to craft regulations that would ban these devices. And it was a pretty big deal at the time, because it was basically the first definitive policy solution that Trump had offered related to gun control. Beyond the thoughts and prayers that our elected officials love to offer up during these tragic and presumably preventable situations. And so now, the legality of that ban is one of the things the Supreme Court is going to decide in Garland versus Cargill. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Break this down for us. Why exactly might a ban on bump stocks of all things be illegal? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The Cargill in Garland versus Cargill is Michael Cargill, a gun dealer in Texas. In April of 2018, he bought two bump stocks for his personal collection. Now he turned them over to the government after this rule was adopted in December of that year because he had to. But then he turned around and challenged the ban in court in Texas literally a day later. So we know this was a coordinated effort. And basically, his lawyers are saying a couple of things, including that one, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives or ATF doesn’t have the legal authority to outlaw bump stocks and that Congress should be doing so. And two, that bump stocks, shouldn’t be classified as machine guns based on the definition set forth for machine guns in the National Firearms Act, which is a law from 1986. Now, I’m not gonna go too deeply into the parsing of the definition of what is and isn’t a machine gun that’s being done in this case here. But what y’all need to know is that various courts in various districts have ruled in various ways regarding this. And so now the Supreme Court, through Garland versus Cargill, is set to end the legal back and forth that’s been happening since this ban was adopted. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So the Supreme Court currently is a 6-3 conservative majority, but also this is a ban that was instituted by President Trump. What do we think will happen once the courts hear these arguments today. Is there any indication of how they might rule on this?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Well, we called up Chip Brownlee to ask just that. He is a reporter for The Trace, which is a nonprofit newsroom covering gun violence. Take a listen to what he had to say. 

 

[clip of Chip Brownlee] I think there are some signs that they may want to overturn it. Not necessarily because any of the justices really think that having devices that can turn guns into machine guns essentially is a good thing, but rather there’s all of these different legal arguments going on about authority of federal agencies. A lot of the conservative justices have in the past ruled, and at least hinted that they would like to kind of limit federal agency to issue their own regulation. So I think if it were to be overturned, we would maybe see it done on those grounds. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Now, the Biden administration is, of course, arguing that the ban on bump stocks should continue and that ATF’s definition of what makes a machine gun a machine gun is appropriate and accurate. But we will find out how the Supreme Court rules by the end of June. That’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some advertisements. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: For an update on that potential ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, things look pretty bleak. We told you yesterday that President Biden said he hopes that a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas could happen as early as next week. But both Israel and Hamas played down that progress, holding firm in their own demands. Israeli officials said Biden’s comments caught them off guard. Israel says they want a deal as soon as possible, but Hamas keeps demanding more than what Israel is willing to offer. On the other hand, Hamas has consistently said that Israel must end the war in any deal that the parties agree to. Something that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously called, quote, “delusional.” Tensions are obviously high, especially with Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims less than two weeks away. And yesterday, a UN official told the Security Council that well over half a million people in the Gaza Strip are, quote, “just a step away from famine” and that unless aid drastically increases, famine is practically inevitable. Almost 30,000 people have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7th. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Michigan held its primary elections yesterday, and on this show, we have been discussing the Listen to Michigan campaign, which pushed Democrats to vote uncommitted as a means of voicing disapproval for President Biden’s handling of Israel’s war against Hamas. Days before the polls opened, the organizers of that campaign told CNN that they wanted to recruit at least 10,000 voters to their cause. In a reference to the just 10,000 vote margin by which Trump won Michigan in 2016. As we went to record this at 9 p.m. eastern, they had surpassed that goal by a large margin already. Hopefully that pushes Democrats, pushes President Biden, pushes people to really listen to their concerns, what they have to say and why they felt so impassioned about taking this stand. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. The Texas Court of Appeals rejected an appeal yesterday in the case of Ivan Cantu, who is scheduled to be executed tonight for the murder of his cousin and cousin’s fiancee in 2000. Despite developments that have cast serious doubts on the legitimacy of his conviction. Cantu’s appeal cited evidence that a key witness lied in her testimony during his 2001 trial, later admitting to doing so. And numerous supporters have been attracted to Cantu’s cause, including celebrities like Kim Kardashian. Politicians such as Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro and Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Presley, and even the lead juror in the trial that put him on death row in the first place. Texas Governor Greg Abbott still has the power to delay or stop Cantu’s execution. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: The Starbucks Workers United Union made a big breakthrough yesterday. The company agreed to start discussions to achieve a contract for its union members, according to statements from both Starbucks and the union. So far, workers voted to unionize at more than 370 cafes all across the country. But Starbucks has notoriously refused to bargain with them, and according to Bloomberg News, the company was even withholding credit card tipping, which was an employee benefit available only at nonunion cafes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That’s wild. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But yesterday, the union said in their statement that Starbucks has now extended that credit card tipping and other benefits to union workers, quote, “as a sign of good faith.” Bizarre to me. They just work at a cafe. It’s not really a sign of good faith. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It just should be the norm. But alright. The company and the union also said that they’ll begin resolving litigation standing between them. You might remember that back in October, Starbucks sued Workers United over a pro-Palestinian social media post. Then the union countersued for defamation. There’s still a lot to be worked out, of course, but in the meantime, big congratulations to the Workers United. It has been a long, hard fight. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Macy’s core business model of making stores so big, you get lost in them on the way out of the mall and then buy something by accident is no longer cutting it. The company announced yesterday that it would close 150 of its locations over the next three years. This move follows the appointment of Macy’s new CEO, Tony Spring, who aims to restore reliable profitability to the struggling 166 year old retailer. He says he’ll accomplish this by upgrading the 350 Macy’s that are left after the downsizing and opening more of the company’s higher performing luxury subsidiaries, Bloomingdales and Blue Mercury. Long live the department store, Priyanka! They’re dying. I hate this for us. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I hate it, but I do think that Macy’s needs to add to their strategy the revival of Marshall Field’s, which they murdered in the greater Chicagoland area. I think that would really do big things for their business, I don’t know. New CEO, time to shake things up. Make the people happy. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Why not? [laugh]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Why not? And the greatest whodunnit of this year’s Democratic primary in New Hampshire has been solved. We now know for sure who commissioned those AI Joe Biden robocalls that discouraged voters from participating in the election. Here is that call to refresh your memory. 

 

[clip of AI Joe Biden] You know the value of voting Democratic when our votes count. It’s important that you save your vote for the November election. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: NBC news confirmed that this dystopian masterpiece was the work of Alabama based Democratic consultant Steven Kramer, who at the time of the primary, was employed by none other than President Biden’s longshot challenger, Dean Phillips. Phillips has denied that he had any knowledge of the plan. Sure, Jan, but this story is a much more than just a case of a consultant gone rogue. For one thing, there’s the person who Kramer partnered with to deploy his phone call. That honor goes to magician Paul Carpenter. The New York Times says that Carpenter met Kramer at a Thanksgiving party, and then blew Kramer’s mind by showing him not a magic trick, but an AI impression of Lindsey Graham quote, “saying something vulgar,” just truly mind blowing things. Another fun detail is Kramer’s line of defense after his robocall plan went awry. He claims that he did it not to boost his own candidate, but to inspire regulators to clamp down on the use of AI in political campaigns. Just a true good Samaritan we got on our hands. If that is true, his plan was a success, since the Federal Communications Commission did end up speeding up plans to outlaw these calls after robo Biden was unleashed on New Hampshire voters. But Kramer’s magician/collaborator tells a very different story. He told The New York Times that Kramer, quote, “got caught, and now he’s trying to make himself look like a good guy.” I just got to say, I’m on the magician’s side here. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Listen, this Kramer person is not a patriot. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: He didn’t do this to make the government act like cut it out. Because if–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Please. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –that was the case, he could have blown the whistle in a very different way. You didn’t have to tell people to not go vote. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Also like, isn’t he liable in some way? Like, can’t he get in lots of trouble for doing this? Anyways, not my circus, not my monkeys, is that the phrase? Maybe.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Something like that, right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, I guess this is my circus in a way, but I don’t I don’t know if I want it to be. And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Get lost in Macy’s while you still can and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading and not just fair deals for Starbucks workers like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe! I’m Tre’vell Andersen. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

[spoken together] And leave Robo Biden alone.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But you know who we’re not leaving alone, that magician. There’s more to the story and I want it all. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I trust that you will figure it out. [music break]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf with production help today from Jon Millstein, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Leo Duran and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

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