Democrats accuse Republicans of creating ‘hostage situation’ over US debt ceiling – live | Republicans

Jeffries accuses GOP of creating debt ceiling ‘hostage situation’

Top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries accused Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans of orchestrating a “hostage situation” with the debt ceiling, after the House speaker’s speech in which he said spending would need to be cut before his lawmakers would agree to raise the US government’s borrowing limit.

Here’s Jeffries’s full statement:

A speech is not a plan. Extreme MAGA Republicans continue to treat the full faith and credit of the United States as a hostage situation while their so-called budget proposal remains in the witness protection program. As always, we will evaluate any legislative text when and if House Republicans can ever agree with themselves about how much they want to devastate American families in order to finance tax cuts for the wealthy, well-off and well-connected.

Key events

Judge: no delay in Trump rape trial

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

The Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina had another uncomfortable experience in front of a judge today, as his request for a one-month delay in the former president’s looming New York rape trial was denied.

E Jean Carroll.
E Jean Carroll. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

The writer E Jean Carroll says Donald Trump raped her in a department store in New York in the mid-1990s. Trump denies it. Carroll filed a civil suit, for defamation. She has also brought a civil suit under a New York law that gives alleged victims of historic sexual assaults a window in which to sue.

Trial in the first case has been postponed. The trial set to begin on 25 April concerns the second case.

As the Associated Press reports, Tacopina – who attracted national attention through his work for Trump in the hush money case which led to Trump’s indictment in New York earlier this month – argued today that the first case created such negative publicity that the Carroll trial should be held for a month. The judge, Lewis A Kaplan, disagreed:

“There was, of course, a great deal of media coverage – some of it invited and, indeed, provoked by Mr Trump – first of the apparently impending indictment, then the indictment itself, and finally the arraignment. But the connection that Mr Trump seeks to draw between that coverage and either the need for or the effectiveness of a ‘cooling off’ period is unsupported by any evidence.”

Kaplan also said a portion of coverage of Trump’s indictment was “of his own doing” as Trump made public statements on his social media platform, in press conferences and in interviews.

“It does not sit well for Mr Trump to promote pretrial publicity and then to claim that coverage that he promoted was prejudicial to him and should be taken into account as supporting a further delay,” the judge said, adding that he was also concerned that the request was a “delay tactic by Mr Trump”.

He noted that it was not necessary to find jurors who had never heard of Trump’s legal woes as long as jurors agreed to be fair and impartial.

“There is no justification for an adjournment. This case is entirely unrelated to the state prosecution.”

Tacopina did not comment to the AP, which also noted the deadline for Tacopina to say whether Trump will attend the Carroll trial falls this Thursday.

Trump was in New York again last week, for a deposition in a civil suit brought by the state attorney general, Letitia James, over his business and tax affairs.

He also faces a justice department investigation concerning his handling of classified documents, the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on Congress; and an investigation into his election subversion in Fulton county, Georgia.

US targets Chinese surveillance in New York with arrests, indictments

The justice department on Monday announced a crackdown on China’s efforts to surveil and harass its diaspora in the United States, with the arrests of two men accused of running a Chinese police station in New York City and the indictment of dozens of others on charges of surveilling Chinese citizens in the US.

New York City residents Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping were arrested on allegations that they ran an illegal police station connected to the Fuzhou branch of the Ministry of Public Security in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood, the justice department said.

“The PRC, through its repressive security apparatus, established a secret physical presence in New York City to monitor and intimidate dissidents and those critical of its government. The PRC’s actions go far beyond the bounds of acceptable nation-state conduct. We will resolutely defend the freedoms of all those living in our country from the threat of authoritarian repression,” Matthew G. Olson, an assistant attorney general in the justice department’s national security division said.

Separately, prosecutors announced indictments against 44 people for harassing Chinese nationals in the United States through social media. All of the suspects remain at large in China, the justice department said.

The day so far

The center of US politics has migrated temporarily to New York City, where Republican House speaker Kevin McCarthy gave a speech reiterating his stance that Democrats need to agree to cut spending before the GOP will vote to raise America’s debt ceiling. Hakeem Jeffries, the leader of the House Democrats, accused McCarthy and the Republicans of taking the US economy hostage. Meanwhile, the GOP-led House judiciary committee was holding a hearing on crime in New York City, in an attempt to tar Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg. Why him? Probably because he indicted Donald Trump.

Here’s what else has happened today so far:

  • The trial of Dominion Voting Systems’s lawsuit against Fox News was delayed for a day, in what could be an indication the two sides were working on reaching a settlement.

  • The justice department will soon announce arrests in a “significant national security matter”.

  • Gun control advocates don’t think much of the GOP’s hearing on crime in New York City.

You’ve probably heard of progressive demands for a $15 minimum wage, but in a column for the Guardian’s opinion pages, senator Bernie Sanders argues that a fair minimum wage is actually $17 an hour. Don’t expect a minimum wage increase to pass Congress anytime soon, but Sanders’s proposal may prove influential at the state and local level, where activists have had success in raising wages. Have a read of the senator’s argument:

Congress can no longer ignore the needs of the working class of this country. At a time of massive and growing income and wealth inequality and record-breaking corporate profits, we must stand up for working families – many of whom are struggling every day to provide a minimal standard of living for their families.

One important way to do that is to raise the federal minimum wage to a living wage. In the year 2023, nobody in the US should be forced to work for starvation wages. It should be a basic truism that in the US, the richest country on earth, if you work 40 hours a week you do not live in poverty. Raising the minimum wage is not only the right thing to do morally. It is also good economics. Putting money into the hands of people who will spend it on basic needs is a strong economic stimulant.

Hanging over American politics this week is the fate of mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortion that narrowly survived being taken off the shelves by the order of a conservative judge last week. But as the Guardian’s Maya Yang reports, the supreme court could again upend abortion access this week by allowing the ruling to go forward, and Democrats are furious:

Top Democratic senators across the US are pushing back after a federal judge in Texas decided to block the FDA-approved abortion drug mifepristone.

On Sunday, the New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand criticized as an “outrage” Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s decision, which is currently halted until at least Wednesday 19 April by the supreme court.

Speaking to CNN, Gillibrand said: “To take away the right to have medicine is an extension of taking away this right to privacy, to say we can’t have medicine sent by doctors by mail to people across the country is further invading into this right to privacy, where the court and government has a right to what’s in your mail, and who you’re talking to and what communications you’re having. It’s an outrage.”

Jeffries accuses GOP of creating debt ceiling ‘hostage situation’

Top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries accused Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans of orchestrating a “hostage situation” with the debt ceiling, after the House speaker’s speech in which he said spending would need to be cut before his lawmakers would agree to raise the US government’s borrowing limit.

Here’s Jeffries’s full statement:

A speech is not a plan. Extreme MAGA Republicans continue to treat the full faith and credit of the United States as a hostage situation while their so-called budget proposal remains in the witness protection program. As always, we will evaluate any legislative text when and if House Republicans can ever agree with themselves about how much they want to devastate American families in order to finance tax cuts for the wealthy, well-off and well-connected.

Gun violence prevention group GIFFORDS doesn’t think much of the House GOP’s hearing on crime in New York City, asking why Republican don’t focus their efforts on preventing gun violence.

“We know that fewer than eight percent of the guns that are used in crimes in New York City come from New York. Instead, they primarily come from states with weak gun laws. New York has strong gun laws that protect New York residents. What we need is other states to do their part, and more importantly than that, we need the federal government to do its part,” deputy chief counsel of the GIFFORDS Law Center David Pucino said in a statement. The group is named after Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman turned gun control advocate who was grievously injured in a 2013 mass shooting.

Pucino continued:

Since taking control of the House this year, congressional Republicans have refused to advance gun safety legislation and are even working to roll back a recently-finalized ATF rule regulating concealable, dangerous weapons. Until we pass commonsense gun safety legislation, we will not address the problems of gun violence and violent crime, because you can’t be serious about crime unless you are serious about guns.

These should not be partisan issues. We know what the nonpartisan, commonsense solutions are, and they must be implemented — but instead, Republican lawmakers are holding sham hearings in states that have strong gun laws.”

The big national security news last week was the arrest of a young air national guardsman for allegedly leaking secret materials from the Pentagon, but even that couldn’t avoid getting sucked into the world of rightwing conspiracy theories. Over the weekend, the Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt reported that prominent Republican senator Lindsey Graham told one of the loudest proponents of the theory to cut it out. Here’s more:

Senator Lindsey Graham condemned his fellow Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene as “terribly irresponsible” on Sunday, after the far-right congresswoman defended the air national guardsman charged with leaking Pentagon intelligence documents.

Speaking on ABC’s This Week show, Graham said the leaks had “done a lot of damage to our standing” and criticized “those who are trying to sugarcoat this on the right”.

Taylor Greene, a known conspiracy theorist and election denier who was controversially named to the homeland security committee in January, had suggested on Thursday that Jack Teixeira, an airman in the air national guard who has been charged under the Espionage Act after allegedly leaking hundreds of secret defence documents, had been treated unfairly.

Justice department to announce arrests in ‘significant national security matter’

The justice department has just scheduled a press conference in Brooklyn, New York for 1 pm eastern time, where officials will announce arrests and charges in a “significant national security matter”.

A press release from the department did not give further details on the case. The announcement will be made by principal deputy assistant attorney general for national security David Newman, US attorney for the eastern district of New York Breon Peace and Michael J. Driscoll, assistant director of the FBI’s New York field office, among other officials.

In his speech, Kevin McCarthy raised the specter of Joe Biden causing a debt default by refusing to negotiate.

Such an event would be unprecedented in US history, and could have catastrophic consequences for the global economy. Here’s more of McCarthy’s remarks:

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy addresses the debt limit cliff at the New York Stock Exchange:

“The longer President Biden waits to be sensible to find an agreement, the more likely it becomes that this administration will bumble into the first default in our nation’s history.”

— The Recount (@therecount) April 17, 2023

He also mentioned that the House would vote “in the coming weeks” on their proposal for raising the debt limit while also cutting spending:

McCarthy said: “In the coming weeks, the House will vote on a bill to lift the debt ceiling into next year, save taxpayers trillions of dollars, make us less dependent on China, and curb high inflation — all without touching Social Security or Medicare.”

— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) April 17, 2023

Debt limit increase without spending cuts ‘will not pass’: McCarthy

In his speech at the New York Stock Exchange, Republican House speaker Kevin McCarthy rejected Joe Biden’s insistence that America’s debt ceiling should be raised without cutting spending:

McCarthy: “A no-strings-attached debt limit increase will not pass. But since the President continues to hide, House Republicans will take action.”

— Jennifer Shutt (@JenniferShutt) April 17, 2023

Instead, he vowed to push through the House Republican’s proposal, which would cut spending and satisfy a number of other conservative economic goals:

McCarthy says House GOP debt limit bill would

– lift the debt ceiling into next year
– save taxpayers trillions
– make U.S. less dependent on China
– curb high inflation
– not touch Social Security and Medicare

— Jennifer Shutt (@JenniferShutt) April 17, 2023

McCarthy says House Rs debt limit proposal would reduce fed spending to fiscal 2022 levels and then limit the growth of spending during the next decade to 1%

— Jennifer Shutt (@JenniferShutt) April 17, 2023

At this point, it appears highly unlikely that such a wide-ranging Republican bill will be enacted into law, since Democrats control both the White House and Senate. Consider this more of a proposal that will act as the starting point for negotiations with Biden – should they ever occur.

House Republicans have made clear their hearing on crime in New York is about attacking Manhattan district attorney and Donald Trump indicter Alvin Bragg, but their witnesses aren’t necessarily playing along.

In testimony before the committee, a lawyer for former store clerk Jose Alba complained about his treatment at the hands’ of New York’s police and prosecutors, without mentioning Bragg. You can watch the testimony below:

Sam Levine

Sam Levine

My colleague Kira Lerner and I have just left the courtroom in Wilmington, Delaware, where the judge overseeing the closely watched defamation lawsuit between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News offered little explanation for why he chose to delay the opening of the trial, which was scheduled to begin Monday.

“This is not unusual,” judge Eric Davis of the Delaware superior court said. “I have not gone through a trial longer than two weeks that has not had a day delay.”

Only one lawyer from each side was present at the brief hearing, which lasted no longer than 5 minutes. Davis held a private conversation off to the side of the courtroom with both lawyers as white noise was played over a loudspeaker.

The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Reuters have all reported that Fox is making a last minute push to settle the case out of court.

Dominion is suing Fox News and its parent company Fox Corp for $1.6bn in damages over its decision to broadcast outlandish lies about the voting equipment company after the 2020 election.

A big potential story today is the unexpected delay in the trial of Dominion Voting System’s defamation case against Fox News, which was expected to begin this morning. It’s exactly the sort of thing that could happen if the two sides were nearing a settlement, but there’s no saying yet if one has been reached. Here’s the latest on the delay from the Guardian’s Sam Levine in Wilmington, Delaware:

The trial in the closely watched $1.6bn defamation lawsuit between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox will begin a day later than scheduled, the judge overseeing the case announced on Sunday evening, hours before opening arguments were set to begin on Monday and amid reports of settlement talks.

The trial was rescheduled to begin on Tuesday. Eric Davis, the Delaware superior court judge overseeing the case, did not say why the trial was being delayed. “The court has decided to continue the start of the trial, including jury selection, until Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 9am. I will make such an announcement tomorrow [Monday] at 9am in Courtroom 7E,” he said in a statement released through a court spokesperson.

Democrats hit back at GOP’s New York blitz

In 1985, Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the New York Stock Exchange in which he outlined his economic priorities. The former president is today beloved among conservatives, and House speaker Kevin McCarthy apparently hopes to benefit from those good vibes when he makes an address from the same venue today, with the subject being the modern-day struggle to raise the debt ceiling.

While the chamber’s Republican majority has not released a budget yet, they’re reportedly looking to demand everything from spending cuts to the enactment of GOP economic priorities in exchange for their votes to increase the borrowing limit. It’s a high-stakes negotiation, because if they can’t reach an agreement with the White House and Democrats in the Senate by the time the government runs out of money – thought to be sometime in June, but potentially sooner or later – the United States could default on its debt obligations for the first time ever.

“We are seeing in real-time the effects of reckless government spending. Record inflation, and the hardships it causes. Rising interest rates. Supply chain shortages. Instability in the banking system. And uncertainty across the board,” McCarthy will say in his speech at the New York Stock Exchange, according to Punchbowl News.

“Unlike President Biden, I don’t dismiss Americans’ fears about higher prices. I share them. And I share their conviction that we must change course before it’s too late.”

Joe Biden, meanwhile, refuses to negotiate over the debt ceiling, saying that rather than use it as leverage to accomplish other priorities, the GOP should agree to raise it without preconditions. Here’s deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates this morning with a remainder of how Republicans have handled the issue in the past:

Elsewhere in the city, the House judiciary committee has convened their hearing into crime, but before that began, the committee’s Democrats gathered to argue that the panel is really just about Donald Trump. Here’s Punchbowl News:

.@HouseJudiciary Democrats are holding a presser with @NYCMayor Eric Adams ahead of GOP’s crime hearing.

Ranking Member Jerry Nadler accuses Jim Jordan of engaging in an “outrageous abuse of power” by holding this hearing, which he says is disguised as a defense of Trump.

— Mica Soellner (@MicaSoellnerDC) April 17, 2023

Debt ceiling, crime on the agenda as Republicans head to New York

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Enraged over Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment of Donald Trump and insistent that Joe Biden acquiesce to their demands in order to raise the debt ceiling, top House Republicans have relocated New York City today to press their cases in unique venues. Led by Trump ally Jim Jordan, the judiciary committee will hold a hearing on crime in New York, an issue they say Bragg is ignoring in favor of Trump’s prosecution. Expect Democrats to respond forcefully to the allegation. Meanwhile, House speaker Kevin McCarthy will give an address at the New York Stock Exchange and warn of the consequences of not increasing America’s borrowing limit, while arguing that the GOP’s demands for spending cuts and other reforms aren’t unreasonable. We’ll be keeping an eye on these events as they happen.

Here’s more about what to expect today:

  • The House judiciary committee convenes their hearing at 9am eastern time.

  • McCarthy is scheduled to speak at 10am eastern time, a half hour after markets open.

  • The Fox News-Dominion trial has been delayed by a judge with no reason given, indicating the two sides may be making progress on reaching a settlement.

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