In This Episode
- President Joe Biden touched down in Israel on Wednesday in a show of support for a nation in mourning – but also warned against the human cost of being swept up by wartime rage. He also confirmed that Israel agreed to allow the beginning of humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt.
- Representative Jim Jordan once again lost his bid to become the next House speaker, with more of his Republican colleagues voting against him in the second round. A third round is scheduled for today, but his losses raise questions over whether he can get the support of his entire caucus.
- And in headlines: the man long suspected of killing Natalee Holloway in 2005 confessed to her murder, migrant families with children will now only have 60 days to stay in New York City shelters, and the city of Columbus, Ohio approved a sweeping deal to cancel $335 million of medical debt.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, October 19th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What a Day. On today’s show, New York City is limiting how long migrant families with children can stay in emergency shelters. Plus, thousands of people in Columbus, Ohio, can expect to have their medical debt wiped out. And I love the sound of that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. But first, President Biden touched down in Israel yesterday to visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders. This took place amid growing tensions in the Middle East over a blast at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City earlier this week that reportedly has left hundreds of people dead.
Juanita Tolliver: And before we get into the details of Biden’s visit, let’s talk more about the blast.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: There have been conflicting claims about who is responsible. So what more do we know at this point?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So at this time, both U.S. and Israeli intelligence indicates that the blast was from a failed rocket that was fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is another militant group in Gaza, which means it was not from an Israeli airstrike, which was initially believed and reported by many.
Juanita Tolliver: And even before we knew what was what. That blast definitely had an impact on Biden’s visit. So tell us more about that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you know, Biden, of course, was there to show support for a longtime U.S. ally, but he used the opportunity to warn Israel against the human costs of being swept up in wartime rage. Take a listen.
[clip of President Joe Biden] Since this terrorist attack took place. We’ve seen it described as Israel’s 9/11. But for a nation the size of Israel. It was like 15 9/11’s. You can’t look at what has happened here, to your mothers, your fathers, your grandparents, sons, daughters, children, even babies, and not scream out for justice. Justice must be done. But I caution this, while you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States while we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Biden went on to advocate for Israel to allow the delivery of limited quantities of aid into Gaza from Egypt, an announcement that Israel followed through with shortly afterwards. Biden also announced $100 million dollars in U.S. aid for Palestinian civilians, both in Gaza and in the West Bank. Opening the Rafah border crossing from Egypt into Gaza is not without its complications though. At this time there are long lines of trucks that are waiting in Egypt to bring food, water and fuel into Gaza. But the area has been damaged by recent Israeli airstrikes. Egyptian officials want Israel to guarantee that it’s safe before they go in. And on the other hand, Israel wants to make sure that these trucks are checked to ensure that they’re only carrying aid and that that aid only reaches civilians, not these Hamas fighters that they are waging this war against. Biden has said that the Egyptian government has agreed to let 20 of these trucks into Gaza as a test. If Hamas does not intercept them, they will allow more. But that aid could start arriving as early as Friday. So definitely some major developments there as a result of Biden’s visit. But this is all happening while protests in the Middle East continue to grow, especially in the aftermath of the hospital blast in Gaza City. It is unclear what, if any, effect the U.S. intelligence findings about who was actually responsible for the attack will have on these protests. Many believe that because of its unwavering support of Israel, the U.S. is actually complicit in the violence that’s been taking place. Here at home there have also been growing protests as well. Just yesterday in the U.S. Capitol, the advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace protested for an immediate ceasefire to, quote, “stop a genocide from unfolding in real time.” So obviously, a lot happening here at home, a lot happening abroad. We will continue to keep you updated with all of the latest details.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, and I think those protests domestically and internationally are part of the reason why President Biden is giving a primetime address today at 8 p.m. Eastern. So I’m sure there’s going to be a lot to cover from that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: Now, let’s go to Capitol Hill, because just like that, Representative Jim Jordan is a two time loser, as the second vote on his nomination to become speaker of the House failed yesterday after 22 Republicans voted against him. That’s up from 20 during the first vote on Tuesday. It just goes to show that Jordan and his skills of persuasion are lacking and by gaining only 199 votes. Jordan made history as that was the first time in 100 years that a majority nominee earned fewer than 200 votes like shame and shade.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s not the kind of history you want to be making.
Juanita Tolliver: No.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is bad.
Juanita Tolliver: Of course, Democrats remained united behind House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, as all 212 of them voted the same way for the the 17th time this Congress and Representative Nancy Pelosi described the second vote best when she said this:
[clip of Nancy Pelosi] It was a triumph for democracy in our country, that an insurrection was rejected by the Republicans again as their candidate for speaker.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, she’s not wrong.
Juanita Tolliver: No lies detected.
Priyanka Aribindi: As you would say. No lies detected. None, I’m sorry. She’s right.
Juanita Tolliver: And she’s also giving another example for why context is so important and why someone like Jim Jordan should not be the next speaker of the House or the third in line to the presidency because yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Absolutely not.
Juanita Tolliver: Now, after the failed second vote, Republicans were supposed to meet behind closed doors to discuss Jordan’s nomination and next steps. But that conference wide meeting never happened.
Priyanka Aribindi: All right. Okay. And what is this that I hear about a potential compromise with Democrats? Tell us more about what’s going on here.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, it’s looking a little complicated. So while the Republican House conference wasn’t meeting, the Democratic House caucus was huddled in a meeting room, reportedly doing a temp check, as we call it, on whether or not Democratic members would be open to supporting a resolution to empower the interim speaker, Republican Representative Patrick McHenry. According to NBC News, two sources confirmed these talks, but there is no clear indication that Democrats would ultimately choose this move. The New York Times also reported that a bipartisan plan to give McHenry power has been circulating on the Hill, and there are multiple proposals for timelines related to this increased power, including recurring votes to empower McHenry on a biweekly basis, empowering him through November 17th when the government is set to run out of money and empowering him through January 3rd, 2024. At the moment, the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is leading the talks, and there is a growing chorus of Republicans who are vocally against such a resolution, including, you guessed it, Jim Jordan and his biggest supporters.
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay. All I’m seeing is Republicans being against things, but not exactly being for anything productive, which feels like–
Juanita Tolliver: Ding ding ding!
Priyanka Aribindi: –a very neat encapsulation of what’s going on a little more broadly. But anyways, what can we expect next here? Are we going to get another replay of this failed vote for Jim Jordan today? Like, is this just going to repeat 15 more times? What do we know?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, maybe? At least that’s what Speaker Pro Tempore McHenry told reporters as he left the Capitol building last night. And that doesn’t quite match the confidence of Jim Jordan’s statement to reporters that the third vote would be happening today and that he’s not backing down from this process. McHenry did add that while the vote today at noon is not, quote, “set in stone,” Republicans wanted to have the option to go to the floor today for another vote. And that vote will likely show more Republicans rejecting Jim Jordan as there are reports that GOP members are actually staggering their votes against Jim Jordan like they’re taking turns on who’s going to vote no and it’s giving a big old mess at this point.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, just a disaster.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, of course, we’ll keep following this slow motion train wreck and all the chaos from the House floor. But that’s the latest for now. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: The man long suspected of killing Natalee Holloway in 2005 has confessed to her murder, though he has not been charged with her death. According to court documents released yesterday, Joran Van der Sloot agreed to plead guilty to extortion and wire fraud charges and receive a 20 year prison sentence in exchange for providing details about the Alabama teenager’s disappearance. Those charges stem from when he tried to extort Holloway’s mother for a quarter of a million dollars. He offered to reveal the location of her remains. Holloway disappeared during a high school graduation trip to Aruba, and her body was never found. Though she was declared legally dead back in 2012. In his confession, Van der Sloot said he killed Holloway after she rejected his advances. He will serve time concurrently with a 28 year sentence handed down to him in Peru, where he was convicted of murdering another woman in 2010.
Juanita Tolliver: Another prominent donor has severed ties with Harvard, blasting the university’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict. Leaders of the Wexner Foundation, the nonprofit founded by Victoria’s Secret founder Leslie Wexner, said they were, quote, “stunned and sickened” because Harvard failed in their minds to stand with Israel following the initial attack by Hamas. Other wealthy donors and alumni have also sharply criticized the Ivy League school in recent days. Meanwhile, Harvard students are still reeling from the sudden appearance of a billboard truck that showed up on campus last week. It displayed the names and photos of students belonging to dozens of student organizations that published a letter calling Israel, quote, “entirely responsible” for the Hamas attack on October 7th. Multiple websites have also posted the names, faces and class years of the letter cosigners. And that’s giving doxing yet in the worst ways.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: The truck and others like it that have appeared at other universities is owned and operated by the conservative group Accuracy in Media, and its efforts don’t stop there. The group has also purchased domain names for each of the Harvard students they’ve doxxed, and their next move is to make websites for every single one calling on the university to punish them like this is unhinged. This is–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: –entering the realm of harassment at this point.
Priyanka Aribindi: It is. It absolutely is.
Juanita Tolliver: All of this points to the kind of tensions that have been building at college campuses nationwide amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, especially as donors continue to pressure schools to take a stance on this complex and divisive issue while also guaranteeing students’ right to free speech.
Priyanka Aribindi: The New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, this week announced that migrant families with children will now have just 60 days to stay at emergency shelters. The new rule will take effect next week. In a recent statement, the mayor’s office says that after those 60 days are up, families can reapply for shelter if they are unable to find a different place to live. All of this comes amid a surge of migrants arriving in New York City. More than 126,000 of them have come since last spring. And officials say that over 64,000 asylum seekers are housed in city shelters. It’s not clear how many families will be affected by the new policy. Mayor Adams last month already imposed a 30 day limit for adult migrants housed in city run shelters and is also trying to suspend New York City’s right to shelter mandate for single adults. And over in Massachusetts, Governor Maura Healey said Monday that starting next month, her state will not be able to guarantee shelter placement for newly arrived migrants. That is because Massachusetts is expected to reach its shelter capacity by the end of October, and the number of families housed in those facilities is on track to hit 7500. Healey said that the state cannot, quote, “safely expand” beyond that number, but added that Massachusetts will not abandon its own right to shelter law, which legally requires the state to give eligible families a place to stay. Starting in November, families with health and safety risks will be prioritized and others will be put on a waiting list.
Juanita Tolliver: And finally, in Ohio, the city of Columbus this week approved a sweeping deal with four local hospital systems to cancel more than $300 million dollars of medical debt. This is what I like to see. I want more news like this please across the country.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, absolutely. This is amazing.
Juanita Tolliver: The agreement, which was months in the making, is expected to bring relief to over 300,000 Columbus residents. The program covers anyone who makes 2 to 4 times above the federal poverty level, anywhere between $55,000 to $110,000 for a family of four and must have received care from any of those four hospitals in Columbus between 2015 and 2020. And folks who are eligible don’t have to fill out any paperwork because this just keeps getting better and better. They can expect to get a letter in the mail soon. In a statement, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said, quote, “No one should have to face the prospect of financial hardship because they sought care when they needed it most. Forgiving this debt will go a long way toward helping our fellow neighbors rebuild their savings, pay off their bills, qualify for a loan, make a down payment on a car, or support our local businesses.” Yes, yes and yes. These are the benefits of debt forgiveness. And I love that this is medical debt. And I feel like you can swap out medical for any other type of debt and see these same benefits. Yes, I’m talking about student loan debt. There you go.
Priyanka Aribindi: There is that. I mean, there is also the fact that maybe we can make health care a little more accessible to all that has been–
Juanita Tolliver: Imagine.
Priyanka Aribindi: –a thing we have been talking about around elections for a minute now. Perhaps the thing that, you know, we are realizing the appeal of more and more. So maybe as we head into future elections, as we head into 2024 and beyond. Just something to note, something to offer up to politicians to be like, hey, you can endorse this. You can think this is a good idea. People actually really like this and people’s lives would really meaningfully benefit in all of these ways.
Juanita Tolliver: 100%.
Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. [music break] What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martínez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.