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November 14, 2023
What A Day

In This Episode

  • The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed Speaker Mike Johnson’s bill to avoid a government shutdown. The measure passed with bipartisan support, and it now heads to the Senate for approval ahead of Saturday’s deadline to avert a shutdown.
  • Republicans also spent Tuesday fighting mostly among themselves: GOP Senator Markwayne Mullin challenged the president of the Teamsters Union to a fight during a committee hearing, Republican Rep. Tim Burchett said Rep. Kevin McCarthy elbowed him, and Republican Rep. James Comer told Democratic Rep. Jared Moscowitz that he looked like a smurf.
  • And in headlines: Israel said it raided Gaza’s central Al-Shifa hospital, a new report says every region in the U.S. is feeling the effects of climate change, and inflation rates cooled last month to the lowest increase since July.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, November 15th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day where we advise lawmakers to never challenge someone to a fight, especially Teamsters from Boston. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously, we have seen how organized the unions can be and how disorganized Congress can. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t think it’s a good situation. Don’t do it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Nope. [music break] On today’s show, we’ll recount how several Republicans almost came to blows yesterday. 


[clip of Tim Burchett] Why did you elbow me in the back Kevin? 


[clip of person talking in the background] I know I felt so bad. 


[clip of Tim Burchett] Hey Kevin, you got any guts? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Fair question. 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, really. Plus, a new White House report says no place in America is safe from the effects of climate change. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, yesterday evening, the House of Representatives passed Speaker Mike Johnson’s bill to avoid a government shutdown. 


[clip of Mike Johnson] The bill was passed, and without objection, the motion to reconsider was laid on the table. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Just days before the country ran out of funding, Johnson was able to win bipartisan support from over two thirds of the House. 209 House Democrats, which is all but two of them, joined 127 Republicans to get this short term funding effort passed. 93 Republicans actually voted against it. So it’s really thanks to the Democrats here that this is now moving forward. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Now this bill heads to the Senate where it needs approval from that chamber ahead of this Saturday’s deadline to avoid a shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that they’d be voting on it there A.S.A.P. 


Juanita Tolliver: Once again, it’s Democrats who are the adults in Congress getting–


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 


Juanita Tolliver: –things done. And this bill is a bit different than your typical continuing resolution bill. Can you give us a breakdown of what’s in it? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. I mean, we talked about this a little bit earlier on the show, but this bill basically works in two phases. It will fund certain departments like State, Justice, Commerce, Labor and Health and Human Services until February 2nd of next year. While other departments like Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, military and veterans programs and certain agricultural agencies will only be funded through January 19th. This phased approach is a bit unconventional. Can’t really say it was very popular. The White House actually panned it as, quote, “unserious” over the weekend, but it was intended to be another short term fix to give lawmakers a little more time to work on annual spending bills. It also notably did not include any funding for aid to Ukraine, Israel and the US’s southern border, as requested by President Biden. Without that, it is not clear if there will be a deal at all to deliver aid to any of these areas from the U.S. before 2024. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, I think it’s important to really emphasize the language of this continuing resolution because this is what can happen when there are no threats for spending cuts or threats against funding or poisonous, harmful legislative extremist MAGA language. So–


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: I would love this to be more regular. But let’s talk a little bit more about this breakdown and who supported the bill based on the numbers you just shared? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, as we’ve learned, government shutdowns are catastrophic for, you know, so many Americans who rely on government programs, who are employed by the federal government don’t get paid during shutdowns, and regular citizens who have the very reasonable expectation of living in a country with a functional government as they should. 


Juanita Tolliver: Here here. [laugh]


Priyanka Aribindi: But, you know, as we continue to see, the Republican majority is slim and their caucus is extremely fractured, the hard right House Freedom Caucus once again opposed this measure. Some of the same people who were responsible for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ouster were not happy about this. Fortunately for Johnson, it doesn’t look like they’re coming for his job over it, at least not quite yet. But for many of these House Republicans, there’s a real absence of any sense of duty or urgency to keep the lights on. Instead, they play politics so they can get spending cuts or, you know, conservative strings attached to bills. All those things you were mentioning. And that’s why the Republicans who do want to avoid a shutdown need the support of Democrats because so many people in their party don’t care. And House Democrats, as we’ve seen, understand this responsibility fully. They weren’t into this staggered timeline of this bill. They didn’t like it at all. But they were not willing to let the American people suffer through a shutdown because of it. So the TLDR here is really that the U.S. government will remain funded through the end of this year. This funding problem now becomes an issue for 2024 after the Senate votes on it. So we will see you all back here in a couple months. By now, you know the drill we’ll stay tuned just for another another chaotic showdown in January. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. And every time, again, back to the vote counts. It just is a reminder that Republicans are in it for the destructive behavior. Right. Like they–


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: –want to cause harm. That’s it. That’s the only goal. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now, we also want to talk about what was making headlines in D.C. beyond yesterday’s big vote, because y’all something is in the water on Capitol Hill. The Republicans are fighting. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What is going on?


Juanita Tolliver: And it’s wild. So they have taken their chaos to an entirely new low by throwing fits largely at each other. And this behavior is merely our weekly reminder of how unhinged Republicans are. And how they’re making an entire mess out of Congress. Naturally, I’ve brought all of the receipts so you know exactly what’s been happening because there were so many fights. [sound of bell ringing] Ding, ding. Let’s go. [laughing] First up here is Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin. Yes. His first name is one word. Challenging the president of the Teamsters Union, Sean O’Brien, to a fight during a Senate committee hearing. Take a listen. 


[clip of Senator Markwayne Mullin] If you want to run your mouth. We can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here. 


[clip of Sean O’Brien] Okay, That’s fine. Perfect. 


[clip of Senator Markwayne Mullin] You want to do it now? 


[clip of Sean O’Brien] I’d love to do it right now. 


[clip of Senator Markwayne Mullin] Well, stand your butt up, then. 


[clip of Sean O’Brien] You stand your butt up. 


[clip of Bernie Sanders] Oh. Hold up no oh, stop it. 


[clip of Sean O’Brien] Is that your solution to every problem? 


[clip of Bernie Sanders] No, no. Sit down. 


[clip of Sean O’Brien] You’re a clown, sit down, look at you. 


[clip of Bernie Sanders] You know, you’re a United States senator. [banter] Sit down, please. 


[clip of Senator Markwayne Mullin] All right. 


[clip of unknown person] Can I respond, [?]? 


[clip of Bernie Sanders] Hold it hold it [gavel sound] if we can. No. 


[clip of unknown person] This is what he said. 


[clip of Bernie Sanders] I have the mic. I’m sorry. 


[clip of unknown person] This is what he said. 


[clip of Bernie Sanders] You’ll have your time. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s chaos. 


[clip of Sean O’Brien] Can I respond? 


[clip of Bernie Sanders] No, you can’t. This is a hearing. And God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress. 


Juanita Tolliver: I cannot get over how chill Sean O’Brien sounded. He was like, Let’s go right now. Let’s do it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I have so many thoughts on this chaotic piece of audio. I mean, first of all, there is Bernie Sanders having to break up this fight, which we’ll get into more in a second. Second of all, I didn’t really think that was where we were going when he started off by saying we’re two consenting adults, not the direction [laughter] [clapping] I thought we were moving in. Not going to lie to you. But um neither are appropriate for Congress. Just going to say. 


Juanita Tolliver: Neither appropriate. I just want to fill in the gap of the visual. As Sean O’Brien was like, you stand your butt up. Mullin actually did stand up. He squared up. He was ready to go. It’s insane that this is happening. And the fact that Senator Bernie Sanders had to be the adult in the room and remind Mullin that he is, in fact, a senator, a member of the upper chamber that is supposed to have some common sense and decency is blowing my mind. Right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, what is this, the house? Crazy? [laughter]


Juanita Tolliver: So pair that with Sanders’s rightful statement that the American people deserve better. And this entire scene is representative of the broader circus that the Republican Party has brought to Congress. Next up, we have a hallway encounter featuring Republican Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Tim Burchett and NPR reporter Claudia Grisales. Representative Burchett says that this interaction was the first time McCarthy had spoken to him since the vote on the motion to vacate McCarthy as Speaker of the House. And it was quite the encounter. Listen to this as Grisales was interviewing Burchett. 


[clip of Time Burchett] Sorry, Kevin didn’t mean to elbow. Why did you elbow me in the back Kevin? 


[clip of unknown person talking the background] I know I felt so bad. 


[clip of Tim Burchett] Hey Kevin, you got any guts? Jerk. 


[clip of Claudia Grisales] Has he done that before? 


[clip of Tim Burchett] No. 


[clip of Claudia Grisales] Huh? That’s a new move. 


Juanita Tolliver: That’s a new move is how NPR’s Grisales ended that clip. But now Burchett says that he was elbowed in the back, but McCarthy says that they merely bumped shoulders. Here’s how Burchett described the physical contact to CNN. 


[clip of Tim Burchett] And at that time, I got elbowed in the back and it kind of caught me off guard because it was a clean shot to the kidneys. And I turned back and there was Kevin and I for a minute I was kind of what the heck just happened? And then I. I chased after him, of course. 


Juanita Tolliver: And here is the statement McCarthy gave to reporters. 


[clip of Kevin McCarthy] The reporter was interviewing Burchett or something and I guess our shoulders hit, because Burchett runs up to me after I didn’t know what he was talking about. So the reporter’s asking me, I did not run and hit the guy, I did not kidney punch him, I did not [?] or anything like that. 


[clip of unknown reporter] You didn’t shove him? 


[clip of Kevin McCarthy] No. 


Juanita Tolliver: Didn’t that no sound like when you ask a three year old if they stole the cookie? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 


Juanita Tolliver: No, [laughing] I know we’re laughing y’all, but take this as like laugh to keep from crying for-


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 


Juanita Tolliver: –how far Republicans are taking things in a post January 6th reality. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But anyways, this, you said, is their first interaction after the vote to remove McCarthy as speaker. Apparently it’s not the first time McCarthy has allegedly bumped a Republican colleague. Tell us more about this back story, though, because this has been brewing. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s so messy. According to former Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger’s book, this stiff shoulder bump approach is common practice for McCarthy as he attempts to exert power and control over other House Republicans. It sounds like some playground bullying to me and he needs to be checked. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Unfortunately, the person who has opted to lead that effort is Representative Matt Gaetz, and he filed a formal ethics complaint against McCarthy yesterday. Of course, this is the latest in the Gaetz McCarthy saga, as it was also Gaetz who initiated the motion to vacate McCarthy from his speakership. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, the enemy of our enemy in this case is not our friend. Absolutely not. 


Juanita Tolliver: Absolutely not. Jinx. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we do not claim him. But anyways, because this isn’t even the end. Tell us about the other petty move from Republicans on the Hill yesterday. Yesterday really a banner day for just craziness. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. And at this point, it’s like Republicans aren’t even attempting to govern because the mess continued as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called Representative Darrell Issa the p word and tweeted that he has no athletic balls. Like literally emojis of footballs, baseballs, golf balls, tennis balls. 


Priyanka Aribindi: All right then. 


Juanita Tolliver: Also, Republican Representative James Comer told Democratic Representative Jared Moscowitz that he looks like a smurf. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Does he though? [laughter]


Juanita Tolliver: No. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s a quick google. 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay. He was wearing a blue tie and a blue pocket square and a blue shirt. That is all. [laughing] 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s probably not something you should be saying to your coworkers. [lauhging]


Juanita Tolliver: No. It’s not something you should be saying to your coworker during a committee hearing. All of this went down because Comer referenced Biden giving a loan to his brother. And then Moscowitz called Comer out for his hypocrisy about loaning his own brother $200,000. So–


Priyanka Aribindi: Mess.


Juanita Tolliver: –you know and he just got mad. He got mad. 


Priyanka Aribindi: He got mad and thought to call him a Smurf. 


Juanita Tolliver: Just a reminder, this is how Republicans prefer to spend their time. And this is exactly why the public must vote them out in 2024. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. You know what to do to get involved If you are like this is uh hysterical but not okay. No more. We’re with you. Join us. 


Juanita Tolliver: And that concludes today’s episode of The Real Housewives of Capitol Hill. Even though I’m sure Republicans will find more ways to embarrass themselves and to drag Congress into the depths of disarray before they leave town for Thanksgiving. That’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: The latest in the war in the Middle East is that the death toll of Palestinians now sits at over 11,100 people. That is according to Gaza’s health ministry. That means that one out of every 200 people in Gaza has been killed since the Israeli bombardment began last month. Israel began carrying out a raid inside of Gaza’s central Al-Shifa hospital yesterday. According to Israeli and U.S. intelligence, Hamas members used the hospital for operations and to store weapons, a claim that Hamas denies. The conditions at the hospital have been a focus around the world for the past few days because of the worsening conditions. 40 people have died there since Friday, including three premature babies from the lack of electricity and basic necessities like water. The health ministry said that more than 100 bodies need to be buried. But Israeli forces are preventing movement around the compound. The lack of fuel in the hospitals has made communication difficult and counting the dead almost impossible. The international NGO Human Rights Watch said this week that Israel’s attacks on Gaza hospitals, quote, “should be investigated as war crimes.” Meanwhile, more than 500 U.S. officials representing over 40 government agencies have signed on to a letter protesting Biden’s Israel policy. The letter says, quote, “Americans do not want the U.S. military to be drawn into another costly and senseless war in the Middle East.” 


Juanita Tolliver: The effects of climate change are being felt across every region in the United States and it’s expected to get worse with continued warming. That’s according to a new major report from the federal government released yesterday that comes out every 4 to 5 years. The report, called the National Climate Assessment, found that the U.S. is warming more rapidly than the global average and climate change is leading to more intense and frequent extreme events like drought, flooding, wildfires, hurricanes and more. Many of which we’ve covered here on the show. The climate assessment also found that communities of color and low income folks are disproportionately at risk. President Biden delivered remarks at the White House yesterday and called out Republican legislators and his predecessor for denying climate change. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] Anyone who willfully denies the impact of climate change is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future. The impacts we’re seeing are only going to get worse, more frequent, more ferocious and more costly. 


Juanita Tolliver: Like he’s spot on. And the sad reality is that we know, as outlined in the report, which communities are going to get hit first and hardest. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: The report also outlined some solutions and actions that can be implemented to reduce emissions. And the Biden administration yesterday announced more than $6 billion dollars to strengthen climate resilience, including bolstering the electric grid, advancing environmental justice, supporting conservation efforts and more. Honestly, I hope this is a talking point in his 2024 campaign, because this is going to be critical for all of our futures. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. I mean, this report says every single region, every single place in the U.S. will be affected by this. This can’t be an issue that people upsettingly continue to deny. It just will become impossible. It is now at the point where it’s so far beyond we’re warming more rapidly than the global average. It’s unavoidable. There is such a big problem here and we need to all get on the same page about fixing it. Inflation rates cooled down last month to the lowest increase since July. That is according to a new Labor Department report. And it’s optimistic news for consumers. It also might convince the Federal Reserve to hold off on raising interest rates again. Falling prices on things like cars and airfare help to drive this trend. But it’s not all great news. Most of you know that the costs of essentials like groceries remain stubbornly high. And so the pressure is on President Biden to make Bidenomics and tackling inflation even more of a centerpiece in his administration. Last week’s New York Times Siena poll said that 81% of voters in battleground states rated the U.S. economy as fair or poor. We are going to need to see those numbers change a lot before this time next year. 


Juanita Tolliver: Senate Democrats finally found a possible way to move forward with hundreds of stalled military promotions and bypass Republican colleague Tommy Tuberville. The Rules Committee voted yesterday along party lines to temporarily change the rules and send roughly 400 military nominations to a full Senate vote. They were all stuck in the Senate Armed Services Committee for the past nine months because Senator Tuberville singlehandedly led a blockade. That’s because he disagreed with the Pentagon’s policy to reimburse service members who traveled to seek an abortion. And his stance meant several key positions dealing with national security and more were left unfilled. But the fight’s not over. For the new rule to go into effect, 60 senators must vote for it next. So if nine Republicans join all Democrats, then those hundreds of nominations can go to the Senate floor to get approved by a simple majority. Again, Democrats leading the way on this. Nine Republicans better step up. 


Priyanka Aribindi: About a third of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders say that they have experienced an act of abuse based on their race and ethnicity in the last year, including verbal harassment, slurs, physical threats or cyberbullying. This all comes from a new poll from AAPI Data and the Associated Press, NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey also contains stats on how many Asian American and Pacific Islanders are not optimistic about this racism easing in the future. Despite ongoing awareness and legislation to combat anti-Asian racism since it rose during the pandemic. Of those who have been hate crime victims, 20% believe it’s very or extremely likely to happen to them again sometime in the next five years. That is horrifying. We will link to the survey in our show notes so you can read more. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yes, please y’all, click that link just to get a better understanding of what AAPI individuals are facing today. It is a disheartening reality. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Really is. 


Juanita Tolliver: And finally we’ll wrap up today’s headlines with good and bad news impacting LGBTQ+ folks in the U.S., starting with the bad. A North Dakota judge declined to temporarily block a state ban on gender affirming care for minors. That law makes it a felony for health care providers to perform gender affirming surgeries on minors and a misdemeanor to prescribe or administer puberty blockers or hormone treatments for trans kids. On Monday, District Judge Jackson Lofgren denied a temporary restraining order requested by three families and a pediatrician. They filed a lawsuit back in September saying that the ban violates the North Dakota Constitution and is, quote, “unconstitutionally vague.” The plaintiffs also requested a preliminary injunction in a hearing that is slated for January. And in good news, as promised, the show can go on in Sherman, Texas. That’s because a school district there reversed a decision that removed a transgender student from a role in the musical Oklahoma. To get you up to speed, Max Hightower, a transgender student at the school, was cast in the lead role in the play. But earlier this month, he was informed that he would lose the part due to a new policy that didn’t allow students to play roles different from their sex assigned at birth. Several trans and non-binary students lost their roles, as did girls cast in male roles. But late Monday night, the school board voted unanimously to reinstate the original script and casting. Dozens of people showed up at the meeting to support the students. Take a listen to what some of them had to say. 


[clip of unknown person] I’m appalled to see that the bullies have moved from the hallways to the administration offices in this school board. 


[clip of unknown person] I’m transgender. I’m risking coming out to my entire homophobic family for this. Because this is a hill I will die on. 


Juanita Tolliver: Wow. Heartbreaking. But honestly, very real statements in support about how systematic it’s becoming to have these anti trans anti LGBTQ+ policies on the books. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 


Juanita Tolliver: In a statement after the vote, the board president apologized to students, parents and the community for the situation. And we’ll take that win, especially if they change this policy. You can’t just backtrack on this one situation. Change the policy now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, change the policy. And just for a moment, let us all imagine all of the things that these school boards, that these states, that all of these people who spend all of this time and effort worrying about what trans kids are and are not able to do and–


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –trying to prevent them from being able to do things that they want, what they could accomplish if they set their mind to literally anything else. 


Juanita Tolliver: Imagine. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know. I think it’d be a much better world. 


Juanita Tolliver: Also, I want to shout out these individuals who stood up and showed support for the students because this is the type of support that trans kids, LGBTQ–


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 


Juanita Tolliver: –IA+ kids need, not just in Sherman, Texas, but across the country. So keep that energy and let’s see it elsewhere, too. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. 


Juanita Tolliver: And those are the headlines. 




Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. The first rule of Republican Fight club is we all talk about Republican fight club [laughter] and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just watching, non politicized high school musicals like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And why did you do it Kevin?


Priyanka Aribindi: Why? It’s a good question. 


Juanita Tolliver: I’m also curious of why Kevin thought he could lie about it after a reporter witnessed the action. 


Priyanka Aribindi: These are mysteries. Don’t know we’ll ever have the answer, but we’ll be here on WAD to investigate. [music break]


Juanita Tolliver: 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 showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.