In This Episode
The Supreme Court issued a decision preserving access to the abortion drug mifepristone, meaning access to the medication will likely remain unchanged at least into next year.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveiled his plan to raise the debt ceiling last week. The proposal has a long list of demands that take aim at the Biden administration’s agenda — including cutting climate change investments, blocking student loan forgiveness, and adding work requirements for Medicaid and food stamp recipients.
And in headlines: The U.S. military evacuated American embassy staff from Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, three thousand migrants began a mass protest procession in Mexico calling for an end to migrant detention centers, and German government officials reached a deal with one of the country’s largest trade unions.
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, April 24th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day where we are mourning missing Zendaya’s surprise performance at Coachella. Like Legend.
Tre’vell Anderson: So does that mean she’s headlining next year?
Juanita Tolliver: Uh.
Tre’vell Anderson: Is that how this works?
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like she’s got the discography from Disney. You know, we can hit it.
Tre’vell Anderson: We can figure something out. You know? [laughter] [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, the US military has evacuated embassy officials from Sudan’s capital of Khartoum. Plus, Lizzo showed up and showed out in Knoxville, Tennessee, this past weekend and she brought all the girlies with her.
Tre’vell Anderson: She absolutely did. We love Lizzo on this show. But first, let’s start with an update in the story we’ve been following about access to the abortion drug mifepristone. On Friday of last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision maintaining access to the drug, at least for now. As a reminder, we’re talking about the case that started in Texas, where a judge completely blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, which is a drug that’s been approved for use since 2000 and is the most common method of abortion in the U.S. It’s a drug that has already been used by more than 5 million people. Well, an appeals court narrowed that Texas ruling, but imposed some restrictions on the drug’s use, like reducing the period of pregnancy when the drug can be taken and restricting the drug from being delivered by mail. So the Justice Department then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which gets us up to speed to last Friday. That’s when less than a year after they reversed Roe versus Wade in a 7 to 2 vote, the court decided to preserve access to mifepristone for the time being, meaning access to the medication will likely remain unchanged at least into next year as the appeals play out.
Juanita Tolliver: When I heard the news Tre’vell, I was delightfully surprised because I, you know, I’m expecting the absolute worst from these conservative justices.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Juanita Tolliver: But you mentioned that it was a 7 to 2 vote. So who do we need to shame?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, no surprise here. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, you know, tomato, tomato, tomato. I will save you the mental gymnastics that Alito went through in his four page dissent. As for the Biden administration’s response, though, in a statement, President Biden said, quote, “The stakes could not be higher for women across America. I will continue to fight politically driven attacks on women’s health. But let’s be clear. The American people must continue to use their vote as their voice and elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring the protections of Roe versus Wade.” Now, of course, just a small reminder here that abortion and reproductive rights are not just a women’s issue. Right? Plenty of other people who are not women um–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: –deserve and need these rights. But Biden’s point about electing the right people still remains true. And we need to keep that in mind for sure.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m so glad the Biden administration fought for this access and extra emphasis on your point that it’s not just a women’s issue, because I think that needs to be said repeatedly. So what happens next in this case?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, the case is kind of on a fast track now that the Supremes have set rules about access to mifepristone for the time being. The case will continue on its path through the courts. The fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already announced that it will hear arguments in less than a month starting on May 17th. Now, no matter how the Fifth Circuit rules, the likelihood that the case will be back at the Supreme Court is hell or high. So we’ll be talking about this one for some time to come, I am sure.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. And I think the arguments are going to sound a little interesting when they gets back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, because expect a lot more energy from big Pharma. Expect a lot of more emphasis on FDA authority. So stand by for more on that. But in other parts of the nation’s capital, the debt ceiling drama is heating up as President Biden and Speaker McCarthy are at opposite ends of the negotiating spectrum. In one corner, because this is like a real fight, y’all. In one corner, McCarthy swears that the House is going to pass his proposal. But given his history with votes, that doesn’t mean he actually has 218 votes in his pockets y’all. Remember how many rounds for him to become speaker? In the other corner, President Biden is saying take default off the table and then we’ll talk. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking until the U.S. government faces defaulting on its debt for the first time in history. And we’re all just going to take a really deep breath because this is pure chaos thanks to Republicans.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I’ve been taking deep breaths for a little minute now. [laughter] Uh Juanita.
Juanita Tolliver: For seven years.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Okay. Like my god, today. So break it down for us. What exactly is McCarthy proposing at this point?
Juanita Tolliver: McCarthy has given the same old GOP playbook of bump regular people. Let’s get tax cuts for billionaires. And I’m not exaggerating. In the bill dubbed the Limit, Save, Grow Act, McCarthy wants to cut climate change investments that were included in the Inflation Reduction Act. He wants to block student loan forgiveness, and that’s making my eyes big. Add work requirements for Medicaid and food stamp recipients. Cancel health care for veterans that was included in the American Rescue Plan. And that’s. Just a few of the cuts that he and Republicans want to make. On the flip side, they, of course, want to sweeten the pot for big oil and fossil fuel companies. Not to mention, McCarthy only wants to raise the debt limit through March 2024. So we’d be right back here in this position in 11 months. In McCarthy’s mind, this is an excellent starting point for negotiations, and he’s scoffing at the idea that President Biden isn’t willing to come to the table yet. But the reality is that it’s McCarthy who’s being ridiculous right now. Not only did McCarthy vote to raise the debt limit three times under Trump, and he didn’t make a single demand, but it’s like McCarthy is rejecting the reality that raising the debt limit is actually about paying the bills on money that the government has already spent.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, this situation reminds me that, like, you know, you don’t have to be smart to be an elected official.
Juanita Tolliver: Period.
Tre’vell Anderson: You just got to get the votes. We got some fools, okay, in these offices. Now, how exactly are President Biden and the Democrats reacting to McCarthy’s proposal?
Juanita Tolliver: So Biden has been on Republicans necks about the cuts they want to make since the State of the Union back in February when he called them out for wanting to cut Medicare and Social Security. I mean, the president made that proposal so toxic, the Republicans can’t go near it now. But even last week, the president made it clear that as soon as McCarthy and Republicans take default off the table, he’s ready to talk. No problem. And that makes complete sense to me. But while Biden is holding firm, here comes Messy Manchin, talking about it’s time to sit down with Republicans like I can only assume that Senator Joe Manchin is motivated by the benefits for the fossil fuel industry and the cruelty to children, families and the planet. And Manchin isn’t alone, as some House Democrats in tough districts are speaking out, including Representatives Dean Phillips and Haley Stevens.
Tre’vell Anderson: Would absolutely love a messy Manchin T-shirt or bumper sticker.
Juanita Tolliver: Bumper sticker.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know.
Juanita Tolliver: Anything.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m into that.
Juanita Tolliver: Print it.
Tre’vell Anderson: So now, at the end of the day, does McCarthy’s bill even have a chance at passing when he brings it to a vote this week?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, I’ll say this. The future is dark. It’s pitch black for this bill, because not only does McCarthy have to whip up the votes in the House this week, but there’s no way this bill is going to make it past the Democratic controlled Senate and on to Biden’s desk. What I think is more likely to happen is that within the next few weeks, President Biden and McCarthy will meet for the first time since February. But we better brace ourselves for this going down to the wire. Of course, we’ll keep following this messy drama as it unfolds, but that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: First, we have an update on the latest out of Sudan. The US military evacuated American embassy staff from the country’s capital of Khartoum Sunday morning local time. Helicopters flew in from Djibouti about 800 miles away to evacuate just under 100 U.S. government personnel from Sudan. The operation comes after more than a week of continuous and deadly fighting between the country’s two rival commanders. An estimated 16,000 U.S. citizens remain in the country, but officials say it’s too dangerous to evacuate them at this time. In a statement released Saturday, President Biden said operations at the U.S. embassy in Sudan have been temporarily suspended and called for the, quote unquote, unconscionable. Violence to stop. According to the United Nations, more than 400 people have been killed in the fighting and 3500 others injured. Ceasefires declared by the U.N. and foreign states have not been able to stop the violence.
Juanita Tolliver: 3000 migrants have begun what they call a mass protest procession going north from southern Mexico. The walkout started yesterday when migrants began the roughly 750 mile trip from the southern city of Tapachula Chiapas to Mexico City. They’re asking for better treatment and an end to migrant detention centers. This comes after a detention facility caught fire last month in Ciudad Juarez, killing 40 migrants. Organizer Irineo Mujica told the Associated Press that the migrants are demanding for the country’s National Immigration Institute to be shut down, some of whose officials have been charged with homicide in the Ciudad Juarez fire. Among the migrants walking are people from Central America, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia, some carrying infants or children in strollers along with them. This is a protest that needs as much attention as possible because the people who died there, the migrants there, were treated horribly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s inhumane. It’s harmful. They deserve better. And migrants in general deserve better.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. German government officials reached a deal with one of the country’s largest transportation worker unions on Sunday, securing a pay increase for 2.5 million public sector employees. We’ve talked on the show before about how German transit workers have been organizing strikes and walkouts amid high rates of inflation that have driven up the cost of living across Europe. And this deal comes after millions of rail workers walked off the job last month for 24 hours, bringing the country’s transit system to a standstill and marking one of the biggest strikes in the country’s history. Yesterday’s deal with the Verdi Union averts a longer all out strike. But negotiations aren’t over yet. EVG, another major transportation worker union is still negotiating with the government for higher pay, and the Verdi union is still negotiating with the country’s airport companies to secure better pay for their security workers. In fact, the Berlin Airport canceled all departing flights today to accommodate a warning strike led by its security staff.
Juanita Tolliver: And finally, for some good gay news in a stunning show of allyship, the legendary Lizzo brought out a group of drag queens for her concert in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Friday to protest the state’s pending anti-drag law. You’ll remember that in February, Republican Governor Bill Lee signed legislation restricting drag performances in public or in front of minors, classifying them as quote unquote, “adult cabaret shows.” It would also charge performers with a misdemeanor for breaking the law or a felony for a repeat offense. A federal judge temporarily blocked the law from going into effect last month, but the move is part of a wider effort by GOP lawmakers to target queer Tennesseans. Among those who joined Lizzo on stage were RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Aquaria, Kandy Muse and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo. The queens all wore vibrant colors to create a rainbow dancing while Lizzo performed her hit song Everybody’s Gay. Take a listen to what she had to say to the audience that night.
[clip of Lizzo] I was told by people who [?] cancel your shows in Tennessee, don’t go to Tennessee. No. Why would I not come to the people who need to hear this message the most? Why would I not create a safe space in Tennessee where we can celebrate drag entertainers. And celebrate our differences. [cheering]
Juanita Tolliver: Lizzo better do it. That’s all I got to say. She better do it. Come on.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. You know, Lizzo’s one of those people, you know, one of those celebrities who, like, legitimately make an effort, Right. To, like, um make good on all these things that she professes in her music and bringing out this, like stage full of drag queens in this state that is going through what it’s going through, such a great sign of not just being an ally, but also being an accomplice. Right. And like using this moment, your platform.
Juanita Tolliver: Giving the Tennessee governor the middle finger. Like, that’s what I’m here for, like two middle fingers to Bill Lee.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. We love Lizzo. And those are the headlines. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, support your local drag queens, and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just Lizzo lyrics about gay rights like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[spoken together] And everybody’s gay.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m so here for it, again extra points to Lizzo because I can think of like friends who live in the area in Knoxville and they’re queer and overjoyed that she’s there. They’re overjoyed she’s doing this. So keep sprinkling that rainbow beauty, queer love everywhere.
Tre’vell Anderson: Glitter for everyone. Yes. [laughter]
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 and Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.