Ten candidates took the stage in Miami last night for the first of a two-night Democratic primary debate. In a heated two-hour program, 2020 hopefuls were asked about healthcare, immigration, climate change, reproductive rights, gun control and the economy. On healthcare, Senator Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were the only two candidates who said they would eliminate private insurance altogether. This is Senator Warren on Medicare for all.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “I’m with Bernie on Medicare for all, and let me tell you why. I spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke. And one of the number one reasons is the cost of healthcare, medical bills. And that’s not just for people who don’t have insurance. It’s for people who have insurance.”
Former San Antonio mayor and secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Obama, Julián Castro, called for the decriminalization of immigration and challenged former congressmember and fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke over his refusal to do the same. This is Castro answering a question on what he would do as president.
Julián Castro: “I would sign an executive order that would get rid of Trump’s 'zero tolerance' policy, the 'Remain in Mexico' policy and the metering policy. This metering policy is basically what prompted Óscar and Valeria to make that risky swim across the river. They have been playing games with people who are coming and trying to seek asylum at our ports of entry. Óscar and Valeria went to a port of entry, and then they were denied the ability to make an asylum claim, so they got frustrated, and they tried to cross the river. And they died because of that.”
On the climate, Washington Governor Jay Inslee touted the fact that he was the only candidate to make climate change the centerpiece of his campaign.
Gov. Jay Inslee: “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last that can do something about it. Our towns are burning. Our fields are flooding. Miami is inundated. And we have to understand, this is a climate crisis, an emergency. And it is our last chance in the administration, next one, to do something about it.”
We’ll have an hour-long roundtable discussion on last night’s debate after headlines.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass a $4.6 billion bill Wednesday that includes funding for emergency aid at the southern border. Earlier in the day, the Senate rejected a House version of the bill that included new health and safety standards for jailed migrants but split progressive lawmakers. The Senate bill provides additional funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Defense Department.
President Trump has threatened to veto the House bill, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the Senate’s version and has said she would like to see better protections for detained migrants and migrant children, and a provision allowing lawmakers to visit detention facilities without notice. The pressure is now on for the House and Senate to reconcile the two bills, with lawmakers set to leave for the upcoming July 4 recess. The Department of Health and Human Services has warned it could run out of funding to operate detention facilities for migrant children by the end of the month.
In more immigration news, Democratic candidates Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar visited a migrant children’s prison in Homestead, Florida, ahead of last night’s debate. Homestead—which is located less than an hour away from the debate venue—has been plagued by reports of mistreatment and unsafe conditions, with children being isolated and some taking to self-harm. Other 2020 candidates in Florida have also said they intend to visit.
Bank of America said Wednesday it will end its relationship with companies that are involved in the jailing of migrants, amid the growing outcry over conditions at the border and Trump’s inhumane immigration policies. Bank of America reportedly provided financial services to Caliburn, which runs the Homestead facility. Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly recently joined the board of Caliburn. As the former head of Homeland Security, Kelly oversaw Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy.
Asylum officers are calling for a federal court to put an end to Trump’s so-called Remain in Mexico policy, saying it threatens migrants’ lives. The policy, which forces migrants to return to Mexico while their asylum cases make their way through U.S. immigration courts, has been challenged by the ACLU and other groups. Court filings by a union representing the asylum officers read, “[Asylum officers] should not be forced to honor departmental directives that are fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation and our international and domestic legal obligations.”
In Indiana, the family of Eric Logan, the 54-year-old black man who was shot dead by a white police officer earlier this month, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against officer Ryan O’Neill and the city of South Bend. The officer did not have his body camera turned on at the time but claims he fired at Logan after he approached him with a knife and refused to drop it.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has come under fire following Logan’s death. Residents have called him out for failing to hold the police accountable and favoring wealthy white residents over black citizens. People of color make up 40% of South Bend’s population. He has also been accused of neglecting his mayoral duties to spend time on the 2020 campaign trail. Buttigieg is set to appear on stage tonight for the second night of the Democratic primary debate.
In breaking news, two blasts from suicide bombs have rocked the Tunisian capital of Tunis. Multiple injuries were reported in the immediate aftermath. The first blast occurred near a police patrol on one of the city’s main streets, close to the French Embassy, killing at least one police officer and wounding at least three civilians, according to the Interior Ministry. A second bomb exploded near a police station, injuring at least four others. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
President Trump and other world leaders are in Osaka, Japan, today for the G20 summit. Trump is expected to ask India to reverse its recent tariffs on some U.S. goods, imposed earlier this month. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that China will present a set of terms with the goal of ending the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.
Trump is also expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid growing opposition to the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, and international calls for the Saudi crown prince and other top officials to be held accountable for journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
In a landmark ruling, a French court found the government failed to adequately tackle air pollution around Paris. The decision came in response to a lawsuit by a woman and her teenage daughter who experienced respiratory illnesses believed to be linked to high levels of pollution in the Parisian suburb where they live. Environmentalists hailed the ruling as a crucial precedent. The group Ecology Without Borders said, in response, “Today victims of pollution, like victims of pesticide, should not be afraid to go to court to defend their health.”
A United Nations expert has warned we are on track for a “climate apartheid,” where wealthy people can pay their way out of the consequences of climate devastation while others will face hunger, conflict and mass displacement. A new report by Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, says that the U.N. and the larger human rights community has been complacent in the planet’s “impending disaster” and that even if current global emissions targets are met, “millions will be impoverished.” Poorer nations are expected to bear at least 75% of the costs of climate change, even as the poorer half of the world’s population generates just 10% of global emissions.
In more climate news, the New York City Council voted Wednesday to declare a “climate emergency,” joining over 650 municipalities in 15 countries who have also made the symbolic declaration. Other major cities to have done so include London and Sydney. The move comes a few days after the New York state Legislature passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, an ambitious bill that aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign the bill soon.
The House Oversight Committee voted Wednesday to subpoena White House counselor Kellyanne Conway to testify over her violations of the Hatch Act, a law barring federal employees from engaging in political activity as part of their official duties. The White House blocked Conway from appearing before the panel for yesterday’s hearing. Earlier this month, a White House watchdog informed President Trump that Conway violated the act “on numerous occasions” by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in an official capacity during television interviews and on social media.” Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings warned that his panel would vote to hold Conway in contempt if she ignores the subpoena.
And in New Mexico, an Iraqi man who had taken sanctuary from deportation since 2017 in an Albuquerque church has had his removal order vacated and will have his case reheard, allowing him to move freely for the first time in two years. Kadhim Albumohammed came to the U.S. in 1994 as a refugee and worked as a linguist for the U.S. military between 2004 and 2009. In 2017, Iraq agreed to take back a small number of citizens living in the U.S. in exchange for being removed from Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
Albumohammed joined a class-action lawsuit that prevented the deportation of 100 Iraqis, but has remained in sanctuary to avoid detention away from his family. Albumohammed’s attorney Rebecca Kitson announced the news and thanked his supporters at the Albuquerque church yesterday.
Rebecca Kitson: “It takes a village to be able to do this. The greater community of the Hamama class members and the ACLU of Michigan were also really instrumental in this. They are a wonderful and tireless group of advocates. And yeah, I mean, I just hope that this brings light into the heart of those that are still in sanctuary, knowing that the fight continues and that sometimes you win.”