Democrats won a big victory Monday, when at least 42 members of the Senate agreed to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, joining #TeamSpine and finally combating Republicans with comparable audacity. The media spent the day debating whether that would provoke Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to organize his GOP members to vote away the filibuster, while behind the scenes, Donald Trump and his team were up to unthinkable cruelty.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Justice Department would review all police-reform agreements to make sure they don’t counter Trump’s primary concerns: reducing crime and promoting police morale. It also asked for 90 days to examine the Obama administration’s signed consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department, triggered by the rough treatment that led to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in April 2015.
“This is terrifying,” former Justice Department investigator Jonathan Smith told The Washington Post. “This raises the question of whether, under the current attorney general, the Department of Justice is going to walk away from its obligation to ensure that law enforcement across the country is following the Constitution.” The NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Sherrilyn Ifill tweeted simply:
That is the plan. To set policing back decades. We cannot allow it to happen. https://t.co/2jY7heJ4uE
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) April 4, 2017
The administration made another move toward promoting cruelty in the world by halting funding to the United Nations Population Fund, which provides family planning and maternal-health services to women globally. Evaluators say the US contribution to the program prevented an estimated 100,000 unsafe abortions last year and 10,000 maternal deaths, but anti-abortion advocates have charged that the group may somehow, somewhere promote abortion—even though it officially does not provide or promote abortion services. George W. Bush pulled US funding because the agency was working in China, under its coercive “One Child” policy. But it no longer provides any services in China, a UN official told The Huffington Post’s Laura Bassett. The $76 million US contribution makes up 7 percent of the budget.
Maybe most shocking, to revive his dashed attempts at replacing the Affordable Care Act, Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials to meet with the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, and they reportedly hashed out a proposal that would effectively gut the ACA’s most popular provision: ending insurance discrimination against people with preexisting conditions. Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows insists the draft proposal holds on to that provision, but as The New York Times explains, that’s in name only.