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News Wrap: Neil Gorsuch confirmed at end of Senate’s Supreme Court fight

April 7, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
Neil Gorsuch will be sworn in as the newest Supreme Court justice April 10.  File photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The long fight to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court is over. The U.S. Senate today confirmed President Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, by a vote of 54-45. He will fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Lisa Desjardins has our report.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: The nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch of Colorado to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is confirmed.

LISA DESJARDINS: The final vote was almost anticlimactic, after Republicans triggering the so-called nuclear option on Thursday. That change in Senate procedure meant a simple majority could break the Democratic filibuster against Gorsuch.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-K.Y., Majority Leader: Of course, I wish that important aspects of this process had played out differently. It didn’t have to be this way. But today is a new day.

LISA DESJARDINS: In the end, three Democrats, Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Donnelly, joined Republicans in supporting Gorsuch. But most Democrats, like Dick Durbin, lamented how it came to be.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, D-Ill., Minority Whip: When the rule was changed, some senators were engaged in high-fives on the other side of aisle. I’m not sure why. I don’t think it was a time for any winning celebration. I think it was an unfortunate moment, and the question is, where will we go from here?

LISA DESJARDINS: Not all Republicans were celebrating the rule revision.

Arizona’s John McCain:

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I am very concerned about the future, which will then, with only 51-vote majority required, will lead to polarization of the nominees as far as their philosophies are concerned.

LISA DESJARDINS: But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer promised to protect the 60-vote threshold for ending filibusters on legislation.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: I hope the Republican leader and I can, in the coming months, find a way to build a firewall around the legislative filibuster, which is the most important distinction between the Senate and the House.

LISA DESJARDINS: On that at least, Schumer and McConnell agreed.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: This notion that this somehow bleeds over into the legislative filibuster is untrue. I’m opposed to it.

LISA DESJARDINS: As for Judge Gorsuch, his swearing-in as the 101st associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is set for Monday.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump wound up his Florida summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping today. Both men spoke highly of their first-ever meeting, despite tensions over trade and North Korea. Chinese reports said Mr. Trump will visit China later this year. We will have the full story later in the program.

In Sweden, at least four people were killed today when a hijacked beer truck crashed into a department store in Stockholm. Fifteen others were hurt. Witnesses said the truck plowed into a crowd of people before smashing into the store. The Swedish prime minister called it an act of terror. It was the latest such incident across Europe. Police said they are looking for the truck driver.

More than 50,000 people marched in cities across South Africa today to protest government corruption. They carried signs and shouted slogans demanding the removal of President Jacob Zuma, after he fired the country’s anti-corruption finance minister.

KHENSANI MOGALE, Protester: I am marching because I have a 4-year-old daughter, and I feel if I don’t do something about the future of the country, nobody is going to anything.

ANNEMARIE VAN DE LINDELM, Protester: I’m here to fight, to show my support for this country, for the beauty and the future that this country has, instead of the uprising of one greedy, corrupt man.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The ailing Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu, now 85, also made a rare public appearance in support of the demonstrations. His foundation tweeted on his behalf, “We will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us.”

Back in this country, a federal judge approved the agreement between Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice on reforming that city’s police department. The judge said — quote — “It is in the public interest to approve it,” despite the Justice Department request for a delay. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he still has grave concerns about the agreement, and that it may hinder the fight against crime.

The long-running drought in California is finally over. Governor Jerry Brown today lifted emergency conservation for nearly all of the state. He acted after a series of major winter storms brought heavy snow and rain.

U.S. job growth dropped sharply in March, to its worst showing in nearly a year. The Labor Department reported that today in its monthly summary. It said U.S. employers added a net of 98,000 jobs, despite the fact that economists expected nearly twice that many. The unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent, which is the lowest in almost a decade.

That jobs report, and the tensions over Syria, dampened the mood on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average lost about seven points to close at 20656. The Nasdaq fell one point, and the S&P 500 slipped two. For the week, all three indexes were down a fraction of 1 percent.

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