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News Wrap: Neil Gorsuch passes Senate hurdle as Democrats reach 41 ‘no’ votes

April 3, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
In our news wrap Monday, the stage is set for a bitter showdown over Neil Gorsuch. The Supreme Court nominee cleared the Judiciary Committee, but it came as Democrats secured enough votes to withstand a Republican attempt to break a filibuster. Also, a subway bombing in St. Petersburg, Russia, killed at least 11 people and injured dozens of others.
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JOHN YANG: Good evening. Judy Woodruff is on assignment tonight.

The stage is now set for what’s likely to be a bitter showdown on the Senate floor over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. He cleared the Judiciary Committee today, but it came as Democrats secured 41 votes against him. That means Republicans won’t get the votes they need to break a filibuster.

Republican Lindsey Graham warned that his side will change Senate rules to allow confirmation with a simple majority.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Senate traditions are going to change over this man, based on the times in which we live. And I find it ironic and sad that we’re going to change rules over somebody who’s lived such a good life, who’s been such a good judge for such a long time.

JOHN YANG: Democrats, like Patrick Leahy, said Gorsuch is too pro-corporation and too conservative.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, D-Vt.: I cannot vote solely to protect an institution when the rights of hardworking Americans are at risk, because I fear that the Senate I would be defending no longer exists. I must first and foremost vote my conscience both today and later this week.

JOHN YANG: Republican leaders say a confirmation vote will come by Friday.

President Trump welcomed his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, to the White House today. The Obama administration had kept El-Sisi at arm’s length over human rights abuses.

Today, Mr. Trump hailed the Egyptian leader, and the two men talked about fighting terrorism and helping Egypt’s faltering economy. We will have a full report on the changing relationship after the news summary.

In St. Petersburg, Russia, a subway bombing killed at least 11 people and injured dozens of others. A second bomb was defused nearby. Investigators are treating it as a terrorist attack, possibly linked to Islamist militants.

Amateur video captured the scene moments after the blast, with people rushing to safety. Witnesses told of chaos and shock.

WOMAN (through interpreter): When we were climbing out, the train carriage collapsed, all of it. Everything went black. When I turned back and looked, there was a huge number of people lying there. There were dead bodies. It was scary. And when we left, they took out several people covered in blood.

JOHN YANG: Russian President Vladimir Putin was in St. Petersburg at the time. Hours later, he laid flowers at the scene.

In Washington, President Trump called the bombing absolutely a terrible thing.

In Colombia, the death toll from a devastating flood and mudslide has risen to 262. It happened late Friday in the southern city of Mocoa, after more than five inches of rain fell in one night. Workers are using heavy machinery to clear the thick mud and debris, so rescue crews can search for victims.

Officials say deforestation helped cause the disaster. Back in this country, a new wave of severe weather threatened the Deep South from Mississippi to South Carolina. The same system generated tornadoes and torrential rains in Louisiana and Mississippi on Sunday. At least four people were killed.

In Augusta, Georgia, today, storms forced the suspension of a practice round for the Masters golf tournament.

Facebook, Mozilla and others have announced a $14 million initiative to fight fake news. It follows allegations of rampant Russian disinformation during last year’s presidential campaign.

Judy Woodruff spoke exclusively today with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as part of a longer interview to air later on the NewsHour.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How concerned are you that Facebook was used this way by an adversary of this country?

SHERYL SANDBERG, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook: There are investigations of what happened in the U.S. elections that I think was going on for a long time. False news is a problem across the board. And it comes from all kinds of sources. And we know it’s bad for our communities and our governments and our citizens.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it fair to say that Facebook underestimated the ability of a foreign government to do something like this?

SHERYL SANDBERG: We know that seeing accurate news on Facebook is really important to people on all sides. No matter who you are, seeing the accurate story and seeing a diversity of opinions is really important. We know we have a responsibility, along with news rooms and classrooms and academic and other companies, to make sure people see accurate news. So we’re working on a lot of different levels.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it fair to say Facebook was caught off-guard by this, by the magnitude of this?

SHERYL SANDBERG: As we have grown, so much has changed in the world. So much has changed about the way people share with their friends. So much has changed about the way people share with their families, and the way people share articles and the kind of articles people are writing has changed.

And it’s up to us to work with everyone involved, so that we can make sure people see accurate news on Facebook, because that’s what they want and that’s what we want.

JUDY WOODRUFF: When you say you’re moving to disrupt the financial incentive, how are you doing that?

SHERYL SANDBERG: A lot of false news is financially motivated. People are trying to make money off this.

And so we are making sure that people who are doing false news can’t participate in our advertising network, so that they can’t get money from our ads for doing this. We’re also making sure that people writing these articles can’t use our ad system to advertise their content and get more traffic.

JOHN YANG: Facebook’s initiative on fake news will be based out of the City University of New York.

President Trump is donating his first quarter’s salary to the National Park Service. A check for $78,333 was presented at today’s White House briefing. It came as the president’s budget calls for cutting overall interior spending by more than $1.5 billion.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost close to — it lost 13 points to close at 20650. The Nasdaq fell 17 points, and the S&P 500 dipped nearly four.

And the University of South Carolina is celebrating today after winning its first ever national championship in women’s basketball. They beat Mississippi State 67-55. South Carolina took home the title, despite Mississippi State’s stunning upset over the University of Connecticut, snapping the Huskies’ streak of 111 consecutive — that’s a record for men or women — and four straight national titles.

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