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Today's News: April 3, 2017

A Senate panel’s deliberations on Judge Gorsuch, and more from the United States and around the world.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

—The Senate Judiciary Committee begins deliberations today on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans need five more Democratic votes to overcome a filibuster that Democrats have vowed to mount on the nomination.

—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).

  

Updates

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Trump Donates His First-Quarter Paycheck to the National Park Service

Carlos Barria / Reuters

President Trump donated his first three months of salary to the National Park Service (NPS) on Monday. The total comes to $78,333.32, which Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, handed in the form of a check to an NPS employee. During his election campaign, Trump promised to donate his $400,000 annual salary if elected, even asking for the press corps’s help in deciding where to send it. The NPS is overseen by the Department of Interior, which said the money would go toward maintaining historic battlefield sites. At these areas alone, the NPS faces a $229 million budget shortfall. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said the NPS faces an overall maintenance shortfall of $12 billion, and he’s made this one of his top priorities. But it’s unclear how that shortfall will be made up because Trump’s “skinny” budget calls for a 12 percent cut to the Interior Department.

UPDATE: Democrats Have Enough Votes to Filibuster Gorsuch's Nomination; GOP Vows to Press Ahead

(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 along party lines Monday to move the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to a full Senate vote. The move comes after Senate Democrats said they have the 41 votes needed to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination, likely forcing Republicans to use the so-called “nuclear option” and put the Supreme Court nominee’s appointment to a full vote. Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy created by the death last year of Judge Antonin Scalia, has the support of all 52 Republicans in the Senate, as well as of at least three Democrats—Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana—from conservative states that went to Trump. He needed 60 votes—a supermajority—for his nomination to be approved. The “nuclear option” would allow Gorsuch’s nomination to be approved by a simple majority of senators rather than the 60-vote supermajority. Democrats, who are still angry over the Republican refusal to hold hearings for Judge Merrick Garland, whom President Obama nominated to fill Scalia’s spot on the court, insist that if Republicans don’t have 60 votes for Gorsuch, Trump should nominate a judge who can win the support of a supermajority of lawmakers. Despite their opposition, however, Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed.

Trump Says He's 'Very Much Behind' Egypt's Sisi

President Trump meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the Oval Office on April 3, 2017. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

President Trump welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the White House Monday, marking the Arab leader’s first visit to Washington since he assumed power following former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in 2013. “I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President al-Sisi,” Trump told reporters at the meeting. “He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt.” Though Egypt has been a longstanding U.S. ally—receiving approximately $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid annually—Sisi was never afforded an invitation to the White House under the Obama administration. Indeed, Obama froze aid to the country for two years after Sisi, then Egypt’s defense minister, led a popular uprising against Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government, which was elected the previous year. The U.S.-Egyptian relationship was further strained by alleged human-rights abuses by the Sisi government, including mass arrests, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions. Though Trump noted that both countries “have a few things” they do not agree upon, he said the two countries will work together “to fight terrorism and other things.”

Ecuador's New Socialist President Is Good News for Julian Assange

Mariana Bazo / Reuters

Socialist candidate Lenín Moreno narrowly won Ecuador’s presidential election Sunday night, though his opponent has demanded a recount and protesters from both sides took to the streets. Moreno’s win bucked a trend of center-right victories in South America, and was also good news for Julian Assange, whose fate as an asylee in Ecuador’s embassy in London was predicated on the win. Moreno, a former vice president, won 51 percent of the vote over his opponent, Guillermo Lasso. Lasso was a former banker who offered voters a change from leftist economic policies he blamed for the country’s sagging economy. He also promised to kick Assange out of the embassy within 30 days of taking office. At least one respected exit poll had put Lasso ahead Sunday night, so when news of Moreno’s win came later that evening, Lasso denounced it as fraudulent, saying, “We won’t let them cheat us!” His supporters stormed the country’s election headquarters and battled riot police. As oil prices and exports have fallen in the region, countries like Argentina, Peru, and Brazil have turned to center-right leaders who’ve promised fiscal reforms. But by selecting Moreno, Ecuador remains in the company of Socialist-led Bolivia and Venezuela.

Blast Reported at Metro Station in St. Petersburg, Russia

A general view of  St. Petersburg, Russia (Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters)

Updated at 9 a.m.

Russian news reports say an explosion in the St. Petersburg metro system has killed at least people. The blast reportedly occurred at the Sennaya Square metro station.

For updates on this story, go here.