House GOP unveils ACA replacement, Trump issues revised travel ban, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled the American Healthcare Act, a long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The plan includes a number of significant changes to the ACA, including eliminating taxes on “prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health-insurance premiums, and medical devices,” eliminating the individual and employer mandates, encouraging contributions to Health Savings Accounts, and creating tax credits to enable lower-income individuals to purchase health insurance. The new plan would also keep the ACA’s prohibition on denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and would allow children to remain on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
- President Trump signed a new executive order to implement a revised travel ban, after an earlier order’s implementation was stalled by legal challenges. The new order includes a number of changes from the original—a permanent ban on Syrian refugees was changed to a temporary review period, the ban no longer includes Iraq and does not affect those who currently have visas or are permanent residents, and it does not include a provision favoring any particular religious group. Nonetheless, President Trump’s newest order met almost immediately with a new legal challenge from the state of Hawaii, which is reportedly scheduled to be heard next week.
- In addition to the suit brought by Hawaii, four states—Washington, New York, Oregon, and Massachusetts—filed documents in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington arguing that the temporary restraining order issued in response to Washington’s challenge to President Trump’s first executive order on immigration should apply to the new version as well.
- The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not decide whether Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student in Virginia, could use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity. In a one-sentence order, the Court vacated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s decision to overrule the Gloucester Country School Board’s policy that requires students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex, directing the Fourth Circuit to revisit the case in light of the Trump Administration’s recent revocation of guidance issued by the Obama Administration.
- Utilizing the Congressional Review Act, the U.S. Senate voted to repeal three rules issued by the Obama Administration, all of which the House had already voted to repeal. The Senate voted 59-40 to overturn a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Education that aims to ensure new teachers are prepared to enter the classroom. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) reportedly said state-level officials and teachers “were fed up with Washington telling them so much about what to do about their children,” but Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) reportedly warned that the rule actually “helps make sure students can make informed decisions” about education.
- The U.S. Senate voted to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution repealing the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “planning 2.0 rule”—a rule whose supporters think it is an important update to the communication process between federal and state officials involved in managing public lands, but whose opponents think it gives the federal government too much oversight, at the expense of state and local power.
- The U.S. Senate also voted to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution repealing a rule issued by the General Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration which required federal contractors to disclose any labor law violations—a policy which is supported by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who released a report shortly before the vote detailing labor violations by two-thirds of America’s largest contractors, but which is reportedly opposed by business groups, who argue that the rule discourages businesses from seeking government contracts.
- Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who is Chair of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, introduced several “bills aimed at improving the federal rulemaking process so that the final regulation works better for the American people.” Collectively, Sen. Lankford asserted that the proposals, which include requiring agencies to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for major rules at least 90 days before publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking and curtailing when agencies can use guidance documents, will improve efficiency in regulation.
- Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls (HANGUP) Act, a bill that is intended to close loopholes that exempt government contractors and holders of debt that is guaranteed by the government from robocalling restrictions. The bill would rescind a Federal Communications Commission ruling that exempts government contractors from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and would eliminate a provision of the 2015 Budget Act that provides exemptions from certain robocalling protections to those collecting debt that is guaranteed by the government. Sen. Markey reportedly said the bill “will ensure that government contractors are subject to meaningful rules protecting consumers from abusive robocalls and robotexts.”
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In an article forthcoming in the Georgetown Law Journal, University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Cary Coglianese and Penn Program on Regulation research affiliate David Lehr discuss the implications for the administrative state if machine learning algorithms enable agencies to “regulate by robot.” They conclude that machine-learning technology, when “properly understood,” could be used by government agencies in a way that can “comfortably fit within…conventional legal parameters.”
- In a recent op-ed, the editors of the conservative National Review criticized the American Healthcare Act, congressional Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The editors asserted that the proposed bill fails to fully repeal the ACA, and therefore leaves too many ACA regulations in place. Although the bill has some positive features, they said—including elimination of many ACA taxes, new tax credits for people to purchase insurance, the possibility to reduce regulation, and a limit on Medicaid contributions by the federal government—the editors nonetheless conclude that, on the whole, “the bill is a disappointment.”
- In a recent piece for NPR, Dan Charles details the debate between farmers and environmentalists over environmental regulations. According to Craig Cox, the Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Environmental Working Group, there are simple steps farmers could take to reduce problems like phosphorus runoff into drinking water supplies, however, the farming industry has put up significant efforts to prevent regulation that mandates they take such steps.