Week in Review

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The House passes the American Health Care Act, the Justice Department releases data on incarcerated aliens, and more…

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  • By a vote of 217-213, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, the American Health Care Act, a bill aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Among the bill’s provisions is an amendment, known as the MacArthur Amendment, that would allow states to waive rules that prevent policy pricing from being based on risk and that cover the ACA’s “Essential Health Benefits.” Prior to the vote, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) tweeted in favor of ending what he called the “failed experiment” of the ACA, adding that “no member [of Congress] will be exempt from the American Health Care Act.”
  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in accordance with an executive order issued by President Trump, released data on the number of aliens currently incarcerated in U.S. prisons. According to the DOJ, the data show “a significant prison population of incarcerated aliens,” including 41,554 who are aliens out of a total foreign-born prisoner population of 45,493. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that the data highlight the need to “secure our borders through a wall and effective law enforcement” and that “we must strengthen cooperation between federal, state and local governments as we strive to fulfill our sacred duty of protecting and serving the American people.”
  • President Trump issued an executive order aimed at “vigorously [enforcing] Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” To that end, the order directs Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to “ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any…religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues. American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero reportedly called President Trump’s order a “thinly-veiled [effort] to unleash his conservative religious base into the political arena while also using religion to discriminate.”
  • The U.S. Senate confirmed Jay Clayton—a lawyer with decades of experience representing Wall Street banks—to head the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by a vote of 61-37.  Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) reportedly expressed concern that because of Clayton’s past work for financial firms, he will need to recuse himself from matters concerning “potential enforcement actions against some of the biggest Wall Street banks—Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and UBS,” but in nominating Clayton, President Trump’s transition office praised his “decades of experience helping companies navigate complex federal regulations.”
  • The U.S. Senate voted 50-49 to pass a resolution under the Congressional Review Act that repeals an Obama Administration rule that encouraged states to create retirement plans for workers in the private sector who did not have access to retirement plans through their employers. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urged President Trump to veto the resolution, which was already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, reportedly saying it would “show he really did mean it when he said he understood the plight of the American worker.”
  • Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed a pair of orders “aimed at unleashing America’s offshore energy potential and growing the U.S. economy.” One order requires that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management “develop a new five-year plan for oil and gas exploration in offshore waters and reconsider a number of regulations governing those activities.” The second order creates a new position at the Interior Department to coordinate its “energy portfolio that spans nine of the Department’s ten bureaus.”


  • In a recent op-ed, the editors of the conservative National Review asserted that “House Republicans should vote for the latest version of the health-care bill” because it “has moved in the right direction, and…considerably raises the likelihood that we will see improvements in health policy this year.” The editors argued that although some conservatives have expressed concern about preserving “protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” they should be put at ease by the fact that, under the new proposal, insurance companies “could consider health status only in the case of people who have not been continuously insured, and even then…only for each person for a one-year period.”
  • Writing for Bloomberg Politics, Jennifer Dlouhy discusses President Trump’s legal incentives for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement sooner rather than later. Dlouhy points to a doctrine known as the Charming Betsy doctrine, which seeks to harmonize U.S. federal law with international law whenever possible. According to energy consultant Mike McKenna, exiting the agreement “swiftly, decisively and cleanly” will prevent “UN bureaucrats and fellow travelers [from] having a say in how Americans produce and consume energy.”