Week in Review

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President Trump will reduce two national monuments in Utah, the Supreme Court lets the Trump Administration’s travel ban proceed, and more…

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  • President Donald Trump declared that he will reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. President Trump said that the current protections on the land are “abuses of the Antiquities Act” and that the local communities should instead control the land. Removing the protections will allow mining companies, among others, to move their work onto the land. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) condemned the action; NRDC president Rhea Suh called it “unprecedented” and “illegal.” The NRDC said that, as a result of the action, the size of Bears Ears would decrease by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by almost 46 percent. Environmental groups and tribal groups also filed lawsuits contesting the action.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court issued two orders implementing the Trump Administration’s travel ban while the two cases challenging the ban await a decision from two federal appellate courts. White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said the ban “is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland.” Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project Omar Jadwat—who is arguing one of the cases—said of the orders, “It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims.”
  • The U.S. Department of Labor announced its intention to repeal an Obama-era regulation that keeps employers who pay the tipped minimum wage from pooling workers’ tips. The Labor Department explained that the current rule disadvantages “back of the house” workers who do not interact with—or get tips from—customers.
  • In a 51-49 vote, the U.S. Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. President Trump lauded the bill’s passing and noted that “the policies in this bill will cut taxes for hardworking families and put our economy on a path of sustainable economic prosperity and job creation.” U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called the bill “an outrage” and said, “The idea that slashing taxes for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations will somehow magically result in more money and increased wages for the middle class is folly.” The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the bill last month. In order for the bills to become law, the House and Senate versions must be reconciled.
  • The House passed a bill that would allow an individual with a permit to carry a concealed firearm to do so in any state that allows individuals to carry a concealed firearm. The bill would also require authorities to report criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), boosting background check requirements. U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (R-N.Y.) stated in opposition that “the harms of the concealed carry reciprocity portion of the bill being taken to the floor outweigh the benefits of the NICS improvements.” The author of the bill, U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), said of the bill’s passage that “Christmas came early” for those who want to strengthen Second Amendment rights and those who support concealed carry reciprocity.
  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Cyber Unit, which the SEC established in September, brought its first enforcement action as a Unit against Dominic Lacroix and his company, PlexCorps, for fraud associated with an Initial Coin Offering that raised up to $15 million. The SEC alleged that Lacroix led investors to believe their investment in his digital tokens would increase 13-fold in less than a month.
  • CVS Health announced plans to acquire Aetna Inc. for $69 billion. CVS Health President and CEO Larry J. Merlo said that this merger “will create a platform built around individuals” and “the combined company” will be the “door to quality health care, integrating more closely the work of doctors, pharmacists, and other health care professionals.” In an opinion for The Hill, David A. Balto, an antitrust attorney who directed the Coalition to Protect Patient Choice, contended that “this combination is a bad deal for consumers and competition” and will lead to “higher prices and less choice for payors and consumers.”
  • A group of Democratic Senators, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called on the FCC to delay voting on net neutrality while Schneiderman evaluates whether the record for the initial net neutrality rulemaking process “is replete with fake or fraudulent comments.” The Internet Association (IA), whose members include Netflix, Amazon, and Google, also sent a letter to the FCC requesting that the FCC to either vote against or postpone its vote on net neutrality, and the IA stated that it will “continue our fight” to preserve net neutrality protections. Following a similar letter by the City of New York and several consumer advocacy groups, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reportedly said that the vote will “proceed as scheduled on December 14.”
  • The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), France’s national data protection commission, advised Genesis Industries Ltd. that the company is in breach of the French Data Protection Act (FDPA) and has two months to comply. Genesis manufactures two “connected toys,” which allow the user to connect via Bluetooth. The CNIL identified several breaches of the FDPA, including a “lack of security” stemming from a flaw that allows individuals in close range to connect their own Bluetooth devices to the toy.