Week in Review

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The United States sues California over its immigration enforcement policies, EPA issues draft plan to reduce animal testing, and more…

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  • The United States sued the state of California and California officials over California’s immigration enforcement policies. The federal government argued that “California is intentionally obstructing the enforcement of federal law” by passing laws to protect undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called California’s laws “unjust” and “unconstitutional.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is named in the lawsuit, tweeted in response that California will “enforce all our laws and protect all our people” regardless of “what happens in Washington.”
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft plan on how to reduce—and eventually eliminate—animal testing in evaluating certain toxic chemicals. EPA plans to identify new approach methodologies to replace animal testing. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, “This draft strategy is a first step toward reducing the use of animals and increasing the use of cutting-edge science to ensure chemicals are reviewed for safety with the highest scientific standards.”
  • The U.S. Government Accountability Office sent a letter to President Donald Trump asserting that the commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration has served too long in an acting capacity in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which sets limits on how long officials can serve in an acting capacity. Nancy A. Berryhill became acting commissioner the day after President Trump was inaugurated and, according to the letter, her tenure “was not authorized to continue” past November 16.
  • The U.S. Senate voted 67-32 to open the floor to debate the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, a bipartisan bill that would loosen certain banking regulations. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who introduced the bill, said the “bill offers much-needed reforms that will reduce unnecessary burdens on smaller financial institutions.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticized the bill, saying that “it threatens working families and American taxpayers.”
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released a statement calling for the resignation of Scott Lloyd, Director of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which helps new populations gain access to critical resources in the United States. In her statement, Feinstein asserted that Lloyd implemented policies at ORR which block young immigrant women in federal government custody from receiving reproductive health care to which they are legally entitled.
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) lifted the ban on importing certain sport-hunted elephant trophies. The FWS will deny permits to import sport-hunted elephant trophies on a “case-by-case” basis. In a statement, the Natural Resources Defense Council criticized the decision to lift the ban as “a process already shrouded in secrecy.”
  • The Washington State Legislature passed a bill safeguarding net neutrality, becoming the first state to do so in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission’s December repeal of net neutrality. Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D), who signed the bill into law, described “the power of an open internet” as enabling “the free flow of information and ideas.”
  • Arkansas implemented requirements that Medicaid recipients work or attend work training programs in order to continue to receive Medicaid benefits. Arkansas is the third state to have imposed “community engagement” requirements on its Medicaid recipients since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed states that they could impose such requirements earlier this year.
  • Cigna, a health insurance company, announced it would acquire Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services company, for approximately $67 billion. PBMs have increasingly come under scrutiny for their role in rising drug prices.  Tim Wentworth, president and chief executive officer of Express Scripts stated that these two organizations “will help make the healthiest choices the easiest choices, putting health and pharmacy services within reach of everyone we serve.”