Week in Review

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FDA considers expanding vaccine use to children, President Biden increases refugee admissions, and more…

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IN THE NEWS

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reportedly considered a request to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adolescents from 12 to 15 years old. Clinical trial results from March 2021 indicated that the vaccine protects children in this age group from infection at least as effectively as it protects young adults from 16 to 25 years old. Expanding vaccine use to this group could boost the nation’s vaccination program and allow children to participate in summer activities. The FDA could decide to amend the Pfizer vaccine’s emergency use authorization early next week, triggering a Centers for Disease Control review panel to make recommendations on the vaccine’s use for adolescents.
  • President Joseph R. Biden confirmed that he will increase the annual number of refugee admissions to 62,500 admissions from the 15,000 cap set by the Trump Administration. President Biden, however, admitted that his Administration will not achieve 62,500 refugee admissions this year, but aims to admit 125,000 refugees in the next fiscal year. He remarked that the increased admissions cap “reflects America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.” President Biden faced criticism for previously claiming that President Trump’s record-low cap was “justified by humanitarian concerns,” suggesting that he might have planned to keep it.
  • President Biden signed the Extending Temporary Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act, a law that Representative Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) sponsored. The new law continues the temporary scheduling order classifying certain fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs until October 22, 2021 by extending the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act, which would have expired on May 6, 2021. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration defines Schedule I drugs as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) praised the extension but called it a “temporary fix” and said that he is working toward “a bipartisan, long-term solution that will permanently ban fentanyl-related substances.”
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule to decrease the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), environmentally harmful gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. EPA expects that the new rule will decrease HFCs by 85 percent in 15 years, preventing a predicted 0.5 degrees Celsius global temperature increase by 2100. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan emphasized that the proposed rule is important because HFCs “can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet.”
  • The U.S. Department of Education selected Richard Cordray to head Federal Student Aid. Cordray previously led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from 2012 to 2017. During his tenure, Cordray restored billions of dollars to defrauded Americans through enforcement actions but received criticism from conservatives wary of the CFPB’s regulatory power. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona noted that it is vital for student loan borrowers to “depend on the Department of Education for help in paying for college, support in repaying loans, and strong oversight of postsecondary institutions.” Cardona also praised Cordray’s record of public service in preparing him for his new role, saying that “under his leadership, Federal Student Aid will provide the kind of service that our students, families, and schools deserve.”
  • The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) issued a regulation that provides a licensing and supervision framework for low-risk, specialized banks. According to the CBUAE, which regulates the issuance of currency, monetary policy, and financial institutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), specialized banks may provide services, such as opening accounts, issuing credit cards, and retail lending, to local communities. Under the regulation, low-risk, specialized banks may serve UAE residents only and must conduct all activities using UAE Dirhams, the national currency. In addition, the total consolidated assets for specialized banks cannot exceed AED 25 billion and the banks must maintain a minimum of AED 300 million in paid-up Through this regulation, the CBUAE aims to “provide a regulatory framework in which specialized banks can operate in the UAE financial sector in a robust and prudent manner.”

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released the most recent U.S. climate normals—30-year averages of climate data and trends—which indicate an increased average national temperature of almost one degree Celsius since 1991. The new normals also revealed that the nation’s precipitation has increased since 1961 due to more evaporation from warming oceans and landmasses. NOAA’s report covered the 48 contiguous states and allowed scientists and researchers to visualize changing conditions through comprehensive national maps and more granular, location-specific data organized by state and locality.
  • In a recent report, Zhoudan (Zoey) Xie, senior policy analyst at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, reported that increased regulatory uncertainty leads to a disproportionate decrease in jobs for workers with lower levels of education. When regulation is likely to change, many firms are more cautious about their labor costs in anticipation of the additional costs of new regulations, according to Xie. Xie stated that firms often make adjustments to staffing levels in the face of regulatory uncertainty, targeting employees with less education because lower-skilled workers are easier to replace. Xie concluded that because regulatory uncertainty disproportionately impacts workers with less education, the Biden Administration should “explore tools to minimize uncertainty in regulatory policymaking.”
  • In a recent Brookings Institution report, Markus Taussig of Rutgers Business School and Edmund Malesky of Duke University praised the notice-and-comment rulemaking process for improving regulation and increasing compliance. They noted, however, that these benefits may not endure in developing countries that move the process online. To retain benefits as digital notice-and-comment becomes more popular, Taussig and Malesky recommended rigorous evaluation of the social impact of digital notice-and-comment platforms in developing countries, research and development of digital notice-and-comment system innovations to increase participant “engagement and responsiveness,” and international commitment to support evidence-based improvements. They advocated “more careful, systematic approaches to building effective regulatory systems where they are needed most.”

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

  • In an essay in The Regulatory Review, Benjamin Barton of the University of Tennessee College of Law and Stephanos Bibas, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, argued that more lawyers do not equal more justice. Barton and Bibas claimed that the current system of justice fails poor and middle-class people and that reaching a “faster, cheaper, and better” system requires reform. Instead of expanding the right to an attorney to civil cases, Barton and Bibas argued that courts should handle simple legal matters, such as minor misdemeanors, without lawyers, reserving lawyers for felonies and the most serious misdemeanors where they add significant value. To achieve this streamlined justice system, Barton and Bibas proposed increasing licensing of legal paraprofessionals so that paralegals could handle minor legal matters, adopting online dispute resolution systems, and simplifying rules of evidence and court procedures so people can better navigate the legal system without a lawyer. They concluded that by removing lawyers from lower-stakes cases, “more flexible and less costly alternatives can flourish.”