Week in Review

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President Biden orders federal ban on certain U.S. tech investments in China, FDA approves first oral treatment for postpartum depression, and more…

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  • President Joseph R.Biden signed an executive order calling for regulations to restrict new U.S. investments in China focused on several high-tech sectors, incuding semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and certain artificial intelligence systems. The order is aimed at preventing U.S. resources from aiding China’s military advancement and modernization. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) argued that the plan has many loopholes, including “explicitly ignoring the dual-use nature of important technologies.” In addition, China’s Ministry of Commerce stated it is “gravely concerned” about the restrictions and accused the United States of “artificially hindering global economic and trade exchanges and cooperation.”
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first oral treatment for postpartum depression (PPD) in adults. Zurzuvae, an oral medication, is expected to become commercially available in the fourth quarter of 2023 according to its manufacturer, Biogen. FDA’s approval of Zurzuvae is anticipated to provide individuals experiencing PPD access to a medication to help them cope with serious and possibly life-threatening conditions.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance recommending a new immunization to protect infants under eight months old and some older babies at risk for severe illness from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Nirsevimab, a long-acting monoclonal antibody product administered as an injection, is designed to provide children with RSV immunity by mimicking the natural antibodies produced by the immune system to fight infections. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to include Nirsevimab in the Vaccines for Children program, which provides recommended vaccines and immunizations at no cost to children from families living below the poverty level, which amounts to half of the nation’s children.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor issued a rule to update standards under the Davis-Bacon Act and related laws to reflect the needs of workers on federal construction projects. The Davis-Bacon Act and related acts determine wages, regulations, and standards that apply to contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded contracts. The rule changes existing labor standards byupdating language to reflect modern construction practices and provide broader authority for state and local wage determinations under certain conditions. Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su noted that the rule is critical to ensure “that workers get the fair wages and benefits they deserve.”
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  proposed a rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy and childbirth.. Commission Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said that the proposed PWFA regulation would “promote the economic security and health of pregnant and postpartum workers.”
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued an interim rule in an effort to modernize immigration bonds. The rule will revise a current requirement that the agency serve documents either in-person or through certified, registered, or first-class mail. It would instead require the agency to use only CeBONDS, an electronic system of serving notifications to individuals responsiblef for immigration bonds.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed updated safety measures for air tour safety in Hawaii. The new process requires air tour operators to avoid flying in bad weather and to obtain permission to fly at low altitudes. The updated guidelines also include new safety plans, pilot training, and a required inspection of aircraft by the FAA prior to granting authorization. The public now has a 30-day period to comment on these proposed guidelines, which are scheduled to take effect in spring 2024 and would replace a 15-year-old manual.
  • Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed into law a  bill that allows gas stations to permit customers to pump their own fuel, effectively ending a more than seventy-year-old self-service fuel ban. The law mandates that no more than half the pumps in Oregon’s sixteen most populous counties can be self-service and that an attendant must be present for full service. Furthermore, stations cannot price full-service gasoline higher than self-service fuel. Governor Kotek noted that a “narrow majority” of feedback she received supported the new law. After the passage of the law, New Jersey is now the only state where drivers cannot pump their own gas.


  • In a working paper released by Resources for the Future, Maureen L. Cropper, Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future, Emily Joiner, Senior Research Analyst at Resources for the Future, and Alan Krupnick, Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future, argued for an improved revision process of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)  baseline estimate of the value of statistical life (VSL), which accounts for the benefits of reducing premature mortality and is often calculated when determining the goals of environmental regulations. Cropper, Joiner, and Krupnick found that the current VSL used by EPA is primarily based on outdated studies that do not adequately represent the diverse population affected by air pollution. Cropper, Joiner, and Krupnick also reviewed recent advancements in mortality risk valuation and offered guidance on developing more current and inclusive VSL estimates.
  • In an article in the Yale Journal on Regulation, Jodi L. Short, a professor att the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, discussed how agencies implement public interest standards in the statutes they administer. Short investigated how agencies define the public interest, whether agencies use public interest standards with unfettered discretion, and how agencies apply public interest standards. Short found that economic arguments are  most common  and often accepted as a justificationn for why a particular outcome is in the public interest. Short also argued that the study’s findings cast doubt on how much agencies actually want to and are able to champion the common good even when given clear statutory direction.
  • In a Foreign Policy report, Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of global business at Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, argued that artificial intelligence (AI) is currently fueling disinformation in the political landscape abroad. Chakravorti suggests that AI-driven tools are increasingly seen as a threat to democracy, which is prompting lawmakers to introduce regulation that would require politicians to disclose when they use AI in their political ads. With upcoming elections in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Chakravorti notes that social media platforms are often focused on profitability, leaving disinformation to spread unchecked. Chakravorti argues that lawmakers must regulate not just a platform’s content, but also “investments that platforms make on content moderation and how these resources are deployed across the world.”


  • In an essay in The Regulatory Review, Hillel Y. Levin, Professor of Law at the University of Georgia, and Timothy D. Lytton, Professor of Law at Georgia State University, argued that, although vaccine-preventable diseases are on the rise,  states should show caution before removing nonmedical exemptions altogether. Levin and Lytton contend that political challenges from anti-vaccine lobbyists and a potential rise in homeschooling could follow from the removal of exemptions and could still create unvaccinated clusters. Levin and Lytton instead suggest making vaccines less costly than obtaining exemptions.