Politico’s Running List Of What Trump Did While You Weren’t Looking [Updated 10/15] | Blog#42

Politico’s Running List Of What Trump Did While You Weren’t Looking [Updated 10/15] | Blog#42

Politico has been doing the nation a tremendous public service by publishing a weekly list of things Trump did while we hyperfocused on the scandal du jour. A big thank you goes to Danny Vinnik and Politico!

Every one of this nation’s newspapers should follow Politico’s example by keeping a running tab on all the things the Trump oligarchy has been undoing, and keep that list outside their paywall, free for all to see. By the time the 2018 election has come and gone, at least half of this nation’s social contract will have been voided. Voters should know.

Please note that each entry includes only a portion of the original text of the articles curated here. Please click through to Politico to read the entire article.

Here is my curation of Politico’s tremendous work. I will update it weekly:

Week 19 (Oct. 7-Oct. 13)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

Iran and Obamacare dominated the news. But Trump also made a lot of other policy changes.

President Donald Trump made some real policy news this week, taking aim at President Barack Obama’s biggest legacies. First, the EPA announced it would repeal the Clean Power Plan; then Trump took two shots at Obamacare, signing an executive order to promote cheaper, less comprehensive insurance plans and scrapping critical Obamacare subsidies to insurers. Then, on Friday, he said he is decertifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.

With the exception of scrapping the Obamacare subsidies, however, these moves don’t immediately change anything: if he repeals the Clean Power Plan or implements the policies within the executive order, it will only be after a full regulatory process. And the fate of the Iran deal really lies with Congress. But elsewhere in his administration, his political appointees made substantive changes, issuing new rules and continuing to roll back other elements of Obama’s legacy. Here is how he change policy this week:

1. U.S. to withdraw from UNESCO
During his presidential campaign, Trump railed against international institutions, like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, raising fears that, as president, he would attempt to withdraw the U.S. from those organizations, dealing a decisive blow to the post-World War II international order. Despite continued threats and harsh rhetoric, he hasn’t done so—yet. {Snip]

2. Education Department issues new priorities for federal grants
Political leaders within federal agencies have a lot of levers to change policy, from issuing new regulations to changing enforcement priorities. But one underappreciated power is federal grant-making, funneling money to organizations that favor a certain policy agenda.

On Thursday, the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began to use this power when the Department of Education proposed new rules around federal grant programs, including a focus on the expansion of school choice—a top priority of DeVos.

3. Trump withdraws sanctions on Sudan
During the Obama administration, the White House agreed to major foreign policy deals with two of the U.S.’s top adversaries, completing a nuclear deal with Iran and renewing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Trump has adamantly—and vocally—rejected that approach, rolling back pieces of Obama’s Cuba policy and, just today, decertifying the Iran nuclear agreement.

Yet, for all his rhetoric about Obama’s “bad deals” and foolish foreign policy, Trump also made a move this week that looks very Obama-esque: lifting decades-old sanctions on Sudan that were imposed over Khartoum’s support of terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda.

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 18 (Sept. 30-Oct. 6)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

Beneath the noise in Washington, it was easy to miss just how much policy unfolded.

With the Las Vegas shooting dominating national news, and the awkward personal drama between President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson captivating Washington, it was easy to miss just how much policy unfolded in the past week. On the diplomatic front, Trump kicked out 15 Cuban diplomats, a response to the strange attack on American personnel in the American Embassy in Havana. And on Friday, a trio of agencies issued new rules that roll back Obamacare’s birth control mandate.

But there was more: Across government, agencies continued to undo Barack Obama’s legacy and usher in a new era of conservative policy, including a big regulatory shift from the Treasury Department and a new tough-on-crime announcement from the Department of Justice. Here’s how Trump changed American policy this week:

1. Treasury keeps one Obama-era tax rule—and targets many others
In 2016, Barack Obama’s Treasury Department issued a rule to crack down on corporations that shift their headquarters overseas to avoid American taxes. The move provoked an outcry from Republicans who said Obama was unfairly punishing companies for Washington’s failure to reform the tax code—but it largely worked. The drugmaker Pfizer even abandoned a $160-billion acquisition that would have let it make the largest such shift ever.

After Trump won the presidential election, many tax experts predicted he would roll back the rule—which specifically targeted corporate inversions, a kind of merger in which companies are “taken over” by smaller firms headquartered in low-tax countries like Ireland. But this week, Treasury announced that it wasn’t going to repeal the anti-inversion rule after all. With the administration still pushing hard for tax reform to lower corporate rates and bring company revenue back into the U.S., the agency said repealing the rule now “could make existing problems worse.”

2. DOJ revives a Bush-era approach to violent crime
In 2001, the Department of Justice created a program to reduce gun violence by focusing resources on violent crime and forging better ties with local law enforcement. The program, known as Project Safe Neighborhoods, became a lower priority under Obama, as violent crime hit record lows and prosecutors focused on white-collar crime in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

4. FDA promises a new Nutrition Facts Panel—in 2020.
Former first lady Michele Obama made healthy living her top priority, including creating the “Let’s Move” campaign to promote exercise. Perhaps no policy change was more important to her than the redesign of the Nutrition Facts Panel, the label you see on most food in stores, which she announced to great fanfare in May 2016. The label was to include information on “added sugars” for the first time, provoking a sharp response from the sugar industry.

Read the rest at Politico.com

** Reminder: Only a portion of Politico’s reporting is reproduced here. Please click through to read the article!

Week 17 (Sept. 24-29)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

It was a big week for the Trump administration—including a step forward for Trump’s border wall.

Washington was busy this week as Republicans gave up—again—on their effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, released a nine-page blueprint for tax reform and wrapped up legislation before the end of the fiscal year on Saturday. For all the noise, there wasn’t much action: Obamacare remains in place, the tax blueprint is vague and the one big piece of legislation that did get done, a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, simply kicks the can down the road.

So Congress didn’t do much. But the Trump administration actually did. After a few relatively quiet weeks while they focused on hurricane recovery efforts, agencies shifted back into gear: From a new enforcement strategy at a key bank regulator to new trade sanctions on a major foreign company, the administration is moving quick to roll back Obama’s legacy and reshape federal policy. Trump even took a small step toward building his border wall. Here’s how he changed policy this week:

1. A new bank enforcement policy
In the pantheon of bank regulators, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission doesn’t get much attention. The CFTC is an obscure agency, but it plays a crucial role in the financial system: regulating derivatives, a $483 trillion market that contains some of the financial instruments that caused the financial crisis.

This week, the CFTC’s new director of enforcement, James McDonald, announced a new regulatory strategy that has drawn sharp pushback from financial watchdogs. In a speech Monday night in New York City, McDonald said that financial institutions that self-report wrongdoings and cooperate with the ensuing investigations will receive “concrete benefits” from the CFTC, including reduced penalties. He said the program isn’t intended to give banks or individuals a “pass” for their misdeeds, but instead aligns the incentives between regulators and financial institutions to reduce financial crimes while putting the CFTC’s limited resources to the best use. He also said he doesn’t just intend to punish ground-level traders, but to work his way up the chain of command, targeting executives and other managers. For an agency with a budget of just $250 million, this enforcement strategy sounds like a common-sense approach. But financial watchdogs, who were critical of the CFTC under Barack Obama, are skeptical that it will lead to tougher enforcement, doubting that banks can—or will—effectively police themselves.[…]

2. Trump’s trade battle with Canada intensifies
For all the talk of going after China and Mexico, Trump’s biggest trade battle so far seems to be with our close ally Canada—a puzzling fight that ramped up Tuesday when Commerce imposed giant duties—more than 219 percent—on Canadian aircraft-maker Bombardier. The highly watched case began after Boeing formally petitioned against the Canadian company, accusing it of unfairly benefiting from government subsidies in a $5.6 billion deal last year to sell regional jets to Delta. Canadian leaders had heavily opposed the move; last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May—Bombardier is based in Northern Ireland—appeared together to publicly lobby against the duties, arguing that Boeing didn’t even sell the type of regional aircraft involved in the Delta deal. […]

3. A new environmental rule gets an expiration date
During the final days of the Obama administration, the Department of Transportation finalized a rule to require states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from big highway projects, a final piece of Obama’s environmental legacy. The rule was set to take effect on February 17, but the DOT has repeatedly delayed it, first until March 21 and then to May 20—then, for key pieces of the rule, indefinitely.

This week, facing lawsuits from environmental groups and state attorneys general, the department finally relented, allowing the entire rule to take effect—but with a big caveat: The rule is going away next spring. […]

4. Interior Department rolls back Obama-era sage grouse protections
In September 2015, the Bureau of Land Management within the Interior Department finalized its plan to protect a funky-looking bird, the Sage Grouse, whose habitat sits on some of the most resource-rich land in the United States. The plan was something of a compromise between conservation groups and oil and gas companies, creating 98 separate land-use plans throughout the West that provided new protections for the Sage Grouse—but the department declined to list the bird on the endangered species list. […]

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 16 (Sept. 16-23)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

Is the Trump administration preparing to test a major Medicare reform?

All eyes were on New York this week, as President Donald Trump took the podium at the United Nations and threatened war with North Korea. Back in Washington, the House was on recess and the Senate scrambled to find 50 Republican votes to pass their back-from-the-dead health care bill, an effort likely to come up short once again after Sen. John McCain announced his opposition on Friday afternoon.

More quietly, the Trump administration continues to target Obama-era environmental and workplace rules and forge ahead to implement a new conservative agenda. Perhaps most notably, the administration offered a sign this week that it might test a major Medicare reform long championed by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Here’s how Trump changed policy this week:

1. Trump administration hints at big Medicare experiments
The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation, created in 2010 by Obamacare, can spend $1 billion a year on innovative ideas to reduce Medicare costs. Under Obama, the agency piloted a number of ideas, such as reducing Medicare payments for cancer drugs and changing how the government pays for hip surgery. Republicans complained of executive overreach and tried to scale back the agency’s powers, but now that Trump is in the White House, the GOP is looking to turn the agency to its advantage.

This week, the Trump administration took the first step toward reforming CMMI when it released a nine-page notice asking for comments on a “new direction” for the agency. The notice is just a preliminary move—it doesn’t actually change any policy right now—but it sends a clear message about how Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services, and Seema Verma, director of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, intend to use the agency. […]

2. Labor Department delays a rule on cancer-causing silica dust
In March 2016, the Department of Labor issued a regulation lowering the workplace exposure standard for silica, a mineral that can cause lung cancer when ground into dust and inhaled. The final rule was heralded by workplace advocates as long overdue—it took more than four decades to finalize—and was set to be enforced on June 23.

But in April, the Department of Labor announced it was delaying enforcement of the rule for three months until September 23. Technically, that date still stands. But this week, the agency issued a memo, saying that as long as employers show they have made a “good faith effort” to comply with the rule, the agency will give them a pass for any violations in the next 30 days. In other words, the silica rule is effectively delayed another month. […]

4. EPA delays its formaldehyde rule, again
On Dec. 12, the Environmental Protection Bureau issued a rule on formaldehyde emissions for certain wood products, one of the last significant rules issued by the EPA during the Obama administration. The rule was set to take effect on Feb. 27, but Trump already delayed that date twice: first to March 21 and later until May 22. At that point, the rule took effect.

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 15 (Sept. 10-15)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

From updated guidelines on driverless cars to new visa sanctions, Trump continues to change policy.

President Donald Trump’s unexpected dalliance with the other party continued this week as he appeared—maybe—to agree with the Democratic leadership over the so-called Dreamers brought to the U.S. as children. He also met with moderate Democrats about tax reform, even saying the rich won’t benefit “at all” from his plan.

But despite all the news attention, nothing actually happened on those fronts. What did happen took place in the background—and despite the ideological anxiety Republicans may be feeling toward those headline meetings, there’s not much doubt about the direction his administration is taking on real-world policy. This week, the push to roll back Obama-era rules continued—from new business-friendly guidelines on driverless cars to regulatory rollbacks at the Environmental Protection Bureau and Department of Labor. Here’s how Trump changed policy this week:

1. DHS suspends some visas for four countries
When the government orders someone deported from the U.S., that deportation doesn’t just happen automatically. It requires approval from the receiving country; the U.S. generally can’t just leave people in other countries. Most countries routinely approve such removal orders, but about a dozen countries are uncooperative, preventing the U.S. from actually deporting those individuals. […]

2. The first Trump-era guidelines on driverless cars
Last September, the Obama administration issued the first guidelines on driverless cars, recommending industrywide standards to support the growth of the burgeoning industry. The guidelines, which were nonbinding, requested that automakers submit to a 15-point “safety assessment,” touching on everything from the testing of driverless vehicles to the prevention of vehicle hacking.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration issued the first update to those guidelines, replacing the 15-point safety assessment with 12 “safety elements” that touch on many of the same issues. Consumer groups and industry officials said the plan was more industry-friendly, with significant emphasis on the voluntary nature of the guidelines. (The word “voluntary” appears 57 times in the 36-page document, compared with just five times in the original 116-page guidelines.) Critics said that the plan effectively imposes no rules on automakers, while industry officials said the light regulatory touch is essential to continued technological improvement. […]

3. EPA’s regulatory roll back continues
Another week brought more regulatory rollbacks at the Environmental Protection Agency.

On Wednesday, the EPA delayed for two years parts of an Obama-era rule limiting the dumping of toxic metals, like mercury, from coal-fired water plants. The delay affects two provisions of the 2015 rule, relating to specific waste products, while allowing the remainder of the rule to take effect as planned. The news wasn’t exactly a surprise, as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has previously said the agency intended to change parts of the rule. He now has plenty of time to do so.

Read the rest of this article on Politico.com

Week 14 (Sept. 1-9)

3 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

Behind the GOP infighting, the Trump administration is making real policy changes.

The headline noise in Washington this week brought some real policy news for a change. President Donald Trump undercut Republican congressional leaders and agreed to Democrats’ proposal for a short-term spending bill and debt ceiling hike; Congress passed it in the form of a $15 billion relief bill for Hurricane Harvey. Trump said he would end—in six months—Barack Obama’s protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. And on Thursday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that her department would revamp Obama’s policy on sexual assault in colleges.

Outside of those changes, though, this week was rather quiet on the policy front; many agencies were busy with Harvey and preparing for Hurricanes Irma and Jose to hit. That didn’t mean nothing happened—Trump’s rollback of Obama’s legacy continued. It was just a little slower than usual, and so our weekly roundup of five big ways Trump changed policy this week is pared down to three:

1. Trump sets a new goal for deregulation
Trump hasn’t had any big legislative wins, but he has succeeded at clogging up the regulatory system—the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” in the words of former chief strategist Steve Bannon. In one of his first actions as president, Trump directed the White House budget office to set an annual cap on regulatory costs for each agency—that is, the total economic costs of all new regulatory and deregulatory actions. For the rest of fiscal 2017, the cap was zero, meaning whatever an agency does this year, it can’t increase net costs at all. But what would the cap be in fiscal 2018?

On Thursday, the Office of Management and Budget provided an answer: Agencies are expected to “propose a net reduction in total incremental regulatory costs.” In other words, the economic cost of federal regulations must go down.

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 13 (August 26-Sept. 1)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

Hurricane Harvey dominated the news but the Trump administration keeps changing policy.

Politics took a back seat this week as Hurricane Harvey devastated southeastern Texas, dropping more than 50 inches of rain in some locations and killing more than three dozen people. Officials are just beginning to assess the damage inflicted by the storm, which is expected to total in the tens of billions of dollars and will further complicate a crowded legislative agenda this September.

President Donald Trump’s week was subdued, by his standard. He visited Texas on Tuesday, though avoided the afflicted regions where recovery efforts are ongoing, and then began his public push for tax reform with a speech in Missouri on Wednesday, tough on Congress but light on details.

Beyond the West Wing, most government agencies were focused on Harvey, dedicating resources and manpower to assist in the recovery efforts. There just wasn’t much time to finalize and roll out new policies. But it wasn’t all quiet, as agencies from the Department of Justice to Department of Labor managed to issue some real policy changes that didn’t get much attention behind the flood news. Here’s how Trump changed policy this week:

1. Police can buy military equipment again
In August, 2014, after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, looked something like a war zone as protesters set fires and police responded with camo-clad snipers and armored vehicles the result of a decades-long program allowing local law enforcement agencies to receive surplus military equipment.

The controversial image of police rolling in on their own citizens like an army roused Obama into action. Nine months later, his administration prohibited the transfer of certain equipment, such as grenade launchers and armored vehicles, to local police departments and limited the transfer of other items such as drones, riot gear and explosives.

2. Trump nixes an Obama policy to reduce pay discrimination
Last year, the Obama administration made a final attempt to reduce the racial and gender pay gaps, finalizing changes to a form—the EEO-1—that requires employers to report workplace demographics. Under the revised form, employers with more than 100 workers would have to report pay data by race, ethnicity and gender. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency responsible for the form changes, could have then used the data to launch an investigation into discrimination. The changes were set to take effect March 2018.

3. The fiduciary standard gets delayed for more than a year
One of Obama’s final financial reforms was the “fiduciary standard,” a dry-sounding policy that essentially means stockbrokers can’t put their own interests ahead of their clients’. In May, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he would let the fiduciary standard take effect as planned on June 9. But that wasn’t the full story: Only some parts of the rule, which requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients, took effect on that date; the rest of the rule takes effect on January 1, and it quickly became clear that Acosta wasn’t going to let that happen.

There is more… Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 12 (August 19-25)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

Behind Trump’s speeches, real policy change is happening in Washington.

Most of the news President Donald Trump generated this week was, as usual, about Donald Trump himself: He induced whiplash by delivering a sober address on Afghanistan Monday night and then, less than 24 hours later, pumping up the crowd at a fiery, off-the-leash campaign rally in Arizona. He also continued to accelerate his war of words with leaders of his own party, attacking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, as well as Sens. Bob Corker, Jeff Flake and John McCain.

And as usual, there wasn’t much policy behind all that noise: Even the new Afghanistan strategy includes only a modest bump in troops overseas. But in Washington, Trump’s appointees continued to push their own priorities on the government, rolling back Obama-era policies largely out of the public eye. Here’s how Trump’s White House changed policy this week:

1. The State Department turns up the heat on Egypt
When Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visited the White House in April, Trump lavished the foreign leader with praise, saying he’s doing a “fantastic job in a very difficult situation” and that “we are very much behind President al-Sisi.” Those comments drew a sharp rebuke from human-rights groups that had been sharply critical of Sisi’s human rights record.

So, it came as some surprise this week when the State Department delayed $200 million in aid to Egypt and cut another $100 million in aid altogether. State officials said the move was a result of Egypt’s human rights record, including a new law that restricts the activities of nongovernmental organizations.

3. The White House changes American research priorities
Every year, the government funds billions of dollars in research, from large National Institutes of Health grants to small housing experiments. The sheer magnitude of money gives the government great influence over the direction of research across industries, a hidden lever for a sophisticated administration to guide the country well into the future.

This week, the Trump administration revealed that it intends to use that lever. The Office of Management and Budget, led by Director Mick Mulvaney, published a four-page memo—dated August 27—that lays out the administration’s research and development priorities for fiscal 2019, which includes a focus on military technologies, border security and treatments for drug addiction.

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 11 (August 12-18)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

A crazy week in the White House masks real policy changes in the administration.

Washington was jolted from its August recess this week after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly, President Donald Trump stoked racial tension by blaming “both sides” for the violence—and then combative top aide Steve Bannon was pushed out on Friday.

Rumors swirled that other White House officials were on the verge of resigning, but there’s a reason why those aides, in the White House and agencies, have yet to pull the cord: They’re still achieving conservative reforms, despite the distractions coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, big policy changes came from the Department of Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. Here’s how Trump changed policy in America this week:

1. DHS ends parole program for Central American children
In November 2014, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Obama administration was taking steps to stem that summer’s border crisis, in which tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors flooded into the United States from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The State Department set up a program to allow the children of parents who are lawfully present in the U.S. to seek refugee or parole status while still in their home countrieswithout actually making the dangerous journey to the United States. The goal was to reduce the flow of unaccompanied children without leaving them in danger.

2. The end of an Obama health care payment experiment
While most of the attention on Obamacare has focused on the individual insurance market and the Medicaid expansion, the law also tests numerous ideas to lower the spiraling cost of health care. One approach is known as “bundled payments,” which institutes a fixed price for certain medical procedures, like hip surgery or knee replacement. If the hospital could perform the procedure for a lower cost, it kept the difference. If not, it lost money.

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 10 (August 6-12)

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking

Washington may be quiet, but the Trump administration isn’t slowing down.

It was supposed to be a quiet week in Washington, with Congress on recess and President Donald Trump staying at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. But Trump shattered any respite with his unexpected threats towards North Korea and wide-ranging news conference Thursday, including a string of attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Even if Trump hadn’t loudly waved those sticks, things wouldn’t have exactly been quiet within the administration itself. With far less attention, Trump’s agencies continue to crank out new policies, rolling back Obama’s regulatory legacy and imposing a new era of conservative reforms on everything from protections for a funky-looking bird to a controversial rule for stockbrokers. Here’s how Trump is changing policy in America this week:

1. Interior relaxes Obama-era Sage Grouse rules
In September 2015, the Obama administration announced new protections for the sage grouse, a bird whose habitat happens to cover some of the most resource-rich lands in the American West. The administration declined to list the bird on the endangered species list—a big victory for oil and gas companies—but the new conservation plan included strong measures to protect sage grouse habitat.

This week, the Interior Department, led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, began rolling back the conservation plan, directing the Bureau of Land Management to shrink the buffer zones between sage grouse breeding grounds, among other changes. Environmentalists slammed the move, saying it jeopardized the carefully crafted Obama-era compromise between oil and gas interests and environmental groups. The changes won’t take effect overnight: It can take years for the agency and states to implement new land-use policies that determine where companies can drill for gas and oil, but it was another big sign of the Interior Department’s new priorities under Zinke.

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 9 (August 1-5)

5 things Trump did while you weren’t looking: Week 9

Trump takes steps on building the wall and “extreme vetting” of visa applicants.

In Congress the dam finally broke last week: With the death of the Republican health care bill, Senate Democrats allowed dozens of nominees and bills to pass before lawmakers all scattered for August recess. Even the White House had a relatively quiet week as his new chief of staff, John Kelly, became acquainted with his new job and imposed new rules around the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump, as usual, couldn’t keep out of the headlines: Transcripts of his January phone conversations with the leaders of Australia and Mexico leaked to the media and he held a campaign-style rally in West Virginia on Thursday night. Outside the West Wing, Trump’s agencies had a busy week—again, largely out of the spotlight. The Department of Homeland Security took a step toward building a border wall; the State Department moved toward “extreme vetting” of visa applicants. Plus, the Food and Drug Administration had a surprise announcement on tobacco products. Here’s what you need to know this week about how Trump really is changing policy in America:

1. DHS waives laws to help build a border wall
Congress doesn’t appear very interested in funding Trump’s promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Senate Republicans, for instance, introduced a $15 billion border security bill this week—and none of that money was earmarked for the wall. Democrats are refusing to vote for any bill that includes border wall money.

But the Trump administration is continuing to take steps to build an actual, physical wall. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a notice that it was waiving more than three dozen environmental laws in order to build border wall prototypes along a 15-mile border in the vicinity of San Diego, California.

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 8 (July 24-30, 2017)

At first glance, the past week in Washington looks like a lot of noise about nothing. Three versions of the Republican Obamacare repeal effort failed in the Senate, the last in a dramatic early morning vote Friday, leaving the national health care law intact after months of GOP efforts to kill it. President Donald Trump surprised Pentagon officials by tweeting that he was banning transgender troops from the military, but neither the White House nor the Department of Defense appears to have a policy in place, so the status quo holds for now. And despite Trump’s social-media war on his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions remains in his job.

Still, behind the blizzard of White House infighting and drama on Capitol Hill, the Trump administration has steadily been pushing policies behind the scenes, rolling back Obama’s legacy in favor of a new national regulatory regime friendlier to businesses and tougher on undocumented immigrants. Here’s the eighth installment of The Agenda’s weekly series on how Trump is quietly changing policy in America.

1. Trump targets Obama’s fuel economy standards
On January 13, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency attempted to lock in its 2022-2025 fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, issuing a finding that wasn’t due for another 15 months.

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 7 (July 17-23, 2017)

Republicans in Washington couldn’t stay out of the headlines this week: First the GOP’s health care bill stalled in the Senate; then President Donald Trump sat down for an interview in which he went after his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. On Friday he shook up the West Wing by bringing in financier Anthony Scaramucci to run communications, and accepting Sean Spicer’s resignation as press secretary.

But in a policy sense, that was all noise—and while those stories sucked up all the media oxygen, Trump’s appointees were busy changing federal policy. The U.S. Trade Representative released its objectives for renegotiating NAFTA; the Department of Health and Human Services ended funding for many teen pregnancy prevention programs; and the Treasury and State departments imposed new Iran-related sanctions on 18 individuals and entities.

And those weren’t even the big moves. Here’s how the Trump administration changed American policy this week:

1. Reinstating property seizure

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 6 (July 10-16, 2017)

Sometimes it feels like Groundhog Day in Washington, even in the summer. Republicans had yet another high-stakes week of healthcare negotiations. Meanwhile, a trip to Paris wasn’t enough for President Donald Trump to escape the snowballing Russia scandal, which has now ensnared his son, Donald Trump Jr., who apparently met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign to discuss potential dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Despite stagnation on Capitol Hill—the Senate hasn’t even held a roll-call vote on legislation since June 15—Trump’s policy agenda has not stagnated. From immigration to healthcare to trade, political appointees have settled in and are beginning to leave the administration’s mark on the government.

Here’s week six of The Agenda’s series on how Trump is changing policy, while most people’s eyes are elsewhere:

1. Foreign entrepreneurs not welcome

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 5 (July 3-9, 2017)

’For once, Washington was quiet this week. Lawmakers were out of town for the July 4 recess and President Donald Trump spent much of the time at his golf course in New Jersey. During the latter half of the week, the action picked up as Trump jetted off to the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, where he had his first in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At home, GOP leaders continued to try to negotiate a compromise on health care between moderates and conservatives.

Given all that, it might seem as though little actual policymaking happened —but you’d be surprised at how much actually happened. The Trump administration continued to roll back Barack Obama’s legacy this week, especially on climate policies where agencies undertook a series of moves that benefit oil and gas companies and infuriated environmentalists. Elsewhere, the Department of Education gave for-profit colleges another win and the Pentagon delayed an Obama-era policy on transgender troops.

Here’s the fifth week of POLITICO’s ongoing series on how Trump is quietly changing policy in America:

1. A new era for the renewable fuel standard

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 4 (June 26-July 2nd, 2017)

It was “Energy Week” in Washington—but you’d be forgiven for not noticing. The Supreme Court announced a series of major decisions on Monday, slightly easing the injunction on President Donald Trump’s travel ban and taking up a big gerrymandering case. Eyes then quickly turned to healthcare where Senate Republicans searched for a compromise between conservatives and moderates, an effort that is proving more challenging than expected. And then they just as quickly turned to Twitter, where Trump made life harder for his own party by launching crude personal attacks against Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Beneath the chaos, though, the Trump administration continued to turn back Obama-era policies, especially at the Labor Department, which took aim at nearly every major Obama rule in just a few short days. The Agenda is back to document it all. Here are five big policy changes from last week:

The Labor Department was busy, Part 1

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 3 (June 19-25, 2017)

The White House declared it “Tech Week,” inviting a group of CEO’s to repair the administration’s somewhat rocky relationship to the innovation industries. But for all intents and purposes, this turned out to be Healthcare Week in Washington.

The Senate GOP’s healthcare bill dropped with a bang on Thursday, drafted so secretly that even key Republican lawmakers didn’t know what was in it. The bill so dominated the Washington news that even Trump’s walk back of his Comey-tape threat got only a short ride in the spotlight.

Whether Congress really gets a health care bill done is anyone’s guess; for now, it’s a massive rethink of Medicaid and some significant changes to Obamacare. But away from Capitol Hill, the White House really is still getting stuff done, quietly continuing its broad rollback of Obama-era policies. As part of our weekly roundup of what’s really changing across the government, here are five big policy changes from the last week:

1. The Labor Department loosens a rule on beryllium exposure

Read the rest at Politico.com

Week 2 (June 12-18, 2017)

It was a tough week for getting things done in Washington: The shocking attack on the Republican congressional baseball team, and then Donald Trump’s seemingly reckless tweetstorm about the Russia investigation, took up whatever oxygen was left after the Jeff Sessions hearings. “So much is happening in Washington and yet nothing is happening at all” read one recent piece of commentary.

But under the hood that’s not actually true. The White House dubbed the week “Workforce Development” week, following up on “Infrastructure Week”—and much like last week, it came with only minor policy proposals: Trump signed an executive order reducing regulations on apprenticeship programs and said the government would double federal funding for apprenticeships, although it’s unclear where that extra money would come from.

At the end of the week, though, things really started moving. On Thursday night, the Trump administration rescinded an Obama-era document that allowed the parents of DREAMers to live and work in the United States, although the policy was the subject of an ongoing lawsuit and had never taken effect. It also declined to rescind an earlier memorandum on DREAMers themselves. And later this afternoon, Trump is set to announce a roll-back of Obama’s Cuba policy, strengthening the embargo.

And beyond the Oval Office, the Trump administration continues to make substantive policy changes, from a deal on beef with China to increased autonomy for the Pentagon. The Agenda is back for the second week of our new series in which we highlight five major policy changes you might have missed.

1. U.S. and China make nice on beef, dairy and poultry

Read the rest on Politico.com

Week 1 (June 4-11, 2017)

All eyes were on Washington this week as the Trump administration hosted a series of events to promote its infrastructure policy — highlighting the president’s proposals to cut red tape, reform air traffic control and rebuild America’s roads and bridges. The president held a signing ceremony Monday, took his message to the American people in Ohio on Tuesday and invited governors to the White House on Thursday. “Infrastructure week” dominated the news.

Just kidding. It’s true — he really did do all those things—but you’d be forgiven for having no idea they happened. The eyes on Washington were all glued to the drama around former FBI Director James Comey.

Infrastructure week didn’t contain any new actual policy proposals, despite an exultant tweet from Vice President Mike Pence calling it a “banner week for infrastructure,” and Trump didn’t sign a bill. Instead, he signed a purely symbolic document in support of Rep. Bill Shuster’s plan to create a nonprofit to oversee air traffic control, and released a vague list of infrastructure principles that had already been released in his budget.

But behind all the theater, stuff really is happening in Washington. Trump’s political appointees are — slowly — getting settled into their new jobs, reviewing Obama-era policies and leaving their fingerprints on the bureaucracy. These changes don’t make national headlines, and they probably won’t be mentioned in a tweet from the commander in chief—but they could affect the lives of most Americans.

So you don’t miss these changes, The Agenda is launching a weekly series highlighting five important policy changes that took place in the past week. It will track how Trump’s agenda is being implemented across the government, even as the White House remains politically bogged down by the Russia investigation and struggles to work with Congress. And what better week to begin than this one when Washington was fixated on one Senate hearing room, while Trump’s appointees continued to roll back Obama’s agenda and sweep in a new era of conservative policy.

1. A boost for Uber and McDonald’s.

Read the rest at Politico.com

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For Other News You May Have Missed See

[Updated 10/8] What Got Undone While Trump Distracted Us With Tweets | Oligarchy on Blog#42

Thanks to a tip from New York Times reader, Sharon, from Worcester, Mass., we can now add Massachusetts member of Congress, Mike Capuano, as an additional resource to track the misdeeds of the Trump administration. Capuano is keeping a list on his congressional website.