The DC: Reforming asylum laws, and... 👥 Should political donors be allowed to stay anonymous?
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by Countable | 8.2.19
Welcome to Friday, August 2nd, Spotifyers and Apple Musicers...
The Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced legislation that would reform asylum laws and detention policies for migrant children despite attempts by committee Democrats to delay the bill’s consideration.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bill ― the Secure and Protect Act ― in May and the committee held hearings on the bill in mid-June in which Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan testified in support of it.
The bill would allow migrant children to be detained in family units with their parents or guardians while their case is heard. The maximum amount of time migrant children can be detained would be increased from the current 20 days under the Flores v. Reno settlement agreement to 100 days, while immigration courts would prioritize cases involving children with a 100-day case completion goal.
As this chart from USAFacts shows, there has been a recent surge in apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied minors at the border:
On the Radar
Shielding Political Donors
A federal judge in Montana has overturned an Internal Revenue Service rule that would have allowed certain political nonprofits, known as “social-welfare” organizations, to keep their donor lists hidden.
Last year, the IRS had reversed a longstanding rule that required groups like the National Rifle Association, AARP, and NRA to disclose the identity of large donors. New Jersey and Montana sued.
U.S. federal Judge Brian Morris ruled that the IRS did not follow proper procedure in writing the rule and needs to allow public comments before making changes to the tax code.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democratic presidential hopeful, said in June that elected officials were “like NASCAR, sponsored by different companies. At least voters oughta know who’s doing the buying. Literally now, a Russian could give to the NRA, and not even the IRS would know.”
IRS officials said Wednesday they do not comment on litigation.
Sequestration's Final Anniversary?
On August 2, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 into law, which put in place spending caps known as "sequestration" to force Congress into agreeing to reduce budget deficits.
The sequester’s eighth anniversary comes one day after the Senate sent a bill to President Trump’s desk that will effectively repeal the budget caps for the last two fiscal years of their existence and lift the debt limit when it’s signed into law.
After considering several ways of addressing the debt crisis in the late 2000s, a deal was reached on July 31, 2011, to employ sequestration as a means of reducing deficits.
As the years wore on, the $1.2 trillion in reduced spending caps proved politically unpopular for both sides with Republicans arguing it led to excessively restrained defense spending and Democrats unhappy with lower domestic spending. That created bipartisan support for nudging discretionary spending upwards when Congress considered debt limit and budget cap agreements several times in recent years under the confines of sequestration.
Assuming the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 is signed into law, it will mark the end of sequestration’s budget caps. At present, it’s unclear whether Congress will muster the will to reimpose spending caps of some sort with the CBO projecting the national debt to grow by another $11.6 trillion over the next decade under its baseline estimate.
Under the Radar
Just Exempt Countable.us
Video autoplay, endless content scrolling, and Snapstreaks may come to an end if Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act (SMART Act) is approved.
SMART would require platforms to implement “natural stopping points” so users would need to actively choose to stay engaged for prolonged periods, instead of being sucked into endless feeds.
“Big tech has embraced a business model of addiction,” Hawley said. “Too much of the ‘innovation’ in this space is designed not to create better products, but to capture more attention by using psychological tricks that make it difficult to look away.”
Michael Beckerman, President and Chief Executive of The Internet Association, which represents companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Snap said in a statement that social platforms are already investing and participating in programs to “promote healthy online experiences.” The association added that tools to help users regulate their time online already exist.
FDR Made Marijuana Illegal 82 Years Ago
On August 2, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 into law (yes, that’s how they spelled marijuana back then). This, the first federal marijuana law, effectively banned the possession of pot by requiring users to obtain a tax stamp, which they couldn’t buy without providing details about the amount and location of their marijuana, thereby incriminating themselves in the process.
The law was overturned by the Supreme Court and officially repealed by Congress in 1970. Don't toke up just yet—Congress simultaneously passed the Controlled Substances Act to ensure that marijuana remained illegal. The prohibition continues to this day at the federal level, though a growing numbers of states have chosen to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational uses.
Read about the sordid (and racist) history of the Marijuana Tax Act, then tell your reps:
Your Gov at a Glance 👀
The White House: President Trump in D.C. & NJ
- At 1:45pm EDT, the president will make an announcement on European Union trade.
- At 4:00pm EDT, the president will depart the White House.
- At 5:35pm EDT, the president will arrive in Bedminster, New Jersey.
The House of Representatives: Out
- The House will return Monday, September 9th.
The Senate: Out
- The Senate will return Monday, September 9th.
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But wait, there's more!
- Trump Admin Watchdog Rejects Senate Democrats’ Request to Investigate WH Security Clearances
- Senate Confirms Kelly Craft As Next UN Ambassador, Ending 7-Month Vacancy
And, in the End…
On August 2nd, 1858, Boston and New York installed the first mailboxes (ask your parents).
Maybe color in the above image to celebrate National Coloring Book Day,
Talk to us via email at contact [at] countable.us. And don’t forget to keep in touch @Countable.
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