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White House Moves to Block Ethics Inquiry Into Ex-Lobbyists on Payroll and More in Politics Today

by Countable | 5.22.17

It’s difficult to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in this country and to break through the clutter, so we’re here to make it easier. Here’s what we at Countable are reading today:

1. White House Moves to Block Ethics Inquiry Into Ex-Lobbyists on Payroll

The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose any ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who now work in the White House or federal agencies.

The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.

Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.

Read more at the New York Times.

2. Supreme Court strikes down North Carolina congressional district maps

The Supreme Court struck down two congressional district maps in North Carolina Monday, holding that the state had engaged in an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

As a result, the ruling sends the North Carolina legislature back to the drawing board -- with significant potential implications for the 2018 midterm elections. The state has been nearly split along partisan lines in recent statewide elections -- such as for governor and president -- but Republicans control 10 US House seats compared to only three for Democrats.

Read more at CNN.

3. Trump administration to continue funding insurer subsidies

A federal appeals court on Monday granted the Trump administration a 90-day delay on its decision to appeal a case brought by House Republicans against ObamaCare subsidies paid to insurers.

The payments will continue during the appeals process, which avoids an immediate crisis with the ObamaCare insurance market but still leaves insurers uncertain about the future.

Read more at The Hill.

4. Bill to loosen financial rules would save $24 billion — and slash consumer protection bureau funds

The House Republican legislation scaling back Dodd-Frank financial regulations would reduce federal budget deficits by $24.1 billion over the next decade — in part by slashing funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The Financial Choice Act, which was approved by a House committee this month, would subject the bureau to the congressional appropriations process instead of allowing it to draw the funds it needs directly from the Federal Reserve. That change would reduce federal spending by $6.9 billion from 2018 through 2027, the CBO said in a report issued Friday.

Read more at LA Times.

5. Trump to propose big cuts to safety net in new budget, slashing Medicaid and opening door to other limits

For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.

The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements "for able-bodied Americans" could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.

Read more at the Washington Post.

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Creative Commons )

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