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Trump Administration to Change Agencies' Civil Rights Efforts, and more in news today

by Countable | 5.30.17

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.Trump administration plans to change civil rights efforts within federal agencies

The efforts to reduce the federal profile on civil rights reflects the consensus view within the Trump administration that Obama officials exceeded their authority in policing discrimination on the state and local level, sometimes pressuring targets of government scrutiny to adopt policies that were not warranted.

While these decisions have been roundly criticized by liberal activists, administration officials said that civil rights remains a priority for the Trump White House.

"The Trump administration has an unwavering commitment to the civil rights of all Americans," White House spokeswoman Kelly Love said in an emailed statement.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

2. U.S. Supreme Court to hear Ohio's bid to revive voter purge policy

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear Ohio's appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked the Republican-led state's policy of purging people from voter-registration lists if they do not regularly cast ballots because it violated federal law.

Civil liberties advocates who challenged Ohio's policy said it illegally erased voters from registration rolls and unlawfully disenfranchised minorities and poor people who tend to back Democratic candidates. The justices will review a U.S. appeals court ruling that Ohio's policy ran afoul of a 1993 law called the National Voter Registration Act, which Congress passed to make it easier for Americans to register to vote.

Read more at Reuters.

3. Four Senators to Watch in the Trump-Russia Investigation

They are a disparate foursome: the chamber’s leading Republican centrist, a minister who embraces public service as a calling, a seasoned dealmaker and a high-profile presidential contender.

These four Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida — are emerging as a bloc integral to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The investigation is widely considered the premier inquiry, the one with the necessary jurisdiction and the best chance of producing a credible outcome. These four senators loom large as a crucial element in getting there.

Read more at the New York Times.

4. Meet the referee in the GOP effort to replace Obamacare

Washington is filled with people who talk much but affect little. Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough is the opposite — she intentionally stays out of the spotlight but wields enormous influence in proceedings on the Senate floor. As the Capitol Hill version of a referee in the contentious health-care debate, MacDonough will soon exercise broad authority in considering the fate of the House GOP health-care bill. She could also rule on a Senate version, if and when it materializes.

And when she finally makes a decision, it will be based on her best understanding of Senate rules and past precedent — not on whether she personally approves or disapproves of Obamacare or the effort to revamp it, say multiple friends and former co-workers.

Read more at the Washington Post.

5. Report: Trump to reverse Obama’s Cuba policy

The U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a non-partisan group, said the Trump administration is preparing to announce the changes to Obama-era policies in a June speech in Miami, according to the Daily Caller.

The report cites two unnamed sources who said a bipartisan trio of lawmakers -- Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) -- pushed for the reversal.

Obama, who became the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in almost a century last year, put in motion a series of policies to thaw relations with the Communist island nation, which had been a strategic burden throughout the Cold War.

Read more at The Hill.

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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