Debt, Environment, Supreme Court

Democrats are in no mood to fight for the Supreme Court

And Trump Is Ready to Raise the Nation’s Debt Limit, Long a Republican Bugaboo

Playing dead. Democrats know they don’t have the votes to stop Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch from clearing his Senate confirmation hearing, which begins today. But they don’t appear to have a strategy, or even the energy, for a coordinated fight against Trump’s conservative court pick, says the Huffington Post.

Debt limit. Trump’s treasury secretary is asking lawmakers to raise the cap on the national debt which was at about $19.8 trillion on Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress he has suspended sales of state and local government securities to free up more money for now. Mnuchin also said he has stopped putting money in regular investments in three government retirement and benefit funds. Congress last suspended the debt ceiling in November 2015, but that reprieve ended Thursday.

Chemical safety. Trump wants to kill a federal agency that investigates chemical accidents and tries to make working conditions safer. The Chemical Safety Board has an annual budget of about $12 million. The board investigated the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that killed 11 in the Gulf of Mexico and the fatal 2013 explosion in West, Texas that killed 12 first responders. Former EPA head Christine Todd Whitman called the proposal to get rid of the board short-sighted. “If you want to put the American people in danger, this is the way to do it,” she said.

Investigation. Preet Bharara, the prosecutor fired by the Trump administration during a mass purge of U.S. attorneys appointed by Obama, was overseeing an investigation of stock trades made by Trump’s health secretary, ProPublica reported. Tom Price told the Senate during his confirmation hearing that his trades were lawful. He traded shares in health-related companies as he worked on legislation affecting the industry.

Kill the EPA. Neophyte U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, has introduced a bill to kill off the Environmental Protection Agency. H.R. 861 has been referred to the Subcommittee on Environment.

March 20, 2017