For Years, Senate Republicans Stalled Obama’s Nominees
Court packing. Trump is turning his attention to the more than 120 openings on the lower federal courts. On Monday, he’s expected to announce a slate of 10 conservative “thought leader” nominees to those courts, a senior White House official told The New York Times, the first in what could be near monthly waves of nominations. Here’s a list of all 129 federal court vacancies, which resulted because the Republican-controlled Senate stalled and blocked court appointments made by former President Barack Obama. There are another 21 seats that are expected to open up in the next 12 months.
Foxes in the hen house. The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research. A spokesman for the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate.
France, not crazy. Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron swamped far-right candidate Marine Le Pen by more than 30 percentage points on Sunday in the French presidential election. The New York Times said Macron voters wanted change but “were appalled at the type of populist anger that had upturned politics in Britain and the United States.” The win came despite the release of hacked emails from Macron’s campaign. According to one report, Trump supporters were the first to spread the emails.
Chinese cash, U.S. visas. Nicole Meyer, sister of senior Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, is targeting wealthy Chinese to invest a combined $150 million in a New Jersey development for the chance to secure U.S. immigration rights, reports The Wall Street Journal. Up to 300 individuals who put $500,000 each into the project could be eligible for green cards under a U.S. investment-for-immigration program.
Money talks. Right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group is close to a deal to acquire Tribune Media for close to $4 billion, says The Wall Street Journal. The agreement, which could be announced as early as this week, comes just weeks after the Federal Communications Commission relaxed its limits on the number of local TV stations a company can own. Sinclair, which openly supported Trump in the 2016 election, already has 173 television stations in midsize and small markets. Tribune’s 42 stations would give it outlets in just about every major market as well, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Congressional deconstruction. The Republican Congress has used a 1996 law to dismantle some of the last actions of former President Barack Obama. The Congressional Review Act, signed by former President Bill Clinton, lets a new Congress repeal regulations a former president made in his last six months in office with a majority vote. Republicans have used this to undo 13 regulations such as Internet privacy and protecting streams from toxic mining waste. The Center for Biological Diversity is challenging the constitutionality of the Congressional Review Act.