Cuts to Programs Helping People Sign Up for Insurance Coverage; Advertising Gutted 90%
Affordable Care Act. The Trump administration is gutting federal funds that help Americans sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, cutting grants to grassroots groups that assist with enrollment by 40% and slashing the advertising budget 90%. The announcement late Thursday afternoon, just nine weeks before the start of the fifth annual enrollment season, is the first indication of how an administration determined to overturn the health-care law will oversee the window for new and returning consumers buying coverage for 2018. Advertising will be cut from $100 million in 2017 to $10 million for enrollment in 2018. Funding for professional help to guide people through signing up will be cut from $62.5 million in 2017 to $36.8 million.
Chemical danger. The main electrical system and backups failed at a flood-damaged chemical plant near Houston that is one of the most hazardous in the state. Explosions and chemical fires at the plant Thursday are raising questions about whether the plants are adequately regulated. The French company that owns the plant, Arkema, and the American Chemistry Council successfully lobbied federal regulators to stall new regulations designed to improve safety procedures at chemical plants. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt blocked the rules which were supposed to go into effect March 14.
Hurricane pledge. Trump has pledged to donate $1 million to storm victims in Texas and Louisiana. “He would like to join in the efforts that a lot of the people that we’ve seen across this country do,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Thursday. Sanders said she wasn’t sure whether the donation would come from Trump’s foundation or his own bank account. Before taking office, Trump had a history of overstating his charitable giving and taking credit for donations that came from other sources, as documented in a series of stories last year in The Washington Post.
Anti-immigrant law blocked. A federal judge in San Antonio, Texas blocked significant parts of a Texas law that required local law enforcement to comply with federal requests to hold unauthorized immigrants in their custody. The law was supposed to go into effect Friday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state will appeal. “There is overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe,” wrote U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia. The order did not block part of the law that lets police officer ask people’s immigration status during legal detention, but it limited what action officers can take after learning a person is undocumented.
Dreamers. Two members of Congress who came to our country as undocumented immigrants, Rep. Rubén Kihuen (D-Nev.) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) are asking Trump to extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. “Our backgrounds and the trajectory of our careers have been humbling, and show how, with the right opportunities, anyone can achieve the American dream,” the two wrote. The five-year-old program allows children brought to the United States illegally to live and work with government licenses. Trump may halt DACA.
Arpaio judgment. Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio may not be above the law after all. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton has ordered Arpaio and the U.S. Department of Justice to file briefs on whether she should throw out Arpaio’s conviction for criminal contempt of court. Trump pardoned Arpaio on Aug. 25. “Arpaio is asking for a complete expungement of the case, which is more than the pardon entitles him to,” said Stanford Law School professor Bernadette Meyler. Arpaio was convicted in July of criminal contempt, a federal misdemeanor, after a judge found he had defied a court order to stop targeting suspected undocumented immigrants. Arpaio was sued 10 years ago by Latinos and the American Civil Liberties Union.