The past week in DC was crazy. In turn, we think it’s time we step back an assess the various multiple policy decisions that came from last week.
Well, that was a week! Considering the amount of action that happened in Washington these past few days, we’re all still trying to piece together what actually happened last week. Not taking the insanity that has been taking place in the White House into account, let’s go over the real policy changes that had occurred last week.
President Trump’s Ban on Trans Individuals from Serving in the Military
….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
How It All Started: Last Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced a new policy on Twitter – no, seriously – that trans individuals would be banned from military service. This came as a surprise to almost everybody, including the Pentagon that had not been privy to the policy change. This, as you would have guessed, has raised many questions which include; (a) how will this be implemented? (b) will trans individuals who are already serving the military be pushed out?
Where We Stand Now: For the time being, let’s put aside the fact that medical costs are non-existent for trans individuals in the military when compared to the overall military budget and that, you know, YOU’RE COMPLETELY NEGATING SOMEONE’S CIVIL RIGHTS (!!!); but the implementation alone for this new order would be a nightmare! For government agencies – like the Pentagon – that would have to implement something this big without having been consulted about it; President Trump’s order isn’t a reasonable one. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise that the Pentagon said “they wouldn’t be changing anything at all.” While this could be looked at as a government agency standing up against the president, in actuality, it has to do with the agency not getting a clear directions from the Secretary of Defense of how to proceed with it. In other words, this measure from the president will probably never go past his Twitter account, until real policy is implemented at a bureaucratic level. It’s unclear if the Secretary of Defense is working on such a plan.
President Trump’s Continued Attacks on His Attorney General Jeff Sessions
How It All Started: Last week in a New York Times interview, President Trump had aired grievances over his Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself over the Russian investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. President Trump then continued to berate Sessions publicly for the following week, with many reports coming out thinking that the president might fire Sessions and place an attorney general that would fire Mueller.
Where We Stand Now: In a week where the GOP-controlled Senate was finally debating over their various healthcare plans (more on that in a bit), much of the media coverage was being shared by President Trump’s constant public attacks on Sessions. The problem is, Congressional leaders and President Trump’s own base looks to approve Sessions’ time as attorney general thus far. Which makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Up to this point, Sessions has pushed for tougher immigration laws and stricter criminal justice reforms. For both Congressional Republicans, and more importantly, President Trump’s base, these are policy goals that both groups have been clamoring for ever since the Obama administration had left.
Also for Congressional Republicans, President Trump threatening Sessions looks to be the “red line” for many of them. Between Republican Senator Lindsey Graham talking about creating legislation making sure Congress can stop President Trump from firing the special counsel investigating Russian interference and the Senate passing the House bill on Russian sanctions, Republicans are finally looking to push-back on President Trump. How hard they are willing to push-back? Only time will tell.
The Republicans Repeal-and-Replace of the ACA Looks to be Dead (For Now Anyway)
How It All Started: It all started last week when Senate Republicans wanted to bring its numerous repeal-and-replace bills forward regarding the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). They included three GOP Senate healthcare bills; the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), and the Skinny Obamacare Repeal.
Where We Stand Now: In the end, the three Republican Senators that ended up killing the Republican’s effort to repeal-and-replace the ACA were; Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine. After both the BCRA and ORRA were voted down by the Senate, the only hope looked to be from what people were calling the Skinny Obamacare Repeal, which essentially was a shell-bill that would pass the Senate and sent to the House where it would be crafted into usable legislation.
But as you may have guessed, passing legislation that some Republicans would vote for, but didn’t want to become law is not necessarily the smartest idea. Especially one that many claimed would send the ACA into a death spiral due to the repeal of the individual mandate, thus sending the US Healthcare system into chaos. Luckily the Skinny Repeal had enough senators spooked that it didn’t pass, but that raises another important question; what happens now?
Realistically speaking, this was probably the Republicans’ best chance of moving their healthcare legislation forward. With issues like the budget and raising the debt ceiling fast approaching, there’s a good chance that the GOP will have to leave the healthcare debate behind for now. Even if President Trump refuses to accept defeat on the matter, for the time being, the ACA looks here to stay.
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