clock menu more-arrow no yes

Vox Sentences: Repeal and replace ... revived?

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

President Trump’s latest executive order is terrible for the environment; Paul Ryan won’t let his true love go; Devin Nunes cannot get out of his own way.


Trump’s major executive order on climate change

President Trump Signs Energy Independence Executive Order Photo by Ron Sach-Pool/Getty Images
  • Today President Trump signed a major executive order that begins the process of dismantling the Obama administration’s policies to address climate change.
  • He signed the order at the Environmental Protection Agency, in the presence of coal miners, and touted it as a way to increase US energy independence and a boon for the coal industry. [New York Times / Coral Davenport]
  • The order authorizes Trump’s Cabinet to roll back a variety of regulations, including emissions rules for power plants, a limit on methane leak limits, and a ban on coal mining on public lands, among others. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • The order is not, however, expected to do much to the lives or job prospects of coal miners at all. [Vox / David Roberts]
  • It’s worth noting that the executive order does not fulfill Trump’s promise to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal, which both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and first daughter Ivanka Trump cautioned him against doing. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • But in its sweeping reach and obvious intention, it represents the end of an eight-year era in which the US president led international efforts to combat climate change. [Guardian / Damian Carrington]
  • Currently only Sweden, Germany, and France are pursuing policies that track with their pledges from the Paris Climate deal, according to a new study. [Guardian / Arthur Nelson]
  • The new executive orders fit into a broader Trump administration strategy that one scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists described to the BBC as: “‘Control-alt-delete’ […] control the scientists in the federal agencies, alter science-based policies to fit their narrow ideological agenda, and delete scientific information from government websites.” [BBC / Matt McGrath]
  • It also complements a recent announcement of the administration’s intention to roll back relatively new, progressive fuel economy standards for vehicles. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • Trump campaigned on pushing back against Obama’s climate change initiatives, and in 2012 he tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” [CNN / Gregory Krieg]
  • He proceeded to stack the White House with climate change deniers, from Vice President Mike Pence, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry all the way down to Pruitt aide David Kreutzer, a veteran of the Heritage Foundation. [New York Times / Coral Davenport]

Paul Ryan’s zombie repeal-and-replace effort

House GOP Pulls Vote On Trump's American Health Care Act
Democrats’ Obamacare victory may be short-lived.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • As we all know, the House health care bill intended to repeal and replace Obamacare was pulled on Friday without a vote. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The death of the universally unpopular bill was widely celebrated, and its demise seemed to signify the death of the greater Republican movement to destroy Obamacare as well. [Guardian / Adam Gaffney]
  • But House Speaker Paul Ryan attempted to reanimate the effort this week, promising on Monday, “We are going to keep getting at this thing.” [Washington Post / Mike DeBonis]
  • His remarks came in spite of the Trump administration publicly stating both on Friday and over the weekend that it has moved on to other priorities. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • Ryan was backed up by his third in command, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who insisted to reporters, “I think we're closer today to repealing Obamacare than we ever were before.” [CNBC / Dan Mangan]
  • Now, it appears the White House is at least indulging Ryan a little bit, with Vice President Pence reportedly meeting with lawmakers on the Hill Tuesday and reports that Steve Bannon is involved in conversations with the far-right Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group, as well. [New York Times / Robert Pear, Jeremy W. Peters, Maggie Haberman]
  • But on Tuesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that the administration is not “actively planning an immediate strategy” to revive the Republican effort. [Washington Post / Mike DeBonis]
  • Meanwhile, Trump has also suggested on Twitter that he’s open to negotiating with Democrats. That could be tricky, given that an increasing number of Democrats are joining Bernie Sanders’s call to move beyond the Affordable Care Act and embrace single-payer health care. [Washington Post / David Weigel]

Nunes cannot stay out of the news

Devin Nunes Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, which is currently investigating the Trump presidential campaign’s ties to the Russian government. Nunes, however, keeps trying to change the subject to things Democrats are doing wrong — in increasingly bizarre and frankly suspicious ways. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]
  • Let’s rewind a week. On March 20, FBI Director James Comey, testifying before Nunes’s committee, denied Trump’s claims that he had been wiretapped by the Obama administration. But two days later, on March 22, Nunes gave a news conference outside of the White House saying he had been shown evidence that “some level of surveillance activity” had gone on after the election, targeting members of Trump’s transition team. (He proceeded to brief the administration.) [Washington Post / Amber Phillips]
  • Nunes’s decision to go straight to the White House and the press, rather than, say, the other members of his committee, was met with nearly universal skepticism — especially when he claimed he couldn’t share his intel with the committee, because the evidence wasn’t in his possession. And since Nunes himself was a member of the transition team, he didn’t exactly seem like an honest broker. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Democrats on the committee were reportedly furious with Nunes. Even Republican Sen. John McCain criticized him for destroying Congress’s “credibility to handle this alone.” [NBC / Alex Seitz-Wald]
  • On Monday, the story got stranger. Nunes admitted that he’d been shown the documents that allegedly provided evidence of surveillance on the White House grounds, a week before he announced their existence to the public and “briefed” the White House on them. This led many to suspect his “secret” source came from within the administration... [Washington Post / Karoun Demirjian, Greg Miller, Phillip Rucker]
  • …And prompted Democrats in the House and Senate to demand Nunes recuse himself from the investigation his committee is supposed to be leading into possible contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. [Guardian / Spencer Ackerman, Ed Pilkington, Ben Jacobs]
  • Monday night, Nunes dismissed calls for him to recuse himself, saying, “I'm sure that the Democrats do want me to quit, because they know that I'm quite effective at getting to the bottom of things.” Which is an odd thing to say when the thing he’s supposed to be getting to the bottom of isn’t about Democrats. [Washington Post / Aaron Blake]
  • It’s also an odd thing to say when he keeps canceling hearings that are supposed to be “getting to the bottom of” the Trump/Russia investigation. Like the one that was supposed to happen Tuesday but was canceled last week — at which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates was supposed to testify. (Trump fired Yates in February for refusing to enforce the White House’s original travel ban, but she’d also been involved in conversations about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s ties to the Russian government.)
  • On Tuesday, the Post reported something that might have caused the postponement: The White House tried to block Yates from testifying, arguing she’d be publicly discussing things that were protected by executive privilege. [Washington Post / Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous]
  • To many, it’s yet another sign that the White House is trying to impede the investigation — and that Nunes is trying to help them do it. [The New Yorker / Ryan Lizza]
  • The result so far, at least, is that it’s not just Nunes who looks terrible. He makes the Republican establishment, which has for the most part continued to support him, look incapable of impartiality too. [Washington Post / Amber Phillips]

Miscellaneous

  • Spiders eat about 400 million to 800 million tons of prey per year. Every human on Earth weighs only about 360 million tons. Think about it. [Washington Post / Christopher Ingraham]
  • You've probably never heard of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the companies that oversee prescription drug benefits for health insurers. But they hold a huge amount of power — and because just three PBM companies control the vast majority of the market, they can extract a lot of profit for themselves and drive up the cost of drugs. [American Prospect / David Dayen]
  • If you review voter files released months after the election, it appears Hillary Clinton lost not because white voters in swing states stayed home, but because they switched from Obama to Trump. [NYT / Nate Cohn]
  • Most big events in the 1960s spent $1,000 to $2,000 on PA systems. Head organizer Bayard Rustin spent $20,000 on the PA for the March on Washington — and made Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers and David Dubinsky of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union pay for it. [NY Mag / Jesse David Fox]
  • I (Dylan) never took a real science class again after failing a computer science midterm my first semester of college. That's a pretty common reaction to setbacks in science classes — and it's a major reason why fewer American students are going into science professionally. [Stat / Sara Whitlock]

Verbatim


Watch this: How a case gets to the US Supreme Court

Thousands of cases are submitted; few are selected. [Mac Schneider / YouTube]


Read more

The controversy over Sally Yates’s planned testimony before Congress, explained

One reason Republicans’ health plan failed? Millions of supporters could have lost coverage.

2 months in, and Trump’s Israel policy looks a lot like Obama’s

Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are the faces of a growing divide in late-night TV

Bill O’Reilly ridiculed a black congresswoman over her “James Brown wig”

Sign up for the newsletter The Weeds

Understand how policy impacts people. Delivered Fridays.