Good morning, friends. The GOP’s latest healthcare bill is (maybe) in dire straits, the President’s latest travel ban went (sort of, temporarily) into effect, and I’m terrified to type another sentence in the event this all changes in the next 15 minutes. 2017!
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Today, let’s talk about the travel ban.
What’s at stake
The legal battle over one of the Trump administration’s signature policies — the 90-day ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries and a 120-day suspension of the refugee program — is headed to the Supreme Court for October oral arguments, and on Monday the court allowed a portion of the ban to go into effect. And local refugee organizations are worried about what this might mean for their clients.
President Trump’s original executive order, issued shortly after his inauguration in January, banned travel for 90 days from seven majority-Muslim countries and, along with the 120-day refugee suspension, barred Syrian refugees from the country indefinitely. It was met with confusion at airports as customs officials tried to enforce the ban, intense protests — several thousand showed up at Philly’s airport to support detained travelers — and near-immediate legal challenges that led to a federal judge blocking the order.
Trump issued a rewritten order in March that was, again, blocked by two federal courts. Now, before arguments begin this fall, the Supreme Court has allowed the travel ban and the refugee program suspension to go into effect — but that those with a “bona fide relationship” with a “person or entity” in the U.S. will be allowed to enter. What that means will likely be hashed out in court, too — for now, justices said having a close family member here, a job at an American company or an acceptance to an American college would get someone past the ban.
The local angle
HIAS-Pennsylvania, the Philly-based refugee resettlement organization, has 69 refugees who’ve been approved to travel to the U.S., but haven’t arrived yet. A little over a third of them likely don’t know anyone here, HIAS’s director of refugee planning, Rona Buchalter, told me Monday. And the organization isn’t sure if their work with those refugees will count as a “bona fide relationship,” a concern shared by refugee groups across the country.
Critics like Buchalter have scoffed at the Trump administration’s argument that the ban is necessary for national safety, saying it puts refugees themselves in mortal danger. “These are not populations that are a threat to us,” she said. “These are people who are looking to get away from the violence and persecution and targeting and create a new life for their kids.” And the uncertainty puts resettlement agencies like hers, which are funded per client, in difficult financial straits.
Republicans celebrated the ruling as a win in an arena where the president has been continually stymied. “Is anyone tired of winning yet?” the local GOP quipped on Twitter. On the other side of the aisle, Democratic minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi was in Philly for a discussion on economic development when she heard the news. “I’m glad that they’re going to review the travel ban,” she told an audience (that included my colleague Chris Brennan). But she said she was disappointed the Supreme Court hadn’t put the ban on hold in the interim.
What they’re saying
“We have gained ground. And those were never districts where we would have gone into. But we’re glad we did.” — Nancy Pelosi at the aforementioned economic development discussion in Philly yesterday, arguing that even though Democrats lost four hotly contested special Congressional elections in recent months, they at least got more of the vote than they did in 2016.
“It’s worse to pass a bad bill than to pass no bill.” — Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Kentucky), joining a handful of GOP senators expressing doubt about the Senate healthcare bill. Republicans, ABC reports, can’t lose more than two votes.
“So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS, and ABC? What about the failing @nytimes and @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!” — President Trump, whose regular litany of “fake news” organizations is now so familiar that I could probably recite it in my sleep. (In this tweet, by the way, he’s referencing three CNN staffers who stepped down over a retracted story on the Russia probe.)
In other news…
- The Congressional Budget Office scored the Senate’s healthcare bill on Monday, and estimated that, under the GOP plan, 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026. That’s still better than the 23 million more uninsured under the House plan, but the CBO score could spell disaster for the bill, with as many as four Republican Senators balking. The bill cuts Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next 10 years, and though premiums would drop, my colleague Jon Tamari reports, “deductibles would rise and coverage would shrink, ultimately leaving many to pay more for healthcare.” That said, to not pass this bill would be deeply embarrassing for Republicans — so expect some hustling over the next few days to accommodate senators on the fence. The House bill was presumed dead, after all, until Jersey’s own Tom MacArthur wrote the amendment that got it passed.
- Mayor Kenney joined a coalition of mayors pledging to work toward powering their cities with entirely clean energy and billed the decision as a stand against President Trump — a growing trend in big, progressive cities like Philly. The city also wrote to the Department of Justice last week, arguing that its sanctuary city policies are legal, in the hopes of keeping a $1.67 million policing grant.
- The Trump administration said they have evidence Syria is planning another chemical attack, and said President Bashar al-Assasd would pay “a heavy price” if he went through with it. (Five defense officials told Buzzfeed last night they had no idea the White House was planning to release a statement on the matter.)
What I’m reading
- Politico on Republicans working to convince wavering colleagues to vote for the Senate healthcare bill — who are using some $200 billion in savings to appease conservatives who want to more fully repeal Obamacare, and moderates who want more to spend on Medicaid and the opioid crisis. Plus, FiveThirtyEight on the #resistance’s chances of blocking the healthcare bill, and the New York Times with a helpful primer on how Medicaid works.
- My colleague Frank Kummer on a New Jersey town whose rising tides have put it on the front lines of the climate change debate.
- The Atlantic on celebrating Juneteenth — the holiday commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation — in the wake of the Philando Castile verdict.
- Bloomberg with your weekly national-reporter-goes-to-Trump-stronghold story, this time in a western Pennsylvania town where enthusiasm for the president is ebbing.
A non-political palate cleanser
I will never not read a story about weird paranormal nonsense, and this AP gem about bigfoot hunters in the Pennsylvania woods is no exception.