5 things Trump did while you weren’t looking: Week 3 – Politico
The White House declared it “Tech Week,” inviting a group of CEO’s to repair the administration’s somewhat rocky relationship to the innovation industries. But for all intents and purposes, this turned out to be Healthcare Week in Washington.
The Senate GOP’s healthcare bill dropped with a bang on Thursday, drafted so secretly that even key Republican lawmakers didn’t know what was in it. The bill so dominated the Washington news that even Trump’s walk back of his Comey-tape threat got only a short ride in the spotlight.
Whether Congress really gets a health care bill done is anyone’s guess; for now, it’s a massive rethink of Medicaid and some significant changes to Obamacare. But away from Capitol Hill, the White House really is still getting stuff done, quietly continuing its broad rollback of Obama-era policies. As part of our weekly roundup of what’s really changing across the government, here are five big policy changes from the last week:
1. The Labor Department loosens a rule on beryllium exposure
You haven’t heard of it since chemistry class, but beryllium is a chemical toxic to lung tissue. The Department of Labor took years to finalize a rule protecting workers from exposure, and didn’t issue the final version until the tail end of Obama’s presidency—January 9, to be exact. It was always at risk of removal by the Republican Congress, which could have repealed it with just a majority vote, but it survived until now.
On Friday, the Department of Labor proposed a new rule on beryllium exposure; it doesn’t change the original exposure limits imposed by Obama but instead eliminates additional safety requirements for the construction and shipyard industries, such as conducting medical surveillance or providing training for those workers who are near, but not above, the exposure limits. Labor groups slammed the change, saying that it would lead to more lung disease and cancer among workers. Industry groups applauded the changes; the original rule, they argued, was too restrictive.
The DOL must still go through a full rule-making process, so the new beryllium rule won’t be finalized for months. In the meantime, the department said it wouldn’t be enforcing the Obama-era rule.
2. A new emergency alert for cops
We’ve all noticed the emergency warnings on television or radio, which alert audiences about a child abduction (the “Amber Alert”) or severe weather. Soon, there may be a new alert: a “Blue Alert” for when a police officer is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved the first stage of rulemaking to add such a “Blue Alert” to the FCC’s Emergency Alert System (EAS), which was created in 1997 to enable the president to communicate quickly and directly with the American people in the case of an emergency. Stations are required to carry such presidential alerts but alerts for a child abduction or severe weather are voluntary.
A “Blue Alert” has already been implemented in 27 states; the FCC proposal would make it a national standard. The change has bipartisan support—it’s hard to see politicians taking a stance against showing concern for officer safety—but it also fits with the Trump administration’s focus on attacks on cops, and the Department of Justice’s pivot from Obama-era policies on police accountability toward a more protective stance on police.