President Donald Trump’s assertion that he’d been wiretapped and the reaction to that claim dominated the week’s news. In other administration actions, Trump threw his support behind a health care reform bill offered by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The bill lacks the support of all Republicans. No Democrats have expressed approval, so the debate is just starting.
The White House issued a redone version of its temporary travel and immigration ban from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The original order — halted by a federal judge — had included Iraq. The new order treats Iraq as a “special case” because of ongoing U.S. military and diplomatic involvement there.
A special White House memo to the secretary of State, attorney general, and secretary of Homeland Security ordered an immediate start to heightened screening and vetting of visa and immigration applicants.
Several officials in either acting or permanent appointed positions withdrew their bids for appointment or reappointment. These include acting Defense Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, National Security Agency IG nominee Robert Storch (now deputy at the Justice Department), Elizabeth Field as director of the Office of Personnel Management (now at the State Department), and Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner.
The Office of Management and Budget put out for public comment, semi-finished proposals for revising federal standards for collecting and maintaining race and ethnicity data. Current standards are 20-years old. Among the questions: should there be a middle-eastern-North Africa (MENA) designation? Also up for consideration: whether to revise Hispanic and African American groupings. Comments are due end of April. The administration wants to finish the standards in time for the Census Bureau to include them in the 2020 decennial count — for which testing begins next year.