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Mass Deportation Underway

“Mass Deportations Have Begun, Congressman Says” reports International Business Times: “U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro accused President Trump on Thursday of putting a mass deportation program into place, saying it goes beyond anything orchestrated by prior administrations … He said the only thing that will limit the program is the size of ICE’s budget. He said ICE officials refused to answer questions about the number of people currently in detention centers, where the detainees are from and how many overstayed their visas versus how many were ‘border crossers.'”

WH aides scheme to deport DREAMers without Trump’s signature. LAT: “They have examined at least two options that would not directly involve Trump, according to two immigration policy advisors to the White House: a lawsuit brought by states, and new legal guidance that details who is a priority for deportation.”

Trump retreats in travel ban fight. The Atlantic: “The Trump administration told a federal appeals court Thursday it would rewrite its controversial travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries, effectively conceding defeat for now … [Justice Dept.] lawyers declined to ask the Ninth Circuit to convene a broader panel to reconsider the three judges’ decision … The administration hasn’t offered details yet on its next executive order, which President Trump said would be released sometime next week.”

Many businesses close for “Day Without Immigrants.” NYT: “The protest called for immigrants, whether naturalized citizens or undocumented, to stay home from work or school, close their businesses and abstain from shopping … No national group organized the action … the Pentagon warned its employees that a number of its food concessions, including Sbarro’s, Starbucks and Taco Bell, were closed … Restaurants, from San Francisco to Phoenix to Washington, D.C., were some of the most visible spots affected, with well-known chefs closing some of their eateries for the day in support.”

ACA Replacement Plan Unveiled

Republicans sketch out ACA repeal plans. WSJ: “The plan from House GOP leaders would achieve a central goal of Republicans of overhauling Medicaid in a way that reduces its funding. It would also strike down pillars of the health-care law, such as the requirement that most Americans pay a penalty if they don’t have insurance … It would replace the health-law subsidies with tax credits Americans could use to help pay for private insurance, and it would allow for skimpier health plans not permitted under the ACA … [The plan] could face opposition from Republicans in the more than a dozen states that expanded Medicaid…”

Plan would redistribute wealth upward. NYT: “It would substantially cut funding for states in providing free insurance to low-income adults through Medicaid. And it would change how tax credits are distributed by giving all Americans not covered through work a flat credit by age, regardless of income … the current system is set up to ensure that low and middle-income Americans can afford the cost of their premiums. The Republican plan would not do that, and would result in many more low-income people losing out on coverage…”

Pro-ACA ad blitz. CNN: “During the congressional recess, when members of Congress return to their home states … the Alliance for Health Care Security … is spending a seven-figure sum in five states with key Republican senators … Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, Maine and West Virginia…”

Unions Divided Over Trump

“Trump’s Inroads in Union Ranks Have Labor Leaders Scrambling” reports NYT: ” Some unions, even if traditionally Democratic, have aims that align with Mr. Trump’s stated priorities: building infrastructure, rewriting trade agreements, blocking an exodus of jobs. But union leaders are in many cases scrambling to get in step with members…”

House GOP targets public sector unions. W. Post: “Two House subcommittees joined forces for Republicans to hit what they consider to be abuses of ‘official time.’ That system allows government labor organization officials to engage in certain, but certainly not all, union-related activities while being paid by federal agencies … [While] official time is used for such things as improving productivity and resolving workplace problems, Republicans narrowly and inaccurately cast it as a system allowing union people to do union business on the taxpayer’s dime.”

Goodbye Regulation

Regulatory freeze begins to take effect. The Hill: “This week alone, the Department of Health and Human Services delayed two rules: one to protect the privacy of alcohol and drug abusers who seek treatment, and a second to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s protect against the introduction, transmission and spread of communicable diseases like Ebola and the Zika virus. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission delayed a rule it finalized two days before the inauguration requiring federal agencies to enact hiring policies that favor individuals with disabilities. Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration delayed new safety rules for commuter trains, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) delayed news standards for how animals should be treated if the farmer wishes to sell the meat as certified organic.”

Trump signs bill repealing coal regulation. The Hill: “The bill quashes the Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule, a regulation to protect waterways from coal mining waste that officials finalized in December.”

Acosta May Not Be Better Than Puzder

Unions worry about new Labor Secretary pick. American Prospect: “It’s too early, labor advocates say, to know whether [Alexander] Acosta is qualified to lead the department. During his short stint on the NLRB, Acosta is likely to have signed onto rulings that came down in favor of business and against workers and unions.”

“Trump’s Labor Pick Has a History of Attacking Voting Rights,” reports The Nation: “[He] was appointed by Bush as the assistant attorney general with responsibility for leading the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division … Acosta intervened in a pair of lawsuits brought by Ohio civil-rights activists who objected that the Ohio law that permitted the challenging of the right of voters to cast their ballots was unconstitutional … Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Kristen Clarke said … ‘…actions taken during Mr. Acosta’s tenure violated Justice Department policy and federal law. Political and ideological affiliations were used as a litmus test to evaluate job candidates and career attorneys…'”

Breakfast Sides

EPA staff opposes EPA nominee. NYT: “Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have been calling their senators to urge them to vote on Friday against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt … a remarkable display of activism and defiance that presages turbulent times ahead for the E.P.A. … said James A. Thurber, the director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University[,] ‘I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this.'”

Senate GOP snubbing House tax plan. Politico: “The border adjustment tax would generate more than a trillion dollars over a decade; there’s no obvious way to replace that money, which is needed to help pay for a steep cut in corporate and income taxes … But the idea is sharply dividing Republicans — even within the White House … Many Republican senators say privately they detest the concept, fretting that it will hurt their in-state retailers like Walmart … Without it, [Speaker Ryan’s allies] contend, tax reform will die.”

Sen. Sanders introduces bill to expand Social Security. The Hill: “The legislation would increase Social Security benefits by about $1,300 annually for seniors who make less than $16,000, while boosting the amount of taxes paid by high-income earners by subjecting incomes above $250,000 to payroll taxes … Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is introducing a House version of the bill.”

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