Weekly Roundup, April 30th – May 6th

The threat of a government shutdown has been averted, though it may resurface in the near future. After passing the senate, the congressional spending bill was signed and approved by the president. This could potentially prove a mere stopgap though, as this arrangement will only hold the government through September, and the president has posted online that many compromises will be reevaluated during the next vote.
While last week raised some questions regarding privacy and disclosure of surveillance, this week the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its annual transparency report regarding the practical applications of surveillance law in 2016. Jordan Brunner provides an overview of the report’s findings, as well as some discussion of some of the major statistics. Many find it alarming that the report includes mention of over 151 million call records collected, leading others to consider whether any other number would be more appropriate.

Amid the latest round of Executive Orders, the “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” seeks to “encourage energy exploration and production” by clearing millions of acres of offshore waters for oil and gas leasing. Some legal voices are already questioning whether the president’s powers allow him to remove protection from a previously-protected zone. While some have used this as an opportunity to project growth in mining sectors, some coal insiders suggest that the president “temper his expectations… He can’t bring them [mining jobs] back.”

At the end of the week, the House of Representatives passed the latest draft of the American Health Care Act. Alison Kodjak breaks down the text of the bill and considers what it could mean to the average citizen impacted by proposed changes. Matthew Fledler considers the potential for abuse within some of the healthcare act’s wording. John Whitesides and Sarah N. Lynch consider the bill’s construction, and ask whether any legislature that determines women’s health options ought to be constructed by an all-male group.


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