Wonkbook: The policy battle behind the migrant-child crisis

July 10

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Dahlia Zabrano-Tercero, 5, center, holds a sign during a vigil and rally in support of the flood of undocumented Central American minors apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border on July 9. (Photo DAVID MAUNG/EPA)

Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: 9.5 million. That's how many people gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace enrollment period, dropping the uninsured rate from 20 to 15 percent.

Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: This chart shows yet another measure of American mediocrity: financial literacy.

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) The wonky details of handling the migrant-child crisis; (2) a return of the spending wars?; (3) prominent public-health problems; (4) gay marriage to SCOTUS?; and (5) the Fed minutes.

1. Top story: The policy challenges behind handling the influx of migrant children

Why we don't immediately send migrant children back. "The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in 2008...did many things to combat human trafficking worldwide — including providing assistance to foreign governments to combat abuse and increasing penalties for trafficking crimes. A small portion of the bill concerned added protections for unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border. Specifically, kids from noncontiguous countries would be transferred to the Health and Human Services Department for care and processing. HHS would then be authorized to appoint advocates for the children and could work to unite the kids with families or place them in foster care....Before 2008, DHS had handled unaccompanied minors crossing the border." Brian Resnick in National Journal.

Republicans demand a change to a law that would speed deportations... "Republicans, who have long advocated tougher border security, are demanding legislation to speed deportation of the minors in exchange for new spending. Some House Republicans also say the funds must be offset with cuts elsewhere. Although Obama wants to expedite the deportation of Central American children, many Democrats in Congress disagree with that approach." Heidi Przybyla in Bloomberg.

...along with other immigration policy changes. "Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wants to require employers to verify electronically that new hires are in the country legally and the government to put in place an electronic entry-exit system at points of entry at the border. He says the border crisis creates an opportunity for policy-makers to finally address broader immigration enforcement. House Speaker John Boehner wants the National Guard to be deployed to provide humanitarian assistance to the children waiting for processing." Fawn Johnson and Rachel Roubein in National Journal.

Obama says he'd be 'happy to consider' sending in the National Guard. "President Barack Obama said Wednesday in Texas he’d be 'happy to consider' sending the National Guard to the border if that’s what it takes to get the votes from the Texas delegation for his $3.7 billion immigration supplemental. In a private meeting, Texas Gov. Rick Perry repeatedly urged the president to deploy the National Guard to the border on his own, Obama said. Obama said he would be 'happy to consider' doing so if that’s the price of getting the Texas delegation’s support for the emergency spending bill." Steven T. Dennis in Roll Call.

Immigrant activists continue to pressure Obama. "Immigrant advocacy groups sued the federal government on Wednesday for what they say is a failure to provide legal representation for immigrant children facing deportation....Attorneys for the groups allege that the government is violating due process by allowing some children to navigate the complex immigration legal system alone....The lawsuit was filed on the same day Justice Department officials announced plans to expedite immigration court proceedings for unaccompanied youth and families, moving them ahead of other cases to be heard by an expanded corps of immigration judges. The department also plans on expanding existing legal assistance programs for those in removal proceedings." Kate Linthicum and Molly Hennessy-Fiske in the Los Angeles Times.

What it's like for the children to represent themselves. "Berta wears a sparkly butterfly shirt, and she's so small that her flip-flops don't touch the blue carpet. At the moment, Berta is representing herself in immigration court, though an adult family friend who speaks English accompanies her. Martinez tells the girl in his booming judicial voice that he is postponing her hearing until late August to give her more time to get an attorney. She smiles bashfully. When he adjourns her case, Berta trots happily out of the courtroom seemingly unaware that she is, in the language of the court, a deportable alien." John Burnett in NPR.

Basically, the border crisis is a no-win situation for Obama. "Two Democrats from Texas representing two neighboring districts each containing hundreds of miles of the border. Two vastly different views of what Obama should do. In a way, it's a pretty perfect metaphor for the unhappy choices Obama faces when dealing with the influx of young illegal immigrants — many of them from Central America. Basically, anything Obama does will be second-guessed and will irritate lots of people. Including, apparently, members of his own party with lots of skin in the game." Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.

Long read: Immigration options vex the White House. Carrie Budoff Brown and Edward Isaac-Dovere in Politico.

What happens when deportation separates parents from their kids? "A new International Migration Review study shows that deported immigrants' desire to reunite with family can often trump the threat of enforcement and lead them to return to the US. That has pretty clear implications for enforcement policy toward unauthorized immigrants who are settled in the United States — especially parents of children who are US citizens. But does the study have any implications for the children and families who've been arriving in the United States from Central America in recent months? The short answer is that it's not clear, because it's not clear how much of a role family reunification plays in driving the current influx....There are definitely some people...who believe that family reunification is a big cause of the current crisis." Dara Lind in Vox.

Explainer: What's causing the crisis? Alan Greenblatt in NPR.

Other immigration reads:

Academics predict long wait for immigration overhaul. Alejandro Davila Fragoso in McClatchy Newspapers.

Boehner lawsuit may include immigration. Lauren French in Politico.

Immigrants sending money back home have fewer options. Kat Chow in NPR.

Economy slows, but doesn't stop, diversity trend. Tim Henderson in Pew Stateline.

CASSELMAN: Immigration is changing much more than the immigration debate. "The immigration debate, now as then, focuses primarily on illegal immigration from Latin America. Yet most new immigrants aren’t Latinos. Most Latinos aren’t immigrants. And, based on the best available evidence, there are fewer undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today than there were in 2007. Even the latest immigration crisis...represents a break from past patterns: The children are from Central America, not Mexico, and are primarily escaping violence in their home countries, rather than seeking jobs in the U.S. The immigration debate gets one thing right: The foreign-born population is growing." Ben Casselman in FiveThirtyEight.

AMBINDER: A great argument for immigration reform — that also kills it until 2016. "The situation actually argues for comprehensive reform — at least in a world where politics and political tribalism matter less. But we don't live in that world....Republicans will use this crisis to blame Obama's enforcement preferences and turn out anti-establishment midterm voters. Liberal groups will try to stop the White House from deporting the tens of thousands of children under any circumstances. One side might have a more moral case for their position than the other, but both will effectively close the casket until the next president's first term." Marc Ambinder in The Week.

Top opinion

SUNSTEIN: Let public officials work in private. "Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and John Cornyn of Texas, leaders of the Judiciary Committee, have long shown an admirable commitment to open government, and their recent bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act is winning a ton of praise. Some of its reforms make sense, but, unfortunately, its key provision is a horrible idea. By reducing the protection now given to deliberations within the executive branch, it would have a chilling effect on those discussions." Cass R. Sunstein in Bloomberg View.

FRAKT: Does contraceptive coverage pay for itself? Maybe not. "The Supreme Court took two actions on contraceptive coverage last week that have, appropriately, received considerable attention. But there’s a health economics question in the background that warrants some attention as well: Does contraceptive coverage pay for itself?...A fuller review of the literature on the cost and cost offsets of contraceptive coverage by Daniel Liebman, a colleague, finds that the evidence is thin that, from an insurer's perspective, contraceptive coverage pays for itself in the long term. Moreover, it almost certainly does not in the short." Austin Frakt in The New York Times.

CHAIT: Teachers unions turn against Democrats. "The Obama administration’s education reforms have been almost completely absent from the national political debate because neither Party has an incentive to talk about them. Republicans don’t want to admit that Obama has carried out policies — more charter schools and teacher accountability — that they have spent years endorsing. Democrats don’t want to call attention to an issue that alienates teachers unions, a core element of their base. And teachers unions themselves don’t want to force their own members to choose between the union's agenda and Obama's. But the unions are growing increasingly obstinate in their opposition of the sorts of accountability and pressure that Obama has helped bring upon them." Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine.

SULLIVAN: A challenge of reform conservatism. "It’s certainly possible, although unlikely, that a Republican could win the presidency in 2016. But what I’d look for in the meantime in the reformicon future is what contribution they could make in the last two years of the Obama presidency. If the GOP controls both Houses, the country might look to them for some legislative action that the president could sign onto. If the country sees signs of actual policy progress, affecting their actual lives, thanks to reform conservative ideas and a pragmatic liberal president, then the atmosphere could change. Alas, I see the likelihood of that, in our current context, and in the run-up to 2016, to be close to impossible." Andrew Sullivan in The Dish.

What just happened interlude: Bent paper clip reverts to its original form in water.

2. Time to get ready for another fight over government spending?

The spending/fiscal wars of yesteryear are back. "The result is that Washington seems headed for another bout of legislative gridlock as lawmakers prepare to spend most of the late summer and fall campaigning for reelection. It means that come October, it is increasingly likely that federal agencies will have to function for some portion of fiscal 2015 on auto­pilot, based on the previous year’s funding plans rather than on detailed new budgets. While the House continues to churn through its share of annual spending bills for the federal government, the Senate is mired in a procedural standoff directly related to the growing number of competitive races that will decide the chamber’s majority in the November elections." Paul Kane in The Washington Post.

Fiscal aside: It's the 40th anniversary of the Congressional Budget Act. Here's what it means. Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

As expected, EPA climate rules are being targeted by GOP in spending bills. "A House subcommittee approved legislation Wednesday that would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) funding by 9 percent while stopping the agency from finishing carbon pollution regulations for power plants. Republicans said the measure, which also funds the Interior Department and increases money to fight wildfires on federal land, made important fiscal decisions while preventing costly regulations." Timothy Cama in The Hill.

Background reading: Could GOP attacks on EPA climate rules trigger a government shutdown? Sahil Kapur in Talking Points Memo.

What's on the gridlocked Congress' to-do list before the recess? "Congress started July — its last full working month before the November election — with a full plate. But it may not have the appetite to handle it all. At the top of lawmakers' to-do list is passing at least temporary funding for the Highway Trust Fund, which helps finance major road projects throughout the country and is projected to run out of money by late August. Both chambers also need to advance a slate of government funding bills that must be passed by Sept. 30 to avert another government shutdown. Finally, there's the fight over whether to renew the Export-Import Bank and Obama's latest request for $3.7 billion in funds to address the border crisis." Michael A. Memoli in the Los Angeles Times.

Accomplishing something from nothing. "As recently as last week, President Obama sang the tune in response to a threatened House Republican lawsuit over his executive actions. 'As long as they're doing nothing, I'm not going to apologize for doing something,' he said. But...Republican lawmakers are doing...exactly what many of them promised voters they would do — push to roll back things like federal spending and regulations. Even some outside critics grudgingly admit that a conservative argument aimed at keeping the perceived expansion of government in check is — in fairness — doing something, even if that something is accomplished by seemingly doing nothing." Billy House in National Journal.

Here's one thing Congress did do: House passes job-training bill, clearing way for Obama's signature. Derek Wallbank in Bloomberg.

Charts: This Congress is historically good at not passing bills. Philip Bump in The Washington Post.

Remember that Senate fight over amendments? It's back. "Another bipartisan measure in the Senate is likely to blow up in procedural flames. It happened on a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill. And again on a bipartisan collection of tax breaks. More recently, a dispute over amendments has stalled the government funding process in the Senate. And on Wednesday, a bipartisan hunting and fishing bill was likely to meet the same fate." Seung Min Kim in Politico.

Analysis: What can Obama expect from his last Congress? David R. Mayhew and Matthew I. Bettinger in The Washington Post.

Republicans aren't the only ones divided over the Ex-Im Bank. "Democrats, who control the Senate, largely favor keeping alive the bank....But Democrats are debating whether to include a provision broadening Ex-Im's ability to extend credit to companies using U.S. equipment and other products in the building of coal-fired plants. The provision would overturn restrictions put in place by the Obama administration limiting the bank's financing for coal-fired plants to buyers in only the world's poorest countries." Susan Cornwell and Valerie Volcovici in Reuters.

Primary source: The Manchin-Kirk Export-Import Bank bill. The Hill.

No long-term highway funding measure is likely, but the House GOP's short-term measure may win by default. "The House Republican plan to prevent, through the middle of next year, the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund is drawing grumbles from both the left and the right, but there is increasing recognition that Congress has little choice but to enact it, or something like it. Resignation that passing a short-term extension is likely the only way to avoid an August shutdown of transportation projects across the country was on full display Wednesday, the eve of a markup of the new proposal in the House Ways and Means Committee." Emma Dumain and David Harrison in Roll Call.

Chart: How much does each state pay in gas tax? Hunter Schwarz in The Washington Post.

A policy agenda for the Cleveland convention. "In many ways, Cleveland embodies either policy challenges Republicans have said little about, or realities directly at odds with Republican party positions. In 2012, the party's platform included repeal of Obamacare. In Cleveland, however, the Medicaid expansion included in the law has been directly responsible for expanding access to about 40,000 low-income adults who were previously uninsured. The GOP platform has traditionally been heavy on gun rights; Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson...is pushing for stronger gun control. The city faces problems like HIV, for which abstinence education is a weak response, or crime, for which mandatory sentencing is an unimaginative one." Emily Badger in The Washington Post.

Analysis: Why the GOP's convention city choice matters. Ron Elving in NPR.

Other political reads:

Boehner disagrees with Palin on impeachment of Obama. Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.

Technology interlude: What happens when the Wi-Fi goes down.

3. Public-health problems you need to know about

Even our last-resort antibiotics are now in jeopardy of losing effectiveness. "The total doses of antibiotics sold in clinics and pharmacies around the world rose 36 percent from 2000 to 2010, scientists reported Wednesday. The finding, published in The Lancet Infectious Disease, comes from the first study to look at global antibiotic consumption in the 21st century. And it seems like good news, right?...But the world's insatiable need for penicillin and Cipro also has a dark side: the rise in drug-resistant bacteria. Now, even the last-resort antibiotics — the ones that are used after all others fail — are in jeopardy of losing their effectiveness." Michaeleen Doucleff in NPR.

The government's infectious-disease scare problem is getting contagious. "Congressional Republicans asked the Obama administration on Wednesday to provide documents related to last month's anthrax scare at a U.S. lab....CDC officials say live anthrax may have been transferred from the Atlanta facility to employees in a lower-security lab who were not wearing proper protective gear, raising concerns that they may have been exposed to the deadly pathogen. No one has shown symptoms. Officials initially believed as many as 84 people could have been exposed and scores have taken antibiotics to ward off infection." Reuters.

How did the government lose track of those smallpox vials? "In 2011, a deadly infection untreatable by nearly every antibiotic spread through the NIH clinical center but was not made public until a year later, when researchers published a scientific paper....NIH pledged to do better about informing local and state officials about high-profile diseases or outbreaks....In the case of the smallpox discovery, an NIH spokeswoman said the agency did not notify employees because the vials were secure and did not present a safety concern or threat....The FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are investigating how the smallpox samples were prepared and stored in the building." Lena H. Sun in The Washington Post.

Prices of vaccinations are soaring. "Vaccination prices have gone from single digits to sometimes triple digits in the last two decades....Some doctors have stopped offering immunizations because they say they cannot afford to buy these potentially lifesaving preventive treatments that insurers often reimburse poorly....Childhood immunizations are so vital to public health that the Affordable Care Act mandates their coverage at no out-of-pocket cost and they are generally required for school entry. Once a loss leader for manufacturers, because they are often more expensive to produce than conventional drugs, vaccines now can be very profitable." Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times.

Yes, vaccines are still safe. "Public health experts have taken a fresh look at the safety records of childhood vaccines and once again pronounced them safe. A systematic review published...by the journal Pediatrics notes some evidence of 'adverse effects' from 11 vaccines. But the authors of the 13-page report emphasize that such problems are 'extremely rare' and that the benefits of routine childhood immunizations far outweigh the risks....However, some parents falsely believe that these vaccines cause autism and other health problems, and they are opting out in increasing numbers." Karen Kaplan in the Los Angeles Times.

Don't forget about the public-health crisis at the border. "The agency, which handles refugee assistance programs, has avoided the spotlight in long-running HHS policy battles such as the 2010 health care overhaul, medical research priorities, and the FDA drug approval process. The White House supplemental spending request will likely seek funding for additional border control efforts and ACF children’s care and treatment services. Additionally, Georgia Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey on Monday requested an update on CDC disease monitoring activities at the border." Paul Jenks in Roll Call.

Adults without landlines are more likely to be smokers and heavy drinkers. "Undercounting wireless users can skew crucial health survey information....And, as it turns out, the NHIS has found several statistically significant differences between wireless-only and landline homes. Adults in wireless-only households are, for example, less likely to have received their flu shots and are more likely to have faced financial barriers to health care. They're also more likely to smoke and drink heavily. And those correlations stick even when researchers control for factors such as age, income level and home ownership status....That's not to suggest, he said, that going wireless-only is a risky behavior." Hayley Tsukayama in The Washington Post.

States have enacted fewer abortion restrictions this year. "Is the 'War on Women' coming to a cease-fire? Unlikely. But according to a new report, the number of abortion restrictions enacted by states is declining. Fewer laws limiting abortion access were passed in the first half of 2014 than by this point in any of the previous three years, according to new data from the Guttmacher Institute released Tuesday." Sophie Novack in National Journal.

Other health care reads:

9.5 million gained insurance through ACA marketplaces. Tony Pugh in McClatchy Newspapers.

Some generic drug prices are soaring. Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times.

House GOP still stuck on Obamacare replacement. Paige Winfield Cunningham in Politico.

Health insurers are trying new payment models. Reed Abelson in The New York Times.

The race is on to profit from the rise of urgent care. Julie Creswell in The New York Times.

Animals interlude: 50 viral cat videos in under 4 minutes.

4. Gay marriage is likely heading to the Supreme Court

Utah will appeal the overturn of its ban. But will SCOTUS hear the case? "Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on a challenge to his state’s gay marriage law...potentially setting up Kitchen v. Herbert to be the case that legalizes gay marriage nationally....Many LGBT advocates have become eager to get a case in front of the Supreme Court by next term, confident that there are likely five justices — and maybe even six — who would vote to legalize gay marriage as soon as the spring of 2015. But the court could choose not to take this case, or could wait and bundle it together with several of the other challenges." Edward-Isaac Dovere in Politico.

@SCOTUSblog: Corrected: SCOTUS will act on the Utah #ssm petition by late-2014, likely grant it, hear argument in March 2015, and rule (5-4) in June 2015

Other state attorneys general have disagreed on need to defend their states' bans. "Reyes’s office said it was his 'sworn duty' to defend the state’s ban no matter what, but several of his peers in other states have come to different conclusions. In March, for example, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (D) announced his office would no longer defend the state’s ban, arguing that a judge’s analysis in a recent court ruling convinced him that the state’s same-sex marriage ban would likely not survive in court....Conway was far from alone." Niraj Chokshi in The Washington Post.

U.S. district judge strikes down Colorado's same-sex marriage ban. "Judge C. Scott Crabtree pulled no punches in his 49-page ruling, saying the state's voter-approved ban 'bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government interest.' The ruling makes Colorado the latest in a string of 16 states that have seen their bans on same-sex marriages tossed out by state and federal judges." Jordan Steffen in The Denver Post.

Hobby Lobby prompts gay-rights advocates to abandon workplace non-discrimination bill. "The calls to rewrite the ­Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) mark a major setback for the White House, which had used Senate passage of the legislation last fall as a way to draw a contrast with House Republicans, who have refused to vote on the measure. The groups said they can no longer back ENDA as currently written in light of a decision...that Hobby Lobby and other closely held businesses do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage if it conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs." Ed O’Keefe in The Washington Post.

Related: Democrats seek to reverse Hobby Lobby contraception ruling with bill requiring employers to pay for contraception. Wesley Lowery in The Washington Post.

Faith, gay rights make tough marriage of Obama executive order. "Gay rights activists cheered when President Barack Obama announced that he’d sign a long-sought executive order prohibiting companies that do government work from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But after more than three weeks, the order still hasn’t been issued. And religious groups have seized on the unusual delay to aggressively lobby the White House to exclude faith-based institutions — such as universities, hospitals and nursing homes — from the executive order." Anita Kumar in McClatchy Newspapers.

Other legal reads:

Heroin is a major focus of White House's new drug strategy. Benjamin Goad in The Hill.

What will the FDA do about marijuana? Melissa Attias in Roll Call.

New gun-control fight brewing in the Senate. Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.

World Cup interlude: Referee hands out yellow cards in public for social violations.

5. What we learned from the Fed minutes

That the Fed will end bond-buying in October. "The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that it planned to stop adding to its bond holdings in October, in a sign of its confidence that the economy is gaining strength even as the central bank gradually withdraws its support. The decision...signals the end of one of the central bank’s most aggressive efforts to stimulate the economy. The Fed, which started reducing its monthly purchases in January, said it planned to add a final $100 billion to its holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities over the next four months, for a total of $1.5 trillion." Binyamin Appelbaum in The New York Times.

Primary source: The FOMC June meeting minutes.

Explainer: Fed minutes show path to exit becoming more concrete. Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.

More importantly, we still don't have a clear picture on 'reinvestments'... "There continues to be division over when the Fed should stop reinvesting proceeds of the $4.2 trillion in assets it purchased to support financial markets. Ending reinvestment will put the central bank's balance sheet on a declining path, and some members argue that should not take place until interest rates have been increased." Howard Schneider, Michael Flaherty and Jonathan Spicer in Reuters.

...but there are some ideas on how the Fed should raise rates. "Federal Reserve officials discussed...a starring role for a tool that pays banks interest for parking reserves at the central bank. Most Fed officials 'agreed that adjustments in the rate of interest on excess reserves…should play a central role' when it begins raising borrowing costs....The minutes suggested that Fed officials see their benchmark federal funds rate and other new facilities they're testing playing secondary and supportive roles in raising rates across the U.S. economy....The conversation described in the minutes doesn't signal an imminent shift in Fed policy." Michael S. Derby in The Wall Street Journal.

Senate easily approves Obama's HUD pick. "The Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Julián Castro as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development...putting him in charge of the agency as it grapples with a sluggish housing recovery and efforts in Congress to overhaul the nation’s housing finance system....Mr. Castro was praised as mayor for his efforts to revitalize San Antonio’s downtown district by attracting private investment. His mother once worked for the local housing authority." David S. Joachim in The New York Times.

Other economic/financial reads:

U.S. port import volume surges on union talks. Caelainn Barr in Bloomberg.

Banks may lose $4.5 billion a year from swaps shift. Matthew Leising in Bloomberg.

Chinese lead the way as foreigners step up purchases of housing. Nick Timiraos in The Wall Street Journal.

Skills shortage means many jobs go unfilled. Sarah E. Needleman in The Wall Street Journal.

Inspiring interlude: 25 inspiring pictures of dogs before and after their rescue.

Wonkblog roundup

Some proposed topics for Republican discussion at the national convention in Cleveland. Emily Badger.

What big data could do for health care. Jason Millman.

Adolescent screen time, in four charts. Lenny Bernstein.

Jeremy Stein: The exclusive exit interview. Ylan Q. Mui.

Fed minutes show path to exit becoming more concrete. Ylan Q. Mui.

7 papers, 4 government inquiries, 2 news investigations and 1 court ruling proving voter fraud is mostly a myth. Christopher Ingraham.

Yet another measure of American mediocrity: Financial literacy. Roberto A. Ferdman.

Are America’s biggest alcohol brands targeting the country’s underage youth? Roberto A. Ferdman.

A senator’s plan to save the G.O.P. from itself (and for you to make more babies). Max Ehrenfreund.

Why the decline in marriage among first-time mothers matters for their children. Emily Badger.

Et Cetera

Sen. McCaskill finds colleges failing on sexual assaults. Caitlin Emma in Politico.

Nebraska court’s schedule on pipeline suit takes heat off Obama until after elections. Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.

U.S., China take cautious steps toward bilateral cooperation on climate. Maria Gallucci in International Business Times.

Patent reform fight ends in retreat — for now. Dan D’Ambrosio in USA Today.

Agencies accused of spying on Muslim-Americans back on the defensive. Siobhan Gorman and Felicia Schwartz in The Wall Street Journal.

Ranchers making most of USDA disaster relief program. Henry C. Jackson in the Associated Press.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail us.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.

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