The judges aggressively questioned both sides: Trump’s lawyers on what evidence the president used to come up with his policy, and the lawyers challenging the order on whether a lower-court judge’s freeze on the ban was too broad.
A decision is expected this week. As our colleagues wrote, the issue is “likely to end up at the Supreme Court. But it will be harder for the Trump administration to prevail at the high court if the appeals court rules that a nationwide halt is warranted.”
Army to grant final Dakota Access permit
Looks like another campaign promise will soon be in the bag for Trump.
Army officials indicated Tuesday they will grant the final permit needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline, scrapping plans to prepare an environmental-impact statement on how the project would affect land and water along its 1,170-mile route from western North Dakota to the Midwest.
The decision comes despite continued opposition from environmental activists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who argue that the pipeline will disturb the environment and ancient burial grounds. The Trump administration sees the pipeline as an important component of its domestic energy and infrastructure agenda.
The Army’s decision, which clears the last bureaucratic hurdle for the project, could lead to new confrontations between activists and law enforcement at key construction points, including at North Dakota’s Lake Oahe. As our colleagues wrote, “While tribal leaders have urged their supporters to go home as the weather worsens, a few hundred protesters have remained. Last week, authorities arrested 74 activists who had decamped from the tribal reservation to land owned by Energy Transfer Partners.”
DeVos confirmed, Sessions on his way
The latest on Betsy DeVos? She got by with a little help from Mike Pence.
The new U.S. secretary of education was confirmed by the Senate in a historic vote of 51 to 50 on Tuesday, with Vice President Pence providing the tiebreaker. Democrats had spent the previous 24 hours on the Senate floor protesting her nomination, but they ultimately failed to produce the one additional “nay” vote needed to block DeVos from Trump’s Cabinet.
A few minutes later, the Senate voted to invoke cloture — or limit debate — on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general, setting up his final confirmation vote for later in the week. In the end, only one Democrat joined Republicans in voting to advance the nomination: Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.).
It’s getting heated ahead of that final vote on Sessions. On Tuesday night, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) of impugning Sessions’s motives as she criticized him during a speech on the Senate floor. McConnell reprimanded her by setting up a series of roll-call votes on her conduct.
Warren, who is now forbidden to speak on the floor for the rest of the debate over Sessions’s nomination, responded later on Twitter:
As a quick recap, here’s where things stand for Trump’s nominees: seven have been confirmed, 11 are waiting for final votes on the Senate floor, and three still are waiting to testify at initial committee hearings.
Keep up with the full confirmation schedule here.
Trump exaggerates U.S. murder rate, again
It is no secret that Trump sometimes struggles with facts. But there is one area where you can almost count on him to misstate what is real: the U.S. murder rate.
This happened on Tuesday as the president met with members of the National Sheriffs’ Association. He falsely stated, as he has in the past, that the rate is “the highest it’s been in 47 years.”
As our colleague wrote, the country’s murder rate is “not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI, which gathers statistics every year from police departments around the country.”
Follow the author @eliseviebeck.