Here’s where things stand heading into Day 47 of the Trump administration:
Is Trump’s new executive order on immigration a Muslim ban?
The answer depends on whom you ask — but that is the question that is expected to animate legal wrangling over the new policy unveiled Tuesday as a replacement for Trump’s original ban, which was suspended in federal court.
Here are some of the basics. The new policy, set to go into effect in less than two weeks, will:
- Impose a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries
- Bar entry to refugees from around the world for 120 days
- Cap the total number of refugees accepted per year at 50,000, down from 110,000 under the Obama administration
- Allow certain groups of people to apply for waivers to the order, including those with significant work obligations
Some readers may remember that the original ban barred entry to people from seven — not six — Muslim-majority countries. In the new version, Iraq was left off the list, which now comprises Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Democrats and civil liberties groups argued that the policy remains a thinly veiled Muslim ban. Trump’s language in an email to supporters Monday didn’t help counteract this view: He used the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe his concerns with those six countries.
The administration said the policy is necessary as a “pause” so that officials can review how the system vets people trying to enter the United States.
EARLY QUESTIONS FOR OBAMACARE REPLACEMENT BILL
After seven years, House Republicans have finally released their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Yet even now, the most difficult part of the process lies ahead: It remains unclear whether the bill can pass the Senate and whether it will be acceptable to Trump, who has promised “insurance for everybody” under the new system.
The legislation would get rid of the ACA’s requirement that most Americans carry health insurance, although people who go without coverage for two months or more would still face a penalty in the form of a temporary surcharge on their premiums.
The Republicans’ proposal would create a system of tax credits designed to encourage people to buy health plans. Notably, it would also start to wind down the ACA’s expansion of the Medicaid program for lower-income people in three years.
That’s part of what is troubling a group of four Republican senators, who said Monday they would oppose a plan that doesn’t protect people who became eligible for Medicaid under the ACA’s expansion.
If all four of those senators oppose the bill when it goes to the upper chamber, it will fail to pass.
The plan emerged Monday without an assessment of how it would affect federal spending and the total number of people with health insurance — factors that will be vital for conservative and moderate Republicans, respectively, as they decide how to vote.
LETTING THE TWEET SPEAK FOR ITSELF
We already know that President Trump doubles down when he’s attacked.
Now it’s clear that the White House is following his example.
Trump’s staff on Monday did not try to back away from his provocative, unfounded claim from the weekend that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before the November election.
In fact, the White House repeated and attempted to defend Trump’s Twitter allegation while providing no supporting evidence.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer, repeating calls for Congress to investigate, said there was “no question that something happened.”
“I’m just going to let the tweet speak for itself,” Spicer told reporters. “I think the president speaks very candidly.”
Since Trump posted his tweetstorm Saturday morning, neither he nor his aides have provided concrete facts to back up the assertion about wiretapping.
Spicer declined to say whether the claim was based on anything more than conservative talk-radio chatter and a Breitbart News article that had circulated among White House staff.
He argued that Trump’s accusations are supported by media reports, although a list of articles provided by the White House contained no such evidence.
It was clear that Trump’s team had prepared for a day of negative coverage. The White House “went largely dark on Monday,” our colleagues wrote, with Trump holding no public events and signing his new executive order on immigration without reporters present.
Follow the author @eliseviebeck.