The U.S. at a glance ...
Sanctuary city fight:
San Francisco filed a lawsuit this week challenging President Trump’s executive order to strip so-called sanctuary cities of federal funding— arguing that Trump’s measure was unconstitutional and “un- American.” Trump’s order, signed last week, targets more than 400 cities and counties nationwide that have adopted policies protecting the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The order instructs the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to withhold “federal funds, except as mandated by law,” from those communities. In San Francisco, where police are prohibited from giving certain information about undocumented immigrants to federal immigration officers, that federal money amounts to $1.2 billion in health-care and nutrition funding and other grants, say city officials. New York City, Chicago, and other sanctuary jurisdictions have also vowed to fight the order.
Transgender Scouts: Breaking with more than 100 years of tradition, the Boy Scouts of America this week announced it would accept members based on their gender identity—allowing transgender boys to join the organization for the first time. Until now, the 2.3 million–strong group has accepted members based only on the gender listed on a birth certificate. “That approach is no longer sufficient,” the organization said in a statement. Boy Scouts groups will now accept members based on the gender stated on their application forms. The announcement came months after an 8-year-old transgender boy in Secaucus, N.J., said he was expelled from his local Cub Scout pack, following complaints from other boys’ parents. The decision was the latest of several LGBT policy changes by the Scouts, which has also recently lifted bans on gay youth members and pack leaders.
Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, S.D.
Pipeline decision near? The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been ordered to approve the controversial final section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, two Republican lawmakers claimed this week. Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer, both of North Dakota, said the acting secretary of the Army had told the corps to grant an easement so that the 1,172-mile pipeline could run under Lake Oahe, located half a mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Standing Rock members say the pipeline threatens their water supply, and they mounted a months-long protest that drew thousands of tribal members and environmentalists last year. Former President Barack Obama ordered the corps to look elsewhere for the pipeline’s final segment, but President Trump has signed a memo instructing the agency to approve the section “in an expedited manner.”
Emmett Till revelation: The woman at the center of the notorious 1955 Emmett Till lynching now admits she made up claims that Till made physical and verbal advances toward her, a historian revealed this week. Till was 14 years old and visiting relatives in Money, Miss., when he was killed for allegedly whistling at Carolyn Bryant, a 21-year-old white woman. Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, were accused of kidnapping Till, torturing him, and shooting him in the head. During Bryant and Milam’s murder trial, Carolyn Bryant testified that Till had grabbed her and made vulgar claims about being with white women. Bryant and Milam were acquitted by a jury after little more than an hour. But in a 2007 interview with historian Timothy Tyson, who has just published a book on the case, Bryant confessed that her testimony “wasn’t true,” adding “nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
Obamacare woes: Republican lawmakers were caught on tape last week fretting about the political and economic costs of repealing the Affordable Care Act, in a secret recording made during a GOP policy retreat in Philadelphia. In the tape, leaked to The Washington Post, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) can be heard warning his colleagues that one of the GOP’s Obamacare alternatives, a refundable tax credit, would not make policies affordable for middle-class families. Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.) said Republicans were “walking into a gigantic political trap” by proposing to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, while Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) told his colleagues to tread carefully—saying that the health-care market they create will be called “Trumpcare,” and “Republicans will own that lock, stock, and barrel.” Organizers said the tape was made by an “unauthorized person” who pretended to be a lawmaker’s wife, and said the U.S. Capitol Police were investigating.
Cabinet battle: Senate Republicans took the rare step this week of suspending committee rules to advance the nominations of two of President Trump’s Cabinet picks, after Democrats boycotted votes for two days. GOP lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee hoped to vote on Trump’s Treasury secretary nominee, Steve Mnuchin, and Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), so that the nominations could proceed to the full Senate. But committee rules require the attendance of at least one member of each party for a vote, and Democrats refused to attend— accusing Mnuchin of misleading lawmakers about his bank’s use of robosigning in home foreclosures, and claiming that Price wasn’t honest about receiving discounted stock in a biotech firm. Calling Democrats “pathetic,” committee chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suspended the rules. All 14 Republicans in the room then voted to advance the nominations.