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February 16, 2017
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On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings on legislation to "modernize" the Endangered Species Act, part of a push by Republicans to roll back environmental regulations and protections. The Republicans on the committee, led by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and three of the five witnesses at the hearing argued that the 1973 law to keep animal species from extinction impedes oil drilling, mining, and farming, and infringes on the rights of states and private landowners. The proposed legislation would make it harder to list animals on the endangered species list and limit legal action under the 1973 law, among other changes.

Barrassso painted the bill as a way to cut "red tape," while Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the Endangered Species Act makes it too hard to take animals off the list, arguing that only 50 of the 1,600 species listed as endangered or threatened have been removed. Jamie Rappaport Clark, head of the conservation nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, testified that the Obama administration removed 29 species from the endangered list in eight years, in a sign that the law is working. "For more than 40 years, the ESA has been successful, bringing the bald eagle, the American alligator, the Stellar sea lion, the peregrine falcon, and numerous other species back from the brink of extinction," she said. "Based on data from the (Fish and Wildlife Service), the ESA has saved 99 percent of listed species from extinction."

There's a parallel push to scale back the Endangered Species Act in the House — House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) wants to repeal it entirely, arguing that "it has never been used for the rehabilitation of species" but instead has "been used to control the land." On Wednesday night's Full Frontal, Samantha Bee was puzzled at the constituency for killing the Endangered Species Act. "The vast majority of Americans support wildlife protection," she said, citing a Defenders of Wildlife poll showing 84 percent support for the law (an American Farm Bureau Federation poll was more nuanced.) "'Animals are awesome' is the only safe topic of conversation most American families have left. Left-right, old-young, black-white, Americans agree: Four legs, good."

President Trump, who has already delayed adding an endangered bumblebee to the endangered species list, is expected to sign any legislation that comes to his desk. Peter Weber

10:26 p.m. ET
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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will be back in the Senate on Tuesday, his office announced Monday.

McCain shared last week that he has been diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer, and was at home in Arizona, recovering from surgery. In a statement, his office said McCain "looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea."

McCain had surgery on July 14 to remove a blood clot above his left eye, and "subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot," the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix said in a statement last week. The hospital said McCain and his family were discussing additional treatment options. Catherine Garcia

9:57 p.m. ET
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For anyone at the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree who managed to miss the 2016 presidential election, they heard all about it on Monday, when President Trump shared his version of events to the crowd of more than 35,000.

He psyched them out, sarcastically starting off his speech by asking, "Who the hell wants to talk about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts?" He answered his own question by immediately bringing up "that famous night on television," the electoral college votes he won, his decision to visit Maine as a candidate, what the mood was in Wisconsin, and so on and so forth. He did briefly stray at one point, declaring that "under the Trump administration, you'll be saying 'Merry Christmas' again when you go shopping."

Trump, who was never a Boy Scout, managed to get the crowd to boo former President Barack Obama, who was a Boy Scout, by saying Obama never visited the Jamboree when he was president (The Hill reports he recorded a video for the event in 2010), and appeared to — jokingly? — threaten Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price's job, telling him onstage that if he couldn't get enough votes to pass the Senate's bill to repeal ObamaCare, he would fire him, Time reports. Catherine Garcia

8:59 p.m. ET
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President Trump has publicly rebuked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and privately, he's been talking with advisers about the possibility of replacing him, people familiar with the discussions told The Washington Post Monday.

They are contemplating several different scenarios, including what to do if he were to resign or be fired, the Post reports. Trump has been very vocal about his frustration with Sessions, telling The New York Times that had he known that Sessions was going to recuse himself in March from the investigation into the Trump campaign possibly working with Russian officials before the 2016 presidential election, he never would have picked him as his attorney general.

Some Trump associates say he is gunning to replace Sessions so he can fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who took over the Russia probe after Sessions recused himself and he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He could either order Rosenstein, and then Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, to fire Mueller, or he could select an attorney general during August recess, University of Texas School of Law Prof. Steve Vladeck told the Post. That person would serve until early January, the end of the next Senate session, Vladeck said, and would have the same authority as a person confirmed by the Senate. Two names that have come up during discussions on replacing Sessions are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who on Monday scoffed at the idea.

In happier times, Trump and Sessions wore matching "Make America Great Again" hats and bonded over their hardline immigration stances, but now, their fellow Republicans are recommending they go to couples therapy — new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN Monday Trump and Sessions need to "sit down face-to-face and have a reconciliation and a discussion of the future." Catherine Garcia

7:34 p.m. ET
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet voted on Monday to remove metal detectors installed at the al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, but Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, the mosque's director, said that's not enough to please Muslim worshippers who also want security cameras to come down, Al Jazeera reports.

The metal detectors were installed at entry points to the mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site, after two police officers were shot and killed there on July 14. The new security measures sparked protests and clashes between Palestinians and security forces, with at least five Palestinians killed and hundreds more injured. Catherine Garcia

6:50 p.m. ET
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Nearly a dozen immigrants being smuggled into the United States died Sunday after being transported from Laredo, Texas, to San Antonio in a tractor-trailer without any air conditioning, and survivors are recounting the extreme heat and cries for help that went unanswered by the driver.

Adan Lalravega, 27, told The Associated Press the trailer was crowded with people, and as the trip dragged on, the temperature kept getting higher and higher. Adults and children were crying and begging for water, and Lalravega said he lost consciousness before arriving in San Antonio. Other survivors told authorities there was one hole in the wall of the trailer, and people were taking turns breathing out of it. They also pounded on the sides of the trailer, yelling at the driver to stop, but he didn't.

Relief came when the driver, James Matthew Bradley, stopped the truck at a Walmart in San Antonio at around midnight. Bradley told authorities he was driving the truck from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas, on behalf of his boss, who had sold it. Bradley said he heard banging and shaking in the trailer, court records show, but he had no idea there was anyone back there, and was surprised when people came jumping out. He also said he knew the refrigeration system wasn't working, and ventilation holes were likely clogged. Bradley, who appeared in federal court Monday on charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain resulting in death, could face the death penalty.

At least 20 passengers have been hospitalized for heatstroke and extreme dehydration. Most are from Mexico and Guatemala, and one said he traveled to the U.S. by raft, then was driven to Laredo, where he was put in the trailer. He was supposed to pay $5,500 to smugglers when he arrived in San Antonio. Catherine Garcia

4:39 p.m. ET
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Some employees of a Wisconsin vending machine company will be able to purchase food with the wave of a hand. Three Square Market announced over the weekend that it plans to implant RFID (Radio Frequency ID) microchips into the hands of willing employees. The chips are as small as a grain of rice and would essentially replace key cards, credit cards, and phone apps.

Implanted between the thumb and forefinger, the microchips would be able to unlock doors, pay for break room snacks, serve as business cards, and store medical information. Three Square Market expects at least 50 employees to voluntarily undergo the $300 procedure, for which the company will pick up the tab. The implanting will begin as soon as Aug. 1.

Three Square Market specializes in corporate vending machines it calls "micro markets," though its parent company, TW Vending, distributes supplies to jails and prisons, Fast Company notes. TW Vending's stock includes machines similar to the microchip-activated ones Three Square Market offers. "Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.," Todd Westby, the CEO of Three Square Market, wrote in a blog post. The company is claiming to be the first in the U.S. to implant these chips into employees. Elianna Spitzer

4:13 p.m. ET

In a speech ahead of Senate Republicans' Tuesday vote on health care, President Trump on Monday declared that ObamaCare "is death." "[Democrats] run out, they say, 'death, death, death,'" Trump said, referring to Democrats' concerns about Republicans' health-care plans. "Well, ObamaCare is death. That's the one that's death."

Trump urged Senate Republicans to fulfill their longstanding promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare, pushing specifically for a plan that replaces the health law immediately. "So far, Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the ObamaCare nightmare," Trump said. He warned that "any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the ObamaCare nightmare."

Though Senate Republicans have confirmed a health-care vote for Tuesday afternoon, it's not yet clear even to senators which bill they will debate or whether there will be enough votes for the effort to succeed. Becca Stanek

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