THIS WEEK IN REVIEW: Monday, Feb. 26th – Friday, Mar. 2nd

THIS WEEK IN REVIEW: Monday, Feb. 26th – Friday, Mar. 2nd

Not surprisingly, gun control remained a hot topic on the Hill this week. What was surprising, though, was President Trump’s announcement of apparent support for the expansion of background checks and raising the age limit to purchase guns. He went on to describe his relative independence from the political influence of the NRA, at least compared to his fellow Republicans in Congress.

Representatives from both sides of the aisle were active in proposing new gun control legislation. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), announced a plan for school safety and increased background checks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), meanwhile, announced an alternative plan, which would include a ban on assault weapons and semi-automatic rifles. Both political parties appear to be supportive of the Fix National Instant Background Check System (NICS) agenda—an effort to ensure criminal records are central in the background check system. With so much conversation on the gun regulation front, keep track of potential legislative actions here.

Elsewhere in the Senate, a bipartisan bill was introduced which would add several policy changes to help fight the opioid epidemic. The bill includes changes to the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) bill that was passed back in 2016 including expanding funding in areas such as education and training and increasing surveillance on physicians and pharmacists. In addition to this new bill, the FDA announced on Saturday a plan to expand medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in order to provide greater access to treatment options for opioid addiction. Additional guidelines from the FDA are expected in the coming weeks.

Also of note on the opioid front, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a new task force to crack down on a range of illegal practices by manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and providers, in an effort to stem the tide on the epidemic. This move directly aims to address the supply-side of the opioid crisis, but state leaders continue to ask for help on the demand-side, including investment in more prevention and treatment.

Earlier this week, 20 conservative states filed the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—a lawsuit led by the Attorneys General of Texas and Wisconsin. Filing their suit in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas, the states contend that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s elimination of the tax penalty for the individual mandate renders the remainder of the law unconstitutional. It will take quite a while to see how far this challenge goes, but—should it go to the Supreme Court for adjudication—this could end up the fifth challenge to the ACA heard by the nation’s highest court.

On that note, we’ll close with a new Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll that shows that the ACA is now more popular than ever. This new peak in popularity—with 54 percent of Americans holding favorable views of the law—comes despite the GOP-led Congress’ recent repeal of the individual mandate. Interestingly, the poll also found that only a minority of Americans actually knew that the individual mandate has been repealed.

The upshot is that you guys know that it was repealed—maybe even because you read it on Viewpoints (boom!). Go forth and bear the news to all who will listen. Engage the citizenry! Call the people to action! That, and have a great weekend!

Student Contributors on this Article:
Marissa Alvarez, Chad Fletcher, Shaina Haque, Virginia Wright