- President Donald Trump invoked a Korean War-era law Wednesday morning, which will allow the private sector to ramp-up production and distribution of emergency supplies and equipment like masks, ventilators, and respirators.
- The move comes as multiple governors have said the federal government isn’t doing enough to help states.
- It also comes after Trump told governors on Monday to see if they can try to find medical supplies and equipment on their own, though he did say the federal government is “backing you.”
Trump Invokes War-Era Law
After repeated calls of inaction by multiple governors, President Donald Trump announced he is invoking the Defense Production Act, which will allow the private sector to ramp-up production and distribution of emergency supplies and equipment like masks, ventilators, and respirators.
The act, which Trump announced at a White House press briefing on Wednesday, was first invoked during the Korean War and has been re-invoked more than 50 times since.
Alongside that act, Trump announced several other measures Wednesday:
- Trump has activated FEMA at Level 1, which is its highest level.
- His administration has dispatched two military hospital ships, which are now headed to New York City and the West Coast (however, those ships will likely not be deployed for another two weeks).
- Housing and Urban Development has been told to suspend all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.
- Health and Human Services are suspending regulations that prevent medical professionals from practicing across state lines. It is also calling the nation to postpone all elective medical procedures.
Before the press conference this morning, Trump announced that he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have mutually agreed to close the U.S.-Canada border.
Notably, that will not affect trade, and the border will still be open for essential traffic.
This announcement comes after Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that he was closing the border, though at the time, the U.S. had been exempt.
Also on Wednesday, the Treasury Department laid out the details for a $1 trillion stimulus package Trump wants to Congress to pass. That would notably include relief checks for Americans that could be sent out as soon as April 6.
Trump Criticizes Michigan and New York Governors in Tweets
Trump’s invocation comes after a series of spats between him and several governors. Several of those arguments came after Trump met with U.S. governors via a conference call on Monday.
In that call, multiple governors reportedly asked for more federal support, but according to The New York Times, Trump then told them, “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”
Also according to The Times, New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham then told Trump in that call, “If one state doesn’t get the resources and materials they need, the entire nation continues to be at risk.”
Grisham reportedly went on to say that the federal government was impeding states’ abilities to respond to the virus, as well as creating a situation where states are competing against one another for the needed products.
After that conference call, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the federal government had been “behind from day one of this crisis,” calling the administration’s response “inexcusable.”
On Tuesday morning, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer criticized Trump’s response in an interview with MSNBC.
“To hear the leader of the federal government tell us to work around the federal government cause it’s too slow is just, it’s kind of mind-boggling to be honest. We are pulling out all the stops here in Michigan,” she said. “But we need the federal government to work. We need respirators and ventilators and personal protection equipment. We need more test kits and the resources to process those test kits.”
Some governors have supported the president’s recommendation and even tried to clarify it. In fact, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Trump was telling them to “cut out the federal bureaucracy and potentially get it quicker. What he was saying was sensible.”
Trump’s War of Words With Governors
With criticism from those governor’s, however, Trump has unexpectedly fought back.
Monday afternoon, after Cuomo made his comments calling the response “inexcusable,” Trump then said on Twitter: “Cuomo of New York has to “do more”.
Following that, Cuomo responded, “I have to do more? No — YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.”
Tuesday morning, Trump then took another swing at Cuomo, telling the governor to “…keep politics out of it….”
The two seemingly reconciled later Tuesday and now they are trying to work together more amicably. Cuomo told reporters “put [his] hand out in partnership.”
“There’s no time for” hyper-partisan politicking right now,” Cuomo told reporters after saying he put his hand out in partnership. “The president is doing the right thing in offering to step up with New York, and I appreciate it.”
In turn, Trump then said, “…we had a really good talk this morning. We’re both doing a really good job.”
Trump, however, did not stop at Cuomo. Shortly after saying Cuomo needs to do more on Twitter, Trump called Whitmer a “Failing Michigan Governor.”
About an hour later, Whitmer responded with a list of actions she has put into place since the coronavirus outbreak in her state., including ensuring Medicaid waiver for copays and cost-sharing for testing, declaring a State of Emergency, closing all K-12 schools, restricting entry into care facilities and juvenile justice facilities, enhancing restrictions on price gouging, and expanding unemployment benefits.
“Ironically, he made my point that [the federal government is] not taking this as seriously as they need to,” Whitmer told The New York Times, also saying Trump had been “watching TV.”
Concerns That Trump Isn’t Taking the Coronavirus Seriously
Although Trump has called for unity and told people to keep partisan politics out of the coronavirus outbreak, it is unsurprising to see him and Democrats fighting on Twitter.
However, many politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns over how Trump has been treating this pandemic.
Many have pointed to Trump’s language regarding the outbreak. In January, he said, “We have it totally under control. It’s going to be just fine. ” In February, he said the virus would hopefully go away once the weather warms. On March 15, he said, This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.”
They’ve then compared that to Trump’s language on Tuesday, when he said, “I’ve always known this is a real— this is a pandemic … I’ve felt that it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
But the fact does remain that Trump has become increasingly serious about the outbreak in the U.S. In fact, because of that, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said, “His messaging sounds a lot more like the way I’ve been talking and some of my colleagues have been talking about it for weeks.”
Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge also commented on the difference in Trump’s tone, saying, “I’d want to take a clue from my governors. It seems that message has finally caught up with the White House.”
How Has Trump Acted More Seriously?
Trump announced Tuesday that he was making a commitment to a “whole of government” process.
“We are starting the process,” he said at a White House press briefing of working with New York. “The state is working on it very hard themselves, but we’ll probably supplement what they’re doing.”
That, of course, comes after the situation with ventilators, but also after the mayor of Seattle, which is one of the hardest-hit areas, asked for “mass tents” to rapidly build shelters. It also follows New York asking for days for the Army Corps of Engineers to quickly build hospitals.
Tuesday night, the Army Corps of Engineers finally said it will work with New York to find more hospital beds.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper also announced the Pentagon will give up to 5 million masks to protect health care workers and vulnerable people. Esper said the first million would be made available immediately.
And while it’s expected to fall way short of the number needed, the Pentagon has also made available 2,000 ventilators for hospitals.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said that he now expects the Department of Defense to help provide resources “that could help bolster new medical hospitals.”
Also, following that aforementioned conference call, New Mexico Governor Grisham said that Pence had pledged to work with her to increase New Mexico’s supply needs.
Supreme Court Rejects Third Challenge to Affordable Care Act
In the 7-2 decision, the justices argued the Republican-led states that brought the challenge forth failed to show how the law caused injury and thus had no legal standing.
SCOTUS Issues Opinion on Individual Mandate
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the third Republican-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act to ever reach the high court.
The issue at hand was the provision of the law, commonly known as Obamacare, that requires people to either purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty: the so-called individual mandate.
The individual mandate has been one of the most controversial parts of Obamacare and it has already been before SCOTUS, which upheld the provision in 2012 on the grounds that it amounted to a tax and thus fell under Congress’ taxing power.
However, as part of the sweeping 2017 tax bill, the Republican-held Congress set the penalty for not having health care to $0. As a result, a group of Republican-led states headed by Texas sued, arguing that because their GOP colleagues made the mandate zero dollars, it no longer raised revenues and could not be considered a tax, thus making it unconstitutional.
The states also argued that the individual mandate is such a key part of Obamacare that it could not be separated without getting rid of the entire law.
The Supreme Court, however, rejected that argument in a 7-2 decision, with Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissenting.
Majority Opinion Finds No Injury
In the majority decision, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the Republican states had no grounds to sue because they could not show how they were harmed by their own colleagues zeroing out the penalty.
“There is no possible government action that is causally connected to the plaintiffs’ injury — the costs of purchasing health insurance,” he wrote, adding that the states “have not demonstrated that an unenforceable mandate will cause their residents to enroll in valuable benefits programs that they would otherwise forgo.”
Breyer also argued that because of this, the court did not need to decide on the broader issue of whether the 2017 tax bill rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional and if that provision could be separated from the ACA.
The highly anticipated decision will officially keep Obamacare as the law of the land, ensuring that the roughly 20 million people enrolled still have health insurance. While there may be other challenges to the law hard-fought by conservatives, this latest ruling sends a key signal about the limits of the Republican efforts to achieve their agenda through the high court, even with the strong conservative majority.
While the court has now struck down challenges to Obamacare three times, Thursday’s decision marked the largest margin of victory of all three challenges to the ACA.
For now, the ACA appears to be fairly insulated from legal challenges, though it will still likely face more. In a tweet following the SCOTUS decision, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) vowed to keep fighting Obamacare, adding that the individual mandate “was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional.”
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Washington Post) (The Associated Press)
Utah Student With Down Syndrome Left Out of Cheer Squad’s Yearbook Photo
The move marks the second time in three years that Morgyn Arnold has been left out of the school’s yearbook. Two years ago, it failed to include her in the class list.
Two Photos Take, One Without Morgyn Arnold
A Utah school has apologized after a student with Down syndrome at Shoreline Junior High was excluded from her cheerleading squad’s yearbook photo.
The squad took two official team portraits this year. The first included 14-year-old Morgyn Arnold, who had been working as the team manager but attended practices and cheered alongside her other teammates at every home game. The second imsgr did not include her and ended up being the photo the school used across social media and in its yearbook.
Arnold was heartbroken by the decision and her family believed it was made because of her disability.
In social media posts about the move, Arnold’s sister, Jordyn Poll, noted that Arnold “spent hours learning dances, showing up to games, and cheering on her school and friends but was left out.”
“I hope that no one ever has to experience the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes home from school devastated and shows them that they’re not in the picture with their team,” she continued.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Poll also said this marked the second time in three years that her sister has been left out of the yearbook. Two years ago, the school failed to include her in the class list.
School Apologizes After Backlash
After Poll’s public call out picked up attention, the school said it was “deeply saddened by the mistake.”
“Apologies have been made to the family, and we sincerely apologize to all others impacted by this error,” it added. “We are continuing to look at what has occurred, and to improve our practice.”
The district issued a similar statement, claiming it was looking into why this occurred to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
But Poll said this isn’t the same response her family received when they initially contacted school administrators. Instead, Poll told the Tribune that an employee at the school “blatantly said they didn’t know what we were expecting of them and there was nothing they could do.”
The school has since contacted them again “to make the situation right.”
Meanwhile, Poll stressed that her sister’s teammates had nothing to do with the decision, defending the girls as amazing friends who have done everything to make Arnold feel included.
In fact, they too were disappointed to see that she was not featured in the image or even named as a member of the team in the yearbook.
Arnold’s family decided to speak up about the issue so that this school and others can improve the ways they interact with and include students with disabilities. Different forms of exclusion happen at schools across the country, and this story has prompted other parents of kids with disabilities to share similar experiences.
This kind of thing happens all the time. I can't count the number of times our son has been excluded, or nearly excluded, from events and pictures and related social activities in his 8 years of school. I know this fury.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
A staff attorney at the Disability Law Center of Utah told the Tribune that it receives about 4,000 complaints each year. Some complaints stemmed from students with disabilities being separated into other classrooms without their peers. Others include name-calling or not allowing students on a team or in a club.
Thankfully, Arnold has not let this situation bring her down. According to her family, she has already forgiven everyone involved and plans to continue cheering alongside her friends.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Salt Lake Tribune) (NBC News)
Ex-Shake Shack Manager Sues NYPD Over False Milkshake Poisoning Allegations
The former manager is accusing the police department and its unions of false arrest and defamation relating to the viral incident last summer.
Former Shack Shack Employee Sues One Year Later
The former manager of a New York City Shake Shack restaurant who was falsely accused of poisoning several law enforcement officers’ milkshakes last summer is now suing the city’s police department, its unions, and individual officers.
On June 15, 2020, three officers monitoring the anti-racism protests in Lower Manhattan entered a Shake Shack location for milkshakes, which they later claimed had been poisoned, likely by bleach.
By the end of the night, investigators determined that no one had tampered with the drinks, and the New York Police Department declared there was “no criminality.” Police later said the officers were possibly sickened by a cleaning solution that had not been properly cleaned out of the machines, though Shake Shack claimed it did not find leaks of any foreign substances.
Before that lack of criminality was determined and while the inquiry was ongoing, the police unions and their leaders accused the Shake Shack workers of launching a targeted attack in a series of tweets, which were then shared and discussed widely on social media by prominent conservatives.
The resulting outcome was widespread condemnation and deleting of tweets. Now, almost exactly a year later, the former manager of that Shake Shack, Marcus Gilliam, has accused the parties involved of false arrest and defamation.
According to his lawsuit, the three officers — who are referred to as Officers Strawberry Shake, Vanilla Shake, and Cherry Shake — ordered the drinks via mobile app, meaning the employees could not have known cops placed the order.
Additionally, the documents state the order was “already packaged and waiting for pickup” when the officers arrived, making it impossible for Gilliam or any other employee to have added anything to the shakes when they saw the officers come in to claim them.
After the officers complained about the taste of the milkshakes and threw them out, Gilliam said he apologized and offered them vouchers for free replacements, which they accepted. However, they still told their Sergeant that Gilliam had put a “toxic substance” in their drinks, even though they had disposed of any evidence.
Claims of Wrongful Detainment
The court documents go on to say that another officer arrived and detained the employees, who cooperated with the officer’s investigation. That process included interviews, searches, and tests, which showed no evidence of bleach or other toxins.
The NYPD also conducted a review of security footage, which independently determined that none of the employees put any kind of toxic substances in the officer’s drinks.
Despite all that, and even after the three officers were released from a hospital “without ever showing symptoms,” the NYPD still arrested Gilliam and brought him into the precinct, the suit stated.
Once in the precinct, the former manager was allegedly “interrogated for approximately one to two hours” and detained for around three hours, putting the total time he was detained by police in both the store and the precinct at approximately five to six hours.
Gilliam’s attorney is arguing that the officers had no probable cause or warrants for his arrest. An arrest that the lawsuit says caused him to suffer “emotional and psychological damages and damage to his reputation,” as well as economic damages from legal fees and missed wages, for which he is seeking both punitive and monetary damages.
None of the defendants have responded to requests for comment from the media.