Travel bans, health care, and some actual good news in this week’s politics roundup. Plus, please don’t make me talk about Twitter ever again.
The travel ban is back in effect – sort of
On Thursday, parts of the controversial and oftentimes confusing travel ban went back into effect. This was after the Supreme Court agreed to review the case in the fall and subsequently lifted some of the legal challenges to the ban. Ah, politics.
However, this isn’t a full reinstatement of the original ban, which doesn’t specifically target Muslim immigrants, but does temporarily bar entry from six Muslim-majority countries and encourages “extreme vetting” (though exactly how this vetting will be implemented remains unclear). While travel from these Muslim-majority countries is barred for 90 days, refugees from anywhere cannot enter for 120 days. During this time, the presidential administration will conduct a review of travel rules and reevaluate just who can or cannot enter the country.
The Supreme Court did grant an exception, though. Justices said that people with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” could still enter the country. Students and foreign workers with jobs in the U.S. could also enter. However, many are unclear on the exact meaning of a “bona fide relationship” and have requested clarification.
According to The New York Times, the presidential administration defines “close family” as parents, some in-laws, adult and minor children, siblings, and step-relationships. However, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and more “extended” relations are out of luck, apparently.
Germany legalizes same-sex marriage
Just today, German officials voted to legalize same-sex marriage in their country. See, sometimes good things happen in politics, too.
Of course, things get a little more tricky when you look at the details. Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measure, which passed 393-226, with four abstentions. However, she did allow lawmakers within her own conservative party to vote according to their own conscience, according to statements made on Monday.
While Merkel deserves only the barest credit – she is a longtime opponent of gay marriage, after all – many say that her comments gave incentive for Friday’s vote. Merkel’s more progressive opponents within the parliament pushed for a vote on the issue, after the Chancellor’s comments earlier in the week.
German same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships together since 2001. However, civil unions do not share the same rights as marriages in Germany. Now, same-sex couples will be able to take advantage of the full legal rights involved with marriage, including joint adoption of children.
A brief and unwanted interlude regarding Twitter
Seriously, I’m not going to waste much time on this. We are in a Trump-free politics roundup and I can’t in good conscience send you to a certain Twitter account. However, if must learn more about the excessively cruel and sexist drama centered on MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski – it is, after all, a big news item this week – check out this article from The Atlantic.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary, predictably defended the president and elicited a sudden and yet deeply familiar taste of bile into my mouth.
That is all.
New health care bill still shaky
We might as well resign ourselves to an eternity of debate about health care until the heat death of the universe.
This time around, it appears that the Senate health-care bill is on unstable ground. A vote on H.R. 1628, also called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” has been postponed until after the July 4 recess. Numerous sources cite worries of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his associates as the reason for the delay. With dissent coming from within the Republican party, a quick vote could be disastrous for McConnell and the bill. Instead, he’s angling for a vote some time before the looming August recess.
H.R. 1628 will repeal significant portions of the Affordable Care Act championed by former President Obama. If the bill is passed, Medicaid will struggle with large cuts. Many rules set at the federal level would also go to states to decide. These include guidelines including those concerning essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions
Proponents of the change also say that it will do away with burdensome mandates, unpopular tax penalties, and expensive program funding. Figures on either side of the aisle have made statements of varying truthiness regarding our current health care drama.
Right now, though, this is all up in the air. Meanwhile, a certain individual within the presidential administration is pushing for the “repeal and replace” strategy, in which Senators would totally repeal the ACA… without any real plan to back it up. Sounds like a solid and thoughtful plan.
If this leaves you feeling a little hopeless, at least take heart that the July break gives you time to contact your Senators. Take a few minutes out of your day and make sure that your Senators (or their offices, anyway) get a polite but firm call from you regarding healthcare.
And, finally, your palate cleanser
Perhaps all of this news makes you want to go home and cuddle some sort of cute, furry creature. While you’re showering affecting on your pet, you may start to wonder if they could serve a higher purpose. Yes, many of our furry friends do use our backyards as a giant toilet. Still, is it any worse than what we have going on right now in politics?
Some animals have actually made the lead to elected office – well, kind of. Most recently, a pit bull named Brynneth Pawltro was elected as the mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. Rabbit Hash is an unincorporated settlement that doesn’t need an actual mayor to make reasoned decisions. This means that their “elections” are really fundraisers for the local Rabbit Hash Historical Society. Brynneth is more of a ceremonial official than anything else. Still, I defy you to say that it’s not incredibly charming.
Even the failed candidates are pretty entertaining. Saucisse the dachshund ran for mayor of Marseilles, the second-largest city in France, in 2001. He lost, but managed to get 4.5% of the votes, beating out some of the human opposition.