Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Trump’s dirty power plan ignores science, endangers Americans

President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order on March 28 to severely curtail actions by the EPA and other agencies to address climate change.

The order would direct the agency to rewrite the Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever limits on global warming emissions from power plants, and eviscerate other key strategies that have been put in place to address climate change, improve public health and safeguard citizens against the growing costs of climate change impacts.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is a former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation’s first cap-and-trade program to cut carbon pollution from power plants.

The wrecking ball that is the Trump presidency continues. Dismantling existing EPA programs and policies isn’t a plan—it’s an abdication. Seas are rising, droughts are becoming more commonplace, the Mountain West’s wildfire season is getting longer and we’re seeing more record-breaking temperatures. The fingerprints of climate change are everywhere, threatening Americans’ health, safety and pocketbooks.

The EPA has a legal obligation under the Clean Air Act to curtail global warming emissions to help limit the impacts of climate change. The Clean Power Plan cost-effectively addresses one of the nation’s largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions —power plants — and gives states the flexibility to tailor the plan to their needs.

The executive order undercuts a key part of the nation’s response to climate change, without offering even a hint of what will replace it. The order includes other foolish and short-sighted policy changes, like eliminating a requirement for federal agencies to factor in climate change when issuing permits for large construction projects and taking into account the social cost of carbon in cost-benefit assessments of federal rules. It also repeals common sense measures like the federal flood risk management standard and agency support for state, tribal and local government efforts to protect and prepare communities for climate change. Climate change risks have to be factored into the equation to ensure people are safer and taxpayer funds are wisely invested. Today’s executive order follows on the heels of a recent announcement that EPA will re-open the vehicle emissions standards, with the goal of weakening or eliminating them.

We estimate the cumulative effect of repealing the Clean Power Plan and the vehicle standards will be a 9 percent increase in energy-related emissions in 2030, or 439 million metric tons. That means emissions will go up in the U.S., just when the rest of the world is transitioning to a cleaner, healthier economy.

This is terribly irresponsible. But it won’t alter the scientific reality — that climate change is real, already happening, caused by burning fossil fuels, and requires immediate action to limit its worst impacts.

FACT CHECK: It is also important to note that dismantling the Clean Power Plan will do nothing to make the U.S. more energy independent — a claim made by President Trump. The U.S. produces nearly all of its electricity from domestic sources, with a minuscule portion from Canada. In contrast, about one-quarter of U.S. oil is imported. The most effective strategy to cut U.S oil imports is cutting oil use, by accelerating recent progress making cars and trucks more fuel efficient.

FACT CHECK:  Today’s expected action also won’t overturn the market forces putting pressure on the coal industry and does nothing to provide coal communities with the transition assistance they need and have been requesting.

Trump budget is survival of the fittest

Continue reading Trump budget is survival of the fittest

Analysis: The outsider dealmaker faltering in White House

Donald Trump campaigned as an outsider — celebrating his lack of political experience by selling himself as a dealmaker willing to buck Republican orthodoxy and his own party’s leadership. He alone would reshape Washington.

He’s tried governing the same way.

His actions are a blitz.

He rarely consults old Washington hands.

And he hangs the threat of retribution over anyone who challenges him.

And now he and his party have been dealt a stinging defeat on a signature campaign promise, a defeat that further weakens a president whose approval rating has hovered under 40 percent and humiliates Republicans who have pledged for seven long years to undo President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Trump’s haphazard approach to the health care bill — first demanding a House vote despite an uncertain result, then suddenly suggesting he’d support a future bipartisan solution — underscored Trump’s political identity: He is seemingly uninterested in leading a political party or unifying the federal government.

The failed vote — despite Republican control of the White House and both houses of Congress — highlighted severe cracks within the GOP that Trump’s presidency won’t easily mend.

Trump now wants to turn to tax reform, an ambitious, complicated plan at the center of his agenda, and he does so wounded by the health care collapse as well as the uncertain legal status of his travel ban and an ongoing federal investigation into possible contacts and coordination between his campaign aides and Russian officials.

The loss exposed a limit to Trump’s go-it-alone style, one forged over decades in the business world and seemingly proven effective by his improbable win.

The novice campaigner used the sheer force of his celebrity and personality to draw loyal supporters and frequently bend the Republican Party to his whims.

He defied the party leadership repeatedly, skipped a debate, refused to sign a loyalty pledge and turned the scathing power of his Twitter account on fellow Republicans even after he clinched the nomination and the party pined for unity.

Experts say Trump’s style has hurt his ability to govern effectively.

“Donald Trump’s ‘Art of the Deal’ doesn’t work in Washington. Politics is a profession and you have to know how to collect votes,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “Trump is a salesperson and he oversold what he can get done.”

Brinkley said Trump’s failure stood in stark contrast to the master negotiations conducted by presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, who enjoyed majorities in both houses of Congress and achieved sweeping legislative accomplishments.

Instead, Trump’s initial struggles were reminiscent of the problems Jimmy Carter faced when he declared that his fellow Democrats were “an albatross around my neck” while facing intraparty rebellion.

More than two dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus oppose the health care plan because they say it doesn’t go far enough to undo Obamacare.

Some moderate Republicans, meanwhile, were turned off by a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis predicting 24 million people would lose coverage in a decade.

Republicans seemed willing to risk Trump’s wrath, taking comfort in the political safety their deep-red home districts provide against his possible attacks.

Trump was once a Democrat. He favored abortion rights most of his adult life and espoused views on trade similar to those of liberal Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

He often doesn’t work in specifics, allowing supporters to read in what they want and he abruptly shifts stances — like when he abandoned his vow to send Hillary Clinton to prison — yet rarely losing support of his loyal backers. That degree of unpredictability gave some credibility to his ultimatum to force a vote or keep Obamacare in place, despite his years-long crusade against it.

Trump’s commitment to the bill seemed wavering. He said “there were things in this bill that I didn’t particularly like” and, for the first time, suggested that he would support a bipartisan health care measure.

He also claimed that “I’ve never said repeal and replace Obamacare within 64 days,” a surprising statement considering he vowed to do so “on day one” nearly every night on the campaign trail.

Though Trump publicly abstained from blaming House Speaker Paul Ryan, the White House suggested some fault lay with members who opposed the measure. That act of political defiance should seem familiar to the occupant of the White House, according to one longtime Trump ally.

“The people who are defeating this are the ones most like Trump — ones willing to break from the pack,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who also questioned the wisdom of setting a hard deadline to pass the legislation.

“If it was a negotiating tactic, it wasn’t a good one,” said Gingrich, who suggested that relations between Trump and Ryan, always strained, would get worse.

“The president feels burned. I suspect you’ll see him far more engaged on matters like tax reform, which he is passionate about. But it will be more complicated now.”

Republican leaders’ failure to get the health plan through the House, a task considered easier than in the Senate, may portend even greater difficulty in passing complicated tax reform and the rest of Trump’s ambitious agenda.

“Doing big things is hard,” said Ryan.

No vote on health care: A humiliating defeat for Trump

In a humiliating failure, President Donald Trump and GOP leaders yanked their bill to repeal “Obamacare” off the House floor when it became clear it would fail badly — after seven years of nonstop railing against the health care law.

Democrats said Americans can “breathe a sigh of relief.”

Trump said Obama’s law was imploding “and soon will explode.”

Thwarted by two factions of fellow Republicans, from the center and far right, House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Barack Obama’s health care law, the GOP’s No. 1 target in the new Trump administration, would remain in place “for the foreseeable future.”

It was a stunning defeat for the new president after he had demanded House Republicans delay no longer and vote on the legislation, pass or fail.

His gamble failed.

Instead Trump, who campaigned as a master deal-maker and claimed that he alone could fix the nation’s health care system, saw his ultimatum rejected by Republican lawmakers who made clear they answer to their own voters, not to the president.

He had“never said repeal and replace it in 64 days,” a dejected but still combative Trump said at the White House.

However, he had repeatedly shouted during the presidential campaign that it was going down “immediately.”

The bill was withdrawn just minutes before the House vote was to occur and lawmakers said there were no plans to revisit the issue.

Republicans will try to move ahead on other agenda items, including overhauling the tax code, though the failure on the health bill can only make whatever comes next immeasurably harder.

Trump pinned the blame on Democrats.

“With no Democrat support we couldn’t quite get there,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “We learned about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process.”

The Affordable Care Act was approved in 2010 with no Republican votes.

Despite reports of backbiting from administration officials toward Ryan, Trump said: “I like Speaker Ryan. … I think Paul really worked hard.”

For his part, Ryan told reporters: “We came really close … but we came up short. … This is a disappointing day for us.”

But when asked how Republicans could face voters after their failure to make good on years of promises, Ryan quietly said: “It’s a really good question. I wish I had a better answer for you.”

Last fall, Republicans used the issue to gain and keep control of the White House, Senate and House. During the previous years, they had cast dozens of votes to repeal Obama’s law in full or in part, but when they finally got the chance to pass a repeal version that actually had a chance to become law, they couldn’t deliver.

Democrats could hardly contain their satisfaction.

The outcome leaves both Ryan and Trump weakened politically.

For the president, this piles a big early congressional defeat onto the continuing inquiries into his presidential campaign’s Russia connections and his unfounded wiretapping allegations against Obama.

Ryan was not able to corral the House Freedom Caucus, the restive band of conservatives that ousted the previous speaker. Those Republicans wanted the bill to go much further, while some GOP moderates felt it went too far.

Instead of picking up support, the bill went the other direction, with several key lawmakers coming out in opposition. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, chairman of a major committee, Appropriations, said the bill would raise costs unacceptably on his constituents.

The defections raised the possibility that the bill would not only lose on the floor, but lose big.

The GOP bill would have eliminated the Obama statute’s unpopular fines on people who do not obtain coverage and would also have removed the often-generous subsidies for those who purchase insurance.

Republican tax credits would have been based on age, not income like Obama’s, and the tax boosts Obama imposed on higher-earning people and health care companies would have been repealed. The bill would have ended Obama’s Medicaid expansion and trimmed future federal financing for the federal-state program, letting states impose work requirements on some of the 70 million beneficiaries.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the Republican bill would have resulted in 24 million additional uninsured people in a decade and lead to higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many lower-income and people just shy of age 65 when they would become eligible for Medicare. The bill would have blocked federal payments for a year to Planned Parenthood.

Republicans had never built a constituency for the legislation, and in the end the nearly uniform opposition from hospitals, doctors, nurses, the AARP, consumer groups and others weighed heavily with many members. On the other side, conservative groups including the Koch outfit argued the legislation did not go far enough in uprooting Obamacare.

Ryan made his announcement to lawmakers at a very brief meeting, where he was greeted by a standing ovation in recognition of the support he still enjoys from many lawmakers.

When the gathering broke up, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee that helped write the bill, told reporters: “”We gave it our best shot. That’s it. It’s done. D-O-N-E done. This bill is dead.”

‘We just pulled it’ Trump says after no vote on GOP health care plan

GOP House leaders pulled their health care bill from consideration on March 24 due to a shortage of votes despite desperate lobbying by the White House and its allies, dealing a big blow to President Donald Trump.

Republican leadership had planned a vote on the measure after Trump cut off negotiations with Republicans who had balked at the plan and issued an ultimatum to vote on Friday, win or lose.

Republican moderates as well as the most conservative lawmakers objected to the legislation. But the White House and House leaders were unable to come up with a plan that satisfied both moderates and conservatives.

Trump told the Washington Post: “We just pulled it.”

Amid a chaotic scramble for votes, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has championed the bill, met with Trump at the White House before the measure was pulled from the House floor after hours of debate.

Trump told the Post the health care bill would not be coming up again in the near future and that he wanted to see if Democrats who uniformly objected to the Republican plan would come to him to work on health care legislation, a Washington Post reporter said on MSNBC.

For now, Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, the 2010 Affordable Care Act — known as Obamacare — will remain in place despite seven years of Republican promises to dismantle it.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare was a top campaign promise by Trump in the 2016 presidential election, as well as by most Republican candidates, “from dog-catcher on up,” as White House spokesman Sean Spicer put it during a briefing on Friday.

The House failure to pass the measure called into question Trump’s ability to get other key parts of his agenda, including tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure spending, through a Congress controlled by his own party.

Trump already has been stymied by federal courts that blocked his discriminatory executive actions barring entry into the United States of people from several Muslim-majority nations.

Now members of his own party worry the defeat on the health care legislation could cripple his presidency just two months after the billionaire real estate mogul took office.

In a blow to the bill’s prospects, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen announced his opposition, expressing concern about reductions in coverage under the Medicaid insurance program for the poor and the retraction of “essential” health benefits that insurers must cover.

“We need to get this right for all Americans,” Frelinghuysen said.

Progressive groups overwhelmingly opposed the health care plan as offered by Ryan and the amendments intended to appease even more conservative members of his party.

House Speaker Paul Ryan departs following a meeting with President Trump at the White House. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

One Wisconsin Now rolls out ‘Rebellion’ activist calendar

One Wisconsin Now this week rolled out an online calendar for activists to post events and to find out what’s happening all across the state.

“There’s incredible energy and determination by the hardworking people of Wisconsin to fight back and to have their voices heard,” One Wisconsin Now program director Analiese Eicher said in a news release. “What we’ve put together is a great tool for people to use to publicize their events and to connect with other activists and work together.”

The calendar is at onewisconsinnow.org/rebellion/.

Using an online form, organizers can post information on the page hosted on One Wisconsin Now’s website about what, when and where they’ll be holding events and actions on national, state and community issues.

Events will be listed chronologically and users can access information about events that may be going on near them from a map of the state.

The calendar also allows users to sign up to attend actions and a notice will be sent to the event organizer.

Eicher said, “Our calendar is one more way to help people get out, speak up and fight back for our country, our state and our communities. The special interests may be getting their way with the Republicans in charge today with their lobbyists and their campaign cash. But that only works if we let them get away with it by staying home and staying quiet.”

Move to dump essential benefits could strand chronically ill

A last-minute attempt by conservative Republicans to dump standards for health benefits in plans sold to individuals would probably lower the average consumer’s upfront insurance costs, such as premiums and deductibles, said experts on both sides of the debate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

But, they add, it will likely also induce insurers to offer much skimpier plans, potentially excluding the gravely ill, and putting consumers at greater financial risk if they need care.

For example, a woman who had elected not to have maternity coverage could face financial ruin from an unintended pregnancy. A healthy young man who didn’t buy drug coverage could be bankrupted if diagnosed with cancer requiring expensive prescription medicine. Someone needing emergency treatment at a non-network hospital might not be covered.

What might be desirable for business would leave patients vulnerable.

“What you don’t want if you’re an insurer is only sick people buying whatever product you have,” said Christopher Koller, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund and a former Rhode Island insurance commissioner. “So the way to get healthy people is to offer cheaper products designed for the healthy people.”

Such a change could give carriers wide room to do that by eliminating or shrinking “essential health benefits” including hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health treatment and lab services from plan requirements — especially if state regulators don’t step in to fill the void, analysts said.

As part of the push by House GOP leaders to gain more support for their plan, they amended the bill Thursday  to allow states to decide, starting next year, what if any benefits  insurers must provide on the individual market, rather than requiring health plans to include the law’s essential health benefits, according to House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas).

The Affordable Care Act requires companies selling coverage to individuals and families through online marketplaces to offer 10 essential benefits, which also include maternity, wellness and preventive services — plus emergency room treatment at all hospitals. Small-group plans offered by many small employers also must carry such benefits.

Conservative House Republicans want to exclude the rule from any replacement, arguing it drives up cost and stifles consumer choice.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump agreed after meeting with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus to leave it out of the measure under consideration, said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. “Part of the reason that premiums have spiked out of control is because under Obamacare, there were these mandated services that had to be included,” Spicer told reporters.

Pushed by Trump, House Republican leaders agreed late Thursday to a Friday vote on the bill but were still trying to line up support.

“Tomorrow we will show the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “And tomorrow we’re proceeding.” When asked if he had the votes, Ryan didn’t answer and walked briskly away from the press corps.

But axing essential benefits could bring back the pre-ACA days when insurers avoided expensive patients by excluding services they needed, said Gary Claxton, a vice president and insurance expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

“They’re not going to offer benefits that attract people with chronic illness if they can help it,”said Claxton, whose collection of old insurance policies shows what the market looked like before.

One Aetna plan didn’t cover most mental health or addiction services — important to moderate Republicans as well as Democrats concerned about fighting the opioid crisis. Another Aetna plan didn’t cover any mental health treatment. A HealthNet plan didn’t cover outpatient rehabilitative services.

Before the ACA most individual plans didn’t include maternity coverage, either.

The House replacement bill could make individual coverage for the chronically ill even more scarce than a few years ago because it retains an ACA rule that forces plans to accept members with preexisting illness, analysts said.

Before President Barack Obama’s health overhaul, insurers could reject sick applicants or charge them higher premiums.

Lacking that ability under a Republican law but newly able to shrink benefits, insurers might be more tempted than ever to avoid covering expensive conditions. That way the sickest consumers wouldn’t even bother to apply.

“You could see even worse holes in the insurance package” than before the ACA, said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University. “If we’re going into a world where a carrier is going to have to accept all comers and they can’t charge them based on their health status, the benefit design becomes a much bigger deal” in how insurers keep the sick out of their plans, she said.

Michael Cannon, an analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute and a longtime Obamacare opponent, also believes dumping essential benefits while forcing insurers to accept all applicants at one “community” price would weaken coverage for chronically ill people.

“Getting rid of the essential health benefits in a community-rated market would cause coverage for the sick to get even worse than it is under current law,” he said. Republicans “are shooting themselves in the foot if they the offer this proposal.”

Cannon favors full repeal of the ACA, allowing insurers to charge higher premiums for more expensive patients and helping consumers pay for plans with tax-favored health savings accounts.

In an absence of federal requirements for benefits, existing state standards would become more important. Some states might move to upgrade required benefits in line with the ACA rules but others probably won’t, according to analysts.

“You’re going to have a lot of insurers in states trying to understand what existing laws they have in place,” Koller said. “It’s going to be really critical to see how quickly the states react. There are going to be some states that will not.”

Mary Agnes Carey and Phil Galewitz contributed to this story.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. This is published here under a Creative Commons license.

Ryan’s legacy as speaker on line with health care vote

The vote on the Republican health care bill is a defining moment for House Speaker Paul Ryan that could boost his conservative agenda or send it off the rails.

If he fails? “It will be very hard to manage this,” the Wisconsin Republican told reporters ahead of Thursday’s likely vote.

The bill to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, cap future funding for Medicaid and reverse tax increases on the wealthy is the kind of high-impact legislation that has become rare in a Congress that sometimes struggles with the routine like keeping the government open.

With the vote expected today, President Donald Trump spent some of his political capital on March 21, when he visited Capitol Hill to urge House Republicans to vote yes. Trump warned GOP lawmakers they could lose their majorities in the House and Senate in the 2018 midterm elections if they renege on promises to repeal and replace Obama’s signature health law.

“If it fails, then there will be a lot of people looking for work in 2018,” said Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas.

But passage would have serious political consequences, as well, because Republicans would then own America’s health care system.

Ryan, his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, understands the stakes, calling the vote “a rendezvous with destiny.”

Some conservative House members think the health bill is too much government regulation and too generous. Many of these same lawmakers essentially forced out Ryan’s predecessor as speaker, John Boehner of Ohio.

In interviews this week, no lawmakers suggested that Ryan could lose his post over the vote.

The political marriage of Ryan and Trump is an odd pairing as the speaker only reluctantly backed Trump last year and distanced himself from the presidential nominee after the audio emerged in October of Trump boasting about groping women. But they joined forces after the election.

Ryan and Trump now have an agenda for Trump’s first year in office. Ryan wants to re-write the tax code for the first time in 30 years after passing the health bill.

Under Ryan, the House has passed significant legislation, including a financial rescue package for Puerto Rico, ending a ban on crude oil exports and passing a law to deal with opioid addiction.

But Ryan’s dream of passing monumental legislation to change America’s big benefit programs has so far been elusive.

Over the years, Ryan has laid out proposals to revamp Medicare and Medicaid. The proposals came with catchy titles like “A Better Way” and “The Path to Prosperity.” But until now, they were more conservative campaign slogan than legislation with a chance to become law.

In the past, Republicans could blame Senate Democrats or Obama for blocking their ideas.

Not anymore.

Republicans control the House, Senate and the White House.

Still, Ryan has to navigate a House Republican conference that is not of one mind on health care. And if he’s successful, the bill would go to a Senate that is still short on votes to pass it.

Some moderate Republicans worry that too many people would lose health coverage under the bill. Over time, 24 million fewer people would have health insurance under the GOP plan, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

“Speaker Ryan has certainly put his speakership on the line with the president, saying he will deliver the vote on Thursday,” said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y. “We all campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare, each and every one of us. And yet we have a group of members threatening to continue Obamacare.”

Some conservatives don’t want to pass anything that looks like a new entitlement program. Some have dubbed the bill “Obamacare Lite,” and they warn that passing it will doom the Republican Party.

“It’s really a make-or-break moment for conservatives and Republicans,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. “If this passes, it does not bode well for conservatives in the House.”

Another conservative, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said, “The president did a great job” of selling the bill. But, he added, “The bill’s still bad.”

Hawaii lawmaker quits GOP to join Democratic Party

Hawaii state Rep. Beth Fukumoto, ousted last month as Republican leader of the House after publicly criticizing President Donald Trump, resigned from her party to seek membership as a Democrat.

Fukumoto, 33, the youngest Hawaii legislator to serve as House minority leader, said divisive campaign rhetoric during the 2016 elections convinced her the Republican Party no longer reflected her political values or the interests of her state’s diverse population.

“This election, I saw members of my party marginalizing and condemning minorities, ethnic or otherwise, and making demeaning comments towards women,” she said in an open letter of resignation to the Republican Party.

Fukumoto, who is of mixed Japanese and Irish ancestry, said she found Trump’s comments about banning Muslim immigrants and the possibility of establishing a registry of Muslim-Americans to be especially troubling.

“I wanted very badly to see the Republican Party denounce his comments and that didn’t happen,” she told Reuters, saying a Muslim registry struck her as “one step away” from internment camps.

“That for me was the issue that really changed how I felt.”

A self-described political moderate, Fukumoto was the first Republican in 26 years to represent the largely middle-class central Oahu district outside Honolulu, capital of the predominantly Democratic state.

She said she originally joined the Republicans out of a sense that Democrats were the status quo party, but she grew gradually disillusioned with the Republicans.

She recounted a fellow Republican caucus member admonishing her last year that they should be considered the “party of middle America” despite Hawaii’s diverse demographics.

Before making the switch, Fukumoto sent out a questionnaire to constituents seeking their opinions. Of those who replied, 76 percent said they would support her regardless, while most of the remainder opposed her changing parties, she said.

First elected to the state legislature in 2012, Fukumoto became leader of the state’s tiny House Republican caucus two years later, only to be removed by her peers in February of this year after she spoke out against Trump during the Women’s March in Hawaii the day after his inauguration.

As of Wednesday, Fukumoto, became the lone independent among 45 Democrats and five remaining Republicans in the state’s lower House, as she launches a process of applying for membership in the state’s majority party.

Trump administration skips hearing on human rights, avoids questions on executive orders

The Trump administration on March 21 skipped a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The human rights body, which is part of the Organization of American States, was scheduled to question U.S. officials on the effects of several of President Donald Trump’s executive orders, including orders on the Muslim ban, immigration enforcement and detention and the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a statement from the ACLU.

A photo provided by the ACLU, which presented testimony at the hearing, shows the empty chairs where the U.S. government officials were to sit.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, appeared before the commission and made this statement at the hearing: “Today’s no-show is a new low. The Trump administration’s decision is an unprecedented show of disrespect to the international community that will alienate democratic allies. Refusing to engage with the commission is an isolationist policy that mirrors the behavior of authoritarian regimes and will only serve to embolden them. This is another worrying sign that the Trump administration is not only launching an assault on human rights at home but is also trying to undermine international bodies charged with holding abusive governments accountable.”

The commission, which was created in 1959, has played a historic role in fighting dictatorships in the Americas and countering other human rights abuses.

On the web

The ACLU’s written testimony is at https://www.aclu.org/IACHR-Muslim-Ban-Testimony.