Plus three other things you need to know today.
EPA poised to enact another massive environmental rollback
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers plan to announce a revision of Obama-era protections today that will roll back important protections for wetlands, rivers, and certain streams. Environmental activists warn the changes could result in more polluted drinking water, harm to people’s health, and have economic effects. The American Farm Bureau Federation and fossil fuel groups have backed the change.
Democrats use Trump’s own tapes as evidence in impeachment
Democratic impeachment managers, seemingly thwarted from calling new witnesses in the president’s Senate trial, are using recordings of the president’s own words to establish a pattern of corrupt intent and soliciting foreign involvement in U.S. affairs. Evidence included Trump’s call on Russia during the 2016 election to find Hillary Clinton’s emails; last year’s demand of China to investigate the Bidens; and a clip from December showing Trump saying he would “love” to have witnesses testify in his trial, contradicting the current strategy of his legal team and Republican Senate leaders.
Blue Cross insurers help launch nonprofit to manufacture drugs at lower costs
In a shakeup of standard healthcare industry procedures, 18 Blue Cross insurers are joining with Civica Rx, a nonprofit drug company that primarily serves hospitals, to form a subsidiary aimed at making cheaper generic drugs that are usually purchased at pharmacies. Normally, insurers purchase directly from manufacturers. Citing a need to bring down prices, the company said the drugs will be available in 2022.
Frequent turnover undermines effectiveness of National Security Council, new report finds
The departure of senior staff has been a near-constant over three years of the Trump administration, a pattern especially glaring in the National Security Council, which coordinates national and foreign policy with vital departments such as Homeland Security and the CIA. A new report released from the Brookings Institute this week states that as of September 2019, “the turnover rate among senior White House aides had reached 80 percent, a rate that exceeded President Trump’s five predecessors after their entire first terms in office.” Each loss of a top official, the authors write, sparks a trail of lower-level departures, creating a domino effect of inconsistent strategy and messaging illustrated by the debacles with Iran and the Ukraine.