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July 01, 2022 | The American Prospect

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal Mekedas Belayneh Glenna Li

Op-Ed

Executive BranchIndependent Agencies

In The Wake Of "Dobbs," Biden Leans on Familiar Excuses for Inaction

During his campaign, now-President Biden loved likening his image to that of FDR. But when a rogue U.S. Supreme Court threatened to overturn the sweeping reforms of FDR’s New Deal, Roosevelt directly challenged their gross power grab by threatening court expansion coupled with expansive judicial reforms. The controversial move paid off; the Court subsequently backed down and FDR preserved the slate of New Deal–era reforms that kept the working class alive during the depths of the Great Depression and formed the basis for much more broadly shared prosperity in the subsequent decades.

June 14, 2022 | The American Prospect

Mekedas Belayneh

Op-Ed

Department of CommerceRevolving DoorTech

Big Tech’s Back Door to Digital Trade Rules

The Department of Commerce is currently conducting digital trade talks with nations from the Indo-Pacific and Europe, with negotiations led by its secretary, Gina Raimondo. Through her role as lead negotiator in President Biden’s newly established Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and one-year-old U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), Raimondo is poised to influence global trade policies.

June 13, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal Mekedas Belayneh

Blog Post

FDAGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

The Decades-Long Food Failure at the FDA

In 2008, a deadly salmonella outbreak from contaminated peanut products killed nine and sickened over 700 people. In the aftermath, the peanut executives who poisoned people with food they knew was contaminated received decades-long prison sentences, an all-too-rare case of a corporate criminal being held responsible for the harm they caused. Contemporary public outrage also helped to fuel a push for more structural reform to the food safety regulatory system as a whole. Shortly after the outbreak, the Obama administration began whipping bipartisan congressional support for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which sought to prevent future food safety crises by expanding and strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority over food. FSMA ultimately passed both the Senate and the House by wide margins and enjoyed broad public support when finally enacted in 2011. 

May 17, 2022

Mekedas Belayneh Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

ClimateExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

One Weird Trick To Prevent the TVA From Building New Gas Plants

The Tennessee Valley Authority, an independent agency of the federal government which acts as a public utility for over 10 million residents in and around Tennessee, announced in March that it would replace two aging coal-fired power plants with gas-powered plants. As the nation’s largest public utility company, the move goes against Biden’s goal to achieve a clean energy grid by 2035. TVA could be leading the charge for renewables, but its fossil fuel CEO Jeff Lyash, who comes out of fossil fuels, is instead choosing to lock in polluting gas for decades. This does not have to be the case. 

April 25, 2022 | The New Republic

Mekedas Belayneh

Op-Ed

ClimateExecutive BranchIndependent AgenciesUSPS

How Biden Can Halt the U.S. Postal Service’s Gas-Guzzling Plan

Just days after his inauguration, President Biden promised to use the federal government’s procurement authority to achieve a zero-emission fleet of government vehicles. This spring, however, that’s led to a standoff with the United States Postal Service—an independent agency overseen by a Trump-aligned postmaster general who wants to replace 225,000 out-of-date mail delivery trucks with fresh gas-guzzlers, to the tune of $11.3 billion.

March 28, 2022

Mekedas Belayneh

Blog Post

Anti-MonopolyDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchTech

The DOJ Should Follow Its Own Guidance on FOIA Administration

The celebration of Sunshine Week earlier this month underscored the importance of the continued effort to ensure effective administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and its central role for open democracy. Passed by Congress in 1966, FOIA allows citizens to request unpublished records and information from the federal government. Watchdog organizations have long relied on records obtained from FOIA requests to hold the government accountable to public interests. But, the system comes with a plethora of flaws that prevents adequate timeliness and transparency. Endless backlogs, increased usage of exemptions, partially redacted documents, and outright denials leave much to be desired in the administration of FOIA today.