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June 13, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Almost Half Of U.S. Attorney’s Offices Have No Permanent Nominee. Where’s Biden’s Urgency?

This month President Biden nominated five additional people to helm the 93 districts of the Office of the United States Attorney. These five nominees brought Biden’s total nominations for the office up to just 53 out of 92 nominees for the office, or a little more than half. The vast majority of these nominations have occurred in states with a Democratic Senatorial delegation with many of these seats held hostage by Republicans wielding a racist Senate tradition to arbitrarily obstruct the process and these crucial seats nationwide. Now, nearly a year and a half into Biden’s presidency, the fact that almost half of these positions are still left without a nominee is a glaring indictment of Biden’s failure to prioritize these critically important positions. 

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. 

May 16, 2022

Andrea Beaty Eleanor Eagan Nika Hajikhodaverdikhan Sion Bell Hannah Story Brown

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionAdministrative LawDepartment of Justice

The Trump Administration Made a Mockery of the Law. Why Hasn't Biden Tossed its Cases?

Donald Trump and his Department of Justice consistently made a mockery of the law throughout his four years in power. And while their laughable reasoning and indefensible positions were struck down at a historic rate, many cases were still waiting for Biden. The new administration tossed out a handful immediately but an alarming number remain, either in some form of pause or advancing forward with the Biden administration adopting Trump’s position.

May 10, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Government CapacityIndependent AgenciesIRS

The IRS Has Finally Been Given The Power to Rebuild. It’s Not Enough.

In March, six months after the start of Fiscal Year 2022, Congress finally passed an omnibus funding agreement that brought agencies out from under the shadow of Trump-era austerity (although still fell far short of enacting the funding levels that most agencies require to meet their responsibilities to the public). Critically, in the case of at least one agency, the omnibus did not just grant the money to hire new staff, but the means to do so much more quickly. At the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Congress greenlit the use of direct hiring authorities to empower the agency to temporarily forgo some of the more onerous aspects of the federal hiring process as well as to facilitate a quick rebuilding of the IRS’ notoriously depleted ranks. With this designation, Congress acknowledged that staff shortages at the IRS had reached a state of emergency and thus acted accordingly. 

April 28, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Independent AgenciesIRS

Who Is The IRS’ Chief Counsel? Under Biden, No One.

enforcing the U.S. tax code. Much has been written regarding the IRS’ gutting over the years. The agency has been systematically defunded, deresourced, and attacked by political operatives for decades, at a grave cost to the basic functionality of our government, and to the benefit of only the richest Americans. These trends were only exacerbated under the Trump administration, which was hyper-focused on dismantling the tax system to benefit its corporate and billionaire cronies. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s destructive influence remains pervasive throughout the IRS, with Trump’s Commissioner, Charles Rettig, still installed as the governing head of the agency while finishing a 5-year term (at the pleasure of the president) set to expire in 2022.