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5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Judge temporarily blocks construction on border wall

  • Trump circumvents Congress, will complete Saudi arms deal

  • Judge blocks Mississippi's strict abortion law

  • Trump taps Cuccinelli as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

  • Trump arrives in Japan for ceremonial visit

A federal judge in California on Friday temporarily blocked the government from constructing a wall in two sectors along the U.S.-Mexico border using funds diverted from the Defense Department, throwing a wrinkle into President Trump's national emergency declaration. Construction was set to begin on Saturday. The judge, Haywood S. Gilliam, wrote that Congress' "absolute" control over federal funding is an "essential" feature of the United States government and that Trump's emergency declaration would "pose serious problems under the Constitution's separation of powers principles." The order applies specifically to two areas where a total of 51 miles of fencing was set to be added. Gilliam's ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition.

Source: NBC News, The Washington Post

President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in response to rising tensions between the United States and Iran, allowing him to complete the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Iran's regional rival, Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, all despite congressional objections. Congress had blocked the sale of offensive weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for months as a result of those countries' air campaigns in Yemen and other human rights abuses. But Trump used a loophole to circumvent Congress and go ahead with the sale. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sales were necessary to deter Iran, but the decision to sidestep Congress was a "one-time event."

Source: Reuters, The Week

A federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction blocking a Mississippi law that bans abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. The law, which is one in a series of restrictive, Republican-sponsored abortion bills throughout the United States, was scheduled to take effect in July. The judge, Carlton Reeves, wrote that a woman's free choice "outweighs any interest the state might have in banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat." Reeves also blocked a 2018 Mississippi law that would have banned abortion at 15 weeks. The state is still appealing that decision.

Source: Fox News, CNN

President Trump has chosen Ken Cuccinelli as the new director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. While the hiring was reported as early as Tuesday, it remained unclear what exactly Cuccinelli's role in the Department of Homeland Security would be. Cuccinelli is considered an immigration hardliner and is known for his "combative" television appearances and enthusiastic support for Trump's immigration proposals. He has, however, drawn ire from both Republicans and Democrats. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly vowed to block Cuccinelli from getting confirmed for any position and reportedly blames him for promoting insurgent candidates running against sitting Republicans during the 2014 midterm elections.

Source: The Washington Post, The Week

President Trump arrived in Japan on Saturday for a largely ceremonial visit centered around recognizing the country's new emperor. The president and first lady Melania Trump also attended a dinner with Japanese business leaders in an attempt to promote investment in the United States as Trump continues to negotiate a new deal to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. Trump will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Emperor Naruhito on Sunday. Abe has reportedly arranged for Trump to attend a sumo wrestling tournament, an imperial dinner banquet, and visit a naval base. The two leaders, though, will reportedly discuss more serious matters, as well, including metal tariffs and North Korea.

Source: CNN
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