Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Update: Draining the Swamp

Why is change in Washington, D.C., so difficult?

Novices to the capital might think it's as easy as getting elected. But, despite the 2016 election, throwing out the Democrats, getting the bureaucracy on-board is quite difficult.

At the DOJ, employees are resisting implementing the recent Supreme Court decision mandating accommodation for religious objections to parts of the ACA (Obamacare, to the rest of us).

The DOJ lawyers are using the time period permitted for a rules change to slow-walk the procedure.
The draft rule, which was dated May 23, said that the a lack of accommodation would likely violate the 1994 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, under which the Little Sisters and other organizations are bringing their challenges. The law requires the federal government to have a compelling government interest and use the least restrictive means possible if when infringing upon religious believers with a neutral law of general applicability. Reporting at the time the rule was leaked said that it had been sent to to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to be reviewed before publishing.
But more than two months after the agencies drafted the rule, they have yet to actually publish or promulgate any such rule. DOJ lawyers are using the lack of action to extend their years-long legal battles with religious objectors to the mandate. DOJ lawyers have asked for — and received — repeated 60-day extensions from the 10th Circuit, court filings show.
So, here's the situation:

  • The Supreme Court has ruled in the religious community's favor
  • HHS wrote a draft of a rule that would accommodate them
  • The OMB (Office of Management and Budget) has to review the rule. From the article, it would seem that they have taken no action on the matter.
  • Action is stalled at this point.
  • DOJ lawyers have asked for, and gotten, extensions from the 10th Circuit. That is both costly and time-consuming for the plaintiffs.
Trump's people need to learn about using direct, written orders to subordinates, and following up on inaction or refusal with paperwork about insubordination.

Why insubordination? That's one of the few charges you can bring against a protected employee that can lead to dismissal - firing, in other words. They won't want that charge on the record.

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