Trump administration puts (buy) America first

President Donald Trump issued an executive order for federal agencies to review their policies and procedures for buying American. He suspect loopholes in buy-American laws are too often used when the government buys. Agencies are to forward their legal and procedural reviews to Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross, who will in turn deliver a draft set of recommendations by the end of the year.

Several new policy directives came from the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump. Among them: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt called for the U.S. to pull out of the so-called Paris Agreement, which many other countries signed onto. The agreement ostensibly addresses what they believe are causes of climate change. Pruitt calls participation an America second, third or fourth kind of approach.

EPA acting Deputy Administrator Michael Flynn informed employees the hiring freeze there will continue and that they can expect a buyout/early retirement plan soon.

The Trump administration faces a battle over its plans to cut State Department funding by 28 percent. Several military officials, including Air Force General Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed the need for maintaining so-called soft power. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) proposed a plan to double State Department funding over five years.

President Trump signed a bill to extend the VA’s Veterans Choice program. It’s a short-term extension until early next year to give Secretary David Shulkin more time to develop a permanent proposal. Under Choice, veterans can obtain medical care outside of the VA system but have it paid by VA. The program was to expire in August with a billion dollars left over.

President Trump noted the protests calling for him to release his tax returns. But he rejected the idea, tweeting, the election is over. He also decided to keep White House visitor logs secret, reversing a policy the Obama White House started late in the first term but keeping with what had been tradition. Court cases have upheld the secrecy, but open government groups objected.

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