Welcome to WHAT NOW, a morning round-up of the news/fresh horrors that await you today.
Despite multiple promises to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, President Donald Trump is expected to make a smaller, largely symbolic move about the epidemic in an announcement today.
As USA Today reported, Trump is expected to call the crisis a public health emergency in his 2 p.m. address, and to ask his health secretary to declare it as such.
That’s a departure from what Trump’s own administration had recommended, which was in line with his public promises as far back as August to declare the crisis a national emergency.
Legally speaking, declaring a state of national emergency would give the president more power to waive privacy laws and Medicaid regulations, according to the newspaper. In contrast, declaring a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act triggers a significantly more limited response. A public health emergency only lasts for 90 days, although it can be renewed, and is more typically used in response to natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks, like the H1N1 influenza virus in 2009 and 2010.
As for members of Trump’s administration, they remain basically in the dark about what the president will say today.
“We don’t have information about what the announcement will be, and so I can’t comment on it. I honestly don’t know,” Elinore McCance-Katz, an assistant secretary of health, told Politico on Wednesday.
She also said that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the body tasked with federal treatment programs, had not been collaborating with the White House ahead of the announcement—another sign that today’s event will likely end up being all bluster without much weight to get anything done.
- Veteran political reporter Mark Halperin sexually harassed five women during his tenure at ABC News, according to the women, who shared their stories with CNN for the first time.
- News flash for anyone still lauding Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly: he’s just like his boss.
- President Trump has said the long-sealed FBI files on John F. Kennedy’s assassination will be unsealed today.
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