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The Paper Trail: May 28, 2024

Strategic National Stockpile Not Ready for Next Pandemic; New Details in Alito Upside-Down Flag Incident; Disrespect, Abuse in Maternity Care; and More. 

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How to Conduct Oversight from a Personal Office: POGO’s virtual training on how to conduct oversight when you don’t have a gavel will be held on Friday, May 31 at 12 noon. This event is only open to staff in Congress, GAO, and CRS. Register HERE.

Top stories for May 28, 2024

Is the strategic national stockpile ready for the next emergency? GAO says no: According to the GAO, HHS still hasn’t resolved systemic issues that states experienced when requesting and receiving drugs, vaccines, and other medical supplies from the strategic national stockpile during the COVID and mpox public health emergencies. (Sean Michael Newhouse, Government Executive)

🔎 See Also: COVID will still be here this summer. Will anyone care? (Fenit Nirappil and Sabrina Malhi, Washington Post)

Bird flu detected in beef tissue for first time, USDA says, but beef is safe to eat: Bird flu has been confirmed in dairy cattle herds in nine states, has been found in milk, and has prompted the slaughter of millions of chickens and turkeys. But finding it in beef is a new development for the outbreak, which began in 2022. (CBS News)

Wife of Justice Alito called upside-down flag “signal of distress”: Martha-Ann Alito told a Washington Post reporter in January 2021 that the upside-down American flag displayed at their home was “an international signal of distress” and indicated that it had been raised in response to a neighborhood dispute. The Post decided not to report on the incident at the time because it appeared that it didn’t involve the justice and wasn’t rooted in politics. (Justin Jouvenal and Ann E. Marimow, Washington Post)

Armenians, Hmong and other groups feel U.S. race and ethnicity categories don’t represent them: The federal government recently reclassified race and ethnicity groups in an effort to better capture the diversity of the U.S., but Hmong, Armenian, Black Arab, and Brazilian communities feel the changes are still missing the mark. (Terry Tang and Mike Schneider, Associated Press)


Congress defies its own law, fails to install plaque honoring Jan. 6 police officers: A group of top House Democrats is questioning why a small plaque to honor police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6 was not completed or installed by the March 2023 deadline required by law. (Scott MacFarlane, CBS News)

Dobbs Aftermath

How Florida’s abortion law is affecting East Coast abortion clinics: The average Florida resident now lives about 590 miles from the nearest clinic that offers abortions after six weeks and will need to wait nearly 14 days to end their pregnancy past that point — up from an average 20-mile drive and five-day wait before the ban. (Caitlin Gilbert, Caroline Kitchener, and Janice Kai Chen, Washington Post)

The untold story of the network that took down Roe v. Wade: An elite strike force of conservative Christian lawyers, activists, and politicians methodically led the country down a path that defied the will of a majority of Americans. (Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer, New York Times Magazine)

Russia-Ukraine War

Russian jamming leaves some high-tech U.S. weapons ineffective in Ukraine: Many U.S.-made satellite-guided ammunitions in Ukraine have failed to withstand Russian jamming technology, prompting Kyiv to stop using certain types of Western-provided armaments. (Isabelle Khurshudyan and Alex Horton, Washington Post)


In communities of color, long-COVID patients are tired of being sick and neglected: It’s been four years since COVID began burdening people with lingering symptoms often dismissed by mystified medical providers who were dubious and unwilling to help — especially when treating patients of color. (Akilah Johnson, Washington Post)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

More military veterans and active duty service members are dying by suicide than in battle: A 2021 study estimated that, since 2001, four times as many active duty service members and veterans died by suicide as died in battle. (April Smith, Government Executive)

Exposed to Agent Orange at U.S. bases, vets face cancer without VA help: In February, the VA proposed a rule that for the first time would allow compensation to veterans for Agent Orange exposure at 17 U.S. bases in a dozen states where the herbicide was tested, used, or stored. Fort Ord isn’t on that list. (Hannah Norman and Patricia Kime, Military Times)

Veterans who served at secret base say it made them sick, but they can’t get aid because the government won’t acknowledge they were there: Some government employees who were stationed at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada — a.k.a. Area 52 — have been aided by $25.7 billion in federal assistance. But those benefits don’t apply to Air Force veterans. (Dave Savini and Samah Assad, CBS News)

Business and Finance

Home insurance was once a “must.” Now more homeowners are going without: The escalating threat of climate change — which has forced insurers to make larger and larger payouts — and skyrocketing housing prices are pushing the cost of policies up. Compounding the problem, some insurers are pulling out of disaster-prone areas. (Patrick Cooley, Washington Post)

A corporate poisoner two-steps out of its toxic liability: Georgia-Pacific is one of several companies using the “Texas two-step” bankruptcy tactic. Sequestering the claims in bankruptcy court, which offers companies protections that the civil court system does not, allows otherwise thriving companies to offload their liability and avoid compensating victims. (Katya Schwenk, The Lever)


Commerce-backed deal with Emirati AI giant sets off alarm bells in Congress: Microsoft’s $1.5 billion investment deal with G42 shows the increasingly delicate tight-rope the U.S. must walk in the global AI arms race: between empowering U.S. tech companies to extend into regions where foreign adversaries have already made inroads and trying to protect sensitive technology. (John Sakellariadis, Politico)

The media bosses fighting back against AI — and the ones cutting deals: While some media companies are continuing to wage a war against AI, others are trying to find some uneasy accommodation with the very technology that could ultimately destroy them. (Laura Wagner and Gerrit De Vynck, Washington Post)


Schools that never needed AC are now overheating. Fixes will cost billions: As heat waves creep north, they are baking schools that previously didn’t need air conditioning. Fixing the problem will be neither cheap nor easy. (Anna Phillips and Veronica Penney, Washington Post)

White House to announce actions to modernize America’s electrical grid, paving the way for clean energy and fewer outages: The announcement comes on the same day that hundreds of thousands of customers lost power in Texas during destructive storms, following a holiday weekend of severe weather across the South and Midwest. Weather-related power outages are on the rise as stronger storms put more pressure on outdated infrastructure. (Ella Nilsen, CNN)

Health Care

Widespread disrespect, abuse in maternity care leave mothers with lasting trauma: One in five mothers in the U.S. reported being ignored, threatened, forced to accept treatment they didn’t consent to, physically abused, or otherwise mistreated by their providers during pregnancy and delivery. Among Black, Hispanic, and multiracial mothers, the rates are closer to one in three. (Annika Neklason, The Hill)

Cancer is capsizing Americans’ finances. “I was losing everything”: The economic burden of a cancer diagnosis is getting worse in the U.S. as drug and medical costs soar and more patients live longer with the disease. (Brianna Abbott and Peter Loftus, Wall Street Journal)


Immigration and Border Security:

DHS tries to plug border loophole that released migrant linked to terrorism into the U.S.

ICE inspection finds 7 deficiencies at Wisconsin jail immigration detention center

Border wall about national security, not politics: sheriff

Other News:

FDA urged to relax decades-old tissue donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men

“Deny, denounce, delay”: The battle over the risk of ultra-processed foods

Age, more than anything, determines when we think America was “great,” according to data

Upcoming Events

📌 A Hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. Monday, June 3, 10:00 a.m., 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

📌 Bonus Blunder: Examining VA’s Improper Decision to Award Senior Executives Millions in Incentives. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Tuesday, June 4, 10:15 a.m., 360 Cannon House Office Building.

Nominations & Appointments