Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 2:30 PM

President Trump yesterday called for Americans to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, a move which is the closest the federal government has come to calling for a nationwide quarantine since the beginning of the outbreak, reports the Washington Post. Trump also called for Americans to avoid eating in restaurants or taking nonessential trips.

Following pressure from businesses, the House scaled back a paid-leave program that the chamber had tried to enact days earlier, writes the Wall Street Journal. In revised legislation, the House limited provisions that mandate 10 weeks of partially-paid sick leave so as to only cover workers caring for a child whose school or daycare had been shut.

The Trump administration is preparing to ask Congress to spend roughly $850 billion in additional stimulus to bolster the economy, according to the New York Times. The administration also supports a request for $50 billion in economic relief for the airline industry. The Federal Reserve announced today that it would try to prevent a credit freeze by purchasing commercial paper (short-term promissory notes companies use to fund themselves).

U.S. researchers yesterday tested the first shots in a first-stage of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time, according to the Associated Press. Even if the vaccine candidate is successful, it would not be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months.

Even before Congress has finished work on a second stimulus bill to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis, the Senate could pass a “Phase 3” stimulus package this week, according to several GOP senators, reports Politico. The Phase 3 package would likely include $750 billion or more in stimulus spending.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced late Monday that polls would not open for today’s Democratic primary, citing “a health emergency,” according to the Washington Post. Before DeWine made his announcement, a state judge rejected a temporary restraining order to seek the delay, saying in a hearing yesterday that rescheduling the election would “set a terrible precedent.”

The Pentagon said the military is willing to support U.S. civilian authorities but that decisions about use of the military will be informed by “what is possible and what is not,” writes CNN. In particular, the Department of Defense highlighted the possible strain on civilian medical personnel that calling up the National Guard and reservists would cause. Many reservists and Guard members work as civilian medical professionals.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday proposed a plan to ban non-essential travel in most of the European Union for 30 days, reports the Wall Street Journal. Countries including Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland have imposed unilateral travel restrictions along their borders with little coordination. President Emmanuel Macron ordered the French to stay at home for the next 15 days, according to the Times.

Britain on Monday asked manufacturers of non-health goods to begin helping to make health equipment including ventilators in order to cope with the medical burden of the coronavirus outbreak, writes the New York Times.

The Justice Department yesterday filed a motion to drop charges against two Russian shell companies linked to an Internet Research Agency troll farm and accused of financing interference in the 2016 election, reports the New York Times. The Companies, Concord Management and Concord Consulting, were charged in a 2018 indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. The Justice Department claimed that Concord had seized on the case to obtain confidential information from prosecutors that Russia could then weaponize. Meanwhile, back in Moscow, Russia’s constitutional court endorsed President Vladimir Putin’s proposed constitutional changes that would allow him to run again after his fourth (and current) presidential term, according to the Wall Street Journal. The change would potentially enable Putin to remain in power until 2036.

On Monday evening two rockets struck the Basmaya training base south of Baghdad where U.S.-led coalition troops and NATO trainers are present, writes the Washington Post. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday told the Iraqi prime minister that the U.S. will act in self-defense if attacked in Iraq, according to the Hill.

The Senate agreed yesterday to extend key provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for 77 days in order to allow lawmakers time to consider broader changes to the surveillance powers, reports Reuters.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Benjamin Wittes argued that Trump made a fool of his attorney general with a tweet that caused FISA authorities to expire.

Brian Kim analyzed the legal authorities underlying South Korea’s successful response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Quinta Jurecic shared a Justice Department motion to dismiss the criminal charge against a company linked to an Internet Research Agency troll farm.

Stewart Baker shared the most recent episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast featuring an interview with Elsa Kania, adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Jane Chong argued that liability for insecure software is already a reality—the question is whether Congress will step in to give it a coherent legal structure.

Vishnu Kannan compiled the national security highlights from the eleventh Democratic debate.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Kate Starbird on how information flows during crisis events.

Elaine Korzak argued that the United States must articulate an approach to cyber norms that looks past the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts.

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