Posts tagged with "Supreme Court"

Biden set to deliver Obamacare speech as Supreme Court weighs law’s future

November 11, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden—who campaigned on a promise to keep and enhance Obamacare—was set to deliver a health care-focused speech on Tuesday. November 10, even as the Supreme Court heard a case that could overturn the law.

Earlier in the day, Supreme Court justices listened to oral arguments in a case that seeks to invalidate the landmark health reform law. They will likely take initial votes at their private Friday, November 13, conference and begin the process of writing opinions, though a decision isn’t expected until the first half of 2021.

According to a report by CNN, President Donald Trump’s administration is looking to undo former President Barack Obama’s signature health law. And even with Biden set to take office on January 20, there is little he can do: Even if his administration switches sides and argues in favor of Obamacare, the case will continue because the original lawsuit was brought by a coalition of Republican attorneys general.

Protecting Obamacare was a central theme of Biden’s campaign. During the Democratic primary, he argued for expanding the law by adding a “public option” that would allow Americans to buy into a government-run health insurance plan— and, by beefing up federal premium subsidies, that would make Affordable Care Act coverage more affordable. He opposed more progressive rivals’ push to scrap private insurance entirely in favor of a single-payer, “Medicare- for-all”-type system.

Trump’s administration and the Republican-led House and Senate failed to repeal Obamacare during Trump’s first two years in Congress, CNN noted. Trump and the GOP in late 2017 did enact a tax law that gutted Obamacare’s individual mandate by setting the penalty for not having insurance at $0.

Trump’s administration later joined the Republican-led states, which argued in court that Congress’ action rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional, and since it’s a linchpin of the Affordable Care Act, the entire law should be invalidated.

Tuesday’s speech comes as Biden’s transition becomes more contentious, with Trump refusing to concede and making a series of baseless claims that seek to undermine the legitimacy of the election. His administration has not yet taken the legal step necessary to allow the transition process to begin by giving Biden’s team access to $6.3 million set aside for the process, as well as access to federal agencies.

Research contact: @CNN

Supreme Court declines to diminish extended ballot deadlines in North Carolina, Pennsylvania

October30, 2020

New Justice Amy Coney Barrett, still getting up to speed, didn’t participate in either case—but, on October 28, the Supreme Court “declined to disturb” extended ballot deadlines in the battleground states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania—leaving the states more time to receive mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In the North Carolina litigation, the justices denied Republican requests to block a decision by state elections officials to extend the deadline for accepting mail-in ballots until November 12, a six-day extension of the date set by the legislature.

North Carolina elections officials said they extended their deadline “to keep voters from having their votes thrown out because of mail delays that the Postal Service had explicitly warned the state about.”

The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, the GOP state lawmakers, and others challenged the deadline extension and other changes—saying those officials improperly rewrote unambiguous rules set COVID -19 pandemic.

The high court didn’t explain its reasons for rejecting the requests, the Journal notes. Three of the court’s conservatives, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, registered objections and said they would have granted the challengers’ request to roll back the deadline. Justice Gorsuch wrote that the pandemic wasn’t the kind of natural disaster that gave the state board of elections a license to change voting rules.

The Supreme Court in the Pennsylvania matter refused to expedite a Republican challenge to a state court order providing three extra days for the state to accept absentee ballots mailed by Election Day.

The court’s order in that case included no noted dissents, although the same three conservative justices issued a statement indicating they were open to considering the case after Election Day.

On Friday, October 23, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, backed by the Trump campaign, asked the Supreme Court to hear and decide its challenge before Election Day, November 3. The motion was unusual in that, only days earlier, the Supreme Court, by a 4-4 vote, had refused to block the three-day extension.

In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended to 5 p.m., November 6, the deadline to accept absentee ballots, from 8 p.m., November 3. The court credited guidance from the Pennsylvania secretary of state that the three-day extension would adequately account for processing backlogs in elections offices and postal delivery delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats, who sued for public-health accommodations in accepting ballots, had asked for a weeklong extension, equivalent to the deadline federal law sets for accepting ballots mailed by military families and Americans overseas.

Although it leaves intact, for now, the Pennsylvania court order, Wednesday’s decision indicated that at least four justices are skeptical that state courts can alter election regulations adopted by state legislatures for presidential and congressional elections.

In its 4-3 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had likened the coronavirus pandemic to a natural disaster, which allows state courts to alter voting procedures should it occur on Election Day. The state justices invoked their power under the Pennsylvania Constitution’s Free and Equal Elections Clause, which the state high court has found more protective of voting rights than corresponding provisions in the federal Constitution.

In last week’s decision, Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh voted to block the Pennsylvania court’s three-day extension. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three liberal members, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, to leave the Pennsylvania order in

Justice Alito issued a statement saying “there is a strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution,” but the proximity of Election Day made it impractical to decide the issue now. Justices Thomas and Gorsuch joined the statement; in a separate case from Wisconsin on Monday, Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued an opinion expressing similar views.

The court indicated that the justices may issue additional opinions in the case. The Supreme Court could still decide to hear the case after the election, particularly if the outcome depends on Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.i

Research contact: @WSJ

Republicans advance Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination despite Democratic boycott

October 23, 2020

No Democrats? No problem! The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday, October 22, to advance President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Courtwith confirmation as Democrats boycotted the session in protest, The New York Times reported,

Indeed, majority Republicans skirted the panel’s official rules to recommend her in the absence of their Democratic colleagues. Judiciary Committee rules that require members of the minority party to be present to conduct official business.

Democrats—livid over the extraordinarily speedy process during the current election—spurned the committee vote altogether and forced Republicans to break their own rules to muscle through the nomination. Without the votes to block the judge in either the committee or the full Senate, though, their action was “purely symbolic,” the Times said.

The lopsided 12-to-0 outcome set up a vote by the full Senate to confirm Judge Barrett on Monday, a month to the day after Trump nominated her to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If all goes according to plan, the president and his party would win a coveted achievement just eight days before the election.

That would fulfill the president’s hopes of stacking a conservative SCOTUS, should he need the judicial body to confirm his victory following the November 3 presidential election.

Gloating over the illicit move, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the committee, said just before the vote.“This is why we all run,” “It’s moments like this that make everything you go through matter.”

According to the Times, Judge Barrett, a 48-year-old appeals court judge who has styled herself in the mold of the man she calls her mentor, former Justice Antonin Scalia, promises to shift the court meaningfully to the right, entrenching a 6-to-3 conservative majority.

The Times predicts, “Her presence will likely shape American society for decades to come, with potentially sweeping implications for corporate power and the environment, abortion rights and gay rights, and a wide range of other policy issues including health care access, gun safety and religious freedom.”

Democrats have sharply opposed Judge Barrett on policy grounds. But their goal on Thursday was to tarnish the legitimacy of her confirmation, arguing that Republicans had no right to fill the seat vacated just over a month ago by the death of Justice Ginsburg, when millions of Americans were already voting.

They were particularly angry that Republicans had reversed themselves since 2016, when they refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, citing the election nine months later.

“Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote in the Judiciary Committee,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said at a news conference on the steps of the Capitol, where he raised his voice to be heard over the cries of protesters opposed to the nomination.

“We are voting with our feet. We are standing together. And we are standing against this mad rush to jam through a Supreme Court nomination just days, days before an election,” Mr. Schumer said.

Inside the hearing room where the vote unfolded, Democrats’ empty chairs held large posters of Americans whose health care coverage they argued could evaporate if Mr. Trump’s nominee were to side with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act when it hears a Republican challenge to the law next month.

“I regret that we could not do it the normal way,” Graham said, “but what I don’t regret is reporting her out of committee.”

Research contact: @nytimes

New York prosecutor warns Trump not to ‘run out the clock’ on financial probe

July 20, 2020

A New York prosecutor has warned the White House not to try to “run out the clock” on the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal probe into President Donald Trump, Reuters reports.

Carey Dunne, general counsel for District Attorney Cyrus Vance, spoke at a hearing by teleconference in federal court on Thursday, July 16, in Manhattan to discuss Trump’s renewed legal challenge to block or narrow Vance’s ability to see his tax returns.

The case concerns an August 2019 subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of personal and corporate tax returns, related to Vance’s criminal probe into the Trump and his Trump Organization.

According to Reuters, Dunne told U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero that there are looming deadlines to prosecute cases because of statutes of limitations, and more delays could give Trump the “absolute temporary immunity” the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected.

“Let’s not let delay kill this case,” Dunne said. “Justice delayed becomes justice denied.”

Marrero approved a jointly negotiated schedule giving Trump until July 27 to file papers formally opposing the subpoena and its scope. Vance won’t enforce the subpoena that date.

William Consovoy, a lawyer for Trump, said the president could argue that the subpoena was “wildly overbroad” as to reflect Vance’s bad faith, which the prosecutor has denied.

Consovoy said the subpoena was similar to congressional subpoenas that the Supreme Court refused to enforce, and that Vance, a Democrat, might have gone after the Republican president to harass him or because of political differences.

In a Reuters/Ipsos poll this week, 66% of adults agreed that Trump should release his tax returns from earlier years, and 68% said Americans have a right to see presidential candidates’ returns before the November 3 election.

Vance’s investigation began after news reports that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to buy her silence about claimed sexual encounters with Trump in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election. Trump has denied that the payoff ever occurred.

On July 9, the Supreme Court in a 7-2 vote rejected Trump’s earlier argument that he was immune from state criminal probes while in the White House, UPI reported.

Even if Vance prevails, grand jury secrecy rules make it unlikely Trump’s financial records will become before the election, those in the know say.

According to Reuters, all of that could change if criminal charges were brought against anyone, including other defendants. The litigation has made it unlikely this would happen, at least until after the election.

The case is Trump v Vance et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-08694.

Research contact: @Reuters

Trump politicizes Supremes: Instructs Sotomayor, Ginsburg to recuse themselves from ‘his’ cases

February 26, 2020

President Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying both should recuse themselves from cases involving him or his administration, Politico reported.

His comments at a press conference in India — and previous tweets to the same effect —came after Sotomayor criticized the court’s conservative majority for granting a number of the administration’s emergency stay requests.

Most recently, on February 21, the Supreme Court had unveiled a 5-4 decision to allow the Trump Administration to deny entry or green cards to immigrants based on a “wealth test,” claiming that low-income immigrants were likely to become a “public charge” and use social programs such as food stamps or Medicaid, Rolling Stone reported.

In her dissenting comments on the case (Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, et. al, v. Cook County, Illinois, et. al.) Justice Sotomayor said the administration has too quickly gone to the Supreme Court to appeal unfavorable decisions made by lower courts, and that by taking the cases, the Supreme Court is “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of” the president.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each,” Sotomayor wrote. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.”

“It is hard to say what is more troubling,” she added. “That the government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.”

“Perhaps most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others,” Sotomayor wrote in the sharp opinion.

As he always does, the president clapped right back:  “She’s trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way, and that’s so inappropriate,” Trump said of Sotomayor to reporters.

The president also criticized Ginsburg for her comments during his 2016 campaign, when she called Trump a “faker” who “has no consistency about him” and “really has an ego” to CNN and told The New York Times that “I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president.”

Trump at the time called on Ginsburg to resign, and she later apologized.

Trump’s call for the two justices to recuse themselves comes as the Supreme Court prepares next month to tackle several issues directly involving the president, Politico noted. On March 31, the court will hear back-to-back oral arguments on cases that ask whether the president must comply with congressional subpoenas for his financial records and whether he is immune from state criminal investigations while serving in the White House.

Research contact: @politico

NBC News: Chances are slim that Supreme Court will halt handover of Trump’s tax returns

November 6, 2019

President Donald Trump will face strong pushback when he asks the Supreme Court to stop New York prosecutors from getting his tax returns, according to a report by NBC News.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump claimed that he would be willing to hand over his business’ tax returns, but that he was unable to do so, because they were then “under audit.” Now, the explanation for suppressing the filings has changed, but the basic message is the same: Hands off!

Trump’s lawyers have fought back, according to NBC News, arguing that because a sitting president cannot be indicted, he likewise cannot be subject to any steps in a criminal investigation (including evidence collection and documentation).

In rejecting that claim, a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said Monday that presidential immunity “does not bar the enforcement of a state grand jury subpoena directing a third party to produce nonprivileged material, even when the subject matter under investigation pertains to the president.”

Past Supreme Court rulings have upheld subpoenas directed at presidents, and this time the local prosecutors are seeking documents from the Trump Organization and Trump’s accountants—not directly from the president himself.

For those reasons, among others, NBC says,the Supreme Court might simply decline to hear the president’s appeal—which would leave the appeals court ruling intact and require the tax filings to be turned over.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating whether any state laws were broken in the payment of hush money to two women who claimed they had a sexual relationship with Trump—allegations that the president denied. The prosecutors also are looking into the claim by Trumps former personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen that Trump sometimes misstated his financial situation in order to pay lower taxes.

No court has ever ruled that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, but that has been the consistent position of the Justice Department under both Republican and Democratic administrations. The logic behind that position can be summarized simply: The president can’t run the country from jail.

The Supreme Court has never ruled that sitting presidents are beyond the reach of criminal investigations, though. In 1974, the court ruled that President Richard Nixon was required to comply with a subpoena directing him to turn over tape recordings of conversations in the White House. In 1975, President Gerald Ford complied with an order to give a deposition in the trial of a woman charged with trying to shoot him. In 1996, President Bill Clinton gave videotaped testimony in two criminal trials.

The Justice Department’s own position is consistent with these rulings, the network news outlet says. A 2000 memo from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded that while sitting presidents cannot be prosecuted, they can still be investigated. Even if a president is immune from indictment, “a grand jury could continue to gather evidence throughout the period of immunity, even passing this task down to subsequently impaneled grand juries if necessary.”

A further problem for Trump is that Vance is not seeking any material involving official presidential duties, even though some of it overlaps with the time he’s been in office. For that reason, the president is not making any claim that the material sought by the grand jury is protected by executive privilege.

According to NBC News, the president’s lawyers’ best hope for getting the Supreme Court to take the case may be to argue two points. First, they will likely say that the 1974 ruling in the Nixon case doesn’t apply because that was a subpoena issued for material to be used in a criminal trial of former White House aides. A grand jury subpoena, they might say, is a lower level of need.

And second, they may say that Vance’s request is politically driven. His prosecutors admit that they lifted the wording of the subpoenas directly from subpoenas issued by two House committees controlled by Democrats. Trump’s refusal to make public his tax returns has been a consistent gripe of critics on the left.

At least four justices must vote to hear a case in order for the Supreme Court to grant review. And those four would be reluctant to plunge ahead unless they were reasonably confident they’d get a fifth vote when the case is decided. From the perspective of Trump, and presidential authority in general, it would be better to leave the Second Circuit ruling intact than to have the Supreme Court definitively rule that presidents must comply with such subpoenas.

The lawyers for both Trump and Vance have agreed to submit their court filings promptly. There’s no deadline for the justices to act, but both sides are hoping the court will say by mid-January whether it will take the case.

Research contact: @NBCNews

DoJ argues businesses can legally discriminate against transgender workers

October 26. 2018

The Department of Justice argued in the Supreme Court on October 24 that businesses can discriminate against employees based on their gender identity without violating federal sex discrimination laws, Bloomberg Law reported.

“The court of appeals misread the statute and this Court’s decisions in concluding that Title VII encompasses discrimination on the basis of gender identity,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a brief regarding a case against a Michigan funeral home. R&G Harris and G&R Harris Funeral Homes, a family-owned business in the Detroit area, is accused of violating federal employment laws when it fired transgender worker Aimee Stephens in 2013.

Specifically, after Stephens said she was transitioning, her boss—a devout Christian, according to CNN—told her the situation was “not going to work out,” according to court documents. She was offered a severance package, but she declined to accept it—instead filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued the funeral home.

The EEOC, which enforces civil rights law in the workplace, successfully sued on Stephens’ behalf in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the Michigan funeral home has appealed the case to the Supreme Court, where the Justice Department represents the government.

The Justice Department’s argument that federal civil rights law does not apply to transgender workers comes after The New York Times reported on October 21  that the Department of Health and Human Services was moving ahead with efforts to limit the definition of gender—saying that gender can only be defined by the genitals a person had at birth.

A leading transgender advocate called the government’s reported action a “super aggressive, dismissive, dangerous move,” according to the Times.

“They are saying we don’t exist,” said Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Rights, in an interview.

What’s more, this is not the first time that the rights of transgender people have been challenged by the current administration. The Trump administration also has attempted to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military — a move that was blocked by the courts in November 2017.

Research contact: copfer@bloomberglaw.com

Citing doubts about temperament and partisanship, ABA reopens evaluation of Kavanaugh

October 8, 2018

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 5—one day before the floor vote that confirmed SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh—announcing that it was reopening its evaluation into the judge’s “temperament” to sit on the court, The Hill reported.

The ABA—which is the nation’s largest legal organization, with more than 400,000 members—said in the letter to Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-California), “New information of a material nature regarding temperament during the September 27th hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee has prompted a reopening of the Standing Committee’s evaluation,”

Chair Paul T. Moxley   wrote, “The committee does not expect to complete a process and re-vote prior to the scheduled Senate vote [on October 6]. Our original report must be read in conjunction with the foregoing. Our original rating stands.”

Indeed, during Kavanaugh’s hearing before the Judiciary Committee on September 27 about allegations of sexual assault brought by Dr. Christine Blaséy Ford, the judge touted his “well-qualified” rating from the ABA— its highest rating; attributing it to his “judicial temperament” while serving as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court for 12 years.

Democratic lawmakers criticized Kavanaugh’s conduct during the heated hearing, where he repeatedly questioned Democratic senators about their drinking habits when they asked him about his behavior during high school and college, The Hill said.

In addition, at the hearing, Kavanaugh injected partisan language into his argument regarding the accusations lodged against him. “This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” he said, “fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”

In a first for the nation’s highest court, The New York Times reported that Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on October 4 said that he does not believe that Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the high court—commenting that there was “merit” to criticism of the judge’s temperament after his heated testimony last week.

What’s more, the ABA called on the Judiciary Committee to postpone a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court until the FBI could investigate accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

That investigation was characterized by most familiar with it as “incomplete,” however, multiple GOP senators on expressed satisfaction with the probe.

Reopening a judicial candidate’s evaluation process when new information comes to light is part of the standing committee’s routine process, explained in this 33-page backgrounder. The ABA Journal ran an in-depth article about the standing committee’s judicial evaluations in January.

Research contact: @ArisFolley

64% of Americans support Roe v. Wade

July 13, 2018

As the U.S. Senate prepares to hold confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the public is strongly opposed to any attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal nationwide. Currently, 64% of Americans believe the decision should stand, while 28% would like to see it overturned, based on findings of a poll released by Gallup on July 12.

The poll was conducted July 2-8, just before President Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Many Democratic senators quickly voiced their opposition to the conservative 53-year-old judge—whom, they say is pro-life and against indicting a sitting president. While nominees to the high court often do not openly share their personal views on issues, their past public statements are scrutinized.

Partisans’ opinions are sharply polarized, with 81% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 41% of Republicans saying they do not want Roe v. Wade overturned. In contrast, 51% of Republicans, 22% of Independents and 13% of Democrats want it reversed.

While Democrats’ opinions have been consistent over time, Republicans’ views have been less so. For example, a majority of Republicans—albeit a slim majority, at 52%—said in 2006 that the case should not be overturned.

However, one Republican is holding firm, according to a report by CNN. Vice President Mike Pence  told the news outlet on July that he still wants to see the judgment overturned—but wouldn’t say whether Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would be the guy to make it happen.

When asked in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash about wanting to outlaw abortion, Pence responded, “Well, I do.

“But,” he continued, “I haven’t been nominated to the Supreme Court.”

Pence denied that either he or President Donald Trump had asked Kavanaugh about his views on abortion. “What the American people ought to know is, as the president said today, this is not an issue that he discussed with Judge Kavanaugh, I didn’t discuss it with him either.”

Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com

65% of small business owners would serve LGBT customers

November 17, 2017

A new opinion poll from the Small Business Majority—a national advocacy organization—has found that 65% of entrepreneurs strongly believe business owners should not be able to deny goods and services to LGBT customers based on their religious beliefs or because of their right to free speech or free artistic expression—and that nondiscrimination policies are good for their state’s business climate and their own business’s bottom line.

The poll was released on November 1, just as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, addressing the rights of business owners to deny services to LGBT individuals.

Conducted on behalf of Small Business Majority by Chesapeake Beach Consulting from October 4 through October 23, the poll found that 50% of small business owners believe that business owners should not be able to deny goods or service to someone who is LGBT based on the claim that service violates their right to free speech; compared to just 34% of respondents, who said a business owner should be allowed to deny services for this reason.

Similarly, 55% of small business owners don’t believe that a business owner should be able to claim an exemption to nondiscrimination laws, if they believe serving a customer goes against their right to free artistic expression.

Additionally, a majority of small business owners (55%) agree that nondiscrimination laws improve the business bottom line by attracting the best and brightest employees, regardless of whether the employee is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Finally, 59% of respondents said that denying services to LGBT clients via statewide or national legislation would hurt the business climate in their own states.

Research contact: Simon Brown (202-535-3229)