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Alex Brandon/AP

It's worth a check-in with people who have worked in high-ranking Health and Human Services positions in past administrations, now that House Democrats have released the text of the order that has gotten so much coverage. Here's what I found in talking to some of them:

  • Former Obama administration HHS officials do think it's worse than what other new administrations have done.
  • Former Bush administration HHS officials think it's not — and that other Trump administration actions, especially on climate change, are making this memo seem more ominous than it actually is.

So we just have another unhelpful partisan disagreement, right? Hear them out first. Tevi Troy, a former deputy HHS secretary under President George W. Bush, notes that every new administration tries to take control of communications. When Bush took over, Troy recalls, the order was, "secure the fax machines." Another former Bush HHS official tells me that new administration officials sometimes overreact, but that the HHS order itself "does not seem extreme."

But two former Obama HHS officials were more alarmed. "I've never seen an order this broad-sweeping before," said one, who wondered whether HHS will still be able to do things that need to be done in the next few weeks, like releasing new Medicare Advantage payment rates.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

President Biden faces a deeply broken America

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As President Biden begins his term in office today, he'll be tasked with leading a country beset with deep, long-term problems.

Why it matters: Though the pandemic has made them worse, existential challenges around inequality, social alienation and political division in the U.S. were in place well before SARS-CoV-2 arrived on American shores. The country's future will depend in large part on whether the choices made over the next four years can flatten the curve of American decline.

Facebook, Instagram transfer accounts, followers to Biden administration

Screenshot of official White House Facebook account.

Facebook on Wednesday confirmed that it is transferring the millions of followers of the official Facebook and Instagram White House accounts to the Biden administration.

Details: The accounts for "@POTUS," "@VicePresident" ("@VP" on Instagram) and "@FLOTUS" are having the followers from their personal Pages and accounts be transferred over. It's unclear when that transition process will be complete.

Updated 37 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

Biden delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the Capitol. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden signs executive orders and swears in day one presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony.