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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

33 mins ago - World

"I assume full responsibility," Duterte says of drug war

Rodrigo Duterte in 2017. Photo: Linus Escandor II/AFP via Getty Images

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday that he assumes full responsibility for a violent war on drugs that has killed thousands of people, Reuters reported.

Why it matters: Last month the International Criminal Court (ICC) formally authorized an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity during Duterte's war on drugs.

CDC approves boosters for Moderna and J&J and mix-and-match

Boxes containing vials of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's independent advisory panel voted unanimously to recommend booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine and allow people to mix-and-match doses.

The big picture: The agency aligns with the Food and Drug Administration authorization Wednesday night which said people could switch to whichever vaccine they wanted for their booster shot.

2 hours ago - World

Israel to approve new construction in West Bank settlements

Bennett (L) and Biden discussed the settlements issue. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Israel will approve the construction of 4,400 new homes in the West Bank next week: 3,10o in the Jewish settlements and 1,300 in Palestinian villages.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Israel has approved new settlement building since President Biden assumed office, and it's the first time since 2007 that it approves a significant number of new homes for Palestinians in "Area C" of the West Bank, which is controlled by Israel.