Dec 21, 2017

Another federal judge temporarily halts Trump's birth control rule

A one-month pack of hormonal birth control pills. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / AP

A federal judge in California temporarily blocked the Trump administration from enforcing new contraception rules, Reuters reports. The rules would have allowed employers to deny an Obamacare requirement mandating them to provide insurance that covers women's birth control.

Why it matters: This ruling follows a similar decision made last week by a federal judge in Philadelphia against the policy. That judge said it would cause serious and irreparable harm, according to multiple reports.

On Thursday, Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr., said the administration failed to carry out a notice and comment process before implementing the policy, which allows businesses or nonprofits to obtain exemptions on moral or religious grounds, per Reuters. The ruling puts the policy on hold while a lawsuit challenging its legality proceeds.

Background: The suit was filed by Democratic attorneys general in California, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia, per Reuters. California officials reportedly said the federal directive would affect about 6.8 million residents.

Go deeper: Trump administration rolls back ACA contraception mandate

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and South Korea ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 46 mins ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins