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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Trump speaking to reporters at the White House in September. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) said in a statement Thursday that President Trump's executive order that appears to block federal contractors from holding anti-racist programs or diversity training is "ill-conceived and harmful" and asked that it be rescinded.

Why it matters: PhRMA president and CEO Stephen Ubl warned that the order puts "improper bureaucratic hurdles and restrictions on speech" within private companies that have contracts and grants with the federal government, jeopardizing "meaningful dialogue on the values for which this nation stands."

Context: Trump moved to halt federal agencies' anti-racism training in early September, then expanded the ban to federal contractors. The order suggests these sessions promote "radical ideologies that divide Americans by race or sex."

What they're saying: “The biopharmaceutical industry is doing everything it can to find vaccines and therapeutics to help end a pandemic that has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities," Ubl wrote in a statement Thursday.

  • “The issue of health inequities is not a new problem. It is a longstanding symptom of the systemic racism experienced by Black and Brown Americans throughout history. It is why our companies have committed to pushing for necessary, positive and long-term change to better address the needs of diverse communities."
  • "And it is why we must speak out against the president’s executive order restricting workplace diversity training programs and free speech within private companies that have contractual partnerships with or grants from the federal government."
  • “Diversity is essential to a robust innovation ecosystem that can create new medicines for those who need them."

The big picture: The Information Technology Industry Council, a tech industry lobbying group, also pushed back against the order last week.

  • CEO Jason Oxman wrote in a statement that it "attacks our broadly shared values and risks undoing real progress toward building racial equity in the tech industry and America writ large."

Go deeper

Trump bans transactions with eight Chinese software apps

Trump speaking at a rally in Dalton, Georgia, on Jan. 4. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that prohibits transactions with eight Chinese software applications, claiming they pose a national security threat given their ability to access private information about their users.

Why it matters: The order comes two weeks before Trump leaves office, and it remains unclear whether President-elect Biden will continue enforcing Trump’s bans on Chinese companies.

CPAC Republicans choose conservatism over constituents

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CPAC proved such a draw, conservative Republicans chose the conference over their constituents.

Why it matters: More than a dozen House Republicans voted by proxy on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in Washington so they could speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. And Sen. Ted Cruz skipped an Air Force One flight as President Biden flew to Cruz's hometown of Houston to survey storm damage.

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.

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