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Law enforcement and other officials examine surplus gear at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state as they attend an information session for a program that distributes surplus military equipment to state law-enforcement agencies, May 2012. Photo: AP

President Trump is rolling back an Obama-era law that limited the amount of surplus military equipment that was passed on to local law enforcement agencies. The order was announced Monday, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to the national conference of the Fraternal Order of Police in Tennessee.

Why it matters
  • Trump has vowed on several occasions to lift the Obama-era ban. It's in keeping with Trump and Sessions' law-and-order agenda that aims to curb violent crimes by providing government support to local police.
  • Critics argue that the timing of the move could escalate the racial tension that has grown out of the violence in Charlottesville, and further exacerbate the outrage that followed Trump's controversial response.

The facts

  • Since 1990, the Defense Department allowed the transfer of surplus military equipment and supplies to federal, state, and local law enforcement, per NBC. The program was initially established to aid police in drug investigations, but it was later expanded to include all police missions.
  • In 2014, the Justice Department concluded that the military-grade equipment, such as riot gear and tear gas, used by law enforcement in the Ferguson, Missouri protests of 18-year-old Michael Brown's death only escalated the unrest.
  • As a result, Obama issued an executive order that made some gear off-limits, such as bayonets and grenade launchers, while other equipment required proof of the police agency's need.
  • "We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like they're an occupying force, as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them," Obama said in announcing the ban in 2015.
The other side
  • Many police organizations across the country have been pushing Trump for the reversal of the Obama-era ban, as they feel the equipment provides protection when responding to active shooter calls and terrorist attacks, per USA Today.
  • Some law enforcement officials have also pointed to the use of an armored vehicle that played an important role in the police response to the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, per AP.
  • As Jeff Sessions noted Monday, reinstating the program has economic advantages, such as saving billions of taxpayer dollars by recycling gear that has already purchased.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

9 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.