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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

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1 p.m. the day after the article is transmitted.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.