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C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP

A watchdog group is suing the Trump administration to force the release of a letter to the House Freedom Caucus that might have outlined the regulatory steps the administration can take to loosen the Affordable Care Act's insurance rules. The lawsuit, to be filed by American Oversight in federal district court this afternoon, seeks the release of a March 23 letter administration officials reportedly gave to the Freedom Caucus to win its support for the House's health care bill, one day before leadership pulled that bill from the floor.

Why it matters: If the letter does exist — and if the group wins its release under the Freedom of Information Act — it could shed light on what kind of regulatory flexibility the Department of Health and Human Services thinks it can provide without any legislative changes. And that could be relevant if the Senate can't revive the stalled ACA repeal-and-replace bill, because then HHS would be sure to pursue those regulatory changes on its own.

Go deeper

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.