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ICYMI: 5 things that were drowned out by bigger political stories

By Lauren AguirreAugust 25, 2017

Trump White House podium
President Donald Trump answers questions from the media during a news conference announcing Alexander Acosta as the new Labor Secretary nominee in the East Room at the White House on February 16, 2017. Getty Images

The headlines fly by more quickly than ever now, it seems. If you attempt to follow the news on a regular basis, it can be difficult to keep up with everything. Many outlets focus on the quote unquote “biggest” stories that take the most time to investigate or have the most security implications. However, among President Trump’s scandalous tweets, the FBI investigation into Russian hacking and collusion, and discussion around Trump's response to Charlottesville, there are plenty of important political stories that fell to the wayside. Here are a few that you should probably know about.

1. 44 states have refused to cooperate with Trump’s voter fraud commission

So far, a total of 44 states and the District of Columbia have refused to provide certain voter information to President Trump’s election integrity commission. The request was sent to all 50 states and came months after Trump claimed without evidence that millions had illegally voted in the 2016 election. The commission has requested registrant’s full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, last four digits of social security numbers and voter participation records since 2006. It also asked for information on any felony convictions, whether some voters were registered in other states, military status and whether some voters lived overseas. Six states have said they will comply. Any information gathered by the commission (including social security numbers) will eventually become available to the public.

2. Department of Justice demands IP addresses related to Trump resistance site

The Department of Justice has requested information on visitors to a website used to organize protests against Trump. The website’s host, Dreamhost, published details of the request on its blog. The company said it had been working with the Department of Justice for several months on the request. Dreamhost believes it goes too far under the Constitution and compliance would require handing over about 1.3 million IP addresses to the government — as well as contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of website visitors. The website was involved in organizing a protest on Inauguration Day. The First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech and the right to “peaceably assemble” to everyone in the United States.

3. Many important federal positions are still not filled

According to the Partnership for Public Service, there are 553 key positions in the federal government that require Senate confirmation. Eight months into Trump’s presidency, only 117 have been confirmed. Another 106 are awaiting confirmation and 368 have no one nominated to fill the position. The Senate cannot act without a formal presidential nomination. For comparison, Obama had 310 confirmed by the August congressional recess of his first year. Bush had 294 confirmed.

4. NASA receives expanded mission orders

In March, the Trump administration proposed a $19.1 billion budget for NASA for 2018. This would be 0.8 percent decrease from 2017. Additionally, NASA’s mission would be expanded to focus on deep space exploration (both human and robotic) and encourages public-private partnerships to reduce costs and support private sector innovation. However, this proposal also axed NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission. This was an Obama-era project to bring part of an asteroid near the moon so astronauts could visit and retrieve samples. Later that month, Trump also signed a law approving funding for manned missions to Mars.

5. “Read the Bills” bill proposed again in the Senate

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, proposed legislation in July that would require senators to read bills before voting on them. You might think this is common sense, but unfortunately, too many senators and representatives never read the bills they are asked to vote on. And this isn’t the first time a bill of this kind has been proposed. The “Read the Bills Act” was first proposed in 2006. Paul endorsed the bill in 2010 and proposed similar legislation in 2012. If enacted, the bill would require that bills be posted at least 72 hours before a vote. It would also likely lead to legislation written more clearly and succinctly.