House postpones vote to decriminalize marijuana until after election

House Democrats’ plan to vote on legislation decriminalizing marijuana before the November election went up in smoke Thursday, as leadership decided to postpone consideration of the measure amid concerns about the political optics.

Some of the more moderate Democrats in the caucus, including ones considered vulnerable for re-election in November, had expressed reservation about voting on the marijuana bill this month when Congress still had not passed another coronavirus relief package.

“Right now, the House is focused relentlessly on securing agreement to stave off a damaging government shutdown and continuing to do its job addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement. “Later this autumn, the House will pass the MORE Act with strong support as yet another crucial step toward making our justice system fair for all Americans.”

The MORE Act is the shorthand name for the bill, titled the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. The measure, which the Judiciary Committee reported out last November on a 24-10 vote, would remove cannabis from any federal references to controlled substances and provide a process for expunging marijuana-related convictions. Advocates for the legislation say it would help correct years of policy that resulted in mass criminalization and incarceration that disproportionately affected minority populations.

“The MORE Act remains a critical component of House Democrats’ plan for addressing systemic racism and advancing criminal justice reform,” Hoyer said.

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EPA postpones speaker series on racism after White House order

That includes anything “that teaches, trains or suggests the following: (1) virtually all White people contribute to racism or benefit from racism (2) critical race theory (3) white privilege (4) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country (5) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil (6) Anti-American propaganda.”

POLITICO first reported last week that the Education Department is conducting a broad review of training materials, workshops and even employee book clubs pursuant to the OMB memo.

It also follows EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s vow during a recent speech at the Nixon Library in California to heighten EPA’s focus on environmental justice in a second Trump term. Wheeler’s call for action would include greater coordination between EPA’s air, land and water offices to provide communities with a more holistic approach to environmental protection.

The Trump administration’s budgets have routinely called for slashing EPA’s environmental justice spending; this year’s proposal sought to cut $4.8 million of EPA’s $9.5 million environmental justice enforcement budget.

The hourlong EPA event, which was to have been held virtually on Tuesday afternoon, was part of a speaker series open to all EPA staff on “Structural Racism and Environmental Justice.” The series aimed to highlight “how addressing structural racism is indeed highly relevant to EPA’s mission and key to advancing the integration of EJ. The series will feature groundbreaking cutting-edge work in ways to better advance EJ by addressing structural racism.”

It would have featured Robert Nelson and LaDale Winling of the Mapping Inequality Project, a multi-university effort that visualizes how banks in the 1930s used the practice of “redlining” to keep white and black communities segregated, which has left a legacy that continues to influence the racial makeup of many communities.

Charles Lee, a senior EPA policy adviser for environmental justice, cited the OMB memo in a postponement notice sent to EPA staff and obtained by POLITICO

“Pursuant to the memorandum issued by OMB and with the expectation of more detailed guidance on implementation to be issued shortly, we are postponing this event for now,” he wrote. “Once EPA has received and had the chance to review this more detailed guidance, we will let you know about next steps regarding the EJ and Structural Racism series.”

EPA spokesperson James Hewitt said in a statement that EPA “put such training on hold” until it receives “greater clarification” from the White House.

Nelson told POLITICO in an email that he and Winling look forward to rescheduling the EPA session for a later date, and he rejected the White House’s argument that studying inequality is “un-American propaganda.”

“I think any efforts that aim to understand, explore, and act upon past injustices is exactly the opposite of ‘un-American,’ and I think I speak for all of my collaborators when I say we’re grateful that our historical work on redlining in the 1930s has been of interest and use to people doing important work like the staff of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice,” he

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