This week in politics

S4 Group had a short week, but plenty happened around the country! Read below for some highlights, and click here to read our full newsletter. You can also sign up at the bottom of this page to have it delivered straight to your inbox every week!


The GOP presidential candidate pool shrunk last Friday when Rick Perry decided to drop out of the race, leaving us with only 16 Republican contenders. 11 of them (Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina) participated in a three-hour debate on Wednesday.

Carly Fiorina, who was lauded as the winner of the second-tier debate last month, rose to dominate the prime-time debate this week. The pundits place Sen. Marco Rubio in second place, though he did not have any particularly memorable moments. It’s hard to declare a clear loser, but Donald Trump is not faring as well this time as he did after the Fox debate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held two more unsuccessful votes on disapproving of the Iran deal and keeping sanctions in place, and the continued fights over Planned Parenthood and abortion are threatening us with a government shutdown at the end of the month. Writers for Politico call the Planned Parenthood standoff “the epitome of crisis-fueled legislating.”

Although several high-ranking House Republicans are still discussing ousting Rep. John Boehner from his Speaker role, the most viable replacements are supporting the Speaker. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan both dismiss the effort to remove Speaker Boehner and urge their colleagues to focus on more pressing issues. Read more.

The Department of the Treasury and Department of Commerce announced looser regulations on the flow of goods, money, and people between the US and Cuba, to take effect on Monday. Limits on remittances to Cuban citizens will be removed, Americans will be able to open certain types of businesses in Cuba, and more. Read about it here.

President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November in an attempt to repair their relationship and offer more military aid. Read more.

The Federal Reserve is keeping its main borrowing rate flat, and many analysts predict the Fed will not raise interest rates in October either. Read more.

The House may vote later this month to repeal the ban on exporting crude oil, which the oil industry has been hoping for since the ban’s imposition in the 1970s. Oil refiners, on the other hand, oppose the bill and fear it will raise the domestic price of crude oil. The bill has 130 cosponsors in the House, but it will have a tougher time in the Senate. Read more.

HHS announced it is awarding $350 million in grants to community health centers around the country to expand their substance abuse treatment services. “About 1.4 million of the 23 million Americans that health centers see annually have some kind of alcohol or drug problem,” according to National Journal. Jim Macrae, acting administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration of HHS, spoke of a rising trend of primary-care centers wanting to expand their mental health and substance abuse services, and of mental health providers wanting to expand their primary care services. The new grants under the ACA are meant to help both types of health centers do just that. Read more.

The director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, will end his 13-year tenure there in November and head to Google Life Sciences to conduct more research on psychosocial issues.  Dr. Bruce Cuthbert will serve as acting director until a replacement is found. Read more.

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