You may have noticed that sometimes our nation’s capital is listed under “D” for “District of Columbia” while other times it is listed under “W” for “Washington, D.C.” Perhaps you even refer to the city colloquially as simply “Washington.” If you have ever wondered why our nation’s capital seems to go by a few different names, then wonder no more:
While Washington and the District of Columbia might be interchangeable in everyday conversation, the two names refer to different entities: The District of Columbia is the federal district Congress established under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. constitution, while Washington is the name of the capital city that sits inside the federal district. While the Constitution enabled the federal government to establish a district to house the nation’s capital, it did not specify how Congress had to organize the federal territory. As such, the original federal district was mostly farmland but included three independent cities: Georgetown, Alexandria, and the nation’s new capital city: Washington City.
In the early 19th century, the city of Washington occupied but a small sliver of the District of Columbia. In 1846, the District of Columbia shrank when Alexandria and the portions of the district west of the Potomac were retroceded to Virginia. A few decades later, Washington City grew to absorb Georgetown along with the remaining lands in the federal district east of the Potomac. This created the modern city of Washington that is contiguous with the District of Columbia.
You can address your thoughts on this week’s headlines to our team in the city of Washington in the District of Columbia:
The shot (policy) heard ‘round the world
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the Biden administration would support a proposal before the World Trade Organization that would temporarily waive international patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, saying “extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.” (The Hill, STAT, Amb. Tai’s statement) While lower income nations and their supporters have argued the move would increase vaccine production and access, others including industry trade organizations BIO and PhRMA have issued sharp rebukes of this policy proposal. They argue that waiving intellectual property protections would not result in increased access to vaccines, as additional hurdles such as raw material shortages and pharmaceutical manufacturing expertise would prevent would-be competitors from reverse engineering the approved vaccines. (Axios)
Vaccine goal posts moved again
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a new goal in the national campaign to vaccinate Americans against the COVID-19 virus. The federal government is now aiming to have 70% of American adults at least partially inoculated against COVID-19 by July 4th. While the U.S. has enough vaccine supply to reach this goal, declining interest among the American populace threatens to make this goal more difficult to achieve than previous ones. (Axios, The Hill) Recognizing the decline in demand for COVID-19 vaccines, the federal government is shifting its inoculation strategy away from mass-vaccination sites to walk-up vaccination appointments at pharmacies and mobile vaccination clinics. (STAT)
Pallone pushes drug pricing reform forward
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) announced he would use “whatever vehicle I can” to pass the Democrats’ drug pricing bill, also known as H.R. 3. If passed, the bill would enable the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of Medicare. The announcement comes after President Biden called on Congress to pass drug pricing reform, but decided not to include these policy reforms in his multi-trillion dollar American Families Plan. (The Hill, The Washington Post)
Obamacare’s healthy enrollment numbers
Officials from the Biden administration announced that almost 940,000 Americans took advantage of the Affordable Care Act special enrollment period from February 15 to April 30 to sign up for health insurance. When announcing this news, federal officials also touted that premiums have decreased about 40% from $100 to $57 on average for almost 2 million Americans enrolled in plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. (The Hill)
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