This Week in Washington…

Posted on September 6, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP FIVE STORIES THIS WEEK

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved by a 10-7 vote Wednesday a resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria. House Democrats are facing pressure ahead of the lower chamber’s vote next week on the authorization. Read more
    Look ahead: The full Senate is expected to take up a resolution to grant President Obama authority to use military force against Syria next week, National Journal‘s Billy House and Michael Catalini reported. Read more
  • President Obama is taking part this week in the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, where the ongoing crisis in Syria is distracting from the planned focus on the economy. Read more
    Look ahead: In addition to the Syria issue, Obama must contend with tensions arising from the U.S. surveillance tactics disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Read more
  • The intractable budget battles in Washington over sequestration and the breakdown of the normal budgeting process are harming offices nationwide that are dependent on federal financing, leaving many uncertain of how much money they will have to spend in the year ahead, The New York Times reported. Read more
    Look ahead: In a stopgap measure, Congress is expected to pass another continuing resolution after returning from recess.
  • Few issues in the immigration debate enjoy the broad-based agreement that exists about how the U.S. should treat highly skilled workers, National Journal‘s Rebecca Kaplan reported. Yet plans to revise the H-1B visa program have been tied to a comprehensive immigration bill that has a very uncertain future.  Read more
    Look ahead: Backers of immigration reform are planning to hold large demonstrations in major U.S. cities on Oct. 5 and a march on Washington on Oct. 8 that organizers, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., hope will draw 15,000 for a rally for the passage of comprehensive reform legislation, The Hill reported. Read more
  • The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that increased consumer spending on homes and cars has fueled a “modest to moderate” pace of economic growth from early July through late August, Bloomberg reported. Read more
    Look ahead: A majority of economists surveyed by Reuters ahead of Friday’s jobs report expect the figures to reflect increased hiring in August—growth that could cement an expected decision by the Federal Reserve to begin scaling back its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. Read more

WHITE HOUSE

  • Against the backdrop of the Syrian conflict, President Obama is in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Group of 20 summit, where he finds his position diminished, The New York Times reported. Read more
  • President Obama met with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday at an energy expo at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, The Hill reported. Read more
  • Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a letter to congressional leaders Wednesday that the Veterans Affairs Department will extend federal benefits to the same-sex spouses of military veterans. Read more
  • President Obama will meet with human-rights activists in St. Petersburg on Thursday, while in Russia for the Group of 20 summit, BuzzFeed reported. Read more
  • The White House has postponed a scheduled speech by Vice President Joe Biden on college affordability at the University of Central Florida, USA Today reported. Read more
  • The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced plans to view same-sex marriages as equivalent to heterosexual marriages for tax purposes, The Washington Post reported. Read more
  • The Justice Department will not challenge state laws legalizing the medicinal or recreational use of marijuana, The Washington Post reported. Read more

CONGRESS

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution Wednesday, by a 10-7 vote, giving President Obama limited power to use military force against Syria, in the wake of allegations that the government used chemical weapons on its people, The Washington Post reported. Read more
  • Few issues in the immigration debate enjoy the broad-based agreement that exists about how the U.S. should treat highly skilled workers, National Journal‘s Rebecca Kaplan reported. Yet plans to revise the H-1B visa program, which is the primary vehicle for foreign-born workers to live in the U.S.—and often a precursor to citizenship—have been tied to a comprehensive immigration bill that has a very uncertain future. Read more
  • Many Republicans insist that congressional investigation into the IRS’s singling out of conservative groups will continue, despite acknowledging that looming fiscal fights this fall may detract attention from the investigation, The Hill reported. Read more
  • House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., kicked off the “VA Accountability Watch,” which locates reports that have found defects with various aspects of the department, then aggregates them on the committee’s website, The Washington Post reported. Read more
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will propose next week a jobs bill that links community colleges with businesses and helps to provide training for workers, The Hill reported. Read more
  • Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., believes that the Army should award victims of the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting the Purple Heart Medal and reclassify the attack as an “international terrorist attack,” The Hill reported. Read more

POLITICS

  • Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection next year, avoiding what would have likely been a contentious primary battle, USA Today reported. Read more
  • Charles Baker, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2010, announced in a video Wednesday that he would make another bid for Massachusetts’ top office, The Boston Globe reported. Read more
  • Former Montana state Sen. Corey Stapleton, the last Republican in the race, said Tuesday that he is dropping his Senate bid to run for the House instead, clearing the path for a likely bid from Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Roll Call reported. Read more
  • The NRA spent another $250,000 on the Colorado recall elections during the last week of August, according to a new campaign finance report, boosting the group’s overall spending on the recalls above New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s, The Denver Post reported. Read more
  • If you’re like 75 percent of Americans, you think the polling data presented in this news article is biased, Hotline‘s Steve Shepard reported. Read more
  • The debate in Congress over President Obama’s call for a military strike against Syria comes at an ideal moment for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the non-interventionist expected to seek the Republican nomination in 2016, National Journal‘s Beth Reinhard reported. Read more

BUDGET & ECONOMY

  • Shortly after his reelection, President Obama began considering former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as a replacement for Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve after 2013, and the president has been working to court senators to his cause ever since, The New York Times reported. Read more
  • Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday that the federal government brought an “impermissibly selective, punitive, and meritless” lawsuit against the rating agency “in retaliation for defendant’s exercise of their free speech rights with respect to the creditworthiness of the United States of America,” Reuters reported. Read more
  • The intractable budget battles in Washington over sequestration and the breakdown of the normal budgeting process are harming offices nationwide that are dependent on federal financing, leaving many uncertain of how much money they will have to spend in the year ahead, The New York Times reported. Read more
  • A recent Gallup Poll offers a window into the nature of the U.S. economic recovery, The Atlantic Cities‘ Richard Florida reported. Read more
  • Big business, once a firmly rooted pillar of the Republican Party, is increasingly being marginalized by a modern GOP inflated with antigovernment activists, The New York Times reported. Read more
  • The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that increased consumer spending on homes and cars has fueled a “modest to moderate” pace of economic growth from early July through late August, Bloomberg reported. Read more

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • On Thursday, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich recommended that House leadership hold a combined vote on the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline and military action in Syria, National Journal‘s Alex Brown and Patrick Reis reported. Read more
  • Oil Change International, in partnership with the Sierra Club, 350.org, and Environment America, released a report Thursday calling for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, National Journal‘s Clare Foran reported. Read more
  • In strongly worded remarks Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry asserted the irrefutability of climate change, Agence France-Presse reported. Read more
  • Federal regulators on Friday released guidelines on storage and handling of ammonium nitrate, the substance involved in an April explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, The Hill reported. Read more
  • Judge Natalia Combs of the D.C. Superior Court on Friday ruled against a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by climate scientist Michael Mann against the National Review, The Hill reported. Read more
  • Japanese leaders revealed a plan Tuesday to protect groundwater near the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi complex—a mile-deep ice sheet that will prevent the spread of contaminated water and cost $472 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. Read more
  • The boom in American oil and natural gas is helping the U.S. economy and its contributions could substantially increase by the end of the decade, says a study released Wednesday by several major players in the fossil-fuel industry, National Journal‘s Alex Brown reported. Read more
  • President Obama met with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday at an energy expo at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and praised Sweden for its efforts to create a carbon-neutral economy, The Hill reported. Read more

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

  • Thousands of Islamist supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi demonstrated in streets across Egypt on Tuesday, the second such effort in four days, Reuters reported. Read more
  • Intelligence about Syria’s use of chemical weapons differs considerably among the U.S. and its closest allies, but all reports agree that Sarin gas was used and that only President Bashar al-Assad’s government could have carried out the use of chemical weapons, The New York Times reported. Read more
  • Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning formally submitted a pardon request to President Obama on Tuesday, The Hill reported. Read more
  • The 178-page summary of the U.S. intelligence community’s $52.6 billion “black budget”—revealed last week by The Washington Post—shows increased surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms, cites concerns about biological and chemical sites in the country, and outlines efforts to gauge the loyalties of counterterrorism sources working for the CIA. Read more
  • Al-Qaida is tasking engineers with finding out how the group could shoot down, jam, or remotely take control of a drone, in hopes of changing the U.S. drone policy, according to intelligence documents provided to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Read more
  • Israel and the United States launched a missile from the Mediterranean Sea today as part of a “successful test” of a new air-defense system, The New York Times reported. Read more
  • Congress has formally declared war 11 times in U.S. history, and authorized the use of military force another 11 times, The Atlantic‘s Garance Franke-Ruta wrote. Read more
  • Unnamed intelligence officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday that their agencies missed signs that the Syrian regime was preparing a large-scale chemical-weapons attack in the days leading up to the Aug. 21 strike on a suburb of Damascus. Read more
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin conceded in an interview today that Edward Snowden contacted Russian diplomats in Hong Kong prior to flying to Moscow, countering earlier comments by Putin that Snowden’s June arrival was a “complete surprise,” The Wall Street Journal reported. Read more

HEALTH CARE

  • For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data, National Journal‘s Clara Ritger reported. Read more
  • The Rand Corp. released a study Thursday showing that the Affordable Care Act will not result in increased premiums nationwide, The Hill reported. Read more
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that access to care in the same nursing home as one’s spouse is extended to Medicare beneficiaries in same-sex marriages. Read more
  • Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to navigator organizations requesting information about how they will spend the grant money, Kaiser Health News reported. Read more
  • Labor unions are growing increasingly upset with the Obama administration’s lack of response to their concerns regarding the Affordable Care Act, The Hill reported. Read more
  • The Baltimore Ravens will help to promote new insurance options under the Affordable Care Act in Maryland, The Wall Street Journal reported. Read more
  • Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, 21 states have passed laws prohibiting private insurance companies from covering abortions, The Huffington Post reported. Read more
  • A new poll released Wednesday found that young adults are the most supportive of the health care law across age groups, and notably more likely to consider purchasing insurance on the exchanges, National Journal‘s Sophie Novack reported. Read more
  • In a speech that fell smack in the middle of the nation’s debate on Syria, former President Clinton urged Congress to revise a number of issues he has with the Affordable Care Act, National Journal‘s Clara Ritger reported. Read more

TECHNOLOGY

  • Three major Monday deals, involving Verizon-Vodafone, CBS-Time-Warner, and Microsoft-Nokia, have reshaped major industries, USA Today reported. Read more
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., asked constituents to send him their opinions on authorizing military intervention in Syria by way of e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook, The Hill reported. Read more
  • Brazilian and Mexican officials expressed outrage after documents supplied by Edward Snowden and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald over the weekend indicated the National Security Agency spied on the communications activities of both countries’ presidents, Bloomberg reported. Read more
  • A survey of 3,700 scientists found a large number reporting that their research has been adversely affected by sequestration, Inside Higher Ed reported. Read more
  • Cars are becoming more and more like computers in several ways, giving way to increased vulnerability to hackers, the Associated Press reported. Read more
  • Russian computer-security expert Eugene Kaspersky discussed with The Wall Street Journal his conviction that “there is no more privacy” for consumers desiring the best of new technologies. Read more
  • Google is often heralded for being an open marketplace for developers wanting to create apps on its Android platform, but such openness lends itself to scams and security vulnerabilities, Quartz‘s Leo Mirani reported. Read more

OTHER NEWS

  • Ariel Castro, sentenced last month to life in prison plus an additional 1,000 years for crimes against three Ohio women, was found hanged in his cell Tuesday night, Reuters reported. Read more
  • Jimmy Simmons, the president of the NAACP’s branch in Casper, Wyo., met with John Abarr, a kleagle of the United Klans of America, on Saturday, in what is likely the first formal meeting between representatives of the two organizations, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Read more
  • Diana Nyad, 64, made the 110-mile swim between Key West, Fla., and Cuba, becoming the first to do so without a shark cage, the Associated Press reported. Read more
  • The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday announced plans to view same-sex marriages as equivalent to heterosexual marriages for tax purposes, The Washington Post reported. Read more
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said “no that’s not my thing. I did that,” in response to a question from National Journal‘s Ben Terris about if she wanted to be speaker of the House again. Read more

QUOTES

  • “[Y]ou are not my God.” – Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., yelling at a voter, who insulted Weiner about his marriage to longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, in a New York CIty deli. (National Journal)
  • “I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.” — Secretary of State John Kerry, “thinking out loud” about putting boots on the ground in Syria. (National Journal)
  • “I pay no attention to Heritage Action. They’ve become a purely partisan group that never asks anybody’s opinion.” — Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. (The Washington Post)
  • “He ought to worry about fixing up the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park.” — Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, on Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s call to “blow up [Detroit] and start all over.” (MLive)
  • “We certainly don’t have a dog in the fight. … That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as al-Qaida’s air force.” — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on the situation in Syria. (The Huffington Post)
  • “I don’t know about you, but seeing Chris Christie frolicking on the beach is not going to drive me to go to the shore.” — New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono, on Christie’s appearance in New Jersey tourism ads. (Associated Press)
  • “You have a problem with that? Would you have a problem with an American Christian saying, ‘Thank God, thank God’? … For someone to say ‘Allahu Akbar’ is about as offensive as someone saying ‘Thank God.’ ” — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to a Fox News host who took issue with Syrian rebels yelling “Allahu Akbar!” (Talking Points Memo)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog charts the high amount of federal housing subsidies that went to six-figure households.
  • Pew charts the narrowing gender gap in workforce participation.
  • Team Marketing Report graphs the price per ounce of beer at major league ballparks (sorry, Boston fans).
  • The Center for American Progress graphs the relation between upward mobility and middle-class size.
  • Pew charts the decline of military members in Congress.
  • Wonkblog charts the workforce and how it has evolved over the years.

Future events

  • Thursday, September 5 — The Hispanic Heritage Foundation will hold the 26th Hispanic Heritage Awards ceremony to “celebrate Hispanic cultural pride, contributions, and accomplishments” at 8 p.m. at 2700 F Street NW.
  • Thursday, September 5 — The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion, “Why Europe Is the Other Power of the 21st Century (and China Is Not)” at 4:30 p.m. at 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW.
  • Thursday, September 5 — The New America Foundation and Free Press will hold a discussion, “The Open Internet Goes to Court,” on Verizon’s lawsuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order and net neutrality at 3 p.m. at 1899 L Street NW.
  • Friday, September 6 — The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs will hold a discussion on “The Reconstruction of Central and Eastern Europe,” focusing on the “frozen conflicts” in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Cyprus at noon at 1957 E Street NW.
  • Friday, September 6 — President Obama will participate in the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Friday, September 6 — First lady Michelle Obama, retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, Olympic gold medalists Allyson Felix and Dominique Dawes, DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, and North America Reebok President Uli Becker will participate in an event to announce new commitments for “Let’s Move! Active Schools,” which “aims to get physical activity back into schools, before, during and after the school day,” at 1 p.m. at 2200 Minnesota Avenue SE.
  • Monday, September 9 — The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research holds a discussion on “The Labor Market Today: Is Unemployment Cyclical or Structural?” at 2 p.m. at 1150 17th Street NW.
  • Monday, September 9 — The Commerce Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research will hold a meeting of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee on producing a national climate assessment at 3 p.m. at 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • Tuesday, September 10 — Access Intelligence will hold the fifth annual Renewable Energy Technology Conference and Exhibition at 9 a.m. at 2660 Woodley Road NW.
  • Tuesday, September 10 — The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a full committee hearing on “Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws” at 10 a.m. in 216 Hart. Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole will testify.
  • Tuesday, September 10 — Congress will hold a Gold Medal Ceremony to honor the 1963 Birmingham bombing victims at the U.S. Capitol at a time to be announced. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, are scheduled to attend.
  • Tuesday, September 10 — The House Homeland Security Committee’s Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Fulfilling a Key 9/11 Commission Recommendation: Implementing Biometric Exit” at 10 a.m. in 311 Cannon.
  • Tuesday, September 10 — The Kaiser Family Foundation will hold a webinar on “Helping Consumers Understand What They Will Pay in the New Marketplaces,” focusing on “key aspects of the Affordable Care Act, its implications for consumers, and strategies for connecting the dots for different audiences” at 12:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 10 — The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will hold a debate, “Is Technology Responsible for American Job Loss?,” at 9 a.m. at 1101 K Street NW. Robert Atkinson, president of ITIF; Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist in the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Edward Luce, chief U.S. commentator at the Financial Times will participate.
  • Tuesday, September 10 — The Future of Privacy Forum and the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School will hold a forum on “Big Data and Privacy” at 9 a.m. at 901 K Street NW. Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, will participate in a panel discussion on “Government Use of Big Data.”
  • Wednesday, September 11 — The House Financial Services Committee’s Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing, “The Fed Turns 100: Lessons Learned over a Century of Central Banking” at 2 p.m. in 2128 Rayburn.
  • Wednesday, September 11 — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a full committee hearing, “The Department of Homeland Security at 10 Years: Examining Challenges and Achievements and Addressing Emerging Threats” at 10 a.m. in 342 Dirksen.

 

 

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