This Week In Washington…

Posted on October 11, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

  • House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, proposed Thursday morning a short-term plan that would raise the debt ceiling through Nov. 22.
    Look ahead: If enough House Republicans back the proposal, the House could vote as soon as Thursday evening. Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said the Obama administration prefers a longer-term deal.
  • Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned during a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday that “irrevocable damage” could result from the United States defaulting on its obligations.
    Look ahead: Moody’s Investors Service downplayed the risk of default, saying that the government would prioritize what bills to pay, even though the Obama administration has panned such an approach.
  • As Egypt’s military-backed government prepares to try former President Mohamed Morsi in November, the U.S. is withdrawing substantial aid to the country—including military systems and cash assistance—until Egypt makes “credible progress” toward an inclusive, democratically-elected government.
    Look ahead: What this policy shift will prove now, months after the military takeover and years after the crackdown on democratic civil society began, is unclear—and that’s not a good thing if the United States will cut back assistance that has been central to the relationship between both countries for three decades.
  • U.S. special forces conducted weekend raids in Libya and southern Somalia—the former resulted in the capture of a suspected al-Qaida operative, and the latter ended prematurely and without the apprehension of the targeted individual.
    Look ahead: The missions demonstrate the reach of the U.S. military, and could provide a window into future counterterrorism efforts.
  • President Obama on Wednesday nominated Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen to chair the central bank.
    Look ahead: Yellen could face pushback from Senate Republicans on her touting of the Federal Reserve’s easy-money program. It is unclear when her nomination hearing will take place.

WHITE HOUSE

  • President Obama met Wednesday with House Democrats, and is expected to meet separately Thursday with House Republicans and Senate Democrats; a meeting with Senate Republicans is slated for Friday.
  • In televised remarks Tuesday, the president reiterated his willingness to speak with Republicans about the budget stalemate, but said he had told House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that “negotiations shouldn’t require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the heads of the American people.”
  • National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling said Monday that the White House could be amenable to a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, which would allow for negotiations to end the ongoing fiscal battles.
  • In an unannounced visit to FEMA on Monday, the president thanked furloughed agency employees who returned to work—without pay—to aid preparations for Tropical Storm Karen.

CONGRESS

POLITICS

  • Supreme Court justices appeared divided when they heard arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case that could further loosen campaign finance restrictions.
  • Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., said he will retire at the end of his current term.
  • Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the state’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, largely blamed President Obama and Senate Democrats for the shutdown at a Family Foundation fundraiser on Saturday, but said both parties should agree to a short-term spending bill.
  • Former Wisconsin Commerce Secretary Mary Burke, a Democrat, announced a bid against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who withstood a recall election year.
  • With less than a week to go, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, is leading the New Jersey Senate election with 53 percent of the vote in a new Quinnipiac University poll, with former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, a Republican, capturing 41 percent.

BUDGET & ECONOMY

  • Fed Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen was nominated Wednesday to succeed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
  • Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that trying to determine what bills to pay if the country defaults would be “chaos.”
  • Moody’s Investors Service said the government would prioritize what bills to pay, even though the Obama administration has previously panned such an approach.
  • The United States and the European Union canceled trade talks scheduled to occur next week in Brussels, with U.S. trade officials citing staff shortages due to the furlough.
  • U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said that in addition to impeding trade discussions, the government shutdown is “hurting the American economy and the creation of American jobs.”

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

  • As Egypt’s military-backed government prepares to try former President Mohamed Morsi, the U.S. is withdrawing substantial aid to the country—including military systems and cash assistance—until Egypt makes “credible progress” toward an inclusive, democratically-elected government.
  • Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was held captive in the Interior Ministry building for several hours by members of a militia linked to the government, reportedly in retaliation for the regime’s purported role in the U.S. capture of suspected al-Qaida operative Abu Anas al-Libi.
  • A suicide car bombing in northern Sinai killed four members of Egypt’s security forces on Thursday. It is the latest in a series of violent clashes across Egypt, where the government is involved in a military offensive.
  • U.S. Special Forces members on Saturday captured Abu Anas al-Libi, suspected of involvement in the deadly 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Libya.
  • Navy SEALs staged a raid on a town in southern Somalia on Saturday, but were unable to capture their target and aborted the mission after encountering “fiercer resistance than expected.”
  • During a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the countries are “very pleased” with the initial phase of Syrian disarmament, and looked ahead to scheduled nuclear talks with Iran.
  • Under the supervision of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a team of Syrians this weekend began destroying “mixing equipment, missile warheads, and aerial bombs.”

HEALTH CARE

  • Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s enthusiastic implementation of the Affordable Care Act is being met with high enrollment on the state exchange in its first few days.
  • The chief administrative officer of the House sent guidance to Congress requiring lawmakers and their staffers to purchase “gold” level plans, one of the top-tier options available on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
  • As ACA enrollment site glitches continue in the second week, weekend Web repairs helped a bit. The administration has attributed glitches to high traffic, but software problems are also to blame. The insurance industry is calling for patience, saying there is time to fix the system before coverage begins.
  • The GOP remains strongly opposed to the Affordable Care Act, but the law’s coverage expansion would benefit House districts represented by Republicans nearly as much as those represented by Democrats.
  • A Kaiser survey released Monday shows increases are expected even in states not expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Some insurers are receiving faulty data from the federal exchange. The extent of the problem is not known, but industry reports indicate technical problems faced by consumers aiming to enroll in coverage may be affecting insurers as well.
  • A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows two-thirds of Americans think Congress should keep the government open and address health care separately.
  • The Center for Disease Control’s ability to track an antibiotic-resistant salmonella outbreak that began in California has been hindered during the government shutdown.
  • Affordable Care Act state exchanges are experiencing fewer glitches and having more success enrolling uninsured individuals than federal exchanges during the first week of implementation.

TECHNOLOGY

  • An Aug. 9 ruling by the International Trade Commission, which banned the importation or sale of certain older models of Samsung smartphones and tablets due to infringement on Apple patents, is set to take effect after the U.S. Trade Representative declined to challenge it.
  • The U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled in favor of Amazon in a dispute between the online retailer and IBM over a $600 million contract to provide cloud computing services to the CIA.
  • Over the past 13 months, the National Security Agency’s new data-storage facility in Bluffdale, Utah, has suffered 10 meltdowns, which have damaged key equipment and delayed the opening of the facility, slated to play a key role in the agency’s surveillance operations.
  • NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander criticized media coverage of his agency’s surveillance practices as “irresponsible,” warning that the leaks could cause “irreparable damage to our nation.”
  • According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, advertising on mobile devices increased from $1.2 billion in the first half of 2012 to $3 billion in the first six months of 2013.

OTHER NEWS

  • Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Stamford, Conn., was shot and killed by Capitol police Thursday following a pursuit that began when Carey allegedly attempted to breach a security barrier near the White House.
  • The Nobel Prize winners for Chemistry, Physics, and Literature were announced on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, respectively.
  • Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy of Florida and Bill Foster of Illinois are pushing legislation that would close down the members’ gym while the shutdown continues.
  • The Federal Reserve began circulating some 3.5 billion new $100 bills this week, an upgrade that was delayed more than two years due to printing defects.
  • Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., on Tuesday brought his son John onto the House floor, where the toddler took members’ voting cards, cast votes, and engaged House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in “what was surely a high-level conversation.”

QUOTES

  • “There’s hardly anybody working down there. There’s no towel service, we’re doing our own laundry down there.” — Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, on the shutdown suffering of House gym members. (Talking Points Memo)
  • “I’m on your side, don’t screw it up.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, whose protest to free D.C.’s budget overlapped with a Senate Democratic photo op. (Washington Times)
  • “That is one of the worst stories I have ever heard.” — Utah judge Thomas Willmore, to a man who blamed his upset stomach for a 111-mph police chase. (UPI)
  • “We spend more money guarding the World War II Memorial than we do protecting our ambassador in Libya.” — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (floor remarks)
  • “I’ve never done twerking in my life and I don’t intend to take it up.” — Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., on a Miley Cyrus Saturday Night Live parody of her. (Tea Party News Network)
  • “New Jersey needs a leader, not a tweeter.” — Senate candidate Steve Lonegan, on Newark Mayor Cory Booker. (Politicker NJ)
  • “I’ve advised her to raise money.” — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, on whether he has discussed the Affordable Care Act with Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. (Hotline On Call)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

Future events

  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Center for Digital Innovation Technology and Strategy at the University of Maryland, and Smartronix will hold a forum on “Digital Innovation,” focusing on “how the General Services Administration and other federal agencies could operate Facebook-like online service platforms” at 8 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The New America Foundation will hold a discussion on “The Humanitarian Crisis in Syria: What More Can Be Done?” at 11:30 a.m. at 1899 L Street NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will hold a discussion on Detente and Democratization: Can Rouhani Change Iran? at 12:30 p.m at 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Institute for Korean-American Studies and the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service will hold a symposium on “The Korean Peninsula Issues and U.S. National Security” at 1:15 p.m at 3600 N Street NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 – Sunday, Oct. 13 — The Family Research Council will hold the 2013 Values Voter Summit: Standing for Faith, Family, and Opportunity for All,” at 2500 Calvert Street NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Institute for Policy Studies will hold a discussion on “The future of the progressive movement(s),” part of the IPS 50th Anniversary Celebration, including a look at campaigns for dealing with workers’ rights, poverty, and inequality at 7:30 p.m. at 415 New Jersey Avenue NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Georgetown University Law Center and Americans for Financial Reform will hold a symposium on bank regulation titled “Opening Wall Street’s Black Box, Pathways to Improved Financial Transparency” at 10 a.m. at 120 F Street NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion on “U.S. Trade Policy in the 21st Century: Can the Multilateral Trading System Survive?” at 12:30 p.m. at 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will hold a discussion on “prospects for a trade facilitation agreement and other deliverables at the WTO’s (World Trade Organization) 9th Ministerial Conference in December and other issues confronting the rules-based trading system” at 2 p.m. at 1615 H Street NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on “U.S. Global Leadership in the Second Obama Administration: Policies and Realities” at 2 p.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing on “The Way Forward Toward Fiscal Sustainability and Economic Growth” at 10 a.m. at 1100 Longworth.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on “The Impacts of the Government Shutdown on Our Economic Security” at 11 a.m. in 253 Russell.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on “The Road to a New Global Climate Change Agreement: Challenges and Opportunities” at 9 a.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW.
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — The Organization of American States and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development will hold a joint meeting to discuss “Developing the Global Framework to Confront Climate Change” at 11 a.m. at 200 17th Street NW.
  • Monday, Oct. 14 – Tuesday, Oct. 15 — The National Iranian American Council will hold the 2013 Leadership Conference at 1221 22th Street NW.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15 — The Women’s Foreign Policy Group will hold a discussion on “A Status Report on Syrian Refugees: A View from the Field” at noon at 1615 M Street NW.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15 — The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a hearing on “Small Businesses Speak: Surviving the Government Shutdown?” at 2:30 p.m. at 428-A Russell.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15 — The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a discussion on “Oil Market Trends and Forecasts” at 10 a.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15 — The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a field hearing on “Offshore Energy and Jobs: America’s Governors Speak Out” at 10:30 a.m. at 1141 Bayview Avenue in Biloxi, Miss.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15 — The Technology Policy Institute will hold a discussion on “Competition, Net Neutrality and Other Issues Facing the New FCC” at 8:30 a.m. at 555 13th Street NW.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 16 — The Heritage Foundation will hold a book discussion on Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take It Back at noon at 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 16 – Thursday, Oct. 17 — The TechAmerica Foundation will hold the 2013 Vision Conference at 6715 Commerce Street in Springfield, Va.

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