This Week in Washington…

Posted on February 27, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

  • House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., unveiled an overhaul of the U.S. tax code, which would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to two and lower the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
  • House Democrats filed a discharge petition Wednesday in hopes of forcing a vote to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will meet Friday with committee chairs to begin crafting an alternative to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has delayed a vote on wage-increase legislation at least until the Senate returns from its next recess on March 24.
  • Republican senators have placed holds on the president’s selections, but Majority Leader Harry Reid’s deployment of the nuclear option has reduced the efficacy of such tactics.

POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • Colorado regulators signed off on the first state-level controls on methane release from oil and natural-gas drilling operations.
  • Several Supreme Court justices—including, at one point, swing vote Anthony Kennedy—cast skeptical eyes on the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse-gas permit requirements for large industrial polluters.
  • Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate State Department’s hiring practices for contracting firms used to complete environmental impact assessments.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has been named chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works’ Subcommittee on Oversight.
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer said a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline should take public health effects of oil-sands extraction into account.
  • Supporters and opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline pressured Secretary of State John Kerry to take their side in the debate before he weighs in on the project.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

  • HHS announced that ACA private-plan enrollment on the exchanges has reached 4 million.
  • The administration released proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans Friday. Reductions to the payment rates are included in the Affordable Care Act, but insurers and lawmakers had urged the White House to avoid any cuts this year. However, shares of Humana and other insurance companies rose Monday as concerns eased over proposed regulations.
  • As enrollment on the health care law’s insurance exchange for the individuals and families accelerates ahead of the March 31 deadline, small-business owners remain slow to choose plans on their dedicated exchange.
  • Maryland’s ACA exchange continues to flounder, causing the state to replace prime contractor Noridian Healthcare Solutions with Optum/QSSI.
  • A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actuarial report predicted that 65 percent of small businesses will see premiums increase under the Affordable Care Act. The findings give ammunition to GOP opponents of the law; Democrats argue that the projections do not take federal subsidies into account.
  • The new Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control annual report released by the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services found that investigations have recovered a record $4.3 billion in fiscal 2013, and $19.2 billion over the last four years.
  • The latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found that overall consumers prefer higher premiums and broader provider networks, but the target market for the ACA—those uninsured or currently purchasing their own coverage—favors lower cost and a narrower network of providers.

EDUCATION

TECHNOLOGY

  • The House passed a bill allowing cell-phone unlocking, which lets customers switch providers without buying a new phone, but it kept in place a ban on bulk unlocking.
  • Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox went offline, losing about 6 percent of all bitcoins in circulation, in total worth more than $350 million—but many bitcoin investors still don’t want any kind of bailout.
  • Republican lawmakers plan to introduce a bill to “eradicate” a Federal Communications Commission study on print and broadcast journalism newsroom decisions.
  • Verizon is investigating possible data-security breaches at two retailers, which could be similar to the massive data breach at Target in November and December. Verizon would not say which companies may have been hit.
  • Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for access to higher-speed access for Comcast subscribers, making it the first time an online company has effectively had to pay for access to customers of a broadband provider.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “I told the president, next game I have him. Just remember, I may be a white boy, but I can jump.” — Vice President Joe Biden, on playing basketball with President Obama (CNN)
  • “These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.” — Biden, on voter-ID laws in Southern states (The Hill)
  • “I’m sorry, I’m losing you, we have a technical difficulty.” — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo when asked if he was considering running for president (New York Observer)
  • “It should be a conversation in every community, in every town hall, in every church group, and every PTA program to put pressure on the governors and legislatures to say, ‘This is not acceptable.’ ” — Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who criticized Republican governors for refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare (The Hill)
  • “There is not going to be one low-carbon solution. There are going to be multiple low-carbon solutions. We need all the arrows in the quiver, and that is why we will continue to invest across the board in our different fuels and, of course, efficiency and other technologies.” — Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, on the government’s “all of the above” approach to climate policy
  • “Little has been done in this Congress, with 57 bills passed into law. That is not Heinz packaged varieties, it is the laws passed by the Congress.” — Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., in a statement announcing his retirement (release)
  • “I’m sorry you had to unmask me. I’m really Kevin Spacey in disguise. Not too many people knew that.” — Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to actor Seth Rogen, during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee hearing (National Journal)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • Gallup charts House Speaker John Boehner’s recovering popularity after the federal government shutdown.
  • Quartz tracks the dwindling popularity of orange juice.
  • Pew maps outgoing and incoming remittances across the world.
  • The Washington Post charts the shifting U.S. obesity rates by age.
  • The Wall Street Journal graphs why recent good news in the housing market isn’t very meaningful.
  • The Wall Street Journal maps projected 2018 home prices.
  • TechCrunch visualizes acquisitions by Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook over the past 15 years.
  • National Journal maps the state of same-sex marriage in the United States.

Future events

  • Friday, Feb. 28 – The White House will hold its first-ever Student Film Festival, highlighting the administration’s commitment to get high-speed Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, at 3:30 p.m. in the East Room.
  • Wednesday, March 5 – The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal 2015 and the Future Years Defense Program at 9:30 a.m. in 216 Hart. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey are scheduled to testify.
  • Thursday, March 6 – The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal 2015 and the Future Years Defense Program at 9:30 a.m. in G-50 Dirksen.
  • Friday, Feb. 28 – The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion, “Mexico’s Political Reform and Electoral Transformation: What are the Global Lessons?” at 9 a.m. at 1030 15th St. NW.
  • Friday, Feb. 28 – The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will hold an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act; urge Congress to extend background checks to include online purchases and gun-show sales; and release a report on the impact of Brady background checks, at 9:30 a.m. in HVC-215.
  • Friday, Feb. 28 – The Cato Institute will hold abriefing, “The Fed’s 100th Anniversary and the Case for a Centennial Monetary Commission,” at noon in B-318 Rayburn.
  • Friday, Feb. 28 – The Center for American Progress will hold adiscussion, “Housing Finance Reform: What Does It Mean for Rental Housing?” at 12:30 p.m. at 1333 H St. NW.
  • Monday, March 3 – The Peterson Institute for International Economics will hold a discussion on economic sustainability and reform challenges facing the Danish and other “welfare states” in the 21st century, at 11 a.m. at 1750 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 4 – The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold ahearing on the nominations of Stanley Fischer to be a member and vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors; and Jerome Powell and Lael Brainard to be members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors at 10 a.m. in 538 Dirksen.
  • Tuesday, March 4 – The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative will hold adiscussion, “The Role of Global Banking in the U.S. Economy,” at 2:30 p.m. at 1225 I St. NW.
  • Thursday, Feb. 27 – The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Center for Clean Energy Innovation will hold an “Energy Innovation on the Hill” reception at 5 p.m. in HVC-201.
  • Monday, March 3 to Tuesday, March 4 – Energy Biz holds the 2014 Securing Power Forum at 1330 Maryland Ave. SW.
  • Thursday, Feb. 27 – The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion, “U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Regional Security Dilemma,” at 4:30 p.m. at 1619 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, Feb. 27 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a Schieffer Series Journalist Roundtable discussion, “National Security and Foreign Policy Flash Points,” at 6 p.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
  • Sunday, March 2 to Tuesday, March 4 – The American Israeli Political Action Committee will hold its 2014 Policy Conference at 801 Mount Vernon Place NW.
  • Monday, March 3 to Tuesday, March 4 – The Federation of American Hospitals will hold its annual public policy conference at 2660 Woodley Rd. NW.
  • Thursday, Feb. 27 to Saturday, March 1 – The Education Department will hold a meeting of the National Assessment Governing Board at 2500 Calvert St. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 4 – The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing, “Raising the Bar: The Role of Charter Schools in K-12 Education,” at 10 a.m. in 2175 Rayburn.
  • Friday, Feb. 28 – The New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute will hold a book discussion on It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens at 9 a.m. at 1899 L St. NW.
  • Friday, Feb. 28 – The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a discussion on a new report, “Cybersecurity and the North American Electric Grid: New Policy Approaches to Address an Evolving Threat,” at 9 a.m. at 1225 I St. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 4 – Georgetown University’s Institute for Law, Science, and Global Security will hold a conference, “International Engagement on Cyber: Developing International Norms for a Safe, Stable, and Predictable Cyber Environment,” at 8 a.m. at 37th and O streets NW.
  • Tuesday, March 4 – The Washington, D.C., Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association will hold the fifth annual Cybersecurity Summit at 8 a.m. at 1001 16th St. NW.

 

 

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One Response to “This Week in Washington…”

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This is by far the best summary of important DC-doings, Caren – thanks SO much for compiling this every week.

More soon, Bob


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