Archive for March, 2014

This Week in Washington…

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

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

• President Obama and international leaders moved to further isolate Russia, with the G-7 members agreeing to suspend their participation in the G-8, and NATO countries committing to bolster the alliance’s security operations.
Look ahead: The leaders vowed to impose stricter economic sanctions against Russia in the event of further military incursions into Ukraine, but budget constraints here and in Europe could reduce NATO’s role as a deterrent.
• The administration is seeking an overhaul of the NSA’s bulk data-collection practices, which would leave records in the hands of phone companies and require the agency to obtain a court order for searches.
Look ahead: Administration officials and congressional leaders are nearing consensus on a plan to reform the NSA program—a proposal from House Intelligence Committee leaders would require retroactive, rather than prior, judicial consent.
• The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, which address the question of whether for-profit corporations may gain a religious exemption from the legal requirement to provide coverage for contraception.
Look ahead: A ruling in the case could have broad implications, including for laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
• The White House, which has previously declined to extend the March 31 open-enrollment deadline, will allow individuals to sign up for coverage until mid-April if they are able to demonstrate that they began the enrollment process before the deadline.
Look ahead: Individuals may seek an extension for a range of reasons, and the government will grant it on an honor system.
• The House passed a temporary “doc fix” bill on a voice vote, preventing a 24-percent reduction in physician reimbursements under Medicare.
Look ahead: The Senate is expected to take up and past the measure later today.

WHITE HOUSE
• In an apparent warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Obama vowed to defend NATO allies against any threat, but also said that military force will not be used to return Crimea to Ukrainian control.
• Closing out his European tour with a speech at Belgium’s Palais des Beaux-Arts, the president characterized the conflict as “a moment of testing” for global democracy and international law and urged NATO members to “step up” to meet the challenge of collective security.
• The administration is calling for an overhaul of the NSA’s bulk data collection, which would leave records in the hands of phone companies and require the agency to obtain a court order for searches.
• Obama spoke with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, saying later that the two discussed foreign policy and income inequality and downplaying any disagreements over social issues.
• The president met Tuesday with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a key Putin ally, and the two leaders released a joint statement on their countries’ “shared commitment to nonproliferation and strengthening nuclear security.”
• The president launched an initiative on women’s issues at a Florida community college, drawing on his own family’s experiences while discussing his administration’s efforts to increase opportunities for women.
• The administration pushed back its deadline for review of 8,000 pages of Clinton administration records from March 26 to April 26, delaying the documents’ release by the National Archives.

CONGRESS
• The House and Senate passed separate bills Thursday to authorize aid to Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia for its actions in Crimea.
• House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced that Republicans will complete a budget, despite nagging questions about whether such a plan could pass in the House, and whether Republicans should—or even have to—produce a budget as they head toward November’s elections.
• House Democrats filed a discharge petition on comprehensive immigration reform Wednesday, in an effort to force Republicans’ hand on the issue.
• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ordered a forensic analysis of Intelligence Committee computers in response to the CIA’s “absurd” allegations of hacking by committee staff.
• A referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics alleges that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers used taxpayer funds to pay for her aides’ campaign-related travel, and combined campaign and congressional resources in her effort to win the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference, in violation of House rules.
• The House Ethics Committee is investigating Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., over a now-terminated contract with a former staffer now employed as a lobbyist.
• The ethics panel is reviewing an OCE referral contending that Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., earned $600,000 from a family plumbing business last year.

POLITICS
• Statistician Nate Silver’s latest Senate projection, which shows a slim edge for Republicans, drew a rebuttal from DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil, who wrote in a memo that Silver was wrong in 2012, and he’ll be wrong again in 2014.
• White House alumni are assuming consulting or advisory posts that lack the designation of registered lobbyist, allowing them to comply—at least nominally—with Obama’s 2009 directive barring former administration officials from lobbying the executive branch for the duration of his presidency.
• Americans for Prosperity used the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District to test a broad, data-driven strategy ahead of Senate elections across the country.
• The DCCC posted its strongest February ever, raising $6.4 million and ending the period with $34.4 million on hand and zero debt, while the NRCC raised $5.1 million and closed the month with $24.8 million on hand.
• The DSCC outraised its Republican counterpart by more than $1 million, taking in $6.8 million to the NRSC’s $5.47 million in February. But the Democratic committee is carrying $1.2 million in debt, while the NRSC is debt-free.

BUDGET & ECONOMY
• The Federal Reserve ruled Wednesday that Citigroup—which had planned to buy back $6.4 billion in shares and increase dividends—Zions Bancorp, and the U.S. subsidiaries of three European banks are inadequately prepared to withstand a potential crisis.
• The Fed approved capital plans from 25 other major banks following its annual “stress tests” of financial institutions.
• Twenty-nine of 30 major banks satisfied the Fed’s 5 percent minimum for top-tier capital, meeting the threshold for surviving another financial crisis.
• The Internal Revenue Service said in a notice issued Tuesday that bitcoin “does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction,” and is thus taxable as property, not currency.
• A report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that more than 80 percent of payday loans are rolled over or renewed within 14 days, and 15 percent of new loans yield a loan sequence (including such rollovers or renewals) of 10 or more loans. Many borrowers end up owing more in fees than the loan amount.
• A federal jury convicted five former aides to Bernard Madoff on 31 counts related to the long-running Ponzi scheme.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
• The Energy Department granted conditional approval to the Jordan Cove liquefied natural-gas export terminal in Oregon, authorizing it to ship natural gas to non-free-trade-agreement nations.
• Environmental groups need Sen. Mary Landrieu to win reelection to maintain a Democratic majority in the Senate, but they’re not going anywhere near her race.
• The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft rule to clarify which streams and waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.
• The World Trade Organization determined that China’s restrictions on exports of rare metals violate international trade agreements.
• A three-judge panel of a state appellate court has found that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ran afoul of the law when he withdrew from a regional greenhouse-gas emissions program.
• A number of states have already begun working on compliance plans to meet upcoming Environmental Protection Agency regulations to rein in greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants.
• New technology is helping wind turbines become increasingly efficient and cost-effective.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS
• The International Monetary Fund announced a “standby arrangement,” which will make available up to $27 billion in international funds over two years, including $14 billion to $18 billion from the IMF.
• Obama and leaders from seven other countries suspended Russia’s involvement in the G-8.
• The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution Thursday rejecting Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law.
• Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair—who is at the center of a high-profile military sexual-assault case—will serve no jail time, but was ordered Thursday to forfeit $20,000 in pay.
• Al-Qaida’s leadership in Pakistan is hoping to build a stronghold in Syria, aimed at recruiting and training Westerners to carry out attacks in Europe and the United States.
• Iran is building a fake, nonworking U.S. aircraft carrier, with experts casting doubt on reports by the country’s media that the ship is a movie prop.
• Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, was found guilty Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists.

HEALTH CARE
• Gilead’s new Hepatitis C drug costs $1,000 a pill, which has raised concern among insurers, state Medicaid programs, and lawmakers that the cost will prohibit those who need it from accessing the drug.
• Hispanics make up about one-third of the uninsured population in the U.S., but are refraining from enrolling in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
• In arguments that were part culture war, part nitpicking, and part health policy seminar, the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc staunchly defended businesses’ religious rights in the contraception mandate case, while the three female justices led the charge from the left.
• The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared divided while hearing oral arguments Tuesday in Halbig v. Sebelius, which turns on the contention that the ACA as written authorizes subsidies for low-income individuals only on the state exchanges, and not in the 36 states participating in the federal exchange.
• The White House, which has previously declined to extend the March 31 deadline, will allow individuals to sign up for coverage until mid-April if they are able to demonstrate that they began the enrollment process before that date. Individuals can apply for an extension for a range of reasons, and the government will grant it on an honor system.

TECHNOLOGY
• Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is branding himself as a consumer advocate on tech issues, likely to appeal to young voters, by criticizing government regulations such as ride-sharing limitations for stopping Uber from competing with taxis in Miami.
• AT&T executive Jim Cicconi is criticizing Netflix for advocating for net-neutrality rules, saying broadband companies have to invest in the capacity for Netflix users, passing the site’s cost on to all Internet users.
• Two men pleaded guilty in the Justice Department’s first prosecuted case of trafficking pirated smartphone apps, admitting to conspiring to distribute 1 million copies of counterfeit Android apps.
• Facebook has acquired Oculus VR, the company that makes the virtual-reality video-game headset Oculus Rift, for $2 billion.

OTHER NEWS
• Surgeons at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh are preparing to test a new treatment technique placing gunshot victims in suspended animation by replacing their blood with a cooling saline solution to gain time to repair critical injuries.
• Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Patrick Cannon resigned following his arrest on charges of soliciting and receiving bribes.
• A powerful mudslide has claimed 16 lives in Washington state, while dozens remain missing.
• Two firefighters were killed and 13 others injured in a massive fire in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood.
• A commuter train operator admits to falling asleep before his train derailed and climbed an escalator at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
• A project backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked the nation’s counties on the basis of health factors and outcomes.

QUOTES
• “Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. ‘Cause, you know, whatever. But I have long and strong ties to this state. People know.” — Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who is now running for a Senate seat in New Hampshire (AP)
• “This is a turning point, and it marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public’s seat at the table of government.” — Edward Snowden, on President Obama’s proposal to end the NSA’s collection of phone data (National Journal)
• “It may take a little time to get the legislation passed, but they can stop right now—right now.” — Sen. Ron Wyden, on President Obama’s proposal to end the NSA’s collection of phone data without waiting for congressional approval (National Journal)
• “They don’t pose the No. 1 national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.” — President Obama, on Russia, which Mitt Romney said in 2012 was the U.S.’s greatest geopolitical foe (Washington Post)
• “I regret that I didn’t do more. What I could have done is been a stronger advocate. The first and easiest thing to do would have been to use the bully pulpit to talk about the importance of reaching back and helping people at the lowest end.” — Shirley Franklin, mayor of Atlanta from 2002 to 2010, on the lack of social mobility in the city (National Journal)
• “We figured we had shot ourselves in the foot enough for one day, so we took the Web video down as soon as a fair use question popped up to avoid any misunderstandings.” — Jesse Benton, campaign spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on taking down a Web video that featured Duke University basketball players, possibly an NCAA violation (Talking Points Memo)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS
• FiveThirtyEight graphs Senate candidates’ chances of winning in November.
• Gallup tracks President Obama’s relative popularity on environmental issues, compared with energy and economic issues.
• Quartz compares consumer spending on mobile games to spending on apps and online movies.
• Pew Research shows people’s divided views on whether the news coverage of missing Malaysian flight MH370 was overblown.
• The Washington Post maps how much pay it takes to afford a two-bedroom rental unit in each state.
Future events
• Thursday, March 27 – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Sherry Trafford and Steven Wellner to be associate judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia at 2:30 p.m. in 342 Dirksen.
• Thursday, March 27 – Progressive Democrats of America will hold a briefing, “The Equal Rights Amendment: Unfinished Business for the Constitution,” at 3 p.m. in G-11 Dirksen.
• Thursday, March 27 – Japan International Transport Institute, USA will hold a global logistics seminar, “Infrastructure for Future Competitiveness,” focusing on shipping and trade in the United States and Japan, at 3 p.m. at 1000 H St. NW.
• Thursday, March 27 – The Center for American Progress will hold a film screening and discussion of A Boom With No Boundaries and Backyard, about oil and gas drilling in North Dakota, Montana, Pennsylvania and Colorado, at 6:30 p.m. at 1333 H St. NW.
• Thursday, March 27 – The Woodrow Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies will hold a discussion, “Crisis in Ukraine: Political, Social, and Economic Dimensions,” at 3:30 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
• Thursday, March 27 – The Woodrow Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies will hold a discussion, “Crisis in Ukraine: Political, Social, and Economic Dimensions,” at 3:30 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
• Thursday, March 27 and Friday, March 28 – America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Office of Personnel Management will hold the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program Carrier Conference at 2800 South Potomac Ave. in Arlington, Va.
• Friday, March 28 – The Institute of World Politics will hold a lecture, “The Changing Face of American Intelligence: From OSS (Office of Strategic Services) Special Operations, to Analysis and High Tech Reconnaissance, Back to Special Operations,” at 6 p.m. at 1521 16th St. NW.
• Friday, March 28 – The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research will hold a discussion, “Fixing the Mental Health Care System: What Congress Can Do,” at 10 a.m. at 1150 17th St. NW.
• Friday, March 28 – The University of Michigan’s Manufacturing Leadership and Energy Institute will hold a public-private stakeholder symposium, “Shale Gas: A Game Changer for American Manufacturing,” at 8 a.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
• Friday, March 28 – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute will hold a briefing, “The 2015 Budget: Impacts on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,” at 3 p.m. in CVC-215 in the Capitol.
• Friday, March 28 – The National Archives will hold a book discussion on The Gingrich Senators: The Roots of Partisan Warfare in Congress, at noon at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
• Monday, March 31 – State Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Va., will deliver a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon address on mental health care reform at 12:30 p.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
• Monday, March 31 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion, “Evaluating Feminism, Its Failures, and Its Future,” at noon at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
• Monday, March 31 – The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion, “A Pivotal Year in Afghanistan: 2014 Presidential Election and the Planned Drawdown of U.S. and NATO Forces,” at 10 a.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
• Monday, March 31 – The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion, “A Pivotal Year in Afghanistan: 2014 Presidential Election and the Planned Drawdown of U.S. and NATO Forces,” at 10 a.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
• Monday, March 31 – The George Washington University Cybersecurity Initiative will host an event, “Celebrating Women in Cybersecurity,” at 9:30 a.m. at 800 21st St. NW.
• Tuesday, April 1 – The American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold an event, “Big Data, Life Sciences, and National Security,” at 8:15 a.m. at 999 Ninth St. NW.
• Tuesday, April 1 – The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a discussion, “App, Map, Cloud, Code, Gadgets, Widgets & Digits: What’s Next for the Innovation Economy?” at 12:30 p.m. at 1225 I St. NW.
• Tuesday, April 1 – President Obama will host the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox at 11:15 a.m.
• Tuesday, April 2 – The Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance will hold a hearing, “Examining the GM Recall and NHTSA’s Defect Investigation Process,” at 10 a.m. in 253 Russell. General Motors CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to testify.
• Thursday, April 3 – The president and first lady Michelle Obama will host U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes and delegations at the White House.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

This Week in Washington…

Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

  • President Obama will take part in a forum with Valencia College students and workers from the Orlando area before delivering remarks on his administration’s efforts to improve educational opportunities for women and workplace parity.
  • Obama met this week with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, urging the leader to work toward restarting peace talks with Israel.
  • Vice President Joe Biden visited Poland and Lithuania in a bid to reassure allies of the administration’s commitment to their defense.
  • Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War who had been denied recognition due to their race or ethnicity.
  • The president has tapped Anita Decker Breckenridge, who has been on his staff since 2003 and currently serves as his personal assistant, to replace departing Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco.
  • First lady Michelle Obama is traveling through China on a “soft diplomacy” mission centered on education and the bonds between the two nations.

CONGRESS

  • House Speaker John Boehner described a bipartisan Senate deal to extend emergency unemployment benefits as “unworkable” after the National Association of State Workforce Agencies warned that some states could attempt to opt out due to the bill’s additional costs and strict requirements.
  • The House voted 238-181 to pass legislation permanently repealing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula, but the otherwise bipartisan proposal was attached to a repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate, ensuring that it will not clear the Senate.
  • According to Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who chairs the Friends of Ireland, Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his support for the GOP’s principles on the immigration reform, telling Boehner that the Irish “will do whatever they can” to help.
  • While President Obama and several congressional candidates are backing a proposal to increase the base pay rate to $10.10 per hour, most concede there is little hope of congressional action this year.

POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

  • After its first meeting since Janet Yellen took over as Federal Reserve chair, the Federal Open Market Committee announced plans to reduce its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion, as expected, and eliminated the 6.5 percent unemployment threshold from its forward guidance on interest rates.
  • Stocks dropped Wednesday following the Fed’s announcement and Yellen’s suggestion that the federal funds rate could rise six months after the end of quantitative easing.
  • The Fed is set to release the results of stress tests to assess the ability of the nation’s largest commercial lenders, regional banks, securities firms, credit-card issuers, and custodial banks to weather new economic crises—the results could impact the institutions’ ability to pay dividends to their investors.
  • Baby boomers are increasingly turning to reverse mortgages to sustain them in retirement, taking out $15.3 billion in loans in 2013—an increase of 20 percent over the previous year.
  • The Justice Department and Toyota have reached a $1.2 billion settlement, which includes the formation of an independent entity to review the automaker’s safety practices. The deal concludes a years-long investigation of unwanted accelerations by Toyota’s vehicles.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • With crude-by-rail shipments creating bottlenecks that have slowed down ethanol freight rail delivery, ethanol is selling at a higher price.
  • A new study found that an increase in the number of earthquakes in Ohio corresponds with the rise of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the state.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear-power plant, can’t find skilled labor to decommission the reactors.
  • The state of Alaska filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for blocking evaluation of oil and gas resources in part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science released a report that spells out the dangers of climate change in no uncertain terms.
  • BP won 24 out of 31 bids entered in an Interior Department offshore drilling lease sale, the first it was allowed to participate in after its 16-month federal contract suspension was lifted last week.
  • The White House announced that Google and other private-sector partners will help increase access to federally available climate data alongside new government initiatives to boost transparency and circulate information relating to climate risks.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

TECHNOLOGY

  • The Commerce Department denied “abandoning” the Internet after it announced the U.S. government would no longer control the technical system behind the Internet, instead handing it over to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg criticized President Obama for the government’s spying programs, saying the “U.S. government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat.”
  • A National Security Agency “time machine” program called MYSTIC allows the agency to collect every single call in an entire country within the last 30 days, although the specific country has not been disclosed.
  • Brazil will drop a portion of a law that required Internet companies to store data on Brazilian users within the country so the U.S. government cannot spy on them; it instead ruled that those companies are subject to Brazilian laws regardless of where they store the information.
  • The Pew Research Center found, not surprisingly, that countries with higher rates of Internet use tend to have a populace that support ending government control of the Internet.
  • Defense Department Inspector General Anthony Thomas said he did not know about the NSA’s spying activities until they were disclosed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden—despite claims that the agency is thoroughly overseen.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “My Lithuanian-born mother would be proud her son made Vladimir Putin’s American enemies list.” — Sen. Dick Durbin, after hearing he would be sanctioned by Russia (National Journal)
  • “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. It’s kleptocracy, it’s corruption. It’s a nation that’s really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy. And so economic sanctions are important.” — Sen. John McCain, on CNN’s State of the Union (Yahoo News)
  • “Crimea is our common legacy. It can only be Russian today.” — Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Russia moved toward annexing Crimea (Washington Post)
  • “I think we’re in for a tsunami-type election in 2014. My belief is, it’s going to be a very big win, especially at the U.S. Senate level, and we may add some seats in congressional races.” — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, on Republicans in the November midterm elections (The Hill)
  • “When I got the call. I had to ask if it was real. To me, this is bigger than the Higgs boson.” — Marc Kamionkowski, theorist at Johns Hopkins University, on possible proof of the inflationary-universe theory (Time)
  • “It’s a big honor for me. I don’t have accounts abroad. The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.” — Russian businessman Vladislav Surkov, on being named to the U.S. sanctions list over the Ukraine crisis (ABC News)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • Pew Research graphs China’s public concerns, including crime, education, and corruption.
  • Quartz charts the stagnant sales of microwaves as Americans move toward fresh foods.
  • Gallup charts Americans’ self-reported understanding of global warming.
  • FiveThirtyEight graphs the nationalization of gubernatorial elections.
  • NPR graphs which professions lead workers to make more or less money than their parents.

Future events

  • Friday, March 21 – Vice President Biden will address the National Association of Community Health Centers 2014 Policy & Issues Forum at 2660 Woodley Rd. NW.
  • Monday, March 24 – Third Way will hold a discussion on “the imperative for Congress to keep working toward the goal of long-term fiscal sustainability” at 11 a.m. at 50 Massachusetts Ave. NE. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is scheduled to participate.
  • Monday, March 24 – The House Appropriations Committee’s Legislative Branch Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the U.S. Capitol Police budget at 4:30 p.m. in HT-2 in the Capitol.
  • Tuesday, March 25 – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing, “Syria After Geneva: Next Steps for U.S. Policy,” at 10 a.m. in 419 Dirksen.
  • Friday, March 21 – The Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, Near Southeast Community Partners, the Sierra Club D.C. Chapter, and United for a Healthy Anacostia River will hold a D.C. mayoral candidate forum on sustainability, clean water, and environmental health at 6 p.m. at 300 Tingey St. SE.
  • Monday, March 24 – The Center for American Progress will hold a discussion on the evolution of anti-immigration policies on the state and local level at 12:30 p.m. at 1800 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 25 – The Cato Institute will hold a discussion, “State-Based Visas: A Federalist Approach to Immigration Reform,” at noon at 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, March 20 – The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research will hold adiscussion, “The Fed: Philosopher King or Servant of the Treasury?” at 3:30 p.m. at 1150 17th St. NW.
  • Friday, March 21 – NDN will hold adiscussion, “Raising Our Game,” focusing on improving the U.S. economy, at noon at 729 15th St. NW.
  • Friday, March 21 – The Washington International Trade Association will hold adiscussion, “Tools of the Trade: Trade Finance,” at noon at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Monday, March 24 – The Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center will hold adiscussion, “D.C. Tax Reform: The Path to Fairness and Competitiveness in Local Taxes,” at noon at 2100 M St. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 25 – The Atlantic will hold aTax Policy Summit focusing on tax-reform legislation aimed at “slashing the corporate and individual tax rates,” at 8:30 a.m. at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Friday, March 21 – The Woodrow Wilson Center will hold a book discussion on Oil Sparks in the Amazon: Local Conflicts, Indigenous Populations, and Natural Resources at 9 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Friday, March 21 – The Wharton Club of D.C. will hold a Green Business Forum on the Army’s approach to energy and sustainability, and an overview of the Army’s Renewable Energy Task Force, at 11:45 a.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
  • Thursday, March 20 – The Woodrow Wilson Center will hold a discussion, “The Future of Syria,” at 4 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, March 20 – The Woodrow Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies will hold a discussion, “How to Read the Crimea Crisis?” at 4 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 25 – The American University Washington College of Law will hold the Administrative Law Review’s annual symposium, ” ‘In the Process of Fixing’ Health Care: Implementation of the Affordable Care Act,'” at 10 a.m. at 4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Friday, March 21 – The American University Washington College of Law will hold the second annual Cherry Blossom Symposium, “Traditional Knowledge: IP (intellectual property) and Federal Policy,” at 9 a.m. at 4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Monday, March 24 – The New America Foundation will hold a discussion, “Controlling Surveillance: Export Controls as a Tool for Internet Freedom,” at 1 p.m. at 1899 L St. NW.
  • Monday, March 24 – The Brookings Institution will hold a Hamilton Project Policy Forum, “The Wireless Spectrum and the Future of Technology Innovation,” at 1 p.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

This Week in Washington…

Posted on March 14, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

  • Two more abortion clinics in Texas announced their closure. The clinics are the only providers that remain in rural Texas, and their closure—in response to the strict antiabortion law passed by the state Legislature—brings the total number of abortion facilities in the state down to 20. Only six facilities are likely to remain when the final provision of the law goes into effect in September.
  • Gary Cohen, a top official tasked with implementing the ACA, will resign as director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight when the health law’s first open-enrollment period concludes at the end of March.
  • CMS already named Hewlett-Packard as the replacement for the original HealthCare.gov host, Terremark, several months ago, but the agency announced Friday that it will extend Terremark’s contract up to seven months to ensure smooth transition at the end of the open enrollment period March 31.
  • A new survey finds that a large group still dislikes the health care law, and Democrats may not have time to repair the negative impression before midterm elections.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it will abandon changes that conservatives said would undermine its drug coverage under Medicare Part D.
  • The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, released Monday, found that 15.9 percent of U.S. adults are uninsured thus far in 2014, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months of 2013.
  • Over 4.2 million enrolled in private insurance coverage through the ACA as of March 1. More than 2.6 million people have signed up through the federal marketplace, and more than 1.6 million have enrolled in state-based marketplaces, according to the latest enrollment numbers from the Health and Human Services Department.

TECHNOLOGY

  • The NSA has used a Facebook look-alike site to implant malware onto people’s computers as part of a surveillance program uncovered by documents released by Edward Snowden.
  • U.S. officials say Ukrainian computer systems are being attacked by hackers, but have not commented publicly on the possibility of Russian involvement.
  • World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee, who has been critical of government surveillance practices, is marking the Web’s 25th birthday by calling for a Web “Magna Carta” protecting users’ rights.
  • Top university researchers say “the Web you know,” such as Facebook or Google, accounts for just 1 percent of the Internet, while dynamic pages on the “Deep Web” make up the rest.
  • California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is beginning to plan regulations for driverless cars, raising such questions as whether a driver needs to be behind the wheel of a car driven by a computer, and how the state will determine which self-driving cars are safe.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “I think we are going to crush them everywhere. I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on conservative activist groups threatening Republican incumbents in the Senate with primary challenges (New York Times)
  • “I feel a little like a pedestrian in a Godzilla movie.” — Andrew Romanoff, Democratic challenger in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, on the enormous outside spending in close midterm races (National Journal)
  • “There is a bogus poll out there. I can sense the people of my state. When I travel around, which I do constantly, they like me, and I am very grateful.” — Sen. John McCain, on a poll that found he has a 30 percent job approval rating in Arizona (The Hill)
  • “I have very good news tonight. No more commercials.” — David Jolly, after being elected to Florida’s 13th Congressional District after a special election characterized by massive outside spending (Tampa Bay Times)
  • “I think it’s horsesh–. I think The Washington Post is acting like some kind of an Internet blog or something instead of doing real reporting.” — Burns Strider, a longtime Hillary Clinton aide, on the Washington Post reporting that a Clinton ally asked “shadow campaign” financier Jeffrey Thompson to aid Clinton’s 2008 campaign (National Journal)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • The New York Times visualizes key developments in the Ukraine crisis.
  • The Guardian illustrates the claimed sightings of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
  • The Washington Post graphs the advantage that campaign donors have over constituents when they want to meet with members of Congress.
  • Pew Research Center graphs the generational divide on same-sex marriage.
  • Time charts the productivity of the 113th Congress.
  • Bloomberg illustrates China’s plan to push its pollution westward.
  • Slate maps the meat preferences of all 50 states.

Future events

  • Tuesday, March 18 – President Obama will award 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
  • Thursday, March 13 – The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing on “The Economic Report of the President 2014” at 2:30 p.m. in 1100 Longworth.
  • Thursday, March 13 – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a meeting, “Roundtable – Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Perspectives of the Non-Federal Partners,” at 2:30 p.m. in 2167 Rayburn.
  • Tuesday, March 18 – The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a field hearing, “Reviving Our Economy: How Career and Technical Education Can Strengthen the Workforce,” at 7050 West Shelbourne Ave. in Las Vegas.
  • Friday, March 14 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion, “Dereliction of Duty: State Attorneys General Failing to Defend Marriage Laws in Court,” at noon at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
  • Friday, March 14 – The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion, “Mobilizing the Anti-Immigration Vote? The 2014 European Parliament Elections,” at 3 p.m. at 1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, March 13 – The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion, “The Status Quo Crisis: Global Financial Governance After the 2007-2008 Financial Meltdown,” at 4:30 p.m. at 1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 18 – The Atlantic will host its third annual Economy Summit at 9 a.m. at 1001 16th St. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 18 – The Aspen Institute’s Manufacturing program, Women in Science, and the Bertelsmann Foundation will hold a discussion, “Filling the Skills Gap in Manufacturing: The Untapped Resource,” focusing on increasing the role of women in the manufacturing workforce, at noon at 1 Dupont Cir. NW.
  • Wednesday, March 19 – The Bipartisan Policy Center will host a discussion of the “budgetary implications of the federal government’s conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” at 9 a.m. at 1225 I St. NW.
  • Thursday, March 13 – The Brookings Institution will host a discussion, “Restructuring the Electricity Sector in Japan: Will It Enhance Energy Security?” at 3:30 p.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, March 13 – Young Professionals in Foreign Policy will host a discussion, “The Future of Energy: North American Energy Security,” at 5:30 p.m. at 501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 18 – Resources for the Future will host a lecture by Nobel Laureate Robert Engle, “A Financial Approach to Environmental Risk,” at 12:45 p.m. at 1616 P St. NW.
  • Wednesday, March 19 – The Woodrow Wilson Center and George Mason University will host a discussion, “Managing Our Planet: The State and Fate of the Arctic,” at 3 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, March 13 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a discussion, “Aid Effectiveness and the U.S. Foreign Assistance Agenda,” at 4 p.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
  • Friday, March 14 – The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion, “Mobilizing the Anti-Immigration Vote? The 2014 European Parliament Elections,” at 3 p.m. at 1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Monday, March 17 – The Woodrow Wilson Center will host a discussion, “Beyond the Arab Spring: U.S. Engagement in a Changing Middle East,” at 11:30 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Wednesday, March 12 to Friday, March 14 – The Partnership for a Healthier America holds its third “Building a Healthier Future Summit” at 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW.
  • Monday, March 17 – The Kaiser Family Foundation will hold a discussion, “U.S. Global Health Diplomacy and the Role of Ambassadors,” at 9:30 a.m. at 1330 G St. NW.
  • Friday, March 14 – The New America Foundation will host a discussion, “Civil Rights and Big Data,” at 9 a.m. at 1899 L St. NW.
  • Tuesday, March 18 – The New America Foundation will host a discussion, “Super Wi-Fi, Incentive Auctions and the Emerging Unlicensed Economy,” at 12:15 p.m. at 1899 L St. NW.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

This Week in Washington…

Posted on March 6, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

  • The Senate rejected Debo Adegbile, the president’s choice to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, amid concerns over his past representation of convicted killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
  • On a 306-91 vote Tuesday, the chamber backed a measure to ease the requirements of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act passed in 2012.
  • House Republicans remain divided on an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, with members touting disparate approaches during a panel discussion this week.
  • Republicans blocked passage of a bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would have offered $21 billion in medical, educational, and job-training benefits for veterans.
  • Two District Court nominees have drawn fire from black lawmakers and progressive groups over one’s defense of the state’s voter-ID law and the other’s past sponsorship of antiabortion legislation.
  • Senate Republicans believe their chances of retaking the upper chamber have never looked better, but if they do win in November, the caucus must confront a significant question: Will the POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

  • Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee that the impact of this winter’s harsh weather on economic data remains uncertain.
  • In a decision handed down Tuesday, the Supreme Court expanded the whistleblower protections of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to cover contractors, including attorneys and accountants, retained by a public company.
  • The Treasury Department reported Thursday that the deficit declined from $1.1 trillion in 2012 to $680 billion in 2013, the smallest shortfall since 2008.
  • Despite concerns about the unusually cold winter, a recent survey found consumer sentiment at 81.6, improving on January’s 81.2 figure, exceeding slightly economists’ median forecast of 81.3.
  • Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Monday that national parks hosted 8 million fewer visitors as a result of the 16-day closure, costing up to $414 million in lost revenue.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, reintroduced an amended version of their signature energy-savings legislation in hopes that this time it can pass.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency released its Tier 3 standards aimed at cutting back on sulfur blended in gasoline and pollution from tailpipe emissions.
  • President Obama doubled down in support of natural gas with the release of his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.
  • House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said that expanded natural-gas exports would weaken Russia’s political influence.
  • Rail deliveries of oil-sands crude to the Gulf Coast last year were well below State Department forecasts.
  • The consulting firm that crafted the State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline defended the company amid green-group allegations that its work was hobbled by conflicts of interest.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

TECHNOLOGY

  • The CIA’s inspector general is examining claims that the agency spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee as it worked on a major classified report that was critical of the CIA’s interrogation methods.
  • Target Chief Information Officer Beth Jacobs has left the company as it overhauls its information-security practices and tries to reassure customers after its data breach last year.
  • The White House has sided against Aereo, which allows customers to watch and record broadcast TV on their computers for a fee, in a broadcasters’ lawsuit against the company.
  • Yahoo and its related sites like Flickr will no longer let users sign in using Facebook or other usernames, giving it more control of users’ data but also likely limiting the number of new users who sign up.
  • Comcast, which is awaiting a decision on its merger with Time Warner Cable, is expanding a program providing high-speed Internet access to poor families and announced $1 million in grants to nonprofits with similar goals.

OTHER NEWS

  • Citing declining sales, Radio Shack announced plans to close up to 1,100 stores, leaving more than 4,000 stores around the country.
  • On a 10-to-1 vote Tuesday, the D.C. Council passed legislation to decriminalize marijuana use in private residences and reduce penalties for minor possession and public consumption of the drug; Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to sign the bill.
  • New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras on March 4, with festivities proceeding as planned despite inclement weather.
  • 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards, with Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto winning Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, for Dallas Buyers Club, Cate Blanchett taking Best Actress honors for Blue Jasmine, and Lupita Nyong’o named Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave.
  • The National Football League’s Competition Committee is weighing a proposal to lengthen the point-after-touchdown attempt from 20 yards to 43 yards by moving the ball from the 2- to the 25-yard line.
  • A Supreme Court decision handed down Tuesday expanded the whistleblower protections granted by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to cover contractors, including attorneys and accountants, retained by a public company.
  • “Paysage Bords de Seine,” an 1879 Renoir painting recovered by the Baltimore Museum of Art after a 1951 theft and protracted legal battle, will be displayed publicly from March 30 to July 20.

QUOTES

  • “They sit there across the pond as if in a lab running all kinds of experiments on the rats. Why would they do it? No one can explain it.” — Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the U.S.’s role in the conflict in Ukraine (Washington Post)
  • “He has to be punished. I see the end game as hopefully, we’ve learned a lesson about this guy and perhaps we can put up a more united front and discard all of our illusions.” — Sen. John McCain, on Putin’s aggression toward Ukraine (National Journal)
  • “Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ’30s. Ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.” — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Vladimir Putin’s aggression toward Ukraine (USA TODAY)
  • “The nominee inserted his office in an effort to turn reality on its head, impugn honorable and selfless law-enforcement officers, and glorify an unrepentant cop killer. This is not required by our legal system. On the contrary, it is noxious to it.”  — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on the rejected nomination of Debo Adegbile, who helped defend convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, to the post of assistant attorney general (The Hill)
  • “Kind of.” — Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest living person, when asked if she was happy she had lived to be 116 (Reuters)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • The Wall Street Journal maps the hot spots for high-end real-estate growth around the world.
  • Gallup maps obesity across America, with Mississippi showing the highest rate.
  • The Washington Post charts a 60-year history of the budget deficit.
  • The New York Times maps the situation in Ukraine.
  • The Washington Post tracks voter approval of President Obama’s foreign policy since 2009.
  • Harvard Business Review visualizes Russia’s economic ties in Europe and elsewhere.

Future events

  • Thursday, March 6 – President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will host “In Performance at the White House: Women of Soul” at 7 p.m., featuring performances by Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge, and Jill Scott, among others.
  • Friday, March 7 – President Obama will deliver remarks on education at Coral Reef High School in Miami, Fla.
  • same divisions that racked the House Republican majority befall them?
  • Tuesday, March 11 — The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Air Force Gen. Paul Selva for reappointment to the grade of general and to be commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, and Navy Vice Adm. Michael Rogers to be admiral and director of the National Security Agency, chief of Central Security Services, and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command.
  • Thursday, March 13 – The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Dr. Stanley Fischer to serve as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, and of Jerome Powell and Lael Brainard to serve as governors.
  • Thursday, March 6 to Saturday, March — The American Conservative Union holds its 41st annualConservative Political Action Conference at 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, Md.
  • Tuesday, March 11 – The National Press Club Newsmaker Program will hold anews conference to review the outlook for the 2014 campaign and outline strategy for increasing the GOP’s House Majority at 10 a.m. at 529 14th Street NW. NRCC Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., is scheduled to participate.
  • Friday, March 7 — The Cato Institute will hold a briefing, “TPA, TPP, TTIP, and You: When Will We Enjoy the Fruits of the U.S. Trade Agenda?” at noon in SVC-210 in the Capitol.
  • Friday, March 7 — NDN and the New Policy Institute will hold a discussion, “Raising Our Game,” focusing on improving the U.S. economy, at noon at 729 15th Street NW.
  • Tuesday, March 11 — The New America Foundation will hold a discussion, “50 Years Since the War on Poverty: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” at 9:15 a.m. at 1899 L Street NW.
  • Tuesday, March 11 to Thursday, March 13 — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold itsRegulatory Information Conference at 5701 Marinelli Road in Bethesda, Md.
  • Wednesday, March 12 – National Journal will host “The Future of Nuclear Security Policy Summit,” underwritten by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, at 8 a.m. in the Knight Broadcast Studio at the Newseum.
  • Tuesday, March 11 — The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program will hold adiscussion, “Double Dividends: Population Dynamics and Climate Adaptation,” at noon at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • Thursday, March 6 — The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion, “The U.S., Japan, and the Asian Development Bank: Charting Regional Development Through Rough Waters,” at 4:30 p.m. at 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW.
  • Saturday, March 8 to Tuesday, March 11 — The National Medical Association and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators will hold the 16thNational Colloquium on African American Health, “A Seat at the Table: Recognizing Essential Providers as Key Stakeholders,” at 775 12th Street NW.
  • Monday, March 10 — The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative will hold a discussion, “Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Programs as a Strategy to Advance Maternal Health,” at noon at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • Monday, March 10 — The Henry L. Stimson Center will hold a discussion, “Global Health Security, Global Partnership, and the Health and Security Nexus,” focusing on threats from biological incidents such as pandemic influenza, at 3 p.m. at 1111 19th Street NW.
  • Monday, March 10 to Wednesday, March 12 — The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association will hold its 2014Homeland Security Conference, with the theme “4th Generation DHS: Remaining Ever-Vigilant,” at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • Tuesday, March 11 — The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold ahearing, “Open Government and Freedom of Information: Reinvigorating the Freedom of Information Act for the Digital Age,” at 10:15 a.m. in 226 Dirksen.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...