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.
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