This Week in Washington…

Posted on April 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

  • Representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union gathered in Geneva reached agreement on measures to ease tensions, with the Ukrainian interim government offering concessions in exchange for a Russian pullback, after Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted his “right” to deploy troops in the country.
    Look ahead: The deal places on hold any additional U.S. or European sanctions against Russia.
  • Fundraising does matter in an off year, but it matters more with an election in November, and candidates already are distinguishing themselves—in ways both good and bad—in the first financial disclosures of 2014.
    Look ahead: Winners so far include Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn and the two Democratic congressional super PACs; Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and John Walsh, D-Mont., are among the losers.
  • HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who spent much of her tenure defending the Affordable Care Act rather than touting its successes, tendered her resignation, and the president named OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace her.
    Look ahead: Democrats have mentioned Sebelius as a possible challenger to Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., though friends and former colleagues have dismissed the idea.
  • The Republican establishment is seeking detente with the tea party in a bid to secure Senate control, using its considerable financial resources and making diplomatic overtures in a bid to ensure the nomination of the most electable candidates.
    Look ahead: While the GOP has been successful in persuading tea party candidates to exit key Senate races in favor of the establishment choice, challenges remain.
  • The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget would increase revenues by nearly $1.4 trillion over the next decade and reduce deficits by $1.05 trillion over the same period.
    Look ahead: While the White House budget is unlikely to pass Congress in its entirety, the CBO report could bolster Democratic messaging ahead of the midterms.

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • Former President Jimmy Carter came out in opposition to the controversial Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline.
  • Radioactive waste has started to pile up across the United States as a byproduct of the nation’s shale-oil boom.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency notched a victory when a federal appeals court upheld its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants in the face of industry challenges to the regulation.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency released a series of white papers on sources of methane emissions in the oil and gas sector as part of the administration’s interagency strategy on methane.
  • The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report saying that current efforts to stem carbon pollution are not enough to prevent dangerous climatic changes.
  • A federal appeals court ruled that a provision of the Dodd-Frank Act mandating disclosure of the purchase of minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo violates free speech.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

  • Outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who spent much of her tenure defending the Affordable Care Act rather than touting its successes, tendered her resignation last week. The president nominated OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Sebelius.
  • An additional 400,000 people have enrolled in private insurance coverage through the Obamacare exchanges as of last week, Sebelius told the Senate Finance Committee April 10, bringing the latest estimate to 7.5 million.
  • The Congressional Budget Office lowered by $100 billion the total estimated cost of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, and said it expects premiums to go up next year, but by less than expected.
  • The Affordable Care Act has limited impact on taxes this year, as the major changes will come with the implementation of the individual mandate penalty next tax season
  • An internal Census Bureau document detailed changes to the questions asked about health coverage, which officials said will make it difficult to determine how much of a change in the uninsured rate can be credited to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Sebelius is reportedly considering a Senate run to challenge Kansas Republican Pat Roberts—an old friend of Sebelius, who called for her removal as HHS Secretary following the botched HealthCare.gov launch. Friends and former colleagues have dismissed the idea that Sebelius would run so soon after resigning from her Cabinet position.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Google has agreed to buy Titan Aerospace, which makes solar-powered drones that are built to fly nonstop for years, and which Facebook recently passed on purchasing.
  • Netflix’s streaming speeds rose 50 percent for Comcast users in March, after the two companies reached a deal in which Netflix pays for a direct connection to Comcast’s network.
  • The Federal Communications Commission plans to limit Verizon’s and AT&T’s ability to purchase access to airwaves in an auction, ensuring that smaller cell-phone service providers, specifically Sprint and T-Mobile, a chance to participate.
  • Intuit, the company that owns TurboTax, spent $2.6 million on lobbying in 2013, some of it for lobbying against proposals to provide for a free, simpler tax-filing process.
  • Google discovered the “Heartbleed” bug in March but did not tell the government, instead patching its servers and notifying other companies before publicizing the information available on April 7.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “I am telling you, if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.” — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on his plan to spend $50 million on a new gun-control advocacy group (New York Times)
  • “In my opinion, she is the prototype of a person we would want to be president of the United States. She has a very well-defined set of values and unlike many politicians, she actually sticks by those values and fights to implement them.… In short, it don’t get no better.” — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Elizabeth Warren’s prospects as a presidential candidate (National Journal)
  • “It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first. They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.” — Jason Healey, former Air Force cyber officer, on a report that the NSA knew about the Heartbleed bug for years (Bloomberg)
  • “If somebody wants to write me a $100,000 check for my campaign, great. But 48 hours later, everybody who has the Internet will know that Mr. Smith gave me a $100,000 check.” — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, on why he disagrees with any campaign donation limits (Bergen Record)
  • “I’m a private citizen now. I frankly recognize that I have a political background that has a biography that’s attached to it that I live with.… I think if anything at this point of my career, I’ve earned the right to say, ‘It’s none of your business.’ ” –Anthony Weiner, declining to say whether he has stopped “sexting” (USA Today)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • Vox maps the world’s most and least religiously diverse countries.
  • Bloomberg illustrates Canada’s increasing capacity to grow corn.
  • National Journal illustrates the difference in pay between male and female nonprofit executives in Washington.
  • FiveThirtyEight graphs major cities’ snowfall month by month.
  • Pew Research Center graphs the dwindling percentage of black Major League Baseball players.

Future events

  • Thursday, April 17 – Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg will join host Marvin Kalb for a discussion of the First Amendment at 6 p.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
  • Thursday, April 17 – Women in Public Affairs at George Washington will hold a discussion, “Women as Leaders and Agents of Change,” at 6 p.m. at 1957 E St. NW.
  • Thursday, April 17 – The University of Maryland School of Public Policy will hold the Brody Forum, “So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America,” at 5 p.m. in Van Munching Hall in College Park.
  • Thursday, April 17 – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, Asia Program, and Global Europe Program will hold adiscussion, “Aging and Security: What Can Governments Do About Falling Birth Rates?” at 4 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, April 17 – Georgetown University will hold a discussion, “Orders of Exclusion: U.S. Power Politics and International Organization in the 20th Century,” at 3 p.m. at 3600 N St. NW.
  • Friday, April 18 – The George Washington University Sustainable Urban Planning program will hold a research symposium, “Urban Quality of Life,” including the economic value and how various population groups are affected by place-to-place differences in living conditions, at 2:30 p.m. at 1957 E St. NW.
  • Friday, April 18 – Politico Pro will host an Energy Twitter chat, beginning at 12:30 p.m., on the Environmental Protection Agency, climate regulations, and the outlook for 2014.
  • Friday, April 18 – The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion, “Europe’s Energy Future, Russia, Ukraine: A Comedy of Errors?” at 12:30 p.m. at 1740 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Friday, April 18 – The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy will hold a conference-call briefing, beginning at 1 p.m., on H.R. 3899, the “Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014.”
  • Friday, April 18 – The White House will hold an afternoon event to present the 2013 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy to the U.S. States Naval Academy football team, for being “the service academy with the best overall record against the other two service academies.”
  • Monday, April 21 – The White House will hold the 136th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, focused on promoting health and wellness with the theme, “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape.”
  • Monday, April 21 – The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a discussion, “Navigating the Oil Frontier: The Implications of the Tight Oil Boom on Arctic and Ultra-Deepwater Oil Development,” at 8 a.m. at 525 New Jersey Ave. NW.
  • Monday, April 21 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion, “Propaganda, Disinformation, and Dirty Tricks: The Resurgence of Russian Political Warfare,” at 10 a.m. at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
  • Monday, April 21 – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program will hold a discussion, “America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East,” at 4 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Monday, April 21 – The Aspen Institute will hold a book discussion on The Second Machine Age: Work Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies at noon at 1 Dupont Circle NW.
  • Tuesday, April 22 – The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s Science and Space Subcommittee will hold a field hearing, “Leading the Way: Adapting to South Florida’s Changing Coastline,” at 10 a.m. at 1700 Convention Center Dr. in Miami Beach.
  • Tuesday, April 22 – The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a field hearing, “Construction Conundrums: A Review of Continued Delays and Cost Overruns at the Replacement Aurora, Colo., VAMC,” at 11 a.m. at 200 East Colfax Ave. in Denver.
  • Tuesday, April 22 – The Digital Diplomacy Coalition and the United Nations Foundation will hold a summit, “The Future of Diplomacy,” including the “nexus between technology and social media and how they are changing modern diplomacy,” at 8 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, April 22 to Thursday, April 24 – Explore Mars and the George Washington University Space Policy Institute will hold the “Humans to Mars Summit” at 730 21st St. NW. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is scheduled to participate.
  • Tuesday, April 22 – The Georgetown University Law Center will hold a discussion, “Privacy Principles in the Era of Massive Data,” at 10 a.m. at 600 New Jersey Ave. NW.
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