This Week in Washington…

Posted on April 25, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

POLITICS

  • Today’s GOP tone and agenda are set by a voting bloc of mostly white, blue-collar workers whose sensibilities skew more toward NASCAR than golf, leaving candidates from the party’s managerial wing on unsure footing as they try to communicate with a base whose experiences and outlook are fundamentally different than their own.
  • The Republican Trust Political Action Committee touts candidates in a number of Southern states who have signed the organization’s pledge to vote for an all-new House GOP leadership team.
  • Republicans have rolled out two new supersized vehicles to collect bigger-than-ever checks from their top contributors since the Supreme Court allowed donors to make contributions to an unlimited number of politicians and party committees.
  • The Democratic National Committee and outside groups are working to ensure the election of state secretaries of state who oppose GOP-backed voter-identification laws.
  • Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who turns 91 on May 3, faces a stiff challenge from former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe, who is backed by conservative groups including the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Madison Project.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised more than $23.6 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $21.2 million in the first quarter.
  • Mitt Romney is lending campaign help this cycle, backing primary candidates in need of conservative bona fides or offering a general-election boost in a state Romney captured in 2012.
  • Republican businessman Curt Clawson garnered 38 percent of the vote in a four-way special-election primary in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.
  • The Democratic National Committee on Monday sent its formal request for proposal to 15 potential host cities for its 2016 convention.

BUDGET & ECONOMY

  • Net incomes for middle-class workers in Canada have outstripped those in the United States, despite stronger economic growth in this country, while low-income workers in many European countries earn more than their American counterparts.
  • The administration is reportedly considering candidates with a community-banking background for the Federal Reserve Board.
  • The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that the economy began expanding again in June 2009, but the pace of growth has been lackluster, a fact variously attributed to the lingering impact of the economic crisis or to “secular stagnation.”
  • The Conference Board’s index, which calculates the three-to-six-month economic outlook, saw its strongest gains since July 2011, thanks to a decline in jobless claims and a rise in housing starts.
  • Comcast, which plans to divest roughly 4 million subscribers once its merger with Time Warner Cable is completed, and Charter Communications are reportedly close to an agreement that would see Charter acquire 1.5 million subscribers directly from Comcast, and assume a minority stake in a spinoff company that would serve the remaining 2.5 million.
  • Many municipal governments are setting property-tax revenue-collection records, and using the new windfalls to finance the expansion of services such as law enforcement.
  • A GAO report found that fewer than 1 percent of large partnerships are subject to IRS audits, prompting Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., to warn that many hedge funds and private equity firms are able to evade scrutiny.
  • In a surprise move, the United Auto Workers dropped its request for a new unionization vote by workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, and instead will focus on “advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga.”

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • Ahead of a hearing next Tuesday, Republican John Shimkus of Illinois has offered up a new version of his draft proposal to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act, which has not been updated since its original passage in 1976.
  • Greg Brannon, Heather Grant, Mark Harris, and Thom Tillis—Republican challengers in North Carolina’s Senate race—have all said that climate change is not a fact.
  • Large corporations have spent big so far to help Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu win reelection in a contested Louisiana Senate race as she squares off against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
  • A federally funded report found that biofuels made from the waste from harvested corn release more greenhouse gases than gasoline.
  • On the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP and the company’s critics described the situation in the Gulf of Mexico very differently.
  • According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Energy Department waived millions in credit-subsidy fees on loan guarantees to two companies to build a pair of reactors at Georgia’s Alvin W. Vogtle nuclear plant.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

  • The White House announced an enrollment surge of 3.7 million people into Obamacare in March and April alone, bringing total ACA enrollment to 8 million.
  • President Obama met with state representatives from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to discuss what’s coming up in 2015 for the health care law.
  • Structural changes to the health care delivery system have led to lower health spending in recent years, but the wave of new insurance enrollees under the Affordable Care Act and the increased use of the system have experts concerned about a surge in spending.
  • A Government Accountability Office report detailed outside fundraising for ACA enrollment, which administration officials said was critical because Congress authorized far less funding than requested to publicize the health care law.
  • Sixty-nine percent of Americans support the mandate that health plans cover contraception, according to a new survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Millions declined to buy insurance coverage during the first ACA enrollment period—many of those decisions to forgo coverage were rooted in cost, ideological opposition to the health care law, or confusion.
  • A flurry of merger deals signals drug companies are moving more toward specialization.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Supreme Court justices were critical of Aereo’s business practices during the oral arguments over the online TV streaming service, but expressed doubt that the company has done anything that should be illegal.
  • Netflix spoke out against the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, saying it would allow the Internet giant even greater leeway to charge companies fees to access Internet subscribers.
  • Journalist Glenn Greenwald and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg blamed Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, both vocal critics of the NSA’s spying activities, for not doing anything sooner.
  • Apple issued a rare seven-for-one stock split, driving down the cost of a single stock in order to attract individual investors.
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s group backing immigration reform, FWD.us, launched TV ads criticizing Rep. Steve King for his opposition to allowing Dream Act undocumented immigrants to serve in the military.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “I’m going to be around for the 2016 election. And if not, I’m going to vote absentee.” — Former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan. (Washington Post)
  • “It’s a gas station run by a mafia that is masquerading as a country.” — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., discussing Russia in an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)
  • “You know, his (campaign) ads are about how he was a lawyer in Iraq, and that’s all fine and good, but this is a real job, and we need to have somebody who actually has leadership experience.” — Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, on his gubernatorial opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (Washington Post)
  • “I’ve learned about the underside of campaigning. It was personal. It was dishonest. It was not a competition of ideas and it was wrong. It was ambition over truth, ratings over legitimacy. But we are past this. I took the arrows and I am past this. This is over, OK?” — Curt Clawson, after winning the Republican primary in the special election to replace former Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla. (Naples Daily News)
  • “That’s some good sushi right there.” — President Obama, after visiting “the greatest sushi restaurant in the world” with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Time)
  • “As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.” — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, reading her dissenting opinion in the case over Michigan’s ban on affirmative action (Washington Post)
  • “I called Kathleen Sebelius after she retired. I’m not sure if she retired or was thrown under the bus. I wished her the best. She got a lot of criticism. Some of it was deserved. A lot of it wasn’t deserved.” — Dole, during a stop in Holton, Kansas (Politico)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • The Washington Post illustrates each state’s participation rate in the Boston Marathon.
  • National Journal illustrates how often Democrats and Republicans have talked about Earth Day.
  • The New York Times graphs the leaders of the South’s most competitive Senate races.
  • The Washington Post maps which parts of the country lack indoor plumbing.
  • Bloomberg illustrates how mortality rates have shifted in the past four decades.
  • The New York Times maps Americans’ allegiances to Major League Baseball teams.

Future events

  • Thursday, April 24 – Vice President Joe Biden will attend a fundraiser for Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, N.Y.
  • Thursday, April 24 – The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a field hearing, “Access to Mental Health Care and Traumatic Brain-Injury Services: Addressing the Challenges and Barriers for Veterans,” at 3 p.m. at 3601 South Sixth Ave. in Tucson, Ariz.
  • Thursday, April 24 and Friday, April 25 – The Export-Import Bank will hold its 2014 annual conference at 2500 Calvert St. NW.
  • Thursday, April 24 – The National Capital Chapter of the World Future Society will hold a discussion, “From Lab to Reality: Five Technology Trends That Could Change Your Life,” at 7:15 p.m. at 2201 G St. NW.
  • Thursday, April 24 – Bloomberg Government will hold awebinar, “An April Checkup for the Affordable Care Act,” beginning at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, April 25 – President Obama will participate in a naturalization ceremony and a wreath laying at the National War Memorial in Seoul, Republic of Korea, before meeting with President Park Geun-Hye.
  • Friday, April 25 – The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will hold a discussion, “Revising the Electronic Communications Privacy Act: Should Congress Require a Warrant?” at noon in 2228 Rayburn.
  • Friday, April 25 – The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will hold a discussion, “Nationalism Versus European Integration in Central and Eastern Europe: Results, Risks, and Chances,” at 10 a.m. at 1619 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Friday, April 25 – The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion, “Partnerships, Corporate Social Responsibility, and the New Development Agenda,” at 11 a.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Friday, April 25 – The American Enterprise Institute will hold a discussion, “Obamacare’s Rocky Start and Uncertain Future,” at 9:15 a.m. at 1150 17th St. NW.
  • Monday, April 28 – The American Enterprise Institute will hold a discussion, “Should Anonymous Campaign Expenditures be Allowed?” at noon at 1150 17th St. NW. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., is scheduled to participate.
  • Tuesday, April 29 – The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing, “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments,” at 2:30 p.m. in G-50 Dirksen.
  • Tuesday, April 29 – The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rulemaking agenda at 10 a.m. in 2128 Rayburn.
  • Tuesday, April 29 – The House Natural Resource Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing, “American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for Skilled Trades Workers,” at 10 a.m. in 1324 Longworth.
  • Wednesday, April 30 – The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing, “The First Step to Cutting Red Tape: Better Analysis,” at 10 a.m. in 216 Hart.
  • Wednesday, April 30 – The Energy Department’s Office of Science will hold a meeting by teleconference of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, beginning at 11 a.m., to discuss PCAST’s big data and privacy report.

 

 

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