Archive for May, 2014

This Week in Washington…

Posted on May 30, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • President Obama used a wide-ranging foreign policy speech at West Point to call climate change a “creeping national security crisis” and knock Republican global-warming skeptics.
  • Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that cities will play a crucial role in the effort to stall global warming due to the fact that a majority of greenhouse-gas emissions originate from major metropolitan areas.
  • Koch Industries has inked a deal to buy PetroLogistics, a firm that operates a plant that turns natural gas into a chemical used to manufacture plastics.
  • TransCanada must now submit to third-party oversight and adopt a quality management program during the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction, two new mandates imposed by federal regulators if the administration greenlights the project.
  • Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million in the Northern Hemisphere last month, a new record in air pollution.
  • In the absence of a long-term nuclear-waste repository in the U.S., nuclear plants across the country are grappling with interim measures to safely store spent nuclear fuel.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency notched another win in a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that upheld the agency’s decision to delay writing regulations to protect against acid rain.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

TECHNOLOGY

  • Edward Snowden said he was “trained as a spy” and that initial responses from administration officials calling him a low-level “administrator” were misleading.
  • Apple agreed to purchase Beats Electronics for $3 billion; founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will work for Apple and the product will keep its current branding.
  • WikiLeaks identified Afghanistan as the “Country X” in which the National Security Agency is collecting data on nearly all phone calls.
  • A Boca Raton, Fla., dentist started buying up domain names with the ending “.democrat,” including “liar.democrat” and “obamacare.democrat” once they became open to the public because he is angry about the Affordable Care Act.
  • Entertainment companies and Internet providers sent 1.3 million notices about alleged copyright violations in 2013 in a new program that gives users until their fifth or sixth strike before instituting sanctions.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “America must always lead on the world stage. But U.S. military action cannot be the only—or even primary—component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.”—President Obama, in a commencement address at the United States Military Academy (New York Times)
  • “Ladies and gentlemen: I want to get into your mind, I want to get into your heart, and I want to touch your soul.”—Joe Grandanette, physical education teacher and Republican congressional candidate in Iowa’s Third District, at a debate (Des Moines Register)
  • “You know, uh. It depends on what you’re asking me of. But I’ll tell you this,” he continued. “What I’m guilty of is trying the hardest and giving 100 percent of myself and putting my heart and soul into representing the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn. But I do believe when all is said and done, I will be exonerated and I think the people that supported me will be proud that they did.”—Rep. Michael Grimm, when asked if he is innocent of criminal charges of fraud (Politico)
  • “This keeps piling up, and it can’t be just an isolated—the Phoenix VA is not an island.”—Sen. John McCain, calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign (Huffington Post)
  • “I have taken no steps toward such a thing, and I’ve got to tell you, I do not wish that job upon anybody—including myself.” –Ben Carson, on running for president (National Journal)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • The New York Times maps Detroit’s battle with blight.
  • Slate creates a timeline-map of carbon emissions worldwide.
  • National Journal charts which lawmakers are the most well traveled.
  • A New York Times interactive determines whether it’s smarter to rent or buy a home.
  • National Journal maps which congressional districts have the highest percentage of veterans.
  • Quartz maps which countries use the most steel.

Future events

  • Thursday, May 29 – Vice President Biden will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at noon PST at a private residence in Seattle.
  • Monday, June 2 – First lady Michelle Obama will take part in a keel-laying ceremony for the future USS Illinois at 1:30 p.m. in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
  • Friday, May 30 – The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing, “Over-Criminalization Task Force: Penalties,” at 9 a.m. in 2237 Rayburn.
  • Friday, May 30 – The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing, “Department of Energy Oversight: Status of Loan Programs,” at 9:15 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn.
  • Wednesday, June 4 – The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a hearing, “From Military Service to Small-Business Owner: Supporting America’s Veteran Entrepreneurs,” at 3 p.m. in 428-A Russell.
  • Friday, May 30 – The Inter-American Development Bank will hold a D.C. political economy seminar, “Looking Beyond the Incumbent: Exposing Corruption and the Effect on Electoral Outcomes,” at noon at 1300 New York Ave. NW.
  • Friday, May 30 – Rand will hold the spring 2014 Behavioral Finance Forum Public-Policy Roundtable, “Leveraging Behavioral Insights to Improve Financial Health,” at 9 a.m. in 106 Dirksen.
  • Friday, May 30 – The American Enterprise Institute will hold a discussion, “Trading Up: Free Trade’s Growth Opportunities,” at 9 a.m. at 1150 17th St. NW.
  • Thursday, May 29 – George Mason University’s School of Public Policy will hold its annual Awards and Recognition Gala, featuring a discussion on “The Geopolitics of Energy: The Changing Dynamics of Power,” at 7 p.m. at 3351 Fairfax Dr. in Arlington, Va.
  • Thursday May 29 and Friday, May 30 – The Veolia Institute, Agence Francaise de Developpement, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the U.S. National Research Council Water Science and Technology Board will hold a conference, “Ecosystems, Economy and Society: How Large-Scale Restoration can Stimulate Sustainable Development,” at 2101 Constitution Ave. NW.
  • Friday, May 30 – First Focus will hold a briefing, “National Climate Assessment and Air Pollution: The Impact on Asthma and Allergies,” at 2 p.m. in CVC-201 in the Capitol.
  • Thursday, May 29 – The Center for National Policy will hold a discussion, “Ukraine, Russia, and the Rest,” at 6:30 p.m. at 1250 I St. NW.
  • Thursday, May 29 to Friday, May 30 – The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association will hold its Spring Intelligence Symposium, “Insight From Chaos: Making Sense of Big Data,” at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
  • Friday, May 30 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion, “Russian Military Modernization and Military Operations in the Crimea, North Caucasus and Georgia,” at noon at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
  • Friday, May 30 – The Alliance for Health Reform will hold a briefing, “Patient-Centered Medical Homes: The Promise and the Reality,” at 12:15 p.m. in 325 Russell.
  • Thursday, May 29 – The TechAmerica Foundation will hold an event to release and discuss a report, “Cloud Buyer’s Guide for the Federal Government,” at 3 p.m. in B-339 Rayburn.

 

 

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This Week in Washington…

Posted on May 23, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK TOP

 

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • Maryland Democrat Rep. John Delaney circulated draft legislation that would let states impose a carbon tax to comply with upcoming carbon-emissions rules for existing power plants.
  • Russia and China have entered into an agreement that will supply China with natural gas over the course of 30 years.
  • A number of environmental organizations sent a letter to Hillary Clinton asking her to publicly oppose construction of the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline.
  • Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer earned the title of the largest single donor to the Senate Majority PAC, a political action committee dedicated to keeping the Senate in Democratic hands.
  • Royal Dutch Shell told shareholders not to worry about the risk that global warming will lead to stranded carbon assets.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

  • The Senate Finance Committee voted 21-3 to send Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination for Health and Human Services secretary to the full Senate.
  • Indiana Gov. Mike Pence laid out a plan that would reshuffle the state’s existing Medicaid program and accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion under the health care law, but would use the money to enroll consumers in private coverage rather than traditional Medicaid.
  • More than 1 million Americans have income levels listed on their insurance applications that differ significantly from those on file with the IRS, meaning they may be receiving incorrect insurance subsidies, and the government has thus far been unable to fix the errors.
  • A Supreme Court ruling is seen as a likely last-ditch effort to stop sweeping antiabortion legislation passed in Texas and other states, but counting on a win is a very risky gamble for the law’s opponents.
  • The base salaries of insurance executives, hospital executives, and hospital administrators are often far greater than those of doctors, according to a new analysis.
  • CMS finalized rules that would allow the program to drop physicians who have abusive prescribing patterns, following increased pressure on the agency to control Medicare fraud.
  • Emergency-room use is on the rise, despite health care reform. Studies have shown that patients—particularly low-income individuals—are more likely to use the ER when they’re insured because they are less likely to face high medical bills afterwards, and hospitals can’t grow ERs fast enough to accommodate the growing patient population under the ACA.

TECHNOLOGY

  • The House voted 245-177 to approve an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill Thursday that would delay the Obama administration’s plan to give up oversight of certain technical Internet management functions.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee announced it is taking a patent-reform bill off its calendar; Chairman Patrick Leahy said lawmakers had been unable to come up with a balance between stopping patent trolls and not burdening businesses.
  • The U.S. sued the Chinese military for hacking into the computers of American companies in order to gain valuable trade secrets; Attorney General Eric Holder said it is time to say, “Enough is enough.”
  • EBay is asking its customers to change their passwords after hackers stole users’ passwords, email addresses, birthdates, and other personal information from a database in February or March.
  • Documents leaked by Edward Snowden show that the National Security Agency is recording “virtually every cell-phone conversation” in the Bahamas and storing them for up to 30 days.
  • Surveillance-reform advocates took back their support for the USA Freedom Act, which aimed to end the government mass collection of Americans’ phone records, after it was amended to be more of a compromise with the intelligence community.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period.” – President Obama, on reports that 40 veterans died while waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital ( CNN)
  • “Everybody in Arkansas is running against Obama. Got a pothole? Well, that’s Obama’s fault.” – Clinton School of Public Service Dean Skip Rutherford (National Journal)
  • “To use a corporate analogy, he used to be the majority shareholder. Now he’s only the plurality shareholder.” – Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s waning influence in Kentucky ( National Journal)
  • “He is as secretary a very bad communicator in terms of what the strengths of the VA are and what the weaknesses of the VA are, what the problems are.” – Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki ( USA Today)
  • “The comedian Stephen Colbert mocked this, and wrote or presented, ‘Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock, paper, scissors, who cares? Due process just means there’s a process, right?’ ” – Sen. Rand Paul, criticizing the Obama administration’s use of drones ( Talking Points Memo)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • Pew Research Center graphs the decreasing appeal of a presidential candidate with congressional experience
  • FiveThirtyEight graphs when mail-in ballots start coming in from Oregon voters, starting 16 days in advance.
  • New Delhi TV maps the results of India’s election, showing a runaway win for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
  • Gallup graphs the increasing support for same-sex marriage.
  • National Journal maps the legal state of same-sex marriage in each state.

Future events

  • Thursday, May 22 – The president will attend two fundraisers benefiting the DSCC in Chicago.
  • Tuesday, May 27 – The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will hold a field hearing, “The Indian Health Service: Ensuring the IHS Is Living Up to Its Trust Responsibility,” at 10:30 a.m. at 510 North Broadway in Billings, Montana.
  • Thursday, May 29 – The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing, “Assessing Inadequacies in VA Data Usage for and Services Provided to Visually Impaired Veterans,” at 1 p.m. in 334 Cannon.
  • Wednesday, May 28 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a book discussion on The Death of Deliberation: Partisanship and Polarization in the United States Senate, at noon 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
  • Wednesday, May 28 – Ben Carson, neurosurgeon and author of One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future, will deliver a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon address at 12:30 p.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
  • Thursday, May 22 – The Brookings Institution and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies will hold a discussion, “Skills and Industry: A New American Model,” comparing U.S. and German models of workforce development, at 3 p.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, May 22 – The American Petroleum Institute will hold a conference call briefing, beginning at 2:30 p.m., to provide an update on “recent studies on the properties of Bakken crude and efforts to make the safe shipment of crude by rail even safer.”
  • Friday, May 23 – The Wharton Club of D.C. will hold a Green Business Forum at noon at 800 Connecticut Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, May 22 – The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion, “The Collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks,” at 4 p.m. at 1030 15th St. NW.
  • Friday, May 23 – Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East Dan Mullaney and European Union Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero will hold a news conference, by webcast starting at 9:30 a.m., following the fifth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
  • Friday, May 23 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion, “Ukraine’s Presidential Elections: The Rocky Road Ahead,” at 10 a.m. at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
  • Tuesday, May 27 – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Europe Program will hold a discussion, “After the European Elections: A Fresh Start for the EU and the Transatlantic Relationship?” at 11 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Wednesday, May 28 – The Atlantic Council’s Center on International Security will hold the fourth annual Global Missile Defense Conference at 9 a.m. at 1030 15th St. NW. Participants include former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., and Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Navy Adm. James Winnefeld Jr.
  • Thursday, May 22 – Voto Latino will hold a Google+ Hangout, beginning at 3 p.m., on the Affordable Care Act titled “Enrollment Is Over. Now What?”
  • Tuesday, May 27 – The Cato Institute will hold a briefing, “The Economics of Medicaid and the Need for Reform,” at noon in B-338 Rayburn.
  • Thursday, May 22 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion, “Navigating Veteran Employment: From the Battlefield to the Job Market,” at 5:30 p.m. at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
  • Friday, May 23 – The Council on Foreign Relations will hold a discussion, “Technology, Policymaking, and the Future,” at 12:30 p.m. at 1777 F St. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 27 – The Progressive Policy Institute will hold a discussion, “Should the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Serve as Internet Traffic Cop?” at noon at 1127 Connecticut Ave. NW.
  • Wednesday, May 28 – The New America Foundation will hold a discussion, “Localism Over Consolidation: An Exploration of Public Broadband Options,” at 9:30 a.m. at 1899 L St. NW.
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This Week in Washington…

Posted on May 16, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

  • Senate Republicans are planning to offer a spate of amendments on a bipartisan tax-extenders package, with a repeal of a medical-device tax chief among them, lawmakers said Tuesday.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is planning to finalize legislation Thursday to authorize more spending for transportation projects—but where the funding will come from remains a six-year, $100 billion question still to be addressed.
  • Democrats unveiled legislation that would permit student-loan borrowers to refinance public and private loans at 3.86 percent; Republicans were quick to criticize the costs associated with such a measure.
  • A bill from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, designed to boost energy efficiency in buildings failed to advance on a 55-36 procedural vote Monday after Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked votes on amendments to the bill.
  • Legislative earmarks that for decades were placed in spending bills as lawmakers’ local pet projects no longer exist due to a congressional ban, but today a close cousin to outlawed pork is alive and well, as evidenced by the chest-pumping over upcoming action on the first Water Resources Development Act conference agreement since 2007.
  • The bipartisan budget agreement that Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan brokered late last year was designed to stop Congress from lurching from crisis to crisis; but it’s not stopping some Senate Republicans from raising questions about the spending figures that Murray introduced into the record.

POLITICS

  • Midland University President Ben Sasse, who had the backing of national conservative groups, captured 49 percent of the vote in Nebraska’s five-way GOP Senate primary. Bank president Sin Dinsdale trailed with 22 percent, while former State Treasurer Shane Osborn placed third.
  • Nebraska businessman Pete Ricketts eked out a win over Attorney General Jon Bruning in the GOP gubernatorial primary, garnering 26.5 percent of the vote to Bruning’s 25.5 percent.
  • Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., cruised to victory in the GOP Senate primary, earning 87.4 percent of the vote over two lesser-known candidates, while Secretary of State Natalie Tennant garnered 77.9 percent of the votes in a three-way Democratic primary.
  • Alex Mooney, a former Maryland state senator and GOP chairman backed by the tea party, won 35.8 percent of the vote in a seven-way primary for the seat being vacated by Capito.
  • Marine veteran Ed Jany withdrew from the race to challenge Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., leaving national Democrats reeling.
  • A county clerk ruled Tuesday that Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., had failed to reach the threshold for inclusion on the primary ballot following the invalidation of hundreds of signatures.
  • Democrats are wary of touting improvements in the economy, as many Americans hold a more negative view than the data suggests, and instead are focused on issues such as raising the minimum wage.
  • FEC commissioners unanimously approved an advisory opinion allowing bitcoin donations, while limiting such donations to $100 per candidate, per cycle and requiring documentation of the name, address, and employer of each donor
  • The latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll found that most Americans believe they can have the greatest influence over issues in their own neighborhood; that local institutions such as community groups are doing the most to improve life in America; and that lasting change is more likely to emerge from movements led by ordinary citizens than to be imposed by government or business leaders.
  • Chicago businessman Fred Eychaner, who gave an astounding $14.1 million to liberal super PACs in 2012, making him the largest Democratic donor to outside spending groups during that election cycle, has managed to stay almost completely out of the public eye.
  • Former American Idol competitor Clay Aiken was declared the winner of North Carolina’s 2nd District Democratic primary Tuesday, one day after his opponent, businessman Keith Crisco, died at home following an accident.

BUDGET & ECONOMY

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown warned that climate change could submerge some of the state’s low-lying coastal areas, even forcing the costly move of airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • The American Energy Alliance, a group linked to the Koch brothers, is out with an ad buy attacking Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado for not coming out in support of the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Domestic crude production climbed to a 28-year high last week, buoyed by the shale boom in the U.S.
  • Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’s remark that the U.S. is weighing whether crude-oil exports should be allowed sent oil prices upward Tuesday, even though John Podesta already said the same thing recently.
  • In an address delivered at the University of Chicago, Al Gore said Republicans refuse to face facts on climate because fossil-fuel backers like the libertarian financiers the Koch brothers are cutting them big checks.
  • The Obama administration unveiled solar panels on the White House roof, bringing them back for the first time since they were taken down in 1986.
  • The Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General said the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration isn’t doing an adequate job of making sure that the nation’s system of pipelines are maintained.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

  • In a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the president’s nominee for HHS secretary, said she will use “the full extent of the law” to recover federal funds that were misspent on failed ACA exchanges.
  • Despite Obamacare’s strong national enrollment numbers, several states are at risk for big premium hikes. Proposed premium rate changes vary largely in states — insurers in Virginia are requesting rate increases ranging from 3.3 to 14.9 percent, while requests in Washington state vary from a proposed 6.8 percent decrease to a 26 percent increase.
  • Despite dire predictions of a doctor shortage with expanded coverage under the health law, there have been limited reports of major delays in patient care, according to reports from insurers, physician practices, and community health centers.
  • A report from the Urban Institute found that elimination of the employer mandate would only reduce the number of people covered by 200,000, but would lessen opposition from the business community and end potentially harmful changes to hiring and labor-market practices.
  • In 17 of the 26 states that did not expand Medicaid, enrollment grew by more than 550,000 patients, according to a new analysis from Avalere Health. This could cost some states more than expected, since they don’t have 100 percent of the costs covered by the federal government, like expansion states do.
  • The World Health Organization called for urgent measures to control MERS, after a second case was confirmed in the U.S., but stopped short of declaring the recent spread of the deadly virus an international public-health emergency.

TECHNOLOGY

  • A European court ruled that Google has to allow users to delete search-result links to old, embarrassing results, referring to it as the “right to be forgotten.”
  • The Writers Guild of America, West warned the FCC that if Internet providers are able to charge fees for high-speed access, ” the Internet will become like cable television,” the guild wrote. “A few corporate gatekeepers such as Comcast will be allowed to decide what content consumers can access and on what terms.”
  • The National Association of Broadcasters is suing over the FCC’s policy cracking down on media consolidation, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”
  • A U.S. Appeals Court declined to take up Samsung’s patent lawsuit against Apple, siding with an International Trade Commission decision that Apple had not infringed on Samsung patents.
  • Apple’s potential purchase of Beats Electronics would give it ownership of a subscription music app that would get the company a foot in the door of music-streaming apps, which could be just as important to Apple as Beats headphones.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “The truth of the matter is the United States is a country, it is not a planet.” — Sen. Marco Rubio, arguing the U.S. can do little about climate change (National Journal)
  • “The question isn’t whether the Internet treats everyone equally—because it doesn’t already. The question is whether adding a new level of discrimination in the last mile is the critical difference.” –Harold Feld, senior vice president of consumer-advocacy group Public Knowledge, on net-neutrality regulations (National Journal)
  • “These are two people who are really good friends of mine. I don’t know what happened. I’m sad for Jill and hope for the best for Dean.” — former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, on Executive Editor Jill Abramson unexpectedly being replaced by Managing Editor Dean Baquet (Washington Post)
  • “I scratched my ear and noticed I had a hangnail. My mom always told me to keep my fingers out of my mouth, and now I know why. I look forward to immigration reform going viral.” — Rep. Joe Garcia, who was caught on camera picking his ear and then putting his finger in his mouth (NBC Miami)
  • “It’s completely fake.” — University of Illinois professor George Gollin, on congressional candidate Ed Jany’s degree from Madison University, a known “diploma mill” (Tampa Bay Times)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • National Journal graphs how many people are engaged in politics, and in what ways.
  • MarketWatch maps median home prices in major metropolitan areas, using data compiled by the National Association of Realtors.
  • Bloomberg charts levels of income inequality by congressional district.
  • Market research firm Scarborough charts the correlations among Internet browsing habits and political leanings and likelihood of voting.
  • The New York Times maps Americans’ favorite NBA teams.
  • The World Health Organization maps every country’s alcohol consumption.

Future events

  • Tuesday, May 20 to Friday, May 23 – Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will travel to Romania and Cyprus, where the vice president will address the conflict in Ukraine, as well as negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
  • Wednesday, May 21 – The president will welcome the Seattle Seahawks to the White House to honor the team’s victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.
  • Thursday, May 15 – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Andrew Schapiro to be ambassador of the United States to the Czech Republic and Nina Hachigian to be representative of the United States to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at 2:15 p.m. in 419 Dirksen.
  • Thursday, May 15 – The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing, “Progress and Challenges: The State of Tobacco Use and Regulation in the U.S.,” at 2:30 p.m. in 430 Dirksen.
  • Thursday, May 15 – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights will hold its 38th annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award Dinner at 7 p.m. at 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 20 – The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion, “Shaping Political Parties in the 21st Century,” focusing on electoral reform in the U.S. and Mexico, at 9:15 a.m. at 1030 15th St. NW.
  • Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16 – The Small Business Administration will hold events marking National Small Business Week. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to participate.
  • Thursday, May 15 – Former President Clinton will deliver the inaugural Robert S. Brookings President’s Lecture, “The Global Economy: Challenge of the Century,” which will be webcast at 5 p.m.
  • Monday, May 19 – Politico will host a Playbook Lunch discussion, “Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises,” at noon at 600 14th St. NW. Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is scheduled to participate.
  • Monday, May 19 – The Financial Stability Oversight Council will hold a conference on asset management and risks to U.S. financial stability at 12:45 p.m. at 1500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Friday, May 16 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a discussion, “Is the U.S. a Rising Energy Superpower?” – focusing on implications for global markets and Asia, the Middle East, Russia, and Europe, at 10 a.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, May 15 – Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy will hold its 2014 commencement ceremony at 5 p.m. at 37th and O Sts. NW. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will address the graduates and receive an honorary doctorate.
  • Monday, May 16 – The National Democratic Institute will hold an awards luncheon to present the 2014 Madeleine K. Albright Grant to Aswat Nisaa (Women’s Voices) of Tunisia, at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Monday, May 19 – The National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease (WomenHeart) will hold its 14th annual Wenger Awards and Dinner at 6:15 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Honorees include Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
  • Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16 – The New America Foundation will hold its annual “Big Ideas for a New America” conference, which is available via livestream. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver keynote remarks.
  • Friday, May 16 – The U.S. Telecom Association will hold a national cybersecurity policy forum, “Moving Forward with the Cybersecurity Framework,” at 9 a.m. at 607 14th St. NW.
  • Friday, May 16 – The Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus will hold a discussion, “The FCC’s Internet Plans for an ‘Open Internet’ and for the Auctioning of the Mobile Spectrum,” at noon in 2226 Rayburn.

 

 

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This Week in Washington…

Posted on May 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • The president kicked off a media blitz to promote the National Climate Assessment, a federal report warning that climate change is already underway.
  • The Transportation Department is out with a new mandate that requires companies to notify state authorities whenever rail tank cars are hauling crude oil within their borders.
  • New research puts the avian death toll as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at roughly 800,000 birds.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected an industry challenge to the administration’s renewable-fuel standards for 2013 from Monroe Energy LLC, though other challenges to the rule remain unresolved.
  • An analysis of traffic accidents in six states where oil and gas drilling has boomed shows a sharp uptick in fatalities in areas where fracking is taking place.
  • President Obama has renominated acting chair Cheryl LaFleur to serve as a commissioner for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

  • HHS released the full Affordable Care Act enrollment report, which showed a total of 8.02 million people have signed up for private coverage through the insurance exchanges, though there was great variation in enrollment success from state to state.
  • About 10.7 percent of exchange enrollees were Latino, a group that is uninsured at a much higher rate than the rest of the eligible U.S. population.
  • The administration issued a rule Friday that employees must notify workers of their health plan options through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, as an alternative to COBRA.
  • An investigation found that hundreds of hospices declined to provide care to the neediest patients in times of crisis.
  • The impact of anti-abortion legislation in Texas is unlikely to be reversed, because even if challenges to the restrictive anti-abortion law passed last summer make it to the Supreme Court, the wave of clinics that closed as a result would have a difficult time reopening.
  • According to a new Gallup Poll, the rate of uninsured U.S. adults was 13.4 percent in April, the lowest since the organization began collecting data in 2008, down from 15 percent in March and 18 percent ahead of the launch of the Affordable Care Act exchanges in October.
  • The teenage pregnancy rate has dropped 51 percent since its highest point in 1990, and the abortion rate is at the lowest since it was legalized 40 years ago, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute.
  • The FDA said aspirin should not generally be used to prevent heart attacks or stroke in those with no history of cardiovascular disease, because the drug increases risk of bleeding in the brain and stomach.
  • A new study found that Massachusetts’ mortality rate fell by nearly 3 percent between 2007 and 2010, following the passage of the state’s mandatory health coverage law. The law was the model for the ACA, and experts believe the study could offer insight into the impact of expanded coverage on a larger scale.
  • Insurers said between 80 and 90 percent of customers have paid their first premiums. The insurance companies deemed premature last week’s GOP report claiming only 67 percent of ACA customers had paid their first premiums as of April 15, because it counted as unpaid the premiums of a few million enrollees whose payments were not due until at least April 30.
  • The average brand-name cancer drug in the U.S. costs $10,000 per month, double its price a decade ago, according to a new report from IMS Institute for Health Informatics.

TECHNOLOGY

  • The House Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would effectively end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata.
  • Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned after the company’s fourth-quarter earnings dropped, likely because of the major customer data breach the company experienced last year.
  • Only four Teslas have ever been reported stolen in the U.S., largely because there’s low demand for stolen Tesla parts, because Tesla could track the location of a stolen car if necessary, and because carjackers might be worried about not being able to charge the car.
  • Scientists created an organism with six letters in its genetic code instead of four, the first time a living thing has contained artificial genetic code.
  • Planetary Resources, a company that opened with much fanfare two years ago, has quietly shifted its goals from mining minerals from asteroids to obtaining water from asteroids and using it to help fuel aging satellites.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “I’m not trying to spoon with them. I don’t care. In fact, I try to avoid—I go out of my way to avoid meeting candidates and politicians.” — Super PAC founder John Jordan, on meeting political candidates (National Journal)
  • “I’m here supporting Mike Bishop because I think he will not embarrass this district.” — Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, endorsing state Sen. Mike Bishop to replace him when he retires this year (MLive.com)
  • “I think again we’re way out of balance. We’ve got to rein in what has become almost an article of faith that almost anybody can have a gun anywhere at any time. And I don’t believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people.” — Hillary Clinton, on gun regulations (National Journal)
  • “What the hell? What the heck’s the difference?” — Vice President Joe Biden, comparing stealing intellectual property and stealing physical property (National Journal)
  • “I’m open, but here’s the deal. You have to be able to create a pathway from Point A to Point B. I can tell you how I’d get to the finish line from Super Tuesday, but I can’t tell you how I get through those early primary states, having been there and done that once before.” — Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, on running for president again (Washington Post)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • FiveThirtyEight graphs the number of times per hour MSNBC, Fox, and CNN mention “inequality.”
  • Gallup graphs how many people are spending less than they used to.
  • Pew Research Center charts the favorability rating of the Supreme Court.
  • Quartz charts the beginning of a possible housing bubble burst in China.
  • USA Today compares congressional polls from 1994 to 2014.
  • National Journal graphs Target’s slumping quarterly sales numbers after last year’s data breach.

Future events

  • Thursday, May 8 – President Obama will take part in a DCCC event in San Diego.
  • Thursday, May 8 – Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz will deliver the American Academy of Political and Social Science’s 2014 Daniel Patrick Moynihan lecture, “Inequality in America: A Policy Agenda for a Stronger Future,” at 3 p.m. at 802 21st St. NW.
  • Thursday, May 8 – The National Economists Club and the Netherlands Embassy will hold a discussion, “Time to Realize the Opportunities for Growth: Insights from the Global Economic Outlook 2014 and Growth Scenarios 2014 and CEO Challenge 2014,” at 3:30 p.m. at 4200 Linnean Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, May 8 and Friday, May 9 – The Environmental Law Institute will hold a seminar, “The Clean Air Act: New Directions in Law, Policy, and Practice,” at 555 12th St. NW.
  • Thursday, May 8 to Saturday, May 10 – The American Bar Association will hold the Tax Section 2014 May meeting at 1000 H St. NW. Scheduled participants include IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division Kathryn Keneally.
  • Thursday, May 8 – The Woodrow Wilson Center and the State Department’s J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board will hold adiscussion, “The Fulbright Effect: How do we shape the future of public diplomacy and global education?” at 4 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Friday, May 9 – RealClearPolitics and RealClearDefense will hold a discussion, “U.S. Navy for the 21st Century,” at 7:45 a.m. at 101 Connecticut Ave. NW. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., will deliver keynote remarks.
  • Friday, May 9 – U.S. Telecom will hold a discussion, “Voice Interconnection: Yesterday’s Framework, Tomorrow’s Service,” at 9 a.m. at 607 14th St. NW.
  • Friday, May 9 – The Global Health Council and the Global Health Fellows Program-II will hold an interactive reception and discussion forum, “Future of Global Health 2014,” at 8:30 a.m. at 600 14th St. NW.
  • Friday, May 9 – The Center for Global Development will hold a discussion, “Cash Transfers: The New Benchmark for Foreign Aid?” at 9 a.m. at 2055 L St. NW.
  • Friday, May 9 – American University will hold a conference, “American Gridlock: Causes, Characteristics, and Consequences of Polarization,” at 9:30 a.m. at 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Monday, May 12 – Marc Levoy, professor of computer science at Stanford University, will deliver remarks on “Google Glass and the Future of Photography” at noon at 529 14th St. NW.
  • Monday, May 12 and Tuesday, May 13 – Government Executive will hold a conference, “Excellence in Government: The Agency of the Future,” at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Scheduled participants include Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini, and OPM Director Katherine Archuleta.
  • Tuesday, May 13 – The president will award the Medal of Honor to former Army Sgt. Kyle J. White, for conspicuous gallantry during combat operations in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on Nov. 9, 2007.
  • Tuesday, May 13 – The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing on high-frequency and automated trading in futures markets at 10 a.m. in 328-A Russell.
  • Tuesday, May 13 – National Journal will host a discussion of the 2014 elections with Charlie Cook at 8:30 a.m. at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 13 – Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will deliver a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon address on “Retirement Security in the 21st Century” at 12:30 p.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 13 – The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion, “The Future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” at 9:30 a.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 13 – The United States Energy Association will hold a discussion, “North American LNG Exports: Impact on the World Gas Market,” at 10 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 13 – Politico Pro will host a discussion, “Pro Report: The Great Energy Debate,” focusing on the role of energy issues in the 2014 midterm elections and future policy implications, at noon at 1127 Connecticut Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 13 – The Kaiser Family Foundation will hold a briefing, “How Well Are Seniors Making Choices Among Medicare’s Private Plans and Does it Matter?” at 9:30 a.m. at 1330 G. St. NW.
  • Wednesday, May 14 – The Law & Economics Center at George Mason University School of Law will hold a public policy conference on the future of privacy and data security regulation at 8 a.m. at 3301 Fairfax Dr. in Arlington.
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This Week in Washington…

Posted on May 1, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS

POLITICS

BUDGET & ECONOMY

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

  • More than a dozen freight cars carrying oil ran off the tracks, spilling the fuel into the James River, causing a major fire and prompting evacuations
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation to speed up the federal review of liquefied natural gas export proposals.
  • The American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report found that 147 million Americans, or nearly half the country, live in areas with unhealthy ozone and particulate-matter levels.
  • Southern Co. announced a new delay to the operation of its power plant in Kemper, Miss., that would implement carbon and capture sequestration.
  • The Supreme Court reinstated a major Environmental Protection Agency regulation to curb soot- and smog-forming power-plant pollution that crosses state lines and damages air quality in the Eastern United States.
  • BP’s $3.2 billion first-quarter earnings are down 23.5 percent relative to a year ago, despite the fact that the company continues to shed holdings.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

HEALTH CARE

  • An advisory panel recommended April 24 that the Oregon exchange, Cover Oregon, move to HealthCare.gov next year rather than attempt to salvage its own failed system. The full board approved the suggestion, and federal and state officials have agreed the change is for the best.
  • Much of the back end of HealthCare.gov is still under construction, and it could lead to higher costs for consumers.
  • Relatively few—about 77,000—Americans have requested that the penalty for going without health insurance be waived, and so far the Obama administration has rejected none of the applications it has processed.
  • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday considered whether to uphold an injunction against a law that would close the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi.
  • Payment is shifting away from a fee-for-service model and toward one that rewards quality of care, but a report commissioned by the Obama administration found that these policies unfairly penalize providers who treat large numbers of poor people.
  • The Affordable Care Act doesn’t always easily translate to foreign markets, so the House voted 268-150 on Tuesday to exempt health plans provided to expatriates who live abroad for more than six months from key requirements of the law.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report that one-third of ACA enrollees had not paid their premiums as of April 15, but administration officials, experts, and the insurance industry questioned the findings.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler defended his net-neutrality proposal that would allow Internet providers to charge a fee for faster service, vowing that the commission would have “tough, enforceable” rules.
  • Edward Snowden accused the U.S. of spying on its own citizens more than any other country, saying the government is “making a choice, a binary choice, between security of our communications and the vulnerability of our communications.”
  • Critics say the Obama administration supports government surveillance so much that it comes at the expense of cybersecurity, since the agency needs to find certain insecurities in order to do its job. “Surveillance at the scale they want requires insecurity,” said one advocate.
  • Supreme Court justices seemed unwilling to allow for limitless searches of cell phones without warrants, but appeared torn on where to draw the line in arguments in Riley v. California and U.S. v. Wurie.
  • Twitter’s stock dropped to an all-time low after its quarterly report showed declining growth.

OTHER NEWS

QUOTES

  • “I will get right back to work as I always have. With honor and distinction I will serve and then, on top of all that, I have an election to win.” — Rep. Michael Grimm, who said he will continue to campaign despite being indicted on 20 charges relating to alleged fraud at a restaurant he ran (CNN)
  • “There aren’t a lot of things that get past me. So when people tell me that we should send more of the same type of leadership to Washington, I say no, no, no.” — Former NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo, endorsing Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • “Eighteen increases in the minimum wage since 1956. Suppose the other side had taken that attitude, ‘Don’t raise it.’ Well it would still be I guess a buck an hour, 50 cent if you’re a kid. Today 50 Cent is a singing group, right? Am I right about that?” — Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. (ABC News)
  • “If there’s any good news here, it’s [that] Republicans in Congress don’t get the last word on this issue. You do. The American people. The voters. Change is happening, whether Republicans in Congress like it or not.” — President Obama, vowing to bring up the issue of raising the federal minimum wage in the future despite a measure failing to advance in the Senate (The Hill)
  • “[Cantor] asked me why I would want to put myself through this for the next eight months if I’m not running for reelection.” — Rep. Vance McAllister, on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor asking him to resign (National Journal)

CHARTS AND GRAPHICS

  • FiveThirtyEight illustrates which states are most considered part of the South.
  • Quartz graphs how many people leave tips, and the value of the average tip, in 48 states.
  • FiveThirtyEight charts the rising average age of lawmakers.
  • Quartz graphs key economic indicators for the first quarter of 2014

Future events

  • Tuesday, May 6 – The White House Initiative on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders will hold an event to ceremonially swear in members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at 9 a.m. at 1849 C St. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 6 – The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing, “New Routes for Funding and Financing Highways and Transit,” at 10 a.m. in 215 Dirksen.
  • Tuesday, May 6 – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing, “Ukraine – Countering Russian Intervention and Supporting a Democratic State,” at 3 p.m. in 419 Dirksen.
  • Wednesday, May 7 – The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing, “The Economic Outlook,” at 10 a.m. in 216 Hart.
  • Thursday, May 8 – The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing, “Defining and Improving Success for Student Veterans,” at 10 a.m. in 334 Cannon.
  • Thursday, May 1 – The Woodrow Wilson Center will hold adiscussion, “The Vote: When Does Suffrage Become Universal?” at 5 p.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Monday, May 5 – The Voter Empowerment Action Project will hold a news conference to unveil Voter Connect, a program to “connect voters in blue states with voters in red states” and preserve voting rights, at 10 a.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
  • Monday, May 5 – National Journal will hold a webcast, beginning at 2:30 p.m., on “The Politics of 2014’s Midterm Elections.”
  • Thursday, May 1 and Friday, May 2 – The Committee for Economic Development will hold its spring policy conference at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Friday, May 2 – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a discussion on the bilateral relationship between the United States and Germany, focusing on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, at 1:45 p.m. at 1615 H St. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 6 – The National Press Club Newsmaker Program will hold a news conference, “The Manufacturing-Skills Gap: How a Shortage of Skilled Workers and Needed Education Is Affecting the Economic Recovery,” at 2 p.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
  • Thursday, May 1 – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing, “Short on Gas: A look into the propane shortages this winter,” at 2:30 p.m. in 366 Dirksen.
  • Monday, May 5 – The Atlantic Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center will hold a discussion, “Energy, Water, and Agriculture Nexus: Risks and Opportunities,” at 3 p.m. at 1030 15th St. NW.
  • Monday, May 5 – The Peterson Institute for International Economics will hold a book discussion on Economic Normalization with Cuba: A Roadmap for U.S. Policymakers at 12:15 p.m. at 1750 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
  • Tuesday, May 6 – The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs will hold a discussion, “Whither America: A Foreign Policy Debate Among Realists, Nationalists, and Internationalists,” at 5 p.m. at 1957 E St. NW.
  • Friday, May 2 – The Alliance for Health Reform will hold a briefing, “Is the Mind Part of the Body? The Challenge of Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care in a Reform Era,” at 12:15 p.m. at 50 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
  • Monday, May 5 – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative will hold a discussion, “Social Accountability: The Answer to Ensuring Reproductive and Maternal Health Rights in the Post-MDG (Millennium Development Goal) Era?” at noon at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • Sunday, May 4 to Wednesday, May 7 – The American Hospital Association will hold its annual membership meeting, “Ensuring a Healthier Tomorrow,” at 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, May 1 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a discussion, “Brazil’s Internet Framework: The Politics of Defining a New Age of Global Internet Governance,” at 4 p.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
  • Thursday, May 1 – The National Foreign Trade Council Foundation’s Global Innovation Forum will hold a discussion, “The Global Startup,” focusing on “how entrepreneurs are engaging in the international marketplace thanks to Internet-enabled technologies,” at 5 p.m. at 1005 7th St. NW.
  • Thursday, May 1 and Friday, May 2 – The American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold its 39th annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
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