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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