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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