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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