Archive for June, 2014
TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK
- Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., notched a narrow victory in a runoff against his tea party challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, but the tea party challenger.
Look ahead: McDaniel has refused to concede the race, and is exploring a possible legal challenge to the results.
- The Obama administration and 41 House Republicans separately urged renewal of the Export-Import Bank charter, which expires Sept. 30, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers called for an up-or-down vote on reauthorization.
Look ahead: The bank is unlikely to win reauthorization without the backing of incoming majority leader Kevin McCarthy, who says the charter should be allowed to expire.
- U.S. officials confirmed that the Syrian military has conducted airstrikes against ISIS militants in Iraq, while Iran is providing military equipment to Iraqi forces—an effort that is parallel to, but not in tandem with, a recent resumption of American military aid.
Look ahead: Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned other nations against entering the conflict, which the U.S. fears could escalate into a regional crisis.
- The White House and European leaders are preparing sector-specific sanctionsagainst Russia over its interference in Ukraine, where deadly rebel attacks have jeopardized a ceasefire. Kerry said that Russia must demonstrate “in the next hours” its commitment to disarming the separatist rebels.
Look ahead: Obama administration officials say the penalties could be delayed due to promising signals from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who on Tuesday directed parliament to rescind its authorization for the use of force in Ukraine.
- Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer released a report detailing themonetary costs of global warming.
Look ahead: The group advocates a business-oriented response, noting that corporations should approach global warming as they would other threats to their bottom line.
- In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court held that the president’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were invalid, though the justices stopped short of barring recess appointments entirely.
- During the daylong Working Families Summit, the president and first lady shared personal anecdotes to highlight the need for equal pay, higher minimum wage, and paid family leave.
- House Speaker John Boehner is weighing a legal challenge to the president’s use of executive orders, a move he says is necessitated by Senate inaction on House-passed legislation addressing the president’s executive actions.
- Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited immigrant-detention facilities in Arizona, where he warned that “there is no free pass” for children who illegally enter the United States.
- The Homeland Security Department has abandoned a plan to fly hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Texas to California, but could revive the plan in the future.
- Lawmakers head toward their Independence Day recess still in search of a solution to a looming highway-funding crisis, dealing with growing tension over government spending bills due on Oct. 1 and debate over how the U.S. should address developments in Iraq.
- Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., will replace incoming Majority Whip Steve Scalise as Republican Study Committee chairman, with the understanding that he will not seek a full two-year term in the upcoming Congress.
- White House attorney Jennifer O’Connor testified before the House Oversight Committee under subpoena, despite her contention that she left the IRS before officials learned of the disappearance of key emails in the targeting scandal.
- House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy was elected majority leader in a widely expected victory over Rep. Raúl Labrador, and RSC Chairman Steve Scalise claimed the Californian’s previous post after an impressive whipping operation.
- Sen. Thad Cochran notched a narrow victory in a GOP runoff against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, but the tea-party challenger refused to concede the race, and is exploring a possible legal challenge to the results.
- Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., narrowly defeated state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in the Democratic primary, keeping alive his bid for a 23rd term.
- Rep. James Lankford fended off former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon and five other GOP rivals in Oklahoma for the open Senate seat, earning more than 57 percent of the vote.
- Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown won the Democratic gubernatorial primary with more than 51 percent of the vote, and will face Republican Larry Hogan in the general election.
- Former Rep. Bob Beauprez edged his former colleague, Tom Tancredo, to win a four-way Republican primary in Colorado to challenge Gov. John Hickenlooper.
- Businessman Curt Clawson garnered more than two-thirds of the vote in the special election to replace former Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla.
- Full election results: Colorado | Florida | Maryland | Mississippi | New York |Oklahoma | South Carolina | Utah
- The Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law establishing a buffer zone around abortion clinics, on the grounds that the regulation infringed on the First Amendment rights of antiabortion activists.
- The DSCC raised $8.3 million to the NRSC’s $5.8 million last month, while the DCCC tallied $7.3 million to $6 million for the NRCC.
- In remarks to the annual conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Sen. Marco Rubio emphasized the primacy of “Judeo-Christian values,” while Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, cited persecution of Christians.
- Documents from a halted state prosecution, unsealed by a federal judge, outlined allegations that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and two aides conspired to improperly coordinate funds from conservative outside groups to aid Walker and several state senators’ campaigns in 2011 and 2012.
BUDGET & ECONOMY
- In its third and final revision, the Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product slowed at an annualized rate of 2.9 percent—its fastest decline since the first quarter of 2009.
- Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will announce administration initiatives to ease borrowing for homeowners with suboptimal credit and to aid low-income workers.
- The Obama administration urged renewal of the Export-Import Bank charter, which expires Sept. 30, and 41 House Republicans wrote to House Speaker John Boehnerin support of reauthorization, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers called for an up-or-down vote on renewal.
- Incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who previously voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank over the objections of business groups, says itscharter should be allowed to expire this fall.
- The Conference Board’s monthly Consumer Confidence Index reached 85.2—itshighest level since January 2008.
- Women are leaving the workforce during their peak earning years—some to care for elderly relatives, others due to budget cuts in state and local government—diminishing their long-term prospects and depriving the country of their contributions to economic growth.
- The Treasury Department lifted sanctions on 78 individuals and 230 entities linked to the Cali cartel, in the largest single delisting in the program’s history.
- The number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims dropped to 312,000 in the week ending June 14, keeping the seasonally-adjusted totals at levels last seen regularly in mid-2007 and spurring optimism for the June jobs report.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
- White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated that the Obama administration has not changed the rules for crude-oil exports, despite reports about approval of minimally processed light-oil exports.
- Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., announced efforts to find common ground on climate change.
- After a four-year review of scientific literature, researchers have determined that thelink between neonicotinoid pesticides and worldwide deaths of pollinators is now “impossible to deny.”
- The Supreme Court handed a victory to the Environmental Protection Agency by largely upholding a greenhouse-gas permitting program that applies to big industrial polluters like power plants and factories.
- A study conducted by a Princeton University scientist concluded that oil and gas wells that are no longer in use in Pennsylvania are continuing to leak methane.
- Senate Democrats called off an Appropriations Committee markup of an energy and water funding bill after the White House threatened to veto any amendments that would block the climate rule.
- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is resisting pressure to form a unity government, rejecting such an outcome as a “coup.”
- The Justice Department—in a redacted memo—signed off on killing Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, if he could not be captured.
- Syria handed over the last of its known chemical weapons for destruction.
- The United States resumed a majority of its aid to Egypt, and announced plans to proceed with delivery of several Apache helicopters.
- Veterans Affairs staffers played down systematic errors, by labeling a mistake as a “harmless error.”
- The Army told 1,100 captains that they will be forced to leave the service due to budget cuts.
- Fifty-seven percent of the 8.1 million Americans who signed up for private insurance coverage through the exchanges report having been uninsured beforehand, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
- In a sign the long-running investigation has become more serious, prosecutors are seeking evidence from the House Ways and Means Committee and a top congressional health care aide for a grand jury probe into whether anyone in the government illegally passed nonpublic Medicare policy information to traders.
- Two weeks into the job, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced areorganization of the management structure overseeing the health law’s implementation to improve accountability, but Republicans fear conflicts of interest.
- More insurers are refusing to cover certain drugs unless the manufacturers charge less, which seems to be creating greater price competition among pharmaceutical companies.
- Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed portions of the state budget that Republican legislators included in the hopes of blocking Medicaid expansion, butstopped short of committing to carry out the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, though he did maintain his vow to expand health coverage.
- A new report says that the Veterans Affairs Office of the Medical Inspectorrepeatedly dismissed legitimate reports of wrongdoing in the VA system, saying they do not have an impact on patient care.
- Patient advocates say some insurers are designing their plans to discourage individuals with significant health needs from enrolling, making the law fall short on its preexisting conditions protections promise.
- A Republican majority still would not be able to fully repeal the health care law, but it could force some significant changes.
- Health spending slowed in the first quarter of 2014, contributing to an overall 2.9 percent decline in GDP, according to new government data. The Bureau of Economic Analysis initially estimated that health care spending rose 9.1 percent in the first quarter, but a revision released Tuesday shows they now believe it
- The Supreme Court ruled that police cannot search the contents of someone’s cell phone without a warrant, a major victory for privacy advocates.
- The Supreme Court also ruled that the current business model of digital streaming TV service Aereo is illegal because it needs permission to air its content, and Aereo currently does not pay TV stations for their shows.
- Transparency advocates are suing the CIA for not complying with a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the agency’s alleged hacking of Senate computers.
- Lawmakers worry AT&T’s proposed purchase of DirecTV will limit consumer choiceand will “have the potential to raise prices,” despite AT&T’s claims that the move would create “downward pressure” on prices.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee is taking up legislation to legalize cell-phone unlocking, which would allow customers to switch cell phone service providers without buying a new phone.
- Ikea plans to increase its workers’ base pay by 17 percent, with per-store minimums based on cost of living, and a national average of $10.76 per hour.
- The National Football League agreed to eliminate the $675 million cap on damagesin its settlement with former players over brain damage caused by concussions.
- Actor Eli Wallach, whose six-decade career included such films as The Magnificent Seven and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, died Tuesday at age 98.
- Spanish authorities charged Princess Cristina in a tax-fraud and money-laundering case involving her husband’s business dealings.
- The New York State Court of Appeals declined to reinstate New York City’s restrictions on sales of sugary beverages, ruling that the municipal Board of Health “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority” in imposing the limits.
- Following analysis of satellite data, the Australian government will shift the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to an area 1,100 miles off the country’s west coast.
- The United Nations reports that as a result of numerous and expanding conflicts,51.2 million people were living as refugees in 2013—an increase of 6 million over 2012, and the first time since World War II that the figure has exceeded 50 million.
- “We’re not done fighting. We have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.” — Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, refusing to concede to Sen. Thad Cochran in their primary runoff election (Hattiesburg American)
- “He was so great on immigration, President George W. Bush. He cautioned in this debate to be respectful of the people that we’re talking about. That’s really not what’s happening right now.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, criticizing Republicans for their lawsuit against President Obama over his use of executive orders (The Hill)
- “I will spill my blood to save the unborn.” — Iowa state Sen. Brad Zaun, during the Republican nominating convention for Rep. Tom Latham’s House seat, which Zaun lost (The Daily Beast)
- “Mr. Amash, you were called al-Qaida’s best friend in Congress, and for good reason.” — Former Marine Ben Thomas, in a campaign ad for Rep. Justin Amash’s primary challenger, investment executive Brian Ellis (The Hill)
- “The way we are being portrayed is like we’re domestic terrorists with baby’s veins and guts hanging out of our teeth. They say we are fringe—do I look fringe to you?” — Mississippi resident Robert Edward Kenney, on how the tea party is portrayed nationally (The Washington Post)
CHARTS AND GRAPHICS
- NPR graphs the relative price of a home in U.S. cities.
- National Journal maps which cities are gaining or losing the most jobs.
- Euromonitor links different countries’ exports and imports.
- Historian Claudio Saunt maps the transfer of land from Native Americans to the United States from 1776 to 1887.
- The New York Times charts the distribution of World Cup players among elite club teams.
- Thursday, June 26 – President Obama will take part in a town-hall meeting at Minnehaha Park and attend a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event in Minneapolis.
- Friday, June 27 – The president and first lady will attend the Marine Barracks Evening Parade in Washington.
- Friday, June 27 – Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. will deliver a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon farewell address, “When Congress Worked,” at 12:30 p.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
- Friday, June 27 – The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy will hold its annual review of the current Supreme Court term at 9 a.m. at 529 14th St. NW.
- Thursday, June 26 – Bloomberg Government will hold a webinar, beginning at 3 p.m., on “Where Do Financial Institutions Go From Here?”
- Thursday, June 26 – Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will deliver closing remarks at the Making Home Affordable Fifth Anniversary Summit, at 4:45 p.m. at 1500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
- Monday, June 30 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold adiscussion, “The U.S. Role in Global Infrastructure Development,” at 1:30 p.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
- Friday, June 27 – The American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold the 2014 D.C. Energy and Data Summit, focusing on the use of government open data for energy solutions, at 8:30 a.m. at 1200 New York Ave NW.
- Thursday, June 26 – NDN will hold a webinar, beginning at 3 p.m., on immigration, U.S.-Mexico border enforcement and the recent surge in unaccompanied minors.
- Friday, June 27 – The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion, “Afghanistan: Economic Transition and Transformation,” at 12:30 p.m. at 1030 15th St. NW.
- Monday, June 30 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion, “Lessons on How the U.S. Can Reform the U.N.,” at 11 a.m. at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
- Friday, June 27 – The Alliance for Health Reform will hold a briefing, “Rates of Change: Putting 2015 Insurance Premiums Into Context,” at noon in G-50 Dirksen.
- Tuesday, July 1 – The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion, “Exploring the Promise of Patient Medication Information,” at 9 a.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
- Tuesday, July 1 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold adiscussion, “The Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration: Promise for the Future?” at 8:30 a.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
- Tuesday, July 1 – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a field hearing, “Preserving an Open Internet: Rules to Promote Competition and Protect Main Street Consumers,” at 10 a.m. at 590 Main St. in Burlington, Vt.
- Tuesday, July 1 – The American Enterprise Institute’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy will hold a discussion, “Copyrights and Innovation: Understanding the Debate,” at noon at 1150 17th St. NW.
TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK
- Following a meeting with his national security team, President Obama outlined the U.S. response to the Islamist insurgency in Iraq, which includes sending up to 300 military advisers to aid Iraqi forces, but noted that “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq.
Look ahead: Consensus is growing among U.S. and Arab leaders that Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki is a barrier to national unity and lasting peace, and American officials are quietly urging Iraqis to form a new government without Maliki, whose tenure has been marred by sectarian divisions.
- Ahmed Abu Khatalla, the suspected mastermind of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, wasapprehended in a nighttime raid on Sunday and is currently en route to the United States via a Navy transport vessel. The administration asserted its right to self-defensein response to Libyan claims that the raid violated its sovereignty.
Look ahead: Khatalla will not be sent to Guantanamo Bay, as someRepublican lawmakers have urged; the Obama administration intends to try him in federal court.
- Disillusionment runs deep in the House Republican Conference, which convenes this afternoon to select a new majority leader and whip, but the special election is unlikely to calm the waters.
Look ahead: The new leaders will look to cement their positions ahead of the August recess, while today’s contest could offer clues to the strength of the tea party and shed light on the coming race to succeed Speaker John Boehner.
- The president unveiled plans to create the world’s largest marine sanctuary, setting aside a swath of the south-central Pacific Ocean in an effort to protect the region’s coral reefs and marine species from fishing, energy development and other activities.
Look ahead: The action prompted swift criticism from House conservatives who accused the administration of closing off coastal areas from fishing activity without regard to potential economic cost.
- Following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko proposed a temporary, unilateral cease-fire by government troops—a move greeted with skepticism from pro-Russian separatists.
Look ahead: Government forces engaged in fresh clashes with rebels today, even as Poroshenko prepares to meet with regional leaders to rally support for his plan.
- President Obama and House and Senate leaders from both parties agreed that the president does not require congressional authorization for some potential responses to the violence in Iraq.
- Obama hosted the inaugural White House Maker Faire, meeting with students, entrepreneurs, and others employing technology as he promotes opportunities for small business.
- The Justice Department is scheduled to release a report Thursday detailing the consequences of its interpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
- Obama attended the Democratic National Committee’s annual LGBT gala in New York, where he touted his administration’s accomplishments and called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
- The president visited a Pittsburgh workshop and business incubator as part of his push to highlight gains in U.S. manufacturing and to encourage entrepreneurship.
- The president and first lady traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, N.D., where Obama outlined the need for further action to improve economic and educational opportunity for Native Americans.
- The president signed an executive order Saturday establishing an emergency board to mediate a labor dispute between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and its engineers and electricians.
- Five contenders for two positions in House Republican leadership stated their cases to a closed-door meeting of GOP lawmakers Wednesday, affording the candidates their first—and only—opportunity to sell themselves to the entire conference before Thursday’s elections.
- Conservatives failed Wednesday morning with a last-ditch effort to delay Thursday’s leadership elections by one week, on the grounds that the short turnaround was not fair to candidates who are not as well-known throughout the conference.
- The House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders, Rep. Hal Rogers and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, are working together to advance 12 spending bills through atransparent process that harks back to decades past.
- House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., worked quietly to gain colleagues’ support in his bid for majority leader, while Rep. Raúl Labrador has courted media attention, turning to talk radio to offer his vision for party leadership.
- The House and Senate faced appropriations battles, foreign policy issues, VA reforms, and other pressing issues this week.
- The National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved $30 million in airtime in 26 districts—$18.7 million for 17 House seats held by Democrats, and $11.5 million for Republican-held seats.
- Funding commitments from GOP donors have lagged because of the focus on the midterms and the uncertainty of the 2016 field.
- While inaccuracies in the 2012 cycle were rooted in difficulty surveying young and minority voters, the polling missteps in Cantor’s race underscore another dilemma for Republicans: the continued reliance—by at least some of their candidates—on pollsters with poor track records.
- Charles and David Koch have launched the Freedom Partners Action Fund, which plans to spend upward of $15 million this cycle and is expected to deviate from the issue-based approach of past efforts.
- Presidential aspirants attended an “ideas summit” in Park City, Utah, by Mitt Romney, who is looking to play kingmaker in the midterms and the 2016 presidential race, lending his name and fundraising apparatus to candidates around the country.
- Young “Dreamers” have crafted their own political and social movement, separate from the older and more established advocates who have pushed (unsuccessfully) for comprehensive immigration legislation in Washington.
BUDGET & ECONOMY
- The Federal Open Market Committee met June 17 and 18, and announced plans toreduce the Federal Reserve’s monthly bond purchases from $45 billion to $35 billion, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen maintained that short-term interest rates will not rise before mid-2015, at which point they will increase gradually.
- The Fed cited the unusually harsh winter weather in cutting its forecast to 2.1 to 2.3 percent growth, from 2.8 to 3 percent, but noted in its statement that growth “has rebounded in recent months.
- The Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent in May, but Fed officials were not swayed by the uptick.
- Yellen has emphasized her commitment to aiding the long-term unemployed, but the central bank must assess how to spur job creation without sparking an increase in inflation.
- The Labor Department reports that the share of college students who are working their way through school was just 43.9 percent in 2013—the lowest level since 1985.
- In its latest report, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentforecast accelerating U.S. economic growth, citing the nation’s energy boom and rising investment and consumer confidence.
- In its annual report on the U.S. economy, the International Monetary Fund predicts 2 percent growth in 2014, down from its April estimate of 2.8 percent, and forecasts an average annual growth rate of 2 percent.
- The Senate confirmed the Federal Reserve Board vice chairmanship of Stanley Fischer, whose board membership was approved last month, as well as the membership of Lael Brainard and the reappointment of Jerome Powell.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
- Four former EPA administrators from the Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. and George W. Bush administrations said that Republicans should have some cover to move on climate change thanks to public opinion.
- An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that more than two-thirds of Americans support the Obama administration’s regulation aimed at cracking down on carbon emissions from power plants.
- President Obama unveiled plans to create the world’s largest marine sanctuary, setting aside a swath of the south central Pacific Ocean from fishing, energy development, and other activities.
- North Dakota oil production surpassed 1 million barrels per day in April.
- Conservative financiers Charles and David Koch have formed a new super PAC calledFreedom Partners Action Fund that will spend more than $15 million in the midterms.
- Russia shut off natural-gas delivery to Ukraine after Kiev failed to pay its nearly $2 billion in debt.
- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
- Following a meeting with his national security team, President Obama outlined the U.S. response to the Islamist insurgency in Iraq, which includes sending up to 300 military advisers to aid Iraqi forces, but noted that “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq.”
- Ahmed Abu Khatalla, the alleged mastermind behind the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, was captured in a nighttime raid on Sunday.
- Consensus is growing among U.S. and Arab leaders that Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki is a barrier to national unity and lasting peace, and American officials are quietly urging Iraqis to form a new government without Maliki, whose tenure has been marred by sectarian divisions.
- Obama notified Congress of his intent to deploy as many as 275 military personnel to secure the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
- The Army launched its investigation into the disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. It will be led by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl.
- Senators voted to confirm Michael McCord as the Pentagon’s comptroller.
- The State Department rolled out sanctions against Shawki Ali Ahmed al-Badani,believed to be the leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
- Officials are reaching out to hundreds of thousands of Americans receiving tax credits for their insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act whose application information differs from that in government records, asking them to submit additional documents to verify income, Social Security number, citizenship, immigration status, and health coverage from employers, or risk losing their subsidized coverage.
- Republicans in the Virginia Senate passed a budget without Medicaid expansion after gaining control of the chamber following the resignation of a Democratic member; it isuncertain whether Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe—an advocate of expansion—will approve the budget, but he has said the fight is “far from over.”
- The U.S. came in last in a ranking of health care systems when compared with other Western industrialized nations, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report.
- In a unanimous ruling Monday on a First Amendment case over a ‘false’ ACA ad, the Supreme Court held that an antiabortion group’s challenge to an Ohio law banning false statements in campaign advertising can proceed in lower courts.
- On average, people who bought insurance through the health law’s federally run exchanges pay about $82 per month toward their premiums, with 76 percent of the total premiums covered by subsidies, according to new data from HHS.
- Some insurance companies are pushing back against the rising cost of cancer treatments, a result of higher drug prices and an effort by hospitals to buy oncology practices and then bill at higher rates.
- The Congressional Budget Office said it can no longer score the budgetary impact of the ACA, explaining that while the budgetary effects of new coverage provisions of the law—such as exchange subsidies and Medicaid expansion—can still be isolated, other provisions largely modified existing programs, making it difficult to identify the incremental effects of those changes.
- , to evaluate their scheduling practices.
- GM CEO Mary Barra reported to the House Energy and Commerce’s Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee that her company has fired 15 people and instituted a number of reforms to change the company’s safety measures, but some committee members still thought GM has not done enough to change the company’s culture after an ignition-switch defect reportedly led to 13 deaths.
- Internet companies and individuals are working to create technological barriers to the National Security Agency accessing digital information, but experts said the concept of becoming “NSA-proof” will not work.
- The Federal Communications Commission said cable and fiber Internet providers generally provide Internet at the speeds advertised, but not consistently. DSL connections often miss their advertised speeds.
- President Obama met a 17-foot, 2,200-pound robotic giraffe with wheels made by a San Diego man at the “Maker Faire” at the White House.
- Open English, an online school for Spanish speakers, now has 100,000 students and is valued at $350 million, illustrating the growing market of Latin America’s growing middle class that is increasingly consuming technology.
- Starbucks announced plans to pay college tuition for eligible employees through an online education program offered by Arizona State University, although critics warned of high out-of-pocket costs and delays in reimbursement.
- The Supreme Court held in Abramski v. United States that the federal government has the constitutional authority to strictly enforce laws against “straw” purchases of firearms.
- The United States opened its 2014 World Cup campaign with an exhilarating 2-1 victory over Ghana, which had ousted the U.S. in the previous two tournaments.
- The Los Angeles Kings came from behind to notch a double-overtime victory against the New York Rangers in the decisive game five of the Stanley Cup Finals.
- The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, denying LeBron James and his teammates a third consecutive title.
- Baseball Hall of Famer and San Diego Padres star Tony Gwynn died of cancer on Monday. He was 54.
- Attorneys for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have petitioned for a change of venue for his trial—to Washington, DC.
- “When Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible, and we will bring them to justice. And that’s a message I sent the day after it happened, and regardless of how long it takes: We will find you.” — President Obama, after the U.S. captured the alleged mastermind of the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi (The Hill)
- “I decided to change my name because I like sports, people. And I like Julia Cesar Chavez, I like Eric Cesar Chavez, the baseball player here on the Arizona Diamondbacks. … I also took into consideration my dog’s favorite dog food, which is Cesar brand dog food, people.” — Cesar Chavez, formerly Scott Fistler, who was kicked off the ballot for retiring Rep. Ed Pastor’s seat in Arizona, on why he changed his name (Arizona Republic)
- “I do think I made it more difficult for the FTC. In an attempt to engage viewers, I used flowery language. I used language that was very passionate, but it ended up not being helpful but incendiary. And it provided fodder for unscrupulous advertisers… We have specifically restricted our use of words…” — Dr. Mehmet Oz, testifying to the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, on the health products he recommends on TV (National Journal)
- “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” — Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, in an op-ed on President Obama’s decisions in Iraq (Wall Street Journal)
- “I’m more Jewish than you think I am. I read the part of the Bible that said the Jews are God’s chosen people.” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry (New York Times Magazine)
CHARTS AND GRAPHICS
- The New York Times charts the progression of World Cup soccer balls from 1930 to the present.
- The Washington Post charts the beverages underage Americans consume when binge drinking.
- The New York Times graphs the Federal Reserve Board’s consistently inaccurate GDP growth predictions for 2011.
- The Washington Post graphs the divergence of American consumption of butter and margarine.
- The Martin Prosperity Institute charts domestic migration patterns by education level.
- The Washington Post maps locations where gun stores outnumber museums and libraries.
- Thursday, June 19 – President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to retired Marine Corps Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter for conspicuous gallantry during combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
- Monday, June 23 – The White House Council on Women and Girls, the Labor Department, and the Center for American Progress will hold a Summit on Working Families at 2500 Calvert St. NW.
- Friday, June 20 – The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing, “Review of Awarding Bonuses to Senior Executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” at 9 a.m. in 334 Cannon.
- Tuesday, June 24 – Congress will hold a ceremony in the Rotunda to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A Congressional Gold Medal will be presented in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
- Tuesday, June 24 – The House Judiciary Committee’s Regulatory Reform, Commercial, and Antitrust Law Subcommittee will hold a hearing, “The Proposed Merger of AT&T and DirecTV,” at 10:30 a.m. in 2141 Rayburn.
- Tuesday, June 24 – The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Subcommittee will hold a hearing, “The AT&T/DIRECTV Merger: The Impact on Competition and Consumers in the Video Market and Beyond,” at 2:30 p.m. in 226 Dirksen.
- Wednesday, June 25 – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing, “The Voting Rights Amendment Act, S.1945: Updating the Voting Rights Act in Response to Shelby County v. Holder,” at 10 a.m. in 226 Dirksen.
- Thursday, June 19 to Saturday, June 21 – The American Constitution Society will hold its 2014 National Convention at 1001 16th St. NW.
- Thursday, June 19 to Saturday, June 21 – The Faith and Freedom Coalition will hold its “Road to Majority” policy conference at 2500 Calvert St. NW.
- Tuesday, June 24 – The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a discussion, “Governing in a Polarized America: A Bipartisan Blueprint to Strengthen Our Democracy,” at 10 a.m. at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
- Wednesday, June 25 – The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing, “Election Administration: Examining How Early and Absentee Voting Can Benefit Citizens and Administrators,” at 2 p.m. in 301 Russell.
- Monday, June 23 – The Peterson Institute for International Economics will hold a discussion, “Financing Development and the Role of Infrastructure,” at 12:15 p.m. at 1750 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
- Tuesday, June 24 – National Journal will hold a discussion, “Making America Work,” as part of the “Next America” series, focusing on minority financial empowerment and workforce development, at 8:30 a.m. at 1000 H St. NW.
- Thursday, June 19 – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold ahearing, “How to harness a game-changing resource for export, domestic consumption, and transportation fuel,” at 2:30 p.m. in 366 Dirksen.
- Tuesday, June 24 – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies will hold a discussion, “Energy Insecurity and the Luxury of Sovereignty Along Russia’s Pipelines,” at 10 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
- Friday, June 20 – The New America Foundation will hold a discussion, “Crisis in Iraq: What Role Should the U.S. Play?” at 12:15 p.m. at 1899 L St. NW.
- Monday, June 23 – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program will hold adiscussion, “The Iranian Nuclear Deal and the Impact on its Neighbors,” at 9:30 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
- Tuesday, June 24 to Wednesday, June 25 – The Institute for Defense and Government Advancement will hold the 2014 Mission Command Summit at 300 Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Va.
- Tuesday, June 24 – The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation will hold adiscussion, “Investment and Innovation in Pediatric AIDS Treatment,” at 9 a.m. at 901 E St. NW.
- Tuesday, June 24 – The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies will hold a roundtable discussion, “What are the Bounds of the FCC’s Authority over Broadband Service Providers?” at 7 p.m. at 1135 16th St. NW.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
TOP 5 STORIES THIS WEEK
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., suffered a surprising defeat in Tuesday’s primary, garnering less than 45 percent of the vote against his tea-party challenger, Randolph-Macon College economics professor Dave Brat.
Look ahead: Cantor will step down from his leadership role on July 31, and a special election for the post will be held next week.
- Primary elections were held in five states, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., prevailing in a seven-way race and avoiding a runoff election and attorney Mark Hutchinson winning the GOP primary for Nevada lieutenant governor.
Look ahead: The Nevada race, which has drawn unusual national attention, signals efforts by Gov. Brian Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to shape and change their parties in the critical Western swing state.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employers added 217,000 jobs in May, and the economy has regained all of the jobs lost during the recession, but the share of high-paying positions has shrunk.
Look ahead: U.S. economic growth has historically returned to an annual rate of 3 percent following recessions, but Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warns that the government now forecasts a pace of just 2.1 percent.
- President Obama signed an executive order expanding an initiative allowing student-loan borrowers to limit their repayments to 10 percent of their monthly income, to include individuals who took out loans prior to Oct. 2007.
Look ahead: The Education Department will renegotiate terms with servicers of federal student loans to incentivize the companies to help borrowers avoid default, and will join the Treasury Department in working with tax-preparation companies to raise awareness of available tax credits and repayment plans.
- Islamist insurgents are expanding their reach in Iraq, where government security forces have been powerless to halt their advance toward Baghdad. Kurdish forces have mobilized to halt the Islamists’ progress, gaining control of the northern city of Kirkuk.
Look ahead: The White House has so far rejected the Iraqi government’s request for air strikes.
- President Obama is hosting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for discussions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Australia’s presidency of the G-20, and the nations’ “growing bilateral defense relationship.”
- A group of federal contract employees is pressing the president to further increase their minimum wage, contending that the current $10.10 per hour rate falls short of a “living wage,” and that some contractors are not complying with the order.
- The president nominated Observatory Group CEO Jane Hartley, who served in the Carter administration and was among Obama’s top campaign bundlers in 2012, to serve as U.S. ambassador to France.
- Obama addressed graduates of Worcester Technical High School, highlighting the vocational institution’s recent successes after a history of underperforming.
- The president discussed the rising cost of post-secondary education in a Q&A session moderated by Tumblr founder David Karp.
- President Obama joined international leaders and a contingent of World War II veterans in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., resigned his leadership post, effective July 31, following his surprise defeat in Tuesday’s primary election.
- The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that would make it easier to fire incompetent senior leaders, reprimand those who falsified health care wait-time records, hire additional VA doctors and nurses, and open additional medical facilities.
- The House voted 426-0 in favor of legislation to enable veterans facing lengthy waits at VA facilities to obtain agency-funded treatment from unaffiliated physicians.
- Senate appropriators crafted a deal that allocates $1.94 billion to the Health and Human Services division tasked with caring for “unaccompanied alien children”—an increase of more than $1 billion.
- The House Ethics Committee will continue to investigate whether Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, violated federal reporting requirements for campaign donations from two employees of his congressional office.
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., backed an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill that would protect the ability of colleges and universities to study industrial hemp.
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., suffered a surprising defeat in Tuesday’s primary, garnering less than 45 percent of the vote against his tea-party challenger, Randolph-Macon College economics professor Dave Brat.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., avoided a runoff, earning over 56 percent of the vote against six challengers, while Sen. Tim Scott cruised to victory in his primary.
- Former Virginia Lt. Gov. Don Beyer won a crowded Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran in the state’s 8th Congressional District, earning nearly 46 percent of the vote in the safe Democratic district.
- Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has had the oil industry’s back at every congressional turn, even when that meant bucking her party—or ripping President Obama—and now, years of defending the oil lobby as well as a powerful perch atop the Senate’s Energy panel appear to be paying dividends in her hour of need.
- Candidates including Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, are embracing the president’s planned regulations for existing power plants as a vital step in arresting climate change.
BUDGET & ECONOMY
- The U.S. budget deficit totaled $436.38 billion through May—a 30 percent decline over the same period last year, and the smallest year-to-date shortfall since the same period in 2008.
- The Labor Department reported in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey that the number of available positions climbed to 4.5 million in April, while the rate of job openings reached 3.1 percent.
- In its Global Economic Prospects report, the World Bank downgraded its economic forecast for developing countries from its January estimate of 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent, marking the third straight year of sub-5 percent economic growth for these countries.
- While the nation has now regained all of the jobs lost during the recession, the share of high-paying positions has shrunk, as more than 40 percent of the jobs created in the past year are low-wage positions in retail, food service, and similar fields.
- A study released by the Public Interest Research Group and the Center for Tax Justice finds that Fortune 500 companies—led by Apple, GE, Microsoft, Pfizer, and Merck—are reducing their tax liability by offshoring $90 billion in profits.
- SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White proposed a set of rules to increase oversight of high-frequency trading in a bid to curb volatility and increase transparency in the markets.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Employment Situation Report on Friday, showing that employers added 217,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls—down from 288,000 in April—while unemployment held steady at 6.3 percent.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
- Shallow-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has experienced a revival in recent years.
- Oil and gas giants such as Exxon, BP, and Shell are pushing ahead with projects in Russia despite continuing diplomatic tensions between the Kremlin and the U.S.
- Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer has assembled an all-star team of top Democratic operatives in his bid to put climate change front and center in American politics.
- West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall introduced legislation to block the White House climate rule to limit carbon emissions from the nation’s fleet of existing power plants.
- Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is taking in more money from the oil and gas industry than her Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy.
- Hillary Clinton did not mention the Keystone XL pipeline in her book Hard Choices.
- The West Virginia state attorney general sent a letter to the EPA asking the agency to void the proposed power-plant regulation due to legal objections.
- Five U.S. troops were killed by “friendly fire” strikes in Afghanistan.
- The GAO reports that the Defense Department has yet to determine how to alter the funding source for U.S. Central Command from war spending to the Pentagon’s base budget.
- President Obama picked Gen. Joseph Dunford—currently serving as the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan—to succeed Gen. James Amos as the top Marine commandant.
- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel defended the Bergdahl swap, and said the administration would follow the 30-day congressional notification requirement as long as they weren’t faced with extraordinary circumstances.
- The FBI has opened an investigation into the alleged manipulation of medical-care wait times at a Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix.
- Jeffrey Murawsky—tapped to serve as VA undersecretary for health care—asked for his nomination to be withdrawn amid fears of a long confirmation battle.
- The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation reported Thursday that about 4 million people are expected to pay the penalty for skipping health insurance in 2016, down from their projection of 6 million in September 2012.
- Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, withdrew his name from consideration as the White House’s replacement for former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned at the end of last month.
- In exchange for new posts for himself and his daughter, the GOP persuaded Democratic state Sen. Phillip Puckett to resign, giving Republicans control over the chamber and likely thwarting the possibility of Medicaid expansion in Virginia.
- The Veterans Affairs Department on Monday released the results of its nationwide audit, which found that more than 57,000 patients were still awaiting an initial doctor visit, and that over the last decade, 64,000 enrollees in the VA system had never received treatment.
- House Republicans said Tuesday that subsidies for insurance plans should be stopped until the administration can verify the accuracy of the payments, following a report that more than 1 million Americans may be receiving incorrect subsidies due to discrepancies between their reported income and that on file with the IRS.
- America’s Health Insurance Plans issued a package of recommendations for ACA changes Wednesday, including a proposal that the health law offer subsidies for catastrophic plans, which provide bare-bones coverage.
- Former OMB director Sylvia Mathews Burwell was sworn in as HHS secretary on Monday, after the Senate voted 78-17 to confirm her on June 5.
- An appellate court ruled that police cannot collect cell-phone location data without a warrant, directly conflicting with another court’s ruling and creating an important precedent for future cases.
- The European Union is investigating tax agreements negotiated by Apple, Google, and other multinational companies with Ireland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
- Local and state governments have cracked down on rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft over labor issues, but have supported legislation that helps put driverless cars on the roads.
- Bitcoin investment fund Falcon Global Capital has hired the law firm Thompson Hine to lobby on issues relating to “education and advocacy of Bitcoin and other cryptographic-based currencies.”
- A tweet with malicious coding in it forced more than 36,000 TweetDeck users to retweet it, spreading around the Internet and possibly endangering the users’ log-in information.
- The 2014 World Cup opens in Sao Paulo on Thursday with a Group A matchup between host Brazil and Croatia. Experts break down the 32 teams and analyze their prospects in the group stage.
- Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday with a parachute jump today and will attend a dinner in his honor at his vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
- Jerad and Amanda Miller shot and killed two Las Vegas police officers and a civilian during a rampage on Sunday.
- Jared Michael Padgett, 15, reportedly shot and killed another student and wounded a teacher before taking his own life at his Oregon high school.
- University of Utah evolutionary biologist David Carrier and physician Michael Morgan have developed a “protective buttressing hypothesis,” which posits that humans’ male ancestors evolved strong facial features to protect them in fistfights.
- The Library of Congress will name Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Wright as the nation’s next poet laureate.
- “I may have had a—suffered a personal setback last night.” – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., after losing his primary (National Journal)
- “It was basically a miracle, you know, from God straight through the people who worked so hard for me.” – Economics professor Dave Brat, who beat Cantor (CNBC)
- “I am the lone wolf of deadly nothingness.” – Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, in a journal, before joining the Army (Washington Post)
- “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.” – Hillary Clinton, on making millions of dollars on speaking engagements (ABC News)
- “The bear is loose.” – President Obama, on two separate occasions, when leaving the White House without a motorcade (Politico)
- “We grew increasingly concerned that any delay, or any leaks, could derail the deal and further endanger Sergeant Bergdahl. We were told by Qataris that a leak would end the negotiations for Bergdahl’s release.” – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, on why Congress was not notified of the prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (Reuters)
CHARTS AND GRAPHICS
- The New York Times maps the flow of combat gear to U.S. police departments.
- Vox maps the history of American agricultural production and consumption.
- The New York Times charts the economic changes wrought by the recession.
- ESPN charts facts and figures on the World Cup contenders.
- FiveThirtyEight charts the decline in per-student funding, adjusted for inflation, in the last half-decade.
- Gallup charts Hillary Clinton’s rising and falling favorability rating, now down to 54 percent.
- Bloomberg Businessweek charts the geographic origins of Silicon Valley employees.
- Thursday, June 12 – First lady Michelle Obama will host an event to harvest the summer crop from the White House kitchen’s garden at 3:30 p.m.
- Friday, June 13 – President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannon Ball, N.D.
- Tuesday, June 17 – The Congressional Robotics Caucus Advisory Committee will hold abriefing and exhibition, “Robots for Good: The Humanitarian, Environmental, Educational, Medical, and Search and Rescue Uses of Robotics Technology,” at 1 p.m. in 345 Cannon.
- Tuesday, June 17 — The America’s Future Foundation will hold a debate, “Do Right-to-Work Policies Help or Hurt Workers?” at 6 p.m. at 1615 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
- Wednesday, June 11 to Friday, June 13 – InterAction holds its 2014 Forum on innovations to end poverty and move toward a more “sustainable and equitable future” at 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW.
- Wednesday, June 11 to Friday, June 13 – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce holds its 10th annual America’s Small-Business Summit at 2500 Calvert St. NW.
- Friday, June 13 – The Peterson Institute for International Economics will hold a discussion, “Developments in E.U.-U.S. Financial Services,” at 8:30 a.m. at 1750 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
- Friday, June 13 – The Law & Economics Center at George Mason University School of Law will host a briefing on Halliburton v. Erica P. John Fund and its implications for future securities-fraud class-action litigation at noon in 2237 Rayburn.
- Monday, June 16 to Tuesday, June 17 – The State Department will hold the “Our Ocean” Conference, focusing on sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification, at 2201 C St. NW.
- Tuesday, June 17 to Wednesday, June 18 – The American Geophysical Union will hold its 2014 Science Policy Conference at 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW.
- Thursday, June 12 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a Statesmen’s Forum, “Moving From Inequality to Inclusion,” at 3 p.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
- Monday, June 16 – The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion, “Transparency, Oversight, and Accountability in the U.N. System: Problems and How to Fix Them,” at noon at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
- Monday, June 16 to Tuesday, June 17 – Russia House will hold its 34th annual U.S.-Russia Forum at several locations.
- Friday, June 13 – The American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold a conference, “Evidence for New Medical Products: Implications for Patients and Health Policy,” at 8:30 a.m. at 1200 New York Ave. NW.
- Monday, June 16 – The American University Washington College of Law will hold a discussion, “Hobby Lobby And Halbig: The Next Generation Of ACA Legal Challenges,” at noon at 4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
- Thursday, June 12 – The New America Foundation will hold a discussion, “Do Robots Dream of FIFA?” focusing on the future of robots and sports, including demonstrations of robots playing soccer, at 2:30 p.m. at 1899 L St. NW.
- Thursday, June 12 – The National Democratic Institute will hold a discussion on a new report, “Citizen Participation and Technology,” at 4 p.m. at 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
- Friday, June 13 – The Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus will hold a briefing, “Can You Sell Your Digital Music/Movie/eBook Collections? Congress Reviews Digital Copyright,” at noon in 2226 Rayburn.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )