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The Washington Report – June 14th, 2013
14 Jun 2013

The Washington Report – June 14th, 2013

A selection of this week’s Washington Report. To read the full write-up click here

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The Capstone National Partners Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Steve Moffitt, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala, Kate Venne and Joyce Rubenstein)
POND SCUM? Approval numbers for Congress just keep getting worse.The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe offers lawmakers some alternatives: “Lawmakers looking to become more popular with Americans should consider working at a bank. Or for a newspaper. Americans’ confidence in the House and Senate has dropped so low that it now ranks as the least popular societal institution in U.S. history, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. Public confidence in Congress is at just 10%, its lowest mark in the history of Gallup surveys, and more than half of Americans – 52% – say they have little or no confidence in lawmakers.” Here’s the list.
PEOPLE WANT CONGRESS TO COMPROMISE. EXCEPT THAT THEY REALLY DON’T. The Fix writes, “…The Gallup poll data seems conclusive: The public wants Congress to compromise. Except that they really don’t. Here’s why. 1. Everyone likes the idea of compromise but our desire for compromise goes out the window when it’s an issue that matters to us and/or where we are convinced we are right. Same goes for politics. 2.Compromise doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.  One man’s compromise is another’s concession. 3. Compromise isn’t rewarded politically. Remember that large majorities of the House — Democrats  and Republicans — face only one real threat to their political careers: a challenge from their ideological left or right. Redistricting, the decennial line-drawing process in all 435 House districts, is one reason for such lopsided districts. Compromise is a dirty word in primaries where the electorate tends to be the most conservative (or most liberal) voters who prize philosophical convictions over pragmatic legislating. There is actually a disincentive to compromise.”
FISA “Every time the government wants access to your phone records, it has to produce what’s called a FISA application—a plea to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that then approves the request. And it’s almost always approved; since the War on Terror began, FISC has handed down only 11 denials. How do we know? The Justice Department is required to submit an annual report to Congress. The report doesn’t say who the FISA applications were targeting—just how many were made in a given year, how many were denied, and (sometimes) whether the requests were for electronic surveillance or physical surveillance,” National Journal’sreports. ACLU SUES The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over recently disclosed NSA domestic surveillance programs, The New York Times reports. RUSSIA … REALLY?A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that the “country could potentially grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, should he seek it,” Reuters reports.
PROGRAMS HELP FOIL ‘DOZENS OF TERRORIST EVENTS’ NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that the domestic surveillance programs disclosed last week have aided the agency’s efforts to combat terrorism, Reuters reports.
LAWMAKERS ON SAME PAGE AS OBAMA In the aftermath of news reports revealing widespread data collection by the government, congressional leaders across party lines are echoing what President Obama has said, which boils down to: “Trust us.”
2014 DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL PASSES From the House Committee on Appropriations, “In total, the bill provides $512.5 billion in non-war funding, a decrease of $5.1 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $3.4 billion below the President’s request. This is approximately $28.1 billion above the current level caused by automatic sequestration spending cuts. The bill also includes $85.8 billion in war funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).”
NDAA The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 is the comprehensive legislation to authorize the budget authority of the DOD and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. GOP leaders expect to pass the NDAA today.
WHITE HOUSE THREATENS NDAA VETOPolitico writes, “With the House [considering] the NDAA, the White House laid out its grievances with the bill in a veto threat released yesterday. The White House cites disagreements over policies outlining the handling of detainees at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; missile defenses; and military pay and benefits, among other issues.”
INSIDE THE HASC The National Journal writes, “The House Armed Services Committee is responsible for authorizing an annual Defense Department budget of more than half a trillion dollars at a time when defense spending, perhaps for the first time in decades, is not treated across the political spectrum as sacrosanct. The result is that Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and his defense-conscious colleagues are left to fend off—or at least try to mitigate and manage—what looks to be inevitable: a Pentagon budget spiraling downward. Add to that the declining power of Armed Services and other committees in an era when the House leadership is firmly in charge of fiscal matters, and it’s not easy being a defense hawk these days. On the HASC, Geographically, who represents Defense (from the DOD Base Structure Report FY12 Baseline)

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