Skip to main content

The Washington Report – May 1, 2015

01 May 2015

The Washington Report – May 1, 2015

Washington Report

I am thrilled to announce the launch of our newly desiged logo and website … a site that is truly “next gen,“ which according to the Urban Dictionary is “the step forward that perpetually propels us into our impending destiny.”  At least we like to think so!

I hope you’ll agree that it’s a vastly improved experience – enhanced readability, striking visuals, clean lines, rich content and mobile-friendly. Also, notice the cool effect of parallax scrolling (and its background reveals — on desk or laptop); you’ll know it when you see it. As you can tell, we are really excited about this. It’s been a fun journey, examining how best to tell our story —  who we are and what we do — as well as give those who visit our site an opportunity to sign up and read the Washington Report and our blog and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Of course, there was other news this week … read on.

Best,

Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Steve Moffitt, Alan MacLeod, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala and Ross Willkom)

———–

TIMETime Magazine’s cover this week is a powerful photograph of a man running from police during the riots that enveloped Charm City this week. The photo was shot by 26-year-old amateur [Baltimore] photographer Devin Allen with “American 1968 2015” written across the front. “The piece to which the cover refers was written by … David Von Drehle, who writes: “For nine uncomfortable months we have wrestled in new ways with our centuries-old conversation about race. The roots of these days of rage, whether in Ferguson or North Charleston or Baltimore, reach down through decades of compounded failures. Each flash point is different; so was each community’s response. But there is something universal about them all. As Obama noted, during remarks in the Rose Garden that ranged from determined to despairing, “I think we, as a country, have to do some soul-searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades.”

“WORKING TO DELIVER JUSTICE ON BEHALF OF FREDDIE GRAY”
– Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in announcing that … (TheHill) “Baltimore is bringing charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose death in police custody was ruled a homicide on Friday. … Mosby announced at a Friday press conference that Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of a transport van carrying Gray, will be charged with second-degree murder in the incident. “Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed and shackled by his feet, unrestricted inside of the BPD [van],” Mosby said. She added that while Gray had repeatedly asked for help after the injury and told officers he couldn’t breathe, the officers did not drive Gray to a hospital and instead picked up another prisoner. Mosby also argued that Gray’s initial arrest was illegal, as they did not have probable cause, and said that the knife found on Gray after he had been stopped had been legal.” She added that the indictments should not be seen as an indictment of the entire Baltimore Police force.“The actions of these officers will not and should not in any way damage the important working relationships between police and prosecutors as we continue to fight together to reduce crime in Baltimore.”

———–

CONSERVATIVE SENATORS SANDBAG MCCONNELL The Hill: “Two junior conservatives blindsided Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Thursday by attempting to force a vote on an amendment that could derail the bipartisan Iran nuclear review bill. Sens.Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is running for president, surprised McConnell by leapfrogging ahead of colleagues waiting for chances to get votes on their amendments. They used a procedural maneuver to force McConnell to schedule a vote on an amendment requiring Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist as part of any nuclear deal. McConnell’s only way of avoiding the controversial amendment would be to file a motion to end debate on the Iran Nuclear Review Act, which would block Republicans from offering any amendments to the bill. … The GOP leader now faces a tough choice over whether to save the Iran bill from a poison-pill amendment or to cut off debate and move to a swift final vote on the legislation — despite earlier pledges to allow a robust floor debate. Rubio’s amendment calling for Iran to recognize Israel as part of a nuclear deal with the United States is dangerous because Iran would never agree to it, and so it might doom the nuclear talks. Democrats have said they will not shoulder the burden of defeating it, meaning that the amendment would likely be approved if it were to come up for a vote. That would likely lead the White House to veto the Iran legislation.”

———–

TRADE BILL IN TROUBLE Politico: “The House is currently dozens of votes short of being able to pass legislation that would allow … Obama to send trade deals to Congress for fast approval … imperiling a top White House priority for the president’s final years in office. … 75 House Republicans could vote against trade promotion authority … Some … fear job losses in their districts from free trade; others distrust Obama … House Democrats … say just 12 to 20 of their lawmakers support Obama’s request. That figure … would amount to a stinging rebuke of a president by his own party.”

———–

BOEHNER BEING MORE ASSERTIVE Politico: “A clash between Speaker John Boehner and House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling over the renewal of the Export-Import Bank’s charter is bursting into public view.  …The battle isn’t explicitly about policy or politics, it’s a power struggle between two senior lawmakers.” –“Boehner (R-Ohio) has privately asked Hensarling (R-Texas) to craft some sort of plan to address the bank’s expiration this June – whether it be reforms, or a wind-down plan. Hensarling’s allies say he is not interested in doing that. And if the House doesn’t act and lets the bank expire this summer, the Senate will keep it alive on the back of a piece of must-pass legislation – frustrating conservatives who want it eliminated.”

———–

TICK-TOCK The Hill: “Congress has 30 days to refill the federal government’s fund for transportation projects before it goes broke.  The current transportation funding measure is scheduled to expire on May 31. The DOT has said it has enough money to cover projects for a month or two after that, but then it will have to cut back on payments to state and local governments who are expecting federal help with large infrastructure projects. WHAT’S NEXT? Lawmakers have been trying to come up with a way to pay for an extension of the transportation funding measure for months, but … there is no easy solution in sight.  … Transportation advocates have pushed for a longer measure than the two-year, $109 billion infrastructure bill that was approved in 2012. That measure, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, was extended temporarily last summer and is now set to expire. The traditional source of federal transportation has been revenue that is collected by the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax. The gas tax, which was first implemented in the 1930s, has not been increased since 1993, and improvements in fuel efficiency have sapped its purchasing power. The federal government typically spends about $50 billion per year on transportation projects, but the gas tax only brings in approximately $34 billion at its current rate. Transportation advocates have suggested that raising the tax or at least indexing it to inflation would be the easiest way to close the infrastructure funding shortfall, but Ways & Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Thursday that is out of the question.”

———–

BUDGET NEGOTIATORS REACH A DEAL Politico: “House and Senate budget negotiators reached a deal that will make defense hawks happy, fiscal conservatives grumble and keep appropriators satisfied – for now. The agreement freezes domestic spending, while authorizing a big boost for the Pentagon and granting appropriators the flexibility to spend an extra $20 billion on domestic programs. The accord would keep spending for things like education, transportation and housing below caps set in a 2011 deficit reduction law. The broad outlines of the deal give defense hawks like Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) reason to cheer: The budget would give the Pentagon the $38 billion increase McCain and others have pushed for, without being offset, and the money would circumvent budget caps because it’s funneled through a war-funding account. Perhaps more importantly, Senate negotiators agreed to drop a point-of-order against the extra money, which would have required 60 votes to overcome in the Senate.

AND THEN The House Adopts The Budget CBS: “The 226-197 vote sends the budget plan to the Senate for a vote next week. It promises to balance the budget in nine years with more than $5 trillion in spending cuts, though Republicans make clear they aren’t interested in actually imposing controversial cuts to programs like Medicare, food stamps, Pell Grants or the traditional Medicaid program with follow-up legislation. Instead, the House-Senate budget framework increases spending in the near term by padding war accounts by almost $40 billion next year. And Senate Republicans skittish over politically dangerous cuts to Medicare blocked a House move that called for giving subsidies to future retirees to purchase health insurance on the open market instead of a guaranteed package of Medicare coverage. … Obama insists he’ll block Republicans from boosting the Defense Department’s budget unless they agree to relief for domestic programs as well.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING Politico: House Republicans are proposing new cuts from urban programs this week even as their budget would add tens of billions of dollars for the Pentagon to get around strict spending caps. Caught most in the middle is a $55.3 billion housing and transportation measure that is fast becoming the new ground zero in the appropriations wars this summer and a symbol of Washington’s retreat from public investments in poor urban neighborhoods like Baltimore’s. The 156-page bill demands real cuts from a cross-section of urban programs in order to meet statutory spending targets.”

———–

1ST APPROPS BILL The Hill: “The House passed its first appropriations bill for the next fiscal year on Thursday after rejecting a controversial amendment prohibiting the use of a Pentagon war fund to pay for military construction projects. Passage of the $77 billion bill funding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and military construction, including for housing and bases, fell largely along party lines by a vote of 255-163. … The bill provides a 5.6% increase for the VA compared to 2015 levels. However, it still offers more than $1 billion less in funding than President Obama asked for in his 2016 budget request. STRANGE BEDFELLOWS Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, offered that controversial amendment to strike provisions of the bill for military construction projects that use funds from the Pentagon’s war fund, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account … arguing that it represented a budgetary “gimmick” to avoid spending caps established by the 2011 budget deal known as the Budget Control Act (BCA). … The House passed seven out of 12 appropriations measures last year, while the Senate did not pass any. Congress has not enacted all 12 annual appropriations bills in a single year since the 1990s.”

———–

BODY CAMERAS “The Department of Justice today [will announce] a $20 million Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Pilot Partnership Program to respond to the immediate needs of local law/tribal enforcement organizations.”

———–

GLOBAL DEFENSE SPENDING RISES DefenseNews: “After three years in decline, global defense spending rebounded by 1.7%, driven by emerging markets in the East as the West largely continues with austerity, according to analysts with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). US defense spending in 2014, at about $600 billion, still dwarfed its nearest rival, China, and the West still accounted for more than half of global defense outlays in 2014. However, this was down from two-thirds of global totals in 2010. China spent some $129 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia at $81 billion and Russia at $70 billion, The UK fell from third place to fifth, at $61 billion.”

———–

HEARTBREAK IN NEPAL NYT “Aftershocks continue to rattle Nepal two days after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed more than 3,400 people and destroyed some of the country’s most treasured temples. The government, overwhelmed by the challenge, is struggling to provide relief.”

———–

HASC APPROVES NDAA Politico: It took more than 18 hours, but the HASC once again got its annual National Defense Authorization Act over the finish line. Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) gaveled down at 4:39 a.m.Thursday after the panel voted 60-2 to approve the bill. … It would authorize $495.9 billion in base Pentagon spending, and $611.8 billion in all when the Overseas Contingency Operations budget, Energy Department and mandatory spending are added in. The bill is expected to head to the floor when the House returns the week of May 11, the same week the Senate Armed Services panel will mark up its defense policy measure.”

———–

MILITARY COMP Politico: “President Barack Obama is calling for further study of a congressionally mandated commission’s proposal to overhaul the military’s retirement system, potentially putting the administration at odds with lawmakers who want to adopt the commission’s recommendation. … the president is supporting 10 of the 15 recommendations. … The commission proposed the creation of a 401(k)-style retirement system for new service members that would provide retirement benefits for troops who serve less than 20 years, and reduce the payout for those serving longer than 20 years from 50% to 40% of basic pay. The HASC has [endorsed the retirement plan], including a modified version in its NDAA that just cleared the committee. The panel’s proposal adds a 401(k)-style government match beyond 20 years in order to mitigate the smaller payouts, something that the commission did not include.”

———–

NSA NPR: “A bill that would end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone data has advanced in the House, when the Judiciary Committee voted 25-2 in favor of the USA Freedom Act. … The Hill reports, one of the amendments that was voted down by the committee would have curbed the government’s ability to collect Americans’ Internet communication without a warrant and would have prohibited the U.S. from forcing tech companies to leave a backdoors in networking devices.”

———–

U.S. EYES CHANGE TO HOSTAGE POLICY ABC: “Families of American hostages who communicate with foreign kidnappers or raise money and pay ransoms will no longer have to fear prosecution for aiding terrorist groups, a White House-ordered advisory group on U.S. hostage policy is expected to recommend, senior officials told ABC News last week.”The study undertaken by the National Counterterrorism Center on orders from the Obama White House has involved interviewing many of those with tragic experience such as the parents of journalist James Foley, who were among several families alleging they were repeatedly threatened by administration officials with prosecution last summer for moving to raise millions in ransom demanded by ISIS and other groups in Syria.”

———–

SUPREMES AND GAY MARRIAGE The Fix: “The U.S. Supreme Court [began] to hear oral arguments Tuesday on whether the Constitution forbids states from banning marriage between same-sex couples. If the court decides in favor of same-sex marriage, we could very well see a continued dramatic increase in the number of married same-sex couples in the United States. Today, there are about 390,000 married same-sex couples in the country, according to Gallup. There are also 1.2 million adults living in a same-sex domestic partnership. So about four in 10 of all same-sex couples in the United States are married.”

———–

THE HIPPIES HAVE GROWN UP AND ONE OF THEIR OWN IS RUNNING FOR THE WHITE HOUSE
The Fix: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could be our first socialist hippie president. OK, so he’s not going to win. But he’s running. WHO IS SANDERS? The Sanders’s political story is nothing if not unusual. In fact, he first came to Vermont as a part of the “hippie migration” in 1968, the great hippie influx of the mid- to late-’60s as a wave of “disaffected” young people who moved to “to establish a new generation of experiments in communal life.” In a 1970 Playboy article on Vermont hippies, it was estimated that one-third of all people in the state between the ages of 18 to 34 at the time were hippies, or about 35,800 people, and there were 75 communes between 1968 and 1974. It’s not clear that Sanders ever considered himself one of the hippies, though he was described in a 2007 New York Times Magazine profile as “a humorless aging hippie peacenik Socialist from Brooklyn.”  But Sanders did fit the mold of the counterculture. He led protests at the University of Chicago against racially segregated campus housing and opposed the Vietnam War. He told the New York Times he moved to Vermont because he had always been “captivated by rural life.” He worked there as a carpenter, filmmaker and writer and became a member of socialist Liberty Union Party. By the mid-’70s, the hippie-dom faded, but many who had moved there settled down, including Sanders. … Sanders lost five statewide races before winning the Burlington mayoral race in 1981 — by 10 votes against a Democrat who didn’t bother to campaign because he thought he had the election in the bag. Sanders said there was “a lot of fear in the beginning” about him being socialist, but that subsided over his first term. “We have not transformed the world. Much of what we do is not radical,” he told the AP at the time.”
We are in this race to win”
– Bernie Sanders

———–

HOW VIETNAM CHANGED HOW PRESIDENTS ARE CHOSEN (DEEP DIVE) NPR “This week is the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. On our screens and in our memory’s eye we can see the helicopters lifting the last, desperate evacuees from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. Today, Saigon is Ho Chi Minh City, named for the man who led communist North Vietnam to victory over the U.S.-backed regime in South Vietnam. Two generations have grown up since, and the current regime runs a hybrid economy, trades with the U.S. and welcomes American diplomats and tourists. Much has [also] changed in the U.S. … In many ways, things would never be the same. Even the way we choose our presidents would change. Many of these changes had political implications. … The Vietnam War made the draft, which had been a distinct feature of American life since 1940, politically unsustainable. As a consequence, before the war was over, the U.S. had moved to the all-volunteer army it has today. … Vietnam also accelerated the enfranchisement of the 18-year-old voter. The mantra was “if I’m old enough to die for my country, I’m old enough to vote.” Similar sentiments prevailed on college campuses and fostered the growth of a youth culture … and a newfound interest in politics. Typically, those politics centered around the war — and around the choosing of the next president. … RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME By 1968, anti-war marches had become a familiar part of life in the United States. But perhaps the most consequential anti-war demonstration came that summer, when tens of thousands of war protestors gathered in Chicago to demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention. The protestors considered Democrats responsible for the war because the Democrats held the White House and both chambers of Congress. …The pressure on Johnson had grown so great that spring that he had aborted his re-election bid and threw the nomination open. That helped start peace talks, but did little to appease the anti-war movement at home. In the end, however, the convention nominated Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey, who had not won a single primary. Anti-war delegates and their candidates were rebuffed by the party establishment, which still controlled most of the delegates – regardless of the primaries. Humphrey’s nomination was the doing of the system, but it also did in the system. In the years that followed, as the war dragged on under a new president (Republican Richard Nixon), Democrats formed a commission to rewrite their rules for selecting delegates to the national convention. The commission would tie the selection of delegates to the results of primaries. Under the new rules, the anti-war activists who had been shut out in 1968 were able to organize and dominate the nominating process in 1972, turning back a comeback attempt by Humphrey. Since that time, the Democrats have retooled their rules several times. But they have not disturbed the basic commitment to a grass-roots process that empowers activists and populists and the kind of candidates who can motivate them. It did not take long before the Republican Party followed suit. While their process in 1972 was traditional, the 1976 nominating struggle between incumbent President Gerald R. Ford and challenger Ronald Reagan showed the growing appeal of putting the nomination in the hands of “the people” – meaning the people who participate in primaries and caucuses. In the decades since, the GOP has moved ever closer to the Democrats in their nominating rules, emphasizing the power of the primaries to select the nominee.  THE DECIDERS … It is difficult to see how either party can now dial back on its commitment to letting the people – at least those people active in party voting – be the deciders of presidential nominations. That die was fatefully cast almost half a century ago, in the struggle to end the war in Vietnam.”

———–
BALTIMOREBaltimore’s Camden Yards
Empty Stadium
Baltimore Orioles vs. Chicago White Sox
1st Inning.
Surreal.
Citing public safety, fans were barred from attending the game, something MLB historians say has never happened before.

Orioles beat the White Sox 8-2.

———–
WH CHINA
NEW CHINA IN THE WHITE HOUSE
Architectural Digest: “The White House unveiled the Obama state China service,’ ahead of this week’s State Dinner for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan — “The new 11-piece place settings (320 were made) are at once lively, practical, and resonant with meaning for the Obama family. … While the distinctive ocean hue that appears on several of the pieces was named Kailua blue for the waters of the President’s native Hawaii, the gilt-edged white dinner plate is a nod to the history of the White House.” Since the early 19th century, presidents and first ladies have purchased or commissioned exquisite china services for official use. … the new tableware, was funded by the White House Historical Association, in collaboration with White House curator William Allman and AD100 designer Michael S. Smith.”

Related Posts

Team Political Predictions

In a beautiful demonstration of harmony, the bi-partisan Capstone Team has approached the upcoming Congressional...

CONGRESSIONAL END GAME … CRomnibus

The Congressional end game appears to be a CRomnibus spending bill. A CRomnibus is a...

Washington Report Friday the 13th (of May), 2016

SURRENDER OR ROPE-A-DOPE ... TRUMP RENEGOTIATES WITH TRUMP ... GROUNDHOG DAY ... MONTH AHEAD FOR...

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.