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The Washington Report – May 22, 2015

23 May 2015

The Washington Report – May 22, 2015

Washington Report

Washington is about to empty out before Memorial Day — with Congress returning on June 1st.
SENATE SCRAMBLE … WHEN IS A FILIBUSTER NOT A FILIBUSTER … FAST TRACK … THE EXPORT-IMPORT BANK … HOW MANY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CAN YOU FIT ON THE DEBATE STAGE? … A ‘RADICALLY DIFFERENT’ MANAGEMENT PHILOSOPHY CALLED HOLACRACY … and other news of the week.
And check out an opportunity to donate frequent flyer miles to help military families through the Hero Miles Program (more info at the end of the Report).
Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day.

Best,

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

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SENATE SCRAMBLE The Hill: “Senators are scrambling to nail down a way to preserve … National Security Agency (NSA) programs before portions of the Patriot Act run out at the end of the month. With just hours to go until the NSA begins to wind down its massive phone records collection program, the Senate is prepared to hold a rare weekend voting session to keep the Patriot Act alive. Senate GOP leaders have their backs up against the wall. Ahead of the prospect that three portions of the Patriot Act die, some Republicans seem inclined to allow for legislation that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says would gut the NSA’s ability to protect the country. LOTS OF MOVING PARTS Democrats appear united in support of an NSA reform bill called the USA Freedom Act. At least a half-dozen Republicans are also sure bets to vote for it and multiple others have signaled that they are undecided. House leaders … left town for a week-long recess on Thursday after overwhelmingly passing the USA Freedom Act 338-88. The bill would end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records — known as metadata — and reauthorize three expiring portions of the Patriot Act that NSA and FBI officials say authorize important tools to track terrorists. The Patriot Act provisions expire on the morning of June 1 — the same day that the House is scheduled to return from its Memorial Day recess. Unless the Senate passes the House bill, those provisions will expire, at least temporarily. SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN? McConnell has scheduled a vote for that [House] bill on Saturday. If it fails — as he expects — the chamber will then vote on a two-month extension of current law, to give lawmakers time to work out their differences.

PAUL’S 2ND “MR. SMITH-STYLE’ SPEECH ON THE SENATE FLOOR Politico: “Rand Paul relinquished the Senate floor late Wednesday night after 10-and-a-half hours of lambasting the government surveillance programs – capitalizing on a sleepy day in the Senate to highlight his opposition to key parts of the PATRIOT Act that expire at the end of the month. WHEN IS A FILIBUSTER NOT A FILIBUSTER? NPR: “Many of the accounts of Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) lengthy performance referred to it as a filibuster, or a near-filibuster, or some kind of filibuster or other. It was none of the above. In the contemporary world of the Senate, the kind of filibusters you can see are extremely rare. But the kind of filibusters you can’t see happen all the time. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say “virtual filibusters” are now the normal course of business. WHAT IS A FILIBUSTER? It’s a senator or group of senators exercising their right to unlimited debate. If pursued in earnest, it can keep a piece of Senate business off the floor indefinitely. The chamber’s majority leader can either remove the issue at hand from consideration or file a motion to invoke cloture.That motion takes 60 votes to succeed. That is why you constantly hear that it takes 60 votes to get anything done in the U.S. Senate. Once cloture is invoked, a set period of debate may ensue, followed by a debate on the issue itself. The requirement for cloture was originally two-thirds of the Senate. In those days, filibusters were reserved for the gravest existential issues. Southern senators used it to defeat civil rights bills for decades. But after the requirement was lowered to three-fifths (60) in 1974, senators came to embrace the filibuster as just another tool. With each decade since, the use of it has proliferated. Cloture votes are now a regular event. But you wouldn’t know it because the virtual filibuster typically goes on while the Senate is doing other business. The filibustering senator or senators may not even appear on the floor to debate the issue itself. ‘LIVE’ vs ‘VIRTUAL’ Knowing he could not really prevent the Senate from considering a renewal of the NSA data collection program as part of the renewal of the Patriot Act overall, he performed the old-fashioned “live filibuster” largely for the cameras. This is not to say his opposition to the program is insincere. He clearly opposes it, as do the three other Republicans who joined in on Wednesday and the seven Democrats who did so as well. But by carrying the torch for this group and illuminating the privacy issue, Rand Paul was also casting some dramatic light on his own candidacy for president. … In practical terms, however, public perceptions aside, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed for cloture on a bill renewing the Patriot Act with the NSA bulk collection program intact for two months. He also filed cloture on another bill, passed by the House by a wide margin, that would renew the Patriot Act without that NSA feature. Either or both could see a vote on the Senate floor before the body leaves for its Memorial Day recess.”

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FAST TRACK ON TRACK Reuters: “President Barack Obama moved closer to winning the power to speed trade deals through the U.S. Congress, as the Senate on Thursday advanced legislation important to his Asian trade push. Senators voted 62-38 to set up a speedy decision on the “fast-track” trade negotiating authority the president needs to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. The TPP is part of Obama’s so-called pivot to Asia, a strategy to counter China’s rising economic and diplomatic clout in Asia. Thirteen of 44 Democrats backed the legislation in the Senate’s second procedural vote. Some supported moving ahead with fast-track after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, assured them he would set a vote next month on a bill to renew the Export-Import Bank’s charter, according to leading Democratic senators. The charter is due to expire at the end of June. … The pact is the biggest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement freed up trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico.”

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EXPORT-IMPORT BANK TO GET A VOTE Politico: “Conservatives will finally get a chance to kill the Export-Import Bank. But a high-stakes vote this summer will test whether they have the clout – and power – to back up their threats. The obscure government-backed lender – which has sharply split the Republican Party – is slated to shut its doors June 30 unless Congress acts. But in exchange for votes on an unrelated trade bill on Thursday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have separately said that legislation to rescue the bank is likely to come to vote. So the bank’s opponents, who have long decried the institution as an out-of-date vestige of crony capitalism, will get a chance to prove their claims that they have the votes to shut the institution down for good.”

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HOUSE DEFENSE BILL KEEPS MOVING Politico: “The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved its defense spending bill for next fiscal year in a voice vote with no amendments at a closed-door session Thursday. After the vote, Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said he wasn’t worried about the White House threat to veto spending bills that adhere to a GOP plan to use the supplemental war budget to shield the Pentagon from strict caps on discretionary spending while leaving other federal agencies subject to the caps.”

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ARE AMERICANS MOVING AWAY FROM THE FISCAL HAWKS? DefenseNews: “Citing a recent Gallup poll, federal budget analyst Stan Collender earlier Wednesday pointed out ” the federal budget and deficit are missing from the list of the top issues that voters say will be important to them in the next presidential election. Collender notes that “budget scold groups” in Washington have gone silent. More notably, he points out the financial sector has dropped the deficit as an issue of its congressional lobby. The Street seems to want no federal budget-related drama and as of now seems intent on pushing congressional leaders to avoid a fight over the debt ceiling increase that will be needed by the end of the year,” he writes. “I can safely report that the federal deficit that before was fading now has definitely disappeared.”

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HOW DO YOU FIT 18 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON ONE DEBATE STAGE? FirstRead: “We can count as many as 18 potential GOP presidential candidates – after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal formed his exploratory committee and after reports that Ohio Gov. John Kasich is “very likely” to run. So the questions become: How do you fit them all on one stage in the first debate set for August? Do you leave some out, including current and former governors and senators? Or do you hold two different debates in one night – with nine candidates in one hour, and another nine the next? Those are all questions after an earlier suggestion that Republicans might cap the first debate to nine to 12 participants, which would mean that some prominent names might be excluded. National Journal reports that the Republican National Committee is walking back the talk about a cap.  … But if there’s no cap, that means that either 18 candidates share the same stage, or that you have to divide them up into different heats.

EIGH(TEEN) IS ENOUGH Here is our list of the 18 Republican presidential candidates.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Ted Cruz
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
Former Sen. Rick Santorum
Sen. Lindsey Graham
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Ohio Gov. John Kasich
Donald Trump
Carly Fiorina
Ben Carson
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore
Former New York Gov. George Pataki
Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich
FOX NEWS DEBATE RULES So it’s settled, then. Fox News will limit its Aug. 6 debate to the 10 Republicans who are polling the highest in the last five national polls. A simple, clear delimiter. Done and done. BUT, BUT, BUT As the debates approach and polling increases, there’s going to be a lot more variability at the lower end. What if Fox News invites 10 people to the debate, but a poll released that morning kicks one of the participants off the list? Will Fox rescind its invitation? None of this is Fox’s fault, of course. Every four years, debate hosts struggle with whom to include and exclude. What’s (partly) different this time is that the “outside candidates” are real candidates: Lindsey Graham, the respected senior senator from South Carolina, doesn’t get to appear on stage in either of these situations (as of today’s polls). You have to draw a line somewhere, and Fox penciled in that line.”

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HILLARY’S STATE DEPARTMENT EMAILS AP: “The State Department has proposed releasing portions of 55,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by next January. The department made the proposal in a federal court filing Monday night, in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Vice News.” Why January? The State Department said that’s how long it is taking to review the materials.”

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CASE FOR GIVING CONGRESS A PAY RAISE Rollcall: “Rep. Alcee L. Hastings made the politically tone-deaf case for raising salaries for members of Congress Monday, pointing to the high cost of living in the District of Columbia. “Members deserve to be paid, staff deserves to be paid and the cost of living here is causing serious problems for people who are not wealthy to serve in this institution,” the Florida Democrat said at a Rules Committee meeting, referring to the average member’s $174,000 annual salary. The committee was considering the fiscal 2016 Legislative Branch appropriations bill, which sets the spending levels for Congress and legislative branch agencies. The bill includes a freeze on member pay, continuing one that has been in place since 2010 — and last year drew the ire of then-Rep. James P. Moran. Like Moran, Hastings argued that a pay increase would help diversify the ranks of Congress. Hastings, the second poorest member of Congress according to CQ Roll Call’s most recent Wealth of Congress ranking, argued that failing to increase pay for members of Congress will render it an “elite institution” for wealthy individuals to serve in the next 10 years to 20 years.”

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GOING BOSS-LESS BACKFIRES AT ZAPPOS WSJ: “[T]he online retailer Zappos adopted a management philosophy called Holacracy … Since the end of April, Zappos [owned by Amazon] has zero managers to oversee employees, who are supposed to decide largely for themselves how to get their work done. … 14%, or 210, of its roughly 1,500 employees … will leave … They were offered at least three months of severance pay by Zappos Chief Executive Tony Hsieh [pronounced ‘Shay’),], who wrote in a 4,700-word memo in late March that the company hadn’t ‘made fast enough progress towards self-management.’ … “Employees say the new system has been confusing, … sometimes requiring five extra hours of meetings a week as workers … organize themselves into ‘circles’ … [W]orkers have said the new system feels like a drag at a company where ‘Create Fun and a Little Weirdness’ is one of 10 ‘core values’ and a conference room features a Chuck E. Cheese’s-style pit filled with small plastic balls. … Boss-free companies are the extreme version of a recent push to flatten out management hierarchies … Research shows that the value of flat organizations is mixed.”

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JUST $494.6 MILLION TO GO Chicago Tribune: “The Barack Obama Foundation, the nonprofit group that will build the presidential library and museum on Chicago’s South Side, raised $5.4 million in its first year of operation, according to federal tax documents released Monday (estimated cost is $500 million).

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FIVE PRESIDENTS SAY GOODBYE The Fix: “David Letterman opened his final show with five presidents celebrating his departure. And our long national nightmare is over.The footage for the first came from Gerald Ford’s inauguration, where he uttered the famous line about our “national nightmare,” except he was referring to Richard Nixon’s resignation and not the “Late Show” host. Ford was followed by new footage of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and President Obama saying the phrase themselves. Our long, national nightmare is over. Letterman is retiring,” Obama said.”

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HERO MILES Not traveling on a plane this holiday weekend? Or just simply have extra frequent flier miles on-hand? Donate them to a wounded veteran and members of his or her family facing expensive summer travel and few dollars to fund it. Find out more about the Fisher House “Hero Miles” program right here. And whatever benevolence, travel or backyard celebrations you have planned this weekend, here’s hoping everyone has a great Memorial Day!

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