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Daily Policy Note for September 18, 2014

RPC News

GAO: HealthCare.gov Still a Security Risk: Yesterday, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office released a report detailing ongoing problems with the security of HealthCare.gov. Moreover, GAO accused the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of accepting significant security risks when it allowed the website to launch on October 1, 2013. Following the hack of HealthCare.gov in July in which malicious software was installed within the website’s network and went undetected for over a month, the GAO report highlights concerns that users of the website still face a serious risk of having their personal information, including Social Security numbers, income and employment records, and tax returns stored by the system, stolen by fraudsters and identity thieves.


GOP Committee News

Finance: Senate, House Republican Leaders Demand Immediate Details on HealthCare.Gov Security Problems: Republican committee leaders in the Senate and House today called on the Obama administration to provide details on the security of HealthCare.gov after a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found systemic security weaknesses in the website, many because of administration actions, that could leave Americans’ personal information vulnerable to attack.

Commerce: Rockefeller, Thune Issue Joint Statement On Committee Passage Of The Satellite Television Access And Viewer Rights Act: “We are pleased that the committee today advanced the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA) that would ensure 1.5 million satellite pay TV subscribers maintain access to distant broadcast network television signals and would make several pro-consumer reforms to the nation’s video policy.

Environment: Vitter: Administration’s Revolving Door Keeps Swinging: U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, today made the following statement regarding Rhea Suh’s transition from Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior to President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).


Today’s Headlines

CNN: House approves plan to assist Syrian rebels; Senate votes Thursday: The House on Wednesday approved President Obama's request to arm and train Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS. With significant opposition to the proposal in both parties, the vote was 273 -156. More than one third of the House -- 71 Republicans and 85 Democrats -- voted no.


Second Opinion

Forbes: Obamacare's Next Open Enrollment Starts In Two Months - And It Will Be Awful: If there is one thing that the Administration and Democratic candidates have in their favor going into the mid-term elections, it is that election day is November 4, and Obamacare’s second open enrollment begins on November 15. If the dates were flipped, there is little doubt that voters affected by Obamacare would wreak havoc on the politicians who imposed the Rube Goldberg contraption of exchanges on them.

Daily Caller: Lawmakers Set To Grill Tavenner On Obamacare Exchange Flops: Even though the country has had a year of the Affordable Care Act under its belt already, the next open enrollment period is already looking like it’s going to turn out a lot like last year’s.


New Polling Numbers

Washington Post: Obama just lost his one remaining strong suit: fighting terrorism: The president who ordered and oversaw the mission to kill Osama bin Laden is no longer viewed as strong on terrorism. As Obama's approval rating has taken a turn for the worse over the past year or so, he still stood tall in one area: terrorism. Even earlier this year, when his approval rating fell to about where it is now, a CBS/New York Times poll showed 54 percent of Americans gave him a vote of confidence on fighting terrorism. It stood out as perhaps the one area where Obama still had the support of the American people.


Economic News

Wall Street Journal: Fed Plots Cautious Course on Rate Rises: The Federal Reserve said it would end the bond-buying program known as quantitative easing in October, but retained its guidance that short-term interest rates will remain near zero for a "considerable time" after that program ends.


Red Tape Review

National Association of Manufacturers: CASE Act – A Smart Approach to Ozone: The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) applauds Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Representatives Pete Olson (R-TX) and Bob Latta (R-OH) for proposing a reasonable approach to ozone regulations that would provide necessary relief to manufacturers who already pay, on average, $19,500 per employee, per year in regulatory costs according to a recent NAM study. In three months, these costs could increase substantially as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose a new ozone air quality standard that could be more expensive than any single existing regulation.


Tweets

@SenOrrinHatch: "It is my hope the admin demands CMS address [http://healthcare.gov ’s] vulnerabilities as quickly as possible." http://bit.ly/1r1cCUJ

@JeffFlake: Questioned @JohnKerry today on how admins inconstant policies could undermine U.S. efforts to defeat #ISIL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YM0YCCxSkuI …


Floor Schedule for Thursday September 18, 2014

Today, the Senate is in session.

The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m., following the Prayer and Pledge, the Senate will stand in recess subject to the Call of the Chair.  Senators should begin to gather in the Senate Chamber.

At 9:40 a.m., the Senate will depart for the Hall of the House of Representatives.

At 10:00 a.m., his Excellency Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, will address a Joint Meeting of Congress. 

When the Senate Reconvenes, following the Leaders’ remarks, the Senate will be in Morning Business until 1:00 p.m., with the first half under Republican control and the second half under Majority control, and Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each.

At 1:00 p.m., the Senate will begin consideration of H.J. Res. 124, the Continuing Resolution, for up to 4 ½ hours of debate, equally divided between the two Leaders or their designees.

At 5:30 p.m., if all time is used, the Senate will conduct four roll call VOTES on the following:

  1. Motion to table an amendment on the tree (if raised);
  2. Motion to waive the Budget Act (if a point of order is raised);
  3. Cloture on H.J. Res. 124; and
  4. If cloture is invoked, passage of H.J. Res. 124.

Thereafter, the Senate will conduct confirmation VOTES on the following (all expected to be voice votes):

  1. Executive Calendar #893, Mark William Lippert, of Ohio, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Korea;
  2. Executive Calendar #524, Adam M. Scheinman, of Virginia, to be Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the rank of Ambassador;
  3. Executive Calendar #702, Bathsheba Nell Crocker, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Organization Affairs);
  4. Executive Calendar #1002, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, of California, to be Deputy Secretary of Energy;
  5. Executive Calendar #997, Robert W. Holleyman, II, of Louisiana, to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative, with the rank of Ambassador;
  6. Executive Calendar #708, Eric Rosenbach, of Pennsylvania, to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense;
  7. Executive Calendar #996, D. Nathan Sheets, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of the Treasury;
  8. Executive Calendar #959, Kevin F. O'Malley, of Missouri, to be Ambassador to Ireland; and
  9. PN1917, Charles H. Fulghum, of North Carolina, to be Chief Financial Officer, Department of Homeland Security.

Key House Action

Today, the House is in session.

Boehner: House Takes 'Important, Initial Step Forward in Taking on ISIL': “By authorizing the Department of Defense to help train and equip the Syrian opposition, this measure represents an important, initial step forward in taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  ISIL represents a direct threat to the safety and security of the United States, and House Republicans are firmly committed to doing everything we can to help keep America safe.”