Policy Papers

December 3, 2020

The Threat of Ransomware

KEY TAKEAWAYS Ransomware is a type of malicious software that prevents users from accessing computer files, data, or networks until a ransom is paid. Hospitals, school districts, police departments, and city and state governments of all sizes have been targeted by cybercriminals using ransomware. There are a variety of things organizations can do to reduce the likelihood of a devastating ransomware attack, including backing up critical information and servers, testing their systems, and... Continue Reading

December 3, 2020

UAE Arms Sales

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Trump administration recently notified Congress of its intent to sell arms to the United Arab Emirates. These weapons would boost UAE’s ability to deter and defend against Iranian aggression and would enable greater interoperability between the militaries of the UAE, the U.S., and Israel. Joint resolutions of disapproval were recently introduced in both the House and Senate. Under special procedures delineated in the Arms Export Control Act, these resolutions are... Continue Reading

November 19, 2020

SCOTUS Update: California v. Texas

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in the case California v. Texas, the latest case dealing with the Affordable Care Act. The case revolves around the constitutionality of the individual mandate to buy health insurance and whether the law as a whole must be struck down if that provision is held unconstitutional. Under the court’s current doctrine, whether the entire ACA will be struck down largely depends on whether Congress intended the ACA to function without... Continue Reading

November 19, 2020

States Borrow to Pay Unemployment Benefits

KEY TAKEAWAYS The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has fallen since the spring, but it still is historically high. Some states have exhausted their unemployment fund reserves and have had to borrow from the federal government to continue providing jobless benefits. States may raise taxes on businesses or make other policy changes to their programs as they repay their loans and replenish their unemployment reserves; some states have already taken action to mitigate tax... Continue Reading

November 10, 2020

Modernizing VA's Electronic Health Record System

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Department of Veterans Affairs manages one of the largest health care networks in the country, serving more than 9 million veterans at 1,255 locations throughout the U.S. The VA is in the midst of a 10 year, $16 billion modernization of its electronic health records system to improve interoperability with the Defense Department and private health care providers and to keep pace with advances in technology. On October 24, the VA reached a milestone with the deployment of the... Continue Reading

November 9, 2020

Addressing Veteran Suicide

KEY TAKEAWAYS More than 6,000 veterans die by suicide each year. Republicans in Congress have led efforts to connect more veterans with support services. President Trump recently signed a law to boost VA’s mental health workforce and help community organizations identify veterans who are at risk.  Veterans die by suicide at higher rates than other Americans. Multiple deployments, difficulty in the transition to post-military life, and the stress that accompanies military service may... Continue Reading

November 6, 2020

October 2020 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 6.9 percent Jobs Created: 638,000 Employment and Unemployment DOL reported the unemployment rate fell 1.0 percentage point to 6.9% in October. Nonfarm jobs increased by 638,000 in October, marking the sixth consecutive month of job gains. The economy has recovered more than half of the jobs lost this spring. In August and September, job creation was stronger than originally reported. The department revised the change in nonfarm jobs for those months up by a combined 15,000... Continue Reading

October 27, 2020

The Rising Toll of Alzheimer's Disease

KEY TAKEAWAYS Alzheimer’s disease currently afflicts 5.8 million Americans ages 65 and older, a number expected to reach 13.5 million by 2050.  The cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is expected to increase from $305 billion this year to $1.1 trillion by 2050, with Medicare and Medicaid paying roughly 70% of the total cost. Congress provided $2.8 billion to the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2020 for Alzheimer’s-related... Continue Reading

October 21, 2020

Legal Community Backs Barrett

KEY TAKEAWAYS Judge Barrett has received support from legal scholars across the political spectrum. She was rated well qualified by the American Bar Association. There have been nearly universal statements of respect for Barrett’s legal acumen, even from observers who disagree with her judicial philosophy. Legal scholars across the political spectrum have praised Judge Amy Coney Barrett on both personal and professional levels. While Senator Dianne Feinstein famously criticized... Continue Reading

October 16, 2020

Judge Amy Coney Barrett

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October 16, 2020

Distributing COVID-19 Vaccines

KEY TAKEAWAYS There are currently four COVID-19 vaccine candidates in phase 3 testing in the United States. Operation Warp Speed is bringing together the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense, the states, and other agencies to distribute the vaccine once it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The CDC’s interim playbook advises state and local health departments to plan for a phased process of distributing and administering vaccines as doses... Continue Reading

October 16, 2020

Applying Pressure on Iran

KEY TAKEAWAYS Under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, an arms embargo on Iran is due to be lifted this month, potentially allowing advanced weapons to flow into the hands of terrorists in the region. The Trump administration is pursuing a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran to force an end to the country’s illicit nuclear program and other malign activities. Part of this pressure campaign is attempting to snap back sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 deal.  Over... Continue Reading

October 9, 2020

Barrett's Conservative Circuit Court Record

KEY TAKEAWAYS During her time on the 7th Circuit, Judge Amy Coney Barrett has distinguished herself as a consistent conservative and originalist voice on the bench. She wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel in providing due process rights for students in university disciplinary proceedings. Like Justice Scalia, she has written influential dissents, most notably in major immigration and Second Amendment cases. One of President Trump’s earliest circuit court nominees, Judge Amy Coney... Continue Reading

October 8, 2020

Technology, Disinformation, and Elections

KEY TAKEAWAYS Foreign adversaries — including Russia, China, and Iran — use social media to spread disinformation in attempts to divide Americans, influence our elections, and advance their agendas. Since the 2016 election, social media and technology companies have taken steps to try to fight disinformation on their networks. Foreign adversaries use social media as a tool to spread disinformation, divide Americans, and advance their agendas. Russia, as part of its long-term agenda... Continue Reading

October 5, 2020

A Successful Record of Remote and Hybrid Hearings

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Senate moved quickly in response to the coronavirus pandemic to implement procedures and technology that enable committees to continue their important work while ensuring that senators, staff, and witnesses are safe. Since May, Senate committees have successfully held 150 hybrid or remote hearings in which some or all senators and witnesses participated remotely without any significant problems. The committees met to conduct oversight of coronavirus response efforts; advance... Continue Reading

October 2, 2020

Democrats Insist on Their Priorities Over Pandemic Relief

KEY TAKEAWAYS On September 28, House Democrats released partisan COVID-19 legislation that added up to more than $2 trillion worth of things like tax breaks for the wealthy and government checks for people in the U.S. illegally. Instead of focusing on important pandemic relief for American families, the bill focuses on the Democrats’ political agenda and includes provisions completely unrelated to the pandemic.  Last month, Senate Republicans voted to provide targeted COVID-19... Continue Reading

October 2, 2020

September 2020 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 7.9 percent Jobs Created: 661,000 Employment and Unemployment           The Department of Labor bases monthly jobs reports on a survey of businesses and a survey of households. The survey data relate to the pay period or calendar week containing the 12th day of the month. The report generally will not reflect labor market changes near the end of the month. As of mid-September, more than half of the states had reopened or... Continue Reading

October 1, 2020

Making Strides Against COVID-19

KEY TAKEAWAYS More than 100 million coronavirus tests have been administered in the United States to detect the virus and help Americans safely return to their daily lives. The Trump administration and Congress are supporting the development of COVID-19 treatments, with more than 300 potential treatments currently in the works. Through Operation Warp Speed, the goal of delivering safe and effective vaccinations to Americans by 2021 is underway. Four vaccine candidates have now reached the final... Continue Reading

September 25, 2020

SCOTUS 2020-21 Term Preview

KEY TAKEAWAYS In the upcoming term beginning in October, the Supreme Court will hear major cases involving Obamacare, the Mueller report, and the free exercise clause of the Constitution. Following the invalidation of the independent, single-director structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last term, the court will hear a case challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The court also will decide whether copyright protections apply to so-called... Continue Reading

September 22, 2020

Securing the 2020 Election

KEY TAKEAWAYS Russia, China, Iran, and other adversaries seek to interfere with U.S. elections and influence U.S. politics with the objective of dividing Americans and reducing confidence in our democracy. Government at all levels has taken significant steps to increase the security of the system and counter foreign influence; while threats remain, we have made progress, and the U.S. election system is far more prepared than it was in 2016. Americans should feel confident that their vote will... Continue Reading

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