A new report out from the Office of Management and Budget describes that the October 1-16 federal government shutdown shaved 0.2 to 0.6 percentage points off of the growth of economic output in the fourth quarter of 2013 and cost the federal government $2 billion in wages to furloughed employees. Another paper from the Council of Economic Advisors reports that the combination of the shutdown and the last minute debt limit deal reduced private-sector jobs by 120,000.
Today, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to examine federal regulation of mobile medical “apps” and health software. The hearing focused on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final guidance on medical apps published in September 2013 and the Sensible Oversight for Technology Which Advances Regulatory Efficiency (SOFTWARE) Act of 2013—bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Dr. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Gene Green (D-TX), and Greg Walden (R-OR) in October 2013.
Two weeks ago, Iran arrived at an international agreement over its nuclear program. But it was not the interim deal with the United States that Secretary of State John Kerry suggested was within reach during the last round of talks in Geneva. Nor was it the agreement on the structured approach that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been seeking to resolve outstanding questions about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Instead, this agreement, called a “Framework for Cooperation,” was a much more limited and less ambitious promise by Iran to tell the IAEA about some of the nuclear activities it was planning for the future. Rather than an omen of cooperation, the framework reveals the difficulty of getting a deal that credibly addresses Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
On November 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish the 2014 volume requirements for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Although the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 included volume requirements in each category for each year, it also directed EPA to conduct annual evaluations and adjustments. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy Project compiled an infographic explaining some of the major components of the rulemaking.
Lockheed Martin’s announcement yesterday that it will eliminate 4,000 employees and close several facilities highlights our long-held contention that the sequester’s impact would prove to be a slowly increasing wave through the economy. Lockheed joins most of the other major defense contractors that have been slowly reducing head counts for the past year. These newly announced layoffs bring to 30,000 the number of employees that Lockheed, the largest defense contractor in America, has laid off over the past five years.
A week after intense negotiations in Geneva between the United States, its international partners, and Iran failed to arrive at an interim deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency released the findings of its latest inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The report shows that most measures of Iran’s nuclear program and most of its nuclear activities remain largely unchanged: it continues to produce 3.5 percent and 20 percent enriched uranium at roughly the same pace using roughly the same number of centrifuges as for the past year; and its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium has remained stable, as it continues to convert most of what it produces into reactor fuel, as it has been for the year and a half.
The award was established in 1995 to honor Alvin M. Weinberg and to provide international recognition for contributions to the understanding of the social implications of nuclear technology.
Senate Energy Committee Leadership spoke on the renewables production tax credit (PTC) after today’s hearing, as reported by POLITICO Pro’s Darius Dixon. Chairman Ron Wyden highlighted the inequity that would result if only the PTC were eliminated without considering broader tax reform. And Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski noted that we need a “glidepath out” – or a gradual phaseout – because “what does a one-year extension do [for] anybody?”
The forum’s guest of honor, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), drew attention to her forthcoming bill on housing finance reform and told moderator Ron Brownstein of National Journal that it will be ready soon. She acknowledged the August regional housing forum we held in Dallas, Texas with her counterpart Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX-5) and added that she shares his vision of getting the House and Senate bills to conference. The anticipated legislation from ranking member Waters will elaborate upon the Democratic principles articulated earlier this year, calling for an explicit government guarantee and equal access to the secondary market for lenders of all sizes all in an effort to ensure the 30 year fixed rate mortgage remains an accessible product.
Few senators have left such a mark on the Senate as Nancy Kassebaum. She was a dedicated and determined public servant who always put people above politics. In the decade we served together, I saw her advocate every day for her home state of Kansas — whether it was in the committees or on the Senate floor.