Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2015

November 18, 2015

True Cybersecurity Requires Accountability

By Rep. Frank D. Lucas 

Earlier this year we learned about the most extensive failure in cybersecurity by a federal agency to date. The Office of Personnel Management announced in June the personal information of roughly 4.2 million Americans was compromised by hackers who gained access to their network. A month later, a second intrusion was detected. The number of reported victims ballooned to 21.5 million.

Current, former and even prospective federal employees and contractors were among those impacted by the breach. The data OPM kept on their servers contained Social Security numbers, fingerprints, medical records and financial histories. Full story

An “All of the Above” Approach to Rural Broadband

By Rep. John Shimkus

In August 2008, minutes after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi shut the chamber’s lights out during a debate over what to do in response to high gas prices, I helped lead my Republican colleagues in a revolt on the House floor that turned “all of the above” into a household name for the kind of energy policy America needed.

Our message that summer was simple: Policies that encourage a greater, more diverse supply of resources will expand the availability of those resources and lower the costs to consumers. This premise was (and remains) as true for coal, oil and renewable fuels as it is for cable, fiber and wireless networks. Full story

Connected Vehicle Technology Must Lead to Safer, Less Congested Roads

By Rep. Daniel Lipinski

Connected and autonomous vehicle technologies are arriving on the market at a rapid rate. However, there is much more work to be done, both on the automotive side and in the infrastructure that will support connected and autonomous vehicles on roads and in cities, before these technologies can be fully implemented. The U.S. is arriving at a crossroads on connected vehicle technologies, and our decisions now will have huge ramifications on the future of transportation and American economic competitiveness.

As a member of both the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have been doing as much as I can to push the federal government to assist state and local governments, university researchers, and the private sector in bringing about this connected vehicle revolution as quickly and safely as possible. In July, I introduced the Future TRIP Act, which would help establish a connected and autonomous vehicle research center, require a report on the readiness of the Department of Transportation for connected vehicles, and set up an interagency working group to coordinate research, technology commercialization and workforce development in this space. These items were included in the House surface transportation bill that passed the House earlier this month, and I hope to include them in the conference report in the weeks ahead. Full story

Safe Harbor 2.0

By Rep. Anna G. Eshoo

For nearly two decades a little-known trade agreement between the United States and the European Union has resulted in trillions of dollars in transatlantic commerce, one of the most significant economic relationships in the world. Known as the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, this agreement has allowed for unfettered commercial data transfers between the U.S. and the EU with the caveat that participating countries maintain ample personal privacy protections. A recent decision by the European Union Court of Justice, however, has invalidated the agreement, citing inadequate privacy protections within the U.S.

The agreement between the U.S. and the European Union has become the bedrock of 21st century global commerce. With thousands of U.S. companies reliant on it to conduct business, it’s now essential for the U.S. Commerce Department to work quickly with European regulators to shape a resolution that protects personal privacy and our digital economy. Full story

November 17, 2015

Watch Live: Joint Hearing on Secret Service Privacy Violations

Two House and Senate Homeland Security subcommittees hold a joint hearing Tuesday on a Homeland Security Department report on the Secret Service’s alleged violations of the Privacy Act and the department policy for illegally accessing and disclosing information from Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s failed 2003 Secret Service job application. Full story

November 15, 2015

Tribal Lobbying Is Booming After Abramoff Scandal

Abramoff waits to leave  after entering a plea agreement on three felony charges at Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., in 2006. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Abramoff waits to leave Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., after entering a plea agreement on three felony charges in 2006. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Gila River Indian Community, an Arizona tribe that operates casinos near Phoenix wants to stop another tribe from opening a rival enterprise. So Gila River mobilized its lobbyists at Washington’s biggest firm.

The community paid Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld $2.3 million for federal lobbying so far this year. As a Gila-backed bill moved through the committee process in the House, the Tohono O’odham Nation bolstered its own K Street presence, nearly doubling the amount spent on federal lobbying, which is about $2 million so far this year. Full story

November 6, 2015

Hill Staff Predict Rubio Will Be GOP Nominee

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While nationwide polls have consistently shown Donald Trump and Ben Carson leading the pack of Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for the White House in 2016, a CQ Roll Call survey shows congressional staff members say the eventual nominee will be a current lawmaker — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Full story

November 5, 2015

CQ Roll Call Survey Finds House GOP Staff Deeply Skeptical of Own Leadership

The Republicans’ House majority, 246 strong, is the biggest the GOP has enjoyed since 1929. But House Republican aides stand apart from their counterparts in the Democratic Party and in the Senate in their skepticism about party leaders, a new CQ Roll Call survey of Hill staff members shows. Full story

November 4, 2015

U.S. Citizenship Should Not Be for Sale | Commentary

By Sen. Dianne Feinstein

The EB-5 regional center program allows foreign nationals to purchase visas and eventually become U.S. citizens. The program will expire in December, and I believe Congress should allow it to end.

At its most basic, the EB-5 program allows a foreigner to invest $500,000 in a U.S. business, in return receive a visa that puts them and their direct family on a special path toward citizenship.

Full story

Asbestos Scare in Cannon Is a Reminder of Congress’ Failure to Act | Commentary

By Linda Reinstein

On Oct.30, the Cannon House Office Building was evacuated for a potential asbestos leak and closed until further notice. The Architect of the Capitol confirmed that the potential release of asbestos occurred during construction as part of the Cannon Renewal Project. I can imagine the shock and fear of members of Congress, their staff, and AOC employees upon learning that this invisible killer had surrounded them in their workplace. Ironically, many of these same members of Congress have repeatedly opposed efforts to ban asbestos and ushered through legislation that would let the asbestos industry off the hook for the deaths and disease caused by this substance.

Don’t be fooled; Oct. 30 was not the first time asbestos has plagued Congress. In July 2014, an asbestos incident occurred during asbestos abatement work temporarily closed the House side of the Capitol.

Full story

November 3, 2015

How Tax Reform Affects Small Business | Commentary

By Dean Zerbe

When it comes to tax reform, the skies are safe from pies. Forget about flat tax, fair tax, tax return-on-a-postcard, value-added tax, etc. With that said, what is possible is tax reform that could encourage jobs, growth and our nation’s economy. Unfortunately, while the air has been filled with conversation about tax reform for big business, too often lost in the discussion is tax reform for small businesses.

The need for tax reform for small businesses is just as great as for the Fortune 500 and just as important. Small businesses — and especially new businesses — are the lead horse when it comes to pulling the economy forward, creating new jobs and fostering innovation.
Full story

It’s Time to Erase the Legacy of Jesse Helms in Women’s Health Care | Commentary

By Brian Dixon

In recent comments  on “Meet the Press,” Ben Carson, who is one of the front-runners for the GOP presidential nomination, compared abortion to slavery and said he supported a ban on abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest or the life of the woman. Sen. Jesse Helms would be proud.

For more than 40 years, the North Carolina senator’s policy, known as the Helms Amendment, has withheld vital funds for health care at the expense of women’s lives. Recently, 28 Democratic senators took an important step to fix this dangerous policy by calling for funding for abortion care for women who have been raped, who are victims of incest, or whose lives would be threatened by carrying a pregnancy to term. (“Democrats Urge Obama to Address Needs of Rape Survivors in War Zones” Roll Call, Oct. 26.)

Full story

Wildfire Isn’t Just a Public Lands Issue | Commentary

By Tom Martin

It was a challenging year for the West. Temperatures were higher than normal. The region experienced the fourth year of a drought. Record low snowpacks resulted in low reservoir storages levels from Oregon to Arizona. States such as California set water restrictions and asked residents to consume 25 percent less water.

On top of this, the West experienced one of the worse wildfire seasons in history. More than 9.1 million acres burned due to wildfire, a level reached only four times on record. These forest fires only highlighted the importance of water for westerners.

Full story

November 2, 2015

Access to Data Must Be Governed by Modern Law — Why Congress Must Act

By Karen S. Evans

Antiquated and outdated are words I hear too often when someone describes the federal government’s approach to information technology — or the corresponding laws and policies governing its implementation. During my nearly 27 years of public service, it was clear that the government’s response to new technology was often delayed by the challenges of reconciling new technology with existing law. Many laws today, including the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act, are decades out of date and do not address the use of cloud computing and mobile devices. Without new legislation, such as the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act, the U.S. is at risk of falling behind in its approach to privacy, jeopardizing its position as a leader in the digital age.

The opportunities and benefits afforded by these innovations are endless, but they will be minimized, even detrimental, without policy action in Congress to safeguard individual privacy. Moreover, the recent Safe Harbor announcement underscores the need for greater clarity to protect citizen privacy and the economy at large.

Full story

Copyright Process Locks Up Cars, Cellphones and Medical Devices

By Sherwin Siy

Just last week, if you had to get around a digital lock to fix the computer in your car, get your child’s glucose monitor to talk to your phone, or move your tablet to another wireless company, you could be accused of breaking the law. That was true even if you had every legal right to access that work in the first place. This is all due to a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The law keeps people from bypassing locks to access the copyrighted software that runs their cars and tractors, their medical devices, and their phones, even if only to fix them, get better data from them, or use them with a new cell phone company, respectively.

The law wasn’t meant to do this; it’s intended to make it harder for people to make illicit copies of movies, music, and apps, not keep people from using generic toner cartridges or diagnosing their buggy electronics. But increasingly, we can see it doing exactly that.

Full story

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