Washington Weekly
Feb. 10, 2014

Last Week

After more than two years of negotiations, the Senate passed the long-stalled Farm Bill and sent it to the president's desk to be signed into law. The Senate also voted, but failed to agree on a way forward on extending unemployment benefits. Senate Democrats incorporated a provision for paying the $6.4 billion cost of the benefits extension by allowing companies to employ historical data in calculating pension contributions, which is believed to be unpopular among Republicans. The House passed legislation addressing the water crisis in California, as well as reforming hunting and gaming practices, including fishing and recreational shooting and conservation policies.More

This Week

According to the Treasury Department, the United States has officially reached its statutorily set borrowing limit, requiring extraordinary measures be used through Feb. 27, when the Treasury Secretary the limit needs to be raised. The House leadership has indicated it may take up this issue this week. In addition, the House is expected to take up financial services related legislation such as the Consumer Financial Protection and Soundness Improvement Act, which attempts to rein in the rulemaking authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. This week the Senate will debate reforming and restoring Veterans benefits.

Finally, do you remember two years ago when hundreds of Internet search engines and websites went dark for a day in protest of government policies? Look for more of the same on Tuesday when thousands of civil-liberty and online-freedom groups and websites will take to the digital streets to wage a coordinated war against the National Security Agency's spying powers.

Billing the protest as "The Day We Fight Back," organizers are promising that banners urging users to engage in viral activity expressing their opposition to the NSA will be prominently displayed on websites across the Internet. Additionally, those banners will ask readers to flood the telephone lines and email inboxes of congressional offices to voice their support of the Freedom Act, a bill in Congress that aims to restrict the government's surveillance authority.More

Item of Interest

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board revived its controversial Ambush Election rule. While the Supreme Court deliberates on its past actions, the NLRB isn't standing by to act. The board released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking containing proposed changes to the rules governing union representation elections. It is believed to be substantively similar — if not identical to — the original "ambush" election proposed rule issued by the Board in June 2011. Parties have 60 days to file comments on the new proposal. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, of which ASA is a proud member, looks forward to filing comments on this important issue. The proposal is available here.More

NLRB Resurrects Union Election Rule
The Hill
The National Labor Relations Board resurrected a rule to speed up union elections, drawing denunciations from business groups and Republicans who warned of an assault on employer rights. The proposed union rule mirrors a proposal that was struck down in court in 2012, but unlike the earlier version, the new NLRB regulation was issued with a full quorum of five board members. More

Why Democrats Will Win on Unemployment Insurance
NationalJournal
For the fifth time this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brought an unemployment-insurance extension to the floor, even though several members of his party admitted that they didn't have the votes to pass it. They came close. But more important for Democratic campaign operatives across the country, they once again got Republicans on the record opposing assistance for the long-term unemployed.More

Lew Predicts Feb. 27 Debt Limit Deadline
Roll Call
Mark your calendars for Feb. 27. That's the date Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew anticipates the Treasury Department will exhaust the extraordinary measures used to avert exceeding the federal debt limit past today. Lew made the announcement in letters sent Friday afternoon to the top four Congressional leaders.More

Tech Fears Shadow Campaign to Seize Global Control of Internet
The Hill
Fearing a power grab for control of the Internet, members of the tech industry are pleading with Congress to pay attention to the domain name expansion that is underway at a little-known nonprofit.More