News Digest – January 2, 2018

Over the holiday break, Cardin and Van Hollen voted against the short-term continuing resolution to fund the gov’t through Jan 19 and Cummings demands Trump administration release plans for potential cuts in the federal workforce which would affect many Marylanders.

Government spending bill

Congress avoided a government shutdown Thursday, voting to fund the federal government through January 19.  Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen both opposed the short-term fix, which did not include any protections for DREAMers.

National security

Senator Cardin penned this op-ed for The Hill, criticizing President Trump’s national security plan.  

Michael Flynn

Rep. Elijah Cummings asked Vice President Mike Pence to authorize the FBI to turn over documents relating to the security clearance application of Michael Flynn Jr., the son of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who worked on Trump’s transition team.

“Wannacry” Cyber attack

Rep. Cummings: “President Trump is handling the intelligence assessments regarding North Korea and Russia completely differently, staging an elaborate media roll-out to press on sanctions against North Korea while at the same time discrediting the assessment by these very same intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered with our election. Why isn’t President Trump taking these same steps in response to Russia?”

Downsizing federal workforce

  • Rep. Cummings calls on the Trump administration to immediately release its plans to downsize the federal workforce, saying any widespread effort to hurt civil servants should occur in the spotlight.“The Trump administration is now in the midst of one of the largest reorganizations in decades with virtually no oversight by Congress,” Cummings said. “As members of this committee, we believe it is our job to analyze the administration’s plans to determine if, and to what extent, these massive reductions in staffing will impact the services the American people rely on every single day.”
  • Amid the threat of sequestration following the passage of President Donald Trump’s tax reform bill, a bloc of House Democrats, including Rep. Cummings, has warned House leadership off freezing federal employees’ pay or reducing their benefits as a way to offset tax cuts.  More here.

FBI

    • FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe faced numerous questions this week about his interactions, conversations and correspondence with his onetime boss, former FBI Director James Comey, spanning both the FBI’s Russia investigation and its probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, according to multiple sources from both parties with knowledge of his testimony.
    • Thursday’s hearing behind closed doors was considered “confidential,” but not classified, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings.  More here.

 

 

Drug Prices

The amount consumers spend on prescription drugs has nearly doubled since the 1990s, and much of the increase is due to the price of expensive brand-name drugs. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that retail drug spending accounted for about 12% of total personal healthcare service spending in the United States in 2015, up from about 7% through the 1990s. The GAO report, “Drug Industry: Profits, Research and Development Spending, and Merger and Acquisition Deals,” was written at the request of Representative Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, and Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and examines how trends in the pharmaceutical industry play a role in drug prices.

Calls for FBI investigation into Batlimore Detective Sean Suiter’s Death

Officer Suiter was murdered the night before he was supposed to provide … federal grand jury testimony. A lot of people are concerned about that, and I got the impression listening to the head of the FBI that they are concerned about it, too,” Rep. Cummings said.

Train Derailment

  • Technology That Can Slow Trains Not In Use In Washington Derailment
    “It’s something that we have in our new cars. Technology that helps the car slow down, will warn you, and it’s evident that this is needed in the United States of America generally,” Ruppersberger said. “Whether it’s in a rural area or urban area, if you are going too fast, you don’t make a curve, the train could crash.”

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