NEWSROOM

Ethics & Open Government Word of the Week: Block Grant

A block grant is a fixed sum of money granted by the federal government to a state government for a specific purpose and subject to certain provisions. The amount of money bestowed by the federal government is determined in advance and if the state's expenditures exceed that amount, they must use their own funds to make up the difference. The Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill proposes turning Medicaid funding into Block Grants, as opposed to the joint funding program currently in place. Under the current program the federal government and the states split the cost of Medicaid on a percentage basis. This percentage, known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), varies by state and ranges anywhere from 50% to 75% depending on the state's per capita income (and certain other criteria). Under the Graham-Cassidy proposal, states would receive a set amount of money at the beginning of the fiscal year regardless of the actual cost of the Medicaid program, leaving the state le...
Read More

Ethics & Open Government Word of the Week: Deferred Action

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (known as "DACA") is a program established by the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") in 2012 that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents, as children, to avoid deportation by meeting certain stringent criteria. Specifically, to be eligible for DACA, immigrants had to be younger than 31 on June 15, 2012, arrived in the U.S. when they were younger than 16, and lived in the U.S. since 2007. The phrase "deferred action" is exactly what it sounds like-- DHS agrees to temporarily ignore someone's undocumented status and gives them the opportunity to apply for a work visa, which grants them temporary legal status like any other foreigner temporarily living in the U.S. for work. There is no direct path to legal resident status or citizenship for a DACA recipient and it can be revoked at any time. But deferred action provides a modicum of relief to people who have grown up in the U.S., gone to U.S. schools, ma...
Read More

The Week in Science & Technology: House Passes Appropriations Package; New Driverless Car Policies; Trump Inaction on Energy Appointments

What you can doIndivisible has a list of resources and actions you can take to oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill. This latest Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is likely to be voted on before September 30. More details are available here.The EPA is taking public comments until September 28 on its list of nominees for its Science Advisory Board. Comments on the nominations should be sent to carpenter.thomas@epa.gov. See below for more background and details.House passes appropriations package, but final budget will depend on SenateOn Thursday, September 14, the House of Representatives passed a package of 12 appropriations bills along a largely party-line vote (almost all Republicans in favor, almost all Democrats opposed). The package covers all federal discretionary spending for FY18, including scientific research funding. The bill largely rejects the draconian cuts proposed by President Trump, though it would eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Ene...
Read More

Background and Guide to a Single Talking Point + Phone Script for a coordinated defense of the ACA : A delayed Medicaid cutoff is still a cutoff

Relevant Policy Background:Different state of play, but still a major threat out there (and some opportunities, but we'll get to those soon). For now, let's talk about the last Repeal bill standings: Graham-CassidyThe Senate Bill:The original Senate proposal has managed to take the House's American Health Care Act (AHCA) and make it worse. Instead of implementing drastic Medicaid cuts in 2020, Senators phased in cuts more slowly, then making up for it by cutting the program more drastically after 2026. They do this by linking federal caps to the general inflation rate in urban areas (Consumer Price Index or CPI-U) instead of the medical inflation rate (CPI-M). Since medical costs grow more quickly than the costs of most things in the economy, moving from CPI-M to CPI-U.[1]The result is a long-term 37 percent cut to Medicaid instead of a 25 percent cut. On the health exchanges side, they kept the basic structure of the exchanges, but drastically cut the subsidies to pay for premiums ...
Read More

The Week in Science & Technology: Temporary Spending Deal Passed; Appropriations Continue in Congress; Controversy Over Hurricanes, Climate Change, and Chemical Plants

What you can doThe Hand in Hand Benefit for Hurricane Relief has an active donations page to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. A list of Houston-area charities is also available here, and preliminary information for helping Irma victims here. Indivisible has posted a list of actions you can take to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.Trump and Congress reach temporary spending deal; appropriations continue in CongressAhead of the October 1 deadline to fund the federal government in FY18, President Trump and Congress agreed to a deal to extend spending for three months, raise the debt ceiling, and provide emergency hurricane relief funding. Trump signed the measure on Friday, September 8. The deal averts a government shutdown and gives Congress until December to finalize FY18 spending.In the meantime, appropriations activity continues, behind schedule, in the House and Senate. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its FY18 app...
Read More

This Week in Foreign Policy: Black Friday in Foggy Bottom; North Korea, Russia, and Afghanistan, Oh My!

Russian election hacking as a national security issueThe story on the Trump family collusion continues to expand, with more family members reportedly having had contacts, and a former campaign manager's home raided by the FBI. Russia may be finding its efforts to establish ties to the White House frustrating, however, as it forced the removal of over 700 U.S. diplomatic staff from Russia. In response, the United States ordered Russia to close its San Francisco consulate; however, given how far this is from any political centers, the move lacks any real effect.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/us/politics/russia-consulate-close-retaliation.html Black Friday in Foggy BottomThe State Department continues to hemorrhage top level staff. The shocking number of career diplomats who are taking early retirement means that critical positions are unfilled and that institutional knowledge is lost, leaving the United States in a substantially weaker position on a host of issues. The director f...
Read More

The Week in Science & Technology: NASA Head Nominated; EPA Awards Undergoing Political Review; Congress Back in Session

What you can doThe Trump administration has announced that it is ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protects 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation. Find out more, including what you can do, here.The Department of Labor is asking for information on the impact of its 2016 overtime rule, which would increase postdoc salaries, among other benefits. You can read more about the rule here and submit your comments at Regulations.gov before September 25.Trump nominates Rep. Bridenstine to head NASAOn Friday, September 1, the Trump administration announced that, as expected, it would be nominating Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The position requires confirmation from the Senate, and Bridenstine will likely face opposition from Senate Democrats due to statements he made in 2013 downplaying climate change. However a University of Oklahoma official insists that Bridenstine does believe the c...
Read More

Week 31 in Science & Technology: Science Envoy and Cybersecurity Council Members Resign; Congress Prepares for Budget Fight

While our thoughts today are with those in Houston and along the Gulf Coast impacted by Hurricane Harvey and its ongoing flooding, here's a summary of what happened over the last week in science and technology policy.What you can doFind out how you can help victims of Harvey here.RISE Stronger is teaming up with 500 Women Scientists to tweet in support of science funding on September 5. Find out more about how you can participate in the #fundUSAscience campaign here.The Department of Labor is asking for information on the impact of its 2016 overtime rule, which would increase postdoc salaries, among other benefits. You can read more about the rule here and submit your comments at Regulations.gov before September 25.Time is almost up to submit a comment to the FCC on its move to eliminate net neutrality rules. Learn more here, and submit comments directly here. Comments must be submitted by August 30.Join RISE Stronger, It Starts Today, Civic Engagement Fund, Run for Something, Emerg...
Read More

Next Steps for NAFTA: This Week in Trade & Development

TradeAs the US, Mexico, and Canada get closer to renegotiating NAFTA, the Administration's goals are ever more unclear.At his campaign-style rally in Phoenix, Trump declared that he anticipates complete withdrawal from the treaty will be likely, a prediction he reiterated when meeting with the Finnish Prime Minister on Monday. This may have been intended a bargaining ploy, but appears to have backfired.Mexican official have taken offence to this aggressive negotiating posture, and indicated they will not discuss renegotiation "with a gun to [their] head."The option is not popular in the US as well. A poll by Livingston International shows that only 6 percent of Americans support withdrawing from NAFTA. A like number want it renegotiated to "modernize" it (the term being used by the negotiating teams). All in all, only 13% of Americans feel it should be renegotiated for being unfair to Americans.Meanwhile there are several specific issues where the US position is unresolved as we ent...
Read More

Week 30 in Science & Technology: Administration Announces S&T Priorities; Trump Councils Disband

What you can doCheck out the RISE Stronger Guide to the August Recess, which will arm you with information on key issues so you can ask challenging, hard-hitting questions of your members of Congress at town halls, meetings, or other events during the recess.The Department of Labor is asking for information on the impact of its 2016 overtime rule, which would increase postdoc salaries, among other benefits. You can read more about the rule here and submit your comments at Regulations.gov before September 25.Only one week remains to submit a comment to the FCC on its move to eliminate net neutrality rules. Learn more here, and submit comments directly here. Comments must be submitted by August 30.Trump's new priorities for science policy conflict with his own proposed budget cutsOn Thursday, August 17, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo that provides the first outline of the Trump administration's p...
Read More