Interactive: Medicaid expansion still up in the air for many states
dark blue: debating Medicaid expansion light blue: debating partial Medicaid expansion dark grey: not expanding Medicaid light grey: expanding Medicaid
Although the Affordable Care Act initially called for all states to expand Medicaid by Jan. 1, the Supreme Court ruled states could decide for themselves whether to expand Medicaid. Click the map for more information on Medicaid expansion by state. Status of Medicaid expansion reflects states’ status as of Feb. 4, 2014.
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year started Monday in South Africa. Pistorius plead not guilty to the murder and several gun-related charges against him. Today, a neighbor of Pistorius testified in court, saying she heard screams the night of the death.
For more information on the testimony, see CNN’s coverage here.
President Barack Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2015 budget would raise taxes on the wealthy and cut military spending while funding a minimum wage hike, expanding preschool and improving beleaguered roads.
Obama announced his $3.9 trillion budget proposal Tuesday morning. The plan has already been met with criticism from Republican opponents. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tweeted that the budget would be “spending too much, borrowing too much [and] taxing too much.”The proposal is not expected to be adopted by Congress.
The proposal also includes a separate set of programs called the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative which totals $56 billion. Half the money would come from spending cuts elsewhere and the other half would come from reducing tax benefits from the retirement accounts of the wealthy. It would go to investing in early childhood education and clean energy research and boosting economic growth in disadvantaged neighborhoods, among others programs.
"I don’t know if this is the best part, but for me watching John Travolta mess up Idina Menzel’s name was definitely the most memorable moments. I think I’ve watched that Vine more than 50 times." - Peter Scone Preetisha Sen
“I think the most memorable moment of the Oscars was when John Travolta butchered Idina Menzel’s name as he introduced her “Let It Go” performance.”- Sarah Ortiz Sara Olsted
Aid package comes as Secretary of State John Kerry lands in Kiev
Upon arrival in Kiev, Kerry offered $1 billion to Ukraine in loan guarantees. President Obama responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday, threatening that “there will be costs,” but Putin has shown no signs of backing down.
Comedian Seth Rogen testified about the importance of Alzheimer’s research before a Senate appropriations subcommittee Wednesday. Rogen is a champion of the Alzheimer’s Association. His testimony drew laughs from everyone present. Here are a few of his best jokes:
1. "Thank you for the opportunity to testify today and for the opportunity to be called an expert in something, because that’s cool," Rogen said. "I don’t know if you know who I am, chairman. I know you never saw Knocked Up, which is a little insulting.”
Harkin also drew a laugh with his response: ”I want the record to note that this is the first time, I will wager, this is the first time in any congressional hearing in history that the words ‘knocked up’ have ever been spoken.”
2. “I should first answer a question I assume many of you are asking. Yes, I’m aware this has nothing to do with the legalization of marijuana.”
Rogen said Alzheimer’s research funding is an issue that’s even more important to him.
3. “I came here today for a few reasons: One … I’m a huge House of Cards fan.” Rogen added he felt it was important for him to testify because he’s frustrated with how expensive it is to care for someone with Alzheimer’s and because he wants to show others dealing with Alzheimer’s that they aren’t alone in their struggles.
Covering Congress is an experience unlike anything else…which can be a little crazy when you’re only 19 or 20 years old. Even though our reporters stay professional and respectable on the job, it’s easy to have an internal “geek-out” moment when you have to work a little harder to stay cool. Here are some of our reporter’s favorites:
Preetisha Sen, Business beat:
I think I geeked out when I saw Marco Rubio vote – it was all of 10 seconds but I had just written a paper about him so I was pretty stoked.
Jessica Floum, National Security beat:
My ‘geek-out moment’ happened in the press room of the White House before President Obama honored the Miami Heat for their 2013 NBA championship. Ryan (McCrimmon) and I waited two hours alongside at least twenty other reporters and cameramen. The veteran reporters told war stories to pass the time. One told a story about how he had accidentally gotten so close to Jesse Jackson, who was standing above him, that his camera boom rammed Jesse Jackson in a very unfortunate place. That’s when I knew how in the thick of it D.C. journalists are and what I would be in for this quarter.
Stephanie Haines, National Security beat:
I have too many: The first, in my first hearing, I looked up and saw John McCain. I tried to take a snap chat of him. Second, I said hello to Martha Raddatz, ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent, in Statuary Hall post SOTU. She spoke at Northwestern in the fall and I met her there, so we’re BFF’s now, nbd. And third, I got a picture with Ann Compton, long-time ABC White House correspondent. #celebstatus #omg #hireme.
Sylvan Lane, Immigration and Demographics beat:
My geek-out moment was when I went up to interview John McCain after the unemployment bill vote a few weeks ago. I instinctively just kind of ran up to him to get his reaction, but as soon as I got face to face with him, I realized I was about to interview a man who was almost president of the United States. Luckily, there were a few reporters who got to him before me, so I had time to refocus myself before I started asking him questions.
Sophia Bollag, Health and Science beat:
The president’s State of the Union address was definitely the coolest event I’ve reported on in Washington. I had never been in the same room with that many important people before.
Medill Reporters Share Favorite Experiences in Washington
Medill News Service reporters were asked what reporting experience was the most exciting so far.
Sophia Bollag: “I liked covering Rep. Henry Waxman’s short speech on proposed limits on carbon emissions outside the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month. It was nice to cover an event outside when it wasn’t raining or snowing.” The story here: http://bit.ly/1oTjC5g
Preetisha Sen: “I loved the debt ceiling piece because it was so last minute and stressful but ultimately a very interesting story.” The story here: http://bit.ly/1nufPbf
Ellen Garrison: “This was my favorite event because it had the most impact of everything I’ve covered and the most educational and just plain exciting.” The story here: http://bit.ly/1nufPbf
Jonathan Palmer: “This was my favorite article I posted because I felt that it was the most news worthy because of the absurd implications of seclusions and restraints and the fact that it is often not talked about. I enjoyed finding out more information about it was very involved in this story.” The story here: http://bit.ly/1eXJKYu
“News that the NSA planned these operations at the level of its Office of the General Counsel is especially troubling. Today, we call on the White House to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the extent of the NSA’s criminal activity against the media, including WikiLeaks, its staff, its associates and its supporters.”—
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in reaction to Snowden documents revealing that the NSA spied on WikiLeaks visitors. The documents also indicated that the Obama administration urged foreign allies to file criminal charges against Assange because of the site’s publication of the Afghanistan war logs.
Reporters Vesko Cholakov and Jessica Floum swam through technical jargon and differential calculus during their long day covering crude oil exports today. This is the type of presentation slide they had to deal with at a Center for Strategic and International Studies panel Monday.
Michelle Obama praises construction industry pledge to hire vets
After announcing a construction industry pledge to hire 100,000 veterans within the next five years, Michelle Obama repeatedly thanked vets for their service. The first lady spoke Monday at the Department of Labor. (Sara Olstad/Medill)
French President François Hollande is visiting with President Barack Obama today and tomorrow. Today the two leaders toured Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia. Tomorrow they will hold a joint press conference at the White House, followed by a tour of Arlington National Cemetary. Later they will attend a state dinner. The Élysée – the French equivalent of the White House – tweeted an agenda of Hollande’s trip, which includes a visit to San Francisco on Wednesday.
Reporters uncover a multitude of scandals in the Air Force
By Jane Herman
WASHINGTON— The Associated Press uncovered numerous scandals occurring in the U.S. Air Force, reminding listeners at the Newseum event, Wednesday, the importance of investigative journalism.
AP reporter Robert Burns said he began to investigate when he received an internal email from an anonymous source. The Air Force commander was reprimanding his officers and revealed a number of issues including disciplinary and morale problems.
Burns said this prompted him to investigate further and found that what the commander had said was accurate. Through continuous research, the Associated Press discovered numerous security lapses, safety rule violations, inspection failures, and breakdowns in training by those in charge of United States intercontinental ballistic missiles.
If this information wasn’t uncovered and circulated through the AP wire, the Air Force would not have had to take responsibility for its errors and we would continue to have a flawed system, said AP assistant Washington Bureau Chief Wendy Benjaminson.
Although the AP was criticized for revealing internal Air Force affairs to the public, Benjaminson said their work was necessary and justified. “ Clearly the Air
force wasn’t doing anything about the problems. They announced that they had a successful inspection when they actually received a D-grade.”
Once this information was published, the Air Force took action to improve these serious internal flaws. They recently did there own investigation on a drug scandal among airmen and simultaneously uncovered that 14% of the nuclear force also cheated on their proficiency test.
Based on these results the Pentagon ordered a full review of the U.S nuclear force.
WASHINGTON – In a 68-32 vote, the Senate passed the conference resolution of the nearly $1 trillion farm bill.
Formally known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, the bill was introduced in July last year by Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla. The farm bill will “provide for the reform and continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2018,” according to the bill’s text.
The farm bill was first introduced in 1933, and the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 required that the bill be updated every five years. In 2008, the latest version of the bill was passed as the Food, Conservation and Energy Act and enacted after overriding President Bush’s veto.
Bush vetoed the bill because he said it was too costly. As such, the latest version strives to reduce costs while providing better nutrition assistance programs. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.
According to the House-Senate Conference Committee, the bill will save taxpayers $23 billion in mandatory federal spending.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the conference agreement would “lower budget deficits by $16.6 billion” over the next ten years in a letter to Lucas.
Part of the bill includes increased funding for SNAP, the food stamp program which offers nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families across the country. The bill will put stricter regulations on SNAP such that recipients are not getting benefits in multiple states to reduce food stamp fraud.
The act also repeals direct payments, which are subsidies that farmers receive regardless of whether they farmed. This repeal knocked off a $4.5 billion per year subsidy. However, the Conference Committee says the new bill will “offer protection when they suffer significant losses.”
However, the bill cannot be enacted until signed by President Obama. According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Obama plans to sign the bill.
““I want to say to others like myself who are undocumented and think that their goals are impossible to think again because anything it is possible,” she said.”—Excerpt from Sara Olstad’s article today
Today the Senate will vote on the conference report to HR 2642 – more commonly known as the farm bill. This bill has been in the works for five years now, and if the Senate passes it today, the bill could be signed by Obama by the end of the week.
The bill didn’t have nearly as much potential last year. Read an in-depth story of how the farm bill looked a year ago here from Medill on the Hill alum Fritz T. Burgher, and stay tuned to see what decision the Senate will make today.
Today, Medill reporter Mary Kate Hayes covered a news conference on youth tobacco use. Though the number of children smoking cigarettes has declined over the past few years, the numbers are still concerning. Some statistics from 2011:
About 4,000 kids smoke their first cigarette per day.
Each year, nearly 400,000 become daily smokers.
4.3 percent of middle school students were current cigarette smokers
12.8 percent of male high school students used smokeless tobacco
Youth tobacco use is more likely to occur among young people if their peers use it as well, and youth smoking is strongly linked with depression, anxiety and stress. Now, the problem is getting attention from federal agencies. For more information, read Mary Kate’s full story on the FDA’s new campaign here.
Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
““I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” District of Columbia Circuit Judge Richard Leon said.”—D.C. Circuit Court may hear arguments on PRISIM’s constitutionality, by Sylvan Lane