GOP Health Care Bill Faces Perilous Path Forward

Congressional Republicans’ push to repeal and replace Obamacare is down but not out. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) surprised everyone yesterday, including his own caucus, when he called off an expected vote on the Senate GOP’s health care bill amid opposition from at least a half-dozen of his party colleagues. It’s an embarrassing about-face for the leader, who last week emphatically promised to pass the bill this week.

But think of the setback more as McConnell hitting the pause button than throwing in the towel. Congress is out next week for its annual Independence Day break, and he will use the time to tweak the bill in the hopes of wooing reluctant Republicans. He wants to hold a vote soon after Congress returns the second week of July. And if anyone can get this done, it’s McConnell, a master of Senate politics and parliamentary procedure. Continue reading “GOP Health Care Bill Faces Perilous Path Forward”

Supreme Court Gives Trump’s Travel Ban a Boost

President Trump’s travel ban is once again the law of the land—at least for now. The Supreme Court decided Monday to reinstate certain parts of the president’s controversial executive order, pending a full review by the justices this fall.

In a unanimous opinion, the high court struck down two lower court orders that put a hold on the travel restrictions, freeing the Trump administration to impose a freeze on new visas from six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) for 90 days.            

Continue reading “Supreme Court Gives Trump’s Travel Ban a Boost”

The Specter of War in Syria

The U.S. further embroiled itself in yet another Middle Eastern conflict last week by shooting down a Syrian fighter jet that was reportedly threatening American-backed Kurdish forces in the country.

This was the second time since the beginning of Syria’s civil war that the U.S. directly attacked Syrian government forces (the first was a missile strike in April to retaliate for Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons). Continue reading “The Specter of War in Syria”

Overhaul of Obamacare Edges Closer

Expect a battle royal within the GOP ranks over health care. If the Senate passes its plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, odds are it would clear the House too and be signed into law by President Trump.

As expected, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s bill is more moderate than the House version, in some respects. Medicaid expansion would be phased out more slowly than in the House legislation; people with pre-existing conditions would be protected; and there’s more financial assistance to lower-income Americans. Continue reading “Overhaul of Obamacare Edges Closer”

GOP winning streak continues in Georgia

The most expensive House race in history concluded last night in suburban Atlanta with Republican Karen Handel holding off Democrat Jon Ossoff in a race both parties were desperate to win.

It’s not surprising that Handel won the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to replace former GOP Rep. Tom Price, who joined President Trump’s cabinet in February to head the Department of Health and Human Services. After all, this affluent district is a traditional Republican stronghold that Price easily won in November by 23 percentage points, and that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich held for 20 years. The district has been a Democratic graveyard since the Carter administration. Continue reading “GOP winning streak continues in Georgia”

5 Bright Spots in Cybersecurity

I’ve been quick to point out that digital security threats are on the rise. Hackers are getting more sophisticated, connected devices are shipping with shoddy defenses and the number of attacks is rising.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, there are some bright spots in the digital security realm. I got an up-close look at some of the latest and greatest cybersecurity technologies and trends at a security conference held last week in Washington, D.C., by market research firm Gartner.

Here are five positive trends about cybersecurity today that I gleaned from listening to security experts for a day. Continue reading “5 Bright Spots in Cybersecurity”

Baseball Brings Temporary Relief to Partisan Polarization

Bipartisanship finally has triumphed in Washington, at least for a short while.

The Capitol Hill community came together Thursday evening in a genuine showing of Republican and Democratic unity at the annual congressional charity baseball game. The event typically serves as a fun time-out from the usual partisan rancor that engulfs the Capitol. But with Washington still reeling from a gunman’s vicious ambush on the GOP team as it practiced a day earlier, the contest served as a cathartic reminder that life is bigger than politics.  Continue reading “Baseball Brings Temporary Relief to Partisan Polarization”

Are Robotic Suits Coming to Your Workplace?

When someone mentions home improvement giant Lowe’s, you might picture vast aisles of paint, plywood and garden supplies. But soon, thoughts of Lowe’s might conjure up images of Iron Man. The retailer is dabbling in robotics through its high-tech research lab that tests a slew of emerging technologies. Its latest project: Productivity-boosting robotic suits known as exoskeletons.

Lowe’s isn’t the only company expressing interest. Exoskeletons will be tested by more and more companies in the coming years. Workers at BMW, FedEx and Amazon are already using suits, according to Kasthuri Jagadeesan, research director of the TechVision Group at Frost & Sullivan. But more testing is needed for wider adoption. “You have to have serious trials,” says Dan Kara, research director at ABI Research. Kara says trials uncover important issues such as how much the suit chafes, how rugged it is and how hard it is to put on and take off. Continue reading “Are Robotic Suits Coming to Your Workplace?”

America and the Latest Middle East Crisis

Donald Trump’s plan to unite much of the Middle East in a shared fight against terrorism and Iran is already on the rocks, thanks to a rapidly escalating feud among numerous U.S. allies in the region.

Five Arab governments (Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen) recently suspended relations with Qatar over its support for radical Islamists and cordial relationship with Iran.

Continue reading “America and the Latest Middle East Crisis”

Dodd-Frank Repeal DOA in Senate

Lost in the Beltway cacophony of Russia-related probes, health care measures and tax reform is the GOP’s call to kill the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Yet despite these efforts, Democrats’ legislative response to the financial crisis will largely remain in place.

A Republican bill that essentially would repeal and replace 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act easily passed the House today along a near-party line vote. But it won’t survive the Senate in its original—or likely any—form. Continue reading “Dodd-Frank Repeal DOA in Senate”