Veteran Benefit Improvements, Security/Privacy -- Murkowski Morning Meeting, 12/11/2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
What DC is Reading
- “Bipartisan Budget Deal Would Avoid January Shutdown” – NPR
- “Poll: Fifty Percent of Americans Disapprove of Health Care Law” – CBS News
- “NSA Tracks Online Consumers for Cyberhacking Projects” – Washington Post
- “Pope Francis Named Time ‘Newsmaker of Year’” – CNN
U.S. Senate Events
Delivering for Veterans
Alaskan Impact: Alaska has the highest concentration of veterans of any state, so addressing the backlog of claims is incredibly important. The Veterans Administration backlog has been on the decline, but many are still waiting for benefits. Senator Murkowski has been fighting for care ‘close to home’ and also co-sponsored the Accountability for Veterans Act this past June. Today’s Veteran Affairs hearing was an update on how improvements are proceeding.
6:00 am AKDT
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing
Topic: "VA Claims System: Review of VA's Transformation Progress."
- Allison A. Hickey, Under Secretary for Benefits, Veterans Affairs
- Diana M. Rubens, Associate Deputy, Veterans Benefits Administration
- Brad Houston, Director, Veterans Benefits Administration
- Richard Hipolit, Assistant General Counsel, Office of General Counsel
Hickey: Many improvements are being made via Internet claims, with a one-day turnaround.
Watch the entire hearing online: veterans.senate.gov
NSA: Spying Overreach?
Alaskan Impact: Alaskans are incredibly concerned with the overreach of the government’s surveillance efforts – including today’s revelation they are using innocent Americans’ online browsing ‘cookies’ to develop hacking operations. Senator Murkowski has been a defender of privacy rights for a decade – most recently co-sponsoring the USA Freedom Act – and today the Judiciary Committee will examine the balance between privacy and security.
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing
Topic: “Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities.”
- Keith B. Alexander, National Security Agency, Fort Meade, MD
- James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Washington, DC
- Robert S. Litt, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Washington, DC
Watch the entire meeting online: judiciary.senate.gov
U.S. House Events
Healthcare Deadline Approaching
Alaskan Impact: Alaskans have less than two weeks to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act’s federal healthcare exchange and be covered at the beginning of the year. However, websites nationwide are still plagued by bugs and in Alaska, the website is slowly improving, but it’s still causing frustration and anxiety. The DC exchange actually fell victim to a ‘phishing scam’ last week. This hearing will examine the current state of the website and where improvements still need to be made.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing
Topic: “Affordable Care Act Implementation Failures: What’s Next?”
- The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Watch the entire meeting online: energycommerce.house.gov