By S-3 Public Affairs

FACT OF THE WEEK:

The US Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with Facebook and Morning Consult to figure out tech’s impact on small businesses. The survey found: “84% of small businesses in the U.S. use at least one major digital platform to provide information to customers,” but, “57% of small businesses surveyed said that lack of familiarity with available digital tools is a challenge.” The solution: to invest in training programs. Google CEO Sundar Pichai writing in Recode adds a note about programs they are rolling out to improve digital and tech skills training in a way that is more accessible and practical. “Moving beyond code and intensive degrees to these constant, lightweight and ubiquitous forms of education will take resources and experimentation. But that effort should help close today’s skills gaps, while making sure future skills gaps don’t open. That’s part of the reason Google has invested $1 billion over five years to help find new approaches to connect people to opportunities at work and help small and medium businesses everywhere grow in the digital economy.”

IN THE MEDIA:

Nielsen Digital Content Ratings recently looked at popular websites in an effort to gain a better understanding of who they are engaging on a consistent basis, “helping [publishers] to put the pieces of the consumer picture together for the first time using measurement metrics that are comparable to those used to measure TV audiences.”

Among the findings:

  • Buzzfeed reaches 83% of all millennials in a given month;

  • Mic reaches 40 million unique visitors each month, with an audience that is 56% female and 42% male;

  • Refinery 29 reaches 62% of millennial women and 88% of women ages 21 to 24.

IN THE ADMINISTRATION

The Washington Post reports, “This week, President Trump is scheduled to head to the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,” with a speech scheduled for Friday. The president is also expected to meet with British Prime Minister May on the trip.

ON THE HILL

The House is scheduled to be adjourned for a district work period. The Senate is expected to vote at 1 a.m. on a government funding bill that would go through February 8th, which Speaker Ryan has indicated the House would pass, ending the shutdown.

Tuesday (January 23): Senate Banking Committee hearing on the nominations of Jelena McWilliams (to be a member of the board of directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), Marvin Goodfriend (to be a member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors), and Thomas Workman (to be a member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council); Senate HELP Committee hearing on preparedness and response capabilities for 21st century public health threats; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine the performance of the electric power system under certain weather conditions; Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing on current and emerging threats in surface transportation security;

Wednesday (January 24): Senate Budget Committee oversight hearing of the Congressional Budget Office, with testimony from CBO Director Keith Hall; Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nominations of Michael Brennan (to be circuit judge for the Seventh Circuit), Daniel Desmond Domenico (to be district judge for the District of Colorado), and Adam Klein (to be reappointed chairman and member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board); Senate Commerce Committee field hearing on driving automotive innovation and federal policies, held at the Washington Convention Center; Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on officer personnel management and the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act of 1980; Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on navigating critical decisions to turning 65;

Thursday (January 25): Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on global challenges and U.S. national security strategy, with testimony from former secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and former deputy secretary of State Richard Armitrage; Senate Banking Committee hearing to receive administration perspectives on CFIUS reform, with testimony from Assistant Treasury Secretary for International Markets and Investment Policy Heath Tarbert, Assistant Commerce Secretary for Export Administration Richard Ashooh and Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy Eric Chewning; Senate HELP Committee hearings on Higher Education Act reauthorization and the nomination of Frank Brogan to be assistant secretary for elementary and secondary educationSenate Commerce Committee hearing to examine the Wireless Emergency Alert system, including recent system failures; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee field hearing to examine opportunities and challenges facing vehicle technologies, held at the Washington Convention Center; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee hearing on exploiting vulnerabilities in international mail in combatting the opioid crisis;

Friday (January 26): House Judiciary Committee field hearing on music policy issues at Fordham University School of Law, with testimony from Recording Academy President Neil Portnow and artists Aloe Blacc, Mike Clink, Booker Jones, and Tom Douglas.

By S-3 Public Affairs

FACT OF THE WEEK:

CNBC reports that as the value of bitcoin has made headlines, the demand for employees with these skills has also increased. “As the cryptocurrency universe grows, businesses are on the hunt for job candidates with experience in blockchain, the technology that supports popular digital tokens such as bitcoin and ethereum. Upwork, a freelancing firm, says blockchain is its fastest-growing skill category. … LinkedIn says there are now 28 times as many people citing cryptocurrency skills on their profiles and 5.5 times as many people with bitcoin skills as there were in October 2013. And from 2014 to 2017, LinkedIn has seen a 9.4-time increase in bitcoin-related postings within the financial services and insurance industry sector, as well as a 4.6-time increase for the software technology industry.”

CHASER: The Harvard Crimson notes that some economists see government interference or potential overregulation as a threat to the value of bitcoin. “Some Harvard Economics professors say the current high valuation of bitcoin—the founding coin of the international virtual currency boom—is unsustainable and will eventually drop, thanks in part to government regulation.”

BONUS FACT: United Launch Alliance this week had its first launch of 2018, “the 124th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. It was also the 36th flight of the Delta IV rocket since its inaugural launch in 2002.”

CONTINUE READING

IN THE MEDIA

Bloomberg reports on the Virtual Reality trend that emerged from the Consumer Electronics Show. In addition to being “cheaper, lighter and less likely to require tethering to a smartphone or computer,” Bloomberg notes, “It also gives companies something to sell while they figure out augmented reality, widely believed to have more mass-market appeal than virtual reality.” What’s the difference? “VR isolates users while AR lays digital information over the real world, offering countless potential consumer and commercial applications—streaming basketball stats to fans during games, say, or sending instructions to mechanics repairing complicated equipment.

Recode adds a note about Facebook’s contribution to the potential VR trend.“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to get one billion people using virtual realitya lofty goal considering there were just one million VR headsets shipped across the entire industry in last year’s third quarter.” The means to achieving this: “A new standalone VR headset exclusively for the Chinese market.”

IN THE ADMINISTRATION

President Trump is expected to travel to Pennsylvania next Thursday and discuss tax reform, ahead of a special election being held in March for a House of Representatives seat. Politico reports, “Trump’s visit to the district next week will take him to a manufacturing plant outside Pittsburgh.”

ON THE HILL

Congress returns this week with all eyes on a Friday government-funding deadline. Also on the Hill this week:  

Monday (January 15): Martin Luther King Jr. Day;

Tuesday (January 16): Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Homeland Security, with testimony from Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine the domestic and global energy outlook, with testimony from International Energy Agency Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol; House Natural Resources Committee markup of 9 bills and subcommittee legislative hearing on the Jobs for Tribes Act; House Rules Committee hearing on the Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act, World Bank Accountability Act, and Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act; House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee field hearing on the Obama administration’s rapprochement with the Castro regime;

Wednesday (January 17): Senate Commerce Committee hearing on terrorism and social media, with testimony from Facebook Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert, YouTube Global Head of Public Policy and Government Relations Juniper Downs; Twitter Public Policy and Philanthropy Director Carlos Monje, and Foreign Policy Research Institute Fellow Clinton Watts; Senate Finance Committee hearing on the nominations of Dennis Shea to be the deputy U.S. trade representative in the Geneva office and C.J. Mahoney to be the deputy U.S. trade representative for investment, services, labor, environment, Africa, China, and the Western hemisphere; Senate Banking Committee executive session to vote on the nominations of Jerome H. Powell (to be chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve), Randal Quarles (to be a member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors), Brian Montgomery (to be assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Federal Housing Commissioner), Robert Hunter Kurtz (to be assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Public and Indian Housing), and David Ryder (to be director of the U.S. Mint) and hearing on combating money laundering and other forms of illicit finance, with testimony from Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes Sigal Mandelker and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division M. Kendall Day; Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the nominations of Michael Atkinson to be the inspector general of the intelligence community and Jason Klitenic to be general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Senate HELP Committee hearing on facing 21st century public health threats; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the unintended consequences of Medicaid and the opioid epidemic; Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on America’s water infrastructure needs and challenges; Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing to receive a progress report on the implementation of 2017 VA reform legislation; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing to examine the Bureau of Reclamation’s title transfer process and potential benefits to federal and non-federal stakeholders; House Financial Services Committee markupof 17 bills to amend the Dodd-Frank Act; House Judiciary Committee markupof the Disclosing Foreign Influence Act; House Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing on the opioid crisis and CMS actions to prevent opioid misuse; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee markup and vote on the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act, Pharmaceutical Information Exchange Act, and Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act; House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing on the state of the U.S. flag maritime industry; House Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee hearing to receive an update on NASA commercial crew systems development; House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on the current state of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program; House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee hearing on recent efforts to win the war against ISIS; House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on the Denver Replacement Medical Center;

Thursday (January 18): Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committeehearing on the nominations of Melissa Burnison to be an assistant secretary of Energy for congressional and intergovernmental affairs and Anne Marie White to be an assistant secretary of Energy for environmental management; Senate Banking Committee hearing on CFIUS reform; Senate Commerce Committee executive session to vote on 7 nominations, including Ann Marie Buerkle to be chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Jim Bridenstine to be NASA administrator; Senate HELP Committee hearing on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act; Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the long-term care needs of first responders injured in the line of duty; House Rules Committee hearing on Article I: effective oversight and the power of the purse; House Natural Resources Committee oversight hearingexamining the Interior Department’s actions to eliminate onshore energy burdens; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearings on the Internet of Things, manufacturing and innovation and modernizing the Superfund cleanup programHouse Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing on America’s water resources infrastructure; House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearings on the capabilities of federal law enforcement agencies to share information related to transnational gangs and innovation at TSA;

Friday (January 19): Next government funding deadline; House Natural Resources Subcommittee oversight hearing examining deficiencies in the permitting process for offshore seismic research; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearings on legislation addressing LNG exports and PURPA modernization and continuing concerns over the Food and Drug Administration’s food-recall process.

By S-3 Public Affairs

Fact  of the Week: The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon, “This year it is on track to spend as much on video content as Netflix did in 2017. … Amazon’s video business isn’t just its own potential profit center; it’s also a way to keep people in Amazon’s world longer, where they spend more money, Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said in October. Amazon Prime Video also makes customers more likely to renew their Prime subscriptions, he said.”

Bloomberg adds, “Amazon.com Inc. plans to bid for the rights to stream Premier League matches in the upcoming auction in the U.K., according to a source familiar with the matter, part of a broader strategy to bring more sports content to its global customers. The digital giant sees such sporting events as American football, tennis and soccer matches as a way to get more people to subscribe to Prime memberships, which include video streaming and convert occasional customers into more loyal shoppers.”

CONTINUE READING

In the Media: CNBC reports, “Music streaming service Spotify, which filed confidentially with U.S.regulators for an initial public offering on Wednesday, has 70 million subscribers, it said in a tweet on Thursday. Spotify, valued at as much as $19 billion last year, is targeting a direct listing in the first half of 2018. Spotify is the biggest global music streaming company and counts Apple and Amazon.com as its main rivals.” Note that this is the first ever direct listing of its kind (a good read from Bloomberg’s Matt Levine on why this approach is noteworthy).

In addition to music, as we noted last week, Spotify is making a big push in the podcasting space. Media and tech writer Tim Carmody writes for The Nieman Lab about his evolved opinion on the app: “I want to make the case for Spotify, the company with audio at its core, and that’s made a big leap in podcasts in the last year — not least because Spotify’s evolution helps explain what Apple and Google are up to.” He adds that he sees Spotify as, “one of the most interesting trajectories in media; and I firmly believe publishers should be paying close attention to how it works.”

In the Administration: President Trump heads to Nashville on Monday to speak at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th Annual Convention. The president also plans to attend the College Football Playoff national championship game in Atlanta on Monday night.

On the Hill: Both the House and Senate are in session this week, with negotiations continuing on a government funding bill. Additionally, HHS Secretary-Nominee Alex Azar appears before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, and the Senate will continue its work on district court nominations, with a cloture vote scheduled Monday and three other cloture votes filed.

Monday (January 8): Senate expected to vote on the nomination of William Campbell to be U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs business meeting to vote on the nominations of Margaret Weichert to be deputy director for management in the Office of Management and Budget and Mark Greenblatt to be inspector general of the Export-Import Bank;

Tuesday (January 9): Senate Finance Committee hearing to consider the nomination of Alex Azar to be secretary of Health and Human Services; Senate HELP Committee hearing assessing the opioid crisis; Senate Banking Committee hearing on combating money laundering and illicit finance; Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on attacks on U.S. diplomats in Cuba, with testimony from Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Francisco Palmieri, Diplomatic Security Assistant Director of International Programs Todd Brown, and Bureau of Medical Services Director Dr. Charles Rosenfarb; House Rules Committee hearing on FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act; House Financial Services Subcommittee hearings on CFIUS and financial regulatory legislative proposals (the Community Financial Institution Exemption Act, Protecting Veterans Credit Act, Home Mortgage Reporting Relief Act, Community Bank Reporting Relief Act, and an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act); House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on Department of Energy modernization, with a panel including Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Undersecretary for Science Paul Dabbar, Undersecretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz and Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes; House Natural Resources Subcommittee legislative hearing on the Shash Jáa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act; House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on China’s pursuit of emerging and exponential technologies; House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on border security from an agent and officer perspective;

Wednesday (January 10): Senate Judiciary Committee nominations hearingSenate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on America’s water infrastructure needs and challenges; House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on sanctions and financial pressure and subcommittee hearing on the implications of upcoming elections in the Western hemisphere for U.S. policy; House Armed Services Committee hearing to receive an update on the Financial Improvement and Audit Remediation (FIAR) Plan, with testimony from Undersecretary of Defense and Chief Financial Officer David Norquist; House Natural Resources Committee markup of the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Project Boundary Correction Act, Route 66 National Historic Trail Designation Act, National Memorial to Fallen Educators Act, Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act, and Alex Diekmann Peak Designation Act; House Science, Space & Technology Committee markup of the Low Dose Radiation Research Act; House Financial Services Subcommittee hearing to examine Federal Reserve reform proposals; House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee hearing on how veteran homebuyers are affected by home loan churning practices;

Thursday (January 11): Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy in post-ISIS Syria, with testimony from Ambassador David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; Senate Judiciary Committee executive business meeting to consider Circuit Court nominees Stuart Kyle Duncan and David Ryan Stras and District Court nominee Fernando Rodriguez, Jr., and to consider the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act; Senate HELP Committee executive session to consider the nominations of 8 top officials in the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services.

As always, please feel free to contact Rob CollinsMike FerenceJohn Scofield, or Amos Snead or call (202) 600-2938 with any questions. Have a wonderful week!