Agenda: 2/4/18

By S-3 Public Affairs

Still confused as to what bitcoin actually is? Square, the payment processing company, this week made an illustrated, digital story to explain it. The Verge writes, “The illustrations depict bitcoins as shiny letter Bs that can be chopped up into valuable fractions, kind of like a huge diamond. They’re made with “very complex math,” as explained by an illustration where computers with arms patch up a letter B while smiling. It goes on to cover exchanges, the blockchain, and even hints at the currency’s infamous volatility. The illustrated guide to Bitcoin is surprisingly clear, if looking at Dr. Seuss-esque cartoons that bear no semblance to reality can make an increasingly complex subject more comprehensible. To be fair, none of the text in the guide is wrong (depending on how you feel about the gold standard), and it does come with a disclaimer at the bottom to ‘please make wise financial decisions.’”

Expect bitcoin to be a topic of discussion next week when SEC Chairman Jay Clayton heads to the Hill Tuesday for a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

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IN THE MEDIA:

If you, your friend, or your kid has ever studied abroad, you’ve likely used WhatsApp. Recode this week reports, “Facebook and WhatsApp boasted record usership — 2.13 billion and 1.5 billion monthly active users, respectively — according to Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings yesterday. That’s despite a small decline in the number of users in the U.S. and Canada. WhatsApp is now bigger than Messenger, its rival/sibling messaging app. It’s also far bigger than Instagram. Facebook’s namesake app, of course, remains, on top.” TechCrunch adds a note about WhatsApp’s growth noting the 1.5 billion monthly active users is, “compared to 1.3 billion monthly users and 1 billion daily active users in July. The massive growth makes Facebook’s choice to pay more than $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp look prescient.

BONUS MEDIA: The AP reports, “It’ll be much easier to watch the Super Bowl online for free this year. NBC won’t require proof of a cable or satellite TV subscription, meaning that anyone in the U.S. can watch the game online. Plus, you’ll be able to watch the game on a phone even if you aren’t a Verizon customer, as was a requirement before.”

IN THE ADMINISTRATION

President Trump heads to Cincinnati Monday where he will discuss the benefits of tax reform. The president is speaking at a factory that gave each of its employees $1,000 bonuses thanks to the tax bill. Vice President Pence this week heads to Japan ahead of his planned attendance at the Olympics in South Korea. More on his trip in Axios AM here

ON THE HILL

The Senate is in session this week and the House is scheduled to be in session through Wednesday; House Democrats are scheduled to attend a retreat in Maryland from Wednesday to Friday. The current government funding bill runs out on Thursday.

Monday (February 5): Senate vote on the confirmation of Andrei Iancu to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; House Rules Committee hearing on the Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act, the Mortgage Choice Act, and the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act; House Administration Committee markup of Congressional Accountability Act reform measures;

Tuesday (February 6): Senate Banking Committee hearing on the oversight role of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission in virtual currencies, with testimony from SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and CFTC Chairman J. Christopher GiancarloSenate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the administration’s South Asia strategy in Afghanistan, with testimony from Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Assistant Defense Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver; Senate HELP Committee hearing on the “gig economy” and the future of retirement savings; Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on beneficial ownership and fighting international financial networks through transparency; Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing on lessons learned about data security and bug bounty programs from the Uber breach; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee hearing on spending uncertainty and cost to taxpayers caused by continuing resolutions, omnibus spending bills, and shutdown crises; House Financial Services Committee hearing on the annual report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, with testimony from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; House Armed Services Committee hearing on national defense strategy and the nuclear posture review, with testimony from Defense Secretary James Mattis and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul J. Selva and subcommittee hearing on physiological episodes in fighter, attack, and training aircraft; House Agriculture Committee hearing on the state of the rural economy; House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on U.S. cyber diplomacy in an era of growing threats and subcommittee hearings on Syria and U.S.-Pakistan relationsHouse Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on the VA caregiver support program; House Oversight and Government Reform Committee business meetingHouse Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing on removing barriers to prevent and treat opioid abuse and dependence in Medicare; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on Department of Energy modernization; House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing on 3 national monument bills; House Education and Workforce Subcommittee hearing to review the policies and priorities of the Mine Safety and Health Administration; House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on ensuring effective and reliable alerts and warnings;

Wednesday (February 7): Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the impact of federal environmental regulations and policies on American farming and ranching communities; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing to receive testimony on 15 bills; Senate Foreign Relations Committee closed hearing on Turkey; Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearings on the Defense Department’s role in countering weapons of mass destruction and Army modernizationSenate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee roundtable on Department of Homeland Security reauthorization, with testimony from Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke, Under Secretary for Management Claire Grady, Acting DHS Inspector General John Kelly, and Government Accountability Office Comptroller General Eugene Dodaro; House Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing on ensuring Social Security serves America’s veterans; House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on prevention and accountability of senior leader misconduct;

Thursday (February 8): Stopgap government funding bill expires; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on energy infrastructure; Senate HELP Committee hearing on the impact of the opioid crisis on children and families.