• Bipartisan Group of Eight to unveil immigration reform bill in early April

    The bipartisan group of senators known as the Group of Eight, currently finalizing the details of a sweeping immigration bill, said on Wednesday that they will be ready to unveil their plan to Congress when it gets back to work in April. Four of the senators visited the U.S.-Mexico border to observe security operations along the border first hand.

  • Draft cybersecurity bill to increase penalties for hacking substantially

    A draft of a cybersecurity bill circulating among House Judiciary Committee members would strengthen a computer hacking law. The draft would stiffen penalties for cyber crimes and establish a standard for companies to tell consumers when their personal information has been hacked. The bill would also change an existing law, making a cyber crime attempt punishable as an actual offense.

  • ICE agents tell senators to go slow on in immigration reform

    Chris Crane, the head of the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, has asked the bipartisan group of senators, known as the Gang of 8, which is working on immigration reform to allow ICE agents to offer their input.

  • Comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform bill to be unveiled early April

    The Gang of 8, a bipartisan group of senators, is finalizing work on a comprehensive immigration reform bill which will be introduced shortly after Congress comes back 8 April. The bill will offer a path to citizenship to illegal immigrants, add up to 200,000 visas per year depending on the U.S. economic conditions and employment needs, increase substantially the number of visas allocated for highly skilled tech workers, and reduce some categories of family visas.

  • Napolitano testifies on cybersecurity executive order

    Two Senate panels questioned DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday at a hearing on President Obama’s cybersecurity executive order and what issues need to be addressed in cyber legislation. “We simply cannot afford to wait any longer to adequately protect ourselves,” Said Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

  • Senate confirms Brennan for CIA post

    The Senate, on a 63-34 vote Thursday afternoon, confirmed John Brennan as the new director of the CIA. The vote came after Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), ended his 13-hour filibuster, saying he was now satisfied with the clarifications by Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the use of drones to kill American citizens. Paul’s tactics divided the Republican caucus, with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John McCain (R-Arizona), who spoke on the Senate floor earlier today, mincing no words in denouncing Paul’s quest for clarifications. Paul’s filibuster is the ninth longest filibuster in Senate history.

  • Tech companies, telecoms clash over cybersecurity executive order

    Last August a cybersecurity bill died in Congress amid partisan bickering. On 12 February this year, President Obama packed many of that bill’s elements into a cybersecurity executive order. To make the order more acceptable to some of its congressional and industry critics, the president introduced an exemption which would take large technology companies off the list of companies subject to the new cybersecurity standards. This exemption placated some of the original cybersecurity bill’s critics, but angered others, chief among them telecommunication companies.

  • U.S. nuclear industry resists stricter, post-Fukushima safety measures

    Since the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have been debating whether or not to impose even stricter safety measures on the thirty-one U.S. boiling water reactors (BWRs). Utility companies have been fighting any new safety regulations, arguing that the security measures they have are more than enough.

  • Harvard president issues a clarion call for science

    Harvard President Drew Faust, addressingthe annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), called for members of the scientific community to “raise our voices” in an effort to prevent the U.S. Congress from becoming “an American Association for the Retreat of Science.” Urging widespread efforts to prevent U.S. cuts in funds for sustained research, Faust said: “We must secure the federal research support critical to the future of our nation and of the world.”

  • Senate Judiciary Committee launches immigration hearings

    Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing featured testimony from DHS secretary Janet Napolitano and Jose Antonio Vargas, a former journalist who started the group Define American, which campaigns for immigration reform. The hearing focused largely on border security and enforcement, with an entire panel devoted to just one witness — Napolitano. Napolitano said that border security was often used as an excuse to prevent meaningful changes.

  • Gang of Eight: DHS secretary to determine if border is secure

    Even supporters of immigration reform admit that security along the U.S.-Mexico border should be improved so that legalizing the status of the eleven million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States would not become a magnet for drawing even more undocumented immigrants into the country. How do we know, however, whether the border is secure enough for the legalizing process to begin? A bipartisan group of senators, known as the Gang of Eight, has an idea: under the terms of the bipartisan framework for immigration reform, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano would make the final determination about whether or not the border is secure. Once she makes the determination that the border is secure, the eleven million undocumented immigrants would start on their path to a legal status in the country.

  • Labor unions join campaign for immigration reform

    The immigration reform debate continues to grab the headlines, and labor unions are now entering the ring,  hoping that organizing immigrant workers can boost the unions’ shrinking ranks.

  • Some Democrats face a tough choice on gun control measures

    As the gun control debate continues, and different proposed bills are being considered on the Hill,  Democrats in red states are facing  a tough decision, as their support for gun control measures may become a drag on their re-election prospects in  the 2014 congressional elections.

  • Contours of Hill gun debate emerge

    Two issues have emerged as central to the debate over post-Sandy Hook gun control legislation: the first is banning the sale of assault weapons and limiting the size of magazines, the second is requiring a universal background check to make sure those who buy guns are responsible and stable enough to handle them. Hill observers say that a bill requiring universal background check, if carefully drafted to address the concerns of those who live in rural areas, may pass, as would legislation to limit the size of magazines. Banning the sale of assault weapons may be more difficult.

  • U.S. tech companies hope visa reform for high-skilled immigrants is near

    U.S. technology companies hope that what appears to be a more bi-partisan approach to immigration reform will not overlook the need to address the issue of high-skilled immigrants. The current number for H-1B visas fir skilled immigrants is 65,000 a year. “A 65,000 starting point is just not feasible for this economy. That’s the same number we started with in 1990, when the economy was one-third the size it is today,” say a high-tech industry representative.